Released Today: Stubborn Persistent Illusions by Do Make Say Think

Today marks the release of a new full-length album by Do Make Say Think: Stubborn Persistent Illusions.

The band wastes no time in piling up layers of guitars, effects, and energetic drums on the first track, “War on Torpor.” The opener is reminiscent of some of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s best builds, minus the waiting. The song does, indeed, slay the listener’s torpor. You’ll feel your blood pressure rise a bit as you listen, and the song never settles into much of a repetitive groove. No matter–it’s aurally stimulating, and the band finally comes back to the song’s opening motif in the last part of the track.

Do Make Say Think

From there, Do Make Say Think tones it down a bit with a 10-minute track two, “Horripilation.” Yes, I had to look up the word, too: “the erection of hairs on the skin due to cold, fear, or excitement.” AKA goose bumps.

It’s at this point in the record–and for its remainder–that the band tests the listener’s allegiance to whatever people mean when they say “post-rock.” To be fair, Do Make Say Think are more creative, tighter, and experimental than many other bands in this genre–think Don Caballero rather than This Will Destroy You. But if you’re looking for hooks, they seem in short supply here. By track three, “A Murder of Thoughts,” only the most patient of non-fans won’t be reaching for the fast-forward button.

Even so, there are some real bright spots on the album: a couple minutes into “Boundless,” the band locks into a groove you’ll be glad goes on for minutes, even as textures build and change on top of the steady drums. And all eight minutes of “As Far as the Eye Can See” are interesting. The musicianship on the album is really good–a trait that made up for this reviewer’s not infrequent sense of torpor when listening, propelling me to want to continue experiencing the album as a whole.

In contrast to instrumental rock bands like Caspian and Mogwai, there is nary a vocal line to be found on the album. But there are enough riffs, layers, lines, changes, motifs, and grooves that you’ll probably want to listen to this album at least two times through before you feel confident making up your mind about it.

At nine tracks and an hour long, Do Make Say Think have given their patient listeners much to digest in their first record in eight years. Your mileage may vary. I don’t think this will compete for Album of the Year (I give the edge so far to the new Slowdive… so good). But I also suspect this album will live up to its name and stubbornly, persistently grow on me and all who take the time to carefully listen.

Check out Stubborn Persistent Illusions here at Constellation Records.

  


 
  
   

Thanks to the kind folks at Constellation Records for giving me early access to the album so I could write the review.

 

Brand New Music from Teen Daze

credit: Sharalee Prang (from the artist, via NPR)
credit: Sharalee Prang (from the artist, via NPR)

 

I’d never heard of Teen Daze before 2015, but that year Morning World was my favorite album. (Review here.)

Now Teen Daze has a new full-length release: Themes For Dying Earth. Jamison–the creative genius behind the moniker–says of the album:

I’m really excited to get to share it with you; I know the last few weeks have been difficult and tense for a lot of the world.  I wrote this album as a way to work out my own stresses and anxieties, and I truly hope it can bring peace to all of you.

Themes for Dying Earth is now streaming at NPR First Listen. It’s quite a departure from the John Vanderslice-produced Morning World, but still worth repeated listens.

 

American Football LP2: Fallen Leaves Return to Their Roots

AF_2016_LP_Jacket_PRINT.inddSeventeen years is a long time to wait for new music from a band you love. Fortunately, none of us (not even the band) knew we were waiting that long. In 2014 American Football reunited, after putting out 12 of the most enduring tracks of my college years.

In some ways the success or failure of this album was much like this year’s Vice Presidential debate: the players really just had to show up and not seriously mess things up.

 
American Football Track List in iTunes.png
 

The album begins with the fading in of one, then two, then three interlocking guitar parts. Mike Kinsella’s, “Where are we now?” invites the listeners to consider their place in life since the last American Football record. “Both home alone… in the same house” shows the movement of the yearning-for-love teenage emo kid to a now married but still yearning adult. The house on this album cover is the same as that on their first full-length record. This time, though, as the cover suggests, listeners get a closer look at what’s going on inside: “Would you even know, babe, if I wasn’t home… if I wasn’t afraid to say what I mean?”

As the full band enters into this powerful opening waltz, the lyrics go on, “We’ve been here before.” Or as a Chinese proverb I recently discovered puts it, “Fallen leaves return to their roots.” These guys are back to their roots of making smart, intricate, and gorgeous music. But the vocals are stronger (and mixed louder), there is a bass now, the guitar tones are more varied, the drumming is just about perfect, and the production is what you’d expect if these guys had made major label status.

There’s a sense in which LP2 sounds exactly as I hoped it would—but couldn’t have possibly imagined. The second track’s familiar arpeggios, string bends, polyrhythms, and harmonics could have just as easily appeared on the first record. But I don’t think even a die-hard American Football fan could have seen the pummeling drum and bass intro of “Give Me the Gun” coming. That rhythm section, that never existed in the band’s first bass-less incarnation, makes this album more than just an old band making a new record.

 

americanfootball1-shervinlainez
Photo credit: Shervin Lainez

 

To pre-empt those who will bemoan how much this record “sounds like Owen” (especially with the acoustic guitar intro of “Home is Where the Haunt Is”), I offer three thoughts.

  1. Mike Kinsella is one, undivided person, so for his work on other projects (Owen) not to influence this band (American Football) would be impossible.
  2. Steve Holmes’s guitar work (not to mention Lamos and cousin Kinsella on rhythm) fill out the songs in a way that set it apart from just about anything Owen–even with full band–has created.
  3. Band members shared the songwriting process, trading off who offered the first seed of any given song.

There is, however, one unfortunate carry-over from Owen to American Football: a few raunchy lyrics that don’t find a place amid the transcendent beauty of the music this band creates. It’s not singing about sex I’m opposed to, but I cringe at lyrics like: “Dead eyes, and a mouth that can’t be clean / I can only imagine where that dirty mouth is / It’s not on me.” And, “I’m down for whatever / the uglier the better.”

So maybe Kinsella is speaking to himself when he sings later, “Why such vulgarity?” Or is it his interlocutor? I’ve had the same question since the second record Owen released. It’s a real mismatch with the gorgeousness of the music throughout the record, and something that was never in play with American Football. Kinsella does better with lines like, “Oh, how I wish that I were me / the man that you first met and married.”

The final track, “Everyone is Dressed Up,” is as much an instant classic as the album’s first song. The 6/8 time signature and return of Steve Lamos’s trumpet are a fitting end to this album, as are the poignant lyrics, “Our love will surely be forgotten by history and scholars alike.” The song is marred only by the final line of, “Everybody knows that the best way to describe the ocean to a blind man / is to push him in,” which, besides being unnecessarily demeaning (what is this, Donald Trump’s Twitter feed?), sounds like it might have been the final pre-deadline lyric of the album. The final track and album needed a more convincing ending, worthy of all the goodness that preceded it.

The nine tracks (the same number as the first LP) clock in at 37 minutes. After about five listens I found myself already wanting LP3! I hope the band stays together. They’re as in sync as ever, and the addition of Nate Kinsella’s bass rarely feels out of place, with the drumming of Steve Lamos being better than ever. Mike Kinsella and Steve Holmes might be my favorite pairing of guitarists, too—they haven’t missed a beat.

Get started on this album as soon as you can: the trifecta of the first three tracks are pure bliss. Despite a few shortcomings, LP2 was worth the wait.

American Football’s LP2 releases this Friday, October 21.

 

Purchase info: iTunes / Amazon / Polyvinyl

 


 

Thanks to the powers-that-be for the advance release download of this fine album, so I could write a review.

This Is Better Than Anything Apple Could Announce Today

2016 American Football

 

A second new American Football track has just released today. It’s one of the songs Mike Kinsella teased at on Instagram nearly half a year ago. It sounds almost nothing like the first song, and yet it sounds like everything you’d hope American Football could be. (You’ll have to forgive the melodrama. I’m more excited about this album than I have been for new music in years.)

Here it is:

 

 

NPR has a nice write-up of the song here.

Pre-order information is right here, and pre-orders ship October 12.

 

Whither American Football? October 21, That’s Whither!

2016 American Football

 

The funny thing about my American Football post yesterday is that I had it half written in my head before the social media new album tease yesterday. Those three Instagram samples were pretty convincing ( 1 / 2 / 3), but I confess that after a mere 20 weeks, I had started to lose faith in the second coming of American Football.

Now they’ve confirmed that a new album is coming, October 21 on Polyvinyl Records.

Here’s a piece from the press release:

The new self-titled sophomore album from the celebrated band comes seventeen years after their debut. The first single “I’ve Been So Lost For So Long” is available to hear now on SoundCloud, and on all DSPs tomorrow, August 24th.

The song–their first full, new song released since back in the day–is as beautiful as expected:

 

 

The melodic phrasing calls to mind Owen more than early American Football, but, hey, it’s the same singer, and that same singer has made a lot of Owen records since the first AF. Fair enough.

Pitchfork interviews the band here.

And, we have a track list!

1. Where Are We Now? (4:44)
2. My Instincts Are the Enemy (4:49)
3. Home Is Where the Haunt Is (3:26)
4. Born to Lose (4:54)
5. I’ve Been So Lost for So Long (4:36)
6. Give Me the Gun (3:24)
7. I Need a Drink (or Two or Three) (4:58)
8. Desire Gets in the Way (3:28)
9. Everyone Is Dressed Up (3:39)

Pre-order information is right here, and pre-orders ship October 12.

 

Whither American Football?

amfoo-hires

 

Disclaimer: I write this post with no inside information about the band American Football. Just a great enjoyment of their self-titled LP and EP and a desire to hear more music.

I’ve been checking Mike Kinsella’s Instagram page several times a week, ever since he posted three snippets of what must be new American Football music. I’ve listened to each one at least thirty times. Here they are: 1 / 2 / 3.

The new Owen album (reviewed here) made me even more eager for new American Football. It also confirmed that what we heard on those Instagram snippets was NOT Owen. At least, not the Owen that was just released. (And, who are we kidding? It didn’t sound like Owen anyway.)

Today my friend Eric—who graciously edited my many-worded Owen review—sent me links to some activity on the American Football Instagram page. Here they are: 1 / 2 / 3. (They also posted them on Twitter.)

Just to be clear (since I somehow missed this when watching the third one on my phone), there is new music here. The Twitter embed doesn’t work properly with WordPress, but click the url below to listen.

They seem to hint that an album is coming…. I haven’t been this excited about a new album since I waited and waited for OK Computer and miraculously scored an advanced CD from a used CD store five or six days before it came out.

So I’m bookmarking the American Football social media pages. I’ll post again here if (when?) a new AF album drops. In the meantime, we can all read (or re-read) this lengthy “oral history” of the band.

Settling Down with Owen: Of Empty Bottles, Tourniquets, and… Hope? (King of Whys, 2016)

In 2011’s Ghost Town Mike Kinsella (Owen) sang his credo in “I Believe”:

Hallelujah! I just found Jesus
Swimming at the bottom
Of the bottle I keep crawling out of
He said, “You look familiar, but I can’t place your face”
I said, “You look like hell” and that we used to hang
At my mother’s request

On the one hand, it’s a post-Catholic-upbringing, anti-religious declaration of sorts.

Have I been saved?
Cause I feel the same:
Dirty and tired

Can I be saved?
Without having changed
Or remorse for what I don’t believe?

On the other hand, I can see an honest Christian praying those words. He prays on:

I offer up my humble soul
And my broken spirit
All those things that I can’t control
The intangible bullshit
To you, my Lord

I know he’s being sarcastic (right?), but it’s hard not to hold out hope that one of my all-time favorite artists would really mean words like that, words which sound like David or Paul, and which capture the essence of some of my own prayers.

The rest of the song seems to clarify, however:

I believe
There is no white light
Somebody’s mistaken
Or somebody lied

I believe
There’s only one truth
It resonates different
In me and you
So don’t try and sell me yours

I think that last line–“so don’t try to sell me yours”–is the song’s interpretive key. The prayers were just at his “mother’s request,” and didn’t really work if he’s still feeling “the same: dirty and tired.” The prayer to “you, my Lord” is in scare quotes.

Whatever he meant, the song, “I Believe” is one of my favorite Owen tracks out of his 9 full-length albums and handful of EPs in the last 15 years.

 


 

Owen King of Whys Cover

 

Five years later the first track on the just-released King of Whys is “Empty Bottle.” The song presumably refers to the Chicago concert venue with that name (“Empty Bottle / crowded goth show”). But the connection to “I Believe” is inescapable, as it borrow’s the older song’s melody from the line “Hallelujah! I just found Jesus!” I would have thought this move subconscious were it not also for the similarly of the “empty bottle” to “the bottom of the bottle” in “I Believe.”

Now Owen has found the transcendence he was looking for, it seems, in interpersonal connection:

You’ve got a lot of nerves
Will you please touch mine with yours?

This is, after all, the album of a man now married and with kids.

“Empty Bottle” is as close as an acoustic guitar will get you to headbanging. By the end of the track, the album is already set to be as lush, intricate, and ethereal as anything Owen has done.

Next is “The Desperate,” where the familiar palm-muted acoustic guitar soon gives way to some dreamy pedal steel–the first discernible mark of S. Carey’s production (Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens). The song includes violins, piano, and poignant coming-of-age lyrics:

Somehow all of the sudden I find myself struggling
Two lives are too much and not enough
I concede this childish need for attention
is the desperate act of a disappearing man
You’d better catch him while you can

What a mess
Past and present stitched together, perilously tethered I ain’t fooling anyone (least of all me)

He continues with his signature combination of the clever and the mildly profane:

I’m calling in sick forever
and I’m calling bullshit on everyone

His next line–“This is a test and I’m failing”–seems like an antiphon to Pedro the Lion’s “If this is only a test, I hope that I’m passing.” The music is sweet and textured.

The song concludes:

You were right, Babe
I love how you know me
I know how you love me
I know how you long for this song to end

Owen is “Settled Down” now, which he explores in a track with more interlocking and arpeggiated guitars, accompanied with some sweet kick drum work. As this song concluded, on my first listen, I knew this album was among his best work. (Multiple listens through have confirmed the assessment.)

And then “Lovers Come and Go,” came on. I felt how I did the first time I listened to Owen’s 2001 self-titled debut. I don’t know if it’s the strings or the electric guitar overlays or the subtle but steady bass and drums, but it’s the kind of euphoric high that has kept me bobbing my head to emo well into my mid- to late-30s. Maybe I should have grown out of it by now, but songs like this only encourage me.

“Tourniquet” sounds at first like the kind of overly effusive, heart-on-the-sleeve, lyrical navel-gazing that got/gets me made fun of for listening to this kind of music: “This tourniquet hasn’t stopped the bleeding yet.”

But give him a chance:

If you give me this battle
I’ll pretend like there isn’t a lifetime of bitterness inside of me
An ugliness I hide from you
Give me that goddamn bottle and then leave me alone

Then there is the entrance of the horn parts. Over the song’s gorgeous layers, Owen sings:

This tourniquet hasn’t stopped the bleeding yet
I fear that I might lose a limb
Or a wife
Or whatever’s left inside

The closing words…

This tourniquet hasn’t stopped the bleeding yet
I fear that I might bleed out

…suggest that the song really is about marriage and fear of one’s self in the context of a long-term commitment. Melodramatic? Possibly. More vulnerable than many songwriters? Definitely.

Owen’s back catalogue is full of not-exactly-pro-feminist references to women. Owen is not Mark Kozelek-level misogynistic, but at least the persona of some of his songs veers towards womanizing territory. Too many to list here, but songs like “Poor Souls” (from his 2002 No Good for No One Now) have likely made listeners wonder what songwriting on the other side of marriage would be like. “Tourniquet” offers a glimpse.

Whatever else one could think about it, Owen is raw in articulating the wayward human condition, and how even marriage does not quell a wandering heart. (It might take finding Jesus to do that.) “Tourniquet” called to mind one of CCM’s most striking numbers: Amy Grant’s “Faithless Heart” of 1988, a song that caught her much flack from an unforgiving (and often disingenuous) Christian music industry. Like Grant’s confession, “Tourniquet” is a tough song to listen to but an important one.

 


 

“Burning Soul” represents a years-later take on an alcoholic father: “He wasn’t a saint, but he wasn’t a bad man.” Like his father before him, Owen sings,

Now I’ve got a burning soul
What now?
Both ends of my prayer candle are burned out

“Sleep Is a Myth,” the second-to-last track, starts out fatalistic:

Is this how you say, “Mon coeur bat la chamade?
Which pills did I take?
Were those bills ever paid?

Sleep is a myth
Believed but never witnessed by me

The spider bites are back
The eggs have finally hatched

But as the song progresses (and as the layers of vocals start to build), hope comes to the fore:

Don’t worry about the money
We’ll get by or we won’t
You look better hungry
You wear your weary eyes well
Now give me everything and then some
Bring out what’s dead and dying in your troubled head
Your lifeless body will awaken

Then the song moves into a nice, long, instrumental groove. The distorted drums and almost-shoegazing lead guitar line and choral vocals are a new sweet spot for Owen and company.

The album’s final track, “Lost,” is also its first single.

I winced at:

Stay poor and die trying
Take the drugs I didn’t take
Lay the whores I didn’t lay cause I was too afraid that I might like it

Kinsella sings to “the last of [his] feral friends.” Could the “friend” be his former self? Subtle allusions to previous Owen lyrics make it possible.

You may be wondering where all this wandering leads
You’re lost but at least you’ve nowhere to be and no one to leave you

The album closes on an odd note:

You may be wandering driveway to driveway drunk
A ghost without a house to haunt
The last of my feral friends, I know you’re lonely
but don’t waste your breath telling me that you want what I have
No one believes you

If this song is autobiographical (today’s Kinsella singing to yesterday’s Kinsella: “I see you but you can’t see me”), it’s a dour note to end on. Is he saying he really didn’t want the settled life? If he’s singing to a friend, there is the faintest hint of affirmation of the “settled down” lifestyle the artist has chosen (“you want what I have”), even while he knows “no one believes” his friend.

Musically the song never resolves to the tonic, so maybe the cliffhanger effect is on purpose.

After the strength of the first six tracks, I was hoping for something more final and summative at the end of the album, but maybe tension is how it has to end for Owen.

 


 

The horns and string and pedal steel on the album will leave you wanting that instrumentation on many Owen songs to come. His songwriting is as good as ever. And King of Whys is hands-down the best-produced Owen album to date.

Owen’s 2001 full-length record–his first–is still the benchmark against which I measure all of his albums. More than any other effort to date, King of Whys evokes the beauty of that first record. It’s a pleasure to listen to, and probably his most consistently good one since his debut. I’m already eager to hear where he’ll go next.

 

Purchase info: Amazon / iTunes / Polyvinyl

 

Thanks to the musical powers-that-be, who sent me an early download of the album so I could review it.

Bill Mallonee’s Slow Trauma

The 1:06 opening track, “One & the Same,” serves as a Prelude to Bill Mallonee’s most recent album–Slow Trauma–asking:

What you hold onto and what you let go of
and what you should give away
What’s gonna save you and what makes you smile?
Sometimes, they are one and the same

Then the full band kicks in with a sweet folksy rock groove in “Only Time Will Tell.” (“Where it’s all going? Only time will tell.”) And by full band, I mean: Bill Mallonee on vocals, guitars, bass, and drums. This is something like his 74th album (!), and I only learned an album or two ago that drums are his first instrument.

Before I say any more about this top-notch record, here’s Mr. Mallonee from an essay he wrote that serves as liner notes:

Death. Cessation.
A component of my interior world.
I feel like I’ve been staring it down in one form or another all of my life.
I’ve been “institutional material” once or twice.
It has certainly shaped my melancholy temperament and driven my art in noticeable ways.

I know some movements across the spectrum of human history have glorified it, romanticized it, even reveled in it…
Death. What’s to revel in?
Me? I don’t see it that way. At all.
I think it’s more like an aberration.
A blasphemy.
God, damn it. (That’s a prayer. Not an expletive.)

The third track, “Waiting for the Stone to be Rolled Away” has a great groove, too. It’s a resurrection song, written “from the parking lot of the Holy Spirit Assembly.” Mr. Mallonee takes the listener “down these sad, back streets of doubt to a new and brighter day / waiting for the stone to be rolled away.” (He does it with a killer harmony part, too.)

Slow TraumaIn this third track begins a trend that Mr. Mallonee thankfully repeats throughout the album: just when you get fully into the groove and expect the song to end, he goes another minute with some instrumental rocking out. I love this album for that. He takes his time with the songs. He comes to say what he needs to say, then lets the music do the rest of the talking, helping the listener mull it all over.

Even the album’s less remarkable songs (there are only two I would even begin to consider fast-forwarding on Listen #47) are only so because the others are so good.

“WPA/When I Get to Where They’re Taking Us,” the fifth track, has a really punchy lead guitar line that will stay with you for days. Mr. Mallonee is as gifted a guitarist as he is a songwriter.

Track six, “Ironclad,” is another highlight, closing with a melodic guitar riff you wouldn’t think possible on someone’s 70th (give or take a few) album! (How does he still do it? No idea, but I’m glad he does.)

The closing number, “That Last Hill,” is my favorite song on the album and one of his more poignant tracks in his massive catalogue:

will my highbeams flood the plain?
will the gatekeeper know my name
will there be someone to claim me for his own?

Even though that song is nearly five minutes, I could have listened to it for ten more. Throughout the album Mr. Mallonee offers beauty and a sure hand to help the listener think through difficult themes of death, life, loss, living, and giving.

The last words belong to the liner note essay:

“He Is Risen,” goes the Easter liturgy.
And you & I, the stumbling, wayward congregation of the spiritually poor, blind, sin-sick and lame respond:
“He Is Risen, Indeed!”
I’m there.

After hearing this record the listener will want to heed Mr. Mallonee’s call:

Do your part, in your corner and among your friends, to kick at the darkness and at death itself.

Slow Trauma is available here.

 


 

Thanks to Bill Mallonee for the opportunity to review this excellent record. It got me through my last handful of hour-long commutes to seminary last spring! He’s got a new record already in the works, which you can see here.

Psalm Songs: The Best New Worship Music You Might Not Have Heard Yet

I wrote about the Psalms as descriptive and prescriptive not long ago:

The writers of the Psalms give language to the whole range of emotions: from gratitude to fear, from joy to lamentation, from petition to thanksgiving, from intimate, private prayers to national, corporate prayers. In this way they are eminently descriptive of the human experience.

The Psalms also prescriptively guide the reader into various postures of prayer, so that the one praying does not only ever approach God with petitions, or only ever with complaint, and so on. The cognitive and affective come together in the Psalms in sometimes unexpected ways. Psalms of lament, for example, often begin with a loud “Why?” (stressing the affective) yet end with a determined profession of faith like, “But I will trust in you still….” In this way they stress the use of cognitive powers in prayer—external life evidence notwithstanding!

The Psalms express (descriptively) and call forth (prescriptively) a whole spectrum of human experience in relationship to God. They teach us to bring our whole selves to God in worship.

There comes a point in biblical studies when one has to say, I guess we’ll never know. That’s especially true with possible musical settings of Israel’s Psalms (careful efforts notwithstanding). So when it comes to music today for the Psalms, the Church (and before that, the synagogue) has had to make the way by walking.

 

*    *    *    *    *

 

A few months ago I received an email from Adam Wright, a church worship leader in Alabama and primary force behind The Corner Room. He introduced me to his band’s Psalm Songs, Volume 1. I’ve heard Scripture set to music in ways that were helpful and edifying, as well as ways that were… well… not. I was getting ready to reply with what I usually need to say, which is that I’m behind on existing reviews and need to take a pass on writing about this record. But then I listened and found myself spending at least a half hour at his site. Months later the record is still on regular rotation at our house and during my sermon preparation sessions and in our car.

 

Adam Wright (image via The Corner Room)
Adam Wright (image via The Corner Room)

 

Each of the album’s ten tracks sets a Psalm to full-band music. Adam writes, “As the Psalms are diverse in their character and intent, so is the musical character of this collection – rock, folk, bluegrass and modern worship are genres you’ll hear on this first volume.” Not only that, the kinds of Psalms represented are wonderfully diverse. The album covers a broad range: from the Psalm of Ascent (121) to the pastoral Psalm (23) to the lament Psalm (42)–and that’s just the first three tracks!

Adam’s voice on the record is perfect. It’s smooth but not overly saccharine, strong but not abrasive, and his soaring tenor has me singing in my falsetto just to try to keep pace. He calls to mind Chris Thiele, not just in terms of vocal timbre, but also in his ability to effortlessly cover different styles of music. If Adam will forgive my mild Hoosiers obsession, I can say that he’s as good a songwriter, musician, and band leader as Jimmy Chitwood is a ball player.

 

Jimmy Chitwood Hoosiers
Psalm Songs: Like This Guy’s Shooting Set to Music

 

The musicianship on Psalm Songs is as good as it gets. The band is tight and the instrument parts all fit together well–from mandolin to guitar to fiddle to bass and drums. The multi-part harmonies so characteristic of bluegrass will have you singing along as soon as you know the song.

 

*    *    *    *    *

 

psalm songs vol 1_itunes imageThe album takes the Psalms verbatim from the English Standard Version. The ESV is not my all-time favorite translation–I will probably always take issue with the generic Hebrew or Greek word for human being translated as “man.” But that version is more fluildy poetic than I expected for the Psalms. Rare is the moment on the album when the words feel shoehorned into the music–the settings do the Psalms great justice.

Psalm 23 has been set to music so many times, one might wonder how it could be done well again. But the second track is poignant and uplifting all at once. It’s got a moving video, too:

 

 

The other two videos at this page are pretty awesome, too.

One of Adam’s driving motivations, by the way, is to help people memorize Scripture via these musical settings. I’ve found the music helpful to that end, for sure.

I could go on about how much I like this record (and my three kids are big fans, too, especially of the opening Psalm 121). But go listen for a few minutes and I suspect you’ll have the same reaction I did, that this is an album you’ll not only want to own, but will also want to get a few copies of so you can give away to others.

Check out The Corner Room’s site here. You can also get Psalm Songs on iTunes (link) and Amazon (link).

 


 

I received Psalm Songs, Volume 1 free for the purposes of review–I’ve already given away my hard copy but am happily still listening to an electronic copy.

Download the New Radiohead Here

Moon Shaped Hole

 

The new Radiohead LP is out. It’s called Moon Shaped Pool. Here’s the track list:

01. Burn The Witch
02. Daydreaming
03. Decks Dark
04. Desert Island Disk
05. Ful Stop
06. Glass Eyes
07. Identikit
08. The Numbers
09. Present Tense
10. Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
11. True Love Waits

“True Love Waits” is one of my all-time favorite Radiohead songs that has been floating around for 15-20 years. Can’t wait to hear how they arrange it.

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