Friday, February 24, 2006

another band you might like


Prompted by Father Lee's recent post on the Sufjan Christmas stuff, I thought you might like to know about another band: Page France. This is from the Pitchfork review:

Christian music continues to steal into the secular world in the guise of elegant folk-pop, led by Sufjan Stevens' definitive document, the masterful Illinois. It doesn't diminish Stevens' accomplishment to say that it took me a long time to warm up to it. It was so utterly poised that it came off with a certain sterility-- the seamless contours of its surface held the listener at a remove. Page France's warm and inviting Hello, Dear Wind has the same striking imagery and deft arrangements with none of the remoteness....

Nau is a true prodigy-- at age 21, he's writing songs with uncommon theological complexity. Let's spell it out in no uncertain terms-- in 21st century America, Christianity has been hijacked by some evil men. Jesus said that it's easier to fit a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven. But in an age of mega-churches that lavish money on high-end AV equipment and contributions to PACs that would undo every social program designed to counteract uneven wealth distribution, Jesus' central teachings of compassion, forgiveness, and charity have been forsaken. His national face has become that of a cruel tyrant, peering down upon humankind with the miser's disdainful grimace.

Hello, Dear Wind accentuates the common traits of Christian music that is able to penetrate the secular world, with an unfettered joy that would scan to conservative Christians as almost pagan. It deploys Christian tropes poetically and not pedantically, brimming with reiterative Biblical imagery -- angels and burning bushes and trumpets, but also circuses, kings and crowns, wind, trees, and fruit. Here's an excerpt from "Chariot", Nau's take on the Rapture, locating all of its poetry in hallucinatory animation, not dread: "Dance like elephants as he comes to us through a fiery golden rain / With a violin and a song to sing as he brings for us our wings/ Now he's one of us, plays the tambourine, breaks the bread for us and sings."

Nothing's perfect in pop culture. But certain corners of it are rather encouraging these days. Buy the album here. St. Matthias, pray for us.

3 comments:

Father Nelson said...

Thanks for the recommendation!

Reminds me of Death Cab... only toned down a bit.

You might check out Kings of Convenience.

J-Tron said...

Let's spell it out in no uncertain terms-- in 21st century America, Christianity has been hijacked by some evil men. Jesus said that it's easier to fit a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven. But in an age of mega-churches that lavish money on high-end AV equipment and contributions to PACs that would undo every social program designed to counteract uneven wealth distribution, Jesus' central teachings of compassion, forgiveness, and charity have been forsaken. His national face has become that of a cruel tyrant, peering down upon humankind with the miser's disdainful grimace.

That's certainly the impression that most of my friends have. It's a big part of why many of them find Christianity unconscionable. An important bit to keep in mind for those of us engaged in ministry... As much as we might try to distance ourselves from negative impressions of Christianity portrayed by others, those negative impressions are what people will often see when they see us coming.

John J. O'Sullivan™ said...

I second Fr. Nelson's recommendation. I discovered Kings of Convenience through last.fm...wonderful stuff.

And, if I may make a small review, I thought Belle & Sebastian's recent release was simply wonderful. They went with a slightly more poppy sound, with some funk thrown in for fun.

That is, if you're into B&S. If you're not, my apologies. I still think it's an excellent album. =D

-j