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David Eugene Edwards, formerly of 16 Horsepower, launched off in a new direction in 2001 with a side project known as Woven Hand (and sometimes Wovenhand, without a space). With urgent vocals and somewhat dark undertones, Woven Hand seemlessly merges gothic music with a bluegrassy country, creating a mesmerizing, almost hypnotic sound. Mandolin, banjo, guitar, booming drums and bass, and bizarre folk instruments make a mysterious, exotic, and otherworldly music style that you’ll probably either love or hate.
Woven Hand, coming out of Denver, Colorado, is David Eugene Edwards (vocals, guitar, mandolin, concertina, and more), Pascal Humbert (bass), Ordy Garrison (drums), and Peter van Laerhoven (guitar). Edwards’ vocals are definitely what carries the band, but the rest of the musicians are awesome in their own right and work together really well to create a unique sound.
This is a little old, but check it out anyway. Sufjan Stevens, who I posted about yesterday, recently recorded a song for the 2007 Music Issue of The Believer. The Believer is, in their own words, “a monthly magazine where length is no object. There are book reviews that are not necessarily timely, and that are very often very long. There are interviews that are also very long.” Despite their very evangelical sounding name, the magazine is not, as far as I’m aware, Christian, just sort of possitive and optimistic.
Check out the June/July music issue here, and if you can’t still buy it at your local news stand, you can buy it right here, so you don’t miss out on any of the great music by guys like Sufjan Stevens, The Twilight Sad, Page France, Explosions in the Sky, Of Montreal, and more. Some of the bands are Christian, but most are just good, generally positive, secular bands.
Sufjan recorded a new song, “In the Words of the Governor,” which can be heard at StereoGum if you’re interested, and of course you are. It’s like nothing he’s done before and reminds me a little of the infamous Half Japanese, mixed with The White Stripes, mixed with The Beatles. Noisy, edgy, fuzzy, lo-fi, haphazard, a little annoying, but danged catchy in a great pop song sort of way.
Will this signal the end of Sufjan Stevens’ music as we know it? Yes.
Just kidding. Of course I don’t know. I just wanted to make you cry.
Lately, I’ve begun to grow tired of him and have explored other musicians more, but any self-respecting MP3 blogger would include at least a few posts about Sufjan Stevens. Don’t get me wrong. I love my good old friend Sufjan and all that he touches. He’s amazing and incredibly creative musically and lyrically. But I’ve moved lately into a post-Sufjan stage in my musical life. It’s a new stage, full of wonder and excitement, but I’ll always be grateful for the doors that Sufjan opened to me. Sounds like a cheesy line from an ’80s movie.
If you’ve been living in a cave, third world nation, or Illinois (ooh, slam), you may not have heard of Sufjan, so I’ll give you a little background. Many people have compared him to Bob Dylan or The Beatles in terms of musical and lyrical genius. His songs, often hard to understand (like Paul’s epistles), are full of poetic imagery, metaphors, and stories of real people in real places. His music is an eclectic mix of folk, orchestral, bluegrass, and acoustic music, with jazz elements thrown in just for fun. I’m not sure what makes him so great. His voice is pretty bland. The music is usually overly mellow. He plays the banjo like a guitar. He throws in strange instruments and weird beats. Maybe just the fact that he’s not doing things like the books say you “have” to do them. He’s being different, creative, new. And that’s garnering a lot of acclaim, in both Christian and secular circles.
A bit of music news for you faithful Blah Blah readers: I mentioned it yesterday, but today is the release date for Robbie Seay Band’s new album Give Yourself Away. Go to their website or MySpace to listen to samples, and download two songs off the new album here.
Robbie Seay Band, coming from the same state (Texas) as the more popular David Crowder Band, is doing stuff in worship music that you should pay attention to. So listen up. Yeah, you in the back with the bad mustache. Pay attention.
If you’re following church fads at all, you’ll have heard something about this whole “emergent church” thing. Like most church fads, I agree with parts and disagree with parts, but I’ll save my analysis for another blog. For some reason, many leaders in the movement have adopted Robbie Seay as their poster child for what worship music should look like. People from Donald Miller to Brian McLaren just love the band, and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s his interesting use of poetic lyrics and extra-biblical imagery. Maybe it’s his willingness to look at doubt in the midst of heart-felt worship. Maybe it’s his social consciousness that bleeds through into his lyrics. Maybe it’s his sick bassist, Ryan Owens.
Today, a guest post from Naharmama:
Getting their name from a Pixies song, Havalina, or Havalina Rail Co., is one of the more unusual bands I have heard. They’ve done a couple of concept albums, but their overall style reminds me of a combination of jazz, rockabilly, Americana, blues, gospel, and plain-old rock n’ roll. Lead band member Matt Wignall describes them: “We are a hybrid of traditional American music including folk, blues, and jazz, with a streak of Brazilian and a lot of Les Baxter and Henri Mancini. We tend to write pop music in a rather orchestral fashion.” (inmusicwetrust.com) Though no longer recording or touring, Havalina is a fun, eclectic mix of sounds anyone would love to have in their collection.
A friend of mine introduced me to Colour Revolt about a year ago when I told him, “All my Christian music sucks.” So he pointed me toward Colour Revolt, I downloaded a few tracks from their EP, I downloaded a remix, I put them in my MP3 player, and they’ve been in my playlists ever since. They’re kinda’ like an edgy, drugged-up Coldplay, with extra guitars, some harsh vocals, more poetic lyrics, and smaller egos. You can read a great review here, so I won’t waste your time with a mediocre review on this blog.
The band is made up of Jesse Coppenbarger (vocals, guitar, keys), Jimmy Cajoleas (guitars), Len Clark (drums, vocals), Sean Kirkpatrick (guitar, vocals, keys), and Patrick Addison (bass). Yes, you read that right – three guys on guitars. With so many guitars, things could get loud and out of control, but they do a great job of creating interesting interweaving parts that complement each other rather than just creating noise.
I heard about Aaron Strumpel when I was checking up on Enter the Worship Circle to see if they had anything new out. In 2006, they began the Chair and Microphone series, in their own words, a series “full of raw conversations with God, shot from the Psalms, but with only a solo voice and one guitar…one take…one time to record it.” There are currently two volumes. You should buy 100 copies of each and send them throughout the world.
Anyway, Aaron Strumpel took on the second volume, and he’s really great. His style reminds me of Damien Rice, and these recordings are such real, raw, un-polished cries to God that you can’t help but feel the passion. It’s like being inside someone’s head for an album.
To broaden the horizons of you faithful Blah Blah readers (and add some new categories for my posts), I’ll switch gears again with the band mewithoutYou. Some day, probably after I get some variety up here, I’ll actually have a method to my posts, like do a series on new worship groups, a series on folk rock, a series on emo, and so on, but right now, you’ll have to be satisfied with the pure randomness that is The Blah Blah.
I was introduced to mewithoutYou a year ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. While their first album A–>B Life was a little harder than I normally go for, I liked the lyrics (what I could understand anyway). Catch for Us the Foxes refined their sound a little, and with their latest album Brother, Sister, the band seems to have found a good balance of brute energy, poetic imagery, and instrumental angst, whatever that means. They’re not as dark sounding as they first were, which I think is a good thing, and the sound is a lot cleaner and tighter.
Since last week I covered a folk rock group (typical blogging material), I thought I’d switch gears a little this week and offer something not too many MP3 blogs are covering – worship music.
If you haven’t heard of her yet, check out Isa Couvertier, a worship leader coming out of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. If you’re like me, you’re tired of all the Chris Tomlin / Tim Hughes / Matt Redman copycat worship bands. Not to diss those guys at all. I think they’re great worship leaders, and it’s hard to do a worship set without at least one Redman song (see here for a good laugh), but it’s retarded when everybody tries to be just like them. With a simple, intimate style of worship and a soft voice that seems to draw you in, Isa comes across as fresh and unique – at least until the cycle repeats itself and everybody starts copying her too.