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A guest post from Nahar Mama: I’m not really sure how I first heard about Sarah Masen, but she was one of the first Christian artists I picked up after becoming a Christian myself. I’d always been into acoustic/folk sort of music, so she fit right into my collection. Listening to her now, I have a hard time seeing her music as Christian music; she’s more of a Christian (I think) that writes songs about life. I guess that makes her fit right in with the whole “Christian indie” scene.
Sarah did not start out totally indie; her first albums were put out by the re:think label and her 2001 “The Dreamlife of Angels” was put out by Word. She has just completed three EPs and is releasing them independently, handmaking all the cover jackets herself. These three are called “Women’s Work is Alchemy,” “Magic that Works,” and “A History of Lights and Shadows.” [Editor’s note: Creeeepy.] You can listen to all of them in streaming audio here.
In my on-going quest for good Christian music to list on The Blah Blah, I stumbled onto the site IndieHeaven recently. Like you’re probably thinking, I thought, “Sweet! A networking source for Christian indie artists who are making cutting edge music that is breaking out of molds!” I thought I’d found the utopia of Christian music, the only site I would ever have to go to for new stuff.
Well, it’s not a utopia, but it’s worth a look. The site is really slick and you’ll probably find a band or two that you like. It just might end up taking you a few hours of digging through all the stuff that you’ve heard before. I’ve got a unique taste in music (some might call it bizarre, but I go for the positive), and I get tired of stuff that sounds too much like it could be played on the radio (or like it has been played on the radio for the past 10 years), so it was hard for me to find stuff I enjoyed. (I apologize for the obsessive use of parentheses in the preceeding paragraph. It was completely uncalled for.)
This will sound really weird, but if you love mainstream Christian bands, then check out IndieHeaven. Most of the groups I found seemed to be independent bands copying mainstream Christian sounds, which is great if you want that or really sad if you’re like me.
Anyway, on the positive side, the site is full of thousands of independent Christian bands. You can read band bios, check out photos, preview songs, and even download MP3s for $0.99. They’ve got everything from reggae, to worship, to rock, to folk, to funk, and on and on.
One band you should check out is Rufus Tree. They’re not amazing but I kinda’ like them. The coolest thing to me is that they live about 15 minutes from where I’m sitting at this moment. Now, if that’s not a reason to support a band, I don’t know what is! They remind me a lot of the old band Breathing Machine if you were around at all during their heyday.
Other than that, do your own digging. I found some other really good folk-rock guys and a few great worship bands, but they all sounded too CCM for me to wholeheartedly recommend.
I hope you enjoyed your weekend, but now it’s back to work with day four (and week two) of “Girls of Christian Indie.” Be sure to check out previous posts on Lori Chaffer, Karen Peris, and Misty Edwards.
So who do we have for you all today? None other than that crazy world, folk, tribal, roots rock group The Ragbirds, of course! This group is an eclectic mix of music, merging styles ranging from traditional folk to Irish, to rock, to world, to roots, to African, to Afro-Cuban, to Indian, to gypsy… You’ll hear guitar, banjo, violin, djembe, accordion, mandolin, piano, drumset, bass, congas, harmonica, and other random instruments.
Here we are on Day Three of “Girls of Christian Indie,” what’s becoming a two-week look at… some girls of Christian indie music. We’ve already looked at Lori Chaffer and Karen Peris, so today, to switch it up a little bit, I give you Misty Edwards.
Misty Edwards is a worship leader coming out of IHOP (the International House of Prayer, not Pancakes) in Kansas City, not a 3rd grade teacher or a senior airman in Iraq. In case you were wondering. (Note: I found these pictures of other Misty Edwardses when I searched for the real Misty Edwards who is featured in this post here.)
Yes, she is a worship leader, and a very good one at that, in my opinion.
Welcome back to “Girls of Christian Indie!” For Day Two, we’ll be looking at Karen Peris and The Innocence Mission.
I first found out about The Innocence Mission from a video of Sufjan Stevens performing their song Lakes of Canada here. I loved the song and decided to find out about the band who first wrote it.
And that band was The Innocence Mission, led by husband-wife duo of Don and Karen Peris, with a touch of drums by Steve Brown and bass by Mike Bitts. All the musicians are really good, but it’s Karen’s vocals that set the band apart from the rest, especially since Steve Brown left the band in 1999, forcing a more acoustic approach to things.
The Man of Steel first told me about a great site a while ago, but I just haven’t had a good time to pass it along until now.
Check out this site for some great covers, b-sides, and unreleased or acoustic versions of Lifehouse songs. Just register your e-mail address (I haven’t gotten any spam from them) and download up to 30 songs a month. They’ve also got videos and stuff, but who really cares about that?
You should definitely download some of the acoustic songs. They’re really great.
If you’ve never really liked Lifehouse, you’re not alone, but even my wife (who can’t stand the band) admits that she likes their acoustic versions. I caught her singing along with “Hanging by a Moment” a couple days ago, though she tried to deny it.
Welcome to Day 1 of “Girls of Christian Indie!” Now, before you go and get your minds in the gutter, this is gonna be a clean list. I was thinking about it the other day how most bands are fronted by guys, and this is especially true in the mainstream market. Girls who don’t like to lip-synch or dance around half-naked (or do this) have a harder time than their male counterparts in making it in the mainstream market. Indie, though, indie is a different story.
Sort of. There still is an over-abundance of guys in indie music, but I feel there is more of an openness to girls who wanna make some noise. For the next week or two, depending on how you all like the theme, I’ll be posting about some of the women of indie music who I think deserve your attention. This will not be a best-of list – just a list of some musicians you shouldn’t skip past.
First off, meet Lori Chaffer. With a voice that can go from soft and soothing to loud and powerful to high and dreamy, all in the same song, Lori’s got a vocal range that’s impressive. Ever since I heard her singing with Waterdeep, I was hooked. With so many copycat dancing Christian pop girl bands (nice imagery, huh?), Lori Chaffer is a nice alternative.
Ponoka. I first heard about this band almost 14 hours ago, so we have a long history together. My favorite Norwegian reader, Ole Jorgen, sent The Blah Blah an e-mail with a giant list of some amazing European indie Christian bands, and Ponoka was the first I listened to.
Ponoka comes from the Netherlands, by way of Canada, and if all Christian music from the Netherlands is this good, I might have to practice my Dutch and move out there. Now, I’m aware that most of my readers are from the US and therefore may be unaware of the exact location of the Netherlands (oooh, slam). Don’t worry. If you look on this map here, the Netherlands is located in the “Wine, Perfume, Spagghetti” part. Hope that helps.
Anyway, the band Ponoka is Rick de Gier on vocals, guitar, and harmonica; Pim van de Werken on bass; Theo Nap on guitar; Lucas Nap on drums; Laurens Palsgraaf on keyboards; and Alice ten Brinke on vocals. They’ve got a really tight indie pop sound that’s fun to listen to and chill with. You don’t have to work hard to like the music. It’s just there to be enjoyed, from the first note on harmonica to the last chord on guitar.
This download here could be a life saver for you if you’re desperate for some background music to play while studying, reading, preparing sermons, or scooping out a bowl of Alpo for Fido. Brent at Colossians Three-Sixteen has put up a number of really awesome post-rock instrumental bands in the past that you should dig for on his site, but this is the first time he’s put up a CD compilation.
While you’re on the site, check out a recent post about the Finnish band Paavoharju here and download their EP. They’re different, trippy, a little bizarre, but really interesting.
(This post was dedicated to my good friend R. T. Jones at Sandwiches There, who needs way more study music for all the studying he’s doing.)