Ester Drang is an indie psychadelic rock group coming from Oklahoma with a sound ranging from the shoegaze of bands like Starflyer 59 to more traditional pop sounds to 70s jazz (sort of) to the post-rock instrumentalism of bands like Unwed Sailor. They’re really hard to describe. I just found them a few days ago and have downloaded a bunch of songs since, thanks to a referral signing on with emusic.com and getting me 50 free downloads. (Whoever you are, thanks!)
Short sidenote: I recommend everyone sign up for the 50 free downloads for trying emusic out. Not only do you get 50 MP3 downloads for free, but if you choose to keep a subscription going, I’ll get 50 free downloads too. The plan I’m on gives me 15 downloads for $6 a month, but they’ve got better plans out there, and if you don’t like any of them, just cancel after your 50 downloads and you won’t owe a thing. Click here to sign up or here to learn more about it.
But you’re here to learn about the band Ester Drang, not to learn about one of the coolest MP3-downloading services ever conceived…
Ester Drang is Bryce Chambers, James McAlister, and Jeff Shoop. They formed the band in 1995 in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, starting out with a very shoegaze, dream-pop, post-rock kind of sound. Now, 12 years later, their sound has evolved to somewhat more traditional pop stuff, but with some crazy jazz and psychadelic fun thrown in the mix. They’re still great, but I definitely like their older stuff even better.
Now, what about that name? According to the band it has “no official meaning save for the symphonic, ethereal and strikingly harmonic sound which personifies [our] collaboration.” Just say it a few times. Ester Drang. Ester Drang. Ester Drang. See? Symphonic, ethereal, and strikingly harmonic, isn’t it?
Ester Drang is one of those bands that I love for their music but I wish they’d be more up-front about their faith in God (even just a mention of Him on their MySpace would make me happy). I’ve never seen them perform and I don’t know them personally, but from interviews I’ve read, it looks like their main evangelism strategy is to produce music a secular crowd will like and then hope people come to them with questions.
A lot of bands seem to be taking this approach now-a-days, but where are the bands that just spell it out in their songs? I don’t mean you have to be Michael W. Smith and cater to the above 40 crowd. You don’t have to create boring, lame music or resort to over-used Christian slogans in place of thoughtful lyrics. Just say something of significance in the music, so people will actually be provoked to think and ask you about God. If you’re saying what everbody else is saying, or if your lyrics are so “poetic” that nobody can understand them, are you really ever going to cause people to ask you about God?
The band has stated that they want to make a difference in people’s lives (here), so I would challenge them to make sure that their method of doing that is working. For more on this topic, check out my post about The Danielson Famile, a band that I think is doing a great job of merging cultural relevance with spiritual significance.
Like I said, I’ve never seen Ester Drang perform live, I don’t know them personally, and I haven’t listened to the songs that much, so I’m not the best judge of the music, but I offer my opinions based on interviews I’ve read and observations I’ve made. And since this is my blog, I can do what I want.
I think that’s all I’ll say about Ester Drang today. Check them out. I love their music, and I think you will too.
Take a listen to these two songs, the first from their latest album and the last from their best (Goldenwest):
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