Sorry for missing my post yesterday. I was busy working with students in the small town of Spring Green, Wisconsin, Wednesday night with my brother, who, like myself, is in youth ministry. I stayed up way too late and was in a much-too-zombified state Thursday to attempt to define Christian Music. Next week, I’ll get back into it.
On the topic of Spring Green, if you live anywhere near it, you need to check out The General Store for the best breakfast in the universe. The quiche, granola, yogurt, and five-grain oatmeal was amazing. And everyone working there was insanely friendly. There’s a ton of other stuff to do around there, too (like Bobfest, an annual festival devoted to all things Bob Dylan), but enough with the chit-chat.
Today’s band is a band you’ve probably never heard of from a town you’ve probably never been to and can probably not pronounce. The Cold Comfort Band comes (mostly) from a town in Wisconsin called Oconomowoc (pronounced Oh-kon-oh-moe-wok, to set the record straight), located equal distances from Madison (the state capital) and Milwaukee (the biggest, baddest city in the state). Oconomowoc is famous for a few things, but the most important in my mind is that it has 5 O’s in its name, so many O’s in fact that, back in the day, letters addressed to “The City with Five O’s, Wisconsin” would come to Oconomowoc.
You might be wondering to yourself, “Why is Jake so intimately familiar with this strangely named town?” The answer is simple yet profound – I live here.
The Cold Comfort Band is a band that I’m excited to review today. I’ve known most of the band members for years, one for almost a decade. I know many of their families and friends. Some were (or still are) members of the high school and college group I lead at church. So it’s hard to be totally unbiased, but I’ll do my best.
The Cold Comfort Band fused together in the spring of 2007 and has, in less than a year, gained a devoted local fan base. Most of the members play multiple instruments, but this is the usual way it goes: Danny Fallon on keyboards, Benjamin Fisher on acoustic guitar, Karl Gunst on saxophone, Paul Hanon on drums, Robert Hanon on bass, Zach Hoeppner on lead guitar, Rae Klagstad on vocals, and Clayton Schmidt on trombone.
Sounds like a ska band line-up, but they’re much closer to a delicately-arranged indie jazz orchestra mixed with the musical expertise of Sufjan Stevens, the dynamics of Anathallo, and the vocal strength of Eisley.
Musically, the songs they’ve recorded are impressive. The thing you’ll notice right away is that while all the musicians are great in their own respects, what sets the band apart is the way they all work together, creating something as a group that is much more intricate than any of them could do alone. They show off a unique skill for creating delicate and precise layered compositions of interweaving instruments and vocals. (Nice choice of words, eh?) These are more than just songs. They’re carefully constructed musical compositions. No instrument takes precedence over another. Each plays its part with care and delicacy, never drawing more attention to itself than the song as a whole.
The Cold Comfort Band is a group of artists creating dynamic compositions of interweaving sounds. What they don’t do is simple, singable pop or rock songs. I like both styles. I like the complexity of bands like Ester Drang, but I also like the singable accessibleness of Destroy Nate Allen. You won’t be able to instantly sing along with The Cold Comfort Band like you can Page France. You’ll catch a few lyrics the first time, and more as you go on, but unless you’ve got a great voice, it’ll be hard to sing along anyway.
Lyrically, I honestly have no idea what the songs are about. The lyrics are great and really interesting, but I haven’t figured out exactly what they’re trying to say yet, so I’m not even going to try. I’ll do an interview with the band sometime, and they can explain everything then.
The band is made up of Christians, but I don’t think I’d put them under the whole “Christian Music” genre. Almost half the band members have led worship at their churches. Benjamin was one of the co-leaders of the high school and college ministry I lead until he left for Bible college. Rae writes on her Facebook page that her religious views are “wanting completely unhindered praise for love… Christ.” I think that’s pretty cool.
Anyway, hopefully I’ve inspired you to download their songs. The best way to listen to them is to sit back, crank up the volume, close your eyes, and experience the music. Don’t try too hard to understand it right away. Don’t try to sing along. Just feel it.
Here are the only two recorded songs that currently exist by the group, but they’re working on more:
The Blah Blah – serving up the best in Christian music MP3s
Note: All MP3s will be removed after one week, but you can get them on their MySpace page after that.