Music


Curse Your Branches is one of the more heartbreaking albums that I’ve heard. David Bazan is known for critiquing the Church in his band Pedro the Lion but for the most part they were just critiques, and always done through character pieces. On Curse Your Branches, Bazan is not only attacking the Church, but the Christian faith in general. Bazan once considered himself a Christian, so it is heartbreaking for me to hear a man who is so bitter towards Christianity.

The first track on the album is titled Hard to Be. Bazan is here attacking the idea of original sin coming from the Garden of Eden and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This is honestly probably my favorite track on the album. It’s incredibly catchy and fun to listen to, I just don’t agree with its message.

In fact, that last sentence sums up my view of the entire album. Other stand out songs include When We Fell (A heartbreaking look at our fallen nature, with a personal note to his mother), Bless This Mess (Bazan praying that those who walk away from Christianity will be blessed), and Please Baby, Please.

This is not a place for me to go against the things that Bazan is saying, but I will say that I disagree with a lot of what he says. So theologically, this is an incredibly unsound album. However, musically, this is an excellent album. All of the songs are well constructed, the lyrics are personal, introspective, honest, and well written. The music is talented and excellent. I really enjoy listening to the album. In fact, there’s not a single song that I have to skip over when listening.

I love this album. It’s hard for me to listen to, it criticizes and attacks a lot of what I believe, and it’s heartbreaking, but something keeps drawing me back. I keep coming back to ask, “Why?” I come back again and again to probe Bazan’s brain to see what it was about Christianity that pushed him away. I pray that Bazan’s bitterness will pass.

Overall Rating: 9/10

Advertisements

brand-new-daisy-artwork

I love Brand New. The past two albums that they have released rank among some of my favorite albums of all time, and The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me is by far my favorite album they have released. I went into listening to Daisy with incredibly high hopes and I was not let down.

The style really took me by surprise. Brand New has been changing their style from album to album throughout their entire career starting off as a pop-punk band on Your Favorite Weapon and eventually evolving into a much more mellow indie type style on The Devil and God. So I was incredibly surprised when the opening track of Daisy started with a one and a half minute intro of a sound clip of a Gospel song then busts into a heavy song that is almost entirely screaming. On tracks two and three, Bed and At the Bottom, they slip more into the style that was present on The Devil and God. At the Bottom is ranked among my favorite Brand New songs. The rest of the tracks on the album mesh the heavier screaming sound present in the opening track with the more familiar sound from the Devil and God. Overall I really enjoy the blending of styles and I’m happy to count this among the rest of the Brand New library.

The lyrical content is exactly what you expect from Jesse Lacey who I still say is one of the most talented songwriters currently putting out music. It’s been incredibly interesting to follow his spiritual growth from the beginning. On their original release there was no philosophical or theological content, and on the second release there was very little musing about God. But on the last two albums it is obvious that he is wrestling with the idea of Christianity. I know a lot of his thinking was strongly influenced by Aaron Weiss, singer of mewithoutYou, while they were on tour together and Aaron spent a good amount of time telling Jesse about the Gospel. This album isn’t as overtly theological as The Devil and God was, but there are still religious overtones, and you can tell that Jesse is definitely putting a lot of thought into these issues. He tends to quote the Bible in songs better than most “Christian” artists that I’ve heard.

I really do love this album, and Brand New remains one of my favorite bands of all time with yet another solid release. Go pick it up now, and pick up The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me and Déjà Entendu while you’re at it.

Overall Rating: 9/10

StockholmSyndromeDerekWebb

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Derek Webb’s newest release titled Stockholm Syndrome. His record label refused to release it because of a song with two cuss words on it, something that Christian artists are apparently not supposed to do. Webb wasn’t going to let that get him down though, he proceeded to drag fans into an alternate reality online game similar to what Lost did to fans with the Lost experience. Everything culminated July 3rd in Nashville at The Rutledge where fans who followed to clues in the game were rewarded with a video containing most of the songs on the album and a brief Q&A with Derek and the guy who helped him make the album. Those of us who had been playing the game and were still remaining vigilant followed still more clues released during the event and ended up at Derek Webb’s house with copies of the new album in hand. This will be the first time I’ve reviewed something that isn’t even out to the general public yet, I’m pretty excited about it.

I was very surprised by the style of this album. Most of Derek Webb’s other releases have been very acoustic and chill, this album is very electronic and upbeat. While it’s not what I was expecting I do enjoy the style quite a bit. This is the first Derek Webb album I’ve been able to sit down and listen to straight through without skipping around, every track is well written and fun to listen to.

The lyrical content is exactly what you expect from Derek, a scathing blast at the Church at large as well as attacks on the American government. A lot of what he says is needed. There’s a song title Freddie, Please that is an attack on Westboro Baptist Church, the Church that made “God Hates Fags” a slogan. The most controversial song is What Matters More, the song that caused his record label to not release the album for awhile. It’s an attack on how Christians treat homosexuals and includes lines such as “if you really believed what you say you believe you wouldn’t be so damn reckless with the words you speak” and “We can talk and debate till we’re blue in the face about the language and tradition that He’s coming to save. Meanwhile we sit like we don’t give a shit about 50,000 people who are dying today.” Personally, I think the cussing in the song makes sense and I think it contributes to his message. I am not opposed to it. There are other songs on the album attacking Christian culture and books such as 90 Minutes in Heaven, songs attacking the way we view our government, and a song that appears to have a pro-choice message in it although Derek refused to comment and confirm that was what he was saying. Every track has it’s purpose and the album’s message is one I think Christians need to hear and think about.

I love this album. I appreciate the things Derek Webb has to say, I think he’s a voice that we need, someone who is within the Evangelical Church and is not afraid to announce the ails he sees. Musically and lyrically this is his best effort yet and marketing-wise this is his most intriguing album by far.

The album will be available for pre-order on Tuesday and you will get a download of the album in it’s entirety as soon as you pre-order, the physical copies hit stores in September, I hope you all get a copy.

Overall rating: 9.5/10