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(Taken from Absalom Absalom's official Facebook page)

Last Tuesday, April 17, a concert was held on the rooftop of Kresge dorm, featuring local bands Living with Hermits and Absalom Absalom.

Absalom Absalom is based out of Lexington, Ky., and consists of guitarists Gideon Maki, Andrew Foster and Colin Cook, drummer Daniel Gallutia and lead singer Stephen Gallutia.

They have two albums out: “a day of Death, a day of Birth, a chasing after the Wind” and “We Grow Together,” in addition to an EP project, “Bootleg Radio.”  “We Grow Together” is their most recent album, which came out in Jan. 2012.

I wasn’t able to go to the concert, but my roommate, Julia Hudson, was in attendance, and has gone to many other of their performances. “Absalom puts on a really good show,” she said. “They provide an atmosphere very conducive to dancing…I had fun bouncing about.”

The last time I saw Absalom Absalom in concert was in 2010 on Halloween, when they played a show in the art studio in downtown Wilmore. What I remember most about them was their passion. They would get so lost in the music that you couldn’t help but get pulled in, too. I also remember people walking through the “stage” while the band was playing to get to the bathroom, which was directly behind them in the cramped studio.

Absalom had the same mesmerizing effect on the crowd on Tuesday night. “It’s cool to see how much the band gets into it,” Julia said. “They all have their own way of moving to the music, but it looks really cool together when the song gets really intense. My favorite song is ‘Thunderclaps,’ the one about birds dying in an oil spill—at least I think that’s what it’s about.”

The band just played a show at Natasha’s Bistro in downtown Lexington this past Sunday, April 22, along with singer/songwriter Sam Lockridge. Their next event will be at Al’s Bar on Saturday, April 28 at 10 p.m., with band Bears of Blue River.

Like Absalom Absalom on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @absalomabsalom. And be sure to check out their website where album downloads are available: http://absalomabsalom.bandcamp.com/

 

Last Sunday night, after the initial opening night fever had died down, I went and watched the most anticipated movie of the year, “The Hunger Games.” As expected, the film was amazing and as a result I want to become Mrs. Mellark more than ever (but what else is new); however, even the soundtrack is being talked about all over Facebook–almost as much as the film itself, even.

“The Hunger Games” was filmed primarily in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, which is why the soundtrack’s folk sound is so appropriate. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Taylor Swift described the album as, “Appalachian music 300 years from now–what Americana and bluegrass music would sound like in the future” (http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20419951_20578463,00.html).

Find these songs on iTunes, Spotify or YouTube, and decide for yourself if they sound like futuristic folk or not:

1.      Arcade Fire, “Abraham’s Daughter.” Arcade Fire won Album of the Year at the 2011 GRAMMYs, and for good reason. This song has a dark, eerie feel to it, which is perfect since “The Hunger Games” film is sinister, too.

2.      The Secret Sisters, “Tomorrow Will Be Kinder.” This is a beautifully simple folk song about how much life sucks. I love it. Its premise is that, although everything is terrible right now, things will get better in the morning: “Sorrow weighs my shoulders down and trouble haunts my mind, but I know the present will not last and tomorrow will be kinder.”

3.      Neko Case, “Nothing to Remember.” This is a celebration song with a great sound. It just makes me happy; that’s all there is to it.

4.      Taylor Swift, featuring The Civil Wars, “Safe & Sound.” This is by far the most popular song on the album, but I’ll be honest: putting teen idol Taylor Swift and one of my favorite bands, The Civil Wars, together in one song did not appeal to me. However, after actually hearing the song, I have mended my ways. If Taylor keeps cranking out more songs like this, I will no longer write her off as a happy-go-lucky pop star.

 5.      Kid Cudi, “The Ruler and the Killer.” Wait, what is Kid Cudi doing on this album? It actually works, somehow. I’ll admit that it’s not my favorite song, but it gives the soundtrack an edgier feel. When I listen to this track, I feel like I’m Katniss striding through the forest about to take down a young elk with my bow and arrow.

 6.      Punch Brothers, “Dark Days.” Easygoing and folksy, this song is complete with mandolins, violins and beautiful harmony.

 7.      The Decemberists, “One Engine.” This is one of the more upbeat songs on the album, as you’d except from The Decemberists. There’s even a snare drum and electric guitar—how’d they get on this soundtrack, anyways?

 8.      The Carolina Chocolate Drops, “Daughter’s Lament.” This track makes me feel like I am standing in a clearing in the woods with one of the members of Celtic Woman as she serenades me. If this song were a river, I would swim in it.

 9.      The Civil Wars, “Kingdom Come.” Again, I love The Civil Wars, so anything they sing is like pumpkin ice cream for my soul. All that Joy Williams and John Paul White need are their wonderfully-compatible voices and an acoustic guitar, and they’re golden.

 10.  Glen Hansard, “Take the Heartland.” Although Hansard is the lead singer of indie rock band The Frames, I can’t stand this song. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the album at all.

 11.  Maroon 5, featuring Rozzi Crane, “Come Away to the Water.” I’m not the biggest fan of the pop rock band Maroon 5, but lead singer Adam Levine’s nasally voice actually works in this song. The haunting melody is far removed from Levine’s usual sound, and I’m okay with it.

 12.  Miranda Lambert, featuring Pistol Annies, “Run Daddy Run.” Although country music isn’t my preferred choice, this is probably one of my favorite songs on the whole album. The mandolin in the background gives it a folksy feel, which I love. Well done, Miranda. None of this “Gunpowder and Lead” crap.

 13.  Jayme Dee, “Rules.” I will admit that I’d never heard of this artist before, but now that I have, I’m a huge fan. This song doesn’t just sound lovely, but the lyrics are beautiful, too: “This blood keeps me alive, but what is it that runs through you? Electricity and wires, dictating everything you do. You tell me that you hear me and all your memories are real, but how do I know you don’t just feel what you’ve been told to feel?”

 14.  Taylor Swift, “Eyes Open.” Taylor has come a long way since “Teardrops on my Guitar,” but she still has some room to grow. This song—although catchy—is a bit too cliché to be on this album, in my opinion.

 15.  The Low Anthem, “Lover is Childlike.” This song is easygoing and entirely lovely–a clarinet makes an appearance at one point.

16.  Birdy, “Just a Game.” I love Birdy, particularly her cover of “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver.  This song is from Katniss’s point of view and is all about the love game that she and Peeta have to play in order to stay alive during the Hunger Games. The lyrics are very specific to the storyline, too: “Take my hand and my heart races. Flames illuminate our faces, and we’re on fire. Blow a kiss to the crowd; they’re our only hope now. And now I know my place, and now I know my place: we’re all just pieces in their games.” It’s a beautiful and poignant way to end the album.

My only question is this: why aren’t  The Weepies or The Head and the Heart on this soundtrack? Please work on that for “Catching Fire,” you movie people.

(Soundtrack list courtesy of amazon.com)

Christian artist Brandon Heath opening for Third Day on their "Revelation Tour," 2009. (source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Christian music industry has blown up in recent years, pumping out artists like it’s the way to win souls. Not that the Christian genre is in itself bad, but to some in our generation, it falls on deaf ears.

I grew up in a God-fearing home, went to a private school and now go to Asbury University, but I can’t stand listening to mainstream Christian music.

Why? Well, for one, it’s been stuffed down my throat my whole life. We sing the songs in Church, blast them on the radio on family road trips and receive them for Christmas in CD-form from well-meaning family members. And since we have become so saturated with it, we are now desensitized. “Open the Eyes of My Heart” just doesn’t move us like it did when we were children belting it out in Sunday School.

In some ways, the accessibility of Christian music has actually made it lose its meaning. It’s like that one pop song you used to like when it first came out until they played it on the radio for two months straight…except imagine that for your whole life.

Not only that, but most Christian music sounds the same, to be frank. Brandon Heath sounds like Aaron Shust who is indistinguishable from Chris Tomlin. Each song starts with a quiet, heartfelt intro, and then comes the acoustic guitar, which slowly crescendos into the chorus where the drums and electric guitar join the club. There’s a bridge, a key change, some high notes, at least one profound—but cliché—statement about life, and end.

Perhaps it’s the alternative culture we’ve found ourselves in, but for some reason, our generation tends to shy away from the conventional. Matthew West, who is often featured on local radio stations like K-Love and Air1, just doesn’t have that unique sound that Christian indie artists like Gungor or Asbury’s own Jenny & Tyler have.

I, personally, feel like my mother (bless her heart) when I listen to a Christian radio station, because that’s the kind of music that she listens to. So, perhaps in an attempt to be my own person and all that, I rebel, and instead escape to the less-familiar genres of indie-folk and synth-pop that have less childhood connotations. It is there that I have a chance to build my own musical tastes without the influence of my Church upbringing.

And honestly, our generation is tired. We’ve heard the same songs, messages and chord successions since we were in the cradle. It’s not that we’re opposed to the idea of worship music, but we long for a new approach to it. After all, doesn’t the Bible itself say in Psalms 61:7, “Sing a new song to the LORD!”? A new song. How interesting. It doesn’t say, “Sing the same songs you’ve known by heart since the third grade!”

Many of us are sincere in our faith, passionate about Christ and are eager to worship Him, but we need to find our own way to do it. And didn’t generations before us do the same thing? In fact, back in the time of Martin Luther (who wrote “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” by the way), even hymns were considered too creative and altogether scandalous. Then there came the charismatic hippies of the ‘60s who brought guitars and (no, it can’t be) dancing into the sacred house of God.

Maybe in 20 years the elder members of Church congregations will complain that the mandolins are too loud or that the music “just doesn’t speak to them the same way that Brandon Heath’s songs did.” But if the Church doesn’t make changes to ensure that it stays relevant in today’s culture, it will surely fall by the wayside.