For more than a year, some of my friends and I have been sharing music. We’re supposed to review/rate what gets shared with us, and share those reviews with the group, but that doesn’t always happen.
The DoneFors – Award Winning Album (2011)
That’s The “Done For”s, as in “they are a group of people in a situation so bad it is impossible to get out of.”
Here’s what they had to say about this album: “Pretty, naughty things, melancholy traveling, false heroes, small town woes, political cost, and lost memories are themes explored in this sophomore achievement.”
They say their signature sound “spans genres, stretches boundaries, and stays rooted in an instrument’s organic sound” and that they “make a valiant attempt to defy what is hip in order to make music for musicians, music for pets, and music for music lovers to discover and appreciate when The DoneFors have died; literally.”
And I think that’s a pretty accurate description of this album. I’m a music lover and I can appreciate what they’ve done. Mercator Map has the general feeling of movement. The instrumentation helps, but also nothing on that song really feels stagnant in any way. I don’t know that I’d totally go “melancholy,” but sometimes that really works for them. Berlin and 808 were more melancholy and the end effect was beautiful, but the more upbeat Carry was my favorite on this album.
Cherry Season (which is where “pretty, naughty things” comes in – except I’m not sure how I feel about the “pretty” part), and some others were alright. Somethings little things I liked, and other things in the same song not so much. Shot at You falls in that category, too. I really like the kind of funky feel, but at times they keep the off beat guitar going a little long and it feels like you’re walking down the stairs in the dark and counted wrong.
And there were others that just didn’t really do anything for me, like Tallboy.
I can appreciate what they did, and I’ll probably look into more of their stuff. I don’t love it all, but that’s the case with a lot of music. 3/5
Aaron Edson – Wondering (2001)
Here’s all the background I have on this artist/album: He’s a member of my church. When my friend Scott was serving as a missionary (for our church) in Honduras, this album was popular among the other missionaries there. That right there should be enough to tell you what kind of music this is going to be.
Also apparently last November he stopped a guy from kidnapping his daughter, but that was a long time after this album was released. This is his only album, although most of these songs appear on other Christian music compilations.
I can appreciate the musicianship involved in writing and recording songs like the title track, Forever for Me or Standing Tall Again, but I can only listen to so much soft pop/rock. A Candle’s Light was at least the musically most interesting.
Some songs made me think, “This is exactly the kind of music the Sons of Provo soundtrack was parodying.” That was especially true of Letter from Heaven and That Girl in Your Hands. They were just too schmaltzy for me.
Amazingly, I had heard two of these songs (Here Am I, Send Me and In Thy Courts Above) before. Where or when, I have no idea, but they sounded familiar. I think Here I Am, Send Me exemplifies something I don’t like about Christian music. Mostly I think it’s the style of music. I think religious music should above all invite a certain spirit. When I served my mission, I listened to a lot of music that didn’t necessarily drive that spirit away. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that very little music actually invites that spirit in. That’s a fine, but very important distinction. It’s not that this album is irreverent, but I wouldn’t exactly call this the definition of reverent either. If you’re singing about how you feel like you don’t fit in, or eating bagels, or whatever most “popular” music is about, then I don’t really care about how you do it. There are plenty of bands out there who are Christian and it shows in their music, but they’re not so overt about it. It influences how they write and sing about more everyday things without feeling like a Sunday School lesson.
There is definitely a wrong way to do church music. This isn’t that extreme. It’s not a bad album. He has talent. But I’m pretty sure I won’t seek this out again. 2/5
Because I think this topic is interesting, I’m including what the others thought of this album:
“Kinda like Paul’s comments, I’m really not very into pop-worship or sacred-pop or whatever you call it. Its actually a source of some cognitive dissonance to me. I know the themes are good and I fully agree with the lyrics (unlike a LOT of music that I like) but somehow I always feel like the artists are trying to use my religion to obligate me to buy their tracks, even though I’m pretty sure they are genuine. Tracks like A Drop of Blood kinda feel like they’re just emotion mongering to me. As an album, musically this was pretty tough for me to get through as well. Continuous soft ballads. I think I’d prefer he approach some less sacred topics here and there to have some more upbeat work. Like I say, its a conundrum to me, because I feel like I should like this because its music perfectly aligned with my beliefs and I love music, but I just don’t. I’ve even thought about trying to make such music myself, but really, when I want sacred music, gimme the hard stuff: Mo-Tab. Or like Mozart’s Requiem or something.” 2.2/5 – Spencer
Björk – Homogenic (1997)
I could just sum it all up with “Björk is weird” (which may or may not be true), but I don’t think that’s a fair review. It’s not the whole story. To be sure there is some really strange stuff (like everything I’ve heard off her Medulla album), but there’s some more “normal” things of hers, too.
A lot of the music feels like an updated 8-bit video game soundtrack. There are prominent beats, but it’s not like the boom-boom-boom of techno party music. It’s just electronic. It’s almost ethereal. Part of that is her voice. It can be very beautiful and melodic. Take Jóga or All is Full of Love for example. But sometimes she chooses not to sing like that. Well, it’s not exactly how she sings (although there is some almost yelling which I don’t like) so much as what they do to her voice in post-production. I think that’s where a lot of people get turned off. That, and some of the visual elements of her music can get a little weird.
I had heard Hunter before, and I think it’s my favorite track of hers. When my wife got Taylor Swift’s 1985, that album was on constant repeat in our car. Partly because our little girl loves Shake it Off. The point is that I feel like a few of the tracks off that album (or at least elements of certain tracks) feel almost like mainstream tributes to Björk, and Hunter in particular.
Some of the low-lights for me were Five Years (although I can’t exactly point to why), Alarm Call, Immature (which both felt repetitive and didn’t really have great vocals), and Pluto (which sounded like a remix of a dot matrix printer with her worst vocals of the album on top of it).
This isn’t a listen-to-every-day, -week, or maybe even -month kind of album for me. But I can appreciate a lot of the musicality behind it. 3/5
The Rescues – Let Loose the Horses (2010)
I’ve been this close to sharing this band for months, but for one reason or another haven’t yet (obviously). Whenever I’ve thought of a cover that’s better than the original, I think of their cover of Teenage Dream. I’ve already reviewed that and given a little background on them there, but haven’t shared it with this group of friends because I was waiting until I shared some of their other music. So now I did.
I thought about sharing their first album, but it’s very much a “first album.” It’s fine, but feels a little flatter when compared to their second and third albums. It feels less produced; almost acoustic. And you can hear more country influences than their later stuff.
This is their second album. I love their third album as well, and even though there are some songs I don’t really care for, I’m sharing this because my favorite songs of theirs (Break Me Out and You’re Not Listening) are on this album.
Here’s what my friends had to say about The Rescues:
“I’m pretty sure I listened to this album once or twice after Paul played the final track at our band rehearsal. That track (You’re Not Listening) is still the major highlight of the album to me. Its melody sticks with me and the lyrics are pretty. This time listening Can’t Stand the Rain stuck out to me. I like the big change in rhythmic style for the album. Stay Over was the other track I really liked the style of, though the whole theme of the lyrics turn me off. It kinda makes me feel like they’re targeting tweens pretty hard. Overall the rest of the album was good but kinda humdrum. So I’ll probably pull up one track off this album again (like I have in the past). In contrast to the DoneFors that had a nice album that consistently pleased but nothing stuck out too far, this had a few tracks that I really liked and the rest were just ok.” 3.9/5 – Spencer
Feel free to share your own thoughts on Christian music, how weird Björk is (or isn’t), The Rescues or whatever else down in the comments.