Nothing New Under the Sun


Most of the music I listen to these days are culled from periodical scans of my favorite mp3 blogs. It’s a pretty good time for music at a certain level these days; the indie scene is experience a resurgence in activity, interest, and quality, partly because of the social developments in tools and community on the Internet.

It actually doesn’t surprise me that the indie music scene in Montreal (and now Portland) is getting a lot of press because the indie rock in favor has a, well,… Canadian temperament. It has a mature but modest quality to it. It’s wry and winsome and knowing…but earnest. It’s emotive but without losing its sense of irony. It’s hip and self-righteous but also fun and self-deprecating. It’s accessible but doesn’t shamelessly pander.

And what’s interesting is that there are segments of the scene that are actually accepting, if not embracing, spirituality. And I don’t just mean a nebulous humanist spirituality, but institutional religiosity. Two years ago the Polyphonic Spree copped a Jesus Freak aesthetic and married it to classic Brit-pop, then Sufjan Stevens–an actual believer–came along as the nice guy poster boy for the new hipster.

So I’m reading Stypod this morning and there’s this entry on Mute Math, an alternative Christian band. And it goes on like, “Never liked Christian rock, blah blah blah, but these guys sound like no Christian band I’ve heard, yadda yadda…”


Cause now I’m realizing why I’m digging the sound these days: it sounds awfully familiar. It sounds like Exit Records circa 1988. It sounds like Daniel Amos, Adam Again, the 77’s, The Choir, and LSU sometime between no-wave and grunge. Yes, I’m sure they were influenced by Joy Division and Big Star and Husker Du and on like everyone else, but the alternative Christian music of the time, unlike most other college radio, was more earnest, less cynical, more willing to admit its own complicity in the sins of the age, and more willing to suggest poetic options out of them.

It’s bittersweet to think that way back when smart alternative Christian rock was dismissed by all quarters only now to be (accidentally?) aped by the New Pornographers, Mountain Goats, Jose Gonzalez, and other darlings of the vanguard.

That last parenthetical comment was tongue-in-cheek; I don’t honestly think there’s a conspiracy going on here. But like I said–bittersweet. I spent years trying to convince people that Christian pop went beyond DC Talk and Jars of Clay.

music, christianity


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