David Bazan Feature From The Inlander

The “C” Word

David Bazan is no longer Christian, but he can’t stop singing about God

Christian-rock enthusiasts view David Bazan as their fallen son. As Pedro the Lion, Bazan became the poster child for indie crossover success (especially from a critical standpoint) for those bearing the heavy cross-labeled “Christian rock.” But a funny thing happened on the way: He stopped believing.

This loss of faith sent shockwaves through his devoted Christian fans. The son of a pastor, the man they viewed as their musical mouthpiece, had strayed from the flock. But that seems to suit Bazan: He was never comfortable being “theirs” anyway.

“I was always pretty dissatisfied with the label ‘Christian rocker’ or just that I was a ‘Christian band,’” Bazan says. “There was almost always either Christian people calling me a ‘Christian rocker’ to sort of claim me as their own or justify themselves listening to the music, because it was just ungodly or something to listen to music that wasn’t Christian. Or it was people from the secular world looking to dismiss what I was doing with that label.

“Now, I’m glad that technically not being a Christian makes it so that that label is even more inaccurate.”

His first full-length solo album, Curse Your Branches, came out last year and attacks questions of faith with a no-holds-barred, razor-sharp tongue. Whether it’s attacking the logic of original sin or the soundness of fate, nothing about the religious realm is off-limits for Bazan. Understandably, some of his devoted followers are not too happy with the direction his music has taken. Continue reading

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Birds on a Wire Preview For The Inlander

So I previewed this week’s Bird on a Wire festival taking place in Pullman, WA. It’s got a really solid lineup – featuring Rocky Votolato, Mimicking Birds, Joe Pug, Justin Townes Earle, and many more. Since it isn’t a typical feature, I figured I’d just link over there.

Out on a Limb

Home Acres – Aloha

Aloha is a band properly named, not because the group has a sunny disposition (in fact the opposite is closer to the truth), but because of the duality of opposites the word evokes.

From the opening bass rumble on “Building A Fire,” Home Acres is an exercise in serene tension. The songs roll along with the slightest apprehension in the face of their light power pop melodies, like there is a worrisome dark cloud just on the horizon of this sunny day. Maybe it’s because Aloha doesn’t let the listener “breathe” that causes this effect. For example, a song like “Moonless March” seems to be a standard piano pop song on the surface, but the music crams the space and it doesn’t let up. There just aren’t pockets of air to breach up into. Oddly enough, this feels absolutely fresh and thrilling.

Another selling point of the album is the understated intelligence of the songs. Aloha gives off an air of sagacity because of a consistent sense of proper tone. The lyrics and vocal delivery never seem off: never goofy, never too serious, never too melodramatic. The same goes for the instrumentals, as is made clear by the way the marimba lines on “Microviolence” seem essential and not simply a frivolous add-on by a band looking to stuff in some atypical instrumentation. Continue reading

I Liked It Better When… 

The Hold Steady’s new album cover…

I liked it better when it was Set Yourself On Fire by Stars…

Ted Leo and The Pharmacists Feature From The Inlander

Young Strummer

Ted Leo is punk rock — in the most traditional sense of the phrase

Jesuit-educated English majors are not the typical go-to source when looking for rabble-rousing punks. Ted Leo, obviously, is the exception.

The Notre Dame grad and his backing band, the Pharmacists, have built a loyal following thanks to the undying spirit of rebellion and a relentless touring regimen. They’ve played everywhere from dingy, hole-in-the-wall bars in the Dakotas to stadium shows as openers for Pearl Jam.

The group’s latest effort, The Brutalist Bricks, offers more of the jovial cynicism that has become the band’s hallmark sound: dual-faceted songs that alternate between punk and pop. Yet it’s when both elements blend seamlessly that Ted Leo and the Pharmacists sound best, as on the new record’s “Bottled In Cork.”

Comparing Leo to the Clash’s Joe Strummer is almost too easy. It’s a comparison that’s made constantly. But there’s a reason. He combines an acute pop sound with a punk sensibility — and he’s not afraid to speak his mind.
Continue reading

Humbug – Arctic Monkeys

humbug_arctic_monkeys_album

Humbug indeed.

Review Score: 2.5