Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Christian Music That Isn't Embarrassing

I grew up in the church, and, in the mid-late 80's, I became obsessed with Christian music.  Bands like Petra and White Heart and artists like Russ Taff and Michael W. Smith were commonplace in my tape deck (that's right, I had a tape deck!).  Heck, I even went to a Stryper concert!  I was a bonafide Christian music junkie.

But at some point Christian music lost it's soul, and it became rehashed top 20 radio with a "Christian" message.  Really, it felt like a cheap imitation of top 20 radio.  At some point I became embarrassed by it. I wasn't embarrassed that it was music about Jesus, but that it was music that, in my opinion, wasn't good art, and therefore didn't make Jesus look good.

Some of my issues were just typical college-age angst, but some of my thoughts were very legitimate.  I still have a tendency to feel that way about much of the Christian music that hits Christian radio.  So, what I try to do is scour iTunes for Christian music that is artistic, original, non-cliche' and grace affirming.  Lately, I've found a few artists who meet my picky criteria, and I'd like to share them with you.  

Now, I am an open music snob, so you have to factor that in.  Some of my criticisms are probably unfair, and I am certain that most of the artists who make music today are extremely talented.  These are just some of the artists and songs that are hitting me these days.  I hope you enjoy this list of Christian Music that Isn't Embarrassing:

I haven't been this excited about a collection of songs by a Christian artist in a long time.  The writing is honest and artful, the music is folksy, but with enough pop influence to make it playable, and the production is fantastic, especially for a self-released record (can you call it a record anymore?).  Listen to Prodigal Son, Brought Me to You, and Changing Lanes.  Really, the whole thing is excellent.  Watch out for this guy, because he's really good.  Oh, and by the way, he's an Aggie (which isn't necessarily a good thing, but might interest some of you who read this.  You know who you are.).

Here's Daniel's song, Prodigal Son:

This collection of grass roots worship is full of honest songs, the kind you could listen to on a dirt road or around a pool table.  These songs reverently exalt Jesus Christ, but they are unlike the slick, overproduced numbers that pass for most mainstream worship these days.  Not all of this record is great, but it definitely has its moments.  The songs that feature Ryan Delmore are particularly good (Find My Joy and Flood).  This one's worth a listen.

This band, if I'm not mistaken, is associated with Marc Driscoll and Mars Hill Church.  While I appreciate and respect Driscoll, I'm not a huge fan.  This band, however, has tremendous potential.  The song, Hail The King, is one of the most original Christian rock songs I've heard in a while.  Some people won't like the punk rock flair, but I really like it.  There's a lot of passion in this one.

This band has really grown on me.  The lead singer has a Kings of Leon feel, but the music is layered and unique.  They will get some Christian radio air time, but this is not a band that seems overly concerned with the mainstream.  They're sort of Creedence Cleerwater Revival meets Coldplay in the sense that they blend country soul with concept pop, and it really works.  It may take a little while for it to fit, but if you're patient with it, you'll be really happy you gave it a try.  This may be the next Christian super group (Not sure such a thing exists, but you know what I mean), and if it is, that would be real progress.