Christian Artists To Know: Bodies Of Water

Bodies Of Water
Genre: Rock
Sub-genres: Indie, Gospel, Folk, Choir
Location: Highland Park, CA
Label: Secretly Canadian
Website: www.bodiesofwater.net/
Myspace: www.myspace.com/bodiesofwater
Christian label: No
Category: The Light whats this?

From the beginning of just about any of Bodies Of Water‘s many songs, you know you are in for something different. Maybe it is the Arcade Fire like guitar progression.  Maybe it’s the fact that you never know what new instrument will pop up at any time. Or maybe it is the sound of a large group of distinct voices singing on top of each other  in some type of off beat harmony for the majority of the songs.  Whatever strikes you, there is no denying that Bodies Of Water doesn’t fit into many molds that people put around music.  Pulling influences from folk, choir music, indie rock, and adding their own sense of progression to the mix, Bodies Of Water have been making a serious name for themselves ever since the release of their first album, Ears Will Pop & Eyes Will Blink, in 2007.  Since that time, they have already released another well received CD, toured, and were even featured on a SXSW Music Conference showcase in 2008. Their strength is in their ability to combine older sounding styles of chamber choir music with more modern elements of progressive rock.  The end result allows the band to explore new sounds and avenues of experimental music without becoming too heavy handed.  Although only a four piece at its core, the band is known to play shows with as many as five other people on stage, giving their live shows and music an experimental communal quality.

The band formed in 2004 under the name Death Of A Unicorn, but after keyboardist Meredith Metcalf was struck with the symbolism of “any heat is bearable next to a body of water”, she , her husband David, and friends Jessie Conklin and Kyle Gladden decided to change the name of their newly formed group to Bodies Of Water.  The name seemed to just work better with their joyous and soulful approach to the indie rock platform.  Although they have been compared many times to folk choir The Polyphonic Spree, Bodies Of Water‘s everybody-sing-at-once approach is more steeped in gospel than hippie sing-along music.  Leader David has said that he loved quartet gospel groups like Swan Silvertones because of the way that music was able to work seamlessly with the group’s faith.  Taking that idea and incorporating some more modern elements have given Bodies Of Water a sound that is unlike any of their peers.

Lyrically, the band tries to deal with matters of faith by talking metaphorically about the body, most often in reference to the body of Christ and the intimacy between God and His children. Hands, eyes,and feet are all images that get visited over and over again in their songs.  Other songs deal with the nurturing and sustenance of that body, many times referring to water and food to invoke images of rest and restoration.  All in all, Bodies Of Water makes you dig for meaning. Their lyrics are not obvious, in fact they’re a little strange.  Bodies Of Water is just not one of those bands who will give what is on the surface, but instead will give you something you won’t forget.

Here is the band preforming the song “If I Were A Bell” in 2008.

I also just had to post their video for the song “Under The Pines”. It is a great little video, a fairytale type story, but be warned that there are some strange images in the video, including a little blood.  We are all grown-ups here though, right?

I (Ian) discovered this band almost by accident last year on Emusic. I was impressed immediately by their very unique sound.  I had heard bands like them before, but I was really drawn to how happy and creative the music was.  A few days later I discovered that they were a band of believers, and I have recommended them ever since. We are always going to present bands to you that we think are doing something different than the rest.  Bodies Of Water openly talk about their faith in interviews but somehow have never been defined or shunned by that fact.  The indie music scene just loves them to much.  I have to agree though, you just cant help but love this band.

You can find Bodies Of Water’s music digitally on Bodies of Water

You can also buy their CDs on Amazon: Ears Will Pop & Eyes Will Blink(2007), A Certain Feeling(2008)

Spiritual Ambivalence In Music

Spiritual ambivalence is a disturbing trend in the music industry; both popular music and Christian music. It pervades the mainstream music industry and nobody seems to bat an eye at it, although it warrants some real examination. In the Christian music industry, it happens all the time. While some people talk about it, most of the time it is seen as a positive move for the artist involved, and therefore should be respected by the artist’s fans and listeners.

The practice of seeing one’s spiritual life as so disconnected from an artist’s music, that it can be flaunted or discarded at any time with no sense of consequence, fails those searching for true values for in this world of temptation. Now, this is my own theory, so I don’t want anybody to hold what I am saying as fact. If you disagree or agree this post is merely an attempt to have people talk about much of an impact an artist’s spiritual life (or lack thereof) should have on their musical expression and career. Secondly, my intent is not should overtly negative, just realize that I am trying to present a concept, and so I am going to use my experience to try prove what I am trying to bring to your attention.

Although I have been noticing this trend for some time, it really came to my attention again as I was watching Fuse TV’s top video’s of 2008. The video that was playing when I turned on the station was a hip-hop video (of course feat. Lil’ Wayne) in which the rapper was talking about how hard his life has been coming from the particular neighborhood he came from, and how most of his childhood friends were either dead or in jail. Not an overtly offensive subject, but as most secular rap videos go, I could hardly understand what was going on lyrically because constant “bleeps” were making the song almost unlistenable. After two minutes of unintelligible ( due to the ”bleeps”) rapping, the song started to fade out displaying a huge graphic quoting Galatians 2:20. It struck me as funny that this guy could sit there for an entire video and speak in a language that would offend a sailor, and then expect me to take his Christian values seriously. In all honesty, I don’t know what is in his heart, or what his relationship with God is, but after a few minutes profanity, drug use and violent posing I couldn’t understand what was going on. I was a bit reluctant to believe that we were reading from the same Bible.

This has been happening in the hip-hop community for a long time. When a rapper accepts an award at any level, they make a great deal of effort to thank God (most times “God Almighty”) before anybody else. I would love to believe that these men (and women) were my brothers and sisters in Christ, but the majority of guys that see it so important to make God first as they accept their “Best Video of the Year” award, are the reason that we have those parental advisory stickers on CDs. I really love hip-hop, so don’t take this as me being down on the rap industry, because the country music scene is almost as bad. While the profanity is a bit more subdued, country music is notorious for its “beer, fightin’, women” mentality. Yet, almost every interview given by the same artists who write entire songs about how they can’t remember who they went home with, will talk about teaching Sunday school, and how their singing career started with them singing in their church’s choir.

The progressive watering down of the Christian message is perpetuated by these celebrities and musicians that build careers celebrating their transgressions towards God, and then praising Him for their success. Like I said before, I am not judging these musicians hearts, but it just doesn’t seem like anybody sees anything wrong with this anymore. We are trying to teach the youth in our churches that the reason they should avoid the life styles presented by the popular media because it is in opposition to God’s will; but when they see their favorite country star talk about the same God, and then introduce his new video “The Beer Made Me Cheat”, what do we say then?

In the Christian industry, the exact opposite is happening. Where as mainstream artists that have no business talking about Jesus take every chance to do so; droves of Christian music artists seem to be scared of the subject. I have read and seen countless interviews with artists whose music and message is full of their walk with God, shy away from the subject when questioned about it. Musicians who are making Christ-centered music in both the Christian and mainstream industries seem almost afraid of the subject in public. So we have artist’s whose whole musical platform is built on their faith in Christ, and are unwilling to talk about it, and the artists whose message is in almost complete opposition to God who are more than willing to talk about theirs. In both instances, Christ’s involvement in the music seems flippant. Once again, this is not an attempt to be judgmental, but why is so hard to tell if an artist is believer or not? Why is it so easy for the secular industry to talk about their version of faith, but for musicians who love God to not want to bring up the subject?

So where does this leave us? What is the point? The point is that these trends are not going to go away. We as listeners have to strive to seek out the artists that truly share our beliefs. We have to be the ones that don’t fall haplessly for scripture quoted at the end of a filthy song. To allow the artists out there that are believers in Christ to speak freely about their faith no matter who is asking by showing our support for their career. Hopefully we can change this trend, but until then we have to approach the music we listen to with a large amount of discernment and understanding.

Has the music industry become too complacent with its view of Christ? Is it possible to have content (in music) that is deemed offensive even in a secular world, and still have a strong relationship with God?

Christian Artists To Know: Jason Upton

1312398944_l

Jason Upton
Genre: worship
Styles: eclectic, progressive, independent
Label: Key Of David
Website/myspace: Jason Upton
Christian label: yes
Category: The Spiritual whats this?

Known for his unorthodox worship songs and unwillingness to conform to any standard set forth by the Christian culture; Jason Upton is a worship leader that truly seeks God’s heart.  He has been singing in churches since he was 15, but didn’t begin to lead worship until after receiving his Masters in Divinity. During this time, Jason and his wife began to feel God giving them songs to share with the world.  Since then, Jason has devoted himself to truly seeking God through worship.  He has released over ten albums since 2000, many live, unrehearsed, and with no post-production. The experience created by the music is completely authentic, and the songs are passionate and emotional.

To say that Jason’s music is just worship really degrades the musicianship involved for his songs. Unlike a lot of worship music out there, Jason’s songs are layered, progressive, and constantly changing. He never really performs a song the same way twice, and the lyrics alter from time to time based on what God has for him to say. There is a true beauty in his songs that are not derived from guitar effects of multi-layered vocal tracks; but from a man that can truly communicate his passion through his voice, and most times his instrument of choice, his piano.  If Jason wasn’t a worship leader, he would most likely be giving the likes of Dave Matthews and Iron & Wine a run for their money.

here is Jason preforming “Lion Of Judah” :

Here he is preforming “Freedom” much earlier in his career (to a very spirited congregation):

This is truly an artist that we can’t describe the way he needs to be described. I was lucky enough to tour with Jason very briefly at the beginning stages of his career; and he changed my perception on what worship music could be. I have never met a man more willing to completely follow God in worship, nor one who at the same time could blow me away as a musician.  Jason’s lyrics are nothing short of prophetic, and his services are nothing short of life changing. It is THE only musical experience I have ever attended, worship, secular, entertainment, and so forth; where the audience refused to leave after the performer had walked off stage.  Jason Upton is truly a blessed guy.

You can find Jason Upton’s amazing music digitally on Jason Upton

You can also get his CDs on Amazon: Key Of David(2000), Faith(2001), Jacob’s Dream(2002), Dying Star(2002), Remember(2003), Trusting the Angels(2004), Great River Road(2005), Open up the Earth(2005), Beautiful People(2007), Between Earth & Sky(2007), 1200 Ft Below Sealevel(2008)