Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Fractious, Elegaic Destruction and Redemption While French-Kissing a Light Socket

T shirt link
"Ashes to ashes
 Dust to dust 
 Jesus Christ and Lazarus
 They'd always have faith in the foretold healing.
Some buildings are built to be broken
Some buildings appear to be broken

No, I wouldn't have it any other way"-
- link

Must be the band ¡Forward, Russia!    (¡FФЯWДЯD, RUSSIД!)

           (Can I type that online without getting hacked?)

The band's music has been described as "art rock", "contemporary agit-punk", and "high-octane dance-punk".[7][20][21] When Give Me a Wall was released, the band received comparisons with Bloc Party, while the NME described them as sounding "like a peculiarly English take on emo".[20][22] The band's second album was described by Pitchfork Media as "a curious mélange of studied dance-punk and flailing hardcore".[23]

Jon Pareles, reviewing a live performance from 2006 in The New York Times stated "[their] songs aren't content with verse and chorus; they're packed with incident, and they're propelled by the indefatigable drumming of Katie Nicholls. Instruments unite for muscular, danceable funk, then splay apart like a fist suddenly opening."[24]

Woodhead's vocals were described as "post hardcore operatic screeching".[25]

Seattle Weekly:

..dramatic and unique. Driving melodies and math-rock rhythms found throughout drive the musical complexity of the group and the album...

The maelstrom of sound behind vocalist and keyboardist Tom Woodhead isolates the piercing clarity of his voice. When he shoots into falsetto, Only rarely will he allow himself to dip into the frenzy, but when he does the raw desperation is poetic.

Their sound is one thing, fairly easy to understand and enjoy, but the themes are something else entirely.

The lyrics can seem nonsensical and disconnected at times, but when taken in context of the song and album as a whole, are impressive. As a concept album describing the facets of life — from fear to love to hate to confusion to acceptance — "Life Processes" has a literary quality and tries to be exactly as it's named.  link


dramatic and verbose. Religious icons, regret, pitchforks and satellites all somehow find their way onto the album without sounding false, which is saying something after a debut that didn’t even have song titles.  link
Drowned in Sound:

Despite being a cliché of the laziest type, the idea of the ‘difficult’ second album is one that has endured simply because so many bands seem to be unable to avoid falling into its trap. Leeds’ ¡Forward Russia! launched themselves into so many people’s hearts two years ago with Give Me A Wall, an album so tightly coiled that every one of its enigmatic songs seemed to be bursting under the force of its own tension. It was a collection of songs defined by the whip-crack of drummer Katie’s snare and hi-hat, which meant that while it was instantly recognisable as part of the post-DFA dance/punk buzz it stood out enough for it to be a still-stunning work that can justifiably be called of the best debuts of the century so far.

And Life Processes is by no means a sequel; it feels more like the work of an entirely different band.

 ...the lyric “Did you ever study the Israelites? / They made a new life for themselves with such a peculiar change” – is anyone really going to be able to reply in the affirmative? ..

The real gem of the album. ‘Spanish Triangles’ has already been unveiled – all nine minutes of it – but it demonstrates a stunning calmness and fluidity. It builds slowly, powerfully but effortlessly, growing organically into itself. It’s worth noting that ‘Gravity & Heat’, for example, is almost three minutes shorter but feels much longer – ‘Spanish Triangles’ is the real culmination of their work post-…Wall and stands as the impressive, brilliant centrepiece. And ‘Don’t Reinvent What You Don’t Understand’, one of the shortest songs on the album, managed to move from one-two dance-punk to something undeniably epic, helped no end by Whiskas’ chiming guitars that seem air-lifted in direct from Explosions In The Sky’s Those Who Tell The Truth… era. And ‘Some Buildings’ is a three-minute lament stretched gloriously out for almost seven minutes, again given the chance to breath and mutate on its own. It doesn’t cut right to the feet like their earlier material but instead takes up residence in the gut, and by the third time you hear it all doubts will be blown away.  link

Did you ever study the Israelites?
They made a new life for themselves
With such a peculiar change
A key geographic or dietary switch
Could do just the same for us
So don't go draw the blinds link

Well, I came late to this band.  They're either broken up or on hiatus (re-emerged in 2013-14 and disappeared again).  So I'll load this  shamelessly clickbaited headline and post with review excerpts hoping to catch a critical mass of folk who will hear, pray and beg the band to at least make their third massive critical album.  Because, as  is said of the  pregnant and potentially prescient second album:

the end result, though diverting, is a slightly uncomfortable mid-point between the two albums. And Life Processes could quite possibly be a transitional album, a first step in a bigger, bolder direction that doesn’t quite let go of Give Me a Wall‘s quirks;

only time will tell.....  link

Where are the bandmembers now? 

The literate singer/lyricist/brainchild ...

The only  walking thesauraus 
(and from the Bono school of stealth-embedding Bible references in lyrics)
 capable of a lyric like.. 

"Choose life/

We all can lean on figures and crutches/

It's such an easy thing to do when you're so unaware/

We all can change our tegument's function/

Replace the outer shell with something more neoteric link

...now runs a  mixing studio , and seems to run the band's active Facebook page.  I hope he is  life is happy and his tegument is neoteric.

The  drummer  (I hope Rolling Stone has included her in its list of drummers to know (See:
 drummer so badass he makes Keith Moon sound like your mom playing Rock Band. (Ghost of Keith Moon, please don't haunt us).".

She says:

“Working at college is great. I get the same holidays as the teachers, and the kids are so funny. Sometimes I interrupt them when they’re talking about music, and they look at me as if to say, ‘As if you know anything!’”  link
The guitar player (brother to the drummer) is now part of  Duels.

The bass player?  Someone thought this was his Twitter.  I'm not sure it is: but the bio is priceless: "Father. Husband. Guy who poops."

Maybe someday they will Google themselves, 

                  find this post, 
                            and come back for more.

In the meantime, enjoy this Spotify sampler  playlist.
(I  didn't check his  vital Spotify playlists, but I bet Paul Leader already knows about this band )

Some vintage video interviews here.

We are becoming devoted children
And I am becoming like all good children
Yes we are becoming devoted children
We are set in our ways

As God turns away

Then this is a standard of silence
That you can expect to receive
All discontentment reduced and surrendered
They are bleeding the night
Bleeding the night
Bleeding the night for themselves  link

Monday, May 01, 2017

More from Bono on the psalms

A year ago, Fuller Studio posted the great Bono/Eugene Peterson conversation on the Psalms; it's here.  Of course, at the time, I wondered what gems were left on the cutting room floor.  My prayers were answered a few months later here.

Now, on the anniversary of the film, they have released further interview excerpts with Bono, filmed a bit later.

Here they are below, from this link.

 Tim Neufeld, at this link, posted some power quotes:
Psalm 82 is a good start. [It says] defend the rights of the poor and the orphans. Be fair to the needy and helpless. Rescue them from the power of evil people. See, this isn’t charity, this is justice.

I try to get to the place where the song is singing me.

We [U2] have a hunch that God is not that interested in advertising . . . . It’s art, rather than advertising, that the Creator of the universe is impressed by.

Taylor: One thing you’ve learned about God through your reading of the Psalms. Bono: “He listens.” Taylor: One thing that you’ve learned about yourself through your reading of the Psalms. Bono: “I don’t listen enough.”

I want to argue the case for artists – or potential artists – who might be listening in on our conversation and are not giving expression to what’s really going on in their life because they feel it will give the wrong impression of them. We don’t have to please God in any other way than to be brutally honest; that is the root not only to a relationship with God but the root to a great song . . . .

I think all art is prophetic.

I went finally to Jerusalem… And I went to Golgotha, and I went to the site… where death died. That’s where death died. And so, I don’t really believe in it anymore. It has no power over me as it had when I was 14 years old.

“Where Death Died”

Bono & Mako in New York City (photo: John Harrison)
+ Mako

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The real heresy of "The Shack"movie revealed!

Photo credit
Yes, I have  actually seen the movie...and read the book.

I try to follow Bell's Theorem of reviewing, and "only review books and films I've actually seen."

And so many are Tweeting, blogging and Spacebooking to call out alleged heresy in one or both.

I enjoyed both book and film, but I do feel compelled to expose the real and horrific heresy of the film.

  It's not the items most bloggers are highlighting.  

It's actually a heresy that wasn't in the book, but the film changed two words of a sentence that was pretty much infallible gospel and wasn't to be tampered with.  With two words, the filmmakers introduced an unholy heterodoxy.... and as the Holy Heteroclite, it is core to my calling and blogdom to publicly expose such skubala.

Of course, it's always risky to bring a book to film, and it is inevitable that changes will be made.

BUT this one may be almost the unpardonable sin...


In the book, God the Father  (Papa) sings a bit of a Bruce Cockburn song while serving breakfast, and  confesses: "I love that child's songs!  I am especially fond of Bruce."  (pp. 122-123).

This was such a huge win for the book, and a great plug  for Bruce, who (unlike in his native Canada), is not well-enough known in the US. etc. Of all people, followers of Christ should be aware of this prophetic troubador.  Heck, you can even ask (British) N.T. Wright!

 If you're reading this blog, you are among the select and elect, and you likely know about him, and have noted he  deservedly has his own listing under blog topics (Bruce even sent us ..me...some autographed product).

William Paul Young, author of The Shack, if you'll pardon the inappropriate but accurate reference, is man of wealth and taste.  Not only does he insert St Bruce Cockburn  ("What can I say…  [I am a] huge fan of Bruce Cockburn. As far as I am concerned, one of the greatest lyricists alive..and an incredible guitarist to boot." ... linkinto the book (on the lips of God, no less), but in the acknowledgements section gives credit to the following for inspiration:  "U2, Dylan, Moby, Paul Colman,  Mark Knopfler, James Taylor, Bebo Norman, Matt Wertz (you are something special), Nichole Nordeman, Amos Lee, Kirk Franklin, David Wilcox, Sarah McLachlan, Jackson Browne, Indigo Girls, the Dixie Chicks, Larry Norman and a whole lot of Bruce Cockburn." (link)

But the movie version?

I was wondering if the Cockburn reference would make the cut.  I knew I would be thrilled if it did, but assumed it would be fodder for the  cutting room floor.

When I recognized the breakfast scene, I held my breath..

...and heard Papa singing a tune by...

wait for it...

 Neil Young!!!

She followed up with the familiar line:

"I love that child's songs!  I am especially fond of Neil Young."

Boom!  The heresy duck should have dropped right then.

Now, I love Neil Young as much as you; and he even has merited several posts on this here blog.
But he doesn't need the Holy Spirited PR that Bruce does.

Somebody  made a bottom line decision that was about the  film's economic bottom line.
It was bad decision  about a good observation : "Hey, not many people will recognize Bruce Cockburn; let's change it to someone already famous." Non-sequitur city; this would've been great reason and vehicle to introduce a lot of people to a little-known singer who could change their lives.

Okay, I'm kidding about this being a real heresy....I think. (:
And  when I lamented about this to Michael Bells , he had a point : "At least they are both Canadian."   Kudos and touché, we USAmericans really need to learn about the musical treasures God has embedded  in Canada.

But since I trust that this lil ol' blog has at least some influence, please check out the Bruce.

God loves him..
and as He (She) said in The Shack book:

"I have no favorite?  Bruce, I mean?"
"I have no favorites." I am just especially fond of him."
"You seem to be  especially fond of a lot of people.  Are there any you are not especially fond of?"
"Nope, I haven't been able to find anybody."  (p. 123).

Fair enough..
but one last dig..
Compare the spiritual depth of the Neil Young song Papa sang in the movie to that of the song of Bruce's that  she sang in the book version.  I could've nominated 50 better Godhanunted numbers from the Young canon/catalog/hymnal.  Gee, how about this?  .Or these?  Or the two (here and here, the second one I filmed here in Fresno) that Bono has taken it upon himself to call our prayer/attention to?

Get back to me..

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

knew muse-ach

uno:Gold Connections (see this by David Dark)

dos: Army of Bones (Martin Smith of Delirious?..new band ).  See this,  this,  and this

tres: Young Oceans:

catorce: it's a CD Lewis reference

Thursday, February 23, 2017

If I haven't been accused of being an atheist lately, I'm a bad Christian/pastor

If I haven't been accused of being an atheist lately, I'm a bad Christian/pastor.
See this below from Eugene Peterson. ( Related: see also my  "Occasional Atheist; Coffee, Not Jesus" and  "I am in sin if I avoid the appearance of evil"):

The atheist is not always the enemy. Atheists can be among a Christian’s best friends. Atheists, for instance, whose atheism develops out of protest: angry about what is wrong with the world, they are roused to passionate defiance. That a good God permits the birth of crippled children, that a loving God allows rape and torture, that a sovereign God stands aside while the murderous regime of a Genghis Khan or an Adolf Hitler runs its course—such outrageous paradoxes simply cannot be countenanced. So God is eliminated. The removal of God does not reduce the suffering, but it does wipe out the paradox. Such atheism is not the result of logical (or illogical) thought; it is sheer protest. Anger over the suffering and unfairness in the world becomes anger against the God who permits it. Defiance is expressed by denial. Such atheism is commonly full of compassion. It suffers and rages. It is deeply spiritual, in touch with the human condition and eternal values.

Ivan Karamazov is the most famous literary presentation of this atheism of passionate protest
He carried around a notebook in which he copied down every instance of innocent suffering  that he had heard or read of.  There were terrible things in his notebook:accidents and torture, cruelty and agony, malignity and despair.   He specialized in the suffering of innocent children.  The accumulated anecdotes served up an unanswerable indictment against the existence of God.  But he was always talking about the God in whom he did not believe.  He was haunted by the Christ that he rejected.
His very atheism was a grappling with the holy; with love, with meaning.  His atheism had far more spiritual depth than the conventional pietism of people who burn incense to mask the world's stink of suffering and cheerfully sing tunes about the sunshine of God..

..Pastors encounter [a] kind of atheism fairly often.  My response is to probe further.  I ask, "Tell me about this God you don't believe in.  What is he like?'  After listening to what follows, I can usually agree: "I don't believe in that God either.  Given the material the way you present it, I also am an atheist."
-Eugene Peterson, Earth & Altar: The Community of Prayer in a Self-Bound Society, pp. 107-8.
Later refashioned as Where Your Treasure Is: Psalms that Summon You from Self to Community

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"Holy Rembrandt!"

     "I was in England during World War I,  moneyless and miserable.  My wife, who is younger and more courageous than I am, said 'Let's go to a museum for relief.'  There was destruction in the whole world.  Not only were bombs  being dropped on London--but every day we heard of another city being destroyed.  Devastation, ruins, the annihilation of a world becoming poorer and sadder.  That was bitter.  I looked at Rembrandt's last self-portrait: so hideous and broken; so horrible and hopeless; and so wonderfully painted. All at once it came to me: to be able to look at one's fading self in the mirror--see nothing--and paint oneself as the  néant, the nothingness of man. What a miracle, what an image! In that I found courage and new youth. 'Holy Rembrandt,' I said.  Indeed, I owe my life only to the artists."
-Oskar Kokoschka, in  Horst Gerson, Rembrandt Paintings, p. 478.
 Told in Henri Nouwen and Walter Gaffen's "Aging," p. 91