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Christian references infuse music, but...

From an article of the same title by Ricardo Baca in the Denver Post:

Much of Christian music's integration into the pop culture mainstream comes via the rockers who happen to be Christian - as opposed to the Christian rockers who wear their faiths on their sleeves and crosses around their necks. Each group of musicians is writing about what makes them tick, but one crafts its art with more subtlety, yet its intentions are never fully hidden by metaphor.

Is it a conversion tool? Or is it simply art? Indie rockers from Dave Bazan (Pedro the Lion), Jeremy Enigk (The Fire Theft, Sunny Day Real Estate), Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel) and Sufjan Stevens have developed secular followings regardless of their faiths - and it's not always an easy road with certain listeners turned off by any mention of a god. Which is where Page France comes in. The Maryland band's music is soft and sweet, melodic and melancholy, literate and lush - and heavily laced with Christian symbols, ideals and history.

"David Bazan from Pedro the Lion won't even say he's a Christian because of what (evangelical Christianity) has come to mean culturally," said Beaujon. "Part of the cost of the political polarization is that Christianity has become a really loaded term, and it's hard for people to reconcile the basic fact that rock 'n' roll came out of the church."

Many bands, including The Fray, who hail from Denver and are enjoying nationwide popularity, purposefully avoid religious issues in their music regardless of their devout faith. Other musicians' message is a baseball bat to the head. Then there are those in the middle - Page France, Stevens, Bazan & Co. - whose moderate approach leaves them scrutinized from both sides. "Dave Bazan has been pigeonholed, and I worry about Page France in the same sense," said Lewis. "Here's a band that makes beautiful music. They're just being sincere, but when you go into a public sphere, you have to be ready to deal with that."

Though I've always been an avid fan of music, I've never been an avid listener to contemporary Christian music. Pedro the Lion and Neutral Milk Hotel are two of my favorite bands ever. I listened to Page France on myspace. It sounds OK.

la la listen, discover, enjoy

Another web site recommendation (though I haven't personally tried this one yet): This site reminds me of bookmooch but for cds. Some differences: with la la, each trade costs a dollar and you can listen to the music before requesting a trade.

Pirating Songs of Praise

Via boingboing, from an article of the same title by Geoff Boucher in the LA Times:

Surveys show that born-again Christian teens are just as active in stealing and swapping music as their secular peers… "We are all conflicted, it's true," said John Styll, president of the Gospel Music Trade Assn. "This is not a business first, but it still must be a business at some point to keep going." Styll's association was behind a campaign called "Millions of Wrongs Don't Make a Right," which used well-known Christian artists as spokespeople against piracy, but Styll said the perception lingers that all music stars are fabulously wealthy, and he wonders how effective they are as voices in the debate anyway… Christian music sales, both on CD and via paid download, over the first six months of 2006 were 11% higher than during the same period in 2005. That double-digit surge stands in stark contrast to the rest of the music industry, which experienced a 4% decline during the same time period. And no other genre has a 2006 sales jump anywhere near the level of the Christian sector… Take singer-songwriter Derek Webb, an up-and-coming Christian recording artist who has not only received good reviews for his tour but also a flurry of coverage in industry outlets such as Billboard magazine. The reason? He's opted to give away a full download of his new album for three months on the Internet. He had sold 17,000 copies (both as CDs and downloads) since its December release and has given away 50,000 more since the download offer began in September. In exchange for the free music, he asks only that fans give him the names of five more people to e-mail about his music. The idea came to him after he sold enough copies to break even financially on the project. The free-music period will pay off in the long run, he says, by building his career and also spreading the spiritual message of his music. His concerts have, in recent weeks, jumped from audiences of about 100 to crowds of 500 and more, he said.

Web Guitar Wizard Revealed at Last

From a NY Times article of the same title by Virgiania Heffernan:

EIGHT months ago a mysterious image showed up on YouTube, the video-sharing site that now shows more than 100 million videos a day. A sinewy figure in a swimming-pool-blue T-shirt, his eyes obscured by a beige baseball cap, was playing electric guitar. Sun poured through the window behind him; he played in a yellow haze. The video was called simply "guitar." A black-and-white title card gave the performer's name as funtwo. The piece that funtwo played with mounting dexterity was an exceedingly difficult rock arrangement of Pachelbel's Canon, the composition from the turn of the 18th century known for its solemn chord progressions and its overexposure at weddings. But this arrangement, attributed on another title card to JerryC, was anything but plodding: it required high-level mastery of a singularly demanding maneuver called sweep-picking... I was able to trace funtwo's video to Jeong-Hyun Lim, a 23-year-old Korean who taught himself guitar over the course of the last six years. Now living in Seoul, he listens avidly to Bach and Vivaldi, and in 2000 he took a month of guitar lessons. He plays an ESP, an Alfee Custon SEC-28OTC with gold-colored detailing.

Here's the video. I had seen it and was pretty amazed but wondered if it was a real peformance or just an elaborate job of pretending to play something completely pre-recorded:

Backdorm Boys

Our family, especially the boys, loves the Back Dorm Boys...the Chinese college students whose dorm room lip-sync videos of boy-band songs have been all the rage on the internet. Read about them here and check out their videos on YouTube here. I don't think we've watched all of them yet, but our favorite (probably because it was the first we saw) is I Want It That Way. Here it is on YouTube:


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