Music and Art Monday, March 18, 2019: Christians And Art

Colors Chosen By A Two Year Old, Acrylic on Paper

I’ve been around a long enough time to read various Christian perspectives on art. They range from the benign to the downright vicious, especially when it comes to Modern Art.

Many Christians believe that art should be representative of the world. They believe art should copy the world and tell a story, usually moral in nature. They seem to believe that the only true art is classical art and anything that reeks of modernity is uncivilized and probably anti-Christian. Many think that art says a lot about worldview. Somehow, if you see the world as an abstract you must see the world in a nihilistic way.

Why does art have to tell a story? Why does it have to “mean” something? Why does it have to perfectly represent the subject as the subject is? If one wants a perfect copy of an object why not take a photograph?

To me, art should capture the emotion of something. Form is important, I definitely need to work on capturing form, but emotion is equally important. It is important to capture the essence of the subject, whether your medium is paint or film or clay.

Perhaps this is why I have a difficult time with seated poses. How much emotion can be conveyed by a sitting body? Maybe the emotion comes not from the subject but from the artist. The artist must project his emotions onto a subject as he would a light, and then capture the reflection, without losing the form in the process. Or maybe the reflection comes back in pieces and is copied in the abstract.

Queen, Oil on Canvas, 2018

Either way, is that capture “immoral”? Is is immoral to disassemble reality and put it back together in an imperfect way? Disassembled emotions are not nihilistic. Breaking down objects into their various parts and reassembling them in ways which do not reflect reality is not denying reality.

In fact, I would argue that perhaps it reflects reality far better than some hyper-realistic painting of an idealized subject. Reality is messy, reality is emotional, reality is imperfect. We do not live in Eden anymore. To capture our world as it really is is to show the blemishes and the oddities and at times the harshness of it all.

Sure, there is a time for capturing idealized images of beauty. There is definitely a place for “realism” and capturing form exactly as it is. I respect and admire the painter who can perfectly copy the world as it is. But without emotion is it really art?

Even playing with the reality of a photo can put a bit more emotion into it.

Christians should be the best at capturing both the world as it is and the world as it should be. We should not be shunning the opportunity to show the world reality through the lense of the Law and the Gospel. We should not fear our emotions and feelings about the world around us, instead we should embrace them and capture them with art to display them to the world. Our art should, like all of our activities, inspire people to ask us about the hope that is within us.

Christians should embrace the visual arts, and all arts, both to share the Gospel and to make this world a bit more beautiful in the process.

M.A.A.M, February 25th 2019: Hensley

Today on Music and Art Monday I present Hensley. They have a fairly new ep out on Spotify and it’s a good one.

Out of all the bands I have reviewed so far Hensley is probably the closest I have found to something that fits my typical tastes in music. This is probably because they are pretty eclectic. They do everything, from a folksy tune in “Give Me a Break” to a trance mix of their pop tune “Not the Clouds”. In just seven songs they pack in enough flavor to appeal to a variety of different tastes.

It’s hard to pick a favorite track on this ep because there is so much variation! Most might not hear it, hearing only a fairly mainstream pop sound, but as my wife says I have an odd taste in music, which means I know something different when I hear it. There is some derivative feel in this album, “Pills and Thrills” sounds somewhat similar to Laleh’s “Wag More, Bark Less“, but who but me listens to Swedish pop in Jacksonville? And who else would make that connection? Only me, probably.

Anyway, go check it out. They are only going to get better.

More in this series:

Modern Violence
Viewers Like You
Loretto
The Young Step
SolaFide!

Music and Art Monday, February 18th, 2019: Modern Violence

What can I say about Modern Violence?

They are probably the most polished of all the local bands I have listened to yet. It’s not bad music. But it’s background music. I have a hard time putting them on and really listening hard, because I don’t have to. What you hear is what you get.

I like it though. And with just four songs on an EP it’s just enough of a taste to make me want to hear more. I’m looking forward to hearing more from this band.

More in this series:
Viewers Like You
Loretto
The Young Step
SolaFide!


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Music and Art Monday, Feb 11, 19: SolaFide!

Back to the local stuff this week with a short EP recommendation.

Dagnabbit how did I miss this?!

The name “SolaFide!” popped out to me as a Reformed Presbyterian. “By faith alone”? Surely, this must be a Reformed Christian band! Nope. Not that I could tell. But at least the music is good.

When I said Viewers Like You was feel good music, I hadn’t really listened to the lyrics. While I still love the music and I still listen to their album frequently, the entire album is about an estranged relationship with a father. It’s sad, melancholy music. Amazing, but when in the wrong mood it can make you even worse.

SolaFide! is feel good music. They describe themselves as such. After several listens to their EP “Brookhaven” I tend to agree. It’s tough to be in a bad mood when a song titled “Blissful Nights” is playing on the stereo.

I’m a sucker for indie rock, and this definitely fits the genre perfectly. If I was to describe their style I’d say SolaFide! is a happy version of Death Cab For Cutie. It’s indie pop rock done right. If I were asked which local band I see going far fast this would be it.

Of course something has to be wrong with it, this is my review after all. What’s wrong with SolaFide! ‘s EP?

It’s too short! Just as you are getting into the groove, it’s over.

Can’t wait for the next one. Maybe I’ll actually make the release party.



More in this series:
Viewers Like You
Loretto
The Young Step

Check out my Spotify Playlist of local Jax artists: https://open.spotify.com/user/1253231916/playlist/0enEuhpoYdvRBg8yvbq7y9?si=xJiD-EihRSi3OVTCi1FmTg

MAAM: February 4, 2019: Kickin’ It Old School

Nothing local this week, I had a bout with anxiety over the weekend. So I went back to old stuff. There is something about going back to stuff that you used to listen to, not for nostalgia purposes, but for the uplift.

Also, it is fun to introduce your kids stuff that you used to listen to around their age. My daughter requested Queen in the car. I obliged for a bit and then decided I wanted to listen to David Bowie instead. She had never been introduced.

I realized that I was listening to him twenty years ago and at that time the music was already pushing thirty years old. Pretty much everything I listened to at her age was already thirty to fifty years old. It’s pretty incredible that some music has lasted fifty to seventy years and still resonates.

My favorite David Bowie album, and the one I got her listening to is ChangesOneBowie. It’s not technically an album but a compilation but it was the first music of Bowie’s that I ever really listened to. My best friend’s dad had it on vinyl and I swear we wore it out trying to learn the “Rebel Rebel” riff.

Those were good memories but even without them the album still picks me up. Also around that time I was listening to “Earthling” which I thought was pretty epic. “Hours” has also made its way onto my Spotify list as well. All the old is new again.

Another album I’ve been listening to for the first time in forever is the 1967-1970 compilation from The Beatles. The “Blue Album”, as I would call it, is what I used to listen to while cleaning the kitchen when I was thirteen or so.

I listened to it so many times that if I hear the songs on their original albums I get frustrated because I got so used to the order on the compilation.

Another good blast from the past is Pink Floyd’s Delicate Sound of Thunder. It is probably the only live album (other than “Wings over America”, another album that I’ve been listening to again for the first time in 10 years) that I can tolerate. Most live albums are sloppy versions of the studio songs, but these actually stand up on their own.

Anyways, that’s what I’ve been up to lately. Hopefully next week my brain will be functioning correctly and I will be able to dissect something new for you. But for now you should go check out these “ancient” albums that bring me such pleasure to listen to.

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Music and Art Monday, Jan 21,2019: El Clásico

Putting a giant rooster head on your album cover? I’m sold!

“El Clásico” is the only album by the St. Augustine band The Young Steps.

Even though it’s two years old, it’s new to me in my browse through local music. I must say, it’s a trip!

The album starts out strong with Baby You Know, a raucous and repetitive tune perfect for blazing down the interstate. Gonna add that one to my driving music list.

Nature Man will have you dancing in the kitchen, and that little whistle will be stuck in your head for days.

Dire Straits is channeled in The Weather, another back beat driven song for the road. It’s subtle, but when you listen you’ll know what I mean.

After this is where the album starts to slip. The songs aren’t bad, but you begin to realize the repetitive nature of the lyrics. I needed a bit of a palette cleanse at this point. Might I suggest the “This is Christina Perri” playlist?

Ahhhhhh, refreshing!

Now that you have stepped away and been refreshed, “El Clásico” comes roaring back to life with Yoga, When I Was Young, Will-O’-The-Wisp, Of Your Love, and the exceptionally fun Dark Side of Town.

It’s a short album, and great for when you need something musically interesting, but I can’t listen to it over and over again. To me it required a break, even in the middle, to quiet my highly alerted neurons.

Perhaps it’s a little too exciting?

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Music and Art Monday, Jan 14, 2019: Loretto

After last week’s post, I decided it might be fun to run down the Spotify rabbit trail of local Jacksonville bands and review one each week. Lest you think I’m going to start pining over local bands, here’s a review that’s not so positive. Loretto is a self described “rock n’ roll band”, as such I expected some more classic type rock. What I got on their only album so far, Sleeping In The Pines, was a mixed bag of experimentation and indie noise with a few gems hidden here and there.

Honestly I didn’t like it at all at first. But when I turned it on at 5 am this morning I realized that it’s “mood music” meaning you have to be in the mood. This album is perfect for my 5 am mood. It is messy and disheveled, slightly grumpy, but optimistic about the future.

Ordinarily rejecting commercial appeal results in complete garbage, garbage that hipsters will lap up and pretend to like, because “they are not part of the system!”. Kinda like IPA’s. But this album is more a sour than an IPA.

Once you have more than one you begin to like it. Once you listen to this album a few times the intricacies begin to come out, and your palette is pleased to find a bit of depth, not just bitter hoppy nonsense. Wait. This is an album review, not a critique of beer flavors. Best tracks?

“Alaska” is by far the best song on this album. If you download one song on Spotify it should be this one.

“Things We Said Today” and “Pick Me Up” are also pretty decent.
The rest. Well, the rest is “mood music”. Give it a go, and if you don’t like it immediately, try again later.


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Music and Art Monday, Jan 7 2019: Home To Roost

Hello all, short post today. It’s been awhile since I gave a recommendation for a band, because honestly it’s rare that I should find one that I like enough to recommend.

Today’s recommendation is a new album by a local band I would have never discovered had it not been for a mother’s gushing pride. An acquaintance of mine from the life drawing sessions I attend noticed my Nirvana t-shirt and asked if I liked them. She said “you have to listen to this band, they’re like Nirvana. And my son got writing credit because he plays on this song!”

I like localism. If there’s one trendy thing I’m guilty of indulging, it’s the trend to try out all the local stuff, from breweries to restaurants to record stores and art galleries. So I said what the heck and gave Viewers Like You’s “Home to Roost” a listen on Spotify.

First impression? “This is not at all like Nirvana!”

Which is not a bad thing. Viewers Like You (look them up as “Fernway” on Facebook) sounds a lot like All-American Rejects, Phantom Planet, and another Jacksonville local band Yellowcard. It’s happy music for the most part, with a twinge of emo here and there.

Top songs? Definitely the band’s single “Anamnesis”, “Absentee”, “Back to Life”, and the track my friend’s son plays on “Worth Your Time”.

While I love the guitar riff in “Perfect” the lyrics are a bit cringey.

So give it a listen and see what you think! The band has gone from 39 monthly listeners to 68 since Wednesday, let’s see if we can get that number up!

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Music and Art Monday: Why Create?

There are probably millions of people who paint out there. Millions more who write songs, and millions more than that who make some other kind of craft. Huge quantities of objects and notes are created and pumped into the world.

How much of this ends up dumped in trash cans or fireplaces or never heard again once that person is gone?

Several years ago I found an oil painting next to someone’s trash pile. It was slightly damaged but I felt compelled to save it. A search of the internet found the artist to be from Africa and active in the 70’s. He wasn’t well known but his art all had a particular style to it. I think my wife has since thrown the painting away.

Will my creations end up in someone’s trash? Will it ever make it onto someone’s wall who did not inherent it from my children? Will they even care to pass it on?

And what happens at the end of it all? Everything we have made will just burn away to dust. What’s the point of making anything if nothing is forever?

Everyone wants to make a legacy. We all want to be remembered for something after our physical presence is gone. We want to pass on something that we can be known for. That’s probably the most basic reason why we create.

We are also commanded to. Part of taking dominion of the earth as ordered in Genesis is making the world a more beautiful place. I think this is especially important in the world after the Fall. Sin has made the world an ugly place. Why not use our God given creativity to improve it and make it a little less miserable this side of eternity?

And speaking of eternity, wouldn’t it be cool if our works in this life were just a preparation for our works in the next? Maybe I’ll actually be a decent painter on the New Earth.

That would be fun.

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Music and Art Monday, August 27th, 2018: Recent Work

It’s been a slow week here. I’m kinda having a bit of writer’s block. I’ve also had painter’s block as well. The only way I have found to bust through that has been to insist on doing a little bit every day.

Here are some recent bust throughs:

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