Post-Christmas, my iPod tends to fill up with some new music–my family knows a good, easy gift for me are iTunes giftcards! Some albums on my “New Listening” playlist contain some “vile” lyrics you may want check out.
Pearl Jam, Lightning Bolt—I’ve got to admit, Eddie Vedder and crew are surprising me lately. I’ve been a fan ever since their debut, “Ten,” came out back in my grunge days when I wasn’t really into God-stuff (and they didn’t seem to be, either). Their later efforts these past few years seem to be leaning more toward the spiritual, and some songs on this newest album talk of forgiveness, prayer, grace, redemption, and come right out and say “I found myself believing I needed God.” Check out “Mind Your Manners,” “Sirens,” “Swallowed Whole,” and “Future Days.”
Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City—this one was a surprise. Their third album moves away from preppy parties on Cape Cod to spiritual pondering and seeking, dealing with questions of doubt and unbelief, ancient vs. modern religion, life, love, death and sin. Although we’re left with more questions than answers, this is a moving description of the many questions of God and faith that many young people live with, and may help the church begin meaningful conversations with folks who are asking “Who’s gonna say a little grace for me?” Listen to “Unbelievers,” “Diane Young” (saying it out loud sounds like “Dying Young”), “Everlasting Arms,” “Worship You,” and “Ya Hey” (saying out loud sounds like “Yahweh”).
Bruce Springsteen, High Hopes—Bruce got me searching for “vileness” on his last album, “Wrecking Ball,” and doesn’t let me down with his newest, which is actually comprised of older songs that haven’t fit on any of his albums as of yet. “Heaven’s Wall” begins with a gospel choir singing “Raise your hand, raise your hand, raise your hand” and is rife with Biblical imagery of God’s healing and mercy. “This is Your Sword” would go right along with a lesson from Paul on the armor of God, “Hunter of Invisible Game” ends with prayers for hope, faith, courage and trust, and you’ve got to love an alternate version of “The Ghost of Tom Joad” featuring guitarist Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) and the lyric, “He pulls a prayerbook out of his sleeping bag, preacher lights up a butt and takes a drag, waiting for when the last shall be first and the first shall be last, in a cardboard box beneath the underpass.”
Bear’s Den, Without/Within Tour Sampler–I heard these guys open up for Mumford & Sons last Fall and was happy to find this free EP on Noisetrade. “Agape” (Greek word for ‘love’ used by Jesus in the gospels) echoes the African concept of ubuntu (‘I am because we are’) when it states, “I don’t want to know who I am without you,” while their other songs contain spiritual images and allusions.
Mike Mains and the Branches, Calm Down, Everything is Fine–I really got into this band last year when I picked up their first album “Home” on Noisetrade (check out my favorites “Miracle,” “Stereo” and “Beneath Water“) and just got their newest yesterday. Early standouts are “Everything’s Gonna Be All Right” and the title track, which invites Jesus in to “talk about the weather over a glass of sweet red wine and speak to me in riddles about the great divide” as we “stare death in the eyes and sing ‘calm down, everything is fine.’”
Joseph, Native Dreamer Kin–I just found this free on Noisetrade and don’t know much about them other than they’re not a guy named Joseph and their from the Pacific Northwest. But, the music is catchy and seems to talk about things spiritual.