Hey, Carbon Leaf has a new record out!

My wife was asking about a song that was playing on 89.1 KCLC, one of the few remaining listenable radio stations in St. Louis, tonight. She thought it was Aimee Mann; I thought it was Tori Amos. We were both wrong. You gotta love any radio station that publishes its playlist.

And then I saw my favorite from a couple of years ago, Carbon Leaf. She said yeah, she heard a song that sounded like them earlier today.I’ve been listening to the local Christian station the last few weeks. I got tired of it because they play mostly the newest Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman, but since it’s been a year or two since I listened regularly and both of them have new records out, it’s a little less irritating. They throw in enough David Crowder into the rotation these days to tease me into listening more.

So that’s how Carbon Leaf snuck a new record past me.

Carbon Leaf, in case you don’t know them, is a quintet based out of Virginia. Their music is a combination of roots music and what I’ll call for lack of a better word, alt-pop. They would have fit in with the early ’90s alternative scene, when bands like Toad the Wet Sprocket were popular. Of course that makes sense, because they were together then, just not on a major label. They aren’t anything new; they’re just recently discovered.

So it looks like thanks to them, I might actually buy something that was recorded in 2006 this year: Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat by Carbon Leaf. Give it a listen.

I didn’t expect to hear that on the radio…

So, I’m driving home and flipping through the radio stations, and I get to the local Michael W. Smith/Stephen Curtis Chapman/Amy Grant station, and the most unusual thing is playing: David Crowder!

If I had a radio station, of course, I’d just play David Crowder over and over. And when people bugged me about the repetition, I’d just write to him and tell him he needs to make another album quick because people are complaining about the repetition.

Hey, I almost forgot: New David Crowder

Somehow I missed this. The new David Crowder Band release is Sept. 16. And the band’s site is streaming a track a day until the album’s release.
Today’s track, “Revolutionary Love” is what it sounds like–it owes a lot to a certain Beatles song. In the tradition of the songs like “You Alone” and “Our Love is Loud” that gave the band its reputation, the song’s pretty heavy, and it also mixes in synthesizers and other sounds that are all too infrequently heard in alternative music these days. Elements of pop, punk, New Wave, and even hip-hop. The lyrics don’t sound terribly profound at first, but there’s more depth to them than first appears.

Now I wonder if they’ll catch flak for not mentioning God. Because I don’t think He ever gets mentioned, although with words like “Never changing” it’s pretty obvious he’s not talking about his wife or any other human being. And so do, I think, the opening words of the first verse: “Desperation leads us here.” Assuming anyone catches those.

If I don’t quit talking soon, you’ll run out of time to go listen.

I took the plunge. I bought a Civic.

It’s silver. It’s a year old. It’s fully loaded. It rolled 10,000 miles while I was test-driving it. It’s an EX, not the miserly HX. I like miserly. But it’ll hold value better than an HX, and it cost me about $500 less. The difference between 40 MPG on the highway and 38 MPG on the highway just wasn’t worth it to me.
It’s a bit showy for me–it’s got a sunroof, I mean moonroof, whatever the difference is, for Pete’s sake–but hey, I’m still fairly young and it’ll be fun. And it’s costing me less than my Neon, so I can afford it.

And when I no longer have use for it–it’ll be a number of years–I can sell it to a wannabe homey and still get four figures for it. Apparently the Civic is a favorite model to put ground effects and move-to-the-music groovin’ shocks and other, umm, things. I won’t be finding out firsthand. But I did notice the trunk is certainly big enough for a bass tube. So I could turn my latest–and it’d better be my last for a long time–major purchase into a groovemobile and introduce south St. Louis County to David Crowder.

Hey, it’s mission work.

I’m kidding. I hope you know that.

Anyway, like I said, I’m hoping this is my last major purchase for a long time.

You are looking at a genu-ine inventor

In yesterday’s comments, I suggested you take the David Crowder Band’s CD, Can You Hear Us?, and put it in your CD player and glue it shut because you won’t want to change it anyway. (I really ought to write up a proper review. I’ve managed to graduate to their other disc. It’s good. Not glue-worthy though. Unless you’ve got a changer.)
Well, I should have patented the technique. Maybe I could still file. A method of protecting intellectual property, I’ll call it. Why?

Because Sony’s in the habit of sending out review CDs in Discmans that have been glued shut to prevent unauthorized bootlegging. They also permanently attach the headphones–no copying out the headphone jack, naughty naughty.

I guess they didn’t count on a journalist being handy with snips and a soldering iron, did they? Oh, wait. I’m not exactly a practicing journalist anymore. Well, not professionally, anyway.

I smell a way to make some money and stick it to an RIAA member, don’t you?

The best band you’ve never heard of

I went to a Bebo Norman concert last night. Bebo Norman is a Christian singer/songwriter. I saw him open for Third Day a few months ago, and as good as Third Day was, Bebo kind of stole the show.
What goes around comes around. One of Bebo’s opening acts was the David Crowder Band. All I knew about them going in was they were from Waco, Texas. I didn’t expect much. But they blew me away.

David Crowder has an unusual voice. Sometimes it reminds me some of the lead singer for Toad the Wet Sprocket, if you remember them. And sometimes it reminds me of Elvis Costello. But I find I’m really reaching. It’s different enough to grab you, but not so different as to make you uncomfortable. There, how’s that?

He has an appearance that’ll grab you and might make you uncomfortable. He has really wild hair, thick eyebrows and a goatee that’s a good three inches long. He wears glasses with the thick black frames, similar to the standard military-issue glasses. Normally I’d call them unstylish, but they look fine on him.

The band is loud. Really loud. And in addition to the expected electric and acoustic guitars (lots of ’em), bass, and drum, they frequently mix in synthesizers, samples, and violin. It’s been a long time since a band has floored me with its sound, but these guys did. All of their songs could have been about motor oil and I would have bought all their records. Since I was pretty sure I heard them mention God a few times (it was hard to tell over all that double-time clapping) I had double excuse to buy all their records. So I went to their booth at intermission and bought all their records.

The current one is called “Can You Hear Us?” It’s loud. I don’t think David Crowder’s favorite Psalm is “Be still and know I am God.” But you know how a lot of bands are an angry loud, or at least an angst-y loud? DCB is a happy loud.

It starts off fairly slow and easy and segues into loud and fast. The album roughly alternates fast and slow numbers for the duration. I think there needs to be a radio station that does nothing but play it over and over. So I guess I like it, but I can’t nail down exactly why. It’s loud and quirky and uses a lot of instruments. But just as Butt-Head knew it takes more than bears to make a video cool (even though Beavis didn’t), it takes more than volume and quirks and lots of instruments to make a record cool. I don’t know what that is but they’ve got it.

One of my favorite bands of all time is The Cars, and I think part of what I liked about them was how they mixed quirkiness with really good musicianship. I wouldn’t say DCB sounds like The Cars. But they take that formula another direction.

David Crowder got his start by recruiting college students for worship services, which led to him co-founding a church called University Baptist Church in Waco, and eventually he started writing his own songs. I don’t know about using some of the songs for a church service, at least not in Mehlville and Oakville, Missouri, but I’ll listen to it when I’m not in church, that’s for certain.

And if I’m ever in Waco, I’ll check out his church to see how they make those songs work in that setting.

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