rctalk: short subjects

Danyew. Photo by Aaron Redfield | Sparrow Records.

Phil Danyew. Photo by Aaron Redfield | Sparrow Records.

Review:

Future of Forestry | Travel

Danyew | Danyew

Christian pop so often divides into 3:05 teen pop, AC worship or blistering metalcore, it’s easy to get giddy when some terrific, thoughtful composition glides across the desk.

Give us two, and it starts to feel like Christmas.

Like the Yuletide season, the summer yielded a expected treat and surprise, both of which prove great things can come in small packages — in this case, EPs.

First, the surprise was Danyew, a new artist appropriately paired with David Crowder Band and Seabird for a fall tour.

The six-song, self-titled EP is the product of multi-instrumentalist Phil Danyew. Cleary, he’s trying on several ideas here in a debut that includes things like the jaunty Turnstile. But the tracks that make the biggest impressions are ones like Closer We Are and Beautiful King that build into airy acoustic-electric soundscapes.

With his sound, Danyew is playing in a park Eric Owyoung’s Future of Forestry has already been in for a while — and his old band, Something Like Silas, occupied before.

Forestry’s latest effort, the six-song Travel, finds the always adventurous Owyoung exploring new territories for his work such as the acoustic-based Traveler’s Song or gritty This Hour, which trades in reverb for distortion. The familiar synthesized tone is back with Colors in Array, and the overall package shows Owyoung’s skill as a song crafter and, dare we say, orchestrator.

The most satisfying thing about both of these short discs is they are the expressions of artists: something the marketplace does not always accommodate and something that is entirely appropriate in the context of worship.

CCM coming back, sort of: One of the worst decisions in the history of contemporary Christian music is being reversed, kind of. CCM Magazine is coming back as a quarterly digital magazine.  In 2008, the print edition of CCM ceased publication just short of three complete decades of publication. The move was tantamount to Rolling Stone closing up shop. Love them or hate them, both are the publications of record in their respective genres of music — or, in the case of CCM, we must say, “were.” Getting a CCM cover was a big deal for an up-and-coming band, and saved together in a rack, the magazine was a running chronicle of the genre. The idea was to continue with a website, but CCMmagazine.com has been poor and confusing at best. Lately, I have been following Christian music news through other sources such as Christianity Today’s excellent Christian Music Today website.

Earlier this year, CCM launched a prototype of the digital magazine to good reviews, so it is continuing on. The summer issue has Leeland on the cover and its 34 “pages” look much like the old print edition with a dose of Harry Potter’s Daily Prophet. The Leeland story, for instance, features a video of the band performing tunes from its forthcoming album, and there are similar touches throughout.

Does it replace the print edition? No. Will it be a worthy stand in? Time will tell, and it will be largely dependent on whether editor Lindsay Williams and her staff can put together a publication people eagerly anticipate because it’s relevant, useful and compelling, as well as cool. I hope they pull it off, because Christian pop needs a vital CCM.

Speaking of Christian Music Today, check out this excellent article on social justice in Christian music and how to keep it from just being a passing fad.

Ichthus has questions: The Ichthus Festival just put out a survey asking what folks thought of the festival this year and who they want to see at next year’s event. If you did not go this year, you can still answer questions about next year’s event.

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