Otherwise known as Danielson Famile or Brother Danielson, Daniel Smith has been making bizarre but Christ-exalting music for over 15 years now. Though Smith and his family have enjoyed some commercial success and had the privilege/curse of helping Sufjan Stevens get his start (Sufjan played with Danielson and opened for them before reaching indie folk-rocker superstardom), most of their records are quite difficult to get into musically. Lyrically, Danielson is always brilliant, but this particular album is a triumph in every way. The songs are all about faith and community and Smith finally released a record that the average listener can pick up and enjoy–which fits the theme of the record.
Here is a quote from Pitchfork’s review of the album:
That weight is Ships‘ cornerstone. None of Smith’s previous records– and in fact, very few indie releases this year– have flat-out rocked like this one, with blaring trumpets signaling snares to exact their force beneath sweeping multitracked vocal choruses that simply won’t stop crescendoing. On standouts like “Ship the Majestic Suffix” and “Bloodbook on the Half Shell”, the music builds to such immense heights, and increases tension so far past the expected breaking point, that the inevitable release is nearly dizzying. But Smith also grasps the inherent malleability of such a sizable ensemble, and though he most often uses it to breathe life into the album’s darkly apocalyptic overtures, he also wisely crafts shimmering psychedelic passages that prevent it from becoming too claustrophobic.
“Bloodbook on the Halfshell” and “Did I Step on Your Trumpet” are a great place to start.