Listening Closely to Wolf of Wall Street: Music as a Moral Clue in the Films of Martin Scorsese

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As far as film directors do, Martin Scorsese is the king of being misunderstood. Ever since Mean Streets in 1973, Scorsese has drawn heat for his seemingly sympathetic portrayals of awful people and glorification of depravity. Forty years later The Wolf of Wall Street is drumming up the same criticisms.Not much more needs to be said in defense of Scorsese’s intent and morality. Tons of great reviews and commentaries have come from both inside and outside of Christendom in the last few weeks, … [Read more...]

Lou Reed and the Iconography of Rock and Roll

Image- Peat Bakke via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

In the flood of eulogies prompted by Lou Reed’s death last month, the words “rock icon” featured prominently. This modern usage of a very old word may seem like an anomaly for those more familiar with its older sense, but though it’s been watered down a good deal in its popular usage, calling a rock star an “icon” is remarkably apropos.Before it came into its current idiom, “icon” was a fairly archaic word that was mostly used of the religious pictures of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the t … [Read more...]

The Understated Power of Influence: Why Lou Reed is Such a Big Deal, Even If You’ve Never Heard of Him

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During the time pop-art legend Andy Warhol was running around with the weird, obscure, protopunk outfit The Velvet Underground he told reporters that in the future everybody would have their own 15 minutes of fame. Who could have known how right Warhol was. We have fulfilled Andy Warhol’s prophecy. Not only do we assume our 15 minutes, we crave it. The Internet is our global soapbox, blogs unite and divide into homogenous tribes, and hero worship is streamlined by flawless digital self-branding o … [Read more...]

How CHVRCHES Fell Victim to the Hype Machine

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Up till now, CHVRCHES have been as noteworthy for their hype as for their music. The Scottish electro-pop trio’s savvy release of several songs online, combined with a heavy touring schedule and a penchant for appearing on “exciting new artists” lists, have produced a remarkable crescendo of expectation ahead of their first record, The Bones of What You Believe, finally out last week. It’s the kind of buildup that would’ve been impossible just a few years ago, but thanks to the Internet, CHVRCHES … [Read more...]

ELSEWHERE: Online Streaming Services Are Still In The Red, But For How Long?

For all of us trying to navigate the murky ethics of digital music, this NPR article drops some surprising data: online streaming services like Pandora and Spotify have been losing money for years. So why do they keep at it? They’re banking on a stream-centric future of music that’ll be “wildly profitable.” … [Read more...]

The Last Battle of The Civil Wars

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Joy Williams and John Paul White are one of the most surprisingly popular bands of the last few years. Undeniably talented songwriters whose sound has an almost Victorian, nostalgic aesthetic, the Civil Wars’ music is heartbreakingly melancholy and romantic. And that sound won them unexpected popularity, Grammys, and critical acclaim.However sad their music might be, no one expected the full-fledged hiatus and tour cancellation following their success due to “irreconcilable differences." But … [Read more...]

Denison Witmer: Songs To Grow Up To

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I first saw Denison Witmer perform in the spring of 2006 in some horrible east-of-LA venue. It was the kind of dark place you frequent when you’re fifteen, seeing local hardcore bands, and not the kind of place where you hang out in your twenties listening to 70s-inspired singer-songwriter folky pop, as I was doing. When the show ended, I convinced my fiance that we needed to say hi to Denison.  We had decided to play an instrumental version of his song “Are You a Dreamer?” in our wedding, and I … [Read more...]

Listening to Doubt: What Music Can Teach Us about Apostasy

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Doubt is the shadow to the light of faith and repentance. Doubt in the Christian life has been around since Eve wondered whether God really didn’t want her to eat the fruit; it showed up when Abraham didn’t believe that God would give him a son and again when Thomas just couldn’t believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. And although orthodoxy reminds us that God defeats doubt and will eventually remove all remnants of it, there are cases where it looks like doubt wins the day.Watching a fr … [Read more...]

Picking the Best Christian Music for Your Kids Isn’t Easy

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Back before we had children, I imagined that I would be one of those cool parents, the kind whose kids listen only to indie music and request obscure hipster bands by name. And while it’s true that we sometimes have dance parties to Motown classics, and that my kids have at times sung along to Sufjan (“suf-ee-yan, follow your heart...”),  I have to confess that I’m not the cool parent I dreamed of being.  In fact, my son is so deep into the kids’ Christian music scene that he not only has favorit … [Read more...]

Marcus Mumford: Big Fan of Jesus, But Not Christianity

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Young evangelicals love Mumford & Sons for their catchy songs and heart piercing lyrics. I would count myself as one of that group. It is probably cliché and over-referenced by now but it doesn't really get any better than the line from their song Roll Away Your Stone: "It seems that all my bridges have been burnt/ But you say that's exactly how this grace thing works." Lyrics like this have led to speculation about Marcus Mumford's faith and for the first time he answered that question in a  … [Read more...]


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