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Something I just noticed the other day was that you can stream the entire albums from current Tooth and Nail artists. For example go to www.myspace.com/joyelectric and click on “Choose a Playlist,” it’s beneath where it says, “Downloads” on the music player. You can make your own personal playlists for your myspace profile too. Also there are links to the Amazon music store, which has non-DRM tracks.

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I started listening to Jason Martin’s music about 13 years ago and I still enjoy it as much now as I did in the beginning. Even though the band is mostly a solo project these days Jason keeps trucking with a new recording just about every year.

The latest album is entitled: “Dial M” and the title is a takeoff off of a Hitchcock movie title. The CD is scheduled to be released this upcoming Tuesday. The songs are remade versions of the “Ghosts of the Future” demos that were released as an vinyl box set.

Overall, I enjoy the new CD because the years have taught Jason Martin how to write songs that are tried, tested and true. My favorite song “Magic” is a bonus track that is also available on Amazon. Currently you can stream the album here and I encourage you to check out my Brothers Martin YouTube page here.

Dogwood is one of the Christian punk bands I grew up listening to and the song “1983” is one of my favorites. It says:

When we were young, our whole lives ahead of us,
And it was well understood we’d all become astronauts,
And firemen,

Let’s not pretend, we all become famous,
Let’s not pretend, there’s more to this then we hoped for,

When you reach a certain point in life you realize that you’re probably not going to be famous and you have to accept that. A person’s occupation is a big part of what typically defines him/her. In the midst of all the people moving to California and trying to get on TV to become famous, we have to accept that we’re regular people and we need to be content with that regardless of our jobs. Sure it’s cool to have goals and want to make money, but the things that bring fulfillment in life have little to do with fame and fortune.

Your parents are proud,
You’ve got everything,
No passion at hand,
You’ll be Ivy League,
It’s more probable,
We all become salesmen,
You know it,
You fear it,
Mediocrity.

It’s well on it’s way, well understood,
And this is your life,
Don’t apologize for what you are,
Because you’re a star.

The band released a press release a couple days ago that Delirious will be breaking up at the end of 2009 when the band’s commitments will be finished. Delirious started in 1993 playing at church events, but the band did not become a full-time gig until a few years later after a serious car accident involving the singer, his wife and the bass player.

Delirious is a prolific band that regularly releases studio albums and live CDs. The British band tours extensively throughout the world including Christian festivals in the United States. The breakup was likely due in part to the drummer’s decision to quit the band in April for family reasons.

I got to do an interview with Delirious? in 2002, which you can find on this site. I didn’t have any way to set up an interview in advance, so I talked to a guy who was running the stage crew the morning before their set at Northwestern College in Minnesota. I waited around for a while until the band’s road manager agreed to give me a 20-minute interview. Of all the band interviews I’ve done it was probably one of my favorites because I interviewed Martin Smith, Stu Garrard and Tim Jupp. I think it’s great when you can interview the people who play the music that you listen to on your stereo.

It’s sad to see the band breakup, but it’s probably time. The thing that impressed me the most about the band members was their humility and their absolute musical perfection. I have rarely seen a band that sounds better live than on a CD. Delirious? was a terrific band and their music will be missed.

I guess I’m years behind the trends in music because I don’t own an iPod and I just got my first ever mp3 player this week. I bought a 1 GB Philips mp3 player for $25 at Office Depot. I know to some it’s probably a cheap piece of junk that will probably fall apart in a year, but for the first time in a long time I’m excited about music again.

My favorite place to listen to music is my car. In the past I listened to tapes, but that required a considerable amount of time to record a proper mix tape and I get a little sick of listening to the same tapes over and over again. So for a while I tried a CD player that plays CDs and mp3 discs. That was nice except for the fact that it used 2 AA batteries and it’s difficult to operate while driving since it requires constant restarting every time you get in and out of the car.

My Philips mp3 player is great because I can use it with my car stereo with the Sony Discman cassette adapter. What I also like about the player is that I can skip songs easily with the buttons. In fact the device was so easy to use that I didn’t even read the instructions. The player is light weight, it operates as a USB flash drive, it can record audio as wave files and it is great for working out. I especially like how fast and easy I can drag and drop the songs onto the player without dealing with DRM or iTunes. If someone steals it then I’m only out $25 and the mp3 player runs on 1 AAA battery for every 8 hours of use. I know it’s no iPod, but I don’t care because I’m happy with what I’ve got.

Bon Voyage, the Starflyer 59 side project featuring Jason and Julie Martin comes out today. The band’s first self-titled album came out in 1998 and the follow-up “The Right Amount” was released in 2002. To my knowledge the band does not tour and has rarely performed live.

Bon Voyage is basically Starflyer 59 with a woman singing. It’s funny because as you listen to the songs you can hear Jason’s voice singing the songs. Jason doesn’t consider himself a singer, so it’s interesting to hear someone else sing his songs.

As a long-time Bon Voyage fan I’ve always wanted to see a live show or even just a video of one. Sadly, California is a long way from Chicago and the Martins won’t be coming this way together anytime soon. But I can dream can’t I?

I was reminiscing over all my favorite ex-Tooth and Nail bands and I decided to come up with a playlist to remember the olden days.

Ace Troubleshooter – 2:00 Your Time
Bleach – Andy’s Doin’ Time
The Cootees – Jocks Don’t Like Us
Delta Haymax – Four Leaf Clover
Dogwood – 1983
Fine China – You Heart Was Made of Gold
Hangnail – The Sleeping Giant
Havalina – Space and Mexico
The Huntingtons – Allison’s the Bomb
Joe Christmas – Coupleskate
Ninety Pound Wuss – Responsibility
Plankeye – Open House
Squad Five-O – I Don’t Want to Change the World, I Just Want to Change Your Mind

There is a lot of free music out there that you could be listening to instead of paying to download stuff from iTunes or Amazon. There are a ton of sites that have streaming music including myspace.com, facebook.com, purevolume.com, virb.com, last.fm, imeem.com, free.napster.com and others.

MySpace features up to six songs on a music profile and the site has replaced the need for many bands to have regular websites. Facebook is still relatively new to the music scene and not every band is on there yet, but there will be more music on there eventually. PureVolume rose from the ashes of MP3.com and it has taken a step back since MySpace came along, but there are still lots of music on there at 96 kbps, unlike most other sites that are 128 kbps. Virb.com is like another MySpace, which may or may not have the same songs as a band’s MySpace.

After the demise of Napster, it became a music subscription site where you can subscribe to the massive catalog of windows media drm-controlled songs for a fee each month. Free Napster is a site that features songs from the service streaming at low bitrates. The quality isn’t the best, but if you want to listen to a whole song and you can’t find it anywhere else this is the place to find it (it’s a catalog of millions of songs).

Imeem.com is a music social networking site. You can upload your own personal MP3s (of your band and your favorite bands) to the site and other people can stream them. Any remotely popular music can be found on the site. Imeem requires people to sign up and login to hear all the songs, but the best part of the site is the playlists that you can make. Last.fm is another music social networking site based in the UK. I wasn’t particularly impressed with it until it started letting users stream songs. There are tons of full albums that stream on the site. You don’t have to sign in to listen to music, which is a plus. However, I don’t think it has the playlist ease of Imeem.com since you have to browse the band’s albums to see which tracks are available for streaming.

There are a lot of sites that also include 30 second samples like iTunes and Amazon. YouTube is probably the best place to find music videos and the audio for its videos are encoded as MP3s. The beauty of YouTube and Imeem is that people are able to upload whatever they want (not always good for copyright holders) and this allows for more people to hear music they would never hear before. Funeral services will likely be held for major record labels and compact discs, but the exciting thing for listeners is that free music isn’t going away anytime soon.

Since the Christian music industry began there have been discussions of bands and how Christian they are or aren’t based on their lyrics and things they say from the stage. Growing up I knew of bands that talked about knowing the Lord on stage and gave altar calls for people to get saved regularly at concerts. Being a Christian band was not necessarily a big money-making profession. It was about the message and the music–in that order.

Flash forward to more than 20 years later and we have a number of artists that cross over from the Christian industry to the mainstream: groups such as POD, Switchfoot, Relient K and others. Some of these crossover groups don’t like to be called “Christian” artists because of the stigma that goes with the labeling of the music. Yet these artists started in the Christian scene and worked their way into mainstream success.

It’s always easy to badmouth your old job after you quit working there and so it is when bands leave Christian labels. I think sometimes it is a little dishonest for bands to deny their Christian roots. Maybe being in a mainstream band was their goal from the beginning, but if that was the case they should never have gotten involved with the Christian industry.

Christian rock music is a subculture and there are different circles of it. Christian Contemporary Music or CCM is often associated with Nashville, Christian radio and Christian music festivals with bands like the Newsboys or Jars of Clay. The Tooth and Nail segment of Christian music is associated with Cornerstone Music Festival and is an edgy less overtly Christian scene. Many bands that play Cornerstone don’t want to be associated with the Christian scene because Cornerstone is the only Christian concert they play the whole year.

So we have CCM bands that make big money playing music to only Christians and we have edgy bands that focus on the secular scene yet have ties to Christian rock. Both groups are considered Christian, but they feel differently about the association. The CCM industry was birthed out of the Jesus Movement in the 70s and the underground scene became known to mass audiences with the emergence of Tooth and Nail Records.

Not every band is going to be evangelistic like those bands I grew up with, but that doesn’t mean songs have to be intentionally vague where it could be about God or a girl. I think bands ought to be more honest with themselves about whether they’re in it first and foremost for the money or for God. Bands shouldn’t be ashamed to be Christians and fans shouldn’t disown a band because they’re Christians or not making music only for Christians.

Below is a video with an interview with Ronnie Martin:

Read the rest of this entry »

Cornerstone Festival is one of the most popular Christian music festivals in the United States. The fest is put on by the Jesus People USA (JPUSA) and features edgy underground bands, a couple CCM bands and some older Christian acts that reunite for a show at the festival.

I went to Cornerstone about five or six times in the past and have seen my share of bands. Looking at the lineup I no longer get excited about who’s playing this year. Most of the bands I grew up on don’t play the fest anymore. You know like Five Iron Frenzy, the Supertones, Squad Five-O, Ace Troubleshooter, MxPx, POD, Pedro the Lion and Switchfoot. I think something’s wrong with your festival when Hawk Nelson is on the main stage. Whatever happened to PFR, Jars of Clay or Relient K?

My last Cornerstone was six years ago, but it’s hard to believe it’s been that long. Bands come and bands go all the time because it’s hard to keep a band together. But some days I wish my favorite bands would stay together and I wish I was still at the age when all my friends were at Cornerstone. But the truth is that most of the bands I love have all gone the way of the dinosaur and the golden era of Tooth and Nail and Christian rock is slowly winding down.

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