Music is our new seer stone.

Mark Judge over at The Daily Caller wrote a brief, yet profound, article about Christian rock at the end of last week and our editor Dallin passed it along to me.  Dallin’s intuitions were right regarding the article: that I would find some insights in what Judge was saying, and that it echoed some of the things that I’ve written on the subject of what is called “LDS music.” Furthermore, the subject has reminded me of an interesting series on seer stones down at Juvenile Instructor (here, here, and here). I’ll tie it all together, hopefully, in a minute.

Judge really has two interwoven ideas in his article, and I’ve struggled with both of them when it comes to Linescratchers. Continue reading “Music is our new seer stone.”

Music is our new seer stone.

Selling Yourself

So the title might sound a little more anti-conformist than this post deserves but it describes an issue any musician is faced with when they begin to sell their own music.  Music has always been in large part tied to the image that a given song creates.  Phat beats and a stadium synth can place the listener in the hippest night club ever.  A twangy melody and a lap guitar will send you to the broken pickup out back.  And yes, even three power chords with enough fuzz will have you raging against any machine.  But when it comes down to it, the image of a musician has a lot to do with they those sounds produce their corresponding reactions.

Staying true to the foundation of this website, Mormon musicians are not exempt from the identity crisis that is the music scene.  And while some musicians choose not to place their faith in the limelight, being of a “peculiar” people makes this easier said than done.  This brings up an interesting question, is it ethical to use your religious beliefs or background to sell music?  While making money from one’s faith is the basis of this question, we will focus on the music point of view for this post. Continue reading “Selling Yourself”

Selling Yourself

Was this song really necessary?

I had a discussion with my family over the weekend about lazy songwriters that developed into a discussion about what makes music “good.”  In that discussion, I arrogantly monopolized the conversation in the interest of trying to be funny, which I’m prone to doing, except I think I did it at the expense of my actual ideas, looking like a jerk in the process.  To rectify this, I wanted to write down a few of my thoughts about songwriting here.  If people are going to think I’m a pretentious jerk, I want them to do it for the right reasons. Also, feel free to disagree if you wish (have at it in the comments section).

I showed my uncles a live video of a band called Axis of Awesome who perform a song called “4 Chords” on YouTube, which contains a little profanity, so I won’t link it here (you can search for it yourself if you wish).  Suffice it to say that they write a medley containing about 30 hit pop songs that use the same chord progression (I – V – vi – IV).  Non-musicians may not be able to fully appreciate how this progression is like sandpaper against our ears, but I think the Axis of Awesome at least introduced a lot of people to the problem.  It’s the songwriting equivalent to painting bowls of fruit or watercolor sailboats, and people actually intentionally buy that stuff.

For me, good songwriting can be broken down into two halves: content and delivery. Continue reading “Was this song really necessary?”

Was this song really necessary?

Arhythmatik

HIP HOP/RAP

Whenever religion, politics, and hip hop collide, the result is always something to look for. So it is with Phoenix-based rapper Arhythmatik, whose clever, creative beats and words never tip-toe around controversial or taboo topics, without resorting to the language or vulgarity of some other artists. A devout Mormon, producer, emcee, underground musician, and father of three, Arhythmatik is a satisfying blend of seemingly different influences and experiences.

Arhythmatik has been very involved in the LDS music community and is hoping to bring together LDS hip hop artists all over Utah and the West to create a monthly concert showcase, and is releasing one song a month for the next 12 months. For an interesting interview with an ambitious, principled rapper, read on. Continue reading “Arhythmatik”

Arhythmatik

Linescratchers

I’ve decided to start a blog featuring interviews from LDS musicians about their art. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, in the interest of full disclosure I am an LDS musician myself. I have a solo project called A Tremendous Machine and I’ve always been interested in the ways that Latter-day Saints interact with the world. Many things have been said online about the LDS music community, but many of these seem geared towards what has vaguely been called “LDS music,” which is the heavily LDS-themed music featured on EFY CDs and similar ventures. While I have great respect for the musicians who participate in these projects, my focus here is on what you could see as “secular” music, music that speaks of pain and struggle and hope in the world from an emotional viewpoint.

Hopefully people will understand why my focus is on this type of music, and why I’m not as concerned by the more established “Deseret”-type LDS music industry. I have a few musicians lined up for interviews and hopefully you will see these soon.

Linescratchers