Tag Archives: CCM


Listening to tunes today, and it rolled down the list to Avalon. It’s been years since I listened. Such great singers, such awful songwriting.

Groupthink: Send the Songs, My People!

sheetmusic back bOK, kids … everybody know what time it is? That’s right, it’s time for you to help Mr. Michael Lee do his work! For free!

Settle down, kids. No, there are no snacks. No, Timmy, I will not cut you in for points on the backend … Timmy, where did you learn about that kind of thing anyway? Oh, your last name is Mottola. Well, that explains a lot, Timmy.

For the rest of you, here’s the assignment. I need you to help Mr. Lee think of songs for his little singing group to perform. Think big guitars, drums, a very cool band, and 6-part vocal harmony tight enough to peel the lipstick off a pig. No, Timmy, I wasn’t making a joke about your daddy’s ex-wife.

So, if you had that kind of group, heading out on the road to perform concerts for medium-size churches, and also doing some stints as a high-school camp worship band, what kind of rep would you throw at them?

Anything. Anything at all. It doesn’t have to already be arranged for that kind of band + vocals, it can be a song that you think could be arranged well for the lineup.

The floor is open. Hit me.

15 Hymns: Labor of Love

Chad once said something that I will co-opt, and bastardize, to suit my purposes; “Every Christmas song worth a damn was either written 300 years ago, or is ‘Labor of Love’ by Andrew Peterson.” I loved this song from the moment I first heard it on a rehearsal demo for Chad’s Christmas musical a few years ago.

Since everyone else involved in this project seems intent on sending in radio-ready masters of incredible arrangements, I decided to play the contrary, and deliver this thing up, warts and all. I tried to stay with the simplicity of the original song, just alone at a piano in a noisy room, recording the song as it went down. If you want to hear the much, much better version, follow the happy itunes link:
Jill Phillips with Andrew Peterson - The Nativity Story: Sacred Songs - Labor of Love

For the rest of you, enjoy.


labor of love
photo by introspectre

New Music – Travis McClain

OK, Roadies – mark your calendars: Today marks the first musical recommendation from me that is actually from a Christian artist.

Travis McClain is the boyfriend of a sister of a friend of mine. I stumbled onto his stuff via MySpace, and loved what I heard. I wrote him – he told me 5 bucks (+$3 for shipping) would get me his new CD. I stuffed some filthy cash into an envelope, and waited. Two days later, I have his CD.

It’s brilliant. He’s a very talented songwriter, with skills to match. I told him he reminded me of early Ryan Adams (See: Heartbreaker) – he wisely took it as a compliment. The recording quality, although recorded in his kitchen, is very good. Lush vocals, nice backup from Lindsey Yegan (younger sister of Ashley, for those in the know), and wonderful lyrics. Haunting at times, inspirationally reminding at others – it makes me think of how lonely Brooklyn can be. Further comparisons to Joe Purdy. Travis is good people: A wise and talented musician who has yet to be absorbed by the system. Check out his MySpace profile here, and get your hands on this very hand-made record.

Listen to “Central Park” – it’s the song that would have kept me from abandoning song-writing, had I written it.

Phreaky Phriday – The Lost Earthsuit Record

In the beginning, before Mute Math began rokken the free world, and making news by suing Christian Labels, there was Earthsuit.

I first became aware of Earthsuit as one of my favorite, “Just staring at CDs waiting for something to jump out at me,” discoveries. There was this little record with a cool cover called Kaleidoscope Superior. I think what made me pick it up and buy it was a review from Kevin Max, then of DC Talk. I think his quote was something about Earthsuit being the white rabbit and he wanting to follow them all the way down into Wonderland. I was hooked.

It’s an amazing album. I still think it’s original sounding six years later. I saw Earthsuit only one time (father to come a fill us!) in the summer of 2001, whilst at Spirit West Coast with many of the regulars here at Addison. Earthsuit rocked us. I will forever get giggly at the fact that they dedicated one of the songs to, “All the Jennifers in the audience,” for no good reason. They were like a lightning bolt in the midst of the endless parade of “Track Monkeys.”

Of course, they were way to hip to survive in CCM. They were from New Orleans, for Pete’s sake.

They broke up, and some members reformed in other bands, most notably Mute Math, to whom I will forever be grateful for making the Keytar cool again. I mean, any band which has a ritual that involves the drummer duct taping his headphones to his head at the beginning of the show is pretty fan-freaking-tastic.

OK. So, one record. Until I found the Earthsuit Wikipedia page, and learned that there was a second album which was released independently in 2003. There were only 1,000 copies made.

Fortunately, with the internets being a series of tubes and whatnot, someone decided that the world at large needed to hear it. You can download the whole thing here, and the MP3s sound darn good. I have no idea if it’s legal. I do know that it rocks.

Happy Friday. I will be whipping up internet fan frenzy soon, never fear.


I have a new favorite site. Chad, fasten your seatbelt. CCMPatrol. They review Contemporary Christian Music. Oh man, do they ever review it. The thing is, they actually like music, and they really do think that it’s possible to do good music in the CCM world. That’s what makes them so bitter (and funny) when bands do it poorly.

Part of their theory of CCM is that most songs today are written by an animatronic robot computer, which follows a strict formula for lyric writing:

The [violent weather metaphor] crashes to the [Psalmy landscape metaphor]
Sometimes I wish I could [Biblical miracle metaphor]
Just like [Biblical patriarch name ]
But I can’t because I’m only a [ man / woman / sinner ]

[ Praying / crying / calling out ] for [ sunshine / silver lining image ]
I want to see the [ positive weather metaphor ]
I want to see beyond the [ negative weather metaphor ]
[ First line of chorus ] + [ song title ]

Oh man, that’s good eats. Enjoy.

(ht: OpenSwitch)