The radio plays music that is intended for everyone. Which means that it’s not intended for me. This does not impair most of my music listening; I primarily listen to secular music and there’s loads of it. With many, many ways to find out about new, lesser-known artists that are within or adjacent to genres that I’ve come to enjoy.
Within the context of Christian music, the discovery of new, lesser-known artists can be a real pain. Tiny inroads of quality were quietly being made in the early nineties, only to be washed away in a flood of worship music. Christian radio finally accepted that guitars weren’t just the devil’s instruments, but artist originality seemed pretty closely tied to a catchy, simple chorus with a sound not too many branches from U2 on the genre family tree. Music for everybody!
If you’re not everybody, like me, I thought we could benefit from some discussion of what’s going on behind the scenes. Here’s a few sources of new voices in music that I’ve been enjoying:
John Mark McMillan/ http://www.thejohnmark.com
His song “How He Loves” got a boost in attention thanks to a cover by David Crowder. His most recent album, “The Medicine” was just picked up by a new label and re-released. Honest & earthy with terrific attention to tone and arrangement.
Deep & heartfelt. Personal and transparent worship, self-described as “liturgical post-rock.” Great.
Mark Mathis/ http://markmathis.bandcamp.com
Sometimes Sonvolt-esque gritty, sometimes ethereal. Songs about life & love. “Warship” is all worship, ranging from the poppy “Close to You” to the prayerful “Overflow.” Follow that link to find all of his music available at “you name it” pricing!
This is of particular interest to independent artists. NoiseTrade offers artists an outlet to give away music in exchange for information; listeners get downloads for emails and promoting the artist on Facebook or Twitter. The artists aren’t all unknowns; Derek Webb (NoiseTrade creator), Sandra McCracken, and Sara Groves all currently have music available for free download on the site. (Personal promo: you can download the new Purrington EP (my band) for free on that site here: https://www.noisetrade.com/purrington#)
Indigenous Worship/ http://indigenousworship.com
A blog primarily focused on the need for songwriting in local worship environments. Features interviews with various songwriters and artists.
Under the Radar/ http://www.radarradio.net
Last but not least, an exciting find: what good college radio would be like if it existed for Christian music. Maybe it does! Host Dave Trout from UTR was good enough to put some words to their actions for us:
Under The Radar is a nationally syndicated radio programming airing on over 150 radio outlets each week, and shares some of the best under-played and under-appreciated songs from Christian songwriters. We tend to weed out the fluffy ‘fast-food’ CCM music, and pull out the really thoughtful, creative, artistic stuff. It’s a good fit for those who have been looking for a true slice of variety with music! Our core artists are folks like Andrew Peterson, Sara Groves, Caedmon’s Call, Rich Mullins, Waterdeep, Randall Goodgame, etc…. a mix of some established and some indie artists — but all the GREAT songs that most people are missing out on.
In this one-hour weekly program, host Dave Trout shares stories, spiritual insight, and exclusive artist interviews to discover the depth of faith and creativity found in the music. Listeners participate by suggesting some of the best hidden gems in their own music collections that the world needs to hear. Check out UTR through the iTunes Podcast Directory, or directly from RadarRadio.net.
What are you listening to?