All Heaven Is Ringing: My Top 20 David Crowder Band Songs

You’ve probably observed by this point that most of the bands I’ve covered in this monthly Top 20 series have some relationship, whether direct or tangential, to the world of Contemporary Christian Music. While my musical tastes are much more diverse today, I’m open to hearing a variety of viewpoints beyond my own, and most of the artists I currently listen to who are Christians tend to operate largely outside the confines of the CCM industry, I can’t hide the fact that Christian rock is in my DNA, and a lot of my longest-running favorite bands came from that world. Most of these bands were known for at least trying to challenge the status quo in ways that sometimes made their religious audiences uncomfortable, and that I applauded them for. But the David Crowder Band might be the lone exception on this list, since they’ve always belonged to the niche-within-a-niche known as “praise and worship”, and I don’t think anyone’s ever felt the need to put a qualifier on it when describing them as “Christian rock”. What makes the David Crowder Band unique in my personal pantheon of favorite bands is that they managed to beat the odds and win me over despite being a worship band at a time when I was really starting to get cynical about the whole idea of worship bands in general.

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Crowder – Neon Steeple: Open the door and see all the party people.

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Artist: Crowder
Album: Neon Steeple
Year: 2014
Grade: B

In Brief: While the genre mish-mash gets a bit gimmicky and it doesn’t quite have the depth of the David Crowder Band’s best albums, I appreciate Crowder’s ongoing commitment to being creative and eclectic within the confines of “modern worship”.

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The Digital Age – Evening:Morning: Can we just call them “The * Band?”

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Artist: The Digital Age
Album: Evening:Morning
Year: 2013
Grade: B

In Brief: Several members of the David Crowder Band have soldiered on without Crowder… and while the results aren’t terribly surprising or deep, this is still a pretty solid, rock-oriented worship album, and I say that at a point in my life where I’m not at all easily impressed by such things.

You may have gotten the impression from the Gungor review I just wrote, or really anything I’ve written in the last ten years or so that discusses contemporary Christian “worship” music, its perennial popularity in the marketplace, and its apparent acceptance as the default musical style in a lot of Protestant churches, that I’m not a big fan of the genre. That really isn’t true. Sure, I make fun of a lot of the artists who produce such music, when I’m not busy leveling more serious accusations against the quality of their music, but my issue is really the repetition of it, with so many artists all scrambling to copy “what works” and not really thinking outside the box much, which is sort of built into the genre since the whole idea is to create songs that a worship leader can easily pick up, teach a team of amateur musicians to play, and get a congregation singing along to without too much hassle. In theory, I don’t have any theological issue with this. In practice, I think it’s becoming an issue of pouring new wine into old wineskins in a lot of cases. It’s the biggest example of people being willfully blinded to the actual merits of the music simply because they deem its intent to be the most noble thing that music could ever do. That’s what also makes it the most challenging thing to do well – to really help us meditate on and offer thanks to God for some aspect of His character, rather than just to lull us into a comfort zone where a catchy song we can sing back from memory doesn’t require us to think very much at all. But when it is done well, I’ll be among the first to say so (at least, if I can pick it out from the increasingly nondescript crowd of artists all vying to be the next Chris Tomlin).

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The Best of 2012: Give Us Peace or (Tempering the Wild Vitality [of Current Things])

2012. That was an interesting year, wasn’t it? The world didn’t end after all – not that most of the intelligent among us really expected it to. For me, personally, the world actually seemed to ease up a bit compared to the chaos it threw at me in 2011. 2012 was kind of a year of rebirth. And the following albums and songs artists provided the highlights of its soundtrack.

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David Crowder Band – Can You Hear Us?: Our Love Is Schizophrenic

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Artist: David Crowder Band
Album: Can You Hear Us?
Year: 2002
Grade: C+

In Brief: The DCB’s major-label debut is flawed. It’s worthwhile for completists and for nostalgia. But pretty much everything they did here, they did better later in their career.

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David Crowder Band – Give Us Rest Or (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys]): Requiem for a Dream Fulfilled

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Artist: David Crowder Band
Album: Give Us Rest Or (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys])
Year: 2012
Grade: B+

In Brief: A fitting send-off for a great worship band (or just a great band in general [not to mention a passionately intelligent one {who really loved their parenthesis}]).

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David Crowder Band, Gungor, Chris August & John Mark McMillan live @ The Hollywood Palladium

David Crowder Band was phenomenal tonight on what is, sadly, their final tour. Though they opened with one new song, previewed another new one later in the set, and even rearranged into “bluegrass band form” for a rendition of “Go Tell It on the Mountain” from their new Christmas CD (as well as covers of “Because He Lives”, “I Saw the Light”, and “I’ll Fly Away”), most of the set played like Crowder’s greatest hits. That’s to be expected given that their final album isn’t in our hands yet (and sadly, most of it will be played live). “The Veil” was the first recognizable number, an interesting medley of “Shadows” (complete with a rap break from one of the guitarists) and “What a Miracle” came later in the set, and my absolute favorite Crowder song, “God Almighty, None Compares” appeared in its full seven-minute splendor about midway through. So I feel somewhat vindicated for missing out on the Church Music tour. The set was otherwise heavy on selections from A Collision and Illuminate (they brought “Intoxicating” back out to play, which was great fun except Crowder kept mixing up the words – embarrassing when you have them there on screen for everyone to sing!), while Remedy got the short shrift with only one song representing it (“The Glory of It All”), and Can You Hear Us?may as well have not existed. (OK by me – those are my two least favorite Crowder albums, and I caught the Remedy tour four years ago anyway.) I think it was a good balance of expected live show standards and interesting surprises. They mostly stick to the album arrangements, but they play them with gusto and since it’s worship music it’s easy for everyone to get into. Crowder always draws great crowds – one of the few times I can be in a very “churchy” concert atmosphere and not be at all bothered by it.

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Divad’s Soundtrack #86: May-June 2010

“Movement” is the word that comes to mind when I think of the late spring and early summer of 2010. It’s a freedom that I almost feel like I was taking for granted, now that I’m thinking about it from the perspective of 2020. The month of May started off with a weekend trip to Vegas. In mid-June, I surprised Christine with another weekend trip, this time to Colorado, where we managed to cram in a National Park visit and one of my “bucket list” concerts all in a single day. In between the two, we moved to a new apartment – only 2 miles away from our old place on Granada near the train tracks, and still technically within the city of Alhambra, but close enough to its northern boundary to have a more peaceful “San Marino ambiance”. On the surface, we were turning over new leaves and doing a lot of fun things, and life was good. Deeper down, more of an unsettling sort of movement was going on. I can still remember the exact moment when a “dark epiphany” hit me that sent me into an emotional tailspin that I’d struggle with on and off for the better part of the next two years. As much as listening to this set of songs instantly brings back my excitement at the newness of our surroundings during that time, it also reminds me of some questions that haunted me at the time – things I would have never thought in a million years I’d ever have to wrestle with.

In with the New:
Paper Route

Out with the Old:
The Paper Raincoat
Joe Henry

Listen on Spotify:

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Divad’s Soundtrack #85: March-April 2010

My soundtrack from the spring of 2010 is… a bit of a hodgepodge, honestly. Most of my soundtracks are, but this one in particular has a bit of an identity crisis. Lots of great music here from across a smattering of divergent genres, but not a whole lot of connecting tissue tying most of it together – and honestly, not as many specific memories tying the music to definitive events in my life. I think this tends to happen during a season of life when I’m reasonably settled and happy – the music I’m drawn to, which might reflect a certain amount of angst or difficult questions, is probably resonating more with stuff I’ve been through in the past, or stuff I’m glad to have never been through. All of this is to say, I’ve realized in retrospect that this is a less autobiographical set of songs than most of my soundtracks turned out to be. Nothing wrong with that – remembering a time in my life when there was a distinct lack of struggle or upheaval is kind of comforting nowadays, considering how isolated, unpredictable and stressful life is for me (and for most of the world!) ten years down the road.

In with the New:
OK Go
Owl City
The River Empires
Jónsi (as a solo artist – appears earlier with Sigur Rós)

Out with the Old:
Newsboys

It Was Worth a Try:
The Clumsy Lovers

Listen on Spotify:

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