Wider Worship: Indie & Modern Rock
Welcome a special monthly edition of Worship Wednesday! Contrary to what Christian radio might make you think, there’s a wide variety of worship music out there, in every genre imaginable. Our worship team and staff have put their music-loving heads together to come up with a series of posts featuring a new genre of worship music every month! See one of your favorite musicians in RIYL (Recommended If You Like)? Recognize a favorite song from Sunday mornings? Check out a new band! We hope something strikes your fancy and injects your everyday music listening with a little more worship.
This month, let’s explore…
Dustin Kensrue is perhaps best known as the front man for the million-selling post-hardcore band Thrice, who have been making melodic heavy alternative rock since 1998. As a solo artist, Kensrue released a Christmas album and several Americana and acoustic-based albums, as well as a few worship-centric rock albums (namely, The Water & The Blood, and the Grace Alone EP) which can also be found under the band name “The Modern Post,” his worship band based out of Mars Hill Orange County. The music is melodic and catchy, while the rhythms are propulsive and engaging. Most significantly, though, is the theologically rich lyrical depth of Kensrue’s worship songs.
- RIYL: The Killers, early U2, OK Go, Johnny Cash
- Songs We’ve Sung: “God Is Good,” “Rejoice,” “Oh God,” “Grace Alone“
- Laura Suggests: “Carry the Fire,” “I Believe,” “It’s Not Enough,” his cover of “Wrecking Ball” (no seriously, it’s great)
Live drums, 80s synths and modern rock guitars & vocals swirl together to make a juicy melange of heartfelt electro-rock goodness in Lovelite’s four albums. Comprised of the husband/wife duo Andrew and Jen Polfer (along with an array of other live musicians), their lyrics convey biblical truth about Jesus and our relationship with God while managing to avoid clichés, both lyrically and musically. There’s a feeling of genuine joy and wonder in their songs, heightened by the surprising musical turns they take, whether it’s the occasional half-time break or dropped beat for a bridge, or incorporating a wholly distinct musical motif for an outro or second bridge of a song.
- RIYL: The Cure, Tears for Fears, Cocteau Twins
- Peter Suggests: “Overcome,” “Brother Sister,” “Where Love Begins”
Loud Harp play somber shoe-gazey guitar rock with yearning, raspy vocals from Asher Seevinck, akin to Peter Gabriel. His musical partner Dave Wilton provides additional guitar and shares in the songwriting. Their combined guitars provide a gauzy, spacious atmosphere and melodic environment without overpowering the earnest lyrics. Their album Asaph is a meditation on the Psalms, and it’s genuinely moving post-rock worship. Their self-titled debut album is less thematic but still a strong collection of both ambient and straightforward worship songs, and it’s all truly lovely stuff.
- RIYL: Explosions in the Sky, Peter Gabriel, Mogwai
- Peter Suggests: “I’m Yours,” “The Fire and The Flood,” “You Heard Me (unplugged with strings)
King’s Kaleidoscope is a ten-piece band that does hymns and original songs in a hip-hop-inspired, jazz-fusion style, with a brass section, woodwinds, fiddle, and more. Originally from Mars Hill Church, they released their fourth EP, Live In Color, and their debut LP, Becoming Who We Are, in 2014. They describe their style as “designed chaos” and their lyrics are heartfelt and prayerful. (Perhaps too heartfelt in one instance: they attracted some controversy with their 2016 song “A Prayer,” which lead singer Chad Gardner lifted straight from his journal, swear words and all. Spotify only has the explicit version; you may prefer the edited version, which still retains the heartrending emotion of the original.)
Nashville-based singer/songwriter Jeremy Casella has been touring the world with his songs for nearly 20 years. He gained recognition on a large scale after some collaborations with Phil Keaggy about 10 years ago. While his songs are rooted in acoustic guitar, a wide array of pop and rock influences can be heard throughout his multiple albums. He can seamlessly integrate hip-hop beats with piano and orchestra then deftly switch to fingerpicked guitar or wiry electric lead lines. His latest album, Death in Reverse, is focused on the theme of resurrection, both Christ’s and ours, and all that means for us today on earth. Drawing on inspiration from George MacDonald, N.T. Wright, the lyrics are highly poetic and symbolic on songs like “The Old Cinder of a Burnt out World” and “Night Vision.”
- RIYL: Jeremy Enigk, Joseph Arthur, Phil Keaggy
- Peter Suggests: “On the Evening Train,” “The Space Between Living & Dying,” “Guide me O Thou Great Jehovah”
The Gray Havens is husband/wife duo David and Licia Radford. They offer gorgeous folk ballads with storytelling lyrics and complex, varied acoustic instrumentation – plus a little 90s-tastic synth, just in case. They use familiar imagery (a train station, hunting for buried treasure, colorful flowers) to illustrate salvation and Jesus’ life.
- RIYL: Noah and the Whale, Mika, The Decembrists, Of Monsters and Men, allegory like the Narnia books or Lord of the Rings
- Laura Suggests: “Gray Flowers,” the whole Ghost of a King album but “This My Soul,” “Ghost of a King” and “At Last The King” in particula
Got a related band or favorite song to recommend? Share in the comments!