Angeltread

I’ve liked this song a lot since I first heard it. No idea there was a video produced for it. Not sure what it means, but I still like it. View here. Too bad I didn’t really enjoy this band’s music till after it all ended. Brilliant stuff. If I had a rock band, I’d want to do music like this.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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6 Responses to Angeltread

  1. Randolph Nichols says:

    E minor is a nice key and perhaps lends itself to the airy, pouty voice. But there’s not much harmonically or melodically going on here. Give me a reason to listen to this again. Something to do with Catholic sensibility? If you can clarify that, maybe I’ll begin to comprehend ‘All I Ask of You.’

  2. Todd says:

    Well … rock is about more than harmony and melody. Rhythm is the third aspect of music, classical or popular, and rhythm drives much of rock music. At least as the initial introduction to the genre.

    Rhythm can be an easy thing to attempt, but it is as hard as harmony and melody when you want to do it well.

    The song form, rock or classical, is also about the craft of construction and I find I like the construction of Sixpence songs, especially how instruments are used and how they play off the sweet voice of Leigh Nash.

    Does it have a Catholic sensibility? Good question. I don’t think the Christians of Sixpence are Catholic, but they’re certainly aware of CS Lewis.

    I think there’s an honest grittiness in the Christian songs Matt Slocum wrote, and not just for the unexpected fusion of metal with an almost fragile-sounding voice.

    Now I’ve lost my fear
    So I pray that you come near
    With a million sparkly lights
    And help me, help me through the night

    Is this some kind of holy test
    To stitch the treadmarks off my chest
    To get up, walk outside my head
    On a holy search for angeltread

    By the time the songwriter gets to the fourth stanza, he admits that the night, despite the sounds of nature, the feel of bedsheets (and the suggestion of intimacy), the beauty of moonlight, give no solace. He gets around to the real issue beyond the terrors of the night (cf. Psalm 91:5a) and that he’s no longer afraid, presumably because of God.

    Then the music gets angry, just when one might think the issues are settled. Unlike most Christian music I’ve heard, the songwriter is ticked off at life’s trials, and brings that emotion to the question of God and to the prayer.

    That strikes me as a very Jewish thing. I’d say that Catholics might almost be as queasy as evangelicals about getting angry with God.

    And I’ll need to ponder the video, which obviously interprets the song very differently. Was it because the band didn’t have a budget to do what they wanted or that they just put in images of dolls and chainsaws because it was cool and crazy?

    I don’t necessarily look to make converts for this type of music. It’s more the diary function of the blog. My readers might not have expected the choice, that’s all. You get to know me a bit better and maybe that’s not a good thing after all …

  3. Randolph Nichols says:

    All right, I listened to it a second time and am not persuaded by your rhythm argument. A steady percussive pulse doesn’t necessarily equate to creative imagination. This must be a generational thing since I’ve had this discussion so often with my kids (all grown) – always beginning with “What do you see/hear in this?” This recording is but one more example why I now lean toward a hypothesis once forwarded by the late Stephen Jay Gould, avid amateur chorister as well as biologist. He thought it possible that genres of art have evolutionary cycles as do biological forms. From primitive shapes they evolve into a great complexity and reach a peak that cannot be sustained. They then begin an inevitable decline and eventually die. We end up trying to infuse meaning into something without significance.

    Much more time must pass before anyone can claim proof, but can you with a straight face say that today’s pop artists work with the same level of inventiveness as a Gershwin, Arlen, or Porter?

    Enjoy your Angeltread, I’ll take Gershwin’s “Embraceable You,” or late Strauss, or Bill Evans, or . . .

  4. Todd says:

    Thanks for commenting, Nicholas. I’ll take Gershwin and Bill Evans, too. The Gould attribution does not surprise me, given what I’ve read of him. Certainly rock music has known the cycle of increasing complexity followed by a back-to-basics movement.

    And comparing today’s pop artists, I do think there are people like Lucinda Williams or Springsteen who do write on a par with Gershwin, Arlen, and Porter. In some areas, perhaps politics or social justice, the best of today’s pop artists produce superior work in the sense of their willingness to engage more directly issues that were avoided in the past. “Strange Fruit” notwithstanding.

    Gershwin and other songwriters wrote songs for others, largely. Pop artists write and arrange their own songs for their own or their band’s expression. I enjoy music that I know I wouldn’t be able to reproduce, lacking the particular band or even the particular sentiment. But my wife and I can sing most of the Tin Pan Alley oeuvre in the car, at a piano, or even in a coffehouse–and with those great songs, I would expect that.

    This gives me a notion to reflect on popular music and write a bit afterward. Your questions raise many important issues that are well worth a careful examination. Thanks for putting in the seed.

  5. Ed Soto says:

    Gents,

    I so much appreciate the privilage of both reading & responding to your comments re Sixpence None The Richer, and their song, Angeltread.

    Briely & for what it’s worth, I’m a 52 yr old prof. guy from So Cal who’s enjoyed a bevy of music…rather ecclectic are my tastes. Sociopolitically, I’m a Hispanic political conservative, born-again Evangelical (shared only as a reference point). ..ah, and I’m a curesed ‘first-born’ to boot. Having said this, I continue to wonder in amazement how I ever became such a strident supporter of Sixpence None The Richer, and of Leigh Nash.

    I would have passed on a reply to your posts, except that your comparasions of SPNTR to Gershwin, Lucinda Williams, and , Bruce Springsteen, got my (polite) dander up.

    One recurrent theme coming from my exhaustive research & devotion to SPNTR is how Sixpence has been revered as an A1A pop band. If American Cultural pop (I toss Springsteen in with this) is akin to M&Ms, then Sixpence None The Richer surely deserves to be recognized as Godiva chocolate. Now I’ll admit that Angletread represents a good work of theirs, it’s definitely not their best. And unfortunately SPNTR gets blasted for their hit singles “Kiss Me”, and “There She Goes” (the former a SPTNR original, the latter a redo of the the La’s hit single). However & even with ‘Kiss Me’ in mind, Sixpence has distinguished themselves as a critically acclaimed band, excellinging in Matt Slocum’s brillian prose-turned-to-lyrics, by way of their superb instrumentals, and by way of Leigh Nash’s utterly amazing voice…the girl is incredible. Indeed, enough critics out there lament how SPNTR sadly is one of the most under-rated (Christian) pop bands of all time; twice failed recording labels account for the ultimate demise of the band.

    Since music is such a subjective ‘beast’, I would not razz somone for their choice of favorite selections off an album. I will say however that “Love, Salvation, and the Fear of Death” IMO, rates tops in my books off of SPNTR’s ‘THIS BEAUTIFUL MESS’ album. And I’d add that most of the cuts off of both their first CD, ‘THE FATHERLESS & THE WIDOW’, as well as their last, “DIVINE DISCONTENT” are chalked full of really, really good stuff…deep, pensive, expressive, superbly crafted. SPNTR has elevated pop to a new standard that IMO rates above the Gershwins, Williams, & the Springsteens of the pop world! Just my opinion mind you…

    Ah, and add to that, former SPNTR frontwoman and singer, Leigh Nash…she’s written her own music, and with the help of Pierre Marchand (ace Canadian producer), she’s got her first solo album out. It’s called BLUE on BLUE, and it, like most of SPNTR’s music is also a real gem. Check out her MYSPACE for samples including video clips. That girl is amazing…

    Thanks for your consideration,

    Ed

  6. Todd says:

    Thanks for your input, Ed. Bands are surely more than the sum of their parts. SNtR had a different spark when they included that guitarist Tess Wiley–on the album This Beautiful Mess. That was the peak, I thought, though I first came to love their last album Divine Discontent.

    I agree Leigh Nash is a sublime vocalist. I find her solo material less compelling, though. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t listened in great detail. She toured and stopped in KC this past Spring, but I could never get the details of her appearance and sadly, it passed by.

    Yes, “Love, Salvation, and the Fear of Death” is a substantive song–and I agree, very close to the top of their best.

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