Archive for October 24th, 2008

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Artist Love: Brave Saint Saturn

October 24, 2008

I’m not a big fan of “Christian bands”.  They bother me as a whole.  Mostly because I feel like there’s no actual attempt to make good music, just “Christian music”.  Often, they’ll take a popular band/sound and copy that style with Jesus lyrics, and it really just doesn’t work out.  So again, frustrating.  See, I am a Christian, and I don’t mind music that deals with faith.  But I want it to be good music.  And not shoving themes or ideas down my throat.  So some bands, like Jars of Clay, are pretty great.  And then there’s MercyMe, which was terrrrrrible.

However, my favorite band that happens to be Christian and/or deal with faith, is a group called Brave Saint Saturn.  Some people may remember a ska band called Five Iron Frenzy that disbanded ages ago.  This was that band’s side-project.  Reese Roper, lead singer/songwriter and guitar player for the both bands, used BS2 as a platform for more serious subjects and oftentimes depressing moments.  Because really, can you picture a ska band singing about the Challenger explosion?  Me neither.

Brave Saint Saturn did something really interesting and fun, that you don’t see often.  They told a story with their albums.  It wasn’t anything intense, and oftentimes the songs didn’t relate to the story, just little filler tracks in the albums did, but it was there.  The narrative was about a group of astronauts on the USS Gloria who get lost around the moon Titan of Jupiter.  There’s a lot of metaphors in this, with space being loneliness, light being hope, the return home being like coming to Christ, and so on. The music is spot on and flows really well.  The story, however disconnected it actually is, feels pretty connected.

The real strength of this band though is the composition of the serious songs, though not all of them appear to be so serious.  A prime example of this is Enamel.  Roper wrote this song after his fiancee went down to Mexico and proceeded to break up with him over the phone.  To be honest, it’s a bitter song.  But it’s incredibly well put together.  The lyrics are fantastic:

“The phone lines down in mexico are slow and maybe tired
I think all your devotion, got lost inside the wires
Well I hope you cannot sleep, and I hope you cannot smile
And I hope that you are burdened with your guilt for quite a while”

It has a great bridge too, featuring a phone conversation with a translator and losing communication.

Some songs are more faith oriented too, like I Fell Away and Heart Still Beats.

But possibly the strongest song on any of the three albums is Estrella.  Roper wrote what the song is about better than I ever could, so here’s what he said, from the liner notes:

This song is about a dear friend of ours Matt Estrella. Matt suffered from a rare genetic disease called Neurofibromatosis 2, which causes tumors to grow on the myelin sheaths of the outer nervous system.  Eventually the nerves will stop functioning. Our friend Matt was deaf when we first met him. He was losing his sight and a lot of feeling in parts of his body. The tumors were large, and very noticeable in some places.He was about the same age as I was, but I was living an amazing life for a 25 year old, while he carried this enormous and hideous burden. It seemed that anytime that I would complain to God about something fair or unfair, somehow I would see or hear from Matt. He was the only person that I had met that had any right to complain to God about what unfair or unjust in his life, but he never did. His faith was beyond measure, and that is why I loved him. Last spring, he died while undergoing an operation of removing one of his many tumors. This is just some stupid song I wrote in a basement. It will never make up for what is missing from the world now Matt Estrella is gone from it…But it is the best I could do. Shalom my friend we will see you again.

-Reese Roper February 4, 2003

An amazing band.  Of their albums, the second (The Light of Things Hoped For…)is the strongest, though I should probably listen to the third that was just recently released some more.

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