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Gospel Music (or) The World According to a Black Kid

Do you remember that kid Charlie, from Dead Poets Society, who, during a school assembly, "receives" a call from God in which God expresses His support for making Welton Academy co-ed? Well that character strikes me as being a kind of kindred spirit to Owen Holmes, no stranger to the Jacksonville music scene as a member of Black Kids. Of late, however, he has been moonlighting as the quirky brain behind the anti-folk/folk-punk outfit Gospel Music. Their album "How To Get To Heaven From Jacksonville, FL" is made up of fun, deconstructed pop songs with sing-a-long lyrics delivered in an easy, deadpan with a "don't give a damn" swagger. This music sounds as if it's meant to have been used for Jon Waters' long lost "accessible" Rom-Com.

Published January 31, 2012 in Culture      19 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


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Do you remember that kid Charlie, from Dead Poets Society, who, during a school assembly,  "receives" a call from God in which God expresses His support for making Welton Academy co-ed? Well that character strikes me as being a kind of kindred spirit to Owen Holmes, no stranger to the Jacksonville music scene as a member of Black Kids. Of late, however, he has been moonlighting as the quirky brain behind the anti-folk/folk-punk outfit Gospel Music. Their album "How To Get To Heaven From Jacksonville, FL" is made up of fun, deconstructed pop songs with sing-a-long lyrics delivered in an easy, deadpan with a "don't give a damn" swagger. This music sounds as if it's meant to have been used for Jon Waters' long lost "accessible" Rom-Com.



Owen Homes, likes red kitchen tools.


To me one of the most endearing things about Gospel Music is the name itself. I love that it evokes a snarky, wink-wink brand of tongue-in-cheek humor. It's borderline edgy but harmless enough to ruffle few feathers. Art at its core demands that you, at the very least, fall to one side of the fence that is presented. At its best, art demands that you take notice and tends to ease the jolt of this necessary confrontation with its inescapable quality. While I don't mean to impose any unnecessary heaviness onto the music (in fact it's really quite light fare), just that when you contemplate the brilliant name with the dry brand of humor innate in the music and lyrics it becomes clear that much thought went into the whole of what Gospel Music preaches. So in the same playful spirit, I present "Three Steps to Unlocking the Heart of Gospel Music"




1. Life is hard, don't forget to laugh

Owen kicks off the set with a fun little ditty, "Bird/Fish" that playfully presents the painful truth that some people just DO NOT belong together by smarting "It's not like you're six-foot-one/not like I'm Napoleon/not like you're my Waterloo/not like I love you...you said a bird and a fish can fall in love/but where would they live"." This Town Doesn't Have Enough Bars for Both of Us" tells the tale of a presumably freshly broken relationship and the hijinks involved in the custody battle for their favorite watering holes. The twisted fun of this post-breakup jam is on display in my favorite lyric from the album "don't call me a boor/don't say I'm a mess/I'm not drinking anymore/but I'm not drinking any less". And who hasn't experienced those cringe-worthy classic moments of over-share?! "I Shared Too Much With Her" is a humorous soliloquy-turned-fable whose rather poignant moral is: "too much for her leaves too little for you/I shared too much with her!".




2. Life is short, don't sweat the small stuff

"I Can't Be a Man If I Don't Have a Woman" and "Let's Run" continues the fun respectively with their clever takes on modern masculinity and why the odd reasons for white people running, act as an effective non-sequitur for the basis of a relationship. And the random silliness rolls right on to "Death of the Newspaper". Sample lyric: "I take out advertisements/I've even made headlines/how's she gonna know I love her/after Woodward's last deadline",




3. Life is sweet, don't forget to dance

Gospel Music will totally make you and yours want to be THAT couple. You know the free-spirited, neo-hippies dancing--twirls and all--down in front at the Bob Dylan show or the Wilco show or the Ryan Adams show or pretty much whatever show they go to. Yeah, it will get in your bones and make you want to shake your tuckus, but don't fight it, because whether you're a bird or a fish and, quite frankly, regardless or where you live, Gospel Music is a blast, so give in to the fun!

Listen and BUY the album here http://gospelmusic.bankcamp.com/album/how-to-get-to-heaven-from-jacksonville-fl

What are your thoughts?

Article by Paul Thomas Chapman







19 Comments

fieldafm

January 31, 2012, 10:11:38 AM
I can't believe that a column named 'Pump up the Volume' has no mention of J Dash's album being released today.  This is a local artist that will sell the most albums since Limp Biscuit... yet not a peep about this album?

No offense to Owen Holmes, but kind of a missed opportunity considering the potential enormous day in Jacksonville music history, no?

Full disclsoure: I have downloaded a couple of Holmes' songs from Amazon.

Tacachale

January 31, 2012, 10:38:22 AM
Nice article, Paul. Keep up the good work.

pumpedupPaul

January 31, 2012, 11:38:24 AM
@fieldafm This column is mostly musings to spotlight what I believe to be special but maybe under-known goings on in the Jax musical community. Full disclosure I have never heard of J Dash previous to your post but I will check his stuff out. Jax's hip bop scene is one that's kind of an enigma to me right now--I've yet to really know what/where the pulse is as far as that goes. But rest assured that if I find some value in a local discovery I will most definitely highlight it. If you have some knowledge about some  of the underground happenings in hip hop/r&b/soul/gospel/etc. definitely let me know because i would  to cover it. Thanks for your comments.

@Tacachale thanks for your kinds words! And for reading mine.

IamAmerican

January 31, 2012, 11:43:02 AM
Yeah, PUTV, what about JDASH!?

Thanks for the words Paul. I enjoy your articles. I listened to the album after I read your review and it's nice. I do, however, take issue with your statement:

"Art at its core demands that you, at the very least, fall to one side of the fence that is presented. At its best, art demands that you take notice and tends to ease the jolt of this necessary confrontation with its inescapable quality. "

So, art is confrontation. Art builds a fence and the participant must make a decision?...that is its base nature ("very least"). Are you saying that art is inherently a dividing line? I'm not sure I buy that line of reasoning. Maybe, in our un-evolved and unsophisticated twisted view of the arts and if the dividing line is a simple/superficial "I like this" or "i don't like this" then maybe. If the fence is whether you like it or not, then maybe all art, at minimum, demands a choice. But that's not what you are saying. Or, is it?

Then "Art, at it's best" is making the confrontation easy by creating a sense of enchantment, "a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down." Is that art at it's best?

I think I see where you are going with those statement but they seem rather lofty and not necessarily accurate. I'm not sure I believe the rather assumptive statement that art requires decisions be made. I'm open to being corrected but first I have to decide whether JDash is art at its best or worst.

IamAmerican

January 31, 2012, 11:46:15 AM
I've decided JDASH is art at its $$$

pumpedupPaul

January 31, 2012, 12:58:00 PM
@Iamamerican I think you trivialized my statements on art to an extent that yes, if you equate my views as you have, then they are silly statements. But the reality is that art--good and bad--is always controversial and yes draws lines in the sand. I nickelback art? Is gwar? Is 2 live crew? Is the statue of David? Is any Jackson Pollock? Dogs playing poker?  As far as speaking to the inescapable quality of a piece, I'm referring to when a piece of art in whatever form is so unnerving, so breathtaking, so moving that it quite literally cuts through all the bs and we in some fashion express a gratefulness for being endowed with such gifts--hardly a "spoonful of sugar" type scenario. And yes J Dash does indeed have the distinct smell of freshly minted c-notes...

Thanks for your comments!

fieldafm

January 31, 2012, 01:04:05 PM
Quote
I've decided JDASH is art at its $$$

How elitist of you.

So, have you actually gone beyond a Youtube viewing of 'Wop' and seen any Fusebox Funk shows over the last 10 years or actually listened to the other songs on his solo album that just came into stores today?

I think you'll find that there is a DEEP level of soul and funk beyond a dance song he made years ago in college. 

I have attended a lot of live shows here locally and for the most part find that 80% of it is less than appealing... but I would never go so far as to dismiss them as artists b/c my personal preferance lied elsewhere.  That's pretty narrow minded.

pumpedupPaul

January 31, 2012, 01:14:48 PM
It's rather disingenuous to claim someone is elitist when they say something sounds like $$$$ when you yourself said this is an important release in the pantheon of Jacksonville locals who made good and will be the biggest seller this side of limp bizkit for a jax local.  Its clearly NOT meant to languish in the underground, but it also lacks the depth of say dead prez or public enemy or tribe or even jay z. But something that sounds like $$$$ doesn't mean it worthless--EMINEM proved that!

buckethead

January 31, 2012, 01:23:40 PM
@Iamamerican I think you trivialized my statements on art to an extent that yes, if you equate my views as you have, then they are silly statements. But the reality is that art--good and bad--is always controversial and yes draws lines in the sand. I nickelback art? Is gwar? Is 2 live crew? Is the statue of David? Is any Jackson Pollock? Dogs playing poker?  As far as speaking to the inescapable quality of a piece, I'm referring to when a piece of art in whatever form is so unnerving, so breathtaking, so moving that it quite literally cuts through all the bs and we in some fashion express a gratefulness for being endowed with such gifts--hardly a "spoonful of sugar" type scenario. And yes J Dash does indeed have the distinct smell of freshly minted c-notes...

Thanks for your comments!

Beauty (art) is in the eye of the beholder.

Gwar is absolutely art. 2 live crew was a groundbreaking art form... Statue of David? The nudity! *looks for censorship "easy" button*

nickleback is an abomination, therefore can also be considered art. The art of baking with too much sugar and vanilla.

fieldafm

January 31, 2012, 01:31:09 PM
Quote
but it also lacks the depth of say dead prez or public enemy or tribe or even jay z.

It's clear then you have not attended any of the hundred or so Fusebox shows around town in the last 10 years.  Certainly JDash is not in the category of Tribe Called Quest (nor will that type of collaberation probably ever happen again on a mass scale), but to dismiss someone without ever hearing their actual sound beyond a dance song that happened to get picked up after languishing around for 10 years is the very definition of disingenuous.

You don't have to like his music, but to dismiss an artists' entire body of work which you clearly have no understanding of (by your own admission) simply b/c one commercially appealing song made money is yes... elitist. 

You don't have to wander in obscurity to have talent, less be dismissed as not having 'depth'.  The fact that someone makes money on a song, doesn't make them any less of an artist?  Is John Mayer not a good blues guitarast b/c he also makes songs frat boys get laid to?
 

IamAmerican

January 31, 2012, 01:41:07 PM
@pumpeduppaul, I didn't trivialize your statements...I read them.

I'm saying to say that all art is controversial seems incredibly assumptive. Unless, the controversy is a matter of taste (like/dislike)then, sure, all art is controversial. I like Justin Timberlake and ABC Person does not, let's debate. I'm not debating "what is art" I'm debating that art is not always confrontational. And if it is, analysis of art should move beyond simple personal taste.

Which is why I am saying that the way we evaluate art based on like/dislike is superficial, un-evolved,  unsophisticated and sure controversial. But beyond that, not all art is confrontational. In fact, I think the way you write your reviews does move beyond like/dislike.

You wrote, "I'm referring to when a piece of art in whatever form is so unnerving, so breathtaking, so moving that it quite literally cuts through all the bs and we in some fashion express a gratefulness for being endowed with such gifts"

Exactly! Where is the controversy?

@fieldafm, Thank you...? The answer to your question is no. And, yes, you're right I shouldn't dismiss him because my initial response is "really, we need more of this?" I listened to no more than 1 minute of his music.

I can't help but think there are tones of sarcasm in your words. Even if there aren't maybe we can discuss the art of marketing bad music.  Boo-yah! ;)


pumpedupPaul

January 31, 2012, 01:44:35 PM
@buckethead yeah I wasn't suggesting that any of those weren't art. I agree with you for sure!

@fieldafm I actually do really dig the Fusebox Funk stuff---I had known of them but had no idea he was involved in that. I have to say though that while I love No Doubt...I struggle enjoying Gwen Stefani's solo work. The talent that J Dash clearly has isn't necessarily as on display in this current format, but I do need to hear more of the record and regardless this is good conversation!

IamAmerican

January 31, 2012, 01:52:09 PM
@fieldafm, I don't think anyone is arguing that an artists shouldn't make money. I made a quick statement based on a very superficial listen. But you speak to a great point and bring up another great topic, does presentation matter? Yes. JDash may be one of those rappers that I'll listen to and say to myself...oh s#$%, this guy is freakin' amazing. JDash, initial presentation to me is lil'wayne like music. And, I'm not a very big fan of lil' wayne. BUT the art with lil wayne is the presentation not the music.

IamAmerican

January 31, 2012, 02:02:09 PM
In fact, I think lil' wayne marketing is incredible. "Cough syrup" come on, that is amazing.

pumpedupPaul

January 31, 2012, 02:04:34 PM
@Iamamerican I think the only thing that we aren't really in agreement on in this side discussion may be the use on the word confrontational. I don't think confrontational is necessarily always a negative thing. Maybe a better word could have been used. I was mostly just expressing that at it's core art requires you to have an opinion--good, bad, neutral, but opinion none the less.

@fieldafm I agree that we shouldn't dismiss an artist off of too small a sample, however when you include the whole of an artist's ouevre then sometimes latter day sins need dismissal. Perfect example Stevie Wonder's I Just Called To Say I Love You is terrible when compared to Innervisions or Songs in the Key if Life. Also I would argue that John Mayer is absolutely NOT a blues guitarist BECAUSE he makes music for frat boys to get laid to. Hahaha! But I will agree he can play a guitar though.

Bike Jax

January 31, 2012, 02:06:22 PM
The link in the article is a dead link. Here is where you can stream the album: http://gospelmusic.bandcamp.com/album/how-to-get-to-heaven-from-jacksonville-fl

IamAmerican

January 31, 2012, 02:21:08 PM
@pumpeduppaul: No we understand each other in terms of "confrontation." But, if neutral is an opinion then art does not demand a decision. It does not require the recipient to choose which side of the "fence" to be on...unless sitting on the fence is an option.

I think where we are missing each other is regarding the "medium" vs. the "message." I think you are speaking solely to the "aesthetic" qualities of art, and tastes concerning those aesthetics demands an opinion. As though, art is mayo or something? You either like on your sandwich or you don't. (I know you go much deeper than that but I think that's where you think the controversy exists).

While I am saying, that the message of the art does not have to be controversial. It's no longer about whether you like mayo on your sandwich it's about discussing what makes mayo mayo and how it's mostly used. That is not controversial. So, now the person who does not like mayo learns about mayo and the discussion ensues. There is no need for an opinion. Mayo is what mayo is.

pumpedupPaul

January 31, 2012, 02:39:20 PM
@Iamamerican yeah I see what you're saying, and while I don't fully agree I respect your opinion. I really don't think I was describing a mayo conversation but I can see how it could be taken that way. As far as neutrality being a choice...how could it not be? It takes a deliberate act to just not care about something. Maybe it's ignorance, maybe laziness, maybe it's just not "your bag", but neutrality is a definite decision. Also I never mentioned anything about art and controversy, I only opined that u believe that all art is confrontational. Controversy and confrontation are not the same thing.

TheCat

February 01, 2012, 05:23:04 PM
JDASH will be one of MJC's guest writers in the first part of March. He'll be writing about his marketing strategies. He's proving to be a savvy internet strategist. I kind of like JDIVE and his sound.

One way to make it in the pop music world is to write a dance song.  Since I have a silent hope to be discovered one day as a rap prodigy I'm going to make a mix and my hope is @pumpeduppaul will help me. What do you think of calling the diddy "The Cat Walk"? @putv. We can have hand motions that mimic going through kitty litter and we can incorporate that thing cats do with their paws that at first is so endearing but then graduates to annoying. We'll choreograph head motions that imitate a cat's head/neck when being petted. And, of course, we'll swat at the air...I think I'm on to something.
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