Christopher Owens A New Testament

[Turnstile; 2014]

Styles: rock, pop, gospel
Others: Spiritualized, Jens Lekman, George Jones

I’ve only been writing about music in any structured sort of way for, like, three months, okay? I don’t think I’m very good at this. Actually, I’m overcome with doubt. Always. For something I find more enjoyable than just about everything, listening to music is too often cripplingly stressful. It’s my own fault. When I hear something new, I want to understand, and not to do so immediately, but to do so in a way that disavows the reflexes entirely. Still, I gamble on “getting it.” I recklessly begin sentences with an implied “I know,” “I argue,” “I posit.” I want to insist that I’m not a music lover, but a music-loving specialist. I gamble thusly because, through words, we can pretend not to grapple with that crippling stress of something so frequently indeterminate. A New Testament grabs me by the collar and asks: what’s wrong with “I believe?”

I do believe. So many things.

I believe in songs, including those under three minutes in length. I believe in songwriting, and songwriters, and Songwriter Music. I believe in Rock Music, and Guitar Music at large. I still believe in Girls’ excellent 2009 debut, Album, and even the follow-up EP Broken Dreams Club, and even Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and yes, unfashionably, I believe in Christopher Owens’ clumsy and deeply self-conscious solo debut, Lysandre (in my own silly way). I believe in the refrain of “Over And Above Myself” — “Let’s make something beautiful together.” I believe in backup singers and session musicians. I believe in the sound of a guitar solo. I believe that college is as good a time as any to grow my hair out, read the Bible, and try to make amends with the girl I haven’t spoken to in a few months for reasons mostly unrelated to the fact that she once told me she hates the sound of a guitar solo.

I believe in the power of forgiveness. I believe in reunions and reconciliations, like those occurring between Owens and former bandmates on A New Testament. I believe in the surprise and confusion of hearing something for the first time. I believe in being overcome and in surrendering myself over to a bigger something. I believe in passion. I believe in the absolute. I believe in Five Out Of Five, and I believe that it’s Metacritic’s job to add the asterisk to my enthusiasm. I believe in love. I believe in family, including those strange non-biological kinds of families we create, like the Children of God cult (people whom Owens once called his “aunts” and “uncles”). I believe also in more concrete forms of love for specific individuals and in retreating into a smaller world in spite of the real world of myriad experiences. I believe in mourning the loss of these worlds without shame, like Owens does on “Stephen.” I believe in sincerity at any cost. I believe in making things that run the risk of being laughed at or of being appreciated at the cost of being considered pastiche. I believe, less fashionably still, in turning off notifications and deleting the Twitter app. I believe, like Owens, that the life of a cowboy is a pretty good analogy to use for a day spent apart from your smartphone. I believe in looking for truth in goofy places.

Finally, I believe in faith. I may not have found Jesus, but I found Girls, somewhere on what was once called the blogosphere, in 2009, as an eighth grader. In 2014, I found renewed devotion.

Links: Christopher Owens - Turnstile

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