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Music Under the Radar: Hunters and Gatherers

Stephanie DePrez | Tuesday, August 31, 2010

There are two types of music listeners: hunters and gatherers. Hunters are always on the prowl, reading music blogs and magazines, looking up the soundtracks of movies and TV shows, and Googling lyrics they hear on obscure radio stations. Music hunters have accounts at Pandora and last.fm, a collection of ticket stubs from this summer, and about 18 “Personal Best Of” lists. Hunters are ruthless in their pursuit of the perfect song, and go out of their way to explain a detailed opinion on everyone from Lady Gaga to Bon Iver.


Gatherers are in love with the moment. They hear songs on the radio and slowly fall in love. They eagerly collect mixes from their hunter friends, listening intently to the music that has been handpicked for their enjoyment. They casually ask who did “that one song” on the mix they just received, in hopes of gathering more. They are passive in their pursuit of new music, and are content with the 300 songs on their iPod that they have purchased based on iTunes top-10 tracks. They are willing to fall for whatever is currently playing, but will voice an opinion if asked. They aren’t manic when it comes to new music; in fact, gatherers let new music come to them.


This column will be devoted to the gatherers. Each week will list a different grouping of musical acts that have a significant following in the hunter’s world, but have yet to cross over the threshold into the gatherer’s camp. That means there is a task for hunters: each week, email your favorite bands or pick of the moment to me, along with a description of why they are so worthy, and I will include them in future lists.


This is an opportunity for those who seek music to share it with those who wait for it. It is a space to exchange tastes and tracks. Whether you hunt music down like it’s your major, or adore what you own until the next great thing comes along, this column is for you.


This Week: Neo Folk With a (Literal) Soul

Here are two acts that aren’t afraid to drop theology into the middle of their music. Instead of Praise & Worship ready “Christian Contemporary Music,” or CCM, these acts use their folk roots to bust into a new genre that fuses the current indie-folk wave with an unabashed Christian message.

Josh Garrels

This Portland based one-man act has been flying politely under the radar for nearly a decade. His delicately crafted acoustic layering sets the background for some serious lyrical styling. His version of “All Creatures” (“All creatures of our God and King…”) flips the church hymn on its head into a quasi-rap declamation of disarmingly poignant theology.

Tracks to Tap: “All Creatures,” “Zion & Babylon”

Mumford & Sons

London-based and banjo-wielding, this quartet has perfected the musical form of building a verse into an anthem. Their folksy exterior more often than not unravels into frenetic strumming and passionate singing reminiscent of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The throwback aesthetic lends itself romantic words that, though not pointedly spiritual, are an enchantingly honest look at the human condition.

Tracks to Tap: “Sigh No More,” “The Cave”


The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Stephanie DePrez at [email protected]