Indie-scoveries for your iPod

By Christa_Banister
Posted: Fri, 07/10/2009 - 14:10

album promo image for Indie-scoveries for your iPod

Indie artist Staci Frenes

By Christa A. Banister, senior music editor,

I don't know about you, but sometimes I get on some really strange musical kicks.

In fact, for an entire month once I listened to nothing but big band. Before I started sporting a head full of pin curls and taking ballroom dancing lessons, however, I'd already moved on to '80s one-hit wonders.

But there areonly so many '80s one-hit wonders a person can stomach, so I continued my not-so-logical music progression with music from the movie Amelie, the cheeky French music I'd expect to hear in a Paris bistro. While I'd like to say the songs helped improved my French, I never did end up understanding any of the lyrics, but the kick was fun while it lasted.

Recently, I revisited the '90s in a big way and listened to nothing but Alanis Morissette, Garbage and Plumb's first album, a good dose of girl power to say the least.

Even with such a diverse love of music, however, there are still days when the songs on my iPod seem a little stale – which is why I'm loving the proliferation of great Indie acts these days.

Thanks to the wonders of the digital age, great music is only a few clicks away. So with no further adieu, I'll share a few of my favorite finds that prove that variety is indeed, the spice of life.

Sara Beth Geoghegan, Tired of Singing Sad Songs
File Under: Pop/Acoustic

A storyteller in the vein of Sara Groves, Jill Phillips Andrew Peterson and Bebo Norman, Seth Beth Geoghegan recorded Tired of Singing Sad Songs on her grandmother's piano in her Nashville apartment, giving the album a sense of warmth and intimacy. But what distinguishes Geoghegan from being just another girl with a guitar is the emotional resonance in her heart-tugging lyrics that eloquently capture the struggles of everyday life.

iPod Pick: "Ooh, We Need Jesus"

Hearts of Saints, Hearts of Saints
File Under: Pop/Rock

Formerly known as Special D, Hearts of Saints, who were recently signed to Revolution Art (GRITS' label home), understand the value of making a great first impression.

Need proof? Just check out "The Secret," first track from the band's self-titled debut that boasts a frenetic, energetic sound akin to MuteMath and The Killers.

Proving they're no one-hit wonder, the rest of Hearts of Saints is just as memorable. In fact, it's everything you want in a great pop album: catchy melodies, encouraging lyrics and that I-must-crank-this-up-loud-and-roll-down-the-windows factor.

iPod Pick: "The Secret"

~(continued from page 1)

Staci Frenes, Meteor Shower
File Under: Pop/Folk/Blues

It's not easy to classify singer/songwriter Staci Frenes' music, and that's precisely what makes her songs so interesting.

Spanning the genres between pop, folk, rock and blues, her lyrics, not to mention her unique voice, help set the musical tone for an eclectic collection of songs that will really stick with you for the long haul because of the vivid soundscapes she paints. Chances are, you'll probably even like the album more with every listen, which is exactly what happened for me.

iPod Pick: "What I Won't Leave Without"

Behind the Scenes with Staci Frenes
Now that we've described Staci's music, here's what she has to say about that – and her favorite music these days. Tell us about your latest project, and what's been happening with your music lately.

Frenes: I think Meteor Shower is the most beautiful and musically solid record I've ever made. It's held together loosely by the concept that God is speaking to us, all the time, and as we separate ourselves from distractions and get alone with the night sky – the wonder and mystery of God – He makes Himself known to us in unexpected ways.

With this project, it's the first time I've ever handed the reins over to a producer completely, but I knew and trusted Nate Sabin through songwriting collaborations I'd done with him, and his work with Jason Gray, and Sara Groves, so I was confident the songs were in great hands.

We've released two radio singles to Christian radio, several songs have been signed to a film/TV publisher in LA, and some cool things are happening here and there like American Airlines adding my song "Oxygen" to the Paste in-flight music channel, or getting included on a CD compilation going out to hundreds of wineries throughout California. That's fun – I love finding unlikely places to share my music. ~(continued from page 2) What are five songs that are frequently played on your iPod?

Frenes: "Falling Slowly" by The Frames, "Chasing Pavements" by Adele, "You Make It Real" by James Morrison, "Lead Me to the Cross" by Brooke Fraser and "Say" by John Mayer. Where do you feel you fit within the kaleidoscope of Christian music, and how does your faith inform your music?

Frenes: I don't think I'm one of the primary colors; I think I'm some kind of blend. I used to struggle with the fact that I don't naturally tend to write songs that overtly talk about the specifics of my faith. I like stories and metaphors. So, people can find different meanings in some of the songs I write.
I write songs to help me sort out God, the world, and the relationships I'm in. I feel incredibly fulfilled and rewarded if I am able to articulate something that helps another person not feel isolated or hopeless with their own questions.

I sang at an outdoor event a few nights ago, and got an e-mail from a woman who was there. She said,
"Hearing your music is one of those moments you treasure when you feel that connection with God – when you want to cry and smile at the same time." I can't think of anything I'd rather hear. I used to listen to records with my dad in the dark when I was a little girl. We'd lay on the floor side by side and listen to full albums without saying a word, just experiencing it together. I feel my deepest, most honest emotions when I listen to music, and if the songs I write can help others get to that place, I like to think I've led them a little closer to God.


About the Writer

After graduating with a B.S. in Journalism from North Central University in 1998, Christa Banister moved from Minneapolis to Nashville, Tenn. and eventually started working at CCM Magazine/Salem Publishing in various editorial capacities as an editor, columnist and website guru for five and a half years. After that, she launched her own freelance writing company and writes for numerous clients including Salem Publishing, (she review movies for them each week), Christian Single, Christianity Today, Threads Media,, and also helped kickstart the first Christian music blog for MTV. In addition, she also writes bios for professional recording artists and authors and penned her first two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers for NavPress.