Burning Like the Midnight Sun

If I wasn’t already keenly aware of this, the past year and a half has taught me the importance of community. Sometimes community is some hard-to-define big concept. Other times, it’s just a buzz word with little substance.

If I’ve learned anything about community, it is something you can attempt to manufacture, but you can’t limit. I’ve been intentional in how transparent and loving I am to and for friends, but I haven’t been able to accurately predict the trajectory our fellowship has taken. I certainly never saw just how meaningful some of those relationships have become.

It seems that Steve Hindalong, The Choir‘s lyricist and drummer, has learned similar lessons from his relationships. (To be fair, I’m pretty sure he figured it out a long time ago. Just listen to his song, “Love Sanctifies,” from his lone solo album.) Whereas many bands its age might sing about friendships in a jovial, danceable manner set to a 12-bar blues progression, The Choir nestles the sobering and joyous in a bed of lush, psychedelia.

Again, this is nothing new. In fact, much of the album resembles the band’s 1988 album, Chase the Kangaroo. As always, the swirling guitars please any fan of The Church, The Psychedelic Furs and Hammock. Sometimes, the songs even veer into jangly dreampop. Again, none of this is new.

The group seems to utilize more of its palette’s available colors throughout the record, too. This time around, Dan Michaels contributions on sax and lyricon is much more prominent on more tracks; Marc Byrd also seems to play more of a role. Byrd was a full-fledged member on the last album, Oh How The Mighty Have Fallen, but he seems to have contributed much more to the sonic landscape this time. Tim Chandler, who has influenced my bass playing more than anyone else, plays some of his most characteristic bass lines since Diamonds and Rain.

The star of the album to me, however, is singer/guitarist Derri Daugherty. Insensitive vocalists in other bands routinely ruin perfectly good themes of love, spirituality and friendships, but he handles them delicately. Daugherty just seems to sing better on each record.

There’s no way I can be totally objective about The Choir, as the band was one of my very first good musical discoveries. Katy and I have attended a couple of its shows. Heck, my father-in-law DJ’d at Dan Michaels’ wedding reception. The band’s albums have served as a soundtrack to many difficult and joyous occasions for some of my friends, family and myself. Something tells me this will be yet another one we play to remind us of what is important.

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