January 8, 2009

When life gives you insomnia

...make Insomniaccomplishments. That's the title of the new CD from Minneapolis singer-songwriter Jonathan Rundman, which I'm pleased to announce will be the prize in this week's Anti-Caption Contest.

I discovered Rundman while researching Rapture Ready!, my book on Christian pop culture, and back in April I included his beautiful 2001 song My Apology on my list of Christian rock songs that don't suck.

It's not entirely fair to include Rundman on a Christian rock list, however. As a mainline liberal he's nearly as much an outsider to American evangelicalism as I am. His scathing-but-jaunty jingle Xian Bookstore, quoted in RR!, does in 55 seconds what took me an entire chapter. Still, his faith is always a presence in his music in interesting ways. On Insomniaccomplishments he sings about the need to ask questions about God (see his charming homemade video below) and about getting into frustrating, pointless arguments with creationists. One of my favorite songs on the album, Little Bible, is almost certainly the best alt.country song ever written about the theological flaws of biblical literalism. (Samples of every track on the album can be found at CD Baby.)

But there's plenty to Rundman's raw, catchy tunesmithing that should appeal to people with no interest in such subjects at all. His recent Best-of compilation contains no overtly faith-based songs (and therefore, to my mind, is not a best-of at all, but that's another story). On the new album, check out Dialysis Carpool, I'm A Liar, Here at 2141 and Her Lip Balm for old-school indie pop that vaguely evokes the dBs, Nick Lowe, and Fountains of Wayne. For a slightly heavier groove, there's the excellent closing track, I'm Alive and Sleep Deprived. For pure folk-song prettiness, there's even a guitar instrumental from 19th century Finland.

On top of that, Jonathan is one of the friendliest, most down-to-earth people I got to know (at least a little) during my research. And judging from this video, he has a fine collection of classic Star Wars action figures.

Posted by Daniel Radosh

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