The Church of Philadelphia

Yes, it may be somewhat hard to believe, but there’s finally a gospel (well, sorta) band in town that appeals even to a heathen like yours truly. And really, it makes sense if you look at these folks’ combined pedigrees — they’ve apparently got a ton of experience under their belts individually (at least one member of the band’s played the Grand Ole Opry, although I’m not sure which one), and it shows.

The music they make is simultaneously tender and awe-inspiring, like Bruce Springsteen fronting the coolest indie-folk/rock band you’ve never heard of. The songs start off ridiculously basic, with just an organ melody or drumbeat, but steadily build to a wide-eyed rock roar that makes me, at least, grin like an idiot every time I see/hear the band. Gentle piano/keys, atmospheric strings, Eric Bachmann-esque vocals, gorgeous harmonies, and Arcade Fire-style crescendoes, all put together into one beautifully compelling whole. The Church has one self-released disc out so far, and it’s a beautifully-done album, right down to the CD artwork, and their live shows are even more impressive, with band members effortlessly switching instruments and playing like they’ve never done anything else in their lives.

Apparently the band used to be a tad bit bigger — the Church’s bio says they once counted 15 different members — but since starting back in 2002, they’ve whittled things down a bit to six: Joey Mathews, Sharla Mathews, Chris McFarland, Lindsey Crouse, & brothers Brian Tharpe and Aaron Tharpe. I tried briefly to list who plays what, but like I said, they tend to swap ’em out pretty regularly, so I kinda gave it up… I believe all the band members are from The Woodlands/Kingwood area, by the way, although they’ve happily been playing down in town quite a bit lately.

And finally, yeah, they’re a Christian band. And yeah, the songs kinda do talk about God & such. But y’know what? It still works, even for an infidel like me. Whatever these folks believe, the music they play is joyful and sweet and honest, and that’s cool by me under pretty much any circumstances.

Post by . This entry was posted on Saturday, August 4th, 2007. Filed under Past Bands.

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