Courrier lend a local presence and religious undertones to ACL

Christian rock is perhaps the most anomalous and divisive genre in the current music landscape. Once you say you are a “Christian band,” you are forever labeled as only suitable for religious, suburban teens. You will likely only draw a religious crowd to a show and any other bands you play with will likely carry that same label and values. Any band that is too religious wouldn’t, say, end up on one of the best lineups that Austin City Limits has had in years. (Performing, ironically, right before a group called Band of Heathens).

So it’s interesting that Courrier both does and doesn’t fall into this dangerous genre. They identify as Christian and carry themes of prayer and God throughout this album, but they definitively state that they “don’t make Christian music.” Yet somehow, based on the fact that I know they are religious, I can’t help but find an abundance of symbolism in their choruses and parallels to God and Christian ideals in each analogy in almost every track of Cathedrals of Color. I believe that for this very reason they call their music “thought-rock,” because it “is a bridge of indie, rock, and alternative, with poetic lyrics.” They toe an interesting line between being a somewhat bland alternative band (for the times when they appear in shows like The Vampire Diaries on the CW) and a Texan Christian band. I suppose it is the former that landed them a morning spot on the last day of the first weekend of ACL on the Austin Ventures stage – they’re known enough to draw some people, but not good enough to distract from the better bands stacked up against them (ahem, Bear Mountain).

Courrier’s sophomore album has a darker sound and feeling than their 2011 release A Violent Flame. The album is about the idea of home, where you find it, and what it means. It begins with a more literal meaning of home and slides into the abstract as the characters (who appear throughout the entirety of the album) experience being apart from people, being lost in the world, and missing that sense of home. (See?! Right there could be a religious notion: If you find a sense of home in God, home is everywhere. I could go on and on. But then again, I did used to like Relient K a little too much and worked at a church camp for a little too long before my enlightenment).

The video for “The City at Night” is largely a series of close ups with neon lights in the background, basically showing the simple narrative of a man ‘finding his way home,’ literally in a city at night. The lyrics are a good example of the ambiguously religious “thought-rock” throughout the each track – “Lost in the flashes / the flicker of lashes / alleyways and shallow souls / cathedrals of color / you’re eyes filled with wonder / altars of hollow hope / neon light – electricity / beckoning me to stay / of I just want to find my way … Home”. The next song “A Light in the Tunnel” has a similar tone and lyrics “I’m holding on there’s a light in the tunnel but Heaven seems so far away.”

My conclusion, to put it plainly, is that they aren’t a bad band. But even without that concrete “Christian” label, they still fall into the same blandly sentimental Christian rock feel – producing songs that are just okay. They’ll still mostly appeal to a younger audience (those religious teens and avid CW watchers) and likely won’t draw a huge crowd at a festival like ACL.

Courrier will be playing at ACL this Sunday at 11am at the Austin Ventures Stage.

– Bailey Cool