Posts Tagged ‘Christian Music’

When I heard that Hawk Nelson was releasing another album my initial thought was, Didn’t they just release an album? Turns out it’s been a year and a half since Live Life Loud. Time flies. The Canadian pop/punk act’s fifth endeavor, Crazy Love offers a good balance of pop/punk fun and meaningful messages.

While Crazy Love doesn’t take as many musical liberties as Hawk’s previous effort, it makes for a more cohesive record. The title-track and “Your Love Is A Mystery” have a pop/synth influence, which fits nicely with high-octane pop/punk, reminiscent of their Letters to the President days, on “Tally-Ho,” “Skeleton,” “Fraud,” and “Joanna.” Even more energy is displayed on “LAX,” a chaotic punk ditty expressing the band’s frustration with airports, “I hate airports, I know they hate me/I know they jade me and that’s my point.”

It’s not all lighthearted lyricism though. “We Can Change the World” rallies listeners to make a difference in the world. “One Shot” follows the theme of their last album, urging listeners to “live out loud” because “you got one shot.” “Your Love Is A Mystery” is one of Hawk’s most overt songs to date, “You love me Jesus, it’s a mystery/You know my faults, You know my wrongs/And You still love me.”

I stated in my review of Live Life Loud that I could be a Hawk Nelson fan by their next album. While I’m not quite there yet, Crazy Love has convinced me that Hawk Nelson is a CCM staple.

Check out what BEC Recordings pop/rock outfit The Museum has to say about their new partnership with “Not For Sale,” a campaign to fight human trafficking – http://christianmusiczine.com/2011/02/02/interview-the-museum/

Also, download their new song “Not For Sale” and donate to the cause if you can – http://themuseumisnotforsale.com


Check out my email interview with Tooth & Nail’s I Am Empire over at Christian Music Zine.

Grammy-nominated rock sensation Red return with their highly anticipated release, Until We Have Faces. The intriguing title, inspired in part by a C.S. Lewis work, does well to describe the album’s theme of searching for true identity. Sound-wise, their orchestral-infused nu-metal sound reaches new heights- the hard rockers are heavier and the ballads more delicate.

Unlike Red’s previous projects, that opened with beautiful yet haunting piano motifs, Faces rips right into meaty guitar riffs. “Feed The Machine” is without question Red’s heaviest song to date. Towards the end of the track, things calm down with strings and a choir. While the following track is less intense, “Faceless” still has moments of fury, as in the bridge when vocalist Mike Barnes unleashes his chaotic vocals. “Faceless” captures the album’s theme of feeling “hollow,” but offers a resolve for the emptiness- “We are the faceless/We are the nameless/We are the hopeless/Until we have faces.”

A few tracks sound a bit recycled, but on others Red pushes outside their norms. One such song, “Who We Are,” has a pop/punk-influenced rhythm. Another, “The Outside,” has a melody that stylistically differentiates itself from the rest. Yet both tracks still stay true to Red’s sound.

Faces certainly brings the rock, but it also offers contemplative ballads. Radio-ready “Not Alone” offers hope in dark world. The album’s epic closer is a poignant ballad titled “Hymn For The Missing.” The piano-based track begins somberly, laced with strings. Lyrically it’s cryptic and vague, “Where are you now?/Are you lost?/Will I find you again?” Assuming the song follows the album’s theme, it seems Barnes is singing about himself losing his way.

Until We Have Faces is Red’s most mature album to date. Not only will this album be pleasing to longtime fans, but is sure to expand their popularity in the mainstream arena- reaching people who need to hear Red’s message of hope the most.

During the short time-span of Come&Live!’s existence, they’ve acquired an impressive roster of “musicianaries.” I’m trying to keep up with all of Come&Live!’s releases, but I managed to overlook Sons of God’s The Genesis Prologue EP when it released early last year.

The Genesis Prologue is a collection of three tracks, all with simple, one-word titles- Doubt, Manipulate, Caution- yet each song is epic. The songs encompass moody, alternative-esque guitar riffs, blatantly spiritual lyrics, and intense, captivating vocals. But I must admit, I may be a teeny bit biased; my love for Sons of God’s music stems from their stylistic similarities to one of my all-time favorite bands, As Cities Burn.

The Genesis Prologue is melancholy indie rock at its best. I don’t think I’ve ever been so enamored with an EP before, especially one that contains only three songs. And I’m not the only one. Sons of God has created quite the buzz with The Genesis Prologue, as well as a demand for a full length. According to frontman Aaron Newberry, a full-length is on the horizon; in fact, Sons of God will be releasing one this year. It can’t come soon enough.

Aaron Newberry of Sons of God shares about their upcoming record and other exciting stuff they have in store for 2011…

So tell me a bit about the formation of Sons of God. I read that you went through a lot of members in the beginning?

Yeah, it was like a solo project turned band. I feel like it went through phases. It was like, Okay, I’m gonna do this, and it was me and a friend. And then it didn’t work out. And I was like, Okay, I’m gonna go this direction, and then two more guys would come in, so it would be a three-piece. And so, that happened literally like six or seven times. And I actually moved twice- relocated to try to make it work with specific people. Like, at one point I had moved to Albany, Georgia, and my bassist at the time moved with me, and we were gonna play with our buddies Jason and Jeremy, who used to be in Chasing Victory. And that didn’t work out either. So, I kinda at one point, after probably going through more than ten members and feeling like I was the only one that was highly invested, I gave up. And then the guys just kind of fell in my lap at that point.

Sons of God has teamed up with Come&Live!. How did you connect with them?

Well, me and the past band that I was in showcased for Come&Live!. And I played previously with some Tooth & Nail bands, so I knew Chad. I was promoting a show in my hometown in Oklahoma and one of the dudes in the band- I was just hanging out and talking with him- he mentioned that Chad was leaving Tooth & Nail and I was like, “What?! Wait hold on, what are you talking about?” Because at that point I’d heard nothing about [Come&Live!] and he told me. And I had this demo of “Caution,” so after he told me, I got right online and I sent Chad the demo of “Caution.” And I’m like, “Yo dude, I heard something about you leaving Tooth & Nail and starting something new, and I just wanted to be one of the first to talk to you about it, if at all possible.” He loved the demo and randomly was on tour with The Glorious Unseen and Sleeping Giant. And they were coming through my area and so somebody on that tour got a hold of me, and I went to that show that night. Some crazy stuff happened and Chad and I talked, and that’s kind of when it started.

What are some of your musical influences?

Oh man. Well, I’d say for me, for a long time, it was pretty obviously like Thrice, Muse, Radiohead, stuff like that. And I feel like we’ve taken on a lot like Deftones and then Smashing Pumpkins even, at times. Also, for me, Copeland was a big influence as well.

So as of now, The Genesis Prologue EP is all you have out? Or is there any prior material available?

Yeah, they only thing we had before were demos, but I wouldn’t even call those released songs; I just put them on Myspace, not really thinking about whether people were listening to them or not. So yeah, The Genesis Prologue is all that we’ve got available at this point.

When people hear your music, what do you hope they take away from it?

I hope they take away whatever it is that they are needing. And I know that sounds vague, but I’m not specifically out to nail something down other than… like I really do hope that people can relate with my struggles and kind of my thought process at times. I feel like often, just as a person, I’m kind of misunderstood. And I feel like if I can offer a little bit of hope or a glimpse of I think about this to something contrary to what people may think, I think that’s all I can ask for as a writer that people would take away from what I write.

Back in the fall, you raised money through Kickstarter to fund your upcoming, full-length album. Have you guys recorded the new record yet?

We’ve written and we’ve recorded some, yeah. But I wouldn’t say we’re finished by any means at this point.

Do you have a time frame in mind for the album’s release?

It’ll probably be later into next year.

Does the new record focus on a particular theme or subject matter?

I feel like in the writing process, at least, I felt like I was writing to myself in a sense… kind of a battle of right and wrong and good and evil- what’s in my own mind and my own heart. Writing that to my own self is just like writing to anybody else because I think at times we all need a word of encouragement, or even just somebody to be bold. And so I kind of felt like I went out on a line, and I was saying things that maybe some people are timid about or maybe even afraid to approach, I guess. As far as a theme, I think from song to song it varies.

You guys have been talking about some surprises that you have in store for 2011. Can you share any details?

Well, one thing is putting our money where our mouth is, as far as touring goes. We’ve talked about touring a lot in the past and there were a lot of reasons that kept us from doing that, but this year I don’t see any reason why we’re not going to play in every area that we can. We keep asking our listeners to let us know where they want us to come because we’re listening to them, you know? We definitely want to make sure that they know we’re hearing them out. I’ve literally written down every single city that I have seen on our Facebook and on Indie Vision Music.

And, that we’ve worked really, really hard on the new record, and that there will absolutely be a record coming out this year.

So do you know who you will be touring with, I guess in the January-February time frame?

Well, we’re gonna actually start off the year in April, just because of the writing process and everything. But starting in April, I’m really not sure… I know we’ve talked to Mike Mains & The Branches about doing some stuff together, and we’ve talked to Abel and Showbread. But as far as anyone else, I’m really not sure right now; we’re just gonna take it one step at a time.

For more information on Sons of God, check them out on Myspace, Twitter, or Facebook

Who Can Know It? by Showbread: “Expect the unexpected” is what I’ve come to, well, “expect”  from Showbread. So, unsurprisingly, their fifth endeavor sounds nothing like their previous four. The most obvious difference is the absence of screaming, so the casual Showbread fans will once again be haters. Not that Showbread cares. If you’re like me and listen to Showbread for their lyrics, you will love this record. The lyrics are typical Showbread- potent, unabashed, and thought-provoking (the only aspect of Showbread that is consistent). But the topics are heavier this time around, perhaps the reason for the more subdued, mellow music. http://www.myspace.com/showbread

 

Paper Tongues by Paper Tongues: Even though it was still quite early in the year when Paper Tongues released their mind-blowingly spectacular debut, I knew that this would be my favorite new band of 2010. Their debut is a glorious fusion of hip/hop, rock, and soul. An undeniably catchy, accessible release like this will surely propel Paper Tongues into the mainstream limelight. This is definitely the band to watch for in 2011. http://www.myspace.com/papertongues

 

 

Miracle by Robbie Seay Band: Authenticity- for me, that’s one of the most important things in an artist. Robbie Seay is one the most humble and legit dudes I’ve ever met, and Miracle is a reflection of that. The lyrical poignancy and honesty on Miracle is truly a breath of fresh air from the cookie-cutter, sugarcoated lyrics that are all too common in mainstream worship music today. Case in point, “Kingdom & A King.” http://www.myspace.com/robbieseayband

 

 

Horseshoes & Handgrenades by Disciple: I expected this. And by this I mean a change in Disciple’s sound. With only one original member remaining, it was inevitable. Say goodbye to the days of Scars Remain, and hello to mid-tempo rock songs. …I make it sound worse than it is though. There’s still some explosiveness in the new record (after all, “handgrenades” is in the title). It’s just not the same… *sigh* http://www.myspace.com/disciplerocks

 

 

15 Live by Project 86: Being one of my all-time favorite bands, I’ve been waiting for these guys to release a live album for some time now. And it almost turned out to be what I had hoped forraw, chaotic, and containing everything that’s awesome about Project 86. Two key ingredients are missing however, Randy and Steve (neither member has officially announced their departure, but they no longer tour with the band so…). Project 86 is promoting this album as a celebration of the band’s long and prosperous career, yet with the absence of two founding members all Project 86 really is anymore is Andrew Schwab. Now don’t get me wrong, Schwab is one awesome dude, but one dude doesn’t make a band (unless you’re The Rocket Summer). This leaves me wondering if P86 will make it to their 16th anniversary... http://www.myspace.com/project86

The Medicine by John Mark McMillan: Every year there’s at least one record that wows me. For 2010, The Medicine would be that album. A review of this wonderfully organic folk/rock record would not do it justice. So I’ll simply tell you to just buy it. http://www.myspace.com/johnmarkmcmillan

 

 

 

Hymns: Take The World, But Give Me Jesus by Ascend The Hill: Is it just me or are a lot of worship bands covering hymns these days? Looking at the tracklist as I downloaded this album, I was admittedly bummed to see yet another worship band covering traditional hymns. My sentiment completely changed less than thirty seconds into the album. These renditions are so modern and creative that if I wasn’t familiar with these songs, I would have never guessed them to be hymns. If you only pick up one worship album this year, make it this one (and it’s available for free at comeandlive.com, so you really have no excuse). http://myspace.com/ascendthehill

 

The Light Meets The Dark by Tenth Avenue North: I like this album. There I said it. I’ve ruined all the music snob credibility that I had in one simple sentence (if I ever had any?). It’s overproduced and cliche at times, but hey, I’m entitled to at least one guilty pleasure album a year, right? http://myspace.com/tenthavenuenorth

 

 

 

Vessels by Ivoryline: There are very few bands that I don’t get. Even if I don’t like a band, be it because it’s not my style or bad musicianship, I can usually figure out why others may enjoy it. Ivoryline is one those bands that I don’t get. At all. I didn’t see the draw of their debut record, and I don’t understand the praise for Vessels. So, I’m humbly asking for an Ivoryline fan to explain their love of this band to me in the comments section. Thanks. http://myspace.com/ivoryline

 

 

Dark is the Way, Light is the Place by Anberlin: Anberlin is back. Not in an epic way like Cities, but they have certainly made a comeback from their first major label release, New Surrender, which was slightly above a flop. Dark Is The Way is Anberlin’s maturest album yet; a happy medium between the pop sound of New Surrender and the dark rock of Cities. With this solid release, Anberlin is finally receiving the mainstream attention that they deserve. http://myspace.com/anberlin

 

 

Born Again by Newsboys: Wow, okay, here we go. Michael Tait taking over for Peter Furler totally baffled me. Actually, I should say “baffles me,” because I’m still confused even a year later after this bizarre and startling announcement. Obviously, with this huge change, the new album sounds quite different from previous ones. Less pop, plus more rock, plus… tobyMac? Yup, some tracks sound like they could have come right off of a tobyMac record, which is actually no surprise considering Toby had a hand in the album. It’s a catchy and likable album, but sadly marks the end of the quirky pop that made the Newsboys a CCM sensation. http://myspace.com/newsboys

 

Flags by Brooke Fraser: Last but not least, we arrive at my favorite album of the year. I could gush on and on about this album, or even just Fraser’s flawless vocals and impeccable tone. But I’ll try to keep it short. Sonically, Flags is a mixed bag. The upbeat songs are mostly cute and fun folk/rock, while the slower tunes are almost ethereal yet still fall into the folk genre. And then there are songs like “Jack Kerouac” that fit neither of the previous categories. Lyrically, I have yet to really dive in, but one song that has caught me thus far is “Crows + Locusts.” I honestly haven’t even dug into the song’s meaning yet; I just love the lyrical imagery. And at the risk of blubbering on for eternity, I’ll shut up now. http://myspace.com/brookefraser

Agree? Disagree? Comments on any other 2010 albums? Sound off below.