Turn the Dial Flick the Switch

Screaming thoughts from Goose… it's about living!

Archive for the tag “album review”

Album Review: Corban Samuels ‘Death To Birth Part 2′

Death To Birth Part IIAn eerie drone builds over the tinkle of what sounds like a toy piano… the  sound building and growing, setting up the start of the second chapter of this dark world… the illusion… the journey… the story… the mystical world of Corban Samuels. Welcome to Part 2 of the dark ‘other worldly’ place that Christchurch songwriter Sam Reed has created with his Death to Birth E.P.’s under the name Corban Samuels.

Keeping true to the first album, Sam has kept the cinematic approach. While this approach has it’s strength, as in the way you read each chapter of a book in order, it means that the album is not really one you listen to for your favourite single. While others have had this sort of approach to writing  ‘concept albums’, I have yet to hear something put together in such a story-like flow as this is. It’s great to know that Sam had the sense not to disrupt the story with what would have only been a filler or hit single. Sam gets it…. when you’re creating something so cinematic, so grand, so dark, you’re taking people on a journey. You can’t let the illusion go, otherwise people will snap out of the world that you have created around them. This is a dark album, although not as dark as Death to Birth Part 1, which in some parts was quiet uncomfortable (especially if you were listening at home alone in the dark).

Sam sets up the album with over four minutes of instrumental. This works well with this style of album. It’s like watching the title sequence of your favourite thriller music, or maybe Harry Potter movie.

The first words that are uttered on the album come at the start of the 3rd song called ‘Tonight’. “Dear Friend, those tears you cry are not wasted at all” . The vulnerability of the song draws you in as Sam sings, “Let me Dance with you, let me hold you tight, let all your cares be forgotten tonight” – it’s sweet, yet it’s dark. It’s like listening to a love song in a Tim Burton movie…. it’s endearing, but like lovers caught in the dark.

For maybe the first time over the 2 E.P.’s ‘On the Outside’ gives us some light, some hope to the story. It feels like the clouds are parting and the rain has stopped. You can almost feel rays of light touching the skin of the players of this story which you have become a part of.

The album finishes with the same cinematic approach to the start of the album… a great book end.

The closest thing I can think of in the concept style of music that Sam comes with is the music that ex-DC Talker Kevin Max has brought out the in the past. Sam brings a very alternative or indie pop rock approach to the table and while it’s great to see someone putting out stuff that doesn’t fit neatly into the mainstream music market, it has to be a lonely road. This is not the kind of music to make friends and influence people… these are albums that challenge you musically, challenge you mentally… challenge you!

Great work Sam for sticking to your guns. You really can’t do concept albums like this half pie and you have taken leap of faith needed for this.

 

(To see the review for Death to Birth Part 1 click HERE)

Album Review: Crowder ‘Neon Steeple’

Crowder ‘Neon Steeple’

Dear Mr Crowder;

Thank you for the delivery of the album ‘Neon Steeple’, an offering that you pointed to being that of  “… the sound of the Appalachians and Ibiza. Folk music and EDM. The music of the People. Folktronica. Digital and Analog. The Ones and Zeros and the Handshake. The Banjo and the 808.” – phew, that in its self is a huge undertaking. For that alone I tip my hat to you sir.

I have to say that I have been eagerly waiting the arrival of this album. I marveled at what magical collaborations you would be able to put together with such a broad theme… Porch Music meets electronica… wow… the possibilities are endless.

We already knew that you were a great songwriter – the vast catalogue of music that you collected as part of the group David Crowder*Band would attest to that fact. This wasn’t where my intrigue was focused. I was wondering “How are you going to make this work, Mr Crowder?”.
Thinking back to your past work I remember the award winning David Crowder*Band album  ‘A collision or (3+4=7)’. I remember similar combinations with great fondness.

And so it was with much anticipation that I played through the album ‘Neon Steeple’ for the first time.

I love how the album starts off with a brief acoustic song as an intro… it was great.
However when you used synthesized hand claps at the start of the song ‘My beloved’ I became a bit weary. I had heard this sound before, and then to my shock you took me to somewhere between 1994 and 1999. I didn’t know if I was about to shuffle to ‘Cotton eye Joe’ by the Rednex or ‘We like to party’ by the Venga Boys.
Fortunately the insanity is brought back to the ground with the single ‘I AM’ – this Mr Crowder is a great song. Do more if this!

My poor heart… More synthesized clap like rhythms start the song ‘Come Alive’ . Thank you so much for not rehashing the late 90’s for this. This actually feels like a ‘Church Music’ tune from your past band. ‘Church Music’ with a country tip…
(I’m sorry to bring up the past band however this is a good reference, I believe)

Bless your heart… More synthesized hand claps!
Mr Crowder you do understand that just because you have said that you want to make the album both digital and electronic that you can still have people actually clapping their hands?
I love the music. I love the lyrics. I love the depth of the song. Please Mr Crowder, sir, give us rest from claps that are manipulated by the robots that will someday take over this world.

Come as you Are is a wonderful song, a powerful song. It showcases songwriting in it’s purest form.
It’s simple. It’s both majestic and humbling.
“So lay down your burdens, Lay down your shame, All who are broken, Lift up your face”
Great work Mr Crowder.

(Mr Crowder, I’m not sure if you realise this but The Wiggles or some other kids band invaded your album.’Hands of Love’ – please Mr Crowder lets not do this again or better still lets save this type of song for your kids album. This may be a great plan B if you are starting to consider retirement.)

The Song ‘My Sweet Lord’  is so nice… Miss Emmylou Harris still has it doesn’t she?
What a wonderful thing it is to hear those sweet harmonies… She’s a keeper Mr Crowder!!!

Everything was going great until ‘You Are’. I hear the song building up and I find my self yelling “Don’t go ooonse ooonse”
But my cries fell on the def ears of the 90’s nightclub gods, who not only gave me the obvious ‘on the floor beat’ but slapped me in the face with syncopated synthesized hand claps.
Mr Crowder you are both a saint and villain in one small package.

Some songs on this album just work because of their simpleness… and because of this they become more powerful.

In conclusion Mr Crowder I’m not sure if this album is more  human like Luke Sky-walker or More Robot like Darth Vader.
Lyrically it magical, it’s whimsical, it’s poetic.
Musically it’s melodic, it’s southern, it’s full of toe tappers.
I’m not always convinced that the marriage of the 1’s and 0’s (as you put it Mr Crowder) always work with the soul and heart of the south.  However, in saying that, this may be like any good marriage and need time to develop.

Thank you Mr Crowder for taking the time to bless us with your music.
I look forward to hearing more in the future.

Peace and Grace
Goose

 

 

Album Review: Passion ‘Take it All’

Passion ‘Take it All’

There was a time when I used to look out for the latest Passion CD.
I mean, what wasn’t there to love?
It was a collection of some of the top Worship leaders and innovators in the Christian music scene. It was new, it was daring, it was radical. It was almost like it wasn’t church, yet you found yourself singing along. You were singing praises and you were worshiping.

However, sadly you will notice that it is all mentioned in past tense.

The Collection of leaders are great and we are fortunate to have so many on one album. However,  the song selection on this album makes all the churches’ songs sound the same.  I don’t know why these songs were chosen or who chose them but I think it was most likely a combination of a couple of things.

  • Conference moments: after all it was recorded at a conference and while the recordings may trigger a reminder to the people that were there of a God moment, for the rest of the world it almost feel like a joke that we missed the punchline for.
  • Commercial success: Songs that are going to be a highlight for the leaders (and bands) involved – after all they do need to make a living.
  • Record labels: People in suits and ties sitting around a table and talking about the album as a whole… what songs fit, which songs don’t… which songs are strong and will be picked up by the wider public and which songs won’t.

I understand that when putting an album like this together it could be technically difficult to find the right songs. You need to get the right balance and the right feel while deciding which artists get the prime spots on an album. (Interesting to note that Chris Tomlin features as the first track on at almost half of Passion albums).

So why has a recording that everyone once looked forward to so much suddenly became average? The reality is that the world has caught up. While these songs would have caught the minds and inspirations of thousands of young people who have attended these conferences they almost get lost in translation outside that setting. I mean, how awesome is it standing with thousands of people singing these songs, with once voice and one mission? There is a synergy that happens and it’s inspiring. However in your bedroom or in the car it’s almost out of context. To be honest it could have been a lot of other Christian worship compilations I have listened to.

Now I know I seem to be bagging this album but I’m not.There are truly some great tracks on here and my personal highlights would be Crowder’s ‘I Am’ and Matt Redman’s ‘Mercy’.

I’m not saying that God can’t use the other songs.
God can (and will) use these songs to touch hearts. My question  is, what is the purpose of this album these days?

Is it just a conference audio scrapbook so that you can relive those conference moments?
Is it to help sell albums for six steps records and sparrow? After all these songs are also going to be on each of the worship leaders albums too.

Is it to create new songs for a new generation?
If so the album and the songs presented are starting to feel a little bit “been there and done that” when once these were songs that caught imagination.
I remember hearing artists like Charlie Hall sing “Salvation Raise up from the ground” and I thought “wow I’ve never heard someone say that in a church song before”, or David Crowder Band when they sang “You made everything Glorious… so what does that  make me?”
These were pointed, different, artistic, creative and innovative.
The thing with innovation is that if everyone else is doing it, it’s not innovation anymore. It’s the norm. If what you are doing is the norm you aren’t innovating… you’re just like everyone else.
I don’t think the church was designed to be ‘just like everyone else’ and therefore it goes to say that neither should our music be. Sure our music should sound like the music we hear in the street and the radio but it’s different too… it has a life saving message for a start.
What is sparking the imagination of our younger generation if the church isn’t?

I understand that hearing this loved series of albums has become average may be hard for some to read… however we don’t want to get into the habit of giving good reviews just because the artists are our favourite leaders and bands.
Our job as reviewers is to critique and push artists to greater excellence, we praise when there is need to praise, and we point out when there is a need for artists to push forward to greater things..

Album Review: Propaganda ‘Crimson Cord’

Propaganda ‘Crimson Cord’

Hip-Hop is changing.
When once it was found in two camps – you were either a gangsta, a hustler where you were all about the bling, the colours on your bandana, and the hood you ‘rolled’ in. Your women were there for one thing, and if anyone stepped on your turf you would “cap their a##”
OR…
You were a fun loving creative type. You were about drinking, about smoking things that made you creative. You spoke of love as if it was something that you understood when the actions showed it was only skin deep.

But now Hip-hop is becoming a game changer. It’s the soap box of choice. It’s found everywhere… but is it any good and does it have a social conscience that is livable?

Coming out of the Humble Beast label is hip-hop artist Propaganda.
Propaganda has paved a way for himself with really organic sounding beats, creative hooks and a good ‘turn of phrase’.

The thing that stands out on a Propaganda album is that it’s all not strictly hip-hop. Some of the hardest hitting tracks are more technically ‘spoken word’ poems and it gives Propaganda the ability to really stretch his creative and clever lyrics… and it’s always challenging.

The album starts off with ‘You Mock Me’ – it’s typical Propaganda and a spoken word piece with layers of sounds and beats to give you a setting to place the words on. Propaganda is clever as he constructs the belief that he’s talking about someone, a father?… a girlfriend? … a child? … but this is a poem about ‘The Past’. Welcome to the 2nd album, this is going to be a musical mind trip.

The album really starts to take off when hip-hop artist Lecrae comes to the party on ‘Daywalker’.
‘Daywalker’ is a real foot tapper with Propaganda declaring that “this is what you get when you mix Tony Hawk and Ice Cube NWA and the Bones Brigade” – it’s a fun track that talks about the culture you are living in.

‘Bored of Education’ is a spoken word based piece that cleverly starts of with “Dear bored of education… so are we… so  are we” as he explains why the brightest stars in the education system start to fall and fail because the system isn’t made to look after the kids that are considered ‘not normal’. He points out: “Nick Luvanno runs his own design firm. And he failed the exit exams twice. FAILED”

The most hard hitting track on the album has to be the track ‘I don’t see it’ which is a real mixture of the clever and intellectual spoken word and more traditional hip-hop.
It’s a track that starts to make you uncomfortable. Propaganda asks the questions such as “one day you will make it… but what is it?”
and “You’re looking for new mountains to climb when you haven’t even conquered the first one, you ain’t done, you’re just comfy”

You see that’s where hip-hop cuts deep… it goes straight to the heart… it catches you off guard… and Propaganda is the maestro. He draws you in with clever lyrics and gravitational spins of word play and rhythm before slapping you in the face with your own realization of who you are by forcing you to look in the mirror… but also motions to what you could be and, more importantly, who you were designed to be.

I love an album that challenges you and that’s what drew me to this album. It ticks all the boxes and with a mixture of spoken word and hip-hop it keeps you engaged, alert and vulnerable.
There are tracks like ‘Daywalker’ and ‘How Did We Get Here’ that distract and you forget that you don’t want to be challenged, you want to be entertained… and that’s the whole point isn’t it? We want to be inspired. We want to be challenged. We want to know who we are… and so for that we are thankful that Propaganda asks the hard questions and gets us to look at ourselves.

Sometimes being caught off guard is the best way to discover who you are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Album Review: NEEDTOBREATHE ‘Rivers in the Wasteland’

NEEDTOBREATHE ‘Waters in the Wasteland’

Sometimes for something to to come to life you have to let it die… and dying isn’t always easy.

For NEEDTOBREATHE (NTB) everything seemed to be going right… they were getting what everyone in the music world would gauge as success.
They were being asked to perform high profile gigs with the likes of Taylor Swift, they were on TV, they were on radio…
But what they also discovered is that with that comes the pressures of it all… and the band almost collapsed because of it… success almost killed NTB (as shown in the documentary style film ‘Prove the Poets Wrong’).
The result was the band redefining ‘success’… they realized they were already successful – as individuals, they didn’t need to prove that to anyone else… so they gave that dream of success driven glory away.
They already had a purpose they just needed to re-find it!

The problem with giving away a dream… is that often it comes true at that point…

Everyone wants a miracle, but no one wants to be in a situation where they would need one.

Rivers in the Wasteland is the result of that miracle.

You can tell from the first strum that a burden has been lifted…
The album starts of with the track ‘Wasteland’ and NTB are almost defiant in the fact that “If God is on my side, who can be against me”… a slow song to build into a big chorus making way for the second track.
‘State I’m in’  starts off with slightly distorted southern tinged Beach Boy like vocals before rocking into the song in what can only be described as the best Chris Isaak impersonation, a kind of southern rock meets Elvis sound.
Beating drums and hand claps keep your foot tapping… in the blues infused southern rocker ‘Feet, don’t fail me now’… it’s infectious, it’s like a southern virus has entered your body and the side effects are a constant foot tapping. It’s a southern blues church experience. NTB have built you up to this point… they aren’t about to take the foot of the throat just yet and ‘Oh Carolina’ is the perfect remedy to keep the declaration of intention going, there is a stomp revival happening here.

This is becoming something of a southern release of tension… the best way to come out of tough times… is to let it go and celebrate.

NTB  at this point ironically ‘need to breathe’ and the album pulls back with great tracks like ‘The Difference Maker’ and ‘Rise again’. The highlight of this reprieve from the stomp revival is that it shines a beam of light on the fact that these are great songs, well crafted, great lyrics. These are great songs without big production and studio tricks… these are songs that stand on merit alone.

There is a reason ‘The Heart’ was a lead single… it shines in the middle of this album like a beckon, it is in fact the literal heart of this album.  It’s fun, it’s big, it’s personal and it’s a solid track. You really can’t argue with lyrics that say “Don’t waste time when it comes time to dance”

It was a nice touch adding the track ‘Brother’ as Bear and Bo Rinehart are the brothers responsible for the existence of NTB. It’s a touching tribute and although it may be referring to the obvious connection of these sibling lyrically it extends further than that.

Brother let me be your shelter
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re low

The great thing about this track is the bigness of it and it’s soul.
Half way through the song, a piano glides over the top of the track paving a way for a new focus of the groove, that makes it more soulful and heralding a soul choir to take the song to a whole other level and give it wings.

NEEDTOBREATHE have found their feet.
This is an album with soul… this is an album with heart… this is an album with history without burdening you with all the dirty details… this is an album of songs that have been crafted by experience, by pain, by laughter and by faith.

This is the most complete album that NTB have brought to the table.
There was a Reckoning (their last album) and from the ashes of that a phoenix has risen, that not only has lit a new fire and a renewed purpose for NTB but brought water into a wasteland.
NTB have had a weight lifted from their shoulders and it shows.

If you are looking for an album that encourages you to be lifted during the driest of places, then stop here for a drink.

Album Review: Sam Watson ‘Home’

I’ve had the privilege to have been able to review some great international bands from all over the world… and have had contact with some award winning bands, bands with large budgets, bands that are at the top of the charts, and at the top of their game. However there is something special about hearing what is coming out of the Indie music scene and even better than that is hearing what is coming out of the local scene…

sam watson

Sam Watson ‘HOME’ EP

You see, it’s often that the bands who are doing the hard yards in the Indie scene are the bands that are inspiring the top bands with new sounds. The indie scene is full of people trying new things because they have nothing to lose. The indie scene is filled with people trying to find new a new way to say the same old things… love, loss and life.
You can almost map that when a new sound hits the Indie scene it’s  only a year or two before that sound is main stream… and so the circle continues.

And that’s how I’ve stumbled across Christchurch songwriter Sam Watson.
It’s so great to hear great music coming out of someone who is trying to do the hard yards… there’s no trying to tailor to the masses… there is no swooning pop songs on YouTube… this is acoustic… this is real music.

So what does it sound like?

This is the kind of music that you would expect to hear live, as you have a couple of quiet drinks in a bar that is filled with the new moderns, the sophisticated but still gounded type that wear suits to the office but after hours it’s jeans and a t-shirt…
OR
If you are having dinner in a really cool cafe- you know the ones with candles and atmosphere, not the pretentious ones that are all about the food and nothing else.
This music is atmosphere.

The Home EP starts off with the title track, a tasty song that reminds me of something that would sit nicely between Jason Mraz  and Bruno Mars in style. It’s a great song to set up the rest of the album… it relaxes… it calms you… it fools you into thinking that the rest of the album is going to be pushed into the ‘Easy Listening’ genre… It’s not!

‘Trying to Find’ is the next track and it sounds like we’re about to go into more of the same laid back feel as ‘Home’, however 52 seconds into the song and the mood changes. This is a real LA style California cafe type song, like an acoustic Orson set. The song’s modern acoustic style, which tips its hat to past influences, is refreshing to hear among a barrage of folk and bluegrass influenced pop songs.

As the album progresses you slowly get pulled into songs that seem to be drawing from influences such as Ryan Adams, Radiohead and Jeff Buckley.
‘Let it burn’ starts in such an unassuming way with a quiet acoustic guitar and by the end of the song Sam is wailing in a Buckley-esque  style falsetto “She’s on fire….” . This is a great song to have in the middle of the EP a great balance between safety and pushing boundaries.

The last couple of songs follow the change of mood and style, a bit gentler than ‘Let it Burn’ but still filled with the same emotion…

This is a great first little EP…
It’s hard not to hear albums by untalented people, who only sound good in a studio with songs that 12 of the top songwriters in the world got to write for a top record label.
This is not a perfect EP by any stretch of the imagination… and that’s GREAT.
There is a more of a live vibe to this EP than lots of LIVE albums by big name artists… you can almost feel the emotion here… you can hear the voice crack every now and then as you hear the pain of a story being told.
If this is the start I’m glad to say I was a part of a select few who heard it before the crowds and the accolades.

To hear the EP click HERE
You can buy the album from here too!

Album Review: Rend Collective ‘The Art of Celebration’

Rend Collective ‘The Art of Celebration’

I’ve had a month off from doing reviews or adding to my blog as a bit of a cleansing thing.
You know, step back and focus on the things that matter.

But now we’re back… and what a great time to be back.

I was super excited when the new album from Irish group ‘Rend Collective’ landed. ‘The Art of Celebration’ is most likely one of the most uplifting albums you will hear this year, and the year has only just begun.
Not only are you thrown into the Irish infused toe tapping Mumford-esque beats and rhythms that fans would expect from this group, but you are bombarded by truths and promises and uplifting words that speak to your soul…

It’s laced with the beautiful harmonies and melodies that come naturally to the Irish nation, and you can’t help but smile, sing along and watch as your foot taps involuntarily to the rhythms as they invade the soundscape of your soul.

Some times in the hardest moments of your life you not only need to PRAY through a problem, but PRAISE through (like Paul and Silas did in prison). ‘The Art of Celebration’ gives you  the tools to do that!
One of the focuses of this album is “God didn’t give us a spirit of seriousness… but of JOY” and you can’t help but think that these guys have nailed that brief.

Most of the album sits in the space between bluegrass rhythms and Irish tinged folksy ditties  that help us sing about ‘Joy’ and ask God to help us “Burn like a star, Set a fire in our hearts”. Then in sneaks ‘Immeasurably More’, a pop driven song that is maybe more in line with the type of tracks you would find coming out of the Passion conferences. It’s no surprise to see it was co-written by Chris Tomlin.

I would have loved to see a bit more experimentation from a group who had made a name for itself playing all sorts of random instruments. While the feel of this album works for the theme of ‘Joy’, I wonder if they could have cast their experimental net further. That will be my only real negative critique of this album… it was the experiment, the unknown, the things I HADN’T heard from a worship group that made me take interest in their sound. However, lyrically they have still got a poetic way of saying things we are starting to take for granted. A great example is the sing-a-long friendly  ‘Finally Free’

“Your mercy rains from heaven, Like confetti at a wedding, And I am celebrating, In the downpour” 

You don’t hear lyrics like that, so hearing them in a familiar setting (such as a folk song) brings it into context.

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands… or if you’re sad, and struggling….  PRAISE, SING, CELEBRATE…

It’s great to hear such a positive album with no airs and graces, simply with good melody and good lyrics and joy at it’s very heart.
There is already too much doom and gloom and people wanting us to jump on their cause, when the joy of the Lord is our strength.
So why don’t we celebrate the fact that we have so much to celebrate?

Album Review: Skylight ‘Made For More’

Skylight ‘Made For More’

Lets face it music is international,  it breaks boundaries, it goes places where other means of communication fail.
It’s a powerful tool… HOWEVER when combined with the themes of love and peace it becomes almost an unstoppable force.

Now I have to be honest, when I was told ‘Made for More’ from South African group Skylight was filled with these powerful themes I thought I was going to be stuck listening to an album full of power ballads.
I cranked up the stereo and braced for the worst.

I really loved taking the journey through this album.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is a pure pop rock album… but in a pleasant way.

It’s really easy to make an album like this seem over polished,  filled with lyrics that ooze more cheese than a New York Pizza and sound like a remake of ‘My heart will go on’ by Celine Dion.
While this has it’s place and grabs imagination, there comes a point where we, the listening public, want more.

And that’s where Skylight have found the balance.

The album opens with ‘Born to Love’ – an acoustic groove and Greg Jorden crooning over the top…  before the band comes in. The track is the perfect start to this album and would sit nicely on the poppier end of a Ryan Adams album.
And while the album rests around this style and feel (a real acoustic pop rock based sound), the second song on the album ‘Give it up’ is more of a ‘power rock’ song with a style that is straight from Hollywood and California, made famous by bands like maybe Orson.

‘Made for More’ is a really clever collection of well crafted songs that would appeal to people who like bands like Lifehouse, Ryan Adams, Orson, Needtobreathe and Collective Soul.
Now I’m not saying that this band is a bland copy cat band… Skylight are far better than this…
What I am saying is that this band could easily compete in a pop/ rock world shoulder to shoulder with these better known artists.

The album is diverse and innovative. It takes the best of what we have heard and packages it in an album of songs that seem fresh and current, and real. These songs feel lived!

It’s great to hear an album that is filled with such a great feel and a great focus. Often we are bombarded with songs that are tainted with despair and gloom and it starts getting to a point where it becomes hard to see love for what it really is.
Love is more than lust, more than just a fleeting feeling, more than just a way of thinking… but something that when lived out can change the world.
And it seems fitting that that theme would be presented so well by Skylight, a  band from South Africa – a country that has had it’s own struggles and heartbreak… but through the dust a flame of love and hope and peace breaks through.

This is a great debut album.
This could be the beginning of something amazing.
And I guess that is what this album is about… it’s about telling you a story that it invites you to live.

 

 

Album Review: Switchfoot ‘Fading West’

Switch-foot – ‘Fading West’

Drummer Larry Mullen Jr. said in the U2 rockumentary ‘Rattle and Hum’ that “It’s a musical journey” and maybe this is the best way to describe the latest offering from Californian band Switchfoot. In fact to say ‘Fading West’ is an album is almost incorrect, it’s more like the soundtrack of a journey.
‘Fading West’ is a musical photo album that shows us snapshots of Switchfoot’s tour around the world, taking in the new sounds they found, the sights, the struggles and the moments of insight.
An album of fresh breath, music and the magnetic pull of the sea…

This is the most personal Switchfoot album so far… it’s so fresh you can still taste the salt from the waves they’ve just surfed!

Before I heard ‘Fading West’ album I thought, “How can Switchfoot better their previous album ‘Vice Verses’? “
‘Vice Verses’ could be considered one of the best albums out in the past couple of years, an album that is musically gifted, emotionally challenging and yet still accessible…”

How can you beat that?

The Answer… You don’t!

Vice Verses, was Vice Verses… It was the past, lets leave it there and give it the credit it’s due!
Fading West is something new something exciting, and something daring.
It’s daring because ANY band can live on past glory by bringing out an album of 12 songs that mimic what has been done before.
However it’s a risk for a band that says “Let’s create something organic. Let’s push ourselves into the unknown. Let’s discover who we are…”

This album is maybe more mellow than most people are used to hearing from Switchfoot. The screaming guitars and grunt of something more heavy have been pushed back to an extent as the band venture into new sonic inspirations. This might make some Switchfoot fans a little uncomfortable… and that’s GREAT.
Music is there to make you feel good, but there is often nothing that challenges you more than music either and having a band take you off your usual stride is good for the soul, and challenges the band the strive for something that is just as meaningful in other ways.

This is the perfect soundtrack for those who enjoy surfing/skateboarding/snowboarding or anything that gets you away from the crushing monotony of our busy lives… it was an album made for space… of fun and adventure.

There is no doubt this is a surf pop/rock album that is meant to be the soundtrack to your adventures, just as it was for the band.

There is plenty here for everyone and while it’s not going to please those who wanted a whole album with screaming guitars and solos, there are tracks like “Let it out” and “Say it like you mean it” that will cater to that market.
Tracks such as “Love alone is worth the fight” and “Who we are” will reach out to maybe a new generation, as poppier songs that still give emotional depth seldom seen in a pop song these days.

Buy or download the Surf/Rockumentary ‘Fading West’ (the film) and you will have a greater understanding of where the songs come from… While being able to admire the AMAZING  surf skills of Rob Machado and Tom Curren.

I don’t think that this is a step in a new direction for the band…. I think it’s an album that shows the band at their most vulnerable.

SURFS UP… let this be the surf album for the adventure you were made for!

Christmas Music – something for everybody

Christmas in the post-War United States

Christmas – what is your Christmas soundtrack?

About October every year I start to search for new Christmas songs to add to my growing list of carols… I have enough for a whole days listening so far.
However wading through some of the new albums is like listening to the sound of a wrecking ball smash all your favourite Christmas songs into 1000 little tiny pieces.

So what is the best of this years Christmas offering?

For Those about to ROCK:

OK… so for the lovers of Christmas songs that rock a little harder than the usual…. here is this year’s picks:

John  Schilitt: The Christmas project
For those who remember the good old days of Christian rock, you would remember the legendary band Petra. John Schlitt was lead singer for the popular Christian rock band from 1984-2006. For those who like the whole 80’s hair rock, and the rock from the 90’s such as Def Leppard, Aerosmith etc, this would be a good fit… rocking up some old classics, and like any good rock band from that era the vocals are enough to break window panes… let me hear you Scccccccccreeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaammmmmmmmmmm!

Side note: If you are looking for a little rocking single, download ‘Little Drummer Boy’ by Whiteheart… a bit of a Christmas rock classic that you should have in your collection

For those looking for some soul:

Ok something heavy isn’t your thing what about some Gospel based stuff.

Marvin Sapp: A Christmas Card
Marvin, who made his name in the contemporary gospel group ‘Commissioned’ with his distinct Gospel sound, gives a rounded Christmas album with ‘A Christmas Card’ . This album gives a good mixture of new Christmas focused songs as well as a scattering of old classics with a modern Gospel twist.

Jonathan Butler: Merry Christmas to you
The first Christmas album by the two-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter-guitarist Jonathan Butler is a little gem. Gospel, soul and jazz  tinged Christmas songs with a couple of new songs to make sure this album is one for the stocking. It has some great gentle jazz infused guitar colouring this album from the start to the end… just enough to keep you wanting more,  like that turkey you’ll go for seconds for!

A little poppy and something new:

I LOVE discovering people who are doing some of my favourite songs in new and exciting ways… and I love finding albums that bring new Christmas songs and that tell the Christmas message (which is thousands of years old) in a new and exciting way!

For King & Country: Into the silent night
This has to be the greatest find for me this Christmas.
With the Indie pop infused feel of the likes of FUN (Some Nights) this EP is just a cool little album, mixing great harmonies with beats that push the songs forward and the pop sensitivity of a marshmallow in a hot chocolate – sweet and gooey with depth and flavour.
The single ‘Baby Boy’ is my favourite new song this Christmas with a chorus that cries ‘Allelujah’… pushing towards the phrase “Endless hope and endless joy started with a Baby Boy” – isn’t that how Christmas started?

Citizens: Repeat the Sounding joy
For some funky Indie pop from Mark Driscolls ‘Mars Hill Church’, check out Citizens. Funky guitars and horn sections give a feel of SKA music without actually being a SKA band… it’s great to hear this sound re-imagined. This is a fun album and will almost guarantee to get your foot tapping at some of the arrangement. The great thing about albums that sit with more of an Indie feel is that they often aren’t as polished as some other albums… and believe me for albums like this it’s a great thing.

The Classic ‘Christmas’ album:

Some people are just looking for a Christmas album that does stray to much from the norm… it’s the sound of the malls and I understand that… so hear are some new albums with that middle of the road Christmas sound.

Brandon Heath: Christmas is Here
“Chestnuts roasting by an open fire…” accompanied by the sound of strings and a soft snare drum being played by sliding brushes. This sums up this album. For those who like Micheal Buble then this is the type of album you need to add to your list this Christmas.

Sidewalk Prophets: Merry Christmas to You
Like Brandons album the Sidewalk Prophets ‘Merry Christmas to You’ is filled with strings and fun as the band focus on bringing you faithful renditions of some of the classic arrangements that we know for Christmas… From the ‘doo wops’ from ‘White Christmas’ to the haunting melodies of  ‘What Child is this’…

and finally….

Just for Fun:

A Christmas is a time where we remember the gift we were given by God at Christmas, his son Jesus  Christ. It should be a celebration, and while there are times to be reflective it’s about coming together as a family and celebrating.
If only I could find an album that is fun, but Christ focused, family focused but not stiff around the neck…

The Robertson Family: Duck the Halls, a Robertson Family Christmas
The Robertson family have shot to fame with their fly on the wall reality TV show called ‘Duck Dynasty’, that show’s a  multi-millionaire Christian redneck family, that made it’s money from making Duck callers. The focus of the family is Christ, family and the love for the south, and these guys (and gals) will make you chuckle out loud as they just say things as they see it.
The albums is true to this also, with members of the Robertson family reading parts of the Christmas story and a mixture of a few classics like “I’ll be home for Christmas” and “Away in the Manger” with award winning bluegrass star Alison Krauss. Most the album is a fun country/bluegrass redneck Christmas with “Santa looks a lot like Daddy” “Camouflage and Christmas lights” and “Hairy Christmas” with Country stars like George Strait, Luke Bryan and Josh Turner also helping out along the way.
This album is worth the money for the closing prayer alone… remember what Christmas is about and thanking Jesus for dying on the cross and raising again so that we could too. If only every Christmas album could be as upfront about the gospel message as this one is.

Post Navigation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 745 other followers