Album Review: Rend Collective Experiment ‘Campfire’

Rend Collective Experiment - Campfire

Rend Collective Experiment – Campfire

I love the beach… I love everything about it… the fresh wind… the warm sand through my toes… the romance of it… the ruggedness of it… the freedom of it, it’s no wonder that this is the place that Rend Collective Experiment chose record their latest album.

I’ve tried to think back and I honestly don’t think I remember smiling so much through a worship album than I did when I listened through the latest album from these Irish folk.

Rend decided to feed their continued focus on community by releasing a live album of songs  from their last two albums Organic Family Hymnal and Homemade Worship by Handmade People… both great albums in their own right., however don’t think for one minute that Rend will give you just the same thing as they gave you on these albums… Rend are far two creative for that. This album is filled with the the new-folk joys of the original albums with all the surprise and quirkiness of their Indie vibe.

The band was so keen to have a ‘live worship’ feel and a real sense of community that they put out an invitation via Twitter and Facebook for people to come and participate around a campfire on Ballyholme beach where all the vocals were recorded live… and thus atmosphere is created… it was literally recorded around a campfire… I mean how cool is that????

The Album starts with the call to worship… ‘Kumbaya’ – it’s a stroke of genius… the ultimate campfire song is re-visioned into a cry for God to be a part of the album, the continued worship.

The first track I heard from this album was ‘Movements’  – I was excited to hear it live, and I was at first a bit puzzled… yes it was a great song… but what have you done to this great pop number… however before long I found myself smiling and singing along… I was drawn into the song… drawn into the atmosphere… I could almost feel the heat of  the campfire against my skin.
Then it dawned on me it wasn’t about the song or the arrangement… it was about community… eccelesia (a movement… church)

The concept of the album demands new arrangements .. new feels…  new twist mainly because of the simple fact that beaches don’t usually have power… however what is birthed from the album is fresh and new and exciting.

Rend have even taken the Matt Redman ‘10,000 reasons’ and re-visioned it for around the campfire and again the song takes on a new personality and the focus once again changes

Gone of the days where worship was confined to churches… gone are the days where church music was paint by numbers worship… or had to feel a certain way… Rend are breaking it down… knocking down stereo types and creating something that is so fresh that people can’t help but be drawn into it.

The creativity on this album… the honesty of this album… almost begs you to look to one direction… and that’s up!

Forget Mumford and Son’s or Arcade Fire or The Lumineers… Rend has not only the heart and fire… but a deep soul. If you’re going to listen to the next wave of New-Folk and Indie… don’t look past Rend Collective Experiement.

Come… lets sit around a campfire and sing… lets tell stories… lets create community… or at least start living in the one God has put us in!



The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage

English: Houseflies Musca domestica mating. Pi...

House flies Doin’ it!

I just read a carefully worded article by a clinical psychologist Meg Jay who did research on people who lived with each other before they got married… and it had some really interesting results… results that the church has been trying to tell people for years.

Now I have to point out that Meg isn’t a Christian… so don’t think it’s a Christians psychologist pushing Christian values…

Anyway Meg points out that many people who ‘try’ living together before they get married have a lower chance of staying together than those who don’t… I’ll quote from the article

“One thing men and women do agree on, however, is that their standards for a live-in partner are lower than they are for a spouse.”

So they’re not going in looking for a long term thing… they going in with the intention to try, and not at the intention of living together forever and ever… so they try and if it works out then they will go further and maybe get  married but if it doesn’t  work out  it’s back to the auditioning phase…

They’re not exactly ‘settling’ for something less than they deserve… however it’s pretty close to it… They would never admit they’re settling, so they use phrases like “We’ve been through a lot” or “they’re a really good friend”…

However those who go in and sift out all the rubbish first… fight through the guys who aren’t interested in treating them like royalty… and are picky with the people they date have more of a chance at staying together because they’re not auditioning for ever and ever… they’re constantly working towards forever and ever.

Another quote from the article was this from a woman in her mid-twenty’s  “I felt like I was on this multi-year, never-ending audition to be his wife,”

So why is this?

Surely trying before you buy is a good thing?

Well it’s not… and the reason it isn’t is because sex was meant to be a sign of what you are doing with your whole life… giving of yourself fully to someone… anything outside that is just consumerism, it’s “It feels good to me when I’m with him…” but sex is meant to be about a giving of yourself... it’s about vulnerability and it’s a sign that you’re giving yourself fully in ALL areas of your life.

Author and Theologian C.S. Lewis put’s it like this:

“The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union the sexual from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union.”

So what Mr Lewis is saying is it’s ALL or nothing.

It’s a really interesting article… CLICK HERE and have a read and see what you think!


Playing Offense

David and Goliath, a colour lithograph by Osma...

David and Goliath, a colour lithograph by Osmar Schindler (c. 1888) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well it’s the start of the new year so I thought I should really starting getting back into my blog-space.
I find the music reviews I do really easy, especially as music basically is dropped on my lap it’s really simple… studios, artists, labels and producers send me new albums to listen to… I listen to them and give my opinion… it’s easy.

But then I have this other world… the world where I think about stuff and try and explain it… for myself if not anyone else.
However I am very thankful for you (the reader) for taking the time to read my stuff…

So where do you start?

For ME it is about thinking and knowing the promises of God… and not just knowing them… standing on them.

Just like Goliath held a whole army captive… so do our fears and failures often hold us captive…
However just like David we need to know and stand on Gods promises.

“David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:45-47

See the battle is the Lords… and the Lord delivers our enemies into our hands.
So all we have to do is BE BOLD and give it to God, so that when we step out we know who has our back!

So what are the Promises of God we should know and believe and LIVE?

“If God is for us who can be against us?” – Romans 8:31

“The one who is in you, is greater than he that is in the world” – 1 John 4:4

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” – Philippians 4:13

“In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” – Romans 8:28

So why should I learn and remember these verse?
You shouldn’t… you should be LIVING them… and learning them is a good start… pin them up… write them down… however you remember them do it!!

Jesus was tempted by the Devil in the wilderness… and what did Jesus do?
He went straight back into the Word of God and used them… not to defend himself but as a sword.

This year… I’m going to stop playing defense…

The battle belongs to the Lord.
Lets look at moving mountains instead of camping at the bottom of them!

Album Review: Corban Samuels ‘Death To Birth Part 1’

Death to BirthI listen to a lot of music from around the world, and there is still something exciting about finding something new in your own back yard and ‘Death to Birth part 1’ is no exception, from Corban Samuels the alter ego of Christchurch musician Sam Reed in New Zealand.

As the title might suggest this album is dark… however it’s not in a spooky way but in a way that is beautiful almost even magical… Hallow.

It’s almost easier to think of the album in the same way that you would describe a movie:  Just like  a director like Tim Burton makes Halloween or death seem like something that shouldn’t be feared, Sam takes a huge dark subject and slowly opens the lid to this new world.
For the first album Sam is taking a huge leap and on this concept album and you’ll find yourself being drawn into this world that on the surface seems so dark, however you slowly discover how deep each shade of grey really is in his place.

Sam is really smart with the way he has structured this album…
The album builds and meanders through this dark world that he has created, and while it’s dark you can’t help but look around the next dark corner wondering what is hiding there.
The album starts off with a haunting sound that builds slowly as Sam’s  hauntingly melodic frail vocals narrate the beginning of the story “Death to birth…”
D.T.B. starts off at a somewhat comfortable pace and tone and that’s a good thing and it makes sense considering that this is the beginning of the journey… both for the concept album series and for Sam himself.

The album reaches a somewhat disturbing climax when you reach the track the Dark Vault where you hear the cries of a young woman… not just crying… pleading for help… it’s uncomfortable to listen to… it’s hard to hear… it leaves a lump in your throat… and then the album takes a new unexpected turn.
It’s almost like watching a horror movie, you’re expecting to be frightened at some point, you are expecting to be given goosebumps, but truly great directors will keep that under wraps until you get comfortable… and that’s exactly what Sam does here.
The whole timbre of the album changes with other instruments making a more active lead… the guitars take on a rawer sound… the album become less synth based and take on a more organic sound… and just as you feel that you want to hear more… the album stops… Well played Sam, well played… we’re looking forward to the next installment.

I’ve heard Sams vocals compared to Tom Yorke’s (Radiohead) and while that would be accurate it most likely sits somewhere between Tom Yorke and Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie…

Now… this album is certainly not for everyone… it’s dark… it’s moody… it’s brooding and it has the bravado of a truly Indie album.
This however is a great first effort from Sam… and if the next installments of Death to Birth start off how this album ends then we are in for an exciting series of concept albums.

You can listen to Sams album HERE… where you can have a listen and then you can buy it… and if you’re a fan of bands like Radiohead, Death Cab for Cutie, Tool and even David Crowder Bands more experimental tracks (Like sequence 1-7 from their ‘Give Us Rest’ album) then it may be worth downloading and taking the ride.

Album Review: Chris Tomlin ‘Burning Lights’

Chris Tomlin ‘Burning Lights’

If you look at the  amount of songs that Chris Tomlin has in churches around the world you would have to say that he’s at the top of his game…  he’s had some great songs the a lot of churches are using week after week as part of their worship. You could almost say that we are in the Tomlin era as far as worship music in church goes.
In the Southern Hemisphere we’ve been through the Hillsong era, the Redman era and now you could say that for some churches if there isn’t a Tomlin song you may think that something is wrong.

Now I have to be honest I have found the last couple of Tomlin albums a bit bland, now don’t get me wrong Chris always produces album with great singles on it, there are always great ‘church’ songs… however I was hoping that we would see more of Chris’ creativity on this album and the start of Burning Lights got me a little excited… The first track ‘Burning Lights’ is a mainly instrumental track and what follows is ‘Awake my Soul’ featuring Christian rap artist Lecrae. Ok, I love people who push the boundaries of what church music should sound like, which is why I love groups like Rend Collective Experiment, Gungor and David Crowder Band… however it seems to me that these days if a worship leader wants to push the boundaries they put Lecrae on the album… it’s almost starting to border on predictable.

The highlight of the album comes with the albums lead single “Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)” – it’s an honest song that talks about the tension we have as Christians which is that we worship the God of Angel Armies and created the world, yet he’s also our friend and father… and I think this song put’s it into balance as well as you can in 4 minutes and 27 seconds.

‘Lay me down’ has Acoustic Jars of clay sound and has a great chorus, however the placement on the album seems a bit odd as the next track to follow is the Martin Smith penned track ‘God’s great dance floor’ with a churched down oonse oonse feel to it… think a updated disco cut of Chris Tomlin in a night club dancing to club music.

And while this album is pushing boundaries for Chris Tomlin, there are plenty of classic Tomlin moments ‘White Flag’ and ‘Jesus Son of God’ to name a few that have  already appeared on, so if you’re  a huge Tomlin fan you don’t have to learn to talk ‘street’ before buying this album.

As a whole album I think it’s one of Tomlin’s best, there is enough to keep you interested and wondering what will come next yet there is enough familiarity to make you feel you can take some of the songs from the album and sing them at your church. I found the balance refreshing as I have become a bit skeptical of ‘worship’ albums as many of them are working to a deadline, and I wonder does that takeaway some of the creativity?
And after listening to some worship albums you would have to wonder…

I think this album has a bit of something for everyone, and I’m glad people are starting to release church music that is a bit more upbeat rather than somber funeral marches you hear in some churches…

If you are a Tomlin fan you’ll buy this album regardless… if you’re not a fan yet, there are still songs on the album that may capture your imagination.