As soon as I saw Songs We've Been Trying to Tell You About (And Others We Haven't) Vol. 2 posted on JFH, my heart did a leap of joy. I loved Vol. 1 because of the huge variety and quality of music, and I proceeded to find and purchase music from at least ten or fifteen of the artists on the sampler, including some genres I never would have otherwise listened to. In a way, Vol. 1 gave me a much greater appreciation of music in general. So how does Vol. 2 compare? Well, Vol. 1 just holds a special place in my heart, but I think this one, while undeniably great, doesn't quite match up.
First of all, the length of this; is "sampler" the right word? At over 2 and a half hours, I don't expect many people will just sit down and listen to the whole thing straight through, and that is perfectly fine since you're not really supposed to. This is basically a highlight reel of the lesser-known talent within the Christian Music community (with some exceptions), and it does its job to a "T." I don't even know if it is possible to listen through and NOT find something to like. Of course, with the variety and quantity, most will likely find something they don't like too, but that really doesn't matter in the big scope of things.
As for the music itself, the first time I looked through the track listing, and before listening to it, my very first reaction was disappointment that a lot of the artists I loved on Vol. 1 were not included here. Once that initial reaction settled, though, I said to myself, "Well, DUH! Imagine if Vol.1 was full of artists I was already familiar with, I would never have discovered [insert artist here]!" In short, the more new names, the merrier. The hardest part is trying to pick the songs I liked the most. Andy Hunter and Beth Bullock's "Spiral" is one of the most infectious tracks I've ever heard. SONS, who had one of my favorites from Vol. 1, have another highlight in "Ghosts," one of the quieter songs I've heard from them. Owen Pye, who had easily my least favorite inclusion in Vol. 1, makes a much stronger impression the second time around with "Pharisee of the State." Acoustic pop rock "Live Forever" from The Fold, the electro-rock "Keep Beating" from Arrows and Sound, and the indie worship "Jesus Shall Reign" from The Silver Pages make me really excited to hear more from them. And Andrew Huang's electronic pop track "Desolation" is awesome. Finally, for metalheads to love, there's "Lazarus" from Exiting the Fall. And I didn't even mention Big Tent Revival, The Digital Age, Glowhouse, Tongue & Pen, and so many others I could highlight. Truly, there is something for everyone!
I have several complaints, however, that makes me still favor Vol. 1 over Vol. 2. Without suggesting that Vol. 2 lacks variety, I do wish the genres were covered better. Instead, Vol. 2 is filled to the brim with pop rock and indie rock; this is certainly far from a bad thing, but it really limits the vast amount of variety this compilation could have had. While Vol. 2 covers dance and hardcore music better, Vol. 1 had a glut of hip hop, rap, and acoustic songs which I immensely enjoyed, and threw in some ska and spoken word for good measure, both of which are absent from Vol. 2. In fact, by my count, only 2, maybe 3 songs could be qualified as rap or hip hop on this whole sampler, compared to at least 9 or 10 (or more) on Vol. 1. I'd be less disappointed with this fact if I hadn't recently discovered the artists of Humble Beast Records, which is chock-full of some of the best rap music I've ever heard, which would have been perfect for this sampler to increase their audience more. Also, in the spirit of including the OC Supertones in Vol. 1, I'd have loved some songs from the comeback of ska (The Insyderz or Five Iron Frenzy, or both) to be included. Now, I don't know if the people compiling this sampler tried to get permission to put songs from these artists on here or not; perhaps they did try and it wasn't granted. If that is the case, so be it, and I appreciate the effort, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't still disappointed.
I really don't want to detract from the huge accomplishment that Vol. 2 is, nor do I want to make it seem like I don't love this sampler. Anyone with half a brain (or more) would be nuts not to download this monster. If I spelled out every little thing I loved, this review would be at least a dozen or so paragraphs long. As it is, I have come to expect such excellence, as should anyone, so the only really notable things are where it falls short of expectations, and even then this is no reason not to download it, along with every future release that comes to pass (with that said, looking forward to Vol. 3!). So download away and happy listening!
Review date: 12/9/12, written by Mark Rice for Jesusfreakhideout.com