Texas’ Green River Ordinance is a band with compelling music and an equally compelling story. Signed by Virgin Records and releasing an album of well received and tuneful pop-rock a few years ago, the band walked away from the deal to go out on their own and call the shots, including embracing issues like human trafficking and the recovery of the Gulf Coast from the BP oil spill. All of this would just be an interesting side note if the music on Under Fire were not compelling, and (spoiler alert) it is. A long (by industry standards) and satisfying slice of guitar rock and southern harmonies, Under Fire is worth every penny, and a worthy addition to your playlist for this upcomming summer and any road trips you might have planned. Recommended highly for fans of Needtobreathe's southern harmonies and Switchfoot's epic and thoughtful guitar rock.
- Alex Caldwell
Our synopsis: "Funding the record themselves through Kickstarter allowed Green River Ordinance to throw everything into the skillet over the course of fifteen songs; the country music influences, the modern guitar rock, the worship element and cook up a gumbo that is just right...and that makes for a great story indeed.." (Recommended by JFH's Alex "Tincan" Caldwell) Song Highlights: "The epic title track "Under Fire", the worshipful and gosple-choir backed "Resting Hour", the romantic "Heart Of Me" and the encouraging "New Day"
So, what are your thoughts on and experiences with the albumUnder Fire? Do you recommend it? If so, why?
Favorite Band/Artist: Audio Adrenaline/Kevin Max Featured Fan: Adam Wilson Location: Pineville, Louisiana When/Where Was The Above Photo Taken:May 2, 2013. Lake Charles, LA, Kings And Queens Tour What About This Artist's Music Speaks To You: Audio A's music has always reminded me to remain strong in my faith even when others may disagree. And also to always have fun! I have been a huge fan of Kevin Max for years -- Solo music and with dcTalk! Favorite Album by This Artist: Audio Adrenaline: Kings and Queens; Kevin Max: The Imposter Favorite Song by This Artist: Audio Adrenaline: "Ocean Floor;" Kevin Max: "The Royal Path of Life" Favorite Live Show Experience: VIP tickets to the King And Queens Tour. We were right on the front row! Number of Times Seen This Artist Live: 1 Favorite Piece Of Merch/Item You Own From This Artist: Audio Adrenaline K&Q Tour shirt Website: N/A Submit your photo and reasons why YOU'RE a fan for a chance to be featured here
Every true music fan can probably relate to the feeling of anticipation when there's new music from your favorite band on the horizon. There was once a time when we absolutely had to wait until a specific date for the new music to hit stores in the form of a tape or CD (and for others, vinyl, 8 track, etc). Some of us even had to hunt down a copy – travel from store to store to track down that exciting new album. Then we either listened to it for the first time on the drive home, or had to wait till we were back at home or at a friend’s house to free the album from its shrink-wrapped bonds and finally get to enjoy the sweet (and sometimes not-so-sweet) new sounds. Today, we can wait till midnight and download the album’s music at our computers or onto our phones and portable listening devices, or – for the less honest of you – download it illegally from some unauthorized, unapproved source who has leaked it, and get to listen to it even sooner (But that’s not what this blog is about).
What do we do once we’ve spun the album several times and listen to it for a few days (or weeks or months)? We wonder what’s next. When will the new album be out? How about an EP? A live album? A remix album? A Christmas album? An acoustic album? A covers album? A worship album? A worship covers album? A live worship album? A b-sides album? Cool. What next? A follow-up to that last album that was awesome/OK/had a couple good songs/disappointing/too short/too long/impossible to find/a really expensive drink coaster?
I can imagine that the question about a new album for an artist is much like that those that a young couple might get after they get together. Soon, a person sporting a goofy grin inquires, “Soooo… when you two crazy kids getting’ married?” And then, on their wedding day they ask, “Soooo… when can we expect a little one running around?” And not a few seconds after said little one pops out and takes its first breath, the same creepy person Tweets you, “Soooo… when can we expect number two??”
I think it all boils down to— music fans are never satisfied. Till the day the artist is planted six feet under, there will be at least one person on God’s green earth expecting new music from that artist. As an aging music fan myself, I often will revisit some of my favorite Christian music releases in the 90s with very fond memories and listen to them because, well, I love them. And to me, they sound good. I could care less if there’s some kind of ‘cool’ factor I’m desecrating by indulging in what, to me, are some of the most enjoyable things my ears have heard. Who cares what other people think you should listen to. Listen to what you like. The end. But, alas, I digress…
Back to the topic: So, my thoughts often drift to… “I wonder what ____ is up to these days?” “Wouldn’t it be great if _____ [got back together and] put out a new album?” And the funniest thing is, if and when said artist does put out new music, we fans are excited and just have to wonder (and often wonder aloud) “So what’s next?” That has to be frustrating for the artist. I mean, this isn’t limited to just music either. Yesterday, Iron Man 3 hit theaters and everyone’s asking about Iron Man 4 or Avengers 2. And as a movie fan as well, I have to admit I’ve had the same thoughts. But I actually can relate, on some level, to the artist and what they must feel when fans are just plain insatiable. JFH has put out 2 free compilations now and it hasn’t been long after each before people ask about the next volume. And, as a site, we’re frequently asked about what’s new that we’re doing. What’s next? And, beyond JFH and music, I could work on a new drawing of something and show it to people and a lot of people have their ideas of what I should do next (sometimes a list! Ha).
So what point am I trying to make? I guess this is just something I’ve been thinking about recently after listening to some of my favorite music and wondering when we might have new material from them soon (or if ever). I suppose I just want us, collectively as music fans and listeners to be mindful of this demanding nature and to perhaps even count what we DO have as blessings and truly enjoy it, because, at the end of the day, we might be all too focused on what’s next; how about we be grateful for what we’ve been given before and presently! I know it’s something I can work better on myself.
2003 was the year I turned 12 years old. I was just starting to like music, and even then it couldn't hold my attention for long... unless I REALLY liked it. But thanks to then-recent massive hits like Dive and Live Out Loud,Steven Curtis Chapman was one of those artists I REALLY liked. Granted, I wasn't that interested in his slower, more serious, or more intimate songs because I was... well... 12. As such, the first time I heard SCC's 2003 album All About Love, which was an album chock-full songs pertaining to the most serious and intimate subject possible (which, for those that didn't catch the title, is love), it didn't pique my interest much. I remember thinking at the time that the album's only redeeming quality was the opening title track, which reminded me of his other aforementioned hits. And as the years passed and the album continued to collect dust, this remained my opinion of the album. Until I listened to it again about six years later; after a revision and complete overhaul of my opinion, this album can only be described as one of SCC's best works.
In an award-winning career spanning over a quarter-decade, there are few times that Steven Curtis Chapman has ever been as personal as this (and that is saying something). In its whopping 16-song body (12 originals, two covers, a reinterpretation, and a song from his previous album), Chapman managed to create not only a fully engaging, entertaining, and creative sound, but put them to lyrics that were 100% honest sincerity and 0% cliché-ism or cheesiness (which alone would have been a feat in and of itself). Ever since the day that I picked the album up and listened to it once again, I realized the lasting value andpower of these songs. Love is a timeless topic and Chapman's music on this album is a timeless collection of sounds, expertly utilizing guitar (both acoustic and electric), piano, orchestrations, keys, and accordions, that still hold up to this day (and undoubtedly will hold up for years to come). For fans of radio hits, it is difficult to beat the title-track in terms of legitimate substance and non-generic music. Those that dig deeper into the tracklisting will uncover such gems as How Do I Love Her?, the intimate We Will Dance, the awe-inspiring Holding a Mystery, the soaring A Moment Made For Worshipping, and even rescuing from the depths the 1988 Proclaimers hit I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles). But to say that there are weaker tracks on the album would be an injustice to its overall quality and thematic cohesiveness.
10 yearslater now, has Chapman just put out an equally delightful and thematic release in his bluegrass-gospel tinged hymn/acoustic hits album Deep Roots. How do they compare? Well, if you'll forgive the cliché, it's like apples to oranges; one is contemporary pop and the other is roots music, and both are geared for specific (and, for the most part, separate) audiences. But if you compare quality, neither can lose any points in that regard. Suffice it to say that Chapman has not lost his ability to put out beautiful thematic experiences in the last decade. But in any event, revisiting All About Love is just as much a treasure now as it was a treat in 2003.
One album that was very much worth getting excited about in 2012 was Paper Route's sophomore effort, The Peace of Wild Things. Its electronic soundscape bore a distinct 80s flavor that didn't sound dated, but instead utilized a retro feel that helped take the music in the appropriate emotional directions. Born out of terrible heartache, there's a sense of searching and healing that is contained within The Peace of Wild Things. Songs like "Glass Heart Hymn" are poetic yet familiar to a lot of listeners, as vocalist/songwriter JT Daly sends up a lamenting prayer. It's an album that sounds poppy and accessible at times but is surprisingly deeper than most music in the genre. Check out The Peace of Wild Things and see Paper Route on tour with Anberlin this spring!
Our synopsis: "Electronic pop at its finest. A heartbreaking yet rewarding listen for fans of modern and retro electronic pop." (Recommended by JFH's John DiBiase) Song Highlights: "You and I," "Better Life," "Sugar," "Glass Heart Hymn," "Letting You Let Go," "Rabbit Holes"
So, what are your thoughts on and experiences with the album The Peace of Wild Things? Do you recommend it? If so, why?
Daniel Chang with Matt McDonald of The Classic Crime
Favorite Band/Artist: The Classic Crime Featured Fan: Daniel Chang Location: Maryland When/Where Was The Above Photo Taken: November 2012, The Fillmore at Silver Spring, MD What About This Artist's Music Speaks To You: The Classic Crime captures just about every emotion in their music! They have plenty of happy, feel-good songs that make you want to dance, and then they have some slower, more reflective songs as well. Their lyrics often address really deep issues about ourselves, and how God is the only answer. For example, "Beautiful Darkside" has the lines "I need to find some meaning, Something true to believe in, 'cause left to my own devices, the beautiful darkside wins" Great music, great lyrics, great guys, what more can you ask for? Last, one fun thing about this band if you don't know them: They have a lot of "Whoa" songs (songs with "whoas"), and you'd think that would be annoying, but they do them EXTREMELY well! Favorite Album by This Artist: Phoenix with The Silver Cord at a very close second! Favorite Song by This Artist: "Abracadavers," "The Beginning (A Simple Seed)," "The Precipice," "Glass Houses" Favorite Live Show Experience: This one! Number of Times Seen This Artist Live: 1 Favorite Piece Of Merch/Item You Own From This Artist: Hoodie and signed poster Website: N/A Submit your photo and reasons why YOU'RE a fan for a chance to be featured here!
Many of you have been wondering "what happened to Spoken?" Well, let's start back with the release of our "self titled" record in 2007. We've always been a band that tours nonstop and tries to keep as much momentum going as humanly possible. The tough thing is, after a couple of years without a record, that momentum starts to be nonexistent. We fulfilled our obligation with T&N with the release of our self titled record, and decided we'd see what options might be out there for Spoken. The tough thing about options in 2009, was there weren't many options. Labels were struggling; marketing, promotion, booking, promoters, venues, churches, etc. were struggling to even keep their dreams alive.
We continued to tour roughly 8 months out of each year, while still living in 3 different states. We started working with Jasen Rauch back while on tour with RED in 2010 or so. We immediately knew that Jasen Rauch was the right person to produce our new record. We never planned to spend 2.5 years recording a record, but with our tour schedule, it made it a bit harder to finish the record than normal. But...in the end I think it was the best situation for Spoken. We had gone through a few member changes, plus we wanted to reinvent our band. Better songs, better show, better tour opportunities. So, we kept working on songs, and kept sending them to our manager so he could work his magic with people he knew in the industry.
In early 2012, we decided we would do a Kickstarter campaign and get our record out no matter what. It had been too long. We were getting restless, our fans were getting a bit annoyed, and we felt like we had a record full of songs we wanted the world to hear.
During the Kickstarter campaign, we continued writing and recording. We were also talking with eOne about possibly teaming up on the release. But we always stick with the phrase "believe it when you see it." You never know if a record deal is actually going to work out, the same way you never know if you're going to get a certain job that several people have interviewed for. We just stayed on task of finishing the record.
In the end, we signed to eOne, we have a Feb 12 release date, and everything is going amazing. We truly are in the best place we've ever been as a band.
Thanks so much for being a part of the next chapter.
Courtney with Trevor McNevan (left) and Steve Augustine (right) of Thousand Foot Krutch
Favorite Band/Artist:Thousand Foot Krutch Featured Fan: Courtney Location: Michigan When/Where Was The Above Photo Taken: Lifest 2012 What About This Artist's Music Speaks To You: The thing that I love the most about TFK's music is that it always seems to connect with me and helps me realize that I'm not the only one that struggles with my faith. Their music has helped me through some of the most difficult times in my life when I was wrestling with God, and also through the times of triumph and celebration! Their songs reminds me that I'm not alone, and inspire me to go beyond what others think is possible. Favorite Album by This Artist: The End Is Where We Begin Favorite Song by This Artist:Tough question! Probably "Down", "This Is A Call", "Rawkfist", "Be Somebody" or "Bring Me To Life." Favorite Live Show Experience: Rock The Island 2012 Number of Times Seen This Artist Live: 5 or 6 Favorite Piece Of Merch/Item You Own From This Artist: Custom TFK Shoes! Website:http://thechristianmusicjunkie.blogspot.com/ Submit your photo and reasons why YOU'RE a fan for a chance to be featured here!
In completely coincidental fashion, I just blogged recently about my struggles with being a "music collector" and one problem I've had in recent years--with everything moving the way of the exclusively digital--is that I often miss having the CD and artwork when I buy an album on iTunes or some similar digital music outlet. In fact, I often will want to buy a CD but wish I could have the music immediately like you can with a purchase via iTunes or AmazonMP3. Thanks to digital retailers, we don't have to wait in line at a music store or try to hunt down a CD the day it comes out. Now we can just purchase and download it at midnight on release day! All is right with the world.
I love how some indie artists will allow you to order a CD or vinyl album from their website and then email you the album digitally right away too. That, my friends, is the way to do it. Heck -- I've seen some artists send full digital albums weeks in advance if you just simply preorder it (This method threatens albums to be "leaked" by insensitive and irresponsible music listeners--ruining it for the artist and the fans alike--but I digress...)
Just today I was perusing Amazon.com, like I tend to daily--I'm kind of addicted to their store, sales, and selections (I admit it. haha)--but, in all honesty, I was grabbing a link for our reader review page of Sanctus Real's Pieces Of Our Past: The Sanctus Real Anthology when I saw this interesting little graphic:
Uhhh... AutoRip? Could that be what I think it is? Sure enough -- and I swear I'm writing this as nothing more than an elated fan and don't mean to sound like a commercial -- AutoRip is just what it sounds like. If you buy select CD's (like, actual physical compact discs) that display that "AutoRip" logo on the page, they'll give you the mp3 download IMMEDIATELY... for FREE! According to the instructional video on their website, if you've bought any music on Amazon since 1998 that is eligible for this program, they're including it in your Amazon Cloud player too.
Again, I can't help but geek out about this. I've always wished you could just instantly get a digital copy of your music when you order the physical disc online and I'm stoked to see a big online retailer like Amazon.com has debuted this option.
Now... if we could only just get free Kindle books with a paperback purchase (...hey! how about applying that "any purchase since 1998" gig to books too!) and maybe even digital movies (OK, I'm getting greedy here)... ;)
I was organizing some CD's on my shelf this afternoon, making room for new stuff, and a thought came to mind... It's awfully hard to NOT be a music collector sometimes. It's no secret that we get sent a lot of our music for review purposes, and these days it's almost always a stream or mp3s and not physical CD's, but I come from a generation where we bought our music in a physical form of some kind -- we got artwork on a disc and cover artwork, lyrics to pour over, etc. So even now, even if I have the music already in digital form, I often like to still collect the CD's and even vinyls from my favorite artists. This requires the "music collector" to buy music once, twice, sometimes more to "collect" everything available. (Like those artists with special editions exclusive to different retailers? That's just MEAN to the collector!)
I'll find myself at the merch table of a favorite artist or on their website, staring at that "limited edition EP" or "limited edition vinyl" release that contains music I already own and something nags inside:
"You gotta get this. You gotta get it now or never."
The rational mind shoots back, "But I have this already. Is there a better way to spend this $10.00?"
You find yourself looking up at the t-shirts at the merch table -- there's something you don't already have. But your music collector instinct pushes your gaze downward towards that special EP that's not available anywhere but at this artist's live show.
"I don't even really like that song," you tell yourself.
"But it's a collector's item! If you don't get it now, it'll be $75.00 on eBay in a couple months."
"...or 75 cents."
I realize this is an exaggerated (even silly) example, but I know there are others like me out there -- others who don't need that dang physical EP CD or limited edition vinyl but for some reason have GOT to have it.
Let me hear you, music collectors! Any other fans out there who can relate?
Favorite Band/Artist: Wolves at the Gate Featured Fan: Jim Lisle Location: Springfield, OH When/Where Was The Above Photo Taken: 9/12 at Sonfest in Mt Vernon, Ohio What About This Artist's Music Speaks To You: Their lyrics are the best by far in the industry. "Man of Sorrows" is one if the greatest and most powerful songs ever written. Plus they preach and live as strong as they preform. Favorite Album by This Artist: Captors Favorite Song by This Artist: "Man of Sorrows" Favorite Live Show Experience: Album release show at Newport in Columbus Number of Times Seen This Artist Live: 5 Favorite Piece Of Merch/Item You Own From This Artist: My "dead man" shirt Website:Twitter Submit your photo and reasons why YOU'RE a fan for a chance to be featured here!
Time to get retrospective with 2012. With our recent year-end staff picks, House of Heroes' latest album Cold Hard Want averaged in at third place amongst the entirety of the staff's individual votes. A couple listens to this alt rock record should reveal just why it connected with so many listeners. The HOH boys stretched themselves a bit, giving a unique and varied look at atlernative pop rock with this album. While it may not be as lyrically engaging as The End Is Not The End, it's still a catchy and intriguing listen; one that begs for many revisits. At a time when it's tempting to keep looking forward to 'the next big thing,' don't overlook this summer 2012 highlight.
Our synopsis: "A pop rock record with alternative leanings and plenty of meat on its bones. It's one of the highlights of 2012's hefty year of music." (Recommended by JFH's John DiBiase) Song Highlights: "Out My Way," "Dance (Blow It All Away)," "Comfort Trap," "Touch This Light," "Remember The Empire"
So, what are your thoughts on and experiences with the album Cold Hard Want? Do you recommend it? If so, why?
Hey guys! Each year, the JFH staff like to choose their favorite albums of the year and post them for all to read, and we know everyone's thoughts and opinions differ, so we - once again - want to give you, the reader, the opportunity to share YOUR top 10 albums in the Christian market of 2012!
So, please feel free to post a top 10 album list of 2012 in a format similar to below. I'll post my 2012 album picks as an example...
I'm going to go out on a limb here with a blog post that's a little random and probably out of left field.
I love Christmas -- there's the timely, relevant part. My mind is wired to start feeling like a kid again around the holidays. Christmas music triggers all kinds of memories -- a single song segment can transport me to a young age when G.I. Joe figures were the treasures masked by festive paper that just needed to be shredded by anxious fingers. And just as memory-jogging are distinct smells -- like that of pine or cookies baking in the oven and the cold December night air. I love it all. Call me Mr. Sentimental and it wouldn't be far from the truth.
Believe it or not, with JFH approaching its 17th year in existence in 2013, there was a time -- wait for it -- when I wasn't running JFH. There was actually a time when I was just your average kid who loved Christian music and would get Christian music CD's for Christmas and birthday gifts. This was an age before the dawn of JFH and before we started receiving free review copies of most of the major releases (and then some). There's something special about buying your own music or being gifted a most anticipated album for Christmas.
And that is where this blog is coming from.
I have a couple of fun Christmas memories involving "CCM" (Contemporary Christian Music, as it were) gifts, and my absolute favorite memory was in 1994. I knew very well that the "newest" CD from a pop rock band called PFR was about to release, but it wasn't hitting stores until December 27 -- otherwise known as two days AFTER Christmas. So, you can imagine my--and my older brother's--surprise when we unwrapped a copy of PFR's Great LengthsON Christmas morning! This was a time when I was young and naive enough not to know that music was even remotely obtainable outside of the exact "release date." That, and I never knew -- until a few years later -- that there were even things such as "pre-releases" (go figure!). But with elated faces frozen in amazement, we asked our parents how they could have worked this kind of magic to get an album several days early. It turned out that our local Christian bookstore had put out a couple copies of PFR's Great Lengths on their shelves early -- and my parents just happened to be there when they had a couple copies out. It was a Christmas miracle in our eyes.
So, with that little trip down memory lane, I want to know -- Do you have a favorite Christian music-related Christmas memory? Did you get anything special from someone that involved a favorite artist or album? I'd love to hear it!
When I was eighteen I spent some time in Mozambique, Africa living with three hundred orphans. While sitting with some of the poorest people on the planet, I learned about the portion of God’s heart that is about individuality. Christ’s heart is to stop for the one, the proof is in scripture. In Matthew 18:12-14 Jesus tells a parable of a man who has a hundred sheep and one gets lost. He states that the man leaves the ninety-nine in search for the one that went astray. When the man finds the lost sheep, he rejoices over it more than his ninety-nine that had never gone astray.
Some might say that it seems unfair for God to love the one who went astray more than the ninety-nine that stayed faithful. The truth is, we are all the one that went astray. There is none of us that have not strayed from God’s heart. In fact, we are born astray, desperately needing his tender touch to draw us back to His heart.
As a Christian recording artist and minister, it is very easy to get caught up in numbers. To be transparent, I have to make a continually conscious effort to remind myself to stop for the one. The reality is that ninety-eight percent of my ministry is off-stage. The core of ministry is not about playing or speaking in front of thousands of people, but how well we stop for individuals. A common practice with my ministry is to sit and talk with people--whether it is with the front desk attendant at our hotel, the barista at my local Starbucks, people at the merchandise table, or a homeless guy on the street, everyone has a story and everyone is crying and craving for attention and love. We, as people, simply want others to stop and listen, even if we do not know or admit it to ourselves.
There is a story that comes to mind that is a beautiful example of this in play. I was recently on a tour with some other artists when our bus broke down. We were on an extremely tight schedule, quite frankly, it was a major inconvenience in which we could not afford to lose time. Yet, we were stuck none the less. Instead of complaining, I asked God for the purpose of the bus breaking down. After no response was given, we walked to a BBQ joint to grab some dinner. When we finished eating, another artist and I began to speak with the waitress. It is quite amazing when you lend an ear how people begin to open up and tell you the struggles of their life. We were conversing with the young women for quite some time, then out of curiosity, her manager walked up.
The manager and I began to have a simple conversation, one thing lead to another and he was spilling his life story to my lent ear. An important fact to take note, when ministering to people, it is more valuable to listen than to speak. This man was what I would describe a manly guy, tatted from wrist to neck, and could clearly hold his own if he were ever threatened or challenged. I quickly perceived that he did not make it a common practice to open up to people, let alone a complete stranger wearing skinny jeans and Toms. But God had a desire to reveal Himself to this manager and to let him know that He was listening.
The condensed version of the story was that his wife had just left him and taken his kids to another state. The man was heartbroken and felt completely helpless. He had just finished praying to God and asking Him if He was even listening, or real. The Holy Spirit gave me the proper words to encourage him with and had me pray for him. After the prayer, he felt God’s indescribable peace and love. I felt an impression from God to tell him that the sole purpose of our bus breaking down was for me to be there at that time to prove to him that God was listening and is in fact real.
Shortly after saying this, we began to walk back inside and were met by the other artist and waitress who had just finished their conversation. Come to find out, God had spoken the same thing about the bus breaking down to my friend who was speaking with the waitress. Consequently, God was glorified, and these two people were intimately touched by God and were met in the middle of their questioning.
The sole purpose of this blog post and the stories within are for you to be inspired and encouraged to live each and every day for the glory of God. Take value in every circumstance and situation in which you have the opportunity to be the light and love of Jesus. I have been blessed to have played and ministered in front of thousands, as well as spent time with broken individuals. Both are rewarding but, in my opinion, you have to learn how to minister to individuals before you can effectively minister to the thousands.
-- Jeremy Vanderloop
Singer/songwriter Jeremy Vanderloop's latest album "All Creation Sings" released October 2, 2012 and is available on Amazon and iTunes
There are many different ways fans of an artist can discover the artists they become fans of. When I was a teen, music video shows -- like Signal Exchange and CCMtv -- were big parts of my after school television viewing and I would be subject to music videos of new artists and styles I wouldn't typically listen to. While YouTube seems to be the main source for music video watching today, there seems to be less of a need for music video shows and more accessibility to the videos themselves.
When I was younger, videos like "Big House" by Audio Adrenaline, "Crawl" by The Walter Eugenes (ha, it was two guys chasing each other around in public mixed with professional wrestling footage. it was hard not to like), and Switchfoot's silly "Chem 6A" that won me over (Note: I was going to include this animated pic I once found online from the Switchfoot video but it's a bit too repetitive and distracting to include here. So check it out here. :) ). I believe it was even dc Talk's "Jesus Is Just Alright" and/or "The Hardway" videos that inspired me to check them out. Typically, it's a band's live show that grabs my attention -- or, nowadays, just giving an album a serious listen -- but music videos, especially in my pre-JesusFreakHideout days, were once a chief source of finding new music.
So, now that I've dated myself painfully, my question to you - the reader of all ages:
What music videos, if any, have caused you to actually like an artist that you previously may not have?
(Bebo Norman, myself and the lyric art (from his song "Hear it From Me") I made for him as a token of appreciation for his music!)
Favorite Band/Artist: Bebo Norman Featured Fan: Patricia Jones Location: Tulsa, OK When/Where Was The Above Photo Taken:May 11th, 2012 at the Northwest Arkansas Naturals stadium at the pre-game set. What About This Artist's Music Speaks To You: Bebo Norman's music has impacted my life more than that of any other musician.In my 10 years of listening to Bebo, I have been so blessed by this artist who is not afraid to pour his heart and soul into an album whether the songs are accepted as "radio friendly" or not. It seems like there is a perfect, uplifting Bebo Norman album for whatever I am facing. In the recent months I had been really struggling spiritually and Bebo Norman's latest masterpiece (Lights of Distant Cities) ministered to me in such a deep way. I was so moved by this album that it seems like it was written just to give me hope and encouragement. I am so thankful for the hand of God in Bebo Norman's music and I will continue to listen as long as he is making music. Favorite Album by This Artist: Lights of Distant Cities Favorite Song by This Artist: "Walk Down This Mountain" Favorite Live Show Experience: May 11th I traveled to Springdale, AR to see Bebo perform for the first time in 6 years. I was front and center! Number of Times Seen This Artist Live: 3 Favorite Piece Of Merch/Item You Own From This Artist: The setlist from the May 11th show Website:Twitter Submit your photo and reasons why YOU'RE a fan for a chance to be featured here!
After reading John’s list of Top 10 songs, I was inspired.I was inspired by his openness and felt like I had gained a new and better understanding of him.This caused me to look back over the songs that have really spoken to me.I couldn’t do an injustice to what John had started and pick out rocking tunes I really love.I had to dig deeper and look for some tracks that really spoke to me for different reasons.Strangely enough, the list came together pretty quick.It’s fitting to me that nine out of ten of these songs are from the 90s.I love each of these songs for different reasons and I hold them near to my heart.I’m not trying to copy John, but I’m hoping to expand off of what he started.I see this as a way for you the readers to get to know us, the staff, in a little more personal way than just as music critics.It gives a different perspective on what our musical tastes are and shows where we’ve come from and where we are.It was hard to leave a few songs off, but these songs certainly speak to me more than any others.
1. Tomorrow's Another Day - MxPx
This is my all-time favorite song by my all-time favorite band. Hands down; not even close. It was from their album, Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo, where they were a little more open about their faith. The lyrics in this song have stuck out to me since the first time I've heard them and they resonate still today: "Just know this that God is faithful even if you don't have faith yourself. There's nothing quite like being sure of what's inside your heart…" It a great statement of God's love for us despite our actions and the peace that He will bring us in knowing He is our Savior.
2. What if I Stumble - dcTalk
The first CD I ever owned as a teenager was dcTalk's Jesus Freak. The album literally changed my life. I was already a Christian, but it gave me such a different perspective on life and more specifically, music. I credit this album to my current love (borderline obsession) of music today. With an album full of classics this song stands out to me from the opening line, "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle…" The song speaks to me personally as a Christian who has indeed stumbled and fallen flat on my face. I've embarrassed God and embarrassed myself so many times. This song has always served as a reminder of my shortcomings, God's love, and an inspiration to grow my walk and try to reach others by both my words and my lifestyle. This is definitely a life song for me.
3. Rest Easy - Audio Adrenaline
I don't think any Christian music fan in the 90's can make a Top 10 list and not include an Audio Adrenaline song. "Rest Easy" is probably my favorite Audio A song and definitely speaks to me on a personal level more than any other. I tend to be a worrier and, at times, I let fear eat me up inside. In the verses Mark tells of his faults, which feel like they came out of my life (especially now) and in the chorus he gives God's response. I talk a big game in person, but the bridge really sums me up: "I am not a bold man even though I want to be. I am just a dreamer with a timid history. I'm scared of confrontation; I fume all through the night. The world has its hold on me and I just want to fly." I thank God that He will take my burden and in return give me His grace.
4. Much Afraid - Jars of Clay
Can you sense a pattern? Not just that I was, and am still, a fan of the "big 3", but that this is the second song circling around fear. On top of being one of my favorite songs from that album musically, again lyrically it felt like Dan wrote the song for me. Obviously he didn't, but when he sings, "…Of all of these things I'm so much afraid. Scared out of my mind by the demons I've made. Sweet, Jesus, You'll never let me… Let me go." It seems the screw ups and mistakes you make in life manage to stick in your head even though God has forgotten them after you've asked forgiveness. I guess it's human nature to fear further failure, or that the demons of your past will come back to haunt you, but that's still not a comforting notion. The only comfort I find with this fear I seem to share with Dan is that Jesus will always be there and won't let go.
5. After the World - Disciple
After looking at my first few songs, this one may not seem to fit in. "Scars Remain" came out in November 2006; my daughter was born in June of 2007. I never really paid much attention to the song other than it being a "nice acoustic song" when I first got the record. I was still listening to it quite a bit as my daughter's birth approached and then this song finally stuck out to me. It is written as a love song from our Heavenly Father to us, but I couldn't help but draw similarity to the feelings I was already having for my daughter. "I'm the one that you've been looking for. I'm the one that you've been waiting for. I've had my eyes on you ever since you were born. I will love you after the rain falls down, I will love you after the sun goes out. I'll have my eyes on you after the world is no more." This song reminds me of my loving God and my daughter who I love more than I could have imagined. This song makes me cry to this day.
6. King of the Hill - Eli (often stylized "eLi")
Not many folks I've run across really know who Eli is or about any of his songs. If you don't know Eli, you need to stop reading this and listen to this song now. It's so powerful and really gives you a picture of everything Christ gave up by dying on the cross. The lyrics start with an angry mob demanding the crucifixion of Jesus and take the viewpoint of our Messiah. The first two verses are a great reminder of the crucifixion, but the third verse gives you a perspective that so many ignore. "Well I could've had servants and I could've ruled this world as their king. And I could've had wealth beyond measure. I could've had anything, but it wouldn't have meant anything." These seem to be the final thoughts of Christ before he cried out to God before his death. The human side of Jesus had to have this temptation present, but instead of calling out to his Father to save him, or stepping right off the cross on his own, he willingly gave up his life. This song is another tear jerker for me and I still hold it near to my heart.
7. Strength - Seven Day Jesus
Seven Day Jesus' The Hunger… What a great album! "Strength" stood out for me on this album from the first listen and is still my favorite song. Although the song is entitled "Strength", it too deals with fearful behavior. "In my eyes I see a blur of things that others see so clearly. In my strength I run away from things that cause me heart to fear. Back and forth and back again to the place where I began. Maybe I'm making this much harder than it is." In the lyrics, he mocks his "strength" and says it's what causes him to run. I've found this to be all too true in my life. The minute I think I'm strong enough to handle things on my own is the minute I fail. The strength of God is the only thing that can hold us up and I definitely make thing much harder than they need to be every time I try to pick them up again on my own.
8. Found Someone - Shaded Red Looking at these songs after I selected them tells me something about myself. Wow... This song, from a band whose time was much too short, continues the theme. The verse starts, "Didn't I swear I'd be there? Didn't I make you this promise to hold you tight forever and ever?", and continues, "Yet I fell apart and my world crashed down. I was sinkin' fast 'till I felt true love." Again I find myself relating so much to a song of human failure with a loving God holding true to his promise to be there. The lyrics speak further of Christ's sacrifice on the cross, but the final line in the chorus sum on the solution: "It's Your love that makes it right."
9. Grace My Life - Grover Levy This is another gentleman that no one seems to know and it's so unfortunate. The verses of this song are in a similar fashion to some of the previous. Human failure… Levy starts, "I must confess the obvious seldom occurs to me. I make a mess then I'm the first to deny and the last to see", but the chorus is so hopeful to me. "I have a hope that's everlasting; I have a peace of mind. Lord, I am loving how Your love becomes me. Amazed at how Your grace me life." Despite the mess I make, God is there to love me, but even more so than that his love becomes me. If we allow Him to, God will grace our life in such a way where His love shines through us. This is a type of honest worship song to me. It doesn't shy away from admitting failure, but quickly points to Christ as the answer. I've loved this song for years.
10. Goodbye - Plankeye Finally a change of pace! This is Plankeye after Scott Siletta, but it is good nonetheless. I remember watching this video (which featured Eric Balmer and Luis Garcia in a hospital elevator - possibly as angels - as people come in and out dealing with death) as a teenager and thinking it was pretty neat. I actually bought the album because of this song and video. I liked the album, but it didn't take long for it to end up deep in my collection to be forgotten. My grandfather who I was very close with died in 2008. My grandmother, his wife, died three years later. For some reason I grabbed Relocation out the pile a few days after my grandmother's passing. I wasn't thinking about this song, but something had sparked my interest in Plankeye again. When this song started playing, the lyrics hit my like a ton of bricks. The second verse and chorus especially did as they say, "Now all that's left are pictures on the walls. Memories and stories that are told; the more often told the bigger they get. Create a legacy lest we forget. - Goodbye, goodbye. Walk away it's time to say goodbye, goodbye. Walk away it's hard to say goodbye." This is a difficult song to listen to with the newer added meaning over the past few years, but the lyrics in the bridge bring the hope I need when I'm missing my loved ones, "Halfway there but He always fills my cup and He lifts me up; oh how He lifts me up."
Last year, Falling Up released possibly their best album to date, Your Sparkling Death Cometh. Earlier this year, the band threw a bone to fans in the form of the hit and miss remix project Mnemos. Now, Falling Up is using their independence to release their newsiest endeavor in a unique way. Their Machine De Ella Project is broken up into two releases: Hours and Midnight to Earthship. Fans can subscribe to either one or both of the projects and acquire the songs as they are released (which are about three a month or so for each developing album). Each album is vastly different so I'm going to focus on Hours here.
Hours is one half an audiobook written and read by Jessy Ribordy and one half the soundtrack to the novella. Although the cryptic lyrics didn't appear to have much in the way of correlation with the chapters of the audio book, some of the lyrics are just starting to make sense.
The tone of the music draws from Your Sparkling Death Cometh, and there have been hints of an influence from Fangs as well. "The Contract" features much of the foundation that has defined Falling Up's recent music, and it works as a good experimental rock song. However, "The Climb" is a little dry by comparison, and the solid bridge isn't enough to overcome its largely uninspired tune. Your Sparkling… and Fangs meet in the electric guitar driven "Finn Hatches A Plan," and its high-energy chorus is great. Ribordy's vocals are more emotional in "The Rest Will Soon Follow," and the dreamy, softer music offers a welcomed change of pace. So far, "Aeva And The Waving World" is clearly the best offering on Hours. The haunting bass and vocals are heavily layered in synth, and the ominous atmosphere is among the best Falling Up has ever established.
From the album's first five songs, it's clear that the elongated endings that have defined much of the group's recent work are still very much alive. While I'm usually in favor of longer songs (especially when it comes to one of my favorite artists, like Falling Up), there are times when I wish they'd cut the programming and just end the song so we can move on. Also, with the exception of "Aeva And The Waving World," I feel like we've heard this before from Falling Up. I'm all in favor of a band remaining in their natural element, but the band has proven they have no natural element. Each project from Falling Up has been different, ranging from hard rock, alternative rock, to, now, experimental rock. All those genres have massive frontiers, and the band has done an incredible job carving out the genre wherever they go (sans Crashing which was a bit generic, and some of Dawn Escapes which was a bit repetitive). I'd like to see the seven remaining songs branch out a little more and stand more on their own feet.
Those interested in the paranormal novella will discover a world populated by children in an orphanage. Seth, the child prodigy and leader of the (very mature) six graders, is the protagonist who is chosen to lead his classmates into the mysterious north quarter of the orphanage. For a whole year, every year, the sixth grade class is allowed to do whatever they want in an empty gym for an hour without supervision. Each class before Seth has developed a dangerous game to pass the time, and now it's Seth's turn to come up with something. Although he forms the boldest, most daring plan yet, his game has a good chance of twisting out of control with the deadliest of consequences.
I've been a Falling Up enthusiast from the beginning, and I bought the subscription to Hours for the music. The audiobook was an afterthought, but each subsequent chapter has made me want to dive into the story first. So far, Jessy hasn't tried to develop the characters all that much, but they are interesting enough that we care about them whenever they encounter dubious situations. The writing isn't dazzling, but it doesn't stick out as a drawback either. It simply acts as the vehicle to tell the story. Some disbelief will have to be suspended to fully enjoy the story, as some plot points are just a little hard to swallow. For example, the unlikely romance among eleven year olds is a bit farfetched and did warrant some eye-rolling.
The intriguing aspect of Hours is the story, and the chilling paranormal elements that put the reader/listener on edge. Dark secrets, appearances of apparitions, and an ominous hole in the ground provide enough suspense, but it's the creepy soundtrack that plays in the background that does the most damage to someone's calm.
A word of caution. Although the cast features eleven year olds in the main cast, this is a YA (young adult) tale with some very mature elements. The supernatural occurrences are not at all consistent with God's Word. Just outside the gym, the children invent a machine that enables them to meet death halfway, and the results include teleportation, super strength, and flight of sorts. Then there's the ghost that's beginning to lurk around, and we're getting hints that she's up to no good. Graphic descriptions of dead or dying children are detailed and cringe worthy, and there is already one mild abuse of the Lord's name. The story is enthralling, but worth the plunge...?
A subscription to Hours is $15, and the one to Midnight to Earthship is $10. The packaged deal of both together costs $20, and right now there isn't any other physical or digital outlet to acquire them from. For a Falling Up geek like me, it's a no brainer, but, if you didn't love Your Sparkling Death Cometh, I'd wait until the project is completed before checking it out. It's reasonable to expect where the band is going with the musical side of Hours, but I haven't a clue where the audiobook is headed.