SPZRKT did vocals on Tedashii’s track Fire Away (one of my favorites from Below Paradise). When I saw SPZRKT was about to release Bonfire, I was interested. SPZRKY offers a brand of pop/r&b that reminds me a lot of Kenna (which is great because I LOVE Kenna). Bonfire is both musically pleasing, super catchy, and emotionally compelling. It’s a perfect record! 5 out of 5 Stars!
It’s tough when you have such high hopes for a record and it just doesn’t work for you. Everything Sleeping Giant has done has been great and I expected Finished People to be no different. And it isn’t. Finished People is heavier than anything the band has done previously. And I think that’s where Sleeping Giant loses me on Finished People. The album is a brutally heavy assault. It’s a hardcore fans dream. But Sleeping Giant has always been a band that has embraced a melodic side and there’s no catchy melodies on Finished People. It’s a good record… I was just hoping for great. 4 out of 5 Stars.
How do you celebrate 20 years as a band? If you’re Jars of Clay you kickstart an acoustic double record and let fans pick their favorite songs. It’s a great collection of tracks from the band’s career that spans every album. Some new arrangements of old favorites and some just stripped down versions of newer songs. My favorite moments are the old songs. Worlds Apart, Tea & Sympathy, and Love Song, all slowed down and stripped down even more, with the cello, are all just beautiful moments on a record full of great songs. It’s a record for fans, so if you’re not already a fan, this might not be your cup of tea. But I love Jars of Clay! 5 out of 5 Stars!
House of Heroes is another band where my expectations are super high! And it took me a couple listens through Smoke before I started to click with the band’s new ep. I was pretty disappointed my first listen through. But over time Smoke really grew on me. The songs don’t have that overt, catchy pop rock feel that I’ve come accustom to hearing from House of Heroes, but it’s a raw, gritty rock and roll record. A Fire Only We Know is a truly beautiful moment in the middle of the record! 4.5 out of 5 Stars.
What to expect from the members of As I Lay Dying’s new “atheist?” project? Ok… According to Nick Hipa maybe all the band members losing their faith in God was a bit over blown from Tim… But still, the band stepping out with a new vocalist and trying to establish a new identity in the face of the adversity from Tim’s fall and the AILD fallout. So is Wovenwar any good? In a word, yes. But it’s complicated. It actually took me lots and lots of listens to really find myself enjoying the band’s self-titled debut. Yes, musically, the guys in Wovenwar know their way around their instruments and it’s an epic musical journey. On top of the being musically pleasing, the songs are super catchy and will get stuck in your head. The lyrics are complex and can be taken to mean a couple things… Which is kind of nice to listen to an album and draw your on conclusions or be speculative about what the songs and album means. There’s a lot to love about Wovenwar’s debut! And I’m not sure why it took me so long to be sold on how good a record it was. Just missing AILD I guess… 5 out of 5 Stars!
Veritas Vinyl released Moral Monsters’ Postmodern Failurism ep at a name your own price option and I picked it up. I’m always looking for fun punk rock. And that’s what Moral Monsters is. Good old fashioned fun punk. Not one of my favorite records of the year, but a lot of fun. 3.5 out of 5 Stars.
The Whosoevers turned me on to Islander. And I’m glad they did! Violence and Destruction is a straight up nu metal throwback record. The old school Deftones influence is heavy on this record. And I love every minute of it! Violence and Destruction is fun. There are some terrific hooks mixed with great poignant moments and introspective lyrics. Violence and Destruction has been a gem of a find for me. 5 out of 5 Stars!
Sometimes it’s great to find that record you’ve been looking for. Not that I’m a huge fan of V Rose or that Forever After is one of my favorite records of the year. But Forever After is an album the “christian” industry needs. For far too long fans of pop music haven’t had a christian artist that resembled or rivaled their radio favorites. And parents/youth pastors/etc… haven’t had an alternative to say, “hey if you like blank check blank out. V Rose is that artist. Not that we need to make second rate cheap Christian versions of the mainstream, but quality artists that wouldn’t feel out of place of awkward along side the likes of Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, or any of the other top 40 artists. Forever After is the record that could find a home admits those artist and standout on it’s own. It’s the pop record I’ve been waiting for! 4 out of 5 Stars.
After a couple of pop/country eps, Lexi Elisha returns with a maturer sound and outlook on the world. While I enjoy her Swift-esque previous endeavors, there’s something really beautiful and intriguing about Rope that Elisha’s previous records didn’t have. A beautiful ep! 4.5 out of 5 Stars.
When I heard Silhouettes for the first time, I was hooked. I instantly downloaded When I Was Younger, Colony House’s debut. Finding out that two of the band’s three member’s are Stephen Curtis Chapman’s sons was shocking. What’s undeniable about When I Was Younger is the indie pop sugary goodness! The first half of Colony House’s debut is amazing! Sadly, the second half of the album just doesn’t have the same luster and catchiness that makes the first half so compelling. Sure, songs like Moving Forward and Lose Control are fantastic ballads but there are just some underwhelming moments that keep When I Was Younger from being a great album. 4 out of 5 Stars.
Between the Stars opening track, and album’s first single, Set Me On Fire, is an excellent kickoff to the new era of Flyleaf. Magnetic packs less punch but the hook is so catchy that by the second time the chorus comes around, you’re hooked! There are some moments on Between the Stars that hit you instantly and then there are those that have to grow on you. But there’s something very warm and inviting about the record. Like a rock lullaby. It’s easily my favorite Flyleaf record since the band’s debut! I love Kristen May’s vocals! 4.5 out of 5 Stars.
2014 might be christian hip-hop’s coming out party! In a year of quality hip-hop album’s, Swoope’s Sinema is just the latest. Sinema is full of explosively great tracks (SinemaBest of Me, LSD, Sin In Me), some tracks that take time to grow on you (On My Mind, Bow Down, Beauty and The Beast, #SameTeam) and tracks that I like but are hard to jam to (Right Side, Before Goodnight), which can make listening to Sinema a little tedious at times. You find a song that blows you away and then the next song just isn’t your jam. Still, the great moments and the moments that grow on you far outweigh those that might make you scratch your head. Best of Me is one of my favorite hip-hop tracks of the year! 4 out of 5 Stars.
I enjoyed Disciple’s last effort, O God Save Us All, more than I expected, so I was actually looking forward to giving Attack a spin. Attack features some of Disciples best work to date! The first four tracks on Attack are incredible! Say what you want about big anthemic radio rock, Disciple can write one hell of rock song! But (like Skillet’s last record), it’s the ballads that get me. There aren’t that many on Attack but they are the few moments where I’m not in love with the record. The punk influenced The Named, the walking, sexy groove of the bass line on Lion, the raw rock and blistering guitar solo on Kamikaze are all great moments on the second half of Attack! Attack is easily my favorite Disciple record. 4 out of 5 Stars.