Friday, March 2, 2012

Music for Today

Here is a list of artists that I listened to today.

Fusing stadium-ready guitar riffs, anthemic choruses, and stomping backbeats with passionate lyrics that proclaim a message of hope, Disciple stuffs their self-titled record with muscle, both sonically and emotionally. Huge riffs and even bigger choruses that bounce in your brain will have you rolling down your car windows and singing at the top of your lungs. And, hey, isn't that what rock and roll is all about? 

This full length record is produced entirely by Odd Thomas and features Propaganda doing both rap and poetry pieces.

The download comes with bonus artwork. Humble Beast's goal is simple, give the record away to as many people as possible.

Please join them in spreading the word and sharing the music.

Morella's Forest
Four-song EP release featuring the ever-popular "Hang Out" taken from the debut full-length "Super Deluxe". This disc also features some of the band's harder rocking recordings, including "Art Of Love" and the noise art experimentation of "Pasty White". A real highlight for sure is the MoFo take on Aimee Mann's Til Tuesday classic "Voices Carry". This record is a must have just for the back cover photo, a rather unexplainably trippy though humorously cool and bizarre photo of the band and singer Sydney Rentz with her Persis Khambatta haircut. 

They define themselves as "raw rock." Fitting enough, but in layman’s terms, Showbread is somewhere between pop/punk and hardcore. It almost seems unnatural to say "pop/punk/hardcore," but that’s what it amounts to. The amusingly titled No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical is a thirteen track journey through the creative minds of the seven, yes seven, individuals that make up the band.
Screaming is common, but not exclusive. It’s sometimes combined with a voice simply speaking the words that are being screamed. Ivory Mobley and Josh Dies combine their vocal abilities to give Showbread a voice that is almost bipolar in it’s formula. You simply don’t know what lies past the next door. Things do slow down at times, however, coming to an almost halt on one occasion.
Some of the band's best moments are actually when things are toned down a notch and the band possesses that pop/punk feel. But they are truly gifted in the hardcore department, but they add their own unique feel to everything they touch. For example, Showbread’s sound isn’t simply confined to guitars. A key-tar keeps the music going, as well as synthesizers that almost give the disc a, and I am reluctant to even suggest this, techno feel at times.
With song titles ranging from "A Llama Eats a Giraffe (And Vice Versa)" to "If You Like Me Check Yes, If You Don’t I’ll Die," it’s quite apparent in just about every department that Showbread is trying to do things a little bit differently. Their "take no prisoners" approach to lyrics is especially noticeable (A song about gossip is entitled "Mouth Like a Magazine"). No subject is off limits, and Showbread brings all to the forefront and deals with each in a down-to-earth manner that just begs to be heard.
This is an obnoxious, raucous, and mind-blowing fifty-four minutes of music that rarely slows down. Most definitely not for all, but the urgency and energy will most definitely make fans out of many. Showbread is the kind of band you just know has to put on an amazing live show, and I anticipate the day that I can see it.

Greg X Volz
The River Is Rising stands out as the most guitar driven project Greg X. Volz has been associated with, the album holding up in a noteworthy manner by combining Volz's terrific voice with a highly refined production job.  Heavier numbers like "Barrier", "Joyous Grave", "Livin' For The Bell", "All I Can Do", "Heaven Is Within You" and "Hold On To The Fire" are worth the price of the album alone.  If you enjoy melodic hard rock but require something with a bit more muscle than Petra, then you will not be disappointed with The River Is Rising. 

David Meece

 Great album of ccm classics, to include "All is GOD's Creation: which I have luved since first time I heard it. I also have the video production for "...GOD's Creation". "HIS Love was Reaching" another lp favorite as is title song "Candle in the Rain";also like "Amor Conquista Todo (Love Conquers All).

Fear Not
As you read in CR18, this team were previously Love Life and this is a huge improvement on that version of the band's one Blonde Vinyl outing (unreleased here). Our article revealed that the team spent three months in the studio cutting Tear Not' (to give you some idea of differing British CCM budgets, the last album I produced was recorded and mixed in two weeks!). But I digress. This is tough mainstream metal with the Pakaderm brothers refraining from their tendency to make their productions identically Petra-ish. The band describe their sound as "Seattle crunch rock with a melodic edge" which sums it up. I liked it, John. 

Sara Kelly
 Sarah Kelly is the latest talent scouted by Toby McKeehan's own label Gotee Records. Helming from Rockford, Illinois, Sarah offers a positive and often worshipful pop/rock sound on her debut, Take Me Away, showcasing her versatility in songwriting.
The title cut opens the album, a catchy radio-friendly pop/rock song that easily represents what Sarah's heart and focus is all about. "With You" follows, a passionate acoustic-driven track that displays Kelly's commanding vocal power. Many times throughout the record, Sarah's vocal style varies greatly, mixing a sound reminiscent of artists like labelmate Jennifer Knapp, Plumb, Alanis Morisette and even The Cranberries. Despite being able to associate her styles with other popular artists, Kelly's delivery is unique, resulting in a sound that seems all her own. Although this is Sarah's first national recording, her vocal confidence gives her the feel of an experienced veteran. Highlights like "Forever" and "Take Me Away" prove that Kelly shouldn't have a problem quickly establishing a fan base. Her lyrics are passionate and personal, forsaking the trite to adopt relevant themes. Songs like "Living Hallelujah" and "Please Forgive Me" are humbling moments for Kelly, admitting her brokenness and need for her Savior.
Kelly offers powerful and passionate vocals that demonstrate vocal authority and versatility on Take Me Away. Fans of Knapp, Morisette, Plumb, and solid female-fronted rock 'n' roll-glazed pop will find a surprise gem in Sarah Kelly's debut album, Take Me Away

It seems that sometimes it's the collaborative efforts between a few truly creative minds that bring out the best in the individuals involved. Pop vocalist Leigh Nash and songwriter Matt Slocum were a divine pairing when Sixpence None The Richer was together. Last year, Nash made her solo debut, and although the record offered some fantastic melodic pop tunes, Slocum's touch was missed. Fauxliage finds Nash pairing up with Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber of the alt/ambient pop group Delerium for a new direction in music for the vocalist. 
Fauxliage isn't Leigh Nash's first collaborative effort with the guys of Delerium. She's contributed her talents to a few songs on the group's own albums, but this time provides the vocals to all of the tracks on Fauxliage, save for a pair of instrumentals. Sixpence fans might notice that Leigh's vocals are much more channeled towards the melancholy than her solo project Blue On Blue and there is no upbeat fluff here at all. "All The World" opens the project, a noticeably moody but ultimately slick and delightfully dreary electronic pop song. Nash's lyrics are some of her best to date on this record, and the artist has admitted that they're some of her most personal as well. While she writes ambiguously, she's also not afraid to mince words, stating bluntly (and arguably inappropriately) "It's hard as hell tonight to sleep" in the heartbreaking "Let It Go" (also the only song in the CD jacket not to have lyrics included), and on "All Alone" she asks, "What is it for? What is this for? If love is not for us / Then who is it for?" There is still hope to be found on the album however, with "Rafe" serving as a prayer for Leigh's ailing cousin for recovery (and who has since started doing well).
Musically, the album mixes sort of a mid-90's electronic pop vibe with a modern enough feel not to sound irrelevant or dated. By the time the second instrumental track "Vibing" sounds, followed by the pensive closer "All Alone," the album has resolved with a distinct smoothe and soothing ambience. Tacked onto the nine-track album are two remixes of "Rafe," the first of which is completely out of place amongst the rest of the record with a horn-glazed retro feel, with the second sounding much more like your typical remix but with a delightfully chunky beat. Both mixes are unnecessary, however, and rather redundant with one right after the other falling two tracks after the original mix. I can't help but feel as though the record would have benefited from ending after the initial nine songs to give it a more cohesive presentation.
All in all, Fauxliage seems a natural follow-up to Leigh Nash's previous collaboration. The silky smoothe and entrancing vocals from Nash meld well with Leeb and Fulber's creations. It's a thoughtful project with dark undertones that have little, if any, spiritual substance but more so explore love and loss. Although it's unclear whether or not Nash will continue to work with the guys from Delerium, it'd be interesting to see where the Fauxliage project progresses. More spiritual depth would help fill a void for music like this, but until then, we have Fauxliage's impressive debut. 

I feel like a proud parent. Hard rockers P.O.D. have been kickin' up dust in the music business for years, but it wasn't until their 1999 release The Fundamental Elements of Southtown that they have received the attention they deserve. The band has come along way. Straight from the ghetto in San Diego, California, P.O.D. has been bringing love to a dying world since 1992. You can find the band's sweet slammin' hardcore tunes on the likes of even MTV now, as their first new single "Alive" has even hit #1 on the hit video show "TRL" (Total Request Live) recently. These boys have something to say, and with the release of their new album Satellite, they're still spreading the love and representing Christ in a fallen world.
Now when I say I'm a proud parent, don't let that fool you. I can not say I'm a long-time diehard P.O.D. fan. It wasn't until the beginning of last year, even, that I grew to love their groove-laced hardcore-based rock. And fortunately, I can say it was right before a lot of the secular fuss began. I'm proud to find that the guys have not watered down their message in any way, shape, or form, and in some ways seem to hit harder with a message of hope and love in our Savior (who they often refer to as "Jah"). Anyhow, hey-hey the boys are back. Satellite follows the incredible sounds of ...Southtown with a fresh sound that will please some, and depress others.
P.O.D., short for Payable on Death, showcases much musical growth on Satellite, as melodies not just creep in on this release, but seemingly take over and dominate the record. While many fans may find the softer sounds disappointing, P.O.D. will surely be making new fans among those who find the frequent screams of past tunes a turn off. But what I am missing most is the heavy infectious loud rhythms that "Southtown," "Whatever It Takes," "Outkast," "Tribal Warriors," and many other older tunes possessed. Thankfully, though, new songs "Set it Off," "Boom," and to an extent "Alive," "Youth of the Nation," and "Anything Right" accomplish this, but not as frequently as in the band's past. Harmonies rule such tracks as the modern rock tune "Satellite," "Ghetto," and "Thinking About Forever," a song about the death of lead singer Sonny's mother.
I have found myself torn about exactly how I feel towards the style shift of the new record. The CD is excellent, but delivers a much softer musical blow than previous efforts. Of course it is all part of the band's musical evolution, but for fans, it may be too drastic of a change. But again, it's not necessarily a bad one. The softer melodies flat-out work. "Satellite," "Ghetto," and "Thinking About Forever," are superb tracks. Sonny's stretches his vocals for not just raps and rhymes supported by funky beats and sweet guitar riffs, but to harmonize and emit possibly more passion and emotion than he has before. 
Satellite is a solid record from one of the most promising rock bands around today. Although it may not live up to the hard-hitting expectations that many fans will have, Satellite still delivers with some well-crafted songs and a message that needs to be heard.  

Imagine Depeche Mode working with Bjork, with a touch of the electro revival as well as the genuine 80s heart of synth collectives like Book of Love and throw in some leftfield yet catchy songs, and you get an idea of the Venus Hum sound. Though I must admit I might have a conflict of interest as I live in Nashville and have been watching Venus Hum perform and listening to their self-released Mono-Fi debut for the past three years. So when I bought their debut album, I was astounded that they were able to exceed my high expectations. Hearing songs like "Sonic Boom" and "Montana," which have moved Nashville crowds to dance (an arduous and exhaustive task in and of itself), retooled and sharpened with even more hooks was a pleasant surprise. I could swear that Tony and Kip used Tamperer samples to fill out "Montana." Listening to "Soul Sloshing," I envision a Pet Shop Boys production at the pinnacle of their career - with Annette vamping over the catchiest and most energetic dance music this side of the Atlantic. "Honey" also stands out as catchy electropop that you would have expected to hear on one of the best 80s movie soundtracks. 

The reviews are from various places on the internet...