Thursday, March 15, 2012

1st Quarter 2012 Music Guide:

Do to my work on our other blog, I've neglected this one a great deal this year.  My apologies for that, but I believe our ministry will keep me focused on the other one the majority of the time.  Therefore, for the time being this blog will be where I occasionally write about the music I've been enjoying.  And here is a look into what I've purchased thus far in 2012:

All Sons & Daughter album "Season One": 

All Sons & Daughters are a duo worship pair who have released 2 EP's titled, "Brokenness Aside" and "Reason to Sing".  In 2012 they combined the 2 EP's, added a couple extra songs, some videos, chord chards, and voila, "Season One" was born.  If you haven't listened to All Sons & Daughters, they're probably writing and recording the best worship music you can get your hands on today.  It's well layered, yet they do an excellent job of allowing the instrumentation to take a back seat to the beautiful harmonies they create.  "Season One" on itunes contains worship videos and a bunch of extras for $11.99.  Amazon's digital download is $9.99, but they also have a hard copy CD (for the purists out there) that can also be found for about 11.99.  Either one is worth the expense, but the iTunes LP and/or hard copy CD/DVD is probably the best way to go.  As for their sound, I'd like to say AS&D is similar to "The Civil Wars" with more of a worship feel, but honestly, "I believe Season One" to be even better than "Barton Hollow".  Final Take: 4.5/5

Paul Baloche's album "The Same Love":

Paul Baloche is well known for some old worship favorites ("Open the Eyes of My Heart") but he's been putting out albums for a long, long time. His new one, "The Same Love" is brilliant.  Recorded in a few houses with some studio work and mixing going into it, he's delivered an album that's not only theologically solid, but also points the listener directly to the gospel, and he's able to accomplish this in every single song! without sounding mundane.  He worked with "All Sons & Daughters" on the track "Oh, Our Lord" as well.  I would be inclined to give "The Same Love" a 4/5, but Paul Baloche also decided to make the album available in hard-copy form as of March 13, and release it digitally on April 3. This gave bookstores some much needed business (Apple does take a 30% cut from itunes, you know, and I believe Amazon's mp3 store does too - buy directly from artists whenever possible! *rant over*) and those who preordered from this site got a truckload of bonus material, how-to-play videos, chord charts, demo tracks, and more.  Well done, Paul Baloche, well done.  Final Take: 4.5/5

Passion's album "White Flag":

Passion has become a bit too formulaic in my personal opinion.  It seems that all Passion artists/conferences have this mindset of, "If it's worked before, let's just do it again!"  Here me Passion, and understand this isn't a judgment of any one person on this album: You need to add a bit more creativity into in your music.  The lyrics are simplistic and the guitar riffs and effects are getting repetitive. I don't mind hearing a slightly similar sound ever now and then (think "The Edge" from U2) but most artists will mix things up just enough to sound fresh.  While there are a few songs on here with a slightly different sound than albums of the past, the album as a whole still falls short.  Nevertheless, I'm sure we'll be introducing some tracks to our congregation in the near future.  The Deluxe Edition adds 3 tracks, some videos and a Louie Giglio talk making it worth the extra 50 cents on amazon (The 268 Generation store doesn't sell the Deluxe Edition).  Not sure it's worth the extra $2.50 on itunes.  But as stated on Paul Baloche's review above, if you truly want to support Passion, purchase it directly from them.  Final Take: 3.5/5

27 Million: by Matt Redman and LZ7:

Matt Redman and LZ7 combine to bring a modern day hip-hop track in which the sole purpose is to bring awareness to human trafficking and modern day slavery.  It worked. I've heard this song and seen it advertised just about everywhere.  The song itself, isn't great.  It's not bad, but it's not great either.  Nevertheless, the message of the song and the awareness that it continues to bring gives this single track a 4/5.

Robbie Seay Band's album "Rich and Poor": 

Robbie Seay Band continues to remain quiet in the realm of "worship" music these days.  Many of the tracks are not congregational friendly, but the band pulls them off in a way that makes this album a real treat to sit down and listen to.  I've found it's not the kind of album to listen to just 1-2 tracks before moving on.  Instead, listen to the entire album straight through.  Honestly, this album was a surprise to me (I've been playing and leading on worship teams for 12+ years now) and I'll have it in my repertoire for the next several months, if not longer.  Final Take: 4/5

David Crowder* Band's album "Give Us Rest"

David Crowder*Band released their final album in January of this year.  They played their final concert at the Passion Conference and are now all moving in different directions.  "Give Us Rest" is a Requiem Mass, and it's wonderful. While lyrically bland in a number of places, the artistic nature of the music helps to off-set this.  A wonderful way for David Crowder and friends to go out, yet something tells me we'll see a "live" album or two come into play, as DC*B recorded every concert they ever played.  I could be wrong, but I'm hopeful to see a live CD if not DVD make it's way out in the next 12-18 months.  Final Verdict: 4.5/5

Hillsong United Album "Live in Miami": 

What I stated above regarding Passion I can state again for Hillsong United.  I purchased this album thinking they would mix up enough tracks to give various ideas for how to do some of their songs in a live setting. I was wrong. I feel like I've heard this album before. At least 3-4 times before. As much as artists may believe it helps the overall experience, the crowd yelling in the background doesn't help.  Final Verdict: 3/5

Rend Collective Experiment's album "Homemade Worship by Handmade People"

Rend Collective Experience had out one album before this which didn't do too much for me.  The more I listened to it, the more I felt like it was missing something.  I was expecting this to be a "Sophomore Slump" kind of album and sadly watch what could have been fade into obscurity. Thankfully, this didn't happen.  Rend Collective Experiment does a fantastic job writing fresh worship songs with great harmonies and the occasional horn section.  Here's hoping for even better things ahead for Rend Collective Experiment.  Final Take: 4/5

Bon Iver's Youtube video "Live at Air Studio"

Fading away from the "worship" music scene, I'd like to give my 2 cents on the Bon Iver live at Air Studios youtube clip.  Bon Iver (aka Justin Vernon) is either one of those artists you truly love, or truly don't.  Personally, I love the guy.  I do my best not to fall into the trap of what magazine's tell me I should listen to, but when it comes to Bon Iver, they were right.  The Grammy's Bon Iver won this year were very much deserved and I find these 5 stripped down recordings to be absolute perfection. Last Year's self-titled album and this video will be in my playlist for years to come.  Final Take: 5/5

Of Monsters and Men's EP "Into the Woods

Haven't heard of "Of Monsters and Men"? You will. They currently have a 4-track EP out titled, "Into the Woods" and their full album is due to be released April 3 (though many clips are already available on youtube). RELEVANT Magazine says they may be this year's "Mumford and Sons" and RELEVANT may be right.  Check out the sound clips from the EP and prepare yourself for what may be one of this year's best released.  Final Verdict on the EP: 4/5

Albums I'm looking forward to later this year:

 Of Monsters and Men - My Head is An Animal:

See Above Notes on their EP

Swithfoot's "Vice Re-Verses" Remix Album:

Switchfoot is releasing a Vice Re-verses remix album from their wildly popular Vice Verses album last year.  I get weary of many remix albums, but with artists like Paper Route getting involved, I'm wildly curious and have a slight restrained jubilation vibe (Seinfeld reference) about this album.

Paper Route - "The Peace of Wild Things"

Paper Route's album "Absence" is probably one of my favorite albums over the past 3 years....maybe 5! And they're returning with a new album soon titled, "The Peace of Wild Things".  Oddly, they've mixed up their sound, and not just a little, but a lot.  The two tracks they've released thus far via Noisetrade giveaway's have a lot more of a "pop" music flair to them.  Honestly, I'm not sure what to expect with the album, as what I've heard is very different from their former album.  I'm excited about this one, but I have a few reservations.  Here's hoping they pull out a "Rend Collective Experiment" and send my shallow expectations to the curb.

Mumford & Sons, U2, The Violet Burning, and more:

Word is out that Mumford and Sons very well may have a new album out in 2012, as well as U2.  Additionally, I'm aware that "The Violet Burning" will be releasing some acoustic tracks to last year's "The Story of Our Lives" (to select individuals who supported their last album - me being one of them).  That said, TVB may release some other new material as well.  I'm certain there are a number of albums coming out I've yet to hear about, nevertheless, 2012 has been a great year for music thus far, and here's hoping it only gets better!

What great album(s) am I missing out on?  Let me know in the comments below!