NRT Founder Kevin McNeese explores the latest crop of Christian artists who are embracing beats as much as ministry as the genre continues to explode.
Last month, the GRAMMY awards acknowledged one of the fastest growing trends in music today, inviting multiple artists to team up for a special performance highlighting dance/electronica music--a first for the televised broadcast. Before that took place, Foo Fighters guitarist, Dave Grohl, set off a firestorm during his acceptance speech as he lambasted the format. "Singing into a microphone and learning to play an instrument, and learning your craft is the most important thing for people to do," Dave said. "It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about sounding correct. It’s not about what goes on in a computer. It’s about what goes on in [the heart] and what goes on in [the head]."
The rant needed further clarification from Grohl, who ironically later performed in the dance/electronica segment, but the gas had been poured on a fire already burning hot: Should dance music continue to dominate as it has been.
No matter which side of the fence you're on (fan or protestor) there's no denying the effects dance music has had on today's music, and Christian music is no exception. It used to take our industry a few years (sometimes more) to catch up to the latest trends, giving Christian music a stench of warmed over lunches left in the microwave overnight, but this is 2012 and things move a bit faster now. With the release of arguably one of the most high profile dance albums releasing next week from Britt Nicole (Gold), I thought we'd spend some time catching up on some recent releases that are designed to get you moving and praising all at the same time.
Britt Nicole - Gold (Available March 27, 2012) Following her highly successful album, The Lost Get Found, Britt Nicole is set to release her third studio album, Gold, March 27th. The album's first single, “All This Time,” is Britt’s salvation story in song form and is already making a splash at radio. The song fits well at CHR Radio and there are a handful of other tracks that are designed to bridge the gap between radio and full on dance songs like "Breakthrough," "Amazing Life" and the title track. Lecrae continues popping up everywhere, including on the standout track from Gold, "Ready Or Not." Read our staff review here.
tobyMac - Dubbed & Freq'd (Available March 27, 2012) Tobymac returns with his first new remix record in 7 years (does that make anyone else feel incredbily old?) and this album is packed with groves that will satisfy any dance/electronic fan. Dubbed & Freq'd features new remixes of several of the biggest songs from his albums Tonight and Portable Sounds. Toby’s unique blend of rock, pop, hip hop and urban styles is perfect for the remix treatment and brings an entirely new sound to his songs. Read our staff review here.
Manic Drive - Epic
The group is fully embracing its electronic roots on their latest album, Epic. You'll be hard pressed to find better songs in this category than "Halo" or "Money." "Go Big Or Go Home" and "Microphone" are also worth your time. On a non-dance side note, the band also kills it on the ballad "Save A Life." Read our staff review here.
Who doesn't love a great comeback story? Rachael Lampa, absent from the music scene for seven, long years, returned with the fantastic and timely, All We Need. Most wouldn't classify this album as dance/electronic, but there's no deying this album moves. It's certainliy filled with a few more layers, complimented by one of the best female voices in our industry, but songs like "Savior's Face," "Remedy" and "My One And Only" will get you moving just as much as anything else on this list. Read our staff review here.
Lead singer Geoff Hunker, Jonathan Dimmel, David Troyer and Dave Willey return with their independent sophomore release, Freqency, following-up their critically acclaimed debut on Word Records in 2009. The band continues to be defined by and concerned with what it means to make music in a world filled with the deafening voices of the information age. Their sound is a modern take on the popular synth-pop of the 80’s, blending synthesizers with rock guitars overtop of interesting grooves. There's plenty to latch onto with this release and there's not many tracks you'll lose on. Read our staff review here.
Few albums grew on me more last year than Press Play's third album, World Anthem, and is the follow up from their successful album NY2LA. The 13 tracks give listeners a much more evolved version to their electronic / dance / pop style, without sacrificing a clear evangelical message, and is easily one of the best Christian dance albums to release in recent memory. Standout tracks include "F-I-R-E," "Just Like Lightning," "Walking On Air," "Raise It Up" and "Truth Be Told." Read our staff review here.
Beckah Shae - Destiny
If there is an indie darling in our industry, Beckah Shae is it. Without a major label backing, or much of a marketing campaign/team behind her (her husband not only produces but manages as well), Beckah has been consistenly releasing quality high-energy dance tracks for years. And fans have taken notice. Beckah has quietly been paving the way for this genre to explode in Christian music and the timing of her fantastic latest release, Destiny, is spot on. Read my full review here.
The band continues to trade spirtual clarity for fun, amazing beats (it's unfortuately you can't get both here) but don't discount the boys in this genre. There are fewer albums that provide more fun than this one. Know what you're getting into (and what you're not) and you'll be able to fully enjoy this release. It doesn't hurt that "Paycheck," "You Got It" and "Tank Top" will help your time on the treadmill speed right by. Read our full review here.
Centricity Record's new rock act, Me In Motion, exploded on the scene with "Losers," the first single from their self-titled debut. Led by songwriter Seth Mosley, who also wrote with with Michael Tait and Newsboys on their hit record, Born Again, the band was more rock than dance, but that seemed to take a drastic swing with their digital EP released last year. Guitar riffs were traded for eletronic loops and the result was two songs that speak volumes into the potential of this band. "Yes We Can" and "Back 2 Life" are the only two dance tracks on this short, 4-song EP but both are amazingly fun songs with great messages that don't get old. I'm hoping the band continues to roll in this direction. Read our staff review here.
Shonlock - Never Odd Or Even
It takes some quiet confidence to step out of tobyMac's shadow and launch a solo career, but that's what Shonlock did last year as he cut the safety net that the Diverse City Band provided and released an amazing EP and full-length album. If you haven't heard "Something In Your Eyes," yet, you're missing out. The #1 song catipulted Shonlock onto the radar of music fans everywhere. But thankfully it's just the tip of the iceburg. Turn the strobe light on and crank up "Set It Off" and "Q2go". Read our staff review here.
Yes, this is a rock record. Through and through. But it's also built around some amazing electronic production that gives the debut release from Icon From Hire a unique sound that should appeal to fans of dance music. Check out "Make A Move," and "Get Well" and sneak in a headbang or two in-between your light stick waving. Read our staff review here.