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Nothing Else Matters | Posted February-02-2019
What You Need to Know:

Reach City Worship is a movement based out of Tampa, Florida. The name "Reach City" reflects their desire to reach out to the world and share the love and message of Jesus, reaching beyond generational and denominational barriers. In following their calling to share the hope found in our savior, they have led worship at churches and conferences across the nation, leading alongside artists like Plantetshakers, Colton Dixon, Anthem Lights, and Sidewalk Prophets. Nothing Else Matters was recorded live at the Reach Conference in Tampa, FL.



What It Sounds Like:

This album takes you from wherever you are and puts you in the middle of the conference, right to the best seat in the house. They captured the atmosphere of worship and it speaks just as loud as the lyrics. The instrumentation behind the vocals creates a powerful vehicle for the message of the songs to be delivered. The vocals are clear and polished, while still portraying the passion behind the worship.



Spiritual/Lyrical Highlights:

The song "Nothing Else Matters" is based on the story of the woman who washed Jesus's feet, found in Luke 7. The story tells of a sinful/immoral woman who found out Jesus was eating at a Pharisee's house. She brought a jar of expensive perfume and knelt behind Jesus, weeping. She washed his feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, and rubbed perfume into them. At that moment, nothing else mattered but the presence and forgiveness of Jesus. This is manifested in the lyrics of the chorus: So I will sit at your feet and rest in your peace. Here's where I find you're all that I need and I'll be still and know that you're in control, God. I pour out my love until nothing else matters



Best Song on the Record:

"Never Leave Me" is it for me on this record. This song had me moving and singing every time the chorus came around: "Where you are is where I want to be. I come alive in your freedom. I am yours, you are my victory. With every breath, I'm singing."



For Fans Of:

Planetshakers, Hillsong Young & Free, Jesus Culture



Final Word:

This album transports you to the middle of a worship conference from the moment you hit play. You have no other choice but to raise your hand in worship and worship with the band.

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Planetshakers Christmas | Posted December-22-2018
What You Need to Know:

Planetshakers released Christmas, Vol. 2 just in time for the holidays. This is the fourth EP Planetshakers released this year, and an addition to Vol. 1 released last year.  



What It Sounds Like:

Three of our favorite Christmas carols get the "Planetshakers" treatment with upbeat melodies and vast soundscapes. "O Holy Night" is the closest to the original carol, but they have created an atmosphere where you can get lost in the song. We are also introduced to a Christmas worship song "Light of the World," which has the same upbeat and EDM elements you expect from Planetshakers. If you need a Christmas party and a dance party all wrapped into one box, this EP has you covered.



Spiritual/Lyrical Highlights:

In addition to the traditional Christmas carols declaring the birth and the holiness of Jesus, "Light of the World" combines the names used in the declaration of Jesus at his birth (Wonderful, Prince of Peace, Mighty God) with his glory as he returns on that unknown day. The song says that from the start, Jesus is the light that is shining bright, and he always will be. Jesus is the light of the world.



Best Song on the Record:

"O Come All Ye Faithful" is my favorite on this EP.  The bass line is super funky and the whole song sounds like a jam session where the whole band is having fun. 



For Fans Of:

Hillsong Young & FreeElevation Youth, Passion



Final Word:

Christmas, Vol. 2 is a great album to help celebrate the season.  The fresh take on the classic carols will keep this EP a part of Christmas collections in the years to come.

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Wild | Posted November-08-2018
What You Need to Know:

The release of Wild marks the 5th full album released by Bethel this year. It was recorded live at Bethel Church in Redding, CA, where Sean Feucht relocated after officially joining the Bethel Music artist collective in 2016. While Sean has recorded, produced, and released 20 albums to date, Wild is his first album published under Bethel Music. 



What It Sounds Like:

Wild is an album that is devoted wholly to worship. Upbeat songs like "Till the Whole Earth Looks Like Heaven" and "Wild One" have a drive that get you engaged in the song without overpowering the message, while songs like "Still Will I Love," "There Is A Name," and "Spirit and Truth" have the hallmark Bethel sound that brings you straight to a heart of worship. No matter the music behind him, Sean's passionate worship is what makes this album stand out.



Spiritual/Lyrical Highlights:

Considering this an album that's packed with worship, it's difficult to pick out highlights. I was amazed by how few words Sean used in his lyrics, yet the songs are still impactful. The chorus for "Still Will I Love" is simply, "Still will I love, Still will I love, Still will I love you more." The song "Forever We Worship" is only 13 lines, yet you get lost in a time of worship. 



Best Song on the Record:

"Wild One" wins it for me on this album. The groove of the song grabs you from the start, and the melodies give the song a drive that keeps you excited till the end. Also, it's a reminder that while our God is a god of mercy and peace, there is a wildness in Him that will never be tamed.



For Fans Of:

Bethel Music, Steffany Gretzinger, Cory Asbury 



Final Word:

Sean's passion for worship is very evident in this album, and it's contageousWild is an album that will get you lost in worship by the second track.  





Buy Wild on Apple Music or stream in on Spotify.


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Heaven on Earth EP Trilogy Complete | Posted November-02-2018


What You Need to Know:

Planetshakers recorded Heaven on Earth at the Planetshakers Kingdom Conference this past April, as well as at regional conferences in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Planetshakers released the third part in the Heaven on Earth EP trilogy in parallel with the full album, and Heaven on Earth, Pt. 3 introduces the last 5 songs included in the digital album version.



What It Sounds Like:

Planetshakers continues to do what they do best: high-energy worship with an EDM element. In addition to the title track, this EP includes a remix of "Through It All," as well as an EDM remix of their classic "Nothing is Impossible." In addition to high-energy worship, Planetshakers devote two songs on this EP to reverent worship.



Spiritual/Lyrical Highlights:

In the press release for the full album, Planetshakers Senior Worship Leader Sam Evans says: “Whenever someone thinks of heaven, they are filled with visions of the most perfect world. Not only is heaven a destination that all Christians are looking forward to, but Jesus encouraged us to pray for His kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. It is our passion and desire that your faith, prayers and expectation be stirred to join with ours as we sing this song together – ‘Heaven On Earth!’ Let our hearts be stirred once again to believe God and that this world would see the true manifestation of God's kingdom through His people and His church everywhere.”



Best Song on the Record:

"Overcome It All" wins it for me on this album. The message of the song is powerful, and the melody stays on your mind long after the song is over. I'm also loving the EDM remix of "Nothing Is Impossible." 



For Fans Of:

Hillsong Young & FreeElevation Youth, Passion



Final Word:

"Heaven On Earth, Pt. 3" completes the trilogy of EPs leading up to the release of the full album, and it closes on a strong note with an album worth waiting for.





Buy Heaven On Earth Pt. 3 on Apple Music or stream it on Spotify.


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The Elements of a Great Album | Posted October-26-2018

What You Need to Know:

On the Jesus Freak Cruise in 2017, TobyMac opened up about the season he went through after dcTalk announced their intermission. He wasn't sure if he was going to continue his career as a recording artist until he was approached to write the song "Extreme Days" for the movie with the same title. That song started the journey to the 2001 Momentum album.  



Fast forward to 2018, and the Momentum album title has become prophetic. In the years since the album's release, TobyMac has been one of the biggest names in Christian Music. He has won numerous awards, and six of his studio albums have been RIAA gold certified. In October, TobyMac released his much-anticipated eigth studio album, The Elements

 

What it Sounds Like:

While TobyMac has his own signature style, every TobyMac album has a fresh sound, and The Elements is no exception. In addition to the high-energy anthems you would expect, TobyMac has infused a blend of dance, soul, and hip-hop into this record.



The title track leads off the album with a strong rock/hip-hop hybrid anthem. The songs "I just need U.," "Everything," and "Edge of My Seat" are exactly what you would expect from a TobyMac album: high-energy dance grooves that get you on your feet and moving. Songs like "Scars," "Starts With Me," and "It's You" change it up with bit of soul over hip-hop beats.  

 

Spiritual Highlights:

I picked out two strong themes from this album - a deep reliance on God and overcoming the past for a strong future. Through several of the songs, TobyMac preaches that whether we're up or we're down, we need God. When we put our lives and our sitations in God's hands, everything falls in line; when we keep our eyes on God, we see Him in everything around us and life is brighter.



TobyMac also reminds us that no matter where we came from or what we've done, there's a better day on the horizon with Christ. You're not the only one who's been where you are. You are no more loved by God just because you have scars, because we all have scars. It's part of living.





Best Song on the Record:

I'm going off of the beaten path and choosing "Starts with Me" as the best song on the record. I'm loving the smooth groove and the collaboration with Aaron Cole, and the message of the song resonates with me. It doesn't matter how you were raised or what circumstances are around you, change starts from within you. Whether it's breaking a cycle of addiction or unhealthy family traditions, you hold the keys to setting yourself free.



For Fans Of:

Aaron Cole, Newsboys



Final Word:

This is another solid album from TobyMac. After eight studio albums, he is showing no signs of slowing down and is continuing to raise the bar for Christian music. His faith in God is on full display with this album and it's contagious.



Buy it on Apple Music or stream it on Spotify.




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I've Got a Good Feeling, I Got to Tell Somebody | Posted September-13-2018
What You Need to Know:

Worship Pastor. Reality TV Star. CCM Artist. These are just a few of Austin French's accomplishments. After coming in second in ABC's Rising Star in 2014, Austin began the journey to pursue his goal of becoming a CCM artist.



After several months of releasing singles, Austin has released his first full-length album, Wide Open. I was able chat with Austin at The Uprising festival in Casper, WY, and you can read the interview here.



What It Sounds Like:

“I’ve got that good feeling, shouting it out cause I can’t contain it, I got to tell somebody.” Austin’s own lyrics share my feelings about this album!


To say that Wide Open is a Southern Rock album is overly simplistic. Throughout this album, Austin's vocals show exactly why he was a finalist on Rising Star. The vocals are clear and crisp and every note is on point, but with a little grit that gives Austin a sound all his own. Mandisa, who invited Austin on stage to perform with her at Uprising, said it this way: "That boy can SANG!"



Songs like "Wide Open," "Good Feeling," and "Born Again" will get you moving with their driving Southern Rock riffs. Austin also invites you to his personal worship sessions with songs like "Why God," "I Need a Hallelujah" and "In America." Austin's wife Joscelyn joins him for a beautiful and melodic worship duet in "Spirit Speak."



Spiritual/Lyrical Highlights:

This album is the product of three years of prayer and writing, and it is evident in the lyrics. In my interview with Austin, he emphasized how he wanted to share the life that happened during those years, and hopes people are inspired by this album. I think he hit the mark and then some.



This album travels through all aspects of life. Songs like "Good Feeling" and "Freedom Hymn" celebrate life and the freedom we have in Christ. The title track, "Wide Open," talks about being obedient to God's will. Austin wrote "Why God" after the Parkland school shooting and you feel the heartbreak through the song, but also that God is in control all the way through. The song "In America" expresses our need for God in our land now more than ever.



Best Song on the Record:

While I've had the whole record on repeat for almost a week now, the song I keep coming back to is "Why God." The message of "I don't understand why these things happen, but I understand why God I need you. It's why God I run to your arms" is very powerful. This song feels like you're witnessing a personal worship session with Austin sitting at a piano and singing his heart's prayer.



For Fans Of:

Matthew West, Carrolton



Final Word:

“I’ve got that good feeling, shouting it out cause I can’t contain it, I got to tell somebody.” Austin’s own lyrics say it all.  While Wide Open will get you moving, the most striking aspect of this album is how authentically Austin shares his life and his heart.  

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Dwell in Worship | Posted August-17-2018
What You Need to Know:

David and Nicole Binion are a husband and wife ministry team, working together for almost 24 years. They have toured the world working alongside a long list of artists, evangelists, and organizations. They have most recently been a part of Covenant Worship, a ministry based out of Covenant Church in Dallas, TX.  They are launching Dwell Church in Fairview, TX, with the first services planned for September 9, 2018.  



What it Sounds Like:

This album brings sounds from many years of experience in leading worship. I heard hints of Israel Houghton, Maranatha Praise, and Michael W. Smith throughout this album. As I listen to this album on repeat, I picture myself in an arena getting ready for a revival. Dwell is an album that will stand the test of time. The lyrics stand firm on eternal truths, and the vocals deliver those lyrics with contagious conviction. 



Spiritual/Lyrical Highlights:

David dedicates one full track to delivering his testimony of the night that was the high watermark of all he has experienced. He declares that there is a move of God unlike any other that is swiftly approaching. He follows this with the song "I Can't Stay Here," where he sings "I can't stay here, asleep to how you're moving" and "You're breathing new life into dry bones."



In "Song of My Heart," Nicole declares "I'll stand on your promise, I will not be moved, Nothing can tear us apart".  



Best Song on the Record:

The best song is a tie between two tracks. "Song of My Heart" reminds me of the worship at Promise Keeper events that my dad took me to as a kid. I can't help but want to jump as I'm singing along. However, I'm also captivated every time "I Can't Stay Here" plays. It stops whatever I'm doing and brings me into a time of worship.



For Fans Of:

Israel Houghton, Maranatha, Michael W. Smith



Final Word:

David and Nicole are entering a new season in their ministry with the launch of Dwell Church. As stated on their vision for worship: "Dwell Church will be a body of worshipers who sustain a culture of worship and revival. Our heart's desire is that Dwell will be a revival center, a place of encounter. A house of presence, healing, and community." That vision is very apparent in this album.

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Healthy Snacks for Your Ears | Posted July-08-2018
What You Need to Know:

Earlier this year, Seattle native Isaac Peabody was introduced as the newest member of Centricity Music. When NRT went live with Peabod, he told us that he started as a folk singer/songwriter and was making hip-hop beats for fun. The transition from folk to hip-hop started when he was encouraged to use those beats to write a song about his roommate Fletcher.



Take a moment to check out 8 fun facts about Peabod.



What It Sounds Like:

Peabod brings his musicality to the front with melodies that belong in the pop and R&B genres. While the songs tell a story, the delivery of the lyrics do not make the songs feel wordy. Each new track gives you a different flavor to keep you engaged throughout the album. Several tracks make me feel like I'm watching a sitcom, whether it's the theme song or a transition between scenes. Between the track and the lyrics, the songs are fun and bring you into a story like you were watching instead of listening.



Spiritual/Lyrical Highlights:

It's tough to pick out a highlight from this album since every song tells a different story. On "Summer of Fletcher," Peabod shares about his roommate, Fletcher, and the good influences that friends can have on us. "Ok" reminds us that no matter what happens, everything is going to be Ok. In "A PEAceful Outroduction," Peabod reminds us to be ourselves and that Jesus is the most important thing.



Best Song on the Record:

"Steady" wins the best song on the record for me. The melody is great, and the lyrics tell the value of finding a partner who loves God and makes us better with lyrics like, "You show me just how this grace thing works." The song starts with "What you're going to hear about today is nothing short of a miracle," which is what I think about my spouse marrying me.



For Fans Of:

KJ-52, John Ruben



Final Word:

This album is best listened to with the windows rolled down and the stereo turned up.



Also, I want to meet Fletcher.

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AWOL But Not Missing | Posted June-09-2018
What You Need to Know:

It's easy to talk about Kevin Max as a part of dcTalk or Audio Adrenaline. However, he has not so quietly been making a name for himself as a solo artist. Since departing as the Audio Adrenaline frontman in 2014, he has released a new album each year, and 2018 is no different. After releasing Serve Somebody just days before last year's Jesus Freak Cruise, Kevin comes back this year with AWOL



What it Sounds Like:

Kevin Max continues to defy expectations. On my first listen, I hit the play button expecting a solid rock album. What I got in return was a taste of the classics. I couldn't help but draw parallels to bands from the 80's like a-ha, UB-40 and Duran Duran.



With each listen, however, the uniqueness of this album becomes clear. Built on the foundation of strong and melodic bass lines, each track adds its own flavor, ranging from New Wave to Indie to Rock. Kevin's unmistakable vocals shine through as he delivers the poetic lyrics that only he can bring.



Spiritual/Lyrical Highlights:

In the song "Brand New Hit," Kevin sings "I am between two worlds, all the people from my past just want it to last. I am between two worlds, all the people from my future want a brand new hit", which I believe highlights the struggle between defining himself as a solo artist and the reinvigorated passion of dcTalk fans.



In the song "Half of the Better One," Kevin shows his romantic side as he sings "it's simple and it's sweet, you knock me off my feet for all eternity" and "when they say that two become one, I can safely say I am only half of the better one".  



Best Song on the Record:

It's hard to pick the best song, but I'm most partial to the title track, "AWOL." This is the song that I think would be the best to see live.



For Fans Of:

a-ha, Duran Duran



Final Word:

Kevin gives us plenty to be excited about. Along with the new album, he has several shows listed for this summer, and I would anticipate more dates to be announced as the year progresses. In early May, dcTalk announced a second Jesus Freak Cruise in 2019. As reported in the JFC Alumni Facebook group, Kevin messaged in one of his Facebook groups: "Yes, this is indeed happening for 2019… however, as the rock&roll element in dcTalk, I will say that there is more to this intermission being over than just boat rides….. HOLD FAST!"

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