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Shine Bright Baby, the best thing out of Orville, Ohio since Smuckers, is just one more example of why Brandon Ebel is the King Midas of the Christian Music industry. We have infectious pop tunes, a danceable...
Release The Panic (Deluxe Edition) by RED Release The Panic (Deluxe Edition) by RED
 I guess everybody is entitled to make a less than stellar album. It's just that some bands have gained an aura of invincibility. Red is one of those bands. Three albums, three "experiences"....
Rest by Beckah Rest by Beckah
Rest is the title of the newest release by Dance artist extrordinaire Beckah Shae. Fans of Destiny might be at a loss for words here, though. Rest is...

Showing 1-10 of 34 |   View Next 10 Album and Book Reviews
Who Loves Ya Baby | Posted July-19-2013
Shine Bright Baby, the best thing out of Orville, Ohio since Smuckers, is just one more example of why Brandon Ebel is the King Midas of the Christian Music industry. We have infectious pop tunes, a danceable album, and word centric tunes. And plenty of synthesizers. The only drawback is it's only a half hour in length. Still, the album has been on repeat since it premiered.

Among my favorites are the two ballads that highlite lead singer Emily Irene's voice. The Haunting Love Restores and Beautiful To You. This album is a work of art in more than the eyes of God. Best new artist, best rock album (might be tough to dethrone Skillet). Either way this is a much welcome entry in a Christian Music field that gets plagued with sameness.

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Perhaps it's time to Panic | Posted February-20-2013
 I guess everybody is entitled to make a less than stellar album. It's just that some bands have gained an aura of invincibility. Red is one of those bands. Three albums, three "experiences". All an expert blending of strings and rock. Not this time. Release the Panic is merely okay by comparison. From the start they seem to be trying to copy a typical rock band instead of breaking new ground. Red doesn't appear on the album until track 7 as far as most fans will be concerned. I would say save your money for the Red anthology next month. Talk about a Red Panic.wencdj.blogspot.com/2013/02/time-to-panic.html has my full review.

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Trance Worship | Posted September-10-2012
Rest is the title of the newest release by Dance artist extrordinaire Beckah Shae. Fans of Destiny might be at a loss for words here, though. Rest is beyond question a Worship album, not a dance album. Unless of course you are into slow dancing.

Techno fans keep your heads on. Beckah has not abandoned us. People have been known to say that while worshipping they can be in a trancelike state. Beckah has given us a trance album. This is nothing like Destiny, and yet if you loved it you will love this. It's like an entire album of Are Your Ready, the first cut from Destiny. Or better yet, this is Music Inspired by The Story done entirely by Beckah Shae, who wasn't on that excellent compilation.

The loudest, hardest song on the album is actually a remake of Destiny. Of the slow trance, which will have you swaying and tapping along, Rest and Without you are among the many high points.

I have to take off a half-point in fairness to fans who expect a bit more high energy, but stay with it. I did, and believe me, the orchestration and her voice build throughout the entire album. You will be having a standing ovation for this album by the time it concludes, and then you will hit repeat. You will not rest.

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Life is a Current | Posted March-05-2012

Around the turn of the millenium Three siblings made a giant ripple in the Ocean that is Christian Contemporary Music. Joshua, Rachel and Sarah Meeker, recording under the name of Chasing Furies, unleashed a version of alternative music not seen or heard since. Though the band was a hit with fans, with "Thicker" being the eighth most requested song of 1999 on ChristianRock.net, the band, for reasons unknown even to them, disappeared. For most, they are among the many one hit wonders of CCM.

Fast forward to 2012. Sarah Macintosh (nee Meeker) is making a mark on the CCM Charts as a solo artist, while at the same time remembering her roots. Several songs on Current, her latest release, among them We Should Run (echoes of Enchanted), Galaxy Forever and Calling Calling are definitely written for the fans of Chasing Furies. Sarah's Haunting vocals are unmatched anywhere in the current marketplace.

Current will definitely be among my picks for Best Album of 2012. I would give it more than five stars, but that's all they allow. It is definitely a good thing to keep current.

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Who Is Ready for Good Music | Posted August-15-2011
Destiny, the fifth full length studio release by Beckah Shae, is her best by far. A few months ago #putyourloveglasseson was released to radio and download as a preview. While the song itself did what it was intended to do, and that is to spark interest in the album, now that the album is out, it is possibly the weakest song on the album. The spacy non-dance track Are You Ready kicks things off, and it will send chills up your spine. Holy is how your worship should sound. I can definitely detect a "Tribal" influence in this song. No, I don't mean race, I mean Tribe as in World Wide Message Tribe, the UK Dance outfit that is the de-facto bar that all have to be judged by. #putyourloveglasses on is the 6th cut (that would be the last song on side 1 in the old Vinyl Days). You really didn't get a radio hit on track 6 in most cases.

I would like to predict that Destiny should clean up at the Doves and Grammy's, but I am too much of a cynic with those two organizations to think that will happen. On the other hand, while I wont tip my hand on this years PVA nominees over at The Night Beat, suffice it to say, that at present it is the front-runner in the Dance category. Beckah Shae has come to Christian Dance For Such a Time as This.

For a more complete review, I would ask you click over to myFull Review of Destiny at The Night Beat. 5 Stars is too few for this. Dance/R&B/Reggae, all expertly done. Makes you say Group 1 Who?

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Good Forward or Back | Posted July-06-2011
Never Odd Or Even, the fifth release by Rap/Hip Hop artist Shonlock, is more of a Hip Hop Tinged R&B album. Though there is enough rock/hip-hop (Set it off, the Family Force Five like Bet Ya House), to satisfy the rocker out there. The real meat of the album is some ultra smooth R&B that should garner regular play on mainstream R&B radio. Among them are You Act Like and the autobiographical testimony Cheers. Eat your heart out Usher.

This album should be a lock to win in Hip Hop/Rap at the Doves, since they do not have a standalone R&B category. With songs like scarred and monster,  I think it could qualify in the Rock category as well. For more on the album, I would direct you to the review on The Night Beat

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A Well Balanced Offering | Posted April-25-2011
Tooth and Nail does it again, and I don't know how they do it. Weights & Measures, the debut release by Hyland, continues the trend of picking, if not outright superstars, at least moderate successes.

Weights and Measures is enjoyable rock (or power-pop) in the vein of Bleach or FM Static. They slip comfortably between relationships and more overtly Christian tunes (This Love is Free, and You Never Give Up, and Desperate Man are examples of the latter). Personally, that is what I think Christian Music should be, not overly preachy, but at the same time, not simply clean secular lyrics. The Chimes in You Never Give Up are a mystery. It happens each time.

I think 4 stars is a fair rating for this CD. It may not get nominated for a Dove or Grammy (or Even a Platinum Vinyl Award) but it is more than most expect with a debut. There are no rough patches or places where inexperience is obvious. And since bands improve their sound with years, thing should really get good in the years to come.

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Hey I Want It | Posted April-11-2011
FM Static, the side project of TFK Frontman Trevor McNevan and Drummer Steve Augustine has done it again. The band blends pop, hip hop, synth-pop, and rock into and a result that seems out of place in these times. I still think it sounds a little Beach Boys (or Beach Blanket Bingo).

The Ten songs, while not organized in a single theme like Dear Diary, still convey a happy pure pop experience. It is refreshing since most pop today is simply rock at half volume.

Cinnamon and Lipstick and Last Train Home are the pop songs on the album, which while I want to give it a perfect album score of 5, it is pop. So I will give it 4 1/2 stars.

In the end I will let the cheerleaders give the final verdict "F.M.S.T.A.T.I.C. That's the way you do it when you do it correctly." I  totally agree.

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The Wonder Project | Posted October-02-2010
Wonder, the 16th Full Length studio release by CCM Pioneer and unrecognized father of Synthpop Michael W. Smith is a testament to his longevity, and also a great statement. Just because you get older doesn't mean that you have to mellow. The album is an expert blending of Rock, New Wave, orchestral masterpieces and mellow piano tunes. Even the most die hard rocker who can't stand anything soft has to admit that the arrangements alone are masterpieces and make this album a must have.

I was first introduced to Michael's music at the beginning as a young college DJ with The Michael W. Smith Project (1983) in 1984, and yes, I played "Friends" a lot. What I remember most about the album was the Synthesizer. Rock and Roll, especially Christian Rock, was very Keyboard/Synth heavy in the 80's and all the Supergroups of the time (Petra, Servant, Fireworks, DeGarmo & Key) all were as well. That changed in the 90's as bands dropped synthesizers and became guitar heavy. Thankfully, with the new century synths are back, not only with Techno/Dance groups like Group 1 Crew or The Echoing Green, but Industrial/Hard Music acts like Skillet have successfully blended Synthesizers into Rock once again. Smitty's music fit right in with the rest.

Over a quarter of a century later, it's obvious that he hasn't lost his touch. Save me from myself, the opening song, is a Techno/Synthpop throwback that only someone who remembers his early work can truly appreciate. Run to You starts mellow and builds to rock and roll throughout the song. My favorite song on the album is I'll wait for You. It's a fairly mellow AC Rock that appears to fade out after a few minutes and then BAM, ends with a Rock Choir. You'll never see it coming, I promise. The following song, Forever Yours, is another favorite. A Synth/Orchestra masterpiece of a love song. Maybe it's just me, but I can just see this one performed with a full orchestra at Red Rocks. Eat Your Heart Out John Tesh.

Mellow Piano tunes like Welcome Home and You Belong to Me round out the album, and make this a rare 5 Star Rating. It's no Wonder that this is an excellent album.

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Real Guitar | Posted September-20-2010
I love guitars. It's not my favorite rock instrument, that would be the synthesizer, but it's a close second. A well executed guitar solo is a thing of beauty. My introduction to Christian Music years ago came via Phil Keaggy, guitarist par excellence. One of my criticisms of modern rock, both in CCM and in the mainstream, is a fear of all things instrumental. Maybe it's the ego of the vocalist, but not every second of the song has to be filled with vocals. By way of example, one of my favorite songs of all time, Sodom, by Swedish Heavy Metal band Jerusalem, is over twelve minutes in length, but over half of it is instrumental metal.

Real Life, the seventh full length CD by Bayside Church worship pastor Lincoln Brewster, is full of great guitar solos among its ten songs. Best Days, Reaching For You, So Good, I Belong to You and Shout For Joy have excellent guitar work. That's half the album, folks.

The Track Listing:
Best Days
Reaching For You
More Than Amazing
Real Life
So Good
I Belong to You
Whom Shall I Fear (Featuring Kari Jobe)
Loved By You
Made For More
Shout For Joy

For my initial quick hit via Twitter (you can follow me at @WENCDJ) I said he had a unmemorable voice more than made up by great guitar work. By unmemorable, I don't mean bad, I just mean he sounds like a lot of other people. I referenced John Cooper of Skillet and Mac Powell of Third Day by way of comparison. You easily recognize them by their voice. Even Kari Jobe, who accompanies him on Whom Shall I Fear. While I initially blanked on her name, I immediately knew who it was.

Real Life, which releases September 28, is a good modern worship album, though some might find it a tad hard for their taste. As a guitar rock album, it is great. I'm giving it 4.5 stars. Don't be fooled by imitations, only real life will do.

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