Over the years, Falling Up has repeatedly treated their fans with a flavor of uniqueness not commonly found in today's world of music. Sporting a shift in genre nearly every album, "Silver...
Water & Guns
Aaron Indeed, Water & Guns contains some of Sprinkle's best work. Casual listeners may recognize his name as the producer of artists such as TFK, Falling Up, Kutless, Relient K, Underoath, Anberlin, Jeremy...
Falling Up Strikes Silver with their Debut Christmas Project | Posted December-09-2013
Over the years, Falling Up has repeatedly treated their fans with a flavor of uniqueness not commonly found in today's world of music. Sporting a shift in genre nearly every album, "Silver City," their first Christmas project to be released, is no different.
When I first heard that Falling Up would be releasing a Christmas album, I was completely unsure of what to expect. Would the musical genius (and occasional oddity) of frontman Jessy Ribordy and Company fit the shoe that so many Christian artists try to fill year after year?
In short, yes. The EP (if an 11-track project can even be labeled as an extended play) opens with a short track entitled “Intro/Jingle Bells,” which flows into a rendition of “Carol of the Bells.” Neither of these are outstanding in and of themselves, but they do quite the job of setting up the album. The first actual song on the album is “Emanuel,” on which Jessy is joined by Brittany Wiinikka. Their vocals mix very nicely, and provide an incredibly refreshing take on “O Come, O Come Emanuel.”
The album plays on through “Silent Night” and then two variations of “Oh Holy Night,” on which Jessy surprisingly refrains from hitting the high note. “Oh Holy Night” is a stunningly beautiful piece of work that remains true to the original, but which pushes the creativity as far as possible. “Sugar Plum Fairy” is turned into a dubstep-style track, which has been done before.
The real gem of this album is found with “Song in the Air.” Never before have I heard such a beautiful rendition of this piece. Listening to Falling Up play it makes it sound as though it was written by the band members themselves. If you pass up all other tracks on the album, I urge you to at least sample this song.
The album wraps up with two instrumentals (tracks nine and eleven), and an original song composed by the band, “The Little Robot.” All three of these pieces are marvelously performed, leaving the listener in a reflective and slightly haunted state.
My only disappointment was when I started to notice that a few lines had been cut out of the songs. On “Oh Holy Night,” the line “when Christ was born” is missing, but it doesn’t feel ‘removed’ due to the unique twist on the song. More disappointedly, though, “Song in the Air” replaces the final line of the second verse (“in the homes of the nations that Jesus is King”) by once again repeating the final line of the first verse. By no means has Falling Up cut the religious content out of the music, but it does seem to have been toned down. The songs they chose to record still clearly represent where their faith lies, and they do spend the majority of the album revering the birth of their King.
“Silver City” clocks in at just over 45 minutes, and in a typical Falling Up fashion, contains the originality you’ve come to expect, but thankfully no lines were crossed. No “Santa in an Aerospaceship” or “Moonbeams of Forest Extilliate” appeared. The album is well-worth many spins this holiday season, and will surely provide you with a fresh enjoyment of even the most traditional carols.
Sprinkle Delivers Yet Again | Posted September-30-2013
Indeed, Water & Guns contains some of Sprinkle's best work. Casual listeners may recognize his name as the producer of artists such as TFK, Falling Up, Kutless, Relient K, Underoath, Anberlin, Jeremy Camp, and many others.
The album starts off strong, with most of the songs focusing on a more beat-driven synth-pop style than on his pervious works. The lyrics are well-designed, coming across in a beautiful simplistic manner. From the happy-go lucky "Alright" to the defined "Turn Around" until to closing of "So Contagious," this album strikes pure gold.
Song recommendations: Alright, River of Lead, Turn Around, Giving up the Gun.
It's a Pity if You Pass This Album By | Posted March-24-2013 It's a Pity You Couldn't Stay is the debut release from Nate Hambrick's project, entitled "287." Hambrick, along with his brother Levi, was formerly a part of Karpenter's Kids, a band which gained a significant amount of notability through the Internet, catching the attention of acts such as Thousand Foot Krutch, Falling Up, and I AM EMPIRE.
Although Hambrick decided to leave Karpenter's Kids last year in order to pursue a different career, he did not give up his passion for music. Working with his brother, he recorded and produced a stellar 10-track album. The album artwork for It's a Pity You Couldn't Stay screams excellence, and offers the viewer a deeply mysterious insight into the album's theme. The album, in keeping with its lyrical and titular theme, holds a melancholic undertone in a non-overt fashion.
Pity opens with an introductory song that closes with the line "if brokenness is all I need, I'll give myself all away," which sets the lyrical mood for the album. The title track (It's a Pity You Couldn't Stay) is the first 'real' offering of the album. The song is strong, and kicks off the album's story by dealing with the concept of lost love and broken hearts: "the sun stopped shining down as my lover walked away; it's a pity you couldn't stay." Although the track has an upbeat sound, it contains passionate lyrics dealing with hurt and sadness. The album continues to roll along with the tracks Sing Along and I'll Let You Go, both of which are solid tracks, but neither of which stand out on the album.
Hambrick's faith is made apparent in many of the tracks, including Somehow Understood, with lyrics such as "You are the Potter, I am the clay; I finally figured out that it's best this way," on showing his acceptance of God's plan over his own desires. The sixth track, Gone Away, is probably Pity's strongest offering, with a somber atmosphere surrounding the song that ties in well with the album artwork. Hambrick sings "I'm filled with regret about you; all I'm searching for is the beginning of something new," which echoes a deep amount of emotion and sadness. The song has a unique texture to it and flows very well, with a simply gorgeous melody.
Life is Good holds its own weight, but seems to pass by unnoticed. Personally, I feel that this track as a whole sounds too similar to Adam Young's Owl City. Where Love Is Confined is an extremely well-done song with a simple and catchy melody. The lyrics are brilliant ("Am I searching for someone who doesn't exist? There's a piece to this puzzle I seem to have missed, so I wait for you to come. My life is a prison, where love is confined, and my heart is a failure when you are not mine. My soul screams out when I'm alone"), and the song seems to have been made for radio (a positive aspect, in this instance).
The album "technically" closes with It's Complicated…, a song which does well to wrap up the album's story with the closing line, "From the day we first met, until the day of goodbye, I will never forget that loving look in your eye." A piano version of I'll Let You Go is also included on the album, which is a significant step up from the original version. This version better conveys the reflective atmosphere of the song, and does a good job of emotionally wrapping up what Hambrick has to say with "what if I disappear, would anybody know I'm here when everything is crashing down on me? You are the one that makes me smile when everything is broken and everything is falling apart." With this statement of faith, the album draws to a very satisfactory close.
Overall, I easily give this album a 7.5/10 rating. If you're a fan of Owl City, An Epic No Less, The Afters, or synth-based music in general, you'll probably love this album. Being more of a rock fan myself, Pity isn't exactly my bread and butter, but there's a handful of tracks on here that were dropped into my 'top songs' playlist. The album clocks in at about 40 minutes, which is an enjoyable length. There could be more variety in sound, but ultimately, this is an amazing debut from 287. Although every song is solid, Gone Away, Where Love is Confined, and I'll Let You Go (Piano Version) are the tracks most worth listening to.
"The Wonder" of this album is found in its "Forms and Shapes." | Posted June-26-2011
I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the case for Your Sparkling Death Cometh. The artwork felt very chilling, without crossing the border into the creepy territory. The paper DigiPak case helped too, as it gave the album a more modern feel than the traditional crystal shells. It’s worth noting that when I removed the actual disk from casing, I noticed a line of mirrored text running across the tray. Due to the spiral, it was hard to read, but after a few seconds I successfully deciphered it as “When will your love unfold your life?” This becomes slightly more interesting later on, a point which I’ll bring up later.
Once I finally stopped ogling the case and popped the disk in my computer, I was introduced to the opening track Circadian. It started out slow, with quiet background music. However, at about 55 seconds in, the song went from peacefully resting on the side of the stereo to jumping me, armed with an electric guitar. (Keep in mind that I had cranked it up to hear the quiet sound.) The track feels very fast-paced, with a large focus in instrumentalization. As usual, Jessy Ribordy’s (lead singer and Falling Up frontman) signature voice cuts straight through the song, bringing forth both a complex and at times altogether new vocabulary, with words such as “spidering.” This song departs us with a musical extro; something which these songs have more often than not.
The next track, The Wonder, opens up with the continuation of the extro from the previous track. This song is very wordy, and it only in the chorus does it feel as though the lyrics were composed with the tune in mind. The lyrics, however, are very deep, (“Electrical lungs can’t hold back a beautiful beat that’s coursing through my veins, ‘cause my heart’s a perfect wonder”) and the melody is very catchy, using bizarre-but-beautiful time signature combinations.
The following piece is entitled Blue Ghost, and was the first single released off of this album in late May. This is probably the most radio-friendly track on this album, but don’t let that fact turn you off. The song is very well thought-out, with the melody flowing with the music, creating a unique sort of harmony. The lyrics are moving, and leave no doubt as to where Falling Up’s faith lies (“Tracing lines, your flaws connect the starry skies; He is tracing lines like flashes right before your eyes. Grace comes like a thief in the night; it blooms in the weak and the blind”).
The second single from Your Sparkling Death Cometh, Diamnds (Yes, it’s actually spelled that way) trails Blue Ghost, following in a similar style as its predecessor. It also has a radio tinge to it, allowing it to feel a bit short, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as some of these tracks can tend to drag on. The lyrics are the most bluntly “Christian” of any found on this album (almost to the point of sounding cliché) with the chorus being “Through the window, I can see Your sun-lit, golden eyes; You’ve got me so caught up, oh my God.”
The next track, The Light Beam Rider, is one of the strongest on the album. It contains a touching tune which feels reminiscent of the band’s work on Captiva, with chillingly deep, spiritual lyrics (“We are no more than criminals to take what we never had/And across the night there’s some criminal who gives what we never had” and later on “No greater love comes from all we know, a Grace, like we’ve never had”).
Now here’s an interesting track. Remember when I mentioned earlier that the album cover had “When will your love unfold your life?” printed on it? Well, at the beginning of Oceans, that very line is chanted/spoken in the background very quietly. The odd part, however, is that the accompanying CD booklet omits that line from the lyrics. Falling Up seems to have done a lot of similar things over their career, so I’m glad they’ve continued this trend. Overall, Oceans is a softer song, more of a ballad, really. It feels very relaxing, with a strong emphasis on melody. The lyrics are very thoughtful, but kept very short as well (“If Your heart’s an ocean, then I will drown/Beneath the waves, there will be love”).
The seventh track on this album, Mscron (no, I have no idea what it means, either) has some of the most intricate lyrics on the album (“A man walked in the room and sat by his son “Here are the words that are meant to be spoken. This is my purpose, of these words you should know: … Remember your life, it was a brilliant color; Remember your mother, she was a glowing ember; Remember your heart, it had a perfect owner.”) The melody, however, is far from perfect, and is probably the most damaging thing score-wise I could critically find on the album. Ribordy also seems to strain his voice a bit on some of the notes. It's just painful to see this song not live up to all it could be.
The next track seems to flip the problem. Vates contains a colorful melody; very catchy and strong. The lyrics aren’t exactly weak, but they don’t make a lot of sense. (“They looked back to see if I if I was following them, but I never really left at all. And they turned back to scream that I’m the terrible one, but I just finally found my heart”). Point-in-case.
Forms and Shapes follows, holding what I would argue to be the spot for the best track on the album. The music feels very melodic, almost along the lines of Streams of Woe from Falling Up’s Fangs!, but this time with a much larger range, both instrumentally and vocally. The lyrics in-and-of themselves don’t seem too impressive when read, but when paired with the music, it creates a beautiful, unspoken harmony. Drummer Josh Shroy also gets to show off a bit more on this track, making it a personal favorite. The percussion, instruments, vocals and lyrics all flow together in one heart, creating one of Falling Up’s most thought-out, strongest songs ever. ("You're formed lovely; Mysterious lines have traced you out a beautiful life. It's poor, but resonates the sound of Falling Grace.")Jessy is also able to effectively pull off notes so high that I'd be embarrassed to even try in private.
The closing song, Slow Waves, is very short lyrically, and mostly consists of a prolonged extro. The lyrics seem to conclude the album’s story, of which Falling Up usually seems to have in all of their records. (“They had my lungs on machines; their rhythm is pumping air - I'm terrified, but I won't let my hope go. I won't let my heart keep from leaping out; it's leaping out”)
After listening to the album, I feel that Falling Up’s new future looks very bright. After they broke with their former label, BEC Recordings, and then broke up themselves, it didn’t seem like much was left for them. It didn’t help that Fangs!’ failure lost them a lot of fans. However, after this fan-funded album’s release, and what looks to be its success, the independent route may be their greatest ally now. Your Sparkling Death Cometh isn’t my favorite album of theirs from a personal standpoint, but it takes the cake artistically, being something incredibly unique and powerful.
It also brings a clear-yet-creative view of God's gift of salvation. Lyrics found in songs such as Blue Ghost, The Light Beam Rider and Mscron clearly define Falling Up’s faith and commitment to God. You can pull out lyrics from Forms and Shapes which seem to be the anthem of this album: "You're formed lovely; Mysterious lines have traced you out a beautiful life. It's poor, but resonates the sound of Falling Grace." Blue Ghost also shares the theme: "Tracing lines, your flaws connect the starry skies. He is tracing lines like flashes right before your eyes." The overall message of this album, if I were to paraphrase it, and read a bit into it some lyrics, would be that “God created you in His image, and to Him, you are beautiful. Your imperfections are perfect to Him, and He loves you, regardless of your mistakes.”
I can guarantee you that you won’t find a group anywhere near this genre that so proficiently pours out so much talent. Overall, I give this album a 9.5/10; One or two minor disappointments are dwarfed by the overarching creativity and musical talent.