Anberlin In January 2014, Alternative-rock group Anberlin announced they would be splitting up, but would be spending the year making and releasing their final album as well as going on the Warped Tour and going...
Paramore 2013-2014 have two big years for Paramore. In 2013, they released this fantastic self-titled album, earning their first #1 album and big hit with "Still Into You." Now in 2014, their current...
Welcome to the New
MercyMe There was a time when I really enjoyed Mercyme. Once you got past the contemporary singles, I noticed a bit of a pop/rock grit about them I really latched onto. This was one reason I really enjoyed All...
Lowborn: Going out with a...light punch? | Posted July-28-2014
In January 2014, Alternative-rock group Anberlin announced they would be splitting up, but would be spending the year making and releasing their final album as well as going on the Warped Tour and going on a final fall tour (which happens to hit my state...hope I get to see it!). Now in July we have the seventh and final studio album from Anberlin, Lowborn.
Now, in my opinion, the reason some people are loving this album, like myself, and some are hating it is because people are looking at this album from two completely different sides of the spectrum. On one side, it seems like the people who didn't like this album came into it thinking it was going to be an all-out rock record, which in some respects it is. On the another side, which I took going into this album, the people who really liked it went into it knowing it would be a lighter record, and the result is some pretty up-to-par 2010's alternative rock (albeit with a few more crunchy guitars thrown in), nearly the Christian equivalent of Coldplay's Ghost Stories, a stellar album.
"We Are Destroyer" immediately grabs your attention as soon as the chorus hits, and the song pretty much keeps rolling on from there, being my favorite on the album. "Armageddon" is a slow-burning song which has been compared to Muse (Yeah, the beat is essentially the same as "Madness." Sue them :).), and is another stellar track. "Stranger Ways" takes a more modern alternative turn, and Stephen Christian's voice matches with the really nice, airy guitar riff. "Velvet Covered Brick" is another blood-pumping rock track, which I am sort of on the fence about because I love the vocal melody, but up until the last chorus dynamically the song doesn't really change.
"Atonement" is a beautiful ballad, which Anberlin really has a knack for thanks to Stephen Christian's awesome voice. The synths and the airy vocals go really well together when he sings "Don't wanna be here without you/I need to know you believe in me." "Birds of Prey" is one of the standouts for me, with a great message about not letting the past control you backed up with a solid chorus melody.
"Dissenter" is the most aggressive the album gets, and while it's clear Stephen Christian isn't a born screamer, the light bridge transitioning into the aggressiveness of the last chorus really makes the last half of this song incredible. "Losing It All" is a nice, almost Jars of Clay-esque upbeat song, with a nice message about sticking together through tough times. "Hearing Voices" is another standout with, as mentioned in the review above, has the great line "Everyone wants to know God/but they wanna live like He died." "Harbinger" is a nice closer to the album and Anberlin's career, with Stephen's vocals almost sounding like he is leaving us. With this song, the album really feels like the end, and a fitting one at that.
Overall, while the record isn't as aggressive as some may have like coming out of Vital, I think it is a beautiful piece of work to end Anberlin's career. The album flows great as a whole, probably as a result of "no one breathing down their neck for a single" as Stephen Christian puts it, and overall while there are some songs that don't do to much for me, there isn't really a song that at least doesn't have an engaging hook. Farewell, Anberlin, we will miss you so.
Paramore: One of the Best Albums I've Heard! | Posted July-23-2014
2013-2014 have two big years for Paramore. In 2013, they released this fantastic self-titled album, earning their first #1 album and big hit with "Still Into You." Now in 2014, their current single "Ain't It Fun" has been their highest charting single yet, and the band is arguably more popular than ever. I was incredibly excited for this album in 2013 and bought the day it came out. I certainly wasn't dissapointed.
Being that this is a 17 song album, I'm not going to try and cover every track, but the album as a whole. The album is pretty solid except for track 14, "(One of Those) Crazy Girls," but even that song has a bit of a strong melody, so I have to give this album a perfect score. The band went for a more mainstream approach while retaining some of their rock sound, and it worked extremely well. The singles "Still Into You" and "Ain't It Fun," along with "Fast In My Car," "Grow Up," "Proof," and "Crazy Girls" are probably the poppiest the album gets, but the all have pretty solid guitar lines and stellar drumming, courtesy of Ilan Rubin (lostprophets/Angels & Airwaves). "Part II" and "Anklebiters" have to be my top 2 songs on the album, with "Part II" being a very epic rock song clocking in at nearly 5 minutes and "Anklebiters" being a 2 minute blast of pop/punk energy (seriously though, Rubin must have some killer biceps...). Other standouts would have to be "Fast In My Car," "Now," "Grow Up," "Ain't It Fun," "Still Into You," and "Future," an epic 8 minute closer.
Overall, Paramore have truly created something special. Although some may argue it's their most bubblegum and commercial album yet, I feel like it's got enough creativity and effort to feel like a work of art. Definite reccomendation!
Welcome to the New: A Pleasant Surprise | Posted July-22-2014
There was a time when I really enjoyed Mercyme. Once you got past the contemporary singles, I noticed a bit of a pop/rock grit about them I really latched onto. This was one reason I really enjoyed All That Is Within Me and The Generous Mr. Lovewell. However, as I started to get into more poetic songwriting and all kinds of Christian and secular pop and rock acts, I didn't thik they would really have anything for me. Boy, I was wrong.
While I do feel like lyrically this new album, Welcome to the New, isn't a masterpiece, I like the heart the band has behind its message. Simply, the message is that God doesn't keep a record of our sins when we are saved, we are considered pure and blameless in His eyes. Musically, this album is a super fun ride. The band challenged themselves to try new sounds, and it definitely paid off.
I was already taken aback by the furiously upbeat opener and title track. With a lot of energy and a catchy melody, I was interested in seeing how the rest of the album would turn out. "Gotta Let It Go" is a stellar funk-rock track with some of the best guitar work I've seen from the band, which continues throughout the album. Lead single "Shake" is a throwback to 50s and 60s pop that works surprisingly well. "Greater" sounds like the indie-folk movement of 2010-2012 popularized by Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers, and is another stellar track.
While these first four tracks are the true standouts for me, the rest of the album isn't far behind. "Finish What He Started" is your typical Mercyme power ballad, which should probably be expected. There is some very nice leader guitar on it, however. "Flawless" is another one of my favorites because of its solid riff, nice drumbeat, and sing along chorus. "New Lease On Life" is an enjoyable blues-pop song slightly reminescent of The Black Keys. "Wishful Thinking" is very Beatles-esque and although probably my least favorite, is still a strong track with solid harmonies in the chorus, a cool drumbeat, and nice lead guitar. "Burn Baby Burn" is another one I'm not as into, mainly because dynamically it doesn't shift well from quiet to something big, mainly due to the different drum beats in the build and right after. However, the ending is pretty awesome. "Dear Younger Me" is another folk-pop song that is an excellent closer with some pretty solid lyrics.
Overall, Mercyme's Welcome to the New was a very pleasant surprise. Normally I'm not a big fan of ten song albums because they're really short and usually don't have as many highlights. However, I'm glad this one is ten songs because there is absolutely no filler on this album. If they continue with this style, you can bet I'll keep being interested in Mercyme.
Switchfoot "Fading West" Review | Posted January-26-2014
Over the years, Switchfoot has become my favorite Christian band of all time. They've consistently turned out good music, and are the most down-to-earth band I know of. After filming and releasing a movie of the same name, Switchfoot has released their ninth studio album Fading West.
This album sees Switchfoot geering towards a more contemporary music sound. The band stated that they wanted to go beyond the limits of a three-minute pop song, and while I do not believe they achieved this goal, with the exception of "Say It Like You Mean It" and "BA55", it does not mean that this isn't an enjoyable album. Fading West is the perfect album to pick you up when you're feeling down.
The singles "Love Alone is Worth the Fight" and "Who We Are" open up this album. These are still very enjoyable tracks, but in my opinion aren't as good as other songs on this album. "When We Come Alive" is an anthemic pop/rock track that will have you singing along pretty quickly. This is one of my favorites on the record. "Say It Like You Mean It" is another highlight, which shows the gritty side of Switchfoot. This song is built around an incredible drum and bass groove, layered with distorted vocals and fuzzed out guitars. Fans who favor the harder side of Switchfoot will love this song. "The World You Want" is my favorite song on this album, because of the killer drum intro and the singalong chorus. Lyrically, this song moves very much emotionally, as the song talks about how we change the world everyday we're alive. I like how they incorporated bits of the movie with them working with the South African kids choir into the song.
"Slipping Away" is another anthemic pop track, in the vein of songs like "Secrets" by OneRepublic. "BA55" is a very experimental track, which once again has an incredible bass line, and a very nice guitar solo to cap off the song. "Let it Out" is an extremely energetic pop song, with an extremely intruiging guitar intro. Tim Foreman said it best, "You can't listen to this song without smiling." "All or Nothing at All" isn't my favorite track, but I like it's message about loving someone (probably a wife) with all of you. "Saltwater Heart" is a very bouncy track with a great chorus as well. I love the spiritual metaphor of being refreshed by the ocean being like being refreshed by God. "Back to the Beginning" is another energetic pop track that closes the album on a high note.
Overall, while Fading West isn't the best album they've released, it is another solid entry into the Switchfoot catalouge. I think this is a perfect album for summer and a great mood lifter. This is definitely a good buy.
Audio Adrenaline "Kings & Queens" Review | Posted May-03-2013
In 2007, one of the most famous bands in Christian music, Audio Adrenaline, split up due to lead vocalist Mark Stuart's worsening vocal problems. Most everybody believed that this was the end. But God had another plan. Last fall, Audio Adrenaline announced they were getting back together, but with a completely different line-up. Kevin Max was to take Mark Stuart's place as vocalist, as well as adding guitarist Dave Gharzarian (Superchic[k]), drummer Jared Byers (Bleach), keyboardist/vocalist Jason Walker (Know Hope Collective), as well as original Audio Adrenaline bassist Will McGuiness. They also announced that their comeback album, Kings & Queens, was to be released in March 2013. This album sees Audio Adrenaline taking a poppier sound, but still maintaining their traditional rock and roll sound.
The album opens with "He Moves You Move," a track musically similar to their breakthrough hit, "Big House." This is an extremely catchy song about moving with God when he tells us to move. Hit single "Kings & Queens" follows, and is a nice pop song. "Believer" is one of my favorite tracks off the album, with its powerful chorus, sung amazingly by Jason Walker, that states "I can push back the mountains/ Can stand on the waves/ I can see through the darkness/ I'll hold up a flame/ Take me to the ocean/ I wanna go deeper/ I'm not afraid, no/ I'm a believer." "King of the Comebacks" is my favorite song, with its extremely slick bassline, and very catchy melody. "Change My Name" is another great and catchy song that is a plea for God to change us.
"20:17 (Raise the Banner)" is a song that is just meant for radio. It's a very epic sounding song that has a great drum line. A cover of Martin Smith's "Fire Never Sleeps," which appears on his new solo album, follows. This song reminds alot of U2's musical style. "Seeker" is my least favorite song, not because it sounds bad, but because there's nothing extremely special in it. "I Climb The Mountain" has a nice palm muted guitar intro, and a very poppy chorus, which kind of weakens the song, but it's still very good. The album goes out with a bang with "The Answer," which sees Kevin Max doing some rapping, which sounds pretty good.
Overall, this album is FANTASTIC. I would highly reccomend old and new fans of Audio Adrenaline go buy this album! You won't regret it!
RED "Release the Panic" Review | Posted March-29-2013
With RED's 4th studio album, Release the Panic, RED have changed their sound quite drastically, even though they still rock hard. They teamed up with producer Howard Benson, who's worked on other records for Christian rock bands such as Five Score and Seven Years Ago by Relient k and Awake by Skillet.
Howard Benson seems to have done a few things to RED's sound. For one, he's made their songs alot shorter. There's only one song that clocks in the four minute range (not including the deluxe edition tracks)), which is somewhat of a rareity for RED. Most of the songs are in the 2-3 minute range. However, the quickness of the songs does not detract from the quality. They are still able to say what they need to say in the short amounts of time. The songs also include more synths and less strings. I can tell they're moving from the metal stuff to more mainstream hard rock stuff. The album is still however, very enjoyable.
The album opens with the hard hitting title track, which is my favorite song from the album. It has a slowly building drum and bass intro before the guitars come crashing in. I really enjoy the screams from Michael Barnes on the chorus, and there's some great guitar and drum work courtesy of Athony Armstrong and Joe Rickard. The first single "Perfect Life" is next. This is one of the more pop-oriented songs on the album, and I defintely seeing it doing well on radio. I love how the drums start the song off and really help the song crash in on the chorus. This is one song you're sure to get stuck in your head! "Die For You" is a dance-rock song with heavy guitars and a dance beat. This is another highlight off the album. "Damage" took a while to grow on me, but now I'm starting to enjoy the song, especially the main guitar riff. "Same Disease" is an enjoyable song, but not a stand out of the album. The first ballad on the record, "Hold Me Now" comes next, and is the best ballad on the album. It reminds me alot of "Not Alone" off their last record Until We Have Faces.
"If We Only" picks up the pace and sounds like an old school RED song. This one also took some time to grow on me, and now I really like it. The last three tracks are power ballads. "So Far Away" and "Glass House" are not bad songs, but probably my least favorites on the album. Album closer "The Moment We Come Alive" is very good, however, and I think it's a great album closer. It reminds of "The Best Is Yet To Come," also off Until We Have Faces
I do have the deluxe edition of Release the Panic, but it doesn't make the album way better or anything. The two original songs, "Love Will Leave A Mark" and "As You Go," are actually pretty good and I'd definitely reccomend getting those two songs. The remixes weren't necessary, and although I like the acoustic version of "Breathe Into Me," I think they could've done without the remixes.
Overall, I enjoyed Release the Panic very much. This is RED's best album to date, and I'm interested to see what they do if they continue this new sound. While diehard fans of their last 3 records might not enjoy it that much, hard rock fans that don't like the heavy, lots of screaming stuff RED has done in the past will enjoy this album. Pick up the album today! So far, it's my #1 Christian album of 2013!
Paramore "Brand New Eyes" Review | Posted January-27-2013
Careful-5/5 Great way to kick the album off. Love how in the verses it starts out with drums and vocals and then the guitars crash in. Perfect opener
Ignorance-5/5 First single. Love all the lead guitar parts Josh Farro does on this song (too bad he left). Great song
Playing God-5/5 A song that's still upbeat, but with a more lighter approach. I like Haley William's vocals on the chorus
Brick By Boring Brick-5/5 Favorite song on the whole album. The chorus is what drew me in, but everything else about it is stellar. Nice guitar parts once again
Turn It Off-4.5/5 This is one of the more slower songs. It has a good intro riff. This one isn't my favorite, but not bad by any means
The Only Exception-5/5 Another slow song. It sounds really pretty. I love Haley's vocals on it
Feeling Sorry-4/5 The album picks up the pace again with this song. Great intro riff. Personally, I don't think it's the best on the album
Looking Up-5/5 This I wasn't a huge fan of at first, but it's really grown on me and become one of my personal favorites. Love the guitar parts on it. I also think it's cool that when you think the song is about to end, it keeps going. Great track
Where The Lines Overlap-4/5 This I feel is also not the best. I like some of the guitar work and the chorus is really good
Misguided Ghosts-5/5 I never thought Paramore would do an acoustic song, but here it is and it's great!!! One of my personal favorite, and this one is fun to play on guitar.
All I Wanted-4/5 The album closes out a little slower. This song is more of a power ballad, personally I don't think it's the best
Overall Impression: This is my favorite Paramore album!!! Although Riot! is very good too. It's hard to say which one's best as Riot! is more punky while Brand New Eyes leans more to the alternative side. Great album though! 10/10!
Owl City "The Midsummer Station" Review | Posted September-07-2012
Owl City, in my opinion, is one of the greatest acts in Pop music right now. In 2009 he became greatly successful with his #1 hit "Fireflies." The album that it was one, Ocean Eyes, went on to become platnum. in 2011, when he returned with All Things Bright and Beautiful, he didn't get the platnum success he got with his debut. Therefore, Adam Young (a.k.a Owl City), decided to branch out and work with other people in the Pop music industry to try and get his music more into Pop culture. People like Emily Wright (engineer for Dr. Luke, who has produced many a Pop hit), Matt Thiesen (Relient K frontman), Mark Hoppus (Blink-182 singer/bassist), and Carly Rae Jepesen ("Call Me Maybe") are just a few of the people that are involved in the writing/recording of the new album, The Midsummer Station.
One thing that was immediatly noticeable to me, was how much more meaningful the lyrics to the new album are. Instead of Owl City very imaginative scenarios (which were very neat), Owl City connected with me better on this album just because of the more meaningful songs on the album .Two great examples are, first of all, "Dementia," which features Mark Hoppus of Blink-182. The song has the best lyrics on the whole entire album, as the song describes how reflecting on what's in the past can drive us crazy, according to Adam Young. "I'm Coming After You" is the best example of the most fun lyrics on the album. The song is about a man going after a woman who's stolen his heart, but the song is written like a cop chasing a robber. It has some very clever lines about police and law that are used to describe the man chasing the woman such as "You've the right to remain right here with me/ I'm on your tail in a hot pursuit/ Love is a high-speed chase racing down the street/ I'm coming after you."
One big reason for Owl City branching out was, because All Things Bright and Beautiful didn't sell well, the record company wanted him to make an album that would sell, therefore the album has a sound that is more mainstream than electronic. One very good example of this is the first (and may I add hit) single "Good Time." This song features Carly Rae Jepsen of "Call Me Maybe" fame, and her vocal performance is much better here than in "Call Me Maybe." These two really work great together, and it's a very catchy sing-along anthem about having a good time. One of the most interesting points musically on the album is "Silhouette." This is the only break in the stream of upbeat, poppy, songs. It starts out with Adam Young and a very nice piano track, nothing more than drums are added into the song, but Adam delievers great vocals, and although this song is a breakup song, the music is very pretty.
Overall, I am very impressed with The Midsummer Station. I think Owl City has benefitted greatly from working with others, and hopefully this will affect his future efforts, because it really works. This is Owl City's best effort to date and although this one contains little to none spiritual content (he is a Christian), the song have very good lyrics that stay away from being inapropriate. This is a refresher to those looking for clean pop music.
Favorite Songs: Dementia, Good Time, Silhoutte, Embers, I'm Coming After You
Thousand Foot Krutch "The End Is Where We Begin" Review | Posted July-07-2012
The Introduction- 4/5 I like the robot voice a lot. The music behind the intro is not too bad either. Great way to kick the album off
We Are- 5/5 This is basically where the album really starts to get going. The song has a great riff to it, although I heard the inspiration for the riff was from "Zero" by Smashing Pumpkins because it was danceable and I don't see how the "Zero" riff is danceable? But anyways "We Are" is a great track
Light Up The Sky- 5/5 Favorite song off the whole record. I love the riff, and this is the first track on the album where we hear Trevor McNevan's rapping, he does a great job. Best song on the record, definatly check it out
The End Is Where We Begin- 4.5/5 Trevor does a great job on the vocals for the verses for this done, also the drum beat on the verses is good as well. Good song
Let The Sparks Fly- 5/5 This is the first single off the album, and a great choice. Trevor McNevan says he wanted this song to be like their hit "Fire It Up," and this song is like that. While the messages to these songs are kinda lost on me, this one seems to be about someone wanting to accept Christ, kinda seems like a conversation between a believer and non-believer
I Get Wicked- 4.5/5 Great song about how we should not let our kindness as believers become weakness. Not bad rapping from Trevor, nice lead guitar intro as well. Have to deduct 0.5 points off (big difference right? lol) because the sped up section of the song took a little bit to grow on me
Be Somebody- 5/5 Best slow song on the album. Very nice guitar line, along with stellar vocals from Trevor. It seems like on their slow songs he really shows he can sing. The song kinda goes by fast though
This Is A Warning- 3/5 Nice string intro into "Courtesy Call." Two points off because it's not much
Courtesy Call- 4/5 Pretty good song. Message is pretty lost on me, but the music isn't too bad on it
War Of Change- 5/5 Love this song!! I like how Trevor McNevan words the message "Change can be beautiful and painstaking, but rarely is it comfortable." Nice chorus, like the handclaps and stuff in the pre-chorus
Down- 3.5/5 Not the album's best, but not horrible by any means. 1.5 points off because the raps are the least favorites of mine on the album, I like the line "Rock it like Queen when I'm under pressure" though since I'm a huge classic rock fan. The song is about not giving up on your dreams
All I Need To Know- 5/5 At first listen this song took me by surprise, since it does not sound like normal TFK, but I thought they did a really good job on it. Nice vocal performance from Trevor. The song is about how God is there with us during trials
Fly On The Wall- 5/5 Great song, seems to be about not letting a liar decieve someone anymore. It's really cool how the strings are the main instrument on the verses, they really go well with the vocals. The chorus has the only real guitar in it, and Trevor does a good job on vocals
So Far Gone- 4/5 Total worship song. Again, this one caught me by surprise because it does not sound like TFK, but they did do a good job with it
The Outroduction- 3/5 Not too bad. Both the intro and outro really get the message of the album across, arguably more plainly than the songs.
This album is TFK's best, it was cool to hear them do some rock/rap stuff and expand their sound with some of the ballads. It's also very cool how the album keeps a faith-based message despite the secular audience this band has. 10/10 for the album
Nine Lashes "World We View" Review | Posted February-17-2012
After releasing a 12-song 2009 project, Christian Hard Rock band Nine Lashes were discovered by Thousand Foot Krtuch’s Trevor McNevan and were signed to TFK’s former label Tooth and Nail Records. Many people really liked the 2009 album and were waiting for their major label debut. Now, in 2012, Nine Lashes release their major label debut World We View.
Album opener and first single “Anthem of the Lonely” is a hard-rocking track that talks about how us Christians will always be outsiders because we don’t act like the rest of the world. “The Intervention” is one of the best off the album, and the lead singer makes a memorable hook. “Get Back” encourages someone falling away from God to get back to when they once believed. “Afterglow” is a slow ballad that takes about the aftereffects of bad parenting on children.
“Adrenaline (featuring Trevor McNevan)” is a song that doesn’t seem to have a clear Christian message, but when played live it will definitely get the crowd going. “Believe Your Eyes” is another slow song that I wasn’t super impressed with, but not a bad song by any means. “Our Darkest Day” is one of the heaviest tracks on the album and, while I don’t mind screaming, it didn’t seem to fit in the song. “Memo” was a rock song, but a little bit slower.
“Write It Down” was a rocking track that I enjoyed a lot as well as the following the track “The Void.” “My Friend” closes the album at a slower pace and an encouraging that they can be open to each other. It’s a very nice way to close this album.
Overall, I was pretty impressed with World We View, and Nine Lashes definitely seem like they have potential. Of course, being their debut album, it’s got a few weak spots, but I’m sure when they work on their sophomore project they’ll fine-tune their music. But overall, it’s a very enjoyable album with an even mix of head bangers and soft ballads,
Top 3 Songs:
1.Anthem of the Lonely
Feel free to comment on this review so I can make them the best they can be!