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  • My Favorite Records of 2010

    5 mars 2011, 14h05m

  • Top 8 Albums of 2008

    11 jan. 2009, 4h35m

    #8. Relient K
    The Bird And The Bee Sides EP

    Known for releasing a small EP between full-lengths, Relient K went overboard this time and gave us 26 tracks of new and old stuff. With something that ambitious there's naturally a lot to skip over, but there's plenty of great classic Relient K here. I'm really digging their current direction of a more laidback, layered acoustic sound that still has their classic creativity and instrumentation but without the old simple 1-2 punk rhythms.

    #7. Showbread
    Anorexia and Nervosa

    I used to write these guys off as crazy guitar-crunchers, but the energy of their shows and the earnestness of their songwriting has been growing on me. In May they won me over with a strange simultaneous release of two entirely distinct albums, many of the tracks having the same titles. If that wasn't already different, the whole thing was a concept, telling the story of two sisters (Anorexia and Nervosa, respectively) who each pursue self-destruction, one by building a tower and one by digging a hole, before finding redemption in Christ.

    The music is meant to be a background to the two stories that are included in the CD booklet - with minute and second markers every now and then to tell you when to read on. The whole thing was just crazy enough to work, and the final redemptive track (my #1 song of the year) onNervosa is powerfully beautiful. Separated from the story, the albums make nice vaguely intense background music for expressing frustration or weariness coupled with peace and rest, or as a soundtrack while performing monotonous tasks.

    #6. House of Heroes
    The End Is Not The End

    Most of this list is made up of releases I was expecting that lived up to my expectations. This is one of the two delightful surprises. House of Heroes had always been just another T&N-ish band to me (there are so many of them now and they get smushed unless they do something to stand out) until all the kids at AbsolutePunk.net kept raving about it so much. This album adds some spice to the rock world with Ludo-like flair, Relient-K-like creative instrumentation, and Beatles-like harmonies.

    At times they almost try too hard to be clever, but there's a lot of good, catchy stuff in a solid release (I'm listening to it right now, actually). There's some good songwriting, too, and many songs explore the philosophical complexities of war. "In The Valley Of A Dying Sun" says, I'm thinking of you, I'm thinking of you when you kill a good man, to keep yourself from being killed by him. "Code Name: Raven" declares, There's no virtue in killing a man. Neither is there virtue in being afraid to stand. And, well, "Baby's A Red" is just a cheeky tune about falling in love with a communist...


    #5. Deas Vail
    White Lights

    From my AbsolutePunk review:

    The familiar Deas Vail elements are present on this five-song EP, once again treating us to the cohesion of Laura's flowing keys, Kelsey's deliberate rhythms, Justin's nimble bass, and Andy's undulating guitar work. Fans looking for progression will note the added influence of strings, which throughout sounds not unlike a string quartet coming out of the background to add accentuating flavor.

    For the most part, the lyrics contain typical Deas Vail abstractness, although there may be some growth. "White Lights" is simultaneously Wes's most complete metaphor and most straightforward tale to date. "From Priests to Thieves" is a haunting admission of loss: We're not coming back / It's all our fault / We loved ourselves and lost it all / What have we done / What have we become? Wes carries it, but it's Laura's softly wrenching harmonies that sell it.

    Deftly creating an engaging musical landscape, listeners will wade through smart rhythms and subtle time signatures in an atmosphere of flawless production that brings out the talents of each band member without ever sounding busy. The keys and vocals of the debut reminded many of Mae or Mew; the soothing guitars here are drawing more comparisons to Edison Glass. Complemented by the natural tone of a few strings, this is the perfect EP to experience over and over on a lazy swing as you watch summer turn into fall.

    #4. Jon Foreman
    Winter, Spring, and Summer

    The Switchfoot frontman took a break from anti-materialistic anthems to give us more stripped-down and personal reflections about life and love. Beginning late last year with Fall, Foreman released the rest of the six-song seasons throughout 2008, and they all hit the spot for me. It's mainly just his voice and his guitar here, although there's some nice accentuation of clarinet or trumpet or bells throughout.

    The songwriting is more vulnerable than Foreman lets out through Switchfoot - and also more spiritual. He alternates between sweet songs about love or longing and borrowed prayers and praises from Scripture. He wants to get lost "Deep In Your Eyes," pleads to be washed "White As Snow" - and then scolds the pompous church, asking it to pursue justice and righteousness "Instead Of A Show."

    #3. Thrice
    The Alchemy Index: Volumes III and IV (Air and Earth)

    Now Jon Foreman wasn't the only artist to release a four-by-six project between last fall and this summer. Thrice recorded four EPs each with six songs, exploring the concepts of the four ancient elements (fire, water, air, and earth - respectively). The impressive Fire & Water came out last October, and this spring we got the second set, Air & Earth.

    It's pretty awesome stuff. The music on these second two is a little less embellished than the intensity of Fire or the atmospheric layering of Water, but it's just as captivating and soothing - and it also allows for a lot of cool acoustic guitar skills.

    But as with the first set, the lyrics are what give this project excellence. Dustin Kensrue creates moving images and settings with allusions to Greek mythology ("Daedalus" gives the father's perspective of Icarus's fateful high flying and melted wings), ancient fables ("The Lion and the Wolf" paints metaphors about outside attacks along with self-destruction), and a myriad of Biblical references ("Moving Mountains" takes 1 Corinthians 13 and confesses the singer's ignorance about love, and "Come All You Weary" is an all-inclusive invitation to rest).

    All-around, it's impressive and incredible songwriting and musicianship.


    #2. Underoath
    Lost In The Sound Of Separation

    I was so close to naming this my #1. 2006's Define the Great Line was the solid album that introduced to me to the wonderful world of all things heavy and hardcore, and this is the solid album that is keeping me there. While my tolerance for blatant dissonance and discordance is slowly increasing, Underoath consistently treads the perfect balance of "screamo" (purists hate that word) and melody, building intense layers of guitar and synth and ambiance and ridiculous tom fills.

    In one sense this one's got even more intensity - Aaron doesn't sing until halfway through the second track - but in another sense it's more precise and experimental. The end of "The Created Void" is reminiscent of The Almost with just the strumming guitar and Aaron's wailing voice, and "Too Bright to See..." is an unlikely slow build filled with handclaps and even some singing by Spencer.

    The entire album creates a solid, deliberate atmosphere, and there's almost nothing wrong with it. Just as with their previous album, I love travelling through its twists and turns, its frenetic attacks and teasing pullbacks.

    Besides, it's got some more 5/4 breakdowns.

    #1. Children 18:3
    Children 18:3

    Rarely do I give the big spot to a debut. Bands usually take a few years to hone their sound and skills - if they haven't run out of creativity by then. But this energetic creation smacked me in the face. It's one of those rare groups of musicians that have such a solid connection, cohesion, and confidence that they create fans out of almost everyone I introduce them to. I have to print my AbsolutePunk review in full:

    I wasn’t sure what to make of this trio of home-schooled siblings - two brothers and a sister - whose name feels like some youth group worship band, who dress like some kind of goth death metal rockers, and who sound like Shiny Toy Guns meets Paramore meets MxPx meets your neighborhood ska band meets I don’t even know what else. But it only took one spin through their Tooth & Nail debut for me to decide that Children 18:3 are the most refreshing that punk rock has sounded in years.

    Children 18:3 leave behind the ambient, multi-layered lovefest of the modern day and simply play their instruments and impress with a crisp and tight sound. When it comes to punk rock, this strategy usually leaves us trapped inside the doldrums of a two-step four-chord whining contest, but the Hostetter siblings churn their creativity to the max to keep things catchy. In addition to the standard upbeat punk tunes, songs like “The City” incorporate ska-like offbeats and a dancing bass, while songs like “Mock the Music” feature Panic!-esque dance rhythms. The mellow “A Chance to Say Goodbye” flows like a good ballad from your old friends MxPx or Blink-182 (you know you used to like them, too). There’s even a few guitar solos that, mixed in with the hooks and riffs, would feel right at home on Guitar Hero.

    However, the strongest weapons in the children’s arsenal are the vocals of David and Lee Marie. David sings with a likable intensity that carries the melodies with its sharp inflection, occasionally falling somewhere between the professional quirkiness of mewithoutYou and the frenetic dexterity of that one Ludo song. Lee Marie shines with a piercing resonance on typical catchy anthems like “Search Warrant.” At other times she lets out her true colors with more of an intensity that feels neither misplaced nor presumptuous. But what is most delightful is the trade-off between the siblings, singing back-and-forth or together with nearly perfect timing. Their seamless integration blows Shiny Toy Guns out of the water while adding the icing to an already smart cake.

    Children 18:3’s lyrics are just as refreshing. Often they create clever pictures that stand well enough on their own, or can be searched for a deeper meaning. “All My Balloons” declares, The words I wrote are a broken chain / Holding me from the criminally insane / But its gone and there's no stopping / All my balloons are popping. Other songs give food for thought to the faithful without turning off the rest. “Final” jeers, Their fathers killed the prophets / Hallelujah! They're going to kill us too, while “You Know We’re All So Fond of Dying” projects a sarcastic cry from the unborn.

    The fact that I’ve made so many comparisons should not lead you to believe that these are aspiring punk rock posers without a solid sound. Just the opposite is true. Their sound feels so unique that it’s impossible to pin down to a single artist, and it’s probably why every reviewer is reminded of someone different, from Superchick to the Clash.

    There were a lot of heavyweight veteran releases this year, but Children 18:3 is a pleasant surprise you’ll want to keep spinning. It’s practically required to be on any punk fan’s annual list, and is original and exciting enough to sneak in as a viable contender for the rest of us from the broader musical world as well. Children 18:3 have the potential to generate a legendary trans-genre fanbase akin to the late mewithoutYou or the late Five Iron Frenzy. This is your invitation to join.

    Honorable Mentions
    Becoming the Archetype - Dichotomy
    Family Force 5 - Dance Or Die
    The Classic Crime - The Silver Cord
    Capital Lights - This Is An Outrage!
    Norma Jean - Anti-Mother

    Disappointments
    Anberlin - New Surrender
    The Afters - Never Going Back to OK
  • Top 11 Songs of 2008

    10 jan. 2009, 5h34m

    11."Little Ghost In Your Room"
    Ghost of the Forest

    I'm pretty sure I got this album at a CD release party in the last week of 2007, which means it practically wasn't eligible for last year's list and practically is for this one's. The band called it quits this year, but I still like occasionally spinning their cheerful, homemade, indie-ish tunes. Their highlight for me is "Little Ghost In Your Room," a cheery song with handclaps and background "ohs" as Robby reminds us (in amusing rhyme) to not be afraid of little ghosts. The rousing "ohs" of the chorus make the song even better, but the ending's piano frills, classic Collin synth, and random handclaps make it pure awesome.

    10."Closer"
    Jars of Clay

    Jars of Clay has been around for awhile, but they keep changing their sound and doing it well enough to keep me interested. Many thought their 2006 album was their best yet, or as good as their classic first, and this year they released an EP just in time for me starting to go on an indie kick.

    It starts with an oddly charming synth and later includes bells and horns, all behind simple lyrics such as: You're the L and the V, I'm the O and the E-eeh-eeh-eeh... If you want my love, well you've got to get close to me.

    9."Why So Serious?"
    Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard

    The background to the opening scene of The Dark Knight, this track begins with eerie, slowly rising sirens abruptly giving way to a rapid, tense rhythm of pulsing strings. A low tone ominously crawls underneath, and suddenly the rhythm is mimicked by percussion and distorted guitar which just as suddenly cuts out. An anxious clacking replaces the strings. Without warning, the full blast of the main theme assaults with its 1-2 punch, followed by another ominous climb of clacking, distortion, vibrating, wailing.... Abrupt silence. Again, a slow buildup teasing us into another assault of full orchestration and guitar distortion.

    And that's just the first half. This nine minutes of genius makes a monotonous activity like walking to class the most epic and intense thing you've ever done.

    8."Viva la Vida"
    Coldplay

    When I first head this I thought it had the most amazing pop strings since "Eleanor Rigby." I've since decided that it's not quite that clever (the main hook is, after all, a single progression I can imitate on my keyboard), but it's still a pretty epic track with the orchestral timpani hits and the "cavalry choir" and that classic Coldplay catchiness. And while it's not as beautiful as "Fix You," it's also not a standard depressing tune, either - making some thoughtful (almost Solomonic) commentary about the natural fall of worldly grandeur.

    7."Come All You Weary"
    Thrice

    My favorite track from Thrice's varied four-piece Alchemy Index, this mostly stripped-down song throws in an organ on the chorus as Dustin Kensure pleads with us to find rest with the words of Jesus. While it's a little too raw and earnest to be labeled a "rock ballad," this makes a nice breather if you're someone who ever gets weary or stressed out.

    6."In The Valley Of The Dying Sun"
    House of Heroes

    House of Heroes was always just another T&N-ish band until I was introduced to this creative song that led me to one of my favorite albums of 2008. These boys are determined to avoid the formulaic with this song's multiple divisions and parts and tempo changes and harmonies and synths and... woodblock? OK, by the third chorus or coda or something they're almost trying too hard to bring variety. But it works in this catchy song that covers the effects of war with Biblical metaphors and thought-provoking phrases. And the music video's kind of interesting, too.

    5."Mock The Music"
    Children 18:3

    This tight punk trio with its infectious brother-sister vocal tag-team was hands-down my favorite surprise of the year. This dance-worthy tune is my favorite, although there's enough energy throughout the whole album to argue for several others.

    They're talking about the girls and boys
    making too much noise
    And the problems to solve them
    but it doesn't involve them
    I thought about this too much
    and it's clear that it's unclear
    Unless you believe them, believe them and
    I won't do it
    I won't do it
    I won't do it
    NO!


    Get to know these guys and you won't be disappointed.

    4."Message From Your Heart"
    Kina Grannis

    If your memory extends all the way to February of this year, you may remember that Doritos had a SuperBowl contest that involved voting for music acts, with the winner to be featured in a SuperBowl commercial. Like many others, Kina Grannis had developed a YouTube following by posting recordings of her songs with a webcam and a guitar. Unlike many others, she actually has talent, and she ended up winning the contest and getting the commercial.

    I checked out the full song and discovered that its "message" was a twist I found rather unique and charming. The song is sung from the perspective of your literal heart, asking you to treat it carefully:

    Don't break me, I bruise easily
    The source of both your love and misery
    I am steady, beating endlessly
    While you are dozing, dreaming pretty things
    Lovely things
    I don't work for free
    Please take care of me

    This is a message from your heart
    Your most devoted body part
    Taking blood and making art
    This is a message from your heart...


    You can almost hear her smiling as she sings (how many artists these days display such innocent joy?), and if it doesn't make you smile, then her bouncy "bum bum bums" at the end probably won't either. But I'm not ashamed to admit that I think it's a cute little song.

    3. "Your Love Is Strong"
    Jon Foreman

    Borrowing from the Lord's Prayer and other words of Jesus and declaring the simple truths about God's love...

    Heavenly Father
    You always amaze me
    Let your kingdom come
    In my world and in my life...

    Why do I worry?
    Why do I freak out?
    God knows what I need
    You know what I need...

    Your love is
    Your love is
    Your love is strong!

    ...Invade my heart
    Invade this broken town...

    Your love is
    Your love is
    Your love is strong!


    Simply beautiful.

    2. "Too Bright To See, Too Loud To Hear"
    Underoath

    Underoath's new album didn't disappoint. This earnest pleading for God to rescue us from our brokenness and "get us home" features an epic intense build-up complete with claps, tom fills, and... Spencer singing?

    Good God, if your song leaves our lips
    If your work leaves our hands
    Then we will be wanderers and vagabonds
    They will stare and say how empty we are
    How the freedom we had turned us up as dead men...

    Good God, can you still get us home?

    ...HOW CAN WE STILL GET HOME?
    HOW CAN WE STILL GET HOME?

    We're forgetting our forgiveness!
    WE'RE FORGETTING OUR FORGIVENESS!


    1. "The Beginning"
    Showbread (featuring Reese Roper)

    The closing track to an epic album-length story about brokenness and redemption. Reese Roper guest sings the opening verses. After this buildup, Josh Dies softly begins singing "The Wondrous Cross." Roper finishes declaring his brokenness; then Josh tells the end of the story:

    'I have been with you all along, you have not noticed me.'
    Nervosa now felt more ashamed than ever before.
    'Why would you still care enough to save me
    even after seeing the horrible things I have done?
    Why do you remain here even now?' She asked, sobbing.
    'Because, here is where you are,' the Lamb said softly,
    'And I long to be with you.''

    We return to "The Wondrous Cross" and sing,

    See from His head, His hands, His feet
    Sorrow and love flow mingled down
    Did e'er such love and sorrow meet
    Or thorns compose so rich a crown?


    The emotion is carried through an instrumental buildup that finishes with a rousing original verse:

    To Christ, who won for sinners' grace
    By bitter grief and anguish sore
    Be praise from all the ransomed race
    Forever and forevermore!


    I still get chills every time I hear it. Oh what love! Oh what grace! Oh what redemption and joy!
  • Thrice: The Alchemy Index (Vol. 3 & 4)

    2 mai 2008, 12h07m

    The band Thrice released four EPs each with six songs, exploring the concepts of the four ancient elements (fire, water, air, and earth - respectively). The impressive Fire & Water came out last October, and yesterday I purchased the second set, Air & Earth, which came out last month.

    It's pretty awesome stuff. The music on these second two is a little less embellished than the intensity of Fire or the atmospheric layering of Water, but it's just as captivating and soothing - and it also allows for a lot of cool acoustic guitar skills.

    But as with the first set, the lyrics are what give this project excellence. Dustin Kensrue creates moving images and settings with allusions to Greek mythology ("Daedalus" gives the father's perspective of Icarus's fateful high flying and melted wings), ancient fables ("The Lion and the Wolf" paints metaphors about outside attacks along with self-destruction), and a myriad of Biblical references ("Moving Mountains" takes 1 Corinthians 13 and confesses the singers ignorance about love, and "Come All You Weary" is an all-inclusive invitation to rest).

    I highly recommend all four volumes of The Alchemy Index by Thrice, which are packaged in two respective sets. Or at least go to myspace.com/thrice, but put in headphones and look up the lyrics somewhere for a real, full experience.
  • Children 18:3 Review

    28 mars 2008, 19h34m

    Originally posted by me at http://absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=305303

    At first I wasn’t sure what to make of this trio of home-schooled siblings - two brothers and a sister - whose name feels like some youth group worship band. They dress like some kind of goth death metal rockers and sound like Shiny Toy Guns meets Paramore meets MxPx meets your neighborhood ska band. But it only took one spin through their self-titled debut for me to decide that Children 18:3 are the most refreshing punk rock has sounded in years.

    Children 18:3 leave behind the ambient, multi-layered lovefest of the modern day and simply play their instruments and impress with a crisp and tight sound. When it comes to punk rock, this strategy usually leaves us trapped inside the doldrums of a two-step four-chord whining contest, but the Hostetter siblings churn their creativity to the max to keep things catchy. In addition to the standard upbeat punk tunes, songs like “The City” incorporate ska-like offbeats and a dancing bass, while songs like “Mock The Music” feature Panic at the Disco-esque dance rhythms. The mellow “A Chance To Say Goodbye” flows like a good ballad from old friends MxPx or blink-182 (you know you used to like them, too). There are even a few guitar solos that, mixed in with the hooks and riffs, would feel right at home on guitar hero.

    However, the strongest weapons in the children’s arsenal are the vocals of David and Lee Marie Hostetter. David sings with a likable intensity that carries the melodies with its sharp inflection, occasionally falling somewhere between the professional quirkiness of mewithoutYou and the frenetic dexterity of that one Ludo song. Lee Marie shines with a piercing resonance on typical catchy anthems like “Search Warrant.” At other times she lets out her true colors with more of an intensity that feels neither misplaced nor presumptuous. But what is most delightful is the trade-off between the siblings, singing back-and-forth or together with nearly perfect timing. Their seamless integration blows Shiny Toy Guns out of the water while adding the icing to an already smart cake.

    Children 18:3’s lyrics are just as refreshing. Often they create clever pictures that stand well enough on their own, or can be searched for a deeper meaning. “All My Balloons” declares, “The words I wrote are a broken chain / Holding me from the criminally insane / But its gone and there's no stopping / All my balloons are popping.” Other songs give food for thought to the faithful without turning off the rest. “Final” jeers, “Their fathers killed the prophets / Hallelujah! They're going to kill us too,” while “You Know We’re All So Fond of Dying” projects a sarcastic cry from the unborn.

    The fact that I’ve made so many comparisons should not lead you to believe that these are aspiring punk rock posers without a solid sound. Just the opposite is true. Their sound feels so unique that it’s impossible to pin down to a single artist, and it’s probably why every reviewer is reminded of someone different, from Superchick to The Clash.

    There are a lot of heavyweight veteran releases to look forward to this year, but Children 18:3 are a pleasant surprise you’ll want to keep spinning. It’s practically required to be on any punk fan’s annual list, and is original and exciting enough to sneak in as a viable contender for the rest of us from the broader musical world as well. Children 18:3 have the potential to generate a legendary trans-genre fanbase akin to the late Five Iron Frenzy or mewithoutYou. This is your invitation to join.

    MySpace.com/children183
  • 2007 was a good year for music.

    24 déc. 2007, 6h36m

    Music sales plummeted a further twenty or so percent, although not due to any lacking on my part, as I purchased a record twenty-five albums (not counting EPs and singles) and went to at least half a dozen shows (not counting the astonishing week of Cornerstone, which I will now attend every year until my death or its cessation). I also started voluntarily reviewing albums for AbsolutePunk.net, getting favorable feedback from my efforts to promote promising bands to a growing music community.

    Anyway, even as evaporating music sales threaten to transform the entire face of the music industry, for now bands and labels have the funds to keep putting out remarkable stuff. I give you...

    Josh's Biased Music Lists of 2007

    BUT FIRST, THE FUN STUFF: WORST IDEAS OF 2007
    1. "Girlfriend" by Avril Lavigne. Hey hey, you you, I don't care what you think of my girlfriend and I sure didn't pick her cuz she flaunted her deliciousness. So much for that potential of an emerging and almost pleasant maturity...
    2. Fergie was the worst idea of 2006. Voraciously marketing every indulgent song from the album into an overplayed single that somehow sold millions was the worst idea of 2007.
    3. "Rockstar" by Nickelback. Pop/AC radio has this unfortunate habit of picking up worthless rock songs that were finally dying and pumping life into them with the defibrillator of incessant airplay for another three months. And 6.4 million copies sold for that album makes about as much sense as 64,000 American troops still in Germany.
    4. "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood. Pop/AC radio has this other unfortunate habit of picking up worthless country songs that were finally dying and... well, you get the picture.

    MUSICAL TRENDS OF 2007
    1. Increasing ambience. Forget the clean guitars of '90's rock or the cheesy strings of '90's pop. Today's music is all about filling in the sound with atmospheric effects, delayed guitars, and other fluid frills. Thrice continues what Underoathpowered into the post-hardcore market, and The Glorious Unseen brings it to worship.
    2. The corners of the mainstream continue to absorb each other with increasing melodies in hardcore and increasing screaming by non-hardcore. As I Lay Dying brings beautiful melodic overtones to a frenetic double-bass guitar-slaying metalfest. And one-hundred and seventy-three wanna-be pop/punk/alternative bands insert some screaming into their "harder" songs.
    3. The ridiculously long album closer. Relient K fills in an eleven minute gem; Anberlin takes eight; Hillsong United cranks out twelve. By the time October came around, Emery's eleven felt almost contrived and expected.
    4. The disappearance of Panic! at the Disco (What? 2008 album? *sigh*)

    DEBUT ARTISTS OF 2007
    1. Deas Vail takes melodic piano-led indie-leaning pop to a new level with two keyboardists complementing the only male vocalist I've ever described as having a pretty voice. Now if only their lyrics were about something.
    2. The Glorious Unseen brings ambience to worship, an outpouring that is even attracting hardcore fans with its heartfelt cries to God and surrendering of our brokenness and failings.
    3. Ruth joins Tooth & Nail's quickly fattening roster, bringing a Switchfoot-ish Relient K-ish sound to the stage and smiling faces to the photo shoots. They have potential.

    ALBUMS OF 2007
    1. Remedy by David Crowder Band. Personal pick. Innovative electronic ambience that literally dances around your head combined with music and lyrics that make you want to sing, smile, laugh, shout, and dance before the Lord.
    2. An Ocean Between Us by As I Lay Dying. Fusing frenetic double-bass and guitar work with melodic overtones and poetic, introspective lyrics, As I Lay Dying offers a mad metal masterpiece.
    3. The Alchemy Index: Vol. 1 & 2 by Thrice. The first two of four elemental concept projects, Thrice explores the harder side of "fire" and the melodic, ambient side of "water" in this highly satisfying 12-track masterpiece.
    4. Soundtrack to Once - Glen Hansard of The Frames joins with Czech singer Marketa Irglova in this heartfelt story of two musicians desperately trying to determine their places in each other's lives in their search for true, selfless love. For those who appreciate the inescapably woven threads of life, love, and music, this is not something to miss.
    5. Five Score And Seven Years Ago by Relient K. The boys continue to entertain me with their multi-layered pop punk and clever lyrics. More piano this time around as well.

    Honorable Mentions
    ~ Jon Foreman's Fall EP. The first of a four-part seasonal project, Foreman takes a step back from Switchfoot, relieved to take a break from trying to save the world from its materialism, and express his personal longings for home and completeness with his voice, guitar, and the warm tones of varying classical instruments. Drums and percussion not included.
    ~ Falling Up's Captiva and Anberlin's Cities. While neither features wowing stand-out tracks (save the latter's epic ballad closer), the third album from each features their most refined sound and best work to date, and each makes for an occasionally fulfilling listen.

    THE CONTINUING RISE OF CHRISTIAN MUSIC
    The year started with three our four Christian acts selling enough to make the Billboard 200 and ended with a regular dozen or so a week. The continuing dominance of the hardcore market combined with successful radio singles from the likes of Flyleaf, Red, and Mat Kearney means the highest radio play and sales and visibility in general for Christians in the industry in the history of recorded music. Whether or not they're spreading the message any better is... less quantifiable

    ARTIST NOT MENTIONED IN ANY PREVIOUS LIST OF 2007
    MxPx. Jacob would be most disappointed if I didn't mention the best and catchiest and most original and lovable punk band ~ nay, band period ~ of all time and history and the universe and everything. Their latest Secret Weapon is more catchy and original and lovable stuff. I've sat through it a few times.
  • We're just the boys and girls that think they always know...

    2 mars 2007, 21h25m

    The fourth-highest selling album of last week was Kidz Bop 11. If you don't know, Kidz Bop is a strangely successful series that takes radio hits and re-records them with kids singing them. Apparently 75,000 kids convinced their parents to buy the latest one. Cute? Maybe occasionally.

    Some of the hit songs are harmless. As much as I despise Nickelback, at least "Far Away" is about commitment through the distance. But something about ten-year-olds singing about destructive relationships just really gets me. James Blunt's "You're Beautiful" was bad enough. But this latest installement includes Beyonce's You're-not-"Irreplaceable" (I could have another you in a minute) and Hinder's "Lips Of An Angel" (It's hard to be faithful to my new woman because I'm still in love with you).

    Seriously?! And then we wonder why these kids grow up to be teenagers who sleep around and cheat on each other and break each other's hearts and have no idea what a healthy relationship looks like.

    I'll tell you why. It's because our culture doesn't know what a healthy relationship is anymore. We've forgotten that having sex whenever you want isn't any better for you than eating whenever you want (Parenthetical citation: C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity). Pop culture seems to think that relationships are simply about getting what you want.

    We haven't quite forgotten that relationships are about the simple joy of spending time with someone, that when she's in your arms there's nothing else in the world. But we have forgotten that relationships are about unselfishness. They're about respect. They're about your attraction for that special someone causing you to desire their happiness and safety above anything else. Some people call that love.

    Emery said it best in their song "So Cold I Could See My Breath"

    How quickly lust can pretend it's love
    Designing words to help us believe
    It’s so much more than just tonight
    So we have got to get this right
    How quickly words can become our hands (you want it more, you want it more)
    Resigning everything we believe (you want it more, you want it...)
    You want it, you want it
    More

    We’re just the boys and girls that think they always know
    With answers for the world
    The ambiguity shows


    Even those who don’t agree with the Christian view of sex within a lifetime-lasting marriage must see that it’s dangerous to teach kids that relationships are not at all about commitment or respect or any of those unselfish virtues that actually make relationships work…