Predictions (a look back) Category:Music Views:
Okay early this year I made some predictions. Am I a guru or a goner?
“In no order here are some things that I think we can except from the coming year musically (in no order).
“1. Hawk Nelson’s 2009 release will be incredibly average. Based off of their previous three releases and the lack in progression combined with the timing of this album would lead to another under achieving album.” Well pretty much that’s how it went. Although some might argue that Live Life Loud was an improvement, others still say that the band’s best mixes were behind them. Prediction: fairly accurate.
“2. Switchfoot’s will be the best of the year (or there about) regardless of whether it’s any good or not.” Uh I think this one speaks for itself. Prediction: perfect.
“3. Relient K will come out with an album. I’m guessing by their trends (trying to give their fans something new each year) the new item won’t be a Christmas project or an EP.” Ehh not that hard to nail it. Prediction: Perfect.
“4. Hill song will put out at least two worship albums. And I’m guessing they won’t be original as well.” Another easy one. Prediction: Perfect.
“5. At least 4 of the top 12 albums for Christianity today will be cross over albums (as in Christian/secular).” Actually virtually everything on their year end list were crossovers. Prediction: Fail.
“6. Jesus Freak Hideout will have more than half of their top 10 as crossovers.” Some are arguable but pretty much yeah. Prediction: fairly accurate.
“7. FM Statics CD will contain 90% immature lyrics, though the music might be some good punk (though it could clash with TFK’s release also this year).” The lyrics were not 90% immature, the release didn’t clash with TFK’s CD, but there were some good tunes: prediction: poor.
“8. Jars of Clay will put out a very strong album with diverse music, techno influenced tunes, and relevant spiritual lyrics. I also predict I won’t like their CD.” The spiritual lyrics are iffy but other than that, pretty well on target. Prediction: Fairly accurate.
“9. Skillets CD will not contain super ballads and will repeat their gritty pre Comatose rock tunes. Their lyrics will suffer spiritually though there will probably be great messages.” Skillet didn’t mess with success, their lyrics were spiritually fused and their music were Comatose rejects. Prediction: Fairly accurate.
“10. Falling Up’s Music will be different and still awesome.” I’m still recovering from Fangs. Prediction: ???
Some Notable albums of 2009 Category:Music Views:
Derek Webb: Stockholm Syndrome. Although his album was the most controversial record to come out of a Christian label, it didn’t stop virtually every reviewer (let’s admit it, their “reviews” were more like blogs) from giving high marks. Example: ‘exhilarating, subversive masterpiece’, ‘most unusual and best release to date’ And ‘finally providing his indefatigable lyricism.’ Webb’s creative album was ingenious musically as he brought much thought-provoking lyrics to the floor as well. However, ‘creative artistry’ was a common phrase for Webb’s three profanities as he was praised for that and his disturbing spiritual and sexual references. But that really didn’t hurt Webb’s popularity with the critics as he was covered flawlessly by publications like HM magazine: ‘The music here is so mesmerizing that Webb can say whatever he wants and get away with it.’
MercyMe: 10. Although the band has been around for fifteen years, the title of the compilation disc, 10, is reflective of the anniversary of MercyMe’s transcending hit song, “I Can Only Imagine.” The album contains “So Long Self”, Word Of God Speak”, “Hold On” and many other radio hits. What makes the album interesting is that MercyMe has decided to create a best of/greatest hits revolving around one song which seems limiting. Also, in addition to “I Can Only Imagine”, the band throws in two other heavenly minded tracks, “Finally Home” and “Homesick.” Problem: MercyMe is great at talking about Heaven but when it comes to discussing Hell (a topic Jesus spoke more on) MercyMe doesn’t seem to have much to say.
Falling Up: Fangs. The other concept album that came out in 2009, FM Static’s Dear Diary, had nothing on Falling Up’s own storytelling. The unusual Falling Up (which is saying something) album details the story of a hero traveling to Neptune to uncover a plot which could prove fatal to the children on his own world. The writing is vague, but the plot (what you can make of it) is intriguing. The brilliant experimental/alternative rock sound is definitely lighter than all previous project by the band, but the music is more complex and provides a great backdrop for the lyrics. The Fangs might anger some Falling Up fans, but the mysterious lyrics and arrangements definitely isn’t a wasted effort.
Newsboys: In The Hands of God. One Era ended while another began. Peter Furler’s last album with the Newsboy’s would have been the most devastating news of the year if it had not been counteracted by the news of the replacement lead singer: Michael Tait (DC Talk). Not only do Tait’s vocals seem to be a perfect fit for the job, but his influence might take the band lyrically and musically in a surprising direction. A much needed change after a pretty lacking effort by Furler and band. The poppy music weren’t nearly as good their last album, Go, and the lyrics were badly cliché and a step down from the Newsboy’s career of clever tunes. Although Tait brings a fresh approach to the Newsboy’s it’s too bad that Furler had to end on a sour note.
Stephan Curtis Chapman: Beauty Will Rise. The loss of his daughter, his sadness, and his hope all shine through on his newest album.
Owl City: Ocean Eyes. It seems wrong for a guy who is an admitted serious Christian to be on the top Billboard’s charts. Yet there he is with “Fireflies” and a host of other great tunes on his CD.
Flyleaf: Memento Mori. Their first album in four years is long winded and very spiritually minded.
Remorse over loss of Capital Lights Category:Music Views:
As Cities Burn had a good run. Now I’m sure fans would have appreciated more than three albums for the post hardcore/ alternative rock group, but fans got a taste of the possibilities offered by the band. While the news that As Cities Burn was hard, the sudden break-up of the punk rock group Capital Lights was swift and a true tragedy. After their first and only album, This Is An Outrage, it was clear that the sky was the limit for the band. Capital Lights’ CD was better than Hawk Nelson’s and Relient K’s debut CD’s with catchy hooks, infectious beats, and humorous lyrics. I found myself playing their CD when I heard of the band’s demise and remember how my favorite track, “Frank Morris”, inspired me to look into the former prison Alcatraz and the film which came after (a waste to be sure). Other one-CD artists (such as 38th Parallel and Lucerin Blue) showed potential, but didn’t have debuts which had lasting effects and wrapped up their careers before a sophomore album surfaced. So while Capital Lights may be dead and gone I have passed their CD around and This Is An Outrage is a disc that would send around some more. So at the very least, Capital Lights has left a positive, but short, legacy. Here’s hoping that the band members integrate themselves back into CCM soon.
Over the weekend I had a chance to catch Esterlyn in concert. Before the concert began I talked to the guys and was really impressed. I gathered that even though their acoustic EP Mending the Meaning was released late digitally in 2008 fans were not going to get anything new this year. But Luke did report that the band will most certainly offer a sophomore album in 2010 that will have a more worship edge. I even asked Luke Caldwell the meaning of a line on his song “Free the Light”, ‘Christ’s blood was shed in despair’, because I was discussing the line with a NRT buddy a couple of months back. Caldwell’s answer came right out of scripture as he referenced Jesus’ painful time in the Garden of Gethsemane.
When the show began they were okay. I mean The Show (a young group of rockers) were okay. They poured out big punk rock tunes with blazing guitars and a big base which happened to be a little unnecessary since the café was not that huge. Although the lead singer’s voice wasn’t spectacular and the lyrics were lacking I was impressed at the maturity of the music and I particularly liked “the Africa Song.”
When Esterlyn took the stage they opened with their song guitar driven “Emptiness” which was excellent and employed a great light show with their lamps that were onstage. Immediately following that song was their single “We All Need” which was also well done. When the band actually introduced the band they spoke of the inspiration Matthew 5:16 (‘In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven’). The next song, the up tempo worship track “Like The Rain”, isn’t a particular favorite of mine but it was still a memorable tune.
The tone of the concert slowed down as Esterlyn started to sing more worship style music (perhaps a precursor to a future album?) and while the tune was simple, Caldwell’s lead vocals make the two songs soar. At the night began to dawn Esterlyn preformed the soft song “Sweet Love” which is off of their EP. Before closing out the show Esterlyn shared how they got their name and encouraged everyone to go and be a light to their friend and family. Before performing the piano driven acoustic song the band cautioned fans not to live for themselves but for God and others who are living in a dying world. I briefly talked to Luke on my way out and said I had my heart on them performing “Season of Grey.” He replied ‘ you should have said something. We would have played it for you. The next time you see us remind us.’