Do-It-Yourself CD Reviews

Okay, here’s the deal. There is so much good new music coming out that I don’t have time to listen to it all, much less post about all of it. To be honest, I can’t even afford to buy all of it. So, in the spirit of community we are going to partner in this venture. There are a ton of great new records released in the last month. I’m going to list a lot of them below. And then I’d love for you to comment here and let us know what you have listened to and what you thought of it. If you reviewed one for your own blog, I’d love for you to copy it and paste it below so we can benefit from it. If you haven’t ever reviewed a CD before, that’s fine. You don’t have to be a pro. Just tell us what you thought of it. I’ve never tried this before but I’m really looking forward to hearing what you think rather than what I think. My only comment is the new Gungor CD is ridiculous. As in ridiculously amazing, not as in ridiculously silly. So let the first DIY review begin…

Phil Wickham – Response
Jason Gray – A Way To See In The Dark
Mute Math – Odd Soul
Gungor – Ghosts Upon The Earth
Rachael Lampa – All We Need
Switchfoot – Vice Verses
Andrew Peterson – Above These City Lights
Ellie Holcomb – Magnolia EP
Ross King – God Undefeatable
Matt Maher – The Love In Between
Rush of Fools – We Once Were
Leeland – The Great Awakening
Jeremy Riddle – Furious
Jamie Grace – One Song At A Time
All Sons & Daughters – Brokenness Aside
Shane and Shane – The One You Need
Hawk Nelson – The Light Sides

And I’m sure I’m missing some. Anyway, start your engines… and review.

Oh, and by the way, there’s a song in there somewhere that I just recorded for the new record. Just an additional piece of information. It’s only 18 albums and maybe 200 songs to sift through.

Can’t wait to hear what you think of what you’re listening to. Then I’ll know what to buy next.


A Quick ‘What’s In The Changer?’

I know I know. I should change the title of this to “What’s on the Playlist”. I know few people use multi-CD changers in their everyday lives. All of us build our quick greatest hits playlists. But that often means that we only have one song from each artist. And as for now, we’re all still making whole records whether or not anyone listens to them that way. So I’ll keep doing the Changer and listening to the records as a whole. So here are the records I’m listening to right now.

The Medicine – John Mark McMillan

John Mark McMillan wrote How He Loves, made accessible to the general CCM listener by the David Crowder Band. As that song reveals, here lies a beautiful poetic soul in love with Christ with a great talent for lyrics and music. And he doesn’t really sound like anything else. And he sings in my keys. I love all of that. His new record is tops on my listening list right now along with the next one. I can’t wait for the next time I get to lead worship because I’m going to pull out “Death In His Grave”. Incredible song. But so are many of these tunes. I love the creativity both lyrically, musically, and production wise. Take a listen.

The House You’re Building – Audrey Assad

I’ve been wondering when someone was going to pull this girl into the limelight. I’ve been listening to her for a couple of years now. She’s a great singer and a great songwriter. I don’t say she’s a singer/songwriter because that often conveys that the person is mainly a songwriter who can sing. She really does all well. It’s dangerous to compare people. And it’s hard. Maybe she’s a combination of Sarah Mclachlan and Karen Carpenter. What? Does that even make sense? It took me a while to find the comparison for the single “For Love of You” but that’s because it was too recent. It reminded me of our dear friend Meredith Andrews. Meredith leans toward worship, while Audrey leans toward writing. I love how she stretches her words, pulling melodies you wouldn’t expect out of a single word or phrase. Great record. Check it out.

Hello Hurricane – Switchfoot

Have I talked about this record yet? Probably. But I’ve been listening to it a lot lately. Incredible. Plus I’ve been using it as an educational piece for my kids. Kids, this is how you make a rock record. And I’ve been learning from it myself. Awesome.

Nightlights – Jimmy Needham

I’m always excited about a new project from my friend Jimmy Needham. I love him as a person and as a musician. He’s a wonderful funny talented guy. If you haven’t seen him live, you should. Again, Jimmy digs into some funky rhythmic music in a way nobody else in CCM does. Maybe like Stevie Wonder with an acoustic guitar. And all completely in love with Jesus. It’s kind of hard to explain. Just listen.

Sea of Cowards – Dead Weather

I usually include mainstream music in here too. But recently there has been great Christian stuff coming out. This record did crack the list though. I love Jack White. I love how he approaches the guitar and the crazy sounds he gets out of it. Pairing with a female lead singer put a really different spin on his music. I love “No Horse”. Could listen to it over and over. And it’s best really loud. Really loud.

Till next time, listen well.


New Music Wednesday

Once again, it’s Wednesday, so all the new CDs came out yesterday. So we’ll take a quick look at the one’s that have caught my attention.

MercyMeThe Generous Mr. Lovewell

I know, I know. Why on earth would I need to draw attention to a MercyMe record? Everybody already knows about them. Well, I have to write about it because it deserves it. It’s great. They deserve it. Don’t just assume you know what MercyMe is and what they’re going to do. Go listen to the record. Yes, you’ve already heard All of Creation on the radio. But there is so much more to offer. They are continuing to challenge themselves and make better and better music. I already mentioned that the song Back to You is this reggae-tinged pop song that should be a huge hit. The song Move totally takes the record in an unexpected direction. I really liked it. And Crazy Enough, what is that? A samba? Awesome. And Thad Cockrell co-wrote a great song near the end of the record so don’t miss Won’t You Be My Love. Just take a listen. It’s a great record, even if you think you already know what it will sound like. I think they may surprise you.

Minus The BearOmni

Another great record. It is much more polished, produced than earlier MTB efforts. So it loses a bit of the raw energy. But it is a cool new sound. It kind of reminds me of that record when Glen Ballard produced the Dave Matthews Band. It doesn’t sound like them, but this has a more controlled sound like that CD (Everyday). Like that, I’m sure a lot of MTB fans will revolt, but I still think it’s a great record with those funky bass lines still at the heart of everything. I really enjoy these guys. If you haven’t heard them, check it out.

Andrew OsengaChoosing Sides

Okay, this has been out for a few weeks, but I still wanted to draw attention to it, because it’s awesome. Andrew was the frontman of The Normals, one of the great Christian bands of the last 20 years. His solo career has not gotten as much attention, but I think he’s still growing as a musician and as a songwriter. It’s hard to describe this record, because it’s both simple and complex. Most of the songs fall into a simple rock category but the writing is so much more. Both lyrics and melodies are intricately crafted. I hope you take a listen.

Court Yard HoundsCourt Yard Hounds

This is the two sisters from the Dixie Chicks. So I expected not to like it. I was wrong. These are simple songs with great melodies and harmonies. Most are written by Emily, best known as the banjo player from the Dixie Chicks. And she is singing lead most of the time as well. It’s just a simple record of nice songs. Well produced and recorded. I enjoyed it.

Alpha RevNew Morning

These guys are from Austin. I first saw their video on VH1 at the gym. He launched into the chorus, and I thought to myself, “I know his melody will go down from here, but I sure wish it would go up.” And it did. Then I wished, “It sure would be great to go up one more time, but that would take a lot of guts.” And it did. What a payoff in the first line of a chorus. The song is the title track, New Morning. Anyway, I think these Austinites (Austinians?, Austiners?) have some real potential. They are playing La Zona Rosa in a Music for the City show this weekend with our friend Aaron Ivey, Miranda Dodson, Matt McCloskey, and Jason Poe. Wish I could be here but I’ll be in Oklahoma. At least I can listen to the record.

So there’s some new music for you. Comment back if you listen to any of these and tell me what you think. Or you can just tell me what you are listening to right now. Looking forward to hearing from you.


What’s In The Changer 3/14/10

Goodbye, American Idol. Your top 12 is such a horrific decision that it has sent me back to the world of professional musicians, for one blog at least. There is too much good music coming out to waste time on your show. So here’s some of what’s playing at my house. Except for the new Shooter Jennings which is amazing, but has enough bad language that it cannot be officially recommended on the website. Oh, and except for Legend by Bob Marley, which has been our family’s soundtrack for the last week or so, but I’m sure has been mentioned in another changer. So here’s a lot of the new Christian music we’re listening to right now.

Gungor Beautiful Things

Don’t let anyone tell you that all worship leaders are below average musicians, although that does happen quite often. Michael Gungor and his band are some of the best musicians we have played with. Their level of artistry is only matched by their level of creativity. Which is why it’s been sad that he has been best known for co-writing “Friend of God”. But I think this record will change that. It is challenging, creative, and yet still corporate. There is great power here, like the lyrics found in the first song Dry Bones: “Jesus, You’re the One who saves us, constantly creates us into something new.” This is a great record. I love it. You should at least give it a listen. Great music. Great worship.

Pocket Full of Rocks More Than Noise

Our friends from this spring tour have a great new record out. Now, before you overreact to missing the spring tour, you need to understand that it ended up being four shows. Not all plans come to fruition. But they were four great shows. Thinking about doing it again. For four more shows. Or maybe more. Anyway, these guys are the real deal, oh and the girl is too. “Alive” is already on the radio, and “Come As You Are” should be taking over the airways soon. Great song. Opening line is “He’s not mad at you.” Such a need for people to hear that. “Let Our God Be Praised” will be played in worship services all around the world. Their classic song “Let It Rain” is here too. My favorite is probably “Your Love For Me”. But you can listen and decide for yourself.

Meredith Andrews As Long As It Takes

You listen to this record and it’s easy to forget you’re not listening to the radio. Meredith should conquer the radio world with this record, and there aren’t many other artists I feel more confident in to handle that well. She loves Jesus, and she just gets it. It was an honor to have her join us and Pocket this spring. It was beautiful to hear her heart and participate in her ministry each night. Enjoy the record. Just make sure you don’t miss “What It Means To Love”. In concert, she shares this beautiful story about a boy in Haiti. Just check it out. It’s powerful.

NewWorldSon NewWorldSon

As you guys know, I loved the first NewWorldSon record and have been looking forward to this one for quite some time. It was worth it. It’s just so fun, creative, and true to who God has made them to be. You won’t hear a better first 3 seconds of any record. Now, I know that sounds dumb to you. But I’m like that with books to. If the first line doesn’t make me want to read it then that’s it. “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” One of the greatest by one of my faves, Stephen King. And the first little intro, before you even get to the song is like that. You just want to hear more. And there is more. And again, I love the creativity. The second song, Listen To The Lord, starts with a Deep Purple intro, then shifts gears into a reggae verse. That shouldn’t work, but it does. Okay, it’s not exactly Deep Purple, just the organ sound. But still this record is a blast.

Matt Maher – Alive Again

I think I’ve probably talked about this one already, and it’s been out for a little while, but it’s still a great record. Matt is an amazing worship leader. I was in Dallas visiting my in-laws one weekend and saw on the internet that Matt was going to be nearby. So I went and paid my $10 and worshipped with he and his band. It was quite powerful and we used some of their songs the next summer at camp. So now I am looking forward to trying out some tunes from the new record this year. The title track is a great song. Really worshipful, but really modern as well, which is not always worship music’s strength. Love Matt. Looking forward to spending more focused time with this record. Hope you will too.

So there’s some new music for you to check out. Enjoy.


New Music Tuesday/What’s On The Playlist 9/8/09

Well, it’s the day you’ve all been waiting for. Barlowgirl’s new record, Love & War, comes out today. The title threw me at first but then I developed some affection for it as I realized it was a combo of themes in their ministry. You know, we’re NEVER ALONE because God loves us, and we have to go ONE MORE ROUND in the war for His glory. So i get it. But the record comes out today. It’s kind of weird because I looked on iTunes and usually I just have to look at the new releases, but it’s not there. Maybe they’re falling behind. Maybe all the people at iTunes are watching the US Open. Or maybe it’s someone else’s fault. Either way, it’s not on the front pages, but if you search for it, you can find it. As for the record itself, it’s what you expect to come from the girls: strong rock music, sometimes fun, and strong lyrics. I was just about to assume I knew what the record held when I hit track 10, Tears Fall. Whoa, didn’t see that coming. And I mean in a good way. It’s beautiful. And then track 11, Hello Sunshine, is another fun creative track. The record finished with my two favorite songs. Anyway, check it out. You have to search for it, but I think you’ll enjoy it.

And one more, this came out last week, but I finally got to sit and listen to Jason Gray’s Everything Sad is Coming Untrue. Last week, it was a part of my five minorly major announcements, or was that majorly minor announcements. I don’t remember. Anyway, I was telling everyone about Nathan Lee’s 40DAYRISK tour, and Ted Dekker’s new book Green, and Derek Webb’s new record, Stockholm Syndrome. Oh and the NEED pre-sale, which you probably had to look at before you could get to the website. And I mentioned Jason’s new record because it came out but I hadn’t gotten to listen to it yet. Now I have, and it’s great. Jason is a great writer and that really shines through on this record. The first track is great: More Like Falling In Love. It’s way better than the first single. But isn’t that just how it goes. About tracks 3 & 4, I thought the record was settling into CCM radio world. But then Holding The Key took major steps forward and How I Ended Up Here might have been my favorite song on the record. And the record continues like that. A song or two for radio and a song or two for me. If you like both of those sounds, this may be your favorite record in quite some time. Hope you get the chance to enjoy it.