Friday, December 30, 2011

The 12 Most Anticipated Albums of 2012!

2012 looks to be a good year in Christian music. Several fantastic artists are due to drop a new album, and there are a few artists I hope will put out something new. Let's get to counting!

#12 Kutless
I was able to see these guys in concert earlier this month and they did fantastic! Throughout the past 10 years or so, Kutless has become on of the top Christian music artists, first in the rock scene and now in the worship genre. It'll be interesting to see what these guys have up their sleeves for their 7th album, due February 28th.

#11 Nine Lashes
Nine Lashes recently signed with Tooth & Nail, and they sound very promising. If you're a fan of Thousand Foot Krutch, be sure to check them out. "Anthem Of The Lonely" is a great song, and their album "World We View" releases on Valentines Day.

#10 Blessed By A Broken Heart
Blessed By A Broken Heart has got to be one of the most interesting new Christian bands right now. It's almost like Stryper reincarnated, with high powered vocals, heavy guitars, and some great drumming. There's a fresh, yet familiar sound about them, and their debut on Tooth & Nail Records, "Feel The Power" is set to drop January 24th.Check back here for a review around then!

#9 David Crowder Band
I'm personally not a huge fan of DCB, but you have to admit they've put out some good stuff. Their final album, "Give Us Rest" (and another really long title! :D) looks fantastic from the tracklist, and I love it when bands cover hymns. You can pick it up January 10th.

#8 Skillet
I know, I know, they're a little low on the list. "Comatose" was a FANTASTIC record, but "Awake" was just good. However, I'm hoping the album they plan on releasing will focus less on a "signature sound" and more on a little experimentation. I'm hoping to see some guests on this album, like Lacey from Flyleaf or even Lecrae. There's no definite release date yet, but look for the album in fall or winter 2012.

#7 Write This Down
Write This Down's self titled release on Tooth & Nail in 2010 was one of the best I've heard. They've finished their second album, and you can see a studio update here. Sounds pretty awesome so far! Look for their challenging lyrics and heavy hitting music to be released in summer or fall 2012.

#6 Thousand Foot Krutch
After going independent, they quickly raised the money they needed for their new record on Kickstarter. TFK also gave away a new song called "War Of Change", and if "The End Is Where We Begin" sounds anything like this, it'll be epic! We will probably see this in March, but I'll let you know for sure when!

#5 Fireflight
Girl fronted rock bands are becoming more and more popular, and Fireflight is one of the best. "Unbreakable" was a top album, and "For Those Who Wait" was nominated for a Grammy. Definitely an exciting project to come. Look for "Now" March 6th.

#4 Britt Nicole
Ever since she hit the Christian Pop scene in 2007, she's consistently put out great stuff. Her new single "All This Time" releases in January. Look for her new album sometime this year, most likely late fall or winter.

#3 Plumb
This lady is incredible. If anyone can make a great record, Plumb can. She was great in the 90's, awesome in the past 10 years, and now will release "Faster Than A Bullet" in the spring. This is one album I am excited about. Arguably one of the most talented vocalists in Christian music, Plumb never disappoints.

#2 Capital Lights
Definitely the most underrated Christian band, Capital Lights called it quits after releasing an amazing album, "This Is An Outrage!" in 2009. However, they were under contract to put out one more album, and words cannot describe how excited I am about this! Capital Lights hasn't released a title or a date yet, but look for a release in late summer or fall.

And finally....the most anticipated album of 2012 (for me)


Just kidding.

#1. Flyleaf
They are in the studio folks!! After their awesome first release in 2006, and outstanding release in 2010, they started pre-production for their new album in February 2011. That means hopefully we will get a new release from them in the fall, and I just have a feeling about this album. From Lacey's beautiful vocals to her screams, from the ballads to the in your face rockers, Flyleaf has cemented their reputation as a great band with great lyrics. Stay tuned!

Now, the following artists haven't confirmed releases, but I hope we'll get some new music from them in 2012. Be sure to leave a comment telling me what YOUR most anticipated album of 2012 is!

Sanctus Real
The Lost Colors
The Letter Black
House Of Heroes

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Best New Artists of 2011

I hope everyone has had a great week of holidays! 2011 is coming to a fast close, and we have seen several new artists this year. From the bad (Rocky Loves Emily, anyone?) to the good, no one can disagree that some great bands hit the scene this year. Let's see who made my list.

#10. Shine Bright Baby
Shine Bright Baby hit the scene in 2009 with their debut, and now it seems they have signed to Tooth & Nail Records. Although there is no mention of them on Tooth & Nail's site, SBB announced on their Facebook page they are recording their first full length album on the label. SBB played Creation NE 2011, and have won me over with their catchy pop rock sound. Shine Bright Baby is a band to watch in 2012 for sure. Grab a free download of their song "Dare To Dream" as well as the acoustic version of "Deadbolt" (my personal favorite) by visiting their Pure Volume page.

#9. Nine Lashes
Boy, Tooth & Nail signed a ton of artists this year, with Nine Lashes being one of the more recent. All they've put out in 2011 is the single "Anthem Of The Lonely", and their full length debut will hit Valentine's Day 2012. With Trevor McNevan credited as the man who discovered the band, I think it's safe to say we can expect some great music from them. "Anthem Of The Lonely" sounds great, and this is one band I'll definitely keep my eye on.

#8. Jamie Grace
After being a teen star on the popular TBN kid's show iShine, Jamie Grace was discovered by Toby Mac, who couldn't wait to sign her to Gotee Records. After releasing an EP in Spring of 2011, she followed up with "One Song At A Time" in the fall. Her song, "Hold Me" became a hit single, and now she's been nominated for a GRAMMY! As a long time fan, I feel she has surpassed anything we expected and deserves that Grammy.

#7. Royal Tailor
Their debut album won them the attention of many, with fun pop beats and clever lyrics. ("Control" has some stand against lyrical references to Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Ke$ha in it.) Vocalist Tauren Wells has an OUTSTANDING voice, and like Jamie Grace, have been nominated for a Grammy. Keep your eye on them.

#6 Anthem Lights
Anthem Lights, formerly known as Yellow Cavalier, released their debut on Reunion Records this year and just took off. Easily one of the most popular Christian pop bands, Anthem Lights has brought the pop rock sound Christian music once had and is lacking. I love their music, and right now they have nowhere to go but up. They are releasing a new acoustic EP soon, and I'm sure 2012 is full of great things for them. Check out the interview I did with them earlier this spring by clicking here.

#5. Hyland
Another one of Tooth & Nail's new artists, Hyland released their debut, "Weights & Measures" to great response. With comparisons to Anberlin and Switchfoot, Hyland was definitely one of 2011's best new artists. Keep following these guys, as they will no doubt become one of Christian Rock's top bands.

#4. Attalus
Yet another one of my favorite independent bands, Attalus was introduced to me on New Release Tuesday when a band member posted about them in the forums. I was pleasantly surprised with their EP, "The Greater Tide" which is one of my favorite EPs of 2011. Although there have been a few member changes since then, the band has kept it's signature rock sound, and hopefully these guys catch a label's attention soon. Great stuff.

#3. Dara MacLean

With a soulful voice and great lyrics, Dara MacLean's single "Suitcases" received tons of airplay this year. Although I haven't heard all her songs, she's definitely "got my attention" (was that a cheesy pun or what?) and I can't wait to see what happens with her in 2011.

#2. Skyhawk Drive

Now, was this REALLY a surprise to you? I've been a fan for a while now, posting about them on the blog, tweeting about them, all that other stuff. But I don't do that unless I really believe in the band and their heart to minister. Skyhawk Drive caught the attention of Ben Kasica. They have some of the best music and lyrics I've heard all year. So why haven't they been signed to a larger label? Tooth & Nail is signing everyone under the sun, but if there's anyone that deserves to be signed, it is Skyhawk Drive. Their EP that came out this November had them sounding great with more of a mature sound. Definitely a top pick for 2011.

And now we have it....the best new band of 2011.....

....are you ready?
....for real?

#1. Icon For Hire
When I added them to the list of "New Bands You Should Know" earlier in the year, I had no idea they would be this popular this soon. Easily the best band signed to Tooth & Nail this year, their debut album, "Scripted" did very well and got great reviews. They stand for a message and put out some pretty awesome music. 2012 is sure to bring even greater things from them, and hopefully we'll see an acoustic or B-side album with "Conversation With A Rockstar" on it. 

Do you agree with my picks? Let me know what you think! 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Help Skyhawk Drive!

After many years of being a band, Skyhawk Drive is in need of a new van and trailer. They are raising money on the popular band site Kickstarter, and there are plenty of awesome rewards, such as signed EPs, t shirts, even up to a Skype concert! Skyhawk Drive has a heart to minister, their music is powerful, but most of all these guys have a heart to serve God. Watch the video below and donate to Skyhawk Drive by clicking HERE. I know I will be!

My favorite Christmas songs!

With Christmas just around the corner, I'd like to share with you a few of my favorite Christmas songs! There's no way I could post all of them but here's a couple. They're in no particular order, I love these songs equally. Enjoy!

"Merry Christmas McAllister" by Skyhawk Drive
(This song was removed from PureVolume, and isn't on YouTube, so here you go!)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Music Review: "Christmas Together EP" by Jamie Grace

Looking for some good Christmas music? This four song EP recently released by Jamie Grace is sure to give you that Christmas cheer!

The EP starts with "Christmas Together", an original fun song about the times we share as a family during the holidays. Jamie Grace's music has always been fun beats with a positive message, and this song fits the bill perfectly. "Christmas Together" is full of witty lyrics, but brings everything together to remind us cherish the times we have as family together at Christmas.

I really like Jamie Grace's spin on "O Come, O Come Emmanuel"; one of my favorite Christmas songs! Jamie Grace takes an awesome classic and add a fun beat and her signature vocal style. It's definitely a different take, but a great one!

When I saw she had covered "Christmas Don't Be Late", I had to smile. This is such a cute song, and Jamie Grace brings the fun and whimsy of this song to 2011. Definitely a fun track, even if it is a little unexpected.

The final song is "What Child Is This", and features fellow Gotee labelmate, Abandon Kansas. This is the more serious song on the EP, and they did a great job collaborating. This version of "What Child Is This" has become one of my favorites. Once again, Jamie Grace puts her spin on a classic, adds her beautiful voice, as well as Jeremy Spring's great vocals. The addition of "Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus" just adds to the beauty of this song. Best track on the EP!

Jamie Grace has done a great job on this EP. She's taken classics, put her own spin on them, and made something for everyone.You can get the album on iTunes or Amazon MP3 for a really good price!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Christmas Together" Music Video

I love Jamie Grace's new music video for her song, "Christmas Together". I'm going to see her in concert today and can't wait. Let this song put you in the Christmas mood!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Music Video: "Quota" by eleventyseven

Check out this very funny music video from eleventyseven! Their new album, "Sugarfist" is available on iTunes.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My predictions for Christian Grammy Winners 2012!

I was sorely disappointed at the number of nominees for the Gospel Category. Quite small. But, I guess that's what we have the Dove's for. Here are my picks for winners. You can see the list of Christian nominees at Justin's Christian Music Spot.

Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance:
"Do Everything" by Steven Curtis Chapman. It's innovative, fresh and creative. You gotta love the guy. SCC consistently puts out great Christian music, and he is the forefather of Contemporary Christian music. No contest.

Best Gospel Song:
"Sitting With Me" by Mary Mary. There are some strong contenders in this category, but in my opinion this is the best written. Love this song and the message behind it.

Best Contemporary Christian Music Song:
I am torn between "Hold Me" by Jamie Grace and "Blessings" by Laura Story. Both are great songs, and congratulations to both of them for getting the nods so early in their careers. Laura Story will probably win, but I'm hoping for a Jamie Grace takeover. If Chris Tomlin wins I will throw something.

Best Gospel Album:
I've only heard two albums from this list, and I'm having a hard time between "Hello Fear" and "Something Big". Both are excellent albums with rave reviews, but I think I will go with "Something Big" by Mary Mary.

Best Contemporary Christian Album:
Most of these I don't really listen to, seeing how I like Rock better, but I was surprised at Royal Tailor's nomination. I think it will be between Gungor and Brandon Heath, but I hope Royal Tailor wins. If Chris Tomlin wins I will be quite angry.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Music Review: Skyhawk Drive's self-titled second album!

Well this is a review that is LONG overdue. If you have ever read my blog, you probably know I am a huge fan of Skyhawk Drive. I've followed their journey for a while now, and it just keeps getting better! Let's get to the music!

 One thing you'll notice different than the band's first EP is that gone are the days of the happy punk pop for Skyhawk Drive. Their new sound is more mature, and tackles deeper issues. I really like it! Starting us off is a haunting intro that leaves you full of expectation for the first track, "Whisper", with just a tease of the chorus in a piano background. Beautiful! "Whisper" is one of my FAVORITE songs of 2011. The feeling in the music, the passion in Ronnie's voice all speak to the listener. "Whisper" is a strong song with powerful lyrics that plead for God to direct our lives. This is a must listen to track. The edgier sound of Skyhawk Drive is amazing!

 "Brothers In Arms" is my tie favorite with "Whisper" on this album. Opening with a soft piano and epic drums, the band begins to sing the chorus as one, then all of a sudden Ronnie lets loose, and the song begins. Is this really the band that sang "Their Dance, Your Chance" back in 2009? They were good then, but they're awesome now! I love the chorus, that says "Wake me before the dawn, brothers in arms, stand till the fight is won, together as one." The music behind this song brings the rock edge, and the lyrics bring a strong story of unity. 
 Halfway through the album, we come to "Something More", a Switchfoot-esque song that speaks of following God, taking a leap of faith and giving into "Something More" - God. "I'm moving forward, I'll die another day" and other lines in this song challenge us as Christians to trust in God and do radical things. "A Simple Song" is a beautiful, acoustic love song that speaks of struggling to share one's feelings with someone, but nevertheless finding the courage to share them. This is such a pretty song, both in the lyrics and music.

"The Getaway" is a fun song that is an anthem of a generation. Don't tell us we're not good enough, that we'll never be able to achieve our dreams! There's a fun rock beat, fun lyrics that not only make for a good song, but a life anthem as well.

WHY ARE THESE GUYS NOT SIGNED TO A MAJOR LABEL? Seriously.....This EP, produced by Ben Kasica, has the band sounding better than ever, with some of the best music I've heard this year. Skyhawk Drive has come a long way since "Center Stage Shout Out", and I believe they will only get better. "Skyhawk Drive" is a must have album. I've (unfortunately) never had the chance to meet these guys or see the band live, but I've been able to tune into a few Livestream sessions they did, as well as watch them live on YouTube, and their passion for music is amazing. Be sure to recommend Skyhawk Drive to your friends, ask your church to have them come play, "Like" them on facebook, follow them on their music on Amazon MP3 or iTunes. But whatever you do, be sure to keep your eye on them!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Exclusive Interview: Ariel from Icon For Hire!

I recently had the opportunity to interview Ariel, the lead singer of Icon For Hire! I loved the band's debut album, "Scripted", and I know several others that love it as well! My questions are in black, and in homage to Ariel's hair, her answers are in pink! Enjoy!

Icon For Hire has been one of my favorite bands for quite a while now! Can you give us some background on the formation of Icon For Hire?
We started the band almost four years ago. None of us had ever been in bands before, and none of us knew what we were doing. So we just kind of guessed that "this is probably how you start a band." A few months later, we played our first show to a packed club in our hometown. It was mostly our friends and family, but since Adam and Shawn had recently been a big part of the local party scene, they still had a ton of friends that came out to see us. We played a terrible show but when it's your friends, you know, they tell you how good you are anyways. Our passion for music was there; whatever we lacked in sound we made up for with enthusiasm.

“Scripted” released to positive reviews from critics and fans alike. Did you ever expect to be where you are as a band now?
For me that changes on a daily basis. There are some moments where I am 100% certain that this is what we were born to do and we will continue to do it the rest of our lives. Other times I think "Man, the fact we got this far is amazing, we should probably just quit while we're ahead!" I remember that before the album came out we had a conversation about how proud we were of this record. We decided that we didn't care too much how it was received, we were just stoked to have the opportunity to make an album, period. It's important to do what you're doing because you completely love it, regardless of the response it garners.

From the punching guitars and strong vocals to heartfelt lyrics, “Scripted” has become one of my top ten albums of 2011. What was the inspiration behind the album?
Thank you! We didn't set out to give the album a unifying theme, we were just making music about issues we were passionate about. It ended up that a lot of the songs on the album deal with getting over your past, and the message that if you're not happy with your life right now, then stop complaining and go do something about it. It is really important to me to remind our listeners that everyone thinks they've had a crappy life; that doesn't give us an excuse to sit life out waiting to recover.

“Make A Move”, the main single from “Scripted” is an in your face message of standing up for what we believe in. What challenged you to write this song?
This song came from my personal struggle with how we as Americans spend our time, money, creativity, and all that. There are amazing, wonderful, precious people in anguish because they don't have access to food. There are bright-eyed, adorable little girls forced to have sex with strangers for fourteen hours a day, and are drugged up if they fail to perform. And what do I do with information like that? I shrug, think about how sad it is, and hope that somebody will come along and do something about it. That song brings up the fact that we do so freaking little with all this knowledge. We are selfish. I am selfish.

“Only A Memory” (also known as “Pernilla”) is one of the most powerful Icon For Hire songs. What is the story behind the song?
I wrote the lyrics for my friends. It just so happened that a lot of them went through some extremely horrific abuses around the same time. "Only a Memory" is from their perspective and is a reminder that you are not what has been done to you.

The lyrics of the songs on “Scripted” are so refreshing and thought provoking. How have you seen your music affect your fans?
It's been very rewarding to see the album actually doing something, actually having an effect on our listeners. That's the whole reason we started this thing, you know. We've heard stories of it bringing hope to kids. I hope it inspires them.

Icon For Hire has been compared to bands such as Paramore and Evanescence. What would you say makes you different than those bands?
That is a huge, loaded question! The easy answer is that our music has the unique combination of programming/pop elements, mixed with a commercial rock sound. We also have a live show that easily sets us apart, we've never had someone come see us live and compare us to other bands. But the more complicated part of this question is the fact that I hate answering it! I hate having to defend our band, like somehow because we have a female vocalist that we are in the same genre. It sends the message to our female fans that there's no place for them in music, like somehow since "female singer with rock or pop band" has already been done, that there's no room for creativity or growth within that. It frustrates me how in so many other industries, you are acknowledged for your skill and education, but it music somehow if you're a chick you better be bringing something extraordinarily mind-blowing to the table in order to have a shot. It’s a bit sexist I think.

Are there any causes you support that are near to your heart?
Human trafficking is the first that comes to mind, just because of the extremity and magnitude of that. Abortion is another thing that I hate with a passion. As a band, we have lofty dreams for digging wells in Africa, inspiring change, and enabling well-meaning fans to do something with their concern for the world. 

Touring can be crazy. How do you stay grounded in Christ?
Sometimes I suck at spending time with God, and sometimes I surprise myself with how often I find myself wanting to be with him. It's no different than being at home- we just have a great excuse not to do it because there is never any quiet or alone time on tour, and we are never not tired/sore/hungry/etc. So just like at home, you fight for it.

How has God been speaking to you recently?
Through a lot of journaling.

Has anything crazy or funny happened to the band recently?
The other day someone misread our band name on the side of our van as “Con For Hire”, as in Convicts For Hire. He thought we were a group of ex-cons looking for work!

In 15 to 20 years, what would you want people to remember most about Icon For Hire?
It'd be great if people recognized that we cared more about loving and talking to the fans we have then working to win new ones, that we inspired kids at the shows to look past their own lives and be something great. More than anything, we want to stay close to each other, and remember what's important. "Quality over quantity" is a huge value to our band.

Would Icon For Hire ever consider releasing some of their older songs such as “Conversation With A Rockstar” or “Sno” on a future release? Yes definitely! Conversation with a Rockstar is a huge fan favorite, and I think it deserves a better chance than just the little acoustic demo we did in the basement. But I am sorry to say that Sno will probably never see daylight, only the hardcore fans will know that one.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. My readers and I appreciate it! Any closing thoughts?
No, thank you! Anytime we get the chance to explain who we are in our own words is well appreciated. Our Facebook ( is the best place for listeners to stay in touch, so readers can see our tour dates and video blogs all from there. :) We’d love to hear from your readers

Friday, October 14, 2011

"The Reckoning" by Needtobreathe Review!

Needtobreathe has been one of my favorite bands since "Daylight" was released in 2006. In the past five years the guys have changed their sound to a more Southern Rock/Alternative/Country genre, won 6 Dove Awards and opened for Taylor Swift. The guys are back with their fourth album, "The Reckoning", and to be honest, I didn't really like it at first. However, now that I've had a chance to listen to it more, I find I really enjoy this more serious side of Needtobreathe.

"Oohs & Aahs" starts things of on a somber note unlike the fun, banjo picking opener on "The Outsiders". "Oohs & Aahs" has a strong Southern Rock flavor that brings gritty guitars and slightly distorted vocals that somehow create a smooth, solid song. Definitely one of the best songs on the album, it showcases great vocal and musical talent. "White Fences" is one of my favorites off the album, and is a bittersweet tale of a love gone wrong, and could even be taken as a Christian's spiritual struggle between sin and God.

Next on the album we have "Drive All Night" that showcases the country sound of Needtobreathe, and tells the story of a restless soul longing for adventure; something different. "A Place Only You Can Go" is a beautiful, sweet song and I love the addition of bagpipes on this song. Very creative! "Slumber" the first single to Christian Radio from "The Reckoning", pleads for Christians to awake from their "slumber", and tells us that we don't have to "stand in line for crumbs that fall from the table, just enough to get by" , we can chase our dreams and make them reality.

"The Reckoning" is a powerful tune about fighting to become who you know you need to be, and visits the sound Needtobreathe showcased on "Daylight". "Able" is one of the best songs lyrically on the album, acknowledging that we are not able to do anything on our own, that we need God's strength and guidance. Another top notch track! "Maybe They're On To Us" is the main "fun" song on "The Reckoning" with brassy trumpets and a fun guitar rhythm.

Photo Credit: DJ Buchanan
"Wanted Man" is a lovely song about a man who acknowledges he has done wrong, and the consequences he must now face, but still desires love. "Keep Your Eyes Open" sounds like it came straight off "Daylight", and listening to this track, I found myself missing that side of Needtobreathe. "Tyrant Kings" seems a little off to me, and I wish Needtobreathe had kept "Cops" (which sounded so awesome on the behind the scenes video) and left this song off. "The Devil's Been Talkin" has a fresh, unique intro, and is one of the catchiest songs off "The Reckoning". "Angel At My Door" keeps the alternative/country feel, and although I found it a little confusing at first, I find it a beautiful song of encouragement to a friend. "Learn To Love" closes the album, with a message of unconditional commitment.

"The Reckoning" is a very strong album from a band that went from sounding like Switchfoot to creating their own, unique style that captured the attention of listeners all over. Sure, it's darker than "The Heat" and "The Outsiders" but it has such strong emotion and some of the best musical and vocal talents you'll ever hear. "The Reckoning" definitely belongs in your library.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Throwback Thursday: Nevertheless

Throwback Thursday is back! I've finally managed to get the blog going again, and I'm excited to bring this post back!

This week's band is "Nevertheless". Nevertheless came in on the Christian power punk scene in 2005 and released their first major label album in 2006 entitled ""Live Like We're Alive". The guys met in high school and came up with the name Nevertheless from Luke 5:15 which says: "And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net." I love when bands take their names from Scripture, and the meaning behind Nevertheless is very special. 

"Live Like We're Alive" did well, and a music video for "The Real" was made. In 2008 the guys released "In The Making", and although "Sleeping In" made it to #24 on the R&R charts as well as the Wow 2009 cd, "In The Making" was vastly underrated. Finally, in 2009, Nevertheless released their last project, "When I'm With You EP" which was a collection of acoustic love songs written for the band member's wives. How sweet!

Towards the end of 2009 Nevertheless released a statement saying they were disbanding at the end of 2009 due to personal issues. It was sad to see them go, but ultimately it was the best decision for them. Their guitarist, AJ Cheek went on to join Revive, who also disbanded this year, and has recently released an EP. The former Lead Singer Joshua Pearson is reported to be working on a solo project. AJ's stuff is pretty exciting, and I'm sure Josh's will be also.

Nevertheless was a great band that wasn't around for very long. Their music lives on through their two albums, and is no doubt still impacting listeners. Be sure to check these guys out!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New Music from Skyhawk Drive

Today is a great day. Skyhawk Drive has released their new single and music video called, "Whisper". "Whisper" was produced by Ben Kasica, and I'm loving the harder sound of Skyhawk Drive. The passionate lyrics are amazing, and the music video is one of the best I've seen all year. Congratulations Guys! You can buy the single off iTunes or Amazon today.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Skyhawk Drive's new music video!

Yesterday Skyhawk Drive released a trailer for their new music video, "Whisper", coming out October 4th! I'm extremely excited for this, as Skyhawk Drive is such an amazing band! I'll post the music video first thing, but for right now, check out this epic trailer:

Bleed Into One: The Story of Christian Rock

I found this interesting video on Youtube today. I would absolutely love to see a documentary on Christian Rock! Featuring MercyMe, P.O.D., MxPx, Stryper, U2 and more, "Bleed Into One" takes us through the 50 odd years Christian Rock has been on the scene. The trailer is well worth the watch!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

He Wants It All

This song has been on my heart for a while now. It was sort of our youth camp's theme song this summer, and it's impacted my life in a great way. Sometimes we as human beings want to hold on to things, things that aren't sin, yet they hinder us. But Hebrews 12:1 says, "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." There have been weights in my life I've had to give up recently. I didn't like it, but it's better to please God than chase after my own foolish ambitions. I hope this song encourages you, and please, pray about the areas in your life you haven't completely given to God. It's worth it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Indie Exclusive: My Heart To Fear Interview!

My Heart To Fear is a great Christian metalcore band from Pennsylvania! Their song, "The Witching Hour" is amazing. I recently got the chance to interview the guys from MHTF, so here it is! Enjoy! My questions are in red, and MHTF's answers are in black.

First of all, can you tell us about how My Heart To Fear was formend, and how you got the band name?
My Heart to Fear was formed by a group of high school friends back in 2005, with a big dream, and almost no musical experience. Our band name comes from the old song, "Amazing Grace" , where it says, "twas grace that taught my heart to fear".
How would you describe the music of MHTF?
Our music is written as more of a story than just a song. We're about to go into the studio to record a brand new full length CD. Genre wise, the music is experimental/melodic metalcore.
Your song "The Witching Hour" deals with a topic many Christian musicians don't touch, demons. What was the inspiration behind this song?
The Witching Hour was written out of personal experiences and the idea of Gods existence proven through the duality of good and evil.
MHTF just wrapped up playing the extreme tour. Can you tell us what touring across the us is like?
Meeting so many amazing people on tour really inspired a lot of the new songs and lyrics. Touring across the US is quite an experience, the jumps from town to town show you subculture you may never have come upon other wise.
How have you seen the music of MHTF impact your fans?
We love our fans and they are as much a part of this band as we are. They have impacted us just as much as the stories they tell of our music in their lives. We have a file with emails from our fans from the last almost 6 years, sharing very personal stories of their lives and struggles, and how our band in some way has helped them or touched them. It's amazing and humbling.
What would you say is the band's main goal to accomplish in the music industry?
MHTF wants to create honest music not aimed to just please or give kids a breakdown to dance to, but to also create a movement of love and acceptance across every race, religion and culture.
What would you say is the best and worst part of being an independent band?
It is very difficult to support yourself financially as an indie band. We have been fortunate to remain debt free after 6 years of being a band together, but it hasn't been easy. The best part of being an independent band is the lyrical and musical freedom.
What are the favorite Bible verses of the guys from MHTF?
Jeremiah 29:11-13
If MHTF could play any stage with any artist, who and where would that be?
I cant say that we focus too much on this sort of thing, so its difficult to say. We just love meeting all sorts of artist, and in all different places. We have been blessed to have shared the stage with some amazing bands across the country.
Has anything strange or funny happened to the band?
Wow. Do you have about 6 hours to talk about this question? Haha. The most recent thing that happed is, last week, coming back from a show in New York, we were driving through a horrible thunder and lightning storm, the same storm that flooded much of Pennsylvania recently. 2 large trees had fallen on the road and on power lines, which because of the storm we couldn't see them in time, so we skidded to a stop and got entangled in all the trees. We had to wait for the fire department to get there and cut the trees up and free our van and trailer. We slept in the firemans truck while they cut us out.
What does the band enjoy doing outside of the music?
Several of us used to snowboard, and play baseball and basketball, but honestly now music is about the only thing that any of us do at this point in our lives, whether that be playing shows, practicing, touring, writing music or writing lyrics.
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Any closing thoughts?
No problem! yeah, please look us up on facebook and like us. Also, go to youtube and look for our new music video "The Witching Hour". If you listen to RadioU or TVU be sure to stop by to their sites and say hello and request more My Heart To fear. We were number 7 last week on their top 15, and "The Witching Hour" is playing on TVU on their hardcore show the battery.  Stay tuned for our new full length that should be coming out before the end of the year. When it does come out be sure to read the lyrics.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"Hello" by We Are Leo Review

We Are Leo is a new techno pop/rock band from Illinois, and also is the first band to release an album through Skies Fall Records. I've been really excited about the label, and We Are Leo's debut, "Hello" is sure to be a staple in your music library!

"Supernova Sunrise" introduces us to the sound of We Are Leo: energetic, fun pop/rock with great lyrics. "Supernova Sunrise" is a top-notch track about waking up to God's grace and moving forward, living life to the fullest. "Heartbeats" takes the music farther into a techno pop territory, Frontman David Duffield sings "Can you hear hope calling you, like a whisper in the night?" and encourages the listener to open their hearts to love and hope. "Heartbeats" is a great track, and the female guest vocalist complements the song perfectly.

"Oxygen" brings a message of God's love for us; how "when you cry I'll be the one to dry your tears." The rock edge to "Oxygen" combined with the strong lyrics make this song a stand out track from "Hello". "Seventeen" is a bittersweet song about a relationship that blossomed, fell apart, but God restored. Forgiveness and the hope of second chances fill this song, and is my personal favorite off the album. "Colors" is a worshipful song that contains some of the best lyrics I've ever heard in a praise and worship song! We Are Leo doesn't disappoint in their lyric writing, and their heart for God comes through their music.

"Live 4 Love" is the infectious single off "Hello" and got my attention the first time I heard it! It reminds us to spread God's love, because when we have love, we have everything. The beat is extremely catchy and fans of pop are sure to love this song. "Remember You" is a very dreamy, almost instrumental track that is really beautiful.

Closing out the EP, "I'm With You" is a song of reassurance from God, how he'll never leave us. Once again strong lyrics give us encouragement; but the fun of pop music with a rock edge is there! "I'm With You" rounds out "Hello" in a great way.

The debut album from We Are Leo is a great pop record with a bit of a rock edge. The lyrics of "Hello" bring what has been missing from Christian Pop for a long time: Spiritual depth with a fun edge. I would recommend "Hello" for fans of Anthem Lights and Royal Tailor. Be sure to keep your eye on We Are Leo!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Free Music from Plumb!

Plumb is offering 6 free tacks for a limited time through NoiseTrade. Hurry and grab the sampler while it's available! You can view the track list by clicking on the album art. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Indie Exclusive: Liam Blake

I recently found out about Indie artist Liam Blake, a Christian folk-pop artist from England! Liam has been making music since he was 17, and he has just released "You And Other Stories". I really enjoy Liam's music; it's worshipful, full of meaning, fun, and is perfect for fans of Shawn McDonald, Aaron Shust, Jimmy Needham, and JJ Heller. His songs tell a story, and you feel a strong connection to the music. His song "Simon" is one of my favorite off "You and Other Stories", as well as "Sinners and Saints", in which Liam humbly acknowledges the state of his soul and crys out to God for redemption. I am excited to offer "Sinners and Saints" as an exclusive free download!

Be sure to check out Liam Blake on Band CampYouTube and MySpace! Here he is performing "Gypsy Fireflies". Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Scripted" by Icon For Hire Review

Tooth & Nail Records "other female-fronted band" have just released their debut album, "Scripted". A mixture of punk rock, synth pop and great lyrics are the result. Let's get to the review!

"Scripted" throws open the curtains with a suspenseful intro to "Theatre", a heavy-hitting song about living life beyond the script. Ariel's punk vocals hit you in the face with urgency, the music is great, and the lyrics really pack a meaning. "Make A Move" is the single from "Scripted" and urges us not to compromise. "Make A Move" is more in the style of their EP's, carrying that same raw sound as songs like "Fall Apart" and "Call Me Alive". "Make A Move" is one of the best tracks off "Scripted". 

When I first heard "Get Well", I was really surprised as Icon For Hire never did any synth pop on their EPs. However, it was a nice surprise, and I really like the "new" sound. The lyrical theme is very different than a listener normally hears, with lyrics such as "And being lonely’s only fun in a group/It sort of loses its charm when it’s true” but the lyrics of "Get Well" are a message that needs to be heard. "The Grey" follows, and is one of the three older songs Icon For Hire chose to re-do. This version is beautiful and doesn't differ much from the EP version. Ariel's vocals are more polished here, and there are minor lyrical differences. Another standout track.

"Off With Her Head" follows, and I have to say, while the "Scripted" version is awesome, I like the EP version better. The EP version had more of a raw punk feel while the cd version sounds very polished with a bit of pop influence. It all depends on your tastes! "Off With Her Head" is one of my favorite Icon For Hire songs lyrically, with Ariel pleading to God, "Don't let go I don't wanna be this, I don't wanna be this, death is mine I know, Don't let go, don't let go, Savior!"

"Fight" can be considered an anthem for all of those who have gone through their lives and taken a lot of pain. "Fight" brings crunching guitars that blend with Ariel's beautiful vocals, the unique bridge is definitely "ear-catching"  and this song is sure to be a fan favorite. "Up In Flames" doesn't bring anything new to the musical table, however it's a very good track with empowering lyrics. "Iodine" is another standout track about how we know what we need to do to recover, but keep "temporarily" fixing things. "I don't like pain but I bring it to life, I don't like scars but I'm good with a knife, I don't like tears but I'm starting to cry when I realize I'm destroying my life." "Iodine" really brings the energy as well as the message.

"Only A Memory" (Known as "Pernilla" to we older fans) is my personal favorite Icon For Hire song. That being said, I like the slight musical changes they made to this song, as well as how great Ariel sounds singing. But what I really miss in the "Scripted" version is the screaming. The screaming of "I won"t bend, I won't break, I will, not, BREAK!" made the EP version absolutely perfect. I know Icon For Hire doesn't have a screamer anymore, but I wish they would've had one of the many Tooth & Nail screamo bands guest. "Only A Memory" is still an amazing track, and Ariel did do a great job replacing the screams with her vocals. The lyrics to "Only A Memory" really pack a punch, and many fans will relate to this song.
"Pieces" closes out the album, and I'm glad Icon For Hire chose to end the song on an energetic note instead of a ballad. Ariel dishes out some tough love on "Pieces" and straight up tells us to pick up the pieces and get our lives right with God. This was a great song choice to leave the listener with.

Over the past few years, Icon For Hire's musical style has developed from punk/rock/screamo to a blend of punk/rock/synth pop. Icon For Hire has a great sound with lyrics a lot better than their secular counterparts. While their slight style change has them borrowing a lot from bands like Paramore, Evanescence, and Flyleaf, Icon For Hire still puts their own unique stamp on each song. They may not change the script entirely, but they're well on their way to re-writing it.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.