Thursday, February 24, 2011

Throwback Thursday: The Benjamin Gate

The Benjamin Gate is one of my absolute favorite bands! TBG hailed from South Africa, and burst onto the Christian Music scene in 2001 with their debut, "Untitled". Boasting a strong electronic pop/rock sound, they quickly became a favorite in the industry. The band members were Adrienne Liesching (now known as Adie Camp) on vocals, Costa Balamatsias was the bassist, Nick Volsteedt on drums, Marc "Mac" Pautz on guitar, and Chris Poisat, also on guitar.

Their first album, "Untitled", released in 2001 garnered them positive reviews, with Jesus Freak Hideout giving them a 4/5. "All Over Me"  and "Hands" were quite popular, and The Benjamin Gate's unique sound made you want to hear more. They toured extensively, and performed at the now defunct Festival Con Dios three times.

"Contact" followed in 2002, and toned their sound down a bit to make it more radio friendly. It still retained their cool electronic pop/rock vibe, but in a more contemporary manner. "Lift Me Up" was a successful single. As they continued to tour, Adrienne met someone very special. Jeremy Camp. They soon were engaged.  However, Adrienne did not feel like she could keep up with being in a band and being a wife and mother, so in 2003, The Benjamin Gate disbanded after only 2 years of being a signed band. 

Adrienne and Jeremy Camp have two daughters, Isabella and Arianne. Adrienne now goes by Adie Camp, and has released two worship albums, "Don't Wait" (2006) and "Just You And Me" (2010).

The rest of the band members have either moved back to South Africa and England, with the exception of Nick, who moved to Los Angeles to pursue a modeling career. The man behind all their hits, Marc Theodosiou, works in the music industry.

I wish I could have seen TBG perform at least one time. The video above is the only live footage I can find, and it is poor quality. Their lyrics and music are amazing, and would love to see a reunion, even if it was just for one song. TBG was one of the best bands I've ever heard, and their music is greatly missed. be sure to check them out! 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Music Review: Hold Me EP by Jamie Grace

A while ago, I heard about a girl named Jamie Grace. She toured with the popular tween-geared iShine Live tour, as well as performing on iShine Kinect. She has an amazing musical style, and a great sense of humor! Recently, she broke away from the iShine artist circle, and was signed by tobyMac to Gotee Records. Her debut EP came out today! I couldn't wait to get my hands on this. How does it measure up? Let's find out!

Jamie Grace begins the EP with a great track, called "Hold Me", featuring TobyMac himself. It's a fun, acoustic track, reminiscent of Britt Nicole. When I first heard the song, I thought maybe it was a love song, but Jamie Grace quickly puts to rest any doubts this about some guy. "Lord I love the way you hold me" speaks of the love God has for us, and how thankful she is for that love. This was a great opener, and Jamie Grace's vocals really shine on this song.

"One Song at a Time" comes up second, and immediately you get a fun, funky beat with a neat keyboard intro. All about having fun "One Song at a Time", is one of those songs you can imagine playing at a party, or simply riding in your car. Jamie Grace has a signature sound, with a new twist on acoustic pop.This song features GabeReal from Diverse City! His cameo fits perfectly, and is the perfect complement to this track.

Next we have a slower track, called "Holding On". A beautiful piano intro plays as Jamie Grace sings of holding onto God as she faces life. This is such a beautiful track. Jamie Grace has a beautiful voice, and a great range, which this song takes advantage of. I love the message of this song, as it encourages us to hold on to God, no matter what comes our way.

Last on the EP is the dc Talk cover, "Into Jesus". I loved this track! With a simple acoustic guitar and a great beat, it does the original more than justice. Jamie Grace is the perfect artist for this song. I found myself singing along in no time! I'm glad she chose this song to cover, and dc Talk fans will not be disappointed.

Overall, this is a strong debut from former iShine artist, Jamie Grace. Filled with fun, acoustic pop music and beautiful vocals from Jamie Grace, this EP is a worthy addition for anyone! Fans of Britt Nicole, Shawn McDonald, Lanae Hale and Charmaine will definitely enjoy this album.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Product Review: Altec Lansing Backbeat Plus Earbuds

I love music. I don't just like it, I LOVE it. But how can I love music if it's coming out something awful? Thankfully, that's not the case with my BackBeat Plus earbuds.

 I received the BackBeat classics as a Christmas present a year ago. They had a decent sound quality, but they constantly broke. Altec Lansing has a great warranty, and after my two replacements pairs had broken, they upgraded my classics to the pluses. I have had much better luck with the pluses, as you shall see.

 The design of the Pluses are very comfortable with a rubber ear tip, which comes in three sizes. The design is nice and understated, as they are black with a gold band around the earbud itself. The earbuds are quite comfortable to wear, and they do not push themselves out of the ear. The cord is almost a rope-like material, which helps to protect the cord instead of the thin, fragile rubber that usually coats headphone cords. The only downside of this is if your volume is down low, you can hear the cord brushing against your clothes, but that is only at low volumes.
The sound quality is great! The sound is crisp and clear, yet has a punchy low end, which makes for a great sound overall. I can listen to Escala (Classical) and hear all the beautiful notes, with no muddy sound at all. However, listen to a Britt Nicole or Lecrae song, and you will hear that awesome bass, and not lose the sound quality at all. These are the best earbuds I have ever had, and are quite affordable for $30 at Amazon. Or maybe you could just request it as a Christmas or Birthday present, and get them free. ;)

These earbuds have amazing sound quality, and are quite durable. I have had the Pluses for almost a year, and they have been dropped in the dish water (oops), and still sound great. If your looking for some new earbuds, be sure to check out the Altec Lansing Backbeat Plus earbuds.

Rating: 5 out of 5!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Introducing.......THROWBACK THURSDAY!

I love old school Christian music. LOVE it! There is so much great music we just skip over now. These artists are the pioneers of Christian music, the "Mom and Pops" of the industry. So every thursday, I'm going to highlight an artist from the past, as well as some fun facts about them. Be sure to leave me a comment with your thoughts!

Today's old school goodness is........CARMAN!!

Carman was one of the ultimate pioneers of Christian music. My first concert was a Carman spectacular! Hitting the scenes in 1982 with his debut album, "Some O' Dat", he quickly made a huge impression on Christian music.  Known for his signature story songs, such as the hit "The Champion", "Witch's Invitation" and "Mission 3:16" Carman cemented himself as a top artist in the mid 80's throughout the early 2000's. Carman has received multiple awards, 15 platinum and gold certified albums, as well as holding the world record for the largest solo Christian concert, with 80,000 attendees at a Charlotte, North Carolina show. He also wrote, produced, and starred in "Carman: The Champion".

As I mentioned before, my first concert was a Carman concert held at the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. Carman never charged for his concerts, (an offering was taken up) and after hearing about it on the radio, we decided to take some members from the church my dad pastored. I was about 5 at the time, but can still remember some of it. We were on the left side of the arena, about halfway up. ZoeGirl was the opening act. From the few details I remember, ZoeGirl performed a few songs, and as Carman came out, they sang "Faith Enough" together. Unfortunately, the only songs I remember Carman singing was "The Champion", "Revival In The Land", and "Faith Enough". However, I can remember enough to realize how awesome it was. Best concert experience, ever. I think your first concert is always your favorite concert.

Carman was know for his amazing music videos, as they were entertaining, yet brought a message. How can I pick a favorite?? I'll include my favorite three....


Fun facts about Carman:

He was discovered by Bill Gaither.
He is named as one of Family Force 5's top influences.
A Mafia family asked to be his manager.
He had the Longest #1 Record on Billboard CCM sales chart at 33 weeks.
"The Champion" stayed on the Billboard overall sales charts for 168 weeks.
He is the cofounder of the Parable Christian Film Festival

Carman is one of the most unique Christian music artists out there. He made good, fun music that captured nearly every Christian's attention. Thanks, Carman, for the influence you've had on the current CCM industry.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dove Awards 2011

The nominees for 2011's GMA Dove Awards were released today. Here is my unbiased list of who I think truly deserves to win.

Overall, I think Chris August, Francesca Battistelli, and Sanctus Real will win big. I was disappointed Skillet was not nominated, and I also feel Red and Flyleaf were snubbed with only one nomination. Complete list of noms:

Who would you like to see win? Leave me a comment below!

Who I'd like to see win:

Song of the Year: Lead Me by Sanctus Real

Male Vocalist of the Year: Doug Anderson

Female Vocalist of the Year: Britt Nicole

Group of the Year: Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

Artist of the Year: Francesca Battistelli

New Artist of the Year: Chris August

Producer of the Year: Wayne Haun

Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year: Background by Lecrae

Rock Recorded Song of the Year: Dear X (You Don't Own Me) by Disciple

Rock/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year: Something Beautiful by Needtobreathe

Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year: Keep Changing the World by MIKESCHAIR

Inspirational Recorded Song of the Year: Joseph by Jason Crabb

Southern Gospel Recorded Song of the Year: I Thirst by Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

Bluegrass Recorded Song of the Year: Not sure about this category. My guess is Jeff & Sherri Easter.

Country Recorded Song of the Year: There Is Nothing Greater Than Grace by Point Of Grace

Urban Recorded Song of the Year: Life by Beckah Shae

Traditional Gospel Song of the Year: The Greatest Name by Smokie Norful

Contemporary Gospel Song of the Year: He Wants It All by Forever Jones

Worship Song Of The Year: How He Loves by John Mark McMillan

Rap/Hip Hop Album of the Year: Rehab by Lecrae

Rock Album of the Year: Either Momento Mori by Flyleaf or Horseshoes & Handgrenades by Disciple

Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year: Pieces of a Real Heart by Sanctus Real

Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year: Starry Night by Chris August (If Casting Crowns wins, I will be quite aggravated)

Inspirational Album of the Year: The Stage Is Bare by Ryan Seaton

Southern Gospel Album Of The Year: Tribute To The Cathedral Quartet by Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

Country Album of the Year: Times Like These by Austin's Bridge

Traditional Gospel: Smokie Norful Presents by Smokie Norful

Contemporary Gospel: Get Ready by Forever Jones

Children's Music Album of the Year: iShine Jamz, Vol. 1

Praise & Worship Album of the Year: The Shelter by Jars of Clay

Recorded Music Packaging: Suburba by House of Heroes

Short Form Video of the Year: Invasion (Hero) by Trip Lee, but will probably go to
David Crowder Band for SMS Shine

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Favorite Christian Comedians

I absolutely LOVE comedy! Who doesn't? Sadly, it's hard to find good, clean comedians. However, there are several funny Christian comedians, and I thought I'd share my favorites with you!

Brad Stine:

Everything I've heard from Brad is completely clean, and he often mixes apologetics and comedy together. He is a hilarious guy, and I would say "Wussification" and "Put A Helment On" are his best albums.

Jeff Allen:

Once again, Jeff Allen is also hilarious and clean. I haven't heard a complete album from him, but I would recommend buying the "Apostles Of Comedy" dvd which features Jeff Allen, Brad Stine, Ron Pearson, and Anthony Griffith.

Ron Pearson:

He is so funny! Check him out also on the "Apostles Of Comedy" dvd.

Anthony Griffith:

I love this clip. I laugh every time! He is also on the "Apostles Of Comedy" dvd.

Chonda Pierce:

Most of her stuff is pretty funny. I would recommend her older albums, as they contain funnier material.


Funny stuff! He was on "Thou Shalt Laugh 2".

Last but not least......TIM HAWKINS!

I love Tim Hawkins! His stuff is great, and he's as clean as it gets.

Other good comedians:
Bob Smiley
Thor Ramsey
Michael Jr.

I'd love to see your favorite Christian comedians! Feel free to leave a comment with your favorite.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Don't Waste Your Life"

  One of my favorite songs is "Don't Waste Your Life" by Lecrae. I love the challenges that are made in this song, and I wanted to do a devotional with this theme. I'm not a terrific writer, but I just wanted to share this with you.

What is your goal in life? Do you desire a nice house, good job, and a perfect family? There's nothing wrong with wanting those things, but a lot of times we desire them more than we desire to make our life count for God. We start out on fire for God, burning with a passion to see things happen for God. But, time passes and life takes a turn. You're left sitting on a church pew, drawing on the offering envelopes, living a casual Christian life.

 God is always looking for someone to do His will. In Isaiah 6:8 it says,  "Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me." I know not everyone is called to be a preacher, missionary, or pastor, but we are all called to spread the Gospel. Mark 16:15 says, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." All the world includes your town. Don't be afraid to witness to those around you.

 "I don't have the talent or ability to do anything for God".  Have you ever read Corinthians 1:27? " But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty....That no flesh should glory in his presence (Vs. 29)." I once heard a preacher say, "God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called." God doesn't need your talents! That may sound a bit odd, but it's true. God needs your willingness. His name is glorified through your dependency on Him.

 "I'm too young." 1 Timothy 4:12 " Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." You are never too young to do something for God! Before I was a teenager, I had gone to Mexico and the Philippines on mission trips. God uses young people! Look at David, Josiah, Daniel, and Esther! There are many more examples in the Bible of young people being used of God. Don't rely on the excuse of being too young. 

 How can you make your life count? Do something for God! Don't be content to sit in your church pew every Sunday. You can witness by speaking to people directly about Christ, and by your actions. Volunteer to help with a Sunday School class, help out with your church's nursing home, prison, homeless shelter, or hospital ministry. Go on mission trips. Ask God to give you a willing spirit, and to be available for Him to use. All God needs is a willing heart.

 I want to encourage you to really pray about being a witness to those around you, and to just be available to God. I'd encourage you to read "Do Hard Things" by Alex & Brett Harris." Please don't sit on your pew and expect someone else to do what God has called every believer to do. Don't waste your life.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Lost Colors (Indie Review)

As I was searching for new bands, I came across a great band called The Lost Colors, thanks to Cara from

The Lost Colors is a pop/rock band hailing from Wichita, Kansas. Their Reverb Nation profile describes them as, " five friends united by not only a passion for music, but also a love for Jesus Christ. The group began their career playing various shows to gain recognition around the Wichita area, and soon began branching out to the surrounding regions."

Their debut EP, "The Lost Colors" was released in May of 2009. Containing three songs, it gave us just a little taste of what The Lost Colors is all about.

 The EP starts off with "Blame", and begins with a beautiful piano intro, which later in the chorus turns into a nice guitar riff. Ellie begins to sing of a person who is hurting and angry, and begins to blame others for what they have done to themselves. I really like the lyrics of the bridge, that say, " I know that it's easy to blame everyone else, for our own lack of motivation, and I know that it's easy to blame everyone else, than fixing our own situations." "Blame" is a great song, and I enjoy the music as well as the lyrics. Ellie has a distinct voice, strong in it's own way.

The second track is "Turn Around". It begins with some crashing cymbals that I really love, and crescendos into additional guitar and piano. Ellie's haunting voice begins to sing, "I can't find myself, I'm lost in misery, I don't know where to run, when they chase me..." This song is a great encouragement to those who are hurting. The lyrics and music are once again great. The Lost Colors are amazing songwriters, and very talented musically.

Since this is an EP, there aren't that many songs. Lastly, we have "Say OK". A rocking anthem to not run from our call, to stand up and "Say Ok". The intro to this track is very "ear catching" and they don't disappoint. However, I was disappointed this was the last track.

In closing, The Lost Colors is an amazing indie band, and already they have shared the stage with Red, Emery, and Relient K. Be sure to keep your eye on them, and buy their EP on iTunes. It's only a couple bucks, and well worth it. I give "The Lost Colors EP" a 4.5 out of 5.

Check out their YouTube page for Behind The Scenes videos from their recording session, as well as on tour.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

First post!

Welcome to my blog! Throughout the next, oh, however many days/months/years/ I will be blogging about life, music, books, products, and the Bible! If you have any suggestions, or requests, be sure to email me!

Thanks for stopping by!