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!