Thursday, February 2, 2012

"New Beginning" by Shaken - Review

Hello all! Today I have another awesome independent band for you guys! Shaken hails from Mississippi, and brings with them the sounds of Red and Disciple. Their debut EP, "New Beginning" shows they are serious about their music, and have a message to share. Let's get to the review!

"History" is a strong start to the album, with an industrial intro bringing to mind the style of Red, yet with a style all Shaken's own. "History" not only hits hard musically, but lyrically as well. With lyrics such as I'm on my knees/My God I'm screaming/broken before you. /Take it all away, Jesus!, "History" makes an impact. There's a message in this song everyone can relate to. 

The title track, "New Beginning" is a song about desiring to follow God's Will, and becoming a new creation. An empowering track for new Christians and others desiring to go deeper in Christ, "New Beginning" continues the heavy rock sound with relevant lyrics. "Falling" is a plea of desperation and a fear of failing God. I know I've been in that place before, and this song reaches out to people like us. "Falling" continues the heavy sound, but brings a slower, urgent feel.

"Run Away" changes things up a bit, adding a slight punk influence to their heavy sound. The theme of this song is remorse for fading away from God, and acknowledging how wrong it was. "Living without you is just living, for nothing." truly sums up a life without Christ.

Closing out the album is "Fake Tomorrow" , and is one of my favorites off the album. "Fake Tomorrow" is a stand against falling back into the trap of sin. This song is a great choice for the closer, because it not only finishes the album perfectly, but it leaves you wanting more. 

"New Beginning" is a solid EP from Shaken. Like with all independent bands, there's room to grow, but these guys are definitely on the right track. With unique vocals, rock solid music, and lyrics that make an impact, Shaken is well on their way to being a top Christian band. Check out their websiteFacebook, and their amazing music video for "History".

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Interview: We Are Leo

We Are Leo was kind enough to answer some questions we had here at The Indie Christian Music Scene, and I have to say this may be one of my favorite interviews ever!  From the serious answers to the funny one, I really enjoyed reading it and I hope you will too! My questions are in white, and David Duffield's answers are in red. (Also, check out my review of their debut, "Hello".

First of all, please tell us a little about the formation of We Are Leo. How did you meet and what made you want to create the band?

We Are Leo was born from songs that I wrote. I don't really remember making a conscious decision to "start a band" I just felt a burning desire inside me to respond to the beauty and greatness of God that continually surrounds my life, and creatively for me, that usually turns into a song… So yeah, I started writing a lot, just around my house you know. I love music and sound. I love creating and I enjoy hearing all the notes and rhythms and sounds combing into beautiful art so I would spend hours and hours recording & tweaking stuff till I got the sounds I wanted. I got a Mac laptop and that really changed my world cause it gave me the tools both to record & to share music. I would spend all afternoon on 45 seconds of a song demo then burn it down to cd and cruise around in my car so excited and thrilled to hear something that was totally fresh and less than a day old rocking in my CD play or on my ipod. I dedicated my spare bedroom to be a music room.  I also picked up a piano for free from a guy who was moving and put it in my garage. I spent countless hours out there pounding on the keys, worshipping God, and discovering lyrics and melodies and really just trying to express myself.
At first it was more personal… but as it continued I started getting really positive responses from my friends and people at church. People were saying that my songs were really speaking to them on a spiritual level which was so encouraging for me and really just made me want to write more songs and better ones. It was exciting but, at that time, things were moving pretty slowly. I was spending much of my time working at Starbucks making coffee. One day a friend of a friend heard what we were working on and invited us to play at a local coffee shop, that was the 1st official show, I think, unless you count playing 3 songs at my sisters wedding as a show, LOL, So From there I started working hard to put a group of guys together who would share the vision and passion i had for music, art & Jesus. I think that finding the right band-mates has been one the most challenging things, because as it turns out, starting a band is really hard work these days we didn't have much money and when you live in a Van with 5 guys, you really have to learn to love and forgive the way that Jesus talked about, doing to others what you'd have them do to you, being patient and kind, not keeping a record of wrongs... that sort of thing.
We went for like 2 years spending our days working at Starbucks and our nights and weekends writing, brainstorming, recording, practicing, and playing shows. It was crazy. i think, at one point, i was working 35 hours a week at Starbucks and at the same time working 40-60 hours on music. After doing that for just over two years we couldn't keep our day job anyone cause we were gone half the time. So we made the jump in faith to full time. its definitely tested our faith, but God has been faithful as we've been obedient.

You can really feel the passion We Are Leo has in their music. What is the heart and mission behind We Are Leo?

Our Mission is to write and sing songs that will express the amazing Love and Grace of God to young hearts and minds, not just in America, but all around the world: songs that will become anthems of faith, and hope and new life. We aspire to make catchy, relevant music that grabs the attention of listeners.

We believe that there is a big difference between the way the World is and the way it should be, and we wanna be a part of the Change. We pray each day for His will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. There have been so many times when we've been down and out in our own lives: I have felt broken and i have felt hopeless. But in the midst of this crazy hurricane that we call life, thru all the Beauty and Pain, I have heard God calling out to me, giving me hope and a future, not in money or fame but in his love which the Psalms describe as being better than life. We want discover what Gods Love truly is, what it means for our lives, and how vast, how high, and how wide it really is. This is something that's not just for the cool kids: not limited to the American dream prom kings and queens. But it's for all of us. Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be open. We wanna know this love and we wanna share it thru music.

The songs on “Hello” are full of amazing lyrics and great beats. “Live For Love” is making it’s way around Christian Radio stations all over the U.S. What inspired you to write “Live For Love”?

We were thrilled that Live for Love was in the top 30 on Christian rock Radio for 13 weeks last year. Also it went to #7 in Australia on the Christian Contemporary Music Chart. As far as inspiration, this one was more thought out, Ben & I were asking ourselves, "If there was one thing you could say, what would it be?" lets write a song about that. And what we came up was live for love. in 1st Corinthians we are reminded that without love things are so meaningless and that doing amazing thing without love results in gaining nothing. In a world where money & sex & fame are crowned as gods, we wanted to write a song about what truly matters and remind me people that it doesn't matter how much money you have or how popular you are. If we have love ( if we have Christ, if we have each other our brothers and sisters in Christ) we have everything we need. And as we trust Him, and seek Him first, He will take care of us.

What is your personal favorite song off “Hello”?
Lol, it depends on the day or the mood I'm in. At the moment my favorite is " I'm With You" cause it kicks butt when we play it live.

How have you seen your music affect the listeners?

Many of our fans have told us that they were inspired to see God in a new way & also many people have told us that they have felt God's Love and Heart speaking to them thru our lyrics and melodies.
Its been amazing coming to concerts and looking out from state to see fans singing our songs at the top their lungs, tears in their eyes. This doesn't always happen, but when it does we are so encouraged that people are really getting what we are about.

One quote about the effect of our music that we particularly liked about our music was from the people at non-profit organization Clothe Your Neighbor As Yourself, they said "We are Leo is like listening to Jesus on Synthesizers" and we hope thats true. We wanna be an extension of Him, "his hands, his feet" (as the Audio Adrenaline song has it) in this world.

Also a ton of fans have told us that they see us as role models and we've often been told at Christian shows or festivals by kids that didn't wanna be there but then happened to hear us that they didn't know that "Christian music" could be sound like that, or be "cool." We are so happy to be pointing people toward Christ thru relevant music.

It’s quite obvious through your music the band has a strong relationship with God. What has God been speaking to you about through His Word recently?

1st Tim 4:12 Its all about how as young people we still need to set and example (and I take this personally because i know that a lot of our fans look to us like role models) in our speech, our actions our faith and in purity.

Also Psalms 84, which speaks about how beautiful and perfect it is to dwell in the courts of God. which to me just means that time with Him is better than time anywhere else. Its so easy to get caught in the race of this crazy life. I am trying to slow down and realize the beauty that surrounds me and enjoy it and be thankful for it.

What is a typical touring day like for We Are Leo?

One of the hardest things about touring is how hard it can be to have anything constant in your life. Staying in different places every night, different bed, different food, different people.
That is one of the reasons I am so thankful for God, He is the constant in my life. He's what keeps me sane when the rest of the world feels crazy.

I’m sure being on the road can be pretty crazy! Has anything funny or just plain strange happened?

We were in Albuquerque NM doing a photo shoot with Kristen from ArticulatePhoto. So there we were walking around town looking for cool looking places and Kristen took us to this cool looking abandoned desert gas station. So we walked over to these old gas pumps and she started snapping some photos of us
So we've got four dudes all dressed obviously dressed up, obviously up posing, and a circle of people gather around us with cameras, Then out of no-where these Cops roll up and say "What are you doing" We were like Really? circle of people with cameras? Dudes dressed up, posing?? We are taking pictures!!
Apparently this is frowned upon in New Mexico. Then they were like, "Did you know this is private Property?!"
So we were thinking, "oh my goodness are they gonna arrest us?" but we were just like, private property? no we had no idea, sorry. we will leave… and then they were like OK, have a good day. And we all started laughing from relief whenever they pulled out.

The other amazing thing that happened to us was this summer at Fandana Festival in Indiana in the Band hospitality room: We got to shake hands and chat with one of the people I respect and admire most in this world: John Foreman and his fabulous band Switchfoot. He offered to get us coffee. What a guy!

Now for a random, fun question! If We Are Leo could record a duet with any Christian music artist from the 80’s or 90’s, who would it be?

Does U2 count as Christian? LOL
Also I would love to record a song with Mark Byrd from Common Children. They were by far my favorite Christian music that came out of the 90's. DC talk was 2nd best, but I am reluctant to admit that cause its one my call a bit of a guilty pleasure. Are you down with the DC talk?

What can we expect to see or hear from We Are Leo in the near future? Any tours or possibly a music video?
The thing we are most excited about right now is that we are currently playing several stops on the Acquire the Fire Tour. Also we recorded two music videos, "Supernova Sunrise" & "Remember You", over the last 3 months and they will be releasing to YouTube in February. Also we are gonna be releasing our second radio singe, "Supernova Sunrise", sometime in January 2012.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions! Any closing thoughts?
Here are some random facts about us:
David D- Read the Lord of the Rings series 4 times through
Jonny- Aspires to be a sailor and own a yacht
Doug- Was certified as a Starbucks black Apron CoffeeMaster
Andrew- Fancies himself as an amateur photographer for the national geographic
David R- Has a secret obsession with sharpies. He owns every color and most all sizes.

We really appreciated your review of our Record. It meant so much to us that you really "got" what we are doing especially lyrically. I realized a few years back that even though people talk and hear a lot about God & Jesus & The Holy Spirit and all that for many they have no idea experientially what this means, We wanted to write songs inspired from time that we spent with God, songs that people would listen to and say "is this about God?" I didn't realize that He wasn't just a hymn or a religion or a stain glass window or a statue of a man on a Cross but he is a real, loving, Majestic, fierce, passionate Person, and he is the very embodiment of Love, And as many people go thru their days, he's whats missing

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Seven Lies about Homeschoolers!

Are you a homeschooler? Then I guarantee you've been asked one of the questions in this video!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ilia "We Were Shipwrecks" Review

Ilia has been a band since 2003, but they didn't really get noticed until 2007, when they began touring full time. Since then, they've released 2 EPs, got a new lead vocalist, and changed their sound. Originally, when Alyssa Duncan was on lead vocals, there was a lot of screaming and a heavier sound. Since she left, Brittany Mosher has stepped in and is now the lead vocalist, bringing a softer sound.

"We Were Shipwrecks" is Ilia's second EP (released in 2011), and the first with Brittany Mosher on vocals. It's quite different than Ilia's older stuff, but still very good.

"Ezekiel" kicks things off, bringing a slight rock edge, and tells the story of Ezekiel and the Valley of Dry Bones. The lyrics not only tell the Old Testament story, but relates how we today are like the bones, and how Christ will raise us up. The title track, "We Were Shipwrecks" comes next, and has a more experimental sound. My personal favorite from the album, "We Were Shipwrecks" has some great lyrics, "We are, We are standing together with hope filled hearts, we are safe on the shore of forever, redemption today has come, cause we are the rescued ones". Brittany's voice is absolutely lovely on this as well.

"Reaching" speaks of needing God, but acknowledging we don't always accept Him. This song has an older Ilia feel to it lyrically, so fans of the first album should enjoy this. "Fall On Us" has beautiful lyrics and is a song of worship, asking for God's Spirit to fall on us. "We Will Rise" is the final studio recorded song, and is another favorite of mine. "We Will Rise" is a prayerful and passionate song that speaks of rising up to act as true Christians. "We Will Rise" is a top notch track.

The final two tracks are live versions of "We Were Shipwrecks" and "Reaching". Both are beautiful versions of the original songs, and I can't decide which I like better! Brittany has a beautiful voice, and sounds great. The recordings are slightly rough, but not too distracting.

Ilia has changed tremendously over the past few years. If you like soft rock with worshipful lyrics, "We Were Shipwrecks" is for you. With gentle melodies and prayerful lyrics, Ilia has manged to reinvent themselves a mainstream band that fans of Seventh Day Slumber (who they are going to be touring with soon), should love.  Check out Ilia's website to learn more about them, check out tour dates and more! You can buy "We Were Shipwrecks from Amazon MP3 or iTunes. For fans of harder music, stay tuned, as I'll be reviewing Ilia's first EP later this month.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Silversyde "Circus Circus" Review

After reading Jay Wright's review of this album, I had to hear it myself.  Female fronted Christian Rock bands are starting to take off, and keep your eye on the band Silversyde (signed to Raging Storm Records), because I have a feeling they"ll make it big soon!

"Run To You" brings the rock, with distorted guitars and some in your face drumming. With a voice like Dawn from Fireflight, lead vocalist Laura Jones begins to sing about running to God in midst of trouble. On the band's facebook they say their main focus is suicide prevention, and already in the first song, there is a message of hope. Laura's vocals (even a surprise scream at the end), crunching guitars and skilled drumming make this a top track off the album.

"Circus Circus" sticks to the rock, but the lyrics are my favorite, with messages straight from the Bible. "A fool says in his own heart, I'm giving up and there is no God. All your life you've played that card in this Circus, Circus". Those lyrics from the chorus are so true about many teens today. once again, we get a message of hope and forgiveness, with some great music. "Masquerade" starts off slow, with Laura softly sing, "I've lost control of all I see around me, I can't believe that you still love me, I hide my flaws amongst these pieces, shadows remain of what I can see..." then the guitars blast in, and once again we are given a rocker filled with hope! What I've noticed about Silversyde is they never dwell on sorrow. They present it, but always show the way to peace and happiness: Jesus Christ.

"Hear Me" has a Flyleaf vibe to it, with the song starting off with a soft voice that goes into a growly scream. Not the fry or high screams of Lacey Sturm or Sara Anthony, but it's refreshing to hear something different. This song is a plea to God for Him to hear, heal, save and change us. "That's not me, that's not who I am, I'm not like the rest of them...cause I'm Your's!" should be the anthem of our generation. "Complete" is a good song, the only problem I have is the intro music sort of sounds like "Masquerade", but that's just a minor quibble. "Complete" is a song of thankfulness to God for loving us the way we are, even though we are a mess. "It's not too late to break these chains" is a message young people need to hear, as we often think we've gone too far for anyone to love us. The ending is something different and unique. I like it. A lot.

Halfway through the album we come to "Breakaway", a song that acknowledges the need for God to change our lives. A decent rocker, "Breakaway" will please your ears with great lyrics and a nice sound. Laura extends her vocal range a bit on this song, and it sounds good. "Can't Let Go" is a beautiful song with a strong intro and great music overall. "But you take my pain and fill me with the greater peace" sums up what God has done in my life, and I love the lyrics to this song. Definitely a top favorite.

"The Silence" is another one of my favorites, with almost an old school sound to the music, but it's one of the best songs on the album. I know I've said this about every song, but the lyrics are strong and powerful, and give such a message of hope, The chorus says: "The silence is deafening, It brings me down to my knees (revealing the dark in me), Forgiveness it waits for me, In surrender". "The Silence" is packed with hope and God's love.

I really appreciate how blatantly Christian Silversyde's lyrics are. Most Christian Rock bands want to reach out to the mainstream, which is great, but the lyrical content suffers a bit. Not the case with Silversyde. "You Are There" fully acknowledges God's presence, and the chorus is worshipful. This song is more on the punk side, and I love the faster paced guitars. Great sound. "Love Song" is a great worship song, that I actually like. Usually I find worship songs cliche and the same thing repeated over and over, but this one doesn't suffer from that curse. 

The last two songs are soft, acoustic songs that are absolutely beautiful. The simple acoustic guitars, piano and a few hints of tambourine capture you. "Hold On" says,"I’ll hold on to everything You’ve said, You said You’d never leave, And I believe no matter what they say, You’ll always be with me, I’ll hold on, I’ll hold on, I’ll hold on to You" and "Firewall" closes out the album by asking the listener why they are destroying their life, when there is a better way. Perfect way to close the album.

Silversyde is a very promising band. If you're a fan of Icon For Hire, Flyleaf, The Letter Black and Fireflight, you'll definitely like these guys. They're talented both musically and vocally, and they have killer lyrics that always bring a message of hope. Check out and like their Facebook, and be sure to buy their cd at their store, on Amazon MP3 or iTunes.