Thursday, March 30, 2006

Upcoming Releases: 4-4

Edison Glass-- A Burn or a Shiver

Hawk Nelson-- Smile, It's the End of the World

Passion Worship Band-- Passion: Everything Glorious

Sanctus Real-- The Face of Love

Superchic[k]-- Live (CD/DVD)

Various: WoW Worship (Aqua)

Various: X 2006

Listen of the Month

If you're tired of listening to the same old music, and are looking for something fresh and new to listen to, check out Rebecca St. James' lastest release If I Had One Chance to Tell You Something. Once you get past the lengthy title, the contents are amazing. If you listen to the radio regularly, you've probably heard her first single "Alive" which is the best song on the album, with its catchy riffs and her rockin' vocals. Guest vocals of TobyMac on "Thank You" are, well, interesting, and BarlowGirl's performance on "Forgive me" is wonderful. The lyrics on "I need you" are piercing, as is its challenge to us. Other stand-out tracks include the rocking opener "God help me" and "Beautiful Stranger." Overall, this CD is by far my favorite listen of the month!

Monday, March 27, 2006

InFoucus: Song of the Month

You Know Where to Find Me--Matthew West (Happy)

I saw your sky fall down today
Suddenly turn from blue to gray
'Til one by one the raindrops
Turned to tears upon your face
Wish there was something I could do
Wish I could ease the pain from you
But I've never felt so helpless
It's like you're drowning right in front of me
And I'm reaching out but you can't see
There's something holding on to you so tight
So I guess this is all I'll say to you tonight

If you ever need me
You know where to find me
I will be waiting
Where I've always been
If you ever need me
You know where to find me
I have never left you
I'm where I've always been
Right by your side
Right by your side

If the whole wide world is on your back
If the strength you need is the strength you lack
If you're in a crowd but all alone
If you can't stay here but you can't go home
If you can't answer all the whys
'Cause you're too tired to reach that high
I want you to remember

Thursday, March 23, 2006

YourTurn: A Not so Beautiful Letdown

I don't know about y'all, but I am becoming more and more dissapointed and cynical of Christian artists whose lives don't match their songs. Jaci Velasquez divorces her husband after a very brief marriage citing things just didn't work out. What's that all about? Former lead singer of Creed, Scott Stapp, accepted Christ as his Savior, Creed disbanded, and he started a solo career last year, releasing what could be called a "Christian album," The Great Divide. And yet just a few weeks ago, the day after he remarried, he was arrested for public intoxication at the LAX airport and causing a commotion. Is it just me, or aren't Christians called to be sober? I don't want to sound all holier-than-thou, because trust me, I'm not perfect. Christian musicians aren't perfect, but some things are just plain wrong, no matter who you are. And now, it's Switchfoot.
A few years ago, Switchfoot released The Beautiful Letdown, an album that went mulit-platinum, with large success in the mainstream market. And yet they didn't compromise their moral standards in their lyrics at all. Last year Switchfoot released Nothing is Sound, arbuably one of their best albums to date. In the album, the group doesn't write explicitly Christian lyrics, but each song has a positive theme, addressing suicide, sex, and happiness, all from a Christian perspective. The group has declined being put on the cover of CCM magazine, seemingly wanting to distance themselves from the "Christian music industry", but that's fine with me. They told CCM, "We're Christian in faith, not in genre." Because of this, many Christian publications including Plugged-In from Focus on the Family have given the group a scolding and negative reviews. But throughout it all, I have strongly supported the group and what they stand for.
Then, a Victoria's Secrets ad came out with Switchfoot's song "Adding to the Noise" from Beautiful Letdown in the background. What's with that? Not exactly the type of company a group of Christians should be supporting. Switchfoot even decries our cultures' obsession with sex in their song "Easier than love": "Sex is currency She sells cars, She sells magazines Addictive bittersweet, crack your hands, with the hopeless nicotines...She, is easier to love It's easier to lie It's easier to fake and smile and brag." So why on earth would Switchfoot allow their song, which contains great lyrics, stating that if they are just adding to the noise of this world, turn off this song, to be featured by a company that promotes sexuality in all the wrong ways?
In Switchfoot's defense, it is possible that the comapny used the song sithout permission, or their record label allowed it to be used without the group's express permission. But both Plugged-In and Christian magazine Breakaway contacted Switchfoot to see if this was the case, and the band declined to comment. If it wasn't their decision, you would think they would be eager to clear their name, so this seems almost an admission of guilt.
I know that when you put someone on a pedestal, they are bound to fall, but sometimes it comes where you're not expecting it. Switchfoot, you let me down. In my opinion, Switchfoot just might be adding to the noise and the proper response is to turn them off.
What's your opinion? This is your turn to comment and give your 2 cents!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Upcoming Releases: 3-21

Further Seems Forever-- Hope This Finds You Well

Kutless-- Hearts of the Innocent

Steve Green-- The Ultimate Collection

CD Releases: 3-14

Building 429-- Rise

Go Fish-- Snooze

Watermark-- A Grateful People

InFocus: Happy

After Matthew's near death experience (see previous post) he had much to be happy about. Thus, when he put out his first full-length album, the title Happy was apropo. In his pop/rock style, Matthew recorded 10 tracks full of praise to God, encouragement to Christians, and an overall postitive vibe.
The opening track, "More" speaks of God's love for us, a love that sent His own Son to the cross. He loves us "More than you can imagine, more than you can fathom...more than the sun and the stars that I taught how to shine." The title track sorta sums up the entire message of the album: "Doesn't really matter 'cause I got You with me I think I don' t have to be so down, down, down, down, down. I should be happy I should be happy I should be living up these days Just like I know who runs this place Now that you found me I should be happy." With God's love and protection around us all the time, we have no reason to be upset or depressed. And even when the difficulties and trials of life do come, we always have someone to turn to, One who is right by our side, which is the subject of another of Matthew's songs.
"If the whole wide world is on your back If the strength you need is the strength you lack If you're in a crowd but all alone If you can't stay here but you can't go home If you can't answer all the why's 'Cause you're to tired to reach that high I want you to, I need you to remember. If you ever need me You know where to find me I will be waiting where I've always been If you ever need me You know where to find me I have never left you, I'm where I've always been Right by your side." Arguably, this is the best song on the record.
Following the "Happy" theme, the song "The End" talks about how even when your parade gets rained on, it's not the end of the world, in fact "It's just another day depending on grace." The song concludes with a hilarious monologue of Matthew saying/singing "It's not the end I bet you're wondering when this song's gonna end But it's not the end Cause I'm singing this song and I get to decide when it's the end And it's not the end Well it's almost the end I guess you could say it's nearing the end But it's not the end It's not the end It's not the end It's almost the end Ok I think it's the end" demonstrating his kid-at-heart nature.
Besides talking about being happy, Matthew also challenges Christians in their Spiritual walk. In "The Lie" Matthew addresses sexual purity and the world's claim that "Everybody's doing it" so it must be alright. But as Matthew says: "Don't believe the lie." In the song "Finest Hour" Matthew addresses the paradox that is Christianity. Jesus taught that being weak, we will be strong, being poor we are rich. "Well everything is opposite down here. The strong surive and the rest just disappear. But your philosophy is more unique. You say I'll be stronger when I'm weak This will be my finest hour"
Perhaps the most beautiful song on the album is "Out of my Hands." In the song, Matthew sings about how God changes our plans, our dreams, our visions. Everytime we get comfortable, it seems like we're being uprooted and our comfort zone is penetrated. But when life goes crazy and nothing seems right, when "it's out of my reach...there's too many things that I don't's into your will and out of my hands." An awesome thought!
Matthew's vocal skills, catchy beats and melodies, but mostly his incredible songwriting abilities make this CD a great listen. Its upbeat nature makes it a great listen for all, and with each song being stellar, it won't dissapoint listeners.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

InFocus: Matthew West

Matthew West grew up as the son of a pastor with the dream of one day playing baseball with the Chicago Cubs. God changed his mind when his dad gave him his first guitar. After graduation from college, he went around the country playing in various small settings (aka, coffee shops) until he was recognized for his song-writing abilities and signed to Word Publishing as a songwriter. Several years afterwards, he was signed to the new label Universal South and began doing his own music.
His first album, Happy, was released in 2003. The entire album seems to reflect the title, from the music to the album art. If there was a Dove Award for most creative album art, the award definitely would have been Mathew’s. Each picture has clowns, or something funny in it, and the last page is blank, for you to fill in with your own happy picture. The man seems to have never let go of the child in him, which is a good thing.
But the story behind why Matthew is so happy is amazing. Just prior to signing his record label contract, he broke a window in his house in an attempt to enter after locking himself out. He severed a major artery in his left arm, collapsed on the sidewalk, and was rushed to the hospital, where doctors doubted he would ever be able to play guitar again. When he regained his ability to play, he really had a reason to be happy.
Matthew’s first single from the album, “More”, held the #1 spot on R&R's Christian Adult Contemporary singles chart for several weeks and went on to be named Christian Song of the Year by ASCAP. Not only this, but several of the songs he has written for other groups have gone on to be hits, including “The Day Before You” which was recorded by the group Rascal Flatts.
Matthew’s latest release, History, follows his first albums’ style, conveying many incredibly vital lessons for a Christian in a simple and likeable way. So here’s to the undeniably happiest artist in Christian music, our artist in focus this month.

Info taken from Christianity Today

Monday, March 06, 2006

Upcoming Releases: 3-7

Caedmon's Call-- In the Company of Angels II: The World Will Sing

Shawn McDonald-- Ripen

Grits-- 7

Anthony Evans-- Letting Go

Warren Barfield-- Reach

Lonely Hearts-- Paper Hearts

Jadon Lavik-- Life on the Inside

Ana Laura-- Ana Laura

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

March InFocus: Matthew West