Friday, April 28, 2006

Listen of the Month

Looking for an upbeat group that speaks a language you can understand? Look no further. Superchic[k]'s CD Beauty From Pain is not just a practical listen but a fun one as well. Nearly each song will have you jumping up and down or tapping your feet. From the opener "Anthem" to the song "It's on" the CD is packed full of upbeat tempos. It's also a fun listen, with the song "Bowling Ball" addressing failed relationships and a girl's need for a guy "like a bowling ball dropped on your head which means not at all." They team up with TobyMac on the song "Stories (down to the bottom)" a song about the rough times people go through and God's enduring love. Which leads to another outstanding quality: their deep lyrical content on songs such as "We Live""Courage" and "Pure" which made it to WoW 2006. The hit single "We live" is a simple song that states, "We live we love, We forgive and never give up. Cause the days we are given are gifts from above. And today we remember to live and to love." So here's to the members of Superchic[k] for giving us our listen of the month!

Upcoming Releases: 5-2

Brian Doerksen-- Live in Europe

The Elms-- The Chess Hotel

KJ-52-- KJ-52 Remixed

Third Day-- Wherever You Are (DualDisc)

Casting Crowns-- Lifesong (DualDisc)

Previous Releases: 4-25

MercyMe-- Coming up to Breathe

Phil Wickham-- Phil Wickham

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

InFocus: Casting Crowns

Casting Crowns' first release was the fastest selling debut album from a new Christian group. It remained on top ten lists for well over a year and sold over a million copies. What made the CD so popular?
In my opinion, the most remarkable characteristic about the ten tracks were the lyrics. Mark Hall, who wrote the majority of the songs, did an amazing job of writing both praise songs and songs of encouragement and exhortation.
The first single off the album was "If we are the Body," a stinging message to the church about reaching out to unbelievers. The chorus states. "If we are the body, Why aren't His arms reaching? Why aren't His hands healing? Why aren't His words teaching? And if we are the body Why aren't His feet going? Why is His love not showing them there is a way?" The second stand-out single became a worship song sung in Churches across the nation. "Who am I" was an amazing song that echoed Isaiah's query of "why God would look at such a worm as I." Other songs that made airplay included the opening track, a strong rocker, entitled "What if His people pray." The song encourages people to take their problems to their Father in Heaven instead of "asking Oprah what to do." "American dream" talked about America's obsession with work which can lead to the neglect of the family: "His American Dream is beginning to seem More and more like a nightmare With every passing day "Daddy, can you come to my game?" "Oh Baby, please don't work late." The way Hall uses his words with his creative play on dream and nitemare is what makes his lyrics stand out.
Perhaps the most piercing song on the album, "Here I go again" tells the story of a Christian and evangelism. How true it is of most of us that when we have the opportune time to share the gospel, "Here I go again, talking about the rain and mulling over things that won't live past today."
The album's concluding four tracks are all praise songs, and while they weren't the best songs on the record, certainly were meaningful. The album concludes with the soft ballad "Your love is extravagant" which is another song that has made it inside churches everywhere.
Overall, the album is incredible. The group transitions from rock to soft pop very smoothly and capably. But the best thing about the album is definitely the lyrical content.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Upcoming Releases: 4-18

Rob Hodge-- Born King

Mat Kearney-- Nothing Left to Lose

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Upcoming Concerts

4-19: Emery and Anberlin-- Norfolk

4-20: Matt Wertz and Mat Kearney-- Vienna

4-23: Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken-- Vienna

4-23: Matt Wertz and Mat Kearney-- Charlottesville

4-27: Family Force 5-- Virginia Beach

4-30: Building 429 and Tait-- Woodbridge

5-4: KJ-52 and Stellar Kart-- Winchester

5-5: Apologetix-- Richmond

5-7: Shane & Shane and Bethany Dillon-- Front Royal

5-19: Avalon and ZOEgirl-- Woodbridge

5-20: Sandi Patty-- Lynchburg

Monday, April 10, 2006

InFocus: Casting Crowns in Concert

What do Josh Bates, Nichole Nordeman and Casting Crowns all have in common? Well, Friday night it was Liberty University as the three Christian artists converged on the stage of the Vines Center for a night of music.
Josh Bates, a new artist with a whole bunch of flair stepped onto the stage with just his acoustic guitar and belted out his hit single “Perfect Day” which made it to WoW 2006. His nasly voice was almost too much, but his charismatic performance more than made up for it. After the first song, he picked up his mandolin and got everyone clapping and stamping their feet with the song “I’ll fly away.” He concluded his act with a praise song he wrote, and was accompanied by drums and bass from Nichole Nordeman’s act.
Nichole Nordeman followed Josh, and opened her set with “Legacy,” a beautiful song matched only by her absolutely beautiful voice. Nichole, on the piano, was accompanied by an upright bass, acoustic guitar and drum set. The drums were slightly loud in the second song, “What if,” which was dedicated to an atheistic friend of hers. She talked about most of the songs she played, including the next song “Brave” which was written for moms and dads whose kids inspire them. She played a couple more songs, concluding with her hit song “Holy” which, without the electric guitar from the CD version, made for an incredible stripped version. Her gutsy vocals still send chills up my spine when I hear that song.

Casting Crowns stormed the stage and led off with the title track of their latest CD Lifesong. Mark Hall (was it just me or did he sort of look like Mac Powell from Third Day?) and his group played the song just like it is on the CD, making for an incredible performance. They followed it up with “Praise you with the dance” and “If we are the body.” Many of the songs that Mark writes for the group are taken from his experience as a youth pastor and he told how many of his songs are inspired by real life situations he has encountered. The next song they played, “American Dream,” was my favorite of the night. Not only is the song itself amazing, and the music video played in the background, but the group played the song perfectly. After this there was an intermission, before the group came back out. They played several songs off of their newest CD, including “Stained Glass Masquerade,” “Praise you in the storm” and “Set me Free” (the heaviest song of the night). But the most powerful song of the night was one they didn’t sing live. Due to vocal difficulties, Mark wasn’t able to sing “Does anybody see her” and so they played the music video for the song. Many of the songs Mark writes are words of exhortation and rebuke to the church, such as the song “If we are the body.” This song was a continuation of that theme, and the video was beautiful. The group retired and speaker Tony Nolan came out and gave a gospel message in a very unique and quirky manner. Then Casting Crowns finished off the night with two songs from their first album—“Who am I” and “What if his people pray.” Overall, it was a good night of music. It was frustrating having to sit down after every Casting Crowns song while Mark talked, but the stories added so much to the songs I wouldn’t have missed them for anything. Casting Crowns’ drummer was amazing on his drum solo and had the entire crowd laughing with his expressions. The concert was a smashing success, which might be the last one for awhile at Liberty if MercyMe is really the next act coming to town. J

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Upcoming Releases: 4-11

Anthem Ave.—Seasons of Love

Nicole C. Mullen—Live From Cincinnati: Bringin’ it Home (DVD)

Salvador—Worship Live (DVD)

Mark Schultz—Mark Schultz Live…A Night of Stories and Songs (CD/DVD/Songbook)

Randy Travis—Worship & Faith (DVD)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

InFocus: Casting Crowns History

Casting Crowns had its beginnings many years ago in one man: Mark Hall. Mark was a youth pastor in Florida who led youth in several different bands. Mark Hall was transferred to Atlanta, where the group now known as Casting Crowns formed. The group put out two independent albums, but hesitated to approach a major label wanting to keep their sound. Eventually, they were approached by Steven Curtis Chapman and others, and they released their first album, which was self-titled. Casting Crowns was the fastest selling debut release from a group Christian music has ever seen. The album, released October, 2003, went platinum in February of 2005 and remained on the Gospel Music Association’s top-ten list up until the beginning of this year. Their 2004 release of Live from Atlanta, including a DVD and CD, went gold. In 2005 the group garnered multiple GMA awards, including group of the year and song of the year for “Who am I.” Later in 2005, the group released their second studio album, Lifesong, which has already gone gold.
Perhaps the reason for the group’s appeal lies in their members, perhaps in their songs. The group is composed of:
Mark Hall - lead vocals
Juan DeVevo - acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals
Melodee DeVevo - violin, vocals
Hector Cervantes - electric guitar, vocals
Chris Huffman - bass guitar
Megan Garrett - keyboard, accordion, vocals
Andy Williams - drums

Mark Hall’s tremendous vocals are rivaled only by his incredible songwriting capabilities (named songwriter of the year in 2004 and 2005 by GMA). Songs such as “Who am I” and “If we are the body” not only received their fair share of radio play, but also are being sung in churches worldwide. Other songs, such as “Lifesong” and their latest single “Praise you in the storm” are being embraced in similar fashion. The group’s pop/rock style only complements their talent, making them this month’s InFocus group.

Info taken from and the group's website.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

April InFocus: Casting Crowns