Author: Casey Gallenberger

December 13, 2022

REVIEW : Jacob James Wilton - Life Wide Open

Brandishing a not-so-subtle love for the likes of Starflyer 59, Jacob James Wilton has finally arrived with his latest LP after months of waiting. Life Wide Open is ambitious, dreamy, and infectious just as much as it is pensive and energetic. Wilton has dabbled in a number of disparate styles over the years, but this album feels like the pinnacle of his work. There are tastes of shoegaze, Americana, indie rock, and alternative. While his approach is undeniably modern, he pays respects to artists of two decades ago (writing this made me feel old).… Continued →

October 30, 2022

REVIEW : Jonathan Allen Wright - Doorways & Tombstones

Every now and then, an artist comes along that makes it clear they mean business. These aren’t typically the arena-rockers or bombastic pop acts. Instead, like Elijah’s encounter with the Lord, these artists employ a certain mundane simplicity in their presentation that places the focus on the message before all else. Don’t mishear me – that’s not to say these artists don’t write incredible compositions with powerful production. But all of this is very much secondary to the lyrical focus. I can’t help but think of Former Ruins, Zambroa, Allen Odell, or Benjamin Daniel who all, to some degree, subvert the typical expectations of the singer-songwriter niche.… Continued →

October 28, 2022

Former Ruins Releases Yet Another Pair of Singles

Former Ruins has returned with another pair of singles off his forthcoming sophomore LP, and these tracks to continue to highlight just what makes this project so captivating. As usual, there’s a lot to unpack lyrically and musically – and as a supporter, I’ve been able to hear these songs shift and take form over months and months to become what they are now (which is an odd sort of gift in itself). “Sign” is a bit of bi-partisan bashing, a wrestling with the ways our political allegiances conflict with the call of the Gospel.… Continued →

September 28, 2022

REVIEW : Zane Vickery - Where is Your Faith?: Volume One

Zane Vickery broke onto the scene last year with his debut album, Breezewood, an album of mythic proportions where the real and fantastical coalesce in parable fashion. It’s an album of love, loss, and lessons that assumes the posture of piano-driven indie pop. Now, he’s following the album up with a collection of decidedly-different songs – both musically and lyrically. Where is Your Faith?: Volume One is, per the title, part of some larger body of songs yet to come. Self-contained, it’s fairly concise. It sits at four songs of which two (“Is There Room Enough for Me” and “I Never Left”) were released as singles.… Continued →

September 9, 2022

Check Out Jacob James Wilton (FFO Benjamin Daniel, Allen Odell, Starflyer 59)

Jacob James Wilton is one of the more unique entries into modern Christian music, taking an alt-country and self-described “prairie pop” approach toward songwriting. There’s a certain sobriety to these songs, and there’s even some nostalgia in the form of alt-roc influence. His full album is still forthcoming, but you can check out his first three singles below. Personally, I find this to be one of the more adventurous angles of indie and I hope you enjoy what you hear.
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August 13, 2022

Check Out Zane Vickery (FFO: My Epic, Last Bison, Benjamin Daniel)

While Zane Vickery’s first album showed a catchy, piano-indie/emo/pop sound, he’s cranked things up with lots more intensity on his latest tracks. These are honest-yet-faithful songs that showcase Vickery’s soaring voice and a backing band that feels equal parts contemporary worship and aggressive post-rock. And while it’s never TOO heavy, it’s decidedly more rock-based than his first release. He has a new EP coming soon, but until then, check out the latest tracks below.  
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August 9, 2022

REVIEW : Rob Ray - The Twilight Gospel

The Twilight Gospel is a culmination of years of spiritual and musical wanderings for Rob Ray. This album is the firstfruits of two previous EPs – Yours is the Day and Yours is the Night – and appropriately finds the midpoint of both, musically and thematically. Even the title itself finds itself somewhere between day and night. There’s a stillness and gentleness of the night here, but the light has most certainly not been extinguished. The album features 11 tracks of Ray’s unique brand of playful indie pop, sultry lofi, and pensive alternative worship.… Continued →

May 19, 2022

REVIEW : LEVVY - Bury EP

Sometimes it feels like the wave of faith-based post-hardcore bands the likes of Least of These, sosaveme, Matter, Attalus, and so on has come and gone. It’s a shame – there are plenty of bands that have opted to go to the saturated metalcore market, and it’s obvious that indie is still a thriving genre – but high-octane, technical bands with captivating lyrics have become a rare breed. DENS feels like a beacon of hope here, but they’re certainly not alone in trying to bring new life to this space.… Continued →

April 14, 2022

PREMIER: Former Ruins Debuts "Sparrow Eyes", "Doxology"

We’re excited to give you a first look at two tracks off the forthcoming Former Ruins album, No Creature is Hidden. The title comes from a lyric in “Sparrow Eyes”. Concerning the two tracks, listeners will find music anchored in both spirit and flesh. These songs wrestle against the gnostic schism, accepting the “already and not yet” reality of the world where the Kingdom has come. “Sparrow Eyes” looks at being seen and being known by God – and the terrifying repercussions of this. “What we are is known to You.… Continued →

April 6, 2022

Former Ruins to Premiere Two Songs Off Their Upcoming Album

Muncie-based Former Ruins has returned with the first fruits of a new LP that will inevitably serve as a powerful follow-up to Large Startling. While the former dealt with faithfulness and its intersection with cynicism and deconstruction, the new album appears to be on of mystified faith and adoration, rife with understanding that the hypostatic nature of Christ has bold implications for what it means to be a physical being. Next Thursday, 4/14, we’ll be premiering two new tracks so you’ll be able to see first-hand how the project has evolved during a (seemingly) quiet spell.… Continued →

February 18, 2022

Wind Words and Yearling Release 'Splitsville' Split Album

Florida-based Wind Words first made it into the public eye due to his connection to Mark Nicks of Cool Hand Luke fame. And while a couple auxiliary releases have surfaced over the years (including a spoken word project on the minor prophets), this split album is the first full-instrumentation effort we’ve seen from Wind Words since his debut LP in 2017. Joining Wind Words is Yearling, an emo/post-rock project from West Virginia. The three Wind Words tracks were recorded by Brandon Shattuck at Parafonic Studio. You may remember Brandon from Polyvalent or Cora, and both he and Mark Nicks lend their talents on these songs.… Continued →

Rob Ray Releases New Single "Tacky"

Georgia-turned Kentucky-turned Georgia again songwriter Rob Ray has returned with a new album eventually on the horizon. “Tacky” shows his aptitude for blending humor and levity with the substance of faith. In some ways, it’s counter to the deconstruction movement – Ray acknowledges and embraces some of the kitschy qualities of 90s youth group culture but points listeners past this to something far more substantial. “I found things to make me feel better. They never made me feel better,” he notes. Material and easy solutions are not at the heart of enduring faith Musically, this is one of Ray’s strongest offerings yet – upbeat drums, soothing keys and synths, and buttery bass make this an upbeat indie-whatever song that is primed for coffeehouse playlists.… Continued →

September 8, 2021

Benjamin Daniel Releases First Single From New Album

Longtime IVM supporter and friend Ben Kunz, performing as Benjamin Daniel, has unveiled the first single off his forthcoming 15-track album. Shelterheart was recorded with Asher Peterson (son of Andrew Peterson) in Nashville. This release sees a powerful marriage of Kunz’s lyric-driven songwriting and the quiet confidence of other Peterson projects. Check out the first single below
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September 4, 2021

REVIEW : Meadows - In Those Days & Also After

I first found Meadows in 2014 with their debut EP. Since that time, I lost pulse on the band – that is, until their signing with Facedown Records. Stylistically, the band follows an emotional hardcore style similar to Touché Amoré, Defeater, or older La Dispute. In some ways, they’re more reminiscent of older melodic hardcore acts like Life In Your Way. While Facedown Records has shifted a bit with the addition of more “rock” flavored acts in recent years Meadows feels like a perfect bridge between the old and the new, melding some of the artistic nuance of DENS with the straightforward aggression of Take It Back!… Continued →

July 29, 2021

REVIEW : Ischus - Blessed Assurance

Troubling times call for “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” alike. And man, are times troubling. Thankfully, Ischus’ six-track debut satisfies all of these qualifications. From acoustic, folk-adjacent arrangements to lofi songs to whatever the sonic expanse of “My Soul Belongs to Thee” might be called. If you’re looking for the quick hits, fans of My Epic’s Broken Voice will appreciate this collection of restrained-yet-lyrically-rich tracks. Ischus begins with a unique rendition of “Doxology” – there’s in inherent irony in that Pauline doxologies typically end their respective letters.… Continued →

June 4, 2021

REVIEW : Rob Ray - Yours is the Night

Rob Ray’s latest EP follows in the path of his latest release, Yours is the Day. And while the two EPs were written concurrently, much in the manner of say Thrice’s Alchemy Index, there’s certainly enough distinction between the two. Much like its predecessor, there are strong spiritual truths and three singles preceded release of the full EP. But Yours is the Night feels more quieted and barren. It’s not necessarily deeper or more solemn than its counterpart, but the stripped-back, acoustic-driven nature results in a mood akin to laying awake at night, restless ruminations coursing through your mind.… Continued →

May 15, 2021

Song of the Day: Rob Ray - Meet Me Here

Barely on the heels of Rob Ray’s latest EP, he’s announced a new project titled Yours is the Night. “Meet Me Here” is the first glimpse of this next set of songs. In some ways, it’s not unlike the tracks off Yours is the Day. But there’s a degree of subduedness and quietness here. This is, after all, a song about prayer. It doesn’t feel drastically different in the way multi-EP projects tend to mix styles, but even if this is merely just a “part 2”, that’s certainly not for the worse.… Continued →

April 30, 2021

REVIEW : J Lind - The Land of Canaan

The downside to being involved in music “news” is there’s a certain urgency to be the first to the plate with coverage on new releases. Full transparency – my involvement is fully of volunteer nature. But I do prefer to cover releases when they’re most timely and need the boost. The obvious drawback in instances where I don’t have a pre-release copy is that I have to make make some quick judgments. Typically I can glean through things pretty quickly nonetheless. But I know that I surely won’t be able to do J Lind’s latest effort the full justice it needs here.… Continued →

Song of the Day: Briertone - I Am Jacob

Briertone is quite possibly the only Christian-associated outlaw country act to exist, and their tenure was sadly short-lived. The group mixed dark cinematic rock rock with banjo for an end result that was fascinating in a way many other artists could only hope to emulate. Sadly, the group is no more – but lead vocalist Adam Pasion continues to write new music and the indie-pop act Goldboot spawned from ex-members as well. Check out Briertone’s flagship track below and Spotify embeds for the new projects.
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April 24, 2021

REVIEW : Rob Ray - Yours Is The Day

Rob Ray is the kind of artist that has the rare ability to instantly capture listeners’ attention. Blending what could best be classified as a mix of Josh Garrels, John Mayer, and Macy Gray, Ray crafts punchy tracks with instant appeal. More practically, it’s a soulful mix of R&B-tinged indie. Yours Is The Day meets the biblical classification of “spiritual songs” in no time flat. This is an upbeat, fun EP with a bit of gospel bravado to keep the energy high throughout its 21-minute runtime.… Continued →

April 19, 2021

REVIEW : Gr8frt - Half Life Carbon Fourteen

Gr8frt‘s sophomore release is not one of vanity. From its raw vocals to quirky cover, this is not the type of EP meant to fly off the shelves. And it’s clear this is the artist’s intention as well: These five songs were painstakingly recorded over the course of two years. The songs survived a catastrophic computer failure, getting sober, a relapse of a different sort, suicidal thoughts, and a whole lot of upheaval. We started this album as farm workers and ended it as missionaries.… Continued →

April 18, 2021

ivm

Is Punk Dead?

Sure, the title feels trite – a conversation that has happened a hundred times already for decades. But I’m not approaching this from a strictly musical standpoint. Instead, my focus is largely ideological. Punk, and even other genres like outlaw country, centered around ideas that ran counter to the mainstream narrative. But now, it feels like what many of these artists believe or fight for lines up curiously with the same things coming from the media (an undeniable extension of the political structure as well as collateral of the the consolidation of journalism to under ten companies) and pop artists alike.… Continued →

February 28, 2021

Before There Was Andy Squyres, There Was Cool Hand Luke (Honest Christian Music)

Andy Squyres released a gem of an album on Thursday which I already reviewed here. It’s an album that fully lives up to anticipation. But one thing I’ve noticed is that folks act as if this is the only type of album with this level of honesty, the only album that pairs hope and pain for closely. Squyres does this all well, no doubt. But his brand is, undoubtedly, “church music”. He’s a worship leader. His circles include Taylor Leonhardt and Jess Ray, among others.… Continued →

February 25, 2021

REVIEW : Andy Squyres - Poet Priest

Poet Priest dropped earlier today, but it’s already making waves. Even the most casual affirmations seem to eclipse anything I might have to say here. The press is quick. And trying to add something to the conversation here is certainly a challenge, indeed one that usually doesn’t show up. To say this album has been highly-anticipated is an understatement. Cherry Blossoms was my first taste of Squyre’s work this past year, and “The Pestle and the Mortar” was easily my most-played track from any artist for 2020, serving as my emotional crutch in large part for many moments of fear and anxiety.… Continued →

January 18, 2021

REVIEW : Captain the Sky - Butterfly Effect

Crowdfunding campaigns have a record of being notoriously unreliable; even so, I’d admittedly forgotten about this album I contributed to two and a half years ago. Captain the Sky publicly announced their hiatus years ago it seems, so things have understandably been quiet with a number of side projects taking precedence. But this is most certainly a proper swansong. It’s an eleven-track record of arguably the most upbeat take on post-hardcore you’ve heard in a hot minute. This is a good-vibes album that bridges some of the technical elements of broodier genres with hints of indie pop.… Continued →

January 17, 2021

REVIEW : Chase Tremaine - Development and Compromise

Chase Tremaine’s Unfall made mild waves in the independent community in 2020, garnering his upwards of 4,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. That might seem like an insignificant statistic, but I’d willingly admit I listen to bands who’ve been at it for years with less visibility. Something definitely clicked with listeners here. Now, for some reason or another, I didn’t actually listen to Unfall from front to back. Maybe it was lack of time. Maybe it was the pressures of the past year. The downside: I can’t comment on how Tremaine has progressed since his last release.… Continued →

January 12, 2021

REVIEW : Kendra Blethen - Pilgrimage

Kendra Blethen is one of a host of singer-songwriters I found this past year, and it seems like North Carolina is churning out artist after artist. Blethen brandishes a unique blend of southern grit and spiritual ruminations across Pilgrimage, her debut EP. The core concept came to her during a drive to what I can only assume might be Audiofeed – a reminder that the voyage matters as much as the destination. Or, as Miley Cyrus put it, “It’s the climb”. Admittedly, there’s a certain simplicity here, both in song structure and lyrics.… Continued →

January 11, 2021

Song of the Day: Danen Kane - When Our Time Here Is Over

Danen Kane is one of a handful of local Wisconsin artists I care about, and in terms of local faith-based artists, he’s top-tier. He models humility and humor. He write complex songs that don’t mask his faith one bit. Today’s song is one of his best, quickly demolishing the singer-songwriter label and quickly moving into anthemic indie. It’s no mystery why he’s become a favorite act in the Fox Valley.
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January 9, 2021

REVIEW : Several Other Ghosts - Ghost Stations

From the opening notes of “Just Breathe” all the way to its creaky end, this track seems to live up to the “ghostly” vibe of this Washington-based act. Rest assured, this band is neither post-rock nor needlessly-morose. Ghost Stations is instead more coffee shop than haunted house. It shimmers with a certain tender warmth, though vulnerability is around every corner. The ghosts here are not external tormentors; they’re vestigial memories. “(I Can’t) Save Your Soul” is the first point where we see the full band – complete with buttery bass, tight drumming, and some jazzy piano.… Continued →

December 27, 2020

Song of the Day: Abel - Fifteen Years

Abel had a good run on both Come & Live and Facedown’s indie imprint before releasing Make It Right independently. It was a fitting final album, seeing the band in their rawest form. “Fifteen Years” is a highlight track, one of urgency, pain, and longing paired with fear and remorse as seen through the eyes of a beggar. In its simplest form, it’s a reality for the urban homeless; in its deepest sentiments, it’s a parable akin to the woman at the well.
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