Reviews

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December 13, 2022

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

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 20, 2022

LN - Monkeys & Spoons

It’s so great to have Gary Murray and co. back to making music again after almost a decade of quietude. Gary had to retreat for a few years beginning in 2014 while taking care of aging parents and other personal matters. Monkeys & Spoons certainly reflects that solitude, as well as the grief of losing someone you’ve had close. While the album cover nearly depicts contents of jazz fusion or post-rock (both Koinonia and strangely, Talk Talk are evoked by the artwork), don’t be led astray there.… Continued →

September 28, 2022

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 23, 2022

Too Bad Eugene - Distance

California based melodic punk act known as Too Bad Eugene, have just released their epic 3rd full length album via the label People of Punk Rock Records and I feel it’s their best so far. The band draws upon past influences, mixes it up with some modern takes and superb production style then delivers the goods the only way they’d know how to. All those group vocal harmonies and mass sing-a-longs are without a doubt sweet music to my ears. The 13 tracks run the gamut between a sense of discontentment and imbalance while looking toward hope and finding the strength enough to keep the fire lit and ultimately carrying on.… Continued →

September 15, 2022

Rackets and Drapes - Chapter One: Welcome Home (New album)

Shock rockers R&D have released their new album which is the first of the Sanatorium collection & is currently on all digital networks as of tomorrow. I have been friends with Kandy for many years & have enjoyed all the music I have been sent that they have been working on. If you are a long time fan, you will recognize the reworks such as Milk & Cookies & Stix & Stonz. There is also a new one Suicide Machine which I had the opportunity to hear a demo probably a year or so ago now.… Continued →

August 9, 2022

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 →

July 31, 2022

Ronnie Martin - From the Womb of the Morning, the Dew of Your Youth Will Be Yours

Most of you will know that Ronnie Martin has been making music since the late 80s (at least) with Morella’s Forest 1988, Dance House Children, and most famously Joy Electric, not to mention a host of side projects like Ronald of Orange, The Foxglove Hunt, The Brothers Martin, and so forth. While there’s a lot of history with Martin’s expertise in making quirky, electronic pop music, in a sense none of that matters. Not that the history isn’t respectable–but what we really want to know is, is this record going to be good?… Continued →

June 11, 2022

Cicero - You Can't Outrun Your Mouth

Hailing from Portland, OR, Cicero began in the mid-00s and called it quits a few years later, only to reform last year. Greg Dimick (Crux, Empty Tomb, Govt Hate Mail) got me a copy of their new album so I could review it, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. You Can’t Outrun Your Mouth is being advertised as 90s emo, but in some ways that’s a disservice to the band. While there are certainly hints at Midwestern emo, particularly the more subdued Christie Front Drive-take on the genre (listen to “Monsters in Masks” and tell me you don’t hear it), YCOYM is more nuanced than that.… Continued →

May 19, 2022

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 16, 2022

Nate Parrish - Soul Surgery

Nate Parrish creates music unlike the majority of “popular”, “mainstream”, “indie”, and/or “punk” bands of today. He takes his years of experiences, wraps them up in a 14 song epic arrangement, and unleashes it on a weary music scene ripe for hope and change. From the artwork to the song choices, you can’t help but feel the music running through your body and infecting you with nothing but pure positivity. I liken the music of Nate Parrish to music of yesteryear that spoke truth without boundaries and shared honesty in ways most of the modern day brethren are too afraid to venture out into.… Continued →

April 12, 2022

Light The Way - Long Story Short

Light The Way began in 2016 and started off releasing their fantastic debut ep, “Grace”. They followed that up in the following 3 years with – “Dude, Lame” (EP) in 2017, “False Memory Syndrome” in 2018, and “Dad Gang” (EP) in 2019. I’m proud to say I had the most excellent opportunity to be involved in the album release process for all of those releases. I will forever be grateful for the chance to live out my dreams releasing positive, faith-centered, pop-punk music with a strong message about hope, love, grace, and peppered generously with fun and witty lyrics.… Continued →

October 10, 2021

Wage War - Manic

Wage War hit the metalcore scene with a ferocity in 2015 with the release of their debut album, “Blueprints”. Prior to this, they were known as Empires and had an ep called “The Fall of Kings” which is quite impressive! The first two albums, “Blueprints” and “Deadweight” were very well received by fans of the genre, however the third, “Pressure”, which was released a little over 2yrs ago, had something of a mixed reception. While ardent fans of the band’s previous material thought they were getting too poppy or mellowing out, others applauded some of the new directions the band was branching out to.… Continued →

September 30, 2021

Relent - Heavy

Relent has been around and making music longer than most realize; most likely myself included. A 2 song ep in 2016, the Heart Attack ep (2019), the re-release of the Heart Attack ep (2020), with 2 new tracks, and now a full length, aptly titled, “Heavy”. And yes. Yes, it is. From the first listen to these guys a number of yrs ago, I was hooked. I’m a sucker for downtuned guitars with well constructed grooves, thunderous drums, and a mix of rapped/sung/screamed vocals. So this band has really checked all the boxes for me since day 1.… Continued →

September 4, 2021

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

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

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 →

April 30, 2021

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 →

April 26, 2021

April 24, 2021

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

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 →

Song of the Day: Rich Mullins - While The Nations Rage

Indiana’s Richard Wayne Mullins is a vital part of the Christian music industry. Besides penning & performing one of the best worship songs of all time, “Awesome God”, he also was a very talented musician who was proficient with the piano & the dulcimer which can be heard on many of his songs. His first couple albums did not gather much radio play, but The World As Best As I Remember It Vol 1 & 2 garnished many songs heard all over the radio at the time.… Continued →

April 17, 2021

Song of the Day: Common Children - Skywire

Arkansas’ Common Children reminded me plainly of a cross between The Prayer Chain & Skillet. Why, might you ask? Well, CC has some serious ethereal atmospheric music akin to The Prayer Chain. And Skillet due to the obvious grunge influences and the three male band members when they first formed. Skywire came out in 1996 as did Skillet’s S/T. As far as the band’s name, well Jesus Freak Hideout’s site interview vocalist Marc & it is “because we are all common children in the sense that we all live together, in a broken world, in need of grace—beggars attempting to tell other beggars where to get bread.”… Continued →

February 25, 2021

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 →

February 8, 2021

Song Review: New Song From Earth Groans! Band Covers Deftones' "My Own Summer (Shove It)" (Song In Post)

Earth Groans is a metal band with an explosive, thundering sound that grips its listeners with their sound. Interest in the band in the past few years seems to have skyrocketed among fans of the genre and for good reason. So when you hear news of something new from them headed your way, you pay attention.   In a rather ambitious endeavor, the band has chosen to cover a song from the one and only Deftones. “My Own Summer” was the first single of the Deftone’s second album release, “Around the Fur” and was in instant hit and an instant classic.… Continued →

January 18, 2021

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

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

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 9, 2021

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 26, 2020

Domestic Terminal - I Could See Midnight Sky

Undeniably, 2011 was a critical year for my musical taste. It’s the year I discovered Hands and A Hope for Home, bands still cemented as life-changing artists with some of my favorite albums of all time. Over the course of the next two years, due to bands like Gracer and Moving Mountains, my taste trended further from metal into atmospheric, emo-adjacent rock I’ve emphatically christened crescendocore. I began collecting these types of acts into a rather lengthy playlist called “Feels fo’ Realz” (which still exists). I was hyped on that type of sound.… Continued →