Reviews

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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.… 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.… 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.… 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.… 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.… 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”.… 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).… Continued →

December 21, 2020

Verlaine - Don't Wake Them From Their Sleep

There’s something about that mid-00s Christian emo sound. Spotify calls it “dreamo” and it encapsulates bands like The Myriad, Poor Old Lu, Fair, Copeland, and a fair number of Tooth & Nail artists. Of course, the appeal of this sound is not purely nostalgic; Subways on the Sun proved that for us last year. Chill, melodic, emo-adjacent rock is refreshingly-dynamic. Pour on a healthy dose of ethereal falsetto for full effect. It’s cinematic in the truest sense.… Continued →

December 5, 2020

Make Sure / Ezekiel Songs - Split EP

Splits seem increasingly-rare; indeed, in a single-friendly, me-first musical culture, artists collaborating in mutual benefit is undeniably counter-cultural (as a side, it’s odd something even so simple seems adverse to some). But splits live on, if only solely as a remnant of DIY punk culture. There’s a raw, communal, anti-corporate element here. “We’re in this together,” the unspoken message goes. And there’s certainly plenty of community at play on this latest collaboration between Make Sure and Ezekiel Songs – the split includes one new song per artist, as well as a cover of the other artist’s tracks.… Continued →

December 3, 2020

Wade Walker - The Harrow

Put simply, The Harrow is an album of parables. No, you won’t need a dictionary, nor are any of the sentiments too obtuse. The central narrative instead rests in simplicity; an earthy barrenness meets dirty hands resulting in what can only be described as common man’s praise. Where others would opt for sprawling pedal boards and tireless crescendos, Wade Walker chooses a subtler option: vulnerable, poetic, alt-country worship without all of the glitz. Walker’s sophomore release is undeniably folkier than its predecessor, but what it lacks in percussion, it makes up for in craftsmanship.… Continued →

November 29, 2020

Daniel Markham - Burnout

From the opening riffs of opener “Armadillo”, you know this is going to be something interesting—dual harmonic guitar riffs in fuzzy tones. Vocals reflect Markham’s alt country background, but this is clearly a rock record. His bio claims he was trying to return to the hard rock and heavy metal that made him happy as a child, and while that is certainly a tangible presence, it’s filtered through his alternative consciousness. It’s like the rock era of Starflyer 59 where they essentially wrote doom metal riffs but set them into the context of shoegaze songs.… Continued →

November 7, 2020

Starflyer 59 - Miami (EP)

There used to be a fairly well-known release formula for SF59. Step one: release full-length album. Step two: release EP of similar material within the following year (or even later that same year). While the formula has been tweaked over the years, it still more or less holds. Whereas She’s the Queen was the counterpart to Silver, Miami functions that way for Young in My Head. Although there are some stylistic—and more noticeably, lyrical—differences, any of these songs probably could have been on Young in My Head.… Continued →

October 27, 2020

Cory Breth - Wide Awake

Wide Awake is a quintessential fall album. It’s rife with alt-country flavor, down-to-earth lyrics, and bit of dust and grit to polish things off. The album serves as Cory Breth’s third major release to date, and, while fall is already turning to winter in parts of the country, the timing of its release couldn’t be much better. It’s earthen, raw at times, but Breth’s lyrics are laced with hope and truth. There’s an equal mix of proclamations of faith and ruminations on life that keep things from feeling too cliché or forcedly-Christian; nonetheless, faith is an essential part of this album and Breth’s lyrics pull back the curtain of ambiguity in a way that other artists simply don’t.… Continued →

October 20, 2020

The Oh Hellos - Zephyrus

With Zephyrus, The Oh Hellos close out their four-EP project spanning several years. It’s exciting and a bit sad all at once seeing the project come to an end, especially with a lengthy gap between the first and latter halves of the project. Much like the consecutive releases of Notos and Euros, Zephyrus follows Boreas closely and shows the band at a higher degree of mixing and mastering. And while Thrice’s Alchemy Index took a similar four-disk approach, it felt more experimental and diverse.… Continued →