Rascal Flatts–‘Changed’

So, Rascal Flatts has a brand new song out on Christian radio…the song is called “Changed”. As a longtime Rascal Flatts fan and big fan of Christian music in general, one would think that me liking this song would be a no-brainer.

One would be right!

The song, which is co-written by Rascal Flatt’s lead singer Gary LeVox, Neil Thrasher and Wendell Mobley, is based on an experience from Neil’s life watching his oldest daughter being baptized at sunset on the beach. In a snippet for radio airplay, Gary retells the story, saying ““Neil and his wife and his other daughter are standing on the beach,” Gary said. “All you can see as the sun is setting is the Pastor standing there and Allie, his daughter. And he sees her, she comes down, brings her back up, and she just raises her hands up, praying.”

Gary goes on to say that shortly after the baptism, Neil came for a visit and shared the experience with him, along with a portion of the song he had recently written about it. Neil sang an excerpt of the song for Gary, who was deeply moved by the beginning of the song.

“I just fell apart,” Gary said. “It was just like, ahhh. That melody never left my head. The story never left my head. And one day I said ‘Hey, let’s get a day together and just go out to the farm and write this thing.’”

‘This thing’ eventually became the song “Changed,” which is now not just a hugely popular song on the radio but the name of Rascal Flatt’s current CD and Tour.

To me, the song feels deeply personal and in many ways is a revelation even though the band has been together for more than a decade. I especially give kudos to Rascal Flatts for offering up a dual-opportunity single that could be played on both country music and Christian music radio, potentially reaching a vast audience that Christian music radio alone won’t reach.

If you haven’t heard the single, check out the video for “Changed” below!

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Former Delirious? frontman, Martin Smith, to Release First Solo Album

I’m super excited to share this press release with my readers!  I am a long time super fan of Delirious?, particularly of the voice and lyrical stylings of Martin Smith.  Mark my words, this album is going to be spectacular!  Stupendous!  Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!  (I think you get the picture!)

 

FROM PRESS RELEASE–

FORMER DELIRIOUS? FRONTMAN MARTIN SMITH RELEASES FIRST

SOLO ALBUM, GOD’S GREAT DANCE FLOOR, STEP 01, APRIL 23

 

Album Marks Musical Rebirth For Singer / Songwriter Often Credited With

Founding The Modern Worship Movement

 

 

Set for release April 23, Martin Smith’s first full-length solo debut, God’s Great Dance Floor, Step 01, is a 12-song collection of personal revival songs born out of a reinvigorated season of living in community with everyday believers.  A welcoming invitation to prodigals and faithful alike, God’s Great Dance Floor, Step 01 (and Step 02, slated to release October 2013) is a reminder that God’s grace is for everyone. From the opening strains of “Awake My Soul,” longtime Delirious? fans will hear the clarion call of Martin’s voice, strong as ever, declaring a resurrection of his soul.

 

For frontman, co-founder and primary songwriter Martin, a 20-something kid at the start and now a husband and father of six children, Delirious? was a big door to close. Martin and Anna, his wife of 18 years, packed up their family and moved to Brighton, a coastal town south of London, submerging themselves once again in worship ministry alongside Matt Redman and others at St. Peter’s, a Holy Trinity Brompton church plant. Getting back to a normal life after decades spent on stages around the world took some getting used to.

 

“When you enter a transition period, there’s a lot of uncertainty. You’re letting go of a lot of things, bit by bit—the microphone, your finances, even some sense of your identity—but as you find yourself more dependent on God, you begin to really experience his kindness. You see him show up in incredible ways, you see his provision, discover new opportunities and favor. Things you thought were lost start to reappear. Three years on, God has given me some new things to say, and I’m so incredibly grateful…”

 

With many of the songs written in collaboration with young worship leaders and novice musicians at St. Peter’s, God’s Great Dance Floor, Step 01 is a joyful labor of love for this seasoned songwriter/worship leader. “I see my role as different now,” he says, “I want to invest in the next generation coming through, reminding everyone of what it really is to worship with our lives, serving, keeping your hands clean—I feel the responsibility of those things more and more.”

 

“Back to the Start,” co-written by Martin and 2013 GRAMMY winner Jonas Myrin (“10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)”), sets the tone for the record, building from a hard reality to a full-on pop dance celebration, complete with brass horns. “It’s a prodigal song about finding my way back to everything that matters most; finding God in it all again,” Martin says. His very personal story is beautifully portrayed in the song’s new concept video to release soon and featuring Martin’s teenage daughter, Elle, in the lead role.  Every nuance of the video is intentional as it unfolds Martin’s story.

 

The album also features the modern rock anthem “Fire Never Sleeps,” which opens the recent, critically acclaimed Jesus Culture With Martin Smith:  Live From New York album, the contemplative ballad “Catch Every Teardrop,” which was inspired by Psalm 52 and the near fatal car crash that almost claimed Martin’s life — a pivotal event that led to the formation of Delirious? back in 1997, and “You Carry Me,” a song of comfort for a friend whose husband recently died.  Martin also co-wrote four songs with Chris Tomlin, including “Waiting Here For You” with its message of the fragility of our humanity and how waiting is perhaps the most difficult act of worship.

 

When Martin Smith and his band Delirious? emerged in the U.S. back in 1997, having already impacted a generation of UK youth with its passionate call for revival, most agree that the modern worship movement officially began. The hope of that movement and the music that came out of it—“I Could Sing of Your Love Forever,” “Deeper,” “Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble?,” “Shout To The North” and a string of other modern worship standards—has irrevocably changed the landscape of Christian music in the U.S. and around the world. Long before 2009’s farewell concert, RIAA certified Gold-selling and GRAMMY nominated band Delirious? had become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Like their song “History Maker” that landed on 1998’s King of Fools, the band became ‘history makers’ themselves.

 

“I don’t think God is worried about the platform he’s given me in the past,” Martin says of this new season of personal revival feeding into ministry. “He’s worried most about my heart. If that’s in a good place, he’ll use it… at church, in stadiums, wherever he will. All you want to do is be someone of influence, but it doesn’t have to be on a global stage. It never did. Having said that, it’s part of my life, to have that voice. And my prayer is that God will use this new music to remind people of his grace, to remind them of his heart for the poor and broken and of his Kingdom coming on Earth.” 

 

Still making relevant music, Martin’s God’s Great Dance Floor, Step 01 springs from a man refreshed, revived and reconnected with Jesus and with his Church.  Excited to play a lead role in the ongoing call to worship, he is a passionate model for young worship leaders of today.

 

New Music Pick of the Week–Meredith Andrew’s Worth It All

meredith andrews

 

Let me start by saying my New Music Pick of the Week for 1/22/2013 is an unusual one.

While it is not unusual for me to review worship albums on Spin: the Blog, I tend to lean more towards more mainstream, radio ready tunes for my new music picks of the week.  Everything changes this week with the release of Meredith Andrews’ latest album, Worth It All, which is my New Music Pick of the Week for January 22nd, 2013.

Other than Andrews’ current radio hit off of the Worth It All album, the single Not For A Moment, I was not familiar with her body of work.  Some light but effective detective work revealed that Andrews’ began singing in church when she was just six years old; from these youthful beginnings, the Word Worship artist has soared to distinguished heights, winning Dove Awards for “Worship Song of the Year” and “Praise and Worship Album of the Year” in 2011 and recognition as Billboard’s “Most Promising New Artist” in 2008.

After listening to Worth It All, it is fairly easy to ascertain what all the hoopla about Meredith Andrews is all about.  Andrews has a lush, evocative voice that is unparalleled in its beauty.  Her passionate and inspiring vocals are surprisingly versatile, at times reminiscent of Darlene Zschech’s extravagant and powerful range (Open Up The Heavens, Burn Away) while at other times still lovely but toned down and more suited for mass appeal on the radio (Wonder of Wonders, Pieces).

Andrews’ beautifully crafted Worth It All has something to uplift everyone’s soul on its 11 track album, regardless of whether or not they are the typical worship music fan.

Open Up The Heavens—The first track on the album, and in my opinion, one of the standouts.  It’s a superlative blend of Andrews’ rich lead vocals, compelling lyrics, and ardent back-up vocals and music; a truly great praise and worship song.

Not For A Moment (After All)—If you haven’t heard this song, I’d really like to know what Christian radio station you’re listening to because this song is everywhere (and with good reason, I might add).  This song is nice showcase not just for Andrews’ voice, but for her writing ability as well (Andrews’ co-wrote the song with her husband, Jacob Sooter and Mia Fieldes); one of my personal favorites on the album.

Strong God—This song starts off with a slower tempo, gradually building in its hold over the listener until a crescendo near the end.  Honestly, as I listened to this song I had to look at the cover of the CD a few times because I was thinking, “How can a voice that big come out of such a diminutive, youthful looking woman?”  Still don’t know the answer to that question!

Start With Me—I feel like this is one of the most authentic, transparent works on the album, and quite frankly, I loved it.  The lyrics are beautifully heartfelt while remaining painfully honest:  “Break what needs breaking/Until you’re all I see/Start with me/Start with me.”

Worth It All –The album’s title track, and quite deservedly so.  An epic-sounding love song for Jesus, which is kind of fitting considering the title of the song.  The lyrics are simplistic, but Andrews’ vocals and the musical accompaniment add layers of luxurious textures that are very satisfying to listen to; a fine choice for the title track.

All I Ask—This song has a different feel about it than most of the other songs on this album.  This song bears the sentimentality of a 1950’s melodically infused torch song; part prayer, part confessional, 100% lovely.

Burn Away—Brilliant and captivating lyrics collide with Andrews’ fiery vocals, creating another standout on the album.  “Only You/All I need/Let nothing stand/In Between/Make me yours/Consuming Fire/Burn Away/Everything that breaks your heart/Everything that is not love/Purify my every thought/Take away/Everything that comes between us/Everything that isn’t true/Jesus make me more like you/Burn away”.  I loved this track!

Your Kingdom Reigns—This song has grown on me.  At first, I wasn’t completely sure about it, but with each click of the repeat button it has grown on me.  The lyrics are very simple, but Andrews’ voice really makes this song shine.  Andrews’ always seems to give the album everything she’s got on every track, and it really paid off on this track in particular.

Wonder of Wonders—I thought this was a really sweet song, and I liked Andrews’ tone and the expressive quality of her voice on her track.  This is one of those songs where you can definitely hear the versatility and power of Andrews’ voice.

The Gospel Changes Everything—this is such a beautiful song, perhaps somewhat pared down stylistically from the more grandiose numbers like Open Up The Heavens, but in the simple truths of the song’s lyrics, its true strength is revealed.  Andrews’ voice has an almost whimsical, mesmerizing quality to it on this track that is especially poignant when paired with the sentiments of the song.  I could personally listen to this song over and over.

Pieces—With clever lyrics and an upbeat tune, Andrews’ ends her third album on a high note.  The radio ready Pieces again shows that Andrews’ has considerably more to offer her fans than just straight up worship music.  “It’s a complex puzzle you call your life/It’s an uphill climb/It’s an constant fight/And it wears you down/Feeling like you’re alone/Like you don’t belong/And you won’t be loved/If you don’t measure up/And you wear your scars/Like they’re who you are/Give him your wounds/Your bruised and broken pieces/All your questions/All your secrets/You don’t have to hide who you are/You belong to someone greater/Than all your past mistakes and failures/He knows how to make your pieces fit.”

Of her latest work, particularly the song Not For a Moment, Andrews recently said, “When we wrote the song, we had no idea that God would use the lyrics of this song to minister to us months after we had written it.”  She went on to add, “The truth that He loves us and will never forsake us, even in our weakest, darkest moments, is a truth that never changes.  It is always true.  He is constant, good, and in control even when it’s difficult to believe.  I’ve seen first-hand the influence that truth set to music has on people’s lives.”

Andrews’ is correct on all counts with this statement.  In 2011, my cousin Rachel Bevington tragically lost her father to a massive heart attack in the middle of the night, leaving her left to feel an agonizing spiral of pain and hurt in the time that followed.  It was during this time that Rachel discovered Andrews’ music, who she says is one of her “ultimate favorites.”   Of the single Not For A Moment, Rachel said “I’ve played this song countless times and it has really helped to put the pain at ease of losing my father.  The song has so much meaning, and has brought me so much healing.”

I’m pretty sure that this kind of reaction to her music makes the singing/songwriting process Worth It All for Meredith Andrews.

Andrews’ latest project truly makes a statement about what really is Worth It All.  Much like the Gospel changes everything, so too does the album Worth It All; when it comes to previously held ideas about what a worship album is supposed to sound like, Worth It All breaks the mold and changes everything in a refreshing, unique way.  This album absolutely has the potential to be one of the top releases in Christian Music this year.

With the release of Worth It All, Meredith Andrews continues to distinguish herself as one of the premier female artists in the music industry today.  Andrews’ trademark lavish vocals and beautifully crafted lyrics come together to create a one of kind album that is not only engaging and authentic, but will faithfully bless the hearts of all who listen to it for years to come.

Free Song Alert: Hyland’s Beauty in the Broken

Good morning friends,

I just wanted to post a quick note to let you all know that this week one of my favorite songs is being featured as the free music download of the week! The band Hyland, who I am personally a big fan of, and K LOVE Radio are offering Hyland’s current single, Beauty in the Broken from the album Finding Our Way as a free iTunes download this week only.

You know, if I were you I would go and buy the whole album (in addition to Hyland’s first album, Weights & Measures), but if you want to start small, then by all means, start with this free download. You can get to K LOVE’s free download page by clicking here.

If you would like to read my full review of Hyland’s latest album, Finding Our Way, you can read it by clicking here–as you may or may not recall, it was featured as my New Music Monday pick of the week back in October. I also have a link to some of their fun videos on my Tuesday Tunes Pinterest Board, which you can view by clicking here.

Go enjoy some free music, and make it a great day!

Beth

New Music Pick of the Week: Jason Castro’s Only A Mountain

jason castro

It’s officially 2013…let the new music releases begin!

My first pick of 2013 is sort of a surprising one; at least, it surprised me.  (And you know how much I love surprises!)

When I was initially asked if I would take a listen to the advance releases of Jason Castro’s Only A Mountain and Meredith Andrew’s Worth it All, I very nearly said “Yes, I’d be happy to listen to Meredith Andrew’s project, but I’ll pass on Jason Castro’s.”

Why would you want to do that, you might be asking yourself?

Well, the answer is simple (at least in my mind).  I never want to be in a position where I feel compelled to have to say something nice about an artist’s CD that I don’t really like just because someone sent me a free CD in the mail.  That may sound super naive to a lot of people, perhaps even dumb, but hey, I’m from Indiana and I’m an inherently nice person.

In other words, I’m no Simon Cowell.

I would rather say nothing at all than write something negative or hurtful, and since this website is entirely my own I get to decide who and what I write about and whether or not I’m nice about it.

With this being said, I had pretty significant reservations about whether or not I would have anything nice to say about Only a Mountain.

Now, I should probably say that I have met Jason Castro and seen him in concert, and to be frank, I thought he was just okay.  In retrospect, the biggest problem with meeting Jason Castro when I did was that I met Elias Dummer of the City Harmonic right after, and that was kind of the highlight of my life (besides briefly interviewing TobyMac in December.)  Plus, his performance was sandwiched in between performances by Royal Tailor (whom I adore) and Kutless (the likes of whom I said just last week would be my top pick to be stranded on an island with).

So, when I was asked if I would take a listen to Only a Mountain, a few things popped into my head.  One, wasn’t he the guy with the dredlocks that played the ukelele at the Star 88.3 Music Stage this past July?  The one who had talked during his performance about not having any real vocal training and that he had only sung in public a handful of times before going on American Idol?  That one guy with the awe-shucks charm that seemed to smile all the time?  (Because you know, you really need to be wary of people who smile all the time 🙂

Yep, that guy.  Jason Castro.

After a brief deliberation with my friend Jill (who reminded me how much I ended up liking Chris August’s newest CD when I took a chance and listened to it) and my sister Stacy, the American Idol guru of Indiana, I decided to give Only a Mountain a good old fashioned Spin the Blog spin.

To say that I’m really glad I did is perhaps the understatement of 2013.

My prior reservations about Castro and his vocal chops were quickly put to rest within the first two tracks of Only a Mountain.  The places where I once felt Castro seemed to be holding back vocally were filled in with a tenor that is teeming rich with talent.  In this sophomore release, he fuses his trademark musical style with a voice that is both vivid and soulful, at times seeming to pop  right out of my speakers.  With the release of “Only a Mountain”, Castro has clearly found his sound, and it is quite delightfully unlike any other in Christian music.

The title track, Only a Mountain, is the first single to be released from Castro’s CD.  In a showdown of mountains between Castro’s Only a Mountain and Brandon Heath’s Cold Mountain, I think Castro’s mountain is the clear winner.   It’s a toe tapping, lyrically catchy number, but more than that, it speaks the Truth in non-preachy, down to earth manner that everyone, Christian or not, could relate to.

I absolutely loved the second track on the album, “I Believe.”  The lyrics are simple and heartfelt,  poetry set to song.   This song spoke directly to my heart:  “This doesn’t look a thing like I imagined it/When the waters rise it’s easy to forget/Though I don’t understand/You’ve always had your plans/Though I cannot see, I believe/ In my darkest nights you guide me/I believe/When I lose my way, you find me/I believe/When I can’t see anyway out/ I find when I cannot see/ I believe”.

“If Its Love”, the third track on the album, is Castro’s battle cry to fight for a marriage, to fight for love.  If you’re married or have ever been married, you’ll relate to this one.

Another song I really liked on Only a Mountain is “Starting Line”.  The opening lyrics to “Starting Line” are:  “All this time I thought I knew you/Doing all the things I thought I should do/But I missed you all along/Too busy too broke too blind to see/ The one that stood right next to me and loved me thru it all/And why did it have to take so long for me/ To find the real you/ I just opened my eyes/ Oh its like i’m seeing your face for the first time/And we’re strangers now for the last time/I know you now/It feels so good to finally meet you/Face to face/Heart to heart/Eye to eye/Another chance at the starting line”.  I think Castro really captures here what a lot of us experience in our relationship with the Lord; for sure, he has captured experiences I’ve had.

“Stay This Way” is in fact my very favorite song on the album; I could listen to this one over and over.  This song is one of those great recordings where it all comes together and it is all flawless–Castro’s voice, the lyrics, the music, everything.  The song title may be unassuming and somewhat underwhelming, but believe me, this is one song you do not want to live without hearing.  Seriously, all songs should stay this way; it is that good of a song.

The sole duet on the album, “Same Kind of Broken”, features Castro singing with the velvety voiced Moriah Peters.  The pairing makes a lovely contrast, especially when combined with the sentiments of the song–“So many faces of different colors/So many stories untold/So many places, these streets are numbered/Yet we’re all pieces of a whole big world/We all come alive/We all fall apart/We all need someone to love us where we are/What if we all took a minute/To look at one another and lay our differences aside/We would find that we are the same kind/The same kind of broken.”

“Safehouse”, the seventh track on the album, is another one of my favorites.  So many times, I go to concerts to find brochures for fantastic organizations like Compassion International and the like, but other than “Safehouse” I can only think of two other songs off the top of my head by big name singers that actually address the needs of individuals that organizations like this serve (MercyMe & Matthew West, in case you were wondering).  I like the fact that this song doesn’t pitch the idea that you have to run out and try to save the entire world, either; just try to touch one life, make a difference to one person.  A very well done call to action.

The anthemic “Runaway” is the 8th track on Only a Mountain.  This song continues on in the upbeat and positive tradition of “Starting Line” and “If It’s Love”.

“Enough” is a really sweet, emotionally evocative song.  If I were to guess, Castro draws on his experience as a new father to his daughter in this song based on the opening lyric “You’ve got you’re mother’s eyes.”  I think all the daughters (and sons) of the world should take listen of this song, and know that they are loved and enough.  Now, I know I’ve said practically every song on this album is one of my favorites, but “Enough” is no exception.  I love it!

The second to the last song on the album, “Rise to You,” is another winner.  Great sound, great lyrics, and is currently kind of stuck in my head.

“Good Love” is a fun, happy tune to end Only a Mountain on.  I love the lyric “It’s a good love/Good love/Nothing you would change about it/Bigger than your hands can hold/But it fits just like a glove“.  That right there is some sweet songwriting!

I have to give major kudos to Castro not just for his stronger, more complex vocal stylings on this sophomore release, but to also give him props for his contemplative, completely genuine writing on this album.  (Castro either wrote or co-wrote every song on “Only a Mountain”).

Of this project, Castro recently said “I really can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about my new album, Only a Mountain.  I’ve had some amazing things happen to me recently–marrying my wife, the birth of our daughter–and now this.  Life really is beautiful, and that’s what I want people to be reminded of when they listen to these new songs.”

Between the amalgamation of sincere lyrics and the revelation of his true inner voice, I think it is safe to say Castro has more than achieved his wish with “Only a Mountain.”

While Castro’s debut CD may have been entitled “Who I Am,” with the release of “Only a Mountain” he really begins to show us just exactly who he is–an incredibly gifted musician and songwriter with a bright and compelling future ahead of him.

 

“Only a Mountain”, Jason Castro’s debut full length CD with Word Entertainment, will be available wherever music is sold Tuesday, January 15th, 2013.  Also, make plans to see Jason in concert as he is currently on tour with WinterJam 2013 alongside TobyMac, Red, Matthew West, Jamie Grace, Newsong, Royal Tailor, Sidewalk Prophets, OBB, and Capital Kings.  www.JamTour.com

Special Thanks to Warner Music Group/Word Entertainment for providing Spin: The Blog with an advance release copy of “Only a Mountain” for this review.

Into The Light Tour: Concert Review

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Alrighty, so on Friday night, November 9th, 2012 I headed out to Matthew West’s ‘Into The Light’ tour concert stop at IPFW’s Auer Hall along with my trusty sidekick, Sarah.  In addition to headliner Matthew West, the tour featured performances by Mikeschair, Lindsay McCaul, and Everfound.  Since I’ve been getting some flack via my e-mail for not posting nearly enough about music lately, I thought I would share some of my thoughts about the concert today. I do need to tell you this upfront, however:  if, after reading this, you are pumped up and ready to head out to the Into The Light tour, you should know that the tour actually ended yesterday.

Sorry for your luck!

In good news, though, if you are in Indiana you’ll have several opportunities to see Matthew West in the coming few months.

In not so good news, Mikeschair, Lindsay McCaul and Everfound shows are looking rather elusive in our area in the near future.

First up, I’m going to talk a little about Matthew West’s portion of the concert.  This was not the first time I’ve seen Matthew West in concert; Sarah and I saw him back in February when he came to town with Casting Crowns and we really enjoyed his performance.  Come to think of it, Matthew West must like Fort Wayne a lot because he seems to come here on a somewhat regular basis.  Anyway, of all the times I’ve seen Matthew West in concert, I have to say this past weekend’s performance was theshow of shows.  Sarah and I laughed, we cried, danced, and we cheered in our trademark two-part harmony.  (Seriously, when we scream it sounds angelic.  Really, it does!)

While some people count sheep to help them fall asleep, on Friday night after the concert I actually started counting all the Christian music concerts/performances I’ve seen this past year.  I started to lose track when I got into the 90’s range, but essentially I’ve seen a lot of shows this year already with another 15 more to go before 2013.  I’m not exaggerating in the least when I say Matthew West outdid all of them (and the bar was set pretty high coming in to Friday night).

Do you know what impressed me the most about Matthew West, though?  Right off the bat, as everyone was laughing and having a great time while he ran around through the crowd talking and singing with the audience, he stopped the entire show, the music, the light show, everything, and said “Do you want to know where my joy comes?  Make no mistake about it, my joy comes from the Lord.”

That statement right there, in my opinion, set the tone for the rest of the evening.

So, for sure you need to go see Matthew West in concert whenever you get the chance! If you live in the East half of the United States, Matthew West will be a part of the Winter Jam Spectacular along with Mr. TobyMac, Red, Jamie Grace, Sidewalk Prophets, Newsong, Royal Tailor, Jason Castro, et.al visiting over 40 cities this winter/spring.  If you’re in Fort Wayne, he’ll be here on January 20th (so feel free to get behind me in line!)  Tickets are just $10, and since I have seen every single one of the aforementioned acts, I can say definitively that attending Winter Jam will be the best use of $10 ever!

One last thing, Sarah and I stood in line for a very long time to meet Matthew West and get his latest CD, ‘Into The Light’ autographed.  We were also able to get our pictures taken with him!  Sarah’s expression totally cracks me up in the picture, so of course I have to share it.

Matthew West, Sarah and of course, me!

Moving right along, the next act I want to write about is Mikeschair.  This is probably one of the groups I have most been looking forward to seeing in these last few months of the year.  (Mikeschair is in good company.  The other acts I’m most looking forward to seeing in the next few weeks are TobyMac and Mandisa!)  I really like their current CD, A Beautiful Life, and the song ‘Let the Waters Rise’ and ‘Can’t Take Away’ from their debut self-titled album.  I thought they put on a great show on Friday night, and I have to say I was more than a little disappointed their show was over as quickly as it was.  I’m not sure I’ve ever honestly wished an opening act could do an encore before, but if Mikeschair had done an encore on Friday night I would have been totally fine with it.  Totally.

In addition to being amazingly gifted songwriters and musicians, the guys from Mikeschair are also exceedingly friendly and humble.  After the show, Sarah and I met them and were able to talk with them for a while and we were both really impressed by how down to earth and fun they were.  Mikeschair ranks very high on my list of the nicest bands you’ll ever care to meet, which includes (in no particular order) the Sidewalk Prophets, City Harmonic, For King & Country, and Royal Tailor.  Once again, they are in very good company!

Next up for Mikeschair is the ‘Christ is Come’ Christmas tour with Big Daddy Weave.  Unfortunately, they won’t be anywhere even remotely close to Northern Indiana, but if you are lucky enough to live near Columbus, Ohio or further south in the United States you might be able to go check them out.  (Side note:  I think Big Daddy Weave must have an aversion to Northern Indiana because it has been forever since they have been here!  Maybe we should ask Matthew West to put in a good word for us since he seems to like Fort Wayne?)

Here’s a picture of me with the guys from Mikeschair that Sarah took on Friday.  Don’t I totally look like I belong?  For sure they wouldn’t want me to sing back up or anything, but if Mikeschair is ever in need of someone to play the egg shakers or some other instrument that would be hard mess up, I’d be happy to help out!

Mikeschair (and me!)

Lindsay McCaul was one of the other opening acts of the night on Friday.  I’ve seen Lindsay McCaul in concert before (she was also on tour with Casting Crowns last spring), and she is just a lovely, lovely young woman.  She’s a very gifted singer/songwriter, and I really enjoy listening to her CD, ‘If It Leads Me Back’.  I especially like the song ‘Say My Name’!

Lindsay McCaul

Last but not least, I’ve got to say a few words about the opening opening act of the night, Everfound.  Prior to the concert, I had never heard of Everfound.  I’m guessing you may not have heard of Everfound either, but I’m also going to bet that this is about to change in a big way in the very near future.

Everfound pretty much has all of the elements necessary to be a huge success in any genre of music:  great music, a young, ultra-hip look, and a very interesting back story.  Did I mention that they are also freakishly awesome performers, too?  We’re talking bigger than big energy that proved somewhat difficult to photograph.  I was quite wowed by the pouring water on a drum and playing it thing they did.  (Okay, so I’m easily impressed, but in my defense, it was pretty cool!) I’m predicting big things for these guys in the future!

Everfound

I’m posting some of the pics that I took on Friday night for your enjoyment!  I had fun playing with my new camera and taking some shots in black and white and other non-traditional color schemes.  My “official” critic review will be up sometime later this week on Bryan’s site, and I’ll be sure to post a link when it goes up.  As far as being a critical review, you can probably guess it won’t be very critical!   I loved it, and if you get the chance to go see Matthew West, Mikeschair, Lindsay McCaul or Everfound, don’t miss it!

New Music Monday: Hyland’s Finding Our Way

 

I’m so excited to share with you my pick for this week’s New Music Monday:  Minnesota based Christian rock/pop group, Hyland, and their sophomore release, ‘Finding Our Way’, which was released on 10/22/2012.  Now, you may not have heard much about the group Hyland…yet.  I think it’s only a matter of time before these guys take off in a big way in the world of music!

This past summer, I happened upon the band Hyland playing at the WFRN Friend Fest.  I never really intended to see them play; come to think of it, I’m not even sure I had heard of Hyland prior to the WFRN Friend Fest.  After seeing them play once, however, I was a fan.  The Hyland guys put on an energetic, rollicking show that, in my opinion, should have put some of the big name acts appearing at the two day festival to shame.  I made a point to see them at Fandana Fest at Huntington University in August, and they were even better than the first time I had seen them; but, I digress.

This post is actually about the follow-up to Hyland’s awesome first full length CD, ‘Weights & Measures’ (which, by the way, if you don’t have, you totally don’t know what you’re missing out on!  Go get it right now!)  If I’m being honest here, I wasn’t really sure how ‘Finding Our Way’ was going to be able to measure up to ‘Weights & Measures’, but I’m here to tell you I was very pleasantly surprised!  Not only did Hyland follow-up ‘Weights & Measures’ in grand style, they showed impressive evolution stylistically in both the progression of their lyrics and music.

One of the things I like the best about Hyland is that they are fantastically talented storytellers.  Every song is like a little vignette set to music, however, only a portion of the song is told thru the words; a significant part of the song is told solely thru the range of emotion in lead singer Jon Lewis’ voice and the varying ways the band chooses to arrange the music.  I think this is especially evident in the songs “Power & Love” and “Work In Progress” on the ‘Finding Our Way’ album.

The other two standout songs on ‘Finding Our Way’, in my opinion, are the current single, “Beauty in the Broken”, and “Well Done”.  “Beauty in the Broken” is just an all around outstanding song.  I absolutely love it!  Easily one of my favorite songs of 2012.  Easily.

As for “Well Done”…I don’t normally tear up over a first listen of a song.  I may cry at the end of movies about dogs, but I don’t generally cry over songs, but “Well Done” had me tearing up big time.  There’s just a very emotionally riveting, vulnerable rawness when you put together these lyrics, Lewis’ voice and  the accompanying music that is just really, really special.  I loved “Well Done”, and thought it was a completely well done song.  (Side note:  I made everyone I know listen to this one today, and quite predictably, they all had the same reaction I did!)

Right now, Hyland is out on the Believer tour with headliners Kutless, Fireflight, and the Rhett Walker Band.  Not too shabby if you ask me!  I’m pretty optimistic since they’re hanging out with the likes of Kutless that they will pick up quite a few new fans out on the road this fall.  That would be a really good thing!  If you’re in my neck of the woods in Northeast Indiana, you can go check out the Believer tour  featuring Kutless, Fireflight, the Rhett Walker Band, and Hyland this coming Friday, October 26th at 7 pm at the Grand Horizon Center in Elkhart.  This is probably going to be the best concert to hit Elkhart all year, so don’t miss it!

New Music Monday: Matthew West’s Into The Light

Into The Light–Matthew West

It’s time for another edition of New Music Monday here on Spin: The Blog!  Technically, this week’s musical selection has been out for a few weeks but it is sooo good I’m going to have to go ahead and write a little about it today anyway.  (In my defense, there has been so much good new music released lately that I’m almost to the point that I need to win the lottery to be able to afford my iTunes habit; so, please bear with me if I run a few weeks behind on my New Music Monday entries!)

This week, my selection is the latest project from Matthew West entitled ‘Into The Light’.  As you might expect from any Matthew West project, ‘Into The Light’ is exceptional.  Exceptionally good.  Matthew West is nothing if not consistently one of the best singer/songwriters around, and I’d venture to say that’s true of any genre of music, not just Christian music.

Jason Mraz who?

My top four favorite songs on ‘Into The Light’ are, in no particular order, Do Something, Hello My Name Is, Forgiveness, and Unchangeable.  With that being said, I honestly think anyone would be hard pressed to find a bad song on this album.  Yep, it’s that good.

I want to share one of my favorite moments that happened while I was listening to Do Something.  The opening lyrics to Do Something sound remarkably similar to a conversation I routinely have in my head with God and are as follows:

“I woke up this morning

Saw a world full of trouble now

Thought, how’d we ever get so far down

How’s it ever gonna to turn around?

 

So I turned my eyes to Heaven

I thought, “God, why don’t you do something?”

Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of

People living in poverty

 

Children sold into slavery

The thought disgusted me

So I shook my fist at Heaven

Said “God, why don’t you do something?”

 

This next part of the song, a lyric I never saw coming, really got me:

He said, “I did, I created you.”

Somewhere far, far away, Matthew West smiles and says “Gotcha!” every time someone listens Do Something for the first time and has the same reaction I did.

Now, it’s my turn to encourage you to do something.  Obviously, I think you should go buy a copy of ‘Into The Light’, but if you are in or around my locale of Fort Wayne, Indiana, you have an opportunity to do something a little bit more.

For $15, you can pick up tickets here to Operation: Rock the Boxes on November 9th at IPFW’s Auer Hall and help spread the love of Jesus Christ this Christmas by supporting Operation Christmas Child.  Can you guess who will be appearing at the Operation: Rock the Boxes kick-off concert?  Well, if you guessed Matthew West, Mike’s Chair, Lindsay McCaul, and Everfound, you’re right!  For $15, I’m thinking that this concert is a steal!

I hope to see you there!  In the meantime, here are some other links you might find interesting:

Matthew West’s Website

Operation Christmas Child Info

Operation: Rock The Boxes Kick-Off Concert Information