Friday, December 8, 2006

The Wrap-Up: December 4-8

A wrap-up of Christian music for the week of December 4-December 8.

Top Story: Grammy Nominations are announced

Nominations for the 2007 Grammy awards were announced this week. Hard Rock band Red earned their first nomination for "End Of Silence" in the Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album category. Acclaimed new rock band Leeland also earned their first nomination for their debut CD "Sound Of Melodies" in Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album. Veterans Chris Tomlin and Third Day also received nominations, as well as new rock band DecembeRadio. A complete listing of Grammy Nominations for Christian artists/bands:

Best Gospel Performance: "Victory," Yolanda Adams; "Not Forgotten," Israel and New Breed; "The Blessing of Abraham," Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers; "Made to Worship," Chris Tomlin; "Victory," Tye Tribbett and G.A..

Best Gospel Song: "The Blessing of Abraham," Donald Lawrence (Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers); "Imagine Me," Kirk Franklin (Kirk Franklin); "Mountain of God," Brown Bannister and Mac Powell (Third Day); "Not Forgotten," Israel Houghton and Aaron Lindsey (Israel and New Breed); "Victory," Tye Tribbett (Tye Tribbett and G.A.).

Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album: "DecembeRadio," DecembeRadio; "Where the Past Meets Today," Sarah Kelly; "Turn Around," Jonny Lang; "End of Silence," Red; "Bone-A-Fide," T-Bone.

Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album: "Sound of Melodies," Leeland; "Coming Up to Breathe," MercyMe; "Wherever You Are," Third Day; "See the Morning," Chris Tomlin; "Introducing Ayiesha Woods," Ayiesha Woods.

Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album: "Kenny Bishop," Kenny Bishop; "Give It Away," Gaither Vocal Band; "Precious Memories," Alan Jackson; "The Promised Land," the Del McCoury Band; "Glory Train," Randy Travis.

Best Traditional Gospel Album: "An Invitation to Worship," Byron Cage; "Paved the Way," the Caravans; "Still Keeping It Real," the Dixie Hummingbirds; "Alive in South Africa," Israel and New Breed; "Finale Act One," Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers.

Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album: "Set Me Free," Myron Butler and Levi; "Hero," Kirk Franklin; "A Timeless Christmas," Israel and New Breed; "This Is Me," Kierra Kiki Sheard; "Victory Live!," Tye Tribbett and G.A..

My thoughts:
I think some of these nominations were well-deserved(Red, DecembeRadio, Leeland etc.) but there are some glaring omissions. While Sanctus Real's "The Face Of Love" wasn't as strong as their previous CDs, it was still worthy of a nomination in the Best Rock album category, especially when considering the success "I'm Not Alright" and the title song have enjoyed on radio. It may very well be their most commercially successful CD.

Secondly, another new band is missing from this list: Fighting Instinct. They released a terrific debut self-titled CD this year, with a single("I Found Forever") that enjoyed radio success.
It is disappointing that the Grammy committee missed out on nominating these two deserving bands, but they did do some good by giving nominations to Red and DecembeRadio.

In other news:
Rock band Sanctus Real is celebrating their tenth anniversary tonight in Toledo, OH with two back to back concerts. Since forming in 1996, Sanctus Real has enjoyed good success in Christian rock with multiple #1 singles. This year, their video for "I'm Not Alright" was featured on MTVU.

Kutless released their first live CD/DVD this week. Titled "Live From Portland", it features 15 songs and was directed and produced by the award winning team of Michael Sacci, Ken Conrad and Carl Diebold.

My thoughts:
I had the privilege of seeing Sanctus Real live this year, and it was an unbelievable show. They are truly one of the best bands in Christian music today. Bands staying together for 10+ years are a rarity now, but these are special guys. I'm sure that those who will be attending tonight's shows will be treated to two amazing performances.

Kutless is also one of the better bands in Christian music today. I have not seen them live yet, but hope to do so within the next year. I have, however, heard good things about their live show, so this CD definitely is worth checking out.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Artist Spotlight: DecembeRadio

Artist Spotlight: DecembeRadio

Who are they?: Josh Reedy (vocals, bass), Brian Bunn (lead guitar, vocals), Eric Miker (guitar, vocals), Boone Daughdrill (drums, vocals)
Genre: Modern/Hard Rock with some elements of Classic Rock
Label: Slanted Records
Sounds like: A cross between Audioslave, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, among others

Why you should know about them:
Looking for good, riff driven Christian rock that recalls such classic artists like Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd and modern artists like Audioslave and Jet? Look no further than DecembeRadio, a new band that released their self-titled debut album in June 2006. Rock music, as of late, has been rather dull with few good new bands coming along. DecembeRadio, however, is one of those few new rock bands with originality and talent. This is a band that is solid in every way possible--lyrically, vocally and musically. Want to know more about them? Read their official artist bio below. Once you're done with that, head on over to and listen to their music. Trust me, you will not be disappointed!

Biography (courtesy of Slanted Records)
Anyone who questioned for one second if the heart of rock n' roll was still beating—under Christian music contexts or otherwise—must not have heard the rollicking romps found within the national debut of DecembeRadio. The recent signees to Slanted Records are just about the most electrified, raucous and riff driven foursome to come about since the original wave of classic rock and are also armed with a message of eternal importance. It's a lethal combination indeed, one that's earned the group comparisons to the likes of legends including Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd right up through vintage influenced innovators like The Black Crowes, Lenny Kravitz and Jet in addition to more modern/progressive rocksters Porcupine Tree and Audioslave.

It's only fitting that the group made a terrific impact at the 2005 Rock Summit, an industry event drawing national attention and also featuring performances by Stryper, Casting Pearls and Sanctus Real. Though the guys had been refining their sound on the road since 1998, performing everything from covers in club settings (with a heavy leaning towards Hootie and the Blowfish) to worship selections in more ministry-focused environments, DecembeRadio's sheer grit and passion absolutely entranced those gathered.

"We kind of went into the Rock Summit like everything else we do, mostly because we had not done much industry stuff other than a few showcases," explains the group's guitarist Eric Miker. "So that gave us the advantage of not being nervous and not really even knowing who was going to be there, but we got the attention of a lot of DJs and the industry in general to name us 'Buzz Band of the Year.'"

Perhaps it was the group's incredibly entertaining live spectacle or maybe it was the members' down to earth approach on stage that earned them this illustrious honor, along with a spot a few months later on BIILLBOARD Magazine's "Faces to Watch" cover story as the scales tipped towards 2006. Rather than going in with the intention to impress, the troupe tore into its regularly scheduled program of cutting edge musical expressions with a sincere and mature commitment to ministry not often found in a group of twenty-somethings.

"There's definitely a lot in the set for musicians or any rock n' roll fan to like- the energy, the guitar solos and the drum solos," notes lead guitarist Brian Bunn. "But we also try to react to the audience on a deeper level and with a more spiritual mindset. We have a set of worship that brings all that into focus . . . one of the guys shares a message, and we have a time of prayer. Then we celebrate again at the end and really rock out."

Considering the players' tightly sealed cohesion and unbreakable chemistry on stage, DecembeRadio never had a problem catching its ambitious sound in the studio through a string of independent releases. But its recent partnership with Slanted has opened the doors to an all-new method of recording -one that teams them with acclaimed producer Scotty Wilbanks (Third Day, Overflow, NewSong) and a trip to Southern Tracks in Atlanta (allowing them to use the same gear as many of their heroes).

The results have yielded a full-length record for a June 2006 release packed with a slew of single-ready, hook-heavy, infectious jams that unfold as a natural extension of the mind-blowing concert experience. Considering DecembeRadio has its influence pool rooted in the most lauded acts of yesterday while simultaneously keeping its pulse on the alternative sounds of today, the quartet has an obvious appeal to mainstream audiences and is likely to introduce the Christian marketplace to a whole new pedigree of power.

"That's kind of what we're hoping for-to be attractive to the unsaved, along with believers who don't typically listen to Christian music," explains drummer Boone Daughdrill. "Sometimes Christian music can't satisfy the needs of someone in their late 20s or early 30s who grew up on the hard rockin' stuff and finds that attractive, but also experiences a spiritual level through the music. People always say to us 'you don't sound like what I usually hear in Christian music,' and that's what we're praying for- to have the Lord use what we're creating to touch their hearts."

And that plan is likely to come to fruition thanks to a series of uplifting songs with vertical leanings that encourage listeners to break beyond comfortable boundaries. Take for instance the lead single "Love Found Me," a feel good southern-tipped trailblazer that traces the transformative power of unashamedly and adventurously living a life in Christ. Take the equally entrancing "Dangerous," which reminds the faithful to go out with courage to the world around them and be relevant and effective in their witness, even if that means ruffling some feathers along the way.

The more melodic "Least of These" demonstrates the sonic variety on the album while recalling Christ's command to lead a humble and unselfish life where we're servants to others -from the child without a home to the lonely widow to the prisoner running out of hope. "Drifter" veers away from those ethereal undertones for a dusty and gusty amplified outpouring calling to light the prodigal son story and the fact that greed never satisfies.

"We're not out to try to be rock stars. . .we're just a bunch of southern boys who want to hang out, have a good time and inspire others," sums up Bunn. "But we're not trying to play it safe musically or spiritually. We're not interested in selling out to the industry to be famous and we're passionate about being technically on top of our game. We realize each day that without God we're nothing, and it's our mission to spread His message through music. Without that, we'd be unhappy and lonely. . .you're never going to be happy, find peace or comfort without the fulfillment of Christ in your life."

Sample some of their music by going here!

Are you a Christian artist/band and want me to spotlight your music? If so, please email me at mcar2185 AT yahoo dot com with samples of your music and a biography.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Jeremy Camp - Beyond Measure Review

Artist: Jeremy Camp
Album Title: Beyond Measure
Year: 2006
Genre: Christian Contemporary, Pop, Rock
For Fans Of: Keane, Kutless, MercyMe, Scott Stapp, among others

In the past four years, Jeremy Camp has released four albums and gained popularity in the Christian Music scene. His first CD, "Stay", was critically acclaimed and had several number 1 singles. The next CD, 2004's "Carried Me: The Worship Project" also did fairly well. His last CD, "Restored", wasn't as highly thought of. Some pegged it as generic rock, while others just thought it wasn't up to par with Camp's debut CD. Despite the criticism, "Restored" and it's lead single, "Take You Back", did pretty well.

Which brings us to "Beyond Measure", Camp's fourth album released on October 31, 2006. On this CD, Camp takes a different approach lyrically and musically. This leads to different but better results than those found on "Restored".

The very Camp-like "Tonight" opens the CD. With a modern rock sound and broken pride theme, it showcases why exactly so many people like Jeremy. He's honest, talented and has the ability to write good rock songs. "Tonight", a very strong track, is the perfect example of that.

"What It Means", a piano-based worship song, is next on the CD. Musically, this isn't one of the stronger tracks on the CD, but is still a decent song. It is carried by Camp's lyrics, which have grown increasingly more personal on "Beyond Measure".

The title track, "Beyond Measure", follows. Yet another piano-based song, it is Camp's most personal to date. He talks of what the last 5 years of his life have been like. Verse 1 seems to tell the story of how his life is now("The fog has finally cleared to see/the beautiful life you've give me/to feel the breeze of my newborn's gentle breath/with one to walk hand in hand/to share this life that you have planned"), as he is happily married to fellow Christian artist Adie, formerly of the Benjamin Gate. Verse 2 talks about the loss of his first wife("I've faced a great tragedy/But have seen the works of what you bring") and overcoming that. Finally, the chorus states that Camp's been "given more than beyond measure". Definitely one of the strongest tracks on the CD.

Track 4 on the CD, the pop/rock song "Let It Fade" talks of letting go of our old ways and finding new hope in Christ. Another solid track by Camp that will appeal to his fan base. "Feels Like", the next track, is similar to "Let It Fade" in that it is another pop/rock song with good lyrics, although it is admittedly not as strong of a track.

Camp gets back to the piano-based stuff on "When You Are Near". Much like "What It Means", it isn't a particularly great track but is at least decent with good lyrics.

"No Matter What It Takes" brings the CD back to the rock sound that many, including myself, appreciate about Camp. Camp speaks of giving everything to God to live out His plan for his life. Like the other straight-up rock song on this CD, "Tonight", this is a very strong track.

Jeremy's wife, Adie, does backing vocals on the pop-rock song "A Little Time". While not as good as the previous track, it is still good with a great message about doing whatever we can to help those in need.

"Everything" is yet another pop/rock song that bears resemblance to some of Camp's earlier work, particularly found on his debut CD. With a lyrical theme of trying to fill a void(with material things) that only God can fill, it is an above average track.

"I Am Nothing", a softer track, is a reminder of the fact that we are nothing without God's Grace, while "Give You Glory" is a straight-up pop/rock worship song. "Give Me Jesus", this is simple yet beautiful, ends the album on a good note.

Overall Impression:

This is easily better than Camp's last CD, "Restored". However, I do not feel it is on the level of his superb debut CD "Stay". With solid vocals, lyrics and music, this is a must have for any Camp fan. Fans of Christian contemporary, pop, and rock, as well as those who like the bands mentioned in the "For Fans Of" section, would also be wise to consider this album.

Rating: 8/10

Monday, December 4, 2006

Skillet - Comatose Review

Artist: Skillet
Album Title: Comatose
Year: 2006
Genre: Modern Rock, Hard Rock
For Fans of: Creed, Evanescence, Seether, Staind, other modern rock bands

It has been almost three years since Skillet released their album "Collide". Many people enjoyed that album while some, like me, were disappointed. It was for that reason that I was skeptical when I heard about Skillet's newest CD "Comatose". I thought it'd be just like "Collide"--good lyrics, good music, but vocals that were, at times, subpar.

Don't get me wrong, John Cooper IS a good vocalist. What he is not so good at, however, is screaming. He did a lot of that on "Collide", which turned me off to the CD. Still, it had some good tracks and that was why I readily gave "Comatose" a chance to win me over.

"Comatose", as it turns out, is a different CD from "Collide". There are more ballads, less screaming, even better music, vocals and lyrics.

The CD starts off with the hard-hitting and very "Bring Me To Life"-like song "Rebirthing". Cooper and his wife, Korey, exchange vocals in a way that is akin to Evanescence's smash hit with 12 Stones frontman Paul McCoy. This is one of the stronger tracks on the CD, featuring strong vocals, lyrics and a nice solo to boot, and a definite CM radio hit. Following "Rebirthing" is "The Last Night", more of a ballad than the previous track, but not a soft song. The song takes on the theme of suicide, with Cooper again exchanging vocals with his wife. In the song, Cooper apparently is playing the role of God, trying to let the person who is on the verge of suicide(played by Korey Cooper) know that He is there for them and that He'll "wrap you in my arms and won't let go". Of course, this song is open to interpretation and could also be interpreted as a friend trying to convince another friend not to commit suicide. Nonetheless, it is a very anti-suicide song and surely will touch many.

"Yours To Hold", a soft, acoustic-based ballad is another song with the theme of God (or possibly someone else) being there for a hurting soul.

"Better Than Drugs" brings a return to the hard rock found on "Collide". This is yet another song very open to interpretation. Is this a song about God being "better than drugs/your love is like wine"? Or is it about another person having that effect? Cooper leaves that to the listener to decide.

The title track, "Comatose", is much like the last track. It's hard rocking and lyrically open. Christians can easily take it as being a song about needing God to "take the pain I feel"; while non-Christians can apply it to a relationship they might have with a parent, girlfriend, wife etc. The song really does apply to both.

Track 6, the ballad "The Older I Get", seems to be about a relationship that has been hurt by fights. Given Cooper's own strained relationship with his father, this song could very well be about that. Cooper sings about wanting to forgive and not miss anymore time together. The bridge finds Cooper realizing that part of this was his fault and that he could have done more to make things right. This is another one of the strong tracks on the CD and something we all can relate to.

The standout track on the CD is the eighth track, "Those Nights". This could be the song that allows Skillet to breakthrough into the mainstream and touch many more hurting people if released as a single. It is an infectious, superb, extremely likable pop-rock song that can at once appeal to CM radio, pop radio and even mainstream rock radio. Lyrically, it appears to be about a strong relationship between two people that allows them to overcome the struggles in their lives.

"Falling Inside The Black", another hard rocking song similar to tracks 1, 4, and 5, follows. “Say Goodbye” is another ballad on CD, albeit one of the weaker ones. “Whispers”, a straight-up rock song and one of the strongest tracks on the CD precedes the album closer, “Looking For Angels”. The aforementioned “Angels” is the most unique song on the album in that Cooper recites the words like a poet. It is also a pretty good song.

Overall Impressions:

This is Skillet’s best album. Every track is at least decent, with some(“Rebirthing”, “Better Than Drugs”, “Those Nights”, “The Older I Get”, “Whispers”) that are superb. My only complaint is that Korey doesn’t sing in more of the songs. Even those who disliked Skillet’s earlier efforts should give this CD a chance. It really is that good.

Rating: 9.5/10

Sunday, December 3, 2006


Being my first official blog post, I thought I'd introduce myself.

I'm Michelle, an 18 year old Christian, amateur musician, athlete, and avid fan of Christian music. I've always enjoyed music, but it wasn't always Christian stuff. Previously, it was strictly secular stuff--and bad secular stuff it was. I'm talking bands like Nickelback.....yes, it was that bad. But then, 3 years ago, I got my first taste of Christian music....well....technically, it wasn't Christian music. 12 Stones, the first "Christian" band I became a fan of(back in 2003) it turned out wasn't even a Christian band, although they do have Christian members. Alas, they still turned me on to the genre. Shortly thereafter, I got into other Christian bands like Kutless and Sanctus Real. Since then, I have pretty much exclusively listened to bands that fall into the Christian category. Not because I oppose secular bands, but rather because most of the secular music on radio is just subpar. There is an awful lot of talent in the CM scene, which has made me such a fan of the genre.

So, what is the point of this blog? Well, it is basically to discuss all things CM. Reviews of CDs, news on artists/bands, and basically anything else that pertains to CM will be posted here.