monthly guides, music

November 2010 Monthly Music Guide #9

Looking for something new? Here’s what I’ve been listening to lately…

Josh Ehrmann - Stone's Throw
Josh Ehrmann
Album: Stone’s Throw (November 20, 2010)
Style: Reflective indie-rock songwriter

This young musician sounds perfectly at home with his acoustic guitar in this small collection of simply crafted songs. Offering honest reflections on surrender, silence, and unity, Josh writes with a wisdom more in line with his influences than his peers, whether he’s singing softly or shouting passionately. His sound is most reminiscent of the softer side of As Cities Burn (whose Cody and Aaron helped produce the album, and they make a few musical appearances). Timbre’s harp and harmonies provide additional aural beauty. It’s a shame some of the songs are so short, and sometimes I wish he’d let the precious grooves linger, but the humble songwriter is fast growing in experience and confidence. This is his first official release, and I hope it’s not the last.

Standout Lyric: I see so many words on blank pages
I hear the most when no one speaks
And all the noise that I fill my days with
It’s getting old. I love the silence in between…
Oh, God, if I ever say too much, just cut me off
Standout Lyric II: Well I wasted all my energy just staring at a computer screen
And now I’d love to fall asleep in my bed so I can dream
of doing all the things I should have done while I was awake…
So would you take all of my apathy and turn it into unending passion
In Case It Interests You: Josh Ehrmann is known as a Christian.
If You Only Have 3 Minutes: Check out “Twenty

The Chariot - Long Live
The Chariot
Album: Long Live (November 23, 2010)
Style: Experimental hardcore

Despite switching labels as the latest band to abandon their T&N roots, Long Live picks up right where Wars And Rumors Of Wars left off with The Chariot’s unique brand of controlled chaos. There’s no such thing as a verse or chorus here: guitars feedback in harmony or conspire with the pounding drums and crashing cymbals to weave in and out of Josh Scogin’s emotive vocal delivery of his lines of grace and revolution. The rushing rhythms abruptly break over each other like colossal waves, periodically pausing on the intervening outbreaks of a harp (yep, Timbre again), accordion, beat poetry, or a rousing choral expression. Some of the tracks are randomly named for devoted fans – just another example of The Chariot’s expectedly unexpected creativity and community spirit. If you can get past the abrasive edges, don’t neglect to dive into this inspirational intensity.

Standout Lyric: They can take away one man / And they can take away his mic
But they cannot take us all /
No, they can’t dig a hole the right size to fit all of our dreams /
…Oh we stand hand in hand we walk without fear /
This is a revolution!
In Case It Interests You: The members of The Chariot are known as Christians.
If You Only Have 6 Minutes: Check out the “David De La Hoz” music video – shot in one take

Underoath - Disambiguation
Album: Disambiguation (November 9, 2010)
Style: Polished hardcore

By now everyone knows that Aaron Gillespie left Underoath to fully pursue his solo worshippy stuff. But the band carries on. Frontman Spencer confidently takes all of the vocals; clearly years of screaming have done nothing to compromise his incredible clean voice. When he sings “I’m not the same anymore” as the band exudes a masterful groove behind him – including the percussive work of the new ex-Norma-Jean drummer – it feels like this band has lost none of its energy or passion. Chris’s keyboards feel a little more prominent with his ambient synths, but for the most part this is the same band as before, crafting the thick atmosphere of another world you can envelope yourself in. Some say it’s an even darker world, no doubt thinking of lines like “Someone has clawed out my eyes” or “Feel them crawling through my skin.” But overall the lyrics are not so much random disturbing tales as they are the passioned efforts of someone caught in darkness desperately searching for the light of freedom. “Come on man I swear you can do this / I break free from this room they built for me,” Spencer declares in “Illuminator.” As the journey progresses from “In Divison” to “In Completion,” the music packs enough layered variety to maintain engagement (including some grouped background vocals), although there are plenty of fans who don’t like the loss of Aaron’s poppy influence, and plenty of other fans who think this album feels too much like one or both of the last two. But if this is the sort of thing you like, Underoath pulls it off masterfully.

Standout Lyric: Someone please turn on the lights
I’m not fine I’m not fine
How can I find my way from this little cellar they call life…
I make peace with the parasites I live among
Paralyzed I watch them colonize as I sit here and just fall apart…
Its time to restart / Reassemble what’s left of my body
Its time to restart / Pick me up and walk away…
Uproot the anchor… Uproot the anchor… / Walk right out the door…
In Case It Interests You: The members of Underoath are known as Christians.
STREAM THE WHOLE ALBUM: (Includes 3 techno remixes)

Abel - Lesser Men
Album: Lesser Men (November 16, 2010)
Style: Catchy indie pop rock type stuff

Another month, another surprisingly solid band out of Come&Live! This time it’s Abel, a delightful four-piece who sounds something like a couple guys from House of Heroes mixed with Deas Vail’s drummer all recording in Thrice’s studio. Sometimes slow and thoughtfully post-rock (as on the cymbal-tapping opener), sometimes energetic and passionately pop-rock (as on the punchy-bass track that follows), these guys have the creative musical structuring and the catchy melodies for a wide appeal. The lyrics are strong, offering prayerful calls of surrender, although occasionally they sound a little cheesy and/or derivative: “Take the wheel from my hands or I’ll drive off the road.” But even the ballads are well done, and overall the album is a smart cross between indie deliberation and poppy accessibility. And it’s free (or donations), so give it a shot!

Standout Lyric: And you are my sunshine, my only sunshine
Choruses sung when my blue skies are turning gray
And you paid the price for lesser men
When I can’t believe that I could ever act this way
We are all the same, we just want love
In Case It Interests You: The members of Abel are known as Christians.
If You Only Have 4 Miuntes: Listen to “Saints

Showbread - Who Can Know it - Album Cover
Album: Who Can Know It? (November 16, 2010)
Style: Raw Rock Ballad

The new Showbread comes without the screams, keytar, and raucous ruckus, but it’s not fair to compare this to previous works. The plain synth and guitar chords allow the almost monotonic vocals to clearly speak the classic Showbread themes of falling and forgiveness. Calm vocal harmonies help light up the occasionally bland landscape that stretches across lullaby-like piano lines and varying ambient atmospheres. I still think Josh’s vocals just don’t sound as good when he limits himself like this, but the apparently catchy melodies continue to grow on me, and there’s no faulting the boys’ unrelenting desire to bring the message of hope and give it away for free. As Showbread tears down more boxes of expectations to make whatever art they feel like, some are even calling it their best album to date, while others say it’s their worst… but what’s new?

Standout Lyric: When I die, whatever you might say, don’t say I’m gone / Gone is not the word for someone who finally found his way back home
Standout Lyric II: I hear when Jesus tells me that I need to bite my tongue / and my teeth, they try to cage it, but the prison comes undone.
In Case It Interests You: The members of Showbread are known as Christians.
If You Only Have 5 Minutes: Listen to “You’re Like A Taxi

Lecrae - Rehab
Album: Rehab (September 28, 2010)
Style: Spirit-filled hip-hop

At first impression, Rehab doesn’t seem to indulge quite as much in the big beats and super-fast lyrical flow of the last album, but it’s got a distinct flavor all its own, from “Background” with its sugary hip-pop to “Just Like You” with its minor pensive strings and horns (think the new Batman film soundtracks). Once again, Lecrae features a colorful array of rappers, singers, and background chatterers in an album loosely themed around drug abuse recovery as a metaphor for God’s redemption from all things destructive, from the opening “Check In” to the closing “Release Date.” There’s still a handful of energetic beats, but “High” is far weaker than the highlights of Rebel. While the reggae-inspired, Sonny-featured “Children of the Light” is the most fun, the album really shines on the chiller tracks like the throwback acoustic “Boasting” or the bonus “I Love You” (a committal shout-out to his wife). It’s an album that grows with repeated listens, as you sink past the catchy rhythms and begin to recognize all the little layerings of vocals and percussion hits and other sounds while the challenging lyrics sink into your spirit. Lecrae’s uncompromising calls of surrender to God’s will in exchange for all the trappings of the world would get old if I didn’t constantly need it.

Standout Lyric: Life is like an elevator, a lot of ups and downs
People pushin’ your buttons and gettin’ jerked around
Standout Lyric II: Lust, pride, hate, death running through our blood
Need a blood donor, need a transfusion
He’s over hanging on the cross for your substitution
So in conclusion, only one solution
Trust divine intervention as your resolution
In Case It Interests You: Lecrae is known as a Christian.
If You Only Have 3 Minutes: Listen to “Children of the Light