monthly guides, music

January 2011 Monthly Music Guide #10

Looking for something new? There’s been a lot of new music in 2011 already but first I’ve been catching up on what I missed in 2010. Here’s what I’ve been listening to lately…

Andy Hunter - Collide EP - Album Art
Andy Hunter
Album: Collide (December 6, 2010)
Style: Techno and stuff

Andy Hunter, maybe the only not-completely-underground guy doing Christian techno stuff, released some new music last month for the first time in years, and it was better than I was expecting. The various sounds skitter across the five tracks as the synths and beats come to life (I’m a sucker for random piano riffs), and the thirty-five minute EP leaves you wanting more rather than mushing your brain with mind-numbing bass. Every now and then a lyrical phrase bubbles forth to add to the atmosphere, but for the most part this is just well-crafted electronica.

Standout Lyric: Heaven and earth collide, a beautiful alliance / together two worlds are tied, a powerful presence
Standout Lyric II: Smash it, break it, shake it… Annihilate
In Case It Interests You: Andy Hunter is known as a Christian
STREAM THE WHOLE EP: (last 5 songs on the main page player… from “Raining Sunshine” to “Collide”)

Brooke Fraser - Flags - Album Art
Brooke Fraser
Album: Flags (October 12, 2010)
Style: Bouncy female indie pop

Brooke Fraser is mostly known for her soothing contributions to the Hillsong United worship repertoire, but the New Zealand star’s third solo release is a full-fledged indie pop album in the vein of A Fine Frenzy or Feist with a dash of Imogen Heap. We have a bouncy love song dripping with catchiness, a mournful ballad about a struggling, committed relationship, and several songs telling stories or offering encouragement to a variety of characters. “Crows + Locusts” depicts our spiritual needs through a brutal metaphor of a bleak and plagued harvest, while the title track references both Ecclesiastes and the Beatitudes in a sweeping saga that can’t explain worldly injustices but soars on promised hope. It’s all tied together with Fraser’s strong and soothing vocals, and she calls on driving percussion, vocal choruses, horns, strings, or whatever else is necessary to accompany the guiding guitar or piano. It may be everything you’d expect from an indie pop album, but it’s strongly executed with solid production, backed by deep, clever songwriting, and every time through I like it more.

Standout Lyric: You got your secrets / You’ve got your regrets / Darling, we all do.
Standout Lyric II: This beautiful tangle that’s bruising us blue / Is the beautiful knot that we just can’t undo… Real love is hard love.
In Case It Interests You: Brooke Fraser is known as a Christian.

Mumford And Sons - Sigh No More
Mumford & Sons
Album: Sigh No More (February 16, 2010)
Style: Big banjo indie folk anthems

They’ve taken the UK by storm, and the album still regularly appears in the Billboard top 10 almost a year after its US release. This band soars on full-sized folk anthems with a big spotlight on the speedy banjo, and they’re supported by strong melodies that seem instantly familiar. If the infectious celebrations of the first half become a little too familiar, make your way to the second half of the disc for some slow-simmering beauties. The profound lyrics tie it all together. (Think there’s no way to be original about love anymore? Hear the lyric below and see if your heart doesn’t swell.) Don’t miss out on these banjo-riffic grooves.

Standout Lyric: Love. It will not betray you
Dismay or enslave you, it will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be
There is a design, an alignment, a cry of my heart to see
The beauty of love as it was made to be
Standout Lyric II: I can see widows and orphans through my tears
I know my call despite my faults
And despite my growing fears
But I will hold on hope
And I won’t let you choke
On the noose around your neck
In Case It Interests You: The members of Mumford & Sons seem to be known as Christians.
In Case It Bothers You: The song “Little Lion Man” contains the line “I really f***ed it up this time”

Listener - Wooden Heart - Album Art
Album: Wooden Heart (July 2010)
Style: Talk music

It’s not singing. It’s not rap. It’s not poetry. It’s talk music. It’s poetic lyrics spinning metaphors of struggle and hope, delivered in Dan Smith’s unique and emotionally charged verbal style and backed by a musical progression that falls somewhere in between mewithoutYou and Bradley Hathaway – but with less of the former’s quirkiness and less of the latter’s melodramatic angst. At times the wordy paths seem to wander in the midst of their enumerations of life’s lessons, but there’s no mistaking the passion or the purpose. It’s surprisingly accessible, yet probably unlike anything you’ve ever heard.

Standout Lyric: I know that we are all made out of shipwrecks, every single board
washed and bound like crooked teeth on these rocky shores
so come on and let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief
and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach
Standout Lyric II: and we’re not just islands lying beside each others shorelines
we’re all bound with veins and hopes, we are not each others ghosts
our hearts are abridged, let’s build bridges to each other
so this river won’t take us under
In Case It Interests You: Dan Smith is known as a Christian.

Deepspace5 - The Future Ain't What It Used To Be
Deepspace 5
Album: The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be (April 27, 2010)
Style: Multi-layered throwback hip-hop

I didn’t listen to this enough to write a snazzy paragraph about it, but I enjoyed the whole thing. It’s a group of rappers/DJs/emcees (including the aforementioned Dan Smith) who collaborate to craft a natural-sounding hip-hop that reminded me of Flobots. From what I could tell the lyrics were pretty good too although I couldn’t find any written out online.

In Case It Interests You: The cast of Deepspace 5 are known as Christians.