All the Bright Lights – All the Bright Lights
I found this band through a link from the worship guys at Elevation church. I’m a huge fan of the recent ambient “band” movement that’s given us groups like The Album Leaf or El Ten Eleven. This CD from ATBL is excellent. Fans of ethereal, full-instrumentation music will dig it. There are more vocals on this record than some other atmospheric bands, but it all works. What most impresses me about this type of music (and this record specifically) is that it’s so perfect for so many things – nice, chill “invisible” music for a quiet night at home; background music for video projects; driving music that comforts rather than challenges. I also think that All the Bright Lights is a bit more accessible than other bands within the same genre. It’s not a pop record by any means, but the music is a tad bit more “formed” than other projects and sounds a bit more real to new ears.
The Ember Days – The Ember Days EP
I came across this worship band from New Zealand over at comeandlive.com and I can’t stop listening to this EP. (In fact, it’s my favorite music for running these days.) Vocal interplay between male and female lead is just about as cool as can be and the the songs just jump off the record. The songs on this EP are reverberant and passionate. The melodies and song structures are built in a way that demand all the zeal the band has. I hear a lot of good records, but this is one of the most passionate records I’ve ever heard. I genuinely feel like this band was having a full on worship service when they made this record. Guitar strings sound stretched to breaking and I could totally see the drummer puncturing his snare by the time the last chorus comes around. I hope these guys get more exposure – they deserve it.
Lifehouse – Smoke and Mirrors
I’ve never been a huge fan of Lifehouse. I’ve always been impressed with them and the way they’ve handled success in pop music, but the songs themselves have never grabbed me. (Even after every church in the world did that skit to “Everything.”) However, this new project has surprised me. The first thing that grabbed me was just the overall tonal clarity of this record. It just sounds good. But that’s not all…in my opinion, this record makes some significant changes from previous works. Primarily, it sounds like Jason Wade’s vocals have smoothed out. I’ve always felt like Wade was trying a bit too hard to sound like a rocker. This record seems to find just the right mix between his recognizable rasp and a smoother, more poised vocal. The songs themselves are great – now, there’s nothing here that’s going to change the face of music, but each song progresses in a way that’s natural and inspirational. Long-time fans will like it, sure, but if you’ve never given the band a chance, this one might be a good start.
Robbie Seay Band – Miracle
It’s hard to imagine following up “Give Yourself Away,” but RSB has pulled it off. Miracle is a fantastic project. The trademark stuff is there – nice, thick, delayed guitars with sustaining riffs; vocals that are unassuming but still contagious; songs that build with dynamic precision. But there’s a lot of new stuff here, too. Songs like “A Kingdom and a King” and “Your Love Is Strong” are packed with additional lyrical weight and framed in musical settings that seem fresh and new for the band. The band has been playing a few of these songs live over the past year, so it’s nice to hear them as studio versions. This project is massive – lots of songs with lots of new elements. A couple of songs are duets with guest vocalists and the arrangements are varied. There’s really not a bad song on the record. Check it.
The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely
This is, by no means, a new record. But I’ve just recently become a Raconteurs fan. I love this record because it does something that’s always been hard on bands. Lots of artists have tried to infuse their rock n’ roll with more raucous blues elements (like bands The Black Crowes or Silvertide) but that usually ends up making the whole project much more of a blues work rather than a rock record. I think Consolers of the Lonely is a great mix of all sorts of organic musical forms like blues, rock and folk. Jack White may not be the savior of rock n’ roll, but I really like what he’s done to it.
And now, you. We live in a “single” society. People today don’t listen to whole albums any more. They download this song here or buy these two tracks over on this site or get songs emailed to them. So the question is this…is there an entire record you’re into these days?