Artist Of The Week - Anchor & Braille

It's been about three years since we've gotten an album from Anchor & Braille, the indie side project of Anberlin's Stephen Christian, but this week, on July 31st, the band's sophomore album will be released. The Quiet Life is a collection of haunting melodies and catchy percussion, certainly a maturation of sound since 2009's Felt. The Quiet Life is available now in stores and online through Tooth & Nail Records.


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So Long Forgotten - Things We Can Se and Things We Cannot

Artist: So Long Forgotten
Album: Things We Can See and Things We Cannot
Release Date: 8/25/09
Label: Come & Live!
So Long Forgotten is an indie rock band from Illinois. There sound could be described as a mix of As Cities Burn and mewithoutYou. The album is partially a concept album, but includes some personal stories from the band member thrown in there. "A River Flows In The Desert" opens the album, and starts off slow, but breaks into a As Cities Burn sounding song with more mwY - like lyrics. "Princess Among Provinces" opens with some yelling, but then breaks down into a different unique type of rocker. "Hills Humbled, Mountains Made Low" includes the unforgettable line "We've got God on our side!". "Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes" is a song about a relationship Micah Boyce, lead singer, had with his mother after his father died. The then has him saying that when we have nothing, we'll always have God. A song that personally I enjoy is the calmer song "Basilea Basilea" which turns out to be one of the best indie rock songs I've ever heard. Many more song on the album such as "Onward to the Garden" seem to contain the earlier mentioned As Cities Burn and mewithoutYou influences. Another favorite track is "Hosanna" which is crafted very nicely. "As The Waters Cover The Sea" ends the album in style, being calmer. A few guests vocalists such as singer-songwriter Todd Reese and Daniel Simmons from All The Day Holiday both contribute greatly to the album, especially Todd Reese, who has a great voice.A band who can blend those two great bands sounds together can truly make a masterpiece. A promising band on the indie label Come & Live! may not get much attention for the time being, but will soon be the next breakout band in my opinion.
Rating: 8/10 So Long Forgotten is very promising and I'm sure will bring us more great work in the future. Also, if you're interested in getting the record, you can download it for free at
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Warrior (Southern Arrowwood)

Secret & Whisper release their new song today which is titled "Warrior (Southern Arrowwood)". As a fan of the band, I really appreciate their hard rock style. For only a dollar, I'd definitely pick this song up! Their new album titled Teenage Fantasy will release February 9, 2010 on Tooth & Nail Records.
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The Christmas Classics - EP

Artist: House Of Heroes
Album: Presents The Christmas Classics EP
Release Date: 11/10/09
Label: Gotee
This has been a big year for House Of Heroes. They've released their critically acclaimed The End is Not The End in stores (It was possibly last year's best of the year), as well as three EPs. This is their third EP, a Christmas one, which carries their style and holiday cheer to the fans. The cover of the hit Christmas single, "All I Want For Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey, starts off the album on a high note. Their take on this is sort of like some of their more "love" songs from The End Is Not The End but with a bit of holiday flair thrown in for the ride. Following up is last year's more mellow single, "Silent Night", done in beautiful acoustics, soaring strings and slowly thumping drums. If the true meaning of Christmas was placed into one song, this would be it. "O Come O Come Emmanuel", another traditional Christmas song, starts off slower, but then breaks into more of the classic HoH sound. This is a great EP but is pretty short, leaving the listener for more. Let's just hope that someday House of Heroes will release a full length Christmas album!
Rating: 9/10 The EP is very short, but is, as the title suggests, made up of Christmas classics. A great way to end the year for House of Heroes!
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Hey guys,
Hope that your year went well! As you can see, I just re-designed the site and will be doing some new reviews lately including Me In Motion, Seabird and lots more! Also, we will soon be adding a new feature, the staff's picks for their top 10 albums, artists, etc. of '09'! Have a great and safe holiday time!
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O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Artist: August Burns Red
Album: O Come O Come Emmanuel
Release Date: 11/24/09
Label: Solid State/CI Records

August Burns Red follows up their hit Christmas single from last year, "Carol Of The Bells", with their new single, "O Come O Come Emmanuel". The song has a longer play time of about five minutes long. It consists of ABR's technical metal guitars and heavier double bass drums. Similar to "Carol Of The Bells", this song is also instrumental. It may be a better fit if only done in instrumental form. I'm not sure how well screaming a Christmas song would go. CI Records also is doing a limited pressed green or red vinyl to celebrate this release. Side A consists of "O Come O Come Emmanuel" while Side B contains "Carol Of The Bells". This, to me, is a great collectors item as well as a perfect holiday gift. I hope that you check out the amazing work that ABR does on their Christmas songs. 
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The Catalyst EP

Artist: The Wrecking
Album: The Catalyst EP
Release Date: 8/18/09
Label: Chosen Records
The Wrecking are a pop/rock band out of Portland, Maine. They released an EP over the summer to preview their new full length album releasing early next year. The theme of the EP seems to be about standing out and being a light in the world. The opening track, also the current radio single, "Sound Of The Resistance" is a pop/rock song about how we need to love others. It describes love as a "resistance". The music video for it is pretty self-explanatory on the message of the song and you might wanna check that out. The acoustics on "Breathe" and "Love Is Here" actually seem to give the songs potential and meaning, they really fit perfectly. "Reason" is actually more of a rocker and is about how we need God to live and that he is the reason that we are alive. The song "Angels" actually has some electronic beats featured and gives it a good sound. The EP closer, "Our Feet Don't Touch The Ground", was actually voted to be featured in the movie "New Moon" but apparently never made the cut for some reason. However, it is a great alternative song and closes off the EP nicely.
Album Highlights: Sound Of The Resistance, Love Is Here, Our Feet Don't Touch The Ground
Rating: 7/10 A pretty interesting sound for the EP, I'm excited to hear the full length releasing early 2010!
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Artist: Phil Wickham
Album: Heaven & Earth
Release Date: 11/17/09
Label: INO Records
The acoustic version of Heaven & Earth is an exclusive to the pre-order of the full length Heaven & Earth album, but here is a CRR exclusive review of it! Enjoy:
Phil Wickham decided to make a raw, unplugged acoustic version of his new record Heaven & Earth that he wanted to share with the fans. However, you can only get it if you pre-ordered his new album. The acoustic version is strictly just acoustic and without the synths, gives the songs a different sound that still gets the general message across. "Precursor" is just Phil's thanks to the fans for supporting him and the album and explains what it's all about. "Eden" is probably my favorite Phil Wickham track to date and sounds very good on acoustic as well. "Coming Alive" without the synths is still a great track, but his voice gets a tiny bit pitchy in a part in the song, but then again, it was just him and his guitar, no producer or anything (at least I don't think). The title track is a beauty and is an honest plea to lay down your life for God. "Safe", the current radio single off of Heaven & Earth, is another great track, but does not feature the singing talents of Bart Millard of MercyMe. "Cielo" is probably another favorite off the acoustic album crying "I can't lift my hands high enough, lift my hands high enough when I'm reaching for you my God". Instead of acoustics, the songs features beautiful pianos. "Heaven Song" talks about wanting to be in heaven. A great closer. This was of course an exclusive not generally for everyone, but still amazing!

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Artist: Flyleaf
Album: Momento Mori
Release Date: 11/10/09
Label: A&M/Octane Records
Flyleaf has kept us waiting for a long time. In fact, it's been five long years. There has been some small digital EPs there and there from time to time, but finally, a full-length has come. It's called Momento Mori which essentially means "aware of death". For many who don't know the concept of the album, it's actually a story. The story is contained in the liner notes (so to understand it, pick up a hard copy) and is very interesting. For each song, rather than lyrics, there is a "journal entry". It tells the story of the "Passerby Army" battling the "Dead Army". It is a very interesting story and I would recommend reading it. The album is also very explicitly "Christian" for secular fans and I'm sure it will catch their attention. Really though, take the opening track "Beautiful Bride" for example. It is a great hard rocker but also contains these lyrics: "Beautiful bride, body of Christ, one flesh abiding, strong and unifying". A great example of what the album has to offer. However, the story really starts off with "Again" which is the current radio single and is about "The Commander's" daughter and how He wishes her to "find air to breathe again". The following song, "Chasm", talks about drinking from the Living Water, but personally isn't really a favorite. I'm not sure why, but it is also kind of hard to follow for some reason. However, the next song, "Missing", is one of the best on the album. It talks about how important love is in our lives and how it feels to live without it. Some of the other songs have to do directly with the "journal entries" contained in the liner notes . One great example is the song "This Close" which has to do with a dream that "The Commander" had, actually two in fact, one being the first verse and the other being the second. Another song is "Swept Away" which talks about an evil woman that's commands the "Dead Army". I know many people have said the Lacey has lost her talented screaming abilities, but there is a moment in this song where she actually does scream and it definitely fits with the song. All in all, the album does have a darker side to it, but then again, it fits with the title.
Album Highlights: Again, Missing, This Close, Swept Away, Tiny Heart, Set Apart This Dream
Rating: 9/10 Flyeaf has kept us waiting for a long time, but the end result is an album that will have you thinking. (Make sure to read the liner notes, they explain a lot.)
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Hello Hurricane

Artist: Switchfoot
Album: Hello Hurricane
Release Date: 11/10/09
Label: Atlantic /Lowercase People
Switchfoot, after about three years of almost no new material, except last year's "This Is Home", have finally returned with Hello Hurricane. Lots of different styles can be found on this album, consisting of anywhere from crunchy rock to soft, mellow ballads. Personally, even with a wide range of songs, they are all great. Unique in their own way. The album starts off with the alternative "Needle and Haystack Life", a great opener that will have you singing along after your first few plays. "Mess Of Me" is their current single. It is a crunchy rock song, and is about basically becoming a slave to ourselves, saying "they lock our souls in cages". A good song, but not the best of the bunch. "Your Love Is A Song" is reminiscent of some of the solo stuff that lead singer Jon Foreman does. My favorite rocker off the album is titled "The Sound (John M. Perkins' Blues)". It is not super high energy but has very catchy guitar. It was also featured in a Verizon commercial that was being played in the World Series this year. "Enough To Let Me Go" is a simple, but effective song about love. It is pretty catchy. "Free" almost continues the theme from "Mess Of Me" saying "Inside this shell there's a prison cell". It may actually be one of Switchfoot's best songs to date. The title track follows and has a message that says that even "hurricanes" can't drown out and silence our love. The following track, their other current single titled "Always". It is a piano driven track that carries the thought that we always belong to God. It is probably my personal favorite off the album and is also a good track for fans of Jon Foreman's more solo stuff. The last rocker, "Bullet Soul", follows and if probably also the craziest of the three, having Jon almost screaming on it. The next three songs, "Yet", "Sing It Out", and "Red Eyes" are still as effective. "Yet" almost sounds similar to Brandon Heath's "Wait and See" saying "You're not finished with me yet". This is probably one of their best albums to date, but not their best ever.
Album Highlights: Always, The Sound, Free, Needle and Haystack Life, and really all are great, unique in their own way.
Rating: 10/10 With '09' coming to an end, this album looks like my album of the year, and probably will be. After all, this is one great effort!
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Fair is set to release their highly anticipated new album titled Disappearing World on February 9th, 2010. They will be shooting a music video for the title track of the album as well as three live in-studio music videos. Also, Aaron Marsh of Copeland will also be featured on the album. Here is the tracklisting:
  1. Disappearing World
  2. Wayside
  3. Walking In My Sleep
  4. One Last Time
  5. Take Some Risks
  6. The Escape Artist
  7. It's Doubtful
  8. The Worst Of Your Wear
  9. Great Divide
  10. Anymore

Secret & Whisper will be releasing their upcoming album titled Teenage Fantasy on February 9th also. Their new single off the album will be "Warrior (Southern Arrowwood). Here is the tracklisting for that:
  1. Youth Cats
  2. Warrior (Southern Arrowwood)
  3. Bedroom Galaxy
  4. Tiny Sparkle
  5. Famous for a Century
  6. Edge of Wilderness
  7. Pretty Snarl
  8. Star Blankets
  9. Blush
  10. Whale Bones
  11. Silver Mountain

On January 26th, Number One Gun will release their new album To The Secrets And Knowledge. Their fist single off the album will be titled "Forest". Here's the tracklisting:
  1. The Victory
  2. Big Machines
  3. Forest
  4. Noises
  5. Hey Stranger
  6. The People
  7. White Lies
  8. Look To Pass
  9. Try It
  10. Don't Stop Believing
Pop/rock band Above The Golden State will release their new album titled The Golden Rule as well on Jan. 26th. It will only feature six songs making it more of an EP. It will also only be $5 as part of EMI CMG's Now Hear This! program.Here's the tracklisting for it:
  1. The Golden Rule
  2. Chance To Love
  3. I Am Loved
  4. Real You
  5. Teach Us
  6. Tragedy
What album are you most excited for?
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Tobymac will release his new album titled "Tonight" on Febuary 9th, 2010. It will feature the current single "City On Our Knees" and also a song titled "Showstopper" that was featured in the first game of the World Series! Is anyone else excited for this long awaited release?
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O Come, All Ye Faithful

Artist: Abandon Kansas
Album: O Come All Ye Faithful (Single)
Release Date: 11/17/09
Label: Gotee
Christmas is coming! I just realized this and thought I should start listening to some Christmas music, so here goes. Indie rock band Abandon Kansas did a special Christmas single of "O Come All Ye Faithful". It sounds really good and blends their signature indie flavored rock with the holiday classic to release a single worthy of Christmas. It's a delight to listen to and is only a buck, so I would definitely pick this up for Christmas listening! Check it out!
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Artist: Stephanie Smith
Album: Stephanie Smith
Release Date: November 17th
Label: Gotee Records

Stephanie Smith rocks! Last year she joined the great family of Gotee Records and soon will be part of “Winter Wonder Slam Tour” in November and December, the date on which release her new self-titled EP “Stephanie Smith - EP”. The EP contains 5 strong and full of energy tracks that were produced by Mark Lee Townsend (Relient K, House of Heroes). Powerful pop/rock with a message about good decisions and healing of the soul, which quickly captured the attention of teens and youth.

The album’ opening song is “Back to Innocence” (first official single) with influences of Paramore and Kelly Clarkson, talks about the intense clamor in the exhaustive and poring life that teens in the seeking to recover the innocence, break chains and decide to be part of change. “Heart Attack” continues the adrenaline with intense guitars, melodies similar to Fireflight work, but this time more aggressively. A message of hope when the consequences come into our lives unexpectedly. Then we met “Pieces of My Heart” with synthesizers, vocals, handclaps and fast drums, screaming restoration and dependence to God when our hearts are broken and knowing that we will rebuild. The pop sound is played by “If You Really Want the World to Change” a song telling us that if we wanna change the world, we have to start for ourselves and learning to forgive each others. Finally, appears “Joshua” with more rockers features who ask God to take control of our hearts. “Come with fire, come with fire” says the bridge, followed by a guitar solo and ending unexpectedly violent EP.

This fantastic EP is the best introduction of what will be the new album from this prodigious singer. “My generation celebrates wounds, instead of celebrating the healing we can have in Christ,” says Stephanie. “But my story is not a sad one anymore. It’s a story of redemption.” This girl is sure to have you rolling down the windows in your car and turning up the volume.

Rating: 8/10

Israel Risco

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Southern Weather

The Almost
Album: Southern Weather
Release Date:
Tooth and Nail
Aaron Gillepsie the drummer and clean singer from Underoath formed a side project called The Almost and their debut album was called Southern Weather. This album is more indie and alternative and I think that it is pretty good for one person playing all the instruments. The hits from this album are Say this Sooner and Southern Weather (Say this sooner was played a lot on Air1). These songs are both really catchy and fun to listen to. Lyrically, this album wasn't the most spiritual. I was a little disappointed in the lyrics but the new album Monster Monster showed more improvement towards the lyrics. This album is pretty good and a fun listener. Definitely for those who like indie music.
Album Highlights: Say this Sooner, Southern Weather, Amazing Because It Is, Dirty and Left Out
Rating: 7/10
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Monster Monster

Artist: The Almost
Album: Monster Monster
Release Date: 11/3/09
Label: Virgin/Tooth and Nail
"This is really a full band effort" says Aaron Gillespie, vocalist and founding member of The Almost. Southern Weather was Aaron by himself, playing almost every instrument on it. Since then, The Almost has come a long way, becoming a full band. The album features Gillespie playing drums, but since recording, The Almost have acquired Joe Musten, lead vocals of Advent, as their drummer. Even so, the drums on the album are still amazing, taking into consideration that Gillespie is also the drummer of Underoath. The album has become one of my favorites over time, since I've listened to it a lot! Lyrically, the album is much more spiritual than Southern Weather. Not the kind of worship like the No Gift To Bring EP, but more indirect worship. Enough said, the album does give praise to God. "Hands" could be a worship song, just take a listen. The album's theme about "monsters" is contained in "Monster" and also "Monster Monster". "Monster" is an acoustic song that asks God if he looks down on us when we have defects and sin. It is my personal favorite. The beginning track, "Monster Monster" is a rocker and states "I'm sick of this monster monster!". This will definitely make my top 10 of '09'.
Album Highlights: Hands, Monster, Souls On Ten, Young Again, Hand Grenade, Monster Monster
Rating: 9/10 This is a great album from The Almost and features many different styles, even including Americana! I'd give this album a listen if I were you!
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Artist: The Almost
Album: Monster EP
Release Date: 10/6/09
Label: Tooth and Nail
The Almost return with their Monster EP, an intro to their upcoming November 3rd release Monster Monster. It features three album cuts and two b-sides. More info on the packaging and all can be found here. The album starts off with "Lonely Wheel", a great alternative rocker. The first single, "Hands" follows. It is more of an 80s sounding rock song with a chorus like this: "With our hands held high, we're singing whoaoa and with our feet we stomp a cadance for You". It could even be looked at as a worship song, which would be pretty cool to sing in church! The b-sides, "July" and "Birmingham" follow. They are both great rockers and are exclusive to this EP. The album ends with "Monster", an acoustic track basically asking God if He still loves even if we sin and have defects. It is one of my favorite tracks from The Almost ever. This EP is only available at their live shows, Hot Topic stores, and their online store. Most of Monster Monster's best tracks are found on this EP actually.
Album Highlights: They're all good, do I have to choose?
Rating: 7/10 A great intro for Monster Monster and features most of the good tracks from the full-length effort.
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No Gift To Bring

Artist: The Almost
Album: No Gift To Bring EP
Release Date: 11/25/08
Label: Tooth and Nail Records
The Almost released their No Gift To Bring EP last November. It was made up of acoustic songs, two new ones, two re-done tracks, and one Christmas song. Personally, this is some of my favorite work done by The Almost. Aaron's voice mixed with the acoustic sounded amazing to me. The EP was produced my Tim McTague , guitarist of Underoath. The result was amazing! The EP blends some of the songs from Southern Weather and some new acoustic songs. I personally enjoyed it and is great for Christmas time or whenever you feel like worshiping or just going acoustic!
Rating: 8/10

Fee - Hope Rising (2009)

Artist: Fee
Album: Hope Rising
Release Date: October 6, 2009
Label: INO Records
Fee debuted in 2007 with their 1st major label record "We Shine" which contained the hit single "All Because of Jesus" (this song can also be found on Casting Crowns' album The Altar and the Door)
"If your alive and been redeemed rise and sing, rise and sing" The album start off with a very nice worship song called "Rise and Sing" which talks about how we should be praising God for all he has done for us. Continuing on with "Greatly to Be Praised" this song proclaims that there is no one like our God and we need to praise Him at all times. The lead single from the album "Glory to God Forever" was an instant favorite for me because I love the truthful lyrics and it's really easy to sing. The next song "God Is Alive" is a celebration of how Jesus is alive and we are free. "Everything Falls" is another great track, it talks about that when everything falls apart His arms will hold us together and He is the only hope for our hearts. "We Crown You" is a beautiful song which talks about how there is no one else like God and we crown Him our King of Kings etc. Next up is "Hands of the Healer" which explains that evil will fall before His hands and that we have nothing to worry about knowing he is there. "Promised Land" is my favorite song on the record because it's got talk boxes, a nice intro, great guitars and it's a celebration of where we will go when we die and we'll see our Lord and cry no more. "Arms That Hold the Universe" is a slow and beautiful song about how we can rest in peace knowing we are in his hands, but most of all know He's in control and He will never let you go. Now before you go off and think that Fee covered the newsboys with "Your Love Is Better Than Life" then your sadly mistaken. The band is singing about how the love of our Lord and Savior is better than the things of this world and that we need to be thankful for what he's done. The last track "Send Me Out" is a call to missions. "Send me out to the world, I wanna be your hands and feet, I wanna be your voice every time I speak, I wanna run to the ones in need in the name of Jesus, I wanna give my life away all for your kingdom's sake, shine a light in the darkest place in the name of Jesus."
Album Highlights: Rise and Sing, Glory to God Forever, Everything Falls, Promised Land, Send Me Out
Rating: 10/10 best worship record of the year
(Reviews for We Shine)
“I’ve been using Steve’s worship music with my students for years. I love how his songs create an atmosphere of freedom where people can connect with God through worship. And this record is the best yet!”-- Mark Hall, Casting Crowns
“Steve Fee has a unique voice in the world of worship, effectively leading a new generation to live in a Story so much bigger than their own. Birthing anthems for the church and songs for the culture, Steve continues to merge lyrics anchored in truth with a musicality that is current and fresh. We’ve shared so much of the journey together over the last decade and I’m excited to see how God will use Fee’s debut release ‘We Shine’ for His fame throughout the earth. ‘We Shine’ is one of the best worship projects of the year.” --- Louie Giglio, Visionary/Architect/Director/Passion Conferences
“We Shine is my favorite worship record and Steve Fee is the most energizing worship leader I’ve ever experienced. His sound is unique. His lyrics are compelling. These songs are going to be around for a long time.” -- Andy Stanley, Pastor of North Point Community Church in Atlanta, GA
“Steve Fee’s music has been a voice of the local church for over a decade, finally his song writing will be heard by the masses. We Shine is a record full of worship anthems soon to be embraced and sung by the church worldwide.” --- Bart Millard/ MercyMe
“What an amazing CD. Christ centered lyrics, with infectious beats that stick to you like Velcro. Steve Fee is not only a dear friend, but an amazing worship leader. The new Fee CD has been playing in my car, my iPod, my kitchen, and in my brain all summer long. Every song has helped me love Jesus more.” --- David Nasser/ author and minister
(Reviews for Hope Rising)
“Hope Rising is a definite necessity for any avid CCM or praise & worship fan. It once again shows us how powerfully talented the group is, which is no big surprise for existing Fee fans out there.” –

“I can’t get enough of this album and every song is worshipful, totally catchy and instantly sing-able.” –

“The sort of anthemic, powerful worship album that makes you want to jump up and kneel at the same time. “ – Group Magazine

“... a cut above much of what you'll find in an overcrowded worship music industry.” –

5 out of 5 stars! “Their follow-up, Hope Rising, will make you forget the term, “sophomore slump.” Now that the worship music genre has established itself as its own entity, Fee has claimed a spot as front-runners and trendsetters.” –
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Artist: Phil Wickham
Album: Heaven & Earth
Release Date: November 17th / 2009
Label: INO Records

He is one of the best composers of the past 3 years; Phil Wickham has become an icon in christian music. Songs like “Grace”, “Cannons” and “Desire” give us a good example of how talented he is, and especially how passionate is for God. This year, returns with “Heaven and Earth” which I believe is one of the best modern worship albums I’ve heard in my life. “Eden” cries out the desire to see God face to face, as in the beginning happened in that garden where the world was originated. One phrase says “To be naked and unashamed in a sweet down pour down pour of rain innocent…”. The atmosphere is changed with “Coming Alive” which progresses through a complicated melody and a simple chorus but surely. The synthesizers tremble in the second line and break off unleashing an artwork. The title track and second single of the album “Heaven and Earth” traps us with environmental keyboards and a commercial melody with influences of U2, and of course with a letter that states total devotion. The acoustic side is inevitable in the projects of Wickham, and “The Time Is Now” is highlighted throughout the album. The violins stand next to the acoustic sound and phrases like “It’s time to make a stand.” The compasses most ingenious are given from the bridge, where the violins and strings come to front ending with a harmonious environment. Excellent hue gives us “Hold On” with a more electro-pop pattern, very similar to the sound “Must I Wait”, resonant synths, with traits of 80’s. The first official single from the album is “Safe”: A beauty in every way. It talks about God’s faithfulness to the promise that we will be safe in his arms and that he gives us hope in tribulation. It is also worth mentioning that the songs features the participation of Bart Millard, lead singer of “MercyMe”, who gets the perfect balance in every chorus and bridge of this beautiful song. One of the most sincere songs on the album is “I’ll Always Love You” with a beginning that catches on each chord, and a chorus that complements the feeling of the song: God always loved us and offers us salvation in every circumstance. The worship sound could not miss on the album and “In Your City” is the song with more prophetic content. “Your Arrival” continues with the atmosphere of the previous track, but now with a faster beat while maintaining the essence in his handwriting. “Because of your cross my debt has been paid, Because of your blood my sins are washed …” is part of the deep lyrics of “Because Of Your Love”; also has a perfect musical structure, worthy of singing in a Sunday service. I cannot deny that my favorite song is “Cielo”, which starts with a introduction almost heavenly that sounds like “Sigur Rós” and progresses through the delicate and sweet rhodes interpretation of the melody. Simplicity and harmony could describe this wonderful theme. “Heaven Song” gives the final touch to this session that I wish never ends. With only an acoustic guitar and a piano, leading then to the violins in a masterly and precise end, this issue ends with the album. I admit that I follow from the outset of Phil Wickham, and “Heaven and Earth” consolidated very much the excellent work that he offers to us. Could I dare to say it’s the best album that has given us? But I could be wrong. In a few minutes I will be listening to it again.

Rating: 9/10
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Birds & Cages

Artist: Deas Vail
Album: Birds and Cages
Release Date: 10/27/09
Label: Mono Vs. Stereo
So, recently, indie rock band Deas Vail has signed to Mono Vs. Stereo and will be releasing their new album titled Birds & Cages October 27th. They have a very relaxing sound to their music. I'm not sure if it's how I'm feeling right now, but this music is meaning a lot to me and also is soothing me at the same time. Their first single, "Excuses" is probably my favorite so far and I can't stop playing it! Check out this band and I'm sure you will enjoy them!
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Don't You Know You're Beautiful

Artist: Seabird
Album: Don't You Know You're Beautiful - Single
Release Date: 11/3/09
Label: Credential Recordings
Seabird returns with their new album titled "Rock Into Rivers" releasing December 15th on Credential Recordings. In the meantime, their new single titled "Don't You Know You're Beautiful". It is fresh and great. I love it so far and can't wait for the full-length! Style wise, this song blends alternative and pop. It is very catchy and smooth sounding. This is a very underrated band that you should check out! This song is currently being played at RadioU and is being added currently at many CHR radio stations! Please buy this November 3rd where ever you buy digital music for only a dollar!
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It Is Well

Artist: Kutless
Album: It Is Well
Release Date: 10/20/09
Label: BEC Recordings
Kutless returns with worship album number two titled "It Is Well". That is exactly what this album is, well done. It mixes the elements of their last worship album titled "Strong Tower" and even a little more rock thrown in this time around. The album's title track starts with a choir singing the hymn "It Is Well" then Kutless adding their own elements into it. It turns into a great alternative rock sounding chorus and is a great intro for the album. some other great songs include "Hungry", which I sing in church often and "Remember Me" which is more of a rocker. Their version of the popular worship song "God Of Wonders" sounds amazing! A great fit for sure. Also, their first single "What Faith Can Do" is great and more can be read about it here. There have been lots of worship albums out this year, but this has been one of my favorites. All I can say is I wish we sang all these songs in church!
Album Highlights: It Is Well, Hungry, God Of Wonders, What Faith Can Do
Rating: 7/10 This is another great album from Kutless and is worth your money.
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Breaking The Noise - EP

Artist: Satellites and Sirens
Album: Breaking The Noise EP
Release Date: 10/6/09
Label: Word Music
Satellites and Sirens return with their next new three song EP "Breaking The Noise". The title track is more electronic and is about trying to hear God through all the noise. "Anchor" may be one of my favorite Satellites and Sirens tracks yet and is a true rock song. It is about being lost in the "currents" of life and how we need God to anchor us and support us. The EP ends with "Come On" and is a more synth-rock track and is pretty much asking if someday someone will love him.
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A Dialogue

Artist: Gwen Stacy
Album: A Dialogue
Release Date: 10/20/09
Label: Solid State Records

Gwen Stacy is a hardcore band that has newly signed to Solid State Records. They blend great lyrics with singing in the vain of Take It Back! and screaming very smoothly. I am not a big fan of hardcore music at all, but there are some exceptions for me, and this happens to be on of them. Their music is very melodic and catchy for me, but I may not recommend this band to just anyone, but is definitely one of my favorite hard music albums of the year. There are great clean vocals sounding very smooth, and then the passionate screams. According to the band, this album is really people's conversions with God. The first track titled "The First Words" is one of my favorites and is great. It asks God "Will you catch me when I fall" and will be meaningful to most people. The albums lyrics are great. The albums closer "The Sound Of Letting Go" is the softest track off the album and is mostly all sang and uses mainly piano, but guitars later. Great album and has a sound almost similar to Take It Back! but not quite.

Album Highlights: The First Words, A Dialogue, The Making Of, The Sound Of Letting Go
Rating: 7/10 I'm not one for this style, but this was very surprisingly good!
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Artist: Joy Electric
Album: Favorites At Play
Release Date: 11/3/09
Label: Tooth and Nail Records
Electronic artist Joy Electric returns in 2009 with a new covers project titled Favorites At Play. It features covers of many different artists including Coldplay, Paramore, and lots more. I'm not a big fan of Joy Electric as well as electronic music in general, but I think I have found my only exception. This is probably one of the better covers albums that have heard. Joy Electric doesn't just cover the songs, but he almost makes them originals and unique. His unique electronic sound mixes with songs like Coldplay's "Viva La Viva" and Paramore's "Decode" and makes them sound just as good as the originals. The songs off the album are very popular to many (but I'm only familiar with a few) and were a pleasure listening to. He bends them and makes them his own and become a masterpiece in an electronic-pop sense. This is probably one of my favorite cover albums and makes me appreciate Joy Electric a lot more.
Album Highlights: Viva La Vida (Coldplay), When You Were Young (The Killers), Decode (Paramore)
Rating: 8/10
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Artist: Mae
Album: (M)orning
Release Date: 9/22/09
Label: Cell Records
Mae is a rock band from Virginia with a mission. This is no mission just to sell music or tour. It is to help people in need of food, clothing, and shelter. Earlier this year, they started a thing where you can download a new song once every month. The dollar (or however much you pay) went to them building a house with Habitat For Humanity. Since their first song, they have raised over fifty-six thousand dollars. They are also releasing three albums titled (M)orning, (A)fternoon, and (E)vening. They have started their own label , Cell Records, in partnership with their past label Tooth and Nail Records. (M)orning is a collection of songs that is like a morning routine and covers you in that sense. There are three instrumental tracks which sound like a morning routine like a drive and walk. The album clocks at almost forty minutes and most of the full length songs are five minutes at the least. One of the albums best tracks, "The Fisherman Song (We All Need Love)" clocks at about nine minutes . It tells a whole story though, and is definitely very cool. It is exclusive to the album, where the four other full - length tracks are all available as part of the "Donate and Download" program Mae is doing. The hard copy of the album also comes with a bonus DVD that includes "The House That Fire Built" music video and chronicles Mae making (M)orning and also building the house for Habitat Of Humanity. It is a very cool story and I would recommend supporting this great cause!
Album Highlights: The Fisherman Song (We All Need Love), Boomerang, DVD (includes Making Of... Feature and The House That Fire Built music video)
Rating: 8/10
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Fire Kite EP
Artist: Eisley
Album: Fire Kite EP
Release Date: 10/13/09
Label: Sire/Reprise
Eisley returns with their new Fire Kite EP. Depending on what version you buy, you will get a different track on each. Here are the tracklistings for each version:

Tour-Only Physical:
1. Ambulance (Un-mixed, will be on upcoming album)
2. The Valley (Un-mixed, will be on upcoming album)
3. 192 Days (Garage Band Demo)
4.Telescope Eyes (Covered by Max Bemis of Say Anything)

1. Ambulance (Un-mixed, will be on upcoming album)
2. The Valley (Un-mixed, will be on upcoming album)
3. Away We Go (Garage Band Demo)
4. 192 Days (Garage Band Demo)

The album is made up of alternative rock and more classic-sounding acoustic pop. "Ambulance" is a great alternative rock track that starts off slow but breaks into the alternative rock. "The Valley" almost sounds like it could be the album's title track and is very catchy. It mentions "fire kites drifting through the sky". It is another alternative rock song and sounds great. The "Away We Go" and "192 Days" Garage Band Demos are both really just tracks they did for fun and have a more classical acoustic pop sound to them, they are fresh sounding. "Away We Go" is only available on the digital and was thrown on last minute. The physical copy includes a cover of their song "Telescope Eyes" by Max Bemis of Say Anything, also the husband of Sherri DuPree. It sounds great and is one of my favorites on the EP. It's too bad that it's not on the version everyone can get.
Album Highlights: Ambulance, The Valley, Telescope Eyes (Covered by Max Bemis)
Rating: 7/10 For those who have been awaiting new material from Eisley, the time has finally come!
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What Faith Can Do

Artist: Kutless
Album: What Faith Can Do - Single
Release Date: 9/29/09
Label: BEC Recordings
Kutless will release their new worship album titled "It Is Well" next Tuesday, but until then, here are my thoughts of their new single currently playing at CHR radio. It mainly uses piano in it but really expresses what faith can do, especially if the faith is in Jesus. It is a very powerful song and is a great taste of what to expect on the album I hope!
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Artist: Relient k
Album: Forget and Not Slow Down
Release Date: 10/6/09
Label: Mono Vs. Stereo/Jive
Relient k returns with a fresh sounding new album. It features many great songs such "Sahara", "I Don't Need A Soul", and "If You Believe Me". The Amazon MP3 version of the album also features a cool bonus track titled "Terminals". It was produced by Adam Young (aka Owl City). The album is more an album of friends, consisting on many guest appearances such as Owl City, Aaron Gillespie (The Almost, UnderOath), Tim Skipper (House Of Heroes), Brian McSweeny (formerly of Seven Day Jesus), and Matt MacDonald (The Classic Crime). This is a great album and one of my favorites of the year!
Rating: 10/10
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Artist: Queens Club
Album: Nightmarer EP
Release Date: 10/27/09 (Digital) 9/18/09 (Physical, Online and Shows only)
Label: Tooth and Nail Records
So, I thought it was sort of strange when I came home one day and Tooth and Nail had signed a new band out of the blue. I had heard talk of a new band, but wasn't expecting it so suddenly. Naturally, I like to give all the music that T&N releases a chance, and it is usually great. So when I saw they had signed Queens Club, I thought "I gotta check these guys out". So I went over to their Myspace (which had a really cheap design on it), and listened to the title track of the album. I thought it sounded decent, but I mainly thought they were a good fit of FF5's Dance Rawr Dance 3 fall tour.

To get this straight, Queens Club is what I call a dance rock band, and mixes an indie rock style with a dance-like style. Do not think they are like FF5 at all, because FF5 is crunk, a huge difference for this style. The songs are possible to dance to, but are not as danceable as FF5. The music is also pretty shallow, having no deep meaning to it really. The title track is pretty catchy, with a danceable beat. "Dust" follows and is the album's standout track, and it sounds almost like a conversation between a young man and God. Another good song is "Uh Huh" and sounds very catchy. The album has pretty shallow lyrics, but I do admit, was a fun listen.
Album Highlights: Dust, Uh Huh, Grienke
Rating: 5/10
Relient K - Forget and Not Slow Down

Artist: Relient K
Album: Forget and Not Slow Down
Release Date: Oct. 6th
Label: Mono vs Stereo.

Since the beginning of music, songwriters have been writing about break-ups. Different writers have taken different approaches perhaps but there is a core feeling that seems to be universally understood. A couple weeks ago I asked John Cooper of Skillet about "It's Not Me It's You" off their new album "Awake". It is an angry break-up song but he hoped it would prove therapeutic to some. On this album Matt Thiessen shares a different but no less valid take on break-ups that not only once again shows off his songwriting prowess but offers up songs that listeners can connect to and may also prove to be quite therapeutic in their own way.

This is a really seam-less album that makes great use of intros and outros to encourages the listener to forgo skipping around and just sit back and enjoy. That is not to say that their are not some distinct stand-out on this album. I am sure many listeners will be tempted to skip to "Sahara" to hear some very special guests offer their voices to a great song. Other songs like "Therapy" has become a personal favorite of mine and features Ethan Luck who recently left Demon Hunter to join Relient K full time.

"Forget and Not Slow Down" is yet another album that shows off the production genius of Mark Townsend. Earlier this month saw the release of the new EP from Abandon Kansas which also proved to be expertly produced. The members of Relient K speak of the Townsend in quite glowing terms. Founding member Matt Hoopes says "He's family".

This latest release has indeed proved to be every bit worthy of the anticipation that is has inspired in their fans. It has been said that Relient K has as many or more former members as current members but along the 12 years they have been chugging along they have taken their music to a place that is perhaps more grown up but still maintains that charm that long time fans have come to love.

Rating: 9.5/10
Decyfer Down-Crash

: Decyfer Down
Album: Crash
Release Date: May 2009
Label: INO Records
Decyfer Down came out with their second album Crash in May. Their former frontman, Caleb, left the band due to his family so the new frontman for DD is TJ Harris. In my opinion Caleb sounded better than TJ but this new album still rocks. It still brings the raw guitar riffs, catchy chorus', and some guitar solos. The album starts out with the song "Crash" which was on an EP before. It's not the best track on the album but is still pretty good. Another song "Fading", was played on Air1 a lot and is a brilliant song. From the very start to the end it hooks you. The lyrics are also very good in this song saying "wait, it's all that I can take and every single day a part of my soul is fading but now by letting go somehow unshackled and unbound I'm calling out your name." Life throws us a lot of curve balls but we have God to call and rely upon and he never will leave us. Another great song is "Wasting Away". The intro is awesome and it ends with a great solo. A few slow but really nice songs are "Best I Can", "Moving On", and "Forever With You". The lyrics are amazing in "Forever With You" saying that I want God in my life and to have a heart that is burning for Christ. Overall this CD is good but not the best in 2009. I would recommend to buy this CD if you like great talent and hard rock.
Album Highlights: Crash, Fading, Wasting Away, Forever With You
Rating: 8.5/10
Skillet - Awake (Deluxe)

Artist: Skillet
Album: Awake
Release Date: 8/25/09
Label: Lava/Ardent/Atlantic
3 years later after the release of their most successful record to date (Comatose), Skillet returns with their highly anticipated 8th studio release "Awake". I must say I had very high expectations for this album and not only did I get my wish but I was completely blown away by every song on here. Skillet fans better known as "panheads" got their first taste of the new record with "Hero" which came out in June followed by "Monster" in July. With tension building August 25th finally came and people rushed to stores to get this amazing band's newest work. And now the moment you have all been waiting review of Awake!

1. Hero - The one that started it all....this explosive song is giving the basis of it's meaning to Jesus and how he is our HERO who is watching over us no matter what madness is going on in this world. The beautiful voice of Miss Jen Ledger, the band's newest drummer is introduced in this song (excluding 'Yours to Hold' from "Comatose Comes Alive") as like a duet with John Cooper. With lyrics such as "who's gonna fight for what's right? who's gonna help us survive? we're in the fight of our lives" this song gets us ready for the theme of this record and how we have come out of our 'Comatose' as Christians and now it's time for us to take action and be "AWAKE!" This song is currently being used for an NFL commercial.

2. Monster - This song became an instant favorite for me because the guitars are hard pounding, the lyrics go great with the theme and the EPIC growl you hear towards the end of the song. "The secret side of me, I never let you see, I keep it caged but I can't control it, so stay away from me the beast is ugly, I feel a rage and I can't control it" According to John the song is about sin and how we have 2 sides and when one of those sides come out it makes us look like a 'Monster' During live performance Scotty Rock (band's manager) is known to be on stage playing bass while John sings the song. Recently this song is getting publicity and being used on MTV and the wrestling world. The music video has been added to Fuse's video rotation so be on the look out for it!

3. Don't Wake Me - "went to bed I was thinking about you" is how the first mellow song from Awake opens. Don't Wake Me is about losing someone and the only way you can remain together is in dreams and being woken up would make you leave that dream. "Don't wake me cause I don't wanna leave this dream, don't wake me cause I never seem to stay asleep, I know when it's you I'm dreaming of I don't wanna wake up" A beautiful song with lots of truth behind it. It's the complete opposite of Yours to Hold.

4. Awake and Alive - Once you hear the strings at the beginning you are instantly reminded of Comatose. "I'm at war with the world and they try to pull me into the dark, I struggle to find my faith, as I'm slipping from your arms, it's getting harder to stay awake and my strength is fading fast, you breathe into me at last." The song is a plea to God to keep us focused and a battle cry for Christians to act and reach a generation. This song is definitely the most energetic on the album with the guitar solo, the amazing vocal tie-ins with John Cooper and Jen Ledger along with the cello and violin works of Tate Olsen and Jonathan Chu. This is surely to be a live favorite for The Awake and Alive Tour this Fall! This song reached #3 on the iTunes top Rock Songs. Possibly this could be the next single for the Christian markets. And yes this is the album's title track.

5. One Day Too Late - Reminiscence of Looking for Angels can be heard in this song (but at a slower and calmer pace) of how we need to live each day to the fullest and help those who need it. Also it encourages to show love to people and be a good example because if we don't then it will be one day too late. "Today I'm gonna try a little harder, gonna make every minute last longer, gonna learn to forgive and forget cause we don't have long gotta make the most of it."

6. It's Not Me It's You - John Cooper has stated that this is his favorite song on the record because it's an "in your face song" and how could it not be? the song itself starts off with "let's get the story straight you were a poison, you flooded through my veins, you left me broken, you tried to make me think that the blame was all on me with the pain you put me through." Many different interpretations could be taken from this: 1st it could be implying to a bad relationship and how one person is at fault while the other one did nothing. Coming from a Christian point of view this song could be about Satan and how he tries to get us to give up and suffer. This is one of my favorites because it's got that fists in the air and shouting element to it. This is rumored to be the next mainstream single for the band.

7. Should've When You Could've - The title may be a little corny but once again Skillet delivers a great song. "I'm done wondering where you've been all, night long when your out with your friends all, you say that the matters over but now that chapter's ended, I'm done trusting you it's ended even after I catch you red handed, you could've been my only one but now your chance is gone." It appears to be a guilt trip song to recently broken up couple. Looking at the lyrics more carefully it could be about someone who took you for granted and now you have left them and moved on and they want you back but it's too late. Elements of The Older I Get are found here because once again it is talking about a strained relationship.

8. Believe - This was a last minute added song as the band recorded it in the summer before the album came out. The core meaning of this track is that we give people the wrong impression of how we view them and we cause them to think we don't need them but they don't realize the truth until something is said. "If you believe when I said, I'd be better off without you then you never really knew me at all, if you believe when I said that I wouldn't be thinking about you, you thought you knew the truth but you're wrong, you're all that I need just tell me that you still believe" This was a great track to be added at the last minute because like all of Skillet's songs this one also has a very powerful message.

9. Forgiven - This was the inspiration for John Cooper's newest tattoo. The meaning of the song is pretty straight froward, we are forgiven because of Jesus no matter what we've done as long as we repent. "Now I'm in our secret place alone in your embrace, where all my wrongs have been erased you have forgiven, all the promises and lies, all the times and compromise, all the times you were denied you have forgiven."

10. Sometimes - According to the band this is the most aggressive song on the record. It talks about how we are unaware of how our actions affect people. Sometimes I don't wanna be better, sometimes I can't be put back together, sometimes I find it hard to believe there's someone else who could be just as messed up as me." This is also the heaviest song on the album with the loud guitars and strong vocals.

11. Never Surrender - A beautiful intro starts out this amazing heart felt song about how we should never give up on things in life and be strong through it all. This song was inspired by a fellow fan of the band who talked to them about having an eating disorder and obviously the band was touched about her triumph over it. "I don't wanna live like this tomorrow, I don't wanna live like this today, make me feel better, I wanna feel better, stay with me here now and never surrender."

12. Lucy - This is probably the most confusing song on the record because no one knows who Lucy is. John Cooper said that he would like to keep this a secret and have it affect people the way the song already does and then he will later reveal who the song is named after. From what I have heard the song is about losing someone and wanting to make amends with that person but can't because they're gone. "hey Lucy I remembered your birthday, it's sad it brings a closure to say your name, I know I'd do it all different if I had the chance, but all I've got are these roses to give and they can't help me make amends."

If you really love Skillet then I suggest you buy the deluxe edition because the more Skillet the better!

Deluxe Edition Tracks

13. Dead Inside - The first bonus song has a great opening with a strong guitar riff and then kicks in the drums. This song is about how we can be dead with our faith and will stray away but then Jesus comes to breathe life into us and we are renewed but only if we want to. "Dead inside no other satisfies, put your mouth on mine and bring me back to life, dead inside no other sacrifice my blood runs dry, take my life and save me from this death inside."

14. Would It Matter - An alien sounding intro comes on followed by some haunting lyrics. "If I wasn't hear tomorrow, would anybody care?" The song's meaning from what I understand is talking about how if we left this world, would it really matter to people of the things we did and the impact we made, did we live life to the fullest and take every chance we were given. "All the chances that have passed me by, would it matter if I gave it one more try, would it matter at all?" When I first heard this song I thought it was a b-side from Alien Youth because of the techniques used throughout it and just liked the song but now I see a deeper meaning to it and is one of the best on the record.

15. Monster (Alternate Radio Version) - This is basically the same version that is on the regular album but the growl at the end is removed and is replaced with John just singing "feel like a monster."

Highlights: Hero, Monster, Awake and Alive, It's Not Me It's You, Never Surrender, Lucy, Dead Inside, Would It Matter.....but honestly all of the songs.

Rating: 10/10 This is definitely the greatest album of 2009, not because it was done by Skillet but because once again this band has proven themselves as artists and songwriters. Every song people can relate to and take to heart. In terms of this being better than Comatose I must say that both these albums are equal and I could listen to both over and over again and never get tired of these songs.
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The B.Reith EP

Artist: B.Reith
Album: The B.Reith EP
Release Date: 9/22/09
Label: Gotee Records
B.Reith is a Christian rapper that blends some hip-hop and soul into his music. His debut album Now Is Not Forever released today on Gotee. On AmazonMP3 however, he offered a free four-track EP that features two new tracks, one from his EP titled The Forecast, and one that was released on the newer version of The Forecast EP as well as Now Is Not Forever. The EP opens with the track titled "The Comeback Kid". It is an upbeat track that is very danceable that has to do with people pronouncing his name wrong to his videos being played in American Eagle stores (which is true by the way). "Mess" followers and is a nice acoustic hip-hop song. It was one of the first singles from B.Reith and is on The Forecast EP that was re-released on iTunes in March and on Now Is Not Forever. It is very catchy and asks God to come rescue us when we're in a mess. "Wish That" is another acoustic rap song that is about a broken relationship. The last track, "Go On", is from his earlier EP and is pretty much about how people pronounce his name wrong. It is a great EP and I would recommend downloading this for free from Amazon. Full review of Now Is Not Forever coming soon!
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Artist: The Letter Black
Album: Breaking The Silence EP
Release Date: 9/22/09
Label: Tooth and Nail Records
The Letter Black is a 5 - piece rock band from Uniontown, Pennsylvania (fifth member of the band not featured on cover) . They are female - fronted along the likes of Fireflight and Flyleaf. They will be on tour this fall on the Awake & Alive Tour with Skillet and Hawk Nelson. Breaking The Silence opens with "Moving On" a song about forgiveness. It does come off bitter some though, but does state "I forgave you and now I'm moving on". The next track is titled "Hanging On By A Thread". It is a great rock song about always hanging on to God no matter what. The album's style changes to more of an acoustic pop song on "Best Of Me" which is very surprising. It is still a good track in my opinion though. "Collapse" features some great bass and guitar and is a little reminiscent "Hanging On By A Thread". It states that we can't live without Jesus as our Saviour and has a very strong message. "All Of Me" is probably the hardest rocker on the album. It opens with murky sounding bass and is sort of dark. "Perfect" opens with a great guitar riff. It has more of a jazzy sound to the verses than breaks into a hard rocking chorus . It talks about how Jesus is perfect and will always love us and be with us. This is a great introduction to The Letter Black. All I can do is just wait for the day of the full length debut from them early next year!
Album Highlights: Hanging On By A Thread, Best Of Me, Perfect
Rating: 8/10 Great intro for The Letter Black! Their full length debut is coming in early 2010.
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The Almost have posted their first new song up from Monster Monster here. It is titled "Lonely Wheel" and a music video was shot for it as well as for their new single impacted radio now titled "Hands"! "Hands" can be heard here. The album will release November 3rd on Tooth and Nail/Virgin!
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Artist: Hawk Nelson
Album: Live Life Loud
Release Date: 9/22/09
Label: Tooth and Nail/BEC Recordings
Hawk Nelson returns with their fourth studio album titled "Live Life Loud". It does not necessarily have a new sound compared to other previous albums, but more of a blended sound of all their past albums. The album kicks off with the fun title track with cool "crowd" vocals. "Never Enough" follows with a more Hawk Nelson rock take on it, like "You Have What I Need" for example. The next song, an album highlight, "Eggshells" is a great sounding song and even features vocals by every one's favorite singer, tobyMac! His vocals really add a lot to the song. A few radio singles follow, being "Meaning Of Life" and "Alive". "Meaning Of Life" is their first CHR single and is about finding the meaning of life essentially. "Alive" is their single at Rock radio (RadioU, Effect Radio). It is probably one of their best rock songs to date. A cool little song titled "Ode To Lord Stanley" about a dream of winning the Stanley Cup aka the hockey championship trophy. It features only banjo and is more of an interlude. Another good song titled "The Job" is more of a pop-punk/rock song and is very high in energy. "Shaken" is one of the softer songs on the album, but is equally as powerful. The chorus asks "Lord use me, take me where you want me to go". It is an honest plea to Jesus and that is what makes it one of the best songs on the album. The rest of the album is more slow, and even uses bagpipes on "Tis So Sweet". The song is actually a hymn, and is cool to hear Hawk Nelson sing it. There is also a female background vocalist on the song. The album closes off with a stripped down acoustic track cleverly titled "The Final Toast". This album is probably Hawk Nelson's most spiritual album to date. It is also very mature, as compared to last year's ... Is My Friend.
Album Highlights: Live Life Loud, Eggshells, Meaning Of Life, Alive, Shaken, Tis So Sweet
Rating: 9/10 Great Hawk Nelson album that includes a lot more spiritual content then other albums.
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Artist: Jaymes Reunion
Album: Jaymes Reunion EP
Release Date: 9/22/09
Label: BEC Recordings
Jaymes Reunion is a four - piece pop/rock band from California. They have been scheduled to release their debut album for a while. It was supposed to be a full length album, but for now, they will just release an EP to get us ready. The EP starts off with the single "Fine" that has had lots of air time on Air 1 Radio. It is a nice pop tune that states "you've never really loved until you watched it fall apart, you never really lived until you felt like you've been dying, you never really stood until the wait has pushed you over, you're picking up the pieces just to find you're doing just fine". "Let It Shine" is another good song the was also a single. "If You Wanna Cry (Acoustic)" is a song that really just uses piano, and barely any, if not any, acoustic guitar. Two more acoustic songs follow. "More Than A Day (Acoustic)" is another nice acoustic song that is a great song to follow "If You Wanna Cry". They flow perfectly together. The next song is an acoustic version of "Fine" that features an acoustic guitar rhythm that doesn't seem like the rhythm of the original, but is still nice. "I Want You Back" is a catchy song and features nice keyboards and guitars. This is a very successful debut for Jaymes Reunion and leaves me wanting to hear more from this band. The album is specially priced at $5 as part of the Now Hear This! artist campaign supporting new music at cheap prices.
Album Highlights: Fine, Let It Shine, I Want You Back
Rating: 8/10 A nice debut album from Jaymes Reunion. Look for their debut full length album soon!

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Artist: Pillar
Album: Confessions
Release Date: 9/22/09
Label: Essential Records
Pillar returns with their seventh studio album, titled Confessions. Pillar changes their style a bit here being mainly hard rock/arena rock. There are also some songs that are CHR radio friendly. Confessions was produced by Rob Graves (Red, Wavorly) and does have a more Red sound to it. The album starts out with the hard - hitting track titled "Fire On The Inside" and is the band's current single from the album at rock radio. "Whatever It Takes" follows and does include some screaming almost similar to Red's. The album's CHR track "Secrets and Regrets" is about past sins that are keeping you from going anywhere. It also talks about us having second chance. Lead singer Rob Beckley states that if the album had a title track, "Secrets and Regrets" would have been it. The next track, "Better Off Now" sounds a little like "Smiling Down" from For The Love Of The Game. Somehow, the song also seems to resemble the song "Watching Over Me" from the new TFK album. It even mentions "like an angel, I know you're watching over me". "Not Without A Fight" is really a song about a spiritual battle according to Rob Beckley. "Will You Be There" is a song that is asking God if he will be there through all our struggles and pain. Confessions also features two covers. They are "Shine" originally by Collective Soul and "Call To Action" originally by Copper. Both covers are good, but personally, I like "Shine" better. "Lose It All" is a more softer song on the album. It is about basically losing someone, but having to move on. The album closer "You Are Not The End" is a different song which has Beckley almost talking instead of singing, but then the chorus is like a typical Pillar song. It is not a typical album closer, but it does fit the album.
Album Highlights: Fire On The Inside, Secrets & Regrets, Better Off Now, Shine
Rating: 7/10 A pretty good hard rock album. It has it's highlights, but not the best rock album of 2009.
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Welcome To The Masquerade

Artist: Thousand Foot Krutch
Album: Welcome To The Masquerade
Release Date: 9/8/09
Label: Tooth and Nail Records
Do you want a great rock album? Maybe even the best one of 2009? Then Thousand Foot Krutch's new album is exactly that. They return with their much anticipated fifth studio album, entitled Welcome To The Masquerade. It mixes lots of different TFK elements such as some of their original rap-rock, heavy guitars, and even some new heavier vocals not usually heard on TFK albums. The album opens up with the instrumental track "The Invitation" which blends guitars with some piano. The title track follows with hard-hitting guitars and is a good opening full length track for the album. The song "Fire It Up" is a great sports anthem that goes along the lines of "Move" and "Rawkfist". It has also had placements on the Indycar Series and the G.I Joe movie trailer. The first single "Bring Me To Life" features haunting piano and great guitars. Listeners may notice the scream after the first chorus is different then the original single released for free via Feed The Beat. "E For Extinction" has the heavy vocals mentioned above in the background in the chorus. "Watching Over Me" bears resemblance to an FM Static song. It is a song about knowing that God is always there and features these lyrics in the chorus : "I know You're out there, and I know You care, cause I feel You like an angel watching over me". "The Part That Hurts The Most (Is Me)" is a typical TFK rock song that includes some of the piano that is being used on most of the album. "Scream" is an emotional song that states "It's like a mask I don't want to wear anymore" which is referring to disguising past sins and wrongs that we have committed. A similar song that goes along with this theme is "E For Extinction" (mentioned above). That song says that we "camouflage ourselves" from things that we have done. "Look Away" is a nice stripped down acoustic song about asking Jesus to take away our cuts and make them shine. The ballad "Forward Motion", is a radio-ready song, currently being played on Air 1 radio. "Outta Control" is another typical rock song for TFK. "Smack Down" is a hand-clapping, feet-stomping song, that seems like it was made for wrestling, and probably any competition sport. The album ends with "Already Home" which features very beautiful violins in the beginning of the song. It is about being on our knees in front of Jesus confessing how we have sinned, but not running away since we are already home. TFK has definitely become a very mature band with the release of WTTM. It is the most complete TFK album to date, and their best release.
Album Highlights: Fire It Up, E For Extinction , Forward Motion, Look Away, Smack Down, Already Home
Rating: 10/10 This is TFK's best album ever to date. It is also the best rock album of the year!
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(Not Final Artwork?)
Here is an original cover for the new The Almost album. It will release November 3rd on Tooth and Nail and Virgin Records! The album was produced by Aaron Sprinkle at Dark Horse studios. They will be releasing a new single to Rock/CHR radio in October named "Hands". They will also be shooting a music video for "Hands" and another new song titled "Lonely Wheel". Anyone excited?
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When I'm With You

Album:When I'm With You EP
Release Date:8/18/09
I was introduced to this band when I heard their single "Sleeping In" on Wow Hits last year and I thought it sounded good. Then I saw they were releasing an acoustic EP and I thought it looked good enough to review! The EP is crafted as a collection of love songs for the band's wives. So, they are really nice, acoustic love songs. The first track, "I Can't Help It", is talking about why someone would want to love, but then ignoring that statement when they found someone to love. The EP follows with "Look What You've Done" which could definitely be a rock song but electric guitars were used. "Stay (In My Arms)" starts off with just piano then the chorus contains acoustic guitar. This is a very great collection of love songs! You can buy a physical copy from the Nevertheless official online store or any digital retailers.
Album Highlights: I Can't Help It, Stay (In My Arms), In Or Out
Rating: 8/10 Nice collection of acoustic love songs!
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The Covers EP

Album:The Covers EP
Release Date:8/25/09
Label:Tooth and Nail Records
Washington natives Ruth have returned yet again with a new EP full of covers. Some of the artists they cover span from Buddy Holly to Coldplay. The first track "Everyday", originally by Buddy Holly, is a short song at a play time of only 1:31. It has an acoustic sound and some gang vocals. It is also shorter than the original version. "Dream" by the Everly Brothers follows and has more of the Ruth (folk rock) sound to it. The next song "I'm The One Who Wants To Be With You" is originally by Mr. Big from the 90s. It is probably one of the best songs on the EP. "Give Me One Reason To Stay Here" by Tracy Chapman is another good sounding track that very well could have been an "Anorak" b-side . "Fix You" from Coldplay originally, sounds just as good as the original in my opinion. This is a great collection of covers but is very short.
Album Highlights: I'm The One Who Wants To Be With You (Mr. Big) , Fix You (Coldplay)
Rating: 6/10 The EP includes some good covers, but not enough and is also sort of short.

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Album:Again - Single
Release Date:8/25/09
Label:A&M/Octane Records
So,I was very excited when I saw that Flyleaf was releaseing a new single from their new album Momento Mori, releasing October 27th. I then bought the single off Amazon and thought I should review it. It is a great rock song and reminds me some of "All Around Me". Lacey Mosley apparently doesn't scream anymore because of vocal chord troubles. So the song is more of a hard rock/rock track. It sounds like some more recent Skillet and The Letter Black material. It is an overall good track and is a great intro to Momento Mori. The song is being added to Rock,Active Rock, and Alternative stations soon. Please keep an ear open for this song on the radio and remember, Momento Mori is coming October 27th!
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Artist:The Glorious Unseen
Album:The Hope That Lies In You
Release Date:8/25/09
Label:BEC Recordings
The Glorious Unseen is a worship band from Nashville, Tennessee. I found out about this band when I download their Cries Of The Broken EP off of Noisetrade. Then I saw that they were coming out with a new album and I was very excited. They mix alternative rock with worship music and out of it comes a masterpiece. The first song "All Around" is a great song about when everything in the world is going wrong, Jesus is our comfort and he loves us when we're weak. The third track, a cover of John Mark McMillan's "How He Loves" is a very memorable one. It is a great song and sounds great with TGU singing it. The albums first single "Heavyhearted" is a song that is very inspiring. It's chorus is great: "And when You take me as I am, it's like the sunlight gracing the land, and when I feel heavy hearted, please take me as I am". The self-titled track is great and ends in just singing Hallelujah, which is also heard on "Awakening". The album closer "Sweet, Sweet Sound" is a prayer asking God to come again. This is definitely my favorite worship album ever, and believe me, I have heard a lot of worship music over the years . This is a great album for fans of worship and those who don't like worship alike. This is the best album I have heard in 09!
Album Highlights:All Around, How He Loves, Heavyhearted, The Hope That Lies In You, Sweet Sweet Sound
Rating: 10/10 This is definitely the best album that I have heard in 09! Please go pick this up!
Abandon Kansas - We're All Going Somewhere EP

Artist: Abandon Kansas
Album: We're All Going Somewhere EP
Release Date: 9/8/09
Label: Gotee Records
Are you looking for some great indie rock? Than check out Abandon Kansas, the newest addition to the Gotee Records roster! As their name says, they are a band from Kansas. They sound almost like a mix of House Of Heroes and Relient k with different vocals and they are indie rock. They do have more of a unique sound from other indie bands. Their new album was produced by Mark Lee Townsend who actually produced Relient k and House Of Heroes. I have even noticed the lead singer's voice to sound like Jon Foreman of Switchfoot at times. So,as you can tell, this band has a very unique sound. The albums second track "I Wonder If It's Me" is a song about everyone understanding things differently. The pre-chorus says "the small town kids miss the city,the city kids miss the trees,but how can we get this backwards when it's only a change of scenery". The last song "Close Your Eyes" is about knowing that God is always there even when you can't see him. This album is up for pre-order from Zambooie. Please give a listen to the newest member of the Gotee Records family!
Album Highlights: I Wonder If It's Me, Make Believe, Close Your Eyes
Rating: 9/10 Great new addition to the Gotee Records roster!
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Honest Love

Album: The Honest Love
Release Date: 9/1/09
Label:Facedown/Dreamt Music
Just to give you a profile of Abel,they are a 3-piece indie rock band from Poughkeepsie, New York. They are really an indie rock band but their music is really indie rock worship,sort of like The Glorious Unseen but more of a rock band. They have a great sound that is unique to them. They are great for people who don't like worship that much. The album focuses on many spiritual themes such as finding the honest love of Jesus Christ and how we are not perfect like Him. The songs on this album have very good messages and some good ones include "My Melody","The World Sings",and the title track. I would definitely look into this band and check out the EP and buy it when it comes out. All I can say is that this sounds like another contender for album of the year!
Album Highlights:The Honest Love, My Melody, The World Sings
Rating:8/10 I think this is honestly one of the best albums that I have heard so far this year!
New Artists On Tooth and Nail Records

The Letter Black
The Letter Black releases their debut EP September 22 on and have an early 2010 full length release coming out.
Poema is a 2-piece acoustic/pop band from New Mexico. They are going to record a new album with Aaron Sprinkle and have a release set for next year.
Sent By Ravens
Sent By Ravens
Sent By Ravens is a progressive rock band from North Carolina(and Hawaii). They recorded a full length album with Aaron Sprinkle and plan on a late 2009-early 2010 release date with Tooth and Nail.
Write This Down
Write This Down is a 3 piece rock band. They have a late 2009 release date on Tooth and Nail Records.