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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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.