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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Community Group

Artist: Jonathan Jones
Album: Community Group
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Label: None

Solo albums seem to be the thing to do in music nowadays, because it seems that nearly every frontman of a relatively well known band is making one. Jonathan Jones, better known as the vocalist of We Shot The Moon and Waking Ashland, is one of the latest artists to enter into the solo album territory. Does he pull it off without sounding rather cliche however? The answer to that question is yes.

While on first listen of Community Group, you may recognize some similarities to Jonathan Jones' other piano-driven projects, but there is some very diverse instrumentation included as well, that shakes things up. This refreshing vast array of instrumentation includes plenty of brass and wind sections, made up of tuba, clarinet, and trumpet to name a few, and string sections a plenty, all of which add to the traditional ensemble of piano and guitar.

Community Group finds itself as Jones' best lyrical work to date as well, touching on topics of pain, hope, love, and faith. One instance is the blatant "The Living Dead," which speaks of yearning for grace and hope while struggling through addictions and other hard times, despite having an upbeat sound, comprised of strings, piano and catchy drumming. "Vacancy" has a capturing piano section in its beginning, with a back beat of soft marimba, which later transitions to full fledged drumming, along with introspective lyrics that take a look back on life, but with a hopeful outlook, which also beg "God, can you hear me now?" A swelling crescendo embodies the climax of "My Faith," a song which has the tendency to pull on the listener's heartstrings, an honest plea of searching for faith and forgiveness.

There also some more lighthearted, love songs as well, such as "East Coast Feelings," a song about heartbreak, which is the only song on the album that distinctively sounds like something from We Shot The Moon. The fun and quirky title track boasts lots of the aforementioned brass and wind sections, amidst the playful piano and percussion. The big sounding, piano rocker "Hey Andy" takes a look on desiring to start a band, and is very different compared to many of the other songs on Community Group, with layers of vocal harmonies and a much more electrified tempo.

Overall: Jonathan Jones is reaching outside of his typical piano-pop rock boundaries on his solo effort, titled Community Group. An honest look on pain, hope, love, and faith, the album is not only diverse lyrically, but is filled with a vast array of instrumentation, from banjos to piano to clarinet, the album is truly a unique piece of music. Every once in a while, an album as interesting and introspective as Community Group comes around, and Jonathan Jones has undoubtedly put on the best performance of his career into the album, which has does not fail to impress.

Rating: 9/10

  1. Last Place
  2. The Living Dead
  3. Duracell
  4. East Coast Feelings
  5. Community Group
  6. Vacancy
  7. Hey Andy
  8. Brand New Eyes
  9. My Faith
  10. Morning Light
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