MUSIC&web17 Oct 2017 02:35 pm

Okay, this week, the new show is going on right this moment and I’m just now getting around to posting the show notes from last week. Just trying to continue to adjust my scheduling and stay on top of things. What’s that? Oh, okay, I need to go… enjoy the show notes from LAST week. This week’s notes should be up later this week.

Three of the artists/bands represented here today are completely new to me. This was a fun week of discovery, but unfortunately it also means that I don’t have much background info on any of them. But that’s never stopped me before. We’ll just dig into the music and see what shakes loose.

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Album 1: Lost in Translation, by New Politics (10/6/17)
The album opens up with what feels like an 8-bit video game soundtrack, before it starts building with additional musical components – including a nice driving rhythm, some intriguing tempo changes, and a solid guitar part. And halfway through CIA, there’s like an entirely different song going on. ONE OF US starts out almost like a Matthew West song, then kicks off with more of a fun. (the group not the emotion) sound. This is such an eclectic group. It’s a great mix of pop rock and orchestral experimentation. Piano in this one. So cool. Our third entry, TELL YOUR DAD features Rivers Cuomo (Weezer) and you can feel the influence immediately. However, it most definitely is not enough to derail their signature appeal as they’ve incorporated a lot of other elements to make the track their own.
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MUSIC&web10 Oct 2017 12:22 pm

Another week, another set of distractions, another busy schedule, another bit of change. Looks like the New Music Digest will be airing live on Tuesdays from now on, starting… TODAY. So this post with last week’s Show Notes may seem somewhat untimely, but at least I didn’t get “lapped” by the broadcast. (Close, but no cigar). Anyway, Episode 23 is all set to go – I’ll post those show notes sometime later this week – but first, here are the show notes from Episode 22, which earned the title, Wildermusic (pronounced however the mood strikes you). Enjoy – and perhaps we’ll see you in the live chat later today. (Sign up at Mixlr to get a notification of when they go live).

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Album 1: Mercury and Lightning, by John Mark McMillan (9/1/17)
John Mark McMillan wrote HOW HE LOVES, which became an extremely popular worship song after it was sanitized and covered by David Crowder*Band (CCM has its limitations on which types of kisses are allowed to be celebrated). This is his sixth album and it a worship project only in an atypical sense of the term.

Leading off with the title track, MERCURY & LIGHTNING could easily find a home on the alternative or even top 40 airwaves. There’s a thickness to the soundtrack, underscored by an organ, that exploits the magnetism of McMillan’s deeply rich vocals. There’s a lot going on in these songs and it’s all pretty spectacular. WILDERLOVE opens with an exposed vocal track that is simply captivating. When the music fills in around it, it’s just great. What else is there to say? If you’re looking for a comparison, you may find some similarities to Hozier. GODS OF AMERICAN SUCCESS will round out our three-song taste test and it’s a little more uptempo and has a different appeal altogether. Really nice album that may take a minute to grow on you.
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MUSIC&web29 Sep 2017 10:51 am

After much ado, the dust has finally settled over at the Studio DNA camp and we’re back with a fresh New Music Digest. The brief respite gave us a wealth of newly released albums to choose from, which makes it a little easier to bring a wider selection and variety of styles. This week, we’ve got some CCM pop, an R&B album with a twinge of country, and some rap – all capped off with an old standby in the tune du jour. As I prepared this, the theme that came through was one of finding your lane and staying in it. Let’s just get right into it.

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Album 1: All In, by Matthew West (9/22/17)
Matthew West is probably one of the more likeable guys you could ever meet in the industry. This is technically his seventh studio album according to PR standards, but that excludes at least 2 Christmas albums, not to mention 3 independent releases, which I understand. He first hit my radar in the early 2000s with SELLOUT and it’s been a fun time watching his career unfold through the years, even though his core sound and song structure has remained steady.

This album opens with the title track and lead single and for a brief instant, I think it may be something entirely unexpected. The little chipmunk-y screech of “All In” conjured up images of a venture into modern rock, but alas, we are still firmly entrenched in the pop craftsmanship we have come to expect from Matthew West. Hard to not let that heavy snare that comes in for the chorus take over your head and force a nod. It’s good stuff. BROKEN THINGS comes in with an almost identical harmony, just taken slightly out of context. It’s really uncanny and it’s no surprise that this is another single currently charting high on the airwaves. These songs are so anthemic – it’s a real talent, for sure. The third song, MERCY IS A SONG, tones things down a little bit before opening up into a gospel-esque, down-home chorus. This is all exactly what you want from this album – especially if you are marketing the album.
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MUSIC&reviews25 Sep 2017 10:43 am

Well, four years can go by quickly. That’s how long it’s been since the last Music of the Day post. But as I was looking at options for adding more content, it seemed a good place to start, since it’s pretty fun and new music pretty much comes out every week – whether it’s good or not, it can still be a blast to blast… or blast. Here’s how it works. I’ll pick out five albums that have recently hit the shelves and they will be subject to my rigorous evaluations. I’ll sum my thoughts up on each album in 25 words or less (usually 25 exactly), point out two key songs, offer two similar artists that may give you a reference point, and for whimsy, I label each album with a random comparison (this week, it will be NFL quarterbacks).

Your part is to let me know in the comments if I’m on or if I’m on something. Yeah, I think that about covers it. We start in five… four… yeah, now.

Matthew West – All In
http://amzn.to/2ynZLUT | http://amzn.to/2fL3S6B (mp3)

Walking a candy aisle, knowing what to expect from each bar – some sort of chocolate with some sort of filling. That’s Matthew West to me. Kirk Cousins

GRADING KEYS: Something Greater, Never Ever Give Up
EXTRA CREDIT: Brandon Heath, Andy Grammer

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MUSIC&web05 Sep 2017 11:01 am

It’s not Monday, though it may feel like it, and there isn’t a new episode due until next week at the earliest while the studio is relocated, but here I am trying to bridge the gap by holding these show notes until some time in the middle. Eventually, I may be posting things in between these updates, but for now, my writing efforts are primarily elsewhere. Anyway, this last episode was dubbed, “Bears and Beers” and it features another wide range of styles and topics. Enjoy…

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Album 1: Painted Ruins, by Grizzly Bear (8/18/17)
It’s hard to ignore a release from a band named Grizzly Bear, I guess. At least it caught my attention and piqued my curiosity this week in the midst of a lot of nothing. And I had no idea what to expect and I know nothing about them, so I’m just going to dive right in.

Even though, I wasn’t sure what to expect, I still had expectations and they certainly weren’t what I’m hearing on the opening track, WASTED ACRES. Very soft, subtle melodies, almost like a soundtrack, but it’s charming in its own way. A steadier rhythm here on MOURNING SOUND, but still somewhat muted, almost like a 90s new wave thing going on. I’d have to listen more carefully to figure out what the lyrics are talking about, but for now, it’s just a fun listen. FOUR CYPRESSES is the third song and it starts out almost like a sped up game of Pong. I’m pretty sure I like it. I’m glad I caved in to my curiosity.
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MUSIC&web23 Aug 2017 11:45 am

I didn’t see the podcast pop-up in the Stitcher feed until later than normal and then, there wasn’t a good time to post these notes while I was actually around to do it, so now, I’m writing up the show notes for episode 20 and thinking, “hmm… I should post last week’s notes.” And, through the miracle of future-dating posts… here we go…

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Album 1: Every Mile Mattered, by Nichole Nordeman (7/28/17)
I typically spare DNA the quiet albums – especially if they fall in the realm of CCM (no offense to fans of CCM). However, this is the first full album from Nordeman in 12 years, meaning she’s been out of the industry longer than some of the new faces have been out of diapers. Always exemplifying the balance between artistic and accommodating, she tells stories with each song, a canvas for lyrics that convey meaningful depth.

EVERY MILE MATTERED opens the album with a subtle piano refrain that leads into an immediate conversation designed to catch the listener up like two long-time friends reuniting over a cup of coffee (or tea). It all comes back so quickly. The sentimental journey continues with YOU’RE HERE and her vocal is just plain endearing. The chorus opens up a little into a catchy melody and rhythm that maintains a grip on youth and adulthood. And I know that the Digest won’t get far enough into DEAR ME to fully capture the marvel of this song construction, but I’ll encourage you to go back and take a listen to the entire song because it’s quite a moving experience (I’ve gotten goosebumps every time I’ve listened so far). Like what MercyMe attempted with DEAR YOUNGER ME, except that it’s done so. much. better. It’s like she never left.
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MUSIC&web10 Aug 2017 02:43 pm

I missed the live show yet again, but just finished up the podcast and I was a little surprised by some of the reactions – and I was surprised by this week’s “winner”. That’s part of what makes this fun. Not every album is going to be a hit and, fortunately, not all of them will be misses. That’s why I try to pick albums and songs that are distinct – that’s where the voting comes in.

I suppose it might be helpful to explain that, while they are hearing the music for the first time on the show, I listen a few times before making the selections – and sometimes first impressions do not prevail. Anyway, I write a lot below so I don’t have to write a lot here… So let’s just dive into the show notes.

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Album 1: Revival, by Third Day (8/4/17)
If I have to be the first to say it, let me say it as loudly and clearly as possible: I’m so tired of hearing how Third Day is going “back to their roots” every time they release a new album. It’s been so long since the early days of Third Day – you know, when their sound was still kind of fresh, new, and unaffected by the yearn for a better bottom line. That was so long ago that it really doesn’t matter anymore if they DO go back to their roots because it’s as stale as a bag of cheetos that has been sitting around in a dorm room all semester. It’s time for a new bag of chips and REVIVAL is that chance to crack open a… aw, never mind, it says this is a “return to their roots.”
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MUSIC&pop culture&web07 Aug 2017 12:46 pm

In case you don’t know, I am “producing” a weekly podcast covering music. Don’t worry, I’m not talking or anything – the dynamic duo of Aaron and Denee’ handle that. I just give them things to talk about. In an effort to cross-promote (or something that sounds social media conscious), I’m posting the show notes here.

Ideally, you’ll read them here, listen to them there, and really enjoy both experiences. I’m starting this week because… that’s it. Just because. Click the link below to listen to the show and read the text below for my thoughts. Simple, right? Here we go.

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Album 1: Wildfires, by Stephen Christian (7/28/2017)
Stephen Christian fronted the modern rock band, Anberlin, until they disbanded in 2014. He also launched a solo side project, Anchor and Braille, with a slightly mellower sound. Now he steps out again, moving from Tooth and Nail (home of some of CCM’s more controversial artists) to BEC Records (home to some of CCM’s more commercial acts). WILDFIRES is a solo album that serves as a worship project of sorts as Christian follows the footsteps of Aaron Gillespie. One can’t help but wonder if this is simply a sales grab.
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MUSIC13 Apr 2017 04:15 pm

This entry dates back about four and a half years ago, but I don’t think I ever posted it. I think it’s still kind of fun. I’m told people used to like what I wrote, you know, when I wrote. Maybe I’ll be inspired to do more… enjoy.

Quite honestly, as I’m typing this up, I haven’t the slightest idea what (or how many) songs will be on the upcoming release, WOW HITS 2013. I just saw it was coming out soon and thought, as I have many times over the years, “If only I could pick the songs for the WOW Hits Collections.” (I suspect you’ve had similar thoughts.) In the interest of full disclosure (aside from not looking at the track list), I’ve stopped taking notice of the annual (or more frequent) releases of this series. I remember the very first edition and I believe I was a faithful consumer through 2001 or 2002, but I’ve not purchased an installment in quite some time. Further, my awareness of what is and isn’t a radio single remains very limited. I have listened to more Christian radio in the last few years than most of the rest of my life, but more as background noise to drown out the sounds of my car falling apart as I drive to and from sporting or musical events with the littles.

And finally, I am pretty sure the official list has some label-related restrictions, but I don’t pay the closest attention to who holds ownership rights over which label, either, so I’ve opened it up to all releases. All that to say, I’m probably not coming from the same place as the folks who compiled the official WOW Hits 2013 album. And I’m not knocking them, or their choices, I’m just explaining that I anticipate a bit of disparity between my list and theirs.

So how did I come up with my choices? I’m glad you asked. First, I went back about a year from now and scoured through the list of releases between 9/1/11 and today. In some cases, I looked a few weeks ahead, but mostly, I stuck to that date range. [continue reading this post…]

Bookshelf28 Oct 2016 04:23 pm

Well, I’ve stewed on this book long enough – and please don’t take that to mean that this is a book of any substance that requires any amount of time to ruminate on or ponder or process. No, it’s more that I needed time to prevent having two rather negative reviews back-to-back. I know, technically, they are back to back, but I dragged my feet long enough and distracted you with The Afters and Ryan Lochte, so…

The Newsmakers – Lis Wiehl

I’m going to try not to indulge my desire to launch into a diatribe and instead just punch in on the high level blemishes that irritated me about the book. Then we can move on.

First, I’ve never (to my knowledge) done this before, but I felt compelled to write down a handful of predictions based on the first 2-3 chapters. These are things that I knew full well would happen by the end of the book because Wiehl all but broadcasts the entire series of events from the beginning of the book. This is something I expect (and get) regularly from Hallmark movies, but for some reason, it’s WAY more annoying in a book. Probably in part because of the investment of time in reading a book versus watching a movie, but I think it extends beyond that in that the writing just wasn’t very good. [continue reading this post…]

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