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.

Trust” opens the album with a quirky, rhythmic introduction before it quickly dissolves into a sea of pop-laden, pseudo-rock worship anthems a la Sonicflood 2.0. “Gloria” doesn’t do much to turn the tide, with predictable lyrics and all-too-familiar arrangements in the chorus. “Wide-Eyed Wonder” backs off of the production a little bit to make room for Christian’s voice to break through and create a dramatic ballad. The saving grace of this album is the clean, piercing vocals that pull listeners out of the overproduction with a reminder of why Anberlin was so successful.

Album 2: After Laughter, by Paramore (5/12/2017)
I always group Paramore with Flyleaf because in 2005, they both emerged as girl-fronted groups – even though they existed in completely different genres. Where Flyleaf fostered a dark, heavy rock sound, Paramore embraced a fun, zest-filled approach to music with pop-rock anthems backing even their most serious of lyrics. AFTER LAUGHTER is their fifth full album.

Hard Times” is the lead single and is not the most accessible rhythm, but it’s whimsical and enjoyable none the less. There’s almost a disco feel to the hook that is really fun. The retro feel continues on “Rose-Colored Boy“, which really allows the vocals shine through on the verses, before the music fully kicks on the chorus. The “cheerleaders” add an interesting dimension to the track as well. “Told You So” offers another groovy soundtrack that proves tracks can fit together without being repetitive.

Album 3: The Boy Who Cried Wolf, by Passenger (7/28/2017)
I spent the first few listens of this album trying to figure out who it reminded me of. There was something so familiar about the vocal style… I just couldn’t place it. After much deliberation, I finally had that “aha” moment. It was a song called “Let Her Go” by… um, Passenger. No wonder it sounded familiar. How embarrassing.

Anyway, “Simple Song” opens the album with a really mellow tone, a banjo, and a poppy melody that is just so relaxing you can listen to the entire thing and feel like you’ve just begun. In fact, the entire album has a soothing and calming effect that makes it an enjoyable experience. “Sweet Louise” shows off some really impressive musical expressions that continue on the title track. All backing a raspy vocal that holds its character despite having all the rough edges sanded down. This album was one I discovered on a whim and I’m so glad I gave it a listen.

Chef’s Tune du jour: Money, by the New Respects (EP released 3/10/2017)
I haven’t totally decided if I’m really excited about this group or not, but it’s definitely ear-catching. There’s a lot happening here with clashing rhythms and even a blend of eras it would seem as there are some elements of classic soul hitting the track alongside some modern production – all helmed by Jasmine Mullen (daughter of Nicole C Mullen). If nothing else, I’m extremely curious to see what the group would do with a full album at their disposal.

Okay, How’s that? Is there something more you want from me? Do you hate what I said about your favorite band in the world?

Let me know in the comments below.

peace… love… bdg…