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.

Bonus (in case it wins): NO LONGER is a song about bravery and following your calling.

Album 2: Popular Manipulations, by The Districts (8/11/17)
I know exactly nothing about The Districts other than they released this album this week. I thought I would try them out because they seemed to be a good mix of rock and pop – without the boy band feel (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Also, their label is called Fat Possum and there’s something to that for sure.

The first track, IF BEFORE I WAKE, carries a poetic title laced with intrigue and kicks things off with a bit of dissonance, a chant in unison, a hint of harmony, and a restrained, driving modern rock anthem with a bit of British flair. It would take more time than I have to dig through the lyrics, but they may just have something to offer. VIOLET maintains the distorted soundtrack and brings more interesting lyrics delivered… well, I can’t decide if it’s annoying or not. I cut this song off early, though. Finally, we have the quirky ORDINARY DAY, which is where I’m getting the picture. This reminds me of the Asthmatic Kitty catalog – the record label home to Sufjan Stevens, Half-handed Cloud, and Denison Witmer. You can only take so much of it.

Bonus: SALT is a little more accessible, but retains the off-center musicality that I’m sure is intentional.

Album 3: Found, by Seventh Day Slumber (7/28/17)
Seventh Day Slumber kind of fits in there with Pillar, Kutless, and other “Creed meets POD” knock-offs. It’s sure to be different than the other two albums this week, so we’ll go with that. I was a little surprised that they were still hanging around and I’ve never particularly liked them beyond an occasional ear worm now and again, but I thought it would be worth seeing how they’ve adapted over the years.

If you hear me laughing, it’s because the opening line: “Oh no, here we go again” is somewhat fitting. SKY IS FALLING sounds like the group has doubled down on their post grunge rock sound with the hope that it comes back in fashion sometime soon. It’s not bad, but it’s not a song I’d hit repeat on. There’s a bit of a melody – albeit a repetitious one – to lead into HORIZON, which also strips away the instruments to highlight the vocal track, which is pretty good. I actually like the chorus here, too. Cliche, but it’s a nice tune. FOUND strips things down even further and it’s to the detriment of the vocal. This is what I remember, a strained sound that can’t keep up with the melody. This chorus is borrowed from at least a dozen other radio hits, too.

Bonus: SINS OF OUR FATHERS opens with a series of guitar riffs because… they couldn’t decide which one to go with? It’s kind of a mish-mash of a song here. I can’t really get into it.

Chef’s Tune Du Jour: The Great Debate, by Randy Newman
Randy Newman is an acquired taste, but no one can deny that he’s an immense talent. This song is really interesting as it presents a debate between science and religion. Really odd song, but I enjoy listening to it – as well as the rest of this album (which includes a new version of IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE, a.k.a. the theme song to the TV show, MONK).

peace… love… bdg…