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.

Bonus: THREE RINGS. The third song had “four” in the title, the fourth song has “three” in the title. Nice. This one keeps things in the same general musical space. It’s definitely interesting.

Album 2: Gold, by Rootbeer (7/14/17)
This one, I was pretty excited about when I heard it was coming out. Rootbeer is the combined efforts of Flynn (Adam Atkins) and Pigeon John. They’ve both had solo careers and run together with a little rap crew known as LA Symphony, which happens to be a personal favorite. Casting my bias aside, however slightly, let us get ready for the ride.

REAL GOOD opens up with a little bit of a guitar riff and a steady beat and there’s Pigeon John with a familiar cadence as the beat opens up a little. It feels really low budget and late 80s and I’m just that’s intentional. WHO ME? continues the throwback party with a Smurf-like voice narrating the hook (a nod to Newcleus, maybe? – look it up). Content-wise, they seem content to just be having a good time together again. GET OFF THE WALL is another fun track. I love hearing them trade verses – it’s like Stockton and Malone or Abbott and Costello, if you’re old enough to understand those references.

Bonus: GO GIRL has an escalated BPM to switch things up, but the general feel remains the same. Fun times. Two guys, catching up and having a blast recording together.

Album 3: Out of the Dark, by Mandisa (5/19/17)
Mandisa has a pretty good track record as a Gospel-pop diva of sorts. She was on American Idol and she used to stock shelves at a Lifeway Christian Bookstore. She’s had a bit of success, but I’ve never been a hundred percent sold on her. That may sound harsh, but it’s not really. It’s just not usually my cup of tea – I’m a coffee guy, after all. This album is a response to a severe bout with depression and I’m glad she worked through it. I’m pretty sure I know where the lyrics are going to be here, but let’s see how the music sounds.

I’M STILL HERE is poppy, happy-go-lucky, and a bit of a worshipful song. It’s pretty much exactly what you would expect lyrically and the production is definitely radio-driven. OUT OF THE DARK has a little more sass to it, musically. Some horns going on there, with a tinge of funk. Continuing to explore the theme of struggling with depression and surviving. Leaning on God to pull her out of the dark and into the light. I like the music a lot more than the first one though. I think UNFINISHED might actually have been a single, but I’m not sure. Probably, it’s definitely written that way. Yeah, it must have been. I don’t particularly like the chorus and it’s kind of a blah song overall, but I like the concept.

Bonus: BLEED THE SAME. Kirk Franklin introduces this track with a message of peace and unity and Mandisa is joined by Kirk and TobyMac to underscore this message. It’s hard to say anything bad about it, but the trio has collaborated a few times before and I think I like those songs better.

When Michael W Smith (a.k.a. SMITTY) releases a new single, I feel compelled to listen. You know you were raised in a 90s youth group if you feel the same. I have no idea if this means that he’s working on a new album or what, but it’s actually a pretty modern and contemporary. This guy simply does not age – thankfully, though, he doesn’t still litter his album covers with neon anymore, though.

peace… love… bdg…