Cleanup on aisle three! No, that doesn’t mean these albums are a mess – just that they were missed throughout the course of the year and, since it’s the end of the year, it’s as good a time as any to look back and listen to some albums that somehow fell through the cracks. This of course raises the risk that these albums have become familiar over the course of the year, which negates the initial reactions in the comments, but that’s not the case (at least for these three). This week, we have modern rock, pop, and jazzy hip hop to serve up. Let’s get to it.

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Album 1: Only the Lonely, by Colony House (1/13/17)

If the name Steven Curtis Chapman means anything to you, than pay attention. The founding members of Colony House are both Chapman boys. Will and Caleb, sons of CCM’s SCC have been honing their skills and forging their own musical path for a few years now and those efforts have culminated in their second full album, which released earlier this year – like as early as possible. January, when the record labels roll the dice with unknown quantities and hope that shoppers are so flush with Christmas cash that they don’t care what they are buying as long as it’s new music for the new year! (Sorry, little bit of a rant there).

The group quickly establishes that this is not a Steven Curtis Chapman project. CANNOT DO THIS ALONE actually opens up a lot like what one might expect from for KING AND COUNTRY (the “oohs” are actually near-identical to those from “Oh God, Forgive Us”). There’s an airy modern rock quality to this that feels nice. Odd title to start off an album celebrating loneliness, though, am I right? The next song technically starts with the Bobby McFerrin whistle/snap combination that closes track one. (Side note: HOLY COW, BOBBY MCFERRIN IS 67 YEARS OLD!). I missed the first minute of the song thinking about Bobby McFerrin, but don’t worry (see what I did there?), I can rewind (if I want).

There’s a lot more energy and grit to this song, which is called 1234 because they count in the chorus. The clean edges of the opening number have been replaced by a crunchy guitar. I actually like it. They’ve got some range. Wonder what’s next. LONELY offers a bass drum thumping intro and oh man, I love that riff. Transitioned from an electric to a bass. Nice. This has a brooding, ominous energy to it. These guys are so not their daddy’s sons. I mean, they are – obviously – but you know what I mean.

BONUS: This gets me every time. I’m trying to figure out who around me is talking and, nope, it’s on the track. YOU & I is a single from this album and it’s got a lot of nice elements to it. Poppy, rocky, funky, and just plain fun. These guys are probably a joy to watch play live. Lots of talent at work here.

Album 2: One-Way Conversations, by Hollyn (2/10/17)

Hollyn is another of those YouTube sensations discovered – or at least brought to the mainstream by TobyMac. Hang on, scratch that. Apparently, (and by that I mean that I should have known this but I am just learning this now) she made it into the top 40 of American Idol during season twelve. (That just happens to be the last season I wrote about and my coverage started with the top 24… oops!). At least I didn’t say anything bad about her. THEN, TobyMac brought her in and has helped develop a career that has come to this, her debut full-length, studio album.

I really like the opening here on CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT. It’s a cool effect on the guitar riff that backs the track and really draws you in. Roll credits as one-way conversations got her worn down. It’s fun to hear a track just build as components get layered in on top of each other and this is a nice pop track that opens up to a bit of a dance feel. LOVE WITH YOUR LIFE offers more of a gospel soul vibe to it. It’s immediately upbeat and there are some touches of TobyMac on there. There are a lot of writers on this album – Hollyn included – and they sure know how to put a hook together. The third track gives us a more intimate glimpse at the vocal, since the instruments are pulled back a bit and they become… OBVIOUS? (had to do it). This has the feel of an Owl City song for me, but it’s less syrupy if that makes sense. I think it’s got the pop sensibilities with a hint of electronica, but it’s grounded more than, say FIREFLIES.

BONUS: If she wins this competition (still can’t get over missing the whole Idol connection), ALL MY LOVE is the encore. This reminds me of something, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. It’s recent and it’s in the way the song builds up to the chorus and then branches out. Oh, I know, it’s Diamonds, by Gawvi. Wow, they are very similar actually. I can see comparisons to Sia as well.

Album 3: Dark Side of the Cocoon, by Sivion (10/6/17)
Rounding out the albums today is an indie release from a member of Deepspace5, who have been mentioned here a time or two. This is Sivion’s fifth venture as a solo artist and, yes, there are only eight songs, which may technically make it less than a proper album, but I don’t care. Sivion has a laid back delivery and style that stands out as unique while still fitting in amongst his peers. I have not listened to this album at all, so this is a fresh take.

As expected, DARKNESS is not like anything one might expect from a hip hop song. This is like an unplugged session from Lauryn Hill or something where the band just jams in the background and Sivion is just delivering his lines with the hopes of keeping up. This is actually not one I care too much for. BURN has a bit more to it, boasting a nice piano trill and a stripped down drum set beat that opens up a chance for Sivion to do his thing. It’s still a little disjointed, but there is more of a structure in place. Now we’ve got some horns coming in. “Whatcha doing for the spotlight?” This is a good message. Not sure how effectively it is delivered, though. ALONE takes a second or two to get going, but oh, that’s a nice breakdown and beat. Love the horn pops. And the little 1Up sound effects (I know that’s not what they are). I can get behind this.

BONUS: If we go ALL IN on Sivion, we get this mishmosh of layers. I liked the piano, then everything else kept crowding it out and I literally felt anxious there for a bit. Too much going on. Yeah, it’s nice to just hear him flow, I’m just not sold on the soundtrack backing it. If you have the opposite thoughts, here’s a bonus – the instrumental versions of each song are included on the album!

This name may not ring any bells, but I came across Ruelle when listening through the latest NF album (she provides background/hook vocals for the song 10 FEET DOWN). Turns out she’s got a few albums under her belt, including an EP from this year (“Rival”) on which THE OTHER SIDE appears. Such a haunting voice and a nice ominous arrangement. Reminds me a little of Ruth B, who has inexplicably disappeared from the scene after a radio hit with LOST BOY (the Peter Pan song).

peace… love… bdg…