song of the week fiftytwo
pilgrim - magnificent defeat
1. mars hill music
modern post - grace alone / sing team - oh! great is our god / kings kaleidoscope - asaph’s arrows / kin - kin / citizens - already not yet
the number one album of the year is a total and complete cheat. here’s my flimsy reasoning: they are all EPs from the same church; five different bands, but who cares…
mars hill music released a slew of EPs from various bands that make up the multi-campused church’s various worship teams. each band is great in their own right; each has a unique style of worship and songwriting.
some quick thoughts on all the EPs:
4. julia stone - by the horns
julia stone has one of the most unique voices i’ve ever heard. she just crafts great folk songs. she does great covers. her albums feels like it was recorded in 1974, placed in a sealed time capsule before anyone had heard it, and not opened until 2012. it’s nostalgic without being cheesy. it’s soft without being overtly feminine. it’s pretty decent.
3. yeasayer - fragrant world
i wanted to not like this. i had heard yeasayer before and had thought “maybe i just don’t get it.” then i heard the opening riff from henrietta and the crazy tonal shift it takes for the last 2 minutes and i realized i had been missing out on something. yeasayer blends so many different styles and genres that you would be hard-pressed to peg them into one hole. one thing that is unmistakable though is the sound of brooklyn. the cutting edge, pushing the boundaries, post-modern (or maybe post post-modern?) sound feels so inseparable from brooklyn, the borough which the band calls home. it’s awkward at first, but the more you listen the more the layers get peeled back and the more you can appreciate this pretty great album.
2. lovelite - in three persons
this came out of nowhere for me. i had heard of lovelite and followed them somewhat closely over the years but never was truly blown away by anything they put out. this album feels like a great leap forward for them as a band. it finds them expanding on that “80s sound” that they somewhat resembled before. here it goes to whole new levels. the reverb soaked drums, the poppy guitar riffs, the soaring vocals. it’s all there. but in three persons completely tows the line between genius and cheesy. at no point does it feel forced or uneven. it feels like the natural progression for a band finally finding their voice. and talk about a great lyrics!
selfish motives, haunted choices / we cry out with broken voices / precious Jesus our great purpose / You’re the center of existence
those words taken as they’re written are deeply moving. but accompany them with the beautiful orchestration and you’ve got one very powerful song. i, for one, cannot wait to see what’s next from lovelite.
7. mumford and sons - babel
this was probably the album i was most looking forward to all year. loved the mumfs first album, and was eagerly anticipating a repeat effort. and that’s more or less what this is. it feels almost like a collection of b-sides that didn’t quite make the cut the first time around. it’s their first album…just not as good. some of the songs recreate the ecstatic, foot stomping fun, while others just sort of fall flat. if you liked the first, you’ll like the second. i just didn’t like it as much.
6. rend collective experiment - homemade worship by handmade people
one of the best discoveries of the year. a reminder that worship can be fun. they really create some interesting orchestration of songs, and have that soaring group vocal thing going on that really sweeps you into the music. some of the songs bend toward the traditional worship/christian music fare, but on the whole it’s a really creative band doing some really creative things. it’s like mumford and sons recording a worship album.
5. delta spirit - delta spirit
i had such high hopes for this album coming into the year. and i wasn’t disappointed. 2010’s history from below was such a great rootsy/americana/indie rock album and put the spirit on the map (for me at least). this album gives a sort of departure from that sound blending some 60s/70s california beach vibes to their rootsy sound. they’re at their best when they’re creating driving alt rock songs that build and build until they explode. delta spirt is one of the great american rock bands working today.
10. dry the river - weights and measures
its just so different, its good. its like bon iver, will oldham, and arcade fire were thrown into a test tube, and out came dry the river. it’s a really interesting mix of folk/bombastic rock/falsetto harmonies that for some reason works fairly well. they’re like the killers if the killers were cool.
9. judah & the lion - first fruits
a great bluegrass worship album. if you’re tired of traditional worship songs, pop this on your ipod and enjoy banjo filled worship. lyrically it’s not the most profound, but they’re doing something musically that’s more interesting than most bands that it’s worth a buy.
8. gungor - a creation liturgy
what makes gungor so great, is fully on display in this live album. while most live christian albums are recorded in massive stadiums with thousands of voices singing along, this sounds like it was recorded at a local bar. you can hear people talking, bottles clinking, and of course people worshiping along. it mostly combines songs recorded from their previous two efforts, with some adjustments in arrangements. the energy and passion is palpable, and the musicianship is phenomenal, especially for a live outfit. gungor is a great band, and if this recording is any indication, a great live act. dont miss out!