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Indie

Genre: Acoustic, Progressive Rock, Indie, Worship

Downtempo Indie Worship band Loud Harp are back after successfully crowdfunding their second album, titled ‘Asaph’. As the band themselves write, they now have a new focus with their music, “no longer songs from the bottom of the pit, these are the songs of a people ascending the hill of the Lord.” The familiar chilled, progressive acoustic sounds of these worshippers remains, but now perfected with extra subtleties in their compositions; with the centrepiece of the album being these two tracks that start as an instrumental that builds in to a meditative chant in the second song (121) I Lift My Eyes.

Lyrics:
I lift my eyes to the hills
My help comes from You

You never sleep, you’re watching me
My constant help in trouble.

I set my eyes on
I fix my gaze on
I set my life on You

Loud Harp’s ‘Asaph’ will be released on the 8th, when it is available we will post a link
For more info on Loud Harp visit:
http://www.loudharp.com/

Photography by Shuji Moriwaki:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/shujimoriwaki
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Genre: Rock, Indie, Jazz, Worship

Having left Mars Hill Music back in 2013, the worship group Kings Kaleidoscope now sign over to the brilliantly named Bad Christian Music label. That’s right, we are literally featuring Bad Christian Music on The Good Christian Music Blog! Their first release since the 2012 Christmas EP Joy Has Dawned, this new EP, Live In Color features 5 new original songs and a revamped version of the hymn Be Thou My Vision.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6lLYpIUOmY
Kings Kaleidoscope – Fix My Eyes

This track, ‘Felix Culpa’ sees the 10 piece band utilise their brass section to full effect by injecting their Indie Rock Worship with a high dose of Jazz that fully breaks in towards the end of the track. As if the catchy guitar riff wasn’t enough to make this an eligible best worship song of 2014, the lyrics brilliantly show the singer wrestling with God in prayer over his own sin to the extent of “fighting to be God” (Exodus 20:3) and the grace shown in Christ. Until the studio version comes, this track is a diamond in need of a little polishing, though even as it is, it’s rare to come across a song this musically brilliant as well as lyrically creative and biblical.

Lyrics:
Turn the lights on, look at what I have
See the twisted trophies of a dead man
Countless stories, tell of sin and pain
But they sing the sweetness of my savior’s grace

I’m a torn man, spirit fighting flesh
There’s a battle raging deep in my chest
But all that haunts me, all that leaves a stain
Only sings the sweetness of my savior’s grace

A fortunate fall, my sins are stories of grace to recall
A fortunate fall, I glory in my sins forgiven

Jesus bought me, and now I am His
Dying with Him, in His death I now live
All my vices, to which I’ve been chained
Only speak the sweetness of my savior’s grace

And still I’m a wicked, wretched man, I do everything I hate
I am fighting to be god, I see the and claw and thrash and shake
I have killed and stacked the dead, on a throne from which I reign
In the end I just want blood, and with His blood my hands are stained

See the God who reigns on high, He has opened His own veins
From His wounds a rushing torrent that can wash it all away

Grace upon grace, upon grace upon grace
Grace..

Purchase the Live In Color EP from iTunes:
United Kingdom:
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/live-in-color-ep/id840779079
United States of America:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/live-in-color-ep/id840779079

For more info on Kings Kaleidoscope visit:
http://www.kingsklive.com/

Photography by Fusion-Of-Horizons:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/fusion_of_horizons/7872381468/
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Rend Collective - The Art Of Celebration - 4 StarsWith the results of their musical ‘Experiment’ returning positive – as marked by the mass adoption of folk in to mainstream worship – Rend Collective (F.K.A. Rend Collective Experiment) have wisely decided to drop the third word from their name like many of their fans have already been doing so for many years. Along with this name change, the Northern Irish foot-stompers bring their latest musical offering to the table, titled ‘The Art Of Celebration’.

Inspired by a theological breakthrough this album is the bands response to learning and rediscovering that joy (and not seriousness) is a fruit of the spirit (Gal 5:22-23). Although their music has rarely been described as solemn and serious, this revelation is a great place to start any worship album at and as such it’s no surprise that the opener of this record is a track titled ‘Joy’.

Starting with the familiar sound of acoustic guitars and ukelele’s that bounce off the joyful lyrics, it doesn’t take long for Rend Collective to get going, quickly jumping into a mighty, upbeat chorus that sets the tone of the record. Though the music may be somewhat closer to pop than their usual folk style it’s the lyrics of the track that stand out. This isn’t just a happy sing-song that ignores grief, but is actually a complete recognition of the extremes of our emotions.

The pain will not define us/Joy will reignite us/You’re the song/Of our hearts”

Yes, Christ is our joy, and we are called to “Rejoice in the Lord always.” (Phi 4:4) but that doesn’t mean life is without pain, suffering and brokenness. Harking back to the album title, celebration is an ‘art’ to be practised, it doesn’t come by ignoring pain and just wearing a smile instead but actually comes through holding on to steadfast truth.

Though lyrically good throughout, I can’t help but feel that some tracks feel musically forced at times. The indie folk side of the band sounds great on this record but the pop influences sound less natural – the manufactured pop style may go down well with the Christian radio stations and youth conferences but Rend Collective are at their best when they sound like Rend Collective! An example of this manufactured style is the track Burn Like A Star, the lyrics are good, but musically it just doesn’t feel as natural and organic as tracks like All That I Am, Finally Free, Create In Me and Boldly I Approach (The Art Of Celebration) to name just a few.

One of the louder and triumphant songs of the album is the hugely popular worship anthem My Lighthouse. This track beautifully references the pillar of smoke and fire that leads the Israelites out of Egypt in the exodus and tries to create a similar image with the more modern imagery of a lighthouse.

My Lighthouse/Shining in the darkness/I will follow You/My Lighthouse/I will trust the promise/you will carry me/Safe to shore”

Very singable, and very true about Jesus, the only problem being that lighthouses don’t safely guide ships to shore and in no circumstances should be followed but actually warn ships of imminent danger (Rend Collective: great musicians, but not so great sailors)! Technicalities and sarcasm aside though, it’s a great, exuberant worship song bound to find it’s way into many churches sunday setlists.

With the first four tracks of the album following a similar style to My Lighthouse, the record slows things down with the track All That I Am. At first glance it may seem like the band has lost their joyful bounce and turned to the exact thing they wanted to avoid – seriousness – however the track serves as a great reminder that joy is not always loud and ecstatic. I’ll repeat that again, joy is not always loud and ecstatic, as it becomes clear upon multiple listens that this song, although quieter and less energetic than the album openers is written out of a deep joy found only in Christ.

“Selfish ambition and my pride/I’m giving up I’m letting die/In these empty hands I have it all/The pure joy of knowing you my Lord/It’s only in surrender that I’m free”

As a result, listening to this track feels like peering into the band’s personal life and joining in an intimate, genuine, deep joyful worship session. This style of worship isn’t just limited to the chilled, acoustic tracks either as it seems to continue throughout the rest of the album, occasionally  accompanied by strings in tracks like Immeasurably More and Strength Of My Heart.

The highlights of the record then occur in the songs that find the perfect balance between the quiet joy and the loud rejoicing. This is done brilliantly in the track Finally Free and again (but in a different style) in the title track Boldly I Approach (The Art Of Celebration) setting the stage for a perfect mighty finish to a strong album. However, the listener is then confronted with two seemingly out of place songs, a live version of My Lighthouse and a remix of Joy. The live track is good, but having already been released as a single in three different forms it seems overkill that it appears yet again.

Following in the recent footsteps of Hillsong United and Jesus Culture, the apparently anonymous remix of Joy then attempts to shift Rend Collective into the realm of electronica but sadly fails spectacularly by doing no more than adding drums and the occasional synth to the original. This then produces a track that’s neither indie folk pop or electronica but a strange and bland mix of both. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m personally a huge fan of electronic music (it’s no big secret that this blog was inspired by YouTube channels such as Majestic Casual) and it’s not even that Rend Collective shouldn’t be remixed at all. However, remixing is a careful craft that can produce great results but in this situation it seems no more than a gimmick.

Lacklustre remix aside, this album is a great release from everyone’s favourite indie folk worship celebration band and sees the Northern Irish Jesus lovers push themselves into a more polished and matured sound that largely remains true to their ‘Organic Family Hymnal’ days that put them on the map. Overall, The Art Of Celebration shines brightly in the vast sea called contemporary worship music and begs for these songs to be used in churches and not just kept to the confines of hipster Christian’s playlists and youth pastor’s iPods.

Purchase The Art Of Celebration from iTunes:
United Kingdom:
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-art-of-celebration/id816543831
United States of America:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-art-of-celebration/id816543831

For more info on Rend Collective visit:
http://rendcollective.com/

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Genre: Singer/Songwriter, Acoustic, Folk, Worship, Indie, Modern Hymn

Irish born Tom McConnell, also known for being the frontman of The Ramshackle Orchestra, today released his latest solo musical offering with his single ‘Honeybee’. On the B-track ‘Old Hymns/New Hearts, we hear Tom singing praises to the Lord with his folk flair and Irish charm, telling a different love story to the ones usually heard on Valentine’s Day. Great theology and even greater songwriting makes this a brilliant indie worship track from an exciting singer who consistently delivers.

Lyrics:
When I was lost my guilty heart was leading me astray,
I put my trust in idols that shall falter and decay.
Whilst in the depths of my despair the sinless Saviour died
And bore the wrath for all my sin when He was crucified.

O what a gift so freely given and grace so undeserved,
That Jesus came from Heavʼn to earth to serve and not be served.
For all the wrong that I have done my Lord has paid the price
And reconciled me to His throne my Jesusʼ sacrifice.

The power of our glorious God the grave could not contain,
Death is defeated, once for all, because He rose again!
Jesus you and you alone sustain me and suffice,
Alleluia! Iʼm forgiven and made alive with Christ.

Alleluia! He has loved us so abundantly,
Brought from death to life because my God has ransomed me!

Here’s an older track of his ‘Riches’ performed live with a loop pedal.

Purchase ‘Honeybee’ from iTunes:
United Kingdom:
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/honeybee-single/id821271987
United States of America:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/honeybee-single/id821271987

For more info on Tom McConnell visit:
http://tmcconnellmusic.com/
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Genre: Indie, Worship

Carry Your Name is the second release from Portland based A Jesus Church. Released at the end of 2013, this album is an inspiring worship record that builds on the sound of bands such as M83, Coldplay and The Maccabees. Catchy, retro and with great biblical lyrics this track is one of the freshest worship songs of the past year!

Lyrics:
Verse 1:
You came near to us
In thunder and cloud
You spoke truths to us
Your heart resounds

Oh compassionate and gracious God
Yahweh, Yahweh

Chorus:
We will carry Your name
We’ll Carry Your name
To the world
Yahweh

We will carry Your love
And show everyone
In the world
Yahweh

We’ll carry Your name

Verse 2:
You came down to us
And walked on the earth
You spoke truths to us
The living word

Slow to anger, merciful
Yahweh, Yahweh
Abound in your love, Oh faithful One
Yahweh, Yahweh

Bridge:
I can feel it closer
Your spirit draws me closer
God is near
God is near

I can feel You closer
Your spirit draws me closer
God is near
God is near

God is here
God is here

Purchase ‘Carry Your Name’ from iTunes:
United Kingdom:
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/carry-your-name/id777133884
United States of America:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/carry-your-name/id777133884

Or download a sample of the album for free from Noisetrade!
http://www.noisetrade.com/ajesuschurch/carry-your-name-ep

For more info on A Jesus Church visit:
http://www.ajesuschurch.org/
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Genre: Rock, Indie,

Taken from their debut EP ‘Sea The Same’, this track is a brilliant piece of indie rock music from the band OceanSpeak.

Lyrics:
Jealous of the stars
And I’m wondering how
They keep from falling

And oh
There one goes
Who would have known
That they could fall too

I’m a son
I’m a slave
I’m a son
I’m a slave
I’m a son
I’m a slave
And these captives
Should know their place

Oh you
You’ve been
You’ve been warned
‘Cos loving you
Is not okay
Okay

Oh and this
Is the way
That i will say
“Okay
I’m leaving you baby”

But my feet gotta walk away

Hey Jezebel, I’ve had enough
Of all your bickering and love
‘Cos after all
I wanna know

Is this the way
That i will say goodbye
To you?

Mother
Have you a son?
And this is your family
Does that make them proud of me

And Father
Have you a gun?
And can your weary eyes see the man in me
And pull the trigger?
Purchase ‘Sea The Same EP’ from iTunes:
United Kingdom:
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/sea-the-same-ep/id757527287
United States of America:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/sea-the-same-ep/id757527287

For more info on OceanSpeak visit:
https://www.facebook.com/OceanSpeak
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Seeker & Servant - Into Your Love, I Go - 3.5 Stars

Just over a year old, Seeker & Servant are mere babies to the worship music scene – a genre often dominated by huge corporate bands and singers – yet these three guys from Jackson, Mississippi are singing loud enough for many of us to notice. Recently undergoing a slight transformation in their sound due to the addition of Kody Gautier to the band earlier in 2013, this album seeks to combine their folk beginnings with electronic ambience.

Opening the album with a cover of ‘How Deep The Father’s Love For Us’ instantly brings to mind other contemporary worship groups, specifically ‘Pacific Gold’ (previously known as ‘Wayfarer’), though it doesn’t take long for Seeker & Servant to leave their own mark on this well known hymn. The arrangement works great, and the addition of a chorus/bridge – “I was a wretch/and then you saved me (repeat)/then you set me free” – helps to break up the repetitiveness of the track, however the slight change in melody & pace at the end of most lines feels uncomfortable, but perhaps that’s because they are altering a traditional tune.

It’s the next few tracks though that Seeker & Servant really start to come into their own, brilliantly showcasing their majestic sound on ‘Let Me Not’. Starting as a quiet, acoustic track with repeated meditative lyrics, this song plays like a powerful and intimate prayer. As the melody builds, the song is split up beautifully with a break down that ushers in a gentle whistle, repeated all through the building orchestral crescendo that climaxes with a short-lived but triumphant chant. Though the structure is much more progressive than the rest of the album, the band have stumbled on to a beautiful sound, less congregational and more responsive/personal worship, it’s a style of Christian music that rarely goes mainstream yet when done well we hear incredible pieces of music like Hillsong United’s ‘Oceans’ or (closer to Seeker & Servant’s sound) Bethel’s ‘Give Me Jesus’.

It’s clear throughout the album that Seeker & Servant have fully adopted this new ambient electronica sound, and this elegantly shines through on the instrumental interlude ‘Meditate (Psalm 1)’, although just as the synths begin to take over and the electronic orchestra starts to grow, it swiftly comes to an abrupt end all too soon gently hinting that there was something more to hear but never quite delivering it. This is somewhat of a theme throughout the album, that despite their sound being big and ambient it often stays in the background.

However, on the occasions where that awesome, powerful music is brought into the spotlight it shines brilliantly. Ironically, the only time the album fully delivers that ‘something more’ is at the climax of the last track ‘Into Your Love, I Go’. Lyrically the song speaks of entering God’s grace and being covered by love, and when the title line “Into the streams of your love, I go” meets the jubilant fanfare midway through the track, images of entering the Kingdom and meeting God face to face quickly come to mind. Ending with shouts of praise from not just the vocals but the instruments as well, the album finishes spectacularly.

Though the current worship scene is no stranger to electronic music (with many big names following the lead of indie artists) as Seeker & Servant join the pack they have managed to carve out their own path without stepping on any other artists’ toes. For such a young group, Seeker & Servant have produced a brilliant debut record, and although the album falls short occasionally, it still provides the listener with a unique worship experience.

Album Highlights: ‘Let Me Not’, ‘In Awe’, ‘Our Greatest Joy’, ‘Into Your Love, I Go

Purchase ‘Into Your Love, I Go’ on iTunes:
United Kingdom:
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/into-your-love-i-go/id740118844
United States of America:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/into-your-love-i-go/id740118844

For more info on Seeker & Servant visit:
http://seekerandservant.tumblr.com/


Genre: Rock, Christmas, Carol, Indie,

Fast becoming a significant name in worship music, Citizens are back with more music, and following in the footsteps of fellow Mars Hill group King’s Kaleidoscope, this time it’s in the form of Christmas carols! On this track, the indie rock group have added their modern flair to the classic carol ‘Joy To The World‘ which opens their Christmas EP “Repeat The Sounding Joy“.

Lyrics:
Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Glory to God in the highest!
Let heaven and nature sing!
Glory to God in the highest!
Repeat the sounding joy!
Glory to God in the highest!
Repeat the sounding joy!
Glory to God in the highest!

Purchase ‘Repeat The Sounding Joy’ from iTunes:
United Kingdom:
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/repeat-the-sounding-joy-ep/id736110371
United States of America:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/repeat-the-sounding-joy-ep/id736110371

For more info on Citizens visit:
http://marshill.com/music/artists/citizens
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Genre: Rock, Indie

In anticipation of their ninth album and film of the same name – Fading West – Switchfoot have released three tracks from the forthcoming album to excite their fans. Available on iTunes and other outlets the Fading West EP features songs already made popular through the movie trailer. This track, Ba55, sees the band experiment somewhat with their sound, opting for a more mellow blues infused blend of their popular rock music.

Lyrics:
I want a fire that could burn me clean
Light the sky with my black-eyed dreams
And let my soul fly
And let my soul fly

I want a fire burning down the door
Let the wounds of my embers soar
And let my soul fly
And let my soul fly

Let it go
Yeah, let it go

Pavement beneath my feet I watch the white lines fly
Nothing between us here but the black blue sky
Suspended up in the air, like a still life
Yeah, we’re suspended up into the air, like a still life

Let it go
Let it go

I believe you’re the fire that could burn me clean x12
And let my soul fly
And let my soul fly

Pavement beneath my feet I watch the white lines fly

I want a fire that could burn me clean
I want a fire that could burn me clean
And let it go

Purchase ‘Fading West EP’ from iTunes:
United Kingdom:
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/fading-west-single/id698699089
United States of America:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/fading-west-single/id698699089

For more info on Switchfoot visit:
https://www.switchfoot.com/

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Genre: Worship, Acoustic, Folk, Indie, Singer-Songwriter

The title track from his forthcoming record, ‘Anchor’ is John Tibb’s telling of leaving comfort and safety for God’s calling, comparing the experience to a ship setting sail to the unknown. The album ‘Anchor’ was funded by fans through Kickstarter and was in September this year. This is the Indianapolis worship leader’s third release, following on from his 2010 ‘Origins’ and his 2012 ‘Swallowing Death, Breathing Life’.

*Update

Due to featuring John Tibbs on the blog, a motion graphic/film-maker named Patrick Flynn got in touch with John saying that he’d like to work with him in future. As a result of this contact, John Tibbs has now released a lyric video for his song Abraham, check it out:

Until ‘Anchor’ is released, you can purchase John Tibb’s other music here:
United Kingdom:
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/anchor-ep/id689032119
United States of America:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/anchor-ep/id689032119

For more info on John Tibbs visit:
http://www.johntibbsmusic.com/

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