Itâ€™s been a full month since I returned from the Gospel Music Week in Nashville, literally packing messenger bag full of demos. (This is tower. 25 y/o Christian radio DJ from Chiacgo). Â Itâ€™s taken that long to sort through the stacks of CDâ€™s to find the best music.Â Keep an eye out for the following.Â Â
Addison Road-Iâ€™m pretty skeptical about female fronted punk/pop/rock thing, because of the â€œtrendiness factor.â€Â You can just about bet that when warm weather comes, so does a swarm of Avrils,Â Rilo Kileys,Â and Ashlee Simpsons to the shelves of your local Best Buy; a few quality projects,Â but most will wind up in the discount bin.Â Fortunately, Dallas-based Addison Road is in the former category.Â The standout here is vocalist Jenny Simmons, who has the ability to write a great hook, and the pipes to make the song soar.Â On A.R.’s self-titled disc (out now), she leads the band through alt-anthems (â€œThis Could Be Our Dayâ€), a few radio-ready hits (the band has already had a #1 single with â€œAll that Mattersâ€), Passion-conference styled worship (â€œWat Do I know of Holyâ€), and a very campy cover of Nada Surfâ€™s â€œAlways Love.â€ Surprisingly excellent. Â Â
Chasen-If youâ€™ve been to a wedding anytime between 1998 and now, youâ€™ve slow danced to one of Edwin McCainâ€™s smash singles â€œIâ€™ll Beâ€ and â€œI Could Not Ask for More.â€ Â McCain (who still records and tours) helped develop and release fellow South Carolinian Chasen, who has released a strong set of acoustic driven worship/rock, which he honed on the road opening for the likes of Sister Hazel and Relient K.Â Heâ€™s already scored a hit on Christian radio (â€œCrazy Beautifulâ€) and proves himself a gifted songwriter and arranger throughout his 13 track debut.
After Edmund-This band is built on big, BIG sound.Â Swirling guitars, experimental programming, and â€œsing it to the raftersâ€ choruses.Â These guys have figured out what a range of bands from Pink Floyd to My Chemical Romance to Mute Math built their careers onÂâ€”mixing off beat rhythms, emotionally raw choruses, and the raw energy of garage rock equals success almost every time. Â Sadly, neither Christian or mainstream audiences have caught on yet.Â Hereâ€™s to hoping the spotlight shines their way soon.
Brook Barrettsmith-As a matter of integrity, I have to let you know about my bias surrounding this artist. On one hand, Brook is an old friend, which may affect the way I listen to her self-titled debut (out in August).Â On the other, Brook is very Italian and from the North Side of Chicago, and Iâ€™m South Side Irish, which, by Chi-town standards, makes us good-natured rivals. Iâ€™ve noticed that people in Illinois tend to listen to moody, downbeat music during our â€œlong wintersâ€ (snow can come from October to April).Â But when the weather turns warm (ever so briefly) we trade our parkas for flip flops, hit up a beach on Lake Michigan (pretending like itâ€™s a real ocean), and switch our stereos toÂ hooky, upbeat rock. Â I have a feeling Brookâ€™s solid debut (which really does remind me of a female Chris Daughtry), will be a part of my beach soundtrack this summer. After repeated listens, itâ€™s obvious that this American Idol alum is as sharp with a lyric a she is with an electric guitar and distortion pedal.Â
House of Heroes-When a blogger becomes overly excited about a new album, that blogger usually winds up looking pretty silly. That being said, I am fully prepared to look ridiculous over this one, because my excitement is too much to contain.Â Â House of Heroes has three free tracks up right now.Â â€œBy Your Sideâ€ (get it now) is one of the best songs Iâ€™ve ever heard, even though it’s about getting killed on D-Day in WWII.Â And I listen to music for a living, which means I’ve heard a lot of songs.Â On the bandâ€™s 2005 debut, the band showed considerable potential.Â When The End is Not the Endâ€ DropsÂ this summer, they are set to fulfill it. Thematically, the project centers around the themes of love, friendship, and the trauma of the World War II through Cold War eras, and somehow, pulls everything together.Â Â I havenâ€™t been this amped over a Christian band since I got an advance copy of the first Gasoline HeartÂ record.
Finally, Steven Curtis Chapman’s 5 year old daughter was killed yesterday when her teenage brother backed an SUV into her. Â Please pray for the family. Â