Cool Sounds Keep Summer Sizzlin'
With summer in full swing, there’s a full arm swoop of new CD releases hitting stores for fans of uplifting entertainment. No matter what style dominates your iPod, there’s pretty much something for everyone, including the long-awaited modern pop return of Rachael Lampa, the newly discovered jazz stylings of Ginny Owens, the soulful worship of William Matthews and the electronic hip-hop of Rapture Ruckus. Along with Christian music’s most consistent veterans Russ Taff and Fernando Ortega, there’s plenty of reasons for fans to rejoice and send sales skyrocketing.
The Act: Downhere
The Album: On the Altar of Love (Centricity)
The Sound: Modern Rock
The Scoop: Critical acclaim has always come easy to Downhere, but radio play hasn’t been as readily available to the Canadian favorites (even though it’s always been much deserved). However, that’s all likely to change throughout this incredibly creative affair that also finds the fellas turning in an increased amount of harmony-stacked pop sensibility.
The Best Download: “Only the Beginning”
The Act: Icon For Hire
The Album: Scripted (Tooth & Nail)
The Sound: Alternative Rock
The Scoop: Considering Icon For Hire is female-fronted, groups like Paramore or Fireflight are obvious points of reference to these southern Illinois newcomers. But there’s also plenty of guitar-drenched guts thanks to the guys in the rhythm section, who are nothing short of scalding over lyrics meant to dispel depression.
The Best Download: “Make a Move”
The Act: Rachael Lampa
The Album:TBA (Black Fuel Music/Universal Music)
The Sound: Modern Pop
The Scoop: Fans were left scratching their heads when Rachael Lampa bowed out of the limelight at the top of her teen years, but they’ll be happy to know she sounds even better in her twenties. This yet-to-be-titled disc marks the singer/songwriter’s first official national release since 2004, loaded with autobiographical lyrics, booming ballads and colorful club cuts.
The Best Download: “Remedy”
The Act: William Matthews
The Album: Hope’s Anthem (Kingsway)
The Sound: Soulful Worship
The Bethel singer/songwriter/worship leader drops his debut disc this summer after being featured on the church’s Be Lifted High album and singing background for Kim Walker and Jeremy Riddle (amongst others). On his own, he blends vertically leaning lyrics with a robust R&B/simmering soul sound that even takes a periodic stab at pop and country.
The Best Download: “I Just Want You More”
The Act: Fernando Ortega
The Album: Come Down O Love Divine (Stylos)
The Sound: Worship
The Scoop: One of Christian music’s most soothing singers of all time continues on his contemplative track with this decidedly worshipful new disc. The difference this time out is a conscious influence drawn from the sacred music of the Renaissance period, which results in a spread between hymns, narratives and instrumentals.
The Best Download: “Ruby’s Advent Song”
The Act: Ginny Owens
The Album: Get In, I’m Driving (Soul Stride)
The Sound: Piano Pop/Jazz
The Scoop: Speaking of long waits in between albums, Ginny Owens returns after a half-decade hiatus with a revamped sound. Taking cues from current jazz/neo-soul sirens like Norah Jones or Adele, the collection updates listeners on the troubadour’s personal happenings, which include leaving Rocketown Records, spending a season living in New York City and taking care of her cancer-ridden mom.
The Best Download: “Before You Fly”
The Act: Matt Redman
The Album: 10,000 Reasons (sixstepsrecords)
The Sound: Modern Worship
Outside of Chris Tomlin, one of the most frequently sung worship leaders is hands-down, Matt Redman. Though the cuts on this collection are all new, they’re actually recorded in front of a live audience in hopes of conveying the congregational appeal that’s since been associated with classics like “Blessed Be Your Name” and “The Heart of Worship.”
The Best Download: “We Are the Free”
The Act: Rapture Ruckus
The Album: Open Up Your Eyes (BEC Recordings)
The Sound: Electronic Rock/Hip-Hop
The Scoop: Audiences in New Zealand are used to hearing the name Rapture Ruckus alongside stadium-fillers like U2 or Delirious thanks to sold out shows from coast to coast. These days, the electronica-stacked pop and hip-hop ensemble is seeking to blend the best of Black Eyed Peas, Outkast and TobyMac for American audiences.
The Best Download: “The Air That I Breathe”
The Act: Aaron Shust
The Album: This Is What We Believe (Centricity)
The Sound: Earthy Pop
The Scoop: On Aaron Shust’s fourth long player, the highly decorated Dove Award-winner teams up with super producer Ed Cash (Chris Tomlin, Leeland). As a result, the tunesmith seems to be stretching himself vocally to encompass a variety of ranges and lyrically towards a heightened sense of poetic expression.
The Best Download: “My Hope Is You”
The Act: Russ Taff
The Album: Faroe Islands (Spring Hill Music)
The Sound: Contemporary Pop/Country
The Scoop: When it comes to Christian music legends, few stand in the same class as the revered Russ Taff. Besides logging time with iconic groups like The Imperials and the Gaither Vocal Band, his celebrated solo career’s spanned nearly three decades. See why he’s endured to such degrees on this southern-leaning, rootsy and organic follow-up to last year’s swinging Another Sentimental Christmas.
The Best Download: “Here Comes Jesus”
Copyright 2011, watchgmctv.com. For permission to repost or reprint, click here.
About the Writer
Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, IllinoisEntertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He’s also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel’s very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).
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