Beating the back-to-school blues is never an easy task for students (or their parents), but just because September’s here doesn’t mean your iPod has to pout. In fact, this month boasts so many new releases on CD and MP3 that fans of uplifting music are likely to see a little extra bounce in their step as the school bell rings. And we’re not just talking about one specific style or scene, but everything from the pop-infused hip-hop of Group 1 Crew, the singer/songwriter style of Derek Webb and some live bursts of modern worship from Israel & New Breed. So check out gmc TV’s September music round-up for the essential run down, and while you’re here, be sure to do some surfing for extended coverage of new tunes from TobyMac, Lecrae and Matthew West, who combined with the below, offer plenty of reasons to pump up the volume.
The Act: Group 1 Crew
The Album: Fearless (Fervent Records)
The Sound: Hip-Hop/Pop/Rap
The Scoop: Between the joys of marriage, the heartbreak of losing a loved one and even a personnel shift, it’s certainly been a roller coaster ride for Group 1 Crew’s Manwell Reyes and Blanca Reyes Callahan. Nonetheless, the pop-infused hip-hop duo is downright Fearless with both its musical ambitions (think Katy Perry and Rihanna meets Drake or Wiz Khalifa) and vulnerable lyrics that ultimately point to hope in the midst of heartache.
Best Download: “Not the End of Me”
The Act: Derek Webb
The Album: Ctrl (FairTrade Services)
The Sound: Acoustic Pop/Rock
The Scoop: Singer/songwriter Derek Webb has gone the route of a straight-forward guy with a guitar, electronic innovator and ambient experimenter since going solo from Caedmon's Call. Though this particular poetic project channels a bit of all those areas, his insertion of classical inspirations and periodic choirs over slightly left-of-center acoustics is sure to keep longtime listeners on their toes.
Best Download: "Can't Sleep"
The Act: Andrew Peterson
The Album: Light for the Lost Boy (Centricity Music)
The Sound: Pop/Rock
The Scoop: "Christian music's Paul Simon" may have released a series of sparse and contemplative records in the past, but Light for the Lost Boy turns a brave new creative chapter. Though his heart-on-sleeve songwriting remains, it's now cast in a rhythmically intricate construction that's rich in texture and atmosphere.
Best Download: "Come Back Soon"
The Act: Lynda Randle
The Album: 'Til the Storm Passes By (Gaither Gospel Series)
The Sound: Gospel
The Scoop: Veteran soul siren Lynda Randle turns in a bountiful disc split between old-time church staples and brand-new, self-penned songs. The results are remarkable authentic, undeniably soulful and extremely inspiring, especially for anyone seeking an empathetic soundtrack to weather through tribulation.
Best Download: "Nothing But the Blood"
The Act: Remedy Drive
The Album: Resuscitate (Centricity Music)
The Sound: Modern Rock
The Scoop: The one-time band of brothers may now only include the sole original member David Zach, but Remedy Drive still delivers one of this year's finest modern rock records. While new players contribute a fresh coat of paint to the burgeoning group, Zach continues to mature as a songwriter who candidly sings about humanity from a spiritual perspective.
Best Download: "Better Than Life"
The Act: Mark Schultz
The Album: All Things Possible (FairTrade Services)
The Sound: Contemporary Pop
The Scoop: Christian music's piano man sticks to his storytelling script for more spine-chillers and hand-clappers that won't have any trouble finding a home on radio or in the hearts of longtime listeners. In keeping with his tradition of signature songs like "He's My Son" and "Letters From War," "One Day" is sure to pull on the heartstrings as it envisions the healing that can come only in heaven.
Best Download: "One Day"
The Act: Christafari
The Album: Reggae Worship: A Roots Revival (Lion of Zion Entertainment)
The Sound: Reggae
The Scoop: Christafari practically single-handedly put Christian reggae on the map, so it's no surprise that this is a sonically progressive project that could have hairs raising on the head of even the most dedicated Bob Marley fan. As a bonus, the project also sheds some light on the scene's future thanks to groove-saturated collaborations with Avion Blackman, Dominic Balli and Jennifer Howland, to name a few.
Best Download: "Agnus Dei"
The Act: Karyn Williams
The Album: Only You (Inpop Records)
The Sound: Pop-Country
The Scoop: She's a little bit country and a little bit pop, but no matter the style, Karyn Williams possesses one of the most powerful female voices in recent memory. Her lead single "Rest in the Hope" is about her father's battle with cancer (that's now in remission) and is sure to be an inspiration to anyone up against the odds.
Best Download: "Rest in the Hope"
The Act: VaShawn Mitchell
The Album: Created4This (EMI Gospel)
The Sound: Gospel
The Scoop: With six Stellar Awards, a GRAMMY nomination and the chart-topping single "Nobody Greater," VaShawn Mitchell is quickly becoming one of today's most celebrated gospel treasures. His latest project is a live CD (that comes bundled with a DVD in the deluxe edition) but regardless of the format, his powerful pipers have no trouble conveying a timeless message of praise.
Best Download: "Faithful"
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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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