Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Tricia: Radiate

Release Date: 13 August 2013
Genre: Christian pop
Length: 39:45
Label: InPop Records
Similar artists:  Sarah Reeves, Meredith Andrews, Addison Road, Moriah Peters
Rating: 3.5/5

Former Superchick front woman, and new mother, Tricia Baumhardt has resurfaced with her shining new 
solo project. This album reads like letters of advice, written by a woman who has been there and done all 
of that.

What I find particularly interesting about Radiate is that it still has an uncanny resemblance to Tricia's 
prior work with Superchick. Early on in her career their focus majored quite a bit on the idea of "girlpower" (such as songs like  "Barlow Girls" and "One Girl Revolution") and these ideas became central to 
the ideals of Superchick. Move forward to over a decade ahead, and Tricia's approach to the same topics 
doesn’t seem to have changed much. However now she is approaching her song writing in the role of a 
mother rather than an inexperienced teenager trying to get her foot in the music business door.

This is a very upbeat, feel-good album. From the very beginning to the very end you can feel what Tricia 
is trying to achieve with this album. The message that clearly presents itself to the listener is that, you 
are beautifully and perfectly made my God. A message that I really agree with because in today’s social 
climate a lot of emphasis is put on conforming to this “perfect image” that the media sets for us all. The 
thinking behind this album however revolves around how no matter what you look like you are beautiful, 
and that beauty is not all about what is on the outside. A way of thinking that I wish would spread itself 
across the globe.

Musically I really enjoyed this album, the tracks and lyrics are very catchy and I found myself singing 
along to some of the songs the first time I listened to the album. Tricia has a very strong pop-style voice 
that will be really appealing to a wide range of listeners. From a lyrical standpoint however I, as a male 
listener, found it very hard to connect with the lyrics and get into the feeling of the album because these 
songs are clearly meant for a female audience. Now don’t get me wrong, I love women and there is 
nothing wrong with having a female oriented album at all. All I am saying is that I couldn’t really enjoy this 
album fully because I didn’t feel like it was meant for me. However it is still a really great album and if I 
were a female it would really appeal to me, and make me feel good listening to it. With that in mind I could 
see this being a really great gift to buy for a friend or loved one, or just somebody who you think may 
need some words of encouragement, but you just don’t know how to go about doing it.

While there are plenty of colorful, danceable moments, the honest lyrics emit a solid message of truth, as 
if Tricia is having a heart-to-heart with a room of teen girls. On “Daughter of the King,” she tells them what 
true beauty looks like, singing, “A dress won’t make a princess, and jewels won’t make a queen/ You 
were made for more than this/ You’re worth more than what you see.” And on “Different,” she pens one of 
her most insightful lyrics, worthy of quoting: “You can’t make a difference without being different.”
Overall I really enjoyed listening to this album, as it put a smile on my face. The feel-good message of this 
album would be a great addition to any upbeat playlist, Christian or non-Christian.

This week’s Song of The Week: “Everything As Loss”

Stay out of traffic Ben Affleck


Sunday, 25 August 2013

The Father's Song

Hey all!!

Today we are honoured to have guest-writer, Darrel, on the blog! We are sure you'll love the post as much as we did!

The Father’s Song
There are many ways that God speaks to us.  But for me over my years of being a child of God, I have often heard God in songs.  For me there is a lyric for almost every situation I find myself in.  I love it.
God knows my love for music and meets me in that interest.

Now for many, they say God speaks to them best in ‘worship’ music.  However, for me that is not the case.  I do feel calm whilst listening to worship.  Yet God has sung another song over me.
There is a verse in Zephaniah 3: 17 where the writer speaks of God this way:
“The Lord your God is with you; He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love;
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Did you see it?  We spend a few hours each Sunday (and maybe during the week too) singing songs to God; however in this passage we are reminded that God sings over us.
What line would God sing over you right now?

If we had the time, I could go on and on about the amazing bands that are out there.  Now, a disclaimer: a lot of the bands that I listen to are part of Christian labels, some may be known as Christian bands and others may have one or two Christian members.

(I do listen to many other bands too.)

However the reason I listen to what I listen to is because I love the sound that band produces, I love the topics they sing about.  Those are the reasons that grab before anything else.

Now in my life thus far I have been blessed to see a few bands live.  Last year Switchfoot came to South Africa, and I know a few there would agree with me, that it felt like Jesus was rocking out with us.  There was something about that night…His spirit was there.  I capture that memory over here:
(Feel free to check it out.)

However I want to draw your attention to two other bands that I saw live and how through their lyrics God has sung truth and conviction to me:
“But I know as I hammered those nails into your beautiful hands, your eyes still try to search for mine, but I look away.  Now your eyes are the only thing that can save me.” (Blindside – Pitiful)
Wow!  Do you hear it?  When I heard this song for the first time I had tears in my eyes.  My God did this for me?!  That’s grace.

Then I like this song by Thrice: “My heart is filled with songs of forever, of a city that endures, where all is made new, I know I don’t belong here, I’ll never call this place my home.  Just passing through.” (In Exile)
I smile as I write out those lyrics.  Such truth there.  This, here, it’s not our home.  We’re in exile here on this fallen earth.

How epic are those lyrics? God is singing to us, He can use any genre He so desires.
Question is: will you listen to what He is singing over you?  If He challenges you with some lyrics, would you respond accordingly?

Have an epic week ahead and as you listen to songs… may you hear the lyrics clearly….

Shot for reading!  A BIG thanks to “Rocking it Christian Style” for letting me share with you all.  Feel free to contact me if you want some good band recommendations.....  

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

JR Taylor: Soli Deo Gloria

Release date: 9 July 2013
Genre: Contemporary Christian, Modern Worship
Label: Independent
Similar artists: Michael W. Smith; Chris Tomlin; Paul Baloche
Rating: 3.5/5

There is a lot of debate in the music industry as to whether it is possible to successfully merge contemporary, modern day music with the old school worship we sing in church. The jury is still out on that one, however I do not believe there is anything wrong with it.

JR Taylor is an artist with a truly vested interest in the music he sings. He is a pastor as well as a singer, this puts a lot of pressure on him as you expect the lyrics of his music to be stronger than most, particularly if he is singing in the worship genre. In this, his first solo release, he produces some new songs. He brings material with great meaning, as well as songs that are truly well written in the scope of worship. JR says that his wish is for you to connect with the album in such a way that you grow closer to God through listening, a bold statement, but with lyrics like his, it is believable.

What of the music? Old school worship, the worship that is synonymous with a Sunday morning Church service. When you first see the title of the album "Soli Deo Gloria" you immediately think that this is going to be "hoyty toyty". JR, however, has different ideas, he wants to bring a more contemporary feel to the music. As such, you start listening to the first track and there is a definite worship feel, but there is a noticeable difference, a strong sound of electrical instruments comes wafting through the song. It is this wafting that indicates a difference. Then the singing starts and there is an echo in his voice which you may have heard in other pop songs, again, something refreshing has been added to the music. As the album continues it swings from true worship to modern worship, yet all the time you can hear that there is a twist on the music. The title track of the album Soli Deo Gloria has not been recorded for 30 years, and JR does a good job to do the song justice, he keeps true to its roots, yet you can hear there is a "JR twist" on it.

Throughout the album. JR stays true to his worship core - there is no doubt that this is a worship album through and through. The tone of his voice is used to great effect. In songs such as Holy, Holy, Holy he shows that he has a voice that could be used for a pop and worship. Another give away as to the worship feel of the album lies in the harmonies he uses. They are not pop music harmonies, they are harmonies you would find in a church choir, in fact i wouldn't be surprised if he uses a choir. It isn't however a weakness of the album, he uses his "popish" voice with the harmonies in a way that compliments his electric guitar solos.

There is no doubt that this a worship album, and as a worship album it is good. Do not however assume that because it is a worship album that it is only for people over 70. Which JR's excellent lyrics and modern twist on the songs, he has created an album that can be enjoyed by anyone looking to meditate and relax with a presence of God. Next time you take communion, listen to the communion song and meditate on the lyrics, it will be a moving experience.

Overall a good album, I look forward to future JR Taylor projects.

Song of the week goes to: "For Us"

Have a Rocking week everyone


Sunday, 18 August 2013

Oppi... KOPPI!!

Oppi Koppi 2013. Never did I think I would be back at Mordor, breathing dust and getting dirty. My experience in 2010 was awesome but something I felt was one of those once-off trips. This time was different though – I went there with a volunteer group called the Red Frogs and was there to hand out water, make pancakes and coffee and just serve the party people. I might have been going for that reason but what a bonus that the line-up this year was AMAZING!

Those who have been before know that the weekend is jam packed with local and international artists performing on a number of different stages. 3 days of awesome music amongst the thorns and dust is quite an experience. Being on the team, I was on duty during the day and was exhausted come 16:00 – staying up to watch the 12:00am shows just was not going to cut it. Because of this I missed a lot of the acts but was stoked to catch bands like CrashCarBurn, ShortStraw, Finley Quaye, Matthew Mole, Gangs of Ballet, Manchester Orchestra, Jeremy Loops and ISO. I was blown away with the local talent represented there!! From my tent I heard other bands such as Bittereinder who really rocked it.

What was even more awesome and what I think I want to talk about a little more is the fact that there were so many bands there who we know have members with faith! How flipping cool that at a festival rife with the ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll’ ethos, these guys were there to sing into the lives of festival goers whether they knew it or not. Matthew Mole, Nakhane Toure, Straatligkinders, Flint, Meet Spark – what an incredible representation of ‘faith-based/ethosed’ music. Can we call it that? As I’m trying to write this I am struggling to decide what to call them or how to group them…shall we just say they have a more positive and uplifting way of bringing their music to the masses? Is that okay? I got to watch Matthew play and was so impressed with how many people were there to support him; in the middle of this crazy festival, here they were singing along to Matt’s amazing lyrics. You can’t help but smile. I think it’s so important that these artists are supported and encouraged and am so pleased that they are not being shoved into a ‘Christian Music’ box never to be heard from at festivals such as Oppi. Instead, they’re being recognised for their awesome talent and are being given the opportunity to shine a light into the utter darkness (both literal and figurative) that exists at these music festivals.

We had an ex member from a prominent SA band talk to the Red Frog team before leaving and one of the questions was about how we can serve the bands there. This guy made such a valid point; he said just be there. Get involved. Don’t separate yourselves from the guys singing less-savoury songs as that is exactly what Christianity is NOT about. He explained how ‘Christian’ bands would always get a bad rep as the guys sitting in the corner being lame and drinking coke. How sad. Instead, be in the world – not of it. What a common theme in all we do. And so I feel even more excited about the potential that guys such as Matthew and Flint, Meet Spark have to hang out with all these bands and festival goers and just love them, serve them and show them why they’re different.

As excited as I am about all of this and I cannot emphasise enough how rad it was to be surrounded by such South African musical talent the whole weekend, I’m no music buff and the real reason why I was there had a far bigger impact on me and I’d love to share a little bit about that too. Joining the Red Frogs team and going to Oppi 2013 was something I knew God wanted me to do. When Steph spoke at GodFirst about getting involved, I did not really know what this was all about but there was such a conviction on my heart to sign up that I went ahead and did it. What an experience it was. In quiet time this week, I read 1 John 7-10 and it could not describe my experience with Red Frogs better; through loving people, God’s love becomes complete within us! Amazing!! I may not have had a particular connection with one person but just being there to serve and love people made me feel closer to God than ever. When I was overwhelmed I felt Him tell me not to bow to my weakness and my insecurities but to just allow Him to work through me – and work He did. I saw the gratitude from people and was so blessed to be part of serving our awesome King who just wants us to know His love. The stories coming out of this weekend are so encouraging and it all calls to the glory and power of God. We are just like the party people of Oppi; lost and broken. The only difference is we have Jesus – and what a difference it makes!! Speaking to other Red Froggers we all agree that nothing satisfies quite as much as serving and being instruments in God’s awesome plan for this world. And the reception we got from people – blown away!! I heard one guy lining up to get pancakes say “I can’t believe I’m hanging out in the Christian tent”…and yet they came. People from all backgrounds and spaces came and allowed us to love them – and most loved us back! All thanks to God for bringing them to us and softening their hearts. I believe seeds have been planted that we may never see but which are so important. This experience reminded me once again of God’s amazing grace and love towards us and has really had a huge impact on my faith!

After all of this I really only have one thing to say…Bring on Oppi 2014!

Till next time…Let go and let God.


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

House of Heroes: The Knock-Down Drag-Outs

Release Date: 30 April 2013
Genre: Alternative Rock
Length: 68:22
Label: Gotee Records
Similar artists: Relient-K, Run Kid Run, Abandon Kansas, The Wedding
Rating: 3/5

The previous three, full length albums that have been released by House of Heroes have been met with much critical success, and between each of these albums the band has released quite a few unique EPs and singles, just enough to keep fans of the band satisfied until the release of their next album. The latest album released, named The Knock-Down Drag-Outs is essentially a collection of most of these ‘side’ releases, as well as three new songs to act as a sort of ‘cherry on top’.

This album boasts a substantial nineteen track collection, of which only five tracks can be considered ‘brand-new’ items, two of which are remixes.

The first new song on the album is called, "Choose Your Blade," and is perhaps one of the biggest deviations I have heard produced by the band. House of Heroes takes the usual hard rock sound, that they are best known for, and then blend it with a heavy Spanish influence. The music is upbeat and exciting, and the lyrics occasionally surprise as they drift into Spanish, and I am sure this is a song that many fans, new and old, will fall in love with. The next new track called, "Hide," showcases the band's softer side. “Hide” contains an amazing, powerful and beautiful chorus, sung by the band with such passion and emotion; it is really impressive to hear them evoke just as much emotion in an understated manner. The final song, "Your Casualty", is new and different, but not my particular cup of tea. I’m not sure what exactly to make of it, but it’s worth listening to for sure. 

The rest of the album is comprised of EP's, singles and bonus tracks from the past five years that the band has been releasing music. This album is a nice and convenient ‘all-in-one’ package of all these releases, created for the enjoyment of any fan of the band that may have missed out on some of the bands hidden gems.

This album is very convenient and is certainly a great idea, many bands release singles and EPs throughout their careers and to have one full length album with all of these stuck together is truly awesome. I recommend buying this album because the new songs, remixes and songs you never ever realized were produced by House of Heroes will delight and surprise you as you listen to the album. The fact that it is also nineteen songs long means that you will not get bored of it too quickly, a problem I find when I listen to short albums or EPs released by many bands is that it is too easy to wear out an album in a relatively short amount of time.

So if you are a fan of House of Heroes, new or old, this album would make a perfect addition to your collection.

Song of the Week is:  “Hide”.

Stay gnarly Charlie


Sunday, 11 August 2013

That One Moment...

Greetings Rocking it Christian Style readers. I have the honour of writing a post for today, and to put it plainly, I feel extremely blessed. My name is Matt, or to go along with the trend of this fine blog, you can call me “M”, just like in James Bond. I feel strangely satisfied by now having something in common with Judi Dench.

I thought I should share something that has been on my mind a lot recently, and that is the fleeting beauty of a moment. Let me explain. It was in September, the 25th if I remember correctly, that my life would be changed forever. I applied to do my honours in industrial psychology. I had to wait a few months to find out if I would be accepted or not. November the 12th was when I heard life changing news. My life would be forever defined by this one single moment. Not because I got accepted to do my honours, but because I didn't get accepted. After my last minute attempts at applying at every other university failed, I realised that for this year perhaps I wasn’t meant to continue with my honours - another road had to be taken. So I applied to study something that initially terrified me...I applied to study teaching.

This made me realise, sometimes God closes every door because He needs you to go through the one you’d rather avoid. Even though God closes the door, He never leaves you alone in the dark without some kind of purpose.

You know how sometimes we have to look retrospectively on our lives in order to pinpoint exactly where our lives changed? This wasn't one of those. I knew soon after that, things were going to change drastically and that I would never be the same, I knew that my life was going to change from how I'd originally imagined it to be. I was, and still am terrified by this. However, I was also, and still am, very okay with that. I no longer had the choice to go back to what was familiar. All this happened in a moment.

This got me thinking on the simple complexity behind a moment. The truth is that we are defined by single, solitary moments in life. These moments all culminate and add up exponentially in order to determine and direct our lives. All it takes is one moment to tell someone you love them. It’s that one moment of weakness that will cause a person to give into temptation. All it takes is one single moment to say goodbye to someone you love. In one moment we find ourselves at a crossroad, unsure of what path to take.

Something about moments, and how they change has always bothered me. C.S. Lewis put it very well, “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different.” Yes, it’s hilarious. It’s ridiculous that we are defined by a moment; it’s crazy that we often can’t see those moments until long after they have happened. We often look back and think that if it wasn’t for a particular event, we would never have experienced a very special life changing moment. The build up to that moment may have taken days, weeks, or in my case, months. In some extreme cases it takes years. How unfortunate are we that we succumb to this fact? Yet, how incredibly awesome is that as well? We have the choice to change our lives in a moment.

My point is this: if our lives can be changed by something as simple as a moment, then we shouldn’t waste a single one of those moments feeling sorry for ourselves. We shouldn’t waste a moment not living life. Every moment we aren’t happy we rob ourselves of happiness. I personally believe God puts these life changing moments in our lives for a reason. More often than not these moments test us, and put us on a path to become better people. For me, I have overcome my fear of public speaking, I have met amazing people who have become my friends, as well as deepening the friendships I already had. This year has been a fantastic growing experience, and it started because of one moment.

I don’t know whether God has our destiny planned out for us already, but I do know we all have a purpose. I know that He doesn’t ever let us walk alone on whatever journey we are taking. Life is constant change, we can either run from it, or we can embrace God who will help us through it. By turning to God I found that I have a new calling in life. I’m terrified of not knowing what my purpose may be, and I don’t know if this is where I’ll be forever. This much I do know; no matter what road I take, God will be there. Life is an explosive paradox of randomness, uncertainty and excitement. We can carefully plan our lives as much as we want, and in no way am I saying we shouldn’t be planning our lives. However, we can either be angry because things aren’t going the way we intended, or we can accept that He has something greater planned for us. We don’t always realise that our current plans might be shackles, weighing us down and preventing us from achieving something much greater than what we had originally set out for ourselves. God uses moments like this to take us on a journey. Maybe then it isn’t about destiny, but about a path God wants us to take on a spiritual expedition. In this case, sometimes we just have to let go, and just simply let God.

All it takes is a moment.

Stay awesome everyone.


Wednesday, 7 August 2013

These Hearts: Yours to Take

Release Date: 9 July 2013
Genre: Post-hardcore
Length: 32:18
Label: Victory Records
Similar artists: A Day To Remember, The Devil Wears Prada, Escape The Fate, We Came As Romans
Rating: 3/5

Despite the rather worrying opening of the first track featuring overproduced auto tune, “This Is Love” soon picks up with some powerful guitars and aggressive vocals. Many of the songs are filled with a well-rounded combination of intense screaming and impressive vocals. I must admit however that while I was listening to this album I found it hard to pick up on the feeling behind it - I was sort of torn between emotions. You see, taken individually, each track has its own value to add to an album, each track when listened to on its own is very good, however when these tracks are strung together in an album, one after the other, something just feels… off.

When listening to this album it’s easy to get confused about what genre of music you are listening to, for instance many of the songs are hardcore rock songs, with aggressive screaming accompanied by very pleasing vocals from lead singer Ryan Saunders, and as I listen to these tracks I am reminded of A Day To Remember; however the last song, “Never Mind Me,” which is the album’s only ballad, comes as a pleasant surprise, but still feels out of place.

What “Never Mind Me” also just adds to the confusion of sound in this album. Tracks such as “Birds of a Feather” and “Undecided Story” sound similar to the likes of All Time Low and Yellowcard which contrast the post-hardcore nature of the opening tracks.  Lotr, thought to stand for Life On The Road (not to be confused with Lord of the Rings) is a pop-rock hit with catchy guitar riffs containing dance elements and a chorus that I’m sure even the most hardcore metal fans will get up and dance to. Don’t get me wrong, the music is good, very good in fact, but it just doesn’t seem to fit together.

Unfortunately, for me it is still hard to understand the band's intentions behind their music. They have created such a variety of different songs, each relating to a different genre and demographic. All this does, in my opinion, is give them a very mixed identity, making each track unsatisfyingly random.

Another thing that doesn’t sit right with me about this album is that they seem to be acting rather ostentatiously, I mean while one cannot deny that they are approaching success and fame, some of the lyrics make it sound like they are already at A Day to Remember status. Although they are good, I think it’s a bit too early to be singing about “five guys taking over the world”, but then again that could just be me.

Although These Hearts show a lot of potential as far as instrument writing is concerned, they have a tendency to stop any momentum a given song is building up dead in its tracks. This album shows that, as a band, These Hearts are at a crossroads, they can either go heavier or move into a more pop-punk feel, either way I see a lot of success for them in future. The choice is up to them, but if they keep on going the way that they are going, they might not last.

I will still be listening to this album for a while, and some of the songs will definitely make it into my favourite playlist, but I think given time and the right motivation we will see These Hearts reaching a whole new level of awesome.

Despite is randomness; this week’s Song of The Week goes to “Never Mind Me”

Stay queer William Shakespeare


Sunday, 4 August 2013

Christian Music News: July 2013

Thousand Foot Krutch Released Their New EP

Modern rock favorite Thousand Foot Krutch have released their second remix EP, named Metamorphosiz II The End Remixes Vol. 2. This new EP follows the success of Metamorphosiz: The End Remixes, Vol. 1, which released in December of last year, which spent time at No. 1 on the iTunes Rock Albums chart in its first week out

Skillet’s Latest Album Has Risen Above The Rest

One week after it’s release, Skillet’s new album Rise entered Billboard’s Top Rock, Hard Rock and Top Christian Charts at No. 1, as well as No. 4 on the Top 200. Not only that but they have managed to hold on to the No. 1 slot on the Billboard Top Hard Rock and Top Christian Albums Charts. Solid sales in week two also gave the band a firm spot at No. 2 on the Billboard Top Rock Chart and No. 11 on the Top 200. 

Kim Walker-Smith & Skyler Smith Release Debut Album

After eighteen long months, Kim Walker-Smith and Skyler Smith finally released their highly anticipated and first musical collaboration, HOME, last month. The album has already  been gathering critical acclaim, the album spent it’s first week on top of the iTunes® “Christian/Gospel” chart while climbing all the way to No. 8 on the iTunes overall “Top Albums” chart. The album also ended up at No. 1 on the overall Christian/Gospel Current Digital Albums and Worship Album Billboard retail charts.

Jars of Clay Release Their Free EP

With the release of their new album Inland just around the corner, Jars of Clay have released the Ep, NoiseTrade Eastside Manor Sessions. The EP is a beautiful balance between the seasoned talent and new creativity within the band, Jars of Clay produced a stunning set of songs that are impressive and inspired. From the controlled agitation of "Loneliness & Alcohol" to the somber ebb and flow of "Fall Asleep," this session flawlessly runs the sonic and emotional range.

Nu Metal Band Mayfly Signed With Voluminous Records

Voluminous Records announces the signing of Nu Metal band Mayfly to a label and distribution deal. The band is currently working on its 7-track debut EP slated to release the first quarter of 2014. The first single "Eternal Respiration" will be released in late September of this year.

Darrell Evans Premieres Video For Single “Unto The King”

Darrell Evans recently premiered his brand new lyric video for his single, "Unto The King"  on the DREAM RECORDS YouTube Channel. The single, is his first single off his highly anticipated album titled, Awesome God Is He, coming out September 24th.

Close Your Eyes Annouce Album Title

Close Your Eyes, have made their highly anticipated return with a new album, Line In The Sand, headlining tour, and new front man, Sam Robinson.

Love & The Outcome’s New Album Available For Pre-Order

Word Entertainment's breakthrough duo Love & The Outcome are scheduled to release their album late in August. The 11-track collection is available for pre-order today at and features their debut single, "He Is With Us." The song has soared to No. 17 on Billboard's Christian Songs chart making it the highest charting debut single currently on the chart.

Skillet set to Participate in the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" Speech