Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Shaun Jacobs: Love Can

Release Date: 8 October 2013
Genre: Melodic Rock
Length: 38:30
Label: Unsigned
Similar artists: Mercyme; Gangs of Ballet; The Afters; Monsters Calling Home
Rating: 4/5

Once again South Africa is showing the world that we do indeed have world class musicians just waiting

to blow the minds of anybody willing to listen, and Shaun Jacobs is doing just that with his album Love


The maturity of sound that this record manages to bring to the table is incredibly impressive considering

that it is the first full length album that this trio, comprised of Shaun Jacobs, Craig Sparks and Andrew

Sowter, have released.

From a musical standpoint this record is fantastic; the riffs, solos, harmonies, everything has its place and

the sound is just... crisp. Shaun’s wide vocal range delivers a variety of sound that is truly captivating and

exciting to listen to. Additionally I’m happy to say that the record itself also has a wide variety of sounds.

Some tracks are upbeat, with intensity and flare that really just make you want to do some good old

fashioned rocking out; couple that with slower-paced ballad tracks and you end up with a record with a

track to suit every mood and the potential to bring in an ever widening fan base.

Lyrically this record leaves little to be desired. A track that just sounds good isn’t ever really enough if we

are honest with ourselves. A well written song executed to perfection is never going captivate you if you

can’t relate to the lyrics, and these tracks manage to do just that, they captivate you. You can tell that a

lot of passion goes into every track produced; it seeps through every word, every melody, every note. It is

hard not to feel the emotion and get lost in your own as a result.

I think everybody needs a little bit more of something like Love Can in their lives. Between Shaun’s voice,

the harmonies, the guitars, drums, lyrics… this record is truly one not to be missed.

 Song of the Week: “End Of The Road”

Stay out of danger Hermione Granger


Sunday, 27 October 2013


Being an architecture student I often find myself not having time for anything else. During crit week I barely have time to shower, let alone see friends! Over the past four years of studying I’ve found that it’s so easy to lose track of what’s truly, friends and most of all one’s relationship with Jesus. How many times have you heard the phrase “life got in the way”? It’s so easy to get consumed by something and in my case it’s ALWAYS work.
One of the biggest battles I face on a daily basis is giving over all my burdens to Jesus. Throughout scripture we see how good and trustworthy God is. The Bible is filled with commands not to worry...and yet I still do...why!? It can get so frustrating, as I often find myself reading encouraging verses and feeling at peace only for “life to get in the way” and then feeling anxious...worried about the copious amounts of work I have to get through.

I must admit though, as I read scripture more often, and my relationship with God strengthens, I have found it much easier to deal with anxiety. Matthew 6:25-27 says “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”.

A major problem that I have found is the fact that the majority of people studying architecture throw themselves completely into their work. Architecture is honestly our lives...(I must include myself in this, because up until recently, it really has been). I used to feel so guilty for spending a night at Bible Study or giving up a whole Sunday, as I knew that many of my colleagues would be working...I couldn’t fall behind...I just couldn’t!

A life without a relationship with God however, is not a fulfilling matter how well your work is going.

A few months ago I came across a well known story:
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.  Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna.  The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, "only a little while."
The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish?
The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.
The American then asked, "but what do you do with the rest of your time?"
The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos.  I have a full and busy life."
The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you.  You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat.  With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.  Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery.  You would control the product, processing, and distribution.  You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise."
The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?"
To which the American replied, "15 - 20 years."
"But what then?" Asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, "That's the best part.  When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!"
"Millions - then what?"
The American said, "Then you would retire.  Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."

Reading this story hit me hard...why do I sacrifice so much for my work. Why do I climb into my little cave and block out the world until my work is done, only to have two weeks of free time before the cycle repeats itself? There has to be another way....there has to be!

A few months ago I said enough is enough and I made more time for my family, friends, hobbies, but more importantly, I made more time for God. It was the greatest period I’ve had in ages! I felt so at peace...and do you want to know the weirdest thing? The marks I got were the best I’ve received all year!!
The lessons I’ve learned are: 1) Put God above EVERYTHING else...He always has your back. 2) Cast all your burdens onto Him, no matter how difficult it may be. 3) Make time for your friends. Don’t lose your mates because you’ve neglected can’t watch a soccer match with “work”, you can’t grab a drink with “work”, your “work” won’t be there to console you in tough times....don’t make it your everything! 4) The world is a BIIIG place! Who knows what God wants you to do, and where! I’ve spoken to so many people who aren’t even doing anything related to what they studied!
Trust God....He knows what’s best for you.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Peace and Love everybody

Friday, 25 October 2013

Song of the week: 25 October 2013

"Song of the week" this week goes to... Calm the Storm by Spoken off their new album 'Illusion'. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Deitrick Haddon: R.E.D

Release Date: 3 September 2013
Genre: Contemporary Gospel, Christian
Length: 60:06
Label: RCA Inspiration
Similar artists: J Moss, Byron Cage, Fred Hammond, Donnie McClurkin
Rating: 3.5/5

From a technical standpoint this record leaves little to be desired. With 16 full length tracks and an intro you definitely get what you paid in terms of quantity. In terms of quality I’d have to say that I would have preferred to have a couple of songs left off of the record if that meant more effort would be put into the remaining tracks, not to say that any of the tracks are bad, I just feel that some of them could use a little more love.

In terms of its musicality the record has a lot to offer, there are tracks ranging from pure gospel to blues to dance, there is probably a little bit of something to be found in the record for everybody. However with this in mind, as a whole I think this album has its ups and downs. Although the variety of music gives us a lot to choose from, it almost feels like Haddon can’t make up his mind about where he wanted this record to go.

Lyrically this record is solid. What I love about this record is how Haddon seems to be able to seamlessly combine secular and non-secular topics throughout each track. It is easy to see that each track was written with a lot of passion, and after listening to this record it almost feels necessary to take a step back and meditate on the lyrics of each track. Something about the lyrics is so thought-provoking and meaningful.

Haddon's artistic range is as elastic as his vocals, making the tracks all the more palpable to a wider audience.

A very different but deeply interesting record.

Song of the Week: “Just as I am”

Stay slick Anna Kendrick 


Sunday, 20 October 2013

J & A's Playlist October 2013

J's Playlist

COIN - Time Machine

I Anthem - Fighting Gravity

Falling Up - Hotel Aquarium

Cord of 3 - The Edge

A's Playlist

Shaun Jacobs - End of the Road

The Digital Age - Glow

Bear's Den - Agape

Nakhane Toure - Christopher

Friday, 18 October 2013

Song of the Week

What an awesome night we had at Rumours Lounge yesterday!!! Roadtrip Sundae, Shaun Jacobs and Matthew Mole all brought their A-game! This week's "song of the week" goes to Shaun Jacobs and "Love Can"....enjoy!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

1 Girl Nation

Release Date: 13 August 2013
Genre: Power Pop, Pop Rock
Length: 33:55
Label: Reunion Records
Similar artists: Paige O'Martian; Moriah Peters; Kirsten Arian
Rating: 4/5

When most people come across a group such as 1 Girl Nation, it is easy to jump to conclusions about what kind of music such a group will produce, because let’s face it, they are an all-girl pop group. However if you are too quick to judge you may miss out on a really spectacular record; these ladies have a little something else that makes them special.

In terms of the sound of their album I was thoroughly pleased because even though they are operating within a well-saturated genre, the variety of voices they bring to the table and their overall passion and enthusiasm makes their record really worth listening to. Their recipe for catchy and upbeat tracks has been enhanced by sprinkling in a variation of sounds, including rap and even some dubstep!  Although I didn’t really enjoy the rap, as I felt it took away from the album rather than adding to it, I still believe that this is a solid first record.

In terms of their lyrics, you will find it hard not to sing along to this record, and the messages behind each track are well chosen and thought provoking, however it is the fun,  exciting deliverance of these messages that really drives them home.
With the huge role that the media plays in influencing society it is, in my opinion, really great to have a group of artists such as these women to be positive role models for the youth of today. Their record is a smooth and well-polished pop dance adventure that has a sound that lovers of artists such as Rihanna, Demi Lovato and Miley Cyrus, would be happy to dance and sing to.  Yet, within the beats are Godly messages that speak about holiness, true beauty and the vitality of living for Jesus Christ. 

This record really rises above the normality of the ‘tween’ pop scene, and delivers a unique explosion of musical fun. With a great sound and a greater message, they are a band worth listening to.

This week’s Song of the Week is definitely: “Invade”

Stay true Pikachu


Sunday, 13 October 2013

Should Christian music be obvious?

What is the first thing when you see when you type "Christian Music into Google?" You get a myriad of hits that match your response. What about if you type in "What is Christian music?" What is your response hit then? I will do the work for you on this one... the first thing that comes up is the trusty Wikipedia definition, and it is this definition that sparked the idea for this post.

Wikipedia describes Christian music as: "Christian music is music that has been written to express either personal or communal belief in the Christian faith." Awesome, now we know what Christian music is, then why is it that so many people question the music itself? That is what I hope to unpack.

I was recently privileged to spend a couple days at a Christian radio station, this was a big deal for me, considering the fact that Christian radio is something I would like to go into. Anyway, I digress. This radio was more of a talk station, but there there was still a lot of music played on the shows, and as such, there was a lot of music that needed to be gone through and tested to see if it was relevant or not. Here at RICS, we place youth music in high regard, we love the guitar solos and the drum beats that make the feet tap. I asked the music man at the station what sort of music they play at the station and the answer was simple: "Clear and Clear." This was explained to mean that in order for a song to be played on the station, its lyrics must be clearly audible, and clearly understandable. Simple. Only it isn't that simple.

My question this week is "Should Christian music be obvious?". What I mean by that is this: should bands that claim, or perhaps do not even claim to be Christian, ensure that they have The Lord; Jesus Christ our Lord; The Cross; or any other obviously religious reference in their songs? And more importantly, if they do not, can they no longer be classified as Christian bands?

The secular market of music is saturated with lyrics that lend themselves towards all kinds of different connotations. The music industry has seen a degradation in the lyrics of songs over the last few decades which saddens me. The reason for this degradation is simple, sex and scandal sell. Artists are required to sell albums, therefore they create the music that will sell the most albums. A few Christian bands have been slated recently for making a move to the secular scene, this meaning that bands such as Switchfoot have said they are no longer Christian rock, but rather Alternative Rock. Many in the Christian music scene threw their toys out their cots upon hearing this, because they see this as them denouncing their faith. I disagree with these people, I believe what Switchfoot have done is exactly what we need more of in the Christian music industry.

Switchfoot is actually a perfect example for my question. Many of their songs are not obviously Christian, in fact, if you didn't know they were all Christian, who is to say you would think they were. Just because they do not swear or make vulgar references in their songs does not make them Christian. Thus I ask the question again, does Christian music need to be obvious?

I believe their are many sides to this conversation, and I would love to have the conversation with you, so please comment. For the purpose of this I will deal with two.

Yes, Christian music does need to be obvious. Why? It needs to be obvious in order to fulfill its purpose. The Purpose of Christian music is to tell the world about Jesus Christ, and you cannot do that without mentioning some form of religious context in your songs. Christian music is targeted at Christians and Christians want to listen to it because they want to be soothed by the lyrics and feel close to God through the music.

No, Christian music does not been to be obvious. Why? Labeling music as 'Christian' is boxing something that has massive potential up and backing it into a small corner. Christian music needs not be obvious because there are currently bands that are doing fantastically through the subtle references they make in their songs. Christian bands that have a subtle influence that comes through their songs have a greater reach, they are not preaching to the choir, instead, they are preaching to the lost and the searching. Should that not be the true purpose of Christian music?

Those are two perspectives. I think both are valid. However, I tend to agree more with saying that Christian music does not need to be obvious. I often encourage friends of mine to listen to bands such as RED and Disciple, because they are not overtly Christian, yet when you listen closely, the meaning hits you like a ton of bricks. I think that Christians need to be careful of placing a "For Christians only" sign on Christian music. We want the world to know about this music. I personally want the world to stop listening to sex crazed teenagers singing about all the action they are getting. Instead I would rather listen to a band who plays music because they love to play. They write lyrics so that their songs tell a story. And they are not afraid to speak The Truth.

Before I get a flurry of responses, I am aware their is a difference between the different types of Christian music. As such, I want to end off with another trusty Wikipedia definition for Christian rock: "Christian rock is a form of rock music played by individuals and bands whose members are Christian and who often focus the lyrics on the Christian faith..." here comes the important part... "The extent to which their lyrics are explicitly Christian varies between bands."

I hope I have placed a couple questions in your mind that you want to engage with me on. So please, engage away. Let us look at the section of music for what it is, music with a meaning, music sung by those wishing to make a difference in this world. Music that is trying to change the way people see modern music. So let us not box bands into categories where they will never be discovered, rather, let us display them for all the world to hear. What do you say?

Have a Rocking week everyone

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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Andy Cherry: Nothing Left To Fear

Release Date: 6 March 2012
Genre: Contemporary Christian
Length: 40:35
Label: Essential Records
Similar artists: One Sonic Society, Luminate, Sidewalk Prophets, Rush of Fools
Rating: 3.5/5

There are so many new worship artists popping up all the time, and because of this, one has to make a splash if they wish to remain a force in the field of worship. With his debut record Nothing Left to Fear, Andy Cherry has tried to do just that. Although this record is good, it isn’t great. While it hasn’t been a complete failure, I still don’t think it is good enough to make Andy Cherry a stand out artist in this field.

In my opinion I think the record is a little bit short, with only ten tracks it left a lot to be desired. However these ten tracks do contain a lot of heart, passion and thought provoking lyrics. You can definitely feel, by the sound of Cherry's voice, that he is putting all he can into each track, and all ten tracks definitely showcase his warmth and passion. Combine that with the beautiful worship lyrics and you have yourself a couple of great tracks.

The overall problem I have with Nothing Left to Fear is the dynamic factor, or the lack thereof throughout the record. While you cannot deny that Cherry pours into each track to create a warm worship record, it cannot be denied that the record is almost too consistent in its style. Not every song captivates your interest equally; the album does drag a lot towards the end.

Some songs work better than others, but the fact still remains that there are more accomplished and stirring worship artists that are more worthwhile to pick than this record. Regardless of this fact, Cherry's passion for heartfelt worship hasn't gone unnoticed. This record was undoubtedly produced with an attentive heart for worship, the fruits of Cherry's labor found in Nothing Left To Fear succeeds in bringing an honest offering before the throne of God, and that's Cherry's intention.

In closing I’d say that this is a strong debut album by a talented artist, and I think he has a lot of potential, I’m interested to see where the Lord takes him.

Song of the Week: “To Follow You”
Stay chatty fatties


Sunday, 6 October 2013

Christian Music News: September 2013

Chris Tomlin burns up the stages in America

The beloved singer Chris Tomlin has had an amazingly successful run over the last year. He has seen his concert viewership increase by over 53%. Tomlin is busy with his Burning Lights tour which has been all over America, playing in some of the most difficult areas in the U.S.

Tomlin’s success is visible, he has sold out over 25 shows in the U.S. already, each show with an excess of 10 000 tickets sold. Chris Tomlin has sold over 72 000 units of his new CD, and sales do not seem to be slowing down. Due to the popularity of the tour, it has been extended to another 21 cities.

Integrity settles on the top 20

Every year, Worship Leader magazine releases a CD that has the years greatest worship hits on it. For over 20 years it has been a reputable source in the music scene, many swear by the decisions.

This year, the coveted top position was taken by no other than Sons & Daughters; one of Integrity Music’s best selling artists. Of the 20 tracks on the album, 8 are Integrity signed. A strong showing for the leading record label. Other artists include the likes of Daniel Bashta; Worship Central; and Martin Smith.

Steven Curtis Chapman’s new album said to be Glorious

With nearly 11 million albums sold, Chapman was expected to release another master piece with his new album “Glorious Unfolding”. That is precisely what he has done. The new album by the old master has blown critics away with the general consensus being that the album is deserving of a 100% rating.

Billboard - "Chapman admits that after recording for more than 25 years, the challenge in crafting his 18th album was to deliver something fresh while not taking such a detour that it would leave the existing fan base feeling alienated. He skilfully achieves that tricky balance."

A new Morning for worship music

The newly formed and debut album creating band The Digital Age have produced a fantastic first album. After the David Crowder Band split, The Digital Age was born from the ashes and the result was somewhat beneficial for the worship industry. Adding a vibe to the genre that will appeal to almost anyone, the band has taken the stage by storm. The album reached its peak on iTunes at number 2.

Press Play 

Many people have argued that there are very few properly good dance and electro bands in the Christian music industry. Bands such as Capital Kings have sought to change that perception. Press Play is a new band that focuses on Jesus centred lyrics with a sound that even the hippest teenager will enjoy. Their first album is entitled #LITO, they even have a hash-tag in their album title. They must be doing something right.

Kings of the Capital

South African audiences will be able to gain access to the duo from Capital Kings soon as their album will be hitting SA shores in October/November. Pick up this album in CUM Books, or if you cannot wait until then, check it out on iTunes.

Royal Flush sets fire to the industry

Well known rappers Flame have released a new album which is sure to get a royal flush from the reviewers. If you are into music that has a ghetto rap vibe, then this is the band for you, check them out with their new album called “Royal Flush”.

Chameleon comes out of his comfort zone

Well known and popular South African artist Chris Chameleon has released another album. He has said that this album was something he was reluctant to create as he believes that it moves too far from his genre; however he has brought a new spin to the genre with this creation. He takes Psalms and rewrites them into modern rock and ballad songs. He stated that he did not want this to just be a simple album and as such he created it with a lot of diversity.

Stay tuned for the review on all the albums in the news

Friday, 4 October 2013

Song of the Week

This week's "Song of the Week" goes to Skillet's Fire and Fury from their latest album "Rise"...what a band!!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Phil Wickham: The Ascension

Release Date: 24 September 2013
Genre: Contemporary Christian, Praise & Worship
Length: 48:49
Label: Fair Trade Services
Similar artists: Shane & Shane, All Sons & Daughters, Jeremy Riddle, Chris Tomlin
Rating: 4/5

Throughout this record I am reminded about how effortlessly Phil Wickham manages to bring something new to the worship table with each new release. This record is full of emotional power and transparency, harmonious and ingenious originality, and in general, it is an escape from the norms of this genre.

Musically there is little fault to be found in this record. New and old fans of Phil Wickham will be captivated by his beautifully polished falsetto voice. The wide variety of instruments accompanying him, create a rich variety of sound that truly gives life to the record. However in some or the tracks I did feel a little overwhelmed.

Lyrically the record displays that which we have come to know and love about Phil’s records in the past; you just get the feeling that every word was carefully chosen and that every lyric has it’s place, resulting in an adventurous and creative lyrical journey that is truly satisfying.

Although this record is only eleven tracks in length, which isn’t that short if I’m honest, the eleven tracks you do get are full and vibrant and absolutely make up for any issues you may have with the length of this record. I feel like this is the kind of record you would mix into a playlist of your favourite artists, with each of these tracks being a little gem that you could thoroughly enjoy listening to whenever one were to come up, however I don’t think this is the kind of record you could put on repeat and listen to over and over again.

I can’t finish this review without saying that Phil Wickham's vocals peak when bringing the record to a close. The track “Thirst” seems to build and build and build and the climax is a truly perfect way to end the record.

I think it would be really hard not to enjoy this record; it’s so simple, yet at the same time so incredibly deep; so ordinary but at the same time extraordinary. One of the most profound, transparent, and honest records of the year, and you certainly don't want to miss this unique and God-inspired experience. This is really a heartfelt and deeply enjoyable record.

I have to say I struggled to pick this week’s Song of The Week because every time a new track played, I found it would become my new favourite, I finally settled on: “When My Heart Is Torn Asunder”

Stay fine Doctor Frankenstein