Recently Decent Albums (featuring MuteMath, Gungor, Brooke Fraser and Lecrae)

It’s been a long time since I reviewed an album… the last album I reviewed was this one about two months ago.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t stopped listening to new music. In fact there’s been quite a few albums that have been buzzing in my iPod or that I’ve been bumping in my ride over the last period of time. Thought I’d let you in to what I’m digging right now… Here’s a look at the most necessary albums:

MuteMath – Armistice Live

 

Armistice Live - MuteMath

 

For those who already dug the Armistice album from these guys who are one of the best bands to emerge over the last decade (in my opinion perhaps the best), this one takes the album waaaay over the top.

Recorded in the Tabernacle inAtlanta at the end of 2009, when you hear classic songs like “Typical”, “Break the Same” and “Spotlight” which were for me previous highlights, being played live like this? It made me never want to listen to the originals again. My highlights were definitely the more dubbed out arrangements of “Reset” and the 10+ minute interpretation of “Burden” – it convinced me of two things without a shadow of a doubt:

  1. MuteMath are one of the best things happening in music in this generation. Great musicianship + Great songs = Great band. Nuff said…
  2. I was utterly convinced after listening to the album that it was well worth it to empty out my US iTunes account to get the live video with this albums “how did they do that?” moments.

(Anyone selling any US iTunes cards in Singapore now? Need a top up badly…)

Lecrae – Rehab

 

Lecrae - Rehab

 

Everyone who’s been following my blogs for more than a minute knows what great admirer I am of what the Reach Records camp is doing – although I’m not necessarily the biggest fan of Southern hip hop that has come out the crunk school of things (which is why I probably can identify with Sho Baraka from this camp the most), it has become obvious: Reach Records, and in particular, Lecrae have been positioned to be a voice in our generation.

What I’ve always loved about Creezy has been the directness of his message of hard beats, and there’s plenty of that here, especially when he’s surrounded by other non-singing brethren like Pro on “New Shalom”, or with his 116 counterparts Trip Lee and Tedashii on “40 Deep”.

What’s going to be hard with Rehab is that it is the follow up to Lecrae’s monumental album Rebel which put Holy Hip Hop on the top ten charts for the first time (at least that I’m aware of). Behind “Rebel” was a movement with classic songs like “Identity”, “Go Hard” (which I thought was had a great verse from Tedashii – Go Samoa!), and of course “Don’t Waste Your Life” which introduced the world to Dwayne Tryumf’s machine gun flow, and introduced the John Piper book fan to Christocentric Rap. I don’t know personally if I am convinced yet that it is as good an album as Rebel, but it’s early days. This album is definitely more worshipful, and so on that note I think I need to digest it a bit more and let it grow on me. Ask me in a month.

Will Rehab be able to pick up where Rebel left off? With Rehab already sitting pretty peaking in the Top 3 albums (not Christian and Gospel charts… the actual Top 3) on iTunes, in the first couple of weeks of release, and much buzz on the streets, Lecrae’s Rehab is definitely one to cop.

Brooke Fraser – Flags

 

Brooke Fraser - Flags

 

 

Y’all know I had to recommend this one as a kiwi music loyalist. Brooke Fraser has outdone herself again on “Flags”.

Mrs Ligertwood has definitely grown musically from “What to Do With Daylight”, and although this album doesn’t quite have the lushness of “Albertine”, it doesn’t require it at all.

I don’t know about anyone else but aurally, this brought back certain fond memories of NZ: whether it’s the community hall jig sound of the first single “Something In the Water”, or the surf induced sound of “Jack Kerouac”, the outdoor summer festival summoning of “Coachella”, or the driven stormy sound of “Orphan’s, Kingdoms”, or the “Goodnight Kiwi” overall sound of the title track.

Lyrically, songs are not just thematic, but there is a lot more specificity and detail when you are introduced to characters like the not-so-all-together “Betty”, or dealing with traumatic situations on “Ice on Her Lashes”.

I can imagine that this album is going to be the soundtrack to many a road-trip across New Zealand and Australia this summer, and prayerfully after this gets more play on tour and through people like us thrashing it, this will be the summer album of 2011. Much like any road trip, this has the quality of the albums that I consider classics – this one is a beautiful journey.

Thanks Brooke for making me happy. (Come to Singapore – make us even more happy lah!)

Gungor – Beautiful Things

 

Gungor - Beautiful Things

 

As you can see, there are many great albums that have come out in this period of time. But I must say that this album ranks as my favourite so far this year.

I’ve been familiar with Michael Gungor, primarily through work that he has done with Israel Houghton, and of course his album “Bigger Than My Imagination” coming out back then. I must say though that when I was introduced to this album by this guy a few months ago after playing the opening track “Dry Bones”, it was over – I knew I was listening to something special.

This album, would be considered a “worship” album, because lyrically and melodically, it is. But it’s what they do musically, questioning the parameters of genres and rhythm patterns and even standard production techniques. To say that this is a refreshing installment to the “worship” genre (i don’t like calling worship a genre – you know me), is a severe understatement. This album is necessary.

If you ever get a chance to see these guys live, check them out… it’s an experience you won’t forget… ever.

This album is indeed a classic – no doubt about it.

Here’s a few other albums I dug that came out recently… What were the best albums you heard recently?