Sunday, March 30, 2014

One Month of Beatles and How I Discovered the Greatest Band of All Time (50 Year Anniversary)

Sorry for the prolonged absence, but I was conducting a little experiment with myself. The experiment: listen to nothing but the Beatles for a month straight. To be quite honest, this was a bit of an unexpected journey because prior to February, I was not a fan of the Beatles. Yes, I know, blasphemy to music fans! Justin, how can you be a musician and not listen to the founding fathers of modern rock? It was simple, I listened to what was in my era...or that was my excuse at least. 

A child of the 90s, and a music fan of the early 2000s, I was pretty ignorant to classic rock, and hearing it would make me cringe a bit. For me, everything was dated, and I liked what I grew up on naturally. The Beatles were always obviously there, and I gave them the respect and reverence they deserved and even knew some of the greatest hits. However, with that being said, I had no interest in digging deeper, and boy was I wrong.

This idea sparked from the Beatles 50th anniversary of the Ed Sullivan show performance that kicked off Beatlemania. I watched the whole show with my father, and slowly got introduced to John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Seeing their impact on music, and how one legendary talk show performance changed the world, I thought at 25 years of age that it was a good time to get acquainted. I made it a goal to listen to a few albums at work the next day.
Well, with so many classic albums to choose from (all of them), I decided to begin with one of the more popular ones, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. From there I bounced around. It took around two or three days to listen to every album, and I decided I would listen the rest of the week after posting my thoughts on Facebook. Many people suggested I listened to an album two or three times before I made a decision. One week of Beatles stretched into two weeks, then into three weeks, and finally I decided to go the whole month listening to nothing else unless it was required of me for work, or it was on where I was. I did not consciously put on anything myself, other than music I worked on with my band.

Curiosity turned into creativity, as my song writing began to transform in front of my band one practice. At a time when I am normally listening to the group play a song and thinking of lyrics, I began conducting the song in my head. I heard drums parts, breaks and stops, guitar chords, harmonies – it was pretty awesome. An impromptu jam, became a solo song. The juices were flowing, was it the Beatles? I don't know, but I felt especially inspired.

At this point of my month, I had listened to every record around eight times, and really grew to love the Beatles from 66-69, the experimental years. It was amazing to hear the birthing of the very music I listened to in their songs. The first metal, the first punk, the first progressive – it really was an amazing thing, and I made a connection to everything I listen to now. 

Even now, as I am back on "regular" music, it sounds so different to me. Some of it does not seem worthy, and some it really reminds me of the Beatles, which is a funny thought. I tend to find myself looking a little deeper into songs now to see what the song actually is sonically and technically, rather than the words and lyrics. Hip-hop has been weird so far because it is far removed from the Beatles, and it took me a while to build back in. Again, I am looking for content and context.

What the Beatles managed to do, was evolve with every album they put out. Sure, some albums were similar, mainly ones that were back to back, but they still had their own distinct quality and sound. I couldn't get enough of the music.

I scoured the Internet for every back track, demo, studio session, unreleased song; and I found them. I heard all the live tracks, all the special editions, and even their records as the Quarrymen. I became obsessed really. It seemed a bit crazy, but the music just hit me and affected me. Wikipedia was my best friend as I looked up every song meaning, album break down, and who did what track per track.

But enough about me, lets talk the music. 

My top Beatles albums changed many times during my journey, but I think I am able to round out my favorites based on the amount of times I have revisited them since February.

1. Rubber Soul
There is just something about this album that I can't stop listening to. As a whole, every track hits me perfectly. This album was the end of the friendly boyish stars, and the beginning of the trippy hippy music revolutionaries. Rubbersoul provided the perfect blend of both eras of the Beatles. From the iconic opening riff of "Drive My Car" to the controversial but so bad it's good closing of "Run For Your Life," this album is flawless. Other highlights for me include, "Michele," "I'm Looking Through You," and "Nowhere Man." I can basically pop on this album at any point of the day, and I'll randomly be singing one of these tracks, so fair warning.

2. The Magical Mystery Tour
Sgt. Pepper gets a ton of the shine as being arguably one of the best Beatles albums, but I believe their follow up is even better. Unfortunately some great singles that should be on Pepper, wound up on here, and because of that, Mystery Tour edges it out. The opening "Magical Mystery Tour" sets the tone for the entire album, "The magical mystery tour is waiting to take you away..." "The Fool on the Hill" is an often forgotten classic. "Blue Jay Way" is my favorite Harrison song, and perhaps one of the trippiest and most fun musically. The non-sense of "I Am the Walrus" and the imagery of "Strawberry Fields" is fantastic as well.

3. Abby Road
This album was the end of the Beatles, and they sure went down in style. Despite many problems and internal conflicts within the band, the guys managed to churn out a timeless album that until this day serves as a wonderful farewell. The bass line of "Come Together" carries the album right in. "Something" is the next highlight track, and is one of the band's best ballads. "I Want You (She's so Heavy)" is perhaps the simplest song lyrically written by the band, but it happens to be my favorite song. This song really is "heavy," the bass line is incredible, and the force and passion behind the few lines is unmatched. "Here Comes the Sun" is a great cut, and of course "The End," the only track to feature a solo by Ringo, and a solo for everyone on the same track. Had Let it Be not been released, this was the goodbye they were looking for. 

4. Revolver
Revolver also frequently makes in into the top spot of greatest albums ever, but for me, it just did not resonate as much. As an album, it feels so complete through and through, but I think what it is lacking for me is the ability to captivate me in every song. With that being said, the production qualities and effects used on this album were ground breaking for the time. The maturity and overall creative approach to recording an album was unbelievable, and many techniques used here are amazing even now. Revolver like Rubbersoul opens up in grand fashion with "Taxman," which is followed by the huge "Eleanor Rigby." "I'm Only Sleeping" follows, which is in my top five Beatles songs. For me, Revolver has one of the best openings of any of their albums, but it loses me a bit in the middle. I'm not too found of the Indian influenced songs, but appreciate their sentiment. The second half of the album's "Good Day Sunshine" is my only other top song on here.

5. The Beatles "White Album"
The White album is essentially a collection of Beatles inspired solo work. As a whole, this album does not really have continuity, but when picked a apart and played with the notion that the entire band began falling apart, it picks up a whole other meaning. On this album you see John's experimentation, Paul's vocal and creative range as his voice goes through the motions of many different styles, and George's wonderful ability to craft timeless songs on his own. A bunch of the songs on this album display sounds that were previously unheard before, and they essentially invented genres on the spot within the walls of the studio. The Beatles really were master craftsmen at starting off an album, "Back in the U.S.S.R." is another example of this. The softer "Dear Prudence" is a nice cut, while the silly catchiness of "Bungalow Bill" seems to draw me in every time, even if it does feature a rickety verse by Yoko. Another classic by George is on here, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and Lennon's journey into drugs and progressive rock, "Happiness is a Warm Gun." The old timey feel of "Rocky Raccoon" is fun, and "Helter Skelter," is a nice surprise and a warm welcome to metal in its earliest form. 

6. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Having this album at the halfway point for some may be considered lunacy, but this is my opinion! As a whole, this album flows beautifully, but the best songs were taken off the album. For me, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and "Strawberry Fields" are magnificently surrounded by "good" songs but not great. The best part of this album is the final song, and how it switches from John to Paul, and becomes a completely different song within one listen. "A Day in Life" is one of my favorite songs by the band, and honestly is just perfect.

7. Please Please Me
Please Please Me is a foray into perfect pop sensibilities, and the introduction to the Fab Four. The relative ease and smooth listening of these tracks makes them fun. I originally thought most Beatles music sounded like this...was I totally wrong. After so many listens, though not my favorite genre of Beatles, it is something I enjoy because of the catchiness. "Twist and Shout" is amazingly performed by John. The raw subtle screams and rasp of his voice is captivating. "It Won't be Long" and "She Loves You" can get caught on the brain for hours. Other tracks such as "Misery," "Love Me Do,"  and "Please Please Me" are just so genuine and convincingly awesome.

8. Let It Be
To me, Let It Be is a sad album because of the lost potential. Couple that with the movie, and it is essentially the end of the band. The Beatles were able to seek some sort of redemption with Abby Road, but the end was here. It is basically a rough demo cut of songs that could have also been on Abby Road. The release of Let It Be...Naked does a better job of capturing that raw sound they wanted to go back to. With that being said, the album features some great songs. Harrison's "I Me Mine" and "Don't Let Me Down" are a cut above the rest for me. "Dig a Pony" is great, and of course the mighty, "Let it Be."

9. Help
Help was the last of the classic sounding Beatles albums. It was a soundtrack for their second movie, and spawned one of their most well known songs of all time. While the album only has a a few songs I would consider some of my favorite's, the album works well together in its track-listing. Aside from "Help," "She's Got a Ticket to Ride" is a lot of fun, and of course the most covered song of all time, "Yesterday." McCartney kills it with "Yesterday" and it is no wonder the song has taken on a whole legacy of its own.

10. With the Beatles
The band's second album is a little tighter than their first musically, but not as memorable as their debut. With that being said, the reason why it is so low on my list is because everything else is so great. The standout's of this album are the contagious, "It Won't be Long" and  "Please Mister Postman," along with their more upbeat love ballad, "You Really Got a Hold on Me." I have grouped in "I Want to Hold Your Hand" because it was the single that was floating around at the time of the album, and of course, everyone knows this track.

11. Beatles for Sale
Beatles For Sale is kind of a thrown together album for the group. In the midst of the band's constant touring they essentially had to put together an album because of their demand. The album features mostly covers, and the title plays on them being a hot ticket item. The best cuts from this album include "No Reply," "I'm a Loser," and the infectious "Eight Days a Week." This record squished between to movie soundtracks still holds up well on its own 

12. A Hard Day's Night
Despite having one of the group's most beloved songs, and being the soundtrack for their first movie, A Hard Day's Night is a little boring for me, and when I went track by track of every album, had the least amount of songs I truly loved on it. Of course the title track is the best song! "I'm Happy Just to Dance with You" is another solid number by the group, and remise of the old school Beatles.

13. Yellow Submarine
Although some do not view this as a full album, it is often included in box sets as an official one, so for arguments sake, it is here. Yellow Submarine is a scrapped together incomplete album. While being a good and cool album, it does not hold to the Beatles standard of good. "Hey Bulldog" is really the only take away here, while most of the other tracks appeared else well. The second half of the album is movie scoring by their producer George Martin, and although very cool, it is not the Beatles.

Of course this is all subjective as nearly everyone's list is completely different, and to be honest there is no right or wrong answer because no matter what order of albums you pick, it is still all fine. In the grand scheme of things it is incredible to think Beatlemania lasted less than a decade. Every album put out in a seven to eight year span is a certified classic, along with it being an almost genre bending work. The creativity that existed all while touring over 200 days a year and being given a handful of days to go record is incredible. 

The later years of the Beatles were filled with experimentation and landmarks in song writing and recording. It was also filled with tons of drugs, solo workings, and no touring. People say Yoko broke up the Beatles but as someone who has been in a band nearly seven years, I think it was the lack of shows. There is a certain closeness and camaraderie built when performing with band mates and being together all the time. It becomes like a family atmosphere, even if tension rises, it is settled. In the case of the Beatles, they all did their own thing, and then got together after long periods of time to sit down and try to write in the studio. At first this worked, as everyone harbored their creativeness. We saw this in Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, and Magical Mystery Tour. However, the time away became evident on The White album when everyone returned to the table with vastly different songs; basically a batch of solo workings. Nearly half of the songs on the album were not even played with the full band. 

Let it Be was the head of the worst time, which is evident in the movie. There is no unity, and no general sense of urgency or interest in playing together. Ringo wanted to do movies and have more creative input, George did not want to be the third wheel anymore, John wanted to make avant garde music with Yoko and made her a constant presence in the studio, and Paul wanted to seize control of the band. Many blame John's insistence of Yoko and waning substance abuse along with Paul's overbearing take over of the band as the two heads clashing to end the band. However, again it goes back to the group. Had they been a cohesive unit that played shows and stuck together, each one would not have stepped out into their own attitudes and ideologies. Every action stemmed from one another. Paul took over because John did not care. George worked better with John and not Paul, and Ringo got pushed further to the back because of the feuding egos.

Abby Road saw the band pull it together for one more shot, and from the sounds and the feelings of the album it was easy to understand it would be their final curtain call. From the bass line of "Come Together" to the fleeting one time solos of the band in "The End," this was how it was to be. Had John lived longer, this still probably would have been the last record put out by the four piece. There was no other way for them leave. The real last great tragedy of the band is the amount of quality that came from the studio only years. None of these songs were ever played live outside of solo performances by the members and that rooftop performance. With improving technology and bigger stage productions, a show could have been epic, but for now we are only left to wonder what could have been.

So now, 50 years since Beatlemania, and over 50 years since the band started, the Beatles are still arguably the best band of all time. People can say Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Queen, whatever, the Beatles did it first, and they did it best. It is amazing to hear music today and see what grew out of those pop melodies and catchy "she loves me, yeah yeah yeah." None of the band members on their own truly stand out as the best at what they do of all time, but together, they created an unmatched team of timeless bottled up creativity, and music that is just as good now as it was in the 60s. There will never ever be another Beatles, there will only be bands that aspire to one day capture a glimpse of a moment in time where everything would just "Come Together."

My Ultimate Beatles Playlist:

DISC1 1962-65

Please Please Me
She Loves You
I Saw Her Standing There
Twist and Shout*
It Won't be Long
Love Me Do

With the Beatles
It Won't Be Long
Please Mister Postman
You Really Got a Hold on Me
I Want to Hold Your Hand

A Hard Day's Night
A Hard Day's Night
I'm Happy Just to Dance with You

Beatles For Sale
No Reply
I'm a Loser
Eight Days a Week

She's Got a Ticket to Ride

Rubber Soul
Drive My Car*
Nowhere Man
I'm Looking Through You
Run For Your Life*

DISC2 1966-70

Eleanor Rigby
I'm Only Sleeping*
Good Day Sunshine

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
A Little Help From My Friends
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds*
A Day in the Life*

The Magical Mystery Tour
Magical Mystery Tour
The Fool on a Hill
Blue Jay Way*
I Am the Walrus*
Strawberry Fields

Yellow Submarine
Hey Bulldog

White Album
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Dear Prudence
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Happiness is a Warm Gun*
Rocky Raccoon
Helter Skelter*

Let it Be
Dig a Pony
I Me Mine*
Let it Be
Don't Let Me Down*

Abbey Road
Come Together*
I Want You (She's So Heavy)*
Here Comes the Sun
The End

*Top 15

Monday, March 17, 2014

Link Drop - Bella Muerte, Face the King, Diet, The Nayo, FreeStyle Fam (NEW MUSIC)

Bella Muerte are no strangers to this blog. Check out their newest acoustic release below!

Another band that has frequented the site quite a bit, check out Face the King's newest single below. Download the single below for a minimum of one dollar!

Wonderful punk/grunge. Diet's easily one of my favorite local bands! Listen to their new single, "I Can't Sit Still" below.

Looking for some free awesome hip-hop? Well look no further, this is Shameless Plug of the Yes yesy Yall's side project. Listen below.

No explanation necessary. Just watch....

Friday, February 28, 2014

300 Posts! Message from The SI Band Guy

Well well well, 300 posts it took long enough!

First and foremost I would like to apologize on the lack of posting. I received a promotion at my current job that bumped me up to Assistant Editor, so my responsibilities shifted from writing a billion articles to now writing, managing, social media, and helping other writers. Check out to see my new digs. 

Originally started as a class project, this blog took on a life of own, and bands and musicians started coming to me for posting. It is awesome, but unfortunately is a side thing for me because SIBandGuy does not pay the bills! So now I'm going to try and implement a better posting system so life does not get away from me and this gets left in the back burner.

So for 2014 I won't make any promises of a daily fully awesome blog, but I will do my best to update the page with all of your favorite local news, industry interviews, album reviews, photography, and quick trips into journalism, film, and the occasional thought provoking music article.

As always, send an email my way to if you would like to be featured or even guest blog. Better yet, throw me some cash too! Just kidding...but seriously...

- Justin "The SI Band Guy"

Kari Jobe on Helping People Connect to God, 'I'm Just Being Obedient to Fulfill the Calling I Have on My Life' (Interview Part 2)

Read the original interview on BreatheCast here.

Kari Jobe had a chat with BreatheCast about her thoughts on this year's Grammy Awards, being a light in the dark, and finding God's calling of obedience in her life and sticking to His "faithful" plan.

Jobe has become a prominent voice for worship in Christian music and is using her talents as a songwriter and passionate singer to spread the gospel of Jesus. She also knows that with her role as a leader and as someone with a platform to be an example toward Christ, it is important to exemplify that standard.

"I believe there are people connected to our obedience in our lives, and I'm just being obedient to fulfill the calling I have on my life and I'm passionate about it and it's helping people connect with God and I couldn't ask for anything better," Jobe said to BreatheCast.

When questioned on the backlash Natalie Grant received for her comments concerning leaving the Grammy Awards early because of certain events not agreeing with her faith, Jobe stuck to the same mantra despite admit-tingly not knowing of the controversy.

"We are all going to be in places that we feel are dark. You can walk into a restaurant and feel darkness, or airport, whatever. We live in a fallen world and thankfully we have the spirit of God living inside of us to be protected," she said. "I don't blame her for leaving. I mean I fast forwarded things, so to get up and leave is probably the same sort of idea."

Jobe was aware of singer Mandisa's decision not to go to the Grammy's because it put her in line with temptations and in an atmosphere she did not want to be in. Jobe respected the decision of both ladies.

"I honor them for it. I think it's important to guard our hears, our minds, and ears spiritually. When you are in a room, and clearly the presence of God is not welcome there, I would probably say I would get up and leave as well. I love the presence of God so much I feel it is worth protecting. It's not worth grieving the Holy Spirit over."

Jobe mentioned that she watched the Grammy's and enjoys music outside of the worship realm. She appreciated the performances by Pink and John Legend the most because the artist's used their natural singing talent without crazy gimmicks and huge stage productions.

When asked how the Dove Awards or the K-Love Awards stack up next to the Grammy's. Jobe mentioned they were shows to "celebrate with each other" because of God's calling on their lives.

"Of course the Grammy's are always fun to watch and we get to see certain genres of music that we like and connect. I like that the K-Love Awards and the Dove Awards are more about the presence of God, and even in this last year, they felt more worshipful than I remember in years past. The atmosphere of the other shows are a lot more God centered and sweet," said Jobe.

Referring to the Grammy Awards, "I have to fast forward through so many things on the Grammy's because that's like, 'Woah' because I don't like it or it seems dark, not everything, but some of the things are awesome. But it's also good to be real and watch those things because so many people connect with that music and I would say that people connect with things that are real, and give them things that are inspiring hope. Songs about hope and love people are always going to connect with."

With secular music on topic, Jobe said it is not hard for her to be a Christian artist because her peers are all doing the same thing as her. She admitted it becomes more difficult to share the gospel and her beliefs when the situation does arise outside of the comforts of church or a concert.

"I don't think it's hard at all. It might be harder if I was in non-Christian circles a lot, you know where I'd have to defend my faith. There are times when I have to explain that, like on the airplane, or someone who doesnt listen to Christian music, or they are jaded by the church. That's when it's hard.

When sit there and say, 'God is faithful' and they are like, 'I don't see that, he hasn't been faithful to me,'" she explained. "It's then that it's hard to answer and all I have to say is well, 'Give him another chance because he healed my life. I chose forgiveness and I chose to press in to who he is.' That's probably when it's most hard, but usually in the circles I'm in, we all do worship and Christian music."

Jobe then shared one of her favorite testimonies on how God changed someone's life through her music.

"My newest favorite is about a motorcycle dude. He rides in a bike club and he was on YouTube and found my music. He used to go to church but he got jaded by church. He wrote in and said, 'You have a grown man, a biker man in his leather and I'm crying because I feel the presence of God in my house and just wanted to thank you for being a godly woman and leading worship the way that you do.' I thought that was really cool," she said.

As far as what is in store next for Jobe, she is going to head out on tour with Rend Collective and promote her new album Majestic. After that, she will continue on to play a few summer festivals and begin planning the fall leg of the tour.

"My brother is getting married too, never a dull moment," she concluded.

 Majestic releases on March 25, and her tour starts on Feb. 27.

Kari Jobe Interview Part 1: Insight Into the Creation of New Album 'Majestic'; Maintaining Grace-Filled 'Church-Like' Worship Every Night

Article originally for BreatheCast. See original here.
Recording artist and worship pastor Kari Jobe recently spoke to Breathecast about her new album Majestic, her experiences on tour, her feelings on the Grammy's, and being a light in the darkness through her ministry.

Jobe will be releasing Majestic along with an accompanying live DVD on March 25, and will embark on her tour with the Rend Collective Experiment on February 27. Jobe spoke of her excitement for the new album, and gave an insight into the writing process she went through in creating the new album.

"I've been a worship leader for over 15 years and grew up leading worship. It just made sense to do a live project and just write for the church and to do songs that are more congregational, just with people in mind that are going to be singing these songs in church," she said about the thought that went into the songs.

Expanding further on the amount of time spent writing this album, she mentioned how her contributors were key to the completion of the album.

"So having relationships with Tomlin and Matt Redman, and some of the Hillsong crew like Ruben Morgan and the Bethel Crew; just amazing songwriters and worships leaders, helped me write for this project. I wrote for about two years for this album so, just working hard on making sure these songs worked for church."

It is easy for Jobe to communicate through worship because of the love she has for it. Worship music is something that flows out of her very being, and she has captured it perfectly, especially when creating a new album.

"Leading worship is my number one passion. You know when you are full-on passionate about something, it doesn't even feel like work. I just wrote for two years out of relationship too. Got together with friends and was like, 'Hey you want to write with me for this album?' or 'Do you just wanna write a worship song?' I wound up having around 50 songs to pull from this project. So it's special too, because there wasn't a lot of pressure. The Lord was just really faithful to help me have good songs that were ready to go for this project, so it just felt like fun."

Jobe also gave an insight into her experiences on tour, and she explained that her concerts are like "big nights of worship" where she wants people to enter into a church-like atmosphere to feel the presence of God.

When pressed on this "church-like" feeling, and how she could possibly stay in that mindset every night, Jobe offered an honest look into her relationship with God and music.

"Worship is so important to me. I love to be in the presence of God. Even on the tough nights, once you get in the presence of God, nothing else matters. God always shows up," she revealed.

She continued, "In my humaness, I might say, 'Lord please help me' but He always shows up. When two or more are gathered in His name, He is there. You kind of get this grace for it once you're out on the stage and you're going and his presence comes and you're like, 'Oh, this is why I do this.' Other than that, I love who I travel with, that's important, having friends and family support."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Steven Curtis Chapman Interview: 'The Glorious Unfolding' Brings His Smile Back After Tragedy Left Him 'Shut Down'

Article originally for The Christian Post, it can be seen here.

Steven Curtis Chapman has been a Christian music staple for the last 25 years plus, and in that time frame has used his wonderful gift of music to not only proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but also to help inspire and bring God's people closer to their Savior.

Now, in 2013, it was Chapman who could have used a bit of the inspiration after a trying last couple of years.

"My family and I has been on a very difficult and painful journey walking through the loss of our youngest daughter in May 2008," Chapman told the Christian Post.

The greatest example we have of God's love is the love of a father has for his children, and as Chapman and his family suffered a horrific tragedy that was sure to shake the character of any man and make him curse God, Chapman instead, leaned on him.

"God is faithful even in the hardest places. Then to actually walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and to have that depth of despair of hopelessness and that sense of how can that be, and all those questions, and wrestling with God at a level deeper than I ever would have wanted to…You continue to walk through the darkest days and are able to say, God you're my Savior. Having walked through what I've walked through, I now have an infinitely deeper love than before. It deepened my awareness of how much of God I don't understand," he said.

Chapman said this new record, The Glorious Unfolding, is the album where he got his smile back. People have told him the "joy and celebration" is back in his voice.

Understandably everyone takes time to heal, and Chapman said it was a process.

"I shut everything down creatively and musically to slowly see what's going to come from this. Am I ever going to feel like I can write another song," he said.

And while he did write again, the songs were deep and introspective. He said he was "wrestling with God."

The last few albums have been very different. They were specific recordings, greatest hits, a Christmas album, songs redone; they were projects for a purpose, but not necessarily a "Steve Curtis Chapman" record.

His life is slowing getting to a better place he said.

"We've been through and still are living with a broken heart, but there is new life and new beginnings."
"There is much new life to celebrate," Chapman said as he spoke about three of his children getting married since the accident, and grandchildren coming into the picture.

He told of a story from when he was young about what he thought the biggest roller coaster was. It was in his hometown, and he was fearful of it growing up. Once he got older and experienced one of the coasters at 6 Flags, he knew that small one was not nearly the same or as bad.

Chapman used that story as an analogy for the little roller coasters in life. They may seem big at the time, but much scarier one's can be in the future, and sometimes we do not know why God puts them in our path.

"God does know the plans he has for us, he does know the story he's writing for our lives. I really do believe God will finish what he started. He is a God that redeems and restores, and is telling a great epic story of our lives. He is a God of hope and will restore," Chapman said.

"I don't know if it's a transformation or a deepening to depths that I never imagined and would have if given a choice to not even go to this deep of an understanding, or this deep of faith because I would have taken the option of an easier path," he candidly admits about the whole situation.

The beauty of music is its healing abilities, and how it can reach emotions and the soul like nothing else.

"Music is a supernaturally powerful thing. I believe in God creating the art form of music to transform people. I've watched the power of a song, words said to music in line and meter, go to a place in people's heart that a spoken word can never go to," he said.

"I've seen it save my own heart, and in ways my own life."

Chapman explained God's use of musicians in the Bible. He told the story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho, where the army marched around the city singing and playing music until the walls came down. Also, of when the Israelites went to war sending in musicians before the frontline.

When asked about some of the limitations of Christian music, Chapman explained that Christian music has come a long way. He cites artists such as Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, Sixpence None the Richer, and Switchfoot as being musicians who paved the way for Christian music being accepted in the mainstream.

"I've had that opportunity, and performed in places I would have never imagined playing Christian music before," he said.

He continued, "Are there times that it limits the reach of a song? Yes. If I wasn't the CCM guy, would my songs have the opportunity to reach other places? Yes, I think that's the case. But, we as people think we need those labels to try and qualify and organize, and I guess over the years I've taken the position of rather than sort of be frustrated, more to go, this is what is and how do we use it in the most effective way?"

"I've seen so much good and so many positive things by listening to Christian music and Christian radio stations. The good far outweighs the negative aspects of labels and those kinds of things," he said.

Chapman's next great adventure is "The Glorious Unfolding Tour with Jason Gray and Laura Story.

"Jason's story and his message is so consistent with what I'm really communicating especially with this tour, that God knows the plans for your life and even in the mess and brokeness that he'll bring something beautiful out of that if we trust him with it," said Chapman.

"Laura's song 'Like Blessings' is a song that encouraged and was such a healing song in our darkest days," he said explaining now he sings a duet with her everyday. "That alone is a powerful testimony to me. Laura's been through so much and she shares it on stage."
"It's an incredible tour to be encouraged and ministered to."

Chapman has 16 studio albums, and 20 total in his career. He has sold more than 10 million albums, has two Platinum records, seven Gold, 46 No. 1 Christian radio hits, three Grammy Awards, and just won his 58th Dove Award.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Greg Kallor's 'Broken Sentences' is a Work of Art Throughout the 5 Boroughs

Musician Gregg Kallor released a concept video for his song, "Broken Sentences," that sees him traveling throughout the Five Boroughs to play all 88 public pianos for the organization, Sing For Hope Pianos. Filming throughout the summer, Kallor, is seen at many notable places around the city including some great footage of him in Staten Island!

Kallor's piano playing is top notch and superb. He is able to make the music come alive with there being any words. The way expressing, feeling, and emotion comes reverberating off of the key strings is simply amazing.

Here's what he had to say about the video:

"'A Single Noon' is a musical tableau of life in New York City, and I thought it would be exciting to present a visual component that captures the buzzing, exuberant energy of the city. My first music video collaboration with cinematographer and director Alan McIntyre Smith was 'Espresso Nirvana' (think caffeinated hijinks), the sixth movement of the suite. Alan thought that the Sing For Hope Pianos program, which took place in June, would make for a stunning new music video to complement 'Broken Sentences' - the frenetic second movement - so we ran around the five boroughs chasing pianos," said Gregg Kallor.

He continued, "Creating a music video gives me a fantastic opportunity to make the music tell a story and, hopefully, to engage with people who might not yet have found their way to my music. The response to 'Broken Sentences' has been fantastic - it's gotten over 50,000 views in the first two months since its release! When we reach a million views, I'll make another video. Maybe two!"

Gregg will be performing as part of a specially assembled holiday "house band" at SubCulture's 1st Annual Holiday Concert Series betweenDecember 17th - 22nd. More info at the following link here:

He will then be performing on February 2nd at the Firehouse Space in Brooklyn.  Information for that show can be found here:

Bella Muerte Release Shiny Toy Gun's Cover for 'You Are the One'

Bella Muerte released a music video for their cover of Shiny Toy Gun's song, "You Are the One."

watch the video below!

Check out a previous posting I did on the band here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Vegas Marriage Self-Titled EP Review

A Vegas Marriage is a three band from Staten Island consisting of Matthew Pelli on vocals/bass, Justin Imperatrice on guitar, and Vincent Rizzo on drums. They recently released their self-titled EP on September 20.

A Vegas Marriage kicks open their EP with the pounding sounds of "Don't You Ever." I couldn't think of a more perfect way to start the album. The driving guitars, steady pulse, and the accompanying drum beat light a fire in the listener. The vocal performance of this track is reminiscent to Dave Grohl as far as style, and the way it is sung, more so at the end.

"The Outside," is more melodic all around. It is a good change of pace from the first track, but still has the same feel and root as the previous. Call me crazy, but there is something about this song that makes me think of a Western themed music video with saloons and everything. Maybe keep that in mind guys…

"Breakthrough" is the slow ballad of the EP. It has a very 90s STP, Pearl Jam type feel, especially vocally. The vocalist has a great voice, and this is a track that really helps him showcase it. The harmonies add superb layers, and the guitar solo over the bridge fits so well.Towards the end of the track the song picks up and the vocals get belted out; nice touch.

The next track, "Something to See," dives right back into the heavier rock elements of AVM. This is probably the most rocking song on the album, as the vocals are stretched and the guitars are crunchier. I enjoyed a lot of the background vocals in this song, "ah-ahs" were a good touch behind the singing.

"Freight Train" again brings out some of the twang from "The Outside," and feels like some sort of epic train chase, hence the name. It is hard not to imagine the scene of events playing out in your head as this song plays through. Again, just another solid song, with a little more classic rock sensibilities than the others.

To close off the EP is, "Presence." The song opens up with strummed acoustic guitar work with light airy vocals. The chanted background vocals work well for this song and add more depth and dynamic to the song. Mid way through the song, and out bursts the electric guitar over the acoustic. It is a perfect spot and well executed until the end.

I agree with the acoustic jam closing out the album because it stands out from the rest of the tracks. A lot of bands choose to go with the power and energy to close out an album, but "Presence" does exactly what it is called, creates a presence to send AVM out.

All in all this EP is great! I have not seen A Vegas Marriage in a few years, and this EP shows me exactly what I've been missing as well as how much they have grown. The band takes an already well established sound and manages to put their own twist to it.  One moment they sound like Jet, at other times they are as aggressive as the Foo Fighters, and the next minute they rock out like Queens of the Stone Age. 

The band's next two shows are at the Cup on December 6th, and the 21st at Scout Hall.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Emergency Protocol Release Single 'Social Butterfly'

Emergency Protocol is a local Staten Island fusion band that blends many too many different styles to count! They recently released a single track called, "Social Butterfly."

The song changes up quite a bit from slow to fast, heavy and light, and even more technical. Musically the song is solid. The guitar solo at the end is great, and the airy almost haunting keys over certain points are fantastic.

The vocals go almost throughout the entire song, and have many parts to it between mostly two vocalists who take turns rapidly or come in together. At times, I feel the vocals are too much and it may take away from the music at at certain times, however, based one track it's hard to figure the dynamic.

I would love to hear a complete body of work from these guys and gal, and I am excited to see what Emergency Protocol can come up with next.

 Check out "Social Butterfly" below, and give them a LIKE on Facebook.