This weekend I released Of Lampposts and Lions—my 20 track, 80 minute concept album based on C.S. Lewis’ books, The Chronicles of Narnia. If you’re familiar with all 7 books, I think you’ll enjoy the story being told. If not, I hope you’ll enjoy the music anyways as it’s quite a blend of genres. You can download it for donation or for free on NoiseTrade.
Old hymns for a new generation! I’ve taken two public domain songs and put my own electronic spin on them. You can download them for free here. Hope you enjoy them!
Today’s new music release is a brand new artist I had never heard of until about a week or two ago when their new album Echo of Love, popped up on iTunes for pre-order. There weren’t any previews of their music so I didn’t think much about it, but this morning I noticed that their album had officially been released. I gave it a quick preview and found myself quite impressed with their music… (click to read more)
Because I’m an avid music listener (so much so that I sometimes stay up until midnight on Monday to see what new music comes out on iTunes), I think I’ll start sharing some selected artists and albums with you from time to time.
Today’s new music release is a brand new artist I had never heard of until about a week or two ago when their new album Echo of Love, popped up on iTunes for pre-order. There weren’t any previews of their music at the time so I didn’t think much about it, but this morning I noticed that their album had been officially released. I gave it a quick preview and found myself quite impressed with their music.
It’s kind of like a mix of rock, pop and electronic music. One of the strangest ways I can think to describe them is if Owl City led his music on an electric guitar rather than keyboard. Or have you ever heard of the band Bellarive? That is another great band that you would definitely like if you like An Epic, No Less.
But it wasn’t only the blend of genres that stood out to me in Echo of Love, it was also the lyrics. All of the songs were beautiful worship songs, but done to a different kind of genre in which many people don’t expect to hear worship lyrics. I mean, there are lots of bands out there that write a lot of Christian-themed songs, but sound kind of artificial, stereotypical, or mass-produced when they write straight-up worship songs. An Epic, No Less, doesn’t come across artificial, stereotypical or mass-produced at all. They come across strong and confident and they bridge the gap between worship music and electro-pop-rock perfectly.
This is a great album and well worth the purchase. I just bought it this morning and have already listened to it about 4 times. So what you waiting for? Go grab the album on iTunes or Amazon and check them out on Facebook, Twitter, or at their official webpage! Need a quick listen? Download the free acoustic track on their webpage by signing up for their newsletter or check out the videos below.
Especially check out this first video entitled, Mercy Light, as it deals with human trafficking (learn more about the video and song in the lower video), which is something that our church has been working on fighting. If you happen to live in the Jackson, Michigan area, stop by 1208GREENWOOD on September 8th at 7PM to see a special screening of the documentary Nefarious as the traveling group Exodus Cry presents and speaks on this issue. Learn more about the event here.
In my personal opinion, this is the best album Gotee records ever put out (and considering the album went gold, many must agree with me). And when I mention Sonicflood, let’s be clear that I’m referring to the original Sonicflood that released a debut self-titled album and a live album entitled Sonicpraise. I am not talking about the band that kickstarted INO records by taking on the same name with nearly all different members.
A friend of mine had bought Sonicflood’s first album for me as a moving-away present back in about 1999. I had heard their hit I Want to Know You, but didn’t know much about them otherwise. And so I threw it in my portable CD player and was almost immediately addicted to it. I don’t know why. This was well before I played any instruments so I could only understand the beauty of their music to the extent that my ears enjoyed it, but I still loved it.
This was the first worship music I had ever heard that was incredibly intimate and rocked out at the same time. It was also the first music I heard in which the songs weren’t trying to be three minutes a piece. The songs were as drawn out as the band wanted them to be and it was perfect that way.
I even happened to see them live at the very first concert I ever went to. They opened for the Newsboys and even though they only had about 15-20 minutes to play they must have only gotten through two songs altogether. I didn’t understand the repetition at the time because it was before I had a charismatic bone in my body.
And then, in 2001 when their live album Sonicpraise came out, I threw it in my CD player and rarely took it out. There was something magical about this album just like the first one. I listened to it for hours and scratched it up pretty good. I especially couldn’t stop listening to their Spontaneous Worship track which was a whopping 9+ minutes—way beyond what any Christian record label would have put out at that time.
Why was I so attracted to this? What was it about this album?
I now believe that my attraction was to an anointing God had put on this album. It had been blessed and turned into a true worship project. It was highly musical, incredibly genuine, and ground-breaking for its time. The spoken words that started the album must have literally done something in the spiritual realm:
We love you Jesus. Manifest your presence through this album and through the lives of these men who go out commissioned by Your word to be worshippers of the true and holy God. And making disciples in Jesus name.
You could see even more of their desperation for God in the hidden track, which is about three and a half minutes of discussion of the album.
Again, the original Sonicflood isn’t around anymore, but their lead singer Jeff Deyo has been writing and releasing some great albums you should look into.
Since I’m on the topic of Jesus Culture, I might as well mention Bethel Music. This is the church I just mentioned above in my overview of Jesus Culture. Bethel is home to Jesus Culture and therefore their albums have all kinds of artists on it—from those in the Jesus Culture band, to others who lead worship at Bethel. The original songs coming out of this church are quickly making their way into mainstream churches and even into mainstream worship leader’s new albums. Bethel does so many amazing things and in my opinion is one of the leading churches that God is putting over America right now. I stay on top of not only the music they release, but what their church is doing through a subscription to iBethel.tv.
All Sons & Daughters
I only discovered All Sons & Daughters a few months ago, but I was immediately taken by their music. That’s honestly a bit strange for me because their particular genre is one that I’ve heard a lot of over the past few years and am not usually smitten with. But strangely enough I found myself wrapped up in their music and quickly buying everything they had to offer. There was something very genuine about their music and I got to see it firsthand when they played a concert at my alma mater just weeks after discovering them.
It was incredible. I’ve never seen a band with no drummer sound so full. It was truly a time of intimate, stripped-down worship and I was very moved by it—even after discovering that they were more or less a church worship band! I’ve noticed recently that a lot of church worship bands are trying to get their music out there when they probably shouldn’t be. But All Sons & Daughters is one of those church worship bands that the Christian music realm desperately needs and desires.
You have no need to buy all of their EPs because they just released an album entitled Season One, which has almost all of their music to date, plus two new songs.
Jeremy Riddle is closely connected to Bethel Music and has even released a few songs on Bethel’s albums. He is an amazing worship leader with a great atmospheric rock sound and lyrics of desperation. His album Furious is an amazing album that can really help you enter into the presence of God. His song One Thirst and Hunger is among one of my favorites of his and I use it in our church’s worship services quite regularly. Outside of that his song Always is among one of the most peaceful and beautiful worship songs I’ve ever heard. I love to set an atmosphere and just blast this song in all of it’s ambient-prayer-closet-beauty.
There are few studio worship albums I probably listen to more than Cory Asbury’s Let Me See Your Eyes. If this dude writes a song, you better believe it’s going to be catchy, born out of desire, and full of Scripture. On top of that, I’ve never known any worship artist to succeed at so many different kinds of genres. I get excited anytime I catch live him on IHOP.
Cory Asbury would also have to be king of the fast songs in the Christian music worship scene. There are so many good slow worship songs out there, but so few fast ones. Cory is able to operate on both sides of the table—whether it be the joy and uplifting sounds of the upbeat side of things, or the desperate and worshipful cries of the deep, intimate side of things.
This man is truly anointed by God to be a worship leader and you should definitely grab his album. And while I’ve been patiently awaiting a new album from him, I’ve also grown addicted to an album he worked on with Matt Gilman entitled Holy. Both are well worth a purchase.
There’s another IHOP artist outside of Cory Asbury that I am in love with named Pas Neos. These guys are still pretty new to the scene but they have done something that few worship bands have ever done so well: electronica.
I am a huge electronica fan. It’s actually more or less my favorite genre. And now that it’s taking over the radio I’m that guy who gets to yell at everyone and say, “I’ve been listening to that kind of music for like a decade! I was obsessed with it when no one else would listen to it!” And no, I’m not a hipster.
This band is straight up indie-electronica and they do an amazing job at it. Their lyrics are also so Scriptural that the words they use in their songs can catch you off guard at first. They really push you to think of what they’re saying. It’s one of the most intriguing worship albums to come out in a long time and I am so incredibly happy that it has come out of IHOP.
“Man Jamin,” you say. “I’ve never heard someone reference pancakes so much when talking about worship music.”
“Yeah, I actually get that a lot,” I reply.
But if you’ve been in the worship scene for awhile, you probably know that when I reference IHOP, I’m not talking about the International House of Pancakes, but rather the International House of Prayer. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I was made aware that there was a place out there that hosted 24/7 worship and that you could watch it online. I was immediately intrigued and spent many hours streaming IHOP into my room. In fact, I have it streaming right now.
The IHOP musicians can literally play one song for an entire hour on the IHOP worship stream because they know how to dwell in a time of worship. Half the time they’ll make up the song on the spot by singing Scripture. It’s no surprise that such amazing music would come out of this House of Prayer. Both Cory Asbury and Pas Neos mentioned above have come out of Forerunner, the label associated with IHOP.
One of my favorite live albums that has come out of IHOP is Onething ’09. This is another great album to look into if you’re looking for more upbeat fast songs for your worship sessions.
Shane and Shane
Shane and Shane visited my campus one semester and a friend of mine couldn’t stop talking about how amazing their worship session was after they had left.
He was right. Shane and Shane had just released their album Pages which was full of some of the most intimate lyrics I had heard in a long time. They opened the show with one of my favorite songs of theirs, Vision of You. This was one of the most intense “inviting-the-presence” songs I had ever heard before. Their beautiful voices soared over the music and drew the entire audience into worship.
I only walked out of the room for a few minutes and that was so I could buy their album. I now own several of their albums and press you to listen to all of their works.
Not only is Matt Redman a great worship artist, but he’s also a great author. Actually, I did a lot more reading of his books before I really got into his music. I mean, I knew his big hits like everyone else (like Better is One Day, Heart of Worship, and Dancing Generation), but I hadn’t really listened to a lot of his music up until recently.
Fortunately, because I had read some of his books before I got into his music, I was able to truly see the passion he had for leading and writing worship music. I was especially moved by his album 10,000 Reasons. It had great songs all the way through it and was full of true worship and praise. If you haven’t listened to this album yet, I suggest you buy it along with one of his books like The Unquenchable Worshipper or Mirror Ball.
David Crowder Band
David Crowder Band has always been one of my favorite bands, especially for their work on A Collision (Or 3+4=7) and their latest and final album Give Us Rest or (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys]). Crowder has some of the most interesting and creative worship lyrics. Even more so, he has some of the most intriguing music. You can’t play half these songs at your church, mostly because they’re too amazing. Even some of their most simple worship songs that are played in churches all the time throw worship bands off. Sure the chords may be G D Em C, but you hold out the C an extra measure on this pre-chorus, two measures on the second one, and one and a half measures on the third.
But that’s David Crowder for you and you have to love it.
If you’re looking for a simple prayer closet album, check out his debut, All I Can Say, which many have overlooked in the success of his most recent albums.
And just a heads up: even though David Crowder Band is now officially broken up, most of the band members of DCB have started a new group called The Digital Age. They’ve released a few glimpses of what they sound like and it is AMAZING. Here’s a video of them doing their own take on All Sons & Daughters‘ song All the Poor and Powerless.
Like I even have to mention Chris Tomlin. This guy has written (or at least made famous) many of the worship songs every contemporary church plays. This includes songs like: How Great is Our God, Our God, Forever, The Wonderful Cross, Famous One, We Fall Down, Indescribable, Holy is the Lord, Enough, Made to Worship, Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone), Jesus Messiah, God of This City, and I Will Rise.
Again, he didn’t write every one of these songs, but he at least made the majority of them famous. He’s perhaps the most well known worship leader because he writes some of the greatest, catchiest, thoughtful, wide-spread worship songs we’ve ever heard.
And if you like all of the Tomlin songs I just mentioned, just buy How Great is Our God: The Essential Collection, because I literally just gave you the track listing.
Worth Dying For
“Imagine what Heaven’s gonna be like. There won’t be 15,000—there will be millions upon millions upon millions who are going to spontaneously get another glimpse of Jesus and spontaneously erupt in praise. It’s the only response when you see Jesus.”
Having spent quite a few years as a worship leader and having attended several conferences, I’ve seen quite a few powerful moments in worship. But throughout the years, there are two moments that tend to really stand out. These moments qualified as a special kind of worship:
They were worship explosions.
Enter the dance barn. It’s a decent sized area to throw a party and break a move. The sounds of techno and trance boom throughout the surrounding acres and more and more people make their way to the building to see what’s up. By the end of the night it’s crammed full of hot and sweaty worshippers.
“Worshippers?” you say. “What are you talking about Jamin?”
“Ah yes,” I reply. “It’s not something we’re super familiar with in the states, but believe-you-me, super powerful worship can be led from behind turntables.”
And this particular night, our worship leader was Andy Hunter. I had never heard anyone lead worship the way he had. The microphone never left his hand as he pushed people deeper and deeper into the presence of God. He’d repeat different expressions over the song playing, often times preaching over the breaks in the song and getting the place to erupt in dance when the snare roll finished (those of you familiar with trance music know exactly what I mean).
It was one of the most meaningful and powerful worship experiences I had had up to that day. I found myself living out a quote from Eugene Peterson:
Song and dance are the result of excess energy. When we are normal we talk. When we are dying we whisper. But when there is more in us than we can contain, we sing. When we are healthy we walk. When we are decrepit we shuffle. But when we are beyond ourselves in vitality, we dance.
In that moment I was beyond myself. In that moment, everyone was beyond themselves.
How could you tell? Because the worship exploded even more so when the music died.
I don’t remember if we blew a fuse or if someone just tripped a cord, but at one point during Hunter’s set, we lost power in the dance barn. And so people moved into dancing and cheering; clapping and shouting. They made their own beat and continued the worship time. It was the least awkward “Uh… we just lost power” moments ever. Worship continued out of the overflow of people’s hearts even with the absence of music.
And recently, something similar happened on a much, much larger scale.
Jesus Culture Awakening 2011
Sadly I wasn’t at this event, but I was watching quite a bit of it on the live webcast. During one night of this conference, Banning Liebscher got on stage after Jesus Culture was done playing and asked people to give a shout to Jesus. It was a moment unlike anything I have ever seen.
In many churches today, when you tell people to “give the Lord a hand” or “a shout of praise,” the congregation responds with a quiet and slow handclap. Several other hands join the praise late and the throne of God is overwhelmed with… whatever you call that.
But this event was different. What was expected to be maybe a minute of shouting went on for 9 minutes and 20 seconds before the band started playing along with a little tune the crowd made up during their cheering. And then 5 minutes and 40 seconds later the band stopped playing. This wasn’t intentional—it was totally spontaneous. You could tell because Banning tried to speak just a minute or two into the cheering and couldn’t.
It wasn’t pushed. It wasn’t planned. It wasn’t completely authentic. It was the biggest explosions of unbridled worship I had ever seen. It was that analogy that we’ve all heard a bajillion times come true: “When you go to a football game you cheer like crazy. Why don’t we do that for God.”
Well booyah football. This cheer was even beyond you.
Of course I didn’t see it at the time. The webcast faded out after about two minutes. But it was so spectacular that they put the footage on the new release of Jesus Culture’s Awakening album. I just watched the footage and nearly cried several times (I probably would have but I was trying to look manly around my wife. You know how it is). The only thing that helped me hold the tears back was my frustration with a small group of people sitting in the stadium with their fingers in their ears.
This is footage you have to see. Go buy it and watch it for yourself.
The quote from Banning is taken from the end of the spontaneous praise video on their new album.
The quote from Eugene Peterson is quoted by Matt Redman in his book Mirrorball. Unfortunately, since I only have the audiobook of Mirrorball, I do not know where the source of Eugene Peterson’s quote comes from.
You should watch this video before continuing on. Seriously:
(If all you see is a thumbnail, click on it to watch the video)
I ran into my friend Jo this morning and her question to me was the following:
“How’d you like the dance party yesterday?”
Simply put, it was magical! I have never been to a church that is filled with new excitement every week, let alone a random dance party in the middle of worship. Seriously, we sing about “the joy of the Lord” all the time, but it’s hard to find that joy in a bunch of people standing still, occasionally putting their hands together to make a little bit of noise.
But when God so invades a group of people that their’s a bunch of flag waving, bouncing people rocking out all over the place, not only is the joy seen, but it’s felt!
It’s that kind of joy that makes you move around so much that your guitar tuning peg accidentally falls off and you have to store it in your wallet so that you won’t lose it because it’s important but it’s annoying because you’re sitting on it and it’s pressing very awkwardly into your butt.
stupid tuning peg
Dancing is a great way to express worship to God. It is powerful. And get this:
Music is not necessary.
For those of you who don’t know, I spent quite a few years as a DJ. And I don’t meant as a radio DJ like I’m doing now, but as a rave DJ. Myself and a group of other Christian DJs would pack up our turntables and travel to different areas to have anything from Christian dance parties, to Christian raves, to Christian rave worship services. Within these events were included some of the most powerful worship services of my life.
I wish so badly I could throw another Christian rave worship service sometime, like the Andy Hunter video I hope you watched above (And yes, that second song in the video is one of his more odd choices of music. But I kinda like it now).
But I reminisce/digress. Where was I?
Oh yeah, music is not necessary.
While we were helping out at Cornerstone Festival in Illinois, one of my favorite DJs, Andy Hunter, stepped up behind the turntables, who lead some of the greatest worship I have ever been a part of. But awhile into his set, the power in our “dance barn” was blown.
There was no music.
Fortunately, people didn’t care! They were so filled with the joy of the Spirit that they had their own dance party in the darkness of the barn. Tons of people started clapping and adding to the ongoing beat as they cheered on Jesus’ name.
It was amazing.
And one of the things I love about DJ worship when electricity is combined, is that not only do you get to dance, but it combines different forms of art in a way that complements God. The lights create an atmosphere of worship. There’s a guy painting some stuff. The video screens help create more atmosphere or something to reflect on. Everything is given a purpose.