Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One Girl Named Katy-Take Two

Katy, Katy.... According to the Dictionary, Deja Vu is the experience of feeling sure that one has already witnessed or experienced a current situation. I get that feeling listening to One Girl, the debut release by 16 year old Katelynne Cox. Let me begin with the facts at hand.
  • "A fresh faced teen with an amazing voice"
  • Signed by a label from Portland, OR
  • Lyrics that speak of experience
  • A name which could be nicknamed KATY
In 2011 Katelynne Cox, "a fresh faced teen with an amazing voice", but also a "seasoned soul with a wealth of experience that adds integrity, character and emotional weight to her budding artistry" is discovered by Darren Bowls, the President of Red Hammer Records in Portland, OR after Cox makes a recording of the National Anthem at KUPL Radio.

10 Years earlier, in 2001, Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson made a self titled Christian Rock CD with Red Hill Records of Portland, OR. The CD was deemed a failure after the label went out of business that Summer. Hudson withdrew from the CCM scene and re-emerged in the mainstream music scene, using her mothers maiden name as Katy Perry, where she has achieved a modest success.

Spooky. Now I'm not making predictions that Cox will go secular as the new Perry, though she has already gone through a rebellious phase by dying her hair black. (Perry has black dyed hair). A word of advice, ask to see the financial books of Red Hammer Records.

Now, on to the album itself. Of One Girl's 12 Songs (there are 13 tracks, but one is a Dance Mix of Me), most are of the pop or dance variety. The Title Cut, which opens the CD and is also the first Radio Single, is the most obvious Dance Club tune, and makes use of some live material. You Satisfywhich might be classified as a Praise Song, also seems to resemble the "Aggressive Smile Pop" feel that marked the Echoing Green. My favorites on the CD are 15 Minutes of Fame and As We Gowhich highlights her vocal range the best. The latter song is full of potential. Her voice is still immature. It may never develop the range of a Plumb or Sarah Kelly, but there are slight hints in the latter song that it may come close enough.

I'm going to go out on a limb a bit, and give One Girl by Katelynne Cox 4 Emeralds. That should be enough to ensure a final spot in the Best New Artist Category, but it probably wont be enough to hold up in the Pop or Dance Categories, and that is probably as it should be. This is a debut, and a promising one. The ball is now in the CCM Industry's Court. It is their responsibility to learn from their mistakes and make sure K.C.'s rise to fame, should it occur, happens in the Kingdom and not out of it. If that happens, it will make a lot of us smile.

Related Post:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Night Beat Rewind: April 2011

Things are a little backed up here at The Night Beat. It's almost the end of May and here I am just getting to the April releases, but such is the pitfalls with a one-person operation.

As always these are quick hit opinions. If the Title is a link, it will direct you to a full review that I did of the CD. In review I'll quickly say that I won't stand behind any CD with a rating under 4 Emeralds (3-4 Emeralds are a personal decision. Under 3, we wont go there:
  • Abandon - Control (Rock, Alt) 4.25 Emeralds
  • Ashley Aucker - The Life You Promised EP (D) (Pop) 3.5 Emeralds
  • Brandon Bee - Inside these Walls (Pop, Rock) 4 Emeralds
  • Marc Danyell - Close to You (Gospel) 3.75 Emeralds 
  • Jonny Diaz - (Self Titled) (Pop) 4.5 Emeralds
  • Ricky Dillard - Keep Living (Gospel) 4.5 Emeralds
  • FM Static - My Brain Says Stop But My Heart Says Go (Pop) 4.75 Emeralds
  • Jason Gray - Song Cycles: From Work Tapes to Remixes 3 Emeralds (*See Note)
  • Gail Holmes - I Receive Your Love (Gospel) 3.5 Emeralds
  • Hope for the Dying - Dissimulation (Hard Rock) 4.25 Emeralds
  • Tim Hughes - Love Shine Thru (MW) 4.25 Emeralds
  • K5 - K5 Kids Sings the Songs of TobyMac (Children's Music) 5 Emeralds
  • Mandisa - What if We Were Real (Gospel) 5 Emeralds
  • Rob Mathes - Psalms Alive 3.5 Emeralds
  • Martha Munizzi - Make it Loud (Gospel/MW) 4 Emeralds
  • New Life Worship - You Hold it All (MW) 3.75 Emeralds
  • Newsboys - Born Again: Miracles Edition (Pop, Rock) 4.5 Emeralds
  • Playdough - Hotdoggin (Rap, Hip Hop) 4 Emeralds
  • Rebecca St. James - I Will Praise You (MW, Pop, Rock) 4 Emeralds
  • Laura Story - Blessings (Pop/MW) 4.25 Emeralds
  • Tidewater - The Seas We Sail 3.5 Emeralds (**See Note 2)
  • Various Artists - X:2011 4.5 Emeralds
  • Various Artists - Maranatha Kids Top 25 Kids Praise Songs (Children's Music) 4 Emeralds
  • Derek Webb - Feedback (Instrumental, Dance/Electronica/Techno) 4.5 Emeralds
  • Beth Williams - You Can Be Loved: The EP 3.75 Emeralds
* Note 1- Jason Gray Song Cycles has 16 Tracks, but in reality there are only 4. Each song is tracked in four versions (Worktape, Demo, Final and Remix (all Remixes are by Derek Webb). This might not be a problem if they grouped them by the version (all 4 worktapes, then all for demos, for example). Instead they are grouped by song, so you have to listen to each song FOUR TIMES IN A ROW. It was a bit too much for me.
** Note 2- Two problems with Tidewater. This isn't a new album. This is a re-release of an album that originally was released on August 17, 2010. The re-release only had one new song, so so much for a Deluxe Edition. Plus while the music is nice, his voice is just a tad annoying.                

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Truth about Environmentalism

Pearls Before Swine
I love Rat. He says what he believes. And here he echoes what most environmentalists really believe, even if they dare not say it. Humans are the problem. The eco-nuts would be much happier if everyone but them were gone. And that would definitely solve the fictional overpopulation crisis, since there are less than 100 true environmentalists in the entire world. Of course Rat's dream of a world with fewer people is doomed. I believe all new hybrids are designed with a special noisemaking whistle that kicks in when it is powered by the battery only. Oh well, I'm sure he'll think of something else.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Anthem Lights Shine Much Brighter Than a CFL

Three months ago I did a brief review of the 3 song, self titled EP by Anthem Lights. I thought it was promising, better than their previous incarnation as Yellow Cavalier, and promised to revisit them when their full length album came out. I gave the EP 3.5 Emeralds. Now, if you're familiar with my rating system, you know 3.5 Emeralds basically means "You're on your own, Jack". While the album may be good, I am not going to give it the Night Beat Seal of Approval (a very coveted badge, I'll have you know). The low threshold for PVA Consideration is 4, 4.5 is almost certain, and a Perfect 5 Emerald Rating is a lock to be among the final 7 nominees.

The Light Boys took my criticism to heart and released a vastly a superior product in the ensuing three months. The ten song CD contains 7 new songs, as well as the 3 from the also Self Titled EP. Things get off to a rocking start with the Radio Single Can't Shut Upwhich along with I Wanna Know You Like That and the Modern Worship entry I Can't Get Over Youcame from the EP.

As was a trademark among Boy Bands, the harmonies between Chad Graham, Kyle Kupecky, Alan Powell and Caleb Grimm is exceptional. What sets them apart is the message. Whether it be talking about Christian Boldness (Can't Shut Up) , the need for world missions (Lighthouse), or the internal struggle between good and evil (Freedom into Slavery)the message is what rises to the forefront. My personal favorites are CSU, Circleswhich deals with making the same mistakes over again and again, the Rock-Dance Outta My Mindand the string heavy Where The Light Iswhich is about Hope in Hopelessness.

When all is said and done, I am giving Anthem Lights 4.5 Emeralds. I can guarantee that it will make it into the first round of the finals for the 2011 Platinum Vinyl Awards. Beyond that, it all depends on the strength of the field. "Where the light is, darkness can't be found. Where the light is, darkness must be bound". Shine on.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Nathan Tasker Comes Home

Of all the categories in the typical music award show, the category that has the least interest to me is that of Male Vocalist of the Year. It could be simply that I'm a guy, but I tend to be more interested in the Female Vocalist and the Group Awards. Even as creator of the Platinum Vinyl Awards, I had given serious thought to not including a Male Vocalist Award. But, in the spirit of stretching ones boundaries, I decided to include it. (Note I said stretching, not retching, which is how I would feel if I had included Southern Gospel or Country. That's not gonna happen).

Most of the music world was debating whether Brandon Heath or Chris August was the Male Vocalist of the Year. In my opinion neither was. Now, because of release schedules, the subject of this post wasn't eligible for the Dove awarded last month, but next time around I think Heath and August should be looking over their shoulders. Nathan Tasker is a newcomer from The Land Down Under (that's Australia for those of you in Rio Linda), and his latest release, entitled Home, releases today. I say latest release, because, while most of us in the USA will think this is a debut, this will actually be his fifth album, the other four being A Look Inside (2003), Must be Me (2005), Prone to Wander: The Hymn Project (2007), and the Christmas Release A Star. A Stable. A Savior (2009). Now that's according to Wikipedia, mind you, but I notice that none of them are on Amazon.

Tasker is a fresh voice, and is most assuredly in the Pop genre. The first single off the CD should be Love is the Compass , which gets the album off to a rousing start. At times, his voice reminds me of Randy Stonehill, which for you young kids, is a good thing.

Another Christian Music Legend, Charlie Peacock, will host "An Evening with Nathan Tasker" release party. Scheduled to appear, apart from Tasker (of course), are Bebo Norman, Keith Getty, and my Personal fave, Plumb (a.k.a. Tiffany Arbuckle Lee). You can read about it at  Jesusfreakhideout.com which will have a live stream of the event beginning at 8 pm EDT. They will also conduct a live chat of the event simultaneously with the stream via Twitter.

I'm giving the CD 4.5 Emeralds, which will put it into the mix for Pop album of the Year for 2011. I will also say he will be up for New Artist, and Male Vocalist in the 2011 Platinum Vinyl Awards. Nathan Tasker is a fresh voice in a stale field, and there is no lack of direction in the album, spiritually or otherwise. Welcome Home.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hittin The Links With The Night Beat

No, this isn't the announcement of the Night Beat Open Golf Tournament (though that might be a good idea, or maybe not.) No, this will be my attempt at my first "Link Love Post" as they call them. For as best as I can figure out, link love is the Blog Worlds version of the Golden rule "Give Link unto others that they may give link unto thee, and cause thy followers to skyrocket" (St. Bloggo 1:1). Personally the term Link Love seems to come straight out of Odo and Star Trek DS9, but that's just me.

Part One: Music Blogs
Of the three listed, I must confess to liking the Flipside the best. I recently bought a new flash drive with this site in mind, because this deals with Classic Vinyl (70's, 80's mostly).

Part Two: The Big Boys
  • New Release Tuesday This is probably one of my prime sources for releases. They usually have one album preview a week (sometimes two), and a few free downloads that are usually up for a two week period. There is also an occasional audio podcast. Registration is required (there is also a Facebook option for some things. You can earn points for reviews, blogs, etc, which can be used to buy buttons shirts and other stuff in their store.
  • Hearitfirst Another good site. Their listening parties, though more sporadic than NRT, are superior in my estimation. The listening parties take place on individual "artist pages" (ex. http://www.hearitfirst.com/Building429) and can be listened to independently by song. NRT is a complete stream, which, if you pause, you can pick up where you left, but, say, if your browser crashes, when you return you will have to start again from the beginning. Registration is not required to listen to the music, but registration gets you on their email list, where a weekly newsletter keys you in to free downloads each week. They run sweepstakes for music and shirts and the like and have occasional live video stream concerts.
  • Jesus Freak Hideout The last of the big three. They don't have many downloads, but the ones they have stay up quite long. They also have occasional album streams, which also stay up for a longer period of time than NRT or Hearitfirst. Another cool thing on JFH Listening parties, apart from also being accessible by song, is that they stay while others get added, so it is possible to have as many as 8 streams up at once. This is a no registration needed site. 
Part Three: Non-Music Blogs from around the 'net 

Finally, I thought throw in a few non music blogs that I have enjoyed around the net. Sara in Le Petit Village is a hilarious diary of a Texan transplanted in France. Now Sara's not perfect (She doesn't like Walker Texas Ranger) but who is. If you ever felt a bit of culture shock, this is a blog you'll enjoy. My politics has always skewed to the right, and one of my favorites is Ameripundit. Finally, I'm an aspiring writer, so I try to keep up with other writers. Austin James, a young man from Vancouver, has an excellent blog. He poses a lot of thought inducing questions, which always helps any author. If you don't think of your characters, who will.

I think that should suffice for now. This is my first post like this. I had put this post on the back burner, but with the recent blogger outage, I thought that it best to get out some kind of post quickly. I will return to music shortly.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Summer in the Country: Summer Music Festival Preview, Part One

I can't believe it's almost been a year. One of the first posts I made at the Night Beat was a introduction to the Summer Music Festivals. Of course, since I started in July of 2010, a good number of them had already passed. This year I intend to fix that. I'm getting a head start this time, starting even before Memorial Day. (A good thing too. These festivals are starting earlier and earlier in the year). With this post I'll take you through the Independence Day Festivities. I'll cover the rest of the Summer in another post.

We'll start with a newcomer to the scene, and I'm kind of fudging here in calling it a "Festival". Rock The Coast kicks things off May 21&22, 2011 at the Michigan Adventure Amusement Park in Muskegon, MI on Lake Michigan, NW of Grand Rapids. You can buy a 2 Day Pass for $40 ($45 at the Gate) which includes the amusement park rides, with the exception of the Water Park (no surprise, seeing its not summer yet) as well as the concert. A Concert Ticket is $25 in advance. And I mean concert. The lineup is Jason Eaton, Kerrie Roberts, Sanctus Real and Thousand Foot Krutch. That's it. Order Here.

The first true festival, though only unofficially on the Summer Part, is Atlanta Fest at Stone Mountain Park in Georgia. The Festival Takes Place this Year from June 15-18, 2011. If you buy immediately you can get the best discount, but there is still time to delay before being subjected to the gate. The event pass includes and "Adventure Pass" to Stone Mountain Park, which lets you take in everything except the Duck Rides. There are big names coming here, including Casting Crowns, Switchfoot, Disciple, Downhere, Reilly, Hyland, and Mercy Me.

Summer starts this year on June 21, and the First Official Summer Festival is Alive Festival (June 22-25, 2011) at Atwood Lake Park in Mineral City, OH (South of Canton). They have a (Separate Admission Required) Kickoff Concert by Hillsong United on June 21 (Tickets are $25 by June 13). Festival Passes are one price $120, if ordered by June 13. Scheduled to appear are Third Day, Ivoryline, Hyland, Skillet, Fireflight, and Toby Mac, among others. Order Here

Creation Northeast is right on the heels of Alive, in Mount Union, PA (June 29-July 2, 2011). Most of the discounts are over, though you can still "Beat the Gate, Order by June 8". Click on the quote and you'll be taken to iTickets, which is handling the tickets for the event. A Festival Pass is $105 for ages 12 and up and a Child Ticket (Age 5-11) is only $55. Headline acts are Toby Mac, Third Day, Red, Skillet, Newsboys, Lecrae, and Francesca Battistelli. 

Cornerstone occurs in Bushnell, IL at about the same time (June 30-July 3, 2011). By looking at the dates, it becomes obvious that you can't be in two places at the same time. So what does C-Stone have that the others don't. Well, besides the prestige, this year they have the Jesus Rally. Barring an announcement of a national tour, which would be way beyond awesome, this will be a one time reunion of some of the Legends of Christian Rock, among them Classic Petra, Servant, and REZ. As of this writing, only Classic Petra is touring. According to the schedule, the Rally will be an all day event (Afternoon-Late Night) on the Main Stage.

The Jesus Rally Schedule
  •   3:00 PM - Servant
  •   3:55 PM - Barry McGuire
  •   4:55 PM - Daniel Amos
  •   5:50 PM - Randy Stonehill
  •   6:50 PM - E Band
  •   8:00 PM - Resurrection Band (REZ)
  •   9:15 PM - Phil Keaggy
  • 10:15 PM - Classic Petra 
If I were to wind up at Cornerstone Farm on July 30 I think I would park myself on the Main Stage. I don't really remember Barry McGuire and I never heard E Band, but otherwise this is NIGHT BEAT HEAVEN. I mean the only thing missing from the Jungle Music Stanley-Livingston bit is Barnabas, Fireworks, DeGarmo & Key, Larry Norman, and Sweet Comfort Band) of course with Both Larry Norman (d. 2008) and Dana Key (d.2010) now in Heaven, those two reunions will have to wait. According to Wikipedia, there are rumors of a Sweet Comfort Band reunion.

Tickets for Cornerstone are handled once again through iTickets, and there are still discount periods to go. Here are the multi-day adult prices

There are also family pack tickets to save even more. Headliners here are Anberlin, Gungor, The Letter Black, Children 18:3, The Choir and others. Cornerstone skews harder, coming from the Grandfathers of Christian Metal. Even the Industrial giant Savior Machine is here. I'll take on the rest of the Summer in my next festival themed post.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Night Beat Presents: 2010 Songs of The Year

The 2010 Platinum Vinyl Awards are over, and sacrifices had to be made to make sure we beat the Doves to the line. One of the sacrifices was the Song of the Year category, which was genre based. Still, I felt that there should be some recognition to the artists. This post is my solution. The Song of the Year Category will officially be added to the Platinum Vinyl Awards for 2011.

Without further ado, the 2010 Songs of the Year, as determined by The Night Beat:
Well That unofficially officially ends the 2010 Platinum Vinyl Awards. I officially ended it on April 21 with the Artist of the Year Award, but I kept going back and forth on recognition for best song. This list finishes that up, and we'll try to have song categories for each genre next year. Now we really do return to our regularly scheduled posts.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Weights and Measures

Weights and Measures, the full length debut by Minneapolis, MN rockers Hyland, releases on Tooth and Nail Records on May 3. That alone should be reason enough to make this release multi-platinum on day one. I don't know how Brandon Ebel does it, but, in my opinion, the label has yet to put out a klunker of an album. Now that's not saying that I love all their music. I usually can pass on some of the metal-core, mostly because you need the lyrics to figure out the screams. That, and I start thinking, "what must that do to that guys throat?" But sometimes you can make out the screams, and there are clean vocals, and music that just rocks. Stuff Like Haste the Day and Wolves at the Gate. Then someone like me can even enjoy metal-core.

Hyland isn't metal-core, not by a long-shot. They are Rock (or in Dove-speak Rock/Contemporary). At times you might consider them pop. The album has a great pedigree behind it, as it's produced by Aaron Sprinkle, one of the more prolific producers out there. Their EP Quotients, which brought them to the attention of King Midas (my nickname for Brandon Ebel. Everything he touches turns to gold) was produced by former Skillet guitarist Ben Kasica. The album is evenly balanced between songs about relationships (there are 6, most notably Fireworks, This Distance, and The One That Got Away, the last two should get major airplay on mainstream radio and TV) and more overt Christian tunes.

Of the "Spiritual" tunes, the best are the choral assisted missions song Crying Out "Your love is in the air we breathe, open our eyes to the urgency. You're so much more than we could be, our lives are crying out", the first Radio release This Love is Free. This is the first of four songs that I will be putting into PVA Song of the Year nomination, the other three being Fireworks, the string heavy Desperate Man, and the closing song Coast to Coast.

I'm giving Weights and Measures 4.5 Emeralds, mainly because it is a Debut. It has the makings of a 5 Emerald rating, but, it is a debut. Right Now I would say it is in contention for Alternative and Rock Honors, as well as Group of the Year and New Artist of the Year, as well as song honors for the four cuts mentioned previously. I highly recommend this album.