Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dove Album Nominations Part Two

Letting the Dove Nominations go first has had an unexpected benefit. Clarity and focus. While trying to rush the nomination process I blew up the field of nominees, with the result that some genres doubled. Now, seeing the competition, I refocused and all the categories, except those which lacked a full slate, now are at the seven nominees.

We continue with the Album of the Year Categories. For this year I think I will stick to "major awards", so I will not mention them all, at least to keep the number of posts down. I have my own awards to promote, after all.

Urban Album of The Year
  • Angel & Chanelle - Trinitee 5:7
  • Church on the Moon - Deitrick Haddon
  • From Now On - Dawkins & Dawkins
  • Something Big - Mary Mary
  • The Next Dimension - GI
  • How I Got Over - Smokie Norful
I had 3 of the 6 on this list (Trinitee 5:7, Deitrick Haddon and Marry Mary). Of course I put them all into Gospel/R&B. Sometimes things can be a bit too nuanced at awards shows. "Urban?" wouldn't that apply to any band located in a city as opposed to out in the sticks?

Traditional Gospel Album of The Year
  • If You Didn't Know - Norman Hutchins
  • Promises - Richard Smallwood
  • The Legacy Project - John P. Kee
  • XV Live - Chicago Mass Choir
A very short section, and I had none of them, though I had Kee and Smallwood among the early contenders among the Gospel Crowd.

Contemporary Gospel
  • Becoming - Yolanda Adams
  • Change the Atmosphere - Christ Tabernacle Choir
  • Committed - Committed
  • Hello Fear - Kirk Franklin
  • Make It Loud - Martha Munizzi
Though I didn't think Franklin shone strongly enough this time around, I thought Committed was more R&B than gospel. (Most of the songs were secular covers). My only gripe here is with the inclusion of Munizzi, she's whiter than white bread, and while she went for the Gospel sound (instead of her usual Modern Worship) on her latest album, in my opinion she ran out of steam midway through.

Praise and Worship Album
  • 10,000 Reasons - Matt Redman
  • Aftermath - Hillsong United
  • And if Our God is For Us - Chris Tomlin
  • Ghosts Upon the Earth - Gungor
  • Make It Loud - Martha Munizzi
Wrapping up Album of The Year with this category, mostly it is also a matter of pigeonholing. I had Gungor as Alternative and Tomlin In Modern Worship. I guess the GMA decided to award each half of Munizzi's album separately.

That concludes my coverage of the Album of the Year Dove Nominations for this year. I will return to them in April for my predictions. I am going to try to handle the General Field and Song of The Year with a post for each. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply,

Monday, February 27, 2012

Music Video Monday

Before I begin my usual edition of Music Video Monday I want to give a Night Beat Shout Out to some good friends of mine. I've known John and Maicie Cherry since college and my days at WENC. They are part of a band by the name of Slateface. You can hear their single In The Light on their homepage, check out their entire EP on Myspace or like them on Facebook. They are hard but melodic rockers. Check them out, you won't be disappointed.

Now, on to Music Video Monday. Making my way through the genres, we skip past Gospel, only because there doesn't seem to be much in the way of music videos, just maybe a live appearance at a church or something like that.

The King of Alternative right now is Switchfoot, and rightfully so, with Vice Verses such a hit. We'll start of our Video Journey with the video for Dark Horses.

We will continue with one of CCM's rising new stars, Hyland, out of Minneapolis. This is the official Video for Jumping the Gun.

Showbread is next. This is "You're Like a Taxi" from Who Can Know it.

We began with the Current Kings, we end with one of the progenitors of Christian Alternative. The Choir started way back in 1985 as Youth Choir with Voices and Shadows. Derri Daugherty and Steve Hindalong not only revolutionized rock, but also Modern Worship, as they also wrote God of Wonders (Hindalong along with Marc Byrd)This is an acoustic version of Black Cloud which was from Diamonds and Rain, which in 1986 was the Debut of The Choir, though the lineup was the same as Youth Choir..

That concludes this edition of Music Video Monday. We will return next Monday with more videos. Until next time I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The 43rd Annual GMA Dove Nominees

I had hoped to have my list of nominees for the 2nd Annual Platinum Vinyl Awards out before the Dove Awards were announced, but it soon became obvious that that would not be the case. No big problem when you are only a one man job. Apart from their being two categories for Inspirational Album of the Year (a complete mystery) they seemed to do a lot better picking nominees this time. Not enough to cede them the playing field, however. Competition keeps one sharp.

It would stand to reason that the Dove's would improve greatly if they would just add a dance category. Or at least something called Electronic. Right now some of the contortions they pull off in putting people in some categories would astound a Cirque du Soleil gymnast.

We will begin with the album of the year categories, since that is where I am strongest (I am starting to get a handle on Song of The Year this time around).

Rap/Hip Hop Album
  • Blacklight - Tedashii
  • Captured - Flame
  • Culture Shock - Jai
  • Rehab: The Overdose - Lecrae
  • The Whole Truth - DA T.R.U.T.H.
The GMA hit this one out of the park. With the exception of Lecrae's choice of album (I went with Rehab: Deluxe Edition over Rehab: The Overdose) It was Five for Five with my picks, at least artist wise. Oh, one minor tweak. Jai is Dance not Hip Hop and I have rewarded her accordingly.

Rock Album
  • Control - Abandon
  • Until We Have Faces - Red
  • Vice Verses - Switchfoot
  • What I've Become - Ashes Remain
  • With Shivering Hearts We Wait - Blindside
Red and Switchfoot are no brainers, though having no hard rock category really means some deserving artists are left out in the cold. While Abandon, Ashes Remain and Blindside had good albums, I thought some others were better. Sorry folks, no spoilers here.

Pop/Contemporary Album
  • A Beautiful Life - Mikeschair
  • Blessings - Laura Story
  • Hundred More Years - Francesca Battistelli
  • One Song at a Time - Jamie Grace
  • What if We Were Real - Mandisa
This is where the GMA's and I part ways. While I had Mandisa among my picks, I thought that What if We Were Real fit squarely in the Gospel/R&B genre, at least to this DJ's ears. Francesca, Laura and Jamie, at least in my opinion, were good, but just edged out by better material.

Rock/Contemporary Album
  • Ad Astra Oer Aspera - Abandon Kansas
  • Come Home - Luminate
  • Crazy Love - Hawk Nelson
  • Mountains Move - Kristian Stanfill
  • The Reckoning - Needtobreathe
This will be the last category for this post. Luminate was the only one nominated for a Platinum Vinyl Award among this bunch, and they went into Modern Worship. Even busting the limits in nominees couldn't get the others in. Someone will always be robbed, that's just the way it is.

That concludes the first post of the Night Beat Dove Awards Nominations Coverage. Predictions will be made at a later time, closer to the April Awards. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Flashback Friday: D&K

In Our Journey into CCM's past, we now come to one of the bands that I have more than a passing knowledge of. While I knew of Daniel Amos and had listened to plenty of REZ, D&K is one of the bands that I got to experience live on multiple occasions.

Of Course to the newbie a quick translation may be in order. D&K stands for DeGarmo and Key. Eddie DeGarmo & Dana Key were childhood friends with a love of music. The band started in 1972, but it was another six years before they would come out with an album. Though they made their success in the 80's, they were popular enough at the beginning of the decade to make the Jungle Music List.

S: But I did manage to get some DeGarmo & Key This Time Thru.
L: Splendid! This Ain't Hollywood you know. You can't get any decent rock and roll out here. It's a beastly jungle.
In this short exchange two of Degarmo and Key's albums were referenced. Their Debut This Time Thru (1978) and their third release This Ain't Hollywood (1980). The Classic lineup, which existed for most of their existence was Eddie DeGarmo (Keys, Vocals), Dana Key (Guitar, Lead Vocals), Greg Morrow (Drums) and Tommy Cathey (Bass). 1978 Was a good year in Christian Music, with REZ, Servant, D&K all crafting their debuts and Petra in the midst of recording their third album, though Stardom would be three years away for them.

D&K's rise to the top would begin via the most unexpected of sources, at least from a Rock and Roll perspective. Pat Boone. (Kids, ask your grandparents). It was Boone's Lamb and Lion Records which gave the two Memphis kids their big break, and their first four albums were recorded on the label.

Stardom came with Power (actually Power Discs, a label of Benson Music), which released D&K's next seven albums. During this time the band shed their blues/folk/rock style for Arena Synth-Rock. Their second album on Power Discs, Communication (1984) included their most controversial song, Six, Six, Six. Released during one of the Congressional Investigations of Violence and Sex in Popular Music, the music video has the privilege of being, I think, the only Christian Video banned by MTV because, in the original, the Antichrist is engulfed in fire. MTV said they didn't know it was Christian. Anyway the video was edited and allowed to air. As a treat I am giving you both Six,Six,Six concept videos. The unedited is first, followed by the redo. Judge for yourself. The edit on the second begins at the two minute mark

DeGarmo and Key would  record eleven more albums before hanging it up in 1994 with the release of To Extremes. In their free time they even managed to start their own Record Label. You may have heard of it. It's Called ForeFront. While Toby Mac and Abandon are about the only ones currently left on the label, most of the big guns such as Skillet are on the associated Arden Records label.

This Summer at the Cornerstone Festival the Jesus Rally brought back reunions of the Legends of Christian Rock. Alas, a D&K reunion was not to be. June 6, 2012 Will mark the 2 Year anniversary of the Heavengoing of Frontman Dana Key at the young age of 56. A reunion will have to wait until the beyond. I close this post with D&K live on their eponymous album tour in 1987. Eddie, Dana, Greg, and the impeccably dressed Tommy Cathey will always be Rock Solid. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Music Video Monday: Dance Edition

This is a short one. Even though I had plenty of Dance Music represented, not so in the Video World. Beckah Shae was actually the only one to do anything. So I am sharing the official music video for #putyourloveglasseson.

I really don't want to have such a short video post, so I am going to combine this with Rock/Worship/Techno group Worth Dying for. There are two videos, but I see them as one song. Destroy and Savior. "We Stand,We Rise, We Give Our Lives" is the theme for both, so they are united.

I chose this video someone did mixing the Transformers with Savior by WDF. Considering that the Bible says we are to be Transformed by the renewing of our minds, it really fits. Plus, It is beyond cool.

That concludes this edition of Music Video Monday. Enjoy the Rest of President's Day (or Wahington's Birthday). Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Deep Space Exploration

Eisley is back from The Valley and scaling the heights of the alternative scene. Not content to stay here on Terra Firma, they have taken their act to Deep Space. That's the name of their latest release folks. Don't worry though, they still exclusively touring here on planet earth.

The EP begins quite abruptly with "Away With Me, Away With You" the opening call of Lights out. Actually the jarring opening is my only gripe with the EP. I guess I like some sort of intro. It just seemed strange.

Deep space is more alternative than The Valley, which seemed to skew more pop, though Laugh it off is a fun pop song. Lead Singer Stacy DuPree comes off sounding a lot like Leigh Nash (Sixpence None The Richer) on this EP, especially on songs like 192 Days. I don't know if it was intentional, but it works.

Not surprisingly, the orchestration of the album gives an atmospheric "Spacey" feel to it, which to me harks back to Miss Angie's space-pop. It also harks back to the true meaning of Alternative music, meaning a break from the usual. My favorite song has to be the last song, simply entitled "One Last Song". The Instrumentation at the end is awesome.

At only nineteen minutes long, it leaves you wanting more, but it is a great follow up to The Valley. By the way, in the interest of full disclosure, I wish to tell you that The Valley is up for multiple Platinum Vinyl Awards, though that in no way affects the rating for this album. As evidence I give you the Newsboys. While Born Again made the First Platinum Vinyl Awards and Born Again Miracles Edition made them Double Dip this year, God's Not Dead will not come in for a Trifecta. It failed to impress during the first quarter judging. As they always say, Past Results are no guarantee of future success.

My final rating for Deep Space is very stratospheric. A near perfect 4.75 Emeralds. Considering that the Valley got only 4.5, then I guess shorter is better.

It's time to come back to earth for the time being. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Flashback Friday: Daniel Amos

We continue our journey into CCM history using Servant's Jungle Music skit as our guide. When we began our Journey with Stanley and Livingston we discussed their opening band, The Heavy Metal and Female Fronted Rock Band Resurrection Band (which is commonly known as REZ or REZ Band)

If you didn't read the Tribute to REZ, please, click on the link and check it out. This small 90 second or so is a name dropping treasure trove of CCM History. I will briefly mention that the reference is to Awaiting Your Reply (1978) the band's Major Label Debut on Star Song Records.
S: Dr. Livingston I presume!
L: Why Stanley Ole chap, did you bring those rock and roll tapes that I requested?
S: Yes I did Doctor, I brought some Resurrection Band
L: Capitol! I was Awaiting Your Reply.
We now join the conversation in progress.
S: However, I lost the Daniel Amos in the river. It was a pity.
L: How Alarming.
The band and album referenced this time is Daniel Amos, and more specifically, the album Alarma! (1981) the band's fourth album. Losing Daniel Amos in the river is more than alarming, it is quite the tragedy.

Christian music has always been a tale of two Taylors (and I don't mean Swift). In this case the two are Terry Scott Taylor of Daniel Amos (aka DA) and Clone (or is it Clown?) Prince and Political Skewerer (is that a word?) Steve Taylor. We shall eventually come round to Steve, but we shall stay with Terry Today.

Daniel Amos started out as a Country-Rock group at the Prime of the Jesus Music Era, though they were called Jubal's Last Band at the time. They Changed their name to Daniel Amos and released their eponymous debut in 1976. Yes, that's early but even Petra was earlier. By the time their third album Horrendous Disc (1978) they had seen the light and ditched country, becoming the Father of Alternative Rock (though some would attribute that to The Choir, which came along several years later. By the time Vox Humana came out in 1984, the band had a slight complaint.
I thought by now I'd walk the moon
And ride a car without no tires
And have a robot run the vacuum
And date a girl made out of wires
No thing's don't change that much, do they?
We are still out of touch, by now we should discover
Just how to love each other, like Klattus' robot man
Your looks have killed again
The Song was titled "It's the eighties, where's our rocket packs". Well we didn't get rocket packs yet, at least not commercially available ones, but in the midst of break-ups and reunions, Daniel Amos is amazingly, still together and working on new material. A 2011 planned new album didn't pan out, but there is 2012 to hope for.

I finish this edition of Flashback Friday with Sanctuary from the Cornerstone Jesus Rally. Watch and enjoy. Until Next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gospel Grammy Results

The Grammy Awards are now over and the second guessing can begin. For those of us covering the Gospel Section, it's a really short job.

Since this is a Music Blog, it is proper that I give Night Beat Condolences. I found out about the death of Whitney Houston via my twitter stream. She was a great singer who began in Gospel. With Two Emmys Six Grammys and a host of other awards, her talent was unquestioned. And a note to the religious out there. God wants all of us to have a long life. 48 is not long. Too anyone who says it was "Her Time", quiet.

Now, on to the second guessing. As I said previously, there were only two real awards: Song and Album of the Year in Both Gospel and CCM. For my predictions click on the genres.

I thought that I would be able to do pretty well due to the sparse choices, but that was not to be. For the Gospel section, album division, I thought that they would be honoring the return of a legend in Andrae Crouch, but I was wrong. I also thought that Mary, Mary was the best choice, and I still think that was the correct way to go. The Grammy went to: Kirk Franklin. This is one of the cases where an award goes based on past results. I have heard quite a bit of music from Kirk Franklin, and in my opinion this was not his best album. Still the Grammy's have spoken Score: 0/1.

Moving on to Gospel Song. I hit it out of the park. For some reason I felt that Grammy would award Kirk Franklin best Gospel Song for Hello Fear. Even though I felt Canton Jones had a better song in Window, I guess I was picking Name Recognition for the win, and it paid off: Score 1/2.

Christian Contemporary Music is up next, and here the consequences of savaging the Christian categories becomes painfully evident. Gungor is alternative, Royal Tailor is Pop, Mandisa is Dance/Gospel/R&B, Chris Tomlin is Modern Worship/Pop, and Leeland is Modern Worship/Rock. No Rock. No Metal, No Hip Hop or Rap. All fighting for one prize. I am underwhelmed.

I figured they would go for Brandon Heath considering how gaga they were over Leaving Eden when the album came out, so that was my prediction. I said that the strongest entry would have been Mandisa, but I was wrong and they gave the Grammy to Chris Tomlin. A good modern worship album, but I never saw it coming: Score: 1/3

I guess I was mailing it in on an anti-Brandon Heath rant for song. Though the Grammy's would go for Your Love and made a split pick of I lift My Hands by Chris Tomlin and Hold Me by Jamie Grace Harper but the Grammy went instead to: Blessings by Laura Story. I guess we were on a mellow bent. It was the quietest of the songs.

Final Score: 1/4 (0.250). Hey, that is okay for a major league stint in Baseball, but it wasn't what I was expecting. So, I'm no Carnac.

Well that's it for the Grammy Awards. Dove nominees come out on the 22nd. I will return with my picks for that shortly afterward. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lay Your Weapons Down

The Sixties, musically speaking, were framed by The British Invasion. Christian Music in the 21st Century is in the midst of its own International Invasion. This time it isn't the Union Jack making its audio footprint, it's the Maple Leaf.

As I have recounted in a previous post Canada has made a mark on the CCM Market here in the States. We have Lights, FM Static, Thousand Foot Krutch and Hawk Nelson from Ontario, Blessed By a Broken Heart from Quebec (Montreal), and more coming all the time.

Now it's time to add Calgary, Alberta based Kiros to the list. Maybe its time to heed the warning and Lay Your Weapons Down. I first came to hear of them through their Outlaws and Prodigals EP, and possibly so have many of their current fans. They are not a new band, however. This is their third full length album and four EP's, and play a melodic alternative not unlike Ivoryline. In fact Outlaws and Prodigals is my favorite ballad, and Unshaken, with its Ivoryline like sound is my favorite rock song on the album.

"Surrender Saves us All", as in surrender to God, is the theme, and musically speaking as well, the theme fits. This radio friendly alt-rock band is destined to take over the charts. It's been growing on me as I've listened again and again. I am going to give a final rating on this to 4.75 Emeralds.

As a special audio treat, here is Unshaken, their first single from the album. Sorry, even though it is from Youtube, it is audio only.

Don't get sold out by Good Intentions, Lay Your Weapons Down and Rock out To Kiros. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Music Video Monday: Folk Rock Edition

Welcome to the Debut of Music Video Monday. It also happens to be Monday the 13th, which would be Garfield's most unlucky day. The Concept is pretty simple. Every Monday I will share a few music videos with you. I am going to start with some of the bands that have made it into the Platinum Vinyl Awards, and I am also going to try to find a few Classics as well.

We are going to start with the Folk/Folk Music Genre (which, due to some fudging, will also include stuff like reggae). First Up is Dominic Balli with American Dream the title cut from his new album

Moving to a more traditional folk rock, here is the great Burlap to Cashmere with Love Reclaims the Atmosphere from their self titled album.

I never thought a folk act would get 5 Stars, but then The Civil Wars came along. This is Poison and Wine from Barton Hollow

Brooke Fraser is next with Betty, which is from her nominated album Flags.

And We close out our Video show this week with Control by JJ Heller.

That concludes our first ever Music Video Monday. I'll see you Next Week (No Holiday for us at The Night Beat). Until Next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Diamond in The Rough

No this isn't a Bash-N-The-Code retrospective (sorry for the Obscure CCM reference - They Were a '80s CCM band that Wrote a song with the above title). Diamond is the title of the latest release by Latin/Pop CCM artist Jaci Velasquez. I admit to being a little unfamiliar with her music, though I do possess one of her Christmas albums. Diamond is her FIFTEENTH album. She puts out an album roughly every year and a half to two years.

Diamond is a pretty straightforward pop-rock album in the Amy Grant, Charmaine, Kerrie Roberts tradition. There's no needle pushing highs in this album, it's pretty low key. The eleven AC Radio friendly tunes (1 in Spanish) seem "orchestrated" to get radio airplay or even on a soundtrack.

Now don't get me wrong, I like this album, I just don't love it. Maybe it's not hard enough for me, or maybe I am just a bit more comfortable with Pop that occasionally pushes the envelopes of the genre (Like the aforementioned Roberts or Sarah Kelly). The Spanish song is actually my favorite on this album. Con El Viento A Mi Favor (The Wind in My Favor) is beautiful, though I don't understand a word of it. It's like the joke about the preacher. I don't know what she was saying but she said it wonderfully.

Other songs of note are Diamond, Stay, Girl (I am a real sucker for horns), and Trust In You. As to the last one, If she ever decides to hang up the AC crowd, the girl can rock. It is a great moment in the album, even if it is near the end.

As a final rating, I am giving 4.5 Emeralds to Diamond. I think if a few more of the songs were like Trust in You, it could have gone higher. The rating puts it in the mix, and if I need to explode the nomination limit, like I did this year, to accommodate a number of worthy entries and reduce the "we was robbed" comments from fans, it may stand a good chance of making it in. A number of 4.5's made it this year, though I think that will forever be the limit.

The Releases continue to come in, and we at The Night Beat are ready. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Flashback Friday: REZ

In my continuing pursuit of audio excellence here at The Night Beat, I am introducing a few regular "columns" to my Blog. The first one to appear will be known as Flashback Friday and will bring my loyal readers up to speed on the "Pioneers" of "Founders" of the Christian Contemporary Music industry. For a quick cliff-notes on the Jesus Music/Early CCM era a great source is the Skit at the end of Servants Jungle Music

S: Dr. Livingston I presume!
L: Why Stanly Ole chap, did you bring those rock and roll tapes that I requested?
S: Yes I did Doctor, I brought some Resurrection Band
L: Capitol! I was Awaiting Your Reply.
S: However, I lost the Daniel Amos in the river. It was a pity.
L: How Alarming.
S: But I did manage to get some DeGarmo & Key This Time Thru.
L: Splendid! This Ain't Hollywood you know. You can't get any decent rock and roll out here. It's a beastly jungle. I say, how's your old colleague Barnabas?
S: Oh, you know Barnabas. Never Say Die type that. I left him in Egypt studying Petra glyphs.
L: Jolly good. Jolly good.
S: I say, do you fancy Fireworks?
L: Why they're strictly forbidden. It Shatters the Darkness. One shot and the animals go quite crackers. The rockets red glare and all that.
S: Steady on. Steady on old boy. I think what you need is a little bit of Sweet Comfort.
L: Bless you Stanley! Why, I drink it all the time. Hold on Tight. You get the
glasses and I'll be Breaking the Ice!
S: No, no, Doctor. You've got it all wrong. Oh well. Now then, I also brought you some Servant.
L: Oh what a stroke of luck! Why two of my servants ran away last week. Larry and Normanly. They ran into the Shallow Water and the crocks got them. Poor blighters. Well, I suppose they're In Another Land now?
Of course referenced in this short bit are Resurrection Band, Daniel Amos, DeGarmo & Key, Barnabas, Petra, Fireworks, Sweet Comfort Band, Servant and Larry Norman. There is no better place to Begin than at the end. At the end of every post I sign off with Awaiting Your Reply. Which is the title of the "Debut" release by Chicago, IL Pioneers of Christian Metal Resurrection Band, aka REZ. One of Two Commune Based Bands (The other being Grant's Pass Oregon Based Servant which will be covered in another post.) The Core of REZ from the start has been the Husband-Wife Team of Glenn (Vocals, Guitar)  & Wendi Kaiser (Vocals). Wendi Was the Headbanger of the Duo and Glenn gave the band a Blues twinged sound. After the Band broke up Glenn released several blues albums. Stu Heiss (Guitar, Keyboard) and John Herrin (drums) were the other "rocks" of REZ, during their 28 year run (1972-2000) they went through 3 Bass Players. Pretty good considering how some of the bands of today burn through members.

With two Indie Cassettes under their belt (1974's Music to Raise the Dead & All Your Life) the band was ready for the big time and released Awaiting Your Reply in 1978. Once the Industry recovered from their faint (It wasn't exactly Nancy Honeytree or The Imperials) came the second punch. This band wasn't exactly content to do Jesus, Jesus, Wo, Wo, Wo songs. They Took on Lying (Ananias and Sapphira) but soon turned their attention to Apartheid (Afrikaans on Rainbows end 1979) Abortion (Benny & Sue on Colours 1980). A Picture (with Sound) says a million words. Here is Love Comes Down as part of their XX Years Video.
Even from before their beginning REZ was more than just a band. Cornerstone Magazine started back in 1971, before the band even started, and had a long run, finally going out of print in 2003. By the time I got it, though, the love for the "Least of These" led them to unashamed support of the fictional Palestinian crisis. It was the only magazine in my remembrance that I asked to be removed from the mailing list.

One place they did shine, however, was in Music. The Cornerstone Festival began in 1984 and has been a 4th of July Staple ever since. Coming as they have from the hard Rock/Metal background, the festival (known as C-Stone) has been a launching pad and a welcome venue for acts like Red, The Devil Wears Prada and others who would hardly be invited at other more enlightened festivals. This Summer at C-Stone, which was the 30th Anniversary of Jesus Making the Cover of Time, they had a Jesus Rally that was attended by REZ, Daniel Amos, Servant, Petra, Randy Stonehill and others. I am still hoping that some of these legends, other than Classic Petra, restart touring and recording.

I have a second bonus for you. This is the full set from the Jesus Rally. Enjoy.

That concludes my first Flashback Friday. I'll see you next Friday with another walk down CCM's History. Until then, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Rose by any other name

The time for the 2nd Annual Platinum Vinyl Awards is almost here. The Album of the Year Nominations are complete. I am currently working on Song of the Year Nominations as well as the General Field. A Fourth part, The Platinum Video Awards, is being assembled as well.

All I really need is a nickname. Everybody Has one. Grammys, Emmys, Doves, etc. What should mine be? I would really like the help of my friends on Triberr for this one too, considering the negative keywords. I was thinking of a few.
  • The Elpy's (as in LP, the original album). I like the sound of it and it's cute, but it has certain drawbacks, as in a certain Juvenile Pronunciation.
  • The PVA's - Its simply taking the first letters to make an acronym, but I always think of PVC Pipe from time to time.
  • The Gems - After all, I use an Emerald Rating instead of Stars.
That's all I have right now. Any thoughts? Use the comments below or contact me at Twitter. Use the hashmark #PVA2011. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Gospel Grammy: The Night Beat Prediction, Part Two

Continuing with my picks in the anemic Gospel Grammy Awards category. This time we shall move on to the Contemporary Christian Music side of the aisle, having taken the Urban/R&B/Gospel side last time.

This is where things really suffer. On the CCM side of the aisle, the Platinum Vinyl Awards has a section for Children's Music, Dance, Alternative, Modern Worship, Folk, Hard Rock, Hip Hop, Rock and Pop. All these categories fight it out for the one category of Contemporary Christian Music. With only six nominees for Album and 5 for Song, how can you not snub anyone?

Contemporary Christian Music Grammy Nominees

CCM Album of The Year

  • Gungor - Ghosts Upon the Earth
  • Brandon Heath - Leaving Eden
  • Leeland - The Great Awakening
  • Mandisa - What if We Were Real
  • Royal Tailor - Black and White
  • Chris Tomlin - And if Our God is For Us
Who will win: Again, going with the peculiar quirks of Christian Music judging out there. There seems to be a lot of idol worship, and the current idol is Brandon Heath.

Who Should Win: Don't think I'm going too far out on a limb. A 5 Emerald Release, Knock your socks off songs ranging from Dance to R&B to Dance: Mandisa.


CCM Song of The Year

  • Blessings - Laura Story
  • Hold Me - Jamie Grace Harper
  • I Lift My Hands - Chris Tomlin
  • Strong Enough - Matthew West
  • Your Love - Brandon Heath
Who Will Win: This one is tough, because there are no knock your socks off anthems or stirring ballads among them, but I think it is going to be a two-fer for Brandon Heath

Who Should Win: Also a tough call for the same reasons, but based on the available choices, I am going to go with Strong Enough by Matthew West, it is the best overall orchestrated song, though as a side bet I would also pick Hold Me by Jamie Grace Harper (feat TobyMac). You really can't go wrong with anyone discovered by TobyMac and the Gotee bunch. He has and knows talent.

That's it for the Grammy's. I don't think I even broke a sweat. I intentionally disregarded the Performance award and stuck to the two major ones. I will have a bigger job picking winners when the Dove Nominees are announced on February 22. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Gospel Grammy: The Night Beat Prediction, Part One

The Grammy Awards are Sunday Night, and I just heard about it. Now while I don't follow all the Award Shows religiously, I am a music blogger, so I should have been more up on things.

Personally, I am blaming the Grammy Awards themselves. In their reinvention of the awards, they have savaged the CCM portion. I mean, it makes a critic cry (figuratively). I may have been critical of their picks in the past, but there are now really only two categories in the entire show. (In the Interest of full disclosure, there are technically five gospel categories but I am doing a genre combining trick. We Have Gospel and Contemporary Christian Music awards in Song And Album of the Year as well as a combined Gospel/CCM Performance of the Year- Basically 2.5 awards. This one's going to be tough.)

Gospel Music Grammy Nominations

Gospel Album of The Year

  • Kim Burrell - The Love Album
  • Andrae Crouch - The Journey
  • Kirk Franklin - Hello Fear
  • Mary Mary - Something Big
  • Trin-I-Tee 5:7 - Angel & Chanelle Deluxe Edition
Who will win: I think that the Grammy's are going to go with a legend and Pick Andrae Crouch. Crouch is among both Gospel and Christian Music in General a Legend and his albums deserve a place on any 100 Best List.

Who Should Win: From my listening viewpoint, the best of all the albums nominated was Something Big by Mary Mary. It got a near perfect 4.75 Emeralds and really wowed me.

Gospel Song of the Year

  • Kirk Franklin - Hello Fear
  • Sitting With Me - Mary Mary
  • Spiritual - Donald Lawrence
  • Trust Me - Richard Smallwood
  • Window - Canton Jones
Who will win: Honestly, I have no clue, not having regularly heard a lot of these songs, except for clips. Based on the Grammy's quirks, I am going with Kirk Franklin, though I thought the album was only worthy of 4 Emeralds. Reputation usually wins.

Who Should Win: Based on hearing the complete album and having the song in regular rotation in my iTunes library, I would go with Window by Canton Jones. It's a get up and dance type number that is also word based and encouraging. I love it.

For the sake of post brevity, I think I shall hold off the CCM nominations for a second post. Until Next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Monday, February 6, 2012

February New Release Preview

Due to the miracle of scheduling, i.e. that music releases happen on a Tuesday, February gives everyone a free week, since the first Tuesday of the month is the 7th. That being said I am going to take the opportunity to give a mention to releases that will be occuring this month that I am anticipating will make a mark in the PVA judging.

While most of the industry will be looking at Diamonds by Jaci Velasquez on the 7th, I will be following Horace Greeley's advice to "Go West Young Man" and casting the night beats attention to California. Modesto, California to be precise, where Worth Dying For, the youth group worship band of Ammunition Ministry. Love Riot, which came out last February. This is the "live version" of that album, and based on my initial listen, is just as good as the studio version.

Kiros, a Canadian Rock-Alternative Act, at least in my opinion, follows up its debut EP with Lay Your Weapons Down. I was impressed by these guys when they came to Massachusetts as part of the Music With a Mission tour. AOL Music says they sound like Chevelle. Since I gave Chevelle's latest Five Emeralds, I am anticipating listening to this.

A runner up in The Inaugural Platinum Vinyl Awards for Best New Artist, Audrey Assad returns with Heart on Valentine's Day, which this year falls on a Tuesday. If her sophomore release is as good as her debut, then we may be looking at the Winner in Pop in 2012.

The month closes with a bang, provided by Portland, Oregon rockers Kutless. Jon Micah Sumrall and company return with Believer, the band's first release in three years (2009 Worship Project It is Well) and the first non-worship project since To Know that You're Alive in 2008. Though delays can be announced at any time prior to the official release, for the time being this is a great way to end a month.

There are a lot more releases this month, I've just picked a few highlights. Rest assured your intrepid blogger will be tracking them all. Until next time I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Night Beat Rewind: January 2012

This has got to be some kind of record. Here it is only the first week of February and the January tunes are done. Plus I have just finished the First Quarter Platinum Vinyl Awards announcements. Now that that is done, it is time for the January 2012 edition of Night Beat Rewind.

For the newcomer, let me explain. Having only limited resources at present for obtaining full album streams of new releases, the great majority of the new releases are quick-hits from Amazon samples. At the end of each month I compile all the releases, both those I have been able to fully review and those I have not, and put them into a "Rewind" column where I give a rating to each. Without further ado, the January Rewind.

Off Target

  • Andrew Greer - Angel Band: The Hymn Sessions 2.25 Emeralds
  • Theory Hazit - Thr3e 3.75 Emeralds
  • Various Artists - Anchors of Faith, 100 Hymns 3.5 Emeralds
My opinion on these releases? For the most part they are OK. For the most part. Note the first one on the list. My advice - Avoid it. I take no responsibility if you buy it and then say "my ears, my ears". You have been warned.

Purest Platinum

  • Blessed By A Broken Heart - Feel The Power 5 Emeralds
  • David Crowder Band - Give Us Rest (A Requiem Mass in C) [The Happiest of All Keys] 5 Emeralds
The Polar Opposite. These are the Perfect albums, at least as defined by The Night Beat. Anytime we can get over one in a month is a very good month. Most of the releases, however, fall short of perfection.

Semi-Precious Metal

  • All Sons and Daughters - Reason To Sing EP 4.5 Emeralds
  • Anthem Lights - The Acoustic Sessions 4.5 Emeralds
  • Jon Bauer - Forevermore 4.5 Emeralds
  • Bethel Music - The Loft Sessions 4 Emeralds
  • Myron Butler - Worship 4.5 Emeralds
  • Rachel Chan - Go 4 Emeralds
  • Kirk Franklin - The Essential Kirk Franklin 4.75 Emeralds
  • Scotty G - Real Life 4.5 Emeralds
  • Group 1 Crew - Outta Space Love: Bigger Love Edition 4.75 Emeralds
  • Fred Hammond - God, Love and Romance 4.75 Emeralds
  • High Society Collective - Circa MMXI: The Collective 4.25 Emeralds
  • Kari Jobe - Where I Found You  4.5 Emeralds
  • Calvin Jones & Teresa Scanlon - Dueling Pianos: White Water Chopped Sticks - City of Peace 4.75 Emeralds
  • Lindsay McCaul - If it Leads Me Back 4.5 Emeralds
  • One Sonic Society - Forever Reign 4.5 Emeralds
  • Parachute Band - Matins: Vespers 4.5 Emeralds
  • Pioneer - Pioneer 4.5 Emeralds
  • Rapzilla - King Kulture 4.5 Emeralds
  • Rend Collective Experiment - Homemade Worship by Handmade People 4.75 Emeralds
  • Sanctuary - Reveal 4.75 Emeralds
  • Michael W. Smith - Decades of Worship 4.5 Emeralds
  • Starfield - The Kingdom 4.75 Emeralds
  • Tidewater - This Beautiful Life EP 4.25 Emeralds
  • Various Artists - Seasons of Hope 4.5 Emeralds
  • Various Artists - Seasons of Joy 4.5 Emeralds
  • Various Artists - Seasons of Reflection 4.5 Emeralds
  • Various Artists - WoW Gospel 2012 4.5 Emeralds
  • Worship Central - Spirit Break Out 4.5 Emeralds
  • Yancy - Little Praise Party: Happy Day Everyday 4.75 Emeralds
That ends the first edition of Rewind for 2012. Check out the new releases, and enjoy. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Siberian Summer: 2012 PVA 1st Qtr - Rock

The Final Six. The Rock Genre is always last, and this time, it is also among the elite, as three Perfect 5's are among those six entries.

First up is Thousand Foot Krutch. Welcome to The Masquerade, in addition to being TFK's best album to date, is probably one of the best marketed franchises in Rock. The "Masquerade" Franchise contains three CD's, The Original Welcome to the Masquerade, the Live CD/DVD combo Live at The Masquerade, and their Deluxe CD which is entitled the Fan Edition.

Trevor and company seem to put out consistently superior product. While any fan edition is essentially a best of product, sometimes a bands idea of best of and a fans are polar opposites. In this case, I don't think anyone can disagree that TFK has put their best amplifier forward. The 16 Songs are a 5 Star Rocking Ride. I can hardly wait for The End is Where We Begin, scheduled to drop in March.

Moving on to our Second Perfect Album. Chevelle has come a long way since its debut on Steve Taylor's Squint Entertainment Label back in 1999. It's hard to imagine they've put out Eight albums. This alt-rock bunch has improved. I have the Debut CD, and it's good, though slightly uneven. Like Switchfoot, though, these crossover artists have consistently put out quality work. Ruse is the song that hearkens back to Point #1, but they rock out the hardest on the title track. Hats off to Chevelle, they managed to sneak in a Perfect Album among the rush of Christmas Releases. Sometimes stealth is the best marketing technique of all. (A heads up. The link goes to a non-music post. Scroll to the bottom of the post for my comments on Hats of to The Bull.)

Last, but certainly not least of all is Amy Lee and Company and their eponymous release Evanescence. Their return this fall from a long self-imposed exile showed nary a trace of rust. The band rocks out with a few wry comments on their absence ("Hello, Hello, Remember me" from What You Want) and Amy's Haunting Voice is at its best on Lost in Paradise. Spawning a host of Imitators in their absence (Eowyn among them. Check out Beautiful Ashes and compare), Amy and company prove that there is no replacing an original. We even have a hit in the rare lighthearted pop song Swimming Home. Evanescence on easy listening radio, now there's something to get your mind around. Click the link to be taken to my original review of the album back in October.

Now on to the second tier. At least those that have fallen short of the glory of a perfect 5. We'll announce these in simple list format.
  • Emery - Ten Years 4.5 Emeralds
  • Seventh Day Slumber - The Anthem of Angels 4.5 Emeralds
  • Various Artists - Christian Workout Playlist, Fast Paced 4.25 Emeralds
Maybe it is a cop-out to put a workout CD on the list, but the selection of songs on this CD worked. The Slow and medium paced not so much (Plus they sounded like the same pace). That finishes the fall rollout. Until Next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

P.S. - The Poll results are in and the '60's are the Decade you like best. It's hard to argue with the decade that gave us The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. Votes were also cast for the '70's, 80's and 90's. New bands take note, there were no votes for favorites after 1999.