Thursday, November 16, 2017

Perfect Imperfection

I am a sucker for strings. It is my humble opinion that the addition of strings and other orchestral instruments can greatly improve any genre of music (look what it has done for the Boston Symphony Orchestra). I mean the jury is still out on Orchestral Polka, but we're talking about something that is an abomination of nature, not music.

Orchestration adds power to Rock (Red and Skillet anyone). Not power in volume, that is accomplished by simply turning up the amp. No I'm talking scale. Orchestration makes things Majestic (all apologies to Kari Jobe). Not all bands can be majestic. Strings will make no improvement to Southern Gospel. And a Pop band with Strings and Orchestration will just be silly. You can't really dance to it.

Just Like the aforementioned Red and Skillet, EVANESCENCE was born for this type of remake. The songs (Lost In Paradise, My Heart is Broken, Lithium, Imaginary), are majestic on their own, Orchestras pump up the majesty one hundred fold. And Amy Lee. Even without strings her voice sends shivers up your spine. Deceptively delicate, when the music crescendos  so does her voice above it all, as if daring the music to try to drown her out.

Synthesis is technically a best-of album, but there are two new originals in the mix, so we have a studio and compilation in one. I have tried to stay away from Best of albums, since you can cherry pick the best, it is kind of unfair. I usually stick with the multiple-artist variety, since the different artists allow for varied talent and better judging. The Album begins with Overture, the only instrumental track, which lasts only a minute, but sets the tone, this is not your average Evanescence album, as if one exists.

Full disclosure: I have been a fan from before Fallen, when Christian Industrial Radio on the web played Even In Death. Evanescence is AMY LEE. Her voice is what makes it special. You know those "would you listen to this artist sing the phone book" Hypothetical Questions, she tops the list. Worst Songs: NONE Favorites: ALL. I will attempt a few highlights.
  • Secret Door (Lost Whispers) - Don't let the 2016 Release Date fool you. This is an album of Forgotten Tunes, B-Sides That weren't good enough for Fallen (You know, that 7x+ Platinum Album). The executive who thought that shouldn't be allowed near another artist in his or her life. Simply Haunting. It has only gotten better.
  • Imaginary (Fallen) - One of My Two biggest Faves from the "debut" (the other being Tourniquet (which precedes it and makes a two-song rock opera megasong). The techno addition make it great for the dance floor, which can't be said of many Evanescence songs. The orchestra makes this one soar.
  • Lacrymosa (The Open Door) - I Can't Change Who I Am. This is probably the most soaring song on the album. It builds to a blow you away end.
  • Lost In Paradise (Evanescence) - Song of The Year anyone? I never thought that this song could get more majestic than it already was. The Original was 2012's Song Of The Year. The strings lift Amy as she sings "Run Away, Run Away. One Day We We Won't Feel This Pain Anymore." The bridge reaches a crescendo only to have a delicate crash lead into Your Star.
  • Imperfection (Synthesis) - The song that caused this album to have an EXPLICIT label, because of 1 use of the F-Bomb (highly appropriate in context of the song). "Don't you dare surrender, don't leave me here without you, cause I could never replace your perfect imperfection." FYI surrender=suicide. Who needs a psychiatrist when you've got Amy Lee.
The World does not contain the amount of Emeralds that this album deserve. Fortunately for us I can only give 5 Emeralds.  While it is unlike the others, in one way it is alike. You cannot improve perfection. Get Synthesis. You will not be disappointed. Until Next time, I am  Awaiting Your Reply.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Vertical Worship

You would think the title would be obvious, wouldn't you. After all, Worship is about God in Heaven which is "UP", aka Vertical. We on the other hand, are on the level, as in Horizontal. Of all the things I have learned in over 3 decades in Christian Music is that nothing is so obvious that it cannot be missed entirely.

Case in point the Modern Worship (Or Praise and Worship for others) Genre. Most of the songs fit in the stereotypical "Let's Praise Him, We're Gonna Praise Him" lyrics which have the cynic saying "When?" -- Hint: Talking About Praising God is NOT THE SAME as Praising Him. That, combined with the overabundance of Clones of Hillsong or any other successful church, and we have the makings of an extremely bloated genre.

But since God is Good, All the Time, the Cream Rises to The Top. And the latest Cream is Light City Music out of Fort Erie, Ontario. Funny How just as one Canadian Worship Band exits the scene (The City Harmonic) another (Light City Music) takes its place.

This is true VERTICAL WORSHIP. I call it transported to the throne room. The experience when listening to a Worship Album that you join the experience, forgetting about time, and the skip button is never pressed once, but auto-repeat is used frequently. Old Testament Christians will never understand these songs. They are still trying to earn God's Grace (You Can't, plus it's an insult. Would you say to a friend, "Oh, you shouldn't have. Here's the (x amount) you spent on my gift) This should pay you back." So much for that Friendship. When you reject the gifts of Grace (Favor) and Faith, slandering them with the word Hyper, you aren't saved and you can't please God. That's the Bible.

"You always want is what's best for me Your plans are more than I can dream You gave me everything I need And put Yourself inside of me " (from Let Go)

"The veil has been torn so I could know You Here in this moment we are one Take me to heights soaring beside You As the stars proclaim the greatness of Your love." (From Stars)

The entire Bible, if read correctly, is the story of a Father, and his desire for a Family. His Child committed Treason and joined his enemy, and instead of vengeance, out of Great Love, he planned for His ONLY BEGOTTEN Son (we would be created sons) to take on Human Flesh, become the Perfect Sacrifice and Payment For Sin, and Purchase our Redemption, Recreating Our Spirit and Making A New Man. There is NO SIN NATURE in OUR SPIRIT. Only our Body has Sin Memory. We are to Renew our Mind and Buffet Our Flesh and Reckon it as Dead. Sin Dwells in the Flesh, not the Spirit. Our Spirit Cries Abba FATHER. Jesus is the FIRSTBORN among MANY BRETHREN. Amen

There is not much more to be said. I'm Transported again. You and Me Father. In Rivers could be #PlatVnyl9 s Modern Worship Album of The Year, and maybe Album of The Year as well. 5 Emeralds doesn't seem to do it justice, but it is as High as We go Here. Until next time I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Night Beat Rewind: October 2017

#PlatVnyl9 has begun, and looking at the entries which crossed our desk this month, this will be the biggest yet. We seem to say that every year, and that means we're growing. 

Before we get to the music, a few announcements. First up, the Missing The Mark section has grown. Beginning with this year the minimum bar to reach the pool will be 4.50 Emeralds instead of 4. This is mostly an accounting matter, since no 4.50 rated album has won a Platinum Vinyl Award in its history.

Second, #PlatVnyl7 is just about ready to be unwrapped. I am leaning toward dribbling out the results over several days, in order to avoid the ire of Facebook. Hopefully the slow revelation will not turn my fans away. On to the start of #PlatVnyl9

The Singles Scene

  • Anthem Lights - Just Be You (ft Sadie Robertson) 4.75 Emeralds
  • Dee Black - Good Day ft Eshon Burgundy 4.50 Emeralds 
  • Antoine (fka ABIV) Bradford - Safe 4.50 Emeralds 
  • Capital Kings - Rip It Up (ft Aaron Cole) 4.50 Emeralds
  • Datin ft Bizzle - Words You Don't Say 3.50 Emeralds
  • Jordan Feliz - Witness 5 Emeralds
  • Trip Lee - Forever 4.75 Emeralds 
  • Levi the Poet - Sanctuary Cities 2,50 Emeralds
  • Derek Minor - This Morning ft Anesha Birchett 4.75 Emeralds
  • Nerva - Mind, Body, Soul 4.50 Emeralds
  • PoetiCS - On My Grind 2.75 Emeralds
  • S.O. - All Day ft JSon and Mission 4.75 Emeralds
  • Ryan Stevenson - Lift You Up 4.75 Emeralds
A very good scene with 13 (very Halloweenish) entries. Of course there are some Tricks in this list. Spoken Word may be the next to get banned from the Night Beat. It is the most incomprehensible stuff I have ever heard. Poetry it is not. On to the albums, and we begin with Christmas Releases (I know, but we can't fight it). They are not eligible for the awards.

Christmas Music (Non-Eligible)

  • Meredith Andrews - Receive Our King 4.75 Emeralds
  • Jonathan Cain - Unsung Noel 5 Emeralds
  • Casting Crowns - It's Finally Christmas 4.75 Emeralds
  • Hillsong Worship - The Peace Project 4.50 Emeralds
  • Shelly E. Johnson - Christmas Is Beautiful 4.75 Emeralds
  • Hannah Kerr - Emmanuel 4.50 Emeralds 
  • For KING and COUNTRY - A For KING and COUNTRY Christmas: Live In Phoenix 5 Emeralds 
  • Chris Tomlin - Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship (Deluxe/Live)  4.50 Emeralds
  • Bryan and Katie Torwalt - Christmas EP 5 Emeralds    
  • Various - The Star: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 5 Emeralds 
A good start to the Christmas Music Scene. I may make an exception to the non-eligible rule for The Star, since it also qualifies as a Compilation. It is an under-represented genre as such, so any help helps. On to the non seasonal releases, and we begin with the Miss The Marks, those that do not make the pool. 

Missing The Mark

  • Davis Absolute - Eden EP 3.50 Emeralds
  • Deepspace 5 - 5:55 3.75 Emeralds
  • Horizon Music - Victory 4.25 Emeralds
  • The Ongoing Concept - Places 3.75 Emeralds
  • The Porters Gate - Work Songs 4 Emeralds
  • Serge - Rookie Season EP 4.25 Emeralds
  • Sivion - Dark Side of the Cocoon 3.50 Emeralds 
  • K Sparks - Urban Couture 3.50 Emeralds
  • Various Artists - The Hurricane Relief Compilation: 40 Days 3.25 Emeralds
  • Various Artists - The Hurricane Relief Compilation: 40 Nights 3.25 Emeralds 
  • Big Yae - We Gone Shine (Deluxe) 3.75 Emeralds 
Almost a dozen missing the mark. That is a good way to start off the new year. Trust me. The more rejected the easier it is for the cream to rise to the top. And now, The Cream.

Pure Platinum Perfection

  • Julie Elias - A Girl Like Me 5 Emeralds
  • Beautiful Eulogy - Worthy 5 Emeralds
  • Brandon Heath - Faith, Hope, Love, Repeat 5 Emeralds
  • Light City Music - In Rivers 5 Emeralds
  • Red - Gone 5 Emeralds
  • Salt of The Sound - In Prayer EP 5 Emeralds
  • Tye Tribbett - The Bloody Win (Live) 5 Emeralds
  • Various - The Star: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 5 Emeralds
8 Perfect albums, each from a different genre. It's good to spread it around. Now to those in the middle of the pack.

Semi-Precious Metal

  • Adam Agee - Paper Planes EP 4.75 Emeralds
  • Anthem Lights - Painted Skies 4.75 Emeralds
  • Ashes Remain - Let The Light In 4.75 Emeralds
  • August Burns Red - Phantom Anthem 4.75 Emeralds
  • The Knu Black (fka Out of the Blue) - Ohana 4.50 Emeralds
  • B-L'attitude - Elevated Love 4.75 Emeralds
  • Jeremy Camp - The Answer 4.75 Emeralds
  • Carrollton - Everything or Nothing 4.75 Emeralds  
  • Cherry Hills Worship - Cherry Hills Worship 4.75 Emeralds
  • The Gray Havens - Ghost of a King Live 4.75 Emeralds
  • Higher Vision - For Your Kingdom 4.50 Emeralds
  • ICF Worship - The Journey: A Collection 4.50 Emeralds
  • Carmen Justice - Against The Odds EP 4.75 Emeralds
  • KB - Today We Rebel 4.75 Emeralds
  • Tomi Malm - Walking On Air 4.75 Emeralds
  • Mychildren Mybride - Vicious World 4.75 Emeralds 
  • NF - Perceptions 4.75 Emeralds
  • Pursue Worship - Let It Rise (Live) 4.75 Emeralds
  • J Reynolds - Fire and The Flood 4.75 Emeralds
  • Southville - Freedom's Tree 4.75 Emeralds
  • Substance I.O. - Input Output 4.50 Emeralds
  • John Tibbs - Heartland 4.75 Emeralds
  • Micah Tyler - Different 4.75 Emeralds
  • Vineyard Worship - Wear The Crown: Anchour Studio Sessions EP 4.75 Emeralds 
  • C West - Hide and Seek 4.50 Emeralds
Over two dozen in the middle. Where most should be. Looks like the start of a very big year. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.