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HOLLIESTEWART Worship Reviewer
Different Stars - Trespassers William
Different Stars - Trespassers William
Based out of Los Angeles, this is one of those indie bands that, should the right ears wake up to hear the sound, won't be without major distribution for very long. Different Stars is a hauntingly glorious CD. Front woman Anna-Lynne Williams sings an evocative alto accompanied by music that can best be described as ethereal. It's mellow enough to serve as background music yet striking enough to fixate your attention. "Lie in the Sound" stands as a hallmark of musical ingenuity, and their cover of "Vapour Trail" had me convinced that they wrote the original song; it is just too good to be a remake. Kudos to guitarist Matt Brown for not only crafting a poignant guitar tone, but also for designing the lovely CD artwork.
Eternity Is Now - Telecast
Eternity Is Now - Telecast
The lead singer of this worship band, Josh White, is one of my pastors, so every Sunday evening I've had the chance to hear a selection of these songs (along with the present-day praise choruses). But don't think that just because he's my pastor means I'll throw out musical critique and say Eternity is Now is enjoyable no matter what it sounds like. This is a fine sophomore follow-up to Beauty of Simplicity. Rather than simply focusing on the wording and leaving the music in an unoriginal, "safe" format, the band crafted an underground sound, raw in nature, with plenty of acoustic guitar, stunning harmonies, and raw piano. One of my favorite tracks is "Absolution," which contains a lullaby-ish guitar with plenty of reverb and soft lyrics: "Want to tell You / Tell You I love You / Just to know You / My sweetest friend." Telecast is one of those worship bands that more than likely won't be seen on the top ten charts, but they've managed to capture a fresh sound and maintain a heart after Christ.
X&Y - Coldplay
X&Y - Coldplay
2005 was the year I caught up with the times and discovered Coldplay. Call them what you will (overrated, sell-outs, musical gurus, etc.), I found their music to be a fitting soundtrack to a rather interesting year. Thanks to the advice of friends, X&Y joined my collection the weekend it released, and it's seldom left my car stereo. "Fix You" took place number one, and it's often been sung at top volume, my tears accompanying the poignant words, "Tears stream down your face / I promise you I will love you for the mistakes." I watched this record help bring healing to several friends, and I myself was touched by its widespread appeal.
Takk... - Sigur Ros
Takk... - Sigur Ros
There's something distinctly different about Sigur Ros, and the difference is all for the better. English speakers take note: this album is sung in Icelandic. But where language remains hidden, there is the most distinct musical mixture I have ever heard. How four band members can create so many sounds is beyond my comprehension. Take sleigh bells, shakers, trumpets, crankers, wind chimes, cellos, synthesizers full of diversity, and the traditional rock instruments of guitar, bass, and drums, and you've simply read the lineup and not experienced the passion. "Glosoli" is sung in a male falsetto and could serve as a soundtrack to the next fantasy blockbuster. The raw energy present on this recording gives me chills and prompts me to prayer. I really believe worship leaders in America need to take a lesson from this seemingly unreligious band and learn how to worship with their entire being.
Open Up The Earth - Jason Upton
#1. Open Up The Earth - Jason Upton
If you know anything about this underground worship artist, you know that he has captured something unique in his approach. His newest recording, Open Up the Earth, contains "songs of the moment," which are songs never before performed until the moment of the service. These songs transform into prayers set to music, and they contain a purity and simplicity that refreshes the soul. The band accompanying Upton continues to grow in skill; pay special attention to the drumbeats and the wind instruments. Open Up the Earth is raw, recorded straight from the soundboard, and the shouts of the crowd only add to the fervor. Upton cries out in the title track, "Invade my way of thinking / Invade my way of seeing You / Invade the way it ought to be / Invade the way it used to be / Let Your glory come down." I'd say that's a fitting prayer for 2006.

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