I’ll be perfectly honest – I haven’t been as thorough scouring music releases this month as I have in months past. Life has been crazy lately, because we had Share-A-Thon at Power FM just last week. Anyone in listener-supported radio can attest to how hectic that time and the weeks surrounding it can get. It’s incredibly rewarding and a lot of fun, but also busy and stressful. So I apologize if I missed something truly brilliant, but I’m going to use my job as an excuse this time around.
Also, if I did miss something that deserves to be on this list more than these five, please tell me, because these albums are great.
Canopy Climbers – Fever
Canopy Climbers describe themselves as “stitched together by technology,” explaining that all three members live in different cities. They record their albums over the internet, sending parts back and forth and adding layers as they compose. So basically, they’re the exact same band as The Postal Service, except they don’t have Benjamin Gibbard. Or Dntel. Or a song in basically every UPS commercial for a few years. Also, their sound is closer to Passion Pit than The Postal Service.
Still, I think my point stands.
Where past projects from Canopy Climbers have had more obviously spiritual messages, Fever is a collection of love songs. Lead singer Alan Thomas explained that the title track was written about his recent marriage and the new level of intimacy found within the relationship, and that seems to be the theme of the whole album. The bright, multi-layered synth pop sound suits the message well.
Josh Garrels is the dictionary definition of an artist with a cult favorite artist. He’s hardly a household name, but I’ve never talked to anyone who’s heard his music and says, “Eh, he’s all right.” Josh Garrels’ fans are die-hard fans, and rightfully so. In my book, he is one of the best lyricists writing today. Add in his beautiful arrangements with unique, wandering falsetto vocals, and you’ve got some consistently great folk music.
Known originally for his work with Thrice, Dustin Kensrue has been building a pretty solid career as a solo artist. Where Thrice had a heavier, punk and metal-based sound, Kensrue’s solo work has bent more towards folk and Americana. After last year’s worship album, Dustin is back to the rootsy, gritty sound that defined his earlier work. Carry the Fire deals a lot with darker themes like sin nature, unhealthy relationships, and evil in the world, but there is an underlying message of hope. Carry the Fire is like a heavier Tom Petty album, and that’s perfectly all right with me.
Usually, I hate it when I don’t like a band and someone tells me “you just have to let them grow on you.” I’m not interested in putting forth effort to enjoy a band, thank you very much. Every now and then, though, a band comes along that’s worth the effort. Children 18:3 is one of those bands. I was never a big fan of them until last year, when they announced that they’d be releasing one last album before breaking up. Somehow, that made things click for me. I went back and listened through their catalog, and fell in love.
Children 18:3’s final album may be their most accessible, but it also happens to be their best. Big, distorted guitar riffs, frantic drums, and passionate vocal delivery make this a must-listen for punk rock fans who’ve gotten sick of the pop-ification of the genre.
It’s a little intimidating to write anything about this album, because Joel McKerrow is clearly a billion times better with words than I am. He has a long list of credentials, which can best be summed up by saying, “He’s won a lot of prestigious poetry things.”Welcome Home is a blend of spoken word, folk, and ambient music. McKerrow paints beautiful, moving pictures with the words he uses and the stories he tells, often contrasting his passionate delivery with melodic, laid-back female vocals. Even if you don’t think you like spoken word poetry, give this album a shot. It’s gorgeous.
Also, he has an Australian accent. Everyone loves Australian accents.