Rachael Yamagata’s self-released album Chesapeake from her own label Frankenfish is thick but not cluttered. It’s like a rich seven layer cake with vocals as the sweet frosting between layers of gooey batter. She claims that the songs are, “deep but not sorrowful” which is confirmed with her haunting yet confident voice. Yamagata doesn’t have to play tricks or work gimmicks to draw an audience. She allures listeners into the music with a sultry voice and a playful, lighthearted accompaniment which comes from a newfound optimism and hopefulness found at the root of her creative process for this album.
Andrew McMahon and the crew of Jack’s Mannequin release their third studio album People and Things this fall. Andrew has never shied away from deep lyrics about healing and uplifting sounds of survival, but Jack’s Mannequin now discloses a deeper relational conversation in People and Things. Andrew notes, “I consider People and Things a relationship record. My goal with many of the songs was to strip away the flowery language and sentiment attached to newer love and replace it with starker, less blinded language about more binding love.”
It’s no surprise that Mutemath’s third studio release Odd Soul is grounded, but unlike previous albums, this one manifests innovation, is high-spirited and industrial. As their first self-produced effort, the band locked themselves into singer/keyboardist, Paul Meany’s New Orleans home studio. “The idea of complete isolation was the only thing that appealed to us,” Meany says. “We didn’t want to make blurry music. We set out to record something that was unapologetically us.” The bands acknowledgement in Jesus and roots in Christianity became a foundational element to this album. “We wanted to celebrate, up front and center, what we used to think was best kept in the shadows, our weird religious roots. The challenge we took on with this record was to become more lyrically honest, vulnerable and specific than before.”
Shane & Shane
The One You Need, Shane Barnard and Shane Everett’s self-written and self-produced album, meets expectations with its consistently beautiful harmonies and liberating lyrics. The album is a cry out to the Lord, proclaiming our desperate need for Him. Though the beats are mellow, the lyrics are a strong, firm declaration of our need to rely on God. Everett states that the album is about community and God’s call for us to walk with one another through our heartache. He exclaims, “Rubbing shoulders with broken hurting people helps us not only in our own struggles, but lets us know how to pray and how much we desperately need it.”
The album Vice Verses started in a graveyard during the recording of Switchfoot’s 2009 release, Hello Hurricane. Vice Verses is about loss as well as cherishing what we have while we’re still alive, the dichotomy of being human. Foreman, lead singer/guitarist, describes it as “a record of tension and release. It’s an attempt to describe the polarity of the human experience. The sunlight and shadow. The highs and lows, laughter and pain, hope and fear, doubts and belief.” Like all their albums, their eighth studio record encourages listeners to take a stand, to take action, to make change in a world because everything has two sides, there is light to overcome the darkness, and there is good that overcomes evil.
Another solid worship album, with fundamental reaffirming messages, The Great Awakening , is the album to listen to when you need to feel God’s presence. Leeland’s worship music is predictable enough to carry you through hard times, but edgy enough to keep listeners interested. The motivation for the record comes from the idea that God has great plans for this generation. As Leeland exclaims, “God is taking us out of a plateau, shaking us up and saying, ‘Don’t cruise anymore’.” This album introduces Shelly Mooring, the Mooring brother’s little sister, on base and harmonies which creates a fanciful flavor to the musical texture. Leeland looked to theologians’ teachings and insights for their lyrical inspiration.