REVIEW – Beautiful Eulogy ‘Instruments of Mercy’

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There are a bunch of Christian radio stations where I live in Cincinnati, Ohio. Not one of them plays CHH. Sure, you might hear Lecrae every once in a blue moon spitting eight bars on a Britt Nicole song, but this seems to be an exception rather than the rule.

Now, I have a few theories as to why this might be. Maybe, like in my current church, there are thoughts that it “sounds” too secular. Or maybe they endorse a slogan like a radio station I heard growing up: “All the hits, without the rap!” The nice thing is that even if the Christian radio stations in my city do subscribe to either of these schools of thoughts, Instruments of Mercy would still fit right in with the Francesca Battistelli’s and Mercy Me’s.

While the overall mix of Beautiful Eulogy’s debut, Satellite Kite, was good, their sophomore effort (when listened to on decent headphones/speakers) throws the listener into a supernatural auditory environment. From every pluck of a string to each tap of the glockenspiel the album has a majestic feel, seeking to demonstrate the beauty of God Himself.

Instruments plays as smooth as a boys choir and as engaging and accessible as a Francis Chan book. There are some straight hiphop beats (“Vital Lens” and “Organized Religion”), but even these have been given an interesting spin. The album’s first single “Vital Lens” is laced with percussion that sounds like bubbles bursting over a dishpan or can of soda while a sample that sounds like it was pulled straight off of the Tubular Bells soundtrack plays throughout.

On “Exile Dial Tone” (did Courtland sample an actual dial tone and alter the pitch? Sick!) Odd Thomas and Braille explore what it means to be the salt and light. And while Matthew 5:14-16 commissions us to not hide our light, Braille reminds us that “to follow Him will require more than bumper stickers and apparel.”

“Organized Religion” is one of the best tracks on the album. Here, Beautiful Eulogy trades verses with new labelmate Eshon Burgundy and largely unknown Jackie Hill. Each artist takes the position of a body part – ears (Jackie), tongue (Odd Thomas), hands (Eshon) and eyes (Braille). Jackie’s staccato flow fits the beat perfectly and the end of Odd Thomas’s verse is pure gold – “My speech is pathetic, instead of religious rhetoric God give me a better phonetic etiquette.” This is a perfect example of how a concept track should be.

The simple refrain of “who do you think you are?” on “According to God” is enough to make one seriously consider the meaning of their identity. The sad truth is that while many Christians consider themselves to be blood bought, we still think we are our jobs, spouses and hobbies. “According to God” serves as a reminder that even in our failure we are known and loved by the maker of heaven and earth (Romans 8:35-39).

“The Size of Sin” and “The Size of Grace” are two sides of the same coin, and together they provide the thesis of Instruments of Mercy. That God loved mankind so much that his “Innocent blood … was shed to erase every trace of sin for a chosen race,” we should be eternally thankful. These two tracks encapsulate the gospel message in new and creative ways.

This leads into the final track, “Acquired in heaven”, a song that spills conviction of the royalty and supreme authority of Jesus. Braille and Odd Thomas follow through with the charge to “Have a reason for the hope that is within” (1 Peter 3:15). Braille’s verse in particular takes the album to a spiritual climax unmatched in recent memory, with lines like “there is nothing higher, nothing more to acquire, Holy, Holy, Holy! Is the song of the choir” and “We fall before your feet, worshiping at your throne, your face is like carnelian and precious gemstones.”

In the end, Instruments of Mercy is a theological expose, causing the listener to feel as though they have just indulged in a satisfying meal of a Sunday service. It is unapologetic, yet completely apologetic of the Christian faith. Instruments of Mercy is the faith of Abraham, the resolve of Moses and the hope of Jesus all wrapped into a fulfilling forty-seven minutes.

Even as I write this review I am tempted to think that there must be something amazingly profound on this album that has never been said before. In short, my flesh wants to attribute God’s innate ability of creation to man. But as Propaganda spits on the track “Signs and Symbols”: “Scratch your temple, so deep its simple. Silly us ignore the plain, we prefer a riddle.” For all its greatness and glorification of God, all that Instruments employs is a creative rendition of God’s Holy word. Every situation has its place within the spectrum of God’s providence.

Purchase Instruments of Mercy on iTunes and all other digital retailers.

Tracklist:
1. Cello From Portland
2. Vital Lens
3. Exile Dial Tone
4. The Size Of Sin
5. You Can Save Me (feat. MARZ)
6. Instruments Of Mercy (feat. Hello Abigail)
7. Symbols And Signs (feat. Propaganda)
8. Blessed Are The Merciful (feat. Art Azurdia)
9. Release Me From This Snare
10. Organized Religion (feat. Jackie Hill and Eshon Burgundy)
11. According To God (feat. Joseph)
12. Raise The Bridge
13. The Size Of Grace
14. Acquired In Heaven (feat. Josh White)

via Christian Hip Hop & Rap Music Magazine http://www.rapzilla.com/rz/reviews/7383-review-beautiful-eulogy-instruments-of-mercy

Hillsong Zion Acoustic Sessions

By Timothy Yap, BREATHEcast News Reporter

Sitting leisurely in front of cheap Christmas lights in what looks like an overcrowded rehearsal room, the Hillsong United team are a thousand miles away from the blinding house lights of the 20,000 people packed Staples Center.  As the album cover reflects its content, “Zion Acoustic Sessions” is far removed from the cinematic state-of-the-art pop of its earlier counterpart “Zion.”  Rather than the utilization of the latest electronics, the layers of sound and the savvy use of technologies, giving “Zion Acoustic Sessions” its sinew among other things are the use of bells, acoustic guitars, a cacophony of voices and some old fashioned sounding drums. Further, with the album cover’s deliberate blur without an emphatic focus placed on the faces of any of 11 worship team members, the album likewise doesn’t for a moment want us to idolize any of its team members.  Rather, all of these songs are solely focused on Jesus who is essentially the cynosure of this record.  However, in the light of our money pinching economy and the fact that the original version of “Zion” was released 8 months ago, is it justifiable for us to fork out another $9.99 for the acoustic version of 12 tracks which have all been released before?

The answer to this pressing question is a resounding “yes.”  Basically, there are two approaches one could take to generate an acoustic version of a hugely successful album.  First, one could simply minimize the cost and effort by editing out all the electric instruments on the original record and replace them with unplugged musical apparatus. However, such is not the modus operandi of this Australian youthful church team.  Rather, each of these 12 songs are re-told, re-imagined and re-interpreted for a whole different audience.  Instead of just catering to their stadium loving Sunday evening worshipping crowd, “Zion the Acoustic Sessions” functions more like devotional stories narrated for a Friday night Bible study group or for the individual in the midst of his or her personal worship.  Album opener “Relentless,” for instance, shies away from the synth-soaked atmospherics and the celestial haze of the original.  Rather, “Relentless” features a folk-like guitar base with the energetic passion coming from Matt Crocker’s high reaching powerhouse tenor.

Taya Smith on her rendition of the hugely popular “Oceans” shows us this is more than her punch in her time card session work.  Rather, if you listen closely, you will hear her whispering with that desperate heart’s cry, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.” It is as if Smith has just articulated for us what our heavy hearts are trying to say when we are overwhelmed by the oceans of trials.  “Love is War,” which comes from the pen of Joel Houston is one of the best musical treatises to be written against the idolatries of the self and pride.  Assisting him in his marshalling against such sins is the brilliant use of a battle chant of human voices and some militant sounding drums. This time around “Scandal of Grace” has a rootsier interpretation that dresses this theologically rich paean about the atrocity of the Cross in a more plebeian accessible way.

While the original “Mercy Mercy” has a layered synth ethereal wrapping, the acoustic counterpart still retains much of the dreamy worship tenor without the stacked electronic varnish.  Perhaps the only setback to this record is that though they have taken “Zion (Interlude)” out of the track list, they have not stock it up with a new song or two.  Certainly, given their prodigious pool of writers, it wouldn’t too much if they had thrown a new song or two. Nevertheless, “Zion the Acoustic Sessions,” unlike most of Hillsong United’s albums has a warmer and a more matured sound.  And for those who are into trivial pursuits, this is also their first album to actually feature recognizable faces on their album front.

Zion Acoustic Sessions — Relentless — Hillsong UNITED

Kim Walker-Smith

This week we talk to singer, songwriter and worship leader Kim Walker-Smith. As part of the Jesus Culture Band, Kim’s voice is widely recognized, and her solo projects and new album with husband Skyler Smith, have helped make her one of our favorite worship leaders in today’s church. During the rest of the podcast, the crew takes things down a few notches by talking about the wonders of falconry, old band names, and of course, the royal baby.

A big thanks to our sponsor, Audible.com, the leading provider of premium digital spoken audio information and entertainment on the Internet. They’re giving all RELEVANT Podcast listeners a free audiobook! To get yours, click here.

Also thanks to the episode’s sponsor, Tonx Coffee, an amazing new roaster out of LA. They source beans directly from the growers, roast them, and ship within 24 hours so they’re as fresh as can be. For a free sample, check out Tonx.org/RELEVANT.

Subscribe to the RELEVANT Podcast via iTunes, download the episode MP3 here, or add our RSS feed to any other podcast aggregator.

via RELEVANT Magazine http://www.relevantmagazine.com/podcast/kim-walker-smith

Family Force 5 Releases REANIMATED Today

Family Force 5 releases “Reanimated” TODAY! A 12-track electronic album, this will be a digital release with physical copies available on the band’s online store as well as at summer festivals. The album will be a perfect addition to any Family Force 5 collection, as it features three new songs and nine remixes of FF5 songs from releases “III” and “III.V” in addition to classic throwback tunes from “Business Up Front/Party In The Back.”

Some of the remix artists featured on “Reanimated” include Tedashii, The Toxic Avenger, Nico Stadi, McSwagger, Riley Friesen, Smile Future, André Allen Anjos of the RAC, and others. Over 173k fans have already clamored to the recent music video “Chainsaw” (feat. Tedashii), which will be featured on this project. You can watch the video here: http://youtu.be/qdJicpjitMM

Fans can catch FF5 performing many of these new remixed songs during their DJ sets at summer festivals. These parties flaunt the band’s characteristically crazy and notoriously engaging post-show experience.

Summer Schedule:
June 19-21 Alive Festival
June 22 Big Ticket Festival
June 26 Creation East Festival
June 30 The Triple A
July 12 Roller City
July 13 Lifest
July 17 Sonshine
July 20 Beruna Music Festival
Aug 02 Rock the Desert
Aug 09 Creation Northwest

About FAMILY FORCE 5:
Soul Glow Activatur (Solomon Olds), Crouton (Jacob Olds), Fatty (Joshua Olds), Nadaddy (Nathan Currin), Chap Stique (Derek Mount) continue to evolve and create music that take their fans on a journey.
FAMILY FORCE 5’s latest studio album, The Third, marks a dynamic shift and takes the group back to their rock roots, resurrecting the heavy guitars and bombastic beats of their debut. Unadulterated energy ties the band’s unstoppable genre hopping as FAMILY FORCE 5.

FAMILY FORCE 5 has pulled out all the stops to give a hands-on experience to its fans. The band has recorded multiple celebrated music videos involving fans as extras, and has also hosted an intimate acoustic tour entitled, “Rise Up.” All of these efforts point to the band’s rebirth and going back to the roots of who they are as FAMILY FORCE 5.

FAMILY FORCE 5 has earned a loyal following culled from its endless touring, chart-topping albums, and strong success at radio. Singles “Superhero” and “Not Alone” enjoyed considerable time in 2013’s CHR Top 10, while the video for “Wobble” reached number 1 on mtv.com. The group’s previous album, 08’s Dance or Die, debuted at #30 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and at #8 on the Modern Rock chart with 13,000 copies sold in the first week. An Alternative Press magazine cover story followed and the group co-headlined the completely sold-out “Alternative Press Fall Tour” with 3OH!3 and The Maine. Family Force 5 is fresh off a tenacious campaign on the 2013 Rock and Worship Roadshow, and is primed and prepared for another year of party-rock mayhem.

Original article: christianconcertalerts.com/family-force-5-set-to-release-reanimated-digitally-618/

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Marcos Witt en Aqui Entre Nosotros… “Estoy lleno de clavos”

Después de una larga  recuperación de más de tres meses, Marcos Witt contó en una entrevista a Enlace, la experiencia vivida después de romperse los dos tobillos al saltar de un vehículo flotante que se encontraba detenido en el lago Conroe, en las afueras de la ciudad de Houston.

“Me rompí mis dos tobillos, me rompí catorce huesos, tengo veintiún tornillos y clavos de titanio, tres placas en las piernas, ahora sí que soy el hombre de hierro, como dicen los guatemaltecos, estoy llenos de clavos, literalmente los tengo en mis piernas”, dijo Marcos al programa Aquí Entre Nos que dirige Jonás González, presidente de Enlace.

A pesar de que Marcos, muestra una completa recuperación el dice: “Hay pocas actividades que me causan todavía molestias o dolor”.

“La lección aprendida es que ya nunca me bajo de un barco sin saber perfectamente bien lo que me esta esperando allí abajo”, Concluyo Witt.

A continuación les mostramos la entrevista.

 

Articulo original: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0mGC77me20#!

The moment that brought DeAndre and his music back to life

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We all have that catalyst moment, that one situation that makes us turn to God and forces us to weigh our life, the one we have vs. the one we know we ought to have. For DeAndre, it was his parents’ divorce.

Now a 23-year old father and husband, DeAndre grew up not only with music in his house, but with a true resident DJ. His father, a working DJ “always had gigs, but [they were] so diverse. Some days it was country, some days it was gospel, some days it was hip hop, some days it was R&B.”

The divorce happened during his last year of high school, and although he looked for a way out of the stress that came from seeing his family separate, he figured “there’s gotta be more in life than what I’m living for. Chasing this girl, chasing that high, I thought a night out with the fellas would just do I but was never satisfied.”

That is when he remembered the church days. His childhood days that taught him that when things got hard, when he was going through difficult situations, he could and should go to God. So he did and that’s when things started turning around for him and his music. “ I got plugged in at Calvary Chapel (Kendall) and I just started growing from there.”

Before that, DeAndre was already writing music. “I was always writing secular music and selling it to R&B groups, trying to make money off of it.” Part of his growth with God, though, was taking a step back from secular music, and stepping into music that glorified Him.

At the age of 21 he found himself distracted from work, just like every other creative person does. He found himself “writing little rhymes instead of focusing on my job, and it just kept calling me and calling me.” So without previous access to beats or equipment, he decided take his passion serious and make a commitment to what he knows how to do best, music.

Two years later, he’s now getting ready to release his first mix tape. A combination of original songs and covers, including secular ones “with a twist.” Songs that will not only talk about Jesus, but also about hope and life. There’s even a song called CHANGE, which he wrote about his parents’ divorce.

The mix tape may be his first project, but that doesn’t mean it lacks any bit of quality and renowned producers. He worked with Grammy award winning producer Tyshane Thompson, Black Knight, Big Juice and DBC for this project.

Showing his excitement about the project DeAndre said he “spent a lot of time, a lot of passion, wrote a lot of songs that didn’t even make it to the mix tape. I’m excited to hear the feedback.”

Although the mix tape is not out yet, DeAndre is already working on his first EP, a production that’s already getting buzz from some of his close childhood friends, one of which gave him all the beats for it. His friend was encouraged by what he’s doing so “he was just like ‘I just want to bless you with this’ and those beats cost a lot of money, but God is working.”

His support system includes wife, Yajaida Lundy, who met DeAndre while still in high school. “My wife is very supportive of what I do. I spend a lot of our money on my music and for her to just be behind it, that really chokes me up some times because I don’t deserve a woman like this. I’m happy that God has blessed me with a woman like Yajaida.”

DeAndre will be the opening performance for concert closing the three day conference, Life In 6 Words. He’ll be performing alongside Propaganda, Odd Thomas and miami-native Authentik.

You can listen to his music on soundcloud at http://soundcloud.com/deandremuzik