Tag Archives: GooseRadio Music Review

Best of 2010 – The Top 10 Albums

GooseRadio Reviews 2010 — Relive the year in Kanye’s Tweets here>>

Because Twitter has tainted the way we write, we’re trying something new this year, reviews for our top 10 albums in 140 characters or less. Why? Because we’re hip and modern (and because Alex can’t come up with anything clever to write). Enjoy!

*Album titles link to albums on ITunes…

10) The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

That line from Thoreau, “Most men live lives of quiet desperation,” pretty much sums it up.

Favorite Track: “City With No Children”

9) Sleigh Bells – Treats

See, your music doesn’t have to sound like a cat being run over by a car to be critically acclaimed. It can be both original & accessible.

Favorite Track: “Infinity Guitars”

8 ) VersaEmerge – Fixed At Zero

Fixed At Zero is dark, layered and infinitely more interesting than anything being put out by Versa’s Warped Tour peers.

Favorite Track: “You’ll Never Know”

7) David Gray – Foundling

After last year’s profound Draw the Line breathing in all of life’s heavy questions, Foundling is the quiet exhale.

Favorite Track: “Holding On”

6) Jars of Clay – The Shelter

Simply put, The Shelter is about the love God has for us and the love we’re to show others because of it. (Read Ryan’s different take in his Review Here)

Favorite Track: “Call My Name”

5) The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang

Thank God for The Gaslight Anthem. They make great rock music. Period. No guy-liner. No political sermonizing. Just Rock N Roll. ‘Merica!

Favorite Track: “American Slang”

4) Jimmy Eat World – Invented

Jimmy Eat World continues to do what they do best; create soaring, heart-on-sleeve anthems that get stuck in your head forever.

Favorite Track: “Movielike”

3) Sara Bareilles – Kaleidoscope Heart

Sara Bareilles is charming, witty and sarcastic, all while being vulnerable lyrically and full of hooks musically. She’s pop’s saving grace.

Favorite Track: “Hold My Heart”

2) The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever

Craig Finn’s characters are usually making the wrong decisions, but somehow, he infuses hope and joy into their lives and these songs. (Full Review Here)

Favorite Track: “Hurricane J”

1) Audrey Assad – The House You’re Building

Intelligent and poetic, Audrey Assad sings with a conviction that can only be described as…true.

Favorite Track: “Known”

Reminisce with the Top 10 Albums of 2009 Here>>

Chapman’s ‘Beauty’ a Tale of God’s Faithfulness

I had planned on doing some here-and-there things around my apartment as I turned on Steven Curtis Chapman’s Beauty Will Rise.  I thought I could have it on as background music as I went about my day, but by the middle of the second track, I was glued to my couch, a complete wreck.  I was a wreck because the story being told was so personal and intimate and tragic.  I was a wreck because I couldn’t believe that Steven could sing what he was singing.  I was a wreck because I had to ask myself if I could say those same things about God in similar circumstances.  I was a wreck because I was hearing the most worshipful collection of songs I’d ever heard.  I gave it a week before I wrote that last line.  I didn’t want to be hyperbolic in my assessment or just caught up in the moment, but with a few days between now and my initial listen of Beauty Will Rise, I can honestly say that it is the most emotional, personal and God-honoring album I’ve ever heard.

Steven Curtis Chapman Beauty Will Rise coverC.S. Lewis once said something to the effect that God whispers to us in our pleasure but he shouts to us in our pain, if that’s true, and it is, then Beauty Will Rise is a collection of 12 very loud shouts.  Really, this record is an expression of the Apostle Paul’s statement that we’re to be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”  As to be expected, there is sorrow throughout the album, real, human statements like “I don’t even want to breath right now” and “I screamed till my voice was gone”, but Steven never stays in those places, because for every one of those lines, there are countless others of “I will trust You”, “You are faithful” and “our God is in control.”

There’s an instant emotional impact on Beauty Will Rise because of the story being told, but there’s a deeper acknowledgment throughout every line of every song that God is sovereign, especially in this situation.  It’s that part of the record that makes it so worshipful.  It’s easy to sing silly lines about being “deep in love with You” (sorry to sell you out like that MWS), but as A.W. Tozer said, “Christians don’t tell lies, they sing them.”  There are no lies here.  It’s worshipful because it’s true and not just true, but it all points to the One who is Truth.  God is not blamed, He’s praised, and that honestly puts me at a loss for words except to say that it’s true worship.  Continue to pray for the Chapman family, and do yourself a favor and buy this album.

‘Jimmy Carter, I am NOT a racist!’ – TWG 35

We summarize and disect the week that was. Minneapolis radio personality & GooseRadio contributor Alex joins me to discuss Obama’s trip to Copenhagen, Sarah Palin’s new book, and Matt Damon’s new film The Informant. He also answers the age-old question – why are musicians always so sad?

Then Aaron White of Faith & Geekery.com joins us in our “Geek Beat” feature. Aaron profiles the new Zombieland movie, of which he was treated to an advanced screening. Aaron explains how the movie is surprisingly funny and even… hearwarming?! Also discussed – the new ABC prOgrUm “Flash Forward”.

Finally, Twin Cities’ radio legend & current college professor Mark Seignious joins us from his son’s football game. Mark tells one of the funniest stories you’re going to hear – how his friend fell asleep in the Atlanta airport and wound up launching a loud repudiation of former President Jimmy Carter’s recent statements in his sleep. Also covered is the Obama speech at the UN & new Christian musician Sara Beth Geoghagehan (more info on her after ‘the jump’).

New Artist Sara Beth Geoghagehan (Go-hay-gen) —

Here she is On Facebook & here’s the story from World Magazine mentioned by Mark during the podcast.

Gray’s “Draw the Line” Conveys Beauty & Reality

There’s something in David Gray’s voice on Draw the Line, his 7th studio album, something unpolished and raw that gives the music a depth and feeling that’s not always been there. It’s not always easy to pinpoint exactly what he’s singing about, the lyrics are brilliant and puzzling all at the same time, but you know that whatever it is he’s trying to convey, he really feels it, and he wants you to as well.

Draw the Line teeters back and forth between subdued tracks like the melancholy “Kathleen” and fuller, more robust offerings like the excellent “Jackdaw” and the lead single “Fugitive.” There are even moments when Gray seems to be channeling his greatest influence, Bob Dylan, especially on the title track. However, the most compelling moment on Draw the Line is the closing track “Full Steam”, a vaguely political anthem that’s actually a duet with Annie Lennox.

Throughout Draw the Line there’s a heightened awareness of the human condition in all of its depravity, frailty and mortality. Cryptic lines like “It’s not the flesh we’re after but the howlin’ ghost within” give way to more direct assertions like “If the ground should open up and swallow me it would not stop the minute hand from ticking off.” When you couple that with the Biblical references and strange allusions to God found on the record, Draw the Line makes for a very interesting listen indeed.

There are no love songs or easy answers found here, but what is here is very real. Real truths and feelings conveyed in moving, beautiful ways. Gray’s prior release, Life in Slow Motion, had a sheen, almost a slickness to it, but that’s all been stripped away on this record and we’re left with something quite remarkable.

Alex Whitworth GooseRadio

GooseRadio Review: fun. – “Aim and Ignite”

fun. band pictureIf buying albums was a drug habit, I’d be an addict. Hang with me here, you see, once I’ve listened to an album and a “high” has been achieved, I move on to another band/album/genre looking for a similar, nay, greater rush of emotion and enlightenment. Thus far, 2009 has had a pretty low occurrence of highs. So, it was a welcome and pleasant surprise to happen upon the debut from fun., Aim and Ignite. For the uninitiated, fun. is the new project from Nate Ruess, formerly of The Format, a painfully underrated emopop act that transformed itself into an eclectic pop band on their second, and final release, Dog Problems.

As with any lead singer that departs from one band and forms another, it’s hard not to draw comparisons with their previous efforts. So, I’ll just put it out there up front, Aim and Ignite sounds a lot like Dog Problems…only 10 times better. As a whole, the album feels like a weekend with good friends in a trendy, bohemian neighborhood, a vibe Ruess and Co. only accentuate with lyrics like “Cigarettes are raining hard on the Upper East Side/she brings me a cake/we celebrate/I have arrived” on the plaintive “I Wanna Be the One.”

Yes, calling your band fun. with a lowercase f and a period at the end is confusing and silly, but fun, without a period, is actually a great way to describe Aim and Ignite. As a general rule, I’d be annoyed wiht a song like “Be Calm” which feels schizophrenic at first, but somehow they make the strings and horns come together to create something really quite unique. “All the Pretty Girls” and “Walking the Dog” are literally the catchiest things I’ve heard all year and “At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)” is sing-a-long ode to past indiscretions that doesn’t sound nearly as heavy the lyrics actually are.

Aim and Ignite is a great album to usher in fall.  Is this a timeless release? Probably not. Is it one of my favorite releases this year? Absolutely.

GooseRadio Review – Webb’s “Stockholm” Misguided, but a Remarkable Journey Nonetheless

“Intentionally inorganic” is the phrase Derek Webb uses to describe his latest effort, Stockholm Syndrome, and while his signature acoustic sound may have been replaced with electro-beats and computer-synthesized bells and whistles, the allure of Webb, with his bold, often shocking statements, is still firmly in place.

In fact, its one shocking statement in particular that seems to be making this Webb’s most intriguing and controversial offering to date, but more on that in a moment. Overall, Stockholm Syndrome doesn’t veer far from Derek’s usual topics de jour of social justice and liberty in the Spirit, and perhaps the most moving moment on the record occurs during “The Proverbial Gun”, an analogous tale of a murderer being set free despite his crimes, in which he strains his voice to sing the word “free” over and over.

Derek Webb Stockholm Syndrome Album CoverNot to question the artist, but instead of “intentionally inorganic,” perhaps “free” or “freedom” would be better suited to describe the heart of this record. Lyrically and stylistically, Webb seems to be flipping the bird at convention with one hand while holding a Bible in the other to back up his reasoning for doing so. In short, what should be a convicting album comes off as condescending. For example, in “The Spirit Vs. The Kick Drum”, Webb proclaims, “I don’t want the Son, I want a jury of peers…I don’t want the Father, I want a vending machine.” These can be accurate and arresting statements but one never feels as if Derek is singing about himself but rather “those types of Christians.”

Just about every song on the record is provocative in some sense, whether it’s the strange tune “Freddie, Please” written to Fred Phelps, the unsavory “pastor” behind God Hates Fags, or the nearly danceable “Jena & Jimmy” which seems to be a cautionary tale about a one night stand. Of course, the most talked about track on the album is “What Matters More” a song so controversial that it’s forced Webb’s label to release an “explicit” and “clean” version of the record when the physical release hits stores September 1st (the album is already available as a digital download). There are several layers to the song both sonically and lyrically, but at its core is the question, “Does someone’s sexual preference really matter when compared to all the suffering in the world?” A reasonable question, but Webb’s method of questioning is, well, questionable as he sings:

If I can tell what’s in your heart by what comes out of your mouth
Then it sure looks to me like being straight is all it’s about
It looks like being hated for all the wrong things
Like chasin’ the wind while the pendulum swings

‘Cause we can talk and debate until we’re blue in the face
About the language and tradition that he’s comin’ to save
Meanwhile we sit just like we don’t give a sh*t
About 50,000 people who are dyin’ today

Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?

The word around the blog-o-sphere (the internet is always reliable, right?) is that the “give a sh*t” line is derived from a Tony Campolo quote of the same nature where he asserts that 50,000 people are dying every day and we’re more concerned about the fact that he said sh*t. It’s a somewhat legitimate point, but the message of dying people gets lost in the medium of a profanity.

To be sure, Stockholm Syndrome is not background music. It’s intelligent, thought-provoking and challenging, and even with its finger-pointing and misguided barbs, its well worth your time and attention.

Derek Webb Concert

Piece contributor Alex Whitworth is a radio personality in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. A graduate of Northwestern College, Saint Paul, he’s the recipient of a rich tradition of media and music passed down in his family.