Crowder – American Prodigal: Out of the ruins, back to communion.

2016_crowder_americanprodigalArtist: Crowder
Album: American Prodigal
Year: 2016
Grade: B

In Brief: The genre mash-up works a lot better here than it did on Neon Steeple, feeling more like a statement of identity than a mere gimmick. What Crowder may lack in lyrical specificity, he more than makes up for by bringing urban and rural sounds together in intriguing ways.

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Gungor – One Wild Life: Body – We’ve come a long way, we keep on evolving.

2016_gungor_onewildlifebodyArtist: Gungor
Album: One Wild Life: Body
Year: 2016
Grade: B

In Brief: While Soul still has the highest concentration of my personal favorite songs from the One Wild Life trilogy, the sheer ambition of Body and the stylistic ground covered here is hard to ignore. It’s a brave, albeit imperfect and somewhat awkwardly paced, album from a band that continues to challenge the notion of what “Christian music” should be about.

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Gungor – One Wild Life: Spirit – Consonance isn’t always peaceful. Dissonance isn’t always evil.

2016_Gungor_OneWildLife_SpiritArtist: Gungor
Album: One Wild Life: Spirit
Year: 2016
Grade: B-

In Brief: While more upbeat and rhythmic than its predecessor Soul, Gungor stumbles slightly in the lyrics department here by being a little too vague about their spirituality at times while being a little too didactic when they get more specific. I don’t disagree with anything they’ve got to say here; I just question whether this is the best way to present these thoughts in musical form.

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Gungor – One Wild Life: Soul – You cannot love in moderation.

2015_Gungor_OneWildLifeSoulArtist: Gungor
Album: One Wild Life: Soul
Year: 2015
Grade: B

In Brief: At times immediate and delightful, and at times slow, cerebral and perplexing, the opening chapter in Gungor’s new trilogy of albums celebrates the gift of life and the sense of loving unity that should be felt when Christians are at their best, at times coming back around to embrace the “contemporary worship” tag we once applied to their music, while still challenging the norms of that genre in fascinating ways.

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Crowder – Neon Steeple: Open the door and see all the party people.

2014_Crowder_NeonSteepleArtist: Crowder
Album: Neon Steeple
Year: 2014
Grade: B

In Brief: While the genre mish-mash gets a bit gimmicky and it doesn’t quite have the depth of the David Crowder Band’s best albums, I appreciate Crowder’s ongoing commitment to being creative and eclectic within the confines of “modern worship”.

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The Digital Age – Evening:Morning: Can we just call them “The * Band?”

2013_TheDigitalAge_EveningMonringArtist: The Digital Age
Album: Evening:Morning
Year: 2013
Grade: B

In Brief: Several members of the David Crowder Band have soldiered on without Crowder… and while the results aren’t terribly surprising or deep, this is still a pretty solid, rock-oriented worship album, and I say that at a point in my life where I’m not at all easily impressed by such things.

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Future of Forestry – Advent Christmas Volume 3: Indie Holiday Hymns for All Ye Faithful

2013_FutureofForestry_AdventChristmasEPVol3Artist: Future of Forestry
Album: Advent Christmas EP, Volume 3
Year: 2013
Grade: B-

In Brief: Pretty, but a bit too restrained. While I appreciate their takes on lesser-known and more “classical” Christmas carols than the usual fare, the self-production and some of the instrumental choices can often feel like something’s being held back that keeps these carols from bring as inspiring as the best versions from FoF’s first two Christmas EPs. At other times, it feels like they’re trying too hard to reconstruct the exact same formula that made those EP’s a breath of fresh air back when they were new.

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