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2015 was a tumultuous year for music at least in my head. I bought quite a few, streamed a whole bunch, and went through this jaded sort of mindset where I wanted to put IVM behind me. Somehow through all the noise and chatter I found solace in the music, peace through my Faith and the family around me. Through it all, I decided to reboot Indie Vision Music and carry on this passionate desire to share my love of music with a global audience who are thirsting for NEWS. Insight into my mind is a grueling job and knowing just what I think is probably the hardest thing to convey. I’ve always loved music. It gives me this peace of mind when the world around us seems to fall apart. It gives way to this sort of cathartic, healing through guitar strumming, bass thumping, drum pounding, and vocals that seem to inspire. This my friends is MY list. Feel free to dissect and offer up judgmental condemnation 😉 I kid I kid. My listening habits have drifted between my own library and what is found on Spotify. This year found me exploring “Streaming” a bit more and buying a tad less. Still I’m confident in the releases below making my favorite tunes of 2015. (Not all these releases are in any sort of order and I just randomly jotted down a bunch of favorites in numbered format).
- Attalus “Into the Sea” [Facedown Records]
Somehow through all the noise this record just hit it home. It is a heavily concept driven record but don’t let that stop you from enjoying each of the 16 songs. Facedown has always been known for not just heavy music but also the diversity of their artists. Attalus is certainly a fine example of Jason and the Facedown team taking a chance on a fine band that has hopefully paid off for the indie label.
- State Champs “Around the World and Back” [Pure Noise Records]
Pop-Punk is an often over used term and one that either brings cringe worthy hate of adoring admiration. In the case of this band it is definitely the latter. From the moment I heard the new song before this album released, I knew it would be an album I would enjoy. The band isn’t breaking any new ground but that isn’t an issue. What this band creates is addictive pop-punk with heart and a knack for melody. What New Found Glory did over 15 years ago lives on in the music of bands like State Champs but with a modern edge. Check it out.
- Courage, Dear Heart “The Future Was Now” [Independent]
Jon Ladd former frontman for the Screaming Giant and New School Records’ band 7-10 Split came out of retirement earlier this year and dropped some new music on an unsuspecting crowd earning an instant fan in me. Following up that last 7-10 Split record “Kill the Messenger” on New School Records (2004), this record puts all that prior music to shame. Jon Ladd has always had a great punk rock voice and knack for making melodic music sure to put a smile on anyone’s face. Where 7-10 Split went down the early Thrice/Glasseater/Death by Stereo path back in the early 00’s, this album takes him in a straight up melodic punk rock sound full of big sounding tunes drenched in melody. The production is great for an independent release and the quasi-cosmic punk rock takes the project in a new direction. I highly recommend this album.
- Metanoia “Chili-Nation” [Thumper Punk Records]
I loved that song “Hope” released by Metanoia a year ago and just knew that the band’s first English speaking full length would be a great one. I was one of the kickstarter backers when they first announced they’d be recording a new album. It’s a raw, completely organic approach to punk rock unlike most of their English speaking punk contemporaries. “Chili-Nation” is not only a great representation of what a bunch of believers from the country of Chile can accomplish but also the music of what punk musicians SHOULD sound like. The guest vocals of Ted Bond (Craig’s Brother) and Peter118 add a nice touch to this already exceptional album. Go into this record with an open mind and take a chance on a little Chilean punk rock band.
- Spoken “Breathe Again” [Artery Recordings]
Spoken, Matt especially, are real troopers and continue to tread the waters of an unpredictable music market when so many bands fall to the wayside. Spoken have again created an exceptional rock album continuing on a steady path after the release of “Illusion” just two years ago. These prolific songwriters have created an album worthy of praise. Filled to the brim with guitar solos, heavy bass, and hard hitting drum beats along with exceptional production. This is one rock album you definitely don’t want to miss out on.
- Coheed and Cambria “The Color Before the Sun”
This is the first non-concept record from these new millennium prog-rock band and I love it. I always felt as though Coheed made albums with really strong “singles” but a bunch of filler material that would bore the non listeners. This album however fills the void of filler vs. singles and makes an entire album worthy of repeat listens. Sure there is some explicit material but it’s an enjoyable listen nonetheless. After the missteps of “The Afterman:Ascension/Dissension”, this album was a welcome change.
- Five Iron Frenzy “Between The Pavement and Stars” [Independent]
You know this is an easy choice for me. Anytime FIF has a release, it’ll more than likely end up on my list. This collection of songs is basically a bsides release of songs that didn’t make the cut on “Engines of a Million Plots” of which I don’t know why because they are each great in their own way. With everything from the title track to the Westboro response “God Hates Flags” to the Scott Kerr led version of “Blizzards and Bygones” to “Boomerang” and “Into the Storm” and finally the folk-rock take on “To Astoria”, everything about this release screams diversity. Even though i’m still holding out hope for a return to some of the SKA of their earlier material, you can’t help but appreciate the diverse music of this 8 piece band.
- ForeverAtLast “Ghosts Again” [Victory Records]
This female led punk rock band has created one of the catchiest spiritually engaging punk albums in quite awhile. This band rose from the ranks of independent stardom to the tour heavy, road tested band they are today. Victory, despite what you think of them, has always had a knack for putting out high quality production related releases over their history. With a focus on melody and harmonies, this group takes punk with a spiritual bent in a whole new direction. I can’t think of another band like them out there right now besides a few songs from Children 18:3, so this is a welcomed addition to anyone’s library/playlist. “Ghosts Again” is a solid album full of great songs meant to inspire and offer up a piece of positivity among an often times cynical scene.
- Florence + The Machine “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful”
Following up “Lungs” and “Ceremonials” is a difficult task considering both those albums are highly regarded as just great music. “How Big How Blue How Beautiful” is a soaring album full of big hooks, haunting melodies, and that beautiful full voice of Florence Welch. Where some bands are led by their instruments, this artist is completely led by her unmistakable voice and talent. I suggest you pick this one up.
- NYVES “Anxiety”/ Low & Behold “Uppers” [Spartan Records/Northern Records]
I am combining these two excellent records featuring Demon Hunter’s Ryan Clark on lead vocals because they are not only great in their own right but also because there is a certain unmistakable sound that Ryan has going for him. While NYVES treads the delicate balance of electronic music with a haunting, moody delivery thanks to the programming skills of Randy Torres (Ex-Project 86). On the other end of the spectrum is the guitar heavy melodies of Jason Martin (Starflyer 59) who drives the sound of Low & Behold while also featuring a moody yet inspired delivery by Ryan Clark. So what you have here is one industrial/electronic/synth project and a new wave/goth like project all wrapped up into one nicely produced Ryan Clark vocal delivery. If you loved Demon Hunter’s metal sound, you wont like this, if you loved Demon Hunter’s softer moments, you’ll dig this. Totally different styles yet featuring that unmistakable voice you’ve come to love in Ryan Clark.
- Millencolin “True Brew” [Epitaph Records]
These road tested, legendary, punk pioneers from Sweden are back with an explosive new album sure to win over past Millencolin fans as well as melodic punk fans in general. Do we still use the term “Skate Punk” in 2015? Well probably not but this is basically that. Filled with fast beats, edgy melodies, and a sound all their own. With a band that has consistently released solid music for over 20 years, you know what you’re going to get but sometimes you may get a little anxious in the wait period between albums. Fear not, friends, this is one heck of a fine album by anyone’s judgment standards and certainly one you don’t want to miss out on. I would say this is the band’s strongest work since Pennybridge Pioneers back in 1999/2000.
- Superheaven “Ours is Chrome” [Side One Dummy]
With the release of “Jar” back when they were known as “Daylight” I knew this was a band to keep my eye on. They have this new school post-grunge sound that would have been right at home in the early-mid 90’s while exploring themes and styles current to today’s standards. It’s a moody sound but then again their sound holds true to many bright spots. It’s not quite “Down in a Hole” nor is it “Spoonman” but what it lacks in “Come As You Are”, it more than makes up in “Ours is Chrome” which is following a style all their own.
- The Story So Far “The Story So Far” [Pure Noise Records]
Gritty and loud punk rock from this band on their 3rd proper full length release. This self titled album is so much better than 2013’s “What You Don’t See” although it holds that same unmistakable Story So Far “sound”. If you’re any fan of melodic punk rock, you’re going to need this in your collection.
- Dustin Kensrue “Carry the Fire” [Vagrant Records]
Dustin has been on somewhat of a prolific songwriting dance since the Thrice hiatus. Releasing two new albums under his name as well as music from his The Modern Post project all in the span of just a couple of years. This one finds Dustin moving past the more “Worship” sounds of his last full length and revisiting the themes of his first proper full length “Please Come Home” back 2006. The spiritual undertones are still there but a little more subdued compared with full on worship of recent material. With more Thrice on the way in 2016, you can’t help but be inspired by the music of Dustin Kensrue and get excited for his next chapter.
- Brian Wilson “No Pier Pressure”
Brian is one heck of pioneering musician, songwriter, and vocalist. Making music for more than 50 years is a feat worthy of praise in any critic’s journal/music mag. I don’t think Brian got quite the admiration and exposure for this album that is rightfully deserved. This album rides the recent Beach Boys reunion and takes music in the direction HE wants to go rather than fight with aging Beach Boys members who all want to do their own thing. Mike Love was dumb for kicking Brian Wilson out of Beach Boys at the end of their 50th anniversary tour. At least we were blessed with this fine collection of songs. It has everything from the dreamy beach inspired tunes to disco type tunes, and everything in between. “No Pier Pressure” is the album The Beach Boys should have made for their post-reunion. The guest list on this album was impressive featuring a cast of characters involving Al Jardine (Beach Boys), She & Him (Zoey Deschanel), Kacey Musgraves, Nate Ruess (Fun), and more. Such a great dreamy pop record ripe for exposure.
- We Are the Union “Keep It Down” Ep
The ska-punk delivery of this band is nothing short of magical. Taking cues from bands that came before them like Less Than Jake and even Five Iron Frenzy while paving their own unique and original sound. Superbly produced and featuring anthems perfect for a warm sunny day. This is a great ep for summer.
- Phinehas “Till The End” [Artery Recordings]
Of all the metalcore bands running today, these guys are a notch above the rest. Their hard hitting, spiritual anthems of hope are so much better than the majority of bands they run with these days. I would go as far to proclaim they fill the void left by the absence of As I Lay Dying and do it with finesse. If you’re looking for a highly competent and incredibly talented metal band, these guys are the real deal.
- Ethan Luck & The Intruders “Ep” [Independent]
Ethan takes his sound somewhere between Social Distortion and Face to Face. Those are two entirely different bands but that awesome combo works with Ethan’s gritty punk oriented voice. The backing music is fine as is evidenced by Ethan’s hard charging guitar work. There is even BGVs provided by Tim Skipper of House of Heroes fame which is an extra notch in the coolness factor of this little ep. Ethan Luck has a rich and diverse history with music. He has contributed to projects such as The OC Supertones, Value Pac (Incognito album), Dingees, Project 86, Pax, Demon Hunter, and many more. He is an excellent studio musician and this ep is further evidence of that fact.
- Lovelite “Hopeful Strangers” [Independent]
This So Cal indie worship group is definitely talented at what they create. Coming up style wise as a cross between indie pop and 80’s new wave. Sort of a combo between Tears for Fears, Jimmy Eat World, Death Cab for Cutie, and Berlin. Diversity is something this group doesn’t shy away from and “Hopeful Strangers” is the perfect inspiration to take your worship in a whole new direction.
- Talkie “Hablas” [Slospeak Records]
This four piece from Northern California rocks like something direct from the 1970s while also taking cues from modern indie rock. Weezer meets late Beatles meets Beach Boys meets Fountains of Wayne meets Vampire Weekend meets Brandtson. It’s a concept of sorts considering the length of album (16 Tracks). While some of the vocals sound a little “off” comparing to some of the stuff from Vampire Weekend, don’t let that sway you from enjoying the album as whole. These former members of great indie bands I have enjoyed over the years, Blood & Water and I Am Empire, have created something truly unique and amongst the whole “Christian” crowd, is a welcome addition. I am still holding out hope though for a Blood & Water reunion/new album 🙂
- Seeker & Servant “You Alone Forever” [Independent]
I can’t think of another independent band I appreciate more than this little group. Seeker & Servant continue to produce excellent music worthy of admiration. Sure it’s worship music and of the indie rock genre but don’t let that stop you from feeling inspired. In the past 5 years the term “indie worship” has gone from relative obscurity to being the industry powerhouse it is today. These guys rank as one of my favorites in that specific genre (if you can even call it that). I encourage you to check this album out and give the band your time, to listen and enjoy.
- Seaway “Colour Blind” [Pure Noise Records]
This relatively unknown label as of a couple of years ago has progressed into the punk rock and hardcore super label at present time. Nurturing and releasing such dynamic albums from bands like State Champs, Handguns, Seaway, The Story So Far, Four Year Strong, Counterparts, Forever Came Calling, Senses Fail, Jule Vera, Hit the Lights, Gnarwolves, Brigades, and more. Most of those aforementioned artists released new albums in 2015. Anyway, Seaway has made a completely solid new full length album for their label Pure Noise and doesn’t hesitate for a second at delivery quality pop-punk. Some of “Colour Blind” you may have heard before but that shouldn’t cause you to bail on the band and forget to give them a chance. Seaway is a band to watch on the rise and one that I’m sure will be propelled to super stardom soon enough.
- Vocal Few “The Dream Alive” Ep [Bad Christian/Independent]
Matt MacDonald has been somewhat of a prolific songwriter in recent years. Creating some great albums with his full time band, The Classic Crime, as well as releasing 3 incredible eps with the project Vocal Few (with his wife Kristie MacDonald). Matt’s smooth voice is backed up superbly by his wife and they create this perfect combination of dreamy, acoustic pop-rock sure to bring a smile to your face. The piano, acoustic guitars, and their voices mesh well, enough to warrant many listens.
- xDefiantx “Fourth Plague” [On The Attack Records]
This mostly unheard little hardcore gem from California based band, xDefiantx came out of nowhere for me. I didn’t know what to expect when I was given this album (thank you David!). It carries a now “classic” hardcore sound by today’s standards but still carries a modern enough edge to keep it from completely riding the nostalgia bandwagon. Their sound has this raw feel to it and I can envision sweaty underground clubs/venues with tons of circle pits and mics thrown in fan’s faces for that hardcore bgv beatdown 🙂 Their sound falls somewhere between Judge, Strife, Snapcase, No Innocent Victim, and Unashamed. OLD SCHOOL! Fourth Plague knocks down hardcore barriers, brings everybody together, and hits you with a heavy dose of positivity.
- Carly Rae Jepsen “E.mo.tion”
Is this one of those pop albums I should be ashamed for listening to? Heck no. It’s so fun, poppy and reeks of new millennium relationship advice but who am I to judge? Yeah so back to the music. It’s a straight up pop record and there is something charming about the music that keeps me listening to the tunes plus my kids like a few tracks. I’m not a creeper I swear, I just for whatever reason dig this album. There I said it.
- Four Year Strong “Self Titled” [Pure Noise Records]
The band hits back hard with their first full length since the release of critically derided album “In Some Way, Shape, or Form” back in 2011. This album finds the punk rock band doing what they do best, writing explosive new school jams sure to get people on their feet and fists in the air. For you new school fans looking for something similar to past bands like New Found Glory, and The Movielife, this band is for you. Their sound is more in line with a melodic hardcore band yet without the screaming vocals and would fit nicely on a bill with Set Your Goals. This is a solid album and a fine return to form for the band. If you’re into The Story So Far, Forever Came Calling, or any of the stuff on Pure Noise, you’re going to love this album.
- Glower “The Circle Binds” [Broken Circles Records]
I’m still waiting on my vinyl copy of this from Broken Circles Records which I fear will never happen so I guess I lost my money, oh well. Besides that negative aspect, I am captivated by Joshua Silbernagel (Ex-Hands) and his new band, Glower. They have that classic alternative rock sound so many of their influences played 20+ years ago but with a modern tint so much so that it certainly keeps this record from sounding like a stale retread of the past. Joshua has the melody and rock aesthetic. These 9 songs are full of big soaring melodies and crunchy, spacey type guitar work. Oh and to Broken Circles, I’d really appreciate some sort of response as to where my vinyl disappeared to. Anywho…..
- Brookhurst “Brookhurst” [Independent]
This melodic punk bands falls somewhere between Craig’s Brother, Slick Shoes, and Staring Back, Inspection 12, and Yellowcard. Featuring members of Hey Mike and Craig’s Brother, the sound of this new band doesn’t stray too far from the path set by their influences. They aren’t reinventing the wheel but that doesn’t matter when it comes to a solid punk rock release. This band knows how to bring it all together and make something original enough that it’ll get people talking. The sad truth is that this band has mostly gone unheard by the masses so do yourself a favor and check this album out.
- Children 18:3 “Come In” [Tooth & Nail]
This is the band’s 4th full length on T&N and a fine album. What we thought was going to be their swan song, might not be? These three siblings have consistently made music to be enjoyed by the masses yet they remain a relatively unknown band. They are road tested and have been together more than a decade, it’s a shame they aren’t bigger than they are. I have always loved the dual vocals of Lee Marie and her brother David. It’s gritty, raw, yet featuring production that would rival most independent bands of their caliber. The band aren’t making anything entirely “groundbreaking” but who cares, this is punk rock not science. Some bands you just think, “man, I loved their first two albums but I don’t know, they’ve changed so much and I don’t think I like it…” but don’t worry the same can’t be said for Children 18:3. Continuing to release albums that all stack up to be remarkable pieces of punk rock art.
- Jule Vera “Friendly Enemies” [Pure Noise Records]
This female led alt rock band released their Pure Noise debut full length earlier this year and it is just a great piece of music by any standard. Taking cues from other like minded bands akin to Flyleaf, Pvris, and Paramore while combining their own elements and influences to create an album unlike most others. I was a little late into getting this album but once I did, I completely enjoyed it.
- Emery “You Were Never Alone” [Bad Christian Music]
At first listen I was hesitant to enjoy this album completely. I really didn’t spin it again until recently where I rediscovered my simple love of Emery and their catchy brand of screamo-rock music. This album is as strong as anything in their past discography and certainly continues to inspire a whole new generation of music fan. Despite what you think of their “Bad Christian” thing, you just can’t help but be touched by their music. You Were Never Alone takes the best moments of their first 3 records and wraps them up in one tasty morsel for consumption by your ear drums.
- Racing on the Sun “Save Me” Ep/Single [Independent]
This band really arrived from nowhere for me. Some fan/reader shared their band link/music with me via Facebook and I took a dive right into it. Their sound really is reminiscent of early Anberlin mixed with a little Acceptance, Armor for Sleep, and Watashi Wa. It’s actually really good stuff for an independent band. I expect big things to roll their way in the near future.
- Knuckle Puck “Copacetic” [Rise Records]
This Rise Records band impressed me with their debut label full length titled “Copacetic”. Rise has been truly diversifying their roster in recent memory and signing this pop-punk band was probably a great move seeing as how I’m not the biggest fan of their more metalcore/screamo type bands. This highly addictive and instantly entertaining full length is sure to slap a smile on any early Drive Thru Records fan’s face. Sharing more in common with artists like New Found Glory, The Movielife, Home Grown, Allister, and Fenix Tx, than they do with the more snotty faux british accent pop-punk of old. The is pop-punk for a new generation and should please any fan of the Pure Noise Records roster.
- Frank Turner “Positive Songs for Negative People” [Xtra Mile Recordings/Polydor] Frank’s music is poppy enough for alt-rock fans and gritty enough to please fans of punk rock. Sharing a lot more in common with The Gaslight Anthem than the Mumford and Sons end of the alt-rock spectrum (two polar opposites, I know). This excellent release is a no brainer on my “list”.
- Turnover “Peripheral Vision” [Run For Cover Records]
Dreamy indie rock with a slight 90’s alt rock influence. Three indie labels that I feel have a grip on the most current sounds permeating the scene are Pure Noise Records, No Sleep Records, and the people at Run For Cover Records. These guys all have their hands on the pulse of popular music and make the right decisions in who they sign. This band is certainly no exception to that rule.
- Surpasses “Surpasses” Ep [On The Attack Records]
Found this ep late in the game but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a solid release for 2015. Melodic hardcore with heart. This new young band was discovered by On The Attack Records and promoted globally so that people like me could hear it. Such a great ep release. David and On The Attack Records has been finding impressive new talent and releasing their new stuff on the masses. This band plays a sort of melodic hardcore style with some spoken word thrown in their for good measure. They kind of remind me of Life In Your Way for some odd reason and that’s a good thing.
- Lights Go Down “We Kept it Alive” [Independent]
Jason has dove right back into pop-punk following his departure from Hawk Nelson a few years back. His unmistakable voice is front and center matched with perfection to the raging pop-punk sound found on this Ep. While Hawk Nelson drifts into some sort of cheese ball CCM genre, Jason Dunn takes the reigns back to his own unique stamp and blasts through the chains that held him back to create this exceptional new ep. If the band goes the independent route, more power to them but if a “Christian” label actually took a ballsy chance and signed them, they would strike music gold. Lights Go Down and At The Wayside are proudly carrying the pop-punk banner for like minded Christians wading through an uncertain time in the industry and weathering whatever storms are tossed in their direction. CCM likes to play it safe signing the same stale rock bands and releasing a gazillion albums from the existing artists on all their rosters. I mean do we honestly need another Third Day, Skillet, or Newsboys album? No offense to any of those artists it just feels like to me, it’s the same thing over and over and that recycled music mentality capitalizes more on fan nostalgia rather than doing anything “new”. Sorry for the rant here on a Lights Go Down review, I’m just being honest, right? So if any label rep is reading my “list” and is curious about current music that spells a “hit”, then check this ep out.
- Fireflight “Innova” [Independent]
The band returns with their 5th full length release and first as an independent band. I think it was good for them to go this independent route and shake off any label constraints they may have had. The sound on this record is by far just as good as anything on their previous full lengths if not better. They explore similar themes to past work while also dabbling in more electronic/pop song structures. It’s a great addition I think and perfectly complements their female fronted “rock” music. Some people whined about this album not sounding as “good” as prior stuff but I actually like it more than “Now” which was released back in 2012. The addition of Stephen Christian (Anberlin/Anchor and Braille) on the track “Safety” was a surprise addition for me and is definitely a solid tune which shows the strengths of both singers.
- Hawthorne Heights “Hurt” [Independent]
This (now) classic sound Hawthorne Heights has been defined by is back and louder than ever. The band has never completely departed their sound although there were a few missteps in their career. Following such emo hits like “The Silence in Black and White” and “If Only You Were Lonely” has been difficult for the band. Don’t get me wrong, “Fragile Future” and “Skeletons” had their moments as have some of the past few years of eps but this new one is a step back in the direction they started. Great stuff.
- Before Their Eyes “Midwest Modesty” [InVogue Records]
It’s interesting I put this after Hawthorne Heights considering their two sounds aren’t really all that different from each other. They are each impressive in their own rights and have charted a similar course over the past 10 years or so (although Before Their Eyes were much more of a hardcore band in their earlier years). Nick Moore has a knack for producing/writing quality music with his band and this release is further proof of the power in the InVogue Records roster of which I am just rediscovering.
- What’s Eating Gilbert “That New Sound You’re Looking For” [Hopeless Records]
This unique “band” which is basically just a side project from New Found Glory member, Chad Gilbert. The sound is a completely different direction from his day job with NFG. He takes 50’s soda shop pop rock and mixes it with modern aesthetics for a sound all his own.
- Third Eye Blind “Dopamine”
This is a fine return to form for everyone’s favorite late 90’s alt rock band, Third Eye Blind. “Dopamine” doesn’t drastically alter their past sound but takes the band in a new direction while also still holding their hands on the past. I actually dug Dopamine so much more than Ursa Major, their last proper full length.
- Sins “Divider” [Independent]
This is the second full length (and third release) for Joseph Milligan’s (Anberlin) alt-punk project, Sins. I’ve always dug Joey’s guitar work since his days with Sagoh 24/7 and especially Anberlin. His has a wide range of talent from years of experience and it clearly shows in the songwriting on this new effort. The only downside to this release could possibly be the production as the music and vocals sound a bit distorted and without a lot of bass coming through. I don’t know if that is due to the compressed audio files that were available on his bandcamp page. Still a solid release that shows his range as a guitarist, producer, and songwriter.
- Of Monsters and Men “Beneath the Skin” [UMG Recordings]
The soft (dreamy) indie rock band returns with their brand new full length release. Following up where “My Head is an Animal” from a few years back with even further mood enriched indie rock meant to keep your toes tapping and your voice singing along in unison. Led by the strong single “Crystals” which you may have heard on various alt-rock stations. Overall, I definitely dug this new album and find it quite charming.
- Household “Time Spent” [Blood & Ink Records]
This is the band’s second full length on Blood & Ink and finds them in a more subdued melodic hardcore direction. If you dig bands like Defeater, Hundredth, or Worthwhile then this band is certainly for you. Daniel and Blood & Ink certainly know how to find great bands, cultivate them, and put together a high quality package. This band certainly fits that mold and I encourage you to look into them.
- Handguns “Disenchanted” [Pure Noise Records]
More raging melodic punk rock from the Pure Noise family. I got into this late since it released toward the end of 2015 but nonetheless I love it! Sharing a lot in common with artists like State Champs, Four Year Strong, Set Your Goals, and A Loss for Words, the band explores different themes of youthful bliss ranging from relationship battles, scene politics, and general pissed off feelings of rage. Check it out if you’re a fan of punk rock and the Pure Noise roster.
- Bandit “Of Life” [Broken Circles Records]
Still waiting on my vinyl copies of Glower and Bandit but I wont hold that against the band for they make beautiful music plain and simple. The dreamy vocals from their female singer leads this band on a path of pure bliss. It’s not far off to say I see traits of the post-grunge theme of late mixed in with a little Sixpence None the Richer and Cranberries. So good.
- Jon Foreman “The Wonderlands – Sunlight/Shadows/Darkness/Dawn”
This 4 ep set of tunes from Switchfoot’s lead singer/guitarist really doesn’t stray far from past material and captures that authentic, unmistakable voice you’ve come to love in Switchfoot. The songs are a little more kick-back featuring a variety of instruments and delivery that Switchfoot doesn’t really tackle as a band. Switchfoot has a strong catalog of songs from the past two decades and allowing Jon to branch off and do his own thing on the side is extraordinary. It’s hard to narrow down my affection for just one single ep as they are all different and unique in their own right so that’s why I’m including them in my list breakdown as one set.
- In Exile “Questions and Problems Ep” [Independent]
This quick paced melodic gritty punk rock album from a member of Flatfoot 56. Raw and unpolished yet full of catchy anthems.
- Trespassers “Rival Glass” Ep [Spartan Records]
This 5 songs from newer band, Trespassers, is a solid introduction and proves they have the knack at writing a good song.
Farewell Friends to a site I’ve grown to love, cherish, and adore for 15 years. Read my farewell message at this link here over on IVM. Thank you friends, readers, and supporters of everything we’ve accomplished in the 15 years of operations. It’s certainly been a fun time and many memories to be had. Thanks! Check out the official #RIPIVM Spotify playlist and remember the good times.
This is a rant of sorts, so I’m not quite sure how to begin or end this. Maybe i’ll leave it open and add to it over time? Don’t take offense to anything I say below, it’s merely a stream of consciousness type of rant-post.
I really have fallen out of love with much of “Christian” music and the industry behind the “hits”. Sure it’s tough to knock it when I’ve clearly been a part of it for so long. Heck, I may have even contributed to the problems in the first place by offering an open community where kids/youth/close minded adults could argue and rip apart bands in a public setting. I think for me, some of the negativity on one side and fake-ness on the other was just too much to handle. Walking this tight rope has been a tricky thing over my almost 20 years involved in this industry. It’s more like traversing a tightrope on fire over a pool filled with blood thirsty sharks who haven’t eaten in weeks. It really is a delicate situation to be in and one that I am still torn up by today. There are people to please, feelings not to hurt, feathers not to ruffle, people not to piss off, and worrying about satisfying the needs of avid music listeners. Add to that the shifting of market shares, demographics, targeted marketing, and watching some in the industry speak as if their numbers would increase rather than worrying about the needs of bands, musicians, and the hurting youth that are tossed to the wayside.
Putting our needs before others really is an all too common occurrence. It’s a sad shape of mind we are in and have been led to believe. Belief in Jesus and the hope that springs from a relationship with God really is far more powerful not to mention life altering, than silly numbers and demographics. How are numbers and demographics going to help you in your twilight years? When you reach that final elderly age next to a family who love and respect you, tell me how demographics will have improved your life?
Yeah I’ve fallen out of love and out of favor with the music industry machine. I hate how it’s run but then again could I have really done anything better? Probably not but at least I tried in whatever insignificant way that may have been. I get that we are now in this age of social media and what a circus it truly has become. From behind computer screens and other media devices, we engage in this anonymity that chases any public interaction and personal responsibility away. No one knows how to write a personal letter any more nor do they even understand how to carefully type words together in coherent sentences to submit to someone on the receiving end that’ll take it to heart. Rather, we’re stuck in this social media circus limbo where you take two steps forward and four behind. It’s just so darn irritating to watch everything you love and appreciate about music and the Faith sector, just slip away.
I have this sort of naive nostalgic yearning for yesteryear. Times that were simpler, people that were easier to interact with. I blame myself for my own shortcomings and for chasing away interactions in favor of close family. I don’t make time for friends and to be honest, not many left beyond the online world that I’ve taken part in. It’s a shame but much of that is due to my own anxiety and bi-polar moods most likely. Anyway, this isn’t about me, or is it?
Some may call me bitter, a nail biter, someone grasping on to that last fleeting piece of fame. A flickering candle about to be extinguished. I am sure in 5-10 years no one will even remember Indie Vision Music let alone some of the bands we’ve all talked about. It’s such a flash in the pan marketplace and everyone is clamoring for their own 15 minutes of fame. Instead of building momentum and cultivating a fan base, everyone is cutting corners and having business meetings before an artist is even launched figuring out how to gauge the market’s interest. Youth are no longer “fans”, they are pawns in this greater game of chess that the music industry is playing. Don’t get me wrong, I am not so naive that I’ve forgotten that things have remained much the same since the mid part of the last century where everyone wanted that next Elvis, or Beach Boys, or Beatles, or Bon Jovi, or Michael Jackson, or Nirvana, Nsync, etc.
It just doesn’t feel natural anymore. The organic element to this whole routine has been replaced with a shiny plastic version (I should probably just say vinyl) not exactly ready for it’s 15 minutes but spit out with the intention to make this year’s next superstars. The cycle of artist development has been shortened as to not lose steam and the excitement built upon hype. Controversy, drama, and scandal now propels some of these artists forward, a social media experiment gone wrong. There will always be another newspaper, another magazine, another dial up internet, another email, another myspace, another facebook, another twitter, another youtube, another instagram, etc. etc. There will always be something newer and cooler around the block, something everyone will grasp on to and claim as their own.
I have seen far too many bands and their members lose the Faith that propelled them to stardom in the first place. I am not going to name any names or offer links and “proof”. I am speaking merely from my own point of view and what I’ve experienced, read both online and off. I hear the complaints, I’ve seen the cynicism, the disenfranchisement, and the disconnect so many artists feel after years in the game. I’ve had those same feelings, the moments of doubt during different periods of my life but it doesn’t last too long. I know my God, our God, is an almighty being capable of unconditional love and showed that amazing connection through the death and sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon that cross over 2000 years ago. This isn’t a “preach brother preach” moment but rather just an example of where i’m coming from and the hope that still resonates in my heart to this day. What I’m trying to say is that it hurts me to think that some of these favorite artists I have looked up to throughout my 3 decades+ of time here on Earth, could just fall away. It hurts me to think that people can be so cruel, a market so blood thirsty that they’d toss out their own in favor of the next best thing. The scars these artists carry must number in the double digits heck maybe even triple digits, for the amount of times they’ve been hurt, misguided, misdirected, and ill informed from their music endeavors.
We must honor our own and lift up past accomplishments rather than brushing everything aside and under the carpet to favor that newest, the latest, the highest selling most popular youngest artist around. You catch my drift? How can we look forward when we can’t even look back. You can’t look through your windshield without first looking in your rear view mirror. Why should music be any different? Sure some stuff might be “old” but don’t be afraid to latch on to it and learn a thing or two from the ones who came before you. Broaden your horizons, branch out, try different things and dabble in other genres when spinning those records (or CDs or cassettes).
The thing I am most frustrated with and just plain bummed out by is the Christian Music Industry’s lack of honoring the legends that have come before. I mean in the general market place, there is a re-release, commemorative release, anniversary release, and heck even awards shows honoring past achievements. All the Christian Market can come up with is “Man we really need a DC Talk reunion” or “How about we put out another Third Day, Skillet, or Jars of Clay release?” Not knocking those bands but how many times can they write the same album and play the same tour/festival dates? What happened to industry recognition for the true innovators, originators, and creative geniuses that have come before? Where is the love for Altar Boys, The Choir, Violet Burning, 77s, LSU, The Prayer Chain, Starflyer 59, Plankeye, Stavesacre, Strongarm, Crucified, Scatered Few, No Innocent Victim, P.O.D., Blindside, Mxpx, Black Eyed Sceva/Model Engine, Dogwood, Craig’s Brother, Beloved, Watashi Wa/Eager Seas, heck even Five Iron Frenzy and OC Supertones have made contributions to the music industry that should be commemorated (and celebrated). It’s a very diverse group of musicians that have spread out for the past 40 years since the jesus movement took root and the Christian music industry was born. A lot of artists have come and gone but one important question remains unanswered: Where is love for the past? (the list of legendary artists above is merely a minuscule list and not definitive. just use it as reference, k thnx).
This isn’t about hero or idol worship, this about an important aspect forgotten by much of the industry, honoring those who have come before us. This is just something that has been on my mind a bit in the past few years and really makes me appreciate the simple joys I have in spinning my own music on the computer and/or media device (and on Vinyl). Anyone who is reading this who happen to be a “Legend” in my book, just know that your music influenced me early on. I am clearly the man I am today because of 1) My Faith in God, 2) My wife and family and 3) the musicians who left an unmistakable mark on my heart. There are far too many artists to list here and would take me weeks to try and compile. My favorites are all over the map especially those bands I felt a special connection with.
The point I am trying to make (and clearly not a great job at it either) is that the art of demographics, targeted marketing and something we call “industry”, isn’t going to save anyone. It isn’t going to change the world until we change ourselves. I am trying to drive home the point that it’s important to honor those legendary musicians of all ages and decades before who have paved the way for where we are today (good or bad). Don’t forget the past while looking towards the future. Stay true to yourself. Hold fast to your Faith and those that can truly call you friend.
It seems like an eternity. The passing of time while running one of the most underrated and diy independent music websites known to man (major exaggeration), seems but a glimpse to the naked eye compared to the years spent here on Earth. I have had my fair share of highs and lows while running Indie Vision Music, dating all the way back to the year 2000 when I established that very site. Read on for the full story….
I have been reading quite a few “lists” lately and it has inspired me to create my own for fun. I get tired of reading the same lame ones by some “bigger” websites and this is my chance to expand upon the topic. Enjoy the list below. Also, take that Relevant Magazine 😉 [Update: March 29th – Now featuring music/videos of each artist embedded in post below]
Pondering some recent comments by friends on social media and reading this blog had me thinking today about something much more important than spreadsheets and popular demographics. Just what have we all done to the “Classic”? The albums, the artists, the underdogs, the ones forgotten about through the sands of time and passing of years. Why must “Christian” music forget it’s important fundamental music roots in pursuit of that elusive passing of fame? This is my story, my passing through those youthful years and the hopeful yearning for a new passionate form of underground music with heart. I hope you’ll join with me in reminiscing about history and my somewhat minuscule involvement. This is Part 1 of a several part series. Mostly existing from the years 1996-1997 and before I quit it all to join that blissful matrimony between my loving girlfriend and I.
My Best of 2014 List. It’s a few weeks late but worth a read. Sorry this took me so long. Thanks to all the bands who in 2014, created some music that elevated my mood and helped me get through a very difficult period in life. Read on for the huge list of my favorite albums/eps of 2014.
If you’ve been following me on Facebook/Twitter, you may have heard about my wife Charis’s struggle the past few months, trying to regain her lost sense of self from a stroke and subsequent Brain surgery that followed. Well, nearly 3 months later after the initial Brain surgery, Charis has finally had her skull reattachment surgery (Crainioplasty) as of yesterday. I praise God every moment I have to spend with her and the past few months have been a total blessing. Just getting to drive with her every morning to her Brain Rehab center, talking about life and passions, is just a remarkable thing. She has come such a long way in such a short amount of time. Her surgery yesterday went off without a hitch. We were all so anxious the whole time but I knew God had bigger plans for her (and all of us). Rather than re-post all of what happened to her and her surgery, I’ll just link up the CaringBridge update I posted this morning. Click here for that. Thank you all for your support and for reading up on our struggles the past several months. God Bless!
My story all started in July of 2000 and the founding of IndieVisionMusic.com. What was once a dream, a figment of my imagination, had become a reality by the time July of that year hit. I had started the site with one simple premise: to share my hope in Jesus through a website, which at that time happened to be selling independent music from a wide variety of faith based artists. I started Indie Vision Music to share my love of music and my Faith in God with a global audience of avid music listeners. I never dreamed at the time that my little (cheesy) website would go as far as it would over the course of 14 years on the web. This isn’t about the history of IVM because that quite frankly would fill pages and bore you to tears, this is about my time working on a little known Tooth & Nail compilation album called “I’m Your Biggest Fan Vol. 2” that if you blinked, you probably wouldn’t know existed. In fact, it’s not even listed on any digital networks and tough to find on CD these days. I guess Capital Christian Music Group (Tooth & Nail Records back catalog current owner) would rather keep that title under lock and key. Read on for my story about I’m Your Biggest Fan Vol. 2….. Read the rest of this entry