Cornerstone - Album Review
What would Christian music sound like without Hillsong? A question worth asking, as this church has been at the forefront of Christian music for so long, inspiring other people to write big worship songs about the King of Kings.
Matins:Vespers - Album Review
Parachute Band celebrated the worldwide release of their new album at Parachute Festival in January.
The double disk MATINS:VESPERS is billed as ‘a modern
twist on the old canonical offices’, which basically means it is based on the idea of morning and evening worship; a
concept which it embodies beautifully.
The album is a creative experience from the moment you pick it up. The two disks are packaged individually with their own booklet, all wrapped up in an envelope. It’s like getting mail. There’s something very personal about it.
As I listened to MATINS for the first time I couldn’t get the image of rain out of my head. It’s clean and cool and refreshing. It combines the truths and promises of God with a simple heart’s cry. Run To You is a perfect example of this.
My favourite track on this disk is Keep The Fire Burning, which is an incredibly uplifting song. The band posted the story behind this song as a video on YouTube.
Lead singer Omega Levine says, “In the busyness of life the first thing we let slide is our relationship with God.” The song therefore is an encouragement not to let the pressures of this world distract us from what is really important.
VESPERS is delicate but powerful. The wordless movement is a new venture for the band but is done exceptionally well. The aim of the tracks is to create space for God to move and peace for him to whisper.
With this in mind Linger was a particularly prominent track for me. The song has a gentle build and it’s almost as if there is an awakening to the things around you that you’ve missed because you haven’t taken the time to look.
The album has been compared to Sigur Ros and Bon Iver in parts, but it is making a success all on its own.
The band’s fourth album was #2 in the New Zealand Top 40 album charts the week of its release and #4 on the New Zealand iTunes album charts.
MATINS:VESPERS has also made a splash overseas, reaching #18 on the Canadian iTunes inspirational charts and #52 on the US iTunes Christian/Gospel list.
Reviewed by Gemma Margerison
GMA’s 42nd Dove Awards
Gospel music's top artists returned to the historic Fox Theater in Atlanta last night for the 43rd Annual Gospel Music Association Dove Awards. Jason Crabb took home top honors, winning Male Vocalist and Artist of the Year.
“To be honest I thought, ‘well, we’re probably not going to take anything home this year,’” Crabb told watchgmctv.com. “When they said my name, I couldn’t believe it. I know a lot of people say that, but this is the truth. I wish anybody could hear my heart because I really couldn’t believe it. I’m very, very thankful.”
Hometown girl and college student Jamie-Grace captured the Dove for New Artist of the Year. She was emotional over her win, marveling at how much her life had changed since she attended her prom at the Fox Theater just four years ago. “It was the Georgia Homeschool Prom. Yes, we do have friends,” she said good-naturedly referring to the homeschool community.
The 19-year-old artist, who struggles with Tourette's Syndrome, recalls meeting the group ZOEgirl. She was embarrassed by her ticks, but one of the members told her how beautiful she was and that encouragement fueled her desire to pursue her dreams.
Natalie Grant received her fifth win in the Female Vocalist category. Surprised, she said, “I am totally speechless,” as she collected her trophy. “I’m so honored to be in a category with some unbelievable female artists who all deserve to be standing here.”
Laura Story took home the Dove for Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year for Blessings. The title track won both Song of the Year and Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song categories. Looking radiant, the expectant mother joked with the press that she thought about going to Dick’s Sporting Goods to buy a tent to wear for the event, and revealed that she learned only seven hours ago that she and her husband would be welcoming a baby girl. "She'll be my new release!" she laughed. The self-effacing artist also praised Mandisa, with whom she’s been touring, and added that although they’ve become good friends their styles are very different. “It’s like glitter meets granola,” the singer/songwriter said, “or bling meets Birkenstock.”
Though absent from the festivities, NEEDTOBREATHE earned three Doves, including Group of the Year. Selah won Inspirational Recorded Song and Album for “Hope of the Broken World,” and group member Todd Smith was on hand to accept.
Kirk Franklin collected the Dove for Contemporary Gospel Album for Hello Fear and his hit single “I Smile” won Contemporary Gospel Recorded Song.
Ernie Haase & Signature Sound’s Wayne Haun’s (piano) phenomenal musical skills and talent were once more recognised with him being awarded an incredible 5 Dove Awards on the night. Haun received a Dove for Southern Gospel Recorded Song of the Year, Country Recorded Song of the Year, Traditional Gospel Recorded Song of the Year, Southern Gospel Album of the Year and Country Album of the Year, where Haun shared the honours with EHSS lead singer Doug Anderson.
Copyright 2012 watchgmctv.com. Used with permission.
Parachute Festival 2012
It is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to New Zealand’s Parachute Music Festival for another year.
This was the festival’s 22nd birthday and with around 20,000 punters, 1200 volunteers, over 100 bands and four stages, it was an unforgettable weekend. Not more so than for the 1000 families who were only able to attend thanks to the ‘pay what you can’ initiative.
The scheme was designed by the team at Parachute Music to help struggling families around New Zealand, especially those who had come through the earthquakes in Christchurch, by allowing them to get a family pass for as little as $1.
Many emotional stories were sent in to the Festival, describing what the families had faced over the past 12 months and how being able to attend the Festival had brought them hope.
Casting Crowns was one of the headliners for the festival and packed out Mainstage for Sunday night worship. The Grammy Award and Dove Award-winning band played its sermon-style songs including Courageous, which promotes the 2011 film of the same name.
“We want three things through our music. We want to see people come to know Jesus in their own relationship with him. We also want to see people discover their own gifts, and their own ministries. And then we want to see people just really grow in their own walk with God,” said front man and youth pastor Mark Hall.
Tim Costello and Darlene Zschech were the headline speakers this year and led a seminar called Helping The Poor. Mr Costello described Parachute as “a counter-cultural phenomenon” because so many people come together without fights, drugs and drunkenness. “I think Parachute is absolutely extraordinary,” he said.
Other social justice represented at the Festival included World Vision, Christians Against Poverty and Women’s Refuge, who held a seminar entitled Ending Relationship Violence. The seminar was opened by Phoenix NZYP, an Auckland-based youth organisation dedicated to growing creative individuals. Last year Phoenix NZYP got on board with the White Ribbon campaign and took the full-length version of their play to Sydney, with great success.
Other musical highlights included American hardcore bands Showbread and The Chariot, worship group Ascend The Hill and pop punk favorites Relient K, who performed a magical cover of Toto’s Africa.
Now the countdown to Parachute 2013 begins and it is already shaping up to be an exciting event. Parachute Music has announced that the headliners for next year’s festival will include 2011 Grammy Award-winning band Switchfoot and Christian pop-rock band Newsboys.
Written by Gemma Margerison, Photo by Stephen Hart.
Owl City at the Metro Theatre
The night started off perfectly with New Empire getting everyone in the right mood from the start. New Empire, fresh from their own tour and headlining at Shift Festival in Brisbane, are no strangers to the stage and big crowds. New Empire are quickly establishing themselves as the support of choice for many bands, after opening for Switchfoot and Good Charlotte earlier this year.
New Empire have a great stage presence and are great at working the crowd so that they are taken on the journey that each song takes them. Their set included a mix of their old favourites and new songs from the highly anticipated new album “Symmetry” set to be released September 16th. One thing is for sure, these guys are developing a strong fan base, as a large portion of the crowd were singing along and readily showed their appreciated after each song.
With the crowd warmed up and ready for something special, Owl City did not disappoint – although Adam Young did surprise, firstly by sporting a new moustache, much to the amusement of everyone, including himself. When watching Adam Young engrossed in his craft, it doesn’t take long for you to realise that he is one seriously talented artist.
Those that saw Owl City in 2010 would remember that Adam Young was surrounded by laptops and keyboards, however, fans were treated to Adam having a 5 piece band around him. Part of this band was a strings section (violin and cello) which added that artistic and wholistic sound in many of the songs. It was clear that Adam likes to surround himself with talented musicians, as each band member was a multi-instrumentalist.
Adam had the audience in the palm of his hand as he played all the favourites, from Alligator Sky, Vanilla Twilight, Umbrella Beach, Galaxies, Deer in the Headlights to crowd favourite Fireflies. One thing is for sure, I have never heard a song sung so loudly by a crowd as I did with Fireflies, which is a testament to the four times platinum (280,000 units sold) selling single and the popularity of the song. The majority of the crowd sang with Adam for every song of his 85 minute set, showing they were true fans and fully appreciated this very humble artist. The enjoyment of the night was relayed back to the crowd as Adam Young repeatedly expressed his love and appreciation for those who were at his concert and appreciated him for who he is.
The Sowers Group @ The Basement
One thing you will find at every show that The Sowers
Group do is that there are no apologies for who they are and what they believe in, and that was exactly the case on this night. They begin their set with an original number in their native tongue with subtitles on the screen displaying their love and appreciation for God. The harmonies are perfect right from the beginning and the audience show their appreciation with a loud applause after the first song. As you look around the Basement, the walls are filled with well-known jazz and blues musicians who have previously played here and it seems only too fitting to have Gospel music being played, when these genres found their foundation in Gospel music.
As the set continues on, the crowd begins to get involved with the swaying of arms and clapping along to the African enthused beat. About four songs into the show, Mike introduces "You're The Voice" as the bands anthem and suggests it should be everyone's. This is a clear crowd favourite, with everyone starting to dance, clap and sing along. This marked a change in tempo and from this point, everyone was dancing along and really enjoying the music.
About halfway into the set, they take some time out to share their heart-wrenching story and they capture everyone's attention as they are able to take us on a journey through Congo and for a moment we are aware of the tribulations that they have been involved in and why they are now believers.
After this reality check, they pick up the mood with a light-hearted number and it's when Mike introduces the band that we really see the personality of the group shine out. With some friendly banter we are introduced to Kosto, Oswald and Christelle. The night continues on and everyone who is standing is now in full swing and dancing along while those sitting are clapping along with smiles on their faces.
The night ended with an encore of "You're The Voice" and the crowd really enjoying every moment while it lasted. The Sowers Group left the audience with them wanting more, which was evident with the loud cheers and continuous clapping that lasted long after they had left the stage.
Easterfest Encounter @ The Hills Centre
Headlining acts at Australia's biggest alcohol-free music festival, Newworldson, Article One and Shawn McDonald, gave fans a sneak preview at The Hills Centre for the Performing Arts on April 16.
The renowned International artists made their way to Sydney to play an exclusive gig for fans before heading to Easterfest in Toowoomba, Queensland.
His raw and honest lyrics dealt with his past as a former drug dealer and addict, as well as his recent and painful divorce.
US singer-songwriter and crowd favourite Shawn McDonald kicked off the night, mixing his melodies with personal insights and stories.
"I thought Shawn performed really well, he's the main reason I came tonight," Patrick Fitzgerald, 21, said.
"It's something I felt very humiliated by," Shawn McDonald says.
"But the craziest thing that I found is the amount of people that I ambeing able to relate to - all of a sudden these people feel like they have a place they can relate."
Matt Piche from Canadian group Article One, wowed the crowd with his skills on the violin.
"Matt's insane on the violin," brother and Article One frontman Nathan Piche said. When coming to watch Article One "Expect a lot of energy, a lot of fun, lots of crazy violin, and you'll have a good time."
The band also made an appeal to the crowd to join forces with them in sponsoring children through Compassion.
"I sponsor a little boy in Ecuador and we write back and forth and there's a really good chance I'll be able to go and visit him and meet him in February so I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that works out," Nathan Piche said.
Also hailing from Canada, Newworldson, brought the Hills Centre to its feet with the audience stomping, clapping and dancing along to an eclectic range of Jamaican beats and blues rhythms.
It's the band's fourth trip to Australia in as many years, and they have developed a close bond with the country.
"We've got a special place in our hearts for our Aussie fans and it's worth it every time we get on that 15 hour flight over the pacific ocean," NewWorldSon frontman Joel Parisen said.
Article written by Karen Tong for The Hills News on 28/4/2011.
Easterfest 2011 will be the one that everyone will remember, for a number of reasons. With perfect weather for Friday and most of Saturday, it was looking like this would be the most successful to date. However, flash flooding on Saturday night during Newworldson's set on main stage meant that thousands of attendee's had to be evacuated. Although most hadn't seen anything like this before, it didn't stop the hardcore fans, with at least 1,000 supporters braving the conditions to see one of the headline acts Switchfoot.
Easter Sunday saw the Toowoomba community come together once again, so soon after the infamous January floods. With campers assessing the damage, packing up and salvaging whatever they could, everyone came together to help out wherever needed. Shopkeepers even opened their shops for extended hours to play host to mini-concerts held throughout the town. And if that isn't enough evidence for a festival taking over a city literally, on Sunday afternoon, a concert was held adjacent to the main street of Toowoomba with home favourites Paul Coleman Trio, Canada's Newworldson and USA's Naturally 7, fresh from their world tour with Michael Bublé. The crowd was treated to an amazing show of talent and musicianship from each of these three astounding acts.
Easterfest was yet another incredible success this year due to the fact that it continues to bring people together from all over the country, primarily to celebrate the Easter message, but it also continues to unite a city, year after year.