Vitals by MUTEMATH
The only downside to being a MUTEMATH fan is waiting 4 or 5 years between albums lol… but it’s without a doubt, always worth the wait. I’m always on the edge of my seat to see what these guys are going to do next. They never fail to make innovative and creative music with their signature experimental sound. Vitals, their 4th album, released in November, and did not disappoint. It’s definitely more synth heavy and poppy than their last album, Odd Soul, which had a classic rock vibe to it. But it’s sill the MUTEMATH we all know and love… just a little dancier this time around and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Vitals will definitely keep you dancing throughout 2016.
Some of my favorites are: Best of Intentions, Monument, Used To, and Joy Rides.
Side note: My sister, the lucky duck that she is, got to see them in concert last year and said it was the best concert she’s ever been to. No surprise there, as these guys are known for their killer live shows. Hoping to finally find that out for myself in the near future. They're actually going to be at the House of Blues in Houston next month. Sadly, I have no one to go with... ahem, any takers? ;) They might be the only band I’ve been a fan of for over a decade and still have not seen live. And that simply has to change.
The Wonderlands EPs by Jon Foreman
Can I just start out by saying how beautiful this box set is? It’s all four EPs and 4 post cards in a beautiful wooden box. My sister got me this for my birthday and I was beyond thrilled! Makes a great keepsake for a crazy fan like myself.
The Wonderlands is 4 eps (Sunlight, Shadows, Darkness, & Dawn), based on the 24 hours in a day, 24 amazing producers, that all led up to Jon performing a whopping 25 shows in 24 hours. Quite the impressive project to say the least. Any Jon Foreman fan knows that these EPs had been a long time coming. The last time the Switchfoot frontman released any solo music was in 2008. It was totally worth the wait as this is without a doubt some of Jon’s most profound and heartfelt songwriting. You can just feel that he put all his blood, sweat, and tears into these songs.
He also worked with some top notch producers/artists for this project, such as: Darren King (MUTEMATH), Charlie Peacock, Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek), Ryan O’Neal (Sleeping at Last), and Andrew Wessen (Grouplove)… just to name a few.
I can’t say enough good things about these songs as they already mean so much to me. They are honest, introspective, and worshipful. They capture your heart and take you on a journey from start to finish. They make you think, feel, and consider. They remind of you beauty and truth in a world where it’s so easy to forget.
Some of my favorites are: Mercy’s War, All of God’s Children, Good For Me, and Patron Saint of Rock and Roll.
Majestic Revisited by Kari Jobe
I started listening to this album on Spotify a few months ago and fell in love with these songs. I would listen to it in the kitchen while I was cooking and baking and just found myself worshiping God as I was stirring batters or chopping vegetables lol. I needed the worship and the presence of God that these songs ushered in.
Majestic Revisited is a remix of Kari’s original Majestic Live album, which was recorded in her hometown of Dallas, TX. One of the reasons I love it is because, since it is a remix album, the music and arrangements are a little more creative and out of the box than most worship albums. Which is always refreshing. Ranging from ethereal and ambient to a little dance pop in sound. But the most important thing is that these songs are truly anointed. I received this album for Christmas and have been having some sweet times of worship to it.
Some of my favorites are: Keeper of My Heart, Breathe on Us, I Am Not Alone, and Always Enough.
Venus by Joy Williams
I’ve been following Joy’s career since her CCM days when I was only about 16 years old. It’s been really amazing to hear the evolution of her music over the years; the way her writing has changed and the way she has changed. Venus is her first solo album in quite some time and the first since the break up of her duo, The Civil Wars. Joy has been very open and honest about the turmoil she faced that inspired much of this album. Not only had The Civil Wars broken up, but her marriage was falling apart, her dad was battling Cancer, and all the while she was still adjusting to being a new mom. She turned to music to work through these emotions.
The result being a brutally honest album with lots of raw emotion. But also with a sense of hope for a new beginning that you can hear in her voice.
Some of my favorites are: Woman (Oh Mama), Not Good Enough, Until the Levee, and What a Good Woman Does.
Control by Milo Greene
This California band captured my heart a few years ago with their folk sensibilities and beautiful harmonies. Their sophomore album, Control, marked a new chapter for the band as it was a definite departure from that sound. This move was met with quite a bit of criticism, which is unfortunate because, in my opinion, it’s a truly good album. The quality of the songwriting, the vocals, even some harmonies are still there just set to the back drop of more of an 80’s reminiscent pop sound. There’s even some rock happening here… I mean, the percussion in Parents’ House and the music and vocals in When it’s Done. Yes, Milo can rock!
Look, I love bands that take risks with their sound. Bands that don’t make music just to try and please the masses. Bands that don’t settle for making the same album twice. I really believe that both this album and this band are highly underrated. While I will always love the first album, I’m having a great time dancing along to Control.
Some favorites are: Lonely Eyes, Heartless, Not Enough, and When it’s Done.
Absentee EP by Violents
Voilents is a project by musician/songwriter, Jeremy Larson, where in which he collaborates with different artists for each EP. For “Absentee”, the second installment in this project, he partnered with Stacy Dupree King (Eisley, Sucre). Jeremy and Stacy also have another project together called Sucre, along with Stacy’s husband, Darren King (MUTEMATH), so I had no doubt that Absentee was going to be good. Stacy is one of my favorite female vocalists, her angelic voice paired with Jeremy’s songwriting/arrangements is such a winning combo. Makes me hungry for the next Sucre album. Side note, if you haven’t yet checked out Sucre please do yourself a favor and go listen here, seriously like right now. Not to be bossy or anything…
This is a short 4 song EP and really all the songs are so good that it’s hard to pick a favorite, but here’s a couple I can’t stop listening to: Northeast, Absentee.
Honorable Mention - Hozier by Hozier
Okay, so yes, I know that this album released in 2014 but I just couldn’t leave it off the list. This was hands down the album I listened to the most in 2015. I just fell crazy in love with this guy’s soulful, bluesy vocals and songs. It was pretty much always playing in my house throughout the year, not even joking. But that voice… I. just. can’t. even. He’s just one of the most talented artists that I’ve come across in a long time. Anyway, I will stop gushing about this dashing Irishman now before it gets any worse than it already is… I mean, it’s not like I’m fan girling or anything ;). These are some of my favorites: From Eden, Work Song, Jackie and Wilson, and In a Week.
And because I’m a little obsessed and could probably listen to this a million times and never get tired of it, here’s an amazing acoustic performance of another one of my favorites, To Be Alone -
And a fun fact for those that grew up listening to Christian music like I did and remember the talented Rachael Lampa, well she happens to be one of his backing vocalists. How awesome is that? It's been so fun to see her performing with him on The Grammys and all the late night talk shows. She still has that powerhouse voice.
Album I’m looking forward to the most in 2016 – Switchfoot’s 10th album!!! They are in the writing and recording process right now and from what I hear, planning to release it in the Summer. They are giving updates and blogging about the process over on their website: Switchfoot.com! Can’t wait to see what these are going to do next!
And before I wrap this up, a few photos of my Christmas season!
Our living room all decked out for Christmas!
My dad’s White Chocolate Raspberry Cake, it’s not Christmas to me without this cake! Our table set for Christmas dinner, a cozy corner in our living room, and ornaments on our tree!
Our New Years Eve spread, Gouda Cheese Fondue with herb crostini's, tamales (not pictured), sparkling grape juice, and some Chocolate Espresso Pots De Crème for dessert!
Wishing y’all grace and peace in this new year!