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Jesusfreakhideout.com: The State Of Independents

Indie Spotlight Reviews


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Jonathan Ogden

Twenty Four

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The Ashamed & Shunned

Oh My, That LoFi Gospel Gab!

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Brogan Gaskill

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Ovation Worship

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Indie State Inspection Reviews

  • Stephen McWhirter, Grave Clothes EP (2020) / StephenMcWhirter.com
    With the kind of salvation testimony usually reserved for movies, former meth-addict now worship leader Stephen McWhirter has quite the story to tell. Formerly a member of the worship collective Iron Bell Music, he strikes out on his own to sing of the goodness of God on his six-song debut EP. Lead single and title track "Grave Clothes" has a Zach Williams vibe and would fit right among other songs like it on top 40 CCM radio. The message of leaving behind what is dead (grave clothes) to put... Read the Full Review
  • Matt Adler, Collective Worship (2020) / MattAdlerMusic.com
    You might not know the name offhand, but if you’ve ever been to a House of Heroes, Casting Crowns, or Switchfoot concert, there’s at least somewhat of a chance that you’ve seen Matt Adler. The singer/songwriter and worship leader has been releasing his own music since 2011, with his fifth album releasing this year. Appropriately titled Collective Worship, the songs are simple songs designed... Read the Full Review
  • Tony Barnes & Erin Barnes, Wide Open - EP (2020) / Facebook
    Tony and Erin Barnes met ten years ago on the worship team at their church in Indianapolis. Since then, the two have dedicated their lives to marriage, missions and worship -- and their children (with a third arriving soon!). Wide Open marks the first release for the duo. This six-song EP of worship songs is a nice introduction to the Barnes'. The music heard on the EP is largely simplistic and fairly minimal... Read the Full Review
  • Jodi Essex, Irreverent - Single (2020) / Facebook
    Jodi Essex is a multi-talented singer/songwriter who, after spending some time with acting and comedy, has decided to take the leap into the world of writing and recording music. Her debut single, “Irreverent,” is a hard rock song that hearkens back to the ‘80s rock and metal days of Joan Jett and Stryper, but with more of an updated sound and some cleaner production. Though this style doesn’t necessarily have mass appeal in 2020... Read the Full Review
  • World Breaker, Conduit (2020) / Facebook
    Of all the rock genres and subgenres, metalcore can be one of the most rigid and predictable. But even though Conduit by World Breaker often falls into the normal clichés, the album has several unique moments that show the band has more up its collective sleeve than breakdowns, blast-beats and constantly throbbing kickdrums. The song "May Day," for example, begins with an interesting guitar... Read the Full Review
  • Jeremy Shorter, Visible Force (2009) / JeremyShorter.com
    After the 2006 release of Strong Christian Overtones, Jeremy Shorter took a few years to release his next and, to date, latest album. After a few years of releasing albums on an annual basis to that point, including with a couple of different bands, this three-year gap between albums seems to have been one filled with some artistic growth. Visible Force still lacks the big, clean production, and the instruments again are mostly MIDI (very little of what you hear is the actual instrument it's intended to sound like)... Read the Full Review
  • Jeremy Shorter, Strong Christian Overtones (2006) / JeremyShorter.com
    When you're young and you love making music, you get it done any way that you can. That's how the story of Jeremy Shorter's music career began. In the late '90s, he created his first album, Jeremy Shorter @ the Jesus Christ Super-Store, on the lowest budget of instruments and recording equipment. The early 2000s saw the release of multiple albums in rapid succession, including his 2006 album, Strong Christian Overtones . At its core, this is an alternative rock album... Read the Full Review
  • Southville, Tangles - Single (2020) / Southville.church
    Southville Music is part of the Southville Elim Church in Yeovil -- located in Somerset, England. The group plans to release four new singles in 2020. "Tangles" is the second of the series following the earlier released "Changing Seasons." The Southville Music project has members from the entire church coming together to write worship songs that encourage faith. The church and musical project have seen success in the past having back-to-back number one singles on the aStepFWD's UK Christian Chart. The group is hoping to build on the success and reach the globe and open a 'window on Heaven' to give others a... Read the Full Review
  • Zachary Ray, Let Go - Single (2020) / ZacharyRay.co
    A music teacher by trade, with over a decade's worth of experience (including teaching in India), Zachary Ray has also recently jumped into the recording side of music. 2019 saw the release of two singles, "Refuge" and "Chloe's Song," and he's keeping his momentum going with his latest powerful single. "Let Go" is a mostly somber-sounding song, with minimal instrumentation at the beginning, adding layers and new instruments as the track progresses. Starting with nothing but a rhythmic piano and Ray's echoed vocals, the song gradually adds drums, strings, synth, and some background vocals for extra melody... Read the Full Review
  • Brandon Hixson, Now and Then (2020) / BrandonHixson.com
    Brandon Hixson is one of those artists who's been around on the scene for a while (in his case, 20 years), has rubbed shoulders with the likes of MercyMe and Third Day, has seven albums under his belt, and yet is not a household name. Hixson, a worship leader from Texas, recently celebrated his 20th year in the industry with Now and Then. This collection is split into two halves: the "Now" side features 5 new tracks, while the "Then" portion highlights five previously released songs with a fresh coat of paint... Read the Full Review
  • Jason Marion, Waiting for Grace / Welcoming Grace (2020) / JasonMarion.com
    Few things are as ambitious for a recording artist as producing a cohesive multi-part series of albums. But that's what pop/rock artist Jason Marion is up to with his latest project, collectively called The Grace Trilogy. Though part three is still in the works, parts one and two have already arrived as a double album. Waiting for Grace and Welcoming Grace are nine tracks apiece, each exploring a wide range of styles and genres. Waiting for Grace begins as an electronic pop album... Read the Full Review
  • Matt Case, If You Need Me EP (2019) / MattCaseMusic.com
    A longtime worship leader in his home state of Kentucky, singer/songwriter Matt Case was also no stranger to writing his own original material. In 2019, he made the decision to put his originals to use and record his debut album, If You Need Me. The seven songs on this EP showcase a talented artist with a love for the Lord that's displayed in worshipful and humble tracks like "How Could He... Read the Full Review
  • (the autumn), Unto Us - Single (2019) / theautumn.live
    The single version of "Unto Us," by (the autumn), was released on the same day as Sessions Vol, 1 featuring the live acoustic version. While Sessions features a very stripped down version, the single features full instrumentation. (the autumn)'s Ali Roth leads a beautiful worship song here with very nice and complementary music. Some of the atmospheric sounds Chris Shalter started the band with are featured here as light pads play over the reverb on the acoustic guitar to open the song, along with Roth's gorgeous vocals... Read the Full Review
  • City Psalms, City Psalms Four (2020) / www.CityPsalms.com
    When a church’s worship team records and releases new music, it’s usually only written, composed, performed, etc. by members of that specific body of believers. But in Tucson, Arizona, City Psalms is bringing a larger sense of community to its music. Each album is created by the hands and minds of different musicians, singers, and songwriters all throughout the city. Their fourth release, City Psalms Four, continues with the same idea in mind. Ultimately, the album is cohesive enough to avoid a jarring listening experience, but the different songwriters and vocalists throughout the album do manifest themselves in different styles and genres... Read the Full Review
  • Canyon Worship, Canyon Worship 2019 (2019) / CenterforWorshipArts.com
    When you take the fact that anyone anywhere can have their music on the internet at the drop of a hat, and you combine it with an influx of worship artists across the world releasing albums on a yearly basis, you're not going to be able to easily keep up. But if modern corporate worship acts are of interest to you, you may not want to overlook Canyon Worship. The official campus worship team of Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, Canyon Worship features original songs written by GCU students, and Canyon Worship 2019 is their latest endeavor... Read the Full Review
  • Torn Sky, Torn Sky (2019) / TornSkyMusic.com
    Chris and Josh Haynes released their first album together in 2001 under the name XD Out. The brothers released music under that name through 2017’s Better Day. In 2019, the duo is still at it, but XD Out has become Torn Sky - which is also the name of their newest album. Despite the name change, the sound is pretty much the same, as the brothers Haynes mix up a concoction of rock and alternative that spans the last few decades. “Hope” brings to mind names like Alice In Chains and Bon Jovi, “The Word” throws back to bands like Petra (despite being a cover of The Beatles)... Read the Full Review
  • The Birdsongs, The Journey, Act II: The War (2019) / TheBirdsongsMusic.com
    Tennessee-based alternative rock band The Birdsongs is comprised of three brothers and a sister that have been releasing original music for more than ten years now, while playing music together in general for twice as long. After releasing a few singles, the band debuted their first album in 2012. The Journey, Act I: The Beginning was a terrific pop punk record that should have given the band a lot more attention than it did. A worship album and a Christmas album followed, but now they're back with the follow-up, The Journey, Act II: The War... Read the Full Review
  • Haunted No More, Vol. 1 (2019) / Facebook
    Bride's Dale Thompson has been a very busy man as of late. His main band released their 14th album, Snake Eyes, last year. His side projects, Dabster Gentlemen and Perpetual Paranoia, released their debuts last year as well. His most recent release is with another side project known as Haunted No More. This duo with Myles Barfield has a sound very befitting of their name. A soft and "haunting" piano serves as the backdrop for the very minimalistic sound provided on Vol. 1. Some bass and lighter drums and percussion also join in from time to time... Read the Full Review
  • Chris Stephens, When It Was Dark (2019) / ChrisStephens.ca
    After playing with the award-winning Canadian rock band Three Season Ant for eight years, frontman Chris Stephens headed slightly south to New York, where he's played along with the band Landmark and is now writing music as a solo act. His first solo release (save for a Christmas EP last year) is a five-track EP, called When It Was Dark, that focuses on Stephens’ softer side. Whereas... Read the Full Review
  • Vaughn, Vaughn EP (2019) / VaughnSings.com
    With a number of performances under her belt, both live and as a guest vocalist on albums, Vaughn is finally branching out and releasing her own album of original songs. The self-titled EP contains five songs that give the listener a glimpse into who Vaughn is, as well as some of the other artists she's inspired by. Among those artists are folks like Lauryn Hill and Kim Walker-Smith, both of whom you can pick up in these songs (more so the latter). Vaughn's music really walks the line between praise & worship and pop... Read the Full Review
  • The Crossing Crew, Child Faith (2019) / TheCrossingCrew.com
    The Crossing Crew is the brainchild of the Texan singer/songwriter James Paul Moravec, who builds all his songs on his own and brings in other musicians for the finishing touches. With a handful of releases to his name already, Moravec's ready to unleash the next Crossing Crew album, Child Faith. This collection of songs is rather interesting, because it takes us through a variety of different genres before we reach the final track... Read the Full Review
  • Light the Way, Dad Gang EP (2019) / IndieVisionMusic.com
    Since forming in 2016, the Californian pop punk band Light the Way has kept quite busy, with a new EP or LP on an annual basis. Continuing this pace in 2019, the band is back at it with the Dad Gang EP, a pack of five brand new tracks. In true Christian pop punk fashion, Light the Way typically rides the line between having a good time and reflecting on God. However, Dad Gang focuses more on the latter. “Feelin’ Fine Since ‘89,” “Jimothy Halpert,” and “I Liked Old AFI Better” are terrific song titles, but are almost deceptive, as they’re songs that are surprisingly more on the... Read the Full Review
  • Satellite View, This is NOT the End (2019) / Bandcamp
    Christopher Lewis is a multi-talented, Floridian musician, songwriter, and producer who owns and operates a recording studio and spends a lot of his time writing his own music. Although he’s been a musician since his teenage years, Lewis is now branching out into the world of releasing his music to willing listeners. Under the name Satellite View, he’s written and recorded twelve songs for his debut album, This is NOT the End. Lewis’ musical inspirations range from the classic rock of The Beatles and Pink Floyd to modern artists like Josh Garrels and Beautiful Eulogy, and the creativity and... Read the Full Review
  • Him + Her Worship, Beacon EP (2019) / HimandHerWorship.com
    What started as a small endeavor performing their songs at various churches has become a full-time ministry for Seth and Jenna Herlich. In the past year, the Herlichs have been spending their time worshiping the Lord and helping usher those they meet into the throne room of God. Now the duo, going by the name Him + Her Worship, have taken the next step and recorded a few of their original songs for their debut EP, Beacon. Seth and Jenna both prove to be competent and passionate musicians and vocalists as they earnestly humble themselves... Read the Full Review
  • Inner 29, Now and Again, Here - EP (2019) / Facebook
    Music really is a universal language. No matter where you go, it seems you’ll be able to find a sound that is familiar. For instance, if you head south to Santa Catarina, Brazil, you might just run into a pop punk band known as Inner 29. This trio of rockers has only come together in the last year or so but are ready to show the world what they’re made of with their four-song EP, Now and Again, Here. As far as sound and production, Inner 29 is quite impressive; in fact, the whole EP sounds like it was touched on by the... Read the Full Review
  • Nathan Bankhead, Worship With Your Headphones On (2018) / NathanBankhead.com
    Nathan Bankhead is a worship and gospel artist looking to innovate the scene. His most recent album, Worship With Your Headphones On, takes on gospel music with hip-hop/R&B beats and some club sounds as influence on the musical side of things. Lyrically, Bankhead takes the approach from a gospel and worshipful perspective. It's an interesting and eclectic blend that you certainly won't hear every day... Read the Full Review
  • Living Waters, Overflow (2019) / Official Blog
    It was 43 years ago that the worship collective known as Living Waters was formed. Though the band isn't as active as most bands, it's still an impressive length of time to stay together. Despite the decades of existence, 2011 was the first time Living Waters released an album, with a follow-up in 2016, and now a third release in 2019. Overflow is chock-full of classic Christian contemporary rock, much like what you'd hear from acts like Big Tent Revival, with a focus on storytelling like you might hear from The Choir... Read the Full Review
  • Orion Walsh, Foreigner EP (2019) / www.OrionWalsh.com
    On Orion Walsh's latest solo EP, the Slow Coming Day frontman trades the electronic vibes of the band's album, 1,000 Years (Like a Day), for quirky coffee shop acoustic. As great as that niche can be, Foreigner doesn't quite hit its mark. The first two tracks, "Slaves to our Screens" and "Barista Love Song," could've playfully poked fun at our caffeine and tech-obsessed culture, but Walsh sticks to cliché lyrics that feel like an afterthought to otherwise fun-sounding songs. One of the few bright spots on the EP is the title track, where... Read the Full Review
  • Loudbrook, No MoRE NiGHT (2019) / Loudbrook.com
    Loudbrook is a worship act comprised of the husband and wife duo Bryan and Melissa Lautenbach. The two recently ran a successful crowdfunding campaign which led to the production of their forthcoming new album, No MoRE NiGHT. The fifteen-track album spans an hour in length and is full of original songs that fit in quite well with the current landscape of worship bands. Musically, Loudbrook is quite captivating, with lots of instrumental variety while maintaining a cohesive sound... Read the Full Review
  • True Strength, Sanguinary Vivification (2019) / TrueStrength.band
    Though it's not as much in the spotlight as it was in the 80s, heavy metal is still alive and kicking in various circles. And while the secular industry has bands like Iron Maiden and Dio, the Christian industry is getting its fair share with the likes of Deliverance, Narnia, and True Strength, who have a new album on their hands called Sanguinary Vivification. The album features nine songs that all really take their time getting to their respective destinations, having an average track length of around six minutes or so, with the longest track... Read the Full Review
  • Whitlee Casey, Dream (2019) / WhitleeCaseyMusic.com
    Whitlee Casey is a songwriter and worship leader in Texas who was inspired at a young age by his dad to pick up a guitar. Casey has been influenced by artists ranging from Garth Brooks to Steven Curtis Chapman and David Crowder. As a traveling musician for the past 10 years or so, Whitlee has been able to travese the country and play alongside CCM artists, such as for King & Country and even Crowder himself. Casey's influences can certainly be heard on his latest full-length album, Dream... Read the Full Review
  • Wes Powell, Experience Points (2019) / Official Facebook
    It's no secret that modern worship music can be a bit lacking in creativity. That's not to say that there aren't creative artists making worship music, but it seems to be more the exception than the rule. One independent artist from Layton, Utah is also trying his hand at making music for the Lord without falling into stagnancy. That artist's name is Wes Powell, and his album Experience Points is full of genuine praise music that, musically speaking, leaves you guessing from one track to the next. Powell's spectrum is wide open, with songs ranging from piano ballads (the humble and... Read the Full Review
  • Peter118, Waiting - Single (2019) / Official Site
    Punk rocker Peter Field is no stranger to the scene, having contributed as a member of bands like Senseless and Ambassadors of Shalom. But for the past five years, he’s instead focused on his three-piece act, Peter118. With a couple of EPs to the band’s name thus far, Peter118 is starting off 2019 with a brand new single called “Waiting.” The band’s previous release, a split EP with No Lost Cause, displayed their predilection for UK punk rock (with a dash of pop punk, of course)... Read the Full Review
  • The Ashamed & Shunned, Walking Contradiction - Single (2019) / Official Site
    The Ashamed & Shunned is a solo hip-hop artist hailing from Kokomo, Indiana. The Ashamed & Shunned is back again with his newest EP, Walking Contradiction, following 2017's album Kill Your Coward. TA&S brings a sort of low-tech version of hip-hop, but manages to produce catchy beats and capture solid production. An example of this "low-tech" approach is what sounds to be an 80's Casio keyboard set to mandolin on the opening track, "Still Unworthy." The lyrics in that opening number are a prayer and proclaim... Read the Full Review
  • Dabster Gentlemen, Death or Life (2018) / Facebook
    In the 1980s, the rock music scene was dominated by a style of music affectionately known as “hair metal.” The genre’s reign even reached into Christian music, where you could find bands like Stryper, Whitecross, Petra, and Bride. Of course, Stryper is still active, and Bride releases new music from time to time, but the frontman of the latter, Dale Thompson, is also taking on a new venture in the form of Dabster Gentlemen. With the band’s debut album, Death or Life, Dabster Gentlemen is a far cry from the hair metal sound you might know Thompson for... Read the Full Review

 

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This Friday, April 3, 2020
Anchor & Braille Dangerous - Single [Tooth & Nail]
August Burns Red Guardians [Fearless]
Equippers Revolution FRVR - EP [DREAM]
Greg LaFollette I'll Wait for you, My Love (independent)
Passion Roar (Live From Passion 2020) (CD) [Sixsteps]
RED Declaration [RED/The Fuel]
Ian Yates Mystery [7 Core]

Next Friday, April 10, 2020
Charles Billingsley I Was Made for This [StowTown/Provident]
GAWVI Heathen [Reach]
The Inspirations Ever Old, Ever New [Horizon]
Mike Rathke The Drawing Fire EP (independent)


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Check out the new book from JFH Staff Member Tin Can Caldwell!




Listen to the new album from Mat Ogden!