For this post, I will be reviewing an album that is near and dear to my heart by an artist who I have grown to love, named NateWantsToBattle, or Nathan Sharp. I will be reviewing his most recent album, Sandcastle … Continue reading
If you have only scratched the surface of Contemporary Christian music, the name John Mark McMillan may not mean anything to you. But you have almost definitely heard one of his songs – particularly “How He Loves”, popularized by David … Continue reading
And I have finally decided to bring this blog back into my life. A lot has changed, and it will certainly show in the posts I write from now on. But for now, I’d like to just kind of write … Continue reading
Capital Lights is a small band that hopped onto the scene a few years ago. They are a band under Tooth and Nail records, and claim to be Christian. Their most recent album, Rhythm ‘n’ Moves, is a more obscure release, and falls under the radar often, in Christian and secular circles both. But the band themselves have a good songs, solid songwriting, and high quality tracks: while they may be more obscure they are by no means bad. However, any band that claims to be “Christian” has a standard that they are expected to live up to in the morality that their songs present. Capital Lights, unfortunately, sometimes does not quite live up to that standard, and this album is no exception. The band has one more album: “This Is An Outrage”, which, while I have listen to it, I have never listened to the full album under a critical lens, so I cannot give a total review of the band at this time (I may review that album later on), but I can tell you what I think of this album in particular.
THE GOOD AND THE BAD
“Rhythm ‘n’ Moves”, the title track opens the album, and it sets a rhythm (haha) that will remain for the rest of the album, establishing the theme of the album (relationships) and the mood (peppy and upbeat). The song is very atypical for the rest of the tracks: it is about a guy whose girlfriend left him, and it describes her and how he wants her back and how she’s his perfect girl and continues on like that. The song itself is fun and makes you smile and tap your foot, and, while it doesn’t have much substance, it doesn’t have anything really objectionable in it either. Overall an enjoyable, clean track.
The only word I can think of to adequately describe “Let Your Hair Down” is bipolar. The narrator is in a relationship that seems like it is ending: his lover is leaving him, and he is giving up on her but still wants her back. It’s clean and fun, and emotionally driven, but it is an “eh” track at best, just because the narrator seems kind of confused and unable to decide what he wants.
Ahhhh yes. “Caroline”. This is one of the CATCHIEST songs I have ever heard, and it gets stuck in my head ALL THE TIME. The song itself is clean, and the message is pretty good: it’s about a guy who was in love with a girl that fell victim to fame: “Caroline, wo-0-ah! Hollywood took the girl!” and he’s sick of her newfound self-love and is getting out of that one-sided relationship. Give this track a listen… at your own risk. Because it’s really peppy and will have you bobbing your head and tapping your foot for hours after it’s done.
“Coldfront Heatstroke” was their hit single, and it is one of the best tracks on their album. Again, it is a track about a one-sided relationship that he’s calling quits because he can’t take her emotional flip-flopping anymore. It’s a fun, acoustic driven track that is well written and completely clean. Plus, it’s got creative lyrics that are fun to listen to.
Controlling my anger, I will try to write a clean-headed review of the next track, which is a waste of talent and time and drops the morality of the album out from under itself. As a “Christian” band, this is a shameful track for them to put out. Called “Newport Party,” this is about a beachside party where there are a bunch of guys waiting for good-looking “Laguna beach bodies to arrive” and make them “lose their Cinderellas”. It is spit in the face of love, replacing it with a lust for good-looking girls in bikinis. I call it a waste of talent because there is some clever writing here, with the band referencing two of the songs on their previous album: “With the fellas singing This is an Outrage/Girl, you’re just a Mile Away” (This is an Outrage and Mile Away are the two). But it’s ruined by the rest of the song. I violently despise this track and recommend you steer clear from it. I wouldn’t even give it a listen.
This album is pretty darn bipolar: in between the two worst songs is a really good, inspiring one for girls going through depression. “Honey Don’t Jump” is a really touching song about a broken girl who is thinking about suicide, and it is written from the perspective of someone encouraging her with touching lyrics such as “Honey, don’t jump the gun/There’s a life worth living on/When the world comes crashing down/In God’s arms you’re safe and sound/Let the love of new life spread/In the light, you’ll walk til death/Then, arise, a forgiven soul/As Daddy says, welcome home and job well done/Oh honey don’t jump the gun!” It’s a good song, a very good song. I highly recommend it.
“Say Hey” is not necessarily a BAD song. But I did not like it, enough for me to take it off of my iPod. For one thing, the song opens with the sound of a can being opened… and since it is a party song written by adults, it’s hard to imagine that it would be a soda can. But I guess that is the assumption we are supposed to make. The song itself proceeds to, while not being out-front inappropriate, kind of shady, including lyrics like “Four silhouettes getting down in the daylight”, “Me and shawty in our best clothes/getting down on a late night”, and a few others that walk a razor’s edge. Use great discretion with this track.
“Don’t Drop Dead Juliet” is narrated by a boy who’s in love with a girl, but is having trouble committing to the relationship, and is scared of what the future may hold, but is encouraging her to stay because he knows he wants to stay with her till he dies. It’s a pretty touching song, and changes the tempo of the album a bit: instead of him leaving a girl because the relationship is unhealthy, he’s encouraging a girl to stay with him because he wants to make things right between them. Not a bad track at all.
“Hey Little One” is a track that takes the album to a much slower pace, and it’s a warm, heartfelt song. It’s about a boy who lost his love, and regrets it and thinks back on it with happy memories and a desire to relive them. It is touching, and the artist puts raw emotion into the song that makes you sympathize with him and, if you have ever lost a love, brings you back to those memories. He also looks towards the future, and asks God with the strength to move on. The song has one questionable line: “What if this was just a dream?/When I awakened from this nightmare you were lying next to me?”, but if you can overlook that tiny detail the song is very good. I like the track, but it might not be for everyone.
Next is “Save the Last Dance,” another iffy song on the album (while not NEARLY as bad as “Newport Party”). While does not have any outright inappropriate content, its message is not one that, as Christians, I do not believe we should condone: the narrator is at a party, and he sees this girl who he describes as “a real life girl in a dream girl’s body”, which throws up a red flag in the first place because all he knows about this girl is that he likes her body and that she’s a good dancer. The man continues to make a plot to cut in in the last dance of the night and get the girl. That is the entire song; again being one that is pretty shallow and has very little sustenance to it, except this has enough “eh” to it to put it off some Christians’ iPods, or at least make it a less popular track. It’s worth a listen: the song is catchy and fun, but it is not necessarily worth a buy. Use discretion.
And then the album ends by making your eyebrows shoot up as you say “Wait… this was a CHRISTIAN band?” This is their only purely religious song on the album, and a good one at that. It is a great track about God’s love and its effect on the people who have it. I like this song, while it’s not as catchy as some of the others it is one of the only ones that deviates from the relationship theme; while that is not a bad theme, it can sometimes get exhausting when every album is all about it. I highly recommend this song.
This album has some ups and some downs. If you’re looking for a “Christian” band, this would not be a good place to look. However, if you’re looking for a secular band made of Christians, Capital Lights is not that bad of a pick. There are better bands, but there are much, MUCH worse ones. And their songs are catchy and enjoyable, allowing the album to be a fun experience with some emotion along the way. In today’s age when you can preview songs using services like Spotify and YouTube, and can purchase individual tracks, this is definitely a band to check out. I placed this album into my secular category, and rated it:
Hunter Hayes is a one-album-so-far country artist that recently popped on the scene. Interestingly enough, he has pronounced himself to be a conservative Christian: and while his music doesn’t often reference God, it is lacking in some of the stuff that secular music has in massive quantities: cursing, drinking, drugs, and sex. His music centers mostly around love, with a breakup song or two mixed with quite a few love songs. Some of his tracks deviate from this theme, but that is certainly the most prominent one on the album.
THE GOOD AND THE BAD
The album kicks off with a catchy track that opens with a classic acoustic country guitar that puts a smile on your face and makes you want to listen to the rest. “Storm Warning” is a song about a good-looking girl that the narrator sees, and it’s love at first sight, but he knows that the relationship is going to end in disaster: “[she’s] one part angel, one part perfect, one part brick”. The song itself is a catchy tune that could be interpreted as a warning to us guys in pursuing a girl based completely on looks, which is defiantly a positive message. Its two drawback are that in his description of the woman he describes her as “hotter than the heat in July”, which I find disrespectful to anyone, remarking them in that kind of a shallow, worldly manner. Also, the song says “I have a feeling when the night meets the morning/I’m gonna wish I had a storm warning”. The song never states what happened overnight, and it doesn’t necessarily imply anything either, but this lyric throws up a red flag anyway. Overall, I’d recommend using discretion on this song.
“Wanted” is a deep, sweet, clean loves song that never once mentions the girl’s body or a desire to have a relationship past a kiss on the lips and a tight hug. As love songs go, this one is one of the best ones I have ever listened to.
“If You Told Me To” is a soft ballad giving his love a list of all of the things he would do for her. Overall, it is a nice, smooth song that has no objectionable content at all.
And then we get to “Love Makes Me”, which introduces a small negative penetrating theme on the album: that love is an excuse to do crazy things. The song is one of the most objectionable on the album, as he sings about sneaking out late and driving to his girlfriend’s house to spend the night with her. Overall, not worth the listen or the buy. Avoid this track.
The next track makes a total turnaround, though. “Faith To Fall Back On” talks about how he treated his girl badly when she was with him, and then when he left he realized his mistakes and turned to God. You can tell he doesn’t quite have his faith entirely together: “These days I’m not sure if I know what I’m doing here or where I’ll go”, but the rest could easily have been written by a contemporary Christian artist.
“Somebody’s Heartbreak” is a very interesting track that takes the lesson that it seemed like “Storm Warning” was trying to teach and turns it on his head. The girl he’s singing to sounds a bit like the poem “O, Think Not That I Am Faithful To A Vow”. She seems to flit back and forth, not knowing what she wants. The narrator, however, is saying that if she’s going to break somebody’s heart, then he’d like it to be his. While the content of this song is not entirely objectionable, the theme seems to be centered around recklessly falling in love with someone who isn’t going to stick around. The message is not a positive one, so I wouldn’t recommend this track either.
“Rainy Season” is a slow, depressing ballad that worms its way onto the album, contrasting with the peppy, lovey-dovey rest of the album. The song centers around a couple (it’s not stated whether or not they are married, but it does mention sharing a house, though whether it is a metaphorical house or a physical house is not clear) breaking off their relationship and parting ways. This is another song with no objectionable content, but it seems to play into the feelings of denial after a lost relationship. It’s not a bad song, but it’s not necessarily a good one either.
As seems to be a theme on this album, the next song is a great one with a great message. “Cry With You” is a fantastic melody again centered around a couple, except this time it is a strong about building a strong love. Something is bothering the girl emotionally, and she is feeling down. The song is about the narrator’s desire to listen to what’s troubling her and to cry with her while she’s telling him. He constantly tells her that she’s not alone, and that he’s there for her and will always be there. It is a great song and I highly recommend it.
The next song is fun and peppy and makes you smile even though the topic is about the aftermath of a breakup. “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me” has the narrator looking around wherever he is and seeing all of the couples around him and lamenting about his lost love. The lines “seems like everyone around me’s on they’re honeymoon” and “lovers being lovers in the corner booth” could be interpreted as objectionable, but overall the song is pretty lighthearted and innocent.
“What You Gonna Do” is a lot softer, and is another song with no objectionable content. The narrator is talking to a girl who is planning on leaving him, or a girl that he’s leaving (it is not clear which), asking her what she’s gonna do when he’s gone. This song also features the additional vocals of Ashley Monroe, which set it apart from the rest: it is a well-written duet and the voices are very well matched. Overall a very good track.
“More Than I Should” resumes the negativity of the album, giving us a situation in which the narrator proclaims that he “loved [the girl] more than [he] should[‘ve].” The song continues to strongly insinuate that the couple slept together, and that she left him afterwards. The song could be interpreted as a warning to stay away from bad relationships, but the objectionable content overrides any positive message the song could hold. I recommend avoiding this track.
“All You Ever Wanted” moves to another slow ballad about a man’s regret for his previous relationship, giving a very positive message of regret and acceptance of mistakes in love. The thing that he left out of the relationship was, it seems, showing real emotion. It is a song that teaches about communication in relationships from the narrator’s personal experience: without it, they crumble. A very good, inspirational track filled with heartfelt regret that teaches a valuable lesson to the listener.
Encore Edition Bonus Tracks:
The next song, “In A Song”, is another good lesson-teacher: the song takes another stance on a broken relationship, it’s about a man using music to recover from a broken relationship. It’s a song that talks about dealing with regret and coming out of heartbreak stronger, a good song for anyone going through the same things. The realtionship, as the song describes it, was an unhealthy one, and the escape was what the narrator needed. The song has one possibly-objectionable lyric: “Now I’m not saying that there won’t be too many lonely nights,” but it is certainly worth a listen and a buy.
“I Want Crazy” brings us back to the emotions described in “Love Makes Me”, saying that love is an excuse to do things that you wouldn’t do normally. In this one, it encourages crossing all of the lines and breaking all the boundaries, physically and mentally, but more physically. “Yeah, look at us baby, tonight the midnight rules are breaking, there’s no such thing as wild enough, and maybe we just think too much. Who needs to play it safe in love? Let’s be crazy!” So yeah. Avoid.
“A Thing About You” is like Bruno Mars’s “Just the Way You Are” without the unnecessary and offensive use of the word “sexy”. This song is all about a boy looking at a girl and seeing her as perfect. It is a wonderful song that leaves you with a warmth in your heart and a smile on your face. It has one alcohol reference: “an Italian tower leaning like it’s had to much to drink”, but in context it’s amusing and innocent so I wouldn’t call it objectionable. Definitely a keeper.
“Better Than This” is written from the perspective of a guy who lives his life for the journey, and keeps moving through with excitement and marvel at the mystery around him. It’s a fun, peppy song about enjoying life, and it has few drawbacks. It might not give the best advice: “getting by on little sleep and coffee cups” is not a very good way to survive, but the song itself is innocent and enjoyable. It even references God, without using His name in vain: “I kinda like it when I walk out the door/Not knowing what the good Lord’s got in store.” So it’s a great song, and I highly recommend it.
“Light Me Up” is a fun, electric guitar-driven piece about a guy who was in the depths of heartbreak and was pulled out by a new love. It’s fun, upbeat, and has no objectionable content. I personally enjoyed it greatly.
This album was an interesting mix of some of the best secular songs I’ve heard and some songs that I would not want to keep on my iPod. With only 3/17 songs having objectionable content, it’s a great album to purchase individual tracks or the entire thing. The songs that are clean are all fantastic, and this is easily one of, if not my favorite secular album I have ever heard. While those three songs stick out like sore thumbs, the rest of the tracks are filled with high quality country music that has a large amount of re-listen potential. The songs are sure to put a smile on your face and warm your heart, and if any of them relate to you on a personal level (and Hunter Hayes covers a large amount of ground as far as relationships are concerned) the songs will really hit you, and will twist your emotions towards the subject that Hunter is presenting, making you smile or laugh or cry. I highly, highly recommend this album: if it weren’t for the three objectionable tracks, I would easily rate this a ten out of ten. But, all things considered, my final rating is, as secular albums go:
Secular Album: 9/10
I was flipping through the DC Talk songs on my Ipod this morning, and I stumbled upon this one. It made me smile, because I had never heard anything quite like it before. Our world is full of musicians, and a great quantity of them are ones that produce rap music. But the music of today is one that gives me the impression that my ears are on fire. Listening to most pop music is just painful to me. Many are filled with profanities and obscenities, and many glorify intimacy before marriage. It is a very rare thing to find a song like this one. TobyMac, the rapper that you hear throughout the song, paints us a picture at the beginning of the song. He tells us about a time where he and a girl that seemed nice went out on a date. The specific lyric to describe it is the following:
I took her to the Garden where
I guess they grow the Olives
She wore a tighter skirt
Than any I had seen in college
She said, “I love to smoke and drink”
While cursing like a sailor
I asked her where she got her mouth
And if she had a tailor
Finally I walked her to the door to say goodnight
She said, “I am an apple,
Would you care to take a bite?”
Politely I refused and said, “I’m looking for a lady
So she slapped me in my face and said,
“Boy, you must be crazy”
That kinda sounds like today’s portrait of a woman. The person that is described in this song, sadly, has a feel to her that we would regard as ‘socially acceptable.’ In today’s world, anything goes, so this lyric comes as no surprise. The song then goes to describe the kind of girl us Christian men should be looking for. We are looking for a girl who will help us grow in our faith, help us become better people. Through the relationship, we should not only come closer to the girl in question, but closer to the God both of us worship. We should be looking for a girl who will love God more than she will ever love us, a girl who will challenge us in our faith to take leaps that we never even thought of before. That is the kind of girl us Christian boys should be looking for. Because in today’s society, even though it is the social norm to date everyone and anyone, we should be looking out for our future, and the future of the woman we will someday marry, and wait for our princess to come along so that we can sweep her off her feet.
By the way, I highly recommend DC Talk to anyone who likes rap or Christian music. I mean, how many other rappers will say: “When I finally meet her, I’ll know how to treat her, by fulfilling all her needs; love her and respect her, cherish her forever; she’s the kinda girl for me!”?