A Gift For the Music Lover – Hawk Nelson Made

Christmas Gift Guide Gift Ideas For the Music Lover

Still working on wrapping up your Christmas shopping? You in luck because over the next several days I’ll be giving you some great ideas to make sure your gifts will be amazing ones as I wrap up my Christmas Gift Guide for this year!

Hawk Nelson Made
Legalese Nonsense: Being a long time Hawk Nelson fan how cold I not say yes when offered the chance to review their latest album?! all skeptical hubbies and lyric loving opinions are, as always, my own!

Today for the Music Lover on your list I’m recommending the newest CD from Hawk Nelson, Made.

When I first got this cd in hubby took one look at the cover and said, “Oh–so they’re all hipster main stream now, are they?” And yes, I admit at first glance, and even at first listen, Hawk Nelson seems to have taken the turn that many of their counterparts have in turning away from their original hard edge rock-punk vibe and falling into the trend of high selling, crowd pleasing, punk pop, worship music  vibes.

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Jeremy Camp: Reckless CD & I Still Believe: Updated and Expanded

 I have always been a fan of Jeremy Camp’s music. I even got to see him in concert as a newly wed when we lived in Washington D.C. He is a great singer and performer! He had briefly mentioned his past and life during his performance, but as he was one of many singers that night and just opened for Tree 63 he wasn’t able to go to much into it. I was very interested by what he had said, however, and was interested in seeing what his book would be like. Many times people try to branch out into other areas rather than their expertise-sometimes it works, often it doesn’t. Jeremy’s story in I Still Believe
is so compelling that I literally couldn’t put this book down! I read all but the last few chapters in one single sitting—yes staying up waaaay too late to do so. It made me cry and made me smile. As someone who is going through a rough year filled with trials this book was exactly what I needed to put my “small” trials into perspective. Reading about Mellisa’s unbending faith and Jeremy’s struggle and rise above to deep, true faith humbled and inspired me. I absolutely loved this touching story and would highly recommend it to anyone, especially those going through any kind of trial in their life! Plus now it’s been updated and expanded so that the new version is even more gripping and awe inspiring than the first!

Jeremy’s Camp also just released a new CD — Reckless! 11 songs long it delivers the typical upbeat, praise and worship style that you expect to get when you buy a Jeremy Camp CD.  Although all of the songs are jam worthy a highlight of the CD to me was #5 We Must Remember.

We must remember,
that you have forgotten
and you don’t remember our sins anymore

Yes we must remember
That you have forgotten

And you, you died once and for all

As Christians I think we have a tendency to beat ourselves up over things and the Devil loves nothing more than for us to get discouraged–this song is a powerful reminder of our freedom through Christ!

I enjoyed the entire CD–no “skip it” songs to be found here! I’d recommend it for any contemporary Christian music lover–if you’ve never bought a Jeremy Camp cd before then definitely get this one! Be sure to check out the snippets on Amazon so you can listen for yourself!

One lucky winner will receive both Jeremy’s new CD Reckless and his book I Still Believe!

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Hillsong We Have A Savior Review

Since up until now I’ve attended more traditional churches that mainly focus on hymns I’m not super familiar with Hillsong. Once I found out that they are responsible for many of the Worship Song Books in church We Have a Savior made perfect sense. They sing many traditional songs but they all have a definitely “worship” feel to them with extra bridges and phrases added in and various twists on the song. The music is done in a choir/group type style with a few lead singers and backup. With 12 songs that are all considerably longer it goes against the “short and sweet” trend of the other new Christian Christmas CDs I’ve received this year.

Overall I enjoyed this CD but when stacked up with the many others in my collection there wasn’t really anything super special about it that jumps out at me. One track that I really do love and found beautiful was Emmanuel. We Have a Savior makes for great background music and I’ve enjoyed having it on while the kids play and I work– so my overall opinion is that this CD is worth purchasing but not a favorite. I must add that I’m not a huge fan of worship CDs so that is a big part of what plays into my opinion! If you love worship music to listen to at home then you will love this Christmas CD–be sure to read the other reviews on Amazon-4.5 stars so far also listen to the snippets on Amazon so you can get a feel for yourself of the CD!

Don’t forget–I’m giving away a copy of We Have a Savior–but hurry and enter because it ends in just a few days!

Nicole Elliott

Josh Wilson Noel Review

Christmas Gift Guide
Josh Wilson Noel

 This is the first cd of Josh Wilson‘s that I’ve ever listened to and after hearing it I will definitely be checking out his others! Noel has reach my top 3 Christmas CDs in my collection! Overall I love the fact that each of the 10 songs is faith based and he avoids the cliche and annoying main stream secular Christmas songs so many Christian artists include on their CDs. Noel includes two instrumentals–The First Noel & Carol of the Bells–both are just gorgeous! What I love the MOST is when artists write new Christmas songs and Josh has several. The title track–Jesus is Alive–is now one of my very favorite Christmas songs! It’s absolutely beautiful and the lyrics are just amazing! Here are some of them:

Noel, Noel, Jesus is Alive
Emmanuel, Hope is Here Tonight
So go and tell the world that death has died
For Jesus is Alive
Yes, Jesus is Alive

Goosebump worthy!!! Seriously–this track alone would be worth purchasing the cd for!

The rest of the songs are equally moving-in his version of O Come Emmanuel he sings a few phrases in Latin(?) that are just amazing! His other renditions of the traditional carols like Angels We Have Heard on High (my favorite) are done perfectly as well!

In a sea of hurried up and same songs over and over and over again Christmas CDs this one shines bright!

Don’t forget–I’m giving away a copy of Noel of these-so hurry because it’s almost over and enter to win!

Nicole Elliott

Bebo Norma Lights of Distant Cities CD

“Now, I’m not saying we’re going to be dancing in the aisles–but if when you were singing or listening to music and you didn’t want to just raise your hands to God in praise–well then maybe you need to stop and think about why that is for a minute.” ~ Dan Winnberg Pastor of Church of the Open Bible*

I’ve always attended very conservative, very formal churches. You know–the kind where you sing hymns out of hymnals and everyone is dressed in their “Sunday best”. Since growing up my ideas on music have grown and expanded, and as you can tell on this blog I love current Christian music and cds (though I still love hymns and piano music too!)

I thought of the quote above while I was listening to Lights of Distant Cities as I was cooking dinner one night–because I turned around and saw this:

With no knowledge that I was watching her or that raising hands is something that you would do to worship–Amber just automatically did this while listening to the CD. She stood like it long enough for me to snap a quick picture (also having no clue I was) and then after a few minutes just put her hands down and went on about her business. This just touched my heart so deeply–to see the pure faith like worship of a little child. I do believe that the music I should listen to should be scripture based–but that it is wonderful if and when it elicits an emotion towards God that just compels you to raise your hands in worship!

If that wasn’t reason enough for you to want to check out Lights of Distant Cities then I’ll mention that I too loved this CD! I had never heard of Bebo Norman before and I really enjoyed this CD. It was written through a difficult period in his life and that shines through with a candidness and raw edge that I really feel makes the album ring with authenticity. He also has a very fun upbeat vibe that makes his cd great to listen to. It’s hard to pick a favorite song but I do love the title track.

I’m including this CD in my Christmas Gift Guide because I feel that it would make a wonderful gift! I love giving music as a Christmas present. I save up my Swagbucks throughout the year to cash into Amazon Gift Cards and then I use those to buy great presents like Lights of Distant Cities to give to my family!

Go listen to the songs on Amazonand check out the rest of the reviews-it has 5 stars so far!

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*(discussing what kind of music he felt was appropriate for church services while he was a pastoral candidate for COB quote may not be exact as I’m going off of my memory and it’s been several months now)

Nicole Elliott

Jeremy Camp Christmas: God With Us

 I just love Christmas music! As soon as Thanksgiving is over and our decorations go up I’m listening to it everywhere!

As you might remember I have always like Jeremy’s music and became even more of a fan when I read his book I Still Believe. My favorite Christmas CDs to listen to are ones that are fun, upbeat, and a have traditional songs with a twist-so I figured Jeremy Camp’s CD Christmas: God With Us would be right up my alley!

Sure enough I was right! Short and sweet Christmas: God With Us contains only 10 tracks.  I love the fact that it includes great traditional yet often overlooked songs like Hark The Herald Angel Sings and O Come O Come Emmanuel. His version of Joy to the World is one of the best I’ve ever heard as he takes the classic favorite hymn and adds beautiful Scripture based lyrics to it. He also includes Mary Did You Know–one of my favorite Christmas Songs!

The only thing about the album I would change is the first track–can we please all sign a petition for no one to ever sing “Jingle Bell Rock” ever again? Because really-it seems like EVERYONE sings it and I really get tired of after hearing it *one* time each year.

All in all this CD is a gem and at $10 it’s also a steal! Listen to the songs on Amazon to hear for yourself and check out the rating-so far it has 5 stars!

Nicole Elliott

Bellarive The Heartbeat

Christian Rock

When it comes to contemporary Christian bands there a few things that I look for. I love bands that have great lyrics, a unique sound, and that aren’t too overly repetitious.

I was immediately hooked on Bellarive’s unique vibe. Like many debut albums they seem to be testing the waters and playing with different styles while trying to nail the one that is exactly their own. The lead singer reminds me just a bit of Owl City (which is a very good thing). Some songs feel worshippy, others are more like rock, and then you have Tendons which is extremely unique–at first I wasn’t sure if I liked the anguished poem in the middle but after listening to it a few times it’s so powerful and moving now I absolutely love that song and it is probably my favorite on the album.

I’d highly recommend this cd–I’ve been listening to it for the past few weeks and it’s been the main cd I listened to this whole week while driving Amber the hour back and forth to and from her camp. It’s great because it’s one of those CDs that is great to drive to and that you won’t get tired of!

I’m super impressed with their debut and am very much looking forward to getting their future CDs and seeing which direction they choose to grow in the future!

Don’t take my world for it–go over to Amazon and listen for yourself! Don’t forget to read the other reviews-it has almost 5 stars so far.

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Cultivation Generation ‘My Foundation’ CD

As Amber gets older I’m amazed at how nothing escapes her notice anymore-including music. The other day a song came out and all of a sudden my 4 year old was belting out the entire lyrics to a Taylor Swift song. Now, while I like Taylor and it’s true that I’ve probably played that particular cd hundreds of times over the past year, it really made me stop and think for a second. Wouldn’t I rather have songs about God and His praises coming from my toddlers lips than a song about a breakup? Obviously the answer to that should be pretty apparent!!

Because of this I’ve been attempting to beef up my Christian music collection even more (it’s already quite big but you can never have too much great music in my opinion!)

I’d never heard of Cultivation Generation and was excited to give it a try. Because  My Foundation (Cultivation Generation Live) is live I wasn’t sure it it would be my cup of tea (I’m not big on live cds) but it didn’t end up affecting me liking this album. The songs are still clear and good quality and there is not a lot of background noise.

This is a compilation album of several different artists so like most albums there were some that I really enjoyed and others not as much. Overall the album has a fun, worship vibe to it and I’d recommend it if you enjoy worship music and are looking to add some diversity into your Christian music collection as well!

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Life So Sweet ~ Mandy Gawley

As I’ve mentioned I have an extremely diverse taste range when it comes to music. I always find myself coming back to my “country roots” over and over again though.

One of my favorite things to do here in Boston is to crank it up when I’m stuck in traffic. Hearing about dirt roads and sunshine makes me picture being out fishing on a cloudless day in Wyoming–rather than being stuck in traffic in the rain here in New England! It was funny that in her song Biscuits & Chicken on Life So Sweet Mandy expresses the same kind of sentiments!

Mandy Gawley reminds me a little of Sugarland in some of her songs, but she definitely has her own unique, yet very country sound. There are a good mix of fun and funky songs, but my favorites on the album are the softer sweeter songs like The Love We Leave Behind and What I Know Now.

Hop on over to Amazon so you can listen for yourself and read what other listeners are saying!

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