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Sarah McMillan.  Wife to John Mark.  Soon mother to Jude Williams.  Master potter.  Musician.

Ever since I started listening to Sarah’s music, I’ve found myself referring to her inadvertantly as “Sarah Mark  McMillan,” but her music is nothing like her husband’s.  Where John Mark’s music hearkens back to 90s alternative rock, Sarah’s goes a little further back… more toward the 1890s than the 1990s.  Drawing on folk, roots, and country, with some bluegrass twang thrown in, Sarah’s songs put you solidly in a slightly modernized Pentecostal camp meeting from the early 20th century.  It’s equal parts Enter the Worship Circle and O Brother Where Art Thou?

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I love finding albums by indie artists that few people have heard.  What I hate, though, is finding these artists years after their music has been recorded, gone unnoticed, and been abandoned.

Jordan Boston is one of the latter.  I found him recently on e-music, and I liked his album Awakening enough to download the whole thing.  Unfortunately, it came out way back in 2005 and, to my knowledge, he hasn’t released anything else since then.

My knowledge of music (Christian, indie, neither, or both) is not encyclopedic, so it could be that he’s huge and you all know about him already, but from what I can tell, all he’s got out there is the one album from 3 years ago, and no plans to do anything else. Read the rest of this entry »

A guest post by my wife, Jessie:

For a long time, I have wanted to learn to play banjo, and so this year Jake and I finally purchased one for me to learn on. It’s a handmade, open-back style banjo, the kind used in old-tyme and folk music, the kind you play clawhammer style (as opposed to bluegrass style, for those of you familiar with those styles of playing the banjo). I like the banjo for it’s plunky sound, and because it is easier for me to fret the chords on a banjo rather than on a guitar with my small hands. Anyway, I get frustrated with the learning process often as it’s always difficult to learn something new, so I’ve been making myself listen to more artists lately that include banjo in their music. It’s actually relatively easy to find bands that have a banjo-ist included that are not bluegrass or old-tyme bands now that banjo is becoming one of the more “hip” instruments to play, thanks to Bela Fleck, Iron and Wine, Sufjan Stevens, and others.

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Following along in the line of my very CCM posts lately, I found a bit of news I wanted to pass on to those interested.  Since I don’t normally follow CCM happenings, this is new to me, but you may already know.

Bart Millard, the voice behind MercyMe, first produced an album of redone hymns in 2005.  I took no notice, through no fault of his.  But now in August 2008, he released another album he calls Hymned Again, and I think it’s definitely worth a look.  Go on over to his MySpace to take a listen.  It’s really good and very different from other Christian music out there.

I’ve heard hymns redone by all sorts of bands, and I’ve always like them, but with Hymned, Millard gets to the heart of the matter.  Drawing heavily on country and bluegrass, Millard makes these hymns shine.  I’ve never been a huge country fan (especially not the more modern stuff), but for some reason it just works on this album.  Maybe I’m more of a hick than I realize.

But it’s not all country.  There’s definitely a lot of that going around, but there’s also jazz influences, blues overtones, and all sorts of musical styles slipping in.

Anyway check it out, and then someone send me a copy of the album to review, alright?  :)

Brenton Brown is a name many of you may know already.  He’s not exactly some obscure Christian indie guy.

On the other hand, in a market (worship music) that’s dominated by heavyweights like Chris Tomlin, the unholy Trinity of Phillips, Craig, and Dean, and the David Crowder Band, anybody else seems obscure and indie in comparison.

Brenton Brown is a worship guy who’s been around with Vineyard for a while.  He’s done a solo album.  He’s appeared on worship compilations.  He’s had his songs covered by Lincoln Brewster and Chis Tomlin, among others.  He’s travelled around leading worship concerts.  He’s just generally doing the stuff worship guys do.

I got my hands on his latest album, Because of Your Love, released in July of this year, and while it doesn’t open up any new territory in the worship genre, it’s a good, solid offering in the category.

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When I created this blog, I never planned on offering the latest up-to-date album reviews or news releases.  I just wanted to get the word out on some of the music I like, emphasizing artists I listen to who have a Christian faith but wouldn’t necessarily fall into the CCM category.

Today, I offer another not-so-timely review of an album I got about a month ago, though it feels like I’ve been waiting on doing a review for a few months.  Why have I waited so long?  Plain and simple laziness mixed with a little feeling of being overwhelmed with the blog.

So today, I introduce to you Amy Courts and her new album These Cold and Rusted Lungs, set to be released in July.  It’s not a perfect album but it’s definitely worth your listening.

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Dumb title for the post.  I know.  It’s hard coming up with genius every time.

Anyway, Alli Rogers is an artist who is easy to like on one level or another (just like Mr. Rogers – see?).  She’s not my all-time favorite ever, but she’s got a great voice, a sweet and simple folk sound, and some really well-written, catchy lyrics.  Her music isn’t weird, artsy, ecclectic, bizarre, or any of the other adjectives that often describe music I like.

But I dig it.  It’s easy to get into and appreciate – you don’t have to work hard when you listen.

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This came out a while ago, but I just re-found the link, so check it out.

You can download the Summershine album by Vigilantes of Love for free by clicking here.  I don’t know a whole lot about Bill Mallonee and his band, but I’ve been listening to him for a little while now.  The band is sort of americana, folk, and country, mixed with REM-style college rock.

Summershine was released in 2001 and sounds a little dated but it’s still good.  Definitely worth a free download.

While you’re at it, check out some of Bill Mallonee’s new songs on his MySpace.  Some good stuff if you like classic indie americana.

Important Note

These MP3s are here for sampling purposes and to help spread the news about some sweet bands you may not otherwise know about. Support the artists by buying their MP3s and CDs and attending their shows. If you're a musician and don't want your MP3s on here, let us know and we'll take them down. In the interests of promotion and not robbery, all MP3s are taken down after a week or two, so if you wanna hear stuff, either come around often or pay for songs.

Send us an e-mail if you want stuff removed or you would like to be promoted here.

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