Kelsey Mains and the Two Jordan Weddings (or Music I Think You’ll Like)
I’m no hipster. I enjoy the music of mainstream bands like Coldplay and Switchfoot as much as the next guy, and I abhor skinny jeans. Nevertheless, I am a fan of a few musical artists that belong to the you’ve-probably-never-heard-of-them variety that’s so popular with the knit-cap-and-scarf-wearing crowd these days. Since I’ve no delusions of finely-attuned musical tastes that all of you pop-radio types could never fully appreciate, however, instead of trying to make sure that these talented singers and songwriters don’t go mainstream I’m more than happy to recommend their stellar work for you to enjoy. So here you go, five bands that you’ve probably never heard of (and just might really like).
1. Kelsey Rottiers and the Rising Tide. I went to a small concert on the campus of Cornerstone University earlier this winter that featured Kelsey (as well as two of the other artists featured in this post), and her acoustic set blew me away. She has a fantastic voice, and her smooth, laid back style is easy on the ears. Best of all, she’s a very talented lyricist, and her thoughts on love, God, and forgiveness will stick with you even when the music ends.
My favorite Kelsey line: “It takes time to baptize the shore/the peace of mind we’ve all stopped looking for.” (from “The Rising Tide”)
2. Doug Mains and the City Folk. Another one of the acts at the Cornerstone concert, this classy folk outfit has only released two singles on iTunes so far, but they’re currently working on a full album, and those singles are more than enticing enough to get me excited for the album’s release. “Theresa St. Johns” is a touching and poetic song about death and its effect on those left behind, while “Broken Windows” addresses issues of poverty and social justice with both musical and lyrical aplomb. Both are well worth the 99 cents.
My favorite City Folk line: “You’ve become satisfied with resting your rested eyes and you think of hope as a word instead of being it.” (from “Broken Windows”)
3. Two Steps From Hell. Their name may sound a bit creepy, but I promise they’re not a death metal band. In fact, this group creates sweeping orchestral music specifically for use in movie trailers, and they’ve released two compilations of such tunes for purchase by the general public: “Invincible” and “Archangel”. While all of the songs have a similarly epic feel to them (and they’re all instruments-only), Two Steps does an excellent job at providing variety and keeping every track from sounding the same. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like an action hero, this is the music for you.
My favorite Two Steps line: DRUMS DRUMS STRINGS BRASS INTENSE CHORAL BACKGROUND VOCALS! (from pretty much all of their songs)
4. Jordan Anderson. Jordan and his wife, Jessa, were the headliners at the Cornerstone concert, and while Jessa is an excellent musician who is achieving a lot of success on the CCM scene, I want to focus in on Jordan’s solo works, “The Popular Tree EP” and “Stand Up”, here. Jordan’s music has a wonderfully chill, jazzy sound that makes you want to tap your toes and sing along, and his excellent skill with both the piano and the guitar shines through on every track. Definitely a hidden gem, this guy.
My favorite Jordan line: “You think about your life in all its brevity… what are you saving your life for?” (from “Stand Up”)
5. The Wedding. I’m actually not sure how well-known this band is, and I know that they have several albums out there, but the piece of their discography that I specifically want to recommend is their EP “The Sound The Steel”. The Wedding is a full-on rock group, and they have the drums, guitars, and powerhouse vocals to prove it. What sets them apart from many similar bands, however, are their skillful, memorable lyrics and the tightly-woven experience of this EP itself. The songs’ themes, styles, and even titles follow a seamless progression that makes the album as a whole greater than the sum of its already excellent parts, and since it weighs in at just six tracks, it’s easy to find time to listen straight through.
My favorite The Wedding line: “Try as we may, your love always remains/and we cannot afford to be afraid anymore.” (from “Redeem”)