Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Jars of Clay|
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock, Christian
Multi-platinum and triple Grammy winning band Jars of Clay have long held a reputation for creative excellence. With their latest record Good Monsters, the band continues to create music that stretches the imagination and... more »
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Multi-platinum and triple Grammy winning band Jars of Clay have long held a reputation for creative excellence. With their latest record Good Monsters, the band continues to create music that stretches the imagination and offers a new perspective on who we are as a church today. Dan Haseltine explains, "I was not sure how all of the experiences of the last few years would translate into music. There have been so many things to look at and describe. This record is part confessional, part euphoric love poem, part bitter divorce, and part benediction. It was born out of many experiences and conversations between addicts, failures, lovers, loners, believers, and beggars. And so the language of recovery and the honest discourse about our attempts to live apart from God and apart from each other is a theme. Engaging people who are doing the hard work of laying their lives open to others, and avoiding isolation, has allowed me to see that there is both immeasurable evil and unfathomable good mixing under my own skin and it is grace, mercy and freedom that allow me to not simply be a monster, but to be a good monster."
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Alexander S. from PEACHTREE CTY, GA
Reviewed on 4/17/2007...
They have done it again
Jars of Clay "Good Monsters" - A Masterpiece
Susan Prince | Humboldt, TN United States | 09/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"CCM Magazine has named "Good Monsters" "2006 Album of the Year", so does it live up to that distinction? Will it live up to all the hype?
In a word, yes.
Jars of Clay has been contributing their brand of acoustic-folk, jangly-pop, light-rock music to the world since their crossover hit song "Flood" from their self-titled debut in 1995. They've released some notable music (Jars of Clay, If I Left the Zoo, The Eleventh Hour) and also some forgettable albums (Much Afraid). With "Good Monsters" they will make a significant and possibly historical impact on modern Christian Music because it raises the bar of creativity, both musically and lyrically and is packaged together neatly as a concept in a well-produced presentation of art and music.
"Good Monsters" is a concept album that beautifully packages together ideas and song. Insightful lyrics picked from deep within a soul longing for justice and mercy are transported through sounds made by voice, stringed instruments, and stretched animal skin. The music on this CD covers the gamut from catchy pop jingles like "Dead Man (Carry Me)", the quick-tempo, pop-shuffle of "Good Monsters", the earthy romp duet (with Leigh Nash) of "Mirrors and Smoke", modern day sing-a-long hymn of "There is a River", to the signature song on the CD.
"Oh My God" is the "showstopper" of this album. If "Good Monsters" is Album of the Year, "Oh My God" is the Song of the Year, and possibly of the decade. It is a song that one can not listen to, really listen to, and not be shaken by it. It begins with light strumming of acoustic guitar strings as David Haseltine's voice softly enters with the first verse "Oh My God". It's a prayer, a modern-day psalm, a lamentation. The song has a slow, almost laborious pace that crescendos as instruments are added to the texture. It is constructed in three main parts, with no real "chorus" as modern music has made us accustomed to. It is one thought, one verse, piled on top of another thought, piled on top of another, connected only by the commonly used, and sometimes overused (by society) phrase "Oh My God". There is a slight pause between the main sections of this song that allow a short moment for reflection, maybe even some relief from the heaviness this song provokes.
These lyrics, from the second section of the lamentation:
"Whores and angels, men with problems, leavers always say..."
"Fearful mothers, watchful doubters, Saviors always say..."
illustrate so well the idea that everyone at one point in their life has a moment that they need to decide if God is real or not. "Oh My God" is a phrase that people use to call on God and misuse as part of everyday language. These verses are delivered in a sequential melody that build on each other punctuated by forceful chords on the piano and a steady strum of the guitar that gradually gains in volume.
The last section of the song begins to pulsate with added steady rhythm on the drum. It beats along like a heart, and carries the words Haseltine rhythmically sings as haunting background vocals softly cry over and over the lamentation "Oh My God" . The background voices here are a soft accompanianment that sets a tone, or a mood, and when the listener really focuses on that it is possible to imagine that it may be what God hears when all the many desperate souls cry out to Him. The beating pulse of the lament becomes more and more intense, the volume increases as the song crescendos to the climax where Haseltine cries out "Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God". Then silence.
It is powerful and impacting and I believe it will become one of those songs that will be a CCM standard.
"Good Monsters" the title track from the album sounds like a happy tune with a pop-shuffle rhythm and an ascending/descending bassline that sets in a groove quickly. Like "Dead Man (Carry Me)" ("I woke up from a dream about an empty funeral, But it's better than the party full of people I don't really know.") and "Work" ("I have no fear of drowning, It's the breathing. It's taking all this work") it has a catchy singable melody, yet, as one really looks deeper into the lyrics, these songs have thought-provoking ideas to convey.
"Not all monsters are bad, but the ones who are good
Never do what they could, never do what they could
All the good monsters rattle their chains,
And dance around the open flames,
And they make a lot of empty noise."
Jars of Clay contributes a modern day hymn with "There is a River" and another song, the only one on the CD not penned by members of Jars , "All My Tears" written by Julie Miller. This remake captures the old time spiritual feel of the original with a bit more electric sound and drive, but retains the poignancy. The gospel choir sound toward the end of the track really lifts this song to a refreshing new level.
"Mirrors and Smoke" is a duet that features Leigh Nash (formerly of Sixpence None the Richer) and is an uptempo, earthy romp. It's filled with the heavenly blending of the voices of these two gifted singers. Nice harmonies and lyrics about "true love" written from the heart.
The African Children's Choir is a subtle and nice touch on "Light Gives Heat", a commentary of sorts, that I'm sure derived from the experiences of the Jars of Clay men on their visit to Africa.
The softer and slower paced tunes that make up the remainder of this compendium of insightful words and music, "Even Angels Cry", "Surprise", and "Water Under the Bridge" complete the diversity, the creativity, and the challenge of this Jars of Clay offering.
"Good Monsters" is a masterpiece."
Excellent on multiple levels.
The Crystalline Entity | Pennsylvania | 09/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Before "Good Monsters," I was already to the point where I knew I'd buy any album Jars of Clay even contributed to, let alone made all themselves. Their clean, powerful acoustic simplicity and poetic, head-and-heart lyrics have secured their place as my favorite band. Now, "Good Monsters" is still blowing me away, over a week since I bought the CD.
This album is eclectically unified, incorporating lyrical and musical variety into a seamless song mix. This is the epitome of skill: to make an album on which every song is an individual powerhouse that fits into the grand puzzle of the whole record. The Jars have done it again.
The driving rock and gritty vocals of "Work" and "Dead Man (Carry Me)" are a thrilling start, reminiscent of the sounds that have made Coldplay's "X&Y" and The Killers' "Hot Fuss" so popular, while still remaining innovative in their own rights. "Dead Man (Carry Me)" is sure to become a concert favorite, and, I hope, a chart-topping radio single.
"All My Tears" and "There Is a River" provide the Jars' signature old gospel hymn touches, no doubt influenced by "Redemption Songs," while "Even Angels Cry" is a softer ballad. "Even Angels Cry" might be my least favorite track on this album, but only because I think the melody is a little fluffy. The lyrics are gems: "Flowers through asphalt, diamonds in the pockets of your eyes..."
"Good Monsters" is a much-needed critique of the Christian church, bound up in a catchy melody. "If good won't show its face / Evil, won't you take your place? / Nothing ever changes / Nothing ever changes by itself." In the liner notes, the band quotes Edmund Burke: "All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing."
"Oh My God," as other reviewers have said, is the jewel of this album in emotion and impact. "We all have the chance to murder / We all feel the need for wonder / We still want to be reminded / That the pain is worth the plunder." I wish every Christian could hear this song and learn what it means. These are lyrics that could start revolutions.
"Surprise" and "Take Me Higher" embody the hope of this album in the midst of suffering, the former gentle and soothing, the latter pleading and declarative.
"Mirrors & Smoke" is a fun track that reminds me of a Johnny and June Carter Cash duet. I don't know if they inspired it or not, but I've always loved Leigh Nash's voice combined with Dan Haseltine's, and this upbeat number is equal parts gravity and lightheartedness.
"Light Gives Heat" is the song I'm still figuring out, but the one I'm most addicted to. Soloist Elizabeth Panga and the African Children's Choir lend a gorgeous translucence to this tale of third-world children and what we are and are not doing to ease their plight.
"Water Under the Bridge" keeps the Jars' tendency to end albums with wistful, prayerful melodies. This one is about love and companionship, a fitting close to a lyrically tumultuous record.
"Good Monsters" is certainly one of Jars of Clay's finest albums. There must be new winds blowing, because these songs reflect thoughts that I and my young adult friends have been talking, laughing, and crying over these past few years as we watch our faith evolve, crumble, and be reborn from ashes. I am so glad we are not alone. Music like that from "Good Monsters" is sometimes our most powerful voice."