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Falling Up

  • Captiva  
    While listening to the fourth release from Falling Up, I found myself wondering, “Where’s the punch?” These new songs lack the excitement that we’ve come to expect from the BEC recording artists. They’re still good though. “The Dark Side of Indoor Meets” has a ghost-like quality about it. However, there are no tracks like “Moonlight” or “ Broken Heart” that just get inside your head and refuse to come out. Songs such as the title track have the band exploring their electronic, down-tempo side. True fans of Falling Up will embrace the shift while those looking for another record full of radio hits should keep looking. Album Highlights: “The Dark Side of Indoor Meets” and “Capitva” - jennifer e. jones
  • Dawn Escapes  
    Piano melodies interwoven in dark guitar riffs have always been Falling Up’s signature, and Dawn Escapes gives more of what their fans adore. Hats off to the boys for having one of the coolest album covers of the year. However, this album’s main downfall is the lack of standout hits like last year’s “Bittersweet.” Every song bleeds into the next without a clear, strong winner. Hardcore Falling Up followers should dig it but newbies should buy their first album, Crashing, for a proper introduction. Album Highlights: “Into the Gravity,” “Moonlight” and “Contact” - jennifer e. jones

Family Force 5

  • Dance or Die  
    This sophomore effort from Family Force 5 is a mixed bag. On the one hand, every song is full of energy and guaranteed to get you dancing. On the other hand, the band veers from their signature style somewhat and fans looking for lyrical depth won’t find much here. What they will find is a plethora of synthesizers and an electronic sound reminiscent of the 80s. Most of the tracks explore themes of love ("The First Time"), heartbreak ("Share it with Me"), or dancing ("Dance or Die," "‘Rip it Up"). However, a few songs ("Radiator," "Wake the Dead’) do offer more spiritual connotations. There are no overt Christian lyrics here, but perhaps that is the appeal for many FF5 fans. The band diligently avoids hitting listeners over the head with a spiritual message. If funky dance tunes are what you’re craving, you'll love this rock party. Album Highlights: “Wake the Dead” “The First Time,” and “Radiator” – belinda elliott
  • Business Up Front... Party in the Back  
    Buckle up and brace yourself for ATL’s Family Force 5. From the start, you’re caught up in a crazy mix of tricked out rap metal with plenty of crunk. Not since 4th Avenue Jones have I heard such a genre-breaking band on a CCM label. FF5 announces their presence with force on the opening track “Cadillac Phunque.” “My mama raised me in the dirty south” is their anthem on “Kountry Gentlemen,” and songs like “Love Addict” and “Earthquake” promise that this band rocks a live show. It is light on the Christianese, which may unnerve parents but rest assured that the message of a man’s need for Christ is clear in “Replace Me” (“Make me what you want me to be / I am yours for you to use”). Business Up Front, Party in the Back… much better than a mullet. Album Highlights: “Kountry Gentlemen,” “Earthquake,” and “Put Ur Hands Up” - jennifer e. jones


  • Hope is Rising
    Worship meets arena rock when Fee hits the world with Hope Rising. It’s loud. The beats are driving. The lyrics bring glory to God. Unfortunately, it’s all been done before. Let me say, I thoroughly enjoyed the title track from Fee’s first album We Shine, but the rest of the songs on that album and this one are repurposed modern praise and worship arrangements. There’s nothing that sets this band and their current sound apart from Parachute Band, Hillsong United, Desperation Band, or the like. That said, if this is your music of choice, then Hope Rising will make your iPod happy. Bounce-worthy songs include “God Is Alive” and “Rise and Sing”. A few ballads such as “We Crown You” and “Arms That Hold the Universe” are meditative on His majesty and grace. A lot of heart, just not enough originality. It’s truly shame, because “We Shine” held so much promise for something new to be breathed into the praise music machine. Album Highlights: “Rise and Sing” - jennifer e. jones
  • We Shine  
    Fee draws you in before you’re even aware that you’re tapping your foot to the beat. The youth-group-oriented Georgia band already earned buzz through the Passion conferences, and it shows when you listen to the bouncy rock/pop of We Shine. It’s hyperactive worship music in the same vein as David Crowder Band and Hillsong United. The title track alone is enough to make you stand up and dance. You can’t escape the joy that bubbles over on “Happy Day”. By the same token, “Burn For You” details a desire for Christ without shame. There’s no doubt that these guys love God, love what they do and want to share it all with you. Such enthusiasm and talent deserves two thumbs up. Album Highlights: “We Shine” and “Happy Day” - jennifer e. jones


  • Still the Cross  
    The band’s newest offering provides a mixture of the funky pop that FFH fans have come to love along with a few more mellow ballads. Read the full review...
  • Voice From Home 

    FFH attempts to capture God speaking to His children. This idea is a great one, but the results are slightly disappointing. In their efforts, the band oversimplifies God’s attributes. The messages in all the songs are hopeful and encouraging, but I was hoping for lyrics that would dig a little deeper. The band also differs from the toe-tapping folk music of previous albums, opting for a more piano-driven pop sound. While their previous albums are better suited to my taste, this album does provide an important message -- that both God’s faithfulness and His love for us are immeasurable. Album Highlights: “Grand Canyon,” “The Only Hand You Need,” and “Worth It All” - belinda elliott

Fiction Family (Jon Foreman & Sean Watkins)

  • Fiction Family  
    Fiction Family has a bit of a folk music twist. Listeners are introduced to the album with an acoustic intro by Jon Foreman and guitarist Sean Watkins. I found myself in deep thinking trying to take in the metaphoric lyrics. “When She’s Near” gives off a sweet, steady melody that is pleasant to the listeners. It’s a perfect illustration of “puppy love”. “Out of Order” carries the album in another direction, brining forth counteractive rhythms that shift the mind in different modes. The music is a perfect reflection of disorder. “Please Don’t Call it Love” shifted my mind in a peculiar mode as Jon Foreman sings from his heart about what he believes to be love. Look for My Baby ends the album with a classic rock n roll twist. Listeners of Fiction Family will definitely enjoy what this new album has to offer. - ashley card

Fighting Instinct

  • Fighting Instinct  
    This self-titled album from southern rock band Fighting Instinct is a must get for all rockers out there.  The extraordinary talents of guitarist/lead singer T.J. Harris, drummer Dallas Farmer, and bassist Jason Weekly has the potential to make all 10 original songs hits.  Harris’ strong, pure rock voice and amazing guitar riffs give the band a impressive start with this debut CD.  Influences from great rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd and Jimi Hendrix and the band’s strong faith message and worshipful lyrics set them apart.  “My Heart Cries Out” rocks an expression of real passion for our God.  The band also shows beautiful melodies and soft rock sounds in “Crush” and “Back To You.”  Album Highlights: “You Don’t Know,” “Just To Please You,” and “You Found Me First” - hannah goodwyn


  • For Those Who Wait
    Fireflight's third studio release, For Those Who Wait, continues a straightforward, yet epic rock journey that began with their first independent album in 2002. Since their major label debut in 2006, the band has taken a creative stage dive forward every time a new recording hits the shelves. Dawn Michele's lead vocals explode with purity over the orchestral arrangements, beefy guitars, and driving percussion. The title track equals musical addiction, while "Desperate" and "What I've Overcome" are perfect follow-up singles. Fireflight definitely rocks, but their next album will need to make a lyrical leap forward to solidify their longevity. Album Highlights: "For Those Who Wait," "Desperate," "What I've Overcome" - rob vischer

Flatfoot 56

  • Knuckles Up  
    Put up your dukes. Flatfoot 56 is coming to town. I guarantee you haven’t heard anything quite as raucous under the Christian mantel. The four-man band, complete with thrashing guitars, bagpipes, and a mandolin, march onto the Flicker Records label with maddening Scottish punk/metal that’s an assault on your senses. But that’s a good thing. From the moral lessons in the title track to the irreverent "Holdfast," Knuckles Up is as close to authentic punk rock as you’ll get while still giving glory to God. You see the heart behind the moshing especially on “The Rotten Hand” (“My Father’s got a plan for my life / So now I follow Him with my back turned from sin / Lead me on my Father Adonai”). It’s an amazing piece of work. This album should come with a warning though: Not for the timid listener. Hardcore punk fans only. Album Highlights: “Rotten Hand” and “Knuckles Up” - jennifer e. jones


  • Flyleaf  
    After their EP climbed the rock charts, Flyleaf finally shows us what they’re made of with the release of their self-titled full-length album. Immediately what grabs you about Flyleaf is the twisted soprano singing of Lacey Mosley. She’s not afraid to give a hard rock scream although she’s half the size of her male bandmates. The band bares their faith with dark lyrics like “I tried to kill you / You tried to save me.” Listeners get the hit songs “Red Sam” and “Breathe Today” (although I like the EP version better) along with new music including “There For You,” which features Dave Navarro on guitar. Musically, Flyleaf offers little above its contemporaries, but this album is worth a buy for Mosley's voice alone. Album Highlights: “Cassie” and “I’m So Sick” - jennifer e. jones

FM Static

  • Critically Ashamed  
    It’s time for fun pop-punk again! FM Static returns with Critically Ashamed. The fact that they don’t take themselves too seriously helps this tongue-in-cheek album be entertaining. The nearly nonsensical love story of “Video Store” is just what those TRL teeny-boppers want. They actually point out some real life ironies in “Flop Culture” (such as pseudo-"Sk8r Girl" Avril Lavigne posing in men’s magazines). “Waste of Time” is spiritually tinged and offers the lost a chance to be loved just as they are (“I’ll be everything that you want me to / Except for perfect”). FM Static fans should be pleased. Album Highlights: “Flop Culture” and “Waste of Time” - jennifer e. jones

Foolish Things

  • Even Now
    Though it was released independently, the powerful lyrics and catchy melodies on this sophomore album from Foolish Things make it worthy of attention. The song’s title track "Even Now" is a beautiful reminder that God’s love and care for us remains constant regardless of our circumstances. "He hasn’t left you out to dry, even now. You haven’t left his watchful eye, even now," the song says. It encourages us to remember that "when we don’t see how, My Father is worthy of my hope even now." Other powerful tracks include "Love Chained Me Here," a love song written from God’s perspective and the energetic "Who’d You Put in Charge," about who we let control our lives. It is rare that I enjoy all the songs on an album, but every song this album offers reflects both the depth of the band’s talent as well as their passion for God. This is a band to watch! Highlights: "Even Now" and "Keep Us Together." - belinda elliott

Foreman, Jon

  • Limbs and Branches  
    A compilation of choice tracks from his Seasons collection, Limbs and Branches holds the best of Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman's solo work. His most popular songs from his Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer EPs are included, along with two new tunes, "Broken From the Start" and "Over the River." Fans of the progressive Seasons CDs may not love this one as much as it’s a bit all over the place since Jon’s songs are mix-matched on the album. Still, what's not to love about his poetic, folksy vibe and personal vocal vision? Album highlights:  “The Cure for Pain,” “Your Love is Strong,” “Resurrect Me.” - hannah goodwyn
  • Summer EP  
    Jon Foreman easily pulls off Summer, his fourth and last EP in his Seasons collection. Connecting it with the other three albums to provide fans with a complete look at a year works well. However, the solo EP also proves to be a success in its own right. With songs on themes such as resurrection, true substance, and everlasting life, this album offers a hopeful look at what’s to come (“The House of God Forever”), while also challenging believers to trade in their shows and religious games for what is real (“Instead of a Show”). Jon Foreman is honest, bold, and full of creativity in this album of acoustic tunes and soft ballads that any fan will enjoy. Album Highlights: “A Mirror is Harder to Hold” and “Instead of a Show” – amy nickerson
  • Spring EP  
    Since 1997 when the first Switchfoot album came out, Jon Foreman has been an obvious talent. This third acoustic EP in Foreman’s new solo collection proves what many have already known – Jon is not only a gifted rocker, but also a poetic genius. With a sound much like Bob Dylan’s and thoughtful lyrics pulled straight from Scripture, this CD is sure to capture the attention of many. Spring is an artistic look at love and new life that is sometimes melancholy, but always deep. Album Highlights: “Your Love Is Strong” and “Baptize My Mind” – amy nickerson
  • Winter EP  
    I must admit I was a bit skeptical when I heard Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman was releasing a series of solo EPs based on the four seasons.  It just sounded too self-indulgent.  But I must confess, Winter is a winning disc.  Featuring a musical sparseness reminiscent of a cold winter’s day, Foreman delivers six strong tracks that are very clear about where he stands on faith.  Unlike Switchfoot, there are no vague lyrics to be found.  Especially strong is “Learning How to Die”, a song about how we were created to be in Heaven, not earth, and “Somebody’s Baby”, a tale of a homeless woman’s downward spiral from hopefulness to death.  If you are expecting Switchfoot, don’t bother to pick this up.  But if you are looking for music that is real and brutally honest, then Winter is for you. Album Highlights: “Learning How to Die” and “Somebody’s Baby” - chris carpenter
  • Fall EP  
    Jon Foreman is the mastermind songwriter behind Switchfoot. So it’s no surprise that his solo EP, Fall, is a lyrical delight. Six songs are just enough to chew on as Foreman takes you on a road trip through his mind. He’s forever longing for heaven on earth with songs such as “The Cure for Pain”, and his view of humanity’s duality on “Equally Skilled” is both chilling and revealing. This is the perfect way to spend that iPod gift card. Album Highlights: “Equally Skilled” and “Southbound Train” - jennifer e. jones

Franklin, Kirk

  • The Fight of My Life  
    There's a struggle going on within Kirk Franklin, and it's transparent on his latest album. While The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin and Hero stand an inch or two taller than this record, The Fight of My Life still has plenty of reach. The first single "Declaration (This Is It)" is an urban gospel war cry that will raise up the warrior inside of you. "Jesus" is like a throwback jersey with its comfortable, hip grooves. However, I could do without the watered down "Hide Me". tobyMac makes a splendid appearance on the rocked out "I Am God". This is definitely a pick-me-up to those in the valley and a reminder that God is the only one who gets you through. Album Highlights: "Declaration (This Is It)" and "Jesus" - jennifer e. jones
  • Hero  
    He’s the most famous non-singing singer in CCM, and now Kirk Franklin raises the bar for urban gospel on Hero. I miss the “live” feeling of previous albums like The Rebirth but overall it’s a much cleaner recording. As usual he’s ready to move seamlessly between mainstream R&B and Christian radio with songs like “Sunshine” and “Better.” Vocally, Kirk’s choir is stronger than ever and has perfected their harmonizing since the last album. As if his singers weren’t enough, he sought the help of other gospel greats such as Fred Hammond, Yolanda Adams, and J Moss to name a few. With the salvation message tucked into the “Brokenhearted reprise,” this album has set yet another standard for the rest of Christian music to chase after. Album Highlights: "Sunshine," "Keep Your Head" and "Looking for You"

Fraser, Brook

  • Albertine  
    Albertine.  That is the title of Brook Fraser’s second album. The New Zealand native sings with so much depth in her lyrics that it is easy to write the album off as boring on the first listen. However, with the second listen you get a better understanding of what she is singing about. “Albertine,” a song on the album (and its title) is about an orphan Fraser met while visiting Rwanda. After seeing the way of life in the nation devastated by genocides, Fraser sings of her responsibility to help. In another song, “Faithful,” she tells of how she has learned to seek God even when his presence is not felt. For a 19 year old, Fraser seems to have a great amount of wisdom, which is displayed in every song. Though this album is her second, it is her first to be released in the U.S., but I doubt that it will be her last. Her sound is different in a good way and is a good pick for those who are tired of the norm. Album Highlights: “Shadow feet,” “Faithful, and “Deciphering Me.” – kimberly a. lilly

The Fray

  • The Fray
    Peaking at the No.1 spot of the Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums Billboard chart, this new self-titled record from The Fray is a solid soundtrack. Famous for their previous hit "How to Save a Life", The Fray showcase their talent on a new track called "You Found Me," which has already gained popularity on the radio and online. Its honest lyric and strong melody compels you to sing along. Unfortunately, this new album has a weakness: the lack of variety from track to track. Listeners may find it hard to distinguish between a few of the songs; they are too alike. Album Highlights: "You Found Me," "Syndicate," and "Happiness." - hannah goodwyn

Free Chapel Worship Center

  • Moving Forward  
    When Moving Forward kicked off with “Great God”, I thought I was in for another rousing, yet typical worship album. However, Israel Houghton, Ricardo Sanchez and all of Free Chapel Worship Center were just warming up. Give this album some time, and it will truly set something a’blaze in your soul. By the sixth track, “I Call Your Name”, I was worshipping along with the enrapturing praise. “My Nation Healed” goes off on a holy call for the countries of the world to come to Christ. And the Latin grooves on “Celebrate” will get your feet moving. This is the perfect gift for someone who loves vivacious corporate worship. Album Highlights: “My Nation Healed” and “I Call Your Name” - jennifer e. jones

Freeman, Ronnie

  • God Speaking  
    Nashville-based worship leader Ronnie Freeman is back with his sophomore album. The pop Christian artist released his debut project five years ago, and this one is just as powerful. Focusing on the struggles we sometimes face while walking out our faith, as well as the freedom that Christ offers, Freeman’s rich voice and smooth melodies provide hope and encouragement. Quite a skilled song-writer, Freeman’s lyrics are the strength of this album. Listeners may recognize the title track, "God Speaking," which American Idol finalist, Mandisa, also recorded on True Beauty. Other songs that pack a spiritual punch are the guitar-driven "Breakaway," and the inspirational "The Other Side." Freeman’s songs provide a great opportunity to allow God to search our hearts and to spend time reflecting on where we are in our walk with Christ. Other album highlights: "My Inheritance," with Watermark’s Christy Nockels and "Sober Me." - belinda elliott
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