I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me. ~Jesus

Monday, January 8, 2018

Cory's Top 20 Underground

Where do I start? When I discovered Josh, I saw a picture of him on a skateboard and since I used to skate, I immediately connected. Little did I know that he had an amazing voice and a great collection of music spanning multiple genres with lyrics that are by far, the most creative and intelligent that I can remember. To take it further, I found out that he was giving his newest album at that time (Love and War and The Sea In between) away free for a year. This resulted in more and more people finding out about him, and even though his popularity is exploding, he still remains a sort of non-mainstream artist and rounds out the top of my list. Meet Josh Garrels. One of the most truly blessed musicians I have ever heard.

Michael is one of the people involved with United Pursuit Band, but my first impression was cultivated by watching his solo music video Watchout. In Watchout, I was reminded of the “new waver” period of the 80's, and the video they put together conveyed that really well. What stands out about Michael is his tremendous voice. The music is also really well written and thought out. After delving further in to his collection, I discovered an artist that is really brilliant and one that has a deep passion for Jesus. I was really surprised that he is not more well-known. Here is a link to the aforementioned video. Enjoy!

Steph Macleod is from Scotland and was once a homeless addict. When Jesus broke those chains off his life, he became sold out. His music is very passionate about the Lord and combines soulful singing with great songwriting. His guitar playing is also way up there!

I have been listening to Blind Willie for a while now and he most definitely had to be high on this list. If you've never heard of the Voyager Spacecraft, Blind Willie Johnson is one of the few musicians to be featured on a Voyager Golden Record sent into outer space in hopes of reaching other life forms to show what Earth's culture is like. He has written about 30 commercial recordings and my favorites are Trouble Soon Be Over and Everybody Ought to Treat A Stranger Right. These were recorded in 1927-1930 and hearken back to a time when life was a lot different. You can just hear it in these recordings, which aren't recorded that great, but hey, that's the way it was back then.

Perhaps, the most indie underground music collective ever, Enter The Worship Circle was founded by Ben and Robin Pasley and turned into a group of musicians recording together here and there, making 9 albums that glorify Christ, and some in the most raw way possible (check out Chair and Microphone). With the exception of their album Village Thrift, Enter The Worship Circle has stripped down guitars, djembes, foot stomping and howling vocals, making beautiful songs of worship that will bless you. They, of course, had to make this list.

When I first heard Setting Fires, I wasn't sure what to think. I heard pretty much the closest thing to Pearl Jam since Pearl Jam, mixed in with Creed. They are definitely a grunge-type, tribal rock band that is real hip on rocking your ears off. The lead singer Jesse Chastain is a good songwriter that has a really nice voice, coupled with his guitarist's distinct lead guitar (just enough – no overkill). I hope to hear more from this band in the future, because they really do have something nice going.

Theocracy is one of those bands that defines originality. Even though it seems like the trends in metal now, seem to all run together (core this – core that), these guys make music that defies boundaries. They have tons of progressive changes throughout their songs and one song they've written titled “Mirror Of Souls” is actually a 22 minute epic! Theocracy is interesting because it started out with Matt Smith all alone, singing, playing and writing everything on their first album, and it is solid. Now he has a supporting cast around him and they are wildly talented. I wonder what goes on in the mind of Matt Smith. I would love to do an interview with him someday. Take a listen and you'll understand why.

Forevertree is one of my favorite bands and probably always will be. Their first album Turning is one that reminded me a lot of Alice in Chains (one of my fave bands before Christ) and so I immediately connected. The lead singer Dwayne Johnson is one of the top singers in Christian music today and the other guys round out the band well. They go by the name Stronger now. Check them out!

Bob Desper is a blind man from the Oregon area who made an album called New Sounds in 1974 which is quite a find in folk circles these days. It was recorded in one take with some songs on it improvised on the spot. I like his playing style because it reminds me of my uncle's guitar work (raw and unrefined).

Future of Forestry is one of those absolutely brilliant bands that is on the cusp of mainstream success, if they haven't really arrived there already. In fact, I was almost hesitant to put them on this list, but either way, they are a really, really talented band that more people should know about. When I picked up my first recording of them Travel II, I was blown away by songs like Set Your Sails and Hills Of Indigo Blue. On Travel II, they played on things like a homemade sitar, theremin, Hammond organ, kitchen drawer, and pipe organ... Yeah, you get the idea. They are creative, and they continue to put out good music. Check these guys out for sure!

To Leave A Trace is a band that I heard about while they were running a Kickstarter campaign for their latest record. And though I didn't contribute, I featured them on my blog and here they are today on this list. If there is one word that I can describe this band with, it is heavy. They know how to make the music really heavy and at the same time allow the song to breathe. As far as my opinion goes, they're a band to watch in metal right now.

I found Ronnie Mangrum on Reverbnation as a relatively unknown artist when he was in a band called One Way Home. One thing that stood out at first was Ronnie's deep voice and southern edge. Over time, I grew to really love his music. Songs that I really like by him are How Do You Know and Trust In You. Ronnie's a great songwriter whose lyrics are really solid in Christ and he is also a great guitar player. I hope he keeps making music because he is obviously one person that should be.

I don't know much about The Walking Tree because I just discovered them, but they are from New York and bring a sound that is very alternative, grungy and indie all woven together. These guys have underground written all over them and they are sure to be a hit with the underground crowd.

Tribal is one of the great Australian bands that are making really solid music. I must have watched their studio video “Into The Wild” 10-20 times. It's an entertaining video to watch. They have a fun sound that makes you feel really good. I hope they keep it up because they are really talented.

Here is another band I don't know much about and I am not even sure they're still together. And if not, why does that happen to the really good bands. San Salvador is an Australian band that had to make the list for their solid Reggae sound. They do it really well.

Considered Rubbish was a band that was playing about the same time I played with my band in my old stomping grounds, Nacogdoches, Texas . Sadly, even though it was a pretty small town, we never actually got to meet each other, but I do communicate with their drummer Justin who is now in a band called After The Well. Considered Rubbish was one of those bands that could have easily been more well-known if they had come around in the 90's. Their sound is reminiscent of Chevelle or Silverchair, but distinctively all their own. If you're into the hard rock and grunge sound, then you might like these guys.

Cosyns is the brainchild of a guy from North Carolina named Derek Corzine. What makes this project unique (and ultimately why it made the list) is not only the amazing guitar work involved, but the fact that he uses Morse code in his instrumental guitar playing to convey scriptural lyrics to the listener.

CR 33 is one of those bands that happened long ago and are no longer together. I decided that they should be on here because their sound is solid and is very close to Rage Against The Machine. And when we were in the world, who didn't like Rage Against The Machine?

Lovelite is a husband and wife duo that make surprisingly skillful and refreshing music. Their sound moves between 80's new wave and alternative, and if you were ever a fan of that decade in music, you will most likely enjoy Lovelite. One thing that I really like about them, is the high-quality production and it seems like they take a less than safe approach in trying new things out in their music. It's edgy and pushes limits. This is a band that you should support and have in your music collection because their music is really good.

When I first heard The ChannelSurfers, it was like a flashback to the Red Hot Chili Pepper days. The bass is pumping and the groove is driving and they have even been compared to the Beastie Boys. To my knowledge, these guys put out two albums in the late 90's. The guitarist is quoted as saying, “Though we come from very different church backgrounds, we agree on the essentials – that the Bible is God's Word and that all of life is to be under the lordship of Jesus Christ.” Nice...

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