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Jonathan Cain - Unsung Noel

Thank you Hoganson Media for sending us a digital album to review!

Jonathan Cain was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April of 2017. Many may know him as Journey’s keyboardist and co-author of Don’t Stop Believin’. A quick look at his Twitter feed will show that he’s a Christian and listening to his latest Christmas album, Unsung Noel, truly emphasizes the reason for the season. The first song, The Heart of Christmas, emphasizes that Jesus is the reason for the season.

There are fourteen songs and they are all beautifully performed and produced. A couple that I recognized right off the bat are Angels We Have Heard on High, Oh Holy Night, and Do You Hear What I Hear. The other eleven tracks were all new to me. Even though I’m not Catholic anymore, I enjoyed Hail Mary. That song and entire CD proclaim Jesus Christ as the king, savior, and true meaning behind Christmas.

All of the songs are calming and have great singing and keyboard playing. The lyrics throughout the CD are inspiring, praise Jesus, and tell of his miraculous birth. The song Joseph’s Pride tells Joseph’s doubts and role as Jesus’ earthly father.

If you’re looking for praise filled Christmas music, look no further than Jonathan Cain’s Unsung Noel Christmas album. Digitally it sells for $8.99 and the audio CD is only a dollar more. I love playing Christmas music throughout the month of December though I have made an exception for this album. It’s great to listen to Christ-centered music instead of ones focusing on made up figures. This one is definitely staying in my Christmas music collection!

 

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Undertale: Strings of Determination

Thank you Materia Collective for sending us this digital album to review!

I reviewed Undertale shortly after its 2015 release date and this game continues to stay popular, with many kids still talking about and playing it. I can see why since it’s a fun game. While I did beat the game once, I haven’t had the time (or determination) to revisit the other endings. What impressed me most about Undertale was the wonderful soundtrack composed by the very same game developer, Toby Fox. Although the game was gifted to me, I purchased the soundtrack and Ferdk’s symphonic metal rendition as well. As great as those are, I truly feel that String Player Gamer’s digital album, Undertale: Strings of Determination, is the definitive soundtrack to buy if you have to choose one. Of course, I recommend picking up all three!

The violin and guitar work is top notch and the production quality is as good as it gets. The songs don't stray too much from the original soundtrack, but the instrument work really does stand out. In total, there are forty-six songs and they are all well done. All of the tracks are arranged by Diwa de Leon and the song ‘Temmie Village’ has a guest acapella singer, Tera Catallo aka TeraCMusic on YouTube. It’s hard to believe that this album was made by a couple of people!

The asking price is a very reasonable $14 and this album can be listened to and purchased on BandCamp, Spotify, and on iTunes. Before this complete album was released, String Player Gamer released four Undertale volumes so if you only want a few of the songs, that’s a cheaper option. Each of the volumes cost $6 so getting the complete set is still a better deal. I now consider myself a fan of String Player Gamer’s work and will continue to follow and look forward to his future masterpieces.

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The Porter’s Gate Volume 1: Work Songs


Thank you Porter’s Gate Worship Project for sending us this digital album to review!

I grew up Roman Catholic and then attended a Baptist church in my teenage years. Both of those churches had traditional hymns with only an organ or piano and vocals. I appreciate a good hymn, but I also love contemporary worship with a wide variety of instruments or even a symphonic band! Seeing a need for worship revival, The Porter’s Gate started a creative movement to compose some new worship songs with the help of first-rate singers, songwriters, and musicians.

The theme for this collaborative effort is vocation and they hope to use music as an opportunity to extend hospitality and build bridges with our neighbors. I think they achieved this goal of creating music that is beautiful, truth-filled, and inspiring in this thirteen-track album.


There’s a lot of variety in each of the songs with some of them having a male lead singer while others feature a female lead singer. Urban Doxology was part of the collaboration project too. The voices are all great and I didn’t hear any sour notes. Some of the songs feature just a piano while others have an entire symphony. There are some somber songs and others are energetic.

Like many worship songs, I have to hear the songs a couple of times to have them resonate with me. Listening to this album multiple times has been a pleasant and uplifting experience. The lyrics are God honoring and the music is catchy. I caught myself tapping my foot while listening.

The debut album is due to release on October 6th, 2017 and I highly recommend checking it out through your favorite music provider. I look forward to more inspiring music from Porter’s Gate Worship Project!

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Retrogression: Vol.1

The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was truly innovative on many levels upon its launch. So many great games were available on that console and given the success of the recent NES Classic, gamers still love them. Besides the fun gameplay, many of the most popular games had stellar soundtracks to go with them. Stemage has done something interesting in their recently released digital album, Retrogression: Vol.1.

In Retrogression: Vol.1, Stemage plays four popular theme songs backwards and then reverses them (individually) so you can recognize them again. To stay true to the NES’ limitations they used drums, two guitars, and one bass. The songs performed backwards are really well done and are fun listening to, even if I’ve only played 3/4 games being represented.

The four games paid homage to include Ghosts N’ Goblins, Punch-Out!!, Super Mario Brothers, and Tetris. Since the album is available on Bandcamp, you can listen to each track individually and pay what you want for it. The songs are available to download in MP3 or FLAC format. Since you can set your own price, I won’t complain about the length of the album as it can be heard in its entirety in less than fifteen minutes. While the reversed/forward songs are neat, I would have loved to hear the jazzed up songs played in their proper direction. Other than those minor nitpicks, I recommend picking up this album if these NES games hold a special place in your heart.

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Ozwald Bozwald - Transformed

Thank you SMT Entertainment for sending us a digital copy of this CD!

Ozwald Bozwald is a Harlem, New York City based recording artist, producer, and DJ.  He's been in the music industry for nearly fifteen years and most of his music was hip-hop and rap based.  In his new album, Transformed, he changes his music style to dance; and it's awesome!  It's not just his music style that has changed, but his whole life has been transformed from when he started making music.  

Ozwald is a full-fledged vegan, Christian, and a husband though he never planned on being any of those.  While the songs are pretty neutral without any scripture or praising of Jesus, Ozwald isn't shy about his faith on his social media sites.  In fact, his single 'Only One' is about being monogamous and the singer offers to break the law if needed for his love interest.  While that song isn't exactly teaching good values, it's not promoting sleeping around like many popular dance songs these days.

There are four tracks on this EP and they can be listened to freely on Sound Cloud.  If you like the music, you can buy it digitally on iTunes for $3.99.      His latest single 'Only One' is available on Amazon, but the rest of the album is not there yet.  Some of his older rap music is though. I'm definitely a fan of his newer music versus his hip-hop roots.

My favorite song on Transformed is Radar; it's one of the two songs that has lyrics and is performed by Kevin Singleton.  The title song only has the word Transformed spoken a couple of times and Heaven is completely instrumental.  The whole CD is solid and I recommend it for any dance music fan.  If you're looking for music praising God, you'll want to look elsewhere, but if you want to dance to some "clean" music, Transformed will fit the bill nicely.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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