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Those Lavender Whales’ first album, Tomahawk of Praise, was an album of pure joy. Sure, there were moments of questions; times when singer/songwriter Aaron Graves put a stumbling faith at the forefront of his wild folk melodies. But everything was viewed, sung, strummed through a haze of unfiltered, contagious joy. Five years and several lifetimes later, the band is poised to release its second full length, My Bones are Singing, and yes, there is joy on the record, but it’s a new kind of joy. A bittersweet joy. A joy that comes from being tossed about on the harsh waves, to and fro, until finally being spit upon the shore. The new album finds Graves working through the complexities of life and death, having struggled through a life threatening brain tumor and the long treatment that followed. His praise and outlook isn’t as self-assured as it was the first time around. A deeper darkness has seeped into the songs. The guitars are louder. The weight is heavier. But this is not a somber album. This is music as medicine. This is a power-of-positivity record, full of friendship, seeking, searching, faith, doubt, resurrection…and it most assuredly rocks.

My Bones are Singing releases April 7 on Fork and Spoon Records.  You can listen to and purchase the album here.

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caitlin

Strip mined hills, full of snow, stand tall in the distance like the Andes. “You are born alone”, Caitlin Pasko sings through my car stereo. The river drifts by, choppy, chunks of snagged driftwood pulled up and under the surface. Plastic trash is caught in the roadside fence. “Then you’ll die alone”. The cold is brutal. The county, the highway, the flocks of skittering birds—they are all carried along on the grief-stricken poetry and piano melodies of her new EP, Glass Period. It’s a hard journey, this highway of life that we travel. We suffer and laugh and love and hate, and some are able to put words to such abstract things. Some are able to allow their grief to be resurrected into something that heals. “But what about the time in between?” sings Pasko, and it’s a question for us all.

You can listen to and purchase the EP here.

civilized creature

A burst of electronic pulses and dance floor jams give way to pop vocals, quiet ambient synth and wild noises. Swooping in and out come instrumental sounds, Radiohead-like breakdowns, 80s-style synth piano, sacred promises, mystery, fire, grace. “You are not alone”, sings Civilized Creature’s Ryan Lane on his recent release, Steadfast. “It’s gonna be alright. You’re gonna be okay”. Dance music. Gospel music. Call it what you want to call it. It’s a bass-thumping, breakdance-inducing joyful noise.

You can listen to, purchase or download the album here, or explore Ryan and Civilized Creature’s work with the Nehemiah Foundation for Cultural Renewal here.

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The apex of Heritage Hill’s debut EP, Out of the Sea, comes about halfway into the album, when the four Vancouver ladies channel Father Abraham himself, to vent what feels like every frustration, every discouragement, and every praise that’s ever come down the pike.  Harmonizing over gentle bluegrass and Americana melodies, the band switches from slow lament to foot stomping worship throughout the song. It’s a haunting tune, sitting within a beautiful debut—one that captures the many brutal sides of faith, and the glory that emerges somewhere over the rise.

You can purchase the album on itunes and Google Play, or stream it on Spotify.  You can also find more information about the band and their ministry here.

jonah

I have a difficult time pinning down the music of Portland’s Jonah Sissoyev. I started listening to his songs back in 2012. It was the first time that I truly lived alone, outside of a college dorm room—a quiet, light-filled apartment all to myself, on the top floor of an old house. I didn’t know what Sissoyev was singing about, whether it was God or girls, but I knew that it hit me—that it spoke to something far down, in that part of you that knows only a profound, Biblical groaning. Sissoyev is now releasing his third EP, Shadow of the Sun, and his sound has expanded somewhat over the years. There are more players. There is a greater scope to the recordings. But the songs are still rooted in those far down places. They still feel like an artist’s abstract search for love or peace or salvation of some kind. At the heart of it, Sissoyev’s songs remain strange, enigmatic and utterly beautiful.

You can stream and purchase his music here. Beginning March 1, you’ll be able to hear and buy the new EP, Shadow of the Sun.