New Kevin Max EP SERVE SOMEBODY drops July 7th on Gotee Records

From the moment that DC Talk member/former-Audio-Adrenaline-frontman/ever-evolving-solo-artist/poet/writer Kevin Max leaked the demo for his cover of Larry Norman’s “Righteous Rocker” on his Soundcloud page, my interest and enthusiasm for the upcoming cover project SERVE SOMEBODY skyrocketed! With fuzzy bass, thick, crunchy guitar, and production assistance in the able hands of Nashville rock music star handyman John Mark Painter, the track breaths and grooves with heavy classic rock strides that grabbed me immediately from the first listen and haven’t let go.

Max then leaked another demo version through Soundcloud that fully affirmed and solidified the high level of anticipation sparked by “Righteous Rocker.” The second being a cover of Bob Dylan’s 1979 classic, “Gotta Serve Somebody,” again flaunting a spot-on classic blues rock vibe that fits the song like a well-worn, but, form-fitting leather biker’s boot. “Gotta Serve Somebody,” also features soulful, textured layers background vocals provided by Painter’s wife and longtime musical partner, Fleming McWilliams.

The first impression of this yet-to-be-released covers project, based on these two unfinished songs, is resoundingly positive and I expect that the other tracks that will be included on the EP will not fail to satisfy, either.

The EP is scheduled for release on July 7 from Gotee Records.servesomebody

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Play Fantasy Football and Help Orphans in Haiti

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There’s just a few hours left to register for a season’s worth of fun playing fantasy football while simultaneously supporting such a critical and worthwhile organization in their mission to care for the orphaned and abandoned children of Haiti and keep more Haitian families together. For a $50 donation to the Hands & Feet Project you can either join the BIG BIG YARD Fantasy Football league hosted by rapper KJ-52 or the BIG BIG YARD Fantasy Football league hosted by Sidewalk Prophets lead singer David Frey.

Over the course of the season you’ll get to participate in a live online draft and compete in weekly head-to-head match-ups with the artists and other fans. At season’s end, the best-finishing non-artist team owner in each league will win VIP meet-n-greet tickets to one of the artist’s upcoming concerts and a custom, hand-crafted Haiti Made coach’s gift kit! But, don’t wait because there are just a few spots left and the registration deadline for the KJ-52 league is midnight  ET tonight! Registration for the Sidewalk Prophets league will close midnight Monday.

JOIN US and register right now!

Meanders Music Review: BROKEN TEMPLES (Deluxe Edition) by Kevin Max + “Love Feels Like” (Feat. dcTalk) from TobyMac’s THIS IS NOT A TEST

BROKEN TEMPLES (deluxe edition) now available through iTunes

BROKEN TEMPLES by Kevin Max was released earlier this year and what follows is my original review of the album as it was released then, but, updated with commentary on the additional tracks available on the Deluxe Edition of BROKEN TEMPLES that is now available through iTunes. Also included in this updated post is the lyric video “Light Me Up” from BROKEN TEMPLES and the lyric video for for the new song “Love Feels Like (featuring dcTalk)” which features Kevin Max, along with Michael Tait, on TobyMac’s just-released album THIS IS NOT A TEST.

Broken Temples, the latest solo album from Kevin Max, the iconic voice of dc Talk and “Kings & Queens”-era Audio Adrenaline, is an album that celebrates space and the perspective it can bring, both figuratively and literally. Lyrics throughout the album paint a bird’s eye view of literal and figurative open highway landscapes, deep valleys amidst jagged peaks, and moments of still, quiet solitude contrasted by the boundless measure of the heavens and the infinite God that moves in, around, and through them.

The themes explored lyrically on this album are a marked departure from Max’s last solo effort, 2010’s Cotes d’Armor (True Rebels). Instead of what, by comparison, were darker, cryptic lyrics juxtaposed with ambient electronica, Broken Temples offers a direct line to hope, but, without the candy coating of Christian clichés so overused on contemporary Christian radio. Laid out on a framework of new wave with occasional nods to the influence of U2, Johnny Cash, and the Beatles, the album is a clear product of Max’s musical influences. That fact, in and of itself, is respectable, since so many artists make so many concessions in their music just for the sake of getting on the radio.
It is Max’s ability to articulately explore and celebrate truths of God and the importance of grace as a dynamic in the lives of believers that I appreciate as much as, if not even more than, his amazing voice. Kevin Max is a poet and his expertise as a craftsman of words is on full display in the songs of Broken Temples. It takes a great lyricist to be able to use words within reach of the common lexicon, and to arrange and partner each of them with just the right musical moments in a song, in order to produce an emotional and personally relevant response within the listener that is both memorable and meaningful, and to do so to a degree that is greater than the sum of its parts. It is even more impressive when he can do so while simultaneously leaving enough room in the interpretation of the lyrics to allow almost anyone to connect their own bruised hearts with the experiences of a man who has stated that the lyrics to the songs of Broken Temples (“Just As I Am,” in particular) are some of the most personal that he’s ever written.
Lyrical gems alluding to the broken nature of humanity, and the relief and purpose that we have the chance to grab hold of through God’s grace, are threaded throughout the album and employed in a manner that communicates hope for the broken without ever conceding to the banality of the latest Christian music industry platitudes. I’m certain that I could tell my own redemptive life story by simply excerpting lines from the lyrics of songs like “Good King’s Highway,” “Light Me Up,” “Just As I Am,” and “That Was Then And This Is Now,” – all songs that reflect back on life-lived, for better or worse, and acknowledging the wonder of grace and eternal hope in the face of it all. But, it is the stripped down arrangement of “That Was Then And This Is Now,” certainly one of my favorite tracks from the album, that grabs me immediately within the first few seconds of the song and engages me on a deeper level, as Max sings about finding assurance and peace in the growing space between the mistakes of our past and the present hope of our future, through the duration of the song.
“Good King’s Highway” is a solid opening track that rings with optimism and celebrates providence in the midst of the journey of life from the very first note going forward while “Light Me Up,” a decidedly and unapologetically-pop song, alludes to God’s ability and desire to use us, in our broken state, for his lasting purpose and, in doing so, provide a more abundant sense of life and meaning than we ever could’ve imagined before. The slick pop sound, set against the substance and poetic depth of the lyrics in “Light Me Up,” “Just As I Am,” and “When We Were Young,” are another characteristic stroke of Max genius.
Purchase and Download the music of Kevin Max on iTunes

Purchase and Download the music of Kevin Max on iTunes

As the 80’s new wave-inspired tracks “Just As I Am” and “Clear” unfold, the listener’s attention is focused inward as Max reflects upon the one-to-one, personal dynamic that exists between God and believer when we choose to accept His hope personally. Max ably meets the challenge of taking a sound so characteristic of the 80’s and making it sound completely relevant decades later.

Like “Good King’s Highway,” “White Horse” has an expansive sound, but, also has a spirit that steers closer to praise music than Max typically ventures. It does so, however, in a truly Max fashion, as he has managed to present a song that honors the truth of God without leaning on standard Christian music industry cut-and-paste lyrics, thus creating a song that is accessible not just to common believers, but, also to a wider audience that appreciates texture and artistry in music.
Broken Temples is rounded out by two Derek Web remixes (of “Just As I Am” and “Clear”) and “Infinite,” a celebratory chorus in the vein of “Give Peace A Chance” by John Lennon and “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles.  While the argument against including remixes in an album does have merit (who wouldn’t want two more original songs instead?), I enjoy Webb’s alternate take on the two remix songs (“Another Big Mistake” and “Going Clear”) further the continuity of tone established in the first eight tracks of the album, while, also adding texture to the album as a whole. “Infinite” (featuring a well-placed appearance by Rachel Lampa) provides a memorable exclamation point to the album by celebrating the fact that God is so much more than any of us can even comprehend with our finite minds. There is more going on than we can see or even hope to understand, but, God is worthy of our faith.
As a whole BROKEN TEMPLES is simply amazing. Only time will tell whether the album will gain enough of the exposure it is worthy of in order to propel Max’s presence and notoriety in the Christian music industry onward and upward to the level of respect that he deserves as a solo artist. Regardless of whether it does or it doesn’t, Broken Temples is an album that stands firmly on it’s own accord. It takes guts to trailblaze through the wilderness that Kevin Max has and the grace of God to sound this good on the other side.
DELUXE EDITION REVIEW UPDATE: With the July 2015 release of the Deluxe Edition of BROKEN TEMPLES, listeners are treated to an additional five tracks not included on the original album. Two of those, “Lay Down Your Weapons” and “Freak Flag,” were available to supporters of the BROKEN TEMPLES Pledge Campaign when BROKEN TEMPLES released in March, but, the standard version available elsewhere didn’t include them. The Deluxe Edition of BROKEN TEMPLES also includes “Memoria,” “Desperate Heart,” and a demo version of “That Was Then This Is Now.”
 
“Lay Your Weapons Down,” a bluesy, soul guitar track, and “Freak Flag,” a tongue-in-check nod to 90’s Christian rock in the vain of classic Audio Adrenaline and dcTalk, represent a tone not characteristic of the album as a whole, but, certainly warrant their own inclusion as bonus tracks. “Memoria” is my favorite of the additional tracks. It carries on a very Beatle-esque quality that is hinted at on “Infinite,” and one can’t help, but, to sing along after just a listen or two. “Desperate Heart,” on the other hand, fits extremely well into the pop-new wave feel of earlier album tracks such as “Just As I Am,” “Clear,” and “That Was Then This Is Now,” with synthesizer, bass line, drum machine, and vocal textures that would make any 80’s music fan swoon. The demo version of “That Was Then This Is Now,” is very closely related to the slightly more produced version that ended up on the standard release of BROKEN TEMPLES. They are so similar, in fact, that I’m tempted to ask why it was included. But, altogether, the five additional songs gave BROKEN TEMPLES the balance it needed to tip my assessment of this album from 4.5 out of 5 to a full 5 out of 5.
 
There is a fair amount of space for the listener to soak in and reflect upon the lyrics, as presented by Max on BROKEN TEMPLES, in order to make them their own, while the arrangements and production of the album ensure that the songs will only gain traction with repeated listens and that the album, as a whole, will age well and, perhaps even, better than other albums released by his contemporaries in the contemporary Christian music industry. Well done Mr. Max.
 
Meanders Music Review on a scale of 1-5 Stars: 4.5 (BROKEN TEMPLES)/5.0 (BROKEN TEMPLES – DELUXE EDITION)
“Light Me Up” by Kevin Max from BROKEN TEMPLES
Knee-jerk Review: “Love Feels Like (featuring dcTalk)” from TobyMac’s THIS IS NOT A TEST
There has been a good deal of fanfare surrounding the release of Kevin Max’s fellow dcTalk-alum TobyMac’s new album THIS IS NOT A TEST, and with good reason. But, the track that I found most interesting was “Love Feels Like” which features a mini-reunion of dcTalk by including Michael Tait (Tait Band/Newsboys) and Kevin Max (Audio Adrenaline/solo) along with Toby McKeehan. Simply put, it’s a great track. There is a magic that happens when their voices come together that is captured here and they picked the right kind of song to do it on, too. It’s an in-your-face, powerful song that carry’s weight in terms of the sound and the substance of the lyrics. One can only hope that there is more of this on the way.

1 Day Until BROKEN TEMPLES – A Kevin Max Countdown Retrospective: “Light Me Up,” “Infinite,” and “Kings & Queens” (acoustic)

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Kevin Max’s newest project, BROKEN TEMPLES, will officially be released on March 10. I’ll be counting down the remaining days to the release of the album on this page with a post each day exploring and celebrating, in no particular order, some of his prior creative ventures.


With just one day to go in this Kevin Max countdown retrospective our focus begins to shift from surveying the past to the present and what listeners can look forward to from BROKEN TEMPLES. “Light Me Up” is the second track on the new album that will release officially on Tuesday, March 10, and it brandishes an unapologetically pop tone that emphatically celebrates the dramatic shift that God’s grace can account for once someone realizes and yields to their need for Him as a broken temple that can only be filled and purposed by His compassion and love.

Infinite” celebrates the fact that God is so much bigger than we are. It is a notion we would be wise to keep in mind as we stumble forward through our mistakes and questions about why things happen the way that they do. God’s knowledge, wisdom, providence, and love is not restricted to the confines of a political party, the understanding of scientists, or the mental constructs of men. Likewise, Max has proven with this song that God can be praised and celebrated beautifully in ways that don’t strictly adhere to the formulaic constructs of songs that fill the airwaves of mainstream Christian radio. Every element of God’s character is limitless and peace can only be found in surrendering to that fact and trusting Him. He is a creative God. I’m so thankful for those, like Kevin Max, who continue to creatively chip away at the boundaries of what we think music can be while simultaneously honoring an infinite God with their art.

While its true that I featured “Kings & Queens” once already in this retrospective, I can’t help but to include this clip, too, which features Max, with Audio Adrenaline (including original Audio Adrenaline lead singer and Hands & Feet Project director Mark Stuart on tambourine), as yet another example of the quality of Max’s craft. It is a one-shot, live, acoustic rendition of “Kings & Queens,” a song that is a call for Christians to live up to the mandate of James 1:27 to care for the orphans of the world and Max delivers a flawless vocal performance. His voice is amazing live as well as in the studio and his new album BROKEN TEMPLES continues to deliver unparalleled vocal performances in combination with poetic lyrics that offer a greater combination of hope and beauty to the listener that can be found anywhere else in the music world.


Stream the new album BROKEN TEMPLES at New Release Tuesday

BROKEN TEMPLES by Kevin Max - coming March 2015


Read my personal explanation about why the music and poetry of Kevin Max has been so important to me.


OTHER FEATURED SONGS IN THE KEVIN MAX RETROSPECTIVE:

2 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: The Poetry of Kevin Max and “Cave Of A Million Songs”

3 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Believer”

4 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Get On Yer Bike”

5 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Consume Me” & “Save Me”

6 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “21st Century Darlings”

7 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Just Between You And Me”

8 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Kings & Queens”

9 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “When He Returns”

10 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Day By Day”

11 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Existence”

12 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Alas My Love/The Hard Way”

3 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES – A Kevin Max Countdown Retrospective: “Believer”

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Kevin Max’s newest project, BROKEN TEMPLES, will officially be released on March 10. I’ll be counting down the remaining days to the release of the album on this page with a post each day exploring and celebrating, in no particular order, some of his prior creative ventures.


Kevin Max on stage with Will McGinniss, Jared Byers, and Dwayne Larring as Audio Adrenaline, October 2013, Shallotte, NC. photo by Mark Rockwell

Kevin Max on stage with Will McGinniss, Jared Byers, and Dwayne Larring as Audio Adrenaline, October 2013, Shallotte, NC. Photo: Mark Rockwell

“Believer” was the second single from the 2013 Audio Adrenaline album KINGS & QUEENS. As noted in a prior Broken Temples countdown post that featured the song “Kings & Queens”, Max teamed up in 2012 with original Audio Adrenaline members Mark Stuart and Will McGinniss to write and record an album and tour as a relaunched version of Audio Adrenaline in order to raise awareness and support for the non-profit organization the band started in 2004 to care for orphaned and abandoned children in Haiti called The Hands & Feet Project. Max’s tenure with the band did just that.

“Believer” continued to carry the torch of radio airplay success that “Kings & Queens” first earned for the Max-lead version of Audio Adrenaline. As I noted in my original review of the album, the song itself was one that didn’t necessarily wow me, at first, but, the passion of Max’s vocal performance (and later, a developed personal connection to the message in the lyrics) won me over (“Oh, here I stand, all alone, waiting on you, waiting on you!….”). The song’s success flew on the coattails of Max’s vocal performance and the powerful message of faith in God’s providence. In fact, “Believer” remains popular and in rotation on Christian radio now, two years after being released.

It’s my pleasure to present the official video for the song, but, in addition to it, a separate version that I made to showcase some highlights of from my first trip to serve at The Hands & Feet Project‘s Children’s Village in Grand Goave, Haiti, in January, 2014. Interestingly, it was less than a week after I returned from that trip that Max, along with Jared Byers, Dwayne Larring, Will McGinniss, and Mark Stuart made the trip down to spend time with the kids that live there and take part in the work of the Hands & Feet Project, an organization that Kevin Max continues to root for and support today.

The official Audio Adrenaline Video for “Believer”

Highlights from my week with The Hands & Feet Project featuring “Believer”


Stream the new album BROKEN TEMPLES at New Release Tuesday


Read my personal explanation about why I feel the way I do about the music and poetry of Kevin Max.


OTHER FEATURED SONGS IN THE KEVIN MAX RETROSPECTIVE:

4 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Get On Yer Bike”

5 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Consume Me” & “Save Me”

6 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “21st Century Darlings”

7 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Just Between You And Me”

8 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Kings & Queens”

9 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “When He Returns”

10 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Day By Day”

11 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Existence”

12 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Alas My Love/The Hard Way”

4 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: A Kevin Max Countdown Retrospective: “Get On Yer Bike”

Kevin Max’s newest project, BROKEN TEMPLES, will officially be released on March 10. I’ll be counting down the remaining days to the release of the album on this page with a post each day exploring and celebrating, in no particular order, some of his prior creative ventures.


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Stream the new album BROKEN TEMPLES at New Release Tuesday

2008’s CRASHING GATES

Somebody new to the music of Kevin Max, or somebody who knows him only based on his work with dcTalk and Audio Adrenaline, may not be aware of the edgier and more experimental music that he released from 2008-2010 on releases such as CRASHING GATES and COTES D’ARMOR. Lyrically and musically, Max stretched out the landscape that listeners had grown used to hearing by diving deeper into the valleys of life’s experience while simultaneously reveling in the lack of constraints afforded to him as an independent artist. It is, in fact, this aspect of his music that appeals to so many that have grown tired of the worn-out clichés and generic phrases that characterize much of our culture as a whole, let alone the Christian subculture that exists in America today. He was less concerned with playing it safe than he was with pushing the envelope. Today’s feature, “On Yer Bike,” (from COTES D’ARMOR) is a straight-forward rock and roll kick at the confines of those who’ve sought to box so many aspects of our lives up into neat, tidy packages. You’ll likely never hear “On Your Bike,” or any of the other tracks from either of the aforementioned releases, on mainstream Christian radio, but, they represent an element of the human existence that, for many, has been essential in their own personal prodigal journeys: a boundary-testing season after which many of us hit a breaking point and realize how helpless we are to find peace on our own.  Max has described the theme of his forthcoming album BROKEN TEMPLES as being an acknowledgement the role that our brokenness plays in “allowing the light to find its way in.” I’m thankful, for his sake, that it has. I’m thankful for our sake that he’s releasing an album about it.

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Join Kevin Max on NRT Live on release day, Tuesday, March 10 at 6PM PST/9PM EST

Read about what I get out of the music and poetry of Kevin Max and check out how you can get a digital download of the new project BROKEN TEMPLES (with two bonus tracks!) before the official March 10 release!

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Pre-order BROKEN TEMPLES


OTHER FEATURED SONGS IN THE KEVIN MAX RETROSPECTIVE:

5 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Consume Me” & “Save Me”

6 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “21st Century Darlings”

7 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Just Between You And Me”

8 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Kings & Queens”

9 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “When He Returns”

10 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Day By Day”

11 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Existence”

12 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Alas My Love/The Hard Way”

8 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: A Kevin Max Countdown Retrospective: “Kings & Queens”

Kevin Max’s newest project, BROKEN TEMPLES, will officially be released on March 10. I’ll be counting down the remaining days to the release of the album on this page with a post each day exploring and celebrating, in no particular order, some of his prior creative ventures.


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2013 brought the announcement that Kevin Max would be teaming up with Mark Stuart and Will McGinniss to relaunch another legendary band in the history of contemporary Christian music, Audio Adrenaline, in order to build awareness and support for the band’s non-profit organization, The Hands & Feet Project. The Hands & Feet Project cares for about 100 orphaned and abandoned children at Children’s Villages in Jacmel and Grand Goave, Haiti.

The lead single and title track of the new album, “Kings & Queens,” not only made a huge impact on Christian radio (rising at #4 among Christian songs), but, it also fulfilled the band’s objective in bringing the plight of orphans and the beauty of the children of the Hands & Feet Project to the attention of the world and, in doing so, helped to propel the work of the organization forward in their mission to continue the fight against the orphan crisis in Haiti.

From the first “woa-oh” that can be heard at the beginning of the track to the final triumphant chorus, Max delivers a characteristically unique and powerful vocal to a song that will surely stand the test of time as an anthem for the Christian call to care for orphans of the world in their distress (James 1:27).

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HANDS & FEET PROJECT HERE

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Join Kevin Max on NRT Live on release day, Tuesday, March 10 at 6PM PST/9PM EST

Read about what I get out of the music and poetry of Kevin Max and check out how you can get a digital download of the new project BROKEN TEMPLES (with two bonus tracks!) before the official March 10 release!

B-vn0MnWoAATZBd

Pre-order BROKEN TEMPLES

Purchase and Download the music of Kevin Max on iTunes

 Kevin Max on iTunes


OTHER FEATURED SONGS IN THE KEVIN MAX RETROSPECTIVE:

9 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “When He Returns”

10 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Day By Day”

11 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Existence”

12 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: “Alas My Love/The Hard Way”