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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9 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: A Kevin Max Coundtown Retrospective: “When He Returns” [UPDATED w/ “Help”/”So Help Me God”]

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 some of his prior creative ventures.


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[8:15PM UPDATE] In light of the announcement of Kanye West’s new album title, I present this clip of Kevin Max with dcTalk performing “Help!” and “So Help Me God” from WELCOME TO THE FREAK SHOW


THE IMPOSTER was released in 2005 and remains my favorite Kevin Max album because of the strength of the album as a whole, the lyrical theme running throughout (inspired by the concept of the imposter, as written about by Brennan Manning in ABBA’S CHILD), and the role that the album played in tuning my spiritual life in. But, the track featured for today’s countdown entry is included because it is one of Max’s most impressive vocal performances and, in my opinion, is one of the best covers ever recorded. It is Max’s take on a song from Bob Dylan’s 1979 album SLOW TRAIN COMING and I dare say that Max’s vocal, in combination with the pure and reverant piano arrangement, fleshes out the song in a manner that Dylan himself would have to be pleased with. While more characteristic Max-styled tracks like “The Imposter,” “Platform,” and “Your Beautiful Mind” stand firmly on their own merit, this cover is a performance to behold.

B-0Js7BXAAA2fnLRead a bit 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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Read the 10 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: A Kevin Max Countdown Retrospective: “Day By Day” Installment

Read the 11 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: A Kevin Max Countdown Retrospective: “Existence” Installment

Read the 12 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: A Kevin Max Countdown Retrospective: “Alas My Love/The Hard Way” Installment

Choice Holiday Soundtrack Albums (that you can download and enjoy now)

 

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CHRISTMAS CLASSICS by Bing Crosby

No Christmas music list of recommendations should be considered reasonable unless it includes Bing Crosby. While other classic voices of Christmas music like Nat King Cole, Gene Autry, and Burl Ives certainly deserve your consideration, Crosby is absolutely essential. Christmas Classics by Bing Crosby is a thorough collection of Crosby’s classics including his legendary collaboration with David Bowie on “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy.” The collection features a number of other classics, too, ranging from his signature performance of “White Christmas,” to a song that has become a favorite of mine lately, “Christmas Dinner, Country Style.”

 

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HOLY NIGHT by Kevin Max

Holy Night by Kevin Max is a delicious change of pace when compared with the bulk of what is released in the category of holiday music. There is tremendous consistency in style, quality, and vision from the first track to the last. The general spirit of the album is one of respect for the original historical contexts in which many of these classic Christmas songs were written and an apparent desire by Kevin Max to present Christmas music as art as opposed to pre-formatted, Christmas pop. He seems to have intentionally shunned the crowded commercial sound often employed by artists when they decide to record a Christmas album. Many of the tracks adopt a darker and more mysterious mood. For example “Joy To The World” seems closer to David Bowie than it does Mahalia Jackson. Yet reverence for the focus of the lyric is maintained and the quality and craftsmanship of the music is remarkable. While a consistent thread of lonesome reverence is injected into each of the songs on Holy Night, a few of the tracks are hung on an up-tempo frame that, while continuing to maintain a level of intimate, personal sincerity, also breathe a sense of spirited optimism rooted in the birth of Jesus Christ. While songs like “What Child Is This” employ lush strings and the taste of a full orchestra for the musical backdrop, the basic, quick-tempo of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is much simpler, yet, equally

 

infectious and undeniably mood-lightening. Both songs have a character that grabs the heart of the listener and makes it feel just a little bit more than it did before. A personal favorite from this album include “O Little Town of Bethlehem” which opens treading lightly with a particularly lonely sounding piano, but, soon unfolds into what I can only try to describe (and perhaps not accurately) as some kind of Soviet/middle eastern kind of rhythm. Max’s unique and lush vocals inject an often-heard and under appreciated song with a sense of renewal that draws the listener in. The fantastic match between Max’s unique and piercingly powerful voice and the understated, yet masterfully present musical backdrop that blankets each track on this album is indeed magical if not, at least, worth a listen.

CHRISTMAS IN THE HEART by Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan’s Christmas In The Heart, in the past couple of years, has become a staple Christmas album for me. Those not familiar with him usually, at least, raise an eyebrow at the first sound of voice as it drops on top of the lush, warm background arrangement. But, it doesn’t take long to find the groove and begin enjoying the album which comes across as a nostalgic remembrance of classic Christmas music of years ago. From “Here Comes Santa Claus,” to “Silver Bells,” and “O’ Little Town of Bethlehem,” the album is, indeed, a heartwarming collection that, with evident reverence Dylan has for the tradition of each song, will age well from one Christmas season to the next for years to come.

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A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS by the Vince Guaraldi Trio

The final selection I’ll add to this shortlist of staple Christmas albums (all of which are easily accessible for download) is the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s classic soundtrack to A Charlie Brown ChristmasAs somebody who grew up watching the annual Charlie Brown Christmas special on network TV, the jazzy Christmas sounds of the Vince Guaraldi Trio can definitely set the mood for gift wrapping, cookie making, or just spending time with loved ones during the holidays.

Whatever you choose to listen to this year, please make sure you spend some time with those you love, savoring every moment, give to those in need, and, also, reflect on the blessings that we have to enjoy now and in the future, thanks to the birth of Jesus, the reason for the season.

Sounds of the 2012 Christmas Season: Reverence for the Season – Bob Dylan and Jim Cole

886975732326Any friends or family of mine know that I am a what might be called a Christmas music enthusiast. My library of Christmas music grows by leaps and bounds each year and it’s already large enough to take several days to get through without listening to the same track twice. In this post I’d like to feature a couple of albums that have risen to the top in my Christmas rotation so far this season. I think both are worthy of your consideration if you’re looking for a couple of decent albums to provide the score to your holiday season.

Bob Dylan’s CHRISTMAS IN THE HEART, in the past couple of years, has become a staple Christmas album for me. Those not familiar with him usually, at least, raise an eyebrow at the first sound of voice as it drops on top of the lush, warm background arrangement. But, it doesn’t take long to find the groove and begin enjoying the album which comes across as a nostalgic remembrance of classic Christmas music of years ago. From “Here Comes Santa Claus,” to “Silver Bells,” and “O’ Little Town of Bethlehem,” the album is, indeed, a heartwarming collection.

Jim Cole’s UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN is brand new in my collection this season and, while it is a different direction than Dylan’s Christmas album, it also treats the holiday season and the notion of a Christmas album with an intentional respect that comes through clearly in each song. While Dylan’s album focused on popular Christmas songs, both sacred and secular, Cole’s album focuses on the sacred center of Christmas with traditional favorites such as “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman,” and “What Child Is This?,” in addition to other tracks such as “In Bethlehem Tonight,” that, while lesser known, are just as carefully crafted and performed. The folk music tone of the album is reflective and quiet and Cole’s masterful guitar work provides a common thread throughout the duration of UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN. It isn’t as widely circulated as Dylan’s Christmas offering, but, certainly, just as worthy of your ear during the holiday season.