Dicky Ochoa - ‘Dicky Ochoa’

February 5, 2019

Here at ’33&1/3’ we pride ourselves on bringing you music that is not only well known CCM fare but also on revealing to you hidden gems which may have passed you by.

In that vein, this month we delve into an album that is such a rare and precious find and so unheard of by a wide spectrum of the artist’s fans that we actually had trouble buying it online. The main reason being that this artist went by his birth name, Dicky Ochoa, when he recorded this Christian sophomore solo effort in 2000.

A talented and idiosyncratic singer-songwriter, a collaborator, a friend of many in both the Christian and secular scene, Dicky was an indie rock treasure and an acclaimed producer. He was a musician’s musician.
Although he went on to record numerous solo albums as the more well known Richard Swift, with this early album we get an unbridled vision of Dicky’s universe in his early Quaker days.

On this record Dicky displays the confidence and skill of an artist who’s not concerned about showing off. The deep worshipful lyrics reveal a humble and tender soul who is only too aware of his own frailty, yet knows the sure and loving hand of his God thereby drawing the listener in to bathe in the warm glow of his gratitude for his personal redemption.

Drawing on numerous Psalms and other Biblical passages for inspiration, Dicky takes you on a musical journey where you will find yourself thinking of Bruce Springsteen, Badly Drawn Boy, Neil Finn and even Radiohead. Yes it’s true that Dicky was some sort of impossible amalgamation of influences, a real ‘renaissance man’.

As a bonus, for this episode, Benno was privy to some very candid and intimate details surrounding Mr. Ochoa and this early album through personal connections with his father and brother.

To hear all this and much more make sure you click on that Play button for a real revelation of an album and an artist.

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dc Talk - ‘Supernatural’

January 2, 2019

HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!! Welcome to 2019.

To kick things off this year on ’33&1/3’ we dissect ‘Supernatural’. The 5th and final studio album from DC Talk released in 1998.

Having wowed the CCM industry (and regular radio stations) with their groundbreaking ‘Jesus Freak’ where could the dynamic trio go to next? Well the answer was simple. Create one of the most powerful eclectic Christian albums of our time.

‘Supernatural’ features Christian rock, alternative rock and a touch of funk but this swan song album by DC Talk is, at its core, a full on POP album with the trio's vocals powerfully interweaving to create a tapestry of sound showcasing a wide range of stylistic influences.

They adopt a very mainstream approach on this record but they do it so well it’s hard not to like it. DC Talk have always been unapologetic about their faith and never more so here but this time the presentation of it is somewhat more refined and subtle.

The trio possessed more of a collective vision than they ever did before and the 1998 album also appears to be deliberately egalitarian. . . you hear Michael, Kevin & Toby all sharing time on the lead mike. This album, in our opinion, combined all of the talent from all their previous albums into one. The most astonishing thing is that they don't sound like any other artist out there...Christian or secular.

Of course after everything else the big question is: Is it better than 'Jesus Freak'? If not, why not? If so, why and how?

Well to get the answers to those questions and to give your ears an otherworldly treat join Ben and Alex in this podcast for what promises to be an explosive opening to 2019.

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Keith Green - ‘For Him Who Has Ears To Hear’

December 4, 2018

Hey everyone it’s summer so this month on '33&1/3' we’re here to give you the hottest debut ever.

“For Him Who Has Ears to Hear” is the 1977 debut release by the late and formidably great contemporary Christian music pianist & singer songwriter, Keith Green.

A ‘John the Baptist’ of his day, Keith Green needs no introduction for most CCM fans. His influence and lasting impact on Christian music as a songwriter and musician cannot be understated and continues to be felt today.

There have been tribute albums made by artists who were in diapers when he was in his prime. Keith was the ‘real deal’ folks! From start to finish we hear a man with amazing piano skills and a passionate display of faith perfectly fused with skilful songwriting.

He's frank, fearless and zealous in his love for God and His kingdom. This man was truly born again!

Here we inspect this mammoth of a masterpiece which, in hindsight, showcases his finest work, best described as 70’s piano focused-oriented chamber pop that wouldn’t be out of place between late Cat Stevens and early Elton John.

There are several fresh and stunningly beautiful ballads on this debut including ‘When I Hear The Praises Start’, ‘Your Love Broke Through’ and ‘Song to My Parents’. What is staggering is that this album could easily stand alone as a ‘Greatest Hits’ . . . And it’s a debut!

This album is literally dripping with an other worldly raw energy and power that can only be put down to a supernatural anointing.

So join us for a truly Holy Spirit infused show as Ben & Alex explore this classic album.

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Luxury - ‘Luxury’

November 6, 2018

Hey everyone do you know what it feels like to live in the lap of Luxury?

Well if not, find out in this podcast with Ben and Alex as they present 'Luxury' by Luxury.

Showcasing probably the most ordained band in rock history (currently three of the five members - Chris Foley, Jamey Bozeman and brother Lee Bozeman - are ordained Orthodox priests serving in the Orthodox Church in America) and arguably one of America’s most underrated outfits who never quite got the recognition they deserved on the outer fringes, after close observation it’s hard to deny Luxury’s artistic calibre.

With their 1999 self titled release ‘Luxury’ we meet a band who recorded a somewhat raw album after surviving a horrific motor vehicle crash. Themes of coming to grips with theodicy and transformational personal perceptions of God makes for a listening journey with somewhat confronting material and although a departure from their previous live sound this album was weaved in a wall of powerful production - distorted guitars, heavy drumming - but nonetheless exhibiting that high end songwriting standard the band has such repute for amongst their followers.

This album has aged remarkably well since its first release and Ben was privileged to be able to get some candid answers from a couple of the band members regarding the background behind the album tracks.

Although being ordained priests and strongly identifying as Christian, Luxury largely eschewed the Christian music scene on principle.

Does this diminish the quality of their music or more importantly, does it water down the effectiveness of their message and witness?

When you hit 'Play' you will most assuredly find out. 

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Bob Dylan - ‘Slow Train Coming’

October 2, 2018
In this month's podcast Ben and Alex bring you one of the all time great albums, 'Slow Train Coming' by Bob Dylan.
 
The mystical Tambourine Man’s 19th studio album was a watershed moment in his career. Having had a conversion experience in a Tucson hotel room in November 1978 Dylan set about writing a slew of radical new songs which all testified to the truth and conviction of his new found faith.
 
Bringing on board veteran producers Jerry Wexler and Barry Beckett aided by Dire Straits lead guitarist and songwriter Mark Knopfler, Dylan crafted what Jann Wenner, founding editor of Rolling Stone magazine, called “one of the finest records Dylan has ever made. In time, it is possible that it might even be considered his greatest.”
 
Replete with apocalyptic imagery, Christocentric devotional and angry lyrics (yes), rich and beautiful vocals enhanced with Knopfler’s beguiling guitar licks, Slow Train Coming is pure, true Dylan, probably the purest and truest Dylan ever. A rare coming together of inspiration, desire and talent that completely fuse strength, vision and art.
 
Ladies & Gentlemen jump on board and hear the poet of rock 'n' roll. The voice of promise from the 60’s counterculture. The man who forced folk into bed with rock & became born again when his peers thought it was un-cool. The man himself. The Poet/Prophet/Singer/“SongandDanceMan”…Mr Bob Dylan!
 
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Starflyer 59 - ‘The Fashion Focus’

September 4, 2018

Hey wake up everyone it’s Spring time!

Come and join Ben and Alex this month as they dance around - not the maypole or the mulberry bush - but The Fashion Focus, Starflyer 59’s fourth studio album.

Released in 1998 this record marked a significant change in the band’s direction. Eschewing their earlier crunching guitar shoegazing sound Jason Martin and his cohorts tackle existential crisis, depression, and impotence with a much softer, synthier feel.

Described as a ‘coming of age’ album, replete with Old Testament themes of sibling rivalry and sorrow, The Fashion Focus does a merry dance taking the listener on an eclectic journey of foreboding, faith, fun and friendship.

If Elvis Costello and Frank Black were produced by Morrisey in an attempt to rival Radiohead then you’ve got some idea of what’s in store for you with The Fashion Focus.

And Ben and Alex might even tell you what Starflyer 59 means…

...but then again they may not.

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NEEDTOBREATHE - ‘The Reckoning’

August 7, 2018

This month Ben and Alex delve into ‘The Reckoning’, Needtobreathe’s fourth studio album.

Described variously as a Southern Rock/Alternative/Country/Folk outfit the South Carolina quartet have produced half a dozen albums but perhaps none as ambitious as The Reckoning.

Embracing both sides of the band by emphasising brothers Bear and Bo Rinehart's emotional songwriting while trying out new sounds and musical approaches, The Reckoning evokes themes of wandering and longing in a timeless sound.

A somewhat eclectic record with an ability to effortlessly merge aspects of classic rock, blues, folk, pop, Springsteen inspired Americana, bluegrass, and country, The Reckoning has been described by various critics as, “a delightful hodge-podge of rootsy folk and crunching alternative rock”, “genre busting”, “a mix of heartland rock & roll and chest-thumping, rafter-reaching uplift” and “grandiose pop”.

It has, however, also been labeled “bombastic and corny”, “over sentimental stadium schlock” consisting of “vast gospel choirs and gaudy lyrics”, skating dangerously close to “Meatloaf/Josh Groban territory of puffery”.

So is this their magnum opus, a flawed masterpiece or merely an enjoyable blip on the Needtobreathe artistic timeline? What do Ben and Alex reckon of The Reckoning?

Just click on that Play button and find out.

 

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Derek Webb - ‘Mockingbird’

July 3, 2018

This month Ben and Alex give Derek Webb's clarion call to the sleepwalking church, 'Mockingbird' a vigorous going over.

Never one to pull any punches or leave you in any doubt as to what he really thinks, the ex Caedmon's Call frontman's 3rd solo outing is a thought provoking, confronting work of art.

In it he challenges Christians' views on poverty, politics, legalism and life in general and asks probing questions in his acerbic attempt to jolt us out of our complacency and comfort zone.

He says he wants people to know what Christ wants his people to know and to get where he's coming from all you need to do is read the titles of most of his songs: "Rich Young Ruler", "My Enemies Are Men Like Me", "I Hate Everything (But You)", "Love Is Not Against The Law".

Mockingbird is not comfortable listening but when was living as a Christian in this sin infected world ever meant to be comfortable. Webb's usual tuneful mellow acoustic folk/pop arrangements are a soothing balm on the listener's ear but his lyrics are a searing cattle prod to the flabby backside of the contemporary church.

While Mockingbird certainly confronts the church and asks a lot of questions, does it however, provide any worthwhile answers? Is it meant to?

Find out with Ben and Alex in this unmissable podcast.

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Switchfoot - ‘Hello Hurricane’

June 5, 2018

It's June and winter has arrived, but don't let that bring a chill to your bones. Grab a hot toddy (er that's a drink) and let Ben and Alex give you the highbrow lowdown on the only Switchfoot album to win a Grammy award.

They'll take you through the ins and outs of how the band came to record their finest piece of work and play you the standout tracks from what one critic called "a sleekly presented modern-rock album with no shortage of bruising guitars or catchy choruses."

This was the San Diego outfit’s 7th offering and it may appear no coincidence that the number 7 has been said to signify divine completeness, perfection and wholeness. Thus 'Hello Hurricane' established its legacy by winning Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album at the 2011 Grammy Awards.

 

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Kevin Max - ‘Serve Somebody’

May 1, 2018

This May Ben and Alex check out Kevin Max's latest offering 'Serve Somebody'.

The ex dc Talk member & Audio Adrenaline frontman offers up a covers project full of spiritual songs. Covering such iconic bands and artists like The Call, Mr. Mister, U2, Rich Mullins, Larry Norman, Bob Dylan, and even Kevin's former band dc Talk, we hear a Kevin Max that sounds seasoned and as confident as ever in his unmistakably unique voice.

The question to be answered with any covers album is, "does the artist walk the fine line of respecting the original version, and simultaneously make it different enough to claim it as their own?" The short answer here is yes, as each arrangement artfully walks this line in a way that only a veteran artist can.

 

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