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4Play: MercyMe, Tonic, Jack Johnson, Tenth Avenue North

Kristi Kates - June 28th, 2010
MercyMe - The Generous Mr. Lovewell - Columbia
Putting forth the philosophy that we should all “love well” and as unconditionally as possible, this new album from MercyMe features powerful topics and spiritual lyrics, to carry the band’s philosophy that everyone should try to change the world a little bit each day. “This Life” kicks off the set’s theme with its ELO-style synths/drums, and the title track carries on the theme while taking it to the dance floor; “Crazy Strength” is more traditional in its pop-rock arrangement, and “This So Called Love” wraps things up on a positive note.





Tonic - Tonic - 429 Records
Energetic and emotional, Tonic’s latest, production-wise, may still sound a bit like the alt-rock of the late ‘90s, but their songwriting has continued to grow along with the band’s extensive tour schedule. It’s an interesting mix between more chill pop-rock songs and more aggressive tracks, with echoes of everyone from Matchbox Twenty to Stone Temple Pilots heard. The songs themselves range from the anthemic first single “Release Me” to the hooky “Send a Message,” all the way to the heavier next-to-last track “Torn to Pieces.”





Jack Johnson - To the Sea - Brushfire
Working again with his trio of regular bandmates - Zach Gill on piano, Merlo Podlewski on bass, and Adam Topol on drums - Hawaiian folk-pop troubadour Johnson offers up more of his sincerely saccharine (this is not a bad thing) tunes with the calm confidence of someone whose musical direction - that being firmly planted in the “mellow” category - is secure. Songs including first single “You and Your Heart,” “The Upsetter,” and “Turn Your Love” share solar-powered space with the wittily-named highlight, “Pictures of People Taking Pictures.”




Tenth Avenue North - The Light Meets The Dark - Provident
Continuing their pop-gospel forward momentum from their past year and a half of success, Tenth Avenue North’s latest also sees the band adding more depth into their music, especially on songs like the social statement of “All the Pretty Things” and the piano balladry of “On and On.” “You Are More” is perhaps the most radio-ready track on the set, with “Empty my Hands” a close second due to its expressive content and chorus; “House of Mirrors” uses a smart allegory to get its point across, and “Oh My Dear” is simply pretty.

 
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