Ocean’s Edge Records
Release Date: July 29th 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- We Will Run
- Hope Has Found Us
- All Glory Forever
- It Is Well [Bonus]
Based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, electronic/synth/worship indie band Waken is set to debut their first EP called Endless Light, set to release this week on digital retailers. Now I listen, or at least I try to, to as much indie music as the next person (sometimes the artists without a label backing are the artists that have the most relevant music and most impact on me), but in my opinion, Waken, whom I stumbled across on Noisetrade, is so well developed and eloquent in their craft, that I am rooting for them to excel very far. I am an advocate of their songs instantly, and that doesn’t happen very often, especially with indie artists. My brother Jon has reviewed quite a lot of indie artists of late, so he’d probably more accustomed to being pleased with artists without a label, but this is the first mini-album in a while that is independent that I have been truly blown away, kudos to the band! This 5-song batch of gems have highlighted my esteemed opinion greatly. Formed in 2013, and sounding quite similar musically and vocally to David Crowder*Band, Citizens, Bellarive and The Digital Age, you cannot make a wrong purchase with this release this week; guaranteed you’ll be dancing to the catchy and infectious rhythms, and singing out God’s praises at the top of your lungs as you crank up the volume on high! I know I will!
Immediately from the outset, the vibe I received was similar to a Hillsong remix album (think, the White Album that released in March, but less remix-y…) and this is not necessarily a bad thing. You have the synth, the electronic loops, the repeatedly played pulsating drums, the importance of keys, minimal guitar, and distorted vocals, and if you throw in head hitting, honest and worshipful lyrics, then you get Waken. While this might sound cliché, I on the other hand only see this similarity in genre a positive, as remix type albums do not feature normally as the artists’ first work. And judging from the passion and joy from the band, it’s hard not to feel happy and cheerful as I listen as well!
The first track is the worshipful “We Will Run”, which sounds musically busy first up, but settles into a nice rhythm and declares that we will run into the arms of Jesus whenever we want to, whenever we need to. As lead singer Justin Amundrud fervently sings out ‘…we will run, to Your love, with arms stretched wide, in the hope of the Father, God our hope, God our strength, forevermore…’ I am swept away in emotion and praise to god, as I lift my hands and sing out to Him with all I am. Upbeat in nature with all of the elements of a remix track, “We Will Run” sets the tone for the rest of the album.
“Hope Has Found Us”, has more of a Hillsong-y mainstream worship feel, as the vertical praise lyrics continue, with Justin proclaiming that ‘…forever, we are Yours, forever, You’ve called us Your own…’, a fact that I think we all can sing with conviction because of the fact that He is our God and that Jesus loves every one of us. Musically it’s much more catchy than the album opener (even though it is similar), but maybe because of the combination of synth, drums and guitar. The official album closer “All Glory Forever” is the most CCM track on the EP, with tons of ‘woahs’ and repetition lyrically delivered, and a strong electric guitar presence. As Justin emphatically sings out Jesus’ praises and cries out the Jesus is worthy and holy, I am reminded of a Hillsong Young and Free or Planetshakers track, and though this song feels like the odd one out in terms of creativity lyrically and musically, it is nevertheless enjoyable and made to glorify God as well!
Abbey Gregory leads the final 2 tracks. “Arising” a mid temp worship anthem, has Abbey relaying to us promise after promise and she encourages us through song that Jesus is with us now and forever, and that we can stand together, lift His name up and celebrate this unending fact, bound to excite us every time. While the last track, a rearrangement of traditional hymn “It Is Well”, though on the short side in length and omitting a few verses, more than makes up for the ‘blunder’ in enjoyability, enthusiasm, lyrical timelessness and biblical roots. Hymns like these are powerful and sound awesome, in my opinion, no matter what form they are in. Though not as hard hitting as Kutless, or mellow as Brandon Heath, Waken’s remix interpretation of a much loved and respected hymn deserves the attention, as it is different and out of the box. Well done guys for a thoroughly enjoyable and fun EP that I will definitely recommend to my friends, and to those who love upbeat music with a vertical worship slant!
Though I would have loved to hear what Waken could have done with minimal music period (like an acoustic track), the musically busy Endless Light is sure to please for fans of worship music in general, remix music in general, electronic music in general, and a combination of the three. No doubt going to be popular in the coming years, this is an artist that I would watch out for, and I’d encourage labels like Sparrow Records or Integrity Music to sign them if they can! I’m guessing a full length album is not that far away, so pick up this taster… and be blessed by some awesome music, and discover maybe your new favourite band!
3 songs to listen to: Hope Has Found Us, Arising, All Glory Forever
RIYL: Hillsong Young and Free, The Digital Age, Citizens, Bellarive