Truth, Soul, Rock & Roll

The Elms
Sparrow Records

The Elms show additional musical growth as they conjure up vintage memories of The Who, Tom Petty, and other classic rockers on their follow-up to last year's list maker, Big Surprise. From the gun-slinging guitars of "Speaking in Tongues" to the simmering balladry of "Shine at Life Again," soul-stirring truth couched in scorching rock settings have never been so engaging. As a frontman, Owen Thomas has matured by leaps and bounds, while his bandmates have tightened up just as much, confirming that The Elms get better as they grow older.
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Flicker Records

From merely one spin of their superior sophomore effort, Fireproof, it's obvious the energy is there, as well as Pillar's uncanny ability to blend monstrous hooks with thunderous beats. Throughout hints of P.O.D. and Incubus, as well as shades of 311 and Rage Against the Machine, Pillar still stands on their own as a heavy-hitting, yet free-flowing hybrid of controlled chaos and inspired poetry. The record also is thematically varied, chronicling everything from lead singer Rob Beckley's role in the army reserves to uniting as a body of believers to take the Good News to the streets.
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Higher Ground

The Blind Boys of Alabama
Sparrow / Real World Records

After performing together for more than 60 years, the Blind Boys deliver an ambitious covers collection of spiritual songs originally performed by some of mainstream music's biggest stars. The trio touches on everything from Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" to Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" to Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" with delightful soul, blues, and gospel elements. Throw ...

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