Sunday, February 10, 2008

Issakar - "The Times"

I have not heard much about Issakar recently. They are a local band (for me, anyway; got their start in Portland, Oregon, USA), and honestly, I probably would have never heard of them if they hadn't played live at my church camp three years ago. That's when my sister won an autographed copy of their album The Times (2005) and I first heard their music.
I think these guys have a lot of potential. The lead singer, Josiah Warneking, has a voice that easily makes the transition from a soft ballad to an edgy rock track. He is also the talent behind the keyboard, which is present throughout the album. The rest of the band is very talented as well; Dustin Erhardt is on lead guitar and backing vocals, Josh Miller plays acoustic guitar and sings accompanyment, Justin Fish plays bass, and Robbie Tice is on drums. Together, these guys create a sound that unique and promising. I always thought with time, Issakar would be great.
I hadn't looked them up in a while, not until I decided today that I wanted to write an album review for The Times on That's when I decided to Google the band, see where they were these days.
Looks like Issakar has only become better. They released a new album, Every Time It Rains, in October of 2007 and I look forward to listening to the tracks on their latest album. As quoted from the band's website, their sophomore album is "a cross between Rascal Flatts and The Fray, but influenced by The Beatles ;-)". Yeah, the smily was on their webiste.
Issakar also has tour dates booked across Oregon and Washinton State, and are traveling to Scottsdale, Arizona in April. Their music is now being featured on radio stations in Spokane, Washington and they hope to expand to other stations soon.
I'm extremelly pleased to hear that this band has come so far; I always thought they had such good potential. Now knowing that they have a new album out, writing a review for their debut seems kind of silly, but it is the only music of theirs I know. As much as I liked The Times, I know Every Time It Rains will not be dissapointing, and I look extremelly forward to listening to it as soon as possible; I may even review it on this site ;)
For now, here's a review for Issakar's The Times (2005).

Issakar - The Times

1. Guilty - A very powerful first track. Issakar sets a tone for their album right off the bat, establishing a religous message in Guilty's lyrics. Even besides the message, this track is very enjoyable, with strong vocals and a good melody to back it up.
2. Come Away - A wonderful example of the vocal diversity of this group. While the first time they sing the chorus is softer, the repeated chorus is sung much deeper, more rock, with excellent backing vocals. A slightly repetitive track, but not so much to bore the listener.
3. Hero - Another good example of vocal diversity. This song has a more original sound, with powerful electric guitar chords making a big impression in the verses. This song has a great melody as well as beautiful, meaningful lyrics.
4. How Great - The keyboard makes its first big influence in what will be a reoccuring theme throughout The Times. Starting off softer and growing into a deep, passionate chorus, this song is great to listen to. Not an overly original track, nor is it one that really stands out on the album, but it can certainly stand on its own.
5. Beach - This track picks up the pace with a catchy melody, backed by a hi-hat on the drums that keeps the tempo going along at a steady pace. The rap bridge is presented well, considering rap is not this group's main style of music. A very fun track to listen to.
6. Dry Bones - Definantly one of my favorites. The lyrics alone were enough to sell me on the song, but the instrumentation and the execution of the vocals are phenominal as well. Again, the keyboard plays a major role in the melody. I just think there's a lot of passion in this song, as well as a great message.
7. One Voice - Not an overly exciting track, but I really do like the message behind the lyrics, which speak of reaching for your goals no matter now tough the circumstances (don't let the sun / set on your dreams / if your voice is a whisper / make it louder than screams ... know that one voice can change the world ). A slower track with a lot of soul.
8. True Identity - Issakar must have brought in a different lead singer for this one; there's no way this is the same person who sang the lead for the other tracks. If I'm correct in my assumption, the guys made a good move; the man who sings this track's lead has an almost operatic voice which suits the song well. Not a stellar track, but I do like the lyrics a lot, and the melody of the chorus.
9. Still - Another track with a big, beautiful keyboard melody. This song has phenomenal lyrics that can be understood in a religious way or otherwise. A lot of passion behind this track; lyrically, it may be one of my favorites, and the melody isn't bad either.
10. Gesthemane - Starts off a little shaky, with lyrics that, in my opinion, are hard to understand. The song gets better as it goes and has a quite appealing chorus, but overall, just not one of my favorites.
11. A Child's Cry - More keyboard melodies and acoustic guitars strum to accompany tragically sad lyrics. A beautiful song about hope in the face of disaster, with a touching religious message if you chose to interprit the lyrics in that way. A lot of passion and soul behind these lyrics, especially right before the chorus. A terribly sad song, but still beautiful.
12. One Million Songs - A plain and simple love song. A keyboard & acoustic melody once again, which suits perfectly. A great vocal rangs for Josiah. The lyrics are sweet and this song is just overall pleasant to hear.
13. Obsession - A very soft, quiet track to wrap up the album. Once again, the keyboard and acoustic come together to create a beautiful background for fantastic lyrics. Another love song, the lyrics for the final track are a bit more passionate than One Million Songs'. Just a beautiful track to listen to, and a great close to the album.

I encourage you to check out this group for yourself, even if you're not big on religious music. They have a very good sound that is appealing to someone of any belief. Issakar may not be big yet, but they can be ... and they're slowly getting there.

Issakar's band website is a great place to learn more about this group and what they're about, as well as tour dates and other information, if you are interested.

Sadly, I could not find any videos on the Internet of Issakar :( So instead of a video, I will post the lyrics to Dry Bones, one of my favorites. I cannot find official lyrics for this on the internet, either (might show how little know Issakar is at the moement...) so I am typing them up on my own. Please bear with me, there are sure to be typos and some of the lyrics may be wrong as well. Hopefully it will give you a feel for the song, and if you know I've written something wrong don't hesitate to leave a comment and correct me!

And if anyone has listened to any or all of Every Time It Rains, please, leave a comment and let me and other readers know what you thought of Issakar's latest! It would be very much appreciated!

Dry Bones

Her mirror contains no mercy
In what it shows
A broken shattered image
Is all she knows
A bed of wilted roses
Is all she sees
Her satin heart is tearing
She cannot breathe

Her faith has all but faded
Her hope a dream
Her world, it falls around her
It hides her screams

Rejected, tormented
Her mind is ever captive
Darkness is bent on stealing
Her will to live

Breathe life, breathe life
Into these dry and empty bones
Yeah, breathe life
Breathe life
Into these dry and empty bones

Her strength is slowly waiving
From the years of pain
Her visions dark and shaded
From clouds of shame

So jaded, frusterated
She feels she's more than far away
Her soul is reaching out for
The light of day

Breathe life, breathe life
Into these dry and empty bones
Yeah, breathe life
Breathe life
Into these dry and empty bones...


Tinkerbell said...

I love Issakar! My biggest brother gave me their CD, Every Time It Rains :) I love it so much :)

LittleLovestruckLady said...

I think Issakar is an incredible band, but they're not known as well as they should be. I hope someday people talk about Issakar like they talk about Hinder and Nickelback now. Issakar gives me hope and happiness when I have trouble stirring in me; so to Issakar, I thank you! Thank you for helping me through rough times :)

cowgirl4christ said...

So glad to see more Issakar fans! =D
I still haven't had a chance to listen to [i]Every Time It Rains[/i]. It's good to hear a positive review!
And I agree; I hope someday Issakar becomes well-known, because their music gives us such a positive message.

I'll never forget seeing these guys live at summer camp, talking to them and singing along to some classic worship songs ... watching them grow as a band has been so special.

Thanks for the comments!