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The Modern Post - Grace Alone EP Album Cover

The Modern Post - Grace Alone EP

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8.0
The Modern Post - Grace Alone EP
Record Label: Mars Hill Music
Release Date: August 14th, 2012
Worship music is often written off as “preachy,” and in many cases, that’s a misunderstanding. Much like any other genuinely-penned song about life, girls, politics and the like, worship is an expression of the heart. Yes, the difference is that in the latter, 100% of the songs are directed towards a higher power. But if you take a step back and compare the two purely from the perspective of art, they’re a lot more similar than it may seem. The most important similarity is that both deal with many of the same big-picture themes that lie at the core of the human experience: The need for intimacy, figuring out where we went wrong, and ultimately, redemption. And unlike a sermon, worship is generally meant to be a spiritual experience between the singer (or group of singers) and their God, which leaves room for nonreligious folk to appreciate without being forced to participate. In my mind, this distinction dispels the notion that it’s “preachy.”

Not that the AP.net community comes across worship music all that often, but now that Dustin Kensrue is involved in such a project, it can’t hurt to take a look at it for what it is.

The Modern Post is Kensrue, Phil and Lee Neujahr of Aushua fame (or rather, lack thereof – they were terribly underrated) and Jonny Sandu. They sound almost nothing like Thrice, and on Grace Alone EP, their focus is primarily centered on interpreting classic hymns for a modern church setting (save for the title track, which is an original song, and “White As Snow,” a Jon Foreman cover). I say “almost” because there are a few areas that boast melodies and force that wouldn’t sound out of place on, say, Air or Earth – specifically in the choruses of “Just As I Am” and “Amazing Grace.” But most of the time, as others have pointed out, they sound like they’re channeling The Cure, thanks to the extensive use of buoyant synths.

Thematically, the album spends a lot of time exploring the concept of grace, which holds that salvation isn’t about human effort but about God’s will. In other words, there’s no number of moral acts we can do to earn our way into eternity. Rather, God makes salvation possible because He chooses to give it to humanity as a gift. It’s the same theme Kensrue detailed from a more philosophical angle on the title track of Beggars (side note: by far my favorite Thrice album); here, it’s presented much more explicitly.

Grace is, by most measures of judgment, pretty good news, and so the music on Grace Alone EP is written accordingly. Every song carries an upbeat tempo and joyful atmosphere; production-wise, the EP just sounds good. My favorite is its take on “Before the Throne,” whose traditional Americana tune is taken to the next level with a driving rhythm section. “Grace Alone,” which would sound like a song from Kensrue’s solo project if you stripped away the synths, also really benefits from the hard-nosed forward motion of the Neujahr brothers.

The only track that falls short is “White As Snow,” which doesn’t quite capture the beauty of Foreman’s rendition. And if there’s one knock on the EP, it’s that it doesn’t score high in lasting value, seeing that it’s mostly a collection of older songs that have already been extensively covered. In light of this, it’s very, very good but a little shy of being great. But ultimately, these versions were written to be sung in church, not to be held up to technical scrutiny, so adjust accordingly.

If what we’ve been told through interviews is true, there’s plenty to look forward to from Dustin in the future, including a rumored forthcoming solo project release (if the live versions of “Of Crows and Crowns” are any indication, it’s going to be exquisite). But for now, The Modern Post is wholly adequate as the first post-Thrice endeavor. Me? I’m just glad he’s still making honest and uncompromising music. It’s how he won us over in the first place.

8/10
This review is a user submitted review from Matthew Tsai. You can see all of Matthew Tsai's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 43
10:12 PM on 08/16/12
#2
CellarGhosts
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My thing with worship music has always been more of a "corny" than "preachy" thing. I got dragged to this super hokey worship band concert once in high school and it was one of the weirdest most uncomfortable experiences ever haha.

That said I'm still gonna check this out.
07:00 AM on 08/17/12
#3
jimmyeatsboys
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did not know there was a Jon Foreman cover on this... that is awesome
07:18 AM on 08/17/12
#4
jimmyeatsboys
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oh wow, just listened and this version of Foreman's "White As Snow" definitely does fall short of the original, in my opinion
07:57 AM on 08/17/12
#5
combatchuckaa
blammo!
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Good review!
08:24 AM on 08/17/12
#6
iconium
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I honestly think you nailed it. Fantastic review.
08:39 AM on 08/17/12
#7
Matthew Tsai
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My thing with worship music has always been more of a "corny" than "preachy" thing. I got dragged to this super hokey worship band concert once in high school and it was one of the weirdest most uncomfortable experiences ever haha.

That said I'm still gonna check this out.
I definitely understand where you're coming from. Unfortunately a lot of modern worship just has no artistic integrity. Musically it's usually a cookie cutter of another cookie cutter, and they're not even trying anymore. Sadly there's a whole industry of this stuff haha. I'd say it's worse off than the pop-punk scene. Good thing The Modern Post is now out there (among a handful of newer bands) challenging the stereotype.
09:01 AM on 08/17/12
#8
Steve Alcala
"Counting Fish"
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My thing with worship music has always been more of a "corny" than "preachy" thing. I got dragged to this super hokey worship band concert once in high school and it was one of the weirdest most uncomfortable experiences ever haha.

That said I'm still gonna check this out.

I agree. I think bands that do a nice job with intertwining it with subtleties or those who build up to a blatantly religious aspect sound so much more...sophisticated? And in that regard it sounds more meaningful and sincere.

See Wolves at the Gates, UO, even new Prada is good at that. Even though they aren't really that contemporary, or the same kind of worship music.

Also, Matthew don't remember seeing any of your reviews in a while but this one is fantastic. Great read
09:11 AM on 08/17/12
#9
whispered east
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I definitely understand where you're coming from. Unfortunately a lot of modern worship just has no artistic integrity. Musically it's usually a cookie cutter of another cookie cutter, and they're not even trying anymore. Sadly there's a whole industry of this stuff haha. I'd say it's worse off than the pop-punk scene. Good thing The Modern Post is now out there (among a handful of newer bands) challenging the stereotype.

Definitely some truth to that. The contemporary Christian scene is just like the secular scene though... there are really interesting, thought provoking bands doing cool stuff under the radar, and then there are the ones you hear on the radio, which usually have fifteen cowriters and sound pretty much the same. A lot of the stuff you would hear in a church isn't a fair representation of the talent that exists in the Christian world; a lot of that stuff is like the Rihannas or Kelly Clarksons of the Christian genre.
09:54 AM on 08/17/12
davefalcone777
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This is a great review. Probably the smartest and kindest thing anyone has said on AP.net about Dustin's move from Thrice to The Modern Post. Thanks for this.
10:21 AM on 08/17/12
Tele72
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Definitely checking this out and again, thank you for a well written review on such a "talked about" release.
10:34 AM on 08/17/12
blindrider529
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In their defense, almost no one can make a Jon Foreman song sound as good as Jon Foreman. That guy IS his songs.
11:00 AM on 08/17/12
davefalcone777
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In their defense, almost no one can make a Jon Foreman song sound as good as Jon Foreman. That guy IS his songs.
Truth. His 4 seasons EPs might be my favorite works of his.
11:15 AM on 08/17/12
theherox
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great review! honestly, i love this EP. I already listened to it once today, and i listened to it FOUR times yesterday!! Really loving it

I'm kind of bummed though, because I thought the Modern Post actually wrote White As Snow! I think it's a great song, but now I'm going to have to go peep out the original! (I love Foreman's solo EPs, but I haven't listened to any of them since they were originally released)

I really love "White as Snow" though because its based entirely off of Psalm 51, an amazing psalm that personally had life-changing effects on me. soooo GREAT. I highly recommend anyone spending a lot of time reading it, praying over it, studying it, and memorizing it.

I also agree, the "Before the Throne" rendition is just plain great.
11:24 AM on 08/17/12
suicidesaints
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I'm not religious, and I'm definitely not a fan of "worship music" but since Dustin is involved, I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and listen to it with an open mind. I'm sure despite the content, that there will be some worthwhile music being played.


edit

I just listened to the first two songs, and this is NOT what I expected AT ALL. I'm really enjoying it. Does anyone know if there is a place to buy a physical copy of the album (CD or vinyl) or is it only available to digital download?

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