So here you go:
First, the ex-Sherwood bands. The band Sherwood was unarguably awesome, so it's not surprising that the three bands that include Sherwood members (that I know of so far... Joe?) are pretty great.
Wayfarer was started by Dan who was the main songwriter in Sherwood. Their EP "The River" is a beautiful collection of folk/pop type sounding arrangements of old hymns with new melodies.
Sherwood's lead singer Nate created an album funded through Kickstarter and the product was "The Distance". It feels like Sherwood, mostly because it's Nate singing. It's got some good, fun sounding arrangements and melodies.
I just found out about the group Fialta which features Sherwoodians Mikey and Dave. Summery sounding with sparse but well composed arrangements. Dig it.
Ok, now a few friends I know through church connections and happen to both write music based on scripture...
My good friend Brian has recently (well... kind of recently) completed his second effort in his "Prayerbook" project with songs based on the Psalms. Prayerbook 2 covers Psalms 16-30 and it is great great great. Another personal connection on this one is that my brother Chase helped engineer a few of the recording sessions and did some of the pre-mixing for the album. This one's not released to the public yet so email Brian and tell him to make it happen ASAP.
download prayerbook 1 (Psalms 1-15) FREE: http://prayerbookproject.blogs.com/prayerbook/2008/01/prayerbook-1-is.html
This is a project by my friend Dave who I work with, go to church with, and might just have a cover band we're in together. His album "All Who Are Weary" has songs based on sections of the book of Genesis. This is all home recordings and was completely mixed and mastered by Dave himself, but you'd probably never know it (unless you've got ears like Chase). Some very nice melodies and great storytelling through song.
Now for some bands that I don't actually know personally and have some popularity but most folks I know don't know about 'em:
This band is steadily creeping up into the "favorite bands of all time" category. Like, with the Beatles. Seriously--SO good. They have an album coming out this month which you should unquestionably buy without thinking about it, but I would also recommend starting out with their EP, aptly titled "EP". Then get each of their other albums too. Now.
Their 2011 album "Moonfire" is one of my favorite albums of the last several years. Folky, rock awesomeness. Sounds like Fleet Foxes with more grit. They have a new album coming out soon so catch up on the old stuff if you don't know it. I've already got tickets to see them in Melbourne in November.
Ok, I've written enough so now a list of other great bands that have somewhat recent releases (in no particular order):
- The Lone Bellow
- Hey Marseilles.
- Seattle Band! Singer is a friend of a friend
- The Cat Empire
- The Civil Wars
- New album soon
- Vampire Weekend
- Yeah, you've probably heard of them... but their new album is SO good
There is so much good music... it's almost too much. Good luck, hope this helps.