It’s hard to believe that a quarter century has passed since Geoff Moore first decided to leave the secure confines of a steady-paying job at the family-owned foundry (Moore Iron Works in Michigan, for the curious), pack up his worldly belongings and head south to Tennessee to carve out a niche in the then still nascent Christian rock music scene.
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I first encountered the band Delirious? ten years ago, shortly after the release of their single “Deeper.” I fell in love with the song on the first listen. I remember being one of a small percentage who had heard of Delirious? when they played an early slot on the opening night of Creation East that year. Soon we heard tracks like “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever” and “Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble” not only being sung by Delirious? but by church worship teams and other CCM bands. I scarfed up all those early discs that Sparrow put out after D?
Reinvention can be a tricky thing. Just ask any of the seemingly countless artists who have recorded albums that went contrary to their established musical style only to find those albums consigned to the cutout bins and used CD stores before the supporting tour was half finished.
To say that the four men of High Flight Society have a longstanding association with both Christian music and each other would be something of an understatement. In fact, Scotty Lockridge's musical career got off to a rousing start at the tender young age of six when he pulled down the unlikely job of drummer at the local Church of God in Cedartown, Georgia, a small 10,000-resident town about 70 miles northwest of Atlanta.
A quick glance at the liner notes to most Christian artists' debut albums usually reveals the customary roundup of church pastors, voice instructors and gear sponsors in the "thanks to" section. It is a rare band indeed, though, that can claim a debt of gratitude to the KGB for the recording of its freshman project. Such is the case, though, for Scottie, Bogdan, Roman and Vlad Bellos, whose grandfather, Joseph, first became interested in Christian matters after reading a Bible he'd confiscated from an elderly woman during a KGB literature raid in the former Soviet Union.
There are those both inside and outside the Third Day fan camp who, if they're being honest, would label the group's first five years together as their rock period and the years that have transpired since that time as... well... their not-quite-so-rocking period. While any such hard-and-fast view is true only up to a point, those who bought the Chronology Volume One album, which traced the Atlanta-based outfit's musical arc from the 1996 self-titled debut to the Offerings live worship project in 2000, found more than a little evidence to support such a claim.
As unlikely as it might seem to more recent converts to the Third Day fold, time was when lead singer Mac Powell and his cohorts rocked more fiercely than just about any other artist on the Christian music charts. Indeed, newcomers whose only exposure to the group is through latter-day singles like "Cry Out to Jesus" and "Mountain of God" may be shocked to learn that the outfit's first few records were described as a cross between Lynyrd Skynyrd's down-and-dirty Southern hard rock and the arena-ready post-grunge of artists like Pearl Jam.
There comes an unfortunate moment in the career of many an artist when the music they create is largely irrelevant to the way they are publicly perceived. For better or worse, celebrity and not substance is this person's driving force, and it is not they, or the music-buying community, but the media who decide their ultimate fate. At this moment, they become more compelling as public figures than as musicians, and there is little they can do about it.
If nothing else, the latest 12 Stones release seems destined to send diehard fans scurrying to uncover the identity of the underdog mentioned in its title. Some will conjecture that it refers to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, which caused widespread devastation to the group’s hometown of New Orleans in August of 2005.
Credit the lads of Audio Adrenaline with one thing: they know their target audience. From the time of their inception at Kentucky Christian College in the late 1980s (under the A-180 moniker) to the release of the career-spanning Adios album in 2006, front man Mark Stuart and his cohorts have consistently kept an eye on those in the under-20 contingent as they churned out one catchy, teen-friendly pop/rock anthem after another.
In their seven years atop the pop metal heap, Linkin Park has rarely strayed from the formula that made them famous in the first place. Almost without exception, their songs are quite suburban: mildly angry, but not always for good reasons; mildly influenced by hip-hop; and artistically safe. Very safe - as if they were crafted in the rec room in the basement under mom and dad's supervision.
There is a dichotomy inherent to the White Stripes that more than one observer has grasped, and the dichotomy is essentially this: its members are misfits who manage to fit in.
For some time now frontman/guitarist Jack White and drummer/vocalist Meg have made music that would be at home in the indie ranks but has no business emerging to have large-scale commercial success. Yet few bands with any measure of staying power have attained equal popularity.
I like Switchfoot. Yes. So I was pleased to have the opportunity a few weeks ago to have a listen to the 12 tracks of Oh! Gravity, set to release on December 26th. At the same time, I was apprehensive after looking at some of the earlier reviews of the disc. I had read that this recording was a bit of a stretch from what we know as Switchfoot. What if I did not like the album?
It is a rare and beautiful thing when a group decides to go out at the top of its game. Indeed, one has only to look as far as the nearest outdoor music festival or state fair to witness clutches of aging rockers faithfully trucking out the greatest hits setlist to an ever-dwindling fan base to prove the point. Don't tell this to Forever Changed front man Dan Cole, though.
The summer following my first year of college I worked at an upper-class restaurant in a lakeside village called Bayfield, Ontario. The kitchen staff, of which I was a part, usually retreated to a pub called Harry's on its late-afternoon break.
This was going to be a story about the death of hip-hop. That's not what it has become, but let's dwell on the point for a moment anyway and acknowledge that the writing is on the wall. Since the schizoid rift between the impeccably talented halves of Outkast, urban music has been headed in an unpleasant direction: away from its roots.
The fifteen-year pedigree of this Nashville band is beyond question or dispute, and even the departure of founding member and contributing songwriter Derek Webb a couple years back, while not wildly received by the band's fanbase, really didn't threaten to derail the hit parade. Webb was replaced in due course by former Normals ringleader Andrew Osenga, and dang if Andrew doesn't know his way around a classy, reflective tune or two.
Another music festival July 16, 2005
It's been a few years now since Starfield made the break from Winnipeg, Manitoba down to Nashville. Canada's loss is the USA's gain, as Starfield have hit one out of the park with Beauty In The Broken, their sophomore album.
To be fair, the list of groups from whence the Chicago-based quartet The Fold sprang hardly reads like a who's who of rock royalty. But while names like Starstruck and Espin 12 are likely to draw blank stares from all but perhaps a handful of moms and ex-girlfriends of the former bands in question, the punk-pop foursome Showoff was at least marginally more successful in its attempts at hitting the proverbial big time. Formed in 1997, the band released only one album, a self-titled effort for Warner Bros. in 1999.