by Paul Landkamer
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It's been a while since I'd done a mass review, and I'd added quite a few artists to the album collection. This review includes Christian rock-related music from rap, techno, to industrial, folk, country and more.
The first batch of artists came from a RadRockers order. RadRockers specializes in rare, discontinued and hard to find Christian rock. Their catalog gives a pretty good description of the music. If you like what's said about an artist, you'll not be far wrong, or wrong at all, in ordering the CD.
Steve Black has been the farthest off in all my Radrokcers orders so far. He was described as Americana, but I think he's closer to country, except for a song or two which have a honky-tonk rock sound. Despite the style, the strong life-story lyrics make the CD great. (4)
Feezel has a nice retro heavy sound or even hard alternative. Occasionally, some '80s metal flavors come through. (4)
Fell Venus gives a dark industrial meets techno meets punk sound. There are some growly yells in the vocals, but it stays musical. Lots of spoke/sung vocals. (4)
Noisy Little Sunbeams performs an odd blend. '80s arena rock meets modern rap/industrial. It's just a bit unsettling to hear a screaming guitar solo right after rap in the same song. It's a unique blend. (4)
X Propagation is dark techno with strong lyrics. There's not a whole lot more I can say about them. (4)
Autovoice is electronica or dark techno. There's a fine line between the two. (4)
Elder impressed me. Heavy ethereal industrial rock with lots of electronic enhancements. The vocals are melodic with lots of sing/speak and not the screaming or growling so often associated with heavy industrial. (5)
This next batch of artists are ones I ran across while browsing MySpace.com.
CrackaJack Crew is a fun gangsta/thug rap. Picture Sesame Street's Rubber Duckie blasting out of a slow-moving low-rider with big subwoofers. These guys are fun! (4)
Fire People and Red Meter are two incarnations of the same band. Red Meter is the more mellow acoustic version, and Fire People get plugged in and rock hard. Red Meter performed at our coffeehouse to a lousy crowd (2, or sometimes 7 or 8?). They deserved lots better than that. Very polished sound. When they finished, I asked if they had any CDs. I ended up with a band member's personal copy of a Fire People CD. Fire People is a good one, too. Solid rock with solid lyrics --well, maybe not with "When Vocals Go Wrong", but that one's one of my favorites. The vocalist missed somewhere on the vocals, and gave up, but the band kept playing, so the vocalist told us of his day in almost an Alice's Restaurant style. Thanks for including that song! If you hear of either of these bands in your area, don't miss 'em! (4)
Family Force 5 blends styles I formerly didn't like with some of my favorite styles. Try heavy alternative with rap and mild screamo. The lyrics, for the most part, aren't outrightly evangelical, but Family Force 5 plays good, clean, fun rock. The Message IS there, but it's not in-your-face. (5)
The next two artists are ones who played our coffeehouse to only a slightly larger crowd than did Red Meter. Barjudah played hard guitar-driven (four of 'em, AND a bass) rock and alternative. The only thing I find slightly disappointing in Barjudah is that their CDs lack the punch their live show has. Someone else once said it was probably toned down to make it more radio friendly. Despite the tone-down, Barjudah is a worthy add to any rock collection. (4)
Kelly Campbell sang original songs as she played along on her acoustic guitar. She sings of mission trips and life stories in a very approachable style. (4)
The last artist is one I checked out from the library. Yeah, I know I waited an awfully long time. I'd heard DC Talk, Toby Mac and Tait, but never Kevin Max. I really don't know what I expected, but I was fairly well impressed. Imagine a Lennon/Harrison/Bowie flavored art rock to shoegazer (trance) rock. The vocals
were melodic and ethereal to music with lots of world-music influences.
Look for more from these guys: Johnny Holiday and Steven Counsel. I found these a couple days ago, and liked the snippets of music I got to hear. They're both nicely retro --one harder rockin', and the other more acoustic. Hunt 'em down at MySpace.
'Til next time, let your music help keep your focus on Jesus!
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