May '06 Update
by Paul Landkamer
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I’ve put this off way too long. I’ve got lots of excuses for not having gotten here sooner, but, legitimate as they may be, they’re still excuses. Here are some mini-reviews of recent Christian musical “discoveries” of mine. It’ll feel good to get caught up again.
- Sintax: Judging from the name, and the cutesy misspelling of the label “Illect” I guessed this artist was a rapper. I was right. I thought the CD rather monotonous. It was complete with typical rap-style self-advertising. Sintax raps with an east coast sneer, which to me, comes across as a nasty attitude. Despite all that, I listened to the whole CD. The lyrics were good, and there was some nice flute work on track 11. I’m glad I checked this one out from the library rather than buying it. 
- Steve Counsel: Steve came into my life by way of Myspace.com. I read his profile and heard a snippet of a song and was hooked. Steve Counsel puts out some rocking praise and worship. The lyrics, for the most part, seem to cover lots of old territory, but they’re scripturally sound –like spiritual milk. The message won’t be accused of being ambiguous. The musical and vocal style make up for any lack of originality in the lyrics. Picture a blend of Bob Dylan and John Lennon with flavorings of George Harrison, Phil Keaggy and a little Mick Jagger and you’ve got an idea of Steve’s vocal sound. The instrumental is a folk/blues/southern rock blend like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Dylan and Grateful Dead. It’s a tight, retro-rock sound. 
- Louise Fellingham: the vocalist from Phatfish went solo. Phatfish seems to be Louise’s art-rock side while her solo work is a soft rock to almost middle of the road sound. Her vocals are similar to Maire Brennan and Sarah Grove. 
- Erin O’Donnell: soft to light rock in a Ginny Owens-like style. Very pleasant vocals, but just soft enough that I need to be in the right mood to listen to her. 
- Maylene and the Sons of Disaster: Described as southern metal/hardcore with the vocalist from Under Oath with less screaming. I had to check these guys out. And I happened to find a used copy at Hastings. I got it home and it wouldn’t play on my stereo. It played just fine in the DVD player, so I burnt a copy onto a Memorex disk. The burnt copy plays just fine on my stereo. Whatever that problem is, I wish the record companies or stereos would quit doing that. I have a Skillet CD that won’t play on another of my stereos, but it works just fine on others. OK, enough whining. The CD opens up with screaming, but compensates with some hard and heavy guitar work. I’ve got a feeling if this is toned down, I won’t like Under Oath. The instrumentals are great, and while the vocals are mostly screamed, some are sung and spoken as well. Lyrically, the songs tell stories of the futility of earthly methods for dealing with troubles. I’ve listened to it several times and each time they seem to get better. They really grew on me, and their next album is probably going to get into my collection, too.
- Merbabies: While Mark Allan Powell says, in his Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music, “noise rock” I’ll say Merbabies are straight up, but a bit laid back, rock. It’s got a fair amount of distortion experimentation and the vocals sound a bit like early Mick Jagger.
- Dana Key: Even in his newer albums, Dana Key still has that ‘80s arena sound SOOOOO typical of earlier Christian rock. Very strong lyrics. 
- The Wedding: If you know Relient K, you know The Wedding’s sound. Melodic punk, but not quite so humorous or catchy lyrics. 
If you’ve got any questions about my reviews or my rating system, feel free to comment.
As always, let your music help keep your mind on Jesus!
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