A lot has changed since we have last heard from Audio Adrenaline. The band’s final album released in 2005 and shortly after they announced that front man Mark Stuart had to step down due to ongoing vocal challenges.
When the band played their final concert in April of 2007, no one expected a transformation into a Christian music super group six years later. Former dc Talk member Kevin Max has taken over lead vocals and joins Will McGinniss, Superchic[k]’s Dave Ghazarian, Bleach’s Jared Byers and Jason Walker.
Titled Kings & Queens, the reinvented Audio Adrenaline’s first album takes a bit to adjust to. The new band members provide a slightly more aggressive sound than the last couple of records in terms of guitar and kick drum, plus Max’s vocals are a throwback to dc Talk material.
That said, it is obvious Mark Stuart still helps in the songwriting as the lyrics are incredibly faith-based in nature.
Audio Adrenaline’s return is a welcomed one, as is Kevin Max’s return to a prominent role in the industry. Definitely give this one a listen as these Christian rockers seem to know their target audience well.
HEARTS OF SAINTS
It is always refreshing when bands try to do something unconventional. Even when things fall short in other categories, the fact there’s a form of innovation or creativity earns bonus points.
For Hearts of Saints, they clearly don’t want to get labeled with one kind of music when they obviously do two very well. So how do they overcome this obstacle? Instead of merging both sounds like many do, Hearts of Saints has released a two-disc album: one disc containing rock and the other worship.
With 15 tracks over the two discs, For All Of Us pulls off this unique initiative very well. The rock tracks are filled with heavy guitars, punchy drums and soaring melodies. The worship disc, though still upbeat for the most part, is tamer in nature and features more straightforward lyrics. In addition, Brit-rock influences can be found sprinkled over both disc’s anthems as well as their ballads.
Granted, they aren’t reinventing the wheel per se, but the very idea of releasing a two-disc set of different genres is intriguing – and the material on both discs is well done and enjoyable. So, if you’re looking for a new pop-rock group, check out Hearts of Saints.
Colton Dixon became known in American Idol Season 11 for his flashy style, unique sound, and his unabashed passion for his Saviour. Dixon made those seven weeks count, garnering millions of “Messengers” (his nickname for his Idol fans), parlaying his visibility into performances on The Ellen Show, The Today Show, The Tonight Show and the latest Passion Conference, and now releasing his debut on Sparrow Records.
First heard on the AI tour, power ballad “Never Gone” was an immediate hit, heading straight to No. 1 on the iTunes Christian & Gospel singles chart and Billboard’s Christian Digital Songs charts. The track’s success put him in unique company; he and Jennifer Hudson are the only seventh place finalists in Idol history to reach No. 1 on a Billboard chart.
This explains the somewhat formulaic approach to Messenger, which adopts AI’s same sonic template where dramatic interpretations translate to votes.
Other than the two ballads “I Rise” and “Let Them See You,” the remaining 10 tracks feature heavy guitar riffs, elaborate synth action, and power vocals. Not necessarily bad, but it leaves Dixon little opportunity to showcase his vocal versatility. He does get to stretch out a bit more on the warm worship track “You Are” and the well-written “Scars.” Album standout is his cover of “Let Them See You,” where the simple arrangement allows his vocal skills to finally shine.
Back in January 2009, Switchfoot vocalist and Nickel Creek guitarist collaborated on a side project away from their main bands. After enlisting the help of two others, the four-piece ensemble released an indie-rock-meets-folk album that was met with critical acclaim.
Now, nearly four years to the day, Fiction Family has released their sophomore record.
Titled Fiction Family Reunion, the 10-track album benefits from the recent trend of folk-inspired rock acts which have become popular in the past few years, such as Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers. Album tracks such as “Guilt,” “Avalon,” “Reality Calls,” and “Never Call” are especially comparable to these artists.
While that’s true, there’s a lot more texture to Fiction Family’s music, what with plenty of upbeat, indie-rock inspired tunes such as “God Badge” and “Damaged.” “Give Me Back My Girl” is extra punchy and sounds like it could fit on an Apple commercial.
The best part about side projects is they can provide a fun and experimental departure from an artist’s normal material. Fiction Family Reunion fits that bill, so be sure to pick up this fun and unique release.
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