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Into The Rush 
Artist: Aly& AJ
Label: Hollywood
Teen sisters Aly and AJ Michalka are among the elite of young actresses/singers who owe their careers to a certain, late Uncle Walt. After starring in shows and specials on the cable's Disney Channel and airplay on Radio Disney with songs from their projects' soundtracks, the gals have a whole album to themselves.

It turns out the alliteratively monikered siblings are Christians, but only recently has anything from their debut, Into The Rush, been officially offered to Christian radio. For anyone naming Zoegirl and Kelly Clarkson among their current favorites, the Michalkas offer another potential fave.

As it turns out, the spirituality expressed by the sisters finds the middle ground between cultural Christendom's most prominent blonde&brunette trio and the first American Idol winner. Both of the aforementioned acts are so ubiquitous in their respective markets that it almost seems redundant to describe Aly & AJ's sound afterwards.

Suffice it to say that they haven't navigated the pendulous arc of Clarkson's emotive breadth (evident in her single releases thus far). Neither do they sound as evangelighetto wimpy (or kitsch?) as the Zoe'sters on a bad day. What these girls do to distinguish themselves is write songs that, more than anything else about it, hint at their faith (like current Christian radio single "Rush") or get a little more explicit about social concerns (missing children on "I Am One Of Them"), fledgling romance ("Something More") or the quandaries of teen angst. All clean, shinily produced and possessed of the thinnest glint of an edge. 

When they aren't singing their own work, their handlers have fed them cover versions for their soundtrack gigs. Included here are their nearly karaoke-alike take on The Lovin' Spoonful's "Do You Believe In Magic" (an overrated song, anyway, in my estimation) and Katrina & The Waves' "Walking On Sunshine." As for the latter, the original's buoyant horn chart's are kept in tact, and the first I heard it on the notoriously non-back announcing Radio Disney, I could have sworn it was by Jump5. That, by the way, is a compliment.

Though the musicality behind Aly & AJ could be tweaked to give them a more distinctive flavor, Into The Rush's fortified bubblegum could have been plenty worse. That's another way to say "Promising start, girls, but..."

Jamie Lee Rake 11/25/2005



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