Your Gateway to Music and More from a Christian Perspective
Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Heroes Need A Parachute
Artist: This Beautiful Republic
Label: Forefront Records
Time: 11 tracks/38:35
I’m listening to the debut album by This Beautiful Republic and thinking, ‘they must have listened to a lot of Blindside before recording this.’ Some of the songs are structured in a similar way to the boys from Sweden, and lead singer Ben Olin certainly has picked up the vocal phrasing and vocal timbre of Blindside’s front-man, Christian. Being influenced by a good, successful band is not necessarily a bad thing, but sounding like a homogenized version of that band is a problem. The over-all effect of Even Heroes Need Parachutes actually doesn’t point to Blindside as much as you might think from the preceding sentences – in fact, the real problem with the over-all effect of this CD is that there’s a very generic modern CCM rock sound to the whole affair. From the production to the songwriting, from the competent but faceless instrumental performances to the derivative vocals: it’s not that they did anything wrong – they just didn’t do much that was distinctive or challenging.
This Beautiful Republic is one of those bands that tries hard and means well, and even succeeds in producing a well-crafted ‘product’ that’s ready for radio play. The problem, as we see too often in the well-polished world of CCM, is that artistry seems to have been sacrificed on the altar of ‘ministry,’ and earnestness has won out over musical integrity. Perhaps there was a give-away in the promotional material, which boasts that This Beautiful Republic is part of “the best…. to come from Christian music hit factory Forefront Records.” Art doesn’t usually come from a ‘factory.’ This is safe, generic music that your mom and dad are not supposed to like, but probably will end up buying you for your birthday at the Christian Bookstore.
Aside from lead singer, Ben Olin (who, in his mini-bio says a good one-word description of himself would be “chameleon.” Oh-oh.), This Beautiful Republic is made up of Adam Smith on Guitar, Andrew Smith on drums, Brandon Paxton on bass, and Jeremy Kunkle on guitar.
In case I sound overly harsh: this isn’t bad – we’ve just heard it all before.
The lyrical content of the songs on Even Heroes Need Parachutes is concerned with Christian life issues and is geared very specifically to the church. “Black Box” manages to throw a nice spin on the issue of character by asking what the ‘black box’ of airplane-crash fame would reveal about us in the aftermath of moments of stress and danger – other songs deal with faith and relationship issues, with varying degrees of originality.
The promotional material accompanying the CD stressed the band’s live performance, audience participation, stage antics, the sing-along quality of the choruses and the band’s concert persona to the point of saying that the band’s live show ‘features a more aggressive feel than the album…’ – one has to wonder why this hard-sell of the live performance over the recording was stressed? I smell a ‘youth event’ somewhere…..
OK – so, I’m feeling guilty for coming down hard on these guys – after all, they haven’t put out a bad recording – just a very generic one. I’m sure that many people will like Even Heroes Need Parachutes. I’m just not so sure they’ll remember which band they just listened to.
By Bert Saraco
(www.myspace.com/expressimage expressimagephoto.tripod.com )
– add half a tock if you need something to play during snack time at your Youth Group meeting.