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Against the Flow
Artist:  American Made
Label:  KMG Records
Length:  13 tracks / 40:13 minutes

Hmmm, what do we have here?  A lot of pop punk, some rapping, some MxPx-style singing, some big rock riffs.  High-adrenaline, strong songs.  Good mid-range sonics and mixing provide powerful drums, resonant bass, and meaty guitar tones.  Straight punk songs like "American Made" almost hold their own against any Slick Shoes or Dogwood track, while smooth '90s party rock beats like "Kick It" would fit perfectly on an early Sugar Ray album.  There's even a straight hip-hop rap track hidden in the middle of the album.

Unfortunately, the lyrics and most of the raps bring to mind DC Talk or Audio Adrenaline...kinda cheesy in word and tone.  The bed of edgy aggro-rock helps, but their credibility still needs a boost.  They teeter on the edge, capable of falling either into the pit of overproduced commercial CCM rock or climbing higher into gritty, authentic punk/rapcore/rock.

You can probably bet on the former of the two, with their predictable, Christian lyrics.  Most of the songs are encouraging cheerleading anthems, trying to fuse a sense of carefree fun with heavier spiritual issues.  Fun stuff if you're under 18, which is fine.  "Nintendo" goes:

         I was thinking just today
         another thought had come my way
         of all the fun and joy nintendo's given me
         it brought a smile to my face and it changed the human race
         but nintendo can't set you free
         salvation for you and me
         you know God's the only one because he gave his only Son

I know a few kids who could do with that insight.

Josh Spencer    12/11/99


Josh Spencer, contributing senior associate editor for The Phantom Tollbooth for over two years, is also publisher and editor-in-chief of spiritual pop culture webzine Stranger Things.  Reviews and articles by him are usually simultaneously published in some form at http://www.strangerthingsmag.com.
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