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Wideawake
Artist: Thread
Label: True Tunes Records
Time: 11 tracks/52:43 minutes

Misfits (sample)

I half expected Thread to be a heavy metal band. I was wrong. From the start, Wideawake demonstrates Thread's knack for making meaningful, well-played modern rock that draws influences  from Jars of Clay and Smalltown Poets, both vocally and instrumentally.

The album starts with "Misfits," which is also the first single. It immediately sets the stage for the rest of the record, with nice guitar work and clever lyrics that take a while to figure out. In "Misfits," Thread explore how today's youth have to wear the same clothes and act the same as everyone else or they're, you guessed it, misfits. "Hey Now" is the second track, and serves as a warning to us to enjoy life, because it's short:

    Hey now won't you slow down...
    Hey now won't you listen to the sound
    Of the whispering winds of change
    Take a look at nature's poses
    Before time slips away
    Stop and kiss the roses

Even though all the songs are undoubtedly written from a Christian point of view, there are only a few explicit references to God. This helps make Thread more accessible and acceptable to non-Christians, while still maintaining their beliefs and raising issues in statements like:

    But there's a tug of war inside of me
    Between the hands of that make the seasons change...
    And the pride in me, pulling against desires of my soul
    Too stubborn to let go...
    I don't want to win this war

The project suffers from bad production on a few tracks, especially on the aforementioned "Misfits," in which the vocals are hidden behind the music during the chorus. On others, the raw production helps give a nice live feel, as on "Hero."

The dreamy feel created by the artwork is reflected in the music, creating a thoughtful atmosphere, which is helped along by Scott Leger's vocals. The intensity created by vocal distortion on  "You Say" makes it one of my favorite songs, with the simple chorus almost screamed by Leger. Another highlight is tender track, "Missin' Part of Me'. The song- writer asks God:

    Why is it just me
    Where's my family
    I cling to you
    But there's a missin' part of me
    How long will it be
    Why don't they see
    The joy I know
    And the change you've made in me?

Wideawake is a promising debut. If this is any indication of what Thread can do, I can see them making chart-topping singles and winning awards. However, most of what's on Wideawake has been done better by their predecessors. It's radio-friendly and could appeal to many, but is not progressive enough to please the masses.  But don't let me stop you from checking this album out. This is a fine debut from a group of talented musicians we will surely hear more of.

Eric Daams 10/15/99

Rule #1:  Put Your Best Song First.  Top marks to Thread for placing "Misfits" in pole position. It kicks in like REM's "Finest Worksong" does on Document--complete with organ and heavily treated drums.  Above all, it's supremely confident.  However, most of the rest of this set plants itself squarely in the alt.rock or alt.christian.rock heartland of personal conflict, struggle, and general angst:  "Complaint Rock," as Clueless termed it.  That's not to say there aren't strong songs here: "Wings" rides a lilting acoustic guitar motif rather elegantly; "Alive" and "You Say" take the bus to the suburbs and camp out on Smashing Pumpkins' doorstep; "Missin' Part of Me" wears some lush strings, but loses points on the lyric sheet for confusing "phase" and "faze."  Some of the rest of it is anonymous, though, standing shoulder to (burdened) shoulder with Counting Crows and Hootie and the Blowfish.

Thread (and so many other Washington state bands) appear glum and downtrodden, despite what they claim: "All of our lives have been forever changed by Jesus, and our desire is to be a voice to our generation proclaiming that He is the Giver of Life and Hope in a hopeless, searching world." (Nate Navarro, guitar, bv's).  Maybe it's those cold winters that chill the heart and soul.  Whatever, these five men could learn to reflect a little of the light they have and be an alt.alt.rock band.

In the meantime, if you like your music earnest and po-faced, this is right up your street.  If you like to be entertained, maybe you should look elsewhere, or just buy the single of "Misfits."

Daren Allder 12/17/99

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