Label: ForeFront Records
Time: 61:33, 17 tracks.
You cannot over-analyze a compilation album (but I'll try). They are basically marketing tools for record companies, and Seltzer 2, like the original Seltzer compilation, is no exception. If you enjoy compilation albums of more or less modern rock from a Christian perspective, you will probably enjoy this one. I am more of a one-album-per-artist person, and the idea of collecting a bunch of songs on one disc usually strikes me as being a gimmick with a particular agenda: buy more albums by the bands on this disc.
For what it's worth, the marketing formula works. This particular collection piqued my interest in the bands, Bleach, Reality Check, and Skillet; I could see myself wanting to check out more by these artists. I would add Grammatrain to that list, because the song "Jonah" is pretty hefty, but I already own the album. Seltzer 2 also confirmed my suspicions about the bands Five Irony Frenzy and the O.C. Supertones. I'm not a skanking ska nut, but the two tracks offered here nearly convince me to convert. They are both fine, upbeat punky ska songs that should satisfy any fan of the currently hip genre. There are some "big maybes" on here, too, like Seven Day Jesus, Jennifer Knapp, and Considering Lily to name a few. They show some promise, but I would need to hear more representative samples before I plunk down my dough. Of course, there are some "just plain nos" on here, too, but in the spirit of fairness I resist being mean by naming them.
Seltzer 2 also opens itself up to a lot of questions. For instance, if this is supposed to be a collection of today's cutting-edge cool rock for listeners of all ages, then why is "Lost the Plot" by The Newsboys on here? It's from--gasp--1996! That is the equivalent of ancient history in today's fast-paced music business. If The Newsboys have a new album out, why is there not a track from it on this compilation? (Especially since the last Seltzer disc already had a song from the same Newsboys album represented here.) The same situation arises with an older Smalltown Poets song. On the flip side, there are at least two tracks from 1998 on here, (The Echoing Green and Skillet) but the bulk of the album presumably represents high points from 1997 releases. Which leads me to the final question: If these songs represent the pinnacle of the past two years or so by ACM or CCM bands then shouldn't this be a better, more creative collection? I hear a lot of generic rehash here stolen from successful mainstream bands like Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ozzy Osbourne, Depeche Mode, and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, except with white-washed Sunday School lyrics. The ultimate rehash moment is Geoff Moore & The Distance's cover of The Who's "I'm Free," which is well-done if you like that sort of thing. It is disappointing that so many of these songs only imitate rather than offer fresh creativity. Still, there is one improvement over the first Seltzer album: no stories about six-eyed, two-fingered aliens called Shalondras coming to earth to settle their souls with modern CCM music. I am glad the powers-that-be resisted the need to continue that saga penned on the original compilation. I did not care for it.
Seltzer 2 is an adequate testimony to how far music by Christians for Christians has come in the last ten years. Can you name a collection this diverse and contemporary from the 1980's? Yet sadly this disc also reminds me how far we have to go. On the other hand, you would be hard-pressed to find an album of 17 songs where more than half of them are this catchy. In the end, this disc does what it is supposed to do. In the immortal words of Elvis, "Buy my records, buy my records..."
It is not quite as diverse, but The Simply Fabulous $1.99 New Music Sampler contains many of the same bands as well as a few others not included on Seltzer 2. For $2 and some tax, you can't beat the price. Otherwise, see comments above. (Chordant Distribution Group, 48:51, 13 tracks)
By Steven Stuart Baldwin
The Seltzer 2 collection includes: