Linda and Shari liked 5 Minute Walk Record's '96 fall sampler so much they stayed up almost all night listening to it.
Linda: Take Time to Listen, Vol. II is a good progress report on this remarkable label. You have new artists like the folky Sherri Jongeward, ska band Five Iron Frenzy, and the ethereal Rivulets and Violets. Established bands like Yum Yum Children, Mortal, Seven Day Jesus, Black Eyed Sceva, and Dime Store Prophets are also well-represented by current releases and new material.
Shari: I have been waiting to hear Five Iron Frenzy's debut album since their show this year at Cornerstone. They're highly recommended in the newsgroup (rec.music.christian). As soon as I saw the name, I grabbed the disk out of Linda's hand.
Linda: NO. I was shoving it INTO your hand.
Shari: Whatever. Just a sneak preview of Five Iron Frenzy was a guarantee that I'd buy it. This is "ska" music--happy and fun.
Linda: I remember seeing another Christian ska band, the Supertones, at Cornerstone. It was really unusual. There was a horn section, and everybody wore mod-style suits & ties.
Shari:It took a couple of listens, but now I like it. Five Iron Frenzy is more complex than the Supertones; they sound a little like the Lost Dogs. They value lyrical content over sound production and don't take themselves too seriously, and yet they are intently serious about the underlying message. You can listen to these songs on a lot of different levels.
Linda: After our interview with Dime Store Prophets, I was interested in hearing more of Masaki Liu's production work. I understand the bulk of this sampler was recorded at his studio. He produced Black Eyed Sceva, Seven Day Jesus, Dryve, Sherri Jongeward, and his other band, Rivulets & Violets. Five Iron Frenzy's cuts are from their original demo, but Masaki is now producing their debut album.
Shari: I really like Dime Store Prophet's first song, "Come Back." I think that's my favorite on the album. I hope they release it as a single.
Linda: Are you nuts? The voice-over by the 50's southern preacher on the evils of rock'n roll is hilarious but would offend too many on the radio. I think this is something they pulled off the cutting room floor for "fun," and I'm glad they did.
Shari: Oh, sure. Wreck my hopes that it was the first single from the new album. For people not familiar with their album, Love Against the Grain, including the self-titled track was a good decision. It's my favorite, and it hasn't been released as a single.
Linda: Sorry, I like the title better than the song. What I've been looking forward to is Dryve. Remember hearing them live this summer right after they were signed?
Shari: At World Fest? Yes.
Linda: They sound much smoother on the CD. Now I understand why they're so popular in the San Diego club scene. The harmonica work on "Rain" is the best I've heard on an alternative album.
Shari: "Rain" was a little soft for my tastes but would make a great worship song. I liked "Nervous."
Linda: Me too. The tight harmonies are in key, another rarity for alternative, and the song has a bouncy beat. I hope Masaki keeps that loopy live feel to it.
Shari: The Mortal cut interests me. They're an industrial group, but "Fray Lagoon" has no pyrotechnics, samples or synthesizers. It's pretty mellow for them.
Linda: I wonder if this represents their transition into Fold Zandura?
As Linda drove home, she gave the disk the number one slot in the changer. Eyes back on the road, she thought some more: The president of 5 Minute Walk Records, Frank Tate, has a heart for ministry, and it's beginning to bear fruit. He is attracting outstanding new talent, generously supporting their marketing efforts, and reminding everyone that Christian music can have a higher purpose than mere entertainment. The combination is bringing out the best in everybody, to the glory of God. If the 20,000 Jacket tour stops anywhere near you in the Midwest this fall or the West Coast in January, donate a warm article of clothing in exchange for an opportunity to hear Dime Store Prophets, Black Eyed Sceva and Dryve.