Ten New Artists for 2005
- reviewed by Andy Argyrakis with Andree Farias and Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2005 1 Jan
It seems like the Christian music scene keeps growing a little larger, and for every established artist releasing a much-anticipated album, there are at least ten others making their debut. There's no shortage of new talent out there, and record labels are certainly hopeful to break the next big thing to the public.
We recently got to know some of these newbies at the annual Gospel Music Week in Nashville. By no means is this a complete list of 2005's new artists, but consider it an introduction to ten worth watching.
Album:Overtired and Ill Prepared (Word of Mouth—February 2005)
Hometown: Buffalo, New York
What THEY Say They Sound Like: "Big inspiration for me would be R.E.M., Gene Eugene and Adam Again," says Anthony Hoisington (vocals, keyboard, guitar). "We also get compared a lot to Radiohead, Coldplay and Elbow, and Counting Crows."
What WE Say They Sound Like: Coldplay meets Counting Crows indeed. Like Blue Merle, an oddly successful marriage of arty Brit rock with Americana roots.
Standout Song: "The title track," says Joe Secciarell (bass, backing vocals). "It's a summary of where we were at, while pointing in the direction we hoped the record would head."
Bet You Didn't Know: The band was formerly called The McClurg Family Singers. Also, Peter Borden (drums) was once sent home from Australia when studying at Hillsong. "I took a break from studies to go up to Sydney one week," he recalls. "I got stranded out there, missed too many days of classes and was thrown out of the country because it was a breach of my student visa!"
Message: "The record starts out from a point of view of being kind of depressed, but as it goes on, that mood starts refining itself by finding roots in Jesus," Hoisington says. "We basically want people to know Jesus is there to turn to if you're trying to find yourself in this world."
Album:The Revolution (Fervent—July 2005)
Hometown: Spring, Texas
What THEY Say They Sound Like: "An alternative modern rock group that has a girl singer with a twist," Marcus Acker (guitar) explains. "Sometimes there are jazzy chord voicings and there's a little bit of Brit rock thrown in."
What WE Say They Sound Like: Evanescence (minus the attitude) mixed with some classic rock (Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin) and Brit rock (Coldplay).
Standout Song: "'Revolution' because it summarizes our purpose as a band," Sara Acker (vocals) says. "We want to go out, change the world and inspire others to do the same."
Bet You Didn't Know: The band started with Marcus and Sara leading worship, writing together, and meeting other members. Says Marcus, "We learned from our mistakes."
Message: "Our hope is to be transparent and real in our songs and to let listeners know they're not alone in their struggles," Sara sums up. "We might stumble and fall, but it's important to get back up and keep pressing on."
Name: Jeff Anderson
Hometown: Marietta, Georgia
What HE Says He Sounds Like: "A lot of Brit-pop influences, like Oasis, Radiohead, The Verve, Travis and Coldplay. There's also a bit of folk influence from Bob Dylan and some rock 'n' roll from AC/DC and Led Zeppelin."
What WE Say He Sounds Like: Brit pop a la Travis, Coldplay, and The Verve with the worshipful bent of Sonicflood, By the Tree, and Delirious.
Standout Song: "'I Don't Belong Here,' which is very important to me and my wife," he admits. "We lost a baby to a miscarriage about a year and a half ago, and this song is birthed out of being angry with God. But in the end I saw how he poured out his grace, mercy and love on me and showed us the majesty of heaven."
Bet You Didn't Know: Jeff studied opera at a conservatory of music in Columbus, Ohio, and led worship at a Vineyard church there before signing with Gotee.
Message: "I believe one of the deeper struggles of our Christian faith is that we all feel inadequate or not well equipped to serve the kingdom. I want to remind people God's power makes us perfect in our weakness and He gives us that power through His spirit."
Album:… And So It Is (Soul2Seoul—August 2005)
What HE Says He Sounds Like: "Some of the songs take on an old-school Michael Jackson vibe, others have a bit of a Brandy vibe and probably some more lean toward the Usher side."
What WE Say He Sounds Like: Old-school Michael Jackson meets modern Stevie Wonder, with some Missy Elliot urban and the early smoothness of Whitney Houston.
Standout Song: "'That's What You Said,' a Jontez version of a worship song. It was inspired by BeBe and CeCe Winans, and is an uplifting song about God speaking to you and verifying his word."
Bet You Didn't Know: Jontez was once a member of God's Property ("Stomp"). "We sang that song about a million and one times. Eventually our music director changed it around so it wasn't boring and we were always updating it with fresh dance steps to keep it fun."
Message: "I once heard a popular secular artist say he wanted to put an end to Christianity. My mission is to counteract that statement, first by musically making strides where Christian music is the head of influence on the world and not the tail, and then to have people respond to what I have to say."
Name: Krystal Meyers
Album:Krystal Meyers (Essential—June 2005)
Hometown: Orange County, California
What SHE Says She Sounds Like: "Everybody seems to be comparing me to Avril [Lavigne], but it's funny because I worked with her producers and they wanted to keep me away from sounding like her. One of my major influences is probably Dashboard Confessional. Stylistically and lyrically, Chris Carrabba and me are really similar."
What WE Say They Sound Like: Avril Lavigne—definitely. And that's not a bad thing. Plus flashes of Dashboard and Kelly Clarkson.
Standout Song: "'Anticonformity,' not only because it shows my all-around sound, but it also has a message I want to portray to everybody. You need to become the person God wants you to be, which is something I stand for."
Bet You Didn't Know: "I actually love to knit. I picked up needles and yarn about two years ago, and I've been make Christmas presents for family and close friends ever since."
Message: "I want to address peer pressure in general and let kids know they don't have to cave in to still be cool."
Name: Olivia the Band
Album:Olivia the Band (Essential—January 2005)
Hometown: Oahu, Hawaii
What THEY Say They Sound Like: "Definitely upbeat," says Christian Perreira (drums). "I've heard people say Yellowcard and Blink 182, who we're big fans of, so it's somewhere along those lines."
What WE Say They Sound Like: Pop/punk reminiscent of Blink 182 (with the zaniness, not the naughtiness), Pennywise, and Something Corporate.
Standout Song: "'Heaven' is super cool," Reed Cromwell (vocals, bass) says. "It's really fun, has a lot of mad energy to it and the message about eternity is important."
Bet You Didn't Know: "We're a super tight community of guys who all grew up surfing together," says Cromwell. "Growing up it was always cool because the population would double in the winter with so many of our friends coming from all over the world to have fun and all surf together."
Message: "We love music and we love God," Cromwell says. "It may sound generic, but we want people to know there's a God out there and there's nothing you can do to escape him. Until you die, there is always hope and you can turn to him no matter what."
Name: Stellar Kart
Album:All Gas. No Brake. (Word/Curb/Warner—February 2005)
What THEY Say They Sound Like: "A little more on the rock side of pop/rock," Adam Agee (vocals) says. "We're going to rock and going to rock fast! Our primary influences are Yellowcard and Green Day."
What WE Say They Sound Like: Spunky punk pop, similar to MxPx, Slick Shoes and Simple Plan.
Standout Song: "Our signature song is [our cover of Bon Jovi's] 'Livin' On a Prayer,'" Agee says. "Another one is 'Second Chances,' which talks about love, the positive side of life and God's forgiveness."
Bet You Didn't Know: "I got arrested once for fishing in a neighborhood I wasn't supposed to be in," Agee says. "Cody [Pellerin (guitar)] builds skateboards and Jordan [Messer (drums)] loves to shop. He also has a disease where his body can't handle stress and he used to throw up before every show. Luckily, he's got that under control now!"
Message: "Number one is the fact that God loves each and every one of us no matter what we do," Agee says. "You can never lose that. He's always there."
Album:Free to Conquer (Flicker—March 2005)
Hometown: Weatherford, Oklahoma
What THEY Say They Sound Like: "Rock 'n' roll, but we span so many genres and styles, it's hard to come up with one," Clint McManaman (drums) says. "The only one we won't do is polka."
What WE Say They Sound Like: The hard rock of At the Drive-in, Pillar and the Deftones with hints of Hoobastank, Thursday, 12 Stones, and even Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Standout Song: According to McManaman, "Both 'Free to Conquer' and 'Up to You' deal with the choices we make every day, whether that's to go to school/work or to follow God's lead. We are free to conquer all of the things that come around us and against us, and it's up to each of us to decide which path to take."
Bet You Didn't Know: Before joining the band, bassist Reed Corbin was a funeral director for five years: "I've got like 80 bodies embalmed under my belt, and I've done over 500 funerals."
Message: "The prosperity message is very big for us," McManaman says. "Financially, mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally. Everything that God has for you, he can give you."
Name: The Afters
Album:I Wish We All Could Win (Simple/INO/Epic)
What THEY Say They Sound Like: "A mix between power pop and pop rock," says vocalist Josh Havens. "We're influenced by U2, Coldplay, The Beatles, and lots of British bands."
What WE Say They Sound Like: Those influences are certainly evident, but also some Vertical Horizon, Smashing Pumpkins, By the Tree, and Sleeping at Last.
Standout Song: "Beautiful Love," says Matt Fuqua (guitars, backing vocals). "Everybody says when they hear that song, it makes them want to listen to the rest of the record."
Bet You Didn't Know: Josh and Matt met during high school while working together at a suburban Starbucks. "We played our guitars on the clock, which the customers loved but the manager wasn't thrilled about," says Havens with a laugh. "But we got good feedback and it became the starting point for what's now become this band!"
Message: "We want it to give off a very hopeful edge," says Brad Wigg (bass, backing vocals). "There's more than one reference to hope in heaven and the afterlife. We encourage all to lead a moral life that reflects the life of Christ."
Name: Yellow Second
Hometown: Denver, Colorado
What THEY Say They Sound Like: "Weezer and Foo Fighters and British bands like Blur, Pulp and Elastica," says Scott Kerr (vocals, guitar, keys). "We loved Letters To Cleo's first record and people have said [we sound like] Superdrag at times too."
What WE Say They Sound Like: Artistically intricate indie rock (like Superdrag or The Smoking Popes) meets the previously mentioned U.K. staples.
Standout Song: "It's always been a goal to be somewhat eclectic and I think 'Silhouette' best represents that," says Kerr. "It's one of my favorites, and a good track that indicates our overall sound."
Bet You Didn't Know: "We all enjoy snowboarding a lot," says Josh Hemingway (guitar). "Whenever we're not involved in music, we all really enjoy hanging out in the mountains."
Message: "I'm trying to get stuff off my chest, but I also write in a way other people can glean or apply to their own life," says Kerr. "I'm not trying to change people's minds, but to come at them as a person with certain beliefs and the hope that others can get something from them."