- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2003 1 Aug
This quartet got its start in Chico, California, where vocalist/guitarist/lyricist Jeff Schneeweis and drummer Jordan Mallory joined together in high school to form a band called Paper Trees. Over time they added Ben Tietz on guitar and Trevor Sellers on bass. They renamed the band Number One Gun, recorded a five-song EP, and began touring the West Coast, opening for the likes of Noise Ratchet, The Benjamin Gate, and PAX 217. They caught the ear of PAX 217's lead singer, Dave Tosti, who's also the A&R director for fledgling label Salvage Records. Taking the young band under his wing (and into his home), Dave signed Number One Gun to Salvage and turned to Floodgate to help distribute the band's first album,
Number One Gun is pure melodic rock and power pop laced with emo and punk sounds—Further Seems Forever meets Jimmy Eat World and The Juliana Theory with flashes of New Found Glory, Denison Marrs, and Relient K. As can be surmised by the title, the album is about accepting our sinful nature and letting the faults inherent in humanity point us to God. That theme is hammered home several times with songs such as "Starting Line," "You Fail Sometimes," and the title track.
The lyrics aren't always clear, however, though that's not uncommon of this genre. For example, on the first single, "On and On," Jeff sings, "Could you be my answer/Could you tell me that I am the perfect one for you?/You're the perfect one for me." Is he singing about a romance or a spiritual relationship with the Lord? Or take the encouraging yet cryptic "Today Is Described"—"Today you're gonna see and open up inside/Today is gonna be another one described/Today is gonna be the day you're gonna see/Today is gonna be/Today is the day…You're right, I'm feeling described."
It's easy to assume what these songs are about. It's more about a feeling or an emotion than an actual message, and that could well serve as an appropriate definition of emo rock—empathy over enouncing. Not that you won't find some clear messages on Number One Gun's disc. One of the album's few ballads, the acoustic "These Things," is a song of surrender to God's sovereignty and love. "The Last Time" seems to be a spiritual plea for renewal and a commitment to the Lord's ways—"This is the last time that you will pass by/and I know that you will always be inside my heart forever now." With "Hear This," Jeff proclaims, "You are the answer being heard from all the questions of right now."
Sound-wise, the guitar riffs alternate between crunchy and hypnotic. Jeff sings with the same power and emotion as Jim Adkins (Jimmy Eat World), but most impressive of all is Jordan's bold drumming. The band is rhythmically tight and has all the ingredients to be a favorite in Christian rock. Now if only the songs were more memorable and thought provoking. Still, Number One Gun remains true to the genre. If you favor the increasingly popular melodic emo rock sound, you're bound to enjoy