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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews


  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jul
Sounds like … classic punk and new wave rock, reminiscent of Elvis Costello & the Attractions, The Clash, Squeeze, and Joe JacksonAt a Glance … except for the self-indulgent fandom of the album's middle, this is a very fun and thought-provoking rock album from two members of The Supertones that ranks with their best work.

What a pleasant surprise to discover that Grand Incredible is a new band of old friends. It's actually a side project by two of The O.C. Supertones, sans the horns and Tony Terusa's bass. Lead vocalist Matt "Mojo" Morginsky picks up the bass, and guitarist Ethan Luck fills in on drums and backing vocals as well—a cleverly doctored photo in the liner notes shows the duo playing as a foursome, as though Matt and Ethan had cloned themselves. Co-produced by the great Aaron Sprinkle (does this guy ever not produce these days?), G.I.gantic has a stripped-down, indie sound to it … and it works in the album's favor. It's described in the press materials as punk rock, but it's really classic new wave punk rock reminiscent of Elvis Costello & the Attractions, The Clash, Squeeze, and Joe Jackson. It's also pretty similar to Hi-Fi Revival, the most recent Supertones disc, only without the horns.

While the album is stylistically similar to Hi-Fi Revival, it's also a little more varied sounding. By removing the horns and relying more heavily on the guitar and rhythm section, Grand Incredible sounds that much more like the classic bands that inspired them in the first place. The majority of the music is irresistibly catchy classic rock from the late '70s and early '80s, slowing only for a handful of tracks. The romantic 6/8-time rock ballad "Right Time" is a prayer to the Lord for patience in waiting for a soul mate. "Corner of the Sky," a gentle and lonely expression of homesickness, sounds more like Lost Dogs than The Supertones, and "Forgiveness Again" bears resemblance to the folksy California rock of The Eagles or Jackson Browne.

Better yet are the lyrics, which I don't remember being this witty or insightful on past Supertones discs. "Anti-Prom" uses the metaphor of a high-school party for misfits and outcasts to illustrate the inclusiveness of God's kingdom, much like Jesus' parable of the wedding feast: "But still I'll always be a reject and a geek/But God has never once rejected me." Even more juicy and fun is "Be Thou My Television," which is either facetious or so true it hurts, playfully illustrating how earthly pleasures compete with and often win over heavenly treasures: "My salvation and my Playstation are both competing for my attention/It's a given but I'll still mention what came out of this decision/I need to watch the television/This was a tough one to decide/Later I'll sing 'Be Thou My Vision'/If I'm not too tired." In "Big Is the New Small," Matt and Ethan explore the profound mysteries of the Christian faith: "Let me learn by paradox that I've got to fall if I wanna walk/That I hear a voice that doesn't talk/That didn't start and never stops."

"Rock Your Face Off" lives up to its title in its plea for redemption from sin, and the driving "The Days Are Evil" uses a classic Elvis Costello sound to lament the sinful burdens of bitterness and shame. "Salvation" is a one-side conversation with an unsaved friend, while "Most Beautiful Soul" offers unconditional love and encouragement to a friend or family member. There's even an enjoyably simple and upbeat cover of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" that works better than it should. It's interesting that this is the second rendition of the song by a Christian artist within a year, after Nichole Nordeman's live version.

Grand Incredible's album deserves a solid recommendation, but it loses some points for an oddly placed "Half Time" show. Smack dab in the middle of the disc is an awkward trilogy of basketball songs in praise of the L.A. Lakers: "Los Angeles," "Robert Horry," and "Los Lakers Por Vida." Sure, they're kind of fun and they add levity, but the album is already fun. One basketball song would have probably been fine. Three-in-a-row just sounds too self-indulgent, especially to those with no interest in basketball or who prefer another team. They're so frivolous, it's like adding three similarly-themed hidden tracks to the middle of an album.

Such cheerleading aside, Grand Incredible still has fourteen songs to offer fans of The Supertones, classic punk rock, and new wave bands. Keeping in mind that this is a duo creating a full band sound through multi-tracking, they pull it off quite well. Plus, it's always a pleasure to hear Mojo, who has gradually become one of the most recognizable and enjoyable vocalists in Christian rock. He's grown increasingly confident over the years and his tonal quality has a lot of character. 2003 is proving to be a good year for side projects, such as Brave Saint Saturn and Peace of Mind. With a fun rock sound and insightful lyrics, G.I.gantic is a welcome mid-summer surprise.