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Thunder After Lightning—Uncut Demos

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 Jul
Thunder After Lightning—Uncut Demos
Sounds like … the sort of anthemic (sometimes even alternative sounding) pop/rock characterized by U2, Coldplay, MercyMe, and The Afters, though as demos, a little more stripped and rougher sounding than usual for Downhere.At a glance … because these uncut demos aren't always fully developed and polished, Thunder After Lightning is mostly geared at fans, though the smart lyricism and artful music still place it at a different level than typical Christian pop/rock.Track Listing Close to Midnight
I'm All About You
I Can't Lose Forever
Find Me
Not About Wings
Thunder After Lightning
The Invitation
Whatever Happens
Story in the Making
Don't Be So
Sing This Song
Closer to Me
Jesus, Ellipsis
1,000 Miles Apart
A Better Way

While some artists write only enough new music to fill one album at a time, others are prolific enough to record several, ultimately having to choose among the best of the batch. This raises an interesting dilemma for those that don't make the final cut. Should the leftovers be thrown out because they're old and rotten? Can they keep fresh for the next big meal? Or can they be warmed over for something less formal?

Not everyone could get away with an album like Thunder After Lightning—Uncut Demos, but Downhere proves one of those bands where even the leftovers are worthwhile (at least to fans). Available through the online Centricity Records store, as well as individual song downloads through iTunes and, these unreleased demos from the Wide-Eyed and Mystified sessions are not of the same quality as a final polished album, but most aren't half-finished or under-baked either. They're fully formed songs that simply didn't make the cut, save for three early versions of Wide-Eyed songs at the end.

Interesting how the lesser production values give Downhere a little bit of an indie-alternative edge, as with rocker "I'm All About You" and the dark, almost psychedelic acoustic pop of "Find Me." Marc Martel offers a lot of wild and ambitious vocalizing, some of it intriguing, but often over the top—especially the bombastic Queen-like opening of "Close to Midnight!" A couple tracks don't work ("Don't Be So," "Sing This Song"), but the majority of them have impressively artful melodies with heady lyricism that's still approachable and inspiring, particularly meditations on the nature of faith ("Not About Wings"), reconciliation ("Thunder After Lightning"), and sorrow bringing us closer to the Lord ("The Invitation").

It feels like a lost/underground Downhere release, demonstrating again how this band excels at openly exploring matters of faith with creativity, intelligence, and fresh faith-based lyricism. Some of these songs would undoubtedly work well on the band's next album. The fact that they've probably already moved on to other demos makes this all the more intriguing.

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