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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

X 2008

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 Oct
X 2008
Sounds like … the last year (or two or three) in Christian rock, mostly favoring power pop, punk, Brit pop, hardcore, and pop metal from bands like Relient K, MxPx, Leeland, Underoath, Skillet, and Red.At a glance … between the actual disc and the downloadable digital album, X 2008 is a fairly accurate sampling of the latest in Christian rock, even if much of the music sounds like it's blandly stuck in a rut.Track Listing Falls Apart—Thousand Foot Krutch
Hotel Aquarium—Falling Up
Song for the Broken—BarlowGirl
Forgiven—Relient K
Say This Sooner—The Almost
Fully Alive—Flyleaf
I Love You to Death—Family Force 5
Hearts of the Innocent—Kutless
The Show—Hawk Nelson
Oh! Gravity—Switchfoot
Whispers in the Dark—Skillet
You're Ever So Inviting—Underoath
Breathe Into Me—Red
A Whisper & A Clamor—Anberlin
You're on Fire—MxPx

I'm surely dating myself in reminiscing over the Seltzer albums of the mid/late '90s, but I loved them as the edgier sibling to a then-new WoW series. They effectively introduced some of the best in Christian rock, representing a striking array of styles and sounds from a faith-based perspective.

Unfortunately, Seltzer only lasted for three discs, but it's survived in spirit by the more successful X series, 6 albums old and counting. If only this consistently demonstrated similar diversity. Last year's edition was a terrific mix of old and new artists, hard and moderate rock. X 2008 seems more obligatory than celebratory—a reminder of how corporate Christian rock has become (and in fairness, mainstream too).

Not to say there isn't a decent mix of songs and sounds, from Underoath's hardcore, to MxPx's punk, to Leeland's Brit pop and tobyMac's funky flava. However, this collection is oversaturated with pop metal (Thousand Foot Krutch, Red, Skillet, and in this instance, BarlowGirl), and the rest of the time, it leans toward the same power pop and modern rock styles. The end result is a bunch of songs that work better on their own rather than stacked against other sound-alikes. But is it X 2008's fault that this year's crop of Christian rock seems, for the most part, more bland and repetitive than usual?

Some will complain that this disc doesn't look ahead to the horizon, but these albums are more yearbooks than new-music samplers. X 2008 keeps fairly current, relying on material prominently featured in the last year, some released in recent months. Flyleaf's "Fully Alive" from their 2005 debut is the oldest, though the band has gained momentum in recent years; tracks from Kutless and Hawk Nelson feel older, though not out of place. The truly alternative Family Force 5 feels fresh, however, with a new selection from the Diamond Edition re-release of their debut. And at long last, Switchfoot is represented by a current song ("Oh! Gravity") on a year-end compilation.

The biggest surprise with X 2008 is how it offers less than an hour's worth of music, seemingly ignoring the onslaught of new rock bands debuting in 2007. Actually, those who buy the album can go to this site to download a second "digital album" featuring music from Wavorly, Ruth, The Send, Mainstay, and many others. An extra step, but you can't say you don't get your money's worth as a result. It adds up to an effective sampler of the past year in Christian rock, even though much of X 2008 still doesn't feel particularly fresh.

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