Back to School with Rock Star Style

By Andy_Argyrakis
Posted: Mon, 08/31/2009 - 15:32

album promo image for Back to School with Rock Star Style

The latest to join Grits'label, Hearts of Saints

By Andy Argyrakis, senior music editor,

As sad as it sounds, summer vacation has come and gone, festivals are over for now and school is back in session. Though it's enough to make every kid and even their parents groan with disappointment, that doesn't mean starting the new season's schedule should be a drag. While hitting the books should certainly be a top priority, the fall also signals the music industry's most active release cycle, meaning there are plenty of top tunes around the corner worthy of a trip to your local Christian retailer (or a visit to iTunes).

Tunes you shouldn't miss
Now that the reality of stepping back on campus has set in, why not arrive in style with the hottest tunes of the time period? Though there are plenty of hot mainstream tracks taking over the charts at the moment, there are loads of cool Christian collections about to hit streets, such as the debut disc from alternative rock act Hearts of Saints (the latest to sign with Grits' Revolution Art label).

"Christian music provides hope and encouragement to students for the trials and turmoil of day-to-day school drama," advocates the band's frontman Craig Felker. "It can also be inspiring and give students an opportunity to share the love of Jesus with their peers in a practical way."

And there are several current releases to illustrate that exact premise, which according to Sarah Anthony, frontwoman for brand-new Tooth & Nail act The Letter Black, means "anything from Chris Daughtry, Disciple and The Letter Black because they all rock hard. It can encourage students through the pressures of school – from teachers and mostly from fellow students. Music is a great release."

Though it doesn't street for a few weeks (September 22 to be exact), Pillar's latest project Confessions (Essential) is also a vital addition to the playlist. As the title implies, it deals with topics of redemption, which given the stress that often occurs in the life of the average teen and 20-something, should be a welcome message for the students who often plug into the band's explosive sounds.

~(continued from page 1)

"It deals with the healing process of confessing," continues Pillar frontman Rob Beckley. "I know it's tough to get caught up in the craziness of school life and peer pressure. It focuses on letting go and being closer to God. Another great CD is Decyfer Down's new album Crash. It's very encouraging to me and knowing all that they have been through, it does my heart well to see them pressing on [after a van crash and singer switch]. I know it could encourage anyone."

Ridin' clean
Speaking of Decyfer Down, the hard rockers themselves weighed in on the ultimate songs to play while pulling up to school with the windows rolled down, placing fall tour mates Skillet at the top of their list (after naming a couple of blasts from the past). "When I was in school, I remember hearing Journey's 'Open Arms' at school dances and the classic high school gym and football song 'We Are the Champions' by Queen," recalls drummer Josh Oliver. "But in terms of new tunes, they should load the new Skillet album Awake, which will be able to reach and touch the lives of many people and we highly recommend it."

Felker also adds Hearts of Saints' "Over and Over" as a sing-a-long in the making (and this critic would concur) though a fellow festival favorite in the form of Family Force 5 is also an essential addition to the backpack.

"'Get Your Back Off The Wall' and 'Dance or Die' by Family Force 5 provide the perfect blend of '80s electronic tones with guitar riff rock," he observes. "Disciple's album Southern Hospitality is a must for any rock fan. We're also really digging the new Jars of Clay album The Long Fall Back to Earth and Remedy Drive's new album Daylight Is Coming. Hip-hop and R&B fans should check our Revolution Art label mates Jade Harrell on Class Reject and Grits' Reiterate."

Go west, young man
Though all of the artists polled were share their favorite tunes, they also made a point to provide even more practical advice to listeners on the whole back-to-school subject. Having toured countless youth groups and conferences throughout the years, Beckley has a particularly intuitive perspective on what students are dealing with these days.

"Sometimes we get so busy we forget to read the Bible every day," he notices. "Simply listening to a great CD by your favorite Christian artist can help you enter into God's presence while you're putting your shoes on or getting ready for school. Don't let it become a substitute though. Nothing is as powerful as reading God's word."

In addition to the Bible, Oliver also implores fans to pick a quality group of friends who will not only be fun to hang out with, but also keep them on a Godly path.

"I would encourage young people to surround themselves with people who are moving forward in their walk with Christ to be a better person," he suggests. "And I pray that they will be leaders and positive influences to their peers, to encourage a life of faith and hope."


About the Writer

Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, Illinois Entertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, and He's also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel's very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).

News You May Also Like