Rock Your World

By Andy_Argyrakis
Posted: Tue, 06/17/2008 - 19:15

By Andy Argyrakis, Senior Music Editor,

Faithful followers of Family Force 5 may be salivating for its sophomore dance-driven hip-hop, rock and funk project, but there's plenty to tide them over until that disc hits stores later this summer. The band just dropped the three-track EP Dance or Die on iTunes and is also offering Blingin' Blogs Volume 1, a unconventional collection of a dozen audio snippets spanning over 70 minutes of intriguing, often humorous tales from members' vast travels.

"Family Force 5 fans are incredible, and they deserve to be entertained," says guitarist Derek "Chap Stique" Mount. "The [new] music is greasy, yet still slick. Soul Glow Activator [vocals/guitar/programming] is exploring some unique approaches in his singing and Crouton [vocals/drums] is playing a very powerful role in the new stuff as well. Our guitars sound meaner than sin and the bass is much dirtier than it was on the last record. The programming is very innovative, and the drums are very diverse – sometimes tight and small and at other times they sound huge and boomy. We wanted to make it sound like the future, but not like The Jetsons – more like Mad Max meets 2001: A Space Odyssey – and I think we captured that."

As for those extracurricular observations, expect a compilation of Family Force 5's most popular skits and stories that have circulated throughout the Internet over the past few years. "We record and post stories and jokes [audio blogs] two to four times a week, and people have been begging for some of the legendary old onesfor their iPods," he adds. "In response, we decided to put out a Blingin' Blogs greatest hits and the cartoony artwork is amazing!"

When All Music Guide (the mainstream industry's ultimate research resource) says an album "is an impressive foray into Christian indie rock" and adds listeners should "give them props for doing it better than most," chances are the act is on the right track. Enter Boise, Idaho's Esterlyn, who just dropped Lamps on Rooster Records and is steadily earning astute critical comparisons to alternative rockers Number One Gun, The Classic Crime and This Beautiful Republic (to name a few). Thus far, the band scored a breakout hit for "We All Need" (featuring a video filmed in three days in over 20 locations across the band's hometown), plus opening slots for Stellar Kart and Kutless, the latter of whom members will rejoin on Creation Festival: The Tour this fall.

"Any time you pour your heart and soul into something God has called you to do, it is awesome to see the fruit of your labors," offers front man Luke Caldwell. "Our prayer from the beginning was that God would use this album in people's lives, and we're excited to see Lamps continue to make an impact. And man, I'm excited about that tour on a lot of different levels. For one, it is a great way to build relationships with other artists that have the same ministry. Plus everything Creation does is top-notch, and this tour on all accounts will be very professional and very ministry-oriented."

Now that Petra has bowed out of the limelight with an official farewell tour, singer John Schlitt is resuming his solo career after a 12-year hiatus. His third solo album The Grafting has hints of those two-plus decades fronting the legendary classic rockers, tinges of his early-career mainstream act Head East and a contemporary lyrical centering on more mature topics like divorce, adoption over abortion and even shades of the current social/political push and pull. Besides celebrating his emergence from the studio, Schlitt also scored an unprecedented milestone by becoming the first entertainer to be inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame as both a band member and a solo star.

"I found out the news about two weeks ago and thought 'you mean Petra right?,'" he admits with a laugh. "It was so gratifying for them to not only include the band, but me as a solo singer. Petra's always been so big, it's probably been hard for a lot of listeners to separate the individuals, and that's totally fine with me! The group first got in the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and now the Christian Music Hall of Fame, but having me inducted as a solo artist is pretty neat, and I'm very excited about it!"


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).

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