(L-R) DecembeRadio's Eric Miker, Josh Reedy and Brian Bunn (not pictured, drummer Boone Daughdrill), photo by Andy Argyrakis
By Andy Argyrakis, senior music editor, GospelMusicChannel.com
DecembeRadio's rollicking new record is sure to satisfy
As one of the most explosive live acts in Christian music history (yes, the guys are really that unbelievable) DecembeRadio continues to enthrall audiences in church and club settings alike. The Virginia-bred quartet of endless amplification just debuted its sophomore CD Satisfied (Slanted Records) at Atlanta's Hard Rock Café and is currently in the midst of a headlining tour alongside artful rockers Ruth. And like that incendiary stage show, the new disc is loaded with monstrous guitar riffs, booming choruses and a gritty southern rock feel that literally puts these retro revivalists in a class of their own.
"We really wanted to stretch our boundaries and flex our muscles, not only as players but as songwriters," says frontman/bassist Josh Reedy. "Stylistically we went for more of the fun, good-time rock and roll with kind of a southern vibe that incorporates a little more of the Eagles/Tom Petty kind of thing. There's also some [John] Mellencamp/Wallflowers and we're probably the biggest fans of The Black Crowes. Basically there's a little something for everybody, just like there is in Christian music as a whole, and God's really blessed us with this batch."
Given the group's anchoring faith, ministry is equally as important as the razor-sharp rumblings, and given the world's current outlook, the foursome's hopeful spin comes at a crucial time.
"We wanted a batch of songs that really spoke to different levels of people's faith with no filler whatsoever," Reedy confirms. "We want people to know that despite whatever you're going through and the problems you may have, that it's okay and you're not alone. I think this album has an uplifting, encouraging side (whereas the last one was more about accountability) and it's gonna leave you with a smile on your face."
Beyond supporting Satisfied on the road, DecembeRadio is also diving deep into music-video-making, crediting Gospel Music Channel with reviving the art form (and citing MTV's recent emphasis on reality shows as contributing to the format's downfall). "Gospel Music Channel has really restored my faith in actually making and producing music videos, especially now that the channel is carried on DIRECTV and everybody I talk to is watching it," he adds. "We've done live videos but never a concept video before. Now we're doing videos for 'Gasoline' and 'Look For Me,' which makes me really pumped."
Greatness continues for Canadian darlings Downhere
One of Canada's finest Christian rock exports Downhere seems to top more critic's pick lists and fan polls with every album released, while radio has steadily warmed up to the band. On its fourth-full length project Ending Is Beginning (Centricity), the group once again signals a creative renaissance steeped in ethereal piano progressions, entrancing guitars and introspective lyrics, flawlessly delivered from co-frontmen Marc Martel and Jason Germain.
"Having two distinct lead singers has always been a plus and a challenge," suggests Martel. "Jason is an epic ballads guy and I'm more of a pop or rock guy, but somehow we meet in the middle. The new project isn't terribly American-sounding – it's very British if anything – and it's guitar- and piano-driven."
Outside of those progressive stylistic leanings – which are sure to find favor with Keane and Coldplay fans – there's also an innovative crux behind the disc's title. Though Ending Is Beginning could imply an impending hiatus or even a break-up, Downhere isn't disappearing anytime soon, but rather calling believers and non-believers alike to use a negative circumstance to be the building block for a future triumph.
"We work very hard on the lyrics and are very intentional songwriters," muses Martel. "This is a serious album more so than we've done in the past, and the title is a statement about coming to the end of yourself and realizing that God loves to meet us there. The beginning is depicting rebirth or baptism, which no matter what type of heavy situation we're talking about, always points to hope in Christ."
Creation hits the concert trail
Out of all the Christian music gatherings, Creation Festival is one of the most treasured institutions lauded just as much for its lineage as its ongoing innovation. Though the annual summer soirée will continue to take place in Pennsylvania and Washington, other parts of America will get to experience a mini-version of the marathon on Creation Festival: The Tour, kicking off October 9 in Cincinnati and making more than 30 stops throughout the Northeast, Midwest and South.
The line-up for this inaugural outing is led by BEC Recordings act Kutless, alongside Thousand Foot Krutch, Pillar, Fireflight, Run Kid Run, Worth Dying For and KJ-52, combined with several rotating speakers, including Bob Lenz, Pastor Harry Thomas and Ron Luce. A pre-show party also includes performances by Esterlyn and Capital Lights, plus the chance to browse tons of cool t-shirts and CDs.
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, MTV.com and Vibe.com. 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).