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Most side projects are forgettable forays into self-indulgence. Then there’s FM Static.

In 2003, rockers Trevor McNevan and Steven Augustine of Thousand Foot Krutch had an uncontrollable urge to go punk. The results were FM Static and “What Are You Waiting For?” — a disc packed with great fun and great insights. It included “Crazy Mary,” a song about reaching out to a homeless woman — one of the most played songs of 2005.

McNevan and Augustine returned to Krutch and further success, but they didn’t turn their backs on pop punk. Now, FM Static is back with “Critically Ashamed.”

While it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the debut disc, the sophomore album is packed with songs that are absolutely infectious. Cutting and witty lyrics, backed by assertive guitar work, rip into pop culture, dabble with infatuation and explore doubt.

“Flop Culture” is a snarky, yet fun, critique of the lameness of today’s music scene. McNevan snipes at “bands re-united just to get a reaction” and “MTV tradin’ music for acting, Avril Lavigne on the cover of Maxim.” Then, blazing guitars back an assault on ego-tripping artists in “The Next Big Thing.” And “America’s Next Freak” rejects musical trends in favor of artistic integrity.

The tempo backs off several notches for the ballad “Tonight,” which deals with yearning and loss. Things pick up again with “The Video Store,” a fun, rocking look at infatuation — and probably the only song from a Christian band containing the word “nookie.”

The songs that examine faith most closely fall toward the end of the disc. “A Nice Piece of Art” explains how God can make a believer feel special. “Waste Of Time” is a powerful, guitar-driven call for strength amid doubts and turmoil. Although the CD won’t be released until Tuesday, “Waste of Time” has already started climbing the Christian radio charts.

The disc wraps up with “The Moment of Truth,” a touching love ballad that happens to be the song McNevan used when proposing to his wife.

Basically, “Critically Ashamed” is pop-punk fun that packs a punch.

On the Web: www.myspace.com/fmstatic

“Uncommon Days”Circleslide prepared for the big time by playing everywhere from churches to bars. The band’s debut disc, “Uncommon Days,” reflects that diverse experience by offering melodic rock, alternative and energetic pop — all with a strong focus on God.

The album opens with the upbeat praise of “Gravity,” featuring powerful guitars, a strong beat and Gabe Martinez belting out “I’ll fly away with you, unshackled and set free.” The band takes the tempo down a few notches to cry out for mercy in “Love Unfailing.” In “Home,” Martinez’s voice perfectly captures a sense of joyful longing for heaven. The ballad “Walking On The Waves” turns dreamy as it tells of peace amid a storm. The darker “Weatherboy” is filled with heavy riffs, accenting the message that while hurricanes, pollution and war may be looming, God’s in control. The disc wraps up with the heartfelt praise in the acoustic “Sun Of My Soul.”

While the disc doesn’t offer anything particularly adventurous or spectacular, the music is solid, Martinez’s voice is strong and the lyrics are good. It makes for an enjoyable spin.

On the Web: www.circleslide.net

Today’s Praise is a roundup of news and reviews from the contemporary Christian music industry.


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