Today’s Praise: Rocking teens with a message of faith
I conducted a focus group last weekend while taking a vanload of teens to an event called Slopfest. It was a messy, unfocused group but it answered the question I posed: What bands rock but still roll out a good message for teens?
The question popped up when a mother asked what artists I’d recommend to a junior high girl who likes the energetic Christian “punk” music of Relient K. I asked the teens their thoughts. Here’s an alphabetical rundown of the results, with a few personal comments on recent releases:
• Audio Adrenaline. These guys have been rockin’ for more than a decade and are only getting better. Their latest CD, “Worldwide,” won the Grammy for Christian rock earlier this year. Without a doubt, it deserved the honor. Many of the band’s songs focus on a call to take action — in the church, in society, in missions — and that’s a theme that energizes teens. (www.audioa.com)
• Everyday Sunday. This is a group of young guys who turned out a great debut CD, “Stand Up.” The band’s second CD, “Anthems for the Imperfect,” just came out. The energetic music is very faith-based but also addresses a lot of teen concerns. That’s a plus but the balance was tipped when we saw them at last year’s Slopfest and the girls fell for lead singer Trey Pearson. (www.everydaysunday.com)
• FM Static. This group is basically the alternative rock band Thousand Foot Krutch in a different incarnation. The band has released only one CD — “What Are You Waiting For?” — but it was one of the best of 2003. It offers plenty of songs about relationships and other high school concerns but also has some great faith-based songs. One of the great things about this band’s Web site is that you can listen to full-length versions of all of the songs from the CD. (www.fmstatic.com)
• Relient K. Frontman Matt Thiessen has an odd and ornery sense of humor that comes through in much of the band’s music. That’s a major plus with the teens I know. The lyrics tend to focus more on teen and college concerns than on faith issues but each of these concerns is tackled from a Christian perspective. Relient K’s last two CDs — “Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right … But Three Do” and “The Anatomy of The Tongue In Cheek” are packed with great music with a fun — but solid — message. (www.relientk.com)
• Sanctus Real. Cute guys, good music — ’nough said for the girls. On the CD “Say It Loud,” the title track and “Audience of One” really rock. These guys also have a new CD coming out this month. (www.sanctusreal.com)
• Superchic[k]. This band aims squarely at teens and its songs have been picked up for a number of mainstream sound- tracks and commercials. (“One Girl Revolution” from the movie “Legally Blonde” is the most widely known.) Lyrics cover relationships, anxiety, faith and other teen concerns, often seriously but frequently with a good dose of fun. My favorite CD is “Last One Picked” but “Karaoke Superstar” runs a close second. (www.superchickonline.com)
• ZOEgirl. These three women started as a pop group with a strong inclination toward dance rhythms. Those songs sounded great four years ago but seem a bit dated now. The band’s latest CD, “Different Kind of Free,” is a step toward rock but still has a lot of pop influences. The disc is pretty good, but I suspect ZOEgirl will get even better if the band continues in this line. (www.zoegirlonline.com)
— Today’s Praise is a roundup of news and reviews from the contemporary Christian music industry.