As an award winning producer (and on the side, worship artist), the
versatile Ian Eskelin has quickly moved his pop rock group All Star
United back into the spotlight after their stellar, fourth
album, Love and Radiation in 2007. Ever since 1998, when International
Anthems For the Human Race was released on the heels of All Star
United's self titled debut, the band's project dates have been
erratic at best, but the swift arrival of The Good Album is a great
sign for all ASU fans (and everyone else too) that we may begin to
expect more consistency from the band.
As well as the pop rock chemistry has worked for Eskelin, it's no
wonder that the opening song "Surface Of The Sun" retains everything
ASU fans love about the band: an upbeat tune, a catchy chorus, and
some great electric guitar riffs. While the majority of the album is
up-tempo, there are moments like "The Blame" and "Once Again, With
Feeling" (which holds back the electric guitar until the second half
of the song) where the music is reminiscent of last year's Day Light
Is Coming by Remedy Drive. Granted, The Good Album isn't quite that
melodic, but the solid, lighter music does a good job of
strengthening, and lengthening, an otherwise predictable and brief disc.
Even though the blazing guitars date back to the 80's and 90's, the
production of the record is great, and has noticeably come a long way
from ASU's 1997 debut. However, long-time fans of ASU will likely find
little from All Star Untied that they have not heard before over the
years, especially on Love and Radiation. The upbeat pop/punk "Pretty
Famous" is nothing unheard of, and is essentially the guy version of
Superchic[k]'s "Wonder (If She'll Get It)" ("She's pretty, pretty
famous/She's so bad and she's so good\She's so Ha Ha Hollywood/If we
fall in love, well who could blame us?... I wonder who I'll love next week").
Fortunately, the majority of the pop rock is cutting edge, and if it
isn't, the music is still upbeat and infectious. The piano-influenced
"Good Times" is a terrific anthem sure to kill a poor mood, and the
short "Light's Out" is also a highlight. Anchoring the entire album
is "Dude... That's Freaking Awesome!", which rises to the top of the
album with witty songwriting, Eskelin's excellent vocal output, and
an extremely catchy tune which is difficult to remove from one's
cranium. Some might find the title of the song (which is echoed
throughout the song) and the juvenile attitudes portrayed
inappropriate, but the track does say "Here's to purpose, here's to
plans/Learning how to be a man/If you can" before it ends.
In terms of spiritual maturity, The Good Album leaves something to be
desired. However on "I'm a Killer" ASU states the depravity of man
and acknowledges that the only good things in our hearts are from
God. Good themes such as forgiveness, working through conflict, and
taking blame all come through at various points on the album. Even on
lyrically shallow songs, the songwriting is still good and better
than many other bands' in their genres.
Not only is The Good Album a terrific raw pop rock CD, but All Star
United has given fans one of the most enjoyable efforts for Summer.
Simply exchange the word 'good' for the word 'great' and The Good
Album is complete.
- Review date: 7/15/09, written by Nathaniel Schexnayder of Jesusfreakhideout.com