Ah, genre sampler compilations! While these suckers exist in abundance around summer festival time for usually a mere $1.99 or so, a more carefully-constructed collection of hits will hit shelves from time to time. Most are forgettable, but this year's X2003 maybe be one of the best of such compilations to come around in awhile.
Alternative music gurus Tooth & Nail Records have teamed up with the kings of Pop/rock, ForeFront and Sparrow to deliver a diverse collection of old and new talent. The project opens with the excellent-yet-poorly-re-edited "Get This Party Started" from hip-hop veteran tobyMac. The only problem with the track is it opens with the same announcement that is used for tobyMac's album Momentum, (which seems to just make the collection feel like a homemade mix CD than anything else) and is unexplainably shortened abruptly seconds before the close of the song. Following this awkward blunder, the rest of the collection is actually smooth sailing. Pillar's hit "Fireproof" is followed by the infectious danceability of Supertones' "Superfly." MxPx's aged classic "Punk Rawk Show" is a surprise fit for such a modern collection (being that it first appeared on the band's sophomore album Teenage Politics in the early nineties). Slick Shoes party anthem, "Friday Night" is an appropriate follow-up and precedes a brand new track from rapcore rockers Thousand Foot Krutch, "Bounce." Another fresh new cut is Five Iron Frenzy's b-side "Kamikaze" from their pending release Cheeses of Nazareth. The first disc continues on with a series of newer talent with Justifide, Cadet, Sanctus Real, and Holland before offering tracks from the more established acts Bleach and Switchfoot. Oddly, however, with Switchfoot just releasing their latest record over a month prior to this release, it's a puzzler why something newer wasn't featured instead of music from a record from almost three years ago. Tucked away as bonus hidden tracks, Tooth & Nail take a moment to plug some new releases heading audience's way with "Ready Fuels" from Anberlin and "Clear" from Watashi Wa.
Disc Two opens with the increasingly popular smash pop/punk act Relient K with new track, "Chap Stick, Chapped Lips and Things Like Chemistry." Accompanying Switchfoot with an older track despite a more recent release, Audio Adrenaline's catchy "Summertime" follows, with the Nickelback/Creed influenced rockers Kutless close behind with "Your Touch." The electronic rock of the Newsboys' "John Woo" and "The Sound" from Further Seems Forever are followed up by the youthful rock of Pax217's "Engage" and new music from rap artists The Cross Movement with "It's Goin' Down." Another new song on this record is new act Peace of Mind's hip-hop fueled rock "I Am," which boasts KJ-52 on vocals. Other notables include Skillet's "Kill Me, Heal Me," Delirious' "Fire," and the melodic hardcore of Demon Hunter "Infected" which tries to marry melodic modern rock and throat-shredding vocals. The second disc comes to a close with new act Lucerin Blue's "Monday In Vegas" and new song "Loved Ones" by Starflyer 59 from their pending new record Old.
Far from perfect but a good sampler of what is available from the Christian rock and alternative departments, X 2003 is worth the look if you're new to Christian music or want to pass thos off to someone who is.- Review date: 3/29/03, written by John DiBiase
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