To say that Newworldson is the most unique band ever signed to InPop Records is kind of like mentioning that Antarctica is the coldest continent in the world - it's a statement with which absolutely no one can argue. In a time when bands are trying desperately to separate themselves from the pack, Newworldson's debut, Salvation Station, certainly does that. But does their soulful gospel sound that mixes in blues, jazz, rock, and even hip-hop have a place in today's contemporary Christian music arena?
It would be easy to say no. There are sounds from every decade dating back to the roaring '20s on the record, and at first encounter, their blend will probably seem very foreign to most listeners. But other bands (Family Force 5, anyone?) have come onto the scene with a new sound and become wildly popular, so before you write this band off, let the music marinate in your mind awhile. You may just find such catchy tunes as "Working Man" and "Babylon is Gonna Fall" impossible to get out of your head.
"Salvation Station" is a jazzy start to the album, with heavy emphasis on the keys and a beat that immediately gets your feet moving. "Gimme" and "Empty Heart" don't slow things down at all, but do feature some funky guitar. "Sweet Holy Spirit" then shows a completely different side of the band. The song is reminiscent of some of Elvis's decidedly mellow gospel music, and it turns out to be one of the best tracks on the album.
Things pick up again with "Babylon is Gonna Fall," referencing how the things of this world will one day come to an end by stating, "We've got no more faith in our foundation / And this base ain't strong at all / This world is just an illusion / And one day soon / Babylon is gonna fall." "Down From the Mountain" gets things even funkier, starting out with some solo beatboxing until lead singer Joel Parisien starts spitting about Christians bringing others the good news after hearing from God on the mountaintop. As one might guess just from the band's sound, there is a clear spiritual message in every song, which is very refreshing.
The album's freshness does wear a little thin toward the end of the disc, as the final three songs don't stand out in the right ways (although "Citybus Lovesong" does stand out with an unseemly kazoo feature). "Waitin' Til the Rapture Comes" is a fine song on its own, but doesn't have the same energy as many of the earlier songs on the album. The final song on Newworldson's eleven-track debut is "Pledge of Allegiance," which gets repetitive and tiresome by its end. Nevertheless, though these songs don't measure up to the others, they're still a fun listen.
Salvation Station is a high-energy debut that brings something creative and completely new to Christian music. The level of energy does get somewhat draining, and more songs like "Sweet Holy Spirit" would be a welcomed addition. The vigor of the music is no surprise, though, coming from a group that formed by playing at clubs where Parisien says they were "paid to make people dance and drink." The band then felt a call to move from the corner stage to the tour bus, sharing the gospel with their soulful melodies. Hopefully, their atypical sound will find a welcome reception in the hearts of gospel lovers, jazz fans, and hip-hop enthusiasts alike.- Review date: 2/10/08, written by Spencer Priest
Record Label: Inpop Records
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