Once you believe that the pop-rock sound of years past is extinct, you turn to find another new group trying to revive something that some should just let go. With growing interest in more punk-rock or heavier bands in the Christian music industry, we seem to be turning away from the younger pop sound of the 90's. However, there are a few optimistic groups who are starting, yet again, another path coming from the pop-rock genre and BDA (Better Days Ahead) fits into this category.
Hailing from Illinois' Greenville College (home of Jars of Clay), BDA has produced their debut self-titled album Better Days Ahead. At 21 years old, the five guys in this group have worked their way up from just "jamming together" in 2001, to leading worship for a local youth group, to playing alongside bands like Switchfoot, Jars of Clay and Audio Adrenaline. The band consists of Matt Jones (lead vocals), Dave Ray (vocals, guitar, and principle songwriter), Clint Milburn (lead guitar), Ben Eggebeen (bass) and Jake McDaniel (drums).
Redemption, forgiveness, truth and love basically describe all the themes found on this new album. The band focuses on reiterating what love really should be in today's world. Instead of the untrue labels plastered on the word, it should be an "expression of Jesus." BDA illustrates an excellent message that will touch a lot of people.
Throughout the 12 track CD, BDA conveys expertise in songwriting, imaginative melodies, energetic instrumental skills, and strong vocals; although, their sound imitates that preppy pop/rock sound from the past and doesn't exactly seem as original as I had hoped. Personally, I found that a lot of songs reminded me of already existing songs. A few songs sounded like the Teen Mania -Acquire the Fire worship sound was impressed into them in some way, shape or form. Though, I was surprised with the energetic guitar riffs found in various songs. So, if you want to get technical, even though there is a strong presence of pop, BDA could basically be described as a rock band.
The album starts off with "Maybe You" and transitions into "Mystery of You," both songs consisting of those elements of rock and pop which create that catchy lyrical feeling that is infectious and familiar, "You are the great mystery calling me endlessly deeper to love you." "All To Thee" is a more worshipful song with "Ode to Jesus" found in the middle. All the songs are quite catchy, with each containing a characteristic guitar riff of sorts. The album possesses a mixture of upbeat pop songs and ballads with is a plus.
Truthfully, it took a couple listens to actually appreciate what BDA is trying to do here with their debut album. Their contemporary-soaked pop sound with a slight rock flavor isn't all too unique but it is indeed an acquired taste. Fans of Overflow, the more upbeat side of 4Him, and generally positive radio pop should take a look at BDA.- Review date: 11/11/04, written by Jessica Vander Loop
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