In 1996, the Orange County Supertones took the Christian rock scene by surprise by introducing their infectious and uplifting ska sound. Reggae-flavored punk rock with horns to add some flare, ska had been a craze for a couple years in the mainstream and was just being introduced to the Christian scene. Shortly after ska caught on in CCM, it died out in the mainstream and the Christian fans soon followed. Already in 1999, The Supertones tried to change things up by introducing a more pop/rock with horn sound with their third release Chase The Sun. Not nearly as effective, interesting or successful as their previous efforts, Chase the Sun wasn't as well-received. In 2000, the band released their fourth album Loud and Clear, a ska-flavored pop/rock album with a lot of heart and more catchy rhythms and melodies than one might know what to do with. Although they were heading in a right direction, their popularity was still dwindling.
In 2002, after the release of a live record earlier in the year, the Tones knew something different was in order. So with the help of acclaimed producer Brent Bourgeois and executive producer Charlie Peacock, the Supertones sought to reinvent themselves with a more funk-oriented sound. People, success is the result. From the opening sounds of the can't-help-but-move-to "Superfly," it's evident the Tones have struck gold with 'LP number five,' the aptly titled Hi-Fi Revival. A lot has happened for the band since their last record, including losing founding member and drummer Jason Carson, leaving a position still not filled for the band. Carson went on to pursue a career as a youth pastor, a decision they completely supported, but a difficult change for them. And enduring a lot of trials has shaped the hope-filled message evident on Hi-Fi. No Tones album since their debut, The Adventures of The O.C. Supertones, has such honesty and encouragement through trials. The funky pop-jazz sounds of "Brand New Thing" speak to burdened hearts with "Oh, I knew there'd be trouble / It's what happens when you live / But hope is like a flame that never dies / Hard's the road I have taken, but I walk it unforsaken." The upbeat pop/rocker "Perfect Love" clearly was inspired by lead singer Matt Morginski's painful divorce, but makes it clear that God will never leave him, " ...I've seen love fail / I've been betrayed / I've seen love pass / I've seen love fade / But I know that God is not that way / He doesn't change from day to day / He doesn't fail, He doesn't leave / And I want that so desperately."
Other Hi-Fi highlights include the addicting groove of the Blues Brother-esque "Welcome Home," the brutally honest (and brilliant) take on the tripe we know as secular music in "Radio Plays," and the locomotive power bursting from "Go, Go, Go."
The O.C. Supertones have come a long way and with their fifth studio effort, Hi-Fi Revival, they ring in a new season of their unstoppable music career and prove that they can roll with the punches and change with the times, remaining all the while a force to be reckoned with.- Review date: 10/19/02, written by John DiBiase
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