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
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