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JFH Staff Review

Various Artists
Underground Sound Volume 1

Album length: 15 tracks: 57 minutes, 18 seconds
Street Date: May 27, 2008

What would record labels do without compilations? Dish out more money to promote their label-ites separately, no doubt. Out of all the compilation discs released thus far in the Christian genre, Underground Sound Volume 1, a collection of works from unsigned talent, could easily be considered the most impressive.

Carl Cartee has been writing and recording for more than a decade, which is apparent with a listen of the project's first track. "Trust in You" is about trusting God, even when mountains seem impossible to climb. A self proclaimed fan of Dolly Parton, Cartee's deeper voice reels the listener in to an album undeniably worth listening to. There is nothing too fresh about Last Year Portrait's "Modern Day Escape," which follows, but it is nice to have another pop punk band as an alternative to the secular realm. Any regular listener of Christian music would instantly pull out influences from Stellar Kart, Hawk Nelson, Relient K, and even a bit of Falling Up. Maria Long's "Here With Me" offers up a voice bearing a slight resemblance to Tiffany Arbuckle of Plumb, but still manages to be engaging to the listener.

Paul Allen's "To Bring You Back" is one of the more memorable songs on the album, not really resembling an existing artist in particular. With the chorus belting out such lyrics as "I left the ninety-nine to find the one, and you're the one. I walked a thousand miles in this desert sun, only to bring you back," this song could easily be any lost person's anthem. "Ruin Me" by Jeff Johnson Band is another unforgettable track as it is every Christian's prayer, to be ruined to thyself so concentration can be turned fully to God. The Wrecking's "Inside" is easy on the ears and could be mistaken for a worship song. Their style is a bit similar, but not copycat, to that of the Newsboys. There's nothing wrong with taking influence and mixing in your own personal take on things.

Separated has been traveling the narrow indie road for years now, so discovering this track on the album is like finding a diamond in the rough. "Something Wrong" will impress longtime fans since it is one of the more prominent songs of the band's career. This track is rock in nature, and is the hardest on the album. In other words, if you're a metalhead or a hard rocker, this album probably won't intrigue you unless you have a soft spot for other genres. The Justin Cofield Band brings a Dave Matthews Band feel to the album with "Send Me" - soft rock with a twang of soul. This number is enjoyable since it brings something different to the CCM table. Former Inpop Records act Foolish Things brings "Who'd You Put In Charge," an intelligent track that states a solution to the lingering question, "What's wrong in my life?" It all depends on who you put in charge of your life. This track has favorite written all over it. If there's one song that makes you buy this album, chances are it's this one.

"More Real" by 1 Life will remind you of Avalon, the once popular CCM group that broke down pop barriers in the genre years ago. Think Jody McBrayer and company, only younger. "Whisper" by Shelley Moore Band gives a nice spin to the album. Listeners will think of a grown up Bethany Dillon. She has the potential to even be classified as the female David Crowder. The chorus portrays a sound similar to that of Salvador, making you want to move along to it.

"The Real Me" by The Ride gets lost in the mix a bit and seems overpowered by the other standout tracks on the compilation. Abbie Walker's "Save Me" is bluesy and original. Digging into one's cranium, finding a similar voice or sound in CCM currently would be deemed impossible. For these traits, this track comes off as one that is not only unforgettable, but likeable. "Hold Me" by Jonny Diaz resembles The Ride's "The Real Me" in terms of not being able to stand out due to the excess of greater tracks on the album, but one can't just simply write it off as "same 'ol, same 'ol," either. Diaz shows some potential, but not enough with this track to shine above the pack.

Underground Sound comes to a close with Jessica McLean's "Again," which leaves the listener feeling spiritual renewal. Lyrics such as "peace you give/now I can live" give that extra "boost" to allow listeners to tackle the events of their day without having to worry about being alone.

Overall, this is one of the better compilations I've heard. Usually there's at least one song on every compilation album that is grounds for skipping without missing the essence of the disc, but skipping a track here could prove disappointing to an overall listen. If you tend to sway towards a more heavy musical genre, passing over this album may be in your best interest. However, if you are a lover of lyrics and have a soft spot for discovering new talent, this album might just impress even the biggest critic of music with a pop influence.

- Review date: 5/29/08, written by Jessica Gregorius

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. Record Label: NuSpring / EMI Gospel
. Album length: 15 tracks: 57 minutes, 18 seconds
. Street Date: May 27, 2008
. Buy It:

  1. Trust in You - Carl Cartee
  2. Modern Day Escape - Last Year Portrait
  3. Here With Me - Maria Long
  4. To Bring You Back - Paul Allen
  5. Ruin Me - Jeff Johnson Band
  6. Inside - The Wrecking
  7. Something Wrong - Separated
  8. Send Me - The Justin Cofield Band
  9. Who'd You Put in Charge - Foolish Things
  10. More Real - 1 Life
  11. Whisper - Shelly Moore Band
  12. The Real Me - The Ride
  13. Save Me - Abbie Walker
  14. Hold Me - Jonny Diaz
  15. Again - Jessica McLean
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