high energy: ska and noise rock

Transformation (Essential)
Eric Champion
Adventures of the O.C. Supertones (Tooth & Nail)


By Robert Gruber

If you're wild about high-energy Christian rock such as DC Talk, Newsboys or Audio Adrenaline, here are two new albums you need to hear. Fans of CCM may be familiar with Eric Champion's name, but his new sound may come as a surprise. Champion has forsaken his synth-pop past to take a pleasing stab at post-modern noise rock. Produced by Charlie Peacock and Rick Will, the "band feel" on Transformation is undeniable, with guitar feedback, phat bass and tall drum sounds (provided by Dave Clo, Brent Milligan and Champion, respectively) locking into funky, tight-but-loose grooves. Lyrically, Champion strings Christian themes together with oddball sci-fi images on songs like "Life Form," "Higher" and "Droppin' Nova." A punkish cover of Amy Grant's hit "Every Heartbeat" is inspired madness.

The Supertones blend an up-front gospel message with skate-punk and ska-core rhythms to create one of the most infectiously danceable records in all the known world. This Southern Cali sextet pairs off raw-edged guitar and rock-steady beats with the sterling sounds of trumpet and sax, while vocalist Matt Morginsky exhorts the listener to love and praise God through such tracks as "Adonai," "Found," "I Love God" and a creative update of the classic hymn, "Blood Washed Pilgrim," This is good stuff, and could easily make the Supertones a big sensation. (Catch the Supertones live, opening for MXPX at the Douglass Community Center in the Highlands on Tues. Aug. 13, 8:00 p.m. Call 342-2613 for info.)