Skalleluiah Too! (KMG Records)

The Insyderz

By Robert Gruber

Skalleluiah Too! is a sequel of sorts to the Insyderz' wildly successful praise album, Skalleluiah. On that first record, they turned up the juice on a handful of modern church favorites, such as "Awesome God" and "He Has Made Me Glad," giving the songs a distinctive punk/ska flavor. The same ethic applies with this new disc as well, but with more stylistic diversity. "Psalm 121" has a UB40-style reggae vibe to it, while the Insyderz' take on "The Old Rugged Cross" marries an Elvis impersonation vocal to a Dixieland rag; 'Steadfast Love' is done with a jazzy swing, similar to the old "Tonight Show" band with Doc Severinsen; Craig Musseau's "Pour Out My Heart" sounds like Memphis soul. Two songs, "Peace of God" and "Psalm 139" are Insyderz originals, and fit in quite nicely with the rest of the selections on this album. In all, Skalleluiah Too! is a fine, worshipful record with a fun spirit to it, a praise album you can bounce around the room to.

Geoff Moore (Forefront)

Geoff Moore

By Robert Gruber

You may be used to hearing Geoff Moore's name mentioned in the same breath as his former backing band, the Distance. For over ten years, Geoff Moore and the Distance brought catchy, excitable pop/rock to the contemporary Christian scene, gaining a sizeable audience with songs like "Listen to Our Hearts", "Evolution" and their blistering cover of Larry Norman's "Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?". In addition, Moore has co-authored a number of popular tunes with his pal Steven Curtis Chapman, including "The Great Adventure".

Writing memorable Christian pop tunes is in this man's blood. And, given his past credentials, it's a shoe-in that Geoff Moore's first "solo" album is going to be a smash. And sure enough, Moore hands over eleven new, superbly crafted radio-ready sure-fire hits that any churchgoer could derive meaning and inspiration from. "Through It' is a song that tackles denial: "This hill is much too big to climb, and I can't get over it, and I can't go under it, and I can't go around it, I gotta go through it." 'Boy Like Me, Man Like You' draws a contrast between Jesus' human self and the singer's spiritual striving, and the song features a very nice violin solo.

'Thanks to You' is a duet of sorts with Steven Curtis Chapman, a vibrant, friendly tune. Most of the songs on this album fall under the category of mellow acoustic rock with some slight high-tech underpinnings (i.e., drum machines here and there). At times, Moore sounds eerily similar to Rich Mullins, both vocally and lyrically, but that's not a bad thing. Mainly he sounds upbeat, positive and very much in love with God, and that's definitely a good thing.

Before I Go (Initial Records)

King For A Day

By Robert Gruber

I think it was Lenny Bruce who said "There's nothing sadder than an aging hipster." And as an aging hipster, I'm inclined to agree with that statement, especially when it comes to reviewing records like this. Because I like this record, I think it's pretty rockin', but I'm sure there are a lot of sub-genre categorizations that I'm supposed to use to describe it that I don't know, just as I'm sure there are a lot of other obscure bands I've never heard that I'm supposed to compare this to, and I can't. Oh well...

King For a Day is a dynamic, artful fve-piece band that blends passion with precision. For the sake of those in the know, I'll borrow a few lines from the press kit and tell you that KFAD "features members of Detroit luminaries Roosevelt's Inaugural Parade and the Great Detroit Riverboat Race" and that King For a Day is "not to be missed by fans of bands like Hot Water Music, Elliott, Jimmy Eat World and Dear Ephesus."

For me, the particular selling points of "Before I Go" are the rich rhythm guitar tones, the bright chordings, and the structures of songs like "Seventeen," "My Time," and "Dolly Llama" (which features a snippet of Bill Murray from "Caddyshack"). Ben Force's vocals are unpolished and unprofessional sounding, which makes them the perfect emotional conveyances for KFAD's honest lyrics. Perhaps if I was 20 years younger, I could appreciate this band more fully (along with a lot of other things!), but because I'm an old fart, I'll just say that King For a Day is fairly positive music that the kids can jam to without becoming dope fiends and serial killers (that should sell the parents as well, eh!)