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Above the Golden State

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The Advocate



Above the Golden State - self-titled

Reviewed by Christa A. Banister

"It’s not that their self-titled debut doesn’t have its inspired moments ... but the band’s blasé pop/rock sound combined with run-of-the-mill worship sentiments doesn’t do enough to distinguish the band from its peers."

When looking back at 2008, there really wasn’t one specific musical trend that reigned supreme like in years past. Well, unless you count the continued crossover success of ‘tween stars like Jonas Bros. or Miley Cyrus. But whether it was pop, rock, country or a combination of all three, every genre had its success stories.

Despite the lack of one defining musical style in 2008, there was something that really stood out, and that’s the proliferation of new artists on the scene. From Seabird to singer/songwriter Josh Wilson to piano songstress Francesca Battistelli, it wasn’t always easy to keep up. But in an industry that’s often been criticized for a lack of creativity, the integration of these diverse new voices ultimately provided a proverbial breath of fresh air.

Unfortunately, some sound-alike new artists like Oregon natives Above the Golden State got a bit lost in the pack. It’s not that their self-titled debut doesn’t have its inspired moments (“Streets” is a great commentary on how we should really be living as Christians, while “Real to Reel” offers an intriguing preview of heaven), but the band’s blasé pop/rock sound combined with run-of-the-mill worship sentiments doesn’t do enough to distinguish the band from its peers.
In fact, tracks like “Scared,” a ho-hum acoustic rendition of Psalm 27 and “One Thirty-Nine” a lackluster reinterpretation of Psalm 139 are so generic they sound like a rejected track (or a B-side) from The Afters, Starfield or Tenth Avenue North—not exactly the defining impression you hope to make when you’re the new kids on the scene.

And while it’s great that Above the Golden State is hoping to make a counter-cultural statement with its implicit, faith-focused message, a little more variety will truly help the cause in what’s a particularly crowded industry as of late.

Christa BanisterChrista A. Banister is a full-time freelance writer, specializing in music, movies and book-related reviews and interviews. She's also the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers (NavPress). Based in St. Paul, Minn., where she lives with her hubby Will, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog. For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.