- The Mistake of Caring
- Thousand Yard Stare
- Klamath Falls
- The Insidious Lie
- Party Girl
- Problem of Evil
- The Aaronic Blessing (Peace on Earth)
Where do I begin with this review. I have been racking my head for a solid month trying to get into review mode and I have had little luck in breaking the writer’s block that’s has plagued me. Lucky for Craig’s Brother and the rest of you readers, I was able to solve that problem with an extra dose of Caffeine and some Insidious Lie tuneage. So let’s begin this….. I’ve been a fan of Craig’s Brother as long as I can remember. I’d heard their name around music circles back in the 90’s when I was doing booking during high school but I hadn’t seriously given them a listen until “Homecoming” released in 1998. That was the year that my fascination with all things CB began. I remember mailing a check out to T&N from a catalog ad I saw and waiting for a few weeks to receive my copy of Homecoming. Remember those days, when you actually had to write out a check and put it in the mail box for mr. postman to take up to the big label up North only to wait weeks till you got your mailorder delivered? Yes kids, before there was the internet there was such a thing as mail order. Anyway, I got Homecoming sometime in 98′ and instantly fell in love with the musicality and lyrical input of these gentlemen from Nor. Cal. I was big into punk rock (still am) and this band served it’s purpose at satisfying my desire for more punk. At first I thought it sounded eerily like Lagwagon and other Fat bands at the time but the more I listened, the more I truly appreciated their remarkable talent and undeniable knack at writing a catchy melody. The band teetered on the fringe of the Christian music market due to their unique use of words and imagery that stunned old granny in the back of Sunday Church. Songs like “Going Blind” caused a bit of stir and got the album banned by a few stores before they had a change of mind and reinstated the CB where they belonged, on store shelves. All 12 tracks of Homecoming spelled “win” and won a new fan in me.
The year is 2000 and I begin to hear rumblings coming from the CB camp about a new album. Back when the internet was still new (thanks Al Gore) the band (or label) posted “Head in a Cloud” for the world to hear and I was instantly drawn to it’s inescapable and alluring melody. Heck yes, I was an excited man for what was to come. After much drama and T&N’s knack for censoring, Lost at Sea was unleashed on the crowds. The album had little push/promotion but that was probably due to the fact that T&N just didn’t care about the CB anymore nor were they interested in pushing an album that might cause controversy later on. You know how offensive “Christian” punk rock is right? heh. Lost at Sea was a masterpiece (Still is) with it’s haunting ballads, cries of help all wrapped up in one tidy powerful little package of punk rock goodness. From the Helicopters and boys Choir of “Glory” to Sean Mackin’s (Yellowcard) violin on “Back and Forth”, this album was one heck of a punk rock album that the rest of the world wasn’t quite prepared for. I think the progress found on Lost at Sea was just too much for the “purists” to ingest and it’s moodiness was part of the reason it went unnoticed by that generation of music fan. I still call it a classic and an album that has never been properly identified. This was a band who were collectively searching for answers and yearning for hope to present itself in their lives. It prompted us to question ourselves and our surroundings, and to find solace in the unlikely of places. I think T&N not marketing this album the way they should have was tragic and something they’ll forever be linked with. It’s really a shame because this could have been the band’s (and label’s) biggest release of that year. Well 10 years has passed and this album still ranks near the top of my all time favorite albums and number one Punk Rock release. That was then and this is now…..
After releasing a short (and slightly angsty) ep in 2004 on Takeover Records, the band took a much needed break from the music scene. It wasn’t all lost on groupies, beer, and long days at the beach though, for this band reared it’s head once again in 2009 to reveal a brand new song “Thousand Yard Stare” and their first real glimpse at what was to come. (I kid about the groupies and beer part, these guys aren’t really like that, I say it sarcastically because that’s how they’re often described by little closed minded Christian youth who don’t quite understand). Here we are in 2011 and I can finally say that the band have indeed, released their brand new rock opera, “The Insidious Lie”. Once again, I am first in line to purchase/download it. Where do I begin (as if I haven’t wasted enough time at it already)? “Freedom” blares out of the gate with a fast beat, raging guitars, and group harmonies. I can already tell they had a solid back up section, and the production is as tight as you can possibly get without treading into auto tune territory (I’m lookin at you Ke$ha). I can already tell it’s an uplifting song and reading the liner notes it appears to be dedicated to someone’s grandparent (or other elder person of significance in the songwriter’s life).
“these old bones are so frail and weak these old lips have just a few words left to speak these old eyes are so tired from what they’ve seen this old heart is still brave this old soul is still safe
freedom i’m ready for this i know i’ll be missed
this body is done i’m primed for a new one shed your tears but please don’t pity me there’s no fear when you’re tasting immortality life is a puff of smoke one fleeting moment and its gone”
Teaching us valuable lessons about living your life to it’s fullest and never taking any moment for granted.
‘The Mistake of Caring” comes up next and appears to a biting commentary about someone who did them wrong. Wait that came out sounding kind of weird, I mean it’s a song about someone taking advantage putting on a fake show to get what they wanted.
“Thousand Yard Stare” blasts through the stereo like a two ton brick hitting you in the heart and mind, making you think long and hard about our armed forces. I used to disagree with this subject and when the first song released back in 08/09, I was sort of against it. Then the war raged on, more troops died, and our economy hit the crapper. I am finding more and more to like about this song each day. It’s subtle tip of the hat towards PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and all those troops committing suicide each year from the horrors of war. There is no easy to say that War IS hell and it takes a toll on one’s life regardless of where you stand politically. I may lean a bit to the right but that doesn’t mean I am cold and not in tune with the tragedies happening in the Middle East. I’ll just say this, there is no other Christian songwriter writing a song like “Thousand Yard Stare” and that is truly tragic. It’s a big world out there and the fact that world issues are ignored in pursuit of flash in the pan fame, is depressing at least to me. Come on Christians, step up your game if you’re going to compete in the arena against CB ;).
The most controversial song on the album (not counting “Crutch” on the Japanese version) is the infamous “Klamath Falls”. I kid I kid, it’s really light hearted and kind of funny depending on how you look at it. It tells the story of a bunch of college dropout drunken swindlers who spend their time getting their balls broken and bent over backwards while shaking and puking with a slight minithins hangover? Did I get that right? I am half joking. The song is really rather tame and I still don’t understand why some Christians insist on getting offended over the use of Drinking beer and getting their balls broken (over angry letters that I am sure very much took place over the period of a few years in the life of CB). It’s a song about camaraderie and friendship and the pains of living life on the fringe of the music industry.
“The Insidious Lie” is about consumerism and the effects from disagreeing over it. I have a feeling it has something to do with….oh nevermind. It is a great song none the less.
“Party Girl” is just what you’d expect it to be, a glaring look a life on the edge and the effects of the party lifestyle. Of living your life hopeless and with more hollow addictions than you can name. “You better wake up right now and decide what your life is worth”.
A song I really like is “Closure” which can be taken at literal value, seeking closure on a past relationship that went sour. “Dancing in epiphany you’re not a party of my sufficiency some things were always mine i’m learning that i’m fine on my own”. It has a “Homecoming” vibe to it which is really great.
“Adaline” is up next and is definitely more fitting to the “Ballad” tag than any of their prior Insidious Lie tracks. It sounds the most like anything found on “Lost at Sea” like “Set Free” or “Lost at Sea”.
“adaline how can i save you if you won’t believe these words that i’m trying to tell you down in the dark of the soul places i’ve treaded on your behalf i’m hanging on your every breath”
A ballad sung with real heart and empasis on empathy for the one who’s fallen to the wayside.
“Fallen” takes on a much more serious tone (which much of the album does). It tells the story of growing up in the spotlight and dealing with people’s unreal expectations for how an artist needs to live their life. “I guess I’m only human after all” says it best and it’s so true. I have never been an artist, I gave up my drumming when I got married which was silly I guess, but I understand the cost of fame and the unfair accusations some people in the Christian industry like to launch at those who may stumble a bit along the way. We are all on a journey of life and one that takes great leaps of Faith and a learning process that doesn’t just happen overnight. “Fallen” is something every artist needs to hear and Christian youth need to take to heart the next time they go on a drive by judging spree.
“The Problem of Evil” is a difficult song to describe because of it’s complexity in lyrics and ideas put forth to challenge the mind. The Problem of Evil is the problem with sin in our broken world. Despite what you believe, you can’t deny that we live in a frail, broken, and lost world that has fallen due to sin and the brokeness of mankind. It’s a heady subject and one that requires close attention to the details. I didn’t know CS Lewis was in a punk rock band.
The album closes with the most spiritual of any CB song I’ve ever heard, The Aaronic Blessing (Peace on Earth). This may throw off some of the more punk purists of their fanbase but it hits me close to the heart as a reviewer and casual music listener. It’s a cry for hope in this lost world. I’ll just reprint the song lyrics here for you to dissect and piece together.
” left here waiting for you in the darkness of the final hour and the stench is more than i can bear
some here doubt you are true but your story is burned on my heart when you talked lives you changed when you walked the earth with men when will these things happen (is it foolishness to hope for)
peace on earth peace on earth is it more than hope is worth peace on earth on earth
and they’re gathered against you cause the story never changed who can count the foes of israel
and haven’t you forgotten your promises or at least where the jordan flows from the north from the south let the land give up its kin does this need to happen is all this bloodshed predestined
and i won’t be persuaded that it’s more than I can hope for and i won’t look away cause it’s too much to ignore all this indiscriminate hatred in the name of the rejected might be more than i can change but i vow never to accept it
how will they know you if they won’t choose to open their mind how will they see you if they won’t choose to open their eyes”
Heavy subject matter and the hope shared through song definitely leaves a tear on my cheek everytime I hear it. It’s goosebumps worthy material, enough to get me to tell Christian Radio Stations that they need to step up their game and PLAY IT.
All 11 tracks found on this album share a range of emotions and will be felt differently by individual listeners. Many will love it, a select few will hate it, and the rest of the music scene will be left scratching their heads wondering “Who the heck is Craig’s Brother and why haven’t we heard of them before”. Well my friends that’s the whole purpose of this review, to share new music with the unsuspecting fan and hopefully encourage you to throw some change at the ole’ Brother. The Insidious Lie is close on track towards taking the mantle for favorite punk rock album ever from “Lost at Sea”. With a few more listens, that title will clearly be won and the rest will be history. This album is punk rock at its most pure form. It’s a take no prisoner alive sort of album and one that can be enjoyed best while cruising around on a warm winter’s day (California humor for you), with the windows down. Dueling guitars, well placed group harmonies (modern day Beach Boys in punk disguise), and lyrics that will make Greg Graffin jealous. You can tell this was a group session with several parties taking interest in the song writing. Sure the producer can be thanked partially for the sound but the overall output of the album can be sung/played by none other than Craig’s Brother. I enjoyed reading the liner notes to find that both Adam and Andy had a part in this new album if even just for a brief bit. Adam and Andy were both founding members of Craig’s Brother and were with the band through the release of Homecoming back in 98. I also see that Steven Neufeld (of the band Hey Mike and played on their 2004 ep) contributed to the songwriting. The core of the group, Ted, Scott, and Heath remain intact and the addition of guitarist Glade Wilson, leaves fans satisfied. If you’re into deep subject matter that will challenge your walk as a believer, yet leave you with hope towards a brighter tomorrow, then let me suggest “The Insidious Lie” to you. The Insidious Lie is quite possibly the best punk rock album of the past 10 years and one that deserves a heap of praise. Well, I have explained “The Insidious Lie” in as few words as humanly possible and my mind is starting to drift elsewhere now. It’s time for me to stop. Just know that this band has been underrated for a decade or more and 2011 is finally the time for the world to take notice of these punk rock legends, carriers of the flame. Let’s just hope it’s not another 10 years till the next full length.
Recommended for fans of: Rise Against, The Swellers, Millencolin, Heartsounds, No Use for a Name, and Lagwagon.