Album Review :
Stellar Kart - Everything is Different Now
Band: Stellar Kart
Title: Everything is Different Now
Label: INO Records
Release Date: March 2010
Review By: Brandon
1. All My Heart
2. We Shine
3. Something Holy (*Song exclusively on Christian Market Version)
4. Spirit in the Sky
5. Everything is Different Now
6. It’s Not Over
7. Rescue (*Only One*-Yellowcard cover on my version)
8. You Never Let go
9. Until My Heart Caves In
10. Like the Sun
Well I honestly don’t know where to begin with this review. I’m not typically a “big” Stellar Kart fan, though I do appreciate their lyrical input from time to time. I was asked to write a review for this album and that is what I am going to do. Love it or hate it, this is definitely an album worth discussing and worthy of a review. Okay, with that out of the way it’s time for me to offer my opinion on “Everything is Different Now” , the 4th full length release from Christian pop-punkers Stellar Kart.
“Everthing is Different Now” begins with the worship centered “All My Heart” (much in the same manner as the rest of the album). It’s a strong first song for the the band and album. “All My Heart” features uplifting intelligent lyrics like this winner “Whoa, whoa
You fill my heart with singing. Whoa, whoa. I live to lift your name .Whoa, whoa. You’ll hear the praises ringing. All for you” Whoa! [Cue ‘Neo’ from The Matrix]. Um, okay. Next.
“We Shine” drops more blatant worship centered lyrics like “Yeah, yeah We shine, we shine With the light of God And when we speak We speak with words of love And when we dance We may get a little wild Cause we’re the people of God Yeah the people of God” Deep I know. Now I say the word “blatant” not out of spite but out of appreciation for an artist truly reaching young people for God’s kingdom through lyric and song. I can’t rip it too much because after all my young sister in law let me borrow this and I respect her interest in this band. I also want to add that this is the first of many “Covers” on this album, the song originally by FEE.
“Something Holy” comes up quick as the third track. Now this is where the album gets interesting for me. Not for song content but because this song is somehow not included in the General Market version. I’ll explain more in a bit. Anyway, this song is really inspirational, I’m not being sarcastic here (though I’d like to be). Really, this song offers a glimmer of hope found in the holiness of God. Great for kids.
“Spirit in the Sky” is another cover (Norman Greenbaum) and is the 4th track found on the album. Now I’m not too familiar with the original so I’m a bit out of touch with this song. It’s also my least favorite on the album.
The title track “Everything is Different Now” is the fifth track on the album and considered to be their “Ballad”. It’s everything you’ve come to expect from Stellar Kart in songs like “Me and Jesus” and “Jesus Loves You”. It’s a pretty good ballad song and has quite a collection of worthy faith affirming lines. I enjoy the sound of this song quite a bit.
“Its Not Over” is the sixth track on this release. “It’s Not Over” is another ballad that starts off with the acoustic guitar and aims to bring hope to this fleeting and broken world. There is even some piano heard here. “It’s not over, the best is yet to come for us…”
The next track is what earns this release my favorable score of 5/10 skulls. The version the label passed me didn’t have this song but the one my sister in law lent me did have it. The track I speak of is the Yellowcard cover of the song “Only One” which was originally found on Yellowcard’s top selling 2003 release “Ocean Ave” which just happens to be my favorite Yellowcard album. The cover is done tastefully and stays pretty true to the original. I definitely liked hearing it on “Everything is Different Now” and it was a pleasure seeing a well known “Christian” act attempt to break though the barriers of the CCM market by covering a !GASP!, secular (as many of those people would say) song. I think it’s a real shame, wait, TRAGEDY, that the “Christian” market dropped the ball on this release and purposefully omitted the cover from the album. There is nothing offensive about this song, it’s actually quite hopeful and fits the overall theme of “Everything is Different Now”.
“Rescue” is up next and is another hit heavy, hope filled tune about the “breaking of chains” and being set free by the blood of Jesus. “My God, my hope, my rescue The cross has set me free No power can stand against you I’ll shout it out, shout it out”
I’m starting to lose track of songs here and they are all starting to blend into one another but I’ll do my best to stay on task.
“You Never Let Go” is another hit ballad waiting to conquer the airwaves of little Christian stations across the country. It’s something you would feel comfortable singing on Sunday. In fact, I wish my church would play music like this and I’m being completely honest. Oh wait, this is a worship song, duh. It’s a Matt Redman cover. Now it all makes sense. Churches probably do play this song. Hmmm….
Another winner from this album is the Audio Adrenaline cover “Until My Heart Caves In” which inspired me to get back into later era Audio Adrenaline. A great song, err, cover. This cover and the Yellowcard cover is the primary reason I am giving the album a 5 and preventing me from scoring this my lowest points eva, fo realz. This song stays true to the original while adding a bit of their pop-punk flair. Can we legitimately call this “Pop-Punk”? Well I guess that’s up for debate.
The final track on this album is “Like the Sun” and is a piano driven ballad filled to the brim with inspirational lyrics and beautiful melodies. It’s a ballad complete with guitar solos ala glam rock of the 80’s, and that driving piano. It’s definitely got “Hit” written all over it. Kind of reminds me of the closer on Relient K’s “Five Score and Seven Years Ago” album, “Deathbed, though not as long”.
Overall: I don’t know how to feel about this album to be honest. A piece of me yearns for faith affirming and heart tugging spirituality found in songs like these but the other part of me feels it’s just another product of the American Contemporary Christian Music Machine. I’ll be blunt here. Honestly, why does it take so many writers, collaborators, and producers to write, record, release an album of this variety? It’s Pop-Punk afterall, a genre not known for complicated and original guitar lines or melodies that are entirely original. No rip on Pop-Punk, I mean I’m it’s biggest fan but I do know that the style lacks a certain depth in creativity. It’s all about fast, furious, melodic driving numbers meant to inspire countless drives down the highway and days at the beach (or for you landlocked people, a day at the lake or river). Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of popular genre defining bands churning out Pop-Punk or Punk Rock right now and many of them deserve my praise. Bands like Four Year Strong, Set Your Goals, The Swellers, Heartsounds (check em’ out), Farewell, The Wonder Years, and staples like New Found Glory, Blink 182, Rise Against, No Use for a Name, Lagwagon, Pennywise, blah blah blah. I know some of the bands listed above don’t fit the “Pop punk” tag but you know where I’m going with this. It’s a genre fast on the rise and one that will probably knock screamo and metalcore out of it’s top ranking by the end of this year. When you start seeing “Christian” versions of the bands listed above, you know the trend is in full force. What I’m trying to say is, I don’t understand why it took so many people to create a simple record like “Everything is Different Now”? Ever heard of too many cooks in the kitchen? How many bands across this nation are struggling to find audience through myspace, facebook, twitter, purevolume and are devoting hours to practicing at full volume in their garages with little to no respect from youth? Why are labels especially in the “Christian” market, neglecting these talented young groups yet they have no problem producing an album like this?
You’ve heard me babble on about nonsense and offering my unique creative opinion on the album (he he) but hear me now. This band does have talent deep within. What Stellar Kart needs to do to break the chains of repetition is to drop their producer, not because he isn’t cutting it but because it’s time for a change of scenery. They need to take back all the writing credits for their songs and not rely on others to do the work for them. They need to stop doing tours of teen girl conventions, and youth night at the local Church. If they really want to expand their horizons, it’s time to test the waters and go out on their own. Maybe tour with other General market bands, or like minded Christian artists who have a similar style. I’m not 16 anymore and I seriously doubt any of these guys are near that age so it’s time to grow up a bit. I know that sounds harsh but the writing style on this album is aimed at Christian teens and it’s like it was purposely written that way. I can’t be the only guy feeling this way? Maybe I’m just burnt out on the Contemporary Christian Market because I’ve been a part of it in some small way for so many years.
Either way, this is an album worthy of a “5” and an album worth buying if you enjoy spiritual ballads and loads of “Covers”. Like I said before, the Yellowcard and Audio Adrenaline covers are worth buying if you can. The rest of the album has hits and misses but I’ll let you, the music buyer, make that decision of just which is which, on your own. I’m out.