Band: Stretch Arm Strong
Album: Free At Last
Label: WPO Records
Reviewer: J Scannell
“Stretch Arm Strong, where have you been all my life?” was the first thing that came to mind when I popped this into my CD player. I had previously had a song or two from SAS on a Solid State compilation, but nothing in the way of owning their CD’s. Recently I was checking out some live video from “This Is Solid State Vol 4” and was convinced I had to check these guys out.
Why the sudden excitement you might ask? Maybe it is because my battle cry against trendy music of late has been the rampant use of the word “hardcore” by kids who in turn say they hate punk music. Wait, does not compute… “hardcore” is originally a punk sub-genre! IMHO there are a large number of x-core fans that have lost touch with their roots, although the bands tend to be more knowledgeable.
When I listen to this disc (over and over again I might add) I hear a great mix of styles. There’s enough pop-punk left over to make the teeny boppers giddy, enough drum beat breakdowns for the moshers to make a ruckus to, and even a good measure of modern musical cliche’s to keep the “hardcore dance” crowd fighting invisible ninjas all night long. Don’t stop fighting kids, invisible ninjas are everywhere!
Sorry I lost control of myself, music is serious… no fun, just business.
Seriously though, Free At Last I think has enough appeal to entertain a wide audience without being trendy and without sounding overly commercial. Even on some of the more metal-ish guitar riffs, SAS seemed to back off the distortion just enough to keep a punk rock feel.
Message wise, I am on the fence. From what I have read, the band considers themselves professing Christians while not wanting to be branded as a Christian band. I’m not opening that can of worms. What I am saying is that for me, to evaluate the message, I didn’t specifically read anything lyrically that pointed towards Christ. No, I don’t think we need to set a minimum standard of how many “Jesus per minute” a band needs to use. What I am saying is that if a band’s intent is to evangelize, then there must be mention of Christ as the only way to heaven.
The overall message of all the lyrics was positive and of love. However, I could read the lyrics as an atheist or agnostic and not see anything offensive either. So thumbs up on the positive message, but it didn’t hit home for me in the evangelical category. Disclaimer, I don’t know what the band’s intention is there. If the intent is simply to provide positive, non-offensive music, then the mark is hit.