Album Review :
The 71's - We Are Locomotive

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Band: The 71’s
Title: We Are Locomotive
Label: N/A
Release Date: 2009
Review By: Scott L


01. Stretch Out Your Love
02. Start Again
03. Count
04. Louder
05. Tomorrow Belongs To You
06. Blue Room
07. Rescue Me
08. Higher Now
09. Awakening
10. Rock And Roll

Looking back, I realize that I should probably just have asked them what their name meant or where it came from. I can assume that 71 does not relate to IQ, either individually or collectively. I can also assume that it doesn’t refer to a band member’s pant size. But as far as exactly what it does mean is still somewhat of a mystery to me. However, I at least have a sneaking suspicion that the use of the word ‘locomotive’ in the album name has less to do with trains and more to do with the ability to move independently. And my reasoning is simple, there’s a lot on this CD that inspires independent movement… in a good way.

So anyway, The 71’s are a 4-piece groovy kinda glam-rock band that calls Houston, Texas home. Let me start off by dispelling two myths about these guys. First, in spite of sounding strikingly similar, the lead singer is not related to John Cooper of Skillet… at least as far as I know. Second, the band’s drummer, who goes by the name ‘Tank’, is not the same guy that played drums for the late 80’s early 90’s UK metal act, Seventh Angel, who also went by the name ‘Tank’. Although they do look a bit alike.

Alright, now that you know who these guys aren’t… let’s get to who they are. And who they are is a radio-friendly rock band that would be right as rain sharing a concert billing with the likes of Remedy Drive, The Fold, or Hello Kelly. There really isn’t a whole lot to complain about with this CD. From the lyrics to the instrumentation… from the production to the layout of the CD jacket… everything’s pretty much professional quality.

Lyrically, The 71’s don’t stray too much from what you’d find in the rock/alternative CCM charts. Which isn’t a bad thing. Typically upbeat and encouraging with an obvious spirituality woven into the songs. Take the song “Higher Now” for example, “I know you’re here / nothing can separate / your love shines like a beautiful sun / and plants a kiss upon my face / all your love / all your mystery undefined / covers up all this history of mine / I’ll take a knee / you take the wheel / are you hope inside I feel / your love makes me wanna fly / higher now”. Or how about the album’s ballad “Rescue Me” which says, “rescue me / rescue me / I am here and waiting / I break the mold / I take control / I’m desperate for you / darkest night is broken by a love so blinding and true / colors surround and the sweetest sounds / I’m reaching for you”.

Standout track was “Count” and not just because I was a huge fan of The Count from Sesame Street when I was a kid. This track could fit easily into radio rotation. It’s got a good message, it’s catchy, and it’s got just enough of an edge to pique someone’s curiosity to hear more. Close second was “Tomorrow Belongs To You”.

As far as the band’s ministry mindset and outlook, I’ll let them say a few words on their own behalf: “We feel that God is doing a unique thing with our music. We all got our start leading worship (and playing for worship leaders) here in Houston, Texas. As we did that, we felt that (for where we were) worship was becoming less and less about seeking the Spirit and more and more about a ‘genre’ of music. So as we began to write music that didn’t necessarily fit the genre of ‘worship’ music or the Sunday morning scene – but was as ‘worshipful’ as I could be. We decided to just put the music out there and allow God to draw the audience that He wanted. And a funny thing happened… as we began playing in clubs, non-Christians (and I mean ‘very non-Christians’) would come up and say ‘I can totally tell you guys are Christians… but your music still makes me feel included, how is that?’ So we’d tell them that we see our music a lot like God talks about rain in the old testament – He says He causes it to fall on the believer AND non-believer, that it should bless both. What an awesome picture of God’s grace. Now, rain means something deeper to the believer because he has a connection with the Spirit inside of him or her and sees the Lord in a clearer way for who He is and how He loves us. But just because someone doesn’t believe in God doesn’t mean He withholds His love from them – thus He still sends the rain to provide and nourish the non-believer, and to speak to him about Himself… so that’s how we try to write and play our music.”

“Earlier in 2009, our music (some of the ‘worship’ tunes) were selected to be featured on The Real World on MTV, simply because of our sound – this was even more confirmation that God was behind what we were doing – the fact that MTV was playing the very songs we use to lead worship at a church retreat was awesome to us. One of my favorite images that Christ uses to describe the kingdom of God is a mustard tree that starts from a small seed and grows to great heights ‘and the birds of the air come and nest in it’s branches’ – The 71’s want our music to be like that. None of us will ever care if we are on the cover of this Christian magazine or that one, and likewise being on MTV is cool, but not the end all of everything. The important thing to us is that people who would never set foot in a church would feel like when they listen to our music that they would have an authentic encounter with four guys (i.e. us) who love Christ and love music and love each other – and perhaps God can use that in their lives to show them what He looks like and how He loves them.”

Overall: If the thought of a band that sounds a whole lot like a cross between Skillet and Building 429 intrigues you than The 71’s “We Are Locomotive” is your ticket to ride. This is a really well done CD any way you look at it and is definitely worth your time to check out.