Music Review: AMERICAN MADE – Against The Flow

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Music Review_ AMERICAN MADE - Against The FlowAMERICAN MADE
Against The Flow
KMG Records
1999

The thing is, I know for certain I’ve already listened to and reviewed this particular album years ago. One could say, over a decade ago. Back when I was maintaining a LiveJournal (before the site decided to make us all sit through a pointless ad before allowing us to make our posts, which is one of the reasons why you’re not reading this on LiveJournal now), I remember picking up a cheap copy of Against The Flow from the late and lamented RadRockers store I would frequent back in the day, along with its follow-up Red (the review of which I managed to retain, for some reason), listening to them both a couple of times, then popped out a review for each and called it a day on American Made. But now, here we are, having the archives of my reviews over the decade been moved over to this biggity-blog for now, I seem to have misplaced the original review for Against The Flow. And since my odd bit of OCD won’t allow that oversight to continue on, I found myself having to once again listen to that album and write a new review, as the original has been lost forever. And let me tell you, that was something I was not looking forward to.

This time around, though, in the interest of providing a bit of back story to the item I’m about to, for lack of a better word, review, American Made has its roots in that tried and true way that many a band have come to be: the key members all met at a Christian summer camp. Two brothers who were into hardcore punk and a hip-hop enthusiast, for whatever reason, decided to start jamming together and blending the two styles, essentially throwing genres together at a wall and seeing what sticks. They found they gelled together enough to begin performing together (along with a bass player) under the name Against The Flow, but then changed their name to American Made, and recorded their first album which they titled Against The Flow (see what they did, there?), which was released as the first original recording on the KMG Records label.

You may have detected a less-than-enthusiastic vibe with my review so far. That’s because I’m still rather sore at spending $2 for a copy of Against The Flow, money that could have gone to a couple of tacos from Taco Bell. And in case you’re wondering, no. I am not letting the fact that I had to re-listen to the album color my review of it. I am nothing if not professional in my amateur pursuits as an online pseudo-journalist, after all.

The music on Against The Flow can be described as 2/3rds Pop Punk, and 1/3rd Miscellaneous. Keeping in mind that the popularity of Pop Punk (or “Mall Punk”, whatever you wanna call it) was beginning to wane a bit by the time Against The Flow was released, this is nevertheless full of the that style of music, with the tracks. However, when it comes to the “Miscellaneous” part of the songs, that’s where I found the band actually sounding rather decent. Not that I have anything against Pop Punk in general; it’s just that the band here has demonstrated a versatility that went beyond just the sum of their genre pigeonholing. Like on “Kick It”, they have a classic Suicidal Tendencies vibe which I rather enjoyed. “Against The Flow” has a 311/Sublime style, heavy melded with a hip-hop rhythm which is decent. The one titled “Rap Interlude” is just that, featuring an acoustic guitar and rhyming that I rather dug. “Nate” is a good heavy rap/rock song, and “How We Roll” was atmospheric with a nice Middle Eastern vibe with some more rap/rock styling. I should point out that “Enough Is Enough”, while falling into the Pop Punk style, has a darker feel than the other happy-go-peppy stuff that’s standard, so that one is a definite stand-out itself.

Overall, having given this another listen after all of these years, I do admit that there are more bright spots on here than initially back when I originally did the first review. It does have some good production, and as I mentioned their best bits were when they were going beyond the regular Pop Punk style. However, there’s more Pop Punk here than otherwise. And the Otherwise stuff isn’t really my style overall. But, I’m just a grizzled old \,,/METALHEAD\,,/ who happens to dabble a bit with other genres. I like what I like, I’m saying. And I’m still “meh” about Against The Flow, but not as vehemently as I was over 15 years ago when I first listened to it.

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Music Review: EXTREME DAYS SOUNDTRACK

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ExtremeDaysSoundtrackCD

VARIOUS ARTISTS
Extreme Days Soundtrack
Fore Front Records
2001

A few years ago, a movie was released that was essentially a road trip movie with an extreme sports theme. Unlike those other movies of the similar build, this one featured, I’m told, a Christian underlay that made it heavily marketed to Christian youth groups before its initial mainstream advertisement run. Never seen it. I have it on my list of movies to see if there’s nothing better to rent. It’s in the top five, along with The Passion Of The Christ and the Left Behind adaptations. But I digress…

With any movie like this, a soundtrack is sure to follow. This one featuring several flavor-of-the-month bands and artists, I’ll give you a blow-by-blow analysis (as I so often do with compilation disc…it keeps me busy)…try not to clench…

TOBY MAC – Extreme Days
…I’ll be the first to admit, this isn’t a bad way to start off the disc. Mind you, I had some trepidation knowing this is one of the former members of DC Talk, but here it’s more of an edgier, almost Kid Rock-ish nu-metal rap flavor. Not bad…

JAMIE ROWE – We’re Taking Over
…former Guardian vocalist does an electronica-flavored Skillet turn here…don’t know exactly how to feel about this, although it seems that just about everyone wanted to jump on the whole electronica bandwagon at one point or another…okay cut, not that bad…

TAIT – Loss For Words
…indie modern rock…pass…

KLAUS BADELT – Downhill Games
…the first name reminds me of the two German guys who came in to where I work some time ago: “Yoo, hoo, Klaus! They’ve got ze bluetooth, ya!” Anyway, this, along with the other track credited to Klaus Badelt (if that’s his real name) on the disc, is an instrumental soundtrack cut from, I’m assuming, a point in the film, perhaps when everyone’s going “downhill” during a “game”…

EARTHSUIT – One Time
…huh? What the…huh?!?

AUDIO ADRENALINE – Good Life
…modern rock…at least they’ve kept consistent over the years…

EAST WEST – Song X
…pretty much knew this was going to be a Korn ripoff, as I already have the album this song is derived from…

FOLD ZANDURA – King Planet
…love Mortal…wasn’t that big of a fan of their Fold Zandura project…although this cut is less indie alt rock and sounds like something off of their Pura CD…not bad…

PAX217 – A. M.
…Rage Against The Soda Machine clone…make of that what you will…

SONIC FLOOD – I Want To Know You
…happy indie pop…excuse me whilst I vomit…

P. O. D. – Selah
…keep in mind, this was released during the period where a gratuitous inclusion of P. O. D. to any Christian music-based compilation was the norm…probably had something to do with making up for past sins where they were completely ignored by the Christian community while they were languishing in the underground for five years before being noticed and embraced by the mainstream “secular” community…

FANMAIL – Superfan
…pop punk…and there goes my lunch again…

JOHN REUBEN – God Is Love
…and acoustic-based G. Love & Special Sauce-ish ditties like this one makes my finger itch for the skip button…

.ROD LAVER – Alex
…and if actually having P. O. D. on this disc wasn’t enough, here’s another band that sounds like them…

BLEACH – Heartbeat
…blech…typo intentional…

NEWSBOYS – Entertaining Angels
…just how many times can we milk the songs off of Going Public? They had other albums and other songs, people…not that I’m a fan, but I’d like to see some variety…at least some acknowledgement of their other work from the catalogue…you’d think that Newsboys had only recorded three songs…

KLAUS BADELT – Jessie And Brian
…see previous song entrance…

…so there you have it. With the exception of the Klaus Badelt cuts, this soundtrack is your basic mix of modern “edgy” Christian rock, not unlike those comps they make available for about ten dollars or more less every month anyway. Difference here is, these are tacked on to a movie about “edgy” Christians (or something like that) with an “edgy” story (or something like that), so you’ll be paying much more than those samplers. Personally, I’ll pass, but only because this isn’t exactly my bag…