A little primer. . .

Featured

Before you go diving into my blog, I want to share with you a little primer on how my blog works. Not that it’s too difficult or anything, but as with anyone’s blog, you’re going to find some pretty unusual things.

For starters, my posts tend to reside somewhere between layman-accessible and first-year-grad-student-accessible. Every so often I’ll write something much simpler, but that’s pretty rare. This blog has become something of an outlet for my desire to return to academia.

This blog is also a journey. This particular journey started when I left fundamentalism (think Bob Jones Univ., NBBC, and their ilk) and traveled through my fascination with the rock-and-roll church (think Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, and their ilk), into and out of “new-calvinism” (think Mark Driscoll, John Piper, and their ilk), through classical Arminianism, and now on to whatever new adventure God might bring me towards.

Thanks for coming along. But strap in. It might be a bumpy ride.

A review. . .

It’s been several years since I last listened to a good post-grunge album. And that’s exactly what The Burning by JPT (formerly Justpassingthru) is. A good post-grunge album. Post-grunge has never been a musically strong genre, but it’s great for just plain old rocking out.

The record kicks off with a live rendition of their song “Deeper Than,” a driving anthem in the tradition of bands like 12 Stones and Breaking Benjamin. The album doesn’t depart from its roots. Every song follows the post-grunge formula, resting in minor keys—not quite to a fault, but not exactly a strength either. The few times JPT breaks away from this formula are a welcoming departure. These exceptions are very well done; they’re introspective and make strong use of a wide range of pop chord progressions.

The album’s weaknesses are, oddly enough, also its strongest moments. A handful of covers individually are some of the best moments musically on the album, but a couple of them seem misplaced. Generally, The Burning drives home the theme of painful love, but a few of the songs don’t match this theme.

The album gives me the impression that JPT is still searching for an identity. It’s certainly not a bad release, but it feels a little bit disjointed. The main culprit is “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High,” a cover of Rick Founds’ immensely popular worship song, which divided the album in a rather uncomfortable way. However, I must say that it’s my favorite version of the song (no offense to Petra fans, but their version was too heavily tied to the decade in which it was recorded). It just doesn’t fit in this album musically or thematically.

The album’s glaring flaw would probably be the inclusion of two versions of “Deeper Than.” It’s actually a great song, but I’m not sure it was a good idea to double it up on one record.

The most unexpected, and quite honestly, most enjoyable song on the album was “Praise Adonai,” a cover of a Paul Baloche worship staple. It’s unique enough to make me pause and immerse myself in the music, and exciting enough to get me off my feet in celebration of my God. Unfortunately, like “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High,” thematically it feels out of place on the album.

Technically, the album has a great mix. While extremely predictable, there’s nothing on the record that I wouldn’t put on a personal playlist. Not a bad release from JPT, but not a solid one. Each song sounds great, but as a whole, the album feels like a chain that has a few disconnected links—not weak links, just disconnected. It may have been better as an EP than as a full record. Several songs work really well, but there are a few that just don’t quite blend with what’s going on in the album.

If you’re a fan of post-grunge rock, this is definitely a record worth adding to your collection. It’s got some excellent moments, and while dark, it’s not angst-ridden like most post-grunge. The Burning isn’t a great album, but it’s definitely a good one. I’m looking forward to discovering what JPT comes up with next because, if this release is any indication, the band definitely has it in them to create some great music.

Overview

1. “Deeper Than (Live)” – Great opening to the album.
2. “Amazing Crazy Beautiful” – Strong continuation. Flows well from the opening.
3. “Tainted Love” – Excellent cover. Fits well with the album’s theme.
4. “IMSU” – Weak. Fits the album theme, but too formulaic, and the repeated words in the chorus are a little bit annoying.
5. “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High” – Fantastic cover. Doesn’t match the rest of the album though.
6. “Let’s Take Heaven” – Good segue from track 5. Not the strongest song, but still a good listen.
7. “One” – Musically out of place, but probably the best song on the album.
8. “Waiting for Love” – Great album closer. Well written and catchy.
9. “Deeper Than” – I like this better than the live rendition the album opened with. But I really think the inclusion of this song did more to hurt the album than help it.
10. “Praise Adonai” – Thematically out of place on the album. Still, it’s one of my favorite songs on the record, and it’s worth listening to over and over again.