Songs from a long drive

90's Christian Alternative #1

Published July 9, 2018, by Tommy George

I don’t have the weather stats and stuff for this one, so it’s right on to the music…

Ah, musical controversy! The often loud, sometimes weird, very-much-“alternative” Christian music that came out in the 90’s!

Can music even be “Christian”? Does it matter? Perhaps I’ve chosen a terrible title for this drive. Bear with me?

This wasn’t a planned playlist. It was the result of hitting the “I’m feeling lucky” button in Google Music (one of the streaming services I subscribe to). So there were a lot of skips, and some songs I’m not sure I’d ever heard.

The following are the ones that stood out, in order of their appearance.

Tranewreck by Stavesacre

1996! (Yes, the title is spelled correctly). This album (Friction) is great. When I was first discovering the “underground”-ish world of Christian hard-rock, the internet was still barely a thing. I can’t remember how I even first heard about them. As with many people, I had heard them be compared to the band Tool. I do remember finding this CD, used, in a random record store in East Tennessee.

Stavesacre has changed (grown) a lot since this early album. The Labeled podcast recently did a whole episode about them that’s worth checking out, if you’re remotely interested.

Choose Me by Glisten

These guys are one of my favorite bands that no one has heard of. I discovered a handful of their songs online at some point. I think they had posted them to (back when it was a different site) or something? Again, early internet!

I’ll be sure to share that “handful of songs” in more detail another time.

Their lyrics are cool and emotional, and the music just “shoegazey” enough - but the choruses are huge. It all fits together so well.

If there is ever a remaster of this album, I will buy it. Guys, if you’re out there: big fan over here!

I tried very hard to see them live once; opening for Skillet and Bleach I think (weird combo, right?). I heard only their last 5 minutes. It was one of the first times I saw a guy playing his pedal board more than his guitar. I was inspired, for sure.

The Way by apt.core

I think that I first heard this as part of a compilation album I got in summer of 2001. (Because I looked up their credits and the rest of the tracklist makes sense).

This is definitely not one of my fave tracks, but worth a mention because it’s just different.

Butterfly by Seven Day Jesus

There’s somethin’ underneath my skin // I want to tear it all away // And show the beauty that’s within

When this song started, my brain kicked into full gear of “ooooh, yessss!!!” but I could NOT remember what song was coming up, or why I should be so happy.

Listen to that chorus! How cheesy is this song?! SO cheesy!

And I adore it.

I can’t say I am normally drawn to the bubble-gum, happy pop sound. But this song climbs inside my brain and just flies around.

Heartbeat by Bleach

I’m here. I wanna hear your heartbeat.

Bleach is one of my favorite bands. “A+++. Will listen again!”

The self-titled album that came out in 1999 is… wait, no, they all have so many good songs.

A straightforward song, and probably a good example of what you can expect from the band.

Credit Card by Silage

I don’t need no credit card // bringin’ me down

I bought this album with my own teenager money, after hearing another one of their songs on a compilation album. Not my favorite track of theirs, but the chorus will get stuck in your head.

Even going years without hearing their music, the chorus would still pop into my mind as an anthem against accruing credit card debt, unnecessary financing, etc. Haha!

Their sound is fairly unique. Very groovy, and heavily inspired by the rap-meets-rock sounds that were super popular at the time.

La La Land by All-Star United

Oh, my. Did I mention bubble-gum earlier?

Keep the poppy sound. Just add a tiny bit of edge (y’know, maybe a minor chord), but some cynical, sarcastic lyrics.

My Jesus decal does quite a trick // Right above my dashboard I stick it // A good luck charm, it keeps me from harm // And saves me from speeding tickets

This song is great. And apparently timeless?

Killing the Me in Me by Embodyment

I don’t think a soul knows compromise like a soul mate

I came to this band late. E.g., this album, The Narrow Scope Of Things. I heard from other fans that they’d changed a lot, in negative ways. I really liked the sound, though.

Funny story…

I saw them live once. At a small venue near Memphis, Tennessee. I was still too young to drive myself to the show, and my parents were busy. Who was left to drive me? My grandmother! 😱

Knowing what was to happen once they hit the stage, I practically pleaded with her to leave the building.

She stayed. Barely in the back of the room. She tapped her foot.

One time I went to check on her. She laughed and said it sounded “like a bunch of dinosaurs stomping around up there”. She was fine, and glad taht I was enjoying myself. 😱😎

Loader by Stavesacre

I’ve heard each word that you’ve said // And with all due respect… // Save it

Oooh, more from the Friction album. I always enjoy the pace of this song. And just so mean sounding.

High by Mukala

And like so many times // you take me in your arms again // and then // you take me high…

Another favorite band that nobody’s heard of. This whole album has held up really well, I think, and it deserves to be heard.

This song always connects to my heart, and stirs things up a bit. Maybe Dan is just that great with the chord progressions and melodies.

At some point, I remembered wondering why there wasn’t more music from Mukala. The album was so good! Well…

Never heard of this guy? If you’ve listened to pop music at any point since about 1996, you’ve probably heard something he’s worked on. See his credits list.

A few highlights:

Numb by Klank

From the album of the same name (Numb). This may be the most 1999 thing on this list. Some almost-industrial rap-core.

I didn’t listen to Klank a lot. You probably won’t either. But if you wanna step into a very specific slice of time and style, this will take you straight there.

The One by Pete Stewart

Ooh! Another “behind the scenes” guy. (Check all these credits) But also not! He was the front man in another of my fave 90’s bands: Grammatrain.

This solo album came out in 1999. I think I learned to play most of it on guitar, so the style probably had an impact on my development for sure.

Pete, you have a great voice.

You by Bleach

You be the psalm writer // And I will be your psalm // You be the songwriter // And I will sing your song

So. Good.

A lot of falsetto, but I’ll always try to sing along.

Don’t let this short description deceive you: It’s one of my favorites, and you should probably try it out!

Waiting For The Son by Pete Stewart

Underneath the stars and sky // I wait for you to come // Like the morning // Waiting for the sun

Another one so close? Anyway, this is a great, super chill moment of worship. A lot different than most of the other tracks here. Still, it didn’t ruin the mood, and I almost never skip it.

Winter Kiss by Embodyment

And I would kill // to see your face

Did I mention that yes: they spell their name like that.

If you were put off by Killing The Me In Me earlier (you’re listening along, right?), you can give them one more chance with this song.

Very singable, and a much catchier melody. Maintains that super heavy hitting bass sound.

Rocket Ship by Grammatrain

Boom! Did you catch that mention of Grammatrain earlier? Finally!

If I saw the earth as a // distant land // All my problems would feel like // grains of sand

These guys were an opening band for one of the first concerts I ever attended. Pete (the frontman) played a double neck guitar during part of the show. The bass player was “all over the neck” (or appeared to be. I remember my dad was blown away by him). They wrapped up the show with a SNARE DRUM solo.

This song is a great example of their energy… but the album doesn’t do the band justice. ;)

The rest…

This drive was almost 3 hours. The final queue was 75 songs. There was a lot I didn’t cover here; many skips, and some I hadn’t heard before. Some of which may or may not make an appearance in the future, if I decide to dig further.

Clearly, I’m still figuring out how the format should work. And it feels obvious that I am not a professional music critic. ;)

Thanks for riding along!