CD REVIEW: Christians to the Lions - Christians to the Lions
By Cyrus Rhodes - 05/15/2012 - 01:36 PM EDT
Artist: Christians to the Lions
Album: Christians to the Lions
Label: Buntstock Records
Genre: Alternative Rock
Sounds Like: The White Stripes, Modest Mouse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blind Melon
Technical Grade: 4/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Commercial Value: 7/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Switch, Wake Shake, Ten Seconds
Weakness: Engineering Aspects (Recording, Mixing, Mastering), Marketability
New York based “Christians the Lions” just released their debut self titled release in 2012. Band members include Matt Green and Chris Bunatta (formerly of the Danglres). This entire album was recorded with a vintage TASCAM Portastudio 4 Track Analog Cassette Deck with pair of Shure SM57 and 58 Microphones.
The CD kicks things off with “Keep the Radio On" a dynamic intro piece that serves up driving rock rhythm, against rocking guitar groove, infectious harmonies and catchy chorus. Track 2 “Wake! Shake!" shifts gears a bit with its slamming guitar groove against melodic vocal layering against a grand slam chorus. This coupled with thought provoking lyrical content makes for an impressive slam dunk follow-up statement. Track 3 “Briarius” serves up more emotionally charged ditty with heartfelt vocals from Bunatta, against dynamic musical flow that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical influences reminiscent of such classic acts as Janes Addiction, The White Stripes, Modest Mouse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blind Melon and even The Strokes. The music itself is a hot blend of alternative rock with a poppy-grunge jam band aftertaste. You will also notice amazing guitar licks, Harmonica, interesting sound effects; solid low end grooves against heartfelt vocal harmonies layered everywhere. The songs themselves are short and sweet musical experiences. Bunatta is above the bar on all songs vocally and fills the sonic space unobtrusively. His voice at times reminds me a bit of Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers). Equally as impressive is the hot to the touch guitar work from Green with a playing style somewhere between classic grunge to highly charged alternative surf rock. I might add there are some amazing riffs and guitar solos on this EP. The overall 4 piece delivery is effective and possessing a high octane vibe. The writing and playing abilities of this dynamic duo are rock solid. From heartfelt “Back Home” to rocking “Pretty Girls” and “Lonely Day” to grooving “Blooz on your Shooz” and Loose Bridge” to striking “Ten Seconds” and my personal favorite “Switch” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 14” Bye Bye Babylon the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
It’s fair to say the overall production quality (mixing) seems to be somewhat erratic, amateurish, clear as mud. Listening to this CD is watching a great movie on a black and white TV. My hats off to these lads dusting off the Tascam but at the end of the day the Production value is severely lacking. Bottom Line - It takes skill and engineering savvy to mix a musical production to industry standards these days. The impact this will have on its overall marketability cannot be overstated. If this was 1982 this would be a cutting edge musical production, unfortunately its 2012, so the bar is set really high for independent artists like CTTL. Given the talent factor of these two, the scope of the songwriting craft, amazing performances - it’s a bit unfortunate and unorthodox. If this review seems lopsided it’s merely a reflection to the extremes presented on this CD. There is no barcode on the back indicating retail non-compatibility. ON a positive note: I will add if the Engineering Aspects were up snuff this review would clearly be a perfect 10. I like the cover art concept well enough but there is not a single word written anywhere on the front or back of the panels. I don’t get the marketability angle of this approach and I question how marketable the band name is as well on a massive scale. I full realize this is a subjective art form but many of the aforementioned issues do affect the CD’s overall marketability.
Overall the latest CD from “Christians the Lions” is a consistent debut release. Indeed this band has yet to prove themselves as real contenders with a Gold Standard release but I will say they show much in the way of promise and exterme potential. At the end of the day – they are a just a fun band to listen to, hang out with or check out live. This release clearly proves where there is smoke - there is fire. Get a good mix and you guys have yourself a real winner!
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