STYLE: Rock RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 12710-2094 LABEL: Fair Trade Services 000768306925 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RRP: £4.99
Reviewed by Chris Tozer
Across the Atlantic the Texas-based rock quartet The Afters have released their first album on Sony Music's Epic label and the band look set to promote 'I Wish We Could All Win' across the States for the rest of the year. Already they have been making waves at that bastion of secularism MTV, where their "Beautiful Love" video was voted Top Video on mtvU's Dean's List, beating Coldplay and The White Stripes! Here in the UK, the band have had a far lower profile. Oddly enough, the band first took shape in a Texan branch of Starbucks where two of the band would entertain customers with acoustic songs when they should have been brewing the coffee! With veteran producer Brown Bannister sharing the controls you can be sure The Afters deserve more than a respectful ear. He certainly seems to have captured the energy of the band's live show. To my ears, with their acoustically-driven rock they are reminiscent of Travis. "Beautiful Love" kicks off the album with a crescendo of guitar, piano and drums before the nimble voice of the lead singer Josh Havens, and a chorus of ringing guitars break through the din. The track was inspired by a humanitarian aid trip to Mexico by Haven's wife. Love that changes the world is a well-worn cliché but now it took on fresh meaning for the lyricist. That hopeful message taps into a theme that runs throughout the album with songs like "Love Lead Me On", "Someday" and "Until The World". Essentially, the album looks at the race of life where there are losers as well as winners. With these songs, the Texans have explored a utopian outlook where everyone wins and everyone lives for something greater than their own desires. Some might infer a touch of Lewis Carroll or '60s naivety in the band's philosophy but to my mind this is the Sermon On The Mount for the 21st century. Great stuff.
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Something besides coffee has been brewing at the Starbucks in Mesquite, Texas.
The Afters started as four guys working at a Starbucks who discovered they had the same vision - a Christian rock band that promoted the carefree splendour of living a life continually focused on God. For The Afters, 'I Wish We All Could Win' is about living for God outside of the confines of the church in a way that is compelling and contemplative.
With musical tastes from bands like Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, U2 and even at times The Beatles, The Afters present a unique musical flare that's familiar in influence yet unique in presentation.
'All our music points towards something - hope and heaven. We really believe in getting out in the world and living the gospel out there.'