"New Surrender" (Universal Republic; 2008)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

I started with Anberlin's first release, "Blueprints for the Black Market," (see bottom of page, up a little, above the Rating Guide, there you go) and I guess I'm sticking with them. They have an Emo sound via the vocals but the guitar is well above the bar and when they light it up they can really rock.

This is their fourth release but their first on a major label. Their disc "Never Take Friendship Personal," released in 2005 (which I'll review soon), has the song "The Feel Good Drag" on it. This disc also has the song "Feel Good Drag" on it but it's done a little differently because they wanted to release it as single when they landed the deal with Universal Republic. Both songs are good but the newer version has more kick.

The lyrics are simply written, nothing too deep and some clever quips can be heard if you're listening closely. The guitar and synth go together seamlessly, sometimes there are guitar solos and sometimes they just rip a riff apart. The drums pound on the heavy tracks and that makes me champion them even more. When they unplug they still have a full rich sound so it's all good.

Check out these tracks; "The Resistance," "Breaking," "Feel Good Drag," "Disappear," "Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights)," and "Haight St."

Anberlin: Stephen Christian – Vocals, guitar, piano, synthesizer; Joseph Milligan – Guitar; Nathan Young – Drums; Christian McAlhaney – Guitar; Deon Rexroat – Bass.

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"Cities" (Tooth & Nail; 2007)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Anberlin are residents of Orlando, Florida. Despite the emo and power-pop punk drive these guys have, they don’t fall prey to the countless foot stompers you might find on the Vans tour. The lyrics and singing set them apart, as do the guitar parts.

If you keep up with band members, you would find that 3/4 of Anberlin was SaGoh 24/7 from 1998-2002. One of the members left, they regrouped and changed their name. SaGoh was on Tooth & Nail in the beginning and that label signed many Christian artists back in the day. Anberlin has stated that they are not a Christian rock band but do admit to leaning towards man vs. self in their songwriting. Either way, from where they came makes no difference because when these guys plug in, they rock.

I find music battling itself with the adjectives of creativity or catchy. What might make a hit on radio might pull listeners into the store to buy the record. So MySpace and free downloads are forging a way that radio can’t or won’t keep up with. Too bad; I used to listen to the radio to find out about new artists, now I stumble on to them ... unless, of courese, I’m listening to Rough Edge Radio.

Anberlin are labeled under alternative, but they have guitar solos. I thought that went against the mantra ... perhaps I should thumb through the manifesto again. Anberlin can also go acoustic on you and make you skip a track or two but that’s okay. I mean, when you’re driving 90mph who wants to pull over and take a break The slower songs are well written and listening to them won’t age you at all. The singer can sound like Bono or Robert Smith from The Cure but he doesn’t whine, he has a good range and his voice seems to be the focus of this band. The drums gallop along on a few songs, the guitar has memorable riffs and you’ll also find yourself singing along with the choruses.

Anberlin: Stephen Christiansen, Deon Rexroat, Joseph Milligan, Christian McAlhaney and Nathan Young.

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"Blueprints for the Black Market" (Tooth & Nail; 2003)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

This disc is Anberlin's debut with Tooth & Nail Records. The fact that it failed to chart is irrelevant. After the band regrouped from the break-up of their band (called SaGoh), Anberlin was born. Their first single, "Readyfuels" was released along with a video ... I'm sure you probably missed it. Also, this is the only disc with Joey Bruce on guitar. He was later forced out of the band because he wasn't going in the same direction as the others.

Anberlin write catchy little rockers on this disc that just snaps along. The music here is the root of what their sound is like now; the paint was still fresh on their name so a lot of people may have waited for more of an established band before checking them out. Those who have discovered Anberlin probably went back and got this one too.

The guitar is pretty good and since it has some impressive solos on each song I can listen without hovering my finger over the ">>" button. The vocals are good too. The voice is the make or break with me. Steven Christian can sound like Robert Smith from The Cure and Anberlin even cover a Cure classic, "Love Song," and give it a good punch.

The bluest of the black: "Readyfuels," "Cold War Transmissions," "Glass To The Arson," and "Love Song."

Anberlin: Steven Christian – vocals; Joseph Milligan – guitar; Nathan Young – drums; Joey Bruce – guitar; Deon Rexroat – drums.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Revised: 07 Aug 2023 21:18:43 -0400.