I think Christian rock is finally coming of age. In the past, putting "Christian" before a musical genre all-but-doomed it to the Bargain Bin (it still hurts some, as evidenced by MxPx, P.O.D., Lifehouse, and Creed [links will come when I've got my regular computer set up] not using the adjective "Christian" but authorizing Christian bookstores to sell their albums). We've all heard of acts like Amy Grant, but that style was at most one step away from what you might normally hear in church on Sunday. You could get away with Christian themes in Country and Rap music (Gospel, too, of course), but not Rock unless you were U2 and managed to hide it behind metaphors. Essentially, if you were Christian rock, it meant you weren't good enough to be regular Rock. Radio stations never played Christian rock, except in what I think were deliberate attempts to discredit it (before you think Im being a reactionary [I am, of course], let me provide you with a very secular example. The Punk group NOFX is famous for going Gold on all their albums, despite shunning Mtv and radio play. Nonetheless, because they wrote a song on their latest album about how much radio stations suck, they thought it would be funny to release it for airplay. However, nearly all the stations took another song on the single which wasn't very good and played that instead, and all talked about how much that song and NOFX sucked.). The one song I've heard by Jars of Clay wasn't very good at all, though I've been assured that the rest of their material is very good.
Anyway, I'm writing this because I recently got Hit Parade
by Audio Adrenaline. This is the first Christian album I've bought that wasn't Christian ska (O.C. Supertones, Five Iron Frenzy, Insyderz), and I wasn't sure how I'd like it. I really like the late 80s-early 90s sound (Gin Blossoms, for example), so this turned out very well for me. They sound like some fusion of U2, Jesus Jones (not a Christian group, FYI), and Fountains of Wayne (with some Butthole Surfers on Some Kind of Zombie
[thanks to the Ole Miss Conservative for this one]). If you're into the Limp Bizkit sound, skip this one. However, the thing about it is that Audio Adrenaline is the first good
Christian rock band I've heard. Again, I'm told that Relient K and the Newsboys aren't bad either. However, I think we've hit the turning point. Radio stations will play what's good and sells. They never mentioned the Christian aspects of Lifehouse, Creed, U2, MxPx, or P.O.D., but they had no trouble playing them into the ground. Christian ska is already just as good as regular Ska, and finally Christian rock has at least a few entries just as good as regular Rock.