New melodic modern rock is an accurate label to pin on the initial release from Cush, except for the "new" part of the equation. All Cush members are seasoned veterans of the Christian rock scene, coming from a variety of musical backgrounds. Led by Michael Knott (LSU, Aunt Bettys) and featuring members of The Prayer Chain, Starflyer 59 and Fold Zandura (among others), Cush is more of a musical concept than an actual band. Oddly-tuned guitars, slice of life themes and distinguishable, passionate vocals quickly clue the savvy listener as to whose influence most directly drives Cush's self-titled debut. Yes, Michael Knott, take two steps forward. "Heaven Sent," which represents love and love lost, leads off the album with lush guitars and is followed by another, slightly cheerier relationship song, "Crush Me." Knott continues his streak of strangely beautiful songs that have "bomb" in the title with "The Bomb Was Brighter Than the Stars" (this joins "The Bomb" and "Rocket and a Bomb" from his repertoire), while "The Touch" connects the listener to the gift that is God's love. Nine of the 12 cuts are over five minutes in length, which can make the album seem to drag a bit, but this is easily forgivable because of the fine musicianship included within. Knott's work here isn't as underground as many of his previous efforts, but in a society where alternative music has become the mainstream, Cush provides a true quality alternative. -- Chris McNeece (c) 2000 CCM Communications, Inc.