Produced by renowned mainstream producer, Dennis Herring (Counting Crows, Modest Mouse, Elvis Costello) and one of Christian musicís highly respected producers, Rusty Varenkamp (Tenth Avenue North, Aaron Shust), this 2011 offering from Rush Of Fools brought the most creative project of their career to date with twelve songs co-written by the bandís ASCAP Song Of The Year award-winning songwriters.
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Rush of Fools [We Once Were]| Posted September 25, 2011 Rush of Fools made quite an impression with two albums in less than two years, including their impressive self-titled debut with the stand-out songs "Undo", "When Our Hearts Sing" and "Peace Be Still." The band was nominated for Best New Artist of 2007 and "Undo" was nominated for Song of the Year. A year later they returned with the equally impressive album Wonder of the World which included the hit songs "Escape", "Lose It All" and "Never Far Away." The band was riding a seemingly unstoppable wave of momentum. But just as things began to peak, the band was forced into hiatus by business matters surrounding their label which were outside of their control. Over the course of the last two years, the boys in Rush Of Fools experienced the greatest valley of their lives as they waited for resolution. With their futures hanging in the balance, they were forced to look deep inside to discover their true character, both as artists and as human beings. Produced by renowned mainstream producer, Dennis Herring and one of Christian music’s highly respected producers, Rusty Varenkamp, this new offering We Once Wereby Rush Of Fools brings the most creative project of their career with twelve great new songs.
I love both of the first two albums, and it's now been over three years since Wonder of the World. From my first listen, I knew something was slightly different from the previous albums which were both produced in Nashville. This album was produced in Alabama by a mainstream music producer. It has a cohesive theme and is loaded with surefire hit songs. Don't miss out on “Come Find Me” which features an infectious melody and Weezer-like guitar riff similar to their recent hits “Memories” and “Brave New World” however unlike Weezer, this song features the edifying and transparent lyrics, “You're calling the sheep gone astray, I pray you'll leave the ninety-nine, to come find me, in a world that can't seem to find what it needs, give me faith in the place that my eyes just can't see.” “A Civil War” is a standout song which highlight's Willis' vocal range, as he belts out the emotional chorus brimming with hope, “It's time to bow out of this race, about time for me to be in last place, I got myself in a civil war, it's time to fight for...fight for..what's worth fighting for.” Wes WIllis is a charasmatic frontman and channels for me the emotion and sincerity of singers like Chris Martin (Coldplay), J.R. Richards (Dishwalla) and Jon Foreman (Switchfoot). “Won't Say Goodbye” is easily the most rocking song by this great band and is yet another highlight both with the hooky, driving rock beat and the yearning lyrics “I won't say goodbye, tonight, cause I don't wanna leave until my dreams collide with life, I'm still fighting, even though I'm barely breathing, I can feel my heart still beating, I'm holding on tonight.” Those tracks alone are worth the price of the album, yet they bring even more stirring songs in the second half.
Hit song “Grace Found Me” ties all of the songs together and is based on James 1:2-4:“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” God has called Christians to become mature and complete, as first fruits of all He created. This is so high a calling and so valuable an attainment that we may consider even trials along the way pure joy. Amen to that! A refreshing change of pace comes in the standout song “No Other Love” which I find myself singing throughout the day with it's back-porch style tempo and kazoo part. It's a pure worship song, “No other Love looks beyond the things that I have done and I'm not proud of, No other Love lifts me up and holds me in It's arms, and lives within my heart...my soul faints in You, Jesus, my soul lives in You, my soul longs for You, Jesus, my soul lives for You.” That sentiment is the cry of my heart as well and I hang on every note of this fantastic song.
Complete confidence in and reliance upon the grace of God is the theme of this incredible new album. Every song on the new album has a similar sentiment of praise and worship to our Savior set to catchy melodies and sung with emotion by Wes Willis. Welcome back Rush of Fools, this is a great return from one of my favorite bands. We Once Were is an emotionally stirring rock album and is loaded with great songs, especially “Come Find Me,” “A Civil War,” “Won't Say Goodbye,” “No Other Love” and hit single “Grace Found Me.” I rate this album highly for fans of alternative rock bands like Jimmy Eat World, Weezer, Abandon and Switchfoot. This is the best overall album by Rush of Fools and is one of my top albums of the year.
In 2007, the small Alabama-based band Rush of Fools made an impact with their No. 1 song “Undo” from their self-titled debut album. A year later they followed it up with their sophomore effort, Wonder Of the World. Now, after three years of silence and a switch to a new label, Rush Of Fools is back with their third release, titled We Once Were.
In many ways the album's lead single, the soft, simple “Grace Found Me,” paves the way for the rest of the album. The band takes on issues of grace and our need for grace, writing with a style that fuses worship and adult contemporary Christian rock.
Most of the tracks are upbeat, simultaneously joyful and aware of a deep need for grace. The track “Come Find Me” is one of these tracks, as Wes Willis vocalizes a longing for God to come and bring faith, using Biblical imagery: “I pray you'll leave the 99.”
“Won't Say Goodbye” is another track that begs for grace, creating an interesting blend of softer verses and a harder chorus, which seems to mirror the ebb and flow of a Christian's understanding of their need for God to provide the strength to believe.
Throughout the album, one of the strong points is the way the instrumentation and tempo of the songs seems to mirror the lyrical theme. In the track “A Civil War,” which speaks about the internal struggle to reach a point of surrender, the percussion is strongly reminiscent of war drums. “No Other Love” is a joyful track that focuses on God in unselfconscious worship, and the general mood of celebration is echoed by the creative use of kazoos. The track “Help Our Unbelief” has a bit of an edge to it, both musically and lyrically.
The album definitely has a strong worship theme running throughout, most evident in songs like “Grace Found Me”, “No Other Love” and “Beginning to End.” The track “Beginning to End” is in a similar vein to much of Hillsong's work, and I could easily picture it being sung in a congregational setting. Some of the tracks take a slightly unusual angle while still moving in the vertical direction of worship, such as “You're The Medicine,” a track carried by a strong beat and the cry “You're a medicine, not a sedative.”
We Once Were is an encouraging collection of songs about our deep need of grace, and the struggle to surrender to that grace. The record is upbeat and encouraging, and it is definitely a step forward for the band in the area of lyrics. I would like to see them stretching themselves more musically, as it still feels like they are trying to find their own unique voice, but overall it is a solid addition to the contemporary Christian genre.
Out of trial comes a triumphant effort| Posted October 03, 2011
Helen Keller stated, “We can decide to let our trials crush us, or we can convert them to new forces of good.” After almost three years stuck in record company litigation-limbo, Rush of Fools returns with their long overdue follow-up to Wonder of the World. We Once Were offers strong evidence for the veracity of Ms. Keller’s observation echoing James 1:2-4; for it is apparent that the band learned and benefited from their trial, applying it wholeheartedly to their latest effort.
Each song of We Once Were is like a page taken from the band’s collective journal. The songs are sagaciously considered, liberally dosed with healthy spiritual introspection without being melancholy, and demonstrate a tempered resolve without being phlegmatic. It seems clear the “time off” produced a focus and clarity for Rush Of Fools, elevating their artistic muse.
Musically, the band draws inspiration across rock genres but the styles of bands such as The Goo Goo Dolls, Train and Jimmy Eat World are well represented. The energetic, punk-tempo “We Once Were” makes fantastic use of instrumental interplay to contrast the past and a need to grow and be in transformational process. “Come Find Me” follows a similar formula, making use of time changes and instrumentation to great effect.
The percussion-driven cadence and distinctive guitar-sound of “A Civil War” borrows a page from Scottish rockers Big Country and Ireland’s most famous musical export (U2) to create a paradoxical threnody regarding our struggle against self. The use of sampled sounds, acoustic and electric instrumentation, and processed vocals create a dogged avowal of tenacity in “Won’t Say Goodbye,” calling to mind The Strokes.
“Grace Found Me” offers an answer as to who offers resolution to the battle mentioned in “A Civil War.” It has a pianoless Downhere-esque quality that is sure to make a big splash as a radio-ready single. The power chord-driven anthem “You’re The Medicine” vigorously acknowledges the need for Jesus, the cure for our narcissistic condition. And “End of Me” follows suit, offering surrender as the only viable solution and serving to bookend the struggle with self begun with “A Civil War.”
The much-maligned and lowly kazoo makes an appearance in the simple, bouncy, playful, spiritual love song, “No Other Love.” “Beginning To End” pays homage to the modern, up-tempo worship of Charlie Hall and Lincoln Brewster, marveling at God’s transcendent sovereignty. The influence of OneRepublic shows up in the arrangement and execution of “Help Our Unbelief.”
Producers Dennis Herring and Rusty Varenkamp seem to have drawn forth the best effort of each band member as musicians and songwriters. The sonic palette employed is determined in its tempo and execution, reinforcing the emotional texture and spiritual themes being sung. The lyrics and music mesh perfectly, creating hook-filled, exceptional modern rock songs.
Ms. Keller also had this to say about trials: “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.” To that end, every track of We Once Were is a resounding success.
We Once Were| Posted October 26, 2011
The first thing that struck me when I initially listened to this release was that it was produced differently than past releases. The instrumentation (especially the guitars) seems stronger and more up front in the mix. The guitars seem grittier and edgier. In many ways this release reminded me of Switchfoot in many ways. I think this is a great album and a sound that the band seems to work within very well.
Good but Not Great| Posted October 13, 2011
Rush of Fools has talent as a band, but a lot of times their songs are a bit hard to understand. For me, I have to think about it to understand the message/meaning. That's a good thing in a way--to make your audience think about things, but I like it when there are some of those songs and some songs that I can relax, get it, and listen.
I love their sound, vocals, instrumentals, mixing, and compositiong. I just don't like always having to think about it. :)
Other than that, great album, great band, great songs.
Rocked!| Posted October 12, 2011
Amped guitars pretty much dominated the album. The vocals were impressive, but the lyrics were okay. For example, "Medicine," was pretty cliche. The lyrics were similar to the Rachael Lampa song. Well, that's just me.
Overall, I enjoyed the album. It's worth getting, for sure.
Yay!| Posted September 26, 2011
Yay! Rush Of Fools came out with their newest CD! I'm sorry to say, I feel It's not as great as the past ones, but being such a big Rush Of Fools fan, I still want the CD and there are 1, 2, or 3 songs I want to add to my MP3 player.