In the wake of swarming bands fighting for a musical footprint in a scene flooded with genres that mimic one another - SUMERLIN stands apart by blending the importance in being both culturally relevant and spiritually significant. These guys have so much to offer to everyone - with their heart for ministry, passion for live performance, and drive for musical entertainment.
Sumerlin's new material is a mix of power pop and ambience textured rock music. "Waiting on You" marries soaring vocals with crushing guitars and rippling guitar notes to create a tense dream effect. Their singer Dan DiGiovanni is a solid front man for the band's edgy but sweet tempered sound. This genre of pop-rock tends to be overly cute and simple but Sumerlin transcend it, making something that sounds larger with more emotional presence. DiGiovanni's coarse yet humble reaching vocals underscore the under-manicured sound from the band.
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Building Up and Breaking Out| Posted February 02, 2014
It's always great to see new bands and new record labels get a foot in the door of the often very exclusive club that is Christian music. One of the latest labels making more and more of an impact has been DREAM Records. Couple that growing presence with a band who achieved some notice in the Christian rock realm while still unsigned, and you have quite a pairing that is definitely poised to send some shockwaves through the Christian Rock realm.
Enter Sumerlin's label debut, Runaways. They already had some chart presence independently, so it's no surprise to see lead single from this project "Breaking Out" doing just that by playing with the big fish at the top of the rock charts. One of the things that first struck me about Sumerlin was an uncanny comparison to the early years of another "erlin" alternative rock act. Yes, I'm talking about Anberlin. While not exact replicas by any stretch, there was a definite similarity to Sumerlin's style with that of Anberlin circa-Blueprints for the Black Market and Never Take Friendship Personal.
Runaways doesn't do much to change this, and the title itself only strengthens the comparisons. Still, there's just enough here to give Sumerlin their own musical identity, and with Anberlin poised to leave a huge void after 2014, these comparisons may give Sumerlin a window to step into the role as a prime alternative rock headliner.
Rocking opener "Heartbeat" immediately catches the ear with a sweet spot between crunchy, rocking guitars and an emotional and melodic chorus with top-notch vocal delivery. This sets the tone for the album, as most of the songs follow this pattern.
This creates a bit of a Catch-22 for Sumerlin. On one hand, it creates a bit of a diversity issue with the album at times that leads to a degree of predictability. On the other hand, Sumerlin does what they do so well that each of those songs is a potential hit in one format or another, and thus the collection still remains an exciting batch of rock hits that could bring them lots of success given the right exposure.
Aforementioned "Breaking Out" is already proving a solid hit, and with a strong message about God "breaking me out of myself," it's got plenty of thematic meat to it, which holds true for most of the album.
"Speak Up, Speak Out" is arguably one of the more blatant Anberlin influences, both musically and to a degree lyrically (the lyrics also hold striking references to themes explored by Red and Skillet). Yet it also stands as the most memorable track of the bunch. The song boasts a rocking and catchy chorus in "We created a monster / spreading this disease / and I can't let go / someone stop this please before it takes control of me." The song is effective in conveying the destructive impact our actions can have on our relationships and our lives, but it offers hope in the bridge lyric "Take it back / this is your life." Songs like these hold the promise of keeping Sumerlin a regular presence on the charts for some time.
There are also some stylistic surprises here. The softer tunes such as "Voices" and "You Always Were" open opportunities for Sumerlin to appeal to a crowd who typically wouldn't get in to a harder rock sound. With choruses that are often worshipful, Sumerlin's appeal to Christians in particular could be a lot more defined than the more subtle spiritual wordings of many other bands with similar sounds.
This is an album that resounds with clear and distinct meaning with little left to mysterious ambiguities and varying interpretations. Runaways is essentially an album of coming home, of finding your identity in Christ again. Each of the songs seeks to illuminate a path for us to get back to the person we are supposed to be, to stop being a runaway. Sumerlin may prove themselves capable of having the best of both the alternative rock sound and meaningful lyrics.
Sumerlin has crafted an album that promises to excite and thrill listeners. While the similarities to Anberlin are undeniable, I'm not convinced these comparisons are necessarily a bad thing. They could even work in Sumerlin's favor given the fondness many have for Anberlin.
While Sumerlin is doing everything right, they are still missing a bit of their own distinct magic that has solidified the bands they draw comparisons to as the heavyweights in their genre. But even those acts didn't typically find that "something" on their first few albums. With the talent Sumerlin demonstrates here, there's every reason to believe that they are capable of producing that album. So while I don't think this will be the album of Sumerlin's career, it's definitely one that gives them a blistering, building momentum towards making the album that will truly cement itself as a classic of its genre generation.
Song to Download Now:
"Breaking Out" (Get it on iTunes here.)
If the internet era has bequeathed artists anything, it is the ability to find and grow an audience, and from there attract notice from the music industry. The independent musical landscape is rife with talented bands just waiting to break onto the scene. North Carolina group Sumerlin is one such band- a band whose time has come to be recognized and embraced.
Runaways follows the typical pattern of rock releases: a collection of tracks representative of the band’s dominant musical milieu supplemented by a couple of radio-friendly singles. Sumerlin puts their best foot forward and delivers 12 incredible tracks of well-heeled modern rock. Every track of Runaways resonates with lyrical and sonic aptitude. The epic worship song “You Always Were” stands out, harkening back to Canada’s Downhere & Starfield during their radio-dominating heights; while “Here With You” and “Louder Than Words” rival all things Skillet at their peak.
Sumerlin‘s music owes a great deal to the current modern rock sound, alá Skillet, Red, etc., yet carves out a sonic identity that remains distinctive. Runaways’ richly textured, guitar-driven sound is a tour-de-force and perfectly compliments Dan DiGiovanni’s expressive vocals. Fans of Colton Dixon, Nine Lashes, the late-lamented Sent By Ravens, Silverline and TFK should definitely give Runaways a listen... LOUDLY!
Runaways| Posted January 31, 2014 You really should buy the debut album Runaways by Sumerlin. These worshippers will make you praise with their songs. And you really need to listen to their music. Let's adore Him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!