The Afters are slated to release their highly-anticipated sophomore project on February 26 with Never Going Back to OK. The former Starbucks baristas turned GMA new artists of the year are recording again with producer Dan Muckala (TobyMac, MercyMe, Nick Lachey). With their debut project, The Afters received top attention from their fans and media outlets. The Afters' music appeared as a theme song for a MTV reality show along with being heard on mtvU, ABC Family, and E! News as well as on HOT AC and VH-1 radio along with outlets such as Billboard, BOP and Popstar. They also received a MTVU Woody award, and their song "Beautiful Love" was the most downloaded song of CCM in 2006.
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Fantastic 2nd Album, top 10 of 2008!| Posted February 26, 2008
I LOVE this album and this band. "Beautiful Love" from their debut was a monster success and I expect even bigger things from this 2nd album. "Never Going Back To OK" is one of those rock anthems you can't get out of your head (a good thing) and "Myspace Girl" is catchy and clever, and for me the other highlights are the tender "Keeping Me Alive" and the rocking "Tonight". It's early in the year, but I can't imagine this album not being top 10 of 2008!
I Would Like To See Them Now Leave "Pretty Good| Posted October 14, 2008
In my review of their popular but dull debut, I asked if The Afters would take hold of their potential in their sophomore effort. Now that the album is upon us, and I've thoroughly scrutinized it, I can say that with confidence that it's a strong effort, but still not great.
First off, I pre-ordered the album, and got it at FCS for $5. 12 tracks for $5, or even $12 is a good deal, and I applaud the band for providing more material. There's no fillers, and "The Secret Parade," which happens to be the shortest track, has a unique sound which everybody had dubbed "Beatles-esque." Whether it should be compared to the Fab 4 is mute, but isn't everybody doing that nowadays?
Highlights include the familiar "Never Going Back To OK," the slightly cheesy but highly emotional "Ocean Wide," the power rocker "We Are The Sound," and the absolute highlight, the best song made about the popular social-networking disaster, "MySpace Girl" is an extremely catchy pop rock song containing every lyrical nugget you can drag out of the site. He's putting her in his top 8 spaces, it's "OurSpace," and the list goes on. Again, a bit cheesy, but these songs usually are.
Unfortunately, the back half of the album is not as good as the first half, but they all have their moments. In fact, looking back on this album, there isn't any track I could point to and say, that's the weak-spot. But as in songs like "One Moment Away," as good as they may be on their own, they kind of get lost in the shuffle of the album, and an hour or two after listening, you've forgotten half the tracks. Maybe it's songs like "Summer Again," which try too hard to be that love ballad, while still putting up a good effort. It's like the guy guessing somebody's weight at a carnival. He may have had the general range, but he was still 10 lbs. off.
And how could I end without talking about the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy inspired "Forty-Two." In case you don't know, in the book, the author used the number 42 as the random meaning of life in his comedic take on the exploration of philosophy. So of course, the singer in the song wants to know the meaning of his life, and the lyrics do a decent job with the subject matter. But at this point you really get "The Afters' Sound", and you're really wanting them to change it at least a bit at this point.
Overall, The Afters seem to be stepping up the latter, but they're taking it in increments. While the album contains many a strong track, they're sticking value is debatable, and I think they could have done better with an already job well done. Next album, the band should just let it all hang out, which they attempt to do in this record, but never really stick that foot off the cliff. Of course, at the rate they're going at now, their third project should be a five-star effort all the way.
BESTS THE DEBUT IN EVERY WAY| Posted September 29, 2008
Think of the career trajectory of Switchfoot: If you need a reference point for the musical progress of The Afters from the band’s debut to the follow-up, Never Going Back To OK, that’s a good place to start. Just as Jon Foreman and company moved from the fun and formulaic radio rock of their early days to the creative musical force they’ve shown themselves to be, so The Afters seem to be headed in the same impressive direction.
“The Secret Parade” establishes new levels of musicianship, cohesion, production and experimentation from the outset. Familiar trends follow with a title track that could easily be an outtake from the debut. Still, “We Are The Sound” and “Falling Into Place” maintain the buoyant spirit amidst new and uncharted sonic waters. The result is an edgier band that manages to maintain secure melodic footing.
The band speaks of obvious spiritual themes on Never Going Back To OK, but it’s clear there’s a musical statement being played just as loud as the lyrics. The Afters seemed to hold all the right cards after a stellar debut, and this album is better in every way. - Matt Conner
This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from CCMMagazine.com. Click here to visit CCMMagazine.com today!
The Afters [Never Going Back To Okay]| Posted September 24, 2008
The Afters: Never going back to Ok
By Liz Zelinski
The theme is transformation and Life. The words are poetic and elegant. In “Never going back to OK,” The Afters run the gamut of topics, singing their hearts out about life, God, love, choices, and… MySpace?
I have to say that at first I thought “MySpace girl” was a nice try at being lighthearted, but they didn’t pull it off. It sounded more like a song from Relient K than The Afters. Then I went on their web site and saw the music video, and was completely won over. It was so funny that I watched it twice, and then e-mailed the link to my friends.
Although their sound sometimes is reminiscent of a late ‘90s boy band, there is nothing predictable about where these guys are going. The album starts out with a fun little ditty called “Secret Parade” that grabs the listener’s attention and draws them in for more. The title song, “Never going back to ok,” sets the tone of life and leaving a legacy for the rest of the album. Starting with track 3 the lyrics become more romantic and focused on love. However, in most of the songs it is difficult to discern when they are talking about love of God versus love of girls. The words can be interpreted both ways and still be enjoyable and applicable. “If love is an ocean wide, we swim in the tears we cry, they’ll see us through to the other side. We’re gonna make it tonight. When love is a raging sea, you can hold on to me. We’ll find a way tonight. Love is an ocean wide.” God love or girl love? Hard to tell, but very pretty.
Obscure lyrics often add an appeal of their own to music. If it’s less specific, more people can relate their different situations to it, and feel more connected to what he artists are saying. But in this case, there is definitely a place for more substance. “We are the sound” becomes more dynamic, proclaiming who they are and what they’re doing, and that you need to fight and not back down from making your mark on the world.
Although the theme of “Never going back to ok” is life and feeling alive, is seems more like they are just repeating themselves instead of driving the message home. “Never going back to ok” Kicks off this overly-consistent theme with the line “I feel alive and it hurts for a change, and looking back, it’s hard to believe that I was cool with the days that I wasted…” In the song “Forty-two,” the band sings “Will You show me what this life is all about … Cuz I want to feel alive,” which is almost identical to the earlier song “Tonight,” when they sing, “When tomorrow comes, we’re gonna feel alive.”
This contemporary pop group has some funny spots and highlights, and despite the over emphasized themes, the music could be just right for a thoughtful mood. It is definitely worth a listen. Pop on to theafters.com and check these guys out for yourself.
Rating: 8.1 out of 10 (81%, B-)
Review written by: Liz Zelinski
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This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from ChristianMusicReview.org. Click here to visit ChristianMusicReview.org today!
Never Going Back to OK| Posted July 29, 2008
This was my first introduction to The Afters and it sure was a good way to start. The title track single is what convinced me to buy this album and I'm not disappointed. It starts off witht he Beatles-esque 'The Secret Parade' with great harmonies and sweeping music to make a great intro. My only problem with it is it's way too short. They could've carried it on for another minute and a half at least and made possibly the best song on the album. Instead it just leads into the very upbeat title track filled with catchy vocal hooks and a fantastic beat enough to make you dance. There are a few other similar tracks on the album like 'Tonight', 'Myspace Girl' (overly poppy as you'd expect but a true story about their former bass player falling in love, pretty funny song), and 'We Are the Sound' (interesting vocal affects). I kind of wish they had a few more of those upbeat tracks though because the album bogs down at the end. It softens up a little too much and loses me around the generic 'Forty-Two' and I can't help but feel I've heard the ballad 'Summer Again' before. Starting off strong and finishing weak seems to be a recent trend and I can't say I like it one bit. When will bands learn that an album needs to finish off strong to stay in the listeners mind? Finishing it up with 3 or 4 slower songs does not a great album make.
Gems of this album are: 'Never Going Back to OK', 'Tonight', 'We Are the Sound'
Only Ok| Posted May 25, 2008
Although I Wish we all could Win wasn’t a particularly impressive, one song really stuck out (“beautiful love”) leaving some optimism and anticipation about future Afters releases. After two and a half years the Afters are back with Never going Back to Ok a rock album making a statement that quickness isn’t important but quality.
The opening to Never going back to Ok is “secret parade” a short old style pop song which quickly establishes that this album isn’t all work and no play. The title track and number one hit single “Never going back to OK” is a quick up beat catchy rock tune, but for the rock genre it isn’t particularly impressive. “keeping me alive” is just catchy enough to remain from being a stale ballad that seem to rule most the album, the end of the bridge and into the chorus is a strong part in the song. While “tonight” is a pretty good up tempo rock tune it’s edgy, and “ocean” is another ballad that is solid. The fan favorite because of its catchy tune, “myspace girl” has a fun punk/pop melody that is infections and it’s surprising that such a song would be on the album but the surprise is welcome.
“We are sound” is a daring rock song that even has a little sprinkle of techno in the chorus. Among the many catchy medium rock tunes “falling into place” is a solid one, with the last line in the refrain giving it a nice feel. “Beautiful words” uses it’s emotional tune in places to get passed its average light rock music. The fast paced “forty two” is a pretty faced paced rock song which has the chorus strength of “falling into place”. The highlight of the album is “summer again” an almost purely piano ballad, that really is outstanding. The departing song “one moment away” is a light song but is lost among the other ballads and particularly” summer again”.
The music is very impressive, a huge step up from their debut, but to make this album perfect would be even solid lyrics, however that bit is a little harder to come by this time around. The first song doesn’t mean anything, nor should it, but “Never going back to okay” which has good lyrics never articulates what the problem was in the first place and God is absent in the reformation. Track eleven laments about a girl and yearns for “summer days again”, and “tonight” doesn’t progress past forgetting past failures and moving on (‘When tomorrow comes we're gonna feel alive’) the downside is God is virtually absent.
What seems like a clear worship song “keeping me alive” is only confusing at a close glance at the lyrics. With phrases like ‘It's like I've never lived/Before my life with you’, ‘I bleed if you bleed’, ‘I'll hold you near/Together, we'll never die’ it’s clear that it’s not about Christ but a mere love song. “Myspace girl” is intentionally silly, but what’s not as silly is the fact that even a song like “we are the sound” which seems to be a wakeup call to believers never gets specific. While the “falling into place” point to God, it too never gets explicit. The closest is “forty-two” which ends with a man going to God (never named though).
The band has come a ways from serving star bucks coffee and their New Artist of the year award at the Dove awards in 2006. Many of their songs are radio friendly so expect lots of hits before another album. What a little strange is for a rock band that there are so many ballads on Never going back to Ok, but that’s okay because most of them are pretty solid. Although the music s good and the lyrics have positive messages the lack of spiritual influence is a little disturbing.
Josh Havens said “we hope people judge our music by musical merit not on the faith beliefs we have. I don’t want people to pass up our music or other great music done by a Christian artist just because it’s in a section labeled faith.” Well if it’s worth compromising the lyrics than Never going back to Ok is a success because there is little difference between them and a positive mainstream release. The music is great but, to use the pun only once, the lyrics are only Ok.
4.5/5| Posted August 12, 2010
Things have changed noticeably in the time between I Wish We All Could Win and this album. The worshipful lyrics found on that last album have been scaled back in favor of more modern lyrics. That is not to say that this album is bad, it's actually better than their debut. The Afters have a more poppy vibe to them now and their songs now feel more complete in a sense. This slight style change also incorporates some different elements here, from a Beatles-inspired track to a U2-esque opening track to the last track which lyrically is very much like the movie Inception. (In the sense that the lyrics are very open to interpretation.) This album is better than the band's debut. I can't wait to hear what they have in store for us next.
nicely done, could've been better...| Posted February 03, 2010
if you look at the review by art10, it's gonna sound a lot like mine, only probably more eloquently put. anyway...
i'd heard of this album after hearing the title track on RadioU and was instantly hooked as this is probably the best track on the CD. when i got the dance remix of it of Amazon (which i recommend), i listened to some other songs on that album and decided i wanted to hear more than just 30-second samples to get a picture of what this band was like. so after getting it from the library, i was happy, but not overjoyed...
they have a nice sound: a bit of Switchfoot mixed with Stellar Kart. the lyrics are pretty good, but not outstanding. some would complain about them being too cheesy, but i've seen much worse cheesiness and didn't mind at all. i just prefer some deeper messages, but was satisfied with the last track "One Moment Away" with its inspiring message. aside from those two tracks, the rest were just "good." i enjoyed the album, but don't really feel a need for it. i'll be getting it again and will pay attention when they get played on the radio, but i don't think it's an album worth purchasing. it's the kind i only get a few tracks from...
but despite the somewhat critical view, i would still say you should give it a chance! these guys may not have made the next best-seller, but they have talent that deserves a listen!
Rockin' Sophmore Release| Posted May 12, 2009
The Afters were one of those rare acts, when they debuted in 2005, who left an impression on pop/contemporary fans and some indie fans alike. Their accessibility and winning single "Beautiful Love" garnered them success on MTV and even placement for the song as a TV show theme. But before too long, news of The Afters began to slow, especially as the guys started work on a follow-up for 2007, which would ultimately be delayed until early this year. Their sophomore effort, Never Going Back To OK, is a strong collection of a dozen tracks that continue what the guys began with I Wish We All Could Win and take a few steps further.
The album mixes some familiarity with new territory for this Dallas, Texas foursome, immediately throwing a deliciously bizarre curveball with the Beatles-esque opener "The Secret Parade." When listening to such a start, bands like dc Talk come to mind as they offered something completely different when their 1995 album Jesus Freak released. What's important to note is that as the album progresses and The Afters shift gears from rock anthems to alternative rock to ballads and even pop, the guys pull off each style masterfully. Never Going Back To OK is a fitting title for a band that was determined not to release a stinker for a sophomore record when many bands who come out with a stellar debut and then drop the ball or crack under pressure there next release.
"The Secret Parade" followed by the rocking title track which is about living life to the fullest and never being content to stay where you're at in life. "Keeping Me Alive" opens with an almost U2, "Beautiful Day" piano solo, before ending any similarities and giving way to more of a classic Afters sound. Lyrically, the song shows the first hints of the worshipful heart that the debut so boldly possessed. The Afters are a band whose honesty remains pure from song to song. Even when they're going for something more lighthearted, it feels natural for them. Spiritual themes are a thread that run throughout this album's duration - from brokenness in "Tonight" to boldly living out our faith in "We Are The Sound" to finding life in Christ through surrender in "Falling Into Place" and finding God's meaning for our lives in the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy-inspired "Forty-Two." Nearly each track reinforces the theme for seizing the day and how our lives in Christ come into play.
It says a lot for an album when the only thing even remotely wrong with a record is when a song - despite how good it might be - is seemingly completely out of place. "Myspace Girl" is an infectious pop tune inspired by the true story of the band's former bassist who met a girl at an In-N-Out, fell in love at first sight, but never had the guts to talk to her. He later tracked her down on Myspace and they eventually got together and married. The song is rather silly, and if it weren't for its validity as a true story, would be a completely out-of-character song for The Afters. The other problem is it immediately follows the beautiful ballad "Ocean Wide," which was inspired by the broken marriage of a friend of the theirs. While "Myspace Girl" is a good song in and of itself, it just feels misplaced on the record.
To roundout what is otherwise one of the most solid alternative / pop rock albums of its kind to come along in recent memory, the emotionally charged "Summer Again" is a moving ballad that songwriter and vocalist Joshua Havens admits has a meaning that's open to interpretation. While it appears at times to be about the loss of a loved one, the song also suggests a theme of renewal and redemption, partly exemplified through the imagery of the changing seasons. Never Going Back To OK then closes on a high note as it takes the album out in an almost similar fashion to how it began. The song thematically poses the question of where you stand in life, perhaps even spiritually, as the verses ponder, "Eyes are on you / The pressure is on / Where will you stand when the lines have been drawn... / No you can't pretend that forever / Will never come knocking at your door." It's a great way to leave the album with plenty for the listener to chew on after the last note has been played.
The Afters| Posted April 10, 2009
I had never heard of this band until a short time ago when I heard "Never Going Back to Okay" on the radio a couple times. I love their sound and can't get over listening to this cd. The lyrics to their songs are also really pretty.
This is cool!| Posted March 26, 2009
The title is the words I found myself saying upon listening to"Never Going Back To OK" by the afters.This cd is a blend of rock tracks,love songs,and all around catchy tunes.Some of the hits on the cd include "We are the Sound" and "Myspace Girl",the true love story of the band's former bass player.Altogehter this cd is a great put togehter album.