Above the Golden State is a pop/rock outfit stationed out of Oregon. They play a melodic, driven style that sounds somewhat reminiscent of Seven Places or David Crowder Band, Their self-titled debut varies enough from track to track to keep it feeling fresh, making for an overall enjoyable album.
The whole thing has a pop-lush feel to it, with some pianos and keyboards added in for good measure. It's poppy, but never too poppy. Any of these songs would sound pretty good on the radio, but enough of them have a nice edge to them to keep things interesting. Songs like "I Love You So" maintain a CCM sensibility. And when things slow down ("Love," "Scared," etc…), things vary enough to never to sound clich?
This is a groundbreaking album to say the least, Above The Golden State is a joy to listen to. The lyrics are also relatable. Some tracks fare better than others along the way, but for the most part, Above the Golden State manages to avoid the usual pitfalls and craft an album that will certainly appeal to the CCM crowd, and may even turn a few heads among the cynical.
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Above The Golden State [Above The Golden State]| Posted November 25, 2008 [MAIN REVIEW]
The band, Above the Golden State, marks out a space for themselves inside the CCM industry with the release of their unique, self-titled, debut album. This album combines classic, up-beat West Coast-style acoustic, rock-pop sounds with moving, reflective songs of praise and worship. The lyrics are simple and clear, yet deep and introspective. While folksy and soulful, Above the Golden State is at its core authentic and environmental. This is one of those rare albums you’ll want to sit back and experience straight through from beginning to end. It’s upbeat and trendy at times, while moody and melodious at others.
Above the Golden State reflects on life and God and the impact of His Word (referenced so frequently throughout the album). With this release, the band offers listeners a sense of Christianity at peace with itself. There’s no rebellion here, only a humble gratefulness, desperation and awe. That approach is truly refreshing in an industry where artists can sometimes toe the line between secularism and their own core beliefs. While I’m usually not one for song-by-song reviews, I want to detail a few of my personal favorites in the hopes that you’ll gain a better sense of the album:
The song, “Gaze Into Your Eyes” is the second track and sets the album on a beautiful course of exploration by mixing sunny, radio-friendly pop-rock chords with natural, organic choruses that blend the singer’s falsetto with careful, instrumental pauses and builds.
“Streets” is a haunting, acoustic blend of seriousness, brokenness and revelation. The lyric, “Love is real. Love will bleed. Love will heal. Love will need.” reminds you of the impact The Lord has had on your life and the potential impact He can have on others by way of your testimony. Low, dissonant verses dramatically intersect with higher, emotionally-charged choruses, relaying a full-bodied presentation of sound and message.
The track, “Love”, continues on the former theme by way of the band’s signature appeal of powerful simplicity. In the fashion of Jars of Clay, “Love” lays out a straightforward lyric and builds in a sense of profound scale and gravity with layered guitars (both acoustic and electric), violins, background echoes and dance club beats. The song consists of sudden stops and starts; music that’s stripped down and then built back up. For added emphasis, this song is immediately followed by a raw, dramatic reading of 1 Corinthians 13.
Many other songs on the album have already been reviewed by other industry writers and are equally great offerings. These listed above are just some of my own personal favorites, but like other quality albums, there is plenty here to choose from and you’ll probably settle on your own favorites. I recommend this album to audiences who appreciate music from artists like Aaron Shust, Jars of Clay, Leeland and Audio Adrenaline. This is truly a solid debut for Above the Golden State.
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Sit back and enjoy Above the Golden State. The album is a pleasant journey from start to finish. Whether you need a healthy reminder of your faith, a simple break from the world, or a mild spiritual renewal, this album can take you to that higher place.
Above the Average Pop/Rock| Posted May 09, 2010
I know this review is a year and a half late, but I thought this album a worthy mention for your thoughts, or maybe a deserving addition to your music collection. Now, I want you to understand, I usually don’t end up promoting over-produced, sing-a-long type pop due to it’s lyrical conformity and overall lack of substance. But if you are looking for something in-between the vibes of teenybopper and the adult contemporary of Tenth Avenue North, then you have probably come to the right place. Signed to Sparrow Records in early 2008, this self-titled debut put Above the Golden State on a platform for success, but due to under-hyped publicity and (not much more actually,) they somehow found themselves in the back of the genre while other similar bands were making progress with the same styling and sound. Though it’s unfortunate how much talent has gotten overlooked here, this is only their first project, and they have music still to come that is for sure. But, predicting careers isn’t my job, so I’ll get back to the point.
Kicking things off with a catchy chorus and unblemished production, “Loud and Clear” has plenty of nice radio ready effects and lyrics that, while it seems you find plenty of these sort on every effort around the corner, foreman Matt Watson’s laid back vocals are one of the best aspects here, and it is a clever beginning for the listener. Ensuing that fun start, “Gaze into Your Eyes” may not new material, but for once it seems worth it to ignore some negative aspects, for the sake of delighting yourself with this utterly irresistible tune. “I Love You So” is another one of these pieces, the perfectly upbeat feel taking us through the half-mark with ease, and creating one of most pleasurable songs yet.
Although I have been mostly focusing on the more fast-paced numbers, the mid-tempo tracks are where the band find themselves at their helm, with their theme turning to Love, this part of the first verse of “Streets” features this transition well: When love flows through the cities/Through the grid of all the streets /Under bridges in the alleys/Like blood through our veins. “Scared” looks again to their acoustic side as well, mandolin licks and Relient K tinged harmonies pulled into another tight pop melody that also adds to the album as we move into the later part of the record.
So thought this album isn’t perfect, it does accomplish what I think they set out to do: invent a slink, even if not original sounding, contemporary Christian music album that will be a fun listen as well as give you something to think about along the way. And in my opinion, they have achieved that goal thoroughly, and I certainly look forward to more great music on the way. ~ Christian Lingner
vid| Posted January 28, 2010
that video was sooo funny lol how they were walking and everybody kept grabbin the phone lol it totally rocked lol and plus i really like their voices and style of music!!!
Great CD| Posted January 22, 2010
Interesting that they included a reading from Corinthians as a spoken word..my favorite songs are "Sound Of Your Name", "Streets", "I'll Love You So" "One Thirty Nine" and "All My Heart"
A great beginning to a long career| Posted January 22, 2010
Starting their music career with the hit single "Sound of Your Name" it captured my attention immediately. The lead singer had such a unique voice and the song had almost a surf rock/brit-pop rock feel to it. I listened to the whole album and I love listening to it all day! "Streets", "Love", and "The Haunting" are just few of the highlights to this wonderful album. Check it out!
Better & Better| Posted November 30, 2009
The more I listen to this album, the better it gets. My favorite music is hip-hop but this album is worthy of recognition. Above The Golden State has a very unique style. Their music is very good and makes you want to give praise & glory to the Creator. Every time I listen to this album I like it even more then before. I encourage anyone that is a fan of good music to purchase this album because they are one of the best bands out.