Christian Rock. A phrase that is seemingly oxymoronic in every sense. How can the rebellious swagger of rock and roll coexist with the virtue and purity of Christianity? All too often, groups who have attempted this marriage of dissonant worlds have failed miserably in creating music with any relevance or authenticity. The music either possesses a profound lack of rock sense, or the lyrics suffer from either overwrought imagery or pure cheesiness. Yet, the 2002 release from Florida veterans Denison Marrs entitled Then is the New Now successfully binds the hip- shaking, snarling, base side of rock and roll with inspirational, creative, and encouraging lyrics.
This this cd should be a platform for success in both the general and Christian markets is obvious. From the sleek-looking artwork, to the anthemic and exciting music, to the solid but not-too-preachy lyrics, “Then is The New Now” is a release that is able to engage listeners from both sides of the camp.
Okay, we’ve established that the cd is good enough to share with your friends. So, what does it SOUND like? While Denison Marrs is known as an atmospheric rock band, due to their previous full-lengths and ep’s that oozed with drones and other similar sounds, Then is the New Now finds the band embracing an all-out, rock approach. The rock, though, is not of the Creed pseudo-grunge variety, while at the same time containing few references to 60’s or 70’s rock. Then is the New Now is all about combining an 80’s rock ethic with 21st Century sensibilities and big choruses. Lead singer Eric Collins sounds like a remnant from the synth-pop-rock past of the 80’s…at times sounding like a more hyped Andy Bell (Erasure), a less whiny Simon Lebon (Duran Duran), or perhaps like a less glum Robert Smith (The Cure). The music, as well, contains an overall 80’s vibe in the structure of the songs, while the instrumentation chosen to support the songs is grounded in straight-up, post-punk indie rock. I especially appreciate the big sounding drums that provide energy and drive to the songs. Lyrically, Collins deals with love, both divine and worldly “You came with your love, You fantastic golden One”. It is apparent that Collins pours his heart into the lyrics he writes, and while they don’t seem to contain any involved imagery or structure, his words are sincere and real. If youth pastors across the continent had any musical sense whatsoever, Then is the New Now would be the soundtrack for teenagers in 2003. And if secular music fans would be open to casting aside their rightly placed their preconceived notions of Christian rock, they’d find a solid rock band in Denison Marrs making appealing, valid, rock.