Strange Occurrence Review - ChristianMusic.com

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Strange Occurrence - Another Day to Start Today - CD Review

Missions Statement: Strange Occurrence is committed to seeing lives changed and portraying the truth of what Christianity is. J.T. Harris: "We want people to forget the Christian stereotypes and expectations. Being a Christian starts in your heart. Change comes from God, to give you hope and comfort. God loves you as you are right now!"

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Strange Occurrence strives to take the message of hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ not only to Christian audiences, but also to the secular world. Through their music, they will not only encourage the believer in their faith walk, during both good times and painful struggles and trials, but also strive to shine a light to the seeker by bringing their music to the general market in our secular society. Strange Occurrence believes that Christian music ministry needs to reach out to secular youth culture and secular society at large, as well as minister to Christian believers. On their video, Strange Occurrence, Eric Vickers comments, "Christian Bands should take their music to the world more often, and not just to Christian audiences. God gives gifts for the purpose of ministry."

Seattle-based Strange Occurrence is made up of four very talented, twenty-something young men, (T.J Harris, Eric Vickers, Gabe Roberts, & Joe Wiles), who have, after 5 years of performing, successfully developed a huge following in Seattle in both the Christian community and the secular society where they perform their musical message of the hope, love, faithfulness, freedom from sin and help we have in our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Before signing with the newly formed, independent Steelroots records as the company's premiere band, Strange Occurrence had sold over 4,000 copies of their self-titled indie release and was named one of the Top 25 unsigned bands in 7Ball Magazine in 2001.

Strange Occurrence's debut CD, released by Steelroots Records and produced by Jon Ervie, ANOTHER DAY TO START AGAIN not only explores through the lyrics of their songs the elements of our human condition; pain, struggle, conflicts, unpleasant occurrences, failures, regretted actions of ourselves and others, but also points to the way out of our pain, confusion, heartbreak- through the transforming power and hope which comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ, because of our faith and belief in who He is, our Lord and Savior of the world. The lyrics in these songs, most of whom are written by Eric Vickers and J.T. Harris were inspired by the thoughts, questions, times of struggle, times of pain, faith epiphanies of band members, and their friends.

Eric Vickers describes ANOTHER DAY TO START AGAIN as an album of redemption, because through Jesus we have a new opportunity every morning to start over ."Don't let yourself get too buried by junk you've gone through the day before," Eric comments.

The beginning song, SUNRISE and the last song on the CD, SUNSET, "drive home the group's message of renewal and God's ability to wipe the slate of sin clean each and every day of our lives. They remind us that no matter where we are in our faith walk, there's always Another Day to Start Again."

Along with their meaningful, poignant, inspiring lyrics, the music is exceptional as well. While their music on this CD is influenced by the grunge music scene in Seattle, as well as such bands as Pearl Jam, Pillar, Kutless, Third Day, and Led Zepplin, Strange Occurrence has taken elements from these influences, plus their own substantial musical gifts and inspirations from the Holy Spirit to create a dynamic, original style of driving, anthemic, soul lifting, spiritual rock and roll that creatively uses meter, minor /major key changes, dynamics, drums, electric and acoustical guitars well played in a variety of ways that complement the strong vocals and the thoughtful, compelling words, sung by T.J.Harris and Eric Vickers.

Each song is unique in sound, has a unique personality and sets its own mood, depending on what the song is saying to the listener. It is safe to say that ANOTHER DAY TO START AGAIN is an CD that "shines of strength, certainty, and faith" invigorated by the band's "hearty balance between individuality and spirituality."

Strange Occurrence's music was just what Steelroots Records, formed by Jimi Ray in North Carolina, was looking for, so it's no wonder the band was signed by this company, whose goal is to release music to the scene that is lyrically sound and relevant to today's culture. Jimi Ray comments, "Their live show is great and their writing is thoughtful and unique, somewhat outside of the lyrical paradigm of most Christian bands. They have great hearts for the Lord and I believe they will be used mightily by God."

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Strange Occurence - sample of Songs - ANOTHER DAY TO START AGAIN

* SUNRISE - Has a victorious, positive message of faith and thanksgiving for the fresh start that Christians have every day because of their relationship with Jesus Christ. Paints a picture of "sonic redemption."

Introduction starts off with the ever increasing hum of an electronical device (an amplifier), electric guitar and drums joining at loudest point, playing dotted eighth note rhythm, leading into the song. Electric guitars support the percussion and support chords in dotted note format, and complements strong hard rock, gritty vocals.

First Chorus: Softens to nice acoustic guitar accompaniment, which blends nicely with the softer change in the vocal style. Harris: "Sunrise is about living each day new and experiencing life as God intended, free and forgiven through Jesus Christ." Sunrise has been chosen as the next single and is being sent out to radio stations all over the country.

Lyrical Sample

1) Sunrise upon my eyes another day to start again, the pain of my past fades away as the breeze, of your love blows upon the face that no one knows your sacred hands, they hold my broken heart.

Chorus: I am just a cup of water you can turn to wine. I am just a crippled beggar (that) left his bed behind.

2) Though I struggle all the time pressing onward, to the line you uphold me when I fall aside. As I near that distant goal, I will never run alone as long as you are by my side.

REACH - Describes a faith struggle, and a struggle to forgive himself of past junk as he reaches forward in his spiritual growth. Comes to the conclusion that he needs to flee, runaway from things that stand in the way of his reaching toward God.

Two measure intro of soft acoustic guitar/ electric guitar, playing the counter melody that complements the vocal throughout the song. Sound swells into full electric rock sound. Nice solos of electric guitar are bright and clear at various spots the song. During the vocals of first verse - guitars play in the style of the first two measures. At the bridge, the volume increases and comes in at full force, joyfully at Chorus, which has loud, rock sound with plenty of guitars and drums, full of joy, victory! Vocals are heartfelt, well done, and dynamic.

Lyrical Sample:

1) Can you feel it comin' down over your body? Let the joy so holy (sight and dreams) whisper the promise. One million crash tries. (You) spread your wings but you can't fly. No one cares cause they all sit back and stare. The whole world applauds you.

Bridge: Who will look into time when history cries?

Chorus: I'm reachin' higher, heaven's gates are open wide...touch the sky. It may take sometime to forgive my mind. So tell me...when in this life?

2). Hear the voice call? You take a step and then you take a fall. Water valleys guard the righteous on dry ground, following the white cloud. So ride the boat up. I'm a worldwide flash flood. My disbelief only causes me pain and grief. This was my last shot, my very last try. We run so far just to catch each other.

You reach so far, we've got to runaway. Do you believe? Chorus

* PRISONER - A song about a person who has hit rock bottom, in emotional pain and distress. Feeling imprisoned, he turns to the Lord to be released from his prison of pain and hopelessness.

A song written in a minor key that starts off right away with full, crisp electric guitar sound and drum rock support. Again, song has nice dynamics, which complement the nice range in the vocals. At very end of song, great bass electrical guitar solo, with drum rock beat accompaniment, which symbolizes the joy and freedom this person was experiencing from being freed from his prison of despair and pain by and through his belief in Jesus Christ.

Lyrical Sample:

1) Drowning underneath my skin. I am forced to look within. Feels like I'm dying in my sin. Heads of tails, who decides my fate? Can I save myself or is it too late? I can't believe you would die for my sake.

Bridge: I've been searching for You, for a thousand years or so. I've been looking for you and I've got no where else to go.

Chorus: Cuts on my arm imprison me. Trapped by the lies inside of me. Only you have the key. (Let me out) release me.

3) MASK ME - Explores a rather disturbed relationship between a believer and a family member, probably an over controlling, very critical parent, with no respect for the individuality or the feelings or the calling of the believer. (1 Co. 12:27-31, Col. 3:21, Ephesians 6:4, Philipians 2:2-4, and 1 Thessalonians 2:7, 11-12)

While the song starts off with a mournful electrical guitar, back up chords of others and easy drums, the intensity and mood changes the feel of the song during the chorus and part of the coda switching to more explosive guitar-heavy rock musical sound, as the vocals intensify, which has the effect of bringing out the tortured emotion of the lyrics.

Lyrical Sample:

1) Stop! Don't speak. Tell me something I already don't know the answer to. Why am I always the freak inside your twenty-first century world? It's been driving me crazy the way that you shrug me off when I pour out my soul. I remember the time that you laughed as you strapped me down to your whipping pole.

Chorus: I let you take control and then you drown my soul...you mask me. I try hard to forget the way that you treated (me)...you mask me.

2) Stop! Don't move. Just stand right there cause I've got something to say, I need you to listen to me. Every time you reject me like that it cuts my heart so deeply. How do you know who I am? Can you see my heart? Can you see deep inside me? Well, I know Someone who can - so back off - and let me live my life His way.

Coda: Should I be concerned for the lack of control in my heart? I don't know. You shove me down, then you tie me up, and you take me, and you take me back again. Can you take me, can you take me back?

FEAR - Speaks of the need of supporting one another, building each other up. (1Thessalonians 5:11) Ballad-like, composed in a waltz meter, a song with a quieter, reflective mood, featuring an acoustical guitar,with electrical guitar accents and chords, which gives a nice variety to the song. Nice cello accompaniment on 2nd half of third verse. Song flows, floats along, swirling with broken chords throughout the verses. Nice dynamics in song & vocals. Expressive musical guitar solos.

Lyrical Sample:

1) I once knew a girl in my life. She locked herself in late at night. Scared of what people may say. Scared of what people may do. Some say that she was afraid. I say the girl is like me and you....

2) She was in need of a friend. Someone to just lend a hand. I said, "You can confide in me. I'll help you be all that you can be. Trust me I'll pull you through." It didn't take long to find I was scared too....

3) We all have a fear deep inside. It causes us all to go hide. Scared of what people may do. Scared of what people may say. Pretending that things are OK. Crying inside when we don't get our way...

* INSIDE - The darkest, saddest song on the CD, inspired by a suicide of one of the band's friends. A song that expresses the despair of a broken man with little hope left, as he cries out to God for help in a heart-felt prayer. (Psalm 88, Psalm 77)

This powerful lament, a favorite of several of the band members, starts off softly, in a minor key, with a single guitar, and builds with slow intro of guitars, drums until the chorus - full guitar-heavy accompaniment for strong vocals. Mournful electric guitar solos and nice acoustical guitar work.

Lyrical Sample:

1) Up late last night. I tried to hide. Something just ain't right. I can't deny. Tears in my eyes I see through their lies. All my hope says good-bye. I just want to die.

Chorus: When will I know I've seen the light, I don't know how to get inside. Take me as I am. Here I am again. With my arms raised to the sky. Give me wings to fly.

2) Here I stand. A lonely broken man. I've been torn apart. Can you fix my heart...fix my broken heart.

Coda: (Fast, intense, driven) I feel like I'm falling, falling. I feel like I'm falling down. I feel like I'm swimming, swimming. Pick me up so I don't drown. Take my hands, give me grace, I feel like I'm losing faith.

* DARK MATTER - Despite the trouble, sea of pain, this person is going through, the faithfulness and strength of the Lord is felt and is a source of encouragement and perseverance in his time of trial. (John 15:10-11 & Romans 8:35-39, 2 Co. 4:16-18, Psalm 11)

Starts off with an electronic imitation of a heart beat, which establishes the tempo. Heavy guitar and drums join in, driving the beat, then segues to acoustic guitar, light cymbal. Verses start quietly with acoustic guitar, and builds with electric guitar chords gradually to electronic piano broken chords, which segue to full, driving sound in the chorus. Vocals again show quite a range in style. Great dynamics bring the song to life as well.

Lyrical Samples:

1) In my emotion, I drag myself through so much pain. Just like the ocean, all too often I am swayed. Your compassion saves me from the deadly fray. My foolish reaction sends me down the same way.

Chorus: I can't see you, but I can feel You. They can't take You from me. They can never harm me. This is dark matter.

2) In Your gravitation, I was captured by Your lure. Without hesitation, I would finally find my cure. In a single moment, I would know the truth for sure. In my rotation, by Your blood I've been made pure. Chorus

* FETTERS - An honest, direct lamentful conversation of an encumbered person with Jesus, that pulls and takes the listener into the journey of this seeker who finds Jesus and receives a freedom from the pain and guilt that was been entrapping him, which makes him a joyful, thankful believer, who begins his relationship with the Lord.

Easy 6/8 beat starts with drums, joined by swelling chorus of electric guitars. Quiets down to electric guitars playing a brisk murmuring of broken chords in a minor key, in 6/8 time with easy drums. Chorus: Full chorus of heavy guitars and drums. Vocals build as well, as the music does, with plenty of guitar riffs. At the realization that Jesus has set him free, music segues into a major, key, and is joyful, victorious.

Lyrical Samples:

Sometimes I feel like I'm trapped inside of me. These strings of life wrap around my heart, I can't break free. Sometimes I feel so lost, I can't find my way. I would pay the highest cost to runaway. Trapped in this dungeon of self, I hide well. No one to let me out and I've got no one to tell. Sitting here silently writhing inside from my pain, I point my finger at You, but I'm the only one to blame.

Chorus. First Chorus: Someday I will break from this cage and will runaway....fly away. Someday I will tear down this wall that holds me back... holds me down.

Sitting in this puddle of spite, who are you? You think You can change my life, but what can You do? I've been sitting here, pleasantly wretched, hiding my shame. I've tried all my life, but You say with one touch You can take away my pain?

Second Chorus: You say You will open this cage, I will runaway...fly away. Say You will tear down this wall that holds me back...holds me down....

Bridge: I followed You here, but You led a lie. Another false teacher, destined to die. I spit on Your cross and Your false doctrine. Who's gonna save You from the mess that You're in?

3) My blood-dripping hands drag me back to my hole. You were the very last chance I had to save my soul. I'm looking for chains to tie myself in, but nothing I see. Through the death of this Christ, my chains have been set free!!!!

Third Chorus: YOU HAVE BROKEN MY CAGE, I WILL RUNAWAY...FLYAWAY. YOU HAVE TORN DOWN THIS WALL THAT HOLDS ME BACK...HOLDS ME DOWN!!!!! Coda: I NEED YOU I WANT YOU TO RESCUE ME.

* * SUNSET: A beautiful, acoustical guitar / strings version of SUNSET, creating a hymn-like song of praise and thanksgiving, a wonderful way to end their CD. This is T.J Harris's favorite song, and is the favorite of this reviewer as well.

 

Reviewed by Julie Carr, for ChrsitianMusic.com


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