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The Great American Midrange

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Customer Reviews

The (Not So) Great American Midrange.


I have always been a fan of The Elms, but I’d have to disagree with most of the reviews. This album was not The Elms finest effort nor worthy of their level of talent (or so it seemed). In this album expect to find a spiritual downfall as well as a musical one. Rather than your typical rock & roll sound you’d expect to find with this band it seems to replaced by a more country influence. As far as lyrics go this is hands down the worst album they’ve ever had come out. There are plenty of better sounding albums and bands to spend your money on than this one.
We’ll start with the lyrics since this truly is what makes this album so terrible. There are references to all out partying, promiscuity, gambling, swearing, and drug use. Since most of it can be specifically found in one track we’ll start with that one. In “Shake” it’s an all out party. The singer states in the first verse, “ You can bet your a..” All of the verse is filled with the singer challenging (presumably a female) to shake all that she’s got ‘till she “can’t no more”. The second verse goes, “Come down alone or with a friend in tow, just get out here for God’s sake. Bring folding money, and a pack of smokes, and get down here and shake (babe)”. Another disheartening track is “Unless God Appears First”. In the first verse already he brags of being a troublemaker proudly and speaks of breaking the rules of the preacher and “his blessed little wife.” But, rather than it being a contemplative reflection of the past, it feels more like he’s taunting those with religious convictions, specifically Christian, now in the present tense. It’s chorus was what put me on edge,” I sing sad songs. I get high some. I got nothin’ to prove. Baby winnin’ or lose I’m the same... and I say unless God appears first, I will die this way.” “Getting high? No way!” I thought, but sure enough what I heard was written the same verbatim in their booklet. My Heart dropped. Some may argue that he mentions redemption and God at the end of the song, but then you’re whisked away from that back to the chorus, leaving you to wonder, “ Did he find redemption from God or was it the girl, Jenny, he mentioned earlier in the second verse?”
As a long time fan, I can honestly say they started out as a Christian band with unapologetic convictions that they put in their lyrics, but something has shifted in them. Their last album “The Chess Hotel” did mention hell twice, but others that I talked to felt it was debatable in its context; whereas, here it is in your face and obviously not even a cuss word that’s debatable of its usage in “Shake” (not to mention the taking God’s name in vain is something that other users might feel strongly about also, as well as they should if they are Christians themselves). In my opinion I felt them pulling away with their previous album in some ways, but with this one they have “ severed their ties.”
From a musical taste it’s not up to par with their previous work ( this includes their three other official albums "Big Surprise", "Truth, Soul, Rock & Roll", and "The Chess Hotel"). As I had previously mentioned before, expect to hear more of a country/ rockabilly sound rather than true nitty-gritty rock with a touch of blues (not to mention their reminiscent Beatles sound). There are no true passionate, soaring solos ,which is disappointing for a band like them. Their lyrical writing and musical quality has suffered greatly with this album. I know some may still argue with me on this, and yes I agree that compared to your traditional secular band you won’t find “quality” like this, but for fans who are familiar with The Elms ( and their history) will find this a big let down. Not to mention for someone who’s a connoisseur of music ( I myself being an accomplished guitarist), will pick up on the lack of clear musical definition and soul.
From a spiritual stand point this band has crossed the line from Christian to secular. Their twisted viewpoint on God is maybe the most disheartening aspect for a Christian fan who was looking for a positive alternative or one that’s been a listener since the beginning, like me. They’ve made it clear that they’re from Christian roots, but that’s the “Old Elms” and now we’re doing our own thing without feeling restrained. God is put on the shelf as a knick knack or good luck charm, and is no longer the source of their inspiration. Mostly you will hear your stereotypical songs about the women they’ve been in love with. “Babe” is the most commonly used word in this album, and you get the bubbly summer love songs (which aren’t necessarily wrong) and “ I’m sorry I messed up everything, and I’ll be back someday to make it up to you” ( which is wrong). I was excited and having to restrain myself from hopping in my seat on the ride home because of the promise of listening to the latest album from what I thought was one of the best bands ever to exist, but was depressed and discouraged when I finished listening through it. I wished I could return it or that I never bought it in the first place ( which was something I never thought I’d say about The Elms). So, it is with a sad and heavy heart that I have to say this but I feel as if The Elms have died and were replaced by someone else lesser in talent. My last and final question for Christian fans debating if they want to buy this album and to the band themselves is,” What’s the world got to offer?” - “Hey, Hey” by The Elms from the album "Big Surprise".

The Elms bring it all together for one incredible album

If you're lucky enough to have stumbled upon the Elms at any point in your lives and have listened to this album, then you already know what I am about to say. The Great American Midrange is absolutely awesome.

I've always found The Elms to be extremely talented, and always thought that they had lots of potential. But it also seemed (to me anyway) that they were the underdogs from Indiana who were struggling a little bit to find their sound and put it all together. But, they've matured over the years and finally settled into their wonderfully unclassifiable rock n roll/pop style, and they've put it all together for us in this great album. Between catchy lyrics, memorable melodies, crunchy guitar riffs, tender moments, and rockin' dance music, this album has it all.

The two jewels of the album are certainly Back to Indiana and This is How the World will End. Back to Indiana features an great moving guitar riff and beat, and somewhat cheesy (but not in a bad way) verse lyrics. The chorus is extremely catchy, and the lyrics "even if the world is burning down I'm going back to Indiana now" just conveys an emotion most anyone could find a way to connect to. This is How the World Will end is somewhat haunting, inbetween its simple melody and chord progression, and its message is not easily forgotten.

Maybe this music just speaks to those of us who live in the great american midrange, but I would willingly stand up and defend anyone that the Elms are one of the most talented and original sounding bands out there right now. Yeah, not everyone is going to understand how cool it is to go to the county fair (I was a kid in 4H once, I remember), but their messages of hope, strength, and love is one anyone can connect with. I can't wait to see what these guys come up with next, although I will honestly be content with this album for a long time.

Enjoy! And they're great live...

Their best album yet!

This is The Elms best release to date. Very well written and recorded songs, the best money you'll spend on music this year. I was surprised to see that on their website you can download the full album AND the acoustic versions for the same price.

Biography

Formed: Iowa

Genre: Christian & Gospel

Years Active: '00s

In 1996, a couple of brothers from New York, Christopher and Owen Thomas, formed a Christian pop/rock group they named Just Visiting. Owen Thomas did the vocals, guitar, piano, and songwriting while Christopher Thomas added drums, percussion, and vocals. The band's guitar-based sound has been compared to that of groups like the Foo Fighters, Oasis, and even the Beatles. In 1996, Just Visiting decided to turn their music from a pastime into a career. The band began to tour persistently, performing...
Full Bio
The Great American Midrange, The Elms
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