First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2000, Volume 7, #9
Written by Michael Karpinski
The Chicagoland five-piece Sine...the Band doesn't bill itself as a Christian rock act, but be damned if lead singer's Steve Andretich's Up With People-evocative homilies don't make them sound like one. While there are few — if any — direct references to the Big Guy in the Sky on the band's first album, Sine Language, liturgical leitmotifs circle and swarm like a plague of locusts on the Jordanian plain. What with the spiritual song titles (Set Me Free; If We Believe) and the plethora of references to "master plans," "moving mountains," "seeing the light," "believing," and "resurrections," it's enough to give a lapsed Catholic hot flashes.
The "good news" of this gospel is that Sine...the Band's four musicians form a most promising and congruous unit — with especially hearty hosannas granted to acoustic guitarist Chris Bagnole's estimable fretwork and keyboardist Chris Errera's uncommonly melodic fills. Alas, the aforementioned Andretich — like some hapless, miscast, Easter-pageant Judas — betrays his band-mates with his every bottled breath. Spouting shallow, fortune cookie-caliber platitudes and sounding like some limp hybrid of Neil Sedaka and Styx's Dennis DeYoung in full-bore Babe mode, Andretich is exactly the sort of glorified shower singer who makes a habit of crashing karaoke clubs and wedding receptions with his endless repertoire of Christopher Cross and Dan Fogelberg ballads. Indeed, the man's aggressively pedestrian efforts at character-driven narrative (Jimmy; Ally's Promise; On Clear Lake) make Fogelberg's Same Old Lang Syne and Harry Chapin's Cat's in the Cradle sound like story-song classics. Not helping things a bit is a production that stresses Andretich's passionless, vacuous vocals at the expense of the rhythm section. Imagine The Simpsons' Ned Flanders fronting an un-amplified Dave Matthews Band covering REO Speedwagon's Can't Fight This Feeling, and you've pretty much got the misbegotten concept.
Before he has the chance to lead them too far down the Garden of Gethsemane's dead-end path, the musicians of Sine...the Band would be well advised to trade in their milk mustache-mild messiah on a somewhat more "Mephistophelean" model — somebody with a bit of bile in his blood and at least some small store of sin in his soul. That, and a posthaste name change, might be just the thing that sets these would-be angels-with-dirty-faces on the path to the rock 'n' roll Promised Land.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2000 The Music Box