Review: Plankeye- Commonwealth

Plankeye - Commonwealth (1996)

In May of 1997, my parents surprised my younger brother and I by taking us to our first christian rock concert. As cool as that was, it was made even cooler by the fact that we were getting to see one of our favorite bands, The Newsboys. They were touring in support of their hit album Take Me to Your LeaderIn support was an up and coming band with a bluesy, southern rock sound named Third Day, who thanks to their song “Consuming Fire”, were on the verge of becoming huge. The opening act was one that I had heard of through 7Ball magazine and that I had seen in a music video, but other than that I had very little exposure to. That band was a small southern California outfit signed to Tooth and Nail Records named Plankeye. Although I hadn’t heard much of them going into the concert, by the time their set was over, they had made a new fan. A huge fan. The album that they were touring in support of was their 1996 release Commonwealth. The album is an alternative pop-rock masterpiece. The album opens with the driving “Whisper to Me”. Thankfully this is the only song that features the lock-jaw style of vocals that was featured at times on their previous work. I have always detested that style of “singing” and blame it for helping turn grunge music into a laughingstock. The band must have seen the error of their ways because the next song is one of the band’s best, “B.C.”. This song is catchy alt-pop at its finest, and happens to be the song that the music video I mentioned earlier was made for. The album has great song after great song, however I feel one song stands head and shoulders above the rest, the brooding, explosive “Struck By the Chord”. The song is a fine example in moody, rocking songwriting. The guitar playing is especially of note as the song features a catchy riff that becomes drenched in feedback. Commonwealth is a great place to start for those who are looking to check out Plankeye. All of the uneven writing and performing that was evident on their first two albums is long gone, and the pop sheen that coats, and some would argue dulls their next album is not seen here.

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