It’s November, 2002 and I’m in eighth grade at Louis C. Saeger Accelerated Middle School. Up to this point I had been listening to 104.1 The Mall, which was an all 80’s station in Saint Louis. I wanted to fit in with the crowd that listened to alternative music, so I ended up splitting my listening time between 105.7 The Point and The Mall. One day at lunch, a friend of mine named Aaron came to our table and asked
“Hey did any of you guys get that new album yet?”
Several of them looked at Aaron and asked
“What album? By who?”
“July For Kings. It’s called Swim.”
I remember asking my mom to take me to Best Buy to get the album (remember doing that?) Swim cost me $14.99.
I took the album home and listened to it. At first I liked it, what 14 year old in 2002 didn’t like post-grunge music? Nickelback was just getting huge at this point. So this band was quickly overshadowed by that band from Canada.
Years later, I revisit the album Swim. I look at myself and ask;
“My god, Sammy P what have you brought upon yourself?”
Is it really that bad? I’ll get to that in a few.
The alternative scene in 2002 was dominated by post-grunge, skate punk, and hard rock. Post-grunge seemed to be a “catch all” for anything. We were two years into the new millennium and rock seemed to be dying. Just the year prior Days of the New released their third self titled album. Nickelback released “How You Remind Me” and Three Doors Down were racing up the charts. Not to be outdone, Fuel released their album Something Like Human in 2000, but was still producing singles. Blink-182 was calling to all the skaters with Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, and bands like Seether were just getting started in the hard rock scene.
Which brings us back to these guys. July For Kings were a flash in the pan band that got exposure through the MTV reality series “The Real World.” Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio July For Kings started small, and with a different name: Swim. They played around SW Ohio and northern Kentucky before attracting the attention of Wind-Up Records, which was the label of the band Creed (Can we sense a pattern here?) Wind-Up wasn’t interested in the band and they eventually got signed to MCA. Two years before releasing Swim, JFK was first noticed as stated above, on The Real World. They then got signed to MCA and cut an album: Swim. This was done after they changed their name to July For Kings.
The first track (I’m not going to review the intro, because it’s not really a song.) “Believe” begins hard. Almost immediately I begin to sense July For Kings might be a Christian band in disguise. Jesus is mentioned quite a lot here, as are angels. Hey, if Creed can do it, then so can JFK.
The second track, “Normal Life” rocks hard too, but to a lesser extent.
“Girlfriend” is the third track, but it’s the second track that mentions Jesus quite heavily. It’s hard to tell if this is truly a Christian rock band, or an alternative band. It’s also the only song that features swearing. The song mentions bibles in the hotel drawer, and that Jesus can clean up his soul.
“Bed of Ashes” begins with an acoustic guitar, but quickly becomes electrified. Again God is mentioned here (although not directly) As far as I’m concerned the song deals with him not wanting to go to hell.
“Champagne” has no mentions of God or Jesus.
“New Black Car” is a decent song about a waitress at a restaurant.
“Start Again” is a hard rocking song that shows what this band can truly do.
“Without Wings” is a meh song that deals with angels.
“Meteor Flower” is another meh song, sounds like it’s radio friendly.
“And Gomorrah” This even sounds like a Christian song. Yup, the lyrics mention “fallen angels.” Meh.
“Anything But Beautiful” Hard to tell what this song is about. Sounds angsty, as if it were from the 90’s, then again this is 2002; so angst is still in. Angels and Jesus are mentioned.once.
“Washed Away” Sounds inspirational, which if you are a fan of Creed, should be easy to spot.
I’m going to come out and say it: JFK are Creed wannabes. The same tropes are there in practically every song. Wind-Up should’ve signed these guys, perhaps then they would have become as big as Creed. MCA dropped this band in 2003 when they went belly up. Word on the street is that they’ve released three more albums. Sure, this album gave me nostalgia but when I look back on it I wonder why I was trying to fit in in the first place.
So, Is It Shit?
Despite the nostalgia, this album is a pile of it. I don’t mind CCM, but when Jesus is there in your face in practically every song you get tired of it pretty quickly. I don’t mind the man upstairs, I just don’t want him shoved in my face, and him being omnipresent on the album. 1/5