meet kevin, the other max in my life -OR- a brief ryan byrd music history

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Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

meet kevin, the other max in my life -OR- a brief ryan byrd music history

it’s safe to say that we’ve established on this blog that i love music. and not just one single kind of music, but a variety of weirdness stuff. just last night, some friends were scrolling through my itunes library and commenting with surprise at the random collection of nearly 1,300 albums. i’ve got a little bit of everything.

it wasn’t, though, always this way.

i grew up with a relatively narrow scope of music awareness. throughout the 80s, for the most part, music fell into 2 categories: hymns at church and southern gospel on the AM radio. yes friends, this was my childhood. not by choice, of course. the church hymns speak for themselves, but the southern gospel was my dad’s music of choice and when we were in the car, that was the singular music option. in all fairness, we could occasionally beg and plead for something more relevant. what was more relevant? oldies. yep, every once in a blue moon, we could convince him to flip over to cool 95 and we’d rock out to the musical stylings of his childhood.

fast forward to 1995.

it isn’t that my dad changed his musical tastes, but i had fully come into my own with music by that time. MTV had come to our local cable provider years earlier and through peer musical influence, my horizons were greatly broadened. but still, the only expression of faith in music i’d ever experienced was, indeed, church hymns and southern gospel.

and then i heard dc talk’s jesus freak.

it sounds a little silly now to many, but in the mid-90s, dc talk couldn’t have been any more relevant and significant to people my age (early/mid-teens). my mind was blown when i finally heard music that married faith and good music. for years, dc talk was—without comparison—at the top of my musical favorites.

fast forward to 2001.

dc talk decides to take an “intermission”, of sorts, and the three members launch their solo careers. while i tracked with the rap-pop of tobymac for awhile and the on-again-off-again music of michael tait, i was drawn most to enigmatic kevin max’s music. in the fall of 2001, he released his solo debut, stereotype be, which still ranks as one of my all-time top 2 or 3 albums. at the place i was at in my life, the album hit me as deeply transcendent and intensely personal.

to this day, i’ve watched as his career has ebbed and flowed from major label success to fully independent releases of somewhat obscure EPs.

today, his 7th solo project (in 9 years) was released. cotes d’armor is an extreme departure from his previous work. in essence, it’s an electronica project with a mix of old music remixed and a few new tracks. trust me, i’m about as big of a fan as they get for kevin max, but i have to sheepishly admit, i’m a little disappointed. derek webb showed last year that a non-electronic artist can use electronic instrumentation to create incredible music, but i just don’t think the execution was what it needed to be with max’s new music. don’t get me wrong, i still like the new album, but it just doesn’t fit into the trajectory that i would have hoped for.

nevertheless, the album does contain some gems. specifically, i think the track, walking through walls (just to get to you), is one of the best pop/rock songs i’ve heard in quite some time. you can check it out here:

instead of leaving people hanging with a single track or only pointing to the new release, i thought i’d assemble a little “best of” mix in which i’ve picked a sampling of kevin max tracks that might help acclimate someone new to his music. some of you might like it, some of you might not. this, i hope, is a chance to find out either way.

here’s the list:

1. confessional booth
2. existence
3. walking through walls (just to get to you)
4. seek
5. the cross (ft. dc talk) (prince cover)
6. help me rhonda (beach boys cover)
7. the imposter’s song
8. 21st century darlings
9. angel with no wings
10. the royal path of life
11. run on for a long time (ft. chris sligh) (johnny cash cover)
12. i don’t belong
13. stay
14. something about that name (with sonicflood)
15. dead end moon
16. baby, i’m your man
17. on yer bike!
18. they won’t go when i go (stevie wonder cover)
19. irish hymn
20. the imposter
21. shaping space
22. unholy triad
23. out of the wild
24. the secret circle
25. when he returns (bob dylan cover)

// download the .zip //