Release Date: March 11th 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- All the Way (Neon Feather Remix)
- We Belong As One (feat. tobyMac) (Family Force 5 Phenomenon Remix)
- Living for the Other Side (feat. Royal Tailor) (Nico Stadi Remix)
- I Feel So Alive (Matthew Parker U-Remix)
- Ready for Home (Smile Future Remix)
- Born To Love (feat. Britt Nicole) (McSwagger // Cap Kings Remix)
- Be A King
Already gaining a fanbase and a reputation as one of Christian music’s freshest electronic/pop remix groups, Capital Kings have worked with and remixed songs from Britt Nicole, Mandisa, Sanctus Real, David Crowder*Band, Group 1 Crew, and TobyMac with their renditions in 2012 prior to unveiling their critically acclaimed self-titled 2013 debut album; Capital Kings, consisting of Jon White and Cole Walowac have had quite the year this past year. Capital Kings was nominated as New Artist of the Year at the 2013 Dove Awards, and has toured on WinterJam as well as TobyMac’s second leg of the Hits Deep Tour in 2013, and now a few months ago, they released their first remix album called REMIXD. I must admit, this was strange when I first saw the press release for the March 11th EP at the beginning of the year; given that the 10 original tracks are already sounding quite remix-y in their natural and unaltered forms. However I can sort of see things another way, and I guess this batch of alternative interpretations of old songs, plus a brand new studio recording, is a gentle reminder that Capital Kings are one of the best electro/pop CCM bands today, and also giving us a taster of musically what may be to come in their untitled new studio album releasing later this year.
The electronic experimental group, who was discovered by TobyMac, infuses musical elements from many artists and stretches the boundaries of what is ‘normal’ in the Christian music scene. So how did the idea for a remix album arrive? Well it all started through the fan remix competition U-Remix, and I guess they liked all the fans submissions that they decided to record what the fans wanted to hear. Personally I thought that a remix album from a very electronic dance pop group would not work, however this mini-album has proved me wrong, with each remix enhancing the studio versions greatly.
Opening with the remix of “All The Way”, Jon and Cole pack a punch, singing about shining for Jesus and standing up no matter if we are ridiculed, even though this concept (going all out and telling the world what we believe in) littered all throughout the original track list isn’t that overt in this remixed version. Maybe it’s because of the drastic edits the band have made (with a 1 ½ minute instrumental intro and a 1 minute instrumental outro), however this song is only similar in chorus and name. still the opener is fun, and the chorus is sung more times than usual. The verses are also drastically altered; with the second verse completely cut out! Yet even with all the modifications, the duo still put a smile on my face as thy show how to sing about Jesus in the last number of seconds possible!
Out of the rest of the 6 tracks, 3 are with guest vocalists, and these renditions of “We Belong As One”, “Living For The Other Side”, and “Born To Love” with TobyMac, Tauren Wells Of Royal Tailor, and Britt Nicole respectively are also quite musically brilliant and stellar. Sometimes guest vocalists hamper songs, or they totally overshadow the main artist, but thankfully these talented musicians sing well in harmony with Capital Kings, and this doesn’t change that much on the remix versions.
“We Belong As One” is an original dance anthem turned into an Indian flavoured pop tune, proclaiming that as Christians, we all belong together as we all recognise Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. Showcasing smooth and relevant lyrical content and left field yet captivating musical influences on this newly recorded version remixed by Soul Glow of Family Force 5 fame (is that a sitar I hear?); there is courageous and daring decisions being made specially on this track, with Jon singing a brand new verse at the beginning as well as TobyMac’s rap shortened. All in all, I enjoyed the original version better as it seemed more cohesive however this rendition is cool too, giving the song a totally different yet still welcomed atmosphere and layered depth.
“Living For The Other Side”, changed from danceable and funky to toe tapping and jazz/soul like, with the saxophone and synth heavily driving the track is equally as good as the original, even though the track stands tall at nearly 7 minutes. It might have need some shaving, as the track does seem to slightly drag, however the quirkiness and the seamlessness of Tauren Wells singing with Cole and Jon as well gives this song the bulk of its points in my opinion. One of my favourite tracks lyrically, Jon and Cole speak about living for Jesus, and keeping our eyes fixed on the eternal prize of heaven, and the remainder that our life is so unique, as God fashioned each one individually, is something that will keep the diverse melody popular.
On “Born To Love” with Britt Nicole, the subject matter focuses on the frailty of life and the brokenness of humanity. However as this version moulds the inspiring dance anthem into a disco club tune driven by keys and synth, we are given a heart-warming picture, that this world can be changed through the love we have in Jesus Christ and the good news that Christ died so that we could live. A reminder that we must take up the challenge and show love to everyone, this song is one of the most lyrically sound tracks on the album, and one of my favourites, partly because of the musical risks taken in this remix, even if some may not pay off; and also partly because Britt is one of my favourite female vocalists, and it excites me to hear her sing flawlessly with Jon and Cole!
While “I Feel So Alive” delves into the notion of the life we have in Christ and that with Jesus, we can truly live life to the fullest for the purposes He has for us; this song is remixed via a competition the band unveiled on facebook in late 2013. While there were plenty more versions that I personally would have chosen ahead of what I would describe as mediocre (in comparison, yet still good in its own right), this sometimes musically schizophrenic track has me still humming and griming by the end of the duration, as the lyrics of ‘…I’m breaking through the hate to a brand new day, cause my heart has been revived…’, once again highlights how Jesus Christ can change and mould a heart from hate to love.
While the last remixed song, “Ready For Home”, musically similar, and driven by keys and electronics, speaks about commitment, and devoting our lives fully to Christ, as Jon and Cole describe their lives as opposite to what Jesus wants in the verses, and in alignment to His desires and wants in the chorus; the final track, “Be A King”, is an original recording that highlights Jon and Cole’s maturity musically and lyrically, as thy sing above grunging guitars and electrifying electronics and synth about being the light of Jesus to those who are not believers, and showing Jesus’ characteristics to people everywhere we go. Jon and Cole sing this song to perfection, with Cole rapping quite well also; I think that through this song alone, their new album is going to be awesome if it follows in this vein!
Though I wasn’t a fan of electronic music in 2013, Capital Kings have changed my mind completely and wholeheartedly. Their self-titled debut on Gotee Records is near flawless, and the duo fit in quite nicely on Royal Tailor’s “Ready Set Go” as well. No doubt Jon and Cole will have avid fans, now including myself, and it’s almost certain that their sophomore album is probably one of the most anticipated albums for the rest of 2014. Not knowing what to expect musically, as the guys have said that they are open to recording across many genres, including country; one thing is for certain- that Capital Kings’ music will change many lives. Though I do like the debut studio album better, REMIXD is a fine effort, and one that showcases the talents of Capital Kings as musicians as well as everyone else who remixed. Well done guys, you deserve all the praise and applaud!
3 songs to listen to: Be A King, Ready for Home (Smile Future Remix), Born To Love (feat. Britt Nicole) (McSwagger // Cap Kings Remix)
RIYL: Press Play, Group 1 Crew, TobyMac, David Thulin