Monday, October 31, 2011

Charlotte's John Mark McMillan plays Fillmore, releases new disc

If you aren’t familiar with contemporary Christian radio or the Christian music scene, you may have missed one of Charlotte’s best rock singer-songwriters, John Mark McMillan. McMillan is best known for the original version of “How He Loves,” a song that became a major hit for The David Crowder Band. It’s since moved into modern classic territory and has been covered by numerous contemporary Christian artists both on record and live. McMillan joins Crowder for The 7 Tour Tuesday, November 1, at The Fillmore with Gungor and Chris August. It’s the same day his new album “Economy” hits retailers.

"Economy,” which follow’s 2010’s Top 10 Christian album “The Medicine,” is a timely collection of expansive pop-rock songs that veer close to the Killers and Bruce Springsteen (or more accurately the Killers’ Springsteen-inspired “Sam’s Town” record). It’s full of these uplifting “Born to Run”-style anthems. Sing along choruses and pop hooks climb and crest against a backdrop of synthesizers and echoing guitar effects that create a landscape of tension and longing. Those spiraling guitar lines and keyboard washes remind me of bands like France’s M83 or Charlotte’s own Sugar Glyder. Two of those rising anthems - “Sheet of Night” and “Seen a Darkness” - bookend the album. Both sort of build from dark to uplifting.

The title track (which McMillan does an acoustic version of in the above clip) serves as the centerpiece of the record with its particularly relevant subject matter. It’s a simple pop-rock gem at its heart and flows so easily into the next track, “Who Is This,” it’s as if the two songs are bonded. It’s hard to imagine one without the other.

Vocally McMillan maintains a deep, lived-in tone with a brush of his Southern working class roots. Some of his lyrics are obviously attached to his beliefs, but you don’t necessarily have to be a follower to enjoy his music. It’s good stuff regardless of what genre it falls into. You can learn more about McMillan or order a copy of “Economy” here. Tickets are $33.25 and available at

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