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Is there such a thing as Southern indie rock? If so, this is it. If you like your Switchfoot with a slice of Mac Powell on top, you’re going to love needtobreathe. DAYLIGHT features the single “You Are Here.”


  • SKU: 0094634809221
  • UPC: 094634809221
  • Title: Daylight
  • Publisher: Sparrow Records
  • Release Date: Apr 04, 2006
  • Format: Album
  • Media: Compact Disc
  • Music Categories: Rock
  • Weight lbs: 0.22
  • Dimensions: 5.32" L x 6.38" W x 0.39" H
  • Category: ROCK
  • Subject: Christian - Rock


The CCM odds makers are picking South Carolina natives NEEDTOBREATHE to lead the remarkable freshman class of 2006. The modern rock band combines edgy ultra radio-friendly hooks with expansive, stadium-sized swagger. With a unique record deal that starts with the mainstream labels Lava and Atlantic, and then cross-pollinates into the Christian market via Sparrow Records, these guys might just have that shot. “I want [the band] to have the kind of year that Switchfoot or Maroon 5 or The Killers had,” front man/guitarist/pianist Bear Rinehart says via cell phone on the way to the band’s first major video shoot in L.A. “I’d be stupid not to have that as a goal.”

There are several twists and inversions that make the NEEDTOBREATHE story so compelling. Brothers Bear and Bo Rinehart grew up in a strict but loving and creative Christian home with two dominating cultural influences: Christian rock and football. The sons of a Christian camp director and pastor, the boys were only allowed to listen to Christian music for several years. Bands such as dcTalk, Tourniquet and early Switchfoot all contributed their influences while, on the football field, both boys became standout players.

But one rare reverse crossover moment would impact the young men in a big way. In the mid-nineties, one of the biggest names in mainstream rock, Collective Soul, had one of its records distributed to Christian retail for a short time. To the Rinehart brothers, then in their mid-teens, having one of their friends’ favorite bands available to them through the Christian retail world was monumental. “We thought that was the coolest thing in the world,” Bear admits. “It became one of our favorite records.” Around the same time, the boys began playing guitar and writing songs. Through the following years, they would excel at football (Bear earned top honors at the college level, and Bo was a rising high school football star who was featured in the 2003 film Radio) and grow as songwriters and musicians. Their hard work and determination in both areas drove them to the top of their game.

The disciplined environment of high-level school football left its mark on the band in no uncertain terms. Brad O’Donnell, the A&R representative for Sparrow who eventually signed NEEDTOBREATHE, sees that influence clearly. “When you do anything at that level, you approach it with a certain amount of intensity and seriousness,” O’Donnell says. In fact, the band honed their live show over the last several years by videotaping each one and then meeting later to dissect their performances in detail---a sort of rock & roll version of game films. Non-stop touring (including a tour with none other than their heroes Collective Soul), brutal self-criticism and a strong spirit of support, teamwork and camaraderie have tuned songs and live performance to near perfection.

The Collective Soul experience came back around as the band started to receive interest from both Christian and mainstream record companies. NEEDTOBREATHE took a unique route to a deal. Having first-hand experience with the confines of the Christian market subculture, the band knew that odds were not in their favor to impact the culture at-large from the trenches of the Christian music scene. “We didn’t want to only have a Christian deal,” Bear explains, “but, at the same time, we wanted to stay true to ourselves and to kids that were like us.” The band quickly clicked with Lava/Atlantic in New York, who were open to allowing the band to negotiate its own Christian market deal on the side. O’Donnell, who had been interested in signing the band since seeing a video clip of them on the Internet, quickly grabbed them up for Christian market distribution.

O’Donnell sees nothing but potential in NEEDTOBREATHE, confident that they will be one of the biggest breakout bands of the year. “When everyone else is kind of fighting against success,” O’Donnell explains of the current indie rock aesthetic, “these guys are working their tails off running towards it!” For O’Donnell, the secret to the power of the band lies in two words. “More than anything else, it’s about their mission and ambition,” he says. “Those guys—maybe more than any artists I’ve encountered—have an unbelievable work ethic and are ready to do anything it takes to have a significant career.”

With three independently released EPs under its belt, firsthand knowledge of what it takes to make it on the big stage, and a burning desire to deliver its inspiring and undyingly upbeat message of hope to any with ears to hear, NEEDTOBREATHE is poised to have an incredible launch and an amazing career.

John J. Thompson

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How much substance is there behind the hype?

If you’re a fiercely attentive Christian music fan—the kind that visits weekly, even daily—there’s a good chance you’re already anticipating the April 4th release of NEEDTOBREATHE’s major label debut. Why? You know that when Lava/Atlantic flipped over the band and offered them a contract, the South Carolina-based boys insisted they be allowed to simultaneously sign with a Christian label of their choice. And the recipient of NEEDTOBREATHE’s favor? Sparrow Records.

Sure, that scenario piqued your curiosity, but before you would highlight “April 4” on your calendar, you needed to know more. Did you investigate further and discover that sibling bandleaders Bear and Bo Rinehart were raised in a Christian home where, for many years, they were only allowed to listen to Christian music?

By the age of 17, Bear was a serious guitarist and writing songs, and Bo quickly followed in his footsteps—sort of… Bo decided to go the self-taught-make-your-own-rules route and, as a result, his creatively eccentric style of play includes picking up rather than down with the guitar pick.

Skip ahead several years—just past college—to the summer of 2005. NEEDTOBREATHE, which had formed some years earlier, was rounded out by drummer Joe Stillwell and bassist Seth Bolt. The band already had three indie EPs under its belt and was ready to record for a major label. So the lads did what any Christian-music-bred band would do—they caught the next flight to Nashville to cut their album…

Um, hardly.

The plane tickets they purchased read, “Destination: England.” Not only that, when NEEDTOBREATHE arrived in the U.K., it headed out into the countryside to a studio where renowned producer Andy Green (Keane, KT Tunstall) awaited its arrival.

And the result? Well, that’s what all the fuss is about. (That and the band’s live show.)

As a full-length debut, NEEDTOBREATHE’s Daylight is both surprising and engaging musically. The album—as in every song—is defined by both sweeping hooks and an emphasis on melody, whether via Bear’s rich, versatile vocals, his piano playing or the brothers’ divergent but complementary guitar styles.

And how does the album surprise? Simply put, Daylight is so deep on potential rock radio singles, this disc would make a good “best of” album for a lot of other bands. (Did I mention this is a debut?)

NEEDTOBREATHE is obviously indebted to Andy Green, who’s delivered a masterful production. Daylight thrives on driving, emotive rock & roll that’s stylishly presented with the aesthetic and precision of a studio wizard. Yes, it smells of big bucks and great care.

While Daylight strikes a familiar chord across the board, the band’s style isn’t reminiscent of a specific band or two so much as a regional rock sound. The impressive rhythm section of Stillwell and Bolt may be extremely direct, but the Rinehart brothers take a distinctly European approach. While their guitars are often up front and sound “big,” the album is lavished in skillful, ambient playing as the siblings make great use of space.

As far as shortcomings go, you’ll have to dig to find one with Daylight. That said, many aficionados who relish thoughtful, compelling songwriting will be left wanting. Believers may immediately connect with lyrics such as “Seas of everlasting grace/ Fall down upon this sinner’s face…” from the album’s musically representative lead single, “You Are Here.” And the same goes for the piano-entwined “Don’t Leave Just Yet” in which Bear acknowledges, “I know we don’t separate/But my sins are in the way/And I know that you don’t let me get away too far…” But if you thrive on poignant wordplay or memorable storytelling, you’ll need to look elsewhere. While the lyrics are hope-filled and technically poetic, they are positioned the same way in every track—literally each song is sung specifically to a “you.” The only diversity in that regard centers around who “you” may be. For instance, in “Haley,” Bear sings over an acoustic guitar to a romantic love interest, while in straight-ahead rocker “Shine On,” he portrays God singing encouragement to a disheartened believer.

The good news, here, is NEEDTOBREATHE’s lyricism shows significant potential. And given the artful approach the band takes with its music, you can’t help but hope for a legacy defined by songs every bit as memorable for what they communicate as for how great they sound.


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