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Red Flag was formed in the 80's by brothers Chris and Mark Reynolds.  The two set off on an exciting adventure creating music in the fun new wave genres of the time and released their top 10 billboard single "Russian Radio" in 1988.  Most people will recognize their album Naive Art which had another top 10 hit "If I Ever", but also had several other tracks receive club and radio play through the late 80's and early 90's.  The duo would continue to write and compose music, touring extensively in support of their music.

As the popularity of the new wave scene of the 80's wound down and the so-called alternative scene took over, the band faded into the background with many other groups who didn't jump on the bandwagon of creating music for the alternative and grunge crowds of the 90's.  However, this in no way meant that the band had stopped, or even really slowed down for that matter.  Like Clan of Xymox, the band came out again full force with a darker sound which appealed to the goth/industrial crowds of the 90's, especially with the release of their excellent album The Crypt.  During this time they really took off, forming their own label Plan B Records and releasing a number of albums, remix works, singles and touring again in support of their work.

In 2003 the scene was struck with a devastating blow with the news of Mark Reynolds' untimely passing.  Besides being tragic in and of itself, his passing happened at what seemed to be the height of their success in their new artistic direction.  With this, Chris took some time off and I think for the most part, those of us that followed the band assumed that Red Flag was no more, simple a wonderful band that would be remembered and enjoyed as a classic new wave and goth/industrial band with the music they had released over their years in existence.

Fast-forward to late 2006 when news spread of Chris Reynolds bringing back Red Flag as a solo project.  He quickly dispelled questions of how and why with a few interviews and press releases.  I was elated when I received the news and of course had many of the same questions that were answered in the interviews I found.  Red Flag was in town recently for the SLC Dark Arts Festival which was a nice highlight for me.  Before the show I was able to spend a while talking with Victoria Reynolds, Chris' wife and manager and contact for anyone that has been booking shows or working with the band doing any promotion for them.  In talking with her it was exciting to get a little bit more information about the future plans for Red Flag.  They have been doing some recent live shows in support of the new album with shows in Chicago and Milwaukee and upcoming shows in Tijuana (Necropolis Fest), Chicago (Gothic Fest) and Kansas City.  Chris is already writing new music as he weathers the storm of negative comments amidst the praise and kudos from fans.  After the show I managed to grab Chris for a few minutes after the other fans had a turn getting autographs and chatting with him.  He was very kind to everyone and I thought it was nice that he took the time to visit with everyone, despite how obviously tired he was from the previous day's activities and long flight in from Chicago.  With that we bade farewell and promised that we would sit down with more time and talk more about music and the past, present and future of Red Flag, so watch for more information about that this fall.  Overall, everything we talked about was very exciting for fans as we look forward to more years of great music.

Born Again - Review

This is the album that starts the new era of Chris Reynolds solo as Red Flag and I think that fans who have followed the band through the late 90's and early millenium will enjoy the current sound he is creating on this work. The album comes packaged in a simple, but well designed and cool looking cardboard digi-pack case containing lyrics and other info.  It was really great to get my hands on this release after the long wait and surprising news that the band lives on.

The style of this album is moody and dark, though there are plenty of tracks with an uptempo club-friendly beat.  One thing I learned with this album is you want to listen to it on a system that delivers a good amount of bass, otherwise, the mid and high frequencies sound strange and lacking.  The music is mixed heavy on the lows and so it's best to listen to it with plenty of bass to get the full effect of the kick drums and awesome lower synths.  This is pretty much true on the entire album or else you really just don't get a good taste of what's offered.

"Born Again" is the title track for the album, though I think the overall album name might be symbolic of Chris' comeback as Red Flag, the track speaks more about born again Christians.  This is an excellent production and fun dance track that should do well on dancefloors and fans will enjoy as a style possibly closest to the new wave of the 80's, though with a much darker and brooding style.  Though I wouldn't really compare Red Flag to Clan of Xymox in overall style, the pattern of their music development has been similar through the years going from new wave, on through a dark synthpop, goth-flavor and now a sort of electro-industrial sound.  The dark and heaviness of the album shines through on "Doom & Gloom" with it's brooding and heavy pulsating synths and deep, melodic vocals dripping with cynicism.  After this heavy, brooding piece we're brought back with a little energy injection with "Pouring Rain", while remaining somber in vocal structure and lyrics, the tempo and synth compositions keep the listener moving.

At this point we've gained a great taste of what we're offered with the current Red Flag and I think any doubts have been disspelled now as to what Chris is capable of.  The album moves on drifting from somber to upbeat pieces, always with the heavy, pulsing bass synths and melodic vocals, at times with a lot of resonating echo and reverb.  Rejoicing through "Wonderful" and falling into the groove and rut of "Crazy" and "Twisted", the lyrics take you on a journey through the mind of someone who has been through a lot.  The music helps to portray these themes well from the moving dance-friendly beats of "Wonderful" and powerful accents of "Bangladome" to the softer, yet still emotionally charged "Last Call For Love".

After listening to the first eleven powerful pieces, we're treated with an "extended" remix of "Born Again" which I think people will enjoy as this piece will probably one of the most prominent selections from this disc.  It's something that club DJ's can use to mix well with other pieces, or as just a slightly alternate version to mix things up a bit.  And finally we're treated to a taste of the classical piano training that Chris has had in the form of "Gaslamp Paradisio".  This piece is excellent, well composed for the piano lover and includes some great layers of synths for added ethereal and ambient moods that are spellbinding.  This wraps up the album and all I can say is well done.

Rating: 4.5/5

Website: www.redflag.org

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