VOTA, formerly recognized as Casting Pearls, is reinventing themselves with a new name, new sound and new record label. Bryan Olesen, Case Maranville and Scott Rutz wanted to distinguish themselves amongst the crowds and distinguish they did. VOTA signed to INO Records earlier this year and have been busy in Franklin, TN working with producer Nathan Dantzler for their upcoming self-titled album releasing digitally in late fall 2008 with retail release date in the beginning of 2009. They are excited for their fans, both new and old, to hear their newly recorded songs live and share in the the next stage of the journey.
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VOTA [VOTA]| Posted May 19, 2009
VOTA, formerly recognized as Casting Pearls, has reinvented themselves with a new name, new sound and new record label INO Records. The self-titled album released digitally in late fall 2008 and released retail February 10, 2009. This one time trio of front man/guitarist/songwriter Bryan Olesen, also formerly a guitarist with Newsboys before forming Casting Pearls, along with bassist Case Maranville and drummer Scott Rutz expanded to four members now including guitarist/keyboardist Riley Friesen.
While Casting Pearls had more of an edgy rock sound, VOTA has more of a dance-flavored alternative rock sound, similar to Newsboys with hook-filled melodies and catchy lyrics. My favorite songs on the album are the main songs you?ll hear when you see the band in concert, which I?ve had the privilege to do twice. They were on the Sanctus Real tour last year and most recently the Newsboys tour. ?Hard To Believe? is the super-catchy opening song and a great way to jump start this solid album. Here are Bryan Olesen?s comments about the song: ?The more I dwell on what I really have in Christ, the more bold and excited I become about life. He loves you and I in a way that?s not shown anywhere else.?
The next songs ?Be Mine? and ?Love?s Taken Over? are also great examples of the uptempo dance rock style of the album with great messages about what it means to have God?s love take over your life. ?Honestly? is one of those great personal ballads that I keep coming back to on this album. Bryan?s sincere vocals and personal testimony of the power of grace and mercy is very memorable and another great song to hear live. ?Not Finished? and ?I?ll Go? are great rockers and have great energy. My other favorite song on the album is ?Free To Fail? with the message of submitting our lives to God and having security in knowing He?s given us life and the freedom to fail and get back up and live for Him.
VOTA has| Posted February 12, 2009
Just how big is Casting Crowns? Well their third album, The Alter and the Door, was the second biggest album in the country when it hit stores (behind High School Musical 2’s soundtrack). They are also big enough to force the Nebraska natives group formerly called Casting Pearls to change their name to VOTA. Drummer Scott Rutz says “It’s a new day and a new chapter for this band,” about VOTA’s technical self titled debut.
Casting Pearl’s pop/rock/punk act remains intact remains mostly intact (with the exception of checking most of the punk at the door) drawing comparisons to the Newsboys upbeat pop acts. Leading off the album is “hard to believe in” which starts off well with a cry of ‘turn my world around’ and progresses to become snappy, upbeat pop/rock song which could be labeld as generic. “Give it to me” sound like “hard to believe in” with a throwback rock sound that isn’t flattering and “bye bye” hovers around original pop music and incoherent recklessness. However not all of VOTA’s efforts at originality end poorly because “Be mine” changes from a aggressive pop sound, similar to those of a former song “alright”, to the light refrain that is innovative.
The techno pop “Loves taken over” takes the album on a brief, but diverse electronic detour, and while VOTA didn’t invent the pop/punk wheel that “free to fail” spins on, the riffs help the tune to become catchy. “I’ll go” sounds like old school Sanctus Real in the worst way with the edgy rock beat and the gritty hooks. “In my heart” is like a Afters’ ballad from their debut album complete with a adult contemporary/light pop sound with some worship sprinkled in for good measure.
By the time the last song goes by there is a feeling that VOTA’s lyrics contain little more than empty anthems. “Hard to believe in” does tackle redemption ( ‘oh how I've wasted time/I spent my life running from you…You filled my heart with Your love/and turned my world around’) and “bye bye” sounds cliché (give me peace/make me whole’). Like the before mentioned most of the albums references of Christ are restricted to clear pronouns. Among unchallenging songs like “I’ll go” and “be mine” stands “free to fail” and “save ourselves” which admits futility without Christ: ‘we cannot save ourselves we’. A surprising edge is shown on “Give it to me” (‘give me a sign/give us something real’).
VOTA has erred on the side of caution. Instead of casting their lot with upbeat acts like MxPx, Run Kid Run, and Hawk Nelson as Casting Pears, VOTA toned down their music to appeal to a more contemporary crowd. However in doing so the band may have sealed off a portion of a would-be fan base who would have liked their catchy punk/rock tunes and lost those Newsboys fans who may feel that “not finished” might be too heavy for their tastes. VOTA’s self titled disc puts themselves in the middle and it will be interesting to see if their music will be innovated enough to attract fans they won’t get with their lyrics.
VOTA [VOTA]| Posted November 11, 2008 [MAIN REVIEW]
VOTA’s self-titled debut album is an upbeat mixture of the past and the present. Retro, Pop sounds blanket the album from beginning to end with hints of Tom Petty, Weezer, DC Talk, Newsboys and even Def Leopard. Solid hooks and tried and true melodies make the tracks easy to listen to while passing time. While no song on the album is particularly deep or introspective, there are points along the way that may cause you to reflect.
Concerning the lyrics, I found that references to The Almighty were often substituted with non-descriptive pronouns and more generic expressions of love. Overall messages contained in songs like “Be Mine”, “I’ll Go”, “Save Ourselves”, “Bye Bye” were somewhat general while other tracks like “Free Fail”, “Love’s Taken Over” and “Honestly” focused a bit more on Christian oriented themes.
For the music’s part, the soundtrack on VOTA was both eclectic and nostalgic. With so many familiar chords, you’ll find that your ears get excited in the same way they might if you were listening to an iTunes mix of favorites from the 80s and 90s. The distinctly stylized approach transmitted by way of pitchy guitars, synthesizers, drum machines and crowd echoes turn VOTA’s current effort into more of a modern throwback.
In the end, I found none of the songs on this release really stuck with me for very long. And although an album filled with fun, catchy and reminiscent tunes might satisfy some, other listeners will prefer newer sounds with songs offering a bit more redeeming value.
VOTA’s debut album is an entertaining take me away, good when exercising or at the office. If you’re looking for songs that will express or even challenge your faith – this is not that album. However, if what you want is a solid retro-style pick-me-up, you might want to consider it.
For more Christian Music Reviews By Aaron, visit: http://reviewsbyaaron.com
Big Surprise| Posted December 17, 2009
this cd was a big surprise to me. I didnt think I would like it very much but it was good. "Hard To Believe" is great. This album is in my top twenty Christian albums of 2009.
outstanding debut| Posted November 14, 2009
VOTA's debut record impressed me greatly,from a music point of view it was amazing and looking at the lyrics it was incredible.Not many bands can put out a debut album,that in my opinion,might be album of the year materiel.My personal favorite tracks are "Hard to Believe","I'll Go",and "Give it To Me".VOTA also has put out two great music videos fro the album two,with the "Hard to Believe" being one of the best music videos to ever be released.I deffinately recommend this album to anyone who enjoys pop music or who enjoys music all-togehter.
VOTA| Posted October 12, 2009
Vota, formerly Casting Pearls (who for some reason, has a page that sounds like they're still currently a band...), put out a great album. I had been looking for a new band, and when a friend introduced me to them, I was hooked. Their songs are all different, which is refreshing, because many bands just produce 13 songs, and 10 of them sound about the same. "Hard To Believe" is actually one of their hits, but that is the only track that I don't really like from the cd (they sound like the Newsboys...). Great album!
Unique "new" debut album| Posted August 05, 2009
This is a debut album from a band that changed their name from Casting Pearls to avoid confusion with Casting Crowns. It is a good thing they did because they are a very unique band. They have a rock sound to them but then they have a couple of pop songs as well. I look forward to their next album.
Great Album from VOTA| Posted March 12, 2009
This album from VOTA, self-titled, is such a great album. I saw them in concert for the first time when they toured with the Newsboys on the Join the Tribe Tour. This cd has so many great songs that send out such an awesome message. The song "Honestly" is a great song that sends out the message of just being who you are and not hiding anything. I love it. This is a cd that is a "must get" and one that is "can't stop listening to" type of cd. I highly recommend it for all you Christian Rock lovers! :) All around awesome cd! YEAHHH VOTAAA!
Bryan Oleson--Newsboys, Casting Pearls, and now VOTA| Posted February 23, 2009
Guess what I just did? I downloaded Hard to Believe of iTunes. Being a hardcore Newsboys fan I've heard of this dude named Bryan and how he had this band Casting Pearls. Never looked into it. I'd heard about this VOTA deal, never looked into it. Until today and I'm really very glad I did.
This band has got eleven well-written and musically excellent tracks to offer the world of Christian music fans, maybe even a few non-Christian music fans, via this record.
When I try to label their music there is no particular band or artist that comes to mind. They've kind of got their own thing going here. Bryan has a distinct voice, it's different and maybe a little southern sounding but it works here, it really works. The music is electric, full of guitar and those drums everyone loves, and the lyrics --like I said-- are well written and thought inducing like lyrics aught to be.
As I end this review I sit here tapping my foot, I'm itching to get up and dance or atleast do a little head banging.
For VOTA fans: this is worth your wait; and for those just starting out: you're in for something good.
Vota| Posted February 16, 2009
I am actually really impressed with these guys. I wasn't a huge fan of Casting Pearls,but I am loving VOTA's music. Their song Hard To Believe is definitely my favorite off this record. :) I think this band has a bright future!
saw them concert - awesome!| Posted January 19, 2009
These guys are veterans. Very entertaining in concert too! They have light alternative sound with great encouraging lyrics. "Honestly" is a very inspiring soung about being real for other Christians to see work God has done in your life, but acknowledges that we are not perfect. Very fun, upbeat album. Choruses can get a little repetitive, but are catchy.