Rick Altizer

Neon Fixation

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Released less than a year after Blue Plate Special, Rick Altizer's sophomore offering, Neon Fixation, illustrates Altizer's learning curve: He's removed many of the elements that didn't work on his debut (specifically the drum machines) and replaced them with more exotic experimentation. Strings, jangly acoustic guitars, and even percussive elements like bongos make the occasional appearance, adding significantly more color and texture this time around. Changes aside, however, Neon Fixation follows a very similar pattern to Blue Plate Special: Altizer still writes mostly mid- to up-tempo pop/rock material spiced up with meatier instrumental passages. He's written some hookier material this time, though, such as on the almost-Cars-ish "TV Preacher" and "Let It Go" and on both "Disco Ball" and "Ray Guns and Plastic Flash," two of the most memorable singles in his canon. While still technically a Christian release, Altizer's lyrics tend to focus more on philosophy and spirituality, as well as the corruption of organized religion (look no further than "TV Preacher"), meaning that he doesn't alienate non-Christian fans in the way that some CCM artists tend to do. The one overtly Christian cut on the album, "I'll Say Yes (She Said Yes)," is a power ballad written to pay tribute to Cassie Bernall, who died in the Columbine slayings in April of 1999. [Three of the songs from Neon Fixation were also later included in 2001's (All Tie Zer), a compilation on secular power pop label Not Lame Records.]

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