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His Name Is Alive

His Name Is Alive may be the biggest style-riffers of the last decade -- and that's saying a lot when you think about how many style-riffers have reared their heads during that time. They're certainly the least celebrated of all the willfully eclectic musicians and bands to record music during the '90s. The group's early albums, starting with 1990's Livonia saw them working more or less in an ethereal dream-rock vein that drew comparisons to bands like My Bloody Valentine, even as they ventured out to try their hands at damaged experimental folk and Negativland-style tape collage art. Later efforts found the group playing with everything from dub to '60s pop to garage rock to psychedelic classic rock.

Increasingly though, ringleader Warn Defever's fixation with gospel and R&B took His Name Is Alive in an utterly unprecedented direction: towards making experimentally minded smooth urban balladry. The band's last few albums of the '90s (the Nice Day EP and Fort Lake) were marked by the presence of Detroit soul diva Lovetta Pippen (whom Defever rescued from a repressive local female gospel choir) and smooth soul producer Steven King. 2001's Someday My Blues Will Cover the Earth signals the final evolution of His Name Is Alive into a velvety urban pop ensemble -- if a slightly quirky one.