DAVE'S T0P 20 CHRISTIAN MARKET ALBUMS OF 2012

Posted by WBFJ | | Posted on 1:27 PM

I hope this list finds you just in time to be of some help when stuffing those stockings this Christmas. I call them as I hear them and, to my ears, these 20 albums represent the best in Christian music in 2012.
Agree? Disagree? Don't see your favorites on the list? Feel free to leave a comment and let me and the other listeners know your preferences. All opinions are subjective so yours is valid!
Let's count 'em down.
20. CHILDREN 18:3 – “ON THE RUN” (Tooth & Nail) The 3 Hostetter siblings (David, LeeMarie, and Seth) have always been just on the verge of greatness and with “On The Run” they’ve officially kicked that door in. “On The Run” is, on the surface, a soundtrack of young adult angst under the watchful eye of Christ’s life-saving grace. Digging deeper you find universal themes of loneliness, separation, longing, and joy that apply to almost anyone who’s ever taken a breath.
19. MATT & TOBY – “MATT & TOBY” (Tooth & Nail) Side projects can be dicey. I’ll admit I had my doubts about this offshoot from Emery’s Matt Carter & Toby Morrell, especially since I’m of the opinion that Emery is one of the absolute best at what they do. But the simple fact that Toby’s unmistakable voice gets more prominence in this setting gave this one a fairly good shot out of the gate. This one really won me over, however, with the sense of being drawn into every story being told, leaving me feeling as if I’d actually been a part of several days in the lives of Matt & Toby, something that I don’t get with the half-screaming, half-clean vocals of an Emery record.
18. LECRAE – “GRAVITY” (Reach) If there was any reason left to wonder why LeCrae’s name is ALWAYS mentioned first when it comes to the genre of “Holy Hip Hop,” it’s put to bed for good on “Gravity.” This is a little more street-wise than previous releases and the melodies aren’t quite as evident at first. But it’s in the repeated listening where LeCrae’s urgency and flow get their hooks in.
17. MIKE MAINS & THE BRANCHES – “HOME” (Platinum Pop) Quirky vocals and jangly indie rock are the order of the day for Mike Mains & The Branches debut. This is everything that’s good about your local college radio station with a dash of mainstream radio readiness thrown in to make it that much more accessible. Mains’ voice works well in the contexts of both soft moments and growls, both of which can be experienced on the album’s centerpiece, “Beneath Water.”
16. PROJECT 86 – “WAIT FOR THE SIREN” (Indie) Andrew Schwab is arguably the most lyrically eloquent man in rock music, Christian or otherwise. Bordering on being a concept album, “Wait For The Siren’s” tracks nevertheless stand alone as individual battle cries of spiritual warfare. If you didn’t already know Schwab’s a published author, one perusal of the lyrics would have you thinking that he needs to write a book.
15. KB – “WEIGHT & GLORY” (Reach) Hard to believe that Kevin Burgess, aka “KB,” isn’t a seasoned “PRO” (leaning on the former stage name of his label-mate, Derek Minor), on his first full-length. “Weight & Glory” clicks on all cylinders, hitting hard when necessary while also getting confessional when the mood is right. Tracks like “Open Letter” take guts to put out in the Christian market and KB completely passes the gut check by doing so and, thus, casting a wider net.
14. SIXPENCE NONE THE RICHER – “LOST IN TRANSITION” (Indie) By now you could probably write the script – Sixpence produces a fantastic album, goes into relative obscurity, and then re-emerges several years later sounding as if they’ve never left. Haven’t we seen this before? Well, history repeats itself on “Lost In Transition” as Matt and Leigh come back sounding as if they’ve lost nothing at all.
13. PROPAGANDA – “EXCELLENT” (Humble Beast) More spoken word over beats than hip hop, Propaganda’s “Excellent” actually defies categorization in most respects. As the redeemed son of a former Black Panther, Propaganda has absolutely no issues with speaking his mind regardless of the consequences. More than living up to its Monty Burns-ish title, this one is a lyrical tour de force with both historical and eternal perspectives.
12. ALL SONS & DAUGHTERS – “SEASON ONE” (Integrity) I rather enjoyed Jackson Waters, the one and done former band of David Leonard, but he’s rebounded quite nicely since their demise with All Sons & Daughters, along with worship partner, Leslie Jordan. Sparse and acoustic are the by-words here but simplistic surely isn’t. If this title portends future output, and going by their recent EP release, it just might, I’ll be on board for as many seasons as this duo is around.
11. THE ROCKET SUMMER – “LIFE WILL WRITE THE WORDS” (Aviate) For someone who writes every note, plays every instrument, and sings every word on his albums, Bryce Avary sure doesn’t sound stressed. His last album, “Of Men And Angels” was a stunner, bounding with the energy of a young man with lots to say about his relationship with Christ and the complexities of walking it out through his relationships. “Life” continues in that fashion and, in this case, more of the same actually works rather than becoming redundant.
10. DEREK WEBB – “CTRL” (Fair Trade) Lyrics such as those found in “I Feel Everything” might help those disenfranchised with the controversial Mr. Webb to somewhat understand what’s going on when he offers up a new album. There is no “typical” Derek Webb so just forget about pegging him. If you’re familiar with Sacred Harp singing (“Cold Mountain” soundtrack), you’ll appreciate how Webb’s genius works to incorporate it into the proceedings on “Ctrl.”
9. HOUSE OF HEROES – “COLD HARD WANT” (Gotee) If “Suburba” was 2 steps back for you, consider “Cold Hard Want” a step and half forward for the HOH guys, who nearly approached the mastery that was, and still is, “The End Is Not The End.” Tim Skipper is one of the most insightful lyricists in any style of music and when songs like “The Cop” come completely out of left field, you’re left to wonder just what this band can do to amaze you next.
8. THE CLASSIC CRIME – “PHOENIX” (Indie) One of the most cohesive and well-planned rock albums of the year also doesn’t lack for spontaneity and exuberance. It seems as if going indie, and all that’s involved in doing so, has allowed The Classic Crime the freedom to simply do what they do best – create art that comes to the end of itself, asks the tough questions, waits for the answers rather than spoon-feeing them to you, while trusting that the Creator is big enough to guide the search.
7. BRANDON HEATH – “BLUE MOUNTAIN” (Reunion) I’ve always taken Brandon Heath to be one those radio-safe, Adult Contemporary singer-songwriters that your grandmother would love. Having said that, there have been moments on each of his previous albums when he’s come close to the cliff and considered jumping from safety. Still, I wasn’t prepared for the running leap that is “Blue Mountain.” This is what singer-songwriter pop from a Christian worldview should be.
6. FLATFOOT 56 – “TOIL” (Paper & Plastick) I never get tired of these guys and their brand of bagpipe playing, kilt wearing, Celtic-infused, Americana rock & roll. “Toil,” contrary to its title, is more fun than a bowl of Lucky Charms, so it comes as a bit of surprise when you find yourself singing some pretty profound truths, gang style, in your head when it’s all over.
5. JSON – “GROWING PAINS” (Lamp Mode) In a year that saw many of Christian Hip Hop’s heavy hitters come out to play, JSON rather quietly outdid them all with this smoothly flowing, often unabashedly frank, collection of tunes about his faith journey. “Keeping it real” doesn’t even come close to being a cliché on “Growing Pains.” Surprisingly, no Kirk Cameron guest appearance, though.
4. THE CHOIR – “THE LOUDEST SOUND EVER HEARD” (Galaxy 21) You probably shouldn’t take the title literally in this case, as anyone who knows The Choir knows you’re going to get mellow, ambient, thought provoking tunes rather than gratuitous noise . Taking our Lord’s command to love each other seriously and weaving that theme throughout, The Choir produces arguably their best work in a decade.
3. ANBERLIN – “VITAL” (Universal Republic) Doesn’t the title pretty much say it all? This one approaches “Cities” level of excellence for Anberlin, more than making up for any lapses on their last two offerings. This is the record you’ve been waiting for the band to make since they signed that big mainstream deal.
2. ANDREW PETERSON – “LIGHT FOR THE LOST BOY” (Centricity) I dare you to find a better songwriter than Peterson, who exceeds his own best efforts here. Any doubts that the fuller band sound would detract from Peterson’s storytelling are laid to rest quickly and effectively by “The Cornerstone” which tips its hat to The 77s (!) quite unexpectedly 2 tracks in.
1. DAVID CROWDER * BAND – “GIVE US REST OR (A REQUIEM MASS IN C {THE HAPPIEST OF ALL KEYS})” (sixsteps/Sparrow) I called this in January upon its release. DCB was just beginning to hit their stride when they announced their breakup, but if they must leave, this was the way to go. When its whiplash-producing unpredictability finishes pairing itself with its fresh-as-a-new wound vulnerability, you’re left thinking “What was that?” Then, after taking a moment to collect yourself, you think “whatever it was, it was brilliant.”




















Comments (3)

All these albums that made this list for 2012 are very powerful and spirit filled. Praise God we have dedicated individuals such as these guys. Crossroad Radio is that Hotness!!
I pray to be one of those artist on that list next year.

Peace and Love,

Mr. GP

All the artist that made this list for 2012 have made a impact on many lives around the nation. I pray I will be one of those artist to join the ranks. Praise God for Crossroad Radio

Peace and Love

Mr.GP

All the artist that made this list for 2012 have made a impact on many lives around the nation. I pray I will be one of those artist to join the ranks. Praise God for Crossroad Radio

Peace and Love

Mr.GP