The One21 Essential 100 Pt.13

essential100 copy

The One21 Essential 100 is a collection of albums that represent the best in creativity, innovation, and originality in music. This is not a “best of” list, nor is it influenced by album sales, or even popularity. Our attempt with this series is to highlight the gems, those rare albums that push boundaries and encourage new ways of thinking; both musical and philosophically. In our opinion, the music highlighted in this series is the “good stuff”.

Simply what this is going to be is a list of 100 albums from Christian music artists that we think you should own. Like our website, most genres will be represented, and some of the albums will be from as far back as the 60s, to as current as 2009. Each week we will post five albums, in no real order, with descriptions, album artwork, and places to buy the music.

Check out Pt.1
Check out Pt.2
Check out Pt.3
Check out Pt.4
Check out Pt.5
Check out Pt.6
Check out Pt.7
Check out Pt.8
Check out Pt. 9
Check out Pt.10
Check out Pt.11
Check out Pt.12

pigeon john is clueless
Pigeon John Is…Clueless
Pigeon John

Buy this album: Amazon MP3, iTunes
Perhaps if you cant understand the appeal on Pigeon John Is…Clueless from the opening track, you may never get it. But that is okey, because that is whole point.

In 2002 Pigeon John broke off from his LA Symphony crew to release a collection of songs he had been recording for the past several years. The result is an album that finds a young man struggling with his own identity; not quite ready to become a full on adult, but aware of his responsibilities an emcee no longer in his teens. Pigeon John‘s world class wit is always present, but he doesn’t use it as a crutch in which his entire style is based. It is funny that his earliest work is perhaps his most complex, interesting, and deep.

On top of the content, the actual music in Pigeon John Is…Clueless is perhaps the gem here. Too many times we focus on lyrics when it comes to emcees, but Pigeon John also has a knack to find beats the suit his personality in a way that cant be explained until you hear it. Elements of Q-Tip, and his former crew are always present, but Pigeon John Is…Clueless is a bold declaration from a then up and coming emcee who refuses to follow any body else’s rules, even if it means working a 9-5 to make it happen.
Highlights: Los Angeles Rap Music, Clueless, Rap Contest

World Wide Message Tribe - Heatseeker
World Wide Message Tribe

Buy this album: Amazon
The U.K.’s World Wide Message Tribe were the holy herald in the 90’s Christian dance scene with both street-cred and Jesus testimony. World Wide Message Tribe cultivated a hybrid of house, techno, hip-hop, and rap with the idea that if the booty shakes, the soul will follow. Adding a touch of ambient along with a disco streak to its glorious mess of praise, World Wide Message Tribe took the 1999 Dove Award for Rap/Hip-Hop/Dance Album of the Year with Heatseeker.

With Heatseaker, World Wide Message Tribe delivered an album that reflected dance music trends of the late 90’s. With influences from bands like the Chemical Brothers and Prodigy, tracks like “Heatseeker,” and “Hypocrite,” were hard driving techno screams. “Messiah” and “Lift It Up” were straight up house dance tracks. In “Hypocrite” the singer talks about being himself a “Hypocrite” for not always being willing to share Christ with others, an idea taken from Paul’s letter to the Romans. Also appearing is a house version of Bob Dylan‘s “Precious Angel.” As usual, the lyrics are blatantly Christian but never formalistic.
Highlights: Hypocrite, Messiah, Lift It


Buy this album: iTunes, Amazon
What we all thought was David Eugene Edward’s solo foray while on a break from the legendary 16 Horsepower, Wovenhand ultimately killed 16 Horsepower and has surpassed that band’s shattering vision and singular presence on the Christian music scene. Mostly recorded by Edwards in his Colorado studio, the debut, Wovenhand, retains the dark vision and gothic folk elements of the previous band but softens the music with keyboards and muted percussion. The lyrics are at times David’s most spiritual and even sentimental, but what a distressing sentimentality.

The bookends of “My Russia” and “Your Russia” recount personal conviction and promise ultimate sanctification, the slip and the grip of grace, with a devastating intensity and plain sincerity that rivals anything David Eugene Edwards has ever recorded with Wovenhand or 16 Horsepower. Add to that a brooding, stomping cover of Bill Wither’s “Ain’t No sunshine” and you have a debut of devastating power and beauty.
Highlights: My Russia/Your Russia, Arrow Head, Ain’t No Sunshine

La Dispute-Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair
Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair
La Dispute

Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
Pure and genuine emotion and passion is so hard to find in music these days. Most times passion is mistaken for busy or loud. Emotion is mistaken for tone. It is rare you can hear either true emotion or passion partnered with true talent and ability. The moment I saw La Dispute ate Cornerstone Festival in 2007, I knew I had found a band with all four. In 2008, they released a monster of an album called Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair. I am still trying to understand it.

The band’s sound lies somewhere in the bombastic punk/rock furiousity of At The Drive-In, and the steady intelligence of mewithoutYou. The band pours into every song three times the ability of their peers, and somehow are able to focus it in a way that makes every valley feel like a warm summer day, and every explosion feel like being pushed off of a cliff.

Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair is a always attacking collection of songs that deal with thoughts of regret, questioning, hope, and anger. Every thought meticulously planned out, every time change carefully executed. For any fan of post-hardcore, progressive punk, or just really good music, this is a must have.
Highlights: Amazon, Bury Your Flame, Andria

Welcome To The Welcome Wagon
Welcome To The Welcome Wagon
The Welcome Wagon

Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
Don’t let the release date of Welcome To The Welcome Wagon fool you, the music contained within is not of this era. Yet, it is more of the Great Depression era of gospel/folk, easily played in a church or kitchen depending on the inspiration.

You see, a few years back, The Reverend Thomas Vito Aiuto and his wife Monique started teaching themselves how to play old traditional hymns because they felt that the songs needed to be played again. After a while, one of their congregation members took notice and offered to help arrange a produce a CD for them. They said yes.

That congregation member was Sufjan Stevens, and what was created between the three members of The Welcome Wagon is at all times spiritual, joyful, fun, and reverent. These aren’t “jazzed up” versions of hymns, so hidden beneath walls of slick production that they no longer resemble their original form. These are rough, stripped down takes on traditional songs that both celebrate and rejuvenate the songs for a new generation.

It look likes that this may be the only thing we ever hear from Vito and Monquie, as they are still tending to their flock, but the joy and release you get from listening to Welcome To The Welcome Wagon may just be enough.
Highlights: Up On a Mountain, He Never Said a Mumblin’ Word, But For You Who Fear My Name


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