The One21 Essential 100 Pt.16

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
Check out Pt.13

Check out Pt.14
Derek Webb Stockholm Syndrome
Stockholm Syndrome
Derek Webb

2009
Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
There are many things about Stockholm Syndrome that are not surprising, despite its reputation. It is not surprising that Derek Webb would try to further himself as an artist and musician by constructing an album completely outside his “safety genre” by shedding his singer/songwriter sound and instead adopting electronic dance beats. Think more Thom Yorke than Bob Dylan. It is also not surprising that not only did Webb change genres, but that he would produce an album that sounded like progressive electronic had been his style his entire career. He excelled. It is not surprising that the album would be diverse, it is not surprising that the album would be controversial. Yet, Stockholm Syndrome never ceases to surprise.

For many reading this right now, you may have already heard about the dark cloud surrounding the album concerning the track “What Matters More”. For most, the one curse word uttered in the second verse of the song has completely overshadowed the fact that not only is Stockholm Syndrome an amazing album of music, but it is an important album that will ever change the face of modern Christian music. If Stockholm Syndrome had been awful, or even mediocre, or even just “good”, the amount of conversation surrounding it would never have occurred. The simple fact is that Derek Webb has created a classic, one that challenges and entertains, and it will be talked about for many years to come.
Highlights: Black Eye, The Spirit vs. The Kick Drum, Heaven, What Matters More

Norma Jean-Bless The Martyr & Kiss the Child
Bless the Martyr & Kiss The Child
Norma Jean

2002
Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
Bless The Martyr & Kiss The Child is a atom bomb of an album. Not many CDs in the metal/hardcore community are considered classics the moment they come out, but this one was. Norma Jean’s first album took the term “metalcore” and reinvented it, and the effects have been felt in the scene ever since.

The album is brutal, dark, driving, and creative. Norma Jean made a complex and interesting album without making the music itself complex. The riffs are simple, the recording is flawed in places (it was recorded live in studio), and sound is unpolished. Yet, Bless The Martyr & Kiss The Child was light years from its peers, it was able to take those elements and make them significant. The mistakes made the album feel more personal, the bombastic song structures were only made possible by the simpler parts. Everything just came together in such a perfect way.

The album made Norma Jean THE band to beat, and since then they have become one of the most prominent figures in the metal/hardcore scene. Bless The Martyr & Kiss The Child is the finest work by an incredible band, and there are very few who can take that away.
Highlights: Memphis Will Be Laid To Waste, I Used To Hate Cell Phones But Now I Hate Car Accidents, The Human Face Divine, Face:Face

Enter The Worship Circle Village Thrift Circa 2003
Village Thrift Circa 2005
Enter The Worship Circle

2005
Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
Enter The Worship Circle is a collection of artists who come together and create modern worship music. In many of their incarnations, they have appeared as a group of hippie/folk artists who create songs for God out of drum circle sessions and late night sing alongs. Village Thrift: Circa 2005 is something completely different. Somehow, these artist were able to take the communal feeling of the drum circles and translate that into driving, electronic dance songs.

While the “village of voices” effect is still there, much of Village Thrift: Circa 2005 integrates the seemingly opposing musical styles into a beautiful product that makes you want sing and jump up and down at the same time. Every song a little bit more bizarre than the last, you will hear choir vocals, looped samples, hip-hop, drum’n’bass, house techno, and worship all in the same place. It may sound strange, but it works, and makes for songs that are as fresh five years later as they were when I first heard them.
Highlights: Make Me Feel, All You Angels, Wake Up Sleepy, How Sweet

Scott Blackwell- Walk On The Wild Side
Walk On The Wild Side
Scott Blackwell

1992
The hottest DJ in 1970’s New York, Scott Blackwell opened Palladium in the 70’s, working seven turntables at once to create a mind boggling tsunami of dance beats. Once Scott Blackwell turned his back on the New York fast lane for a relationship with Jesus he disappeared for a while. He returned with a bang in 1982 pioneering Gospel dance music and forming the first gospel dance label NSoul Records.

Walk On The Wild Side is the first full length accumulation of his work, after a decade of remixes and EPs. It is mostly straightforward House music, but one track stands apart. In “My King” Scott Blackwell took a public domain sermon from the Library of Congress and laid it over an infectious chill groove. Several acts, most prominently Raving Loonatics built entire albums on this style of delivering the Word into a club setting. Walk On The Wild Side set the standard for Christian dance music and Scott Blackwell continues to be the godfather of the scene.
Highlights: My King, Walk On The Wild Side, Keep The Fire Burning(Heaping Coals Mix)

cool hand luke Wake Up O’ Sleeper
Wake Up O’ Sleeper
Cool Hand Luke

2003
Buy this album: Amazon
Hush, little boy, don’t say a word
Don’t you know Daddy’s got this one?
Hey, little boy, bury your sword
Jesus already won this war

The chorus of the opening song, “Heroes Will Be Heroes”, off of Cool Hand Luke’s 2003 CD Wake Up O’ Sleeper immediately sets up listeners for the band’s message. Surrender. With deeply introspective lyrics, soaring atmospheric guitars, and the broken whisper of frontman, Mark Nickes, Cool Hand Luke has evolved from their early screamo days to become a unique and progressive voice in Christian art rock.

The music of Wake Up O’Sleeper walks the line of driving progressive rock and straight worship music. Every given track on the album bleeds honesty, creativity, and conviction. Cool Hand Luke is one of those bands you “haven’t really listened to” until you are in a dark room by yourself, with a pair of over sized headphones as the speakers. At all times delicate, and at all times driving, Wake Up O’Sleeper has hence dictated what truly spiritual rock could sound like from that point on.

In 2003, I was tired. I had been at Cornerstone Festival all week, and it was a hot year. I had been going through a lot in my life at the time, a relationship that I had been very happy in had ended the night before I traveled to the festival. I was starting a new school in a few months, and I was struggling with where my life was going at the time. I had three more bands on my list to see, but in the heat of the afternoon on my last day there, all I wanted to do was rest. I wondered into a tent close to my camp site, and just sat down. The band playing was just walking up onto the stage and getting settled. The background music faded, and a voice came over the mic and said:
“We are Cool Hand Luke, thank you for worshiping with us”

I stayed in that tent for an hour and didn’t move, speak, or even stand up. I let the music surround me and just let myself relax. The majority of the music they played that day was from their newly released Wake Up O’Sleeper album. I looked around the tent to see the members of Underoath, Norma Jean, mewithoutYou, Pedro The Lion, and Nodes of Ranvier standing transfixed as I was. When I stood up, I felt rejuvenated, happy, and lighter. I have always remembered what Cool Hand Luke’s music did to me that day, and for what God did in my heart during their short set.
Highlights: Heroes Will Be Heroes, One Time, So It Shall Be, This Is Love

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