The One21 Best Of 2009 Pt.2

2009 is almost over, and in the world of music, that means one thing, Best Of lists! At One21, we wanted to wait a little bit to post ours; because to me posting a “Best Of” list before Thanksgiving is kinda like nominating Avatar for Best Drama the week before it is screened for critics.

Wait, yea, that happened….

Anyways, we consider these albums to be the cream of what was released this year. we aren’t going to do a count down though, so in no particular order, here are the last 12 albums that made 2009 great:

Album of the year

manchester orchestra mean everything to nothing
Mean Everything To Nothing
Manchester Orchestra


Why we picked it: When you are able to marry both catchiness and intelligence, then you created something very special. Manchester Orchestra have done just that with equal parts gritty garage rock, progressive indie, and angry post-hardcore combined to result in a cohesive group of songs that not only build on each other, but also communicate a vast range of emotion and mood. Every song has something that you didn’t hear the first time (or the second), and Mean Everything To Nothing will keep you coming back. In plain English, this is a phenomenal album.
Buy: Amazon, iTunes

Best of the rest

michelle_shocked soul of my soul
Soul Of My Soul
Michelle Shocked
Why we picked it:
Another tour de force featuring musical styles and sharp lyrics, Soul of My Soul is another Michelle Shocked masterpiece. She employs many musical styles from folk to reggae to rock to gospel on this fifth album since she converted to Christianity. Joy, sadness and anger permeate this record about relationships, her faith and the world we face. Another brilliant offering from one of rock’s most respected artists.
Buy:Amazon, iTunes

fiction family
Fiction Family
Fiction Family


Why we picked it: This side project from Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman and Nickel Creek guitarist Sean Watkins sounds like anything but. Beautiful clear melodies, strong production and mostly acoustic instrumentation enable the songs soar. Hopefully, not a one time side project, Fiction Family could challenge Wilco for the title as top purveyor of middle period Beatles style music.
Buy:Amazon, iTunes

To Tell The Story Kelly Parks
To Tell The Story
Kelly Parks
Why we picked it:
One of the Christian scene’s truly great underground artists, Kelly (Jones) Parks returned in 2009 after a 7 year absence from the recording studio. To Tell The Story was worth it. Bouncy songs delivered in Parks crystal clear will have you embarrassing yourself in traffic as you sing along with her direct lyrics about our faith, out joy and our challenges.
Buy:iTunes

melinda doolittle coming back to you
Coming Back To You
Melinda Doolittle

Why we picked it: If you like your soul music circa 1969; strong, direct without embellishment; then welcome home. This former American Idol third place finisher has delivered the best, least effected, record ever by any AI contestant. She has the pipes so she does not try to impress with histrionics, which is great. That allows us to enjoy these songs about faith and relationships without needing to push aside auto tuners or annoying vocal runs. A fantastic soul record.
Buy: Amazon, iTunes

cas metah guest room
Guest Room
Cas Metah

Why we picked it: If there are any emcees reading this right now, I want to ask you to do something this year; listen to Guest Room and take notes. Every track on this album is quality, each one lending something to the others: there are enough fun, chill songs to balance out the more serious, darker tracks. On top of that Cas Metah is a great emcee, and on top of that he has attracted an amazing line up to guest on each song (hence why it is called Guest Room). All of this and you got some really interesting beats to make it all come together. This is what hip-hop should be; Christian, Underground, East or West Coast, whatever. Like I said, take notes…
Buy: Amazon MP3, iTunes

paper route absence
Absence
Paper Route

Why we picked it: Paper Route continues to amaze with a striking blend of electronic indie rock music. Layer upon layer of sounds create a collage of music and soundscapes for the love songs of joy and pain. “Are We All Forgotten” is one of the most beautiful songs of 2009.
Buy: Amazon, iTunes

Awake O' Sleeper- Lisa Heinrichs
Awake O’ Sleeper
Lisa Heinrichs

Why we picked it: This little known, in the States, folk, country singer from Canada delivered a marvelous debut album in 2009. Lisa Heinrichs has a striking, clear voice, a sense of humor and a sense of purpose. Her combination of faith based songs and political statements will make you think and dance, all at the same time.
Buy:Amazon MP3, iTunes

josh garrels lost animals
Lost Animals
Josh Garrels
Why we picked it:
Another treasure chest of beatbox, stream of consciousness theology from our favorite hippie troubadour. Listening to Garrels you will surely dance. You will also pull out your Bible, pray and contemplate your theology and your relationship with God. You will have a good time at it all.
Buy: iTunes

advent naked and cold
Naked And Cold
Advent

Why we picked it: Advent IS spirit-filled hardcore. Naked And Cold IS Advent. There simply isn’t anybody doing this particular brand of abrasive metal-core anymore, and I’m starting to think that it may be because it might kill lesser men. Not Advent though, this is the type of music played to start revolutions and break down walls. Unlike their Black Flag predecessors, Advent is trying to start a revolution of the heart, a re-emergence of people proud to call Christ their Savior, and willing to die for His name. Some people might call that a revival, and I think that’s what Naked And Cold might be all about.
Buy: Amazon, iTunes

dignan_Cheaters_&_Thieves
Cheaters & Thieves
Dignan

Why we picked it: Put Cheaters & Thieves in a mix tomorrow with any of the big names in rock today, and I guarantee that you ears will perk up every time one of the tracks shuffles in. There is something very dark and painful happening here, and there are many times you actually feel like you are witnessing vocalist Andy trying to sing away his demons. Slow, trudging progressions allow this album to breathe the way it should; it’s as if they went any faster the songs might shatter. This is the kind of music that sticks with you long after you stop listening, and Dignan might be the best at it.
Buy: Amazon MP3, iTunes

bosque brown baby
Baby
Bosque Brown

Why we picked it: Now for something completely different than anything you have heard in the Christian or secular scene this year. Mara Lee Miller, the heart and soul and voice of Bosque Brown, sounds as if Tom Waits and Patsy Cline had a child gave her a collection of Kris Kristofferen and Joy Division records and left in a trailer in the desert. This record is a haunting mix of minimalist, indie folk, classic country. We have been mesmerized all year.
Buy: Amazon, iTunes

It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All A Dream! It's Alright mewithoutyou
It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Alright
mewithoutYou

Why we picked it: Perhaps one of the more debated albums of the year, the latest installment in the mewithoutYou saga sees the band fully embrace their indie folk influences. All the aggression from past albums is replaced with a joyful celebration of instruments and voices. We are getting to see a different side of a band that has always marched to their own drum. The ironic part is that in the age of Sufjan Stevens, Panda Bear, and The Avett Brothers, this may be mewithoutYou‘s trendiest album yet. Funnier still is that this album may be one of the best in that era.
Buy: Amazon, iTunes

The(ONE)21 Best Albums Of 2009: So Far…

So we are half way through 2009 (as of today in fact), and that means there has been six months of great Christian music hitting the stores.  We try to keep you up to date every week, but it is always good to look back and pick out the essentials from the year so far.  By the end of 2009, some of these albums may not be on the list, and most likely you will see a lot of new titles added to this list. As of today though, these are the fifteen albums we think you should defiantly have in your collection.

In no particular order…

The Best Christian Music Albums Of 2009 So Far

bosque_brown_baby
Bosque Brown- Baby Bosque Brown - Baby
Simple, eerie, and profound. A sound scape of dark blues and folk created from a mind struggling to reconcile the fire and brimstone teachings of her childhood, and find God’s true face through musical confession. Bosque Brown have created a haunting sound wrapped around a hopeful message.
For fans of: The Doors, Doug Burr, Nick Cave
Category: The Light (whats this?)

bradley-hathaway-a-mouth-of-dust
Bradley Hathaway- A Mouth Full of Dust Bradley Hathaway - A Mouth Full of Dust
Intelligent, diverse, and a masterpiece. Bradley Hathaway has combined all of his many talents to create a true expression of a man after God’s heart as well as an album that covers the spectrum of folk, indie, and progressive rock. A rare album that shines so bright, you wont mind the dust.
For fans of: mewithoutYou, Sufjan Stevens, Daniel Johnston
Category: The Message (whats this?)

fiction-family
Fiction Family Fiction Family - Fiction Family
Strong melodies, multi-instrumentation and plaintive vocals create distinctive a Pop, Americana sound with strong undertones of the best British pop.   The duo of Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman and Nickel Creek’s Sean Watkins modernizes the sound with liberal use of sound and musical effects.  The debut has a creative freedom to it that results in a loose, joyful sound, that makes listening to Fiction Family very much like listening to the Beatle’s Revolver or Rubber Soul.
Category: The Light (whats this?)

impending-doom-the-serpent-servant
Impending Doom- The Serpent Servant Impending Doom - The Serpent Servant
Brutal, unrelenting, and a true display of modern extreme metal talent. The second offering from Impending Doom‘s combines the best of death metal, moshcore, doom, and even a little nu-metal to balance things out. Hang with the big guys? Impending Doom ARE the big guys..
For fans of: Whitechapel, The Red Chord, Slipknot
Category: The Spiritual (whats this?)

jeremy-enigk-ok-bear
Jeremy Enigk- OK Bear Jeremy Enigk - OK Bear
Beautiful, skillful, and undeniable. Jeremy Enigk returns with an album, more like his days in Sunny Day Real Estate, and proves why he is an underground legend. OK Bear is in a class all it’s own.
For fans of: Manchester Orchestra, Cool Hand Luke, Further Seems Forever
Category: The Light (whats this?)

melinda-doolittle-coming-back-to-you
Melinda Doolittle- Coming Back to You Melinda Doolittle - Coming Back to You
The quiet, unassuming, technically brilliant Christian music artist from American Idol Season 5 explodes on the scene with a collection old soul R&B. Melinda Doolittle’s debut is the best classic soul album in a decade. Think Roberta Flack meets Gladys Knight meets Candi Stanton. In keeping with her persona from American Idol, there are no crazy vocal histronics here, but there are deep soulful sentiments sung with matrurity, confidence and subtle power. She doesn’t show off so we can listen to the songs, but hearing her sing, you know she can.
Category: The Light (whats this?)

mewithoutyou-its-all-crazy-its-all-false-its-all-a-dream-its-alright
mewithoutYou- It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All a Dream! It’s Alright Me Without You - It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All a Dream! It's Alright
Hopeful, interesting, and a interesting new chapter for a band who can’t do wrong. Rant/scream vocals and aggressive guitars have been replaced with whimsical, childlike lyrics and a near orchestra of new instrumentation on mewithoutYou‘s fourth full-length, and we love it. A truly unique and wonderful ride.
For fans of: Danielson, Polyphonic Spree, Bradley Hathaway
Category: The Message (whats this?)

molly-jenson-maybe-tomorrow
Molly Jenson- Maybe Tomorrow Molly Jenson - Maybe Tomorrow
Smart, fun, soulful. Combining the best elements of soulful singer/songwriter and pop has paid off for Molly Jenson, and Maybe Tomorrow is an album people should really be paying attention to. A pop gem among many pieces of coal.
For fans of: Fionna Apple, Dido, Michelle Branch
Category: The Light (whats this?)

my-brightest-diamond-shark-remixes-vol-2-son-lux
My Brightest Diamond- Shark Remixes Vol. 2: Son Lux My Brightest Diamond - Shark Remixes, Vol. 2: Son Lux - EP
Shocking, surprising, and so much fun. When two amazing artists can create a completely new vision of something that already exists, then the new vision becomes the complete focus. What the term “remix” should sound like every time.
For fans of: Portishead, Tricky, Thom Yorke
Category: The Light (whats this?)

preson-phillips-the-observant-and-the-anawim
Preson Phillips- The Observant & The Anawim…
Delicate, passionate, authentic worship. Preson Phillip‘s songs have a tendency to cause you want to close your eyes and breathe deeper as his folk meets indie take of worship music washes over you no matter where you hear it (its also free if you click on the title above). A triumph in modern worship music.
For fans of: Jason Morant, David Crowder, Shane & Shane
Category: The Spiritual (whats this?)

rootbeer-pink-limosine-ep
Rootbeer- Pink Limousine EP Rootbeer - Pink Limousine (feat. Pigeon John & Flynn Adam) - EP
Creative, fun, and quirky. Two of the founding members of LA Symphony break off and create some good clean fun. Proof that you don’t have to sacrifice intelligence for accessibility.
For fans of: Gym Class Heroes, Jurassic 5, Lupe Fiasco
Category: The Light (whats this?)

the-chariot-war-and-rumors-of-wars
The Chariot- Wars and Rumors of Wars The Chariot - Wars and Rumors of Wars
Chaotic, raw, and brilliant. 2009 has brought The Chariot‘s most accessible collection songs showcasing their ability to do “everything wrong”, and yet be more relevant than 90% of what is being pushed out in the world of heavy music. An album to take notes to.
For fans of: Converge, Norma Jean, Gallows
Category: The Message (whats this?)

the-paper-route-absence
Paper Route- Absence Paper Route - Absence (Bonus Track Version)

the-red-baron-my-first-love
The Red Baron- My First Love The Red Baron - My First Love
Real, spirit-filled, hardcore. The Red Baron have brought an aspect back to the punk/hardcore scene that has been missing too long, the spirit of worship through movement. An unforgettable collections of amazing songs.
For fans of: Comeback Kid, This Is Hell, New Found Glory
Category: The Spiritual (whats this?)

Don’t like our list? Educate us, what is your best of 2009 so far?

eMusic Is The Coolest

One of the biggest surprises since we have started One21music is the lack of interest our readers have shown in eMusic.
Download 25 FREE songs at eMusic.com!
This was the first ad we put on our site. We thought people would flock to get 25 free songs. No one has explored the trial subscription, so I thought I would give you a testimonial from an excited subscriber. But first let me explain eMusic.

eMusic is the #1 site for independent music, with a library of over 4,500,000 MP3s.  eMusic sets itself apart from other well-known subscription music services (such as Napster and Rhapsody) because eMusic customers truly own the music they download.  The files available for download are in the MP3 format, making them fully compatible with all digital music players, and free from digital rights management software restrictions such as expiration dates, or copying or CD burning limitations. eMusic’s MP3′s play on any portable music player (including the iPod and Zune), can be downloaded to unlimited computers as well as burned to CD.

Here is how it works.  You can subscribe to download  25 to 100 songs each month based on the subscription level you buy.  The base subscription is 25 songs ($11.99 per month), then grows in 25 song increments (50 songs for $14.99, 75 songs for 19.99, 100 songs for $24.99).  eMusic offers about 25 different plans bu these are the most popular.

I have been a subscriber for over a year and my co-founder has been a subscriber for about nine months.  We love, l-o-v-e, eMusic.  Ian maintains a list of over 100 CDs and uses up his subscription on the first day it is available.  I like to save my downloads to use over the month.  Today is May 8th and I have already downloaded 65 of my 100 songs, so I am not such a good saver.

These downloads are just like buying the CD’s or downloading songs from iTunes, except they are cheaper and you own them.  If you really like music, or if your CD store is the electronics section at WalMart or if you are just cheap; eMusic is for you.  I downloaded , on their release date, the highly acclaimed new CD from Beirut for @$2.75, the EP from Bon Iver for $1.00 and M.Ward’snew one for $3.50.  Beat those prices WalMart and iTunes.

But more than convienence and thrift, eMusic has great services to help you find music you will love.  You can browse by genre, editors’ picks, new music, free tracks, advance releases, members ratings and any combination of those categories.  eMusic has music journalists writing artist and genre features and reviews.

Finally, eMusic has an extensive collection of songs and CDs from artists we have profiled on One21music. See the list below.

I encourage you to at least give eMusic a try.
Download 25 FREE songs at eMusic.com!

By the way, eMusicalso has a similar service for ebooks if you like to listen to ebooks
Heard any good Audiobooks lately? Get one free!

One21Christian Music Artists on eMusic

Jason Upton
Danielson
August Burns
Iris Dement
The Ambassador
Josh Garrels
Thrice
Cold War Kids
Fiction Family
Enter The Worship Circle
Anathallo
Bodies of Water
Cool Hand Luke
Kirk Franklin
Brooke Waggoner
Wovenhand
Buddy Miller
Underoath
Nicole C Mullen
Pigeon John
Bosque Brown
Paper Route
The Welcome Wagon
Kate Miner
Bradley Hathaway
Jeremy Egnik
Mute Math
Bill Mallonee/Vigilantes of Love
Brooke Fraser
Kaboose
Lecrae
Rootbeer

The Many Facets Of Christian Music

Ever since we started The One21, we have been learning a lot. From the vast amount of  new talent we come across, to the trends in music and entertainment we have been able to identify, this company has allowed us to learn new things daily about the world of music we love so much.  We have tried to share those trends with you, and explore what the digital age of music has done for the underground music movement. We have attempted to expand the knowledge of the music out there being made by believers.  We have tried endlessly on this site to change the perception of what most people think when they hear the term “Christian music”, and bring you a whole new world of music that exists outside of the mainstream Christian industry.

It is in that last idea that we have run into the most trouble.  We feel that this website and the database of music we are building is our calling, our ministry to you, the person reading this.  We feel that we have a responsibility to give you as much information about the artists we talk about so that you can make the most informed decision on what music you allow in to your life and those around you. On the other hand, we also feel that we have a responsibility to artists we talk about. We don’t want to force any artist to label themselves as something they don’t want to labeled as.  The choices that an artists make in their career are their own, and it be irresponsible for us to (forcefully) change those decisions ( we REALLY want Kate Minor to come back to music, and I REALLY want Damien Rice to become a believer).  So how do we talk to people about music that is made by believers without forcing those artists to be pigeon-holed into a scene they want to exist outside of.

This struggle was put center stage recently as we attended SXSW. A band that we have featured on this site (I’m not going to tell you who it is, don’t ask), had a very strong reaction to us wanting to interview them and talk about it on the site. They told Chuck “well we are Christians, but we defiantly don’t make Christian music”, and were still debating this issue when I walked past them ten minutes later. Some of the members seemed upset that since we were a site that covered Christian music, that talking to us would change the perception of their band in the general public. However, all the research we had done on the band not only revealed that they were believers, but the majority of their lyrics centered around the dark picture the church paints of Christ versus what He truly is. We felt a little awkward because in a way we had tried to make them something they didn’t want to be, which is their call, not ours. The outcome is that they didn’t talk to us, even when Chuck attended their show a few nights later.

Later that same week, Chuck presented our pastor with a signed copy of a CD, from one of the hip-hop artists we interviewed, for his ten year old son who is really into hip-hop at the moment.  Our pastor thanked Chuck, but said that he needed to listen to it before his son could have it.  That seemed strange to me for a moment, but then he explained that another Christian hip-hop artist had frequently used the word “hell” (in the correct context by the way), a word that shocked and offended his young children who had been told NOT to say that word. It occurred to me that a lot of people can’t just listen to ANY artist who says that they are a Christian, even with ideologies that match up, subject matter is still an issue.

So on one side, we have believers who are making music, but do not want to be part of the Christian music world, and on the other side, we have people who need help with finding the right artist that helps them live their faith.  On the one hand we know of a lot of Christian artist who hardly ever talk directly about their faith in their music, and on the other we have a responsibility to present music that lines up with the ideologies that exist in Christianity. The dichotomy bothered me all week until we met with Tre9, a Houston hip-hop artist and founder of DaSouth.com, who spoke in our interview with him about hip hop artists being relevant to the audience that they are trying to reach.

79975“You’ve got to know as an artist who you are going to target your message to. Obviously if you want to disciple Christians then you need to make music relevant to them. Which would be music: quoting scriptures, having heavy spiritual content; but if you want to reach people that don’t have church knowledge and maybe don’t even read their Bible then you need to bring it down to their level. So, that may require you to do music that shares your life story more often, and maybe closes with the fact that you found fulfillment in Christ, but you’re not so heavily focused on making sure you get a scripture in there. Throw a Jesus here; throw a God, a Holy Spirit there. Throw the word redemption. You know sanctification; these words that the world doesn’t understand. You want to make music that is relevant to where they are at mentally and even spiritually.

When I say relevant, you’ve got groups like P.O.D. who are way into the world, but are making relevant music to their audience, and look at them, they are global. They have penetrated a market that they couldn’t penetrate when they were labeled a Christian artist. I think that’s good. A lot of people think they are sell outs because they don’t preach the gospel in their music, but for me I feel that this world needs Godly principles, they need the Bible interpenetrated in today’s language so that it’s relevant. So, if P.O.D. makes a song about ‘I feel so alive’, but they don’t say it’s because of Jesus; I think that person will eventually become a follower of P.O.D.; listening to their music, going to their website, researching and finding out “Hey, these guys are Christians. So that’s what they mean by ‘I feel so alive’.” So they don’t have to put it into a song for me. Now, a lot of people would disagree with that but, we need wholesome music. We need songs that deal with drugs, and the dangers of drugs; songs that deal with abstinence. These songs don’t have to say anything about God.  God is in that, God wants people to live an abstinent life, God wants people to avoid drugs. So, I’m ok with making music that is relevant to that market or that particular group of people. Going into public schools we can’t do Christian music, especially during school hours. You can’t just go in there preaching about Jesus. So, if you are going to make music relevant to a school; if it’s an elementary school, then you need to write some stuff elementary level. Junior high, High school…so that’s what I mean by relevant.”

I was blown away. This was a concept that had always been in the back of my mind, but I had never heard put into words.  I also realized that this line of thinking could be applied to all music, not just the world of hip-hop.  As I thought about it more, I became aware that this was how the whole scope of the Christian music scene fit together, even the artists that wanted to exists outside the borders of what is traditionally thought of as Christian music.  This is how we can talk about really good music that is being made by believers, but not really overtly spiritually, and then turn around and talk about worship music in the same breathe.  It is because in “Christian music” there are different forms of it, but all of them are written from a world-view of Christ.

In the end, I propose that all music, written from a foundation of hope and faith, that God can use to touch people’s hearts, can be divided into three categories:

The Spiritual- this is music that is made by believers, and is mainly intended for believers.  This music uses language and subjects that believers understand, and is made mainly for the purpose of worship, education, and encouragement. This music will use a lot of direct Biblical scripture, or discuss the literal concepts within the Bible. The gospel message is OBVIOUS to anyone. This music is meant to celebrate and discuss God and His teachings. This is were the majority of worship music will exist, as well as artist who talk about heavy Biblical truths.
Examples:
The Ambassador
Becoming The Archetype
Third Day
Derek Webb
Jason Upton
Shane and Shane
Enter The Worship Circle
Toby Mac
For Today
Dirt

The Message- the music in this category is evangelical in nature. It is made by believers for everyone. While it deals with strong Biblical truths, the music is made to appeal to both believers and non-believers alike.  The messages are meant to talk about address the need for Christ and the struggles that people go through before the come to know Him, and the relationship that exists afterward. Sometimes the message is obvious, sometimes it isn’t.  Most artists talk about their faith not only through their lyrics, but also from the stages that they play from (be it a church or a bar stage). This category is a musical response to the great commission.
Examples:
Switchfoot
Lecrae
August Burns Red
P.O.D.
SuperChick
Kaboose
A Plea For Purging
mewithoutYou
Project 86
Joy Whitlock

The Light- this is the category that collects all the Christians who are out their making music, but are not necessarily talking about anything that is directly Biblical. This is just music made by believers. Most of the time, the songs have a indirect message pertaining to the artists faith. The artists in this category are not trying to speak to their beliefs, but are simply trying to make music , and their faith shines through from time to time.  The artists in this category most times exist completely outside of the Christian music radar, some of them you will know, but most you have never heard of. What is important to note is that while the music in this category is not overtly faith-based, it is music that is written from a heart changed by Christ, and can be used as a catalyst  people’s life.
Examples:
Rootbeer
Anathallo
Brooke Waggoner
Paramore
Bob Dylan
Cold War Kids
Thrice
Danielson
Bodies Of Water
Buddy Miller

On our site, we are going to begin using these categories to define our artists better. You will begin to see them on our “Christian Artists To Know”, and as we build our database of artists, the categories will also be incorporated.

The idea behind these categories to allow all the many ways that music is made by believers to be viewed as a unified music scene. For the artists that sing honestly about thier life  and for the worship leader in the church, God uses all this music to touch people’s hearts.

Ian’s SXSW 09 Wrap-Up

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It is the Monday after the Saturday we finished covering SXSW 09 and all the Christian performers playing the fest.  I’m pretty sore from walking around so much, crouching for pictures, and pushing through crowds.  The strain was worth it though, we saw some great music, met some cool people, and were able to re focus and hone in on what we wanted The One21 to become.

We have been reporting all week from SXSW, but I thought it would be cool to go back through some of the great shows we saw and post some bigger pics.

The first show we saw ended up being one of the best. Anathallo played the Paste Magazine party at around noon on the first day of music, and it really sat the tone.  Big, soaring choruses, a ton of people on stage, and a whole bunch of instruments made their show a joyful explosion of energy and fun.

some-pics-156

Anathallo play hand bells at the Paste Magazine party at SXSW 09

Anathallo on piano at the Paste Magazine Party at SXSW 09

Anathallo on piano at the Paste Magazine Party at SXSW 09

Anathallo singing their heart out at the SXSW 09 Paste Party

Anathallo singing their heart out at the SXSW 09 Paste Party

The chaos of Anathallo at the SXSW09 Paste Magazine Party

The chaos of Anathallo at the SXSW09 Paste Magazine Party

Here is a video of that great show

Remember, you can always get Anathallo‘s music on Amazon and Anathallo

The next night we got see the lovely and talented Brooke Waggoner do her thing.  We were also fortunate enough to interview her before the show, so you can look out for that in the coming weeks.  She played with no percussion of any sort; it was just her voice, her piano, a cello, two violinists, and a friend singing back up vocals. Her music was soft and intricate, but the crowd that was there for her never wavered. For 45 minutes, she captivated the audience with her unique blend of indie style piano pop.  Brooke is a truly talented artist, and you never doubted it for a second watching her play.

Brooke Waggoner gives some joy at SXSW 09

Brooke Waggoner gives some joy at SXSW 09

Brooke Waggoner killing those piano keys at SXSW 09

Brooke Waggoner killing those piano keys at SXSW 09

Brooke Waggoner's string section making beautiful noise at SXSW 09

Brooke Waggoner's string section making beautiful noise at SXSW 09

Brooke Waggoner sings to us at SXSW 09

Brooke Waggoner sings to us at SXSW 09

Want to hear what I’m talking about? You can pick up Brooke Waggoner‘s music at Amazon and on Brooke Waggoner

The next morning we got to meet and watch the guys from hip-hop duo Rootbeer (aka Flynn Adam and Pigeon John) tear the stage up earlier in the day.  Their music is a lot of fun, and their show was high energy, giving them an appeal that you don’t find in a lot of today’s tuff guy rap scene.  The boys jumped and danced around the stage for a good twenty minutes, joked with the crowd, and told some stories.  I have said this about them before, but these dudes just put a smile on your face, you cant help but love them.  People were walking in off the street the entire set, and by the end of the show, the place was packed.

Rootbeer(Flynn Adam & Pigeon John) jumpin like chimpanzee at SXSW 09

Rootbeer(Flynn Adam & Pigeon John) jumpin like chimpanzee at SXSW 09

Pigeon John workin it out at SXSW 09

Pigeon John workin it out at SXSW 09

Flynn Adam doing his thing at SXSW 09

Flynn Adam doing his thing at SXSW 09

Rootbeer(Flynn Adam & Pigeon John) dancing for the crowd at SXSW 09

Rootbeer(Flynn Adam & Pigeon John) dancing for the crowd at SXSW 09

You can get Rootbeer‘s debut EP on Amazon and Rootbeer

That same night, Chuck and I made our way over to a little club called Spiro’s to catch a band we had been really excited about all year, Wovenhand.  Outside the door, Wovenhand‘s leader David Eugene Edwards was chatting up some friends and relaxing.  The man that was standing out side though was not the man that took his place on the stool right in front of me barely 20 minutes later. The man in front of me was a force, and voice of an angry and vengeful God that would some day come back to earth and take back what was His. For almost an hour, Wovenhand made my jaw drop to the flow in a scary display of power, passion, and revelation.  While their music was dark, I felt God’s presence over the show in the same way I had felt while watching mewithoutYou for the first time and Jason Upton several years before. If Jason‘s music is the heart of God, and mewithoutYou‘s is the mouth, then Wovenhand‘s music is the fist. The fist that swings the axe.

Wovenhand sings to the crowd at SXSW 09

Wovenhand sings to the crowd at SXSW 09

Wovenhand makes the crowd see at SXSW 09

Wovenhand makes the crowd see at SXSW 09

Wovenhand keeps it heavy at SXSW 09

Wovenhand keeps it heavy at SXSW 09

The chaos of Wovenhand at SXSW 09

The chaos of Wovenhand at SXSW 09

Here is video from the actual show. I am kneeling right in front of Edwards if you can spot me

You can purchase Wovenhand‘s incredible music at Amazon and Wovenhand

Now, these were just some of my favorite’s that we covered. I saw some great stuff from Dignan, Seabird, Paper Route, Anberlin, Kaboose, Bosque Brown, and Braille.  The feeling that overwhelmed me at the end of SXSW is that there is a lot of great music out there. In this age of digital music and online CD stores, there is so much opportunity for discovery and experimentation when it comes to the music we listen to.  For me though, it gives me hope that there is a ton of great music, better than most, being made by artists who want to express thier faith in Christ, be it directly or indirectly.  When I became a believer over ten years ago, the perception was that Christians just didnt have the good bands or songs. After SXSW 09 though, I know that it not true, and in reality Christians are making some of the most original and satisfing music out there. For a music lover, it will sound like great music, for believers, it will sound like new way to express the God that lives inside of us.

SXSW In The Daylight- Friday

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Friday of SXSW, two days behind us and two days to go.  My feet hurt, but the SXSW music conference and festival are great.  We have met so many wonderful people.  We feel like One21music is starting to gain momentum.  Traffic is climbing, thank you. People in the music industry will leave Austin, with our business cards and fans will leave with our great stickers.

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We started our SXSW day with an interview of Rootbeer, the LA hip hop duo of Pigeon John (see our artist profile on Pigeon John) and Flynn Adam.  For those of you who don’t know these guys, they were part of one of the seminal Christian hip hop groups, LA Symphony, in the late 90′s.  We will have the interview up soon but I want to share a couple of thoughts.  First, these guys are just nice people.  They were polite, outgoing and thoughtful.  I work the video while Ian interviews, so I get to watch.  It was fun to see these guys flow with the sounds of the street, always moving in small subtle ways and then breaking out in joy when they hear a really great beat.

After the interview, I went totally unprofessional and thanked them for their 10 years of artistry.  I told them that their music had a profound impact on our family.  They brought a lot of fun into our house while helping my sons grow in their faith.

We then rushed back to B.D. Riley’s Pub to catch Lisa Hannigan weave her Irish magic, but alas, we were too late to get into the Pub. We saw the last two songs standing on the street and then convinced  Lisa’s drummer to give us a copy of Lisa’s handwritten set list.  Very cool.

We dashed the opposite end of 6th Street to catch the Rootbeer show at The Troubador.  More on those guys in a minute.  Rootbeer was playing the “To Write Love on Her Arms” party and, once again, our mission to cover Christian music at SXSW led us discover a wonderful new happening in the Christian world.

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This is a suicide prevention organization ( read about the vision of To Write Love on Her Arm) that has been embraced by the Christian music industry.  I am going to write a full article in a few weeks.  I met Chris Youngblood of TWLOHA who explained the movement to me.  TWLOHA is dedicated to sharing love in the fog of addiction, depression, self-injury and suicide.  The movement was embraced early by Jon Foreman of Switchfoot and Fiction Family (see our profile of Fiction Family) and has rapidly grown into widely respected mission.

We went over to a book signing with Tom Moore, who wrote the great book 1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die ( the gospel artists on 1000 Recordings and the Chrisitian artists profiled on 1000 Recordings).  I told Tom how much we enjoyed the book, asked how he put it together and discussed some of the music in the book.

Like Pigeon John and Flynn Adam, I told Tom thank you for creating something that enriched our lives.  No matter, how “famous” or successful someone has become, it is always nice to hear “thank you” and “I enjoy what you do”.  Never be hesitant to tell the most famous person you see or the humble grocery cashier “thank you, you made my life better”.

To end the day we walked over to the Asthmatic Kitty party in far east Austin.  After about a 10 block walk we stepped into the back yard of Okay Mountain gallery and enjoyed the free pizza (shared nicely, only took one piece) and cool shade of the oak trees.  We heard Dent May & His Magnificent Ukelele’s rousing folk music.  He was followed by DM Smith who performed a beautiful set of quiet, but intense, back woods music.  The afternoon ended with Bosque Brown (see our profile on Bosque Brown).  They performed their minimalist, soul, gothic gospel as the sun faded behind the rooftops and the breeze turned cool.  Very nice.

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I think I may have upset the band when I asked for an interview.  When I explained that One21music covers underground Christian music, the drummer quickly informed me that they do not make Christian Music.  He politely explained that they are Christians who make music.  I don’t know that they will agree to an interview, but we will see.

Their reaction caused me to think about what we do and I think we need to find a way to convey these two points more clearly:

  • More than Christian music, we cover “Christians who make music”.  We do want artists whose faith drives their music.  Can any serious Believer truly separate their faith form their work,  especially work as personal as music?
  • Our goal is to expand the definition of Christian music rather than try to force artists into today’s definition of Christian music.

So that is all for today.  The sun is going dark and the music is rocking.  We will give you all of the SXSW low down tonight, or really in the morning.

One21music Takes You To SXSW!

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South By Southwest is the largest music industry gathering in the world.  More than 1,800 bands and music artists will play over the five day SXSW industry gathering.  Many of these acts are trying to get signed but many more big name bands such as Tori Amos, The Decemberists and Cold War Kids will perform. Industry giants such as Quincy Jones and Little Steven will speak at SXSW.

But, SXSW is more than a music event.  It is also an Interactive festival and a Movie festival.  The SXSW Interactive festival runs from March 13-March 16, the SXSW Movie Festival exhibits from March 15-18 and the SXSW Music Festival blasts from hundreds of stages around Austin from March 18 to March 21st.

One21music will be blogging, interviewing, tweeting and videoing our way through the entire SXSW festival.  Maybe not so much the movie festival, there is only so much we can do.

One21music covers the full spectrum of Christian music scene with a focus on the Post Modern, Underground Christian scene.  SXSW is ripe with some of the best Underground Christian rock, folk, hip/hop, metal and indie bands on the scene today.  Here is the line-up of Underground Christian bands we are scheduled to see and/or interview at SXSW:

As a special treat to you, we have created an imix of these bands that you can purchase at iTunes by clicking on the icon below.

The One21 SXSW Mix 2009

You can also purchase songs, selected by us,  from the artists who will be at SXSW through Amazon MP3. Simply click on the widget below, sample the songs and buy what you want:


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Back to the future.

We will put up at least three  posts every day of the SXSW music festival.  We will gather interviews and videos from the scene and put those up for a couple of weeks after the event so you can taste some of the SXSW experience like we will.  You will also be able to follow our adventures through both SXSW Interactive and SXSW Music conferences on Twitter (more to come later this week).  We are going to do everything we can make you feel like you are attending this exciting event, except without the ringing in your ears.

We have artist profiles up for many of the artists and over the next few days we will publish at least one per day leading up to the conference.

Come join and enjoy SXSW with One21music!