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

2002
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
Heatseeker
World Wide Message Tribe

1998
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

Wovenhand
Wovenhand
Wovenhand

2003
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

2008
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

2008
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

The One21 Essential 100 Pt.1

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.

Staple Singers- Freedom Highway
Freedom Highway
The Staple Singers

1965
Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
Before The Staple Singers became an icon of gospel/folk/civil rights music they released a classic live gospel album. Freedom Highway was a 1965 marker in the merge of popular music styles with gospel music. Here Pops Staples’understated sound is complemented perfectly by the others’ melancholy harmonies and Mavis Staples‘ growlingly soulful lead vocals. Tracks like “This Train Is Bound For Glory”, “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” and “What You Gonna Do” are superlative?” Also deserving a mention is their semi-acappella rendition of the “Lord’s Prayer” which will truly make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention. Freedom Highway is a great selection from one of gospel’s greatest and most original groups and an absolute must for anyone interested in gospel or blues music.
Highlights: Lord’s Prayer, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, This Train

beloved failure on
Failure On
Beloved

2003
Buy this album: Amazon,iTunes
While most bands like to experiment in many different styles, it is rare to see a band that is able to not only FULLY embrace both sides of it’s musical coin, but blend them in a way that makes sense. After making a name for themselves as a “indie hardcore” band , the North Carolina quintet, Beloved, unleashed Failure On in 2003, surpassing all expectations of being able to combine melodic indie rock with brutal hardcore. The dynamic allowed the band explore many different avenues, not on musically, but lyrically as the softer more rock driven vocals of Josh Moore served as a catalyst for the aggression driven emotions of drummer Joe Musten’s grit filled screams. Failure On proved that two very different shades of sounds could play together, and when used as they were in Failure On, be a powerful double-bladed sword.
Highlights: Death To Traitors, Defect from Decay, Aimless Endeavor

andy hunter exodus
Exodus
Andy Hunter

2002
Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
The wall of rhythm and sound that marks Andy Hunter’s debut, Exodus, didn’t come about overnight. Andy’s ability to weave together elements of Progressive House, Trance, Drum and Bass, and Electronica genres is the result of several years of experimentation and refinement in dance clubs and churches across Europe. But it wasn’t only his craft that was progressively honed during those years; it was also Andy Hunter’s vision for worship and his skills as a worship leader. The songs on Exodus are praise and worship songs with a beat. “Go,” inspired mainly by Exodus 12:31, reminds us of this revealed truth, which the postmodern mind fails to recognize — that true freedom cannot exist apart from God. “The Wonders of You” is inspired by Exodus 15:11 “Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you — majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” The lyrics of “Radiate” are simple, and I think the music is able to translate their earnestness. I want you/To radiate/Your perfection/Permeate/Burn in me/Eradicate/So burn, burn. Based on Romans 8:26, “Angelic” is part trance, part prayer. The vocals are without lyrics (“groanings which cannot be uttered”). Speaking-in-tongues set to a cool “chill out” beat.
Highlights: Go, Angelic, Radiate

anathallo canopy glow
Canopy Glow
Anathallo

2008
Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
The indie collective known as Anathallo had spent a good part of the mid to late 2000s becoming one of the most adored band’s in their scene; but it was 2008’s Canopy Glow that saw the band finally solidify and focus their chaotic sound and record an album that was as much interesting as it was creative. Canopy Glow runs the gamete of Anathallo’s musical abilities, allowing at time for both their uncontrolled jam clattering while honing their melodic and lyrical prowess. Every song is a journey, every instrument a different character in Canopy Glow’s whimsical play. In the end, Canopy Glow’s unconventional song structures and fleshed out layering make it a classic for any who like to hear something new every time they listen.
Highlights: John J. Audubon, Italo, The River

Third Day - Conspiracy 5
Conspiracy No. 5
Third Day

1997
Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
Conspiracy No. 5 is Third Day’s second studio album and fifth album overall. Conspiracy No. 5 is considered by most to be the band’s most aggressive album to date. It is a departure from their original rootsy Southern rock style to a heavier, Southern grunge style. Whereas many people compare their first album to the music of Hootie & The Blowfish, this second release is often compared to Pearl Jam. This is a soaring, rollicking rock album that marks the highpoint of Third Day as a rock band.
Highlights: I Deserve?, My Hope Is You, Alien