The One21 Essential 100 Pt.12

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

Kelly Jones Parks Do Not Fear
Do Not Fear
Kelly Jones Parks

Buy this album: iTunes
Kelly Jones Parks‘ 2001 debut Do Not Fear is a masterpiece, almost a diary of a young woman struggling with the fear and excitement of coming to maturity in the transition from high school with family and college on her own. The opening track “Right Hand” focuses on the comfort of Christ’s presence in Park‘s life as she explores the freedom of her new life. “The One” should be required listening for all teen girls and young women as Kelly Jones Parks shares the wonder of finding the One she has waited for God to bring to her. “Scarborough House” celebrates the discovery of new friendship and the importance of sisterhood in college. The triumph of Do Not Fear is “Isaiah 43 (You Are Mine)” which is Kelly Jones Parks‘ celebration of God’s love for us. We defy you to listen to all 4:21 minutes of this song without praying gratitude and praises.
Highlights: Isaiah 43 (You Are Mine), The One, Scarborough House

Manchester Orchestra- Mean Everything To Nothing
Mean Everything To Nothing
Manchester Orchestra

Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
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, 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. Much of the album feels like the best of 90s era grunge mixed in with the best of modern progressive indie rock.

Many songs deal with the frustration of wanting more out of everyday life than the status quo, while others try to reconcile love for a person who does not deserve it. Lyrically, it can range from the baffling to the profound, but every word, every note is performed with a rising sense of tension, and sometimes all out pain. It is the post card of a band no longer young men, but not quite grown either.

The depth as to which these songs are written is amazing as well, the layers each song presents only give power to the emotions being expressed. 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.
Highlights: The River, Everything To Nothing, Shake It Out

Vigilantes Of Love - Slow Dark Train
Slow Dark Train
Vigilantes Of Love

Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
Vigilantes of Love blended blues, gospel, folk-rock and country-rock. Formed in 1990 in Athens, Georgia, the group consisted of chief songwriter Bill Mallonee on vocals and acoustic guitars, Newton Carter on electric guitars and backing vocals, David LaBruyere on bass, and Travis Aaron McNabb on drums and percussion. Vigilantes of Love began as an acoustic duo, with just Mallonee and an accordionist; after releasing two independent albums as a duo, Mallonee added some other Athens-area local band veterans to go electric.

Bill Mallonee and Vigilantes of Love deliver crushingly good music written from a Believer’s view of faith and hope. But it is not a belief packaged by today’s Church. It is a belief built on the scars of life and redemption. The band does their best to turn this to their advantage by cranking out Southern post-punk garage rock songs of despair held in check only by day-to-day faith in God. They mostly succeed, and the album is full of excellent hooks, in addition to Bill Mallonee‘s typically inspired lyrical genius: “I was drowning in/complancy’s cheap perfume/yeah, licking my wounds…” is one of many indellible verses.

Bill Mallonee has called Slow Dark Train his “testament to despair,” and it fits. The opening triumverate–”Locust Years,” “Tokyo Rose,” “Black Crow”–is about is hard and angry as VOL is ever likely to be. When the record isn’t raging against corrupt record labels, false friends, and human nature itself, it finds Mallonee weeping in a motel room over his own fallenness and inability to follow the truth.
Highlights: Locust Years, All The Mercy We Have Found, Judas Skin

the call reconciled
The Call

Highlights: Amazon, iTunes
Call were one of the great bands of the 80’s with smart musicians, a passionate singer, great songs, an “original” sound, intelligent and thought provoking spiritually-themed lyrics. Some critics place The Call in a group with REM and U2 and they were darlings of music icons like Peter Gabriel and Robbie Robertson. The Call‘s music is characterized by driving rhythm, deep and subtle lyrics and a texture unlike anyone else out there. The Call sucked you into their world, with a driving danceable beat and intelligent lyrics that were easy to sing along to. The band’s musical interplay is tight, and Michael Been’s lyrics & transcendent lead vocals are passionate with a capital P.

In 1986, The Call released what is without a doubt their masterpiece, Reconciled. It is one of the greatest, most passionate rock albums ever made. Reconciled, more than any other captures the anthemic essence of The Call’s mission…great rock and roll with a reason. The Call delivers one emotional, powerhouse rocker after another, such as the dramatic “Everywhere I Go,” the triumphant “I Still Believe,” “Blood Red,” “Oklahoma,” “Sanctuary,” and the closing “Even Now.” Michael Been’s voice is the absolute glue. Deep,rich and gutsy his treatment of the lyric puts this album in a class by itself. And, for the coup de grace, Reconciled features guest performances by such The Call fans as Peter Gabriel and Simple Minds‘ Jim Kerr on backing vocals, and Robbie Robertson on guitar. Outstanding music from start to finish, Reconciled is a magnificent album from a magnificent band. Many of the songs feel fresh 20 years later…a couple are beginning to sound like “classics.” This just might be one of the top 10 most perfect albums of the 80′s.
Highlights: Everywhere I Go, I Still Believe, Sanctuary

Washington Phillips - The Key To The Kingdom
The Key To The Kingdom
Washington Phillips

Highlights: Amazon, iTunes
How does a set of raw, simple early gospel tunes make onto this list of underground Christian music? It is really good. Washington Phillips was a street preacher, street musician and gospel pioneer. Phillips’ laid the foundation for 20th century gospel music influencing modern music influnecers Sister Rosetta Thorpe, Sam Cooke and the Blind Boys of Alabama.

The Keys to The Kingdom features Phillip’s sincere, plaintive vocals accompanied by some rare fretless zither-like instrument that is a cousin to the auto harp. The quite sincerity and humility of these songs haunt you for days after hearing them. Songs from The Keys to The Kingdom have been covered by everyone from Ry Cooder to Phish and were featured in the movie “Elizabethtown.”

Washington Phillips had a short but amazing recording career. He recorded these 16 tracks between 1927 and 1929 and never recorded again. It is some of the most gentle, beautiful, passionate spiritual music I have ever heard.
Highlights: Denomination Blues Pt. One, Denomination Blues Pt. Two, I Am Born to Preach the Gospel, Paul and Silas In Jail

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.

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
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

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

Cheaters & Thieves

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
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

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