Watch The Years Crawl By
Rock City Recording Company
These Are My Sins
I The Breather
Watch The Years Crawl By
Rock City Recording Company
These Are My Sins
I The Breather
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.
Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
Having already established himself as one of the best house DJs of all time, Moby’s 1999 album, Play, introduced the world to a very different kind of electronic artist. Utilizing his ability to not only piece together complicated beats with melody, Moby turned to the collected field recordings of Alan Lomax to give his music an older world feel. He sampled from the recordings, and built many of the songs on Play around single folk and blues choruses, while also lending to the mood of the songs with every electronic weapon he had (synth strings, layered beats, tone warping). It was a big risk, because while Moby was known, he was not known for music like this. He was blending the lines of traditional electronic music and traditional….well music.
The gambled paid off, and Play is still the best selling album in his genre. While he had been a big name in his field, Play turned Moby into a star. Even more than 10 years later, Play’s influence can be felt on almost every movie soundtrack, commercial, or background music in a TV show. This is in part to the fact that the music on Play is REALLY GOOD, but there is also something that Moby did with Play that no one had ever done before in electronic music. Moby celebrated with Play; he took old, barely listenable recordings and made them sound how he heard them in his head and in his heart. He made electronic organic for an entire culture, and the possibilities for music, old and new, endless.
Highlights: Honey, Run On, Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?
Return Of The Frog Queen
Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
Return Of The Frog Queen is a solo album recorded by Jeremy Enigk just after he converted to Christianity; this conversion had brought on the disbanding of the genre-defining Sunny Day Real Estate. It has a slower and quieter sound than Sunny Day Real Estate’s hard driving post-hardcore style. With the ambitious and fervent Return Of The Frog Queen, the former Sunny Day Real Estate frontman plays everything from guitar and drums to harpsichord. Then he surrounds himself with a strings, woodwinds, and brass. Lyrically, Jeremy Enigk explores the new world he has found in his faith; musically, he strays from pretty pop to a kind of sober psychedelia. Ultimately, he clearly feels the need to make a grand statement.
Jeremy Enigk chooses a really remarkable path, taking his highly dramatic, angst-ridden singing to a totally new sound. Here he favors harshly played acoustics. On top of that Enigk lassos a whole orchestra to flesh out the background of each song! A truly remarkable work that has done the unthinkable, Return Of The Frog Queen breaks new ground yet remains a direct hit, with the passion, power, and rage of punk; the simple, appealing babbling of folk; and even the multidimensional, nasty din of modern Russian classical Jeremy Enigk creates a stunning work that influences rock and Christian music for the next decade.
Highlights: Shade And The Black Hat, Return Of The Frog Queen, Explain
Universal House Of Prayer
Buy this album:Amazon, iTunes
In 2004, Americana icon Buddy Miller ripped open his shirt to reveal the heart of a devout Christian, steeped in God’s love and greatly troubled by the evil all around him. With Universal House of Prayer, he has created a masterpiece where modern Americana meets traditional roots country meets gospel meets soul meets blues in a breathtaking gumbo of Biblical teaching and universal Truth for humans and society alike.
The CD is full of meaty lyrics by Buddy Miller, Bob Dylan, Mark Heard and several others like these from the amazing song “Don’t Wait”: “Now I’m praying for strength, To get one last try, From mercy’s cup to drink, Before it’s time to die, And all the wicked they best, Start to change their ways. Don’t wait don’t wait, Don’t wait it’s late, Don’t wait don’t wait.”
If you like country wrap this around yourself like an old coat and, if you don’t, buy it anyway and dance to this music. If you are a believer, take comfort from these lyrics and if you are not, find yourself in his observations on our society today. Universal House of Prayer is Buddy Miller’s masterpiece and one of the greatest alt-country and Christian records ever made.
Highlights: There’s A Higher Power, Don’t Wait, Worry Too Much
Bring Me The Workhorse
My Brightest Diamond
Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
If I were to tell you a classically trained operatic vocalist who makes indie rock that sounds a lot like Portishead made an album that I consider one of the best of the decade, would you listen to it? That description is a little hard to fathom, I know, but that is the truth of Shara Worden (aka My Brightest Diamond)’s 2006 album, Bring Me The Workhorse. Everything about this album is both haunting and beautiful at the same time. Shara’s voice leads the slow-trudging songs through a bleak landscape of smoke filled jazz, spastically progressive indie rock, and 90s esque trip-hop. Each song stands on its own, yet somehow always seems to lead into the next, like a movie who’s scenes were all shot by a different director.
The focal point is, of course, Shara’s unique voice. While you can tell she is always in control of the next note, there are hints of fear on the tail end of her words, almost as if she is not quite sure where the melody will end up next. At times deep and powerful, and at others light and fragile, Shara’s voice is what makes Bring Me The Workhorse so special. It is what makes My Brightest Diamond so special. If this is the only masterwork that voice ever produces, this would be enough, because it is just that. A masterwork.
Highlights: Golden Star, We Were Sparkling, Disappear
Drawing Black Lines
Buy this album: iTunes
If you cant understand the power of Drawing Black Lines by the first 30 seconds of the opening track, then you may want to check your pulse. In 2000, Project 86, a four piece monster out of California, separated themselves from the “rapcore” stigma by creating an album so original that people couldn’t figure out what to call it, and yet familiar enough that most considered it an instant classic upon first listen. By breaking down the elements of their rhythmic vocals, massively heavy rock sound, and deeply interesting lyrics, Project 86 reinvented themselves in a way most bands can only dream of. Drawing Black Lines was every bit an aggressive, angry album as their self-titled debt, but melody and focus refined the band’s sound into a completely unique creative force that could not be reckoned with.
The album is perfectly balanced too; while there are plenty of 100 mph hard rock song (Steins Theme, One Armed Man, Sad Machines), there are also many songs that relish in their low build, and low to feel every part before the elements come together in a song. Possibly one of the best examples of this is “P.S.”, clocking in as the longest on song on the album at almost 6 minutes, it is a perfect lesson in build and release in a song, and leaves you gasping for breathe at the end. Combine all this with the brilliant lyrical and vocal stylings of Andrew Schwab, and you have a hard rock album that never disappoints. Another word to describe it may be brilliant, but I think it might come up short.
Speaking personally, listening to this album as a junior in high school was what made me realize that “Christian music” didn’t have to be bad rip offs of mainstream music, but when done like Drawing Black Lines, it could be MUCH better than anything played on the radio. In a way, this is the album that started the idea for The ONE21 Music.
Highlights: One-Armed Man (Play On), P.S., Me Against Me, Chimes
Purple Door Festival, which takes place in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania at the beginning of August, has announced the first round of bands that will be making up their line-up. For the most part, these names will change a bit, and there are plenty more to come, but for now here is what the festival has lined up for you guys:
Below is the artwork and tracklisting for Needtobreathe‘s upcoming CD The Outsiders:
2. Girl Named Tennessee
4. Lay ‘Em Down
5. Let Us Love
7. Something Beautiful
9. The Outsiders
10. These Hard Times
11. Through Smoke
12. Valley Of Tomorrow
13. What You’ve Done To Me
14. Won’t Turn Back
Kutless now has a new video for their song “To Know That You’re Alive”, watch it below:
So Phil, the vocalist for the sadly now defunct youth crew/hardcore band The Red Baron has revived his hip-hop project called Wonder?. Check out Wonder?’s music on his Myspace.
A new song from the album Beggars, Thrice‘s upcoming release, will be featured in the latest song pack for theGuitar Hero video game. I wish I played video games…
An interview with Andrew Schwab of Project 86 made its way onto Indie Vision Music this week. Read Project 86 interview.
Hip-hop newcomer Explicit has a new video for his song “Jesus Rocks”. He is representing Christ…and Texas, so watch the video:
Our boy (morse) has finally broken his silence with a little update. Basically, he is really busy. Read (morse) update.
According to a letter issued by hip-hop label Syntax Records (Braille, Kaboose, ect.), hip-hop artist RedCloud has been suspended by the label for “substance abuse”. Read the full statement concerning RedCloud.
August Burns Red
Solid State Records
The Big Picture
Cross Movement Records
A City Built On Its Dead
All Or Nothing
Don’t Waste Another Day
James Grear Company
Picket Fence Cartel
Tooth & Nail Records
The 2nd Coming
Dedicated Music Grp.
Blood & Ink Records
The Winner Is In Me
Year Of Grace
Tooth & Nail Records
Tal & Acacia
The Real Thing
Against The Silence EP
We As Human are in the studio right now, and they (like most bands nowadays) have been keeping up with their progress with video blogs. Here is the latest:
Never to be outdone, Gwen Stacy also has a new studio video, get out the popcorn:
Deathcore band Earth From Above have parted ways with a few of their key members. Read Earth From Above announcement.
Goth/Industrial mainstays Coriolis have signed with Youngside Records. Read Coriolis announcement (via IVM).
A brief update from Hawk Nelson made its way onto Indie Vision Music yesterday. If you are a fan, read it. Read Hawk Nelson update.
PM Today have signed with Rise Records. Read/watch PM Today announcement.
Jesusfreakhideout.com has a new interview with Project 86. Andrew always has some interesting stuff to say…Read Project 86 interview.
Exit The Ordinary will have a bunch of their songs on various MTV, VH1, and many other network’s shows. Congrats guys.
Hip-hop group Scribbling Idiots have a new video for their song “Almost Famous”. Watch it now:
Apparently Derek Webb is going underground for a while due to some controversy over his latest album. He issued a letter to his fan email list this last weekend, saying:
i haven’t sent many personal emails to this email list but we’re in a situation that has gotten a little out of control and it’s time to fill you in. as some of you may know, i’ve been working for months on my new record, ’stockholm syndrome’, which i’ve recently finished and turned in to the record label. they’ve been very supportive over the years, but this time we didn’t get the response we expected. it seems i’ve finally found the line beyond which my label can support me, and apparently i’ve crossed it.
i consider this my most important record and am adamant about all of you hearing it. we had originally hoped to have ’stockholm syndrome’ out this month (next week even), but at this point we’re not sure when the record will come out and in what form. the majority of the controversy is surrounding one song, which i consider to be among the most important songs on the record. so we’ve decided it’s an appropriate time to break the rules.
but because of various legal/publishing issues we’re having to be rather careful with how we do what we’re going to do next. that’s really all i can say for now and i’ve probably said too much.
we have a plan and we’re moving ahead, but we’re not sure what kind of trouble we might be getting into. we’ll let you know as soon as we know our next move-
Styles: Nu-Metal, Hard Rock, Progressive
Location: Orange County, CA
Label: Tooth And Nail
Christian Label: Yes
Category: The Message whats this?
Lets get something straight from the beginning, Project 86 isn’t just a band. Project 86 is a force. From frontman Andrew Schwab’s menacing and powerful vocals to guitarist Randy Torres’s brutal and emotional musical landscapes, Project 86 have always been a band that redefined the box they were placed in. With every new chapter of the band, the listener never gets a new album, but a soundtrack to a new and frightening story from Andrew’s head space. Making the heavy beautiful and the artistic interesting, Project 86 is one of the best band’s making music today.
In many ways, Project 86‘s longevity is many due to their ability to endure. When the band’s first CD was released in 1998, the group was lumped in with the wave of Rage Against The Machine/Limp Bizkit rip-offs populating the Christian market. It was a strange landscape to debut in, because the the Christian music scene was changing and growing in strange ways. Ska was king in the Christian circles, but the mainstream market was focused on the darker, more aggressive sounds of nu-metal that were coming from Korn, Deftones, and Staind. Many bands that hit the Christian market at that time were “safe alternatives” to the nu-metal chart-toppers, but fizzled out quickly due to a lack of originality and conviction. It was during this time that members of a hardcore band called Innermeans hooked up with a prolific and dynamic lyricist named Andrew and created Project 86.
The band’ self-titled debut was a step ahead of the pack. The mood of the CD was very dark, almost bordering on apocalyptic. The lyrics were more poetic than hip-hop, and the songs were ever evolving roller coasters of brutality and melody. Many listeners did not know what to make of it. Luckily for Project though, a small group of bands that were committed to creating intelligent and unique music for Christ embraced the band’s sound. A friendship between Swedish nu-metal band Blindside, California hardcore band No Innocent Victim, speed punk band Dogwood, and rap-metal pioneers Payable On Death and Project allowed the band to be encouraged to make the music they believed in.
In fact, here is a really old video of Project 86, featuring a very young Sonny Sandoval (of P.O.D.), playing their end of times masterpiece “Six Sirens”.
After building name for themselves with shows like that, Project 86 entered the studio in later 1999 to record their sophomore effort. The result was Drawing The Black Lines, an album that has not only defined the band’s sound for the majority of their career since, but changed the way many of bands approached writing Christian music. The CD was immense, as much artistic as it was heavy. The songs ranged from the straight forward intense, to bitterly somber, to the unsympathetically dark. Drawing The Black Lines was a wake up call in a scene that had become bogged down bad rip offs of popular mainstream bands. Project 86 proved in their 50 minute opus to the Christian struggle that you never had to sacrifice intelligence for faith.
Possibly one of the best songs they have ever written, “One Armed Man (Play On)”, was given its own music video, and the world was introduced to the new Project 86.
The years have gone by, and Project is still out their destroying stages and changing perceptions. It is important to note that when they hit the scene before the turn of the century, there were very few bands pushing the envelope like Project was. Many bands both in the Christian music scene and outside of it point to Project 86 as one of their main influences. Their body of work continues to prove that they are massive talents, who are never scared to talk about their faith with Christ. Andrew has said from the beginning that they never wanted to be a “typical” ministry band. that they wanted to make relevant music to both believers and the un-saved. Several albums later, the band is still pumping all pistons, and we hope they never stop.
Here is the band playing an overseas festival, with their song “Evil (A Chorus Of Resistance)”
I cant tell you what a special place this band holds in my heart. They are THE band that made me realize that I shouldn’t be looking for Christian versions of mainstream music, but I should be seeking out great music created from the heart of believers. Drawing The Black Lines is a shinning example of how believers can create unique and interesting music, and in my opinion it is own of the best albums ever created. That is not say that the rest of the band’s work has been bland, Project continue to shake things up and surprise fans song after every new song. The best part is that as I am writing this, the next chapter of Project 86 is being readied to be unleashed in 2009. This might be one you should hold your breath for.
You can buy Project 86‘s music digitally on and Amazon MP3
You can also get their CDs on Amazon:
Drawing Black Lines
Songs to Burn Your Bridges By
And the Rest Will Follow
The Kane Mutiny EP and This Time Of The Year EP are both digital only
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.
“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.
Becoming The Archetype
Shane and Shane
Enter The Worship Circle
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.
August Burns Red
A Plea For Purging
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.
Cold War Kids
Bodies Of Water
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.
One21 is Christ in the 21st century. A time when the never changing Lord is being felt, seen, proclaimed in new places, by new people, in new ways.
One21music is music, of all genres, written from a foundation of hope and faith that God uses to touch people’s hearts. Come,find the music you like that connects to how you live your faith.
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