The One21 Best Of 2009 Pt.1

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….

This list is simply our celebration of the amazing music that came out in 2009. We understand that many may disagree with us on the albums we picked (or didn’t pick), but we completely believe that this is the best of what came out this year. In 6 months we will do a retrospective list for 2009, so it will be interesting to see what makes it onto that list. Feel free to leave your thoughts…

In no real particular order, here are the first 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

thrice beggars
Beggars
Thrice


Why we picked it: Coming off their incredibly diverse and profound Alchemy Index project, Thrice once again has proved that they may be the American band of this generation. Once again, Dustin Kensrue and the boys dug deep and came out with a collection of soulful, passionate songs that play to all their strengths. Every member of the band shines bright on Beggars, so there is a lot of radiating going on. With another album full of gems under their belt, Thrice pushes on and continues to remind us what true rock looks like.
Buy:Amazon, iTunes

a mouth full of dust bradley hathaway
A Mouth Full Of Dust
Bradley Hathaway


Why we picked it: This may be the most joyfully depressing album you will ever listen to. Channeling Bob Dylan, mewithoutYou, and Daniel Jonhston, the one time poet in Bradley Hathaway fully bloomed into a indie folk genius with A Mouth Full of Dust. Deeply personal, every song attempts to create the sound of Bradley’s emotional state, ranging from sweetly content to painfully chaotic. Never relying on over-musicianship, A Mouth Full Of Dust is simple enough to be called folk or lo-fi, but has so many twists and turns you won’t know how to describe it when the last note rings out. You will be a little out of breath though.
Buy:Amazon MP3

the red baron my first love
My First Love
The Red Baron
Why we picked it:
The hardcore movement was supposed to be about having heart, and The Red Baron have plenty to pass around. Every track on this blistering, fast paced album just kicks you in the chest, and at the same time is able to hit an emotional chord. The term “blood, sweat, and tears” may have been coined a band like this, the music is an all-encompassing mesh of ticked off punk and old school hardcore. On top of that, the lyrics are more theologically honest than most worship songs, making My First Love the perfect (and I mean perfect) Christ-centered hardcore album.
Buy:Amazon, iTunes

ok bear jeremy enigk
OK Bear
Jeremy Enigk


Why we picked it: Enigk‘s work has been legendary for almost a decade and a half now (Sunny Day Real Estate, The Fire Theft), and OK Bear seems to be a return to more simple times. Not to say that Jeremy Enigk‘s work is by any means simplistic now, but in terms of an album, this seems to be the first time his solo work has been able to focus his genius. The songs have a more straight forward feel to them (similar to Sunny Day), but somehow Enigk is able to make the simplest of structures somehow very unique. Drenching every song with his deep, introspective lyrics, and then letting his soulful and painful vocal style do the rest of the work, OK Bear is the album that every underground band wishes they could write.
Buy: Amazon, iTunes

my brightest diamond shark remixes vol 2 son lux
Shark Remixes Vol.2:Son Lux
My Brightest Diamond

Why we picked it: In 2008, solo songstress Shara Worden, under her moniker My Brightest Diamond, released her latest dark pop masterpiece, A Thousand Sharks Teeth. In 2009, she allowed several electronic artist to remix the album, resulting in several interesting volumes of The Shark Remixes. The most profound of all these was the collaboration with trip-hop genius Son Lux, who took My Brightest Diamond‘s sound and twisted it into something very different. In addition to Shara’s uniquely operatic vocals, distorted jazz horns, fuzzy base lines, and creepy backing effects made Son Lux and My Brightest Diamond‘s collaboration a match made in dark electronic heaven.
Buy: Amazon MP3, iTunes

pink limousine rootbeer
Pink Limousine EP
Rootbeer

Why we picked it: Want to have some good clean fun? The boys in Rootbeer got ya covered. The latest collaboration between LA Symphony alum Flynn Adam, and Pigeon John has proved you can have a lot of fun being better than most everybody in the hip-hop club scene. Each song is created to get the party started, and is chalked full of Flynn and John‘s unique sense of humor (heck, we have been hearing about this pink limo since the very first LA Symphony single). I dare you to listen to this EP and not be a little happier afterward. Go ahead….try. See? Not possible…
Buy: Amazon, iTunes

The-Chariot-Wars-and-Rumors-of-Wars
Wars And Rumors Of Wars
The Chariot

Why we picked it: There is simply not any band quite like The Chariot. They combine noise rock with metalcore, chaos with genius, and some how always come up with music that is easily better than 90% of the music put out in the metal/hardcore scene. On their last album, we saw The Chariot go experimental; on Wars And Rumors of Wars, we see them light everything on fire. Then they throw firecrackers at it. Vocalist Josh Scogin’s lyrics are top notch; the crazy parts are crazier, the heavy parts are heavier, the experimental parts are more….well you get the picture. The Chariot is on a rampage, and Wars And Rumors Of Wars is the warning siren.
Buy: Amazon, iTunes

derek webb stockholm syndrome
Stockholm Syndrome
Derek Webb

Why we picked it: Out of all the albums that came out this year in the Christian music scene, this may have been the most talked about by far. Once again sparking controversy with the song “What Matters More”, Derek Webb once again reinvented himself in both his lyrics, and in musical style. No longer content with folk music supplying the background to his messages, Webb instead harnessed a Thom Yorke-esque electronic sound with incredible results. With so much of today’s music being released with no real meaning or depth, Derek Webb was able to pave new trails for artistic musicians, be the music sacred or secular. Is this album and it’s messages for everybody? No. Is Stockholm Syndrome important? Without hesitation, yes.
Buy: Amazon, iTunes

ascend the hill
Ascend The Hill
Ascend The Hill
Why we picked it:
Ascend The Hill should be the new benchmark for worship music. Deeply theological, heart-breakingly honest, and unrelenting; Ascend The Hill is able to capture their passion for the Lord on their self-titled debut. This is the kind of music that God can use to knock down walls, to change lives, and renew hearts. Ascend The Hill‘s music isn’t a gimmick, a routine, or a performance. It is an expression of a heart truly and completely in love with God.
Buy: iTunes

hands creator
Creator
Hands

Why we picked it: Hands hit the music scene this year like a freight train. Their ability to weave together the brutal nature of progressive metal and earnest Christian theology could have so easily turned into a cheap parody. Thankfully for us, it didn’t, because Hands approached their music like a lion tearing apart its meal. Every song has layer upon layer of creativity and aggression, while at all times acting as a 10 song prayer. If the music was acoustic, this would be some really deep Christ centered folk/worship; if the lyrics weren’t about Christ, then these guys would be one of the most brutal progressive bands on the planet. Creator is neither, and it is both. Creator is a totally unique album from beginning to end, one we will be talking about for a long time.
Buy: Amazon, iTunes

So Long Forgotten the things we can see and the things we cannot
The Things We Can See & The Things We Cannot
So Long Forgotten
Why we picked it:
So Long Forgotten is yet another band testing the limits of the term progressive rock. Strange tempo changes, tons of stark guitar sounds, horns, and the cathartic lyrical style make this one you need to listen a few times before you truly grasp what is going on. What is going on is that Things We Can See And The Things We Cannot is a powerhouse of an album that is sure to satisfy an underground rock fan. The honesty in the lyrics make this a stand out on its own, but every song evolves in a singular way so that the listener will be left with something truly profound and beautiful with every track.
Buy:iTunes

maylene and the sons of disaster III
III
Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster

Why we picked it: The kings of southern metal-core proudly display why they were the first and they may be the last. All the grit and rawness from previous albums are here, but III just kicks it up 10 notches. No holds a bar rock guitar solos, banjos, monster ballads amidst the scream vocals, and of course plenty of metal pound at you track after track. This is the CD you will listen to when all your windows are down, and you are driving just a little too fast down the highway. Can’t wait for IV.
Buy: Amazon, iTunes

check back tomorrow to see the rest of our list!!

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?

The One21 Interviews Rootbeer

rootbeer

Pt. 1

Pt.2

So we have talked about Rootbeer a lot on this site. Rootbeer is the musical collaboration of Flynn Adam and Pigeon John. The two are not strangers though, they both started in the quirky hip-hop mega-group LA Symphony. That group has split off into many different factions, Cook & Uno, Poems, both John and Adam have pretty solid solo careers, but the latest and most visible is Rootbeer. The duo just released their Pink Limousine EP, a cool collection of fun and bouncy songs, and have been working really hard to get the word out.  We talked about that, how they got started, and their thoughts on faith and music.

Note: I (Ian) have been listening to both of these guys for a long time. I was a little nervous, so the beginning of the interview starts off a little awkwardly. Give it a few questions, because we fell into a great groove after a bit and even more sips from our coffee cups.

Here are the boys in Rootbeer with the title track from their debut EP

and for fun, here is both Pigeon John and Flynn Adam (doing the beats) WAY BACK in the first video from LA Symphony (younger versions of Cook & Uno, Poems, and Joey The Jerk also in the clip)

You can get Rootbeer’s EP digitally on Rootbeer and Amazon MP3

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.

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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 09 In The Daylight: Whole Lotta Hip-Hop

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Our last day at SXSW started around 1PM at The George Washington Carver Museum. There, we saw a collection of some of the best in Christian hip-hop. Lecrae, Kaboose, Braille, Tre9 and many more hit the tiny stage at a rapid fire pace to a very excited crowd. The problem was that even though we got there close to an hour before the show was supposed to start, the theater was already at capacity, and there were no signs of that ending before the emcees hit the stage.

By chance though, we ran into Tre9, a hip-hop artists himself, but also the creator of DASOUTH.COM, and also the organizer of the event. He quickly was able to help us and only took us back stage to watch the show, but introduced us to all the artists playing the event. Thanks alot man..

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You can check out Tre9‘s music on Tre 9

I couldn’t get pictures because of where we were, but I will tell you that both Kaboose and Braille tore the stage up.

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Kaboose is a big lovable guy who just gushed on the crowd in between his lighthearted but extremely complex blend of hip-hop. He talked a lot about the meanings and thoughts behind his songs over his fifteen minute set, allowing the crowd to see his heart along with his talent.  Don’t hear me saying that his music is lite though, the tracks he played off his latest CD, Excuse Me, sounded like they were defiantly testing the theater’s speakers for capacity.  Kaboose is a SOLID hip-hop artist with a lot to give, and this show displayed that he loves giving it.

You can get Kaboose‘s music on Kaboose

A quick transition saw a white dude in a jumpsuit, carrying a helmet, wander on to the stage, and announce his name was Braille.

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Braille is one of those guys that you hope keeps making music because you know that there isn’t anybody quite like him.  He has this strange manner of speaking that makes him almost charming on stage.  His music is serious in nature, and he is obviously a talented guy, but it was the little things like talking about his family and asking the crowd to help him drive his imaginary moped that will stick with people after the show is long over.  He gave me one of his CDs,  a recent colab with fellow artist Symbolyc One called Cloud Nineteen, and if it as anything like his show, I know I am in for a treat.

You can get that album, and the rest of Braille‘s stuff on Braille

We spent the next hour interviewing Tre9, Lecrae, and Kaboose, and left, unfortunately, before we could watch the end of the show. We came back over to the Austin Convention Center, and no sooner had I begun to write this post, Rootbeer began to play in the next room!

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If you read my post on the show we saw Friday, you know what to expect. Unlike the show at Troubadour, the boys seemed to be working the crowd a lot more. The place was pretty empty at the beginning, but by song two people were rushing to the front of the stage, dancing, and singing along. The boys did a great job, and the crowd was eating it up.

You can get Rootbeer‘s EP on Rootbeer

From here we are going to be hitting a few more late shows (including a solo Pigeon John), and then SXSW is done for us.  If you are up real late tonight, check us out, because will have our final update from SXSW 09.

SXSW 09 Show Round-Up: Rootbeer

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Day three of SXSW music had gotten me down a little bit. I was tired and a bit sore from walking all over the place in the heat. I know I know, I’m from Texas, whats the big deal? I should be used to the heat. Well let me clue you in, its not the heat that’s getting me, its the pants. The cool thing about working on an internet business is that you can dress how ever you like to work, so I haven’t been in long pants for more than a couple of hours in the good part of six months.

All this to just say, I was beat when we made our way down 6th ST to find a venue called Troubadour and meet up with Flynn Adam and Pigeon John (better known as Rootbeer) to do an interview.

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The interview went great: coffee was drank and Jesus was discussed.

We wondered around for a bit, but made our back to Troubadour to see the guys of Rootbeer do their thing. And oh, did they do their thing.

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There were only a handful of  people in the place on the first song, but by the end the place was packed. Rootbeer just tore the place down with their lighthearted blend of party hip-hop. They were backed by a drummer and percussionist, and it really worked sound wise for the duo. The beats just hit way harder and meant more coming from a live drum sound.  The boys hopped and danced all over the tiny stage, looking like they were having the time of their life.  The thing is that these guys arn’t just giving in to happy abandonment, these are two emcees that KNOW what they are doing.  What may looked silly and off the wall to some is actually a well seasoned stage presence that knows how to give people their money’s worth.  Hands down, Rootbeer deliver. They will make you laugh and want to jump at the same time.

After the show, I wasn’t as tired, that’s so weird….

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You can get Rootbeer‘s music on Rootbeer

check our schedule for Saturday and come hang out with on our last day at SXSW 09

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.

Christian Artists To Know: Pigeon John

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Pigeon John
Genre: Hip-Hop
Styles: Underground Hip-Hop, Hip-Pop, R&B
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Label: Quannum Projects
Website: www.pigeonjohn.com
Christian Label: No
Category: The Message whats this?

Chances are, if you have been listening to underground hip-hop, especially Christian hip-hop, in the last ten years, you have heard Pigeon John.  Every now and again certain tracks by the likes of KJ-52, The Grits, or DJ Maj have featured this quirky, one of a kind emcee, but for the most part, people have no idea who he is.  He is one of the founders of the hip-hop mega group LA Symphony, and one half of the underground duo, Rootbeer, but yet most people haven’t heard his unique vocal style. He released his first solo album by himself (the definition of independent), and sold over 10,000 copies, but most people don’t know his songs. He even has had his music featured on a  cereal commercial, but you most likely didn’t know it was him.

Why is it that Pigeon John is such a mystery?

The reason is because Pigeon John has never been concerned with the fame.  It is obvious by his infectious but very hard to define songs that his focus has always been to create, and to be creative.  His influence has not gone unnoticed though, rapper RedCloud cites a Pigeon John show as the catalyst for his salvation. Emcee Lyrics Born was so impressed by Pigeon’s unique style that he invited him to be part of his label, Quannum Projects, on which the emcee released his most widely distributed and well received album to date,Pigeon John And The Summertime Pool Party.  He has been the best elements of some of Christian hip-hop’s best songs, and his musical alliances in LA Symphony, Brainwash Projects, and Rootbeer certainly showcase a man on fire. It is time  the world might finally got to know this immense talent.

Pigeon John‘s strongest element is in his unique delivery. It is a comedic approach to serious issues with a combination of intricate rhyming and a fluid singing/talking style.  In the various groups he has been involved in, his verses were always a fresh blend of the unexpected, funny, and intensely dense in content. As a solo artist, Pigeon has expanded that fresh take on rapping to make his songs flow with a sense of whimsical intelligence.  That is the catch too, because at first glance, Pigeon John is a really funny guy.  It does not take much examination to discover though that he is deeply poetic, and immensely spiritual.  Although his career has tip-toed in and out of the Christian hip-hop scene, Pigeon’s lyrics have always been unrelenting on their spiritual undertones.

It is because of this dance with the mainstream and underground scenes though, that Pigeon has always been able to deal with issues in his life on a very real level.  In his song “As We Know It”, he spends that majority of the verses questioning God’s involvement in the world around him, voicing the questions of many outside of the church such as “why are their wars?”, and “why are things hard?”.  His final verse of the song reflects his surrender to God in Pigeon’s own unquie way.

What up Jesus (yes?) what up my nickel my man
Can I ask you couple questions about the whole dang plan?
Without an answer you stretch out your hand
With a look in your eyes that you understand
All the pain all the loss all the confusion
All the up and the downs are now amusing
And I spent all of my life rushing and hustling
When I could’ve just been your friend

Pigeon John has always excelled on keeping the mood light and keeping the content solid. There is always an air of freshness when his voice is coming through the stereo.  His live shows incorporates this freshness with high energy, tongue in cheek performances  that showcase his comedic side as much as his talent.

Here is Pigeon John performing “Deception” in 2008.

Pigeon’s latest venture is with long time friend Flynn Adam in their group, Rootbeer.  The duo were recently featured on the landing page for Myspace.com, and will be playing several times during the SXSW Music Fest in March.  I will always love Pigeon John’s commitment to his craft and his faith.  It is rare that you can find an artist that is so relevant in both the secular and Christian markets. With Rootbeer, it seems that his unique sense of comedy and art might finally be showing the world what a cool guy Pigeon John is.

You can get Pigeon John’s music digitally on Pigeon John - Pigeon John & the Summertime Pool Party

You can also get his CDs on Amazon:
Is Clueless
Pigeon John Is Dating Your Sister
Sings The Blues
…And The Summertime Pool Party

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!