The One21 Essential 100 Pt.3

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

josh garrels over oceans
Over Oceans
Josh Garrels

2006
Buy this album: Amazon MP3, iTunes
You are drawn in by the quiet acoustic music but you quickly wrap yourself in a musical and lyrical storm. This is a tour de force of folk, world, rap, electronic, spoken word theology by a brilliant musician who refuses to leverage his talent for fame or money. Over Oceans is Josh Garrels‘ first full length recording starts quietly with a beautiful ode to the beauty of God’s creation, “Fire By Night”. Later on the CD a rolling tumbling worship chant “Break Bread” should be a Sunday worship staple. The centerpiece is “SISU”, a six minute acoustically driven rap that lays out the beauty of core Christian theology more clearly than any sermon ever delivered.
Highlights: Break Bread, SISU, YHWH

Billy Joe Shaver- Victory
Victory
Shaver

1998
Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
Shaver is Billy Joe Shaver and his son Eddy Shaver, presenting the songs of Billy Joe Shaver in a stripped-down, acoustic context. Shaver‘s peers as a songwriter and singer include Guy Clark, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. His voice has a lot of Hank Williams Sr. and some of Woody Guthrie, and his tunes hark back to the origins of country music, with traces of rural blues. Spiritually based, Victory gives the listener a glimpse into the soul of Shaver through the songs he has written about his relationship with his Lord. A man of strong spiritual conviction, Shaver has lived a life that often put him in conflict with his religious beliefs. Victory includes Shaver classics, essayed with a stirring combination of weariness and wisdom (“Old Five and Dimers,” “When Fallen Angels Fly”), as well as classics-to-be. The newer songs (“Son of Calvary,” “You Can’t Beat Jesus Christ”) are filled with Christian imagery, but he doesn’t preach–these are songs of a man struggling to reconcile his faith with the wild life he’s led. Victory is a fine listen, both comforting and harrowing.
Highlights: Live Forever, If I Give My Soul, My Mother’s Name is Victory

Son Lux- At War With Walls And Mazes
At War With Walls And Mazes
Son Lux

2008
Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
To say that Son Lux makes electronic music is like saying Daniel Day Lewis just acts; it just isn’t the full truth. Son Lux’s songs are complex, painful, and beautiful all at the same time. He takes sounds and then deconstructs them until they seem to explode out of the speaker and then evaporate just as fast. Pulling from genres across the electronic landscape such as trance, ambient, industrial, and breakbeat, At War With Walls And Mazes introduces the listener to strange and ever changing musical world, were words and music seem to be haunted by the ghosts of their own sounds. Singing parts warp and distort as they are being sung, beats abruptly stop only to return later in a song, but slightly altered. Every song is full of surprises, and you hear something different every time you listen. Son Lux has created and amazing and haunting masterpiece in At War With Walls And Mazes, one that seemingly has no equal.
Highlights: Wither, Betray, Stand, War

Monarch The Grandeur That Was Rome
The Grandeur That Was Rome
Monarch

2003
Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
Almost from the first note on Monarch’s debut album, The Grandeur That Was Rome, you are completely transported into the music. Monarch is able to wield atmospheric, ambient rock in a way that eludes most of their contemporaries. Every song builds in a distinct and focused way, allowing you to linger on every note before they all crash into each other to create the beauty that is Monarch’s sound. Then, at last, you reach vocalist Brennon Shaw’s delicate and haunting voice, driving the choruses and melodies to a place of pure serenity. The combination of these rock, electronic, and vocal elements is what makes The Grandeur That Was Rome…well, grand. Music seemingly written to be a soundtrack to everyday life, Monarch set themselves apart from their peers with an album of creative and gorgeous songwriting that many could only aspire to, but never are able to grasp.
Highlights: Talk Is Cheap/The Undefeated, Tracing Paper (An Argument), Now You See It/Now You Don’t

tobyMac- Momentum
Momentum
tobyMac

2001
Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
Who knew? Wasn’t a DCTalk fan so I didn’t know, but did anyone know that all the grit and drive of “Jesus Freak” was tobyMac? Bursting from the speakers with driving guitars, wild samples and layers of pounding drums tobyMac smacks us in the mouth with his first lyrics as a solo artist when spews his rap “Everybody, everybody in the place to be, Open up your mind and let your soul be free, I can feel the most High shining on me so… Let’s Get This Party Started”! Any questions about who was the muse of “Jesus Freak”?
Momentum is 14 songs of hard driving street Christianity metal hip hop, which samples both Buffalo Springfield and Wycleff Jean. And we do get the gospel stomp “JTrain” featuring Kirk Franklin. Momentum should be played loud enough to blow your speakers and bring the cops, but do it alone because you will want to silly dance. tobyMac’s first offering rivals anything Outkast has done.
Highlights: Get This Party Started , Love Is In The House, Somebody’s Watching

tobyMac Readies New Album

Below is the tracklisting and album artwork for tobyMac‘s upcoming Febuary 9th, 2010 release, Tonight.  The album will include appearances from Israel Houghton, along with members from Skillet and Relient K.

tobymac tonight

1. Tonight feat. John Cooper of Skillet
2. Get Back Up
3. Funky Jesus Music feat. Beckah Shae & Siti Monroe
4. City On Our Knees
5. ShowStopper
6. Changed Forever feat. Nirva Ready
7. Hold On
8. Loud n Clear (TruDog ’10)
9. Hey Devil
10. Wonderin’ feat. Matthew Thiessen of Relient K
11. Captured
12. Start Somewhere
13. Break Open The Sky feat. Israel Houghton

Free Download:DJ Promote-Lights Up, Eyes On

LightsUpEyesOn

We are going to keep the Christmas music thing going with the addition of DJ Promote‘s Lights Up, Eyes On EP. At its core, this album is a cool little Hip-Hop inspired Holiday mix. Fun songs with some happy rap lyrics, remixes of holiday songs, and in general a cool little addition to you Christmas music collection. Things get kind of interesting with the track “Commercialism Theme Music” when DJ Promote provides the background music to a really awesome sermon concerning the true meaning of the season. On every track Promote brings the focus back to Christ, which is unfortunately very rare when this music comes up.

I think you guys will really like this, and this will be the last one for a few weeks. Im gonna take a small break during the next week or so, things are a little crazy on my end. Enjoy the download!

For fans of: Lecrae, Kaboose, tobyMac, Maj

Download DJ Promote-Lights Up, Eyes On EP

Essential Songs: Get This Party Started by TobyMac

toby-mac-party2

Get This Party Started by Toby Mac tobyMac - Momentum - Get This Party Started

Toby Mac exploded out of DC Talk with this opening song of his debut solo effort Momentum. A huge, loud, dance track declaring a joyous love of God,  it contains one of my favorite lines- “open up your mind and let your soul be free”.  Momentum was the best post- DC Talk effort from any member of the band.  Toby Mac displayed his heavy hip hip roots on Momentum, a CD that contains several classics like “Love Is In The House”, “Somebody’s Watching Me” and “J Train”. However for a completely exuberant, sold-out, stomping declaration of joy in faith, you can’t beat “Get This Party Started”.

Get This Party Started
by Toby Mac

Everybody everybody in the place to be
Open up your mind and let your soul be free
I can feel the Most High shining on me, so…
Let’s get this party started
Everybody everybody in the place to be
Open up your mind and let your soul be free
I can feel the Most High smiling on me, so…
Let’s get this party started
Blind-sided by the blitz
Come on baby it’s on
I couldn’t wait to get on this
You ain’t no quiet storm
I’m gonna tell it like it is
There ain’t no stopping us now
Somebody shut me up so I can live out loud
Them people thought I was gone
It’s been a long time comin’
But straight out the box
We got the dark side runnin’
So Father, Most High won’t You show Yourself
And shine on this record like nobody else

Can you really, be honest, hear this song without dancing? Does your joy in Christ feel like this?

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.

Stuff From All Over

I am going to try to do this about once a week; post a whole mess of links to various news stories/updates from various artists in the Christian body.  It will be different every week, Im just going to try to keep you updated on all that is happening;

Metalcore monsters Gwen Stacy have posted the dates for their upcoming UK tour here

Paramore posted a bunch of info for their upcoming Final Riot! CD/DVD here

Toby Mac posted the first in a series of videoblogs dealing with his latest tour here

Doomcore headbangers Impending Doom announced their new album here

Dustin Kensrue (Thrice) has a album player up for his upcoming Christmas album here

Experimental rockers La Dispute released a new album this week, read about it here

DIG Magazine interviewed Jonzetta here

Hardcore heroes Inked In Blood broke up, they talk about it here

The Almost have posted a new song from their upcoming Christmas album here

God loves you always