Loc: Bouvet Island
Those of you who weren't raised in a Christian home may have a certain idea of what all Christian rock is- bland, preachy, irrelevant, churchy, etc. And you may assume that all Christian rock sucks. The problem with the Christian rock industry is that the coolest bands tend to be Christians IN A BAND who simply write from the heart, as opposed to "Christian bands" (as if "Christian" is supposed to be an actual musical genre) and hence they get quickly swept under the rug by an industry that, quite frankly, is run by a bunch of tools usually (Sorry, Tyson Paoletti and Aaron Sprinkle- not talking about you guys).
Having been raised around the Christian music industry, and Christian media, I had an insider's view of how all the most awesome bands get 86'd and blaze across the musical landscape like short-lived shooting stars. I can't stand that more people don't know of these bands, because they transcend the religion itself, and speak of universal truths and about just being human. The best songwriters are first, and foremost, human. Their religion may be important to them, but they write from the heart, minus the bullshit of any high and mighty theological ideas they've never really tested. That's what makes these songs/bands so unique. So, in no particular order:
10. P.O.D. - Outkast P.O.D. is an exception to the rule, in that they gained quite a following outside of churches. As they put it, though, they were griped at by Christians for not being Christian enough, and flipped off at secular venues for being too Christian- a problem most of the good Christian bands have. "Outkast" encapsulates that well. This album, btw, is perfect from beginning to end ("The Fundamental Elements of Southtown").
9. All Star United - Smash Hit Ironic that a song poking fun at the greed and commercialism rampant in Christian media would end up in the Michael Stipe movie "Saved!", being listened to by Mandy Moore's character as an example of her Christian lameness- or whatever Michael Stipe was trying to say. This song, and band, are the opposite of Mandy Moore's (unfortunately) often accurate character portraying the kind of Christians even Jesus wouldn't want to party with. The song is off their debut, which is all killer no filler. Somewhat derivative of Oasis, but not a mere Christianized clone by any means. This album is also perfect.
8. Burlap To Cashmere - Anybody Out There? Yet another band that was far too awesome for the Mr. Magoos running the industry. This band is utterly incredible. After over a decade hiatus (due in part to their lead guitarist being beaten into a coma of several months and suffering a TBI) they reunited recently for their long-awaited second album, which is a shining example of an awesome band that just so happens to be comprised of Christians. Both of their albums are a flawless 10/10. Don't believe me? Listen. They ought to end up in the rock and roll hall of fame. Yes, they are that talented. World-class musicians in ANY category of music- all of them. Steven Delopoulos is a musical genius. How the world missed these guys is a mystery. I've heard hardcore atheists say this is one of their favorite bands.
7. Five Iron Frenzy - Every New Day These guys had a lot of cross-over popularity because- you guessed it- they wrote like human beings who also happen to be Christians. Their frenetic energy is infectious. No matter how sick I got of ska at the time, I could not resist a good FIF song. Their live and final performance of this song rocks 10X more than the album version (much like Nirvana's "All Apologies" the album version is eclipsed by the beautiful Unplugged version) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPru3nUMfL4
6. Pedro the Lion - Bad Things to Such Good People Okay, so technically David Bazan (who recorded every instrument himself in his home studio) pulled a Cat Stevens and underwent a total conversion (to agnosticism in Dave's case). But once upon a time he was a worship leader and Christian songwriter. This entire album is the story of two brothers- one good (in the public eye), the other a black sheep, and the drunk of the family. At the point you hit Bad Things to Such Good People an ironic twist has taken place. Though it's from a theme album, this song is beautiful as a standalone.
5. Lifehouse - Storm What? You didn't know Lifehouse started as a Christian band? Jason Wade (lead singer/songwriter) started out leading worship at his church's youth group along with number 4 (see below), the incomparable Kendall Payne. This song transcends the story of Jesus walking on water and instead becomes a universal allegory for all who are struggling to find the faith and hope to survive in a storm that never seems to end. Perfect for a CSA slideshow, and a favorite, I've found, among many CSA survivors. If you're the furthest thing from a Christian and refuse to listen to this song out of disdain for Christianity, you just don't know what you're missing. This song will blow you away.
4. Kendall Payne - Honest As mentioned above, Kendall and Jason Wade started out as a duo, and each went their separate ways to do their own solo work. Payne's first album "Jordan's Sister" is all the more breathtaking when you consider that she wrote the majority of it at the age of 16. It is even more proof that the best Christian songwriters write about being human first, and a Christian second.
3. Plumb - Damaged *TRIGGER WARNING* One of the greatest songs ever written about what it's like to be a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. And for that reason, I'm not putting that trigger warning up there lightly. This song will bring you to tears. Plumb is a genius. She knows. She's been there. She is no Joel Osteen. Listen to this one at your own discretion. If you can get through it without breaking down, you will be glad to have found it.
2. Switchfoot - Only Hope There's been a lot of confusion around this song, thanks to the Mandy Moore film "A Walk to Remember". No, she did not write this song (although her version is awesome in its own right). This is off of Switchfoot's second (and in my opinion, last truly great) album: and this album ("New Way to Be Human") is a flawless, multifaceted diamond. Thankfully Mandy Moore and A Walk To Remember rescued this masterpiece from the rubbish heap of obscurity.
1. Aaron Sprinkle - A Friend I Had Went to church with this guy. He's awesome. Just listen to it. You'll be glad you did. No words need to be said.
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