It’s been a crazy year for me. I got a new job, moved to a different state, celebrated my first year of marriage, and wrote a book. There was more to 2012 than that, but those are the big points off the top of my head. It was a crazy year for Christian music, too. We said goodbye to The David Crowder Band and Barlow Girl, but welcomed back the Supertones, Big Tent Revival, and Audio Adrenaline.
The crazy thing was, at first I didn’t know if I could come up with enough highlights to do another one of these lists. Then I sat down and started going through the releases, and realized I almost had too much. There was some great stuff this year. Anyway, here’s the list. Everyone knows you don’t read one of these blogs for the preamble.
The Royal Royal
These guys blew me away. I saw a press release for the album that described the band as a cross between LCD Soundsystem and Arcade Fire. It was an intriguing comparison, for sure, and the crazy part is in some places, it holds up. Take sparse electronic instrumentation and great percussion tracks, combine them with lyrics that would be at home on most modern worship albums, and that’s about the best I can do to describe The Royal Royal. Check out their Twitter for some thought-provoking posts. They’ve already put out an EP and a full-length album in 2012. Hopefully we’ll be hearing plenty more from this brother duo.
Best solo artist
I don’t listen to rap or hip hop very much, but I’ve listened to enough to know there is some crazy stuff happening at Reach Records. They’ve been finding all kinds of guys who write solid lyrics without ignoring the musical side of things. Of the guys they’ve been cranking out recently, KB has been the best. I even like his stuff better than Lecrae’s. Yeah. He’s that good. I can’t find the link at the moment, but Lecrae stated in an interview once that he believes this guy is going to be the new face of Christian hip hop soon. I believe it. His album is filled with great, aggressive tracks, including what I think is the best song about sexual purity I’ve ever heard.
Switchfoot – Vice Re-Verses
It seemed like 2012 was the year of the remix album. Tobymac did it, Thousand Foot Krutch did it, tons of other bands did it, but not many did it quite as well as Switchfoot did it. The songs were actually reinterpreted instead of given a synth sound and an electro drum loop like many other remix albums. Effort went into this one, and it shows.
After Edmund – Strange Education
The Digital Age – Rehearsals EP
Paper Tongues – Crowdsurfing EP
Paper Route – The Peace of Wild Things
I’ve been a fan of Paper Route for several years now. They were supposed to open for Sleeping At Last (back before they wrote Turning Page for Twilight) but bailed. I was curious to know what I was missing and found their EP. I’ve been in love ever since. They have incredible, lush arrangements and solid lyrics. This new album is poised to make them a breakout band, feeling at times like a less poppy version of OneRepublic and at times like everything that was good in 80’s music. Go listen to this album, then dig back into their collection, and thank me when you’re done. For serious.
House of Heroes – Cold Hard Want
KB – Weight & Glory
All Sons and Daughters – Season One
House of Heroes
I’ve been slowly but surely turning into a House of Heroes fanboy for the past couple years. I loved The End Is Not The End from the moment I heard it, but my first listen to 2010’s Suburba had me a little disappointed. But for some reason I kept on listening to it and it kept on growing on me. By the time they announced the release date of Cold Hard Want, they were one of my favorite bands ever, Christian or otherwise. I could have given Cold Hard Want the nod for best album, just like I could have given Paper Route the nod for best band, but I wanted to honor both these groups. Since House of Heroes had the better promotional campaign for their album, they get the best artist label here.
All Sons and Daughters
Benjamin Dunn and the Animal Orchestra
So there’s my list. Maybe I fanboy-ed out a bit from time to time, but there were a few bands this year that I just got super excited about. What do you think? Did I miss anyone? Who are your picks?
Also! If you have Spotify, I made a playlist. Some of these bands aren’t on Spotify, so you’ll have to find them elsewhere, but this is a halfway decent collection of some good representations of all these guys, plus a few others I enjoyed, even if the band or album didn’t get any mention on here. Check it out!