I love discovering and listening to music. On average, I listen to a new album every week. This increased this year due to the fact of my discovery of how helpful listening to music is for emotional and spiritual life. Thus it has been a big year in music for me personally. I have listened to many different artists and songs this year. Spotify reported I listened to 262 artists and over 4,000 different songs, which over 400 were songs released this year. But there was one artist that I listened to then more than an other artist and that was Gungor. They had been a band that I have listened to for several years but never consistently until this year. The difference is they released a trilogy called One Wild Life. This was a controversial release to say the least. But it has was a part of changing my music tastes for the better. I listened to more Christian themed music this year then I had in a long time (future blog post coming about thoughts concerning “Christian” music). Gungor was not the only band I listened to this year. I am going to spend the rest of post discussing my five favorite albums I heard this year, list of ten favorite songs and looking forward to next year. The albums listed are not necessary released this year but were first heard this year. (Note: the link to the album or song on Spotify will be embedded in the album or song name).
Of course I will begin by discussing Gungor’s last two parts of of their One Wild Life trilogy, Spirit and Body (The first part was released in 2015). Before these were released, Gungor had already become my favorite band and thus was really excited to listen to these two albums. They did not disappoint. I really enjoy listening to them. But more important has been the impact on my life. They have been apart of my spiritual growth of the last year. Despite them no longer being orthodox, the Lord used them to bring me closer to him and back to some of things I love like theology and philosophy. And as stated above, it changed my music tastes and brought to me more Christian themed music. Lastly, this are just fun albums I love listening to them over and over again. I look forward to having them on vinyl someday once I can afford to purchase them.
Lost in the Dream by War on Drugs
This is my favorite album to listen to. I have to credit Sara with finding this album. Back in June, we were discussing what albums we want on vinyl. She found a list of about 20 or so suggested albums for vinyls. This was one that was listed. I immediately fell in love with it and for about a month; a day did not go by where I did not at least listen to one song from the album. There were some songs which I connected well too personally like “Under Pressure” but not as influential as Gungor. However, there was not another album that I more enjoy listening to. I have heard each song probably 20 times and they never get old. This will definitely be added to my vinyl collection.
Ouroboros by Ray LaMontagne
Speaking of Vinyls, there is probably no album released this year that sounds better on Vinyl. It was what originally drew me to it. I read in a Rolling Stone article about this album and immediately was drawn to it. I loved it the first time I heard it on Spotify. It is very reminiscent of Pink Floyd albums which are some my favorite albums to just listen to. I knew then I was missing part of the experience. So when my parents gave me a gift certificate to my favorite record store, I bought a special edition of it on Vinyl. And it was even better. I have listened to it several times and each time I catch something new. It is a very calming album for me. I just want to sit back and experience the music. Needless to say this is a good album but is is great on Vinyl.
Showbread is Showdead by Showbread
This is probably my surprise album of the year. Showbread was a Christian metal band that I listened to for many years. In fact, they were a part my Christian music trinity along with Relient K and Five Iron Frenzy. Showbread had fallen off my radar just do to different tastes. One day I was listening to the song “Matthias Replaces Judas” and decided I would research Showbread on Spotify. I learned they had a new album. I thought it would be fun just to listen but not expecting to like it. I was shocked how much I enjoyed it. And it took me on a journey to relisten to their music. They are now back in my library and it was because of this album. If you were a fan of Showbread or Christian metal, I suggest taking a listen to this album.
Instruments of Mercy by Beautiful Eulogy
This album is mentioned in this group of five because of how it changed my view of Christian Hip-hop/Rap. Before I heard this album, I did not like what I had heard. But a close friend suggested I listen to this album and so I did. It was really good and opened me up to a whole new genre of music. It lead me to the likes of Shai Linne, Timothy Brindle, Propaganda and Sho Baraka. I would not say this was the best Christian Rap album I listened; it was the most important as it was the one that started it all for me. Lastly, my wife really enjoys them as well which is important because there is very little music we tend to agree upon.
I do have some other albums that I will just mention: Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool, Relient K’s Air for Free, Andrew Peterson’s The Burning Edge of Dawn, The Head and Heart’s Signs of Light, Little Green Cars’ Ephemera, Jars of Clay’s The Shelter, All Sons and Daughters’ Poets and Saints, John Mark McMillan’s Borderland, The Grey Havens’ Ghost of a King, The Lumineers’ Cleopatra, Shai Linne’s Attributes of God, Timothy Brindle’s The Restoration, The Avett Brothers’ True Sadness, and Leeland’s Invisible.
Ten Favorite Songs:
Below is a list of my favorite songs that I heard this year. Just like albums, they do not necessarily have to be from this year. There is no particular order to these songs. The main cireteria for these songs is how often I would replay these songs.
- Wilderlove by John Mark McMillian
- No Hard Feelings by The Avett Brothers
- True Love Waits by Radiohead
- Walking with Our Eyes Closed by Gungor
- Under the Pressure by The War on Drugs
- Look on Up by Relient K
- The Dark Before the Dawn by Andrew Peterson
- All We Ever Knew by The Head and the Heart
- Irresistible by the Harbor
- Instruments of Mercy by Beautiful Eulogy
I wanted to close this post by looking towards next year. There are a couple of albums I am really looking forward to coming out. The first is John Mark McMillian’s Mercury and Lightening. He has already released two songs and they are already two of my favorite songs. It could be safe to say that if the rest album lives up to the first two songs this could be in my top albums for next year. The other album is All is Not Lost by the Brilliance. This is a band that has been slowly growing on me. My wife and I were fortunate enough to see them live in December and they were very good. I have heard some of the album and have really enjoyed it. I am sure there will e more albums but these are the two that I know about and am excited about.
The last thing I want to talk about is who I think could be my top artist of 2017. I am doubtful it will be Gungor despite the fact of them being my favorite band right now. The simple reason is my history on Spotify has shown a band has never repeated as top artist. Therefore, I thought it would be fun to point out some bands that I think could potentially be the top band of 2017. The first band is the Avett Brothers. Ever since their album True Sadness came out, there is hardly a week that goes by where I don’t listen to them. I have already listened to two more of their albums and have just enjoyed them more. The second artist is John Mark McMillian. It always helps a band when they are releasing a new album in a year. This helped the Decembrists in 2015 and Gungor in 2016. The last artist is the long shot for now and that is Andrew Peterson. The reason he is a long shot is I have listened to him a lot but not consistently yet but things change quickly when it comes to my music tastes. At this point, it really could be anyone. I have been listening to more classic rock again. I have also finally listened to my wife and begun to listen to classic R&B. So stay tuned. I believe this will be an exciting year in music.