It’s been another great year for artistic offerings. Here are our some of our regular contributors’ Top 5 favorites from the year–just a few of our favorite things to release in 2014…
1. After All These Years, Andrew Peterson – It might seem a little odd to name a “best of” collection “Album of the Year,” but this achieves that mantle in two ways. First, it’s significantly remade, breathing fresh air into old songs and adding several new ones. Second, it’s a wonderful assemblage of some of the finest works from one of our generation’s finest songwriters.
2. Fading West, Switchfoot – A global trek, not unlike the recent Foo Fighters’ Sonic Highways project, this album finds the band infusing songs with local influences and reflecting on their place in the world. Switchfoot’s songwriting and sound are consistently brilliant.
3. Ragamuffin (Music Inspired by the Motion Picture), Various Artists – This companion album to the 2014 biopic celebrates the music of Rich Mullins in a way that few tribute albums can accomplish. Artists who count Mullins as a foremost influence give hand-selected songs the care they deserve.
4. Love Will Have the Final Word, Jason Gray – Gray has given us an album useful for both our own darkest days and for the times when we need to come alongside a friend and lift him up. “If You Want to Love Someone” is a clarion call to a contentious society.
5. Goliath, Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil – Yes, it’s that Steve Taylor, and yes, he’s still that good. Maybe even better, given a supremely talented supporting cast. This romp is really refreshing.
1. As Sure As the Sun, Ellie Holcomb – Honest, subtle, and soul-stirring, Holcomb’s full-length debut is a snapshot of a beautiful life, a life and journey that is being spent in pursuit of her God with passion and honesty.
2. Shine For All the People, Mike Farris – Infused with truth and honesty, Farris’ music is infectious and unashamedly full of joy. It’s impossible to not be moved, to smile, to dance, and to sing along with Farris’ soaring runs, and that’s exactly what listeners across the world are bound to be doing when they hear this.
3. I Must Find You, Young Oceans – This album is an experience, something powerful and transcendent and holy; and it’s best enjoyed in its entirety, allowing the honest peace and hope that flows through to truly seep into your bones. As you do, these songs crafted through times of pain and adversity will flow over you and, if you’ll allow them to, will no doubt draw you into a deeper place of connection and community with the Savior.
4. Neon Steeple, Crowder – With Neon Steeple, David Crowder reasserts himself as a musical tour de force, making music that is as artistically successful as it is lyrically sound. The fusion of the old and the new comes across as effortless in the artist’s hands and, with a powerful cast of supporting players, his vision is realized and should launch the album onto the “must listen” lists of listeners everywhere.
5. Rivers in the Wasteland, NEEDTOBREATHE – A powerful commentary on the struggles within the band’s last year, this album is also a manifesto of hope, finding the proverbial diamonds in the rough and silvery linings through each and every struggle without whitewashing the circumstances. And the fact that the band rocks while doing so only makes it that much better.
1. Rivers in the Wasteland, NEEDTOBREATHE – Just when I thought this band couldn’t get any better, they went and released the best record of their career. It rings true with a depth of honesty previously unexplored on past records, simply because they’ve lived these songs. So, so incredibly good.
2. Neon Steeple, Crowder – Crowder continues to simultaneously delight and surprise me. Neon Steeple is nothing short of an artistic masterpiece. Crowder is pure creative genius.
3. When We Were Younger, Colony House – I expected to enjoy Colony House’s debut, but I didn’t expect to completely fall in love with this album and this band. The Chapman brothers may come from an incredible musical pedigree, but they are immensely talented in their own right. They are going to do BIG things!
4. As Sure As the Sun, Ellie Holcomb – Ellie’s album feels more like a conversation with a good friend over a cup of coffee than a musical experience. Her raw authenticity is disarming. She’s adorable on every level.
5. Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong., for KING & COUNTRY – This is the best Christian pop record I’ve heard in a long time. I knew for KING & COUNTRY’s second record had the potential to be a landmark recording, but this album fully exceeded my expectations with thoughtfully-crafted lyrics, insane hooks and creative sonic nuances. for KING & COUNTRY delivered in spades with their sophomore effort.
What albums made your Top 5 in 2014?