Christian music aside, twenty sixteen was a year for the books. We witnessed the well-deserved Cleveland Cavs championship (I hail from Northeast Ohio). We experienced one of the most legendary — or should I say stressful and comical — election years ever. Celebrity deaths seemed to be at an all-time high and we finally saw the return of Gilmore Girls. Finally. It was a year that has left its mark on all of us in many ways.
Christian Music Notable Releases for 2016
2016 was also a great year for CCM (Contemporary Christian Music). From the somewhat anti-climatic DC Talk reunion announcement, to the increase of Christian artists making their way into the “mainstream” airways, Christian Music had a great year.
Like every year before it, there are always some albums that stick out more then others. I am going to share with you what I think were some of the biggest releases of the year. Now I want to for warn you that I do listen to other genres outside of the CCM field. However, I want to keep this article to the albums that made the biggest mark on Christian music in 2016. Without further ado lets begin … and if you’d like to give a listen to the albums while you read my thoughts, I put together a playlist for you here:
#5. Have it all – Bethel Music (various Artists):
Not many worship albums do I find it easy to listen to straight through. Most of the time I find myself skipping around and reconfiguring the track listing. This album was definitely an exception. Each song seems to move seamlessly into the next creating an intimate worship experience. Some of the note worthy songs are: Lion and the lamb by Leeland. Leeland has always been a solid songwriter and I feel this one is no exception. Pieces by Steffany Gretzinger is another great song on this album. Her songs have an amazing way of brining on personal reflection and provoking thought.
For worship leaders this album had a select few tracks that would be great for a Sunday morning setting. Making this a great album for personal quiet times and reflection.
Learn More and Purchase: Have It All by Bethel Music
#4. American Prodigal – Crowder:
Crowder’s sophomore album was gritty. He has again redefined his sound and discovered a new way to make worship anything but ordinary. Calling this sound swamp rock, Crowder encompasses sounds from the south as well as some classic hymn styles songs. I don’t feel like it was better then Neon Steeple, however, it was a solid album through and through. Every song is catchy and memorable. Crowder even reached out to two hip-hop artists from Reach Records to feature on two of his songs. Tedashii & KB were both great additions to this project. Some songs worth mentioning are Run Devil Run, Prove it ft. KB, and my personal favorite All My Hope. Although I miss the David Crowder days, this projects proving a real success.
Learn More and Purchase: American Prodigal by Crowder
#3. Good Religion – Dream Junkies:
Having only experienced the West Coast once I am no expert at Southern California Culture. However, this album took me straight across the country and put me right on a sunny boardwalk enjoying the great atmosphere of LA. I found this album later in the year and immediately fell in love with its tracks. This group is composed of three solid solo acts that when put together become a collaboration for the ages. John Gives, Beleaf, and Ruslan bring three different dynamics that blend so very well. Normally I don’t think these guys would fit the CCM Category but this act has a great message that needs to be shared to churched and un-churched alike. One disclaimer this album has some mild urban language, while fitting and relevant to the message of the album, it does contain words that are not usually equated to the Contemporary Christian Music culture and can be seen as offensive. Tracks to check out are Boogie Man, I got the Juice, and Left Coast ft. Murs.
Learn More and Purchase: Good Religion by Dream Junkies
#2. H A R D L O V E – Needtobreath:
This is the sixth studio album from the Carolina boys. Its also the follow up the their biggest album to date. After the success of the song Brother ft. Gavin DeGraw, they launched this album to a larger fan base including those outside the CCM realm. H A R D L O V E has again given the band a chance to redefine their sound. This album goes a little more soulful then the previous albums. I had the opportunity to catch them on their Tour de Compadres with great supporting acts. These guys have no problem recreating their sound from the album and producing it live on stage. Tracks to listen to include: Hard Love, No Excuses, and Be Here Long. I recommend taking this album on a road trip.
Learn More and Purchase: H A R D L O V E by NEEDTOBREATH
#1. To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere – Thrice:
This Album is the best thing from Thrice since the Alchemy index project in 2008. After taking a little hiatus and allowing Dustin Kensrue (Lead singer) to lead worship for Mars Hill Church under Mark Driscoll, they have come back and have not held anything back. In 2014 the band announced that they will be reuniting to put more music out, and it was worth the wait. To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere (TBEITBN) has the grungy sound that you have come to expect from Thrice while bringing relevant lyrics that cover topics such as war, oppression, and just regular ole politics. But don’t let this deter you from giving it a listen; this album invites you to critically think about life, religion, and politics, while letting you decide for yourself what you believe. With that being said here are some tracks to check out: Hurricane, Blood on the Sand, and Black Honey.
Learn More and Purchase: To be Everywhere is to be Nowhere by Thrice
I look forward to what 2017 has to offer, if its anything like twenty sixteen then it will be a great year. I am going to leave you with the honorable mentions that just didn’t quite make the cut.
- Twenty-One Pilots/Mutemath – TØPxMM EP
- Switchfoot – Where the Light shines Through
- Hillsong United – Of Dirt and Grace
- All Sons and Daughters – Poets and Saints
Guest post by Jeff Rettig.