Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Night Beat Platinum Dozen of 2013

How does one rank perfection? Splitting hairs has never been really difficult here at The WENC Night Beat among the Perfect 5 Rated Albums, but when you've handed out over forty of them during the course of a year narrowing them down to ten or so seems a bit more of a superhuman effort. So how do we do it?

Switching from the PVA to a calendar year, dropping remixes, best of albums, EPs and Christmas Music dropped it down to about two dozen. Listening to those one more time shook out the rest. I refuse to rank them, however, so we will do this in album alphabetical order.

The Blood + The Breath: Songs That Tell The Story of Redemption, +Caroline Cobb Smith 

While perhaps we could give this album an award for longest title, that isn't the only reason to get this album. Written as part of a challenge to write a song for every book of the Bible in one year. A dozen were kept. The Alpha and Omega songs were representative of eternity past and future and the middle ten take us from Genesis to Revelation in a multiple genre experience of Adam, Moses, Abraham, Jesus and the Prophets. You will be entranced.

The Civil Wars, +The Civil Wars 

Beauty from Brokenness. Amid the Rumors of the Alt-Country-Folk Duo's breakup comes this self titled followup to the smash hit Barton Hollow. Unlike that album this effort taps into more darker emotions. Tell Mama, Dust To Dust and The One Who Got Away draw you in. The overall tone of the album is mournful, yet beautiful. Even the country music people love it. Entertainment Weekly made it #7 on the Top 10 Country Albums. Of course it isn't country, not by a long shot. Of course a lot of pop and folk stars get to be country these days.

Instruments of Mercy, Beautiful Eulogy

Beautiful Eulogy is a rap "supergroup" made up of Braille, Odd Thomas and Courtland Urbano. Now I had only heard of the first two, but this isn't your typical rap artist. Call it the thinking man's rap. The rap is slow, easy to hear, and is usually a theological sermon in a few minutes. If you're looking for mindless entertainment, this definitely isn't your album.

Kings and Queens, Audio Adrenaline

I was skeptical when I heard that Audio Adrenaline was re-forming with Kevin Max at Lead Vocal. More than a reunion, the band has been rebuilt from the ground up and transformed from rock to alternative to accommodate Max's "shimmering vocals". A front runner for Comeback of The Year.

No More Hell To Pay, Stryper

Does it still count as a sequel when the two albums are three decades apart? Thematically linked to 1986's Platinum Selling To Hell With The Devil, including angel of the abyss type covers, this is the first Stryper album since then to rival the masterpiece. This time however, the boys crank it up quite a few notches. There is no abyss to lead you into the album, but Revelation begins with screaming guitars and doesn't let up from beginning to end. Hell has never been this much fun.

Old Soul, Wayne Haun

Not technically a Christian Album, as it consists of secular jazz covers. Though linked mostly to Southern Gospel, a genre avoided like the plague here at Night Beat HQ, the smooth sounds of Jazz keep you jumpin. I'll probably keep this right next to my Denver and the Mile High Orchestra.

Patterns, +Cloverton Music 

I can best describe this as a Vertical Album. It may be too worship for it to be a Rock album, and it may be too Rock to please the Modern Worship folks. It seems to fit with Cloverton. Last Christmas I shared a video of Christmas Hallelujah by them. It's the best version that I've heard of that song in quite a while. So take that talent and put it into a full album.

Rise, +skilletband 

Back to the future. Fans waiting for a follow up to Awake received instead a themed album which hearkened back to the Industrial-Electronic past. Korey's back on Synthesizers and In a Newsboys like twist, Drummer Jen Ledger is a second lead vocalist and main backup vocalist on the album. She carries off songs like Salvation and Not Gonna Die very well.

Still Believe, Kim Walker-Smith

A refreshing change in the Modern Worship offerings. Actually this is the first MW album to really get me wowed since Skillet's Ardent Worship, and that was back in 2000. How did she do it? By incorporating moments of unrehearsed worship and cutting down on the number of songs. Doing this created a live worship experience, and not a isolated series of worship songs, as if they were done in a studio. 

Water and Guns, Aaron Sprinkle

The famed Tooth and Nail producer returned to the studio for an "unfair" entry. (From 2006-2010 he had a band under the name Fair). The album is an Alt-Synthpop mix with hints of Owl City and Anberlin. Though technically released September 30, we at the Night Beat decided to push it to October 1 into the new PVA year where it can set the bar. Music this good can't last forever, can it?

The White Room (Deluxe), +Jonathan Thulin 

Video Made the Radio Star. With all due respect to The Buggles, while I liked this album, after I saw the video for Bombs Away and then the one for Dead Come To Life I didn't like the album anymore. I LOVED THE ALBUM!!! The man is a video genius. And the music, combined, creates the most wonderful stories ever told. And orchestration. His brother David must be jealous.

The Wind and The Waves, All The Bright Lights

Not to be confused with Phil Keaggy's The Wind and The Wheat, except for the fact that they are both excellent albums, and also entirely instrumental. They are two separate albums, one a guitar masterpiece, and this one, a Trance masterpiece. Electronic music is one of the most beautiful forms in the world, and this proves it.

As I said before, I refuse to rank these 1-12 since they are all excellent in their own right. However one reason for that is that Rise, The Civil Wars, and No More Hell To Pay, and Kings and Queens could equally be ranked number one. Don't even get me started with honorable mentions. They could go on forever. Feel free to tell me what you think. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.