Friday, January 9, 2015

The Best of 2014: Alternative

A funny thing happened on the way to my annual best of list. A whole whopper of Perfect 5's hit. Talk about a perfect storm. With all those entries narrowing it down to 10, or 12 was a Herculean task, and, face it, I'm not Hercules. So, I did the best I could, and that wound up being a double dozen (that's 24 for the rest of you).

Doing a single post of that size seemed to be a bit ridiculous, so I will be doing a series of posts based on genre, and finishing with a widows and orphans post.

We begin with Alternative, which accounted for 25% of the total. The list is in no particular order, so don't try to put one above another. These are all awesome albums, and get them.

Goliath , Steve Taylor and The Perfect Foil


A much welcome return to music from Christian Music's Clone Prince. Discovering acts like Sixpence None The Richer doesn't happen all the time. And how much Hollywood Hobnobbing can you do. Luckily for us his sarcasm (or venom, if you're the target) remains intact. The sound probably resembles Chagall Guevara more than Some Band, though Moonshot and Sympathy Vote should please the nostalgia buffs among us.

Lowborn , Anberlin

Talk about going out while you are on top. While I admit that I was late to this band, once I was in, I was in. We begin with the rocking We Are Destroyer, but the album soon takes on a more melancholy tone, as the band obviously knew the album was to be the swan song in the recording studio. "Everybody wants to see heaven but nobody wants to die" (Hearing Voices), "Is it okay If I call you lover, even though we don't know each other" and other such lyrics reach straight into the heart. While I have always held that The Choir was the undisputed King of Alternative, Anberlin seemed to have placed itself as the Heir Apparent. Until today. Long live the King, for there is no clear successor to the throne.

Fading West , Switchfoot

No pretender to the throne here, the San Diego Surf Band who taught us about a new way to be human and dared us to move took a bit of a page from Steve Taylor's later years and made an album based on a movie, or was that a movie based on an album. No matter, the result is pure platinum. You'll be singing along with all of these songs, and that's good, as most of them have been written sing along style. Love Alone Is Worth The Fight, Who We Are, Slipping Away, The World You Want. I could go on but there are only 11 cuts on the album.

Rhythms of Grace , The Remission Flow

Ireland is becoming a hot spot for CCM these days. And no, it sounds nothing like Riverdance. Originally mis-classified among the vast wasteland that is Modern Worship, they are more accurately classified as Alternative. Between the fact that they released the album on my birthday and they use a quote from The Message in the title, they were on my good list from the start. And then the music, which is extremely Biblical as it is Grace-Centric (sorry Theologians, if you would actually open and read the Bible, you would find that you have been wrong about Faith, Grace, and just about everything else).

Becoming Who We Are , Kings Kaleidoscope

Another messenger of the Grace Revolution. Kings Kaleidoscope isn't a band from Ireland, however they do resemble one in one respect. They have embraced the concept of having a fluid membership, adding or dropping members as necessary. (And you got to love it when they NEED a Xylophone). At first I heard their Live In Color EP and I thought that their slightly off key style for the song meant they were bad. And then I heard Felix Culpa (which means Fortunate Fall). I mean you can't get Bible and Cool in most albums, but these guys should be on everybody's must have list. 

Cathedrals , Tenth Avenue North

No man is an Island announces one of my favorite alt bands. Mike Donehey and company have been producing music on the fringes of alternative and worship since 2008, that is before this blog has been in existence, although the Night Beat radio show was on in 1985. They have never been afraid to take risks with their music (and one of the biggest. Latin Gregorian Chant. Iesu, Dulcis Memoria feat Audrey Assad).

I think that should just about do it. I had hoped to put each one with its album cover, but upon previewing it seemed a bit messy, so I just did the first two. Don't read anything into that either. We shall Rock out next. Until then, I am Awaiting Your Reply.