Listen to the new album from Sam Hauge!
Listen to the new album from Sam Hauge!

Top 15 albums

Ryan Barbee

1 Switchfoot

"If there was a band for people to emulate… this is the one. They're the real deal through and through. I'll never forget hearing "Chem 6A" for the first time – it was so fun and energetic but felt thoughtful. The Legend of Chin was so amazing from start to finish; it provided me, as a teenager, some thoughtful lyrics that weren't all peaches and cream. A lot of people started following Switchfoot after A Walk to Remember hit theaters, but as everybody started singing the "Mandy Moore song" I made it my civic duty as a friend of the foot to inform these pagans of their mistake. "NO! That song was originally sung by SWITCHFOOT!!!!" If I look back on it, I think my sandwich board and bullhorn approach might have been a bit much… but now they know the truth. (I write that with as much sarcasm as I can muster.) But seriously folks… I love these guys – my wife even walked down the aisle to the song "Learning to Breathe." You want to talk about the perfect song to see your bride?! That song nailed it."

Favorite Albums: The Legend of Chin, New Way to be Human, Learning to Breathe, Hello Hurricane

Favorite Songs: "You," "Don't Be There," "Company Car," "Let That Be Enough," "Learning to Breathe," and "24"

2 Skillet

"So I reviewed the most recent album Rise; to say the least – I got some hate mail. Post-Comatose Panhead converts made sure to make it known that I "surely could never know the greatness that IS Skillet…" But what they don't know is… that's why it got a bad review, because I DO know the greatness that IS Skillet. I'm not some new fan-boy… I loved them at first listen back with the original 3: John L. Cooper, Ken Steorts and Trey McClurkin – and no, I didn't have to google their names… I know them because they're written on my heart! Plus, when Korey came on board it just got better. I remember listening to these albums on repeat throughout middle school, high school, and even college. Shoot, I even quoted some of Cooper's amazing lyrics in my theology essays. I was a loud and proud panhead for years… even as they changed greatly on Collide, I stuck with them, with Comatose I was still pleased but felt like something was missing… and then Awake happened… my head kind of hung low after that. Nevertheless, it doesn't change the fact that I will forever love Skillet for the music they provided my soul during the early regenerative years of my salvation. I'm so thankful for John Cooper, what an amazing talent! Hopefully one day we'll see his fantastic falsetto and poignant lyrics return."

Favorite Albums: Hey You, I Love Your Soul, Invincible, Ardent Worship: Skillet, Alien Youth

Favorite Songs: "Your Love (Keeps Me Alive,)" "More Faithful," "Suspended In You," "Coming Down," "You Take My Rights Away," "Rest," "Each Other," "The One," "Angels Fall Down," "The Thirst is Taking Over," "Will You Be There (Falling Down)"
3 Eisley

"This band can make some of the silliest sounding lyrics sound amazing! After graduating high school I was hankering for a new sound… and then I found Eisley. Strangely enough the first few songs I found by them were hosted on PureVolume – they were just so different. They captured a sense of whimsy in their music without sounding childish or redundant. My first real experience with the full album was on a rainy day in the fall... so now I associate a lot of rainy days with these folks. The day after my daughter, India, was born I'll never forget singing "Just Like We Do" to her – her crying quickly calmed to that beautiful melody and sweet words. I'm so glad they've persevered a lot of tribulations and can't wait to see whatelse they put out in the future."

Favorite Albums: Room Noises, Currents

Favorite Songs: "Just Like We Do," "Memories," "Golly Sandra," "Trolleywood," "Plenty of Paper," "One Day I Slowly Floated Away," "Millstone," "Wonder English," "Shelter"
4 Sanctus Real

"Sanctus Real came on the scene with some tamed aggression. They had such high energy when they first showed up. Without a doubt, their first three albums were so good… but The Face of Love showed this lean toward adult Christian contemporary radio stuff. I still loved that album, but it was like watching a train come right at you; you think to yourself, "This looks really cool," but if you don't move, you're gonna be seriously let down. After Face – it kind of went downhill. The lyrics started sounding recycled, the music boring. The guys are all still fantastic but something just… stopped. Hammitt's recent decision to leave Sanctus actually kind of gives me hope to see him return to his original sound and maybe release some more aggression rather than the fluff."

Favorite Albums: Say It Loud, Fight the Tide, The Face of Love

Favorite Songs: "Sink or Swin," "Captain's Chair," "Alone," "The Fight Song," "The Face of Love," "Where We Belong"
4 Relient K

"What high schooler of the early 2000's didn't love these guys! Even some of the jerkiest dudes in school knew the lyrics to "Sadie Hawkins." But it was only the true fan that could recite verbatim the words from "Gibberish." As much as these guys seemed silly, Thiessen was/is so gifted as a songwriter that their serious songs were just as enjoyable. "Falling Out" gave a grown-up feel to their tempered pop-punk. I believe Dave Douglas' departure was a huge blow to the band… and if by some miracle he returns – we'll see some of Relient K's best days, but that probably is just a pipe-dream. Nevertheless – if that day comes… I'll be losing my mind with happiness."

Favorite Albums: The Anatomy of Tongue and Cheek, Two Lefts…, Mmhmm

Favorite Songs: "Sadie Hawkins," "Lion-O," "Mood Rings," "Gibberish," "Falling Out," "In Love with the 80's," "I Am Understood," "Jefferson Aero Plane," "High of 75," "I So Hate Consequences" "I Celebrate the Day"
4 Five Iron Frenzy

"Reese Roper may be one of the smartest people in the world. Seriously… he's a genius. FIF was, and IS, able to give you a science-sociology-history lesson in one song! How is that possible? Going to school ladies and gentlemen! Learning! I have no doubt in my mind that if any and all of us were to have a conversation with the band that we would see that these are some of the most learned people we may ever meet. Plus they can skank like nobody's business!"

Favorite Albums: Quantity is Job 1, All the Hype…, Electric Boogaloo, Cheeses of Nazareth, The End is Here

Favorite Songs:"Dandelions," "The Greatest Story Ever Told," "Fahrenheit," "Four-Fifty-One," "Giants," "Ugly Day," "Farsighted," "Dog Food," "When I See Her Face," "Abraham Lincoln Beard," "It Was Beautiful," "Wizard Needs Food, Badly," "On Distant Shores," "The Cross of St. Andrew"
4 Plankeye

"I'm a firm believer that there are albums that you can never associate with anything but a certain time in your life. A few of my dearest friends lost their amazing dad to cancer back in 2003, his name was Tom Huffman… I still consider him one of the greatest men I have ever known. Plankeye's Relocation fit the bill for being the album of that season. The music isn't overly melancholy, it just fit the rollercoaster of emotions that that season brought… and for that, I am eternally grateful."

Favorite Albums: Relocation

Favorite Songs: "Say Now That You're Sorry," "I Can't Complain," "Goodbye," "When It Comes," "Call Me Liar," "Break My Fall," "Indivisible," "You Are For Me"… pretty much every song on that album was a winner for me.
4 Leigh Nash

"There are artists that just know how to do it… and do it well. Whether it's her solo, Fauxliage, or Sixpence albums – they're going to be good. However I really have to hand it to her solo work. Her album Blue on Blue played a major role in the dating relationship I had with my now wife. Yeah… I was that emotional 19 year old singing, "This is my idea of heaven, lying here with you," as I thought about my really cute co-worker. Little did I know… she was singing the same song and thinking the same thing! PLUS – Nash's latest album is seriously amazing. Yes, I've gotten plenty of flack for my 5-star review of it… and that's fine… there are copious amounts of other albums that were put out this year for you to pretend to like."

Favorite Albums: Blue on Blue, The State I'm In

Favorite Songs: "Along the Wall," "Nervous in the Light of Dawn," "My Idea of Heaven," "Just A Little," "Dreaming Out Loud," "Somebody's Yesterday"
4 Delirious?

"If you ever wonder where modern worship music came from… this band is the starting line. Martin Smith was and is such a prolific writer that his works are truly breath-taking. The band, no doubt, became what they sang about, history makers. While many may not reference it, Glo is by far the greatest album they put out. But it's amazing that they could balance worship with ponderous introspective music with albums like Audio Lessonover/Touch. Nevertheless, their music still feels current! Plus, their live shows were such an experience… man I miss them."

Favorite Albums: Glo, Touch, The Cutting Edge, King of Fools

Favorite Songs: "Lord You Have My Heart," "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever," "Thank You for Saving Me," "What A Friend I've Found," "Sanctify," "Obsession," "God's Romance," "Investigate," "Hang On To You," "Rollercoaster," "Touch," "Alien," "Majesty"
4 Phil Wickham

"This guy folks… Do you want your son to grow up to be a stand-up human being? Phil Wickham might be a good starting point. It still feels like he needs more exposure, but that's not his goal. His music carries both a corporate gathering sound and a personal reflective nature. In 100 years people may reference him like we may reference Charles Wesley."

Favorite Albums: Phil Wickham, Cannons

Favorite Songs: "I Will Wait for You There," "Divine Romance," "Sailing On A Ship," "Mystery," "True Love"
4 David Crowder

"Whether he was with his *band or a part of his latest solo venture, Crowder provides a sound that everyone can enjoy. He continues to give listeners music that makes you think. Without a doubt, A Collision was the album that truly converted me... And I'm so glad it did."

Favorite Albums: A Collision, Church Music

Favorite Songs: "A Beautiful Collision," "I Saw the Light," "Oh God, Where are You Now?"
4 Ruth

"These guys might possibly be one of the most overlooked bands! Their debut and sophomore album, Secondhand Dreaming and Anorak, were near flawless albums that really gave listeners some music for ponderous moments that didn't leave you down in the dumps but very hopeful. They've still been releasing EP's here and there and they're still fantastic! Do yourself a favor and stalk these guys... well... Maybe not stalk... Follow? Yeah, that's better."

Favorite Albums: Secondhand Dreaming, Anorak

Favorite Songs: "Mr. Turner," "All is Well," "Secondhand Dreaming," "Hibernation Pieces," "Back to the Five," "Dead Giveaway"
4 All Star United

"They didn't get huge Huge HUGE… but man that first album! It was so clever and so well put-together that no one had a clue that they were singing about their "cool" church being mocked on "La La Land." I KNOW I DIDN'T! I wore my Christian t-shirt and WWJD bracelet while eating Testamints while singing this song… who knew?!?!? So amazing! I think they were seriously ahead of their time, they could probably re-release it and it do even better now."

Favorite Album: All Star United

Favorite Songs: "La La Land," "Beautiful Thing," "Saviour of My Universe," "Tenderness," "Lullaby"
4 Leeland

"Just as with Phil Wickham; hands down Leeland is a masterful worship writer. What sets him apart is his live performances. Ever wonder how an angel would sound? Leeland Mooring can help you find out. The band has kind of been on an undeclared hiatus the past few years, but I think we'll see and hear something from them soon."

Favorite Albums: The Sound of Melodies, The Opposite Way

Favorite Songs: "Carried to the Table," "Sound of Melodies," "May Our Praise," "Love is On the Move"
4 Adam Sams

"I know I know... This guy is totally new. I nearly hesitated in putting him on this list, but folks... This guy has got it in him! I have a feeling we will be seeing him years to come and we will all be pleased. His latest release, Tightwire, is one of the greatest albums I have had the chance to review and even more so to listen to. There are some folks that make music that crushes your entire being... And Adam Sams did that for me."

Favorite Albums: Tightwire, Welcome to the Motion

Favorite Songs: "Wizend Frame," "Put Your Title Down," "Progress," "Don't Let Your Well Run Dry," "Hold Me Together"

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