Day 6: Lucas Munachen's Top 20 Favorite Albums
I've been a passionate listener of Christian music for well over a decade now, so when I decided to compile a list of albums I've loved and treasured since my love of music was awakened by the opening riffs of "Giving It Over" by the Newsboys, I've realized just how much music can impact the life of a listener. Whether we choose to fill our need for a melody with the radio, a bunch of shuffled singles, or entire albums, we simply cannot escape the effect of a good song. Nostalgia, adrenaline, worship, romance, despair - music enhances every moment of our lives, forever framing them with favored compositions. These following records are just a few (20, to be exact) of my personal favorites. -- Lucas Munachen, JFH Staff Writer
1. The Violet Burning - The Story Of Our Lives (2011)
The Story of Our Lives is a classic case of being so good it becomes unfair. I've yet to find another album as expansive in scope and as perfect in execution as The Story of Our Lives. Three albums combined to form one cohesive rock masterpiece. It's a must-have.
2. My Epic - Behold (2013)
Few albums have challenged me the same way Behold has. Songs such as "Curse," "Confession" and "Liturgy" have made an astonishing impact on my faith and my walk with God. Close to three years after it's release and I'm still awestruck after every rotation.
3. Andrew Peterson - Light For The Lost Boy (2012)
Andrew Peterson created one of the most important records in CCM history with Light For The Lost Boy. From the devastating portrayal of the fall of man and the loss of innocence to the revelation that "Maybe it's a better thing to be more than merely innocent, but to be broken and redeemed by love," it's been a shining beacon of light since its release and it hasn't dimmed in the slightest.
4. Sons - Keep Quiet (2012)
Keep Quiet was one of the strongest, yet underappreciated, indie releases of 2012. It was dark, atmospheric, heavy, convicting and just all-around beautiful. "Ghost" has since settled itself firmly into my top five songs of all time due to its honest portrayal of unbelieving mockery and Christian love. Sadly, the band parted ways soon after the album's release which makes Keep Quiet that much more special.
5. Beautiful Eulogy - Instruments of Mercy (2013)
Before Beautiful Eulogy, I wasn't much of a rap fan. I enjoyed a few songs here and there, but Instruments of Mercy was the first time I fell in love with a genre outside of my comfort zone and it remains my all-time favorite rap record to this day.
6. Switchfoot - The Beautiful Letdown (2004)
My favorite album from my favorite band. There hasn't been another album quite like this, and I don't think there ever will be. It was a milestone for Christian rock and one I've come to appreciate more as it ages.
7. Sanctus Real - Fight The Tide (2004)
Sanctus Real's Fight the Tide is another endlessly catchy rock album that still sees constant replay each time summer comes around. I can't get enough.
8. TobyMac - Welcome To Diverse City (2004)
Remember those rap songs I enjoyed before hearing Beautiful Eulogy? Well, they were found on this record. TobyMac's Diverse City is the very definition of fun. From the hard-hitting rock of tracks such as "Catchafire" and "The Slam," to the angsty punk-driven "Gone" and "Phenomenon," it had everything a young music fan could want, and a little more.
9. Copeland - Ixora (2014)
Any album that has a picture of the beach at dusk as its cover is an album I want to listen to. Copeland's long-awaited reunion record is one of the most satisfying pieces of music I've ever had the pleasure of hearing. It has brought me to tears on multiple occasions. Truly a masterpiece of the decade.
10. House of Heroes - Suburba (2010)
Although I adore The End is Not the End to bits, I just can't past the punk-driven rock of Suburba. It's an album that begs you to enjoy life and those around you through its concept of mischievous rebellion and redemption by the love of the community. It's safe to say this album has been "my constant."
11. Leeland - Sound Of Melodies (2006)
I remember going into Leeland's debut thinking they were just another CCM band trying to make waves. "Yes You Have" was a good song, but it didn't prepare me for the musical brilliance the entire album possessed. I'm fully convinced some of the best worship songs ever written are present on this release. It's one of CCM's best gems and I couldn't be more proud to have it in my collection.
12. Wolves At The Gate - VxV (2014)
Wolves at the Gate were another band to introduce me to an entire genre. I couldn't understand metal before I heard VxV, but, like rap, I wanted to explore other genres I hadn't touched beforehand. Wolves at the Gate-because of their Gospel centred lyrics and fantastic dualism between the clean and unclean vocals-were my first choice. By the time "The Father's Bargain" ended, I knew I had found a new passion.
13. Jars of Clay - Jars of Clay (1995)
Truly one of the greatest debut's of all time, Jars of Clay floored both Christian and mainstream audiences with their artistic blend of folk and pop. "Liquid," "Love Song For a Savior," "Art In Me" and "Worlds Apart" are some of the most moving songs ever written. This was a genre-defining record and still stands above many today.
14. House of Heroes - The End Is Not The End (2008)
Said to be the Heroes' best album, it's an opinion I certainly can't argue with. Although, due to its more solemn nature and the somewhat weaker tracks in its final quarter, I don't find myself picking it up over Suburba very often. Still, the vocal harmonies paired with the timeless feel of the music make this an album essential to any music collection.
15. Delirious? - World Service (2004)
Listening to World Service for the first time was the moment I realized worship music could be more than a simple chorus paired with vanilla musicianship. Martin Smith's unmistakably raw vocals and the band's creative musicianship completely changed my view of how worship could be approached. It was an excellent rock album I've only grown to appreciate more as worship continues to change.
16. TobyMac - Portable Sounds (2007)
When an artist changes their sound, there needs to be a transitional stage that mixes the new direction with the old to avoid confusion and disappointment. Portable Sounds is a transitional album I'd argue to be the best of its kind, flawlessly merging Toby's hip/hop roots with his now signature brand of pop and dance. And as a fan of heavier music, "Ignition" may be the best song of his career.
17. All Sons & Daugheters - Live (2013)
When a genre is mainly associated with its live recordings, it takes a lot for a single record to stand out from the crowd. All Sons and Daughters' first live attempt did just that. The vocal harmonies of Leslie Jordan and David Leonard have stood unrivaled by every attempted replica. It's a satisfying moment of worship worth repeating many times over.
18. Newsboys - Love Liberty Disco (1999)
When people ask what my favorite Newsboys record is, I often get confused looks when I answer with Love Liberty Disco. Not only does it have massive sentimental value, it also takes an originally fun approach to songwriting not repeated by any album in my memory since.
19. Downhere - Wide-Eyed and Mystified (2006)
I was never too enamored by Downhere's first two records, despite appreciating their unique vocal harmonies. Wide-Eyed and Mystified, however, came out as a near perfect pop/rock album that showed the band was more than their impressive vocal abilities. In my view, it's Downhere's absolute best and a wonderful CCM record.
20. Newsboys - Thrive (2002)
This is where it all began. From the opening riff of "Giving It Over" to the closing chorus of "Lord I Don't Know," this single album awakened in me a love for music that would greatly affect my life. Because of this, listening to Thrive is a special moment indeed.