2014 Year in Review and Looking Ahead!

I’ve asked some friends to share their favorite albums from 2014 and what they are looking forward to in 2015. Be sure to comment your own personal favorites at the end! So without further adieu….

Gabriel Jones 

Albums of the year

Switchfoot – Fading West 

Does Switchfoot ever disappoint? This album was released alongside a really good documentary (that you can check out on Netflix). Each Switchfoot release has presented songs that challenge the listener to think and examine themselves. This release is no different.

Steve Taylor & the Perfect Foil – Goliath

Steve Taylor’s first release since 1994 picked up right where he left off. This time he brings a fun ensemble full of quirky lyrics and a fresh sound. Taylor has never been one to water down his lyrics that address topics that are often taboo. There are rumors that there will be multiple records from this ensemble so perhaps we will hear more from them soon!

Crowder – Neon Steeple

This is Crowder’s long awaited first record with his current band. Neon Steeple brought out more of the folksy side of David Crowder (with smatterings of electronica mixed in). As far as worship music is concerned, this was my favorite for the year. Rend Collective’s record may be the only one that came close.

Trip Lee – Rise

2014 was a great year for Christian hip hop. Trip Lee’s record is proof that the genre has become deep and is a force to be reckoned with. I was personally a big fan of the different instruments used on this album. But more important than the music, Trip Lee’s lyrics are theologically sound.

Lecrae – Anomaly

Oh yeah, the record that was #1 in the world. Sure, there are cuts that are more radio friendly than anything Lecrae has done… but that doesn’t mean it’s watered down. Anomaly is anything but an anomaly. If anything, it’s proof that Lecrae is now a heavyweight in the world of hip hop (and the Grammy nominations prove that).

Honorable Mentions: Tedashii – Below Paradise; Anberlin – Lowborn; Peter Furler Band – Sun and Shield; Rend Collective – The Art of Celebration; Michael W. Smith – Sovereign; Artifex Pereo – Time In Place; Project 86 – Knives to the Future; Brooke Fraser – Brutal Romantic; Kings Kaleidoscope – Becoming Who We Are; Social Club – Misfits 2; Propaganda – Crimson Cord; Mali Music – Mali Is…

2014 EP’s of the year

Andy Mineo – Neverland

Andy is probably the most diverse artist on Lecrae’s label. This EP is no different. Andy can sing, scream, and rap…and sounds good doing all of it.

KB – 100

KB has been one of those guys on the cusp of something great. “100” and “Undefeated” are great tracks and this EP is an excellent follow-up to his debut.

Carrollton – Breathe In Deep

If you like NeedToBreathe, you have to check out this EP. I am a sucker for southern rock and this EP definitely satisfied my cravings.

Switchfoot – The Edge of the Earth

Originally, Fading West was supposed to be a double disc. Instead, Switchfoot decided to do a full length record and then release an EP later in the year. This EP is a little different than usual Switchfoot. A lot of the songs are more synth driven. More than anything, it shows Switchfoot’s ability to experiment with other genres while staying true to their sound.

NF – EP

I’ll admit I listened to this EP a good bit this year. This was a really good debut outing for NF. I’m really excited to hear more from him as time goes on. Again, this is proof that the Christian hip hop genre is deeper than it has ever been.

Honorable Mentions: KJ-52 – Mental; Hearts Like Lions – These Hands; HillaryJane – Stix & Stones

Most excited for in 2015

Kevin Max – Broken Temples

The long awaited solo record from Kevin Max is almost here! K-Max, like Steve Taylor, likes to push the envelope when it comes to creativity. This has helped him stay relevant throughout the years.

Jon Foreman

Can you tell I like Switchfoot? Whether it be Switchfoot, Fiction Family, or his own solo music, Jon Foreman never disappoints. Jon is looking to release 4 EP’s much like he did in 2007-2008.

Andy Mineo

I think Andy is the next big thing in hip hop. He’s on the cusp of being great. When he toured with Lecrae this fall, it almost felt like a double headliner. While nothing has been announced, I fully expect a full album from Mineo this year.

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Dan Castagna

Albums of the Year

Steve Taylor & the Perfect Foil – Goliath

Its been a long time since this guy has made music, but to be back with Peter Furler…need I say more?  Add in Jimmy A and John Mark Painter and they couldn’t fail.  Plus they are awesome to see in concert.  If they come your way, DO NOT MISS IT!

Switchfoot – Fading West

Another masterpiece from Switchfoot.

Peter Furler Band – Sun and Shield

This one took a little getting used to. I was expecting it to be a little harder, but this is crafted perfectly.  Furler has always had a way with lyrics.

Group 1 Crew – Stronger/Faster

After Bianca left, I wondered how the band would change. Manny has collaborated with a different artist on almost every song.  He brings in Sarah Sandoz booming voice as well.  So while the voices are not always the same, it definitely has Manny’s artistic hand all over it.

Rhett Walker Band – Here’s to the One

This one caught me by surprise.. A little southern rock with a twang. This Mystery (aka Tattoos and Cigarettes) is simply amazing.  With all the worship music out there, this song brings it all back to Jesus.

Bonus: Best Compilation Album

Praise and Arrow-Various Artists. 

This album is paired with the Lion of War Series by Cliff Graham.  The books are about David and his Mighty Men as they fight for Israel.  Graham uses  the covering” to describe the Holy Spirit descending upon the men as they fight that allows them to do the impossible.  Cover me, Lord, in the day of war.  The album boasts artists such as Stellar Kart, Trip Lee, All Sons and Daughters, Audio Adrenaline, Pillar, Hawk Nelson and Kevin Max.

Most excited for in 2015

Kevin Max – Broken Temples

Release the Cracken on us already. Who doesn’t want to hear Kmax amazing voice with an artistic style not found on radio (or anywhere for that matter

Audio Adrenaline – SOS

This one is going to be interesting to hear. How will the new lead singer sound?  What kind of music will they deliver?  Last we heard, it was going to be a more “worship” style music.  Will Audio A lose its adrenaline?

Group 1 Crew – Power

This is a final EP from G1C.

This was suppose to drop Dec 2014.

TobyMac – Untitled

Who doesn’t like TobyMac? Always curious what he has in store for us.

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Josiah Jones

Albums of the Year

For Today: Fight the Silence
Now we are in my wheelhouse. I have been a fan of metal ever since my dad would blast Stryper at 6 O’clock on Sunday morning to wake everyone up for church. Rez Band, White Heart, Mylon Lefevre, Degarmo and Key, Phil Keaggy, you name it. If they were a Christian rock and roll band my dad listened to it. For Today is another band that I discovered live. My little brother had told me for weeks to listen to them but I put it off until I saw them on tour with The Devil Wears Prada, As I Lay Dying, and the Chariot. As amazing as that line up is, For Today stole the show. Not only were they heavy, but their lyrics were uplifting. Fight the Silence is no different.
Family Force 5: Time Stand Still
This album had a huge question mark on it before it was released. Could Family Force 5 still be THE Family Force 5 in the midst of a lead singer change? They answered with an emphatic yes. Although the sound is a little different with their new frontman, FF5 showed that they could still bring the party. Tearing the roof off with songs like BZRK and Glow in the dark, but also showing that they could play contemporary music with songs like Let it be Love. FF5 has dominated my “most played” list for the last 10 years, and they don’t look like they will be stopping any time soon.
Project 86: Knives to the Future
Again, right in my wheelhouse. Project 86 has been another one of my favorite bands ever since I first heard the song “Pipe Dream” oh so many years ago. Year after year they continue to put out new music and it is always incredible. We could spend all day talking about how good this band is and it still would not do them justice. Their last release “Wait for the Siren” is easily in my top 5 albums of all time. Knives to the Future had a very tough act to follow, but it did not disappoint.
Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil: Goliath
Steve Taylor? Isn’t he 57? I thought he retired. But like the great Michael Jordan, Steve Taylor decided that he wasn’t finished. Collaborating with Peter Furler (former Newsboys frontman”, Jimmy Abegg (guitarist for Rich Mullins and Charlie Peacock), and John Mark Painter (various projects including Kings of Leon), I knew this album was going to be special. And believe me, Goliath is pure genius. This is, without a doubt, my album of the year. I have not put it down since the day it was released and I do not intend to any time soon. Moonshot is my favorite song on the album currently, that changes almost every day though. The dream team of music has arrived.

EP’s of the Year

Switchfoot: The Edge of the Earth
Let’s be honest. Any time Switchfoot releases anything it is not a fair fight. Everything they touch is gold and it has been that way for well over a decade. Showing off their range with songs like Fading West, which I can picture being sung around a campfire, to my favorite song Skin and Bones which has a much different, almost darker sound. Tim Foreman even made his debut with the sing What It Costs. This is a must listen.

Andy Mineo: Neverland

I am not what you would call a fan of hip hop music. So when my big brother told me to listen to Andy Mineo because I would like him, I told him I would give it a shot so that he would leave me alone. But then I didn’t. You all know how it is, “try this new band you will love them”, then you waste 45 minutes listening to a bad album. A year or two later Andy Mineo was performing at Creation East, a festival that I attend every year with my family, and he blew me away. After I got home from vacation I put Andy Mineo on repeat and played him nonstop. Although Neverland is only an EP it makes my top releases this year because I loved it. Take it from a person who isn’t a hip hop fan, give Andy Mineo a try.
KJ-52: Mental
I know I said I’m not a hip hop fan, but there may be some bias involved in this selection. KJ and I have been in an ongoing Stump the Rapper battle for a few years now, some of which you could probably find on YouTube. Nonetheless, KJ earned his spot in my top albums of the year. He took his sound, which I have always liked, and cranked it up to 11. With guest appearances from Soul Glow Activatur, KB, Lecrae, and many others, KJ showed that despite the Christian hip hop world growing by leaps and bounds in the last few years, music had not passed him by. The song “Tonight” was featured in the NFL this season on Monday Night Football. Christian hip hop is going places, and KJ has been bearing the torch for a long time, I’m excited to see what the future holds.

2015

What does 2015 have in store for us? Bands like August Burns Red (the single most talented band of all time), Children 18:3, Emery, London Six Echo and the one and only K-Max all have scheduled releases some time this upcoming year. So be on the lookout.
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Nathaniel Jones

Albums of the year

Lecrae – Anamoly

When it comes to Lecrae everyone sets the bar high and he delivers surpassing everyone’s expectations. Anamoly is different. While the album has fun songs on it, it is more serious. Anamoly continues with the fact that Lecrae does not have “a sound.” All of the songs have a different style to them, but made in a way that allows the album to still flow.

Trip Lee – Rise

Trip Lee’s Rise album may be the best album of the year. It is full of energy and lyrical genius. Trip also packed his album with guest artists such as: Lecrae, Andy Mineo, and This’l. In his album “Rise”, Trip is able to take a serious concept he is portraying and turn it into fun and enjoyable rap.

Propaganda – Crimson Cord

Propaganda delivered another great album at the beginning of 2014. Crimson Cord is full of lyrical brilliance. His natural gift of spoken word and fascinating us with his lyrics is once again on display on Crimson Cord. If you were a fan of his previous “Crimson Cord” is definitely worth checking out. Favorite track of the album is “Three Cord Bond.”

Fit For a King – Slave to Nothing

Fit For a King released October 14, 2014. Slave to Nothing is full of heavy breakdowns, music full of energy and great clean vocals. Fit For a King’s breakdowns are some of the best I have heard in awhile. Hitting hard with heavy bass, solid drums and deep vocals. It’s really hard for me to pick a favorite song on the album because it is a great full album.

Beartooth – Disgusting

Beartooth is the most surprising artist of 2014. With only one album released previous to “Disgusting”, Beartooth has easily become one of my favorite bands in the hardcore punk genre with a taste of metalcore. “Disgusting” is very upbeat, full of energy and heavy. I was able to see Beartooth on Warped Tour along with a couple other shows and it was one of my favorite shows I saw this year. Very energetic, wild, and fun. Reminded me a lot of the Chariot with craziness and high energy in their show.

EPs of the Year

Switchfoot – Edge of the Earth

Switchfoot blessed us with the “Edge of the Earth” EP in September. With only 7 tracks on the EP Switchfoot astounds again with fascinating music. The EP is composed of songs that did not make the original cut for their “Fading West” album. Although the songs did not make the original cut they are still entrancing.

Looking forward to 2015

Aaron Gillespie – Grace Through the Wandering

Aaron Gillespie is set to release “Grace Through the Wandering” February 3, 2015. Working his way from founding Underoath and the Almost to releasing music with his solo project, it is always exciting when news of new music from Aaron is in the making. “Grace Through the Wondering” is following in the footsteps of Aaron’s last album in being a worship album. Aaron is a personal favorite. I have followed Aaron ever since Underoath’s “Changing of Times” album until now. Subsequently, hearing he is releasing another album is a delight.

August Burns Red

August Burns Red hit the studios midway through to 2014 to start piecing together a new album. August Burns Red recently switched from Solid State label to Fearless Records. ABR has said they believe this may be the most creative and heaviest music they have ever written.

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Brendan Gallagher

Albums of the Year

Rend Collective: The Art Of Celebration

This album may be their best to date. The fourth full length from the Irish group plays like KerryGold butter!

Sanctus Real: The Dream

The seventh studio album from the Toledo rockers is reminiscent of their early chest thumping rock anthems mixed with their modern pop sensibilities

Southbound Fearing: Undefeated

Just listen to the track Brave New World to see why this is on my list!

 Hillsong United: The White Album

Some amazing reimaginations of newer and older Hillsong hits

Lecrae: Anomaly

Billboard NUMBER ONE album …not Christian charts, not hip hop charts, not gospel charts…number one over all! Yeah, it was that good.

Looking Forward to 2015

Kevin Max: Broken Temples

What I have heard off of this album it will be his best one yet. I am excited to see where this takes his career

 Toby Mac: TBA

Even though I am not a huge fan of his last few albums I always check out his new stuff to see what he’s up to.

 Aaron Gillespie Grace Through The Wandering

 Aaron always impresses and puts on a great live show whether it be a full band or him and an acoustic. Can’t wait to hear what he delivers on this new disc.

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Have a great new year from all of us at Decent Christian Talk! If you haven’t already, like us on Facebook! Every Tuesday will be Talkback Tuesday where you get a chance to interact with everyone! facebook.com/decentchristiantalk

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About Gabriel Jones

Follower of Christ, husband, new father, wannabe-musician with a random Bachelor's degree in History (yes I'm a nerd). I'm passionate about music and social justice. Follow me on Twitter: GabePride
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One Response to 2014 Year in Review and Looking Ahead!

  1. graceMark says:

    Reblogged this on m e a n d e r s and commented:
    Some good suggestions here, but, I’d like to add my own…

    Best of 2014:
    3. U2 – SONGS OF INNOCENCE – The purest release from U2 in some time. I’m looking forward to the other two releases that will make up the rest of this trilogy of albums from one of the best bands to ever grace the face of the planet.

    2. Vekora – VEKORA – An unapologetic, slithering swim through moody layers of Kurt Schmidt distortion, graced by the haunting vocals of Alexandra Wendt, and bound together by the unparalleled rhythms of Poor Old Lu drummer Jesse Sprinkle. Produced by Terry Taylor and engineered by Derri Daugherty of The Choir. It’s an amazing breath of fresh air that I’ve found provides the perfect soundtrack for long runs outside on overcast, cold January days.

    1. Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil – GOLIATH – An album birthed out of nowhere by a band comprised of legends assembled in a manner nobody could’ve expected. Abegg’s guitar and Taylor’s screams blast the solid backbeat of Painter and Furler to amazing into another realm where the vast majority of faith-related tunes fear to tread.

    What I’m looking forward to the most in 2015: Without a doubt, BROKEN TEMPLES from Kevin Max. His voice is unparalleled and his creative perspective is a beacon to the crowd on the edge, searching for something with a bit more texture and depth. Songs already revealed like “Infinite,” “Light Me Up,” and “Clear,” serve as an indication that this new album is going to be amazing.

    Like

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