2011 Best of the Best: Music

Top 15 Albums of 2010 – 2011:
top 5 indie releases below)

15.  Love Divine: The Hymns of Charles Wesley
– Various, Kingsway

Considered by many the greatest prayer-poet-hymnist since David, a selection of Charles Wesley’s hymns have been picked up by the artists that are stirring the Church’s youth in worship. Hughes, Walker-Smith, the Johnsons, Quilala, Brown and more. Listen to “I Know That My Redeemer Lives.”


14.  Mountains Move
Kristian Stanfill, sixstepsrecords/Sparrow

Mountains Move
taps that unique Atlanta balance between big and punchy and intimate and reverent. Stanfill crafts ornate and multi-layered guitar-powered devotional praise that holds up to its Passion counterparts. “Try Always.”


13.  Society – EP
One Sonic Society, Provident

OSS demonstrates the time-lapse reality of songs for the Church. Their third installment in the One and Sonic and Society trifecta of EPs is the best, and most churches are jut hearing about “Forever Reign.” Don’t let that stop you from using “In Jesus Name.”


12.  Captivated
Nicole C Mullen, Maranatha! Music

An airy clash of guitar folk, pop, funk, and reggae, Mullen’s complexity comes across as naturally as her introspective grace. “Kingdom Come” is a congregational remediation of the Lord’s Prayer.


11.  Brokenness Aside
All Sons & Daughters, Integrity/David C. Cook

Enduring a name change during their breakout year, the duo formally known as Sons & Daughters is nonetheless the most enchanting sound emerging in the worship genre. They are Angus and Julia Stone meets Phil Wickham. Don’t miss “All the Poor and Powerless.”


10.  Blessings
Laura Story, INO

Story sets scenes of God’s blessings through powerful storytelling and capable worship writing. A mixture of congregational tunes and profiles of God’s children, Story has found her footing with this release that seems her truest self. Listen to “Blessings.”


9.  And if Our God Is for Us
Chris Tomlin, sixstepsrecords/Sparrow

So earnest in absolute adoration, Tomlin once again blends his unmatched pop sense with his sensitivity to the heart of the Father. The tender worship moments are underscored by powerful anthems; And if Our God Is for Us is punctuated with extremes, and is powerful in its unabashed plea for renewal from the One who is for us. “Our God” is the one you likely are already singing in your services.


8.  Bethel Live: Be Lifted High
Various, Bethel/Kingsway

The music from the main sanctuary at the home church of Jesus Culture is as incendiary as the youth room. Bethel Live proves it. Beyond that the production of live worship draws listeners completely in. Listen to this version of Jeremy Riddle’s “One Thing Remains.”


7.  Furious
Jeremy Riddle, Vineyard Music

Complete revolution takes the wheel in Riddle’s third (mainstream/studio) and most congregational record. We can assume that his participation in the creative community in Redding, California (home of Bethel Music and Jesus Culture), has broadened his creative and congregational boundaries, giving us the 13 songs that pour out that beautiful mixture of passion and praise. If it isn’t already in your rotation, try “Furious.”


6.  Aftermath
Hillsong United, Hillsong/EMI

The constant metamorphosis of the United brand of Hillsong has kept them from resting on their former laurels and continuing to produce reverent and relevant music for the Church. Aftermath’s musical centerpiece is built on slow burns and takes more advantage of the classic New Wave synth sound than ever before while remaining true to their classic drum drive.  “Like an Avalanche” is powerful and intimate and a fitting Communion song.


5.  Love Shine Through
Tim Hughes, Kingsway

Evoking images of a people whose faith and actions are indivisible, Hughes catches and releases the emotional reality of a savior such as Jesus, and our appropriate response. Filled with heart, joy, and Brit rock, Love Shine Through is the biography of a worshiping church. “Jesus Saves” is the congregational highlight here.


4.  The Great Awakening
Leeland, Provident

There are no better melodies in Christian music today than that ones that you find on a Leeland release—surprising, engaging, intoned with his threadbare vocals holding the truth of God’s majesty like a precious unpredictable stone. The Great Awakening is stylized Leeland at their highpoint since their debut, and it’s devotional Leeland stronger than they have ever been. Try out the song “I Wonder.”


3.  Ghosts Upon the Earth
Gungor, Brash

The heros of the indie experimental ideal are back with a follow-up to their Grammy nominated Beautiful Things. And they are even better. Scaling back the fulltime members to only include people with the last name of Gungor, husband, Michael, and wife, Lisa, put to use pretty much anything they could get their hands on that can be strummed, keyed, plucked, banged, and bonged to the glory of God. Yet through it all there is a constant melodic sense and a call to worship through more than verse-chorus-verse-chorus-chorus. Though the coloring is outside the lines, in Ghosts Upon the Earth not so much that you lose sense of the big picture.   


2.  Come Away
Jesus Culture, Kingsway

More than a decade’s worth of transforming the lives of the youth in Redding, California, has resulted in six releases and an influence that is undeniably changing the way people sing and record music in the genre of worship. Jesus Culture has changed the tide from music that has a pop-radio calculation to roaming, gallivanting, cascading music with a single hope and purpose: let people emotionally connect with the heart cries of their faith. We have said it before, we will say it again, Come Away was the most important release of the year.


1.  10,000 Reasons
Matt Redman, Sixstepsrecords/Sparrow

Facedown, We Shall Not Be Shaken, The Heart of Worship? 10,000 Reasons is Matt Redman’s greatest achievement. Which alone makes it completely worthy of our number one pick for this year’s albums in the worship genre. But without that distinction, it earned our respect through Redman’s adroit attention to create songs that are equal parts intentional theological responses to God’s love and emotional votives that ignite hearts with thoughtful writing and powerful poetic image. And lest we further the mistaken notion that worship is created in a vacuum, Redman is the first on the soapbox crying out for collaboration. Co-writes include artists such as Jonas Myrin, Jason Ingram, Chris Tomlin, Matt Maher, Tim Wanstall and Jesse Reeves.

Redman’s complex and ever-evolving worship heart is quite evident in this powerful release. We would call it classic Redman, but it’s better than that, it’s Redman singing a new song.


Top 5 Indie Releases of 2010 – 2011 (in no particular order):
top 15 albums above)

Leave Your Guns With the Usher
Classic City Collective

The alt folk of Avett Brothers meets the beautiful melodic sense of Caedmon’s Call with this well composed and beautifully rendered collection of songs.



Third Culture Worship
Vaughn Thompson, Jr.
With a beautiful piano drive and an eye toward R&B, Vaughn Thompson, Jr, has Houghton’s passionate highs and Walker’s straightforward devotional poise. 



Ben Woodward
Walking the praise-rock-with-a-pop-sense line, Woodward uses familiar sounds to direct hearts towards the restoration of the Father.



Make It Loud
Martha Munizzi
If you find God in the power of incredible players and big productions that give drop your jaw, but also see him in anointed worship leading with a celebratory vibe, Make It Loud is for you.




Just as impressive as the fact that this outstanding release was completely written, recorded, and produced by students of CFNI is the beauty of passionate worship that was captured in this live recording.

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    6 comments on “2011 Best of the Best: Music

    1. Pingback: New Contest! With a Twist! | goodnewsmusic

    2. Pingback: ‘Leave Your Guns With The Usher’ – Album by The Classic City Collective for $5 On Grouptune | mgpcpastor's blog

    3. Thanks Worship Leader Magazine for the honor! Wasn’t aware that you named my album “Maranatha” one of the top 5 indie albums of last year, but I sure appreciate it. Just released a new worship EP called “The Worship EP”, and I am thankful that I am able to continue to love Jesus in the medium of music!

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