Best of 2014 (Part 1: Albums)

mercyme 2014

It’s that time of year- figuring out Best Of lists. And as a site, this will be a best of list of music- best albums, songs, anticipated albums of 2015, favourite EP’s and any other interesting thing throughout the year that is found worthy to be placed in such a end-of-year list. So without further ado, here’s my favourite albums of 2014 (songs, EP’s and anticipated albums of 2015 in another post). Be sure to check out the following albums/songs/artists. May you have many happy hours listening to great music and enjoy what is left of 2014 (though it is current 1/1/2015 here in Australia, it is still last year in America), and have a happy 2015.

Top Albums of 2014 (1 to 15 with quotes/descriptions):

1. Welcome to the New [MercyMe]

mercyme- welcome to the new

MercyMe’s array of songs on this 10 track album have given me confidence to declare that this band has delivered one of their most musically diverse and one of the most heartfelt, emotional and encouraging albums from them to date. MercyMe have crafted 10 tracks that take us on a musical journey that is one of the most rewarding of 2014. With plenty of rock songs to please the alternative genre, Welcome to the New stretches musical boundaries to boldly assert its authority as one of this year’s standout albums.

2. Before There Was [Bellarive]

bellarive- before there was

What can I say about Bellarive that I haven’t said already? That they are a great band, and you ought to buy the album when you have the chance? That Bellarive is possibly one of the most underrated worship bands around today? Before There Was is a great album, and one that genuinely surprised me with its ability to bring listeners, myself included, into a place of reverence and adoration.

3. Run Wild, Live Free, Love Strong [for KING AND COUNTRY]

for king and country- run wild live free love strong

for KING & COUNTRY will only gain more fans after the release of RUN WILD. LIVE FREE. LOVE STRONG. If you’re a fan of music in general, you should waste no time in picking up RUN WILD. LIVE FREE. LOVE STRONG.

4. If We’re Honest [Francesca Battistelli]

With each track standing out musically and lyrically, Francesca’s fresh and relevant musical perspective is translated throughout each song, all the while paying homage to the musical roots of her past- a piano-pop musical undertone with a prominence on vocal delivery, providing us with a well-rounded album to listen to as the weeks and months of 2014 continue to roll on. Francesca’s infectious personality and fun musical arrangements added to the serious and relatable lyrical content is enough for her music to be as popular as it currently is. A great maturity and lyrical development since her debut will certainly continue in the future, and with her new album being my favourite, this sets the bar high for her fourth album (whenever that may come), and already has me eagerly waiting with anticipation and excitement.

5. One More Step [Lindsay McCaul]

lindsay mccaul- one more step

Honest and enjoyable, heartfelt and fun-filled, this album is a must if you are a fan of artists like Nichole Nordeman, Amy Grant, Bethany Dillon or Christy Nockels, and an album to listen to if you are wanting something unique and different, compared to the radio friendly material on K-Love or Air1. Crafting 11 songs that’ll hopefully have an impact with everyone, Lindsay’s use of personal experience makes me appreciate the album, and her as an artist, more and more. An album for anyone who is struggling to place one step in front of the other, this is Lindsay’s best album to date, and a fine addition to Centricity Music, arguably one of the most underrated Christian labels that continue to bring us powerful albums from artists like Andrew Peterson, Aaron Shust and Jason Gray.

6. Love Will Have the Final Word [Jason Gray]

jason gray- love will have the final word

Love Will Have the Final Word was a great surprise from Jason Gray, possibly one of Christian music’s most underrated and underappreciated artists throughout recent years. Within the same league as Sara Groves, Nichole Nordeman, Andrew Peterson, Bebo Norman and Steven Curtis Chapman as some of the greatest lyricists of Christian music throughout the last few decades, Jason Gay, who turned his name to Jason Gray, has been able to weave together 11 songs full of rich themes of gems of truths to take from each song whenever someone listens to it. While still not necessarily the most recognised artist in CCM currently, Jason continues to forge on as a heartfelt songwriter.

7. Cathedrals [Tenth Avenue North]

cathedrals

Your musical enjoyment of Tenth Avenue North’s newest offering doesn’t have to end there [on the regular edition]. They have released a Deluxe Edition with three extra songs added on. Trust me, if you are a fan of Tenth Avenue North you need to skip the regular version and get the Deluxe Edition. You can thank me later.

8. Neon Steeple [Crowder]

crowder- neon steeple

Neon Steeple is just one great worship song after the other. Standing at a great 14 tracks long, Crowder’s first solo studio album is a must if you are fans of DC*B, The Digital Age, or any artist from the Passion Conferences. One of the most progressive, experimental and encouraging worship music albums of the year so far, Crowder still continues to play his music in an era without the DC*B. Even if bands break up, their music can still impact, andCrowder has reminded us through the album that a band break up isn’t gonna hold him down- with this album giving us some of the best songs of his whole entire career so far.

9. The Heights [Caleb Coles]

caleb coles

Though not as flashy, catchy, or publicised as labelled worship artists like Chris Tomlin, Crowder, Casting Crowns, Newsboys and Jesus Culture, Caleb ColesThe Heights is an album that will undoubtedly improve with each new listen. There are plenty of gems and lyrical treasures to be found, and plenty of things God will unpack and show us within the 48 minute journey, but it might be a journey that could be travelled many times. That’s ok though.

10. No Plan B [Carman]

Carman No Plan B

There should be a genre called “Carman”- with such a unique repertoire of musical genres, No Plan B is easily one of the most nostalgic albums of 2014.  And nostalgic, sadly in this ever changing musical culture, seemingly isn’t what is going to make an artist move on to more successive heights and greater moments of stardom. Popularity wise, No Plan B is sadly not going to stack up against popular artists like Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe, TobyMac or the Newsboys. And with changes in the musical tastes of listeners leaving behind the music of Carman for a more fresh, polished and CCM sound; Carman’s new album, from an objective standpoint, isn’t one that’ll convert many listeners who may not have heard his music in a long time, if not ever. But this is not a piece about someone who’s yet to make it in the music industry. Even if his new album doesn’t chart well when stacked against today’s popular artists, No Plan B still has something great about it.

11. Sovereign [Michael W. Smith]

michael w smith- sovereign vinyl

Michael’s first studio recorded album on Sparrow Records within four years is one that’ll please MWS enthusiasts everywhere as we hear one of the most enjoyable albums personally since his 2004 album Healing Rain. Michael’s comeback to CCM (I really was having my doubts before this year) is a great occurrence to see, and with bothHymns and Sovereign highlighting the strong music and vocals Michael has, we are shown an album that’s one of 2014’s best.

12. There is Grace [Lara Landon]

lara landon- there is grace

Lara’s newest album is one to be enjoyed, treasured, loved and celebrated if you love Christian music, but not necessarily the similar music on Christian radio a la K-Love or Air1. While still radio friendly in a few parts on the album, as a whole Lara has carved a collection of songs that seek to stretch us musically as we are brought out of our comfort zones to see what Christian music, not just CCM radio friendly music, has to offer. Lara’s quest to deliver a set of songs that challenge our faith as we solidify what we believe in is certainly true in this music offering.

13. Sun and Shield [Peter Furler Band]

sunandshield

Peter Furler, while not part of the Newsboys anymore, still conjures up many thoughts about the Newsboys, even all those years later. As much as I love what the Newsboys are turning into now, a rock worship band, I still miss Peter, and frankly, this new album of his is a great cure for someone who misses the trademark sound of this South Australian. While a unique diversion from his previous album On Fire, Sun And Shield provides us with sounds of what 3 piece acoustic pop/rock would sound like, and the result is ten tracks that speak about love, hope, life, God, emotion, encouragement and songs to declare out with fervent praise as Peter, Dave and Jeff solidly debut an album that’s destined to be a standout amongst CCM/pop/indie rock fans alike.

14. Anchor [Colton Dixon]

colton dixon- anchor

Colton’s songwriting skills way beyond his years (he is only 22) is reason enough to check out Anchor. A maturity in his writing and musical arrangements when comparing his forthcoming album to A Messenger, Colton’s second album on Sparrow Records is sure to receive as much praise as backlash from both the Christian and mainstream music industries. Despite this, Colton has found his niche market- CCM/rock.

15. Rivers in the Wasteland [needtobreathe]

needtobreathe- rivers in the wasteland

One of the most powerful and poignant albums of their whole career, Needtobreathe have offered us a gem of an album, and one to be enjoyed by lovers of southern gospel or country music, with a rock and meaningful edge. With their popularity increasing ever since their popular crossover hit “Washed By The Water”, this southern-gospel rock band has given us songs with themes to think about as this band moves in the category of rock/southern/country bands that are some of my favourites, like Third Day, Rhett Walker Band, Crowder and Steve Grace. Rivers in the Wasteland has a central theme of hope, encouragement and wandering out of the wasteland we can find ourselves in, as Bo, Bear and Seth capture the rawness and realness of the songs and remind us why they are still one of Christian music’s top selling band currently.

Top Albums of 2014 (16 to 30 without quotes/descriptions):

16. Brave [Moriah Peters]

Brave

17. The Joy [Tim Neufeld]

tim neufeld and the glory boys- joy

18. Fading West [Switchfoot]

switchfoot- fading west

19. Oxygen [Lincoln Brewster]

lincoln brewster- oxygen

20. Fast Forward [The Walls Group]

walls group fast forward

21. Love Ran Red [Chris Tomlin]

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 3.11.16 pm

22. Triplicity [Red Roots]

Unknown

23. Thrive [Casting Crowns]

casting crowns- thrive

24. No Other Way [Chayah Miranda]

chayah miranda

25. As Sure as the Sun [Ellie Holcomb]

ellie holcomb- as sure as the sun

26. Life is a Gift [John Waller]

john waller- life is a gift

27. Rule in My Heart [Beth Croft]

beth croft- rule of my heart

28. Hope in Front of Me [Danny Gokey]

danny gokey- hope in front of me

29. Home [Cadence]

cadence- home

30. All Sons and Daughters [All Sons and Daughters]

all sons and daughters 2014

There you have it. My favourite 30 albums of 2014. Any album stand out to you? What are your favourites? Sound off in the comments, and be sure to check back in a few days to check out my favourite songs and EP’s of 2014 and anticipated albums of 2015. Til next time.

6 thoughts on “Best of 2014 (Part 1: Albums)”

  1. Brilliant list Jonathan! I really love Mercyme, Tenth Avenue North, Jason Gray, Crowder, for King and Country, Moriah Peters, All Sons and Daughters, Peter Furler, John Waller, Casting Crowns, Ellie Holcomb, and MWS (whew, have to catch my breath after that). Fading West and Rivers are easily some of my very favourite albums of this year. One thing I’m a bit surprised at was your exclusion of Sanctus Real’s the Dream. I personally really love that record, and it’s one of their very best! I admit, half of the albums you listed I haven’t heard of or listened to other than Bellarive’s new one, which I didn’t enjoy as much as the Heartbeat album, though it’s still a brilliant album.
    God bless!

    1. Thanks for the compliment Luc. Didn’t know you and I have a great big overlap in terms of taste in music.

      Yeah, the other half of the albums I mentioned are pretty good, so if you want to check them out, you can. May I recommend Lara Landon, Colton Dixon, Lindsay McCaul and Francesca Battistelli especially? Those are definitely some of the albums that I thoroughly enjoyed last year that were from left field.

      Out of curiousity, what’s your top 30 albums of 2014?

      1. Haha, I’m glad you asked! I don’t know I’m if I’ve listened to thirty albums, but I’ll list the ones I’ve listened to, loved, and purchased in no order.
        Mercyme: Welcome to the New
        Casting Crowns: Thrive
        Sanctus Real: The Dream
        for King and Country: Run Wild…..
        Colony House: When I Was Younger
        Switchfoot: Fading West
        Fever Fever: Aftermath
        Jason Gray: Love Will Have the Final Word
        Mike Mains and the Branches: Calm Down, Everything is Fine
        John Mark McMillan: Borderland
        Wolves at the Gate; VxV
        Disciple: Attack
        TFK: Oxygen:Inhale
        MWS: Sovereign
        All Sons and Daughters: Self Titled
        Needtobreathe: Rivers in the Wasteland
        Demon Hunter: Extremist
        Crowder: Neon Steeple
        Copeland: Ixora
        Tenth Avenue North: Cathedrals
        Ellie Holcomb: As Sure as the Sun
        War of Ages: Supreme Chaos
        Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil: Goliath
        Jackie Hill Perry: Art of Joy
        Propaganda: Crimson Cord
        And my number one (the only one in order)
        Kings Kaleidoscope: Becoming Who We Are
        God bless guys!

  2. Hey Jon, this is a great compilation however I seem to agree with Luc about Sanctus Real’s Dream album. That album was to me almost perfect like fK&C’s Run Wild, Live Free, Love Strong album. On my personal list, I’d also include Young Oceans’ I Must Find You. I’ve been changed by that album. I agree with you on MercyMe, fK&C, Franny B, Lindsay McCaul, MWS, Peter Furler Band, Colton Dixon, NeedtoBreathe, Moriah Peters, Switchfoot, Lincoln Brewster, Casting Crowns, Ellie Holcomb, Danny Gokey.
    Um…What about Kari Jobe? :)

    1. Um… to be honest, I haven’t really listened to Kari Jobe’s ‘Majestic’ that much throughout the year. Maybe if I listened to it more throughout 2014, it would’ve been in my top 30 list.

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