2012 Music Awards

 

5. AUDILEOn His Shoulders


2012, Dance, Christian thematic

Purchased CD new from the artist at an event for $15.00

Amazon.com sales rank:  372,099

CD at Amazon?  No

Download available at iTunes and Amazon?  Yes


I saw Tia Svart, female lead singer for this group, perform at Future Sound of Worship 4, and this album was for sale at a table in the lobby, so I bought it.  The album is filled with pretty trance music and Tia’s melodies are an ethereal layer on them.   The mechanical pseudo-rapping of one of the male vocalists was hard to get used to, but once I did, I was enjoying the album.


Read more to see why I like it so much...

4. BANANARAMAViva


2009, Pop, Secular

Purchased CD used from a Discogs third party for $32.59

Amazon.com sales rank:  179,906

CD at Amazon? Yes

Download available at iTunes and Amazon?  No


This album was released for Bananarama’s 30th anniversary, and apparently something about that milestone put some pizzazz in them, because this is the most incredible album they have ever made!  It is jam-packed with energy from beginning to end!  The music is powerful and they sing with such passion. 

I can’t believe they didn’t release this amazing album in the USA.


Read more to see why I like it so much...

2.  BRITT NICOLEThe Lost Get Found


2009, Pop, Christian thematic

Purchased CD new from Amazon for $8.57

Amazon.com sales rank:  4,553

CD at Amazon?  Yes

Download available at iTunes and Amazon?  Yes


This album took awhile to grow on me, but as you see, once it did, it became a top favorite of mine.  The music is pop, though not as radio friendly as what’s on Gold, and there isn’t any dance pop here.  For awhile, it was hard for me to get meaning out of the lyrics, but since I got meaning from them, I have had a number of great spiritual moments listening to this album.


Read more to see why I like it so much...

3.  SARAH MACINTOSHCurrent


2012, Alternative pop, Christian thematic

Purchased CD new from Amazon for $11.28

Amazon.com sales rank:  18,308

CD at Amazon?  Yes

Download available at iTunes and Amazon?  Yes


Of all the albums on this awards list, none comes close to giving me the incredibly deep encounters with God that I have had with this album.  The mood is sober but not depressing; it often speaks of dark moments but always with an underlying sense of hope.  The music, whose style is hard to describe, is engaging.


Read more to see why I like it so much...

  1. 1.BRITT NICOLE: Gold


2012, Pop, Christian thematic

Purchased CD new from Amazon for $8.98

Amazon.com sales rank:  1,866

CD at Amazon?  Yes

Download available at iTunes and Amazon?  Yes


From the very first listen, I was blown away by this album.  The production is stellar, the performance is fabulous, the music is awesome, and the lyrics are more accessible than her previous album.  Speaking of her previous album, this is a huge jump up in quality, and that one was a quality album!  Powerful pop with some great dance pop cuts included.  This album is not one to miss.


Read more to see why I like it so much...

Music Central is a sub-website of J Lee Harshbarger’s personal website.  To visit other sub-websites, click the links below.

MUSIC CENTRAL
All about music!  My Annual Music Awards, my music Hall Of Fame, and other writings about music and musicians I like are found here.  This link goes to the opening page.Welcome.html
J LEE THE 
MEDIA CRITIC
An index to my writings about movies, books, and the media in general, such as news coverage and media bias../J_Lee_The_Media_Critic/J_Lee_The_Media_Critic_Index.html
SOCIETY CENTRAL


My political and religious beliefs, and my commentary
 on society and politics.../Society_Central/Society_Central_Index.html

J LEE THE TRAVELER
Photo albums from some of my travels outside of Michigan.  Eventually I hope to include travelogues too.http://www.jleeharshbarger.me/J_Lee_The_Traveler/Welcome.html

                   
                     Various photos
                           I’ve taken
                     not connected
                            to any of
                            my web-
                            site pages.http://gallery.mac.com/catservants

PONDERING GOD & CHURCH
What does it mean to follow God?  What should the church be like?../Pondering_God_And_Church/Statement_Of_My_Religious_Beliefs.html
CHURCHES I’VE REGULARLY ATTENDED

A list of all the churches I’ve attended, plus full stories about some of them. ../Churches_Ive_Regularly_Attended/Churches,_Part_1.html

CHURCHES I’VE VISITED

Stories about churches I’ve visited../Churches_Ive_Visited/Churches,_Part_2.html
BANANALEAF CENTRAL
The “Home” section: my front page, the descriptions for each of my sub-websites, and the descriptions of all the places where I hang out on the web.../Bananaleaf_Central/Front_Page.html

Note: The web page “Annual Music Awards” has a complete description of the way the awards are chosen (qualifications to be on the list, criteria for ranking) and for what the various data here mean (i.e. lyrical theme categories, Amazon.com rankings, etc.).  The list below contains only a brief synopsis of each album.  For my full review of the album, click on the album cover picture.  This page’s Amazon rankings are as of March 30, 2014.

ABOUT THE 2012 AWARDS

     On this year’s list, 7 of the 15 albums were released in the same year as the list (2012 in this case), the first time for that since I worked at Borders and often got music even before it was released. 

    While pop music dominates this album list, I actually listened to dance music more than any other style in 2012 (nearly all Christian dance music), but the dance music tended to be from single tracks rather than albums.

    Each artist name, album title, and album cover is a link where you can get more information.  On the six albums that I have done full-page reviews, you can listen to one full song from the album (requires QuickTime).  The first five albums’ pages also include a music video from the album.

NOTE: The only reviews I have written are for #1-#6. The rest link to external reviews.

 

6. TOBYMACDubbed & Freq’d


2012, Pop Dance Remix, Christian thematic

Purchased CD used from an Amazon third party for $7.97

Amazon.com sales rank:  7,298

CD at Amazon? Yes

Download available at iTunes and Amazon?  Yes


I have several TobyMac and dcTalk albums, but none of them even come close to this one!  This is by far my favorite!  Though it’s a remix album, it doesn’t sound like one; it sounds like this is the original, in its pop-song structures and flow of the album.  The remixes focus on electro and dubstep styles, which was something I was looking for when I bought this.  An exciting album!


Read more to see why I like it so much...

7. TAL & ACACIAWake Me


2010, Acoustic Pop, Christian thematic

Purchased CD new from Amazon for $6.79

Amazon.com sales rank:  38,096

CD at Amazon? Yes

Download available at iTunes and Amazon?  Yes


It surprises me that I became so hooked on this album, since it’s not really my style.  I like electronics, beats, or at least heavy guitars, but this is gentle, acoustic (guitar and piano) focused music.  Some of it even has a 1960s pop sound (“Merry Go Round” reminds me of The Monkees).  The lyrics are explicitly Christian, but definitely not trite, and the music does not sound like CCM at all.  The production is very polished.  Something about the sound of this album makes me want to play it in late spring and early summer.

Read the review at Jesus Freak Hideout...

8. DAVID CROWDER BANDGive Us Rest


2011, Modern rock with occasional bluegrass and classical flavors, Christian praise & worship

Purchased CD new from Amazon for $9.99

Amazon.com sales rank:  7,315

CD at Amazon? Yes

Download available at iTunes and Amazon?  Yes


For their final album, David Crowder Band released this artistic 2-CD (2-hour) album.  While most of it consists of the modern rock electric guitar sounds of the previous outing Church Music, this mixes in classical orchestral and choral touches, along with a few bluegrass stomps thrown in, yet it still flows very nicely; there is never a jolt.  The lyrical theme: This is a requiem mass, so it has elements of the Liturgy and songs about death and resurrection.  A grand finale for DCB.

Read the review at Jesus Freak Hideout...

9. KRYSTAL MEYERSMake Some Noise


2008, Pop, Christian thematic

Purchased CD new from Amazon for $6.61

Amazon.com sales rank:  154,609

CD at Amazon? Yes

Download available at iTunes and Amazon?  Yes


The first two albums by Krystal Meyers were of a rock flavor that caused people to compare her to Avril Lavigne, but this time around, Krystal completely changed gears and went the dance pop route.  I liked the music on the album, but I didn’t find the lyrics to be as accessible as the ones on her previous albums, particularly on the most dance-oriented tracks.  It’s 2014 and she doesn’t even have a website now, so I’m afraid this is the last we’re going to hear from her.

Read the review at Jesus Freak Hideout...

10. FLEETING JOYSDespondent Transponder


2006, Alternative/Shoegazer, Secular

Purchased CD used from a Discogs third party for $22.49

Amazon.com sales rank:  116,130

CD at Amazon? Yes, but it’s rare thus expensive

Download available at iTunes and Amazon?  Yes


Just can’t get enough of My Bloody Valentine!  But since at the time I bought this album, MBV hadn’t released an album since 1991, I was elated to find a group that sounds just like them!  And not in a flat, copycat way; this album is absolutely beautiful!!!  Every song on here is delightful.  This is the kind of music I put on during a hot summer day and totally chill out.  Huge wall of sound guitars, floating, not-a-care-in-the-world vocals...quintessential shoegazer music.


Read the review at The Celebrity Cafe...

11. SIXPENCE NONE THE RICHERLost In Transition


2012, Acoustic, Christian worldview & thematic

Purchased CD new from Amazon for $9.99

Amazon.com sales rank:  80,930

CD at Amazon? Yes

Download available at iTunes and Amazon?  Yes


For some reason, in October, I am in the mood for an earthy, acoustic sound more than my typical electric sounds.  All of my “October music” was getting old, so I searched for something new, and found this new release from a group I’ve known of since the early 1990s, Sixpence None The Richer.  This album is not as depressing as their self-titled 1997 album that I have, but it’s still definitely not feel-good music.  I did, however, get much delight from the song with the words, “...and sing amazing grace...”

Read the review at Jesus Freak Hideout...

12. TOY-BOXFanTastic


1999, Playful Pop, Secular

Purchased CD used from an Amazon third party for $16.93

Amazon.com sales rank:  57,550

CD at Amazon? Yes

Download available at iTunes and Amazon?  Yes


Remember Aqua, and their song “Barbie Girl”?  Well, they only made two albums, so Toy-Box has picked up where they left off.  Over-the-top bubble gum pop music with over-the-top lyrics like “It tickles in my tummy, he’s so yummy yummy!”  Songs include “Tarzan & Jane,” “E.T.,” and “Super Duper Man,” to give you an idea of the toybox loads of fun this album is.  This was selling for $100 a CD at one point, but fortunately the price came down and I could afford it!

I can’t find any reviews other than customer reviews at Amazon...

13. THE CHOIRThe Loudest Sound Ever Heard


2012, Alternative, Christian worldview & thematic

Purchased CD new from Amazon for $14.46

Amazon.com sales rank:  85,212

CD at Amazon? Yes

Download available at iTunes and Amazon?  Yes


I’ve been buying albums by The Choir since their first release back in 1985.  Out of the roughly 15 original studio albums they have (excluding live, best-of, etc.), this is my 12th album of theirs.  Despite it ranking lower than the #5 ranking I gave in 2007 to O How The Mighty Have Fallen, I actually like this album better; I think this is the best one they’ve done since about 1990.   They have a beautiful mellow, electric guitar melancholy sound accompanied by artistic lyrics.


Read the review at Jesus Freak Hideout...

14. VARIOUS ARTISTS:  Future Sound Of Worship, Volume 3


2012, Dance, Christian worldview & thematic

Received from God’s DJs

Amazon.com sales rank:  235,107

CD at Amazon? No

Download available at iTunes and Amazon?  Yes, plus at ChristianDanceMusic.net


As with previous Future Sound Of Worship albums, this really isn’t much of a worship album, but rather just dance music produced by Christians.  And as with volume 2, this is predominantly instrumental.  Tracks #3 through #9 are a smooth, rolling mix of beautiful trance music, with only one song being a vocal, “Do you know the love of the Father?”  While the album is certainly danceable, I actually found myself most often listening to it when I wanted something to chill out to.


I was not able to find any reviews of this

15. THE ECHOING GREENThe Winter Of Our Discontent


2003, Synthpop, Christian worldview & thematic

Purchased CD new from Amazon for $7.73

Amazon.com sales rank:  162,945

CD at Amazon? Yes

Download available at iTunes and Amazon?  Yes


Though I have several Echoing Green CDs already, there are far more that I don’t have, so this was an attempt to add to my catalog.  I already owned the remix album for this, Story Of Our Lives, so some songs I was familiar with.  It is typical of The Echoing Green’s sound, and the album is good overall.  I’m amazed at how much “Starling” is like a precursor to Pristina.  I appreciate the cover version of Velour 100’s “Bittersweet.”


Read the review at Electro Garden...