I take this list very seriously. Each of these albums has truly meant something to me for one reason or another and different moments in my life. They are not listed in a particular order. Let me know if any of these albums impacted you in one way or another. What are your 15?
1. dcTalk - dcTalk
"Hu Hu Heaven Ha Ha Ha Ha Heaven Ha Ha Heaven bound, Right!" Wow. This is the very first cassette tape (yes CASSETTE TAPE) I purchased with my own money. For that matter it was the first album I was allowed by my parents to purchase. They were a little on the conservative side at first concerning my music. Then I began to listen to some more CCM styled artists. dcTalk was one of those first bands that grabbed my heart for music. My favorite tracks on this album are Heavenbound and Hallelujah.
2. Our Lady Peace - Clumsy
I'm pretty sure I've purchased this CD about 4 or 5 times. I keep wearing out the disc. This was before iTunes... Our Lady Peace brings some great memories of High School years to my mind. This album really opened me up to a strong lyric influences alternative rock. When I think back to my favorite 90's artists OLP is almost the first artist to come to mind every single time. While I love everything on the album stand out tracks for me are Superman's Dead, Automatic Flowers, 4AM, and Clumsy.
3. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
Sufjan opened me up to the entire genre of modern folk music. I fell in love with it and haven't been the same since. John Wayne Gracy Jr is a standout track for me on this one. Later I realized it was about the serial killer... weird.
4. Jars Of Clay - Jars Of Clay
To this day this is one of my favorite albums. Every track is well crafted and memorable. I can put this album on now and listen to it all day without ever getting bored of it. Musically it has inspired much for where I am currently as a singer/songwriter. This album included the mainstream hit Flood and the CCM hit Love Song For A Savior. While Jars of Clay has received it's share of flack for "crossing over to the mainstream" I've stuck with them. In my opinion this is still their best album. The new album comes out very soon we'll see how it compares.
5. Passion: Better Is One Day
I remember laying facedown in my bedroom one morning during my quiet time before school weeping listening to this album. When I think of the period in time I learned the most about music as worship it was when this album was released. I listened to it over and over and over again. We listened to it on the bus heading out on youth trips. I learned almost every song on the album on guitar and led with them in worship during our youth group worship sessions. This album can be described for me with the word "shaping". It really did shape the way I viewed God and worship and my role in that. I love it to this day, though now looking back I wish it was a bit better produced.
6. MXPX - Life In General
This band was another that introduced me to the genre of pop punk rock and for that matter the Tooth & Nail label. Had it not been for MXPX I would have never picked up a Songs From The Penalty Box Vol. 2 album with the band Zao listed on it... but that's another album.... The Life In General album is a nonstop ear full of fun pop punk music. Mike Herra's very identifiable voice slurs lyrics over the machine gun fire snare of Yuri and Tom's amazing guitar licks. This album had the most play on the way to high school in the mornings with my Dad driving the the truck, my dad taught JROTC at my high school so I rode with him in the mornings and evenings. He used to talk about how he would have liked the album had the snare just been a bit softer. He said the same thing about Blink 182 and actually liked their harmonies better but, wished they would sing about something decent.... for me MXPX took the top spot for pop punk artist of my youth and this album took the cake with Slowly Going The Way Of The Buffalo in close second. My favorite tracks were Doing Time, Southbound, Chick Magnet, and Andrea.
7. Zao - Where Blood And Fire Bring Rest
I might as well mention this album now after it's sneaking into the last album. I first heard Zao from a Songs From The Penalty Box Vol. 2 Tooth and Nail / SolidState artist sampler where the track A Fall Farewell begins with the line. "I woke up one morning and he was dead." What followed was a brutal metal mayhem like I have yet to experience again. The song came from the album that is listed above. To which I was pleased continued the metal mayhem going much longer than one track. It was this album that caused my mom to coin the terminology of "the screaming meemies" and made my dad think that I was listening to "demonic music". It was this band that opened me up to "christian hardcore" and influenced much of my work with "More Than Living". Zao is a very complex band. Their entire history is chronicled in the DVD volume "The Lesser Lights Of Heaven". It's about 5 hours long. I'm telling you it's really extensive. They have a new album coming out in June.
8. Skillet - Invincible
Most of these albums I've noticed are albums that, for me, defined a genre. The idea of mixing electronic loops and metal guitars stood out pretty heavily in this album. This was a major switch for the grunge rockers Skillet as lead singer John Cooper traded his long brown locks for a bleached blonde do with characteristics that reminded me a little bit of A Flock Of Seagulls. The band had toyed with looping on their previous effort "Hey You, I Love Your Soul" though "Invincible" was a far cry from the bands self titled album. I got the chance to see these guys live a couple of times around this era of their music. They were always great and stand out tracks live and on the album alike for me were: Invincible, You're Powerful, Best Kept Secret, and the hidden track Angels Fall Down, which made an appearance on the bands worship album which followed this release later the same year.
9. Sigur Rós - ( )
I've seen and heard and even been apart of some strange bands. Sigur Rós takes the cake for me for some strange but beautiful music. Sigur Rós, at the recommendation of a dear friend, album ( ) was an album that had me laying on my bed in my dorm room with the lights off staring at my ceiling just listening and being lost in the sound for hours. I had never heard anything like it. I literally started listening to it just to try it out and before I knew what happened the album was over and I had been completely caught up in it. Though the lyrics are sung in a language that is completely made up I almost imagine the vocals as an instrument all on their own as this album sweeps over you. Great music. Strange... but great.
10. Third Eye Blind - Third Eye Blind
While I will be the first to admit that morality is not something found on this record.... for a portion of my life this album was all I listened to. Along with Our Lady Peace I have purchased it probably about 5 times. I would wear the CD out then head to the local pawn shop or record exchange and look for a used copy for a couple of bucks. My favorite thing about this album however is the lyrical crafting of Stephan Jenkins. I am consistently blown away by his writing. It's clever and witty and minus the vulgarity brilliant. While this wouldn't be my first choice for a listen today it has to make my top 15. My favorite tracks on this album tend to stay away from the radio friendly 3EB many are familiar with. While I love this entire album standout tracks include: Motorcylce Drive By, God of Wine, London, Thanks A Lot, and Narcolepsy.
11. dc Talk - Jesus Freak
Now, it feels to me a bit against principle to have a band make this list twice... I'm a little OCD like that. This album can't go not being on this list. For one I would say that it marks a pivotal point for mainstream Christian rock across the board. dc Talk was a well known household name and came out with this album and it literally rocked the pants of families everywhere. From this point out it was more than just dc Talk it was Toby, Michael, and Kevin. This was THE defining album and in my opinion their best. Standout tracks include: Colored People, Jesus Freak, What Have We Become, In The Light, Mrs. Morgan, and Like It, Love It, Need It.
12. Incubus - Morning
While morning is the follow up to the album that put them on the map, Make Yourself: which included tracks like Stellar, and Pardon Me. Morning was the album that proved this band could maintain a fan base for as long as they wanted to make music. From start to finish Morning is a non stop sonic journey into the heart of life's greatest moments. Standouts include: Wish You Were Here, Aqueous Transmission, Under My Umbrella, Warning, Circles, Blood On The Ground, and Mexico.
13. Dashboard Confessional: The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most
Chris Carabba may now be known for being annoying and whiny but, I guarantee that at one point everyone who gives him crap has put this album in and cried to it. Yeah I know this already sounds emo and for many modern emo could be defined by this album. Emo = short for emotional music, came from the punk seen with bands like the Refused and morphed into something much much different. This album is one to roll the windows down in the car and blare the stereo singing off key with no regrets. This album marked my leaving high school summer and shaped much of my early song writing in my college years. My favorite tracks include: The Brilliant Dance, This Bitter Pill, and Screaming Infidelities
14. Norma Jean: Bless The Martyr Kiss The Child
I have to be honest about this... when I first heard this album... I hated it. Norma Jean (formerly known as Luti-Kriss) was and is still one of my favorite metal bands. They changed they're name and released this album which shaped much of modern CHXC to this day. I remember hearing it and hating it... I didn't feel structure. I didn't feel anything. The more I listened.... the more I found structure and beauty in the drop tuned guitar growl and the Scott Cogin's signature voice screaming lines like "Christ is not a fashion fleeting away." This album is a must have for any metal fan's collection. Standouts for me include: The Shotgun Message, Face:Face, I Used To Hate Cellphones But Now I Hate Car Accidents, and The Entire World Is Counting On Me And They Don't Even Know It.
15. Silverchair - Freakshow
I used to sit in my room and try to make my voice sound like Daniel Johns he's still one of my favorite vocalists. This album wins over Neon Ballroom for the simple fact that it's had more plays on my iPod than Neon Ballroom. This album combines solid rock guitars with soothing and yet at times angsty vocals. It's catchy and heavy and beautiful all at the same time. I still love it. A favorite b-side that didn't make it on this album made it to the Godzilla: Soundtrack later in it's life called Untitled but standouts on this album are Slave, Freak, Abuse Me, Lie To Me, Learn To Hate, Cemetery, and The Closing.
I'm sure there are many of you that are reading this thinking... what about this album or that album. Let me stop you. I would say there are many other albums that have shaped me musically and as a person. However this is my top 15. Yours is different. It's ok. : ) Blessings and love.