Best Albums of 2016

I've been pretty busy this year, so I have a long list I could give but I don't feel like I've listened deeply enough to do 30 albums justice. But I can give you five that I think are the bees' knees. My lists all the way back to 2006 are below. Enjoy! And please let me know your favorites!

5. Pinegrove - Cardinal

4. Frank Ocean - Blonde

3. Slow Dakota - The Ascension of Slow Dakota
Christ-haunted. Literary. Curious. Playful. Mindful.
Try: "I Am Held Together"

2. Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial
Punky. Can rock hard, but driven by lyrics. Wonderfully honest and provoking lyrics.
Try: "Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales"

1. Bon Iver - 22, A Million
Hands down, the bestest of the bestest. Yeah, I know, it's quirky and weird and whatever. It's almost perfect as work of art depicting the messy clamor through darkness and struggle in the search for something more. It's longing and wanting and waiting and a whole bunch of things that should make the thoughtful listener think and seek alongside Vernon. It's the kind of spiritual pursuit that I want from art. It's not easy. But it's really good.
Try: 33 "God" | Full Concert

 Previous Years -- Best Albums

20152014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 

Far Kingdom

I haven't been shy in expressing my love for and joy in the music of Gray Havens (Dave & Licia Radford). The new song, "Far Kingdom," is a song I've been listening to for a while from their upcoming January 2015 album Fire & Stone. I couldn't wait to introduce to you, and they've just released a video so I get the pleasure of sharing it. It's simple, and soaring, and gorgeous. I have yet to listen to it without getting the chills. Follow the lyrics below the video. Also check out Where Eyes Don't Go

Far Kingdom is from The Gray Haven's upcoming album, "Fire and Stone," to be released on January 6th, 2015.


There is a far kingdom
A ways from here
Beyond the storm and the sea
There will be no need of darkness
And none for tears
When that far kingdom I see

There’s a river we will know
Ever clear and ever full
From the fount that overflows
In the light of the King
And when we drink it we will find
That this joy, ever full, will ever rise
And it’ll rise on, in the kingdom
In the kingdom

There is a far kingdom
On the other side of the glass
And by a faint light we see
Still there is more gladness
Longing for the sight
Than to behold or be filled, by anything

There’s a river we will know
Ever clear and ever full
From the fount that overflows
In the light of the King
And when we drink it we will find
That this joy, ever full, will ever rise
And it’ll rise on, in the kingdom
In the kingdom

There is a far, far kingdom
There at the end of the sea
Where they know my name
And until that far, far kingdom
Calls me home
Oh, my soul, I will wait

For the river we will know
Ever clear and ever full
From the fount that overflows
In the light of the King
And when we drink it we will find
That this joy, ever full, will ever rise
And it’ll rise on, in the kingdom
In the kingdom
And it’ll rise on, in the kingdom
In the kingdom

Sharon Van Etten - Are We There

There isn't a chance that I would pass up the new Sharon Van Etten album, Are We There. Her previous albums, Tramp and Epic, are great. I don't even need to preview the new album in order to buy it, but I know some of you do. Just watch this video for "Afraid of Nothing" and I know you will do what's right and buy this album. Looks like Are We There is a few bucks cheaper this week as Amazon's "Album of the Week."

Saintseneca -- Dark Arc

My new piece on Saintseneca and their album Dark Arc is up at Christ & Pop Culture: "Saintseneca's Dark Arc: Stripping Off The World's Varnish." Here's a blurb...

The entire album is a juxtaposition of style and substance. It’s subversive, kind of Banksy. I can’t help but think that this is similar to what the church should be doing in the midst of our consumer culture. We should be taking the shiny, happy things of this world and breaking them, showing they aren’t what we think they are. We should be stripping off the varnish, seeing through the luster. 

Go read my whole article, and please do go pick up Saintseneca: Dark Arc.


Kristen Gilles - "Chase Away My Unbelief"

If you don't have time to listen now, please save this post somewhere and come back to it. This song may be a tremendous blessing to you or to someone in your family or church who is suffering. I encourage you to find time to really listen. I don't often find songs that hit me so deep and make me long to share it with others (especially those in pain). 

Parkers Mercy.jpg

I received the new album from Kristen Gilles in the mail and have listened to a little. Now I'm completely stuck on one song, "Chase Away My Unbelief." This is from the website of Kristen Gilles...

After our son Parker was stillborn, we cried out to God. Many of those cries came together in the form of this new song from our upcoming album Parker’s Mercy Brigade, “Chase Away My Unbelief.” This is a song for everyone who is broken by the thought of what might have been. A child who was never born. A child who was, but whose stay on earth was all too short. A broken home. A broken heart. A chilling medical diagnosis. A betrayal. Bankruptcy. Addiction. An inner conflict that causes you to say, “God, if you’re up there, if you’re powerful, and if you’re good, then why is everything so messed up?”

If you ever feel like God is far away, that he won’t answer you, let this song be your cry. If you ever feel like you’ve become a slave to your current circumstance, or that you have trouble seeing a larger perspective, let this song be your cry. If you ever hear about children starving and evil raging around the world, and your spirit groans, let this song be your cry.

Let me be honest: I don't cry easily. Partway through "Chase Away My Unbelief" I did begin to cry with the Gilles' over their loss and was provoked to cry out to God concerning the brokenness all around and in my own life and family and church. I think I have a lot more to cry over in my life that I have been avoiding. This song is helping me do so. What a beautiful lament for our time. Listen below and follow along with the lyrics. Hear more and pre-order Parker's Mercy Brigade at

"Chase Away My Unbelief" 

Lord, when I think You’re far away 
Returning silence for my prayer, 
When I’m reminded of old doubts 
That You still reign, or that You care, 
Teach me how to doubt no more, 
To know You’re found by those who seek, 
And my emotions can deceive; 
Chase away my unbelief. 

In the face of deepest loss, 
Blinded by my bitter tears, 
Broken by what might have been, 
A slave to things as they appear, 
Then whisper peace into my soul 
In midst of pain and piercing grief. 
My own perspective’s incomplete. 
Chase away my unbelief. 

When I suspect You’ve lost control 
Or You’ve forsaken what You made, 
When children starve both near and far 
And love has wilted under hate, 
Remind me of Your promises: 
A kingdom full of life and peace! 
Help me to trust eternity. 
Lord, chase away my unbelief. 

Cause my emotions can deceive ... 
My own perspective’s incomplete ... 
Help me to trust eternity, 
Lord, chase away my unbelief.

HGM: Bad Debt


Every so often an album comes along that reminds me why I search for good music far beyond what's on the radio and being advertised. I want music that makes me think and feel. I want music that makes me search through the lyrics to dig in deeper. I want hints at the backstory of the life of the songwriter, someone who writes out of their own experience. Those albums are great albums.

Bad Debt is the almost-new album by Hiss Golden Messenger (M.C. Taylor) and it's right in the sweet spot of that kind of greatness. Taylor recorded these songs at his kitchen table while his family, including his firstborn son, was sleeping in the winter of 2009. The original release of the album didn't last long after the CD stock was destroyed in the 2010 London riots.

Now given a proper release, we get to hear this remarkable album. It's just a man, his guitar, and his songs. Lo-fi. Simple. Oh so simple. You feel like you are sitting on the other side of a narrow room listening to songs that were written long ago and have never been so relevant. I encourage you to pick it up and sit under their spell. 

Reviews worth reading --> Pitchfork 8.2/10 - "an album deeply concerned with the nature of faith and man’s relationship with his Maker" | Paste 8.6/10 - "just fundamentally phenomenal" | Slant 4/5 - "utterly ageless, like a surviving relic from time immemorial"

Music Monday 1.6.14

Music Monday 470

It's -40F wind chill here, which means you light up the fireplace and listen to Bon Iver. One of my favorite EVER albums, For Emma Forever Ago, is $5.

If you haven't checked it out yet, my Best Albums of 2013 list is up. Would love your thoughts. What music from last year did you enjoy?

Streaming free small 470

Damien Jurado: Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son - My love for this dude's music has grown the last few years. Excited for this one. I'm only five songs in and I'm very, very happy so far.

Music SaleCheap Albums from my 2013 list ($5 unless noted otherwise)...

Other cheap albums worth checking out...