“Patrol” Picks 50 Records That Have Gotta Have Faith Of Some Sort
Earlier this month, we took a look at Christianity Today‘s best-of list, which seemed to judge records on an “is this Christian enough?” scale as much as it did musical merit. To balance that out, the online music mag Patrol serves up a list that looks at vaguer connections between faith and music. Patrol started off analyzing the fringes of the Christian music biz (it was called CCM Patrol then), but now it has a broader aim, tackling New York City from a faith-based perspective. Their list’s intro shows their disdain for the Christian mainstream, although at this point, you have to wonder which artists they’re talking about. CCM Magazine bit the dust this year, turning into a digital shell of its former self, and other publications working the Nashville center of the biz aren’t exactly lauding the work of Michael W. Smith these days either. Patrol goes a bit more obscure than Christian Music Today or (the horribly named) Jesus Freak Hideout, but by and large, the same discs lauded by the establishment are showing up on Patrol‘s list too. I understand the intent, but labeling your list the best “faith-inspired” albums doesn’t mean much when there’s only one “faith” represented.
THE GOOD: There really are a lot of quality discs in the mix here: Deas Vail (No. 45), The Welcome Wagon (No. 27), and Doug Burr (No. 8), to name a few. It’s almost like a case could be made with this list that Christian music—I mean “faith-based” music—doesn’t really suck as bad as advertised. Plus, the Jonas Brothers made the list (No. 42)!. THE BAD: On the other hand, you can tell that there’s a certain style to the genre on its indie fringes, and that style is singer-songwritery folk. There are exceptions, but all in all, there’s a very Paste-y sound dominating the proceedings. If the point is to poke the mainstream, championing a different, but no less cliched aesthetic as an alternative seems to defeat the purpose. (Case in point: Recommending Francesca Battistelli (No. 44), an act seemingly engineered in a lab to emulate the success of Sara Bareilles.) THE WHAAA?: How far can you stretch the idea of “faith-inspired” until the idea has no meaning? Joseph Arthur seems to have little connection to Christian circles, and if there’s a connection between the Mae Shi and a personal Lord and Savior, I’ve never seen it mentioned in any of their press. Next to those dubious connections, you have Richard Swift, who’s done everything possible to distance himself from the Christian-music world. I get the aim, and there’s an impossibility to trying to discern who is in and out, but the standards here still teeter on the absurd like the lists they’re aiming to out-cred.
1. Brooke Waggoner, Heal for the Honey 2. Son Lux, At War with Walls & Mazes 3. Delta Spirit, Ode to Sunshine 4. The Mae Shi, HLLLYH 5. Sandra McCracken, Red Balloon 6. The Khrusty Brothers 7. Ben Shive, The Ill-Tempered Klavier 8. Doug Burr, The Shawl 9. Rue Royale 10. Family Force 5, Dance or Die 11. Bodies of Water, A Certain Feeling 12. Soporus, Atomove Elektrarne EP 13. Brooke Fraser, Albertine 14. Anathallo, Canopy Glow 15. Andy Shauf, Darker Days 16. Waterdeep, Pink & Blue 17. Aaron Espe, Songs from A Small Town 18. Denison Witmer, Carry the Weight 19. Cloud Cult, Feel Good Ghosts 20. William Fitzsimmons, The Sparrow and the Crow 21. PlayRadioPlay!, Texas 22. Copeland, You Are My Sunshine 23. Joseph Arthur & The Lonely Astronauts, Temporary People 24. Cotton Jones Basket Ride, The River Strumming 25. My Brightest Diamond, A Thousand Shark’s Teeth 26. Damien Jurado, Caught in the Trees 27. The Welcome Wagon, Welcome to the Welcome Wagon 28. Rosebuds, Life Like 29. LIGHTS 30. Thrice, The Alchemy Index, Vol. III & IV: Air & Earth 31. Cold War Kids, Loyalty to Loyalty 32. Kevin Max, The Blood 33. Anberlin, New Surrender 34. Underoath, Lost in the Sound of Separation 35. Tyler Burkum, Darling Maybe Someday 36. House of Heroes, The End is Not the End 37. Colour Revolt, Plunder, Beg & Curse 38. Richard Swift, Richard Swift as Onasis 39. Starflyer 59, Dial M 40. Elsa Jayne 41. The New Frontiers, Mending 42. Jonas Brothers, A Little Bit Longer 43. The Lassie Foundation, Jetstreams, Three Wheels EP 44. Francesca Battistelli, My Paper Heart 45. Deas Vail, White Lights EP 46. Grits, Reiterate 47. Jars of Clay, Closer EP 48. Bethany Dillon, So Far: The Acoustic Sessions 49. Jon Foreman, Spring & Summer 50. Relient K, The Birds and the Bee Sides