When Joshua asked for guest posts on “the top 5 albums you're currently playing,” I couldn't get my word processor open fast enough. Despite my lack of a musical background (even the humble harmonica eludes my mastery), I do love, need, and crave music. I also love sharing it with people. So here are the top 5 albums that currently comprise my musical world. I'll warn you, though — my tastes are eclectic, bombastic, and archaic.
My Favourite Faded Fantasy by Damien Rice
I first heard of this album through Master Corey Poff. He called it “achingly beautiful,” an apt descriptor for this collection of very subtle but very evocative music. On every point, this album hits the mark: the vocals are raw and earthy, the lyrics are meaningful (who ever heard of that?!), and the melodies will haunt you long after you've switched this CD off. Top songs for me include “It Takes a Lot to Know a Man” (a sorely-needed antidote to the current glut of catchy “love” songs with no substance) and “My Favourite Faded Fantasy.” (“I got lost in your willingness / To dream within the dream.” Beat that, Taylor Swift.)
Atlas: Year One by Sleeping at Last
Also falling into the category of “achingly beautiful” is this compilation of several EPs released by the band Sleeping at Last. That this band is not incredibly well-known is a sin and a shame, since it's lead singer and chief songwriter Ryan O'Neal has more talent in him than ten Top 20 artists put together. Is his music dark? Sometimes. Sentimental? Maybe every now and then. Heart-wrenchingly sad? Occasionally. But regardless, Sleeping at Last has fast become one of my favorite bands, thanks in large part to this album.
I might add that Sleeping at Last—presumably a “secular” band—does marvelously where so many Christian artists fail: they are able to mix Christian themes and messages with good, artful music. Prime examples include the songs “Bad Blood” (my personal favorite) and “In the Embers.”
Nothing Is Sound by Switchfoot
Yeah, this is an old album. I grew up loving songs like “Stars” and “We Are One Tonight,” but now, ten years after the album's initial release, I'm revisiting these songs and discovering all the depth that my nine-year-old ears had missed before. Part of my love affair with Nothing Is Sound stems from the fact that this entire album focuses on one idea, namely, the horror that comes from a world in chaos and the peace that comes from a God who transcends it. This album is pretty much a tribute to the state of comforting spiritual malaise that arises when we see that the world is wrong, yet Christ shows clearer because of it. Favorite songs from it include “Lonely Nation,” “Happy Is a Yuppie Word,” and the old standby “Stars.”
Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars
It seems I'm always late to the party: I barely even knew who The Civil Wars were until earlier this year and I didn't start listening to them until a few months ago, when I discovered—much to my chagrin—that the band had broken up last summer. That hasn't stopped me from playing their songs on loop, though. I could go on about their lyrics, their unusual brand of indie rock, how effortlessly Joy Williams and John Paul White's voices blend together, etc., but you probably know all of that already. And if you don't, you need to correct that. Immediately.
Artists of the Century by Jascha Heifetz
I enjoy alt rock and indie folk songs as much as the next person, but every now and then, I need Bach. Or Tchaikovsky. And it must be played on a violin. Enter Heifetz.
Anyone who says that classical music is boring either A) has been listening to the wrong stuff or B) has no idea what they are talking about. Classical, done well, is anything but boring, these songs least of all. There's something about the violin that seems to communicate ten times the energy and passion that any other instrument can. Pair that with the man known to music enthusiasts as “the Violin God” and you have yourself one epic playlist.
What are you currently listening to?