For this post, I want to do another Top Ten List. This time, I want to take a look at the top ten debut albums of the last ten years. This list includes a number of different artists and genres within the Christian rock scene.
I do want to mention the criteria that I used to compile this list. First, this list is completely subjective, every album and piece of criteria was created by me. Second, this list only includes major label, full length, debut albums. I know that most Christian labels are independent and not part of major labels, but I am including bands on major labels within the Christian market. Plus, I am only choosing full length albums. I am not counting debut EPs, or independent releases in my list. Finally, each of these albums have been released in the last ten years.
10. Blueprints for the Black Market – Anberlin (2003)
Top Tracks – Readyfuels, Glass to the Arson, Naïve Orleans
I will freely admit that there are a lot of bands from Tooth and Nail Records on this list. For the last ten years, Tooth and Nail Records has dominated the Christian rock world by investing in a ton of up and coming talented artists. This album and group is no exception. On their debut album, Anberlin creates a sound that is both catchy and infectious, but also very diverse musically and lyrically. Musically, this album features everything from soaring anthems to guitar solos to even some pop songs. Lyrically, each song really seems to have its own unique story. Anberlin touches on a wide range of subjects including: changing the world, the differences between males and females, and they even cover a song originally recorded by the Cure. This album marked the beginning of a very successful career for Anberlin. Five albums and a major record deal later, Anberlin is still making great music for fans to enjoy. On their debut, Blueprints for the Black Market, Anberlin proves that they know how to create memorable songs that will get stuck in your head for days.
9. Attention - Philmont (2009)
Top Tracks - The Difference, I Can’t Stand to Fall, Setting Off
Philmont’s debut album is very straightforward. Attention features overtly Christian lyrics with a pop punk sound. I will admit, they don’t make any huge strides in Christian music. You can probably argue that you have heard a lot of their music and sound from other punk rock bands. But, that doesn’t make this album bad by any means. Philmont knows exactly who they are as a band: pop punk music mixed with overtly Christian themes. They know how to perform this very, very well.
8. What Are You Waiting For? - FM Static (2003)
Top Tracks – Something to Believe In, Definitely Maybe, Three Days Later
FM Static is the side project of famed Christian rockers Trevor McNevan and Steve Augustine of Thousand Foot Krutch. Their debut album is filled with eleven, fun, pop rock songs that are the perfect addition to your summer collection of music. Love, relationships, and simply having fun are the main themes that run throughout this record. To tell you the truth, the serious themes on this debut album are few and far between. The only songs that come remotely close to serious moments are Crazy Mary and Something to Believe In. FM Static’s fun attitude is definitely something refreshing in today’s serious Christian music world. The only downside to this album is the length; it clocks in right around 30 minutes. What Are You Waiting For? features so many good songs within a short amount of time, the listener is left wanting more.
7. Albatross - The Classic Crime (2006)
Top Tracks – The Fight, The Coldest Heart, Say the Word
One of the most overlooked bands in Christian rock today is The Classic Crime. In their short history, they have released three albums and an acoustic EP. Sadly, they were recently dropped from Tooth and Nail records, and their new album will be released independently. Nevermind their history, I want to talk about their amazing debut album. Mixing modern rock with some pop and even emo influences would probably be the best description of this band and their debut. Surprisingly, The Classic Crime has a great talent of going from a modern rock song with soaring screams to a pop influenced song reminiscent of old school Fall Out Boy. This is not only an underrated debut album, but an underrated band.
6. Crashings - Falling Up (2004)
Top Tracks – Broken Heart, Escalates, The Gathering
All the members of Falling Up were very young when their debut album was released. The band was created when they were still in high school, and they were signed shortly after graduation. Almost all of the songs on Crashings were written when the members of Falling Up were still in high school. Because Falling Up was so young when they made and recorded this record, you probably wouldn’t expect a polished or mature sound. But, by mixing hard rock, rap, polished vocals, and including guest appearances from Ryan Clark of Demon Hunter and Jon Micah Sumrall of Kutless, Falling Up’s debut is anything but amateur.
5. Letters to the President – Hawk Nelson (2004)
Top Tracks – Letters to the President, Every Little Thing, Right Here
Released in July 2004, Hawk Nelson’s debut is perfect summer fun. Like some of their pop punk predecessors (Relient K), this band chooses to speak about their faith through unique songs and lyrics. Every Little Thing talks about falling in love with a girl who is very passionate about her faith, the title track speaks about the many, many problems in this world, and Take Me serves as a pure, worship cry out to God. Plus, mixed in between these overtly Christian themes are fun songs about relationships, moving to California, and going to late night movies. Letters to the President proved to be a very successful album for this group, and helped fuel their career as a band. Since their debut, Hawk Nelson has not only moved into the forefront of Christian pop, but to the forefront of Christian music.
4. Hanging On By A Thread – The Letter Black (2010)
Top Tracks - Hanging On By A Thread, Believe, There’ll Come A Day
Since signing with the Christian rock label Tooth and Nail Records in 2009, The Letter Black has gained extraordinary exposure for such a young band. Comprised of Sarah Anthony, Mark Anthony, Matt Beal, and Taylor Carroll, The Letter Black plays roughly 150 shows a year, and has graced the stage with Thousand Foot Krutch, Skillet, Disciple, Red, and Decyfer Down. Their debut, full length album, Hanging On By A Thread, features a fusion between Skillet and Evanescence. The Letter Black beautifully offers a hard rock album mixed with dual vocals between Sarah and Mark Anthony, as well as driving rock and roll melodies. The definite highlight of this album is Sarah Anthony’s vocals. Throughout the album, her vocals are very polished and crisp, yet she has enough vocal ability to pull off hardcore screams. Soaring vocals mixed with hard rock melodies make this a great album.
3. Flyleaf – Flyleaf (2005)
Top Tracks – I’m So Sick, All Around Me, Sorrow
Flyleaf's debut is definitely the most popular album on my list. This album easily went platinum by selling over one million records. With major hits like I’m So Sick and Fully Alive, as well as touring with major secular rock bands Seether, Korn, and Stone Sour, Flyleaf quickly became a huge force in the rock music scene. Lead singer, Lacey Mosley, has one of the strongest voices in Christian music today. Flyeaf’s lyrics are filled with passion and intensity, and Mosley, who is only 4’11”, easily delivers these feelings and emotions with her voice.
2. Business Up Front, Party In the Back – Family Force 5 (2006)
Top Tracks – Love Addict, Kountry Gentleman, Replace Me
Unique and crazy would probably be the best way to describe this band. Fusing crunk rock with rap breakdowns, pop culture lyrics, and high energy, Family Force 5 took the Christian rock industry by storm with their debut release. Not only does Family Force 5 produce songs that will have you dancing for days, they also feature a unique style of lyric writing. Family Force 5’s songs feature a long list of wild and crazy subjects including being raised as a country gentleman, ex-girlfriends, drama queens, and being addicted to love.
1. Children 18:3 – Children 18:3 (2008)
Top Tracks – LCM, Search Warrant, Homemade Valentine
Children 18:3 is a band fueled by goth make-up, dual vocals, and raucous punk rock music. Rarely do I give an album five stars. I have only given four Christian rock albums five stars: Horseshoes and Handgrenades by Disciple, Dear Diary by FM Static, Comatose by Skillet, and Children 18:3’s self titled debut album. Children 18:3 is comprised of three siblings: David, Lee Marie, and Seth Hostetter. By playing together for nine years before they released their debut album, the three siblings compliment each other perfectly on each song. These three siblings have the maturity level and sound of seasoned music veterans on this record, not of a debut band. This record took me completely by surprise, and it could even be labeled as perfection.
I hope you have enjoyed this look at my Top Ten Debut Albums. If you haven’t heard of some of these groups or maybe you are looking to pick up some new Christian rock tunes, these albums are a great place to start.