1. “Coming Home” by Leon Bridges
A good friend turned me on to this album and this song in particular stuck out to me. The album itself is awesome. It’s a real retro-soul sound, and Bridges sounds uncannily like Sam Cook reborn. “Coming Home,” the title track of the album (2015) is all about a guy whose coming home to his girl. He’s been away too long, and nothing else in the world can satisfy him. It run true for me this week being away at a week-long conference. I am ready to go home and see my girl!
2. “I’m Not Talking About Religion” by The Altar Boys
I’ve been chewing a lot on specific concerns I have about church ministry. In response to my thoughts I’ve been reflecting on the “prophetic” voices of old punks, like the Altar Boys. This song was a stirring critique of the legalistic bent of ministries that Mike Stand and the boys had seen in the late 70s/early 80s. The song emphasizes the need for genuine relationship with God as the core of true Christianity. They push back against rituals and religions practices that don’t make one a true believer (having the “right” politics, or simply going to church, or having the “right” hair styles). The song is explicit about the band’s faith. It’s vintage Christian punk from the earliest days of the genre. Gut Level Music (1986), the album featuring this track, was the band’s biggest success and it remains as good all these years later.
3. “Drowning” by MxPx
From the band’s 2007 album Secret Weapon, which received loads of recognition. This song in particular doesn’t get the kind of recognition it deserves. It is a true MxPx classic and has a similar sound and feel to their early stuff. In the song Mike Herrera sings about being unable to turn off his head, his consumed with thoughts about a broken relationship. He states that he’d rather drown himself in his false memories than have to accept the reality that the girl he thought he knew deceived him. There’s nothing special about the song for me personally, I just loved the sound this week.
4. “This is Amazing Grace” by Phil Wickham
This was a new song for me, which the worship team at the BCTC conference lead us in. Apparently I’ve been sleeping under a rock because it’s actually an old song (2013). It’s a featured track on Phil Wickham’s album Ascension, and even has its own music video. The song itself is an epic asthmatic celebration of the amazing grace of the gospel and Christ’ wonderful sacrifice for us. It was sung with such passion on the first night that it has stuck with me all the rest of the week. As you reflect on the gospel, may this song remind you this truly is “Amazing grace!”
5. “Creep” by Calibretto 13
Much in the same vein as The Altar Boys, Calibretto was pointed and punchy punk band. The trio often wrote songs of conviction intentionally designed to skewer the Christian subculture of the 90s. They had a special interest in targeting the blatant hypocrisy of many church-goers, and, despite their stripped down acoustic style, this particular song is sung and played with aggressive passion. “Creep” is the final track on their debut album, Enter the Danger Brigade (2000), and targets those who “claim” to follow Jesus but would rather criticize others’ sin instead of offering help. A good and important critique that we still need to hear in the church today.