100 Best Albums of the 2010s

These are the 100 Best (aka my favorite) albums released between 2010-2019. As always my predominate genre is Christian music, with a few crossover artists sprinkled in among them. The 90s will always hold the top decade in my heart, but the 10s were pretty great too! Here’s two other similar lists if you like this one: 100 Greatest Christian Albums of the 90s, 100 Greatest Christian Albums of the 00s

I tried to be as comprehensive as possible by picking my top ten of each year and then ranking them, but as I got down to it, it all became a delightful mess. A delightful mess that I throughly enjoyed, as I spent the better part of a weekend working on it. All told, these are mainly the albums of the decade I’ve listened most, with a little overlap of many that music critics would also include on their lists. Anyway, I hope you enjoy seeing what I settled on as much as I enjoyed making it. Let me know where I missed it, (or got it right) and I’d love to see your list!

Here goes…

100. NFMansion (2015)

His most musically diverse, and a red-hot introduction to the rap world.

99. Steven Curtis ChapmanThe Glorious Unfolding (2013)

Easily my favorite Chapman release since 2001s Declaration. Vintage SCC.

98. Ripp & RiceSongs We Wrote On Tuesdays (2019)

A welcome return from Chris Rice, and my introduction to Andrew Ripp. Both are excellent songwriters, but it’s Rice’s warm voice that sets him apart and keeps me coming back.

97. CitizensA Mirror Dimly (2016)

Alternative worship with lyrics you can sink your teeth into and come back to often.

96. Dogs of PeaceHeel (2016)

Classic rock riffs and glorious harmonies. For fans of PFR and Phil Keaggy.

95. Beautiful EulogyInstruments Of Mercy (2013)

Sparse Indie hip-hop with a solid theological bent.

94. Derek WebbI Was Wrong, I’m Sorry, And I Love You (2013)

A return to form, and the style from him I appreciated most…straightforward acoustic singer/songwriter.

93. Steve Taylor & the Perfect Foil Goliath (2014)

A welcome return from the king of quirk. This is a great alt/rock album. The end.

92. John Mark McmillanThe Medicine (2010)

Adding an indie/rock vibe to the worship scene John Mark Mcmillan came along with his gravelly voice and thought provoking lyrics at just the right time.

91. Andrew PetersonCounting Stars (2010)

I missed this one originally, but I’ve since rectified that grave mistake. This guy doesn’t make bad records as far as I’m concerned. For fans of Rich Mullins and superb songwriting.

90. Rend CollectiveArt of Celebration (2014)

“Burn like a star, light a fire in our hearts!” This album of stomp clap folk is brimming with joy and aptly named.

89. UnspokenSelf-Titled (2014)

Several of these songs came along at a time when I absolutely needed them. “Lift My Life Up” will always be an important song to me. This is high quality pop music with a message.

88. Sho Baraka – The Narrative (2016)

Jazzy. R&B. Hip-Hop. High quality stuff here.

87. The VespersThe Fourth Wall (2012)

I loved the album prior to seeing them live, but that only helped deepen my appreciation. Sister harmonies Remind me of The Dixie Chicks on some tunes and I’m more than okay with that.

86. MAEMultisensory Aesthetic Experience (2018)

I missed these indie rockers and was excited for their return…They didn’t disappoint.

85. Iron Bell WorshipGod Who Saves (2017)

Simple. Lacking bombast. Acoustic based. Strong lyrics. Basically my favorite kind of worship album.

84. Third DayRevival (2017)

Everything I wanted from their farewell. This gospel infused rock album hit all the right notes for me.

83. AnberlinVital (2012)

It’s Anberlin, they gotta make the list! Stephen’s voice is as clear and soaring as ever.

82. Ethan C. DavisSerenade (2017)

I was slow to warm to EDM infused music, but Davis’ solo debut does the trick. “No Time For Shame” is the must-hear jam of the bunch.

81. NFThe Search (2019)

His most cohesive album thematically, though musically it starts to feel long and repetitive at 19-20 tracks. Easily my overall favorite of his solid albums.

80. Kevin MaxAWOL (2018)

Max channels all his 80s new wave hero’s without completely aping any of them. He was born to make an album like this.

79. Daniel Amos – Dig Here, Said the Angel (2013)

Another fine release from a all-time great band. Sounds current and classic at the same time.

78. Hillsong UnitedPeople (2019)

After the first three songs set the table for what’s to come, they go on a run of nine non-skip tracks in a return to a guitar based sound. It ends with a satisfyingly sweaty conclusion. Their best overall album.

77. Andrew Osegna – Leonard the Lonely Astronaut (2012)

Leonard the Lonely Astronaut is a musically diverse album with a quirky concept. Straight up my alley.

76. MewithoutyouUntitled (2018)

This one is intense in all the right ways…a tremendous last statement from the band.

75. For King & CountryBurn The Ships (2018)

This one continues to gather momentum over a year since its release. Watching them live is a joy, pun intended.

74. MercyMeLifer (2017)

The first whole MercyMe album I liked since 2007s All That Is Within Me, this one captured my attention again.

73. Josh GarrelsHome (2015)

Toning down the indie vibes, this is more a straight ahead pop album, though the voice makes it distinctly Garrels.

72. CrowderNeon Steeple (2014)

DC*B disbanded, but Crowder carried on and gave us an eclectic mix of “folktronica” amid corporate worship fare.

71. Chris Renzema I’ll Be The Branches (2018)

This really is a great acoustic folk album, but this is here on this list because of the song “How To Be Yours.”

70. The Porters GateNeighbor Songs (2019)

This is Worship music rooted in collaborative community. Organic, diverse, hauntingly sparse. It’s what the Worship genre needs right now.

69. Rivers & Robots Discovery (2018)

A beautiful blend of organic and electronic instruments, this album is the right balance or creative and accessible.

68. Beautiful EulogyWorthy (2017)

Really this was my introduction to this rap act, and it hooked me from the beginning. Worshipful hip-hop.

67. Anchor & BrailleSongs For The Late Night Drive Home (2016)

What could make up for the sting of no more Anberlin? Well, a side project from Lead singer Stephen Christian. This ones takes a more hazy dreamlike musical approach. Whatever it is, it’s good.

66. TobymacThis is Not A Test (2015)

A more focused and complete follow up to 2012s tepid Eye On It, this one featured Toby’s knack for catchy pop melodies and some great guest vocals with dctalk among them.

65. Audrey AssadInheritance (2016)

Haunting vocals and beautiful piano arrangements of classic hymns old and new. This is My favorite hymn based project in a long time.

64. Five Iron FrenzyEngine Of A Million Plots (2013)

FiF is back! “Battle Dancing Unicorns With Glitter” is full on ridiculous though not unexpected, and I’m here for it. These guys are the worst!

63. Army of BonesSelf-Titled (2017)

A new band for a familiar voice in Delirous’ Martin Smith. Great alt/rock tunes here, it’s a shame we never got more from these guys.

62. GungorA Creation Liturgy (2012)

Maybe their best overall album experience. Michael’s nifty guitar work really shines in the live setting.

61. Jars Of ClayThe Shelter (2010)

Another band I maintain doesn’t make bad records, this was a collaborative worship-y project. Not my favorite by the band, but it does have “Eyes Wide Open” with Burlap to Cashmere, and it’s one of my all time favorite Jars songs…so there’s that.

60. JohnnnySwimMoonlight (2019)

This husband/wife duo finally put it all together with simmering romance, pop melodies, and slinky vocals on their best and most accessible album overall.

59. Future of ForestryUnion (2018)

It’s epic movie soundtrack instrumentals, and I listen to it almost weekly.

58. Nicole NordemanEvery Mile Mattered (2017)

After 12 years it was great to get more pensive and finely crafted piano/pop songs from Nicole. Welcome back!

57. NeedtobreatheHard Love (2016)

Not necessary my favorite musical direction from these alternative/rock fellas, but there’s plenty to like when you get past the pop sheen on some of these tunes.

56. SwitchfootFading West (2014)

Not the Switchfoot sound we were familiar with, but a fun pop-glazed effort that was more a movie soundtrack than an album.

55. Falling Up – Your Sparkling Death Cometh (2011)

Soaring. Beautiful. Enigmatic. Finely crafted.

54. For King & CountryRun Wild. Live Free. Love Strong (2014)

This album was everywhere for a long time, and rightfully so…there are some truly great songs here. See these brothers and their drum based show if you have the chance.

53. LecraeGravity (2012)

I think this is where the mainstream attention started to pique for Lecrae. Or maybe it was Anomaly, but either way, Gravity finds Lecrae growing, stretching, and getting better. My second favorite of his overall. “Tell The World” is where it’s at.

52. Mat KearneyYoung Love (2011)

So many good pop/hip-hop beat assisted tunes here. “Sooner Or Later” soars, and is my favorite “Count On Me” is a close second.

51. LecraeRehab (2010)

I think Rehab was my first full album Lecrae experience, and even since then it’s still my favorite.

50. Kings KaleidoscopeZeal (2019)

“Naked Feet & Holy Fire” enough said. Okay, “About To Break” is frantic and spastic in all the right ways. Oh, and listen to the rush trilogy of songs too.

49. Ben RectorSomething Like This (2011)

Another car album, this piano pop set of songs is fun and perfect for driving.

48. House Of HeroesCold Hard Want (2012)

HOH is a band who should have been bigger…they’re just so good.

47. The Gray HavensGhost Of A King (2016)

An album about the Holy Spirit from indie/folk darlings The Gray Havens?! Uh, yes please.

46. The Classic CrimeVagabonds (2010)

“Broken Mess” rips my heart out every time. Strong rock album.

45. Jeremy CasellaSpirit (2019)

I needed this record this year. It’s a beautiful picture of the tension between God’s faithfulness over our feelings. Thank you Jeremy.

44. All Sons & DaughtersLive (2013)

I don’t typically like live albums but this acoustic worship duo did one of the best, so…exceptions.

43. Sandra McCrackenPsalms (2015)

Gentle. Pastoral. Terrific songwriter.

42. SwitchfootWhere The Light Shines Through (2016)

A return to more classic rock Switchfoot after their poppy surf album Fading West.

41. Andrew PetersonThe Burning Edge of Dawn (2015)

Another great release in a string of his best work within the decade. “The Rain Keeps Falling” and “Be Kind to Yourself” are tops.

40. half*alive Now Not Yet (2019)

Funky pop in the vein of Twenty One Pilots though really distinctly their own thing. Try not to dance when “Still Feel” comes on, or smile at the “Pure Gold” music video I dare you.

39. Sixpence None The RicherLost In Transition (2012)

And they’re baaaaack! Man I missed Sixpence. Why oh world (and music industry) were you so hard on them?! Why?!?

38. Lauren DaigleHow Can It Be (2015)

It felt like this album had 9 hit radio songs though it was ONLY 5. There were bigger things yet to come though this seemed pretty big at the time.

37. Colony House When I Was Younger (2014)

Watching these guys live is a wonder to behold. They are so tight and crisp in their rock riffs and breakdowns and it doesn’t lose much via the recording either. This is just a great album full of pop/rock n’ roll songs.

36. Paper RouteReal Emotions (2016)

This pop/rock gem came out of nowhere and quickly became a favorite.

35. Twenty One PilotsVessel (2013)

My introduction to the schizophrenic pop that I would fall head-over-heels for on their next album.

34. My EpicBehold (2013)

Hmm…How to describe this one? Ethereal indie-post rock? Eh, let’s go with it. A needed jolt of creativity in the worship genre.

33. SONSKeep Quiet (2012)

Criminally overlooked versatile indie-rockers (and at this point one-album-wonder band) swing from rock tunes to gorgeous ballads. Lyrics are strong and convicting…for fans of post-hardcore band Attalus.

32. Lauren DaigleLook Up Child (2018)

Capitalizing on the Adele voice comparisons and riding on the wave of hit singles, Lauren goes worldwide and is seemingly everywhere. Literally everywhere. Strong album, with the second half being the most interesting.

31. John Van Deusen(I Am) Origami Pt. 3 (2019)

Probably should have this ranked higher, but even still this is superb 90s indie rock paired with deeply authentic lyrics. You know, the good stuff.

30. Brooke FraserFlags (2010)

She is undoubtedly one of my favorite songwriters ever. Stepping outside of the worship/Hillsong United realm to pen some fantastic tunes, Brooke does it again.

29. Young OceansAdvent (2013)

When I need a calm and soothing listen, I listen to this Young Oceans album on repeat.

28. Burlap To CashmereSelf-Titled (2011)

13 years later…self titled helped remove the one hit wonder stigma from this immensely talented folk/Greek/flamenco band that you have to hear to believe. “Love Reclaims The Atmosphere” is the song that Simon & Garfunkel wish they wrote.

27. The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow (2011)

They (John Paul White/Joy Williams) managed to capture Lightning in a bottle for two albums, with this being the best of the two. A beautiful mixture of Americana music and intricate harmonies that weave and dance around each other. This album is stunning and timeless. “Poison & Wine” is as haunting a song you’ll hear, and “The Violet Hour” is among my all-time favorite instrumentals.

26. David Crowder BandGive Us Rest (2012)

Intended to be the definitive and final statement by the band, this was a mighty swing at a magnum opus, and for the most part it delivers.

25. The Gray HavensShe Waits (2018)

“Three Birds In Babylon” still gets under my skin in a good way. The rest of the album is great too.

24. Sara GrovesFloodplain (2015)

She’s just one of the best at writing thought provoking and emotion wringing songs.

23. Andrew PetersonPrologue & Resurrection Letters Vol. 1 (2018)

I count these as one project even though it’s two…they are inseparable though, gotta have them and listen to them together. Do yourself a favor and own them.

22. Ben ShiveCymbal Crashing Clouds (2011)

I only just discovered this album this year, and man was I missing out! Of course I’d been enjoying Shive’s strong arrangements without even realizing it, but his own solo stuff is great too. “Listen” and “EGBDF” are terrific songs.

21. The Gray HavensFire & Stone (2015)

So unlike anything else I’d ever heard up to that point, The Gray Havens took me awhile to catch on to, but I would now consider them a favorite band. All three of their releases are worth a listen. This is them at their overall best. Storytelling. Folking. Nursery rhymes. Whimsical.

20. NeedtobreatheRivers In Wasteland (2014)

If Bear Rineheart is singing it, I’ll listen. The dude can wail. This is vintage Needtobreathe, though The Beach Boys like harmonies on “State I’m In” are a pleasant surprise.

19. GungorBeautiful Things (2010)

Experimental worship dripping with indie vibes, this album welcomed a new decade with aplomb.

18. Heath McNeaseBe Clean Again (2019)

I feel the weariness brother…hang in there. This is indie rapper Heath McNease’s masterpiece. Chill-hip-hop.

17. Twenty One PilotsTrench (2018)

This album is an onion…peel the layers back my friend.

16. Young OceansSelf-Titled (2012)

Indie whisper rock? Yup. So good.

15. Kings KaleidoscopeBecoming Who We Are (2014)

I didn’t “get” this album until it finally clicked with me earlier this year. I had tried it so many times before and just couldn’t get on board. Music is funny like that sometimes.

14. Falling UpSelf-Titled (2015)

I don’t pretend to know exactly is going on here story wise, as I am very new to this album, but it sounds flat-out amazing. World building, concept album, indie-rock at its finest.

13. Relient KAir For Free (2016)

I was afraid that Releint K was toast, and it made me sad. Then, seemingly out of nowhere they drop their second best album on the listening world. Very sneaky Theissen and Co, very sneaky. “Marigold” is my right kinda whimsical.

12. PropagandaCrooked (2017)

A difficult to listen to, though important rap album with a message we all need to hear.

11. AttalusInto The Sea (2015)

This is an epic rock concept album. It’s a long listen, and worth every second.

10. House of Heroes Suburba (2010)

The End Is Not The End (2008) is still their best, but this is their second best. Power pop/punk and stacked harmonies. Uh, yes please.

9. NeedtobreatheThe Reckoning (2011)

So good. Chock full of great alt/rock songs.

8. Andrew BelleThe Ladder (2010)

I want to write a movie just to get two or three of these songs placed in the soundtrack. “The Ladder” and “Oh My Stars” are locked in as important songs to me.

7. SwitchfootVice Verses (2011)

Their best album of the decade and it’s not even close. I mean, “Where I Belong” is here so…case closed.

6. Andrew PetersonLight For The Lost Boy (2012)

Shamefully I fell off the Andrew Peterson wagon before this magnum opus came out. I’ve rediscovered his treasure of a discography and this is a new favorite.

5. Jars of ClayInland (2013)

So much to wrestle with on this one. It’s my favorite band, on what I hope is not their final swan song. But If it is, what a way to go out! “Love In The Hard Times” and “Inland” are my favorites.

4. John Mark McMillanMercury & Lightning (2017)

A five star album due to the topics tackled, wrestled with, and the layers of meaning in the theme. So good.

3. Josh GarrelsLove & War & The Sea Between (2011)

Everyone should hear this masterpiece. Epic is too small a word for this 18 track magnum opus.

2. Twenty One PilotsBlurryface (2015)

This album has rarely left the family vans 6 disc changer for almost 3 full years. It’s my idea of a sure fire 5 star album and a true masterstroke. If Trench is an onion, then Blurrryface is an apple. It has layers too, but they’re just a little bit sweeter.

1. John Van Deusen(I Am) Origami Pt 2: Every Power Wide Awake (2018)

I’m quite sure I’ve listened to this indie/worship-centric album over 100 times. John Van Deusen is a flat out treasure to the music world.

And that’s another decade in the books! What about you, what we’re your favorites of the decade? Let me know in the comments!

Happy listening everyone,

Josh

100 Greatest Christian Albums of the 90s

21 thoughts on “100 Best Albums of the 2010s

Add yours

  1. A bit late to find this, but I love this list.
    However, if I have one major nitpick, its that you picked the Andrew Belle album that he himself says is his least accomplished.
    Don’t get me wrong, The Ladder is still a good album, but Black Bear is leaps and bounds above it, and Dive Deep is incredible too. Both musically and lyrically, Black Bear was a big step up. How does any song on The Ladder (aside from maybe Static Waves) match the lyrics of “Pieces”, let alone musically?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I choose The Ladder as a whole album over Black Bear due to the stylistic difference. I almost always prefer real acoustic based instruments over electronic ones. That said, I’m also less familiar with his follow up albums so there’s that too.

      Like

      1. Give Deep Dive a closer listen. It’s hard to say which album is my favorite stylistically, but in a couple of tracks on Deep Dive (Honey and Milk, Horizon) he integrates his faith into the lyrics in an interesting way (apparently his faith influenced Black Bear too, but I have a harder time seeing it).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. No! But that’s a good one, I recall. It was one word beyond “The”, like “The Deserving” (but not that, and not The Undeserving although they were great, too).

    I dunno if I’ll ever find them but I’ll let you know if I do. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for putting lists like this together! This kind of list reminds me of some albums that passed me by, or moved on from before really getting into them too deeply, so I’ll be mining it for some time. (Not sure if I’ll eventually get around to piggybacking on your list and posting my top 20 here, but Crooked and Every Power Wide Awake are two that have recently become serious contenders if that does happen.)

    Your comment on #36 (Real Emotion by Paper Route) that it “came out of nowhere” makes me wonder whether you’ve gone back and listened to their 2 previous albums? I love Real Emotion and it’s comfortably in my top 10 for the decade, but it’s actually my least favourite of theirs. In my book I don’t expect their batting average to ever be equalled by another band (sadly I think they’re done after 3 albums). The majority of fans will say 2009’s Absence is their best (Wish, Carousel, Gutter, Dance On Our Graves – incredibly good stuff), and for me personally it’s The Peace of Wild Things from 2012.

    TPOWT is the one album that really challenges Much Afraid’s “favourite album of all time” status for me. It’s only 10 tracks but every single one is gold, and it contains my personal favourite song of all time (and this isn’t even close) with “Glass Heart Hymn”. Obviously this is largely an emotional connection (Paper Route do emotion, both dark and light, very well!) and this album has become attached to some of the biggest events in the past 7 years of my life. But I do think it holds up objectively as a near-perfect indie pop record.

    Anyway, just curious to know whether you’d dug deeper into their back catalogue.

    Blessings, Chris

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yes, this is the very reason I make lists like this…to hopefully reinvigorate love for long forgotten albums and songs, or to shed light on ones missed. So happy your giving them a shot and genuinely hope you find some new favorites!

      As for Paper Route, the answer is no I haven’t gone back lately. I believe I’ve heard their other 2 but they didn’t land with me the same way. However, I’m game for trying again!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I getcha, but those first two albums are definitely better than the third. But the difference can often be the order in which you listen, I guess.

        I actually have been searching for a Christian pop/rock band (I think Christian) that came out with an album around 2010, I think.

        I can’t remember much about them though, unfortunately, and they don’t seem to be in my iTunes library for some reason.

        I remember their songs being incredible, though! One I feel like was called “Heartbreak sound” or at least that was in the lyrics.

        They were in a similar vein to Ohio Avenue, if you ever listened to them. Just hoping you might have a thought about what I’m describing, I know it’s a long shot, though!

        I think the cover had the band on it, and was with a white background. And I think they might have had a “The” in the name. Either starting with an O or a D after that. But I really don’t recall. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

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