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Favorite Christian Albums of 2009

By Staff and Guest Critics Let's take a look back at some of's favorite albums of last year. From singer/songwriter tunes to pop/rock anthems, each record features great melodies that entertain and inspire. Below you'll find a list of each critic's highest rated review.


Stockholm SyndromeStockholm Syndrome by Derek Webb

Derek Webb - the most important prophetic oasis in the wilderness of Christian music since Rich Mullins - released Stockholm Syndrome to a sandstorm of controversy surrounding the censorship of "What Matters More." INO Records shoved the tune onto the chopping block because of "strong" language. Luckily, the album's strength doesn't reside in the hubbub over one missing track. It's in the tangy glitch-driven beats, the digital sushi bar of musical hooks, and the lyrics your mind marinates in. From "Opening Credits" to "American Flag Umbrella," Webb manufactures sonic Velcro from authentic melodies and trendy timelessness. Warning: "Strong" album. - rob vischer

Album Highlights: "Jena & Jimmy," "Heaven," "The Spirit vs. The Kick Drum"


The ReasonThe Reason by Diamond Rio

The Reason is an astonishing blend of crossover-country and contemporary Christian music. Diamond Rio has been performing together over 20 years and has sold over 10 million albums worldwide, and their debut album is a testament to their extraordinary talent. The songs are filled with such passion; you can feel their love for God seep into your very core as you listen to these sooth harmonies, gorgeous vocals, stirring words, and incredible instrumentals. These tunes are nothing short of breathtaking, and what's more impressive is that this is their first album in the CCM genre. They've proved themselves just as profound in CCM as they have for years in country music. - monique derr

Album Highlights: "The Reason", "My God Does", "In God We Still Trust"


Life is Beautiful by Press Play

It’s hard to believe this is a debut album. As soon as I “pressed play” on my iPod to listen to Press Play’s debut album Life is Beautiful, I was hit with a sudden burst of energy! With combinations of grunge, rock, and groove, this new album will definitely keep your head boppin’. "I Love Who You Are", "Unashamed" and "Fill This Place" (featuring Darlene Zschech) will be instant favorites. "Angels Sing" vibes with a little bit of Hillsongs United flavor, but is sure to usher you into the presence of the Lord. This debut album is a “must have.” - terri l. simmons

Album Highlights: "Unashamed", "Angels Sing", and "Fill This Place"


Live Life LoudLive Life Loud by Hawk Nelson

Just by looking at the 3D album booklet, fans can rightly assume that this is a creatively thought-out record from Hawk Nelson. "Live Life Loud" - the title track - is the record's token anthem, reminiscent of their past hits, "Friend Like That" and "Bring 'Em Out". It's a catchy, never-going-to-get-it-out-of-my-head song. Luckly, once you get passed the expected "let's party!" tracks, listeners will discover the true favorites. Famous for their kazoo work in "Hello", the guys break even more punk rock rules by adding the ukulele, a church organ, and bagpipes to the album. It works. Actually, it's what makes me inclined to agree with lead singer Jason Dunn; Live Life Loud is the band's best album to date. - hannah goodwyn

Album Highlights: "Meaning of Life", "'Tis So Sweet", "Ode to Lord Stanley", "The Final Toast"


Murder by PrideMurder by Pride by Stryper

Sometimes the more things change the more they sound the same. Featuring the same heavy metal harmonies and blistering guitar work that made them a secular crossover hit in the 1980s, Stryper has returned to the music scene with their first recording of new material since 2005’s Reborn. Older, wiser, and with slightly less hair, the Yellow and Black Attack has seemingly not missed a beat with Murder by Pride. Frightening album cover aside, Murder by Pride is chock full of full-throttle music that will satisfy older fans while winning over scores of new ones. - chris carpenter

Album Highlights: I Believe”, “Run in You”, and “Alive” (a ballad that will have people reminiscing about “Honestly”)


The Best Is Yet to ComeThe Best Is Yet to Come by Rob Vischer

On his new CD, The Best Is Yet to Come, singer/songwriter Rob Vischer pulls from a variety of influences to craft a textured, acoustic-guitar fueled album. Though a few of the tracks experiment with more rhythm-based composition (like Jack Johnson and Mat Kearney), Vischer mostly offers listeners a folky, pop-savvy variety of mellow songs. Songs about faith and innocent romance provide soundtracks to sunny afternoons with bright melodies and foot-tapping choruses. Though the stripped down arrangements on tracks such as "Castle in the Sky" and "Grandpa's Lake" create an introspective coffee-shop feel, the album's at its best when it gets funky with banjos, brass, and keys on "My Valentine", "How Much I Love You", and "Day in the Rain". - jesse carey

Album Highlights: "My Valentine" and "Beautiful Mourning"


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rating system

5 Spins
- Buy two copies (you'll wear out one within a month)

4 Spins
- Should be a favorite

3 Spins
- Skip to the good tracks

2 Spins
- May collect dust

1 Spin
- Leave it in shrink-wrap