It’s exhausting hearing the same bands over and over again on KLOVE and Air1. Some listeners might be grateful to have these stations in their area (as opposed to nothing at all), but for people looking for variety, it is borderline torture. The redundancy of artists cycling through their daily playlists is astounding.
Without question, this phenomenon is probably frustrating to some of the bands listed below. While some of them might never want to “sell out”, it is always refreshing to be recognized for hard work and real talent, and I believe the artists and groups shown below should be granted a chance. Please take the time to listen to some of these guys.
Here are the top 15 bands you’re missing (or already missed) if you only listen to KLOVE or Air1:
15) Capital Lights
Your Christian “Panic! At the Disco”, if you will, these guys released one stunning album, then disbanded, only to return immediately afterward to release a second. Capital Lights is certainly talented beyond their experience with well-written lyrics and clever hooks laced through every head-spinning song.
Their first album, “On a Search for America”, featured grinding guitars and razor-edged vocals that made your teeth grit, generally featuring songs not playable on mainstream radio, but definitely worth your time if you desired a taste Underoath without eliminating blatant Christian references. Their second album was considerably tamer, but soon afterward they disbanded before getting any real momentum.
These guys are not quitters. Since 1996, they’ve been producing quality hard rock albums and touring around the country, but they’ve never “made it”, which is likely a matter of luck more so than talent for this group. If you’re looking for a more aggressive alternative to Disciple or RED, here it is. Check out their live show if possible.
12) Everyday Sunday
Sporting a dying alternative rock sound resonating from the late 90s, Everyday Sunday has released a handful of albums featuring solid songwriting that lacks in most mainstream Christian hits today. Their last record was released in ’09, and it doesn’t look likely that they’ll be putting out another one, so enjoy it while it lasts.
*UPDATE* Everyday Sunday released an EP on 7/16/13
11) Future of Forestry
Formerly known as Something Like Silas, this band is hard to categorize simply because their frontman, Eric Owyoung, has such passion and diversity that their work just ends up being a huge ambient kaleidoscope. Their live show usually features three of the four guys switching between a handful of instruments (xylophones and guitars played with bows, for example), mostly Owyoung himself, making you wonder what exactly they can’t play.
10) Josiah James/Justin McRoberts
Both of these guys typically tour alone, and rightfully so — not that they don’t want a band behind them, but they really don’t need one at all. James employs reverb-laden guitar loops to supplement drums, bass, and harmonies in his live performances, and his songs are no slouch either. McRoberts is the veteran of the two, retaining his indie status and releasing several albums while touring around the country for nearly 20 years. His story-telling is almost at par with his musical talent, both of which demand your attention.
VOTA had mild airplay on Air1 at the start, being that their lead man branched off from the Newsboys, but they sunk under the radar as their first single waned. Once known as Casting Pearls (not to be confused with another Christian superpower, Casting Crowns), VOTA is still moving along and producing very high quality music in the alt-rock/pop genre not too dissimilar to Death Cab for Cutie or Modest Mouse. Every song of theirs is catchy and sharp, warranting more consistent rounds on the major stations.
8) The Wedding
Intense, fiery hard rock defines this band of showmen, but they were possibly overrun by contemporaries like TFK, Kutless, and Hawk Nelson as they produced their first records. They appear to remain active while the aforementioned bands have toned down in grit and popularity in recent years, so they just might get their chance.
7) Five Iron Frenzy
I can’t stand ska, but Reese Roper’s brainchild cannot be denied a spot on this list. While the Supertones made their way onto the big stations, FIF became underground favorites through their absurd songwriting and further ridiculous stage antics. They rode the brief swing and ska wave through the late 90s and early 00s, breaking up as the wave hit the shore, only to recently begin again. They’re hard not to love and deserve a look.
6) Deas Vail
Very few people are aware of this group from Arkansas, but you should be. Characterized by plaintive and honest songwriting, Deas Vail is actually polished enough to get solid airplay, but somehow hasn’t been discovered on a wider scale despite hanging around for ten years and putting out eight albums.
5) Trip Lee/Lecrae
While Trip Lee has “stepped away” from music, according to his Wikipedia page, Lecrae is quietly making a name for himself in the Christian rap scene. The airways are clogged with KJ-52 and TobyMac hits, but both Trip Lee and Lecrae are true gems that deserve much more exposure than they’re permitted.
In terms of hard rock bands, Ivoryline has everything you could want: soaring vocals, solid guitar work, heavy rhythms and quality songwriting with endless hooks. These guys are simply waiting for their turn, and it would be a pity if they never got it. If you haven’t heard any of their material, you’ve been missing out.
3) Rush of Fools
To be fair, Rush of Fools had a turn with their Christian hit “Undo”, making some KLOVE listeners familiar with their music, but have not been able to duplicate their success for unknown reasons. They’ve released two albums since, both works better than the last. Anyone still listening to MercyMe and Jeremy Camp is really blowing it if they’re overlooking this band.
Perhaps the most heartbreaking entry on this list, in my opinion, Philmont was a talented band that simply couldn’t catch a break. Starting from the ground up, they managed to sign with Forefront Records (the same label dc Talk once associated with) only to be dropped after releasing one album. They managed to scrape up funds for one independently released EP, but called it quits after band members dispersed. Their guitar work was beyond exceptional, and every song they’d written bared their whole heart. If you like Stellar Kart, Relient K, or Hawk Nelson, you WILL like Philmont’s material — probably more so than anything else you’ve ever listened to.
1) Rocket Summer
It’s confounding when artists like this one simply never really get discovered. The Rocket Summer (the solo project of Bryce Avary) is soul-felt pop/alt rock at it’s finest. He plays every instrument on every album, which allows for his endless passion and creativity to bleed into each song he pens and records. While he does have a decent following outside the “Christian market”, he deserves a spin on Air1 at the least. Start with Do You Feel, quite possibly his best output, and work from there. You’ll be hooked instantly.