The Definitive Ranking of Independent Christian Rock Bands of the Early 2000s


Beginning around 2000, when most of the world embarked on the Strokes and the White Stripes, there was a fleeting but fascinating collective of independent Christian rock groups whose fan base was confined to the crowd of the church and people who wanted to go to church, but usually didn’t. These groups were Christian to varying degrees – sometimes they were assumed to be Christians because they never explicitly said otherwise – but they were nonetheless embraced by campus ministries and nervous high school students who had grown beyond Point of Grace. There were tons of these bands and it would be almost impossible to categorize them… for anyone but us.

Like many of the bands on this list, House of Heroes started out as a pop punk band in the style of Green Day and MxPx. Unlike many of the bands on this list, the band ditched the pop punk thing before it could be used to embarrass them, revamping a Weezer-infused rock and roll band. The aesthetics have served them well, especially on the 2008 The end is not the end, which marked the group’s greatest commercial and critical success.

It was a good group for Christian children who wanted to be “rebellious” without getting kicked out of the youth group. Plankeye were a punk band, there was nothing to complain about, but worried parents would be hard pressed to find anything overtly objectionable about them. Plus, there was a Bible reference right there in the name!

8. Copeland

Copeland’s debut album Under the medicinal tree fell on top of the ‘sad white boys with asymmetrical haircuts’ craze and they adopted him like a fish in water, thanks to the band’s ear for some sad and pretty melodies and vibe 80s pop, what they did before him was cool. Copeland also had a lot of great songs about their mothers which went a long way in making strict parents cool while listening to Copeland.

Things got a lot more lyrical and melodramatic with the years 2005 Moving, who used wobbly and Beirut influences for a mostly solid effect. The band took an indefinite hiatus after the 2008s You are my sun, but got back together in 2014.

7. The Danielson family

Daniel Smith’s senior project at Rutgers was an album titled One prayer for every hour, which dubbed as the debut album of him and his siblings, who began to call themselves the Danielson Famile. They have been described as “Captain Beefheart’s magical group joined by the Partridge family in a roadside awakening along the New Jersey Freeway,” and you couldn’t ask for a better summary. The group, who were known at various times throughout their existence as “Danielson”, were notable for taking the folk revival of the early 2000s to much more inventive and eccentric territories. They also hired a strange kid named Sufjan Stevens to join the drums and encouraged him to start recording some of the songs he was writing. He started on his own and no one has ever heard of him again.

6. Juliana’s theory

In 2000 Juliana Theory was awesome. They were the go-to bunch of a certain segment of high school kids who would sit in a corner during gym class scribbling the lyrics of Taking Back Sunday on their Chuck Taylors. The emotion is dead Juliana Theory’s 2000 album is called, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to the songs, which showed the kind of immensely crunchy and overflowing emotion that made your 15-year-old heart come alive for the very first time. “To the Tune of 5000 Screaming Children” was what you laughed at if you were too cool for a bunch of kids but still loved to read CS Lewis and “We’re On Top of the World” probably made the tape. original many first kisses at church summer camp.

5. Further seems forever

Hey, what’s up with the rest of the Further Seems Forever group? They couldn’t keep a lead singer to save their careers, which is probably why it was so loaded with drama. The group kicked things off with The moon is lying, the rather garish debut of 2001 which featured a ragged vocal performance from a then-unknown Chris Carrabba. Carrabba left afterwords to form a band that you are sure to know if you read this list, and the FSF replaced him with Jason Gleason. It was with Gleason that Further released the years 2003 How to light a fire, who exerted an immense influence on the post-hardcore scene and holds up beautifully today, with intricate mathematical arrangements supporting Gleason’s stunning performance. This took the band to new heights, which turned out to be just the sign Gleason needed to make his exit.

Sadly, things went downhill pretty quickly from there, with the frontmen’s revolving door eventually taking its toll on the rest of the group. But they cast a shadow much longer than their relatively few glory days would suggest.

4. Anberlin

Anberlin arrived near the end of the post-hardcore wave, but they kept the movement alive longer than they were allowed to, due to their impressive gifts. They merged serious, open-hearted emo styles with a pleasant pop-rock spirit that extended their influence far beyond the Hot Topic crowd. the years 2005 Never take personal friendship is quite an album, brimming with just the kind of fresh ideas and clever production that could make a band like Anberlin stand out from the growing glut of their similarly shaggy-headed imitators. The band only recently quit, closing an impressive series of albums with a world tour and sold-out show in New York City.

3. Maé

“Multisensory aesthetic experience”. This is what Mae (MAE) stands for and if that sounds a bit exhilarating then you start to get a feel for what Mae was like. From the start, with the years 2003 Destination: Beautiful, it was clear that this was an extremely ambitious group. They were somewhere between Jimmy Eat World and U2, with sweet, syrupy melodies married to a grand production that seemed more stadium-appropriate than the beer-soaked clubs and Warped Tour spots the band thrived on. the years 2005 eternal fully realized the group’s designs, an epic concept album with theatrical pianos, soaring stories and ballads that wouldn’t seem out of place to be sung by a Disney princess (and that’s absolutely a compliment). It holds up wonderfully.

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Like many bands on this list, their second album turned out to be the pinnacle of the group, as label issues and family duties stood in the way of longer careers. Mae released a few other albums, but none were as good as Eternal glow. But then, few albums from that era were as good as Eternal glow.

2. Pedro the Lion

David Bazan. Among modern musicians, perhaps no artist has had a more public, compelling, and honest spiritual journey. For most of his early career as Pedro the Lion, he seemed to hold on to his faith with a sort of desperation, as if he feared it would slip away from him. But he was also much more aware and outspoken of the hypocrisy in evangelism, and he ruthlessly skewered it into his songwriting, most effectively over the brutal and unmistakably brilliant 2000s. Winners never give up.

Bazan has since renounced Christianity (he went down in history in great detail about his solo project, 2009’s Curse your branches) and as such, his entire career remains a fascinating testimony to an artist whose ongoing spiritual journey has been crystallized for his small but dedicated community of die-hard fans. Of all the artists who sing with great vulnerability about their faith and doubts, perhaps few are more newsworthy than Pedro the Lion.

1. me without you

On the other hand, me without you was not at all relatable. Aaron Weiss’s words are often utterly impenetrable, tapping into pagan mythology, Sufi folklore, his own struggles with depression and suicide, and the Bible in equal measure to a sometimes disconcerting degree. It’s strange. It’s confusing. It’s incredible.

The group may have started in the hardcore scene alongside Norma Jean, but they never really made it into it. Each subsequent album found them leaning more towards the eccentric acoustic styles of bands like Neutral Milk Hotel without ever giving up a punk energy, similar to Sunny Day Real Estate. the years 2004 Catch foxes for us had an apocalyptic feel, with an urgency to wail over songs like “Torches Together” and the wonderful “Tie Me Up! Untie Me! But Brother sister is the band’s true opus, in which all of their different strands and quirks come together in amazing harmony, the songs linked by a cute crawling spider pattern. It all seemed to come out of the ground, wild and strange and teeming with life and filth. It was unlike anything else, which made it timeless, in its own way. MewithoutYou weren’t just the best Christian indie band of the decade, they were one of the best bands to make music, period.


About Joan J. Hernandez

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