It has been the season for Top 10 lists, but now is the time to start building new ones for the new year.
Now that the holidays are in the rear view, here is one last list of 10: Christian pop albums that are coming in 2012 and I look forward to hearing.
David Crowder Band, Give Us Rest or (a requiem mass in c [the happiest of all keys]). You won't have to wait long for the final album from the David Crowder Band: It drops Tuesday. It will bring to a close the career of one of the best, most literate and adventurous bands of the past decade, and it pulled off the rare feat of putting its own mark on worship music. And leave it to Crowder to bow out with an album title as hard to memorize as a verse of Shakespeare.
The Fray, Scars and Stories. With crossover hits in How to Save a Life and You Found Me, The Fray is a hugely important act to the Christian market. And this will be an important album because after the smashing success of 2005's How to Save a Life, the band's eponymous 2009 album received a mostly cool critical reception. The Feb. 7 release will say a lot about The Fray's sustained importance.
Jaci Velasquez, Diamond. Velasquez was one of the big stars the early 21st century in contemporary Christian music but then faded from prominence. Her 2008 release, Love Out Loud, boasted a few hits, so maybe she can build back some momentum, particularly in the contemporary market, if the Feb. 7 release lives up to its name.
Kutless, Believer. Kutless is one of several bands that has its fierce rocking side and its reflective worship side. What will we get from the latest release when it drops Feb. 28?
Fireflight, Now. Will the new album have another great anthem, like Unbreakable? As the band releases its fourth album, Fireflight has gone from breakout star to the establishment, and fourth albums are usually significant in the careers of artists with enduring careers. File this March 6 release under "highly anticipated."
SuperChick, untitled. We can see on the band's Web site, Superchickonline.com, that the Brock sisters and their insanely talented bandmates have been in the studio quite a bit. The album is promised this spring.
Brian "Head" Welch, untitled. The former Korn guitarist and co-founder has been in the studio with producer Jasen Rauch (Red and Pillar) readying a new EP for release early this year. It will be his second album since he converted to Christianity, and he'll be bringing the tunes to Wilmore's Ichthus Festival in June.
Demon Hunter, untitled. The band with the best name in Christian rock has promised its most aggressive album to date, which is really saying something for Demon Hunter. Giving some serious heft to frontman Ryan Clark's promise is the return of producer Aaron Sprinkle. It also will be the band's first album with Living Sacrifice and Showdown guitarist Jeremiah Scott. Push play with an oven mitt.
P.O.D., untitled. A recent listen to 2001's Satellite reaffirmed that for my money, it is the best Christian rock record ever. Period. The boys from the South have had several releases since then, but none had that record's visceral charge. Will a 2012 release under the guidance of Howard Benson recapture the fire?
Lights Go Down, Abandon Progress. Hawk Nelson frontman Jason Dunn is spending his Canadian winter in the studio, readying the debut of his new side project. No release date has been announced, but Dunn has been posting a lot of music on the Lights Go Down Facebook page (Facebook.com/lightsgodown). As Jon Foreman's forays in recent years have shown, these enterprises can often be refreshing to both the solo artist and his primary act.