Kings of Leon – Only By The Night
Today is a Kings of Leon day. Actually I think it may be Kings of Leon’s year. And it’s not because it was just their turn. It is because their new album is stellar. Now I am the first to admit I use the word “stellar” too often. That probably my favorite superlative. But this album really sounds amazing. As most of you may know, I have a tendency to move away from things that are popular, but even though people are starting to find out about Kings of Leon, this record is too good to leave behind. They start with those huge drums that sound so live right there in the middle. And then they have all the guitars. And none of them is playing a dumb part. No studio players just playing the same guitar parts as all the other records they play on. Each part has a great tone and unique line, from the delays and verbs of Closer, to the fuzz of Crawl, on and on, great guitar parts. And the guy’s voice just cuts right through everything. I look forward to the day when Christian radio sounds like this, when someone comes in the studio saying, “Todd, you need a radio hit. Try to sound more like Kings of Leon.” That would be awesome. But until then, I will just sit here listening to this record.

Andrew Peterson – Appendix C
I had to come in and add this record to the list because it’s all I’ve listened to for the past 24 hours. Well, besides the stuff we’re working on in the studio. Andrew is one of my very favorite songwriters of our generation. His stuff is always thought-provoking and is great music too.  So he released a live ep yesterday on iTunes so of course I bought it and have enjoyed it as always. His live show is so great. It’s so authentic, both in character and in sound. And they play great. But for me, it’s still about the songs. And as always, they are wonderful.

Jimmy Needham – Not Without Love
I love Jimmy. As a person and as a musician. I am so glad people are finally playing him on the radio. His music has such joy flowing through it, and not that overexaggerated manufactured joy. The music just shares an honest look at our faith and our Father. And it’s creative and fun to listen to. I’m always excited when we get another artist in Christian music who is willing to be who God made them and make the music they love rather than just sounding like everyone else. I guess it helps that I like the music Jimmy likes, and I like his music as well. If you haven’t found Jimmy yet, just take a listen. Plus, he makes me laugh. Well, not really on his records, just in person. I should check and see if he’s on Twitter because his texts have gotten me in trouble more than once, laughing in the middle of somewhere I’m supposed to be serious. But seriously, this is wonderful music.

Tommy Funderburk – It’s Your Blood
Okay, this is actually just a song, not a record. I think it’s on some greatest hits compilation from Vineyard. I learned it years ago for my friend Kendall’s wedding. But as I was preparing for church a couple of months ago, I was searching for a good communion song and these song peeked out from the dark recesses of my brain. It’s amazing what is hidden in there. Now if you listen to the song, don’t be distracted by the 80’s worship keyboards. Just check out the song. “It’s your blood that took my place in redeeming sacrifice and washed me whiter than the snow.” Classic.  Just a wonderful song. Someone should re-introduce this song to the church.  Maybe I’ll call Tomlin.

Third Day – Revelation
I know, I know. Everyone knows about this record already. But here’s the deal. Third Day is Third Day. They could record Mary Had a Little Lamb and sell a million copies. Maybe not as many as Crowns but a lot. But the thing is: they’re not mailing it in. They are still making great music. This record is one of their best yet. I think they took a great approach to the writing and recording of this project. I don’t even know what that approach was, but whatever it was, it worked. This album has been out quite a while, but I still walk around and at least for a few minutes each day, I find myself singing, “Give me a revelation, Tell me what to do….” The other day we were in the car and “Call My Name” came on the radio. My seven-year-old said, “Hey you’re on the radio.” My response: “I wish.” Not that I wish I was on the radio, because I am. But I do wish I had written that song.  It’s great.

Doyle Bramhall II & Smokestack – Welcome
And since we’re re-launching, we might pick up some new people who haven’t been subjected to my Doyle Bramhall tirade. I probably like Jellycream better, but I’ve brought that one up a lot, and Welcome is an incredible record too. It’s sounds much more like a classic recording, almost live. However, I’m pretty sure that more than one of those guitar players is Doyle. And why wouldn’t they be? If I could play like that, I would put like seven guitar parts on every song. If we still lived in the era of the guitar player instead of the era of the pop star, Doyle Bramhall II would be the most popular person on the planet. Instead he’s just the most popular person in my head, besides Jesus of course. And my wife. And my kids. Okay, he’s the most popular guitar player in my head. But anyway, his stuff is amazing. My favorite track on this particular record is probably “Problem Child.” It’s just killer. But the whole record just makes me want to go practice. Just the joy of music. Awesome.

And that’s what I’m listening to right now. – Todd