Favorite CD of 2011, So Far

Okay folks, it’s been pretty heavy lately here on the blog. So I thought I’d ask you an easy question. It’s a good week in music right now. The new Paul Simon (which is excellent, by the way), new Foo Fighters, new Alison Krauss and Union Station, new Laura Story, new Mandisa, and a new Rebecca St. James record all in the last few days. So, I thought I’d check and see what music you’re enjoying listening to right now. I’m really enjoying the new records by the Village Church, the Decemberists, the Civil Wars, and Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors. I just noticed everybody has “the” in front of their names. Maybe on the next record I should try that. The Todd Agnew. Doesn’t quite work. I’ll have to think about it some more. So, what are your favorite new CDs?



It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year…

I love Christmas music. I always have. This year I’d love to hear what you’re listening to. What are your favorite Christmas records? Later this week we’ll do favorite Christmas songs and probably favorite versions by artists. But for today let’s do whole albums. What are you listening to this Christmas season. Mine start with…

Behold The Lamb of God – Andrew Peterson
Incredible. Can’t say enough about this record.

Christmas – Ten Out of Tenn
More people need to hear this record. A lot of fantastic artists recording old and new songs.

William the Angel – Rob Mathes
Wonderful. The song William the Angel is probably top two Christmas songs for me with O Holy Night. Love it.

Very Merry Christmas – Dave Barnes
A truly great new Christmas record out this year. I have really enjoyed it.

White Christmas – Bing Crosby
What is a list of Christmas albums without this? Iconic versions of White Christmas, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Silver Bells, It’s Beginning To Look Like Christmas, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Plus Silent Night and other classics.

Looking forward to hearing what you listen to. Hopefully I’ll find some new Christmas records to buy.


What’s In The Playlist?

Arc Angels – Living In A Dream

Those of you who know me well already know about Doyle Bramhall II. He’s my favorite guitar player/artist. Well, years ago he was in a band with another Austin legend Charlie Sexton. They were Austin’s young hotshots then. The rest of the band wasn’t half bad either. The rhythm section was also known as Double Trouble, in other words, they had played for Stevie Ray Vaughan. They are Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon. Unfortunately, that much talent at that young an age is a formally for implosion. The band recorded one amazing album and broke up. But here we are, years later, and they have all gone their own ways. Chris and Tommy are still two of the most respected artists on their instruments. Charlie has grown into a pinnacle of the Austin music community. And Doyle is well, Doyle. He’s played for Eric Clapton, Susan Tedeschi, and many others in addition to doing his own records. So anyway, they got back together for some shows and recorded this live record at Stubb’s here in Austin. So needless to say, I’m in heaven.

Patty Griffin – Downtown Church

Maybe the only artist that ranks up there with Doyle in my list of favorites is indeed Patty Griffin. I found her first record, Living with Ghosts, on accident in the store. A Blockbuster Music store if that tells you how long ago that was. Anyway, I’ve been in love with her music ever since. Her new record is full of gospel songs. I never really thought to combine her voice with that style but it’s an amazing match. Her voice carries more emotion than any other 10 singers together. In this raw setting, she really shines.

SongDiscovery Vol. 82

SongDiscovery is a worship tool by Worship Leader Magazine. With your subscription, you get 8 issues of the magazine and 8 CDs full of new worship songs each year. Anyway, I’m doing a video blog series talking about some of these new songs. So I’ve been listening to them. There are some great songs in here. I’m learning two of them already to add to my repertoire. I won’t say too much about them because it would spoil the videos.

Bob Marley – Legend

I pulled this record out last week. You know, it’s just incredible. It’s been good for so long, but listening to it now is still amazing. I introduced the kids to it. I’m not sure they get the whole reggae concept, but might as well start them while they’re young. Bob Marley has turned into more of an idea in our current culture. But going back to the music is so awesome. These songs are so well-written, great arrangements, and so creative. It’s really a joy to listen to.

Matt Maher – Alive Again

I finally took the time to sit down with Matt’s new record and it’s really great. He’s always been an incredible worship leader. But this record has taken some large steps forward musically. You probably have already heard the title track and maybe, Hold Us Together as well. But the rest of the record is strong too. I highly recommend it. Check it out.

And that’s what I’m listening to this week. What’s on repeat at your house?


What’s On The Playlist

First, There is so much new music out this week that it is hard to make a playlist. Of course, there was so much new music that I couldn’t afford to buy it all. But I definitely look forward to spending more time with the new Skillet record, the new Leeland, and the new Selah CD. And for you rockers, I’m enjoying this new EP by Silverline. And of course, there’s new records by Matt Redman and Aaron Shust to consider as well.

Second, there are many recent releases that are staying in my playlist. Both the new Risk Everything CD and the piano record West Tisbury by Nathan Lee are still at the top of the charts along with the new Derek Webb, Stockholm Syndrome. I guess I need to keep talking about that one since it’s not out yet. And Matt Papa is a great new worship artist, incredibly creative, who released a great new record last week called Your Kingdom Come. Still listening to the new Kings of Leon (incredible) and the latest Third Day, Revelation. Oh, and still killing the Albertine record by Brooke Fraser. And lastly, I’m still really enjoying the new Aaron Ivey worship project, Between the Beauty and the Chaos. I’m learning two of the songs off there to start leading in worship myself, The Name and Found. Great record.

As far as new stuff, I’m enjoying the new Ingrid Michaelson record. I found her originally because she had one of my favorite videos of the last, well, quite some time. It was a great song called The Way I Am. You might have heard it on innumerable Old Navy commercials. Unfortunately the video is not on iTunes but you can see it on YouTube. It’s about a normal girl who is an outcast in a world of clowns. Awesome. Anyway, she is a great clever songwriter. And her new record came out this week as well. I listened to the first song and was shocked at the resemblance to one of the great Christian songwriters of our generation, Sara Groves. The whole record is full of clever quirky pop songs. Sort Of is a great song, a wonderful ballad at #4. And the record ends with Maybe, another killer pop tune. The cool thing is she’s still indie. No big record deal for her. So you can get the whole record and the video for Maybe for $7.99 on iTunes. And the video for Maybe is awesome. Really creative. I think just as creative as the new Coldplay video everyone is swooning over but this is done by an Indie girl. No big financial system behind her. Anyway, cool record.

And let’s look at a few songs individually for a moment,

Shine On Us – great worship song by Cory Asbury. He’s one of the younger generation at IHOP. Not the pancake place, the prayer place. The worship place, that’s already given us Misty Edwards and others.

Everyone To Know – Bethany Dillon – I don’t understand why this isn’t the most played song at Christian radio right now. It’s infectious. I love it. My wife finally started asking me what I was humming all the time, because I don’t usually do that. And it was this song.

Move aside Disney Channel starlettes, for my kids, it’s Britt Nicole, all day, all night. The Lost Get Found, That’s How We Roll, and Welcome to The Show are the favorites around here. When I get to pick, we start with the last track, Have Your Way. We loved having her on the Christmas tour and year and a half ago. She sang Magnificat and really led worship. Awesome.

Well, that’s probably enough for this time. Enjoying listening.


What’s On The Playlist Today

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 toddagnew.com, 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