A Quick ‘What’s In The Changer?’

I know I know. I should change the title of this to “What’s on the Playlist”. I know few people use multi-CD changers in their everyday lives. All of us build our quick greatest hits playlists. But that often means that we only have one song from each artist. And as for now, we’re all still making whole records whether or not anyone listens to them that way. So I’ll keep doing the Changer and listening to the records as a whole. So here are the records I’m listening to right now.

The Medicine – John Mark McMillan

John Mark McMillan wrote How He Loves, made accessible to the general CCM listener by the David Crowder Band. As that song reveals, here lies a beautiful poetic soul in love with Christ with a great talent for lyrics and music. And he doesn’t really sound like anything else. And he sings in my keys. I love all of that. His new record is tops on my listening list right now along with the next one. I can’t wait for the next time I get to lead worship because I’m going to pull out “Death In His Grave”. Incredible song. But so are many of these tunes. I love the creativity both lyrically, musically, and production wise. Take a listen.

The House You’re Building – Audrey Assad

I’ve been wondering when someone was going to pull this girl into the limelight. I’ve been listening to her for a couple of years now. She’s a great singer and a great songwriter. I don’t say she’s a singer/songwriter because that often conveys that the person is mainly a songwriter who can sing. She really does all well. It’s dangerous to compare people. And it’s hard. Maybe she’s a combination of Sarah Mclachlan and Karen Carpenter. What? Does that even make sense? It took me a while to find the comparison for the single “For Love of You” but that’s because it was too recent. It reminded me of our dear friend Meredith Andrews. Meredith leans toward worship, while Audrey leans toward writing. I love how she stretches her words, pulling melodies you wouldn’t expect out of a single word or phrase. Great record. Check it out.

Hello Hurricane – Switchfoot

Have I talked about this record yet? Probably. But I’ve been listening to it a lot lately. Incredible. Plus I’ve been using it as an educational piece for my kids. Kids, this is how you make a rock record. And I’ve been learning from it myself. Awesome.

Nightlights – Jimmy Needham

I’m always excited about a new project from my friend Jimmy Needham. I love him as a person and as a musician. He’s a wonderful funny talented guy. If you haven’t seen him live, you should. Again, Jimmy digs into some funky rhythmic music in a way nobody else in CCM does. Maybe like Stevie Wonder with an acoustic guitar. And all completely in love with Jesus. It’s kind of hard to explain. Just listen.

Sea of Cowards – Dead Weather

I usually include mainstream music in here too. But recently there has been great Christian stuff coming out. This record did crack the list though. I love Jack White. I love how he approaches the guitar and the crazy sounds he gets out of it. Pairing with a female lead singer put a really different spin on his music. I love “No Horse”. Could listen to it over and over. And it’s best really loud. Really loud.

Till next time, listen well.


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?


New Music Tuesday/What’s On The Playlist 9/8/09

Well, it’s the day you’ve all been waiting for. Barlowgirl’s new record, Love & War, comes out today. The title threw me at first but then I developed some affection for it as I realized it was a combo of themes in their ministry. You know, we’re NEVER ALONE because God loves us, and we have to go ONE MORE ROUND in the war for His glory. So i get it. But the record comes out today. It’s kind of weird because I looked on iTunes and usually I just have to look at the new releases, but it’s not there. Maybe they’re falling behind. Maybe all the people at iTunes are watching the US Open. Or maybe it’s someone else’s fault. Either way, it’s not on the front pages, but if you search for it, you can find it. As for the record itself, it’s what you expect to come from the girls: strong rock music, sometimes fun, and strong lyrics. I was just about to assume I knew what the record held when I hit track 10, Tears Fall. Whoa, didn’t see that coming. And I mean in a good way. It’s beautiful. And then track 11, Hello Sunshine, is another fun creative track. The record finished with my two favorite songs. Anyway, check it out. You have to search for it, but I think you’ll enjoy it.

And one more, this came out last week, but I finally got to sit and listen to Jason Gray’s Everything Sad is Coming Untrue. Last week, it was a part of my five minorly major announcements, or was that majorly minor announcements. I don’t remember. Anyway, I was telling everyone about Nathan Lee’s 40DAYRISK tour, and Ted Dekker’s new book Green, and Derek Webb’s new record, Stockholm Syndrome. Oh and the NEED pre-sale, which you probably had to look at before you could get to the website. And I mentioned Jason’s new record because it came out but I hadn’t gotten to listen to it yet. Now I have, and it’s great. Jason is a great writer and that really shines through on this record. The first track is great: More Like Falling In Love. It’s way better than the first single. But isn’t that just how it goes. About tracks 3 & 4, I thought the record was settling into CCM radio world. But then Holding The Key took major steps forward and How I Ended Up Here might have been my favorite song on the record. And the record continues like that. A song or two for radio and a song or two for me. If you like both of those sounds, this may be your favorite record in quite some time. Hope you get the chance to enjoy it.


What’s on the Playlist? (7/18/09)

Derek Webb – Stockholm Syndrome

Definitely the most lyrically and musically aggressive album to date from Derek Webb, who has long been one of my favorite songwriters. A much more electronic album than any of his efforts so far, well, I guess not more electronic than the remix record. But just about. And it gives a very different backdrop to the intense songwriting we expect from him. You listen to the Opening Credits, and if you’re anything like me, you think Derek is doing an electronica intro to his new record. But he’s not. That’s really what the record sounds like. It’s really a brave record, both musically and lyrically. I probably should have guessed that from the title, which is named after a psychological response in hostages, when they develop an attachment to those who have abducted them. Kind of like our relationship with our sin. I’m not sure if that is where Derek is going. I’ll have to listen more. I just downloaded the record, but I plan to listen to it a lot in the days and weeks to come.

Aaron Ivey – Between the Beauty & Chaos

Formerly known as the singer at the head of worship leaders Spur58, Aaron has moved to Austin TX and has now released a new solo record. Aaron is still a great worship leader. I know. He is one of the worship leaders at my church in Austin. We sing many of these songs in our Sunday worship services. The record starts with Found, a powerful worship song I’m planning on learning myself. Didn’t have time this summer, but it’s on the list. The Name is another favorite from church along with Let Your Kingdom Come. How Great Thou Art adds a simple but powerful chorus to the amazing hymn. It’s just a great piano-driven worship record from an awesome worship leader.

Toad the Wet Sprocket – Dulcinea

I introduced Sam to this record on our drive back from Colorado. Listening to it again reminds me just how incredible a record it is. The songwriting is amazing. The whole record holds together sonically, yet each song is just a little different. The band’s approach to instrumentation on this record is fairly simple. But they are great versions of great songs. And you know what, that’s really the idea. I still love the transition from intro to full band in Something’s Always Wrong. I have always adored Fly From Heaven and still wonder if it’s about Paul the apostle. They’re not a Christian band but the song applies so closely. Anyway, the whole record is incredible. Still.

Charlie Peacock – West Coast Diaries, vol. 2

Anyone who has seen us lately may remember a song everyone seems to be asking about. It’s called Down In the Lowlands. And no, it’s not on the new record. It is on this record by Charlie Peacock. He is one of my musical heroes, and this record is incredible. It’s an acoustic project with Charlie joined by an amazing singer Vince Ebo and Jimmy A on acoustic guitar. From the acoustic groove of Nobody’s Gonna Bring Me Down to the funk of Big Man’s Hat, it’s all incredible. And of course, it goes into some great piano stuff on Don’t Have The Power. But Unchain My Soul might be even better. Check it out. He’s got a cool Twitter as well where he talks about what he’s working on in the studio, usually as a producer and songwriter, along with some interesting commentary on good music you may or may not have heard of.

It’s hard to pick the last one. I’ve been listening to Andrew Peterson’s Appendix C a lot. And Kari Jobe’s self-titled record. But probably my favorite is:

Brooke Fraser – Albertine

If you think you recognize the voice, it’s because she’s one of the worship leaders with Hillsong United. So your recording of Hosanna, yeah that’s her. And Lead Me To The Cross. And other great worship songs. But this record features her as a songwriter and she really shines. It’s hard to explain it to you. Let’s just say I wish I could write like this. This whole record is incredible.

Okay, there’s mine. Comment back and let me know what you’re listening to.


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