I love music. I’ve got lots of friends who feel the same way. Probably not a coincidence. A few months back I received an itunes gift card and recently got around to spending it. Here’s what I picked up- in chronological order:

Daughtry – Daughtry
Yes- I know he was on American Idol (but didn’t win- does that make it better?). Yes- I know his ballad “Home” has been overplayed in all the wrong places (Idol used it as their theme song last year). Even with those hurdles, I chose to grab this album. Why? I felt the need for something a little rockier, there’s a quality to his voice that I enjoy, AND I found myself singing the hook to “It’s Not Over” even after it ended.

Overall, I’m pleased. The project has some variance in tone and tempo- which I didn’t expect. If you’ve tapped on your steering wheel to any of his songs on the radio, you’ll probably enjoy this. If you want to mock me for this one, go ahead. (You don’t need my permission anyway.)

Which brings us to…Mute Math – Mute Math
I know quite a few folks who have been raving about this band for the last 6 months. Some have seen them live and it raised their opinion of the band. Which doesn’t always happen, right? So I caved. Better late than never.

The first release off of this project (“Typical”) is probably the most infectious of the bunch (and has an awesome VIDEO). To me, the rest of the songs aren’t quite as catchy, but they are growing on me. Layers and effects are everywhere. Mute Math pulls of a nouveau 80’s thing with a sense of freshness. After several listens through, I might describe this band as an updated version of the Police (see “Chaos” & “Noticed”). And I dig that.

Ray LaMontagne – Til The Sun Turns Black

I’ve almost bought this album about 5 times and finally did. (Thanks for the recommendation Patch.) If you have a place in your ipod for passionate, acoustic music- go grab this one right now. You can come back to this post later.

I became a big Ray LaMontagne fan minutes after the download finished. I play this project when I want to relax or when I’m working. Just good to have it on- like the voice of an old friend. Give Ray a listen HERE. And his music seems to get fuller, richer and better with headphones on. My favorite track right now is “Empty” and contains some of the better lyrics I’ve heard lately:

“I looked my demons in the eyes, bore my chest, said ‘Do your best. Destroy me.’
You see I’ve been to hell and back so many times, I must admit, you kinda bore me.
There’s a lot of ways to kill a man. There’s a lot of ways to die.
Yes, and some already dead they walk beside me.”

Need another reason to consider this one? Ray’s bio says he decided to become a singer @ 4am one morning after listening to a Steven Stills record through the night. You too, right?

So far, this list has been all over the place with style. Here’s where it narrows a bit:

Sugarland – Enjoy the Ride
I’ve never been ashamed to admit that I like some country music. Guess lately I’m drawn to the southern ladies who (despite their looks) can really sing. Sugarland is technically a duo- but Jennifer Nettles does most of the vocal work. If you need a taste of the heartland and a bit of twang, give this one a listen. “Want To” is a standout to me.

Carrie Underwood – Carnival Ride
American Idol isn’t the only thing she won, and there’s a reason. Apparently, the folks who hand out Grammy, AMA & CMA awards all think she’s more than just a pretty face. After enjoying what I heard from her on the radio last year, and a couple of listens to the first song off of this disc (“So Small”)- I was willing to deplete the surplus in my itunes acct. If you haven’t heard “So Small” yet, and you go to a Contemporary church that does “Featured Music”- you will. Trust me.