*Tim McGraw (along with the Dixie Chicks) spurred my interest in country about a decade ago. I’m not turned on by the especially twangy stuff, and McGraw’s songs had the right mix of country and pop/rock. The guy also has really good taste in material-“Live Like You Were Dying”, in particular, is an album with some really good songs. Let’s not mention the fact that he’s been name-checked in the title of a Taylor Swift single. Mr. Faith Hill’s new album, “Southern Voice” is this week’s biggest new releases. The first single, “It’s a Business Doing Pleasure With You” is a fun little tune co-written by Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger.

*I remember the first time I heard Joss Stone sing. Her music was coming out of the office of someone who I’d never expect to be listening to someone who sounded like Joss Stone. Not knowing who Joss was, and expecting someone like a Betty Wright-type of vocalist, you could have knocked me over with a feather when you told me that she was not only British, but a teenager. Well, four albums later, Joss is releasing her new album, “Colour Me Free”, exclusively through Target and iTunes. Joss has been battling her record company for quite some time, and she makes that explicit on this album (not very smart…I can already see the promotion for this album has been slack). Guests include Nas, Raphael Saadiq and Sheila E.

*Since Michael Jackson’s death, the folks at Motown have been busy beavers. There was the box set, then the “Stripped” mixes, and now there’s “The Remix Suite”. This album contains some of his and the Jackson 5’s biggest hits, given a contemporary sheen by producers like Dallas Austin, The Neptunes, Frankie Knuckles and Akon. I’ve bought a couple of the “Motown Remixed” albums that have come out and not been impressed. Unless you’re a super-fan (like I am), I’d tread carefully here.

Other albums being released today include: power-punk band Cartel’s new effort, “Cycles”. You may remember them as the band that lived in a bubble in New York City for a few days a year or two ago. Lyle Lovett’s “Natural Forces” also comes out today…well, hopefully you caught it yesterday when it was super-cheap on Amazon’s MP3 site. German shock-metal band Rammstein releases “Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da” (Love is There for Everyone) today, and if you think those “Du Hast” guys have gone all soft, keep in mind that the first single from this effort is called “Pussy”.

A full list of this week’s new releases can be found here.