Rolling Country 2011

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Kinda bummed out that we're three days into the year and nobody had started this thread yet. Usually it's up here by midnight New Year's Eve! Maybe nobody cares about country anymore. (I've been caring about it less too, lately.) End of an era?

Anyway, 2011 so far: I love the Stealing Horses album, like the Steel Magnolia album, and think the Mark Growden album might be okay (despite being apparently dull folkie singer-songwriter stuff on the surface), but it needs more listens before I decide.

New Sugarland single, I learned while listening to the car radio over the weekend, is "Little Miss," which I'm pretty sure is the only song I liked much on their album. (Also the most "country" sounding cut, iirc.)

Here's a link to Frank Kogan's Nashville Scene ballot (which I'll have some comments on, in relation to my own ballot, if I have time later):

http://koganbot.livejournal.com/254231.html

xhuxk, Monday, 3 January 2011 17:54 (3 years ago) Permalink

And here's my own Scene ballot (which I'll also explain a little later, hopefully -- didn't send any comments into the Scene, though. Also didn't send in any Pazz & Jop comments; I've been pretty lazy about both in the past couple years, probably because the polls' voter comments in general -- in relation to the main essays -- just really don't seem like compelling conversations to me anymore, the way Pazz & Jop comments used to, back in Christgau days):

TOP TEN COUNTRY ALBUMS OF 2010:
1. Taylor Swift – Speak Now (Big Machine)
2. Jace Everett – Red Revelations (Western Boys/Hump Head)
3. Jamey Johnson – The Guitar Song (Mercury)
4. Flynnville Train – Redemption (Evolution)
5. Chely Wright – Lifted Off The Ground (Vanguard)
6. Laura Bell Bundy – Achin’ & Shakin’ (Mercury)
7. Lee Brice – Love Like Crazy (Curb)
8. Colt Ford – Chicken And Biscuits (Average Joe’s)
9. Jerrod Niemann – Judge Jerrod And The Hung Jury (Sea Gayle/Arista Nashville)
10. Shinyribs – Well After Awhile (Nine Mile)

TOP TEN COUNTRY SINGLES OF 2010:
1. Sunny Sweeney – From a Table Away
2. Mallary Hope – Blossom In The Dust
3. Laura Bell Bundy – Giddy On Up
4. Kenny Chesney – Somewhere With You
5. Eric Church – Smoke A Little Smoke
6. Martina McBride – Wrong Baby Wrong
7. Lady Antebellum – Stars Tonight
8. Stealing Angels – He Better Be Dead
9. Little Big Town – Little White Church
10. Kevin Fowler – Pound Sign (#?*!)

TOP FIVE COUNTRY REISSUES OF 2010:
1. (Various) – Fire In My Bones: Raw + Rare + Otherworldly African-American Gospel [1944-2007] (Tompkins Square)
2. Slim Cessna’s Auto Club – Buried Behind The Barn (Alternative Tentacles)
3. John Jackson – Rappahannock Blues (Smithsonian Folkways)
4. Ashley Hutchings, Richard Thompson, Dave Mattacks, John Kirkpatrick, Barry Dransfield – Morris On (Fledg’ling)
5. (Various) – Classic Appalachian Blues (Smithsonian Folkways)

COUNTRY MUSIC’S THREE BEST MALE VOCALISTS OF 2010:
1. Jace Everett
2. Jamey Johnson
3. Lee Brice

COUNTRY MUSIC’S THREE BEST FEMALE VOCALISTS OF 2010:
1. Taylor Swift
2. Chely Wright
3. Laura Bell Bundy

COUNTRY MUSIC’S THREE BEST SONGWRITERS OF 2010:
1. Taylor Swift
2. Chely Wright
3. Jamey Johnson

COUNTRY MUSIC’S THREE BEST DUOS, TRIOS OR GROUPS OF 2010:
1. Flynnville Train
2. Stealing Angels
3. Mother Truckers

COUNTRY MUSIC’S THREE BEST NEW ACTS OF 2010:
1. Laura Bell Bundy
2. Lee Brice
3. Jerrod Niemann

COUNTRY MUSIC’S THREE BEST OVERALL ACTS OF 2010:
1. Taylor Swift
2. Jamey Johnson
3. Chely Wright

xhuxk, Monday, 3 January 2011 17:59 (3 years ago) Permalink

I love the Stealing Horses album

Stealing Angels, I mean! (Maybe I just think horses are just more worthy of being stolen than angels are.)

By the way, I'd originally considered voting for Stealing Angels as one of my "best new acts" too (like Frank did), but then I decided they didn't technically qualify yet, because they didn't put out a debut album in 2010 (which is what Himes's ballot letter says they need to have done.) So I guess I'll vote for them next year, instead. (If their album had come out in 2010 rather than 2011, it easily would've made my Top albums list -- probably at #6 or #7.)

xhuxk, Monday, 3 January 2011 18:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

1. Sunny Sweeney – From a Table Away

this was in my p&j ballot too, absolutely love it. what else by her would you recommend?

lex diamonds (lex pretend), Monday, 3 January 2011 18:17 (3 years ago) Permalink

I've only ever heard her 2006 album, , Heartbreaker's Hall Of Fame, which is good, but had nothing nearly as good as that song. Favorite songs on it, last time I checked, were "East Texas Pines" and maybe the Lacy J Dalton cover "16th Avenue." (She was supposed to have a new album coming out, apparently, but if it did, I haven't seen or heard it.)

Oh yeah, this link might come in handy here sometime:

Rolling Country 2010

Also curious what people think about the new Brad Paisley single, "This Is Country Music." On one listen (also over the car radio), I say it has some of his best guitar parts and possibly the most annoyingly pandering lyrics he's ever come up with -- parts of it sounds like he's trying to win back whatever fans might've been pissed off about his coming out as an Obama fan back in 2009. The list of country classics namedropped at the end even includes the proto-tea-party anti-urban anthem "A Country Boy Can Survive," for crissakes. That said, I like the song okay anyway -- probably a 6 or 7, on the Singles Jukebox scale. Though that could change.

xhuxk, Monday, 3 January 2011 18:21 (3 years ago) Permalink

This is Country Music will be the inaugural entry on my Best of 2011 list, thanks! I doubt it'll stay high all year, but that's some impressive guitar playing. His songs are usually worth listening to for the solos, like Van Halen's. Rhythm parts are good, too. As far as the lyrics, it sounds like a pure writing exercise -- like, I'm sure at one point he was emotionally overcome by the song's sentiment, but when he turned that sentiment into a song, it ended up being more about "How do you summarize the content of country songs, divided into three distinct categories, all completing a rhyme with 'do'?" And that kind of craft is half of what's fun and great about country songwriting. But the third verse doesn't affect me emotionally at all, not the way the third verse of "Welcome to the Future" did. "Country Boy Can Survive" has way more visceral impact. And what country song mentions the word "cancer"? I'm sure there is one, I just have no idea what it might be.

dr. phil, Monday, 3 January 2011 18:43 (3 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, I was wondering that too -- I can definitely think of country songs that partially take place in hospital rooms (Tim McGraw has a couple alone I think), but none that specifically mention cancer come to mind.

Totally agree the song is a writing exercise, and sort of works on those terms. It's maybe not so much cliched as about country's cliches (which all the other genres avoid, so maybe they're not cliches after all). I don't hate it (and again, the guitars are great), but something about it really rubs me the wrong way, at least for now.

xhuxk, Monday, 3 January 2011 18:48 (3 years ago) Permalink

In other news, I've had an advance CD of the new Drive By Truckers album sitting around here for weeks, but have been avoiding putting it on -- at least partially because I read someplace that it's the more mellow companion to last year's supposedly rocking The Big To-Do, which I thought didn't rock nearly enough in the first place (even though I liked it more than any album they'd made in years, which really isn't saying much.) In slow and quiet mode, they've become really unbearable for me. So I'm assuming that the new album's not worth wasting my time with, but if somebody determines otherwise, feel free to say so here.

xhuxk, Monday, 3 January 2011 18:52 (3 years ago) Permalink

Also curious what people think about the new Brad Paisley single, "This Is Country Music."

Yeah, pandering shit. Even considering Paisley skillfully raised pandering shit to glossy pop art
in 2010. The mythology that only country music lovers like to drink beer or can say "sorry" or tell the boss off is so empty I think he either has the ability to be a grinning snake-oil salesman on demand or
was on pills when he sang it.

In terms of guitar licks, Paisley can play the stuff on the song in his sleep.

Gorge, Monday, 3 January 2011 21:23 (3 years ago) Permalink

Here's Paisley's self-serving quote, delivered with this song, from YouTube:

"See, country music is unique. It is brave. It is not afraid to deal head on with subjects like death, disease, religion, drinking, family, or anything else that qualifies as life."

Hmmm. Some easy debate could rip a new hole in him over that.

Then there's some drivel about being at concerts where fans hand country artists the dog-tags of their fallen family members. Which I assume is true. However, it also brings to mind the imagery that big male country artists love to drape themselves in: Veneration of the military, the wars, fighting for freedom and all the associated manlinesses. While to a man, none of the big strapping dudes in country music who invoke it bothered to take the Pat Tillman route and put their bodies where their singing mouths take them. They're the volunteers who keep the pieties glowing in the windows on the home front. One in the same with those who feel the compulsion to tell everyone in listening distance how patriotic they are.

And so if that's being brave and unique in some great way, I'm Ted Nugent.

Gorge, Monday, 3 January 2011 21:38 (3 years ago) Permalink

"See, country music is unique. It is brave. It is not afraid to deal head on with subjects like death, disease, religion, drinking, family, or anything else that qualifies as life."

Hmmm. Some easy debate could rip a new hole in him over that.

No kidding. I generally like Paisley and find his material at least a little bit smarter than his aw-shucks-I-named-my-kid-Huckleberry persona typically lets on, but that's a ridiculous and short-sighted statement. The idea that those themes are unique to the country genre is flat-out ignorant of the whole of popular music, and, moreover, to the fact that those are themes that contemporary country music often does an embarrassing job of dealing with. Maudlin shit like Carrie Underwood's "Temporary Home" or any of Martina McBride's sermons about children with wasting diseases or whatever social ill she's chosen to shoot for her latest soft-focus music video is not brave, Brad. It's cloying and manipulative, and it's not exactly the kind of thing that makes quite a lot of modern country music legitimately great.

So, with that statement about bravery, the not really getting how institutional racism works third verse of "Welcome to the Future," and the appropriating other cultures for fun and profit makes America great bent of "American Saturday Night," I guess the big question here is whether or not Paisley really is pretty shallow after all? One quote and a couple of poorly constructed singles not being enough to condemn the guy, sure, but it's probably a point worth some discussion.

Also: I've seen Paisley live a couple of times and have never seen anyone approach the stage to hand him any dog-tags, and, based upon those shows, I agree with Gorge that the guitar licks in "This is Country Music" aren't representative of his best stuff.

jon_oh, Monday, 3 January 2011 23:14 (3 years ago) Permalink

Y'all may well be right about the guitars, to be honest (like I said, I only heard the song once -- in the car, and it was a really lovely day out. So overrating is definitely a possibility.) Either way, yeah, that line about country uniqueness is just sad.

xhuxk, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 00:02 (3 years ago) Permalink

(I’ll send more comments sep)

Don Allred’s 2010 Country Critics Poll Ballot
(Listed just in the order they come to mind)
TOP TEN COUNTRY ALBUMS OF 2010:

1. Lydia Loveless: The Only Man (Peloton)
2. Nancy McCallion: Take a Picture of Me (Mama Mama)
3. Jamey Johnson: The Guitar Song (Mercury)
4. Chely Wright: Lifted Off The Ground (Vanguard)
5. Minton Sparks: Live at the Stadium Inn (MSM)
6. Marshall Chapman: Big Lonesome (Tallgirl)
7. Jace Everett: Red Revelations (Wrasse)
8. Drive-By Truckers: The Big To-Do (ATO/Red)
9. Los Lobos: Tin Can Trust (Shout Factory)
10. Marty Stuart: Ghost Train (The Studio B Sessions
(Hon Mentions: Justin Earle Townes: Harlem River Blues, Merle Haggard: I Am What I Am, Willie Nelson: Country Music, John Mellencamp: No Better Than This, Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan: Hawk [the 7 or 8 tracks (out of 13)I like are all country]) Terry Ohms: What Do You Mean, What Do I Mean? [see Campbell & Lanegan comment, add term: “redneck bossa nova”] Moutain Man: Made The Harbor [also partly cloudy country). Black Prairie: Feast of the Harvest Moon Corinne Chapman: Dirty Pretty Things [reversing this year’s trend: a strong indie country-rock (but no more so than a lot of country pop]EP that deserves expansion to album]), Various Artists: Twistable Turnable Man: A Musical Tribute to the Songs of Shel Silverstein (Sugar Hill)[despite crappy tracks from Jim James and Black Francis, even Kristofferson sounds good!) Choice Cuts: several on Deer Tick’s The Black Dirt Sessions)

TOP TEN COUNTRY SINGLES OF 2010:

1.Sunny Sweeny: From A Table Away (Republic)
2. Tony Joe White: All (Swamp)
3. Tony Joe White: Tell Me Why (Swamp)
4. Secret Sisters featuring Jack White: Big River (Third Man)
5. Miranda Lambert: Only Prettier (Columbia)
6. Robert Plant with Patty Griffin: Harm’s Swift Way (New Rounder)
7. Laura Bell Bundy: Giddy On Up (Mercury)
8.Kenny Chesney: Hemingway’s Whiskey (BNA)
9. Pretty Lights: After Midnight/Midnight Rider(Live Cale/Allman Mix) (Pretty Lights)
10. Keith Urban: Put You In A Song (Capitol)
(Hon Mentions: Olof Arnalds: Close My Eyes, Isobel Campbell with Willy Mason: No Place To Fall, Corinne Chapman: Dirty Pretty Things, Drive-By Truckers: Your Woman Is A Living Thing, Reba: Strange, Deer Tick: Goodbye, Dear Friend)
TOP FIVE COUNTRY REISSUES OF 2010:

1.Hamper McBee: The Good Old-Fashioned Way (Drag City)(usually poignant and always ripe, rolling notes between teeth so easily some other teeth must have sacrificed themselves to make more, room, except no probs with diction, so how does he do it. Not “revelatory” as claimed for his discovery by folkies in mid-60s, but this is late-ish 70s. Not many probs with his tasteful deep folk standards and beyond tasteless anecdotes/testimonials and songs in the same throbbing vein, that sure seem like they could be even deeper folk standards)
2. Roland White: I Wasn’t Born To Rock ‘n’ Roll (Tompkins Square)(protesteth too much
3.Wynn Stewart: Another Day, Another Dollar (Sony) (reissued as mp3 in 07, but much more exposure in 2010, in Volkswagen Jetta commercial )
4.Ray Charles & Johnny Cash: Why Me Lord? (Concord)(yep, another single, actually virtually swinging the Kristofferson groaner)(prev. unreleased, but old enough to qualify)
5.Riley: Grandma’s Roadhouse (Delmore)

Listening to Grandma's Roadhouse, so far I'm d The picture's faded, and Riley's set free! How often does that happen in a country song, or any song? Not nearly enough, and he rejoices. But he's the dominant and gut-busting voice, which will take some getting used to. He's better on the more rocking tracks--the bonus tracks are excellent and should have been on the LP, losing the included version of the title track, (that cool, down the steps melody's revealed in the outtake; no need for the master's rawkus caucus). Also could ditch "Field of Green", which distractingly recalls Crosby Stills & Nash; ditto "Funky Tar Paper Shack", with its "Lodi" roll. This version of "Easy People" 's recurring suggestion of "The Weight" is a little distracting, but main distraction is Riley's vocal squeezebox. But at least six keepers. Really digging the rubbery sustain over tilting groove, in "Gotta Get Away", especially, and many trax have some truly pungent electric piano (a truly rare thang re electric pianos of those years)
COUNTRY MUSIC’S THREE BEST LIVE ACTS OF 2010
1. Olof Arnalds: ( seemingly off-the-cuff, except spot-on [-the-cuff, I guess) performances of some songs like We’re Not The Jet Set, in in YouTube archived visits to radio stations etc

dow, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 07:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

Veteran Columbus OH teen Lydia Loveless sometimes includes the Replacements' intensely frustrated "Answering Machine" and Def Leppard's dynamically mesmerized "Hysteria" with her punky tonk combos deliveries, unstoppably tumbling up, down and onto life's thrilling, killing, chilling and flat moments. Loretta Lynn's points of departure are extended and twisted through Loveless' compactly epic, self-written debut, The Only Man, as desperately wired sexual power struggles zap the void in passing: "Girls suck/They suck and suck and never get enough," wails one contender, but it's time to ricochet off another incisive epitaph.
Drive-By Truckers' The Big To-Do is one of their best-played, best-sung, best-recorded, best-written albums ever. Pretty much in that order, to the credit of this self-described "lyrics-driven" band. The music crashes through "clouds that took Daddy up to Heaven" like angry, daredevil spirits, before discreetly sniffing sleazy, eerie evidence of real life's solved crimes and lingering mysteries. Young Shonna Tucker's voice, bass and country/Motown/British Invasion-fueled original songs unstoppably testify, further sparking the catchy crackle of unexpectedly fresh perspectives on known zones of strange weather.
Pretty Lights is DJ/Producer Derek Vincent Smith, frequently traveling with jazz/hip-hop drummer Adam Deitch. Smith seeded 2010 with metal chestnut " The Final Countdown", which becomes strenuously affirmative gospel science, right be fore J.J. Cale's original "After Midnight" pursues Gregg Allman's "Midnight Rider" over spinning borders. Pretty Lights' poetic distortion is more paradoxical than the blues, as a mutating sample on Making Up A Changing Mind spells out, "I know you been hurt/By somebody else/I can tell by the way/You carry yourself."
Mountain Man are three young women who explore and savor dimensions and implications of everyday imagery, in mostly a cappella harmonies.On debut set Made The Harbor, emotions also harmonize, so whether you hear them singing "You make my bread and my wine" or "You make my red in my white", it sounds right. Like Emily Dickinson and the most talented service workers, Mountain Man's true folk tradition lies in fluidly, boldly editing the stories worth sticking to. They cut their losses and wins into a shapely path.
Nancy McCallion’s Take A Picture of Me wisely includes no Mollys re-makes, unlike her self-titled collection. It does include several fellow ex-Mollys, all new material and tensile vitality to brace conversational (yet deftly compressed) eloquence, Nothing pretentious, nothing she couldn’t look somebody in the eye and say--nor anything she’d have to look somebody in the eye and say, no overt sales technique required. If that’s not mainstream enough, oh well. Key phrase, mebbe: “In sorrow, not despair.” Some sway-alongs on the way to refreshing your drink too, like “It’s never too late to get lucky/It’s never too early to cry.” Accordions, electric picking, boots disturbing the dust a mite--missing the fiddle though.
Minton Sparks is a poet, maybe playwright, anyway increasingly drawn to musical expressiveness of the spoken word, esp with former Dylan touring guitarist John Jorgenson. Familiar elements and you can call it Southern Gothic, but there's no zoning out in oh-wow morbidity, although her characters shine in tough spots, hopping like bugs about to be crushed. But not too soon, and they use their moment in the light memorably (like Nancy McCallion's gal, who instructs: "Take a picture of me", or so Sparks' canny observers hear it, as they slip closer, closer than they intended in some cases, close as required. We even get some high school girl's basketball team bus folk-bug hip-hop, on the way home from this week's big game: "I can tell by your eyes you been kissin' Mr. Wise/Say sardines/An' pork an' beans." Yeah she's got some hooks, and some call her the Soutthern Laurie Anderson, although for that you might get close with Jo Carol Pierce's Bad Girls Upset By The Truth, Yet Sparks and Pierce both lack most of Anderson's sentimental tendencies--when their angels show up, they're crusted with whatever's most likely up there (incl insomniacs mostly over Kerouac for now)
Justin Townes Earle's voice smoothly paves the way for romantic fatalism and/or squirrely urges, currently far too restless for even the joyful choir of suicide resolutions, on the title track of his new album, Harlem River Blues. Diverting uptempo reveries reverberate through boxcars, bars, beds and subway tunnel walls, while Earle continues "punching holes in the dark", until he gets it just right.
On Los Lobos' Tin Can Trust, it seems like the narrator is on the verge, he's some old tired guy, but made up his mind to do something, take revenge and/or a commission, various indicators of volatility keep rolling by or up the block, and little jolts--I know, enough with the foreplay already, but the tension keeps getting renewed, reinforced, and the Dead cover fits perfectly, with no crunchy granola attached (it's all sidewalks and traffic, the whole album, and then there's the sardonic "happy ending" history short). A cliche to say it's a soundtrack for movies you can make up, but it really seems to work that way, rumbling implications--if it were so definite a storyline, would get too familiar too fast, perhaps. It is badass urban country, obsessive as a shot glass lens.
When I first heard that familiar mid-tempo chug of Chely Wright's Lifted Off The Ground, I thought for a moment it was gonna be too musically straight, with pop-psychology shadows and positivity, but the first song quickly unfolded into complex clarity, and the music is luminous, it's all seamless, chugging those detailed lyrics right along. Not just, "Look, this is how mainstream country could be, incorporating this stuff we haven't talked about", but, "This is it, this works now." I would like room for a big ol' righteous yowly slide guitar solo in "Damn Liar", and maybe some more instrumental kick-out-the-walls in other songs, and it seems a bit dicey that so many of the songs are probably that voice in her head. But there's room for interpretation, especially the last track, so nice and sensuous and welcoming the instruments to crawl into and around the bed she's perching on, while she addresses whomever it may concern (mind that trace of her punchline-as-preview passing by). Liked Merle's and Willie's latest, and some others I may comment on, but, since they (like many others) both sport an EP's worth of keepers, they'll all benefit from the sentiment of those who favor a return to EPs as country albums.This set needs no such plus-size/-sign adjustments.
Having written plays with novelist Lee Smith and a new book also just about to be published around the time of this album's release, she hadn't planned to get back into making albums, but was inspired by Tim Krekel, a compatibly idiosyncratic music biz lifer (he contributed an intricately comfortable version of "Version City" to The Sandinista! Project, which mad comp coutained enough country to make a previous Scene ballot). They were set to do a set of duets, when he was diagnosed with cancer, and died three months later. Chapman was floored, but the completed Big Lonesome rolls on, through many sensuous shades of blue The opening title track is a companionably speculative duet, the only studio duet they completed apparently (an equally fluid and compact live duet closes the album). Then, she's left looking "Down To Mexico", staring at the distance they were gonna travel together, to record in San Miguel. She repeats a few lines, then it sounds like she's beginning to see the way, the route still there, the possibilties of what they had planned, and glimpsed together. So she gets up, starts to move, groove cautiously at first, but persistently, gathering momentum, in the sultry nocturnal atmosphere of the track.
And this really sets the tone, way before we get to her Hank cover: "The silence of a falling star/Lights up the purple sky". Hank reportedly had doubts about "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry", wondered if he'd gotten carried away with the imagery, but Chapman wisely doesn't try to follow his formidable vocal delivery, she keeps it more conversational and late in the set, re-affirming what she trusts we can feel. And she trusts the music, mostly self-written, but recorded with Will Kimbrough and others she'd never met before. Despite having been out of recording for so long, she does that, and the sound is sensuous release and relief of grief in life, in living. Its aesthetic isn't prettification (no mention of angels that I've noticed, no balloons released over the gravesite), it's also discipline, focus, that kind of release and relief as well.
Plus a number of connections that fall into place, like in the live duet, she mentions how she and Tim reached a stalemate in songwriting, took a walk and came back to find a tree lying across their path. They took this as a good omen, and finished their song. Also a song she wrote by herself "Falling Through The Trees", which is more about becoming aware, and that "falling star" of Hank's and the way "believing in" chaos, entrophy etc also implicity involves things sometimes falling into a good (though not nec. "better") place, like this album. That's the beginning of "Riding with Willie", where she comes up with her own variant of Nelsonic philosophy while observing (she's usually pretty observant) Willie and Bobbie making music together, which surely fits with a precedes the final duet with Tim (they were like brother and sister, kindred spirits with long-time spouses, which also helps the album's balancing act). They Came To Nashville, Chapman's newly collected profiles of and conversations with fellow pilgrims, led her to complete "Riding", re: "Bobbie and Wille play music all night/Songs long forgotten come to light/That's the way I like it. " Anyway, Big Lonesome's no masterpiece, but it makes a clear, strong impression that lingers, good to listen to while thinking about it, and vice versa, unlike a number of albums better for one or the other.

dow, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 07:30 (3 years ago) Permalink

Dammit, should've been "Pretty Lights poetic distortion is *no* more paradoxical than the blues"

dow, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 07:31 (3 years ago) Permalink

Also, "for that you might get *closer* with Jo Carol"

dow, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 07:33 (3 years ago) Permalink

"Having written plays with Lee Smith, she" meaning Marshall Chapman. Sorry, I had cut off a prev sentence on purpose, but hadn't moved MC's name into my new opening. Doing too many things at once, as usual.

dow, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 07:39 (3 years ago) Permalink

It has been suggested over on Freaky Trigger that ZZ Top record a cover of Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair" - though perhaps they have already.

Frank Kogan, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 18:15 (3 years ago) Permalink

Might as well post my ballot here, as well, so people don't have to follow the link if they're not of a mind to. Think I probably overrated the Chesney and underrated the McEntire. Surprised I like the latter as much as I do, since her voice often strikes me as being a fright wig. But rocking stuff, and touching stuff.

I somehow forgot that Lee Brice qualifies as new, and that Flynnville Train would be eligible for the group category. Wrote this exhausted at the last minute as always, which sometimes works really well (most of my representation in book form has been an accidental result of my Country Music Critics ballots), but I think I left a whole bunch of ellipses in my explanations this time. (Haven't yet listened to the Paisley track you guys are talking about, but my argument would be that the people who are waving the flag of "We Are Real Country" are doing a worse job of dealing with the content that country supposedly exemplifies than are the people who aren't waving such a flag (and worse at it maybe than lots of people who simply aren't country at all):

TOP TEN COUNTRY SINGLES OF 2010:

1. Little Big Town "Little White Church"
2. Sunny Sweeney "From A Table Away"
3. Martina McBride "Wrong Baby Wrong Baby Wrong"
4. Taylor Swift "Mean"
5. Laura Bell Bundy "Giddy On Up"
6. Kenny Chesney "Somewhere With You"
7. Trace Adkins "Ala-Freakin-Bama"
8. Sarah Darling "Whenever It Rains"
9. Stealing Angels "He Better Be Dead"
10. Sarah Darling "With Or Without You"

TOP TEN COUNTRY ALBUMS OF 2010:

1. Taylor Swift Speak Now
2. Jamey Johnson The Guitar Song
3. Kenny Chesney Hemingway's Whiskey
4. Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling, Dharohar Project Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling, Dharohar Project (EP)
5. Reba McEntire All The Women I Am
6. Chely Wright Lifted Off The Ground
7. Jerrod Niemann Judge Jerrod & The Hung Jury
8. Flynnville Train Redemption
9. Laura Marling I Speak Because I Can
10. Laura Bell Bundy Achin' And Shakin'

TOP FIVE COUNTRY REISSUES OF 2010:

-

COUNTRY MUSIC'S THREE BEST MALE VOCALISTS OF 2010:

1. Kenny Chesney
2. Jerrod Niemann
3. Jamey Johnson

COUNTRY MUSIC'S THREE BEST FEMALE VOCALISTS OF 2010:

1. Taylor Swift
2. Miranda Lambert
3. Gretchen Wilson

COUNTRY MUSIC'S THREE BEST LIVE ACTS OF 2010:

-

COUNTRY MUSIC'S THREE BEST SONGWRITERS OF 2010:

1. Taylor Swift
2. Jamey Johnson
3. Randy Houser

COUNTRY MUSIC'S THREE BEST DUOS, TRIOS OR GROUPS OF 2010:

1. Little Big Town
2. Stealing Angels
3. The Band Perry

COUNTRY MUSIC'S THREE BEST NEW ACTS OF 2010:

1. Jerrod Niemann
2. Laura Bell Bundy
3. Stealing Angels

COUNTRY MUSIC'S THREE BEST OVERALL ACTS OF 2010:

1. Taylor Swift
2. Jamey Johnson
3. Kenny Chesney

A few notes about my criteria for "borderline" entries, since I'm erratic from year to year on what to count. (1) I consider EPs eligible and I count them as albums even if they're under 25 minutes, since you don't have a separate category for them. You ought to consider it for next year - EP is a format that's getting used a lot again (damned if I know why, though I think it's part of the whole leaks, promotional-download-only-singles, real-singles, albums, deluxe-editions, Target-editions, Walmart-editions, extra-additions, let's-keep-the-performer-in-front-of-your-ears promotion-'n'-desperation activity that the biz engages in while scrambling to come up with a new business model). (2) This year I'm counting Brit folkies as country; they're as country as a lot of alt-country, and if Richard Thompson counts as country, for sure the Brit folkies do. That said, the reason I'm voting for Laura Marling and friends here is that I was feeling meh about my borderline albums: a good but subpar album by Gretchen Wilson, a good set of songs by Randy Houser that his voice doesn't come to grips with, a scattershot and unexpectedly characterless album by Lee Brice that nonetheless has a couple of my favorite songs of the year in any genre, "Picture Of Me" and "Sumter County Friday Night," and a journey to left field by Jace Everett that's got as much reverb as T-Pain has Autotune (also think it was originally 2009, though this year it got picked up by a different record company, but I'm only making sense of it now, and haven't yet succeeded) (not that I have anything against Autotune or reverb but I do wonder if Jace is overcompensating). (3) Promo download singles and charting nonsingles, of which Taylor had several; her best new song, "Innocent," was in the latter category: decided not to count it, 'cause I already like my singles list as is and the list could have easily been three times as long. I'm counting only one of the two Taylor Swift promotional downloaders (the two are "Mean" and "Speak Now," both of which are better than her actual push-them-to-radio singles), because I thought "Mean" was significant enough that I couldn't keep it off but thought one half-eligible Taylor song was enough. As always, these things depend on the situation, the song, and the year. (However, I don't want to give the impression that I usually like Mumford & Sons, since I find the guy's singing overstrained, but something clicks when they start doing dance stormers with South Asians.)

Frank Kogan, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 18:42 (3 years ago) Permalink

And my ballot comments (I refer a lot to Geoff's essay from last year's poll issue):

My Kinda Party

So, when last we met you were suggesting that Taylor Swift needed country mentors to root her in country soil, maybe a list of songs and a listening station, the thought not occurring in your prose that someone might possibly learn something from Taylor Swift, might even learn something from her about country music, or that she might already have some knowledge and have mentors, Faith Hill and Dixie Chicks records not necessarily being so barren (and records by who knows who else? do you know? have you asked her for her list of 100 records?), and Nathan Chapman and Liz Rose not necessarily being so dumb.

No one else in country looks back as much as Taylor Swift does, circling around in constant reassessment. She started her recording career with a retrospective song about a love affair, a song she wrote at fifteen while the affair was still underway. At twenty she remembered that at fourteen she was so embarrassed by the thought of her friends seeing her mom bring her to a movie that she made her mom drop her off a block from the theater. Not an extraordinary event, but this is the sort of detail that Taylor thinks to put in songs, the sort of incident that I imagine acts like Montgomery Gentry and Eric Church wish were in their songs, those guys not just waving their heritage like a flag (though they do that, too) but genuinely wrestling with the past, featuring rifts and reconciliation between parents and grown children, between men and women.

Taylor is always in argument with herself. She advises a little girl to never grow up (though Taylor is really addressing herself too); "just stay this little," Taylor says. But in another song she lets the little girl inside her answer back in fantasy sing-song, the little kid desperate to grow up, "Someday I'll be big enough so you can't hit me." Intriguingly, the song that sounds most conventionally country on the album goes, "Someday I'll be livin' in a big old city, and all you're ever gonna be is mean." Now, I don't see how any of these songs would have been different if she'd listened to "Lost Highway" or "Folsom Prison Blues" or "Mama Tried" before writing them (and you don't know that she didn't). Back in 2006 ("Cold As You") she started a fight just to feel something. So now what's she supposed to do to make her more country, if that's not enough? Ream out an old boyfriend in Reno, just to watch him cry?

Taylor is someone who never panders to her audience's insecurities, but shows actual insight into where those insecurities come from. So what might make her relevant, to country artists and many others, is that she actually digs at where she actually comes from, a connection to the Haggards and Williamses and Cashes and the rest being that she too has hungry eyes.

In Brantley Gilbert's "My Kinda Party," covered in an excellent rocking version by Jason Aldean, we're given instructions how to raise hell but how to keep that hell within acceptable sociological limits. There's unintended poignance in the fact of the song, reminiscent of the deliberate poignance of Merle Haggard's "Place where even squares can have a ball" and the Clash's "White riot, I want a riot, white riot, a riot of my own." The difference is that Haggard and Strummer are smart and know that they're singing within and about limitations, with great ambivalence as to whether the limits support and protect them or inhibit them or both. Whereas "My Kinda Party" fumbles around, recognizing the restrictions of the cleancut 9 to 5 (and tacitly acknowledging that the listeners likely hold service jobs not farm jobs) but not copping to the song's own inhibitions, Skynyrd and Hank once again being reduced to mere signifiers - though as you can tell I'm perpetually fascinated by this stuff, and there's genuine energy in the song, even if the song refuses to acknowledge the anxiety that undergirds the energy.

On his album Judge Jerrod & The Hung Jury, Jerrod Niemann looks at his own style of partying through easily misting eyes; has a funny little skit where a concerned female fan encompassing the ages 12 through 24 ("currently the only demographic purchasing country music at this time") writes Jerrod a letter in which she says that consumers of her sort have no interest in drinking or partying songs. Anyway, I want to contradict our representative fan and reassure Jerrod by pointing out that I conducted a survey of my own and these are the results - well, I didn't conduct the survey, simply noticed and analyzed the data, which I present here:

Billboard Magazine, biggest songs of 2010:

1. Ke$ha "TiK ToK"

Just saying.

And sure you can point out that Pebe Sebert's daughter isn't making country music, but I'll point out that youngsters who download songs by, say, Taylor Swift also have the ability to download songs that are not by Taylor Swift and not country and also have the ability to download dance mixes of Taylor Swift songs and webrips of Taylor Swift singing songs by Amy Winehouse and Beyoncé Knowles and Miranda Lambert and Eminem and Rihanna, and that Taylor Swift dance mixes get played on r&b and pop stations. But yes, Taylor, who admires Faith Hill for her classiness, has indeed stepped into a no man's land that is beyond a particular country subset's comfort zone. Maybe Taylor's kinda party is more complicated than their kind, or anyway brings complications to the surface that their party submerges, her college song not being about drinking but about waitressing and about the need to eventually earn a living.

On a different subject, or at least a tangential one, potentially the most significant country hit of the year was Miranda Lambert's "Only Prettier," which only got to number 12 on the country charts (and only made number 13 on my long list), but has a sound that really disconcerts me. It's got bluesy picking and weepy steel guitar riffs and singing with as twangy a twang as any twang freak could wish for, but also absolutely loud sloshing guitar, hard rock beats, bits of feedback and guitar roars and the vocal twang overdubbed and harmonized with the distortion needle high in the red. Now, I've made way noisier music myself and am fine with all sorts of distortion and cacophony from the days of Teenage Jesus up through the Gore Gore Girls and into the present (I've mixed feelings about Sleigh Bells but endorse their "Crown On The Ground," though it's too static, and by static here I mean immobile, not noisy, though of course it is noisy, but anyway as I said, I've made far noisier myself). And none of that disconcerts me the way the relatively mild "Only Prettier" does, the "Only Prettier" mixture making me seasick, somehow. My inner jury is still out as to whether that's a good thing. At the moment I'm rating the track below "The House That Built Me" (number 12 on my long list), even though I'm sure that "Only Prettier" is the better song. Check back with me next year.

Frank Kogan, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 18:43 (3 years ago) Permalink

We Are Real Country" are doing a worse job of dealing with the content that country supposedly exemplifies than are the people who aren't waving such a flag

Same argument I've made. Since Paisley's so insulated he probably doesn't think he's such an obvious panderer. At one point, think I read it in a guitar mag a year or so ago, he compared himself to Mark Twain, which was laughable in and of itself.

Never read the feature in the New Yorker, the existence of which only told me must have been considered cool by people most of his audience would beat up or push out of the way at the beach or swimming pool.

I did notice his label put out a live CD, called Hits Alive, for the Target shopper. Didn't bother to get it.

Gorge, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 18:51 (3 years ago) Permalink

Yeah I agree with yall re "doing a worse job", so my country Top Ten Albums are more about feel (and what I could easily imagine on a country dive jukebox/sound system, when I haven't actually witnessed it; thus Jace & Pretty Lights, who I hope does a mix incl Jace, if he hasn't already; lots of great free downloads on his site, and the soulfully spliced Making Up A Changing Mind made my P&J Top Ten Albums). My country Top Ten Singles dip up about as much of the mainstream as I got into, although I should have mentioned Tim McGraw's Number 1s in my Hon Mention Reissues. Also should've incl this, speaking of folk as country:

double bill preview:
Icelandic singer/songwriter Olof Arnalds gently nudges folk-shaded nostalgia toward fresh fascination,via breezes from her native turf of volcanos, glaciers, mud, and blown-out banks. She's at home in several languages,while covering tropicalia pioneer Caetano Veloso's " Maria Bethania", a tribute to his equally restless sister, and slipping through newly beveled levels of Springsteen's "I'm On Fire", which begins with an easy familiarity, "Hey little girl, is your daddy home?" She also favors the homely poise of country classics like George Jones and Tammy Wynette's "We're Not The Jet Set", traveling with the right feel even when picking it up second hand ("We're the Prine and DeMent set"). Cheyenne Marie Mize nurtures lines like "I knew we would see/It was all for the best", in a post-Americana ghost town of explosive implications. She also grows narrative from repetition, like Willie Nelson on a good night. That's where the resemblance ends, fortunately.

dow, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 19:07 (3 years ago) Permalink

I will say, though, that country music at least acknowledges that the U.S. is fighting a couple of actual wars with actual bullets and bombing and stuff (though the genre isn't much interested in the question of whom to tax in order to pay for the fighting). Whereas when I grew up in the Sixties, current wars and such were a presence in a range of popular song lyrics.

Frank Kogan, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 19:21 (3 years ago) Permalink

(Though when it comes to the Truth-In-Honesty Department, I ought to point out that if I hadn't deemed Marling & crew eligible, nine of my ten albums would have duplicated what was on Chuck's list.)

Frank Kogan, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 19:28 (3 years ago) Permalink

yeah (re xpost topicality) that's why I grudgingly give even Shooter Jenning's Tea Party braindump a few points for realness (of illness, at least in the "look at meee" realm of reality shows or whatnot). Spleaking of "Whip My Hair", Springsteen and Neil Young do a great version--the actual Springsteen, in his 70s Village People attire and Joe Cockeresque emission, while Jimmy Fallon nails Neilian warble *and* drama. From "Late Night", and prob on YouTube.

dow, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 19:35 (3 years ago) Permalink

"reality shows" in sense of producers manipulating behavior, incl impulses, fixations, etc, so Jennings as scribe and studio rat is stirring his own stew.

dow, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 19:51 (3 years ago) Permalink

Unfortunately, all that Shooter Jennings shows with his obsession with Alex Jones-type stuff is that his brain doesn't work real good.

Anyway, from Politico today:

With Republican leaders anxious to set an austere tone for their ascendance into the House majority this week, the lavish fundraiser scheduled for Tuesday night at a trendy Washington hotel to benefit a dozen GOP freshmen is not exactly the populist image leaders are anxious to project.

House Speaker-elect John Boehner, whose name was featured on the invitation, is nonetheless skipping the event at the W Hotel, where lobbyists, political action committee managers and others paying the $2,500 ticket price will be treated to a performance by country music star LeAnn Rimes (a $50,000 package includes a block of eight tickets and a “VIP suite” at the W). The office of incoming Majority Leader Eric Cantor, another featured invitee, was noncommittal Monday night when asked whether he’d attend.

Good to see LeAnn getting word. Too bad it's for an evil cause. The idea that the system immediately corrupts the right wing extremist frosh from the shires into Ayn Rand-saluting shoeshine boys for the protectors of the wealthy supermen is amusing, though.

Gorge, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 20:52 (3 years ago) Permalink

And speaking of Mark Twain, although not directly related to the country section, this is unintentionally funny and annoying at the same time:

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/45645-upcoming-newsouth-huck-finn-eliminates-the-n-word.html

Gorge, Tuesday, 4 January 2011 20:57 (3 years ago) Permalink

Weird -- wasn't LeAnn Rimes just making a big leftward move in a skimpy low-cut Santa outfit in front of the Los Angeles Gay Men's Chorus a couple weeks ago? Yep, here is (linked below). Maybe she just likes the Republicans' money??

http://socialitelife.com/leann-rimes-dons-sexy-santa-outfit-for-gays-12-2010

http://blog.zap2it.com/pop2it/2010/12/leann-rimes-spices-up-mrs-claus-costume-sings-with-santas-gay-elves.html

Speaking of big-voiced country gals turned would-be drag queens, has anybody here kept up with Wynona's career lately? I just Netflixed a fourth-season episode of Army Wives (also featuring dull one-guy rock "band" Five For Fighting), and she did a hard rockabilly number followed by some inspirational Eurodance-like schmaltz. Not great, but not bad. Made me kind of curious.

xhuxk, Wednesday, 5 January 2011 04:09 (3 years ago) Permalink

Actually thought Frank's NashScene comments were great, especially the Niemann/Ke$ha point; wouldn't've guessed they were tossed off at last minute (even though I get the idea most of the listening was.) Do think reverb is a big part of what makes Jace Everett's album so distincitive and fun, though. (Didn't hear a more addictive "rock" album all last year, if rockabilly still counts as rock.)

Couple things, though:

-- Frank says he now thinks he overrated it, but I wound up booting Chesney from my top ten albums in favor of Shinyribs at the last minute. Just thought Shinyribs deserved a vote; that's a good one. And decided that, outside of "Somewhere With You," which I voted for as a single, the only thing I really love on Hemingway's Whiskey is "Boys Of Fall" (which, oddly, I know Frank likes much less than me.) Even the title track seems good to me more in theory (I like that Kenny tried it) than in execution, somehow. Do kind of wish I had considered voting for Chesney, like Frank did, as one of my male singers, though. He's really gained nuance.

-- On the other hand, I voted for Lee Brice's album despite it being inconsistent. Just thought the two songs Frank named, and "Carolina Boys" and "Four On The Floor" too, ranked up there with just about any country tracks I heard last year. And probably rocked as hard as anybody, this side of Flynnville Train. And the rest of the album was mostly at least competent -- I only care about those four tracks, but when I play the rest, I do find stuff to like. And it really helps that Brice put three of his four great tracks at #7 through #9, so you can blast them all one after the other. So I invoked Frank's all-albums-are-EPs rule. (Btw, I wasn't sure whether Brice should qualify as "new", since he's been charting with singles for at least a couple years now, I think, and If I remember right there was a previous album that was shelved. But technically, he met the debut-album criterion.)

-- I wasn't really sure what Frank meant on his ballot by "if Richard Thompson counts as country," even though I voted for Thompson albums in my reissues both last year and this year. But maybe other people voted for his stuff, too, and I just never noticed?

-- Amazed to see Reba so high on Frank's list (and to hear him say he now thinks he under-rated it.) I like it fine; thought, just like her '09 album, it was more entertaining than I ever would've predicted; I'm pretty skeptical about her. (Reviewed them both favorably for Rhapsody; linked on last year's thread.) But as I've said before, I like the couple ballads I like (including the Beyonce cover) more than the rockers I like, and "Turn On The Radio" managed to become a major radio annoyance for me in record time. Again, I like that she's doing these harder boogie tracks these days; just not sure they're that memorable, beyond the idea.

xhuxk, Wednesday, 5 January 2011 14:53 (3 years ago) Permalink

Country album I played most in the past week, fwiw: Jeannie C. Riley's Harper Valley PTA from 1968, which I somehow never noticed until now is a concept album about different folks all in the same small town, a' la Spoon River Anthology or Springsteen's The River or whatever. Actually, Whitburn book goes even farther: "all songs about characters mentioned in the title song." Some of the songs are better than others, of course, and nothing else can touch the title track, but three others were also written by Tom T. Hall, which helps a lot -- including "Mr. Harper," about the town rich man who marries a young wife and lives to regret it, and which uses a weird talkbox proto-Vocoder effect. Another song employs Bo Diddley beats. Like it a lot more than 1971's Greatest Hits, which is interesting but slips too often into Nancy Sinatra show-tune Charleston kitsch for my stomach.

Country album I've been liking even more is Billy Joe Royal's 1965 Down In The Boondocks, which I just this second learned doesn't count because, though it hit #96 on Billboard's main album chart, Royal didn't chart an album or single country until the mid '80s. Weird; I would've guessed otherwise. Anyway, it's produced by Joe South (whose "I Knew You When" Royal covers), and the guy's just got an amazing plaintive high voice -- up there with Narvel Felts, though I suppose Gene Pitney would be the template. Also think Royal's "Funny How Times Slips Away" (that's country, right?) cuts Willie Nelson's, even if that makes me a blasphemer.

Finally, on country's outskirts, does anybody have any thoughts on the blues singer Shemekia Copeland? I'd never listened to her before, I don't think, but I've been playing her imminent Alligator Deluxe Edition album a little bit, and think it's not bad.

xhuxk, Wednesday, 5 January 2011 15:10 (3 years ago) Permalink

As for whether somebody "can point out that Pebe Sebert's daughter isn't making country music," here's Josh Langhoff on Ke$ha's "Cannibal," on Singles Jukebox last week:

she pronounces words in ways that no credible singer would let herself. Hence the second half of Verse 2, from “Use yer fingerrr tuh stirrr mah teeeeeah,” where she basically sounds like a twanging banjo (Nashville Scene voters take note).

And here's me on Rhapsody, a couple weeks ago:

Ke$ha's most Lily Allen-like like track is "Stephen." Taylor did her own "Hey Stephen" on Fearless, two years ago. Both "Stephen" songs are about pining over boys. The opening harmonies of Ke$ha's version sound fairly country, as does her Bubba Sparxxx-reminiscent hick-hop drawling through "We R Who We R," which she has described as an anthem for picked-on teenage outcasts, which is pretty much also what Taylor's Miranda Lambert-reminiscent "Mean" — easily the most country song on *Speak Now* — is.

Just saying.

Occurs to me that one could theoretically also count as a country single Juelz Santana and Yelawolf's subterranean homesick "Mixin' Up The Medicine" (which I like a lot, and may even have included it, and Lee Brice's "Sumter County Friday Night", among by Poptimist poll Top 20 tracks, if I'd thought of them on time). Not sure if anything on Yelawolf's own album (which I need to listen to more) counts as country as not, though I do get the idea there's a sort of Bubba Sparxxxish hicktown trailer-park feel to thing.

xhuxk, Wednesday, 5 January 2011 15:29 (3 years ago) Permalink

Haven't heard that much Yelawolf yet, but already intrigued by my homeboy's pronunciation. Wonder if Ke$ha's word-shaping has anything to do with the fact that Phoebe Seifert's "Old Flames Can't Hold a Candle to You" ect. songwriting partner (& perhaps Ke$ha's dad or stepdad?) Hugh Moffat also played trumpet. Although his professed inspiration was Clifford Brown, more than Don Cherry or Miles Davis, so any influence wouldn't have been world/free/Echoplex-extreme--still, mebbe the freedom principle, to cop the title of John Litweiler's excellent investigation of 20s-80s jazz.

dow, Wednesday, 5 January 2011 17:43 (3 years ago) Permalink

"Hemingway's Whiskey" is so striking a song, and so well-suited to the tough terseness which its composer, Guy Clark is married to, for better or worse (much more faithfully than Hem himself), that it almost doesn't matter how well Chesney does it, but that he does it at all, releases the notes with translucent tone and feeling (does a decent job) gives it the exposure it and listeners deserve. Which is pretty much what xxhux meant, I guess, but yeah I like the way he does it (& floats like Hemingway's boat, and whiskey must have, while Clark's raspier version favors other implications, but they come across in both tracks, otherwise would be too barfy)

dow, Wednesday, 5 January 2011 17:51 (3 years ago) Permalink

Speaking of big-voiced country gals turned would-be drag queens, has anybody here kept up with Wynona's career lately? I just Netflixed a fourth-season episode of Army Wives (also featuring dull one-guy rock "band" Five For Fighting), and she did a hard rockabilly number followed by some inspirational Eurodance-like schmaltz. Not great, but not bad. Made me kind of curious.

Her last album was a covers collection in early 2009, Sing: Chapter One. I actually compared her to a drag queen in my review of it. Nothing revolutionary, but it was better than her last couple of albums, in that she finally seemed to be taking ownership of her campiness and making it work for her. The last few nose jobs have irrevocably changed the tone of her voice, which is reedier now than it used to be, but she's still able to move from country to R&B to rock singing without breaking a sweat.

From Kogan's Nashville Scene comments:
Now, I don't see how any of these songs would have been different if she'd listened to "Lost Highway" or "Folsom Prison Blues" or "Mama Tried" before writing them (and you don't know that she didn't). Back in 2006 ("Cold As You") she started a fight just to feel something. So now what's she supposed to do to make her more country, if that's not enough? Ream out an old boyfriend in Reno, just to watch him cry?

OTM. I'm not nearly as much of a fan of Swift's as many of the folks around these boards, but I made a similar point in my comments for this year's poll about how it's disingenuous for people to champion Jamey Johnson for his supposed authenticity and, in doing so, to claim that he's saving contemporary country music from the likes of Swift, when the conflicts and narratives she writes are, to my ears, every bit as believably "authentic" as Johnson's, if not moreso. Will wait to see if Himes posts the comment in full before xposting it here.

jon_oh, Wednesday, 5 January 2011 18:21 (3 years ago) Permalink

Steel Magnolia review:

http://www.rhapsody.com/steel-magnolia-country-pop/steel-magnolia#albumreview

think the Mark Growden album might be okay (despite being apparently dull folkie singer-songwriter stuff on the surface), but it needs more listens

Gave it more listens; decided it bores me more than it interests me (though it's occasionally an interesting kind of boredom, maybe.)

xhuxk, Wednesday, 5 January 2011 19:51 (3 years ago) Permalink

xpost

Don't know if there actually are any other "likes of Swift" for country to be rescued from, since her singing just can't be approximated (at least I don't hear anyone who's even trying), and while the attention to detail in the lyrics, and the situations, ought to be taken as a model, I'm not hearing any other country young'uns doing that either (though maybe that just tells you I'm listening in the wrong places). But I assume those country blokes dismayed by whatever Taylor Swift represents to their nonprobing minds are equally dismayed by Carrie and Kellie et al., though none of those women are actually the dominant sound on the country charts. I'm not sure what I would call the dominant sound, though the word "blandboy" comes to mind. Of course I love Chesney's voice, which is officially bland, I guess, but I'm thinking more of Aldean and Currington and Hootie and Zac and Rascal, some of whom I like some of the time.

Think Taylor's singing just gets better, and her eye for situations is as good as ever, but I don't think she's finding words to deliver them that are as potent and complex as the ones she came up with when Liz Rose was helping her. See Dave Moore at the Jukebox for a strong critique - though I think Dave's way overreacting, the overeaction keyed by his love for her previous stuff and disappointment now. Any criticisms I have of Taylor are relative to that previous stuff and to her potential, since no one else - at least that I'm hearing right now - is coming up with nemesis brides looking like pastry (you suddenly picture Taylor smooshing her rival all over the floor, then wiping the cream and sugar from her boots) or is calling herself a flight risk, afraid of falling (the words "flight" and "falling" working several ways at once).

Chuck, the Juelz/Yelawolf "Mixin' Up The Medicine" is from 2009. The Yelawolf alb starts off amazing, with hardcore punk/crunk claws, and his drawl complementing his squall. But it drops off precipitously from there, after about track three, at least that's how it seemed to me over one-and-a-half listens; I do like "Marijuana" over on Track Nine, yet more hardcore. And you all are right about the drawl: definite country-rap possibilities if Yelawolf wants to take it there, though my guess is he won't. "That's What We On Now," perhaps another maryjane reference, also refers to Bubba Sparxxx and puts "I got twenty bucks and I don't give a fuck, e-yeah/A country girl in a pickup truck, eh" right next to the refrain. The lyrics make me smile. "They gave me a budget, I bought a bicycle frame." And (now sounding like Em on "My Name Is") "Jimmy crack corn, then he threw a barstool/Mother Goose broke a wing and still flew the coop/She gave Jimmy twenty bucks and threw him a deuce/Left Jimmy on the string like a loose tooth." A man to watch.

Frank Kogan, Wednesday, 5 January 2011 19:52 (3 years ago) Permalink

RE Paisley, Ke$ha, Yelawolf:

I don't wanna rep too hard for that Paisley, since I might forget it in a month, but don't singers ALWAYS say stupid things about their music, whether their music's good or bad? Of course, that doesn't change the pandering tone of his lyrics or the vast untruths unleashed therein, but at least they're interesting lyrics. And regardless of how much better the guy plays in concert, his guitar on that song sounds more fluid and conscious than any guitar I can think of on current radio, country or otherwise.

I'd like to stress that I don't consider Ke$ha country music, in case some lurking newcomer to this thread starts feeling all disgruntled. Nevertheless, she's got legitimate country roots, and they're as present in her voice as they are in her interviews. On that same Singles Jukebox, Katherine and I were talking a little about vowel sounds, and without taking this into pedantic choir-director territory, I'd point out that the way you shape your vowels encodes a whole lot. They're why country sounds "twangy." (In my comment, I should've said K pronounces words in ways no credible POP singer would let herself. Loretta Lynn, no problem.) I'm not familiar with the "Freedom Principle" Dow cites, but it does seem like K draws equally from southern and Valley vowel sounds, and maybe elsewhere, to create her "incorrect" persona. To Pop ears unwilling to venture outside Pop, I'm guessing country vowels signify "lower socio-economic class", which fits with K's dollar-sign and crash-the-rich-dude's-house shtick. So she probably adopts those vowels because she knows them intimately, and she knows they'll be heard as something outside everyday pop pronunciation, giving her transgression an immediacy missing from singers who only SING about transgression.

Of course, none of this should imply that people who hate Ke$ha are recoiling from people of a lower socio-economic class. I totally buy it when critics I respect say her music sounds ugly.

I should listen to Yelawolf.

dr. phil, Wednesday, 5 January 2011 20:33 (3 years ago) Permalink

Maybe Taylor's lack of twangy vowels is why some people have a hard time considering her country? Dave got this comment for his "Top Country Albums" list over at PopMatters:

Okay…first off, Taylor Swift is a singer who makes soft-rock/pop music, there is NOTHING country about her, save the marketing by her label. Second, that Cash album was an abomination. Third, the BEST country album of the year was from Marty Stuart. I literally have no respect for a best country music list that includes Taylor Swift and has no mention of Stuart’s masterpiece from this year. Did you just not hear the thing? Ghost Train: STudio B Sessions…check it out, and then re-do your list.

(He dealt with it well.)

And maybe that's why she and Underwood have been able to cross over to pop so successfully? I STILL meet nitwits who tell me they like every kind of music "except country and rap". Even in smalltown Missouri growing up, people would say that. It's really hard not to read class prejudice into that statement. Although to be fair, country and rap go to some lengths to demarcate who belongs and who doesn't, so maybe people who hate both genres are just bristling because those genres don't need them. (Which also applies to Ke$ha, because she makes it abundantly clear through her singing that she doesn't need you or your bougie friends.)

dr. phil, Wednesday, 5 January 2011 20:43 (3 years ago) Permalink

(And because, unlike most rap I've heard lately, $he makes a point of referring to her favorite club in "Take It Off" not as a VIP Room but as a "hole in the wall," which just happens to be the same metaphor frequently used by blue-collar Southern Soul singers to signify the low-rent places they dance and fry fish at on Friday nights -- in fact, "Hole In The Wall," from 1999 I believe, is one of Mel Waiters's signature songs; another one insists that "the smaller the club, the better the party." I bet Ke$ha would agree.) (Though her wall-hole is admittedly "downtown," not a destination a little up the road from the habitations and the towns we know.)

xhuxk, Wednesday, 5 January 2011 21:33 (3 years ago) Permalink

Josh, unless someone's idea of Pop is Julie Andrews, I don't think there's a general aversion to Southern singing styles among the pop audience; in fact whole hunks of non-Southerners (e.g. Stevie Winwood and Mick Jagger and Gene Pitney and Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin and Hank Snow and thousands upon thousands of others) have been known to adopt Southern styles themselves. I'd even say that when almost anyone sings something related to soul or r&b or rock 'n' roll or rock - and that's a huge amount of the American top 40, since those are the styles that American pop draws on - they're probably adopting Southernisms without even knowing it. Also, Taylor's singing runs close to her talking, and the more it does, the more Southern it sounds (albeit the Tennessee 'burbs rather than the Louisiana swamp). Not to say that Ke$ha isn't an interesting and unique singer, I just don't think that anyone's problem with her is her vowels; rather, it'd be her stridency (which I get a kick out of, myself). Anyhow, Ke$ha is quite the successful singer these days.

Beyond vowels, I think - and I'm not speaking authoritatively here, just parroting some ideas I've read - that twang also has to do with how you configure your throat when singing (as opposed to talking), the vocal style originating in the Middle East a couple of millennia back and stretching from North Africa through Europe. Styles and scales eventually shifted in the urban areas of Europe and then through much of central Europe but the older styles hung on in the rural western fringes e.g. rural England and Scotland and Ireland, and from there hello to the Southern United States. (Yes, I'm talking out my ass now, have made no effort to verify any of this, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong, and singing from the Mideast does have a twang.)

(Not that there aren't also strains in American pop singing from Italy and Jamaica and David Bowie and Johnny Rotten etc. But I really don't notice any aversion to Southern or low-class singing styles. Interesting how singing tends not to parallel, say, TV newscasting in this regard.)

Frank Kogan, Wednesday, 5 January 2011 22:53 (3 years ago) Permalink

Also, not speaking of vowels, you should read what Rob Sheffield has to say about the similarity between Taylor Swift and the young Morrissey.

Meanwhile, over on the Freaky Trigger/poptimists poll (here and here and here and here, so far), Sunny Sweeney's "From A Table Away" finished a miserable 111th, Taylor Swift's "The Story Of Us" finished an unexpected 95th, Taylor Swift's "Mine" finished an umimpressive 59th, and (to stretch the def'n of "country" even farther than usual) Intocable's "Estamos En Algo" finished a satisfying 81st (and finished an astounding 20th in the poptimists subunit of the poll, which I assume means that Chuck and I submitted our ballots through Kat at poptimists rather than Tom at Freaky Trigger). Beyond that it's been a washout for anything within miles of country, unless Miranda or Taylor pulls something out of the hat in the final 22. (I suppose the country-only-for-the-purposes-of-my-country-music-critics-poll-ballot Laura Marling also might have something to retrieve from her headwear, though I wouldn't bet on it.)

Chuck, Richard Thompson's name appeared on the long list of country hitmakers, notables, Grammy nominees, etc. that Geoff sent us when trying to drum up last-minute participation in the Country Music Critics Poll; I don't remember which category Thompson's name showed up in - presumably something related to "folk."

Frank Kogan, Wednesday, 5 January 2011 23:31 (3 years ago) Permalink

Sunny Sweeney's "From A Table Away" finished a miserable 111th

has she received any promotion? i guess the single did well enough on the charts (top 20 country), but it's been out for over half a year and i still haven't seen a peep anywhere about a new album. if memory serves, all inquiries about any forthcoming music from her have been met here and elsewhere with a shrug and an "i don't know." quite possibly my fave single of 2010 and i really really want to hear more.

fact checking cuz, Wednesday, 5 January 2011 23:51 (3 years ago) Permalink

I'm not the one to know about the promotion or lack thereof; Sweeney's on Big Machine, who are small enough that I'd think they'd give special attention and support to their acts, though I have no idea.

As far as our neighborhood of the Web, though, and people potentially voting in a poll through Freaky Trigger or poptimists, we reviewed and talked up "From A Table Away" quite enthusiastically on The Singles Jukebox. But we were voting our top twenty songs (in my case including album tracks) and it missed my twenty by a few spots. My guess is that Lex and Chuck were the only two to vote for it.

Frank Kogan, Thursday, 6 January 2011 00:12 (3 years ago) Permalink

Not to say that Ke$ha isn't an interesting and unique singer, I just don't think that anyone's problem with her is her vowels; rather, it'd be her stridency

Despite my near-total veneration of Julie Andrews, I totally agree with this, and didn't mean to suggest otherwise. My question about Taylor and Carrie was probably a speculation too far. What I mean to suggest is that K's vowels are what people DO like about her; and I mean to suggest that because her vowels are what I like about her. Seriously, my favorite part of "Tik Tok" is how she pronounces the chorus. (And we're veering pretty far from country with "Tik Tok"; but I was only emphasizing her Southern-ness because my "twanging banjo" comment came up. Her Southern vowels are probably a smaller weapon in her arsenal than her Valley vowels.) But if we're talking about her stridency, I think she USES all her unusually-shaped vowels to create her stridency. (Unusually-shaped in a Julie Andrews context, yes, but also in a context of current white female Top 40 singers -- as far as I can tell, nobody else is pronouncing words like her.) So whether her stridency is a problem or a kick, her vowels -- and her lyrics, and Auto-Tune, and whatever else -- are integral to it.

This doesn't make her unique in the history of pop, it's just the way she goes about achieving her effect. For instance, lots of times she reminds me of Eminem, who's also got some twanginess based on calculated word-choice. And I, too, am pretty much talking out my ass with all this stuff, but that's what this is for, right? Someone'll correct us as necessary.

Yay Intocable!

dr. phil, Thursday, 6 January 2011 02:46 (3 years ago) Permalink

Plenty of (alt)-country in the Austin Statesman's Austin Music Pundit Awards, which came out today. I've got no input in it, but was pleasantly surprised to note that I actually like three albums in the Top 10 (Shinyribs, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Matador's non-country Casual Victim Pile comp), one more in the Next 10 (non-country The Sword), and one more in the Honorable Mentions (not really all that country even though I named them on my Nashville Scene ballot Mother Truckers). Haven't heard most of the others named, though I thought this year's Alejandro Escovedo was kinda bad, and Okkervill River were probably the most boring thing ever to happen to Roky Erikson (though their album won anwyay.) Think I heard this year's Dale Watson album, but if so it went in one ear and out the other. (Really like his Whiskey Or God from 2006, but nothing he's done since has grabbed me.) Never heard the Reckless Kelly (whose Wicked Twisted Road I liked in 2005), and didn't even know there was a new album this year by Elizabeth McQueen -- would've really liked to hear that; I'd still rep for the two mid'-00s CDs by her I've got. Anyway:

http://www.austin360.com/music/2010-amp-awards-true-love-for-roky-erickson-1165276.html

From the blurbs attached, a fairly accurate description of the Shinyribs album (which I don't think I've ever actually described myself), by Michael Corcoran:

It would be obvious to call this a Gourds album without co-frontman Jimmy Smith, but there's a completely different mind-set here. "Well After Awhile" is all about the full-voiced vocals of Kevin Russell, who croons "Who Built the Moon" to open the record and never holds back.
Produced by George Reiff, "Well After Awhile" is adventurous, while firmly rooted. "Poor People's Store" brings a doo-wop observational vibe to the aisles of Dollar General, while "East TX Rust" sounds like what might happen if Jerry Reed (as channeled by Ray Wylie Hubbard) invited Stevie Wonder to stop by the studio with his clavinet.

xhuxk, Thursday, 6 January 2011 15:01 (3 years ago) Permalink

i dig that Riley reissue too, Don! didn't even know if anyone had heard that one.

scott seward, Thursday, 6 January 2011 15:22 (3 years ago) Permalink

I think she USES all her unusually-shaped vowels to create her stridency. (Unusually-shaped in a Julie Andrews context, yes, but also in a context of current white female Top 40 singers -- as far as I can tell, nobody else is pronouncing words like her.) So whether her stridency is a problem or a kick, her vowels -- and her lyrics, and Auto-Tune, and whatever else -- are integral to it.

Yes!

Frank Kogan, Thursday, 6 January 2011 16:44 (3 years ago) Permalink

It turns out Sunny Sweeney is now on Republic Nashville, a joint venture between Big Machine and Universal Republic. Hope they don't end up doing to her what Columbia did to Ashley Monroe, insisting she hit big before they release an album, so she ends up having to release the thing independently three years afterwards. "From A Table Away" did chart higher than "Satisfied" and "I Don't Want To" did, but times are harder.

Frank Kogan, Thursday, 6 January 2011 16:58 (3 years ago) Permalink

I see that Joe Gross, a former Why Music Sucks contributor, is still writing for the Statesman. Chuck, have you met him? Nice guy. Married Renée Crist's sister. We had a long phone conversation shortly after Renée died.

(He once wrote that my writing changed his life, which also prejudices me in his favor, since he implied that the change was for the better.)

Frank Kogan, Thursday, 6 January 2011 17:13 (3 years ago) Permalink

The Yelawolf alb starts off amazing, with hardcore punk/crunk claws, and his drawl complementing his squall. But it drops off precipitously from there, after about track three, at least that's how it seemed to me over one-and-a-half listens; I do like "Marijuana" over on Track Nine, yet more hardcore.

Frank, it seems the songs you like are the new ones--the album has an EP's worth of new songs (tracks 1-5 and 'Marijuana') while the rest are from a mixtape from earlier this year. He does seem to be going for a more rockin' sound in the more recent songs. I like some of the older ones a bit better though: "Box Chevy" is my favorite on the disc.

President Keyes, Friday, 7 January 2011 00:06 (3 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, Frank - I finally met Joe in person during the Austin City Limits fest last year; agree he's one of the nice ones. He's in the Statesman all the time -- it's his full-time gig -- but he actually writes about books (including graphic novels) and movies more than music these days. Though he does seem to grab the metal-leaning reviews. (Also still reviews for Decibel, I believe.)

xhuxk, Friday, 7 January 2011 01:55 (3 years ago) Permalink

"earlier this year" = earlier last year

President Keyes, Friday, 7 January 2011 02:02 (3 years ago) Permalink

Even in the South, certain instances of twang= white trash/skank/trailer/meth, and I've heard young African-American women calling each other for being "so small town, so ghetto"; references among young African-American men and women also to "chickenheads", "bucks," etc. Much campiness among those who call themselves (and/or close relatives) "rednecks", mixed emotions and motives--the Southernness of America's music heritage doesn't preclude any of this, esp. with younger people. (Oh yeah, speaking of "hole in the wall", I always remember what one excellent young Alabama funk guitarist said in the 70s, when I tried to get him into John Lee Hooker, "I dig BB King, but later for that hole-in-the-wall shi.t") Which is not to refute Frank, but I know where Dr Phil is coming from too, and the way Ke$ha's twanging some high-class nerves all the way to the bank and maybe glory too, like (prob more bank than glory-bound)self-described "guidette" Snooki. To the bank in both cases, because of the fascinated repulsion factor, a minstrel/menstrual show thing maybe (such reaction seems to apply more to female incoming outliers, or outlayers)

dow, Friday, 7 January 2011 07:01 (3 years ago) Permalink

And I don't mean "minstrel" as a dismissal, but more of a starting point. (I'll spare yall a re-hash of Lott's Love and Theft though)

dow, Friday, 7 January 2011 07:04 (3 years ago) Permalink

(Oh yeah, glad you liked the Riley album too, Scott--I liked it except for Riley's voice--where did you find it?! The only way I knew about it was Ebbtide's posts in RC 2010, and he passed my info along to the label)

dow, Friday, 7 January 2011 07:11 (3 years ago) Permalink

Interview with Chely Wright, about how coming out has affected her career and standing in the industry, etc., thus far:

http://www.autostraddle.com/chely-wright-country-music-gay-interview-72366/

xhuxk, Tuesday, 11 January 2011 21:15 (3 years ago) Permalink

Good interview, Wonder if those songs she wrote with Linda Perry will ever show up somewhere (or maybe they have)? Anyway, "6 or 7 songs" toward the next album, aside from the Perry collabs, apparently. Dale Watson was one of the first sort of neo-honky tonk singers, actually associated more with dives than No Dep (although connecting with the latter as well) who I ever heard of. A neo-New Traditionalist, mebbe, somewhat like early Yoakam. But I lost track of him for a while, and when he came back with that 07 album I'm blacking on (the one on Hyena), I complained on Rolling Country about his wanting too much to be liked, while still trying to represent/credibly delve into a wide range and wild slide of life. Made worse by seeming to beg comparison with Johnny Cash. But he and his band showed up on World Cafe s few nights ago, with a speedy x relaxed approach, a balancing act that seemed effortless (many nights at the Continental Club in Austin, when not playing festivals etc) and necessary, after brief reference to having been in an intoxicated car crash, fatal to his girlfriend, followed by a stay in what he referred to as "the loony bin", plus a documentary. A great sound, if a fairly short live-in-the-studio set, but lots more club sets on archive.org, which posts only with the artists' permission (also posted) Here's the link to his World Cafe http://www.npr.org/2011/01/13/132887479/dale-watson-on-world-cafe
He was on there in 07 too, but I haven't heard that yet. Here's his Archive.org archive:
http://www.archive.org/detail/DaleWatson
if that doesn't work, just try Google's Advanced Search on him with archive.org as Domain Name

dow, Monday, 17 January 2011 20:46 (3 years ago) Permalink

Sorry, "details", not "detail":
http://www.archive.org/details/DaleWatson

dow, Monday, 17 January 2011 20:48 (3 years ago) Permalink

My review of the recent Trace Adkins "definitive" greatest hits, last year's second best country double album to include Jamey Johnson songs:

http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/135371-trace-adkins-the-definitive-greatest-hits-til-the-last-shots-fired

Pretty sure I coined the word "horndoggerel"!

dr. phil, Tuesday, 18 January 2011 19:31 (3 years ago) Permalink

From an email Don forwarded me this morning (pretty sure he gets these every year):

Marco Club Connection, a Nashville-based Country music dance venue marketing company, has released its seventh annual Top Ten list of the year’s most requested Country dance club songs.
Each year in December, Club Connection surveys a panel of more than 240 club owners, DJs and dance instructors from across the country to compile its Top Ten rankings.
“As Country music continues to incorporate more and more of a Pop element, the dance clubs can be a very important tool in breaking an artist,” says Club Connection Venue Marketing Specialist Bobbe Morhiser. “Look no further than Laura Bell Bundy for proof of that. ‘Giddy On Up’ was huge in the dance clubs, and for a brand new artist to place in Club Connection’s top five at the end of the year is very impressive.”
The results of the 2010 Top Ten Country Dance Club Hits are:

1. “Stuck Like Glue” - Sugarland
2. “All About Tonight” - Blake Shelton
3. “Hillbilly Bone” - Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins
4. “Need You Now” - Lady Antebellum
5. “Giddy On Up” - Laura Bell Bundy
6. “Country Done Come To Town” - John Rich
7. “Roll With It” - Easton Corbin
8. “Why Don't We Just Dance” - Josh Turner
9. “Turn On The Radio” - Reba
10. “Pretty Good At Drinkin' Beer” - Billy Currington

“All of the songs on Club Connection’s Top Ten list have been in heavy rotation at Wild Bills for most of the year,” says Dwight Philpott, one of the DJs at Wild Bills in Atlanta, Ga. “We play these songs every single night, because these are the ones that always pack our dance floor.”
Songs to top the list in previous years include Zac Brown Band’s “Toes” (2009), Alan Jackson’s “Good Time” (2008), Josh Turner’s “Firecracker” (2007), Steve Holy’s “Brand New Girlfriend” (2006), Trace Adkins’ “Honkytonk Badonkadonk” (2005) and Big & Rich’s “Save a Horse (Ride A Cowboy)” (2004).
A complete archive of Club Connection’s Top Ten Country Dance Club Hits can be viewed at www.MarcoClubConnection.com.

xhuxk, Tuesday, 18 January 2011 20:05 (3 years ago) Permalink

Pazz & Jop Albums:

Jamey Johnson 20th
Taylor Swift 26th
Laura Marling 80th
Elizabeth Cook 83rd (actually expected her to finish a lot higher, even though I think people overrate the album)
Patty Griffin 112th
Drive By Truckers 122nd
John Mellencamp 168th (57 places behind Never Mind The Bullets: Here's Early Bob Seger, which only five people voted for!)
Tift Merritt 196th

Probably missing some (not sure if Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Robert Plant, Mumford And Sons, Ray Lamontagne count as country these days or not. And Johnny Cash must be in there somewhere, but I'm not finding him.)

Most gratifying surprise (outside of Seger): Five people voting for Chely Wright -- 231st place, just ahead of Nicki Minaj):

http://www.villagevoice.com/pazznjop/albums/2010/TGlmdGVkIE9mZiB0aGUgR3JvdW5k/

xhuxk, Wednesday, 19 January 2011 02:08 (3 years ago) Permalink

Singles
Taylor Swift "Mine" tied for 54th (13 votes)
Miranda Lambert "The House The Built Me" tied for 60th (12 votes)
Taylor Swift "Mean" and "Back To December" both tied for 138th (5 votes)

xhuxk, Wednesday, 19 January 2011 02:14 (3 years ago) Permalink

Oh, Lady Antebellum "Need You Now" got 12 singles votes too, looks like. Good for them. (Plus, George and two other people voted for their album.)

xhuxk, Wednesday, 19 January 2011 02:17 (3 years ago) Permalink

Sunny Sweeney "From A Table Away" -- only 3 votes. I expected it to do better.

http://www.villagevoice.com/pazznjop/singles/2010/RnJvbSBhIFRhYmxlIEF3YXk=/

xhuxk, Wednesday, 19 January 2011 02:34 (3 years ago) Permalink

Frank voted for Mumford and Sons on his Scene ballot. Robert Plant's Band of Joy is its own kind of Americana art-pop, Planty leading a conga-chorus line of pickers and chirpers through candelit caverns. Also relates to some of the cuter, bouncier stuff he did with Zep. Can see why Krauss wasn't having any of those sexy-spooky incense 'n' peppermints Low covers (she's more into Bread, pop-rockwise). Cool review dr phil, I'll have to check that Trace comp, and "horndoggeral" shows you as dr. after my own heart.

dow, Wednesday, 19 January 2011 04:25 (3 years ago) Permalink

Johnny Cash got exactly as many album votes as Lady Antebellum, it turns out:

http://www.villagevoice.com/pazznjop/albums/2010/QW1lcmljYW4gVkk6IEFpbid0IE5vIEdyYXZl/

(I never heard the thing, myself.)

xhuxk, Wednesday, 19 January 2011 05:09 (3 years ago) Permalink

I'm rather impressed that only two singles I voted for got votes from anyone else (one of those only got one other voter, Bobby Reed joining me in a vote for "Little White Church").

Speaking of polls, I nominated a whole bunch of country tracks (including "Sandman" and "Picture Of Me") for the The 2010 ILM Super-Mega Year-End Albums 'N' Tracks Poll, if you want to vote for them or others (someone else had already nominated "From A Table Away"). Go here for instructions how to vote. The poll's open through Friday.

Frank Kogan, Wednesday, 19 January 2011 18:11 (3 years ago) Permalink

Thanks, Dow! 2 things:

Ned just told me Mumford and Sons are tangentially related to Christian rock or something, which I wasn't aware of since I've never heard them except for the profanity-edited-out song they play on VH1 in the mornings. (And I can't remember how that goes.) This may be old news (the Xian rock part). Apparently the singer comes from cheery evangelical folk.

Second: can anyone confirm or deny the accuracy of this P/J comment?

Just wait till Jamey Johnson’s admirers discover Mickey Newbury and Harry Chapin.

Michael Robbins
Chicago, IL

dr. phil, Wednesday, 19 January 2011 23:07 (3 years ago) Permalink

Believe it or not, I don't know if I've ever actually heard Mickey Newbury. (I've heard of him plenty, though -- mostly in the song "Luckenbach, Texas.") And I barely know Harry Chapin's stuff at all, beyond the obvious hits ("Cat's In The Cradle," "Taxi," "WOLD"), which I guess I've always had mixed feelings about. So who knows, maybe that guy's right -- even if (I assume) he's being sarcastic. Jamey Johnson's definitely got at least as much "'70s singer songwriter" as "outlaw" in his music.

Elizabeth McQueen cover story, from this week's Austin Chronicle. Frank and I liked and wrote about her The Fresh Up Club and all-pub-rock-covers Happy Doing What We're Doing back in the early/mid '00s; I haven't read this feature yet, but apparently she's been doing a lot with Asleep At The Wheel lately, and her new album is said to be a sort of retro-lounge-jazz move.

http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=oid%3A1136831

New evidence of Ke$ha's rustic cowboy cred: I had one of the local regional Mexican stations on in the car this morning (have two punched in as settings now), and they were playing a good jaunty banda-type number that as usual I can't hope to identify, and when the singing stops, the deejay starts mashing up "We R Who We R" over the tubas and accordions. Sounded awesome -- my jop dropped.

Have been listening to an advance of the new Randy Montana CD, which is really great. Want to hold off on talking more about it for the time being, but so far "Ain't Much Left Of Lovin' You," the single Frank liked last year, is one my least favorite tracks.

xhuxk, Thursday, 20 January 2011 14:11 (3 years ago) Permalink

Not real familiar with Newbury, but "Frisco Mabel Joy" was an early 70s late night FM folkie staple; also, he arranged the "Great American Trilogy": a medley of "Dixie", "Battle Hymn of the Republic", and "All My Trials",maybe not in that order, but anyway South, North, and African-Americans, reconciled by the majesty of Elvis, live in concert. It worked, at least insofar as "I believe 'em while I'm singin' 'em," like Dylan says. Otherwise, Newbury's later stuff sometimes got tagged as "new age country", and xgau shows no love, to put it mildly, but the early stuff might have something to do with Jamey Johnson. I think him, re songwriting and album developement more as relating to early 70s Coe,maybe Townes, Waylon and Willie,esp Phases and Stages. I'm initially amazed by Wanda Jackson's new album with Jack White & co., which has no prob spinning rockabilly, New Orleans, calypso, country, gospel, boogie woogie, an overall "Rainy Day Women" x Zep feel which doesn't mess up the gospel, even ( honoring Stax's own approach to remakes helps). Can well imagine Jace Everett getting into it, and not totally sure a couple of songs aren't his. Gets better as it goes along too It's streaming here til Jan 25
http://www.npr.org/2011/01/16/132289971/first-listen-wanda-jackson-the-party-aint-over

dow, Friday, 21 January 2011 21:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

I'm glad they're streaming that, since I heard "Shakin' All Over" last night on the radio and liked it a lot. It's a big production number, sort of like what the White Stripes did with "Conquest" only more show-bizzy. This Letterman performance has a fine White guitar solo.

dr. phil, Friday, 21 January 2011 22:58 (3 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, although her voice seemed a bit small for the live sound, though I may have been influenced by the fast that she was at least a foot shorter than the musicians she was surrounded with. "Shakin' All Over" is kinda hard to pull off live (that "oh-oh-vuhhh", unless you're Roger Daltry on Live At Leeds, for inst), though better on the album, still not nearly the best track. Nashville Scene's round-up issue is here. Surprised that The Promise made Reissues, but I did hear an interview in which Springteen said he recorded Darkness On The Edge of Town during his long, glacial struggle with his former manager, I think he was forbidded to release anything til the suit was settled, and he was wondering if he was going to have the career he wanted, or slide back to the periphery, be a bar band guy or something, and he was also writing from how he'd felt as a hicktown teen in what he described as the "David Lynch-ian" mid-60s, when Highway 61 Revisited was his Catcher In The Rye. So, that kind of marginalized, impacted stress is indeed something I relate to country, but haven't heard this album (which also includes all the nostalgic pop-oriented outtakes pointedly from the Darkness sessions, and of course that's country-relevant too, thematically, but I also look for a certain feel)

dow, Thursday, 27 January 2011 19:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

Anyhoo, here's the press release and links to round-up stuff. Here's hoping ILX will let me activate all these links at the end:
JAMEY JOHNSON AND MIRANDA LAMBERT DOMINATE THE NASHVILLE SCENE’S ELEVENTH ANNUAL COUNTRY MUSIC CRITICS POLL

The 77 writers from all over North America who voted in the 11th annual Country Music Critics Poll named Jamey Johnson Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year and cited his latest release, The Guitar Song, as the year's best album. They also voted Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me” as the year’s best single; they also named her Female Vocalist of the Year and runner-up Artist of the Year.

There are other winners: Hank Williams won the Best Reissue voting; Elizabeth Cook's Welder and Taylor Swift's Speak Now finished No. 3 and No. 4 in the Best Album voting; Little Big Town’s “Little White Church” was No. 2 Single; the Zac Brown Band was named Best Live Act and Best Group; Easton Corbin was voted the Best New Act.

But the poll was dominated by Johnson, whose album garnered nearly double the votes of the runner-up, Up on the Ridge, by Dierks Bentley. Here was a country singer, the critics agreed, who shouldered the work of role models such as Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings without turning their legacy into quaint history, pious sentimentality or artless showboating.

Today's Nashville Scene cover story provides much more than just the results. Geoffrey Himes, who conducts the poll each year, tries to make sense of the voting with a long essay and an interview with Elizabeth Cook. There are also comments from many of the voters as well as a chart comparing the poll results to the artists’ Billboard rankings.

The voters included writers from such high-profile publications as The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, CMT.com, Billboard, People, Entertainment Weekly, Spin, Rolling Stone, National Public Radio, Country Weekly and the Boston Globe. But the voters also came from such heartland publications as the Lincoln Journal Star, Memphis Flyer, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, Worcester Telegram & Gazette and Las Vegas Weekly.

Here are the URL links to the stories:

http://www.nashvillescene.com/nashville/jamey-johnson-bridges-countrys-past-and-the-future-that-he-and-stars-like-taylor-swift-and-dierks-bentley-are-shaping/Content?oid=2191612

http://www.nashvillescene.com/nashville/from-jamey-johnsons-triumphs-to-race-and-suicide-critics-weigh-in-on-the-year-in-country-music/Content?oid=2191626

http://www.nashvillescene.com/nashville/commercial-country-doesnt-know-what-to-do-with-elizabeth-cook-and-thats-a-shame/Content?oid=2191638

http://www.nashvillescene.com/nashville/country-music-critics-poll-voters/Content?oid=2191637

http://www.nashvillescene.com/nashville/charts-vs-critics/Content?oid=2192281

dow, Thursday, 27 January 2011 19:08 (3 years ago) Permalink

'Hmm, what can we come up with today that will appeal to the emotionally bankrupt 36-year-old woman and allow us to go to the bank?'

Ha! Almost makes me want to buy her record sight unseen.

Gorge, Thursday, 27 January 2011 20:15 (3 years ago) Permalink

Nashville Scene results, for easy reference:

Albums
1. Jamey Johnson - The Guitar Song (Mercury Nashville)
2. Dierks Bentley - Up on the Ridge (Capitol Nashville)
3. Elizabeth Cook - Welder (31 Tigers)
4. Taylor Swift - Speak Now (Big Machine)
5. Marty Stuart - Ghost Train: The Studio B Sessions (Sugar Hill)
6. Justin Townes Earle - Harlem River Blues (Bloodshot)
7. Carolina Chocolate Drops - Genuine Negro Jig (Nonesuch)
8. Willie Nelson - Country Music (Rounder)
9. Merle Haggard - I Am What I Am (Vanguard)
10. Little Big Town - The Reason Why (Capitol Nashville)
11. Johnny Cash - American VI: Ain't No Grave (American)
12. Zac Brown Band - You Get What You Give (Southern Ground)
13. The SteelDrivers - Reckless (Rounder)
14. Alan Jackson - Freight Train (Arista)
15. Laura Bell Bundy - Achin' and Shakin' (Mercury Nashville)
16. Chely Wright - Lifted Off the Ground (Vanguard)
17. Lady Antebellum - Need You Now (Capitol Nashville)
18. Ray Wylie Hubbard - A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment (Hint: There Is No C.) (Bordello)
19. Easton Corbin - Easton Corbin (Mercury Nashville)
20. Robert Plant - Band of Joy (Rounder)
21. Patty Griffin - Downtown Church (Credential)
22. The Drive-By Truckers - The Big To-Do (ATO)
23. Gary Allan - Get Off on the Pain (MCA Nashville)
24. Randy Houser - They Call Me Cadillac (Universal South)
25. Jerrod Niemann - Judge Jerrod and the Hung Jury (Sea Gayle)

Singles
1. Miranda Lambert - "The House That Built Me" (Columbia)
2. Little Big Town - "Little White Church" (Capitol Nashville)
3. Sunny Sweeney - "From a Table Away" (Mercury Nashville)
4. The Band Perry - "If I Die Young" (Republic Nashville)
5. Zac Brown Band with Alan Jackson - "As She's Walking Away" (Bigger Picture)
6. Jamey Johnson - "Playing the Part" (Mercury Nashville)
7. Taylor Swift - "Mine" (Big Machine)
8. Jerrod Niemann - "Lover, Lover" (Sea Gayle)
9. Sugarland - "Stuck Like Glue" (Mercury Nashville)
10. Miranda Lambert - "Only Prettier" (Columbia)
11. Easton Corbin - "A Little More Country Than That" (Mercury Nashville)
12. Dierks Bentley - "Up on the Ridge" (Capitol Nashville)
13. Jamey Johnson - "Macon" (Mercury Nashville)
14. Laura Bell Bundy - "Giddy on Up" (Columbia)
15. Reba - "Turn on the Radio" (Valory)
16. Lady Antebellum - "Hello World" (Capitol Nashville)
17. Taylor Swift - "Back to December" (Big Machine)
18. Elizabeth Cook - "El Camino" (31 Tigers)
19. Eric Church - "Smoke a Little Smoke" (Capitol Nashville)
20. Laura Bell Bundy - "Drop on By" (Columbia)

xhuxk, Thursday, 27 January 2011 22:55 (3 years ago) Permalink

Singles Jukebox reviews current singles by:

Sugarland

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=3073

Jason Aldean & Kelly Clarkson

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=3068

Blake Shelton

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=3062

Sara Evans

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=3051

Hint: The one of these I liked least is the one I said I thought I "liked much" in the very first post on this thread. Boy was I wrong there. And the others aren't all that much better, really.
Prognosis: If these songs are any indication of what country radio will sound like in 2011, good luck staying awake.
Caveat: And we haven't even gotten to that lousy Brad Paisley single yet.

xhuxk, Friday, 28 January 2011 00:04 (3 years ago) Permalink

In total agreement with Chuck regarding Sugarland's "Little Miss." I singled it out as the album's standout track in my review, and I suppose it really is the best song on that set and the only one that really scans as country at all (or, after "Stuck Like Glue," the only other song that I can hear country radio getting on board with). But listening to it again now that it's been issued as a single? No, thank you. It's the way Nettles sings the word "okay" in the chorus ("I'm oh-keh-EEE") that I just can't get past.

Sunny Sweeney's "From a Table Away" is still inching its way toward the top 10. Beyond that, there isn't much of note happening on the singles front. "Heart Like Mine" is officially the last single from Revolution, and Zac Brown Band's "Colder Weather" is all right, I guess. Gretchen Wilson has released "I'd Love to Be Your Last" on the heels of its surprise Grammy nomination, but I still prefer Clay Walker's version of the song from a couple of years back, and "You Lie" by The Band Perry isn't nearly as clever or catchy as it needs to be. LeAnn Rimes' "Crazy Women" solid, but her tabloid-baiting shit means country radio won't go near her anymore, so it stalled outside the top 60.

Yeah. Grim start to the year.

jon_oh, Friday, 28 January 2011 02:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

yesterday i stumbled across the new five-song sunny sweeney ep whose existence i knew nothing about. "from a table away" plus four. title: sunny sweeney ep. ugh. but utterly fantastic. two songs about cheating sung from the perspective of the other woman ("from a table away," of course, and "amy," which could kinda sorta be an answer song to "jolene"). one ("drink myself single") about a woman who goes out carousing and comes home slizzard just 'cause "i really wanna know what it's like to be you" which, if you told me it came from a george jones/tammy wynette album, i would completely believe you. and two about being trapped in dead-end relationships, just in case the other three songs didn't convince you. the music's all a bit '60s/'70s honkytonkapolitan retro, but it rocks and it's catchy as hell and after spending one day with it i would like to ask it to marry me.

fact checking cuz, Friday, 28 January 2011 16:22 (3 years ago) Permalink

Looks like that Sunny Sweeeney EP and the new LeAnn Rimes single are both on Rhapsody -- I will check them out. Thanks guys!

So far, the two 2011 country singles I really like (not sure whether they've charted yet, haven't checked) are "Midnight America" by the Texas band Rosehill (mid '80s Mellencamp in a big-tent waffle house late at night) and "1,000 Faces" by Randy Montana (just a relaxed, wordily rhymed swirl of a song, with a great time signature change in the middle.) The latter though is, at best, my fourth-favorite song on Montana's album (behind "Burn These Matches," "Assembly Line," and "It's Gone"), which apparently isn't slated to come out until May or June. And if this single doesn't catch, who knows, maybe they'll push the release date back even further.

xhuxk, Friday, 28 January 2011 17:17 (3 years ago) Permalink

So I'm making a guess from the Nashville Scene pieces that there's some regret that, contrary to popular mythology, country music isn't really reflecting the stories of the country on the ground? And that Jamey Johnson and Elizabeth Cook are the only two big artists that aren't currently authentic in this matter?

But isn't that what those that still buy this stuff want? Myths and avoidance of imagery of rot and decline. Like the average white American potential voter from the heartland.

Gorge, Friday, 28 January 2011 17:29 (3 years ago) Permalink

And that Jamey Johnson and Elizabeth Cook are the only two big artists that aren't currently authentic in this matter?

Ahh, strike the 'aren't' to 'are'.

Gorge, Friday, 28 January 2011 17:37 (3 years ago) Permalink

Glenn McDonald strikes again:

38 of the people who voted in the 2010 P&J also voted in the Nashville Scene's Country Music Critics Poll. Here are the albums that got at least 4 votes from this subset, ranked by what % of their points came from those people. You can now pass for country-knowledgable, at least momentarily, by name-dropping Chely Wright and Elizabeth Cook.
Even more interesting, perhaps, is that although those 38 voters represent about half of the Scene's 75-voter electorate, several of the Scene's top 10 albums got fewer than 4 votes from those same people in the P&J. Dierks Bentley, who got #2 in the Scene, received only 1 vote in the P&J, total.
Click the arrow next to "These Voters" to see this list by points from these voters, instead of percentage, or just scan down the column to notice that the Scene's #1, Jamey Johnson, didn't actually win with this subset. Apparently Janelle Monáe is more country than country.

https://pub.needlebase.com/actions/visualizer/V2Visualizer.do?domain=Pazz-Jop&query=A+World+Centered+in+Nashville

xhuxk, Friday, 28 January 2011 19:05 (3 years ago) Permalink

x-post

Geoff Himes pushing for country radio to adopt his traditional-rooted concept/definition of country music (and/or Elizabeth Cook's) is not a big surprise.

curmudgeon, Friday, 28 January 2011 19:10 (3 years ago) Permalink

But isn't that what those that still buy this stuff want? Myths and avoidance of imagery of rot and decline. Like the average white American potential voter from the heartland.

― Gorge, Friday, January 28, 2011 5:29 PM (2 hours ago

Are corporate country radio and tv giving listeners what they want, or what the corporate outfits have calculated will work the best?

Ever since Clinton signed off on the Gingrich pushed deregulation of radio, there have been fewer entities owning radio stations and less incentive to be more creative in programming. Or maybe country listeners do like countryish Fleetwood mac types and everything else that is both more or less traditional that outlets showcase

curmudgeon, Friday, 28 January 2011 19:42 (3 years ago) Permalink

Singles Jukebox on current Paisley single:

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=3096

Country album that isn't a country album that I've been obsessed with today is Above And Beyond The Doll Of Cutey, Pam Tillis's debut LP on Warner Bros. from 1983, after which she didn't release another album for eight years (by which time she'd gone country.) Evidently they were initially trying to sell her as a fun-loving pop-rock gal, on the quirkier Lovich/Lauper edge of Benatar, and she does it real catchily and convincingly, especially in "Killer Comfort" (a single according to Wiki), "You Don't Miss," light-hearted hipster diss "(You Just Want To Be) Weird" and, especially especially "Popular Girl," which is both (1) by far the most "new wave" in the early MTV sense number on the record and (2) the only song on the record where Pam's dad Mel Tillis gets a partial songwriting credit! "She's a big girl now, she's in eighth grade" -- who knows, maybe Mel originally wrote it about Pam. Who actually calls herself "Pammy Wong" on the inner sleeve, for some reason, and leaves this cryptic thank-you note for her mom: "Sorry you've had to relive the struggle all over again. Blame it on Dad."

xhuxk, Friday, 4 February 2011 21:06 (3 years ago) Permalink

P.S.) Also, the album title makes no sense. And there are some nice saxophones (to go with the more frequent synths and guitars.) Significant Scandal influence too, one would think.

xhuxk, Friday, 4 February 2011 21:07 (3 years ago) Permalink

But I still want to know what country hit about cancer he’s thinking of. Must’ve missed it.

Craig Morgan's "Tough"? Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying"? Rascal Flatts' "Skin"? Though I'm not sure any of those actually say the word "cancer". Enough signifiers: hair falling out, etc.

President Keyes, Friday, 4 February 2011 21:42 (3 years ago) Permalink

though paisley isn't singing about signifiers. he's all about "say the word."

fact checking cuz, Friday, 4 February 2011 22:26 (3 years ago) Permalink

is it possible the song paisley's thinking about that mentions cancer is his own song? the one he's singing right now? is it possible he's responding to the big C showing up somewhere in his own world? i haven't read a single interview with him about this song or the new album, so i have no idea. just sayin'.

fact checking cuz, Friday, 4 February 2011 22:34 (3 years ago) Permalink

I know what you mean but I'm guessing he's making a claim for Country being the genre that deals with real life stuff like Cancer, as opposed to other genres (though I'm sure some Hip Hop songs have actually mentioned cancer.)

President Keyes, Friday, 4 February 2011 22:36 (3 years ago) Permalink

Damn, what happened to the summertime cookouts?
Everytime I turn around a nigga gettin took out
Shit, my momma got cancer in her breast
Don't ask me why I'm motherfuckin stressed, things done changed

- Things Done Changed, The Notorious B.I.G.

But as someone who's warmed to Paisley considerably over his past few albums, this doesn't really do much for me.

Alex in Montreal, Sunday, 6 February 2011 21:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

some Hip Hop songs have actually mentioned cancer.

Not to mention Nirvana songs. (and, especially, extreme metal songs, according to Josh Langhoff's Jukebox review.)

Xgau gives Taylor Swift an A- (overplays the alleged "songs about celebrities" angle; not sure why that's even a concern, given that the songs aren't remotely dependent on the celebs the tabloids claim they're about; also apparently thinks both the songs and album are too long):

http://social.entertainment.msn.com/music/blogs/expert-witness-blogpost.aspx?post=c271e36b-4d73-4981-8aaf-98b4e0da5d21

Caramanica on JaneDear Girls (scroll down):

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/06/arts/music/06playlist.html

xhuxk, Sunday, 6 February 2011 21:25 (3 years ago) Permalink

"amy," which could kinda sorta be an answer song to "jolene"

Lex said the same thing when he heard "Amy."

A bit disappointed in the EP myself, so far. I like everything on it, but nothing else comes close to stirring me the way "From A Table Away" does, with its slowness and enveloping sadness. Of course that song'll be hard to top. The rest feels like it's resting too easily into typical country. Could say the same about "From A Table Away," too. I guess what I mean is that "Table" is so touching and overwhelming I don't spend time thinking about how typical it is. Anyway, I do like "Amy"; like "Helluva Heart" even more, but think it should've maybe been less of a rocker, more restrained, steady, venomous.

Frank Kogan, Sunday, 6 February 2011 21:51 (3 years ago) Permalink

Regret that I didn't get it together to review "This Is Country Music," but I couldn't come up with a rhyme for "colonoscopy," or deftly work in a subtle reference to Brad's new backup band. You know, Brad Paisley & The Bloody Stools. Think I'd have given the song a 2 or 3, I was so pissed at it.

Didn't so much mind his treating the prime country audience as defensive little suck-asses, since one of the things that draws me to country is its intense sense of resentment. But the Haggards and Montgomery-Gentrys etc. get pathos and humor and exuberance and poetry out of it, not deadenly subdued little pieties (though of course there's plenty of that in country, too; but then, there's generally a good amount of humor in Paisley, but not this time).

And yeah, as Josh points out there are scads of noncountry songs with the word "cancer" in it; the Rolling Stones' "Salt Of The Earth" came immediately to mind; also, there's another one up for review on the Jukebox tomorrow, which I wouldn't be surprised if Will chose for that reason: the two were originally scheduled to run on the same day.

Frank Kogan, Sunday, 6 February 2011 22:13 (3 years ago) Permalink

i started a thread for sunny sweeney cuz i didn't want her to just be privy to a rolling thread Sunny Sweeney is surely one of the finest and most interesting songwriters in modern country right now

lextasy refix (lex pretend), Sunday, 6 February 2011 22:20 (3 years ago) Permalink

not deadenly subdued little pieties

Think I meant "not deadeningly subdued little pieties."

Frank Kogan, Sunday, 6 February 2011 23:22 (3 years ago) Permalink

Stephen Holden at the NY Times usually likes cabaret-like music and proper, dignified stuff, so what should I make of his plea for Teddy Thompson, Richard's son. Years ago I saw Teddy just playing in his Dad's band but he made no real impression on me at the time

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/07/arts/music/07teddy.html?_r=1

curmudgeon, Monday, 7 February 2011 20:59 (3 years ago) Permalink

His golden voice suggests an impassioned fusion of Roy Orbison and Jesse Winchester.

I will have to see what I can find online

curmudgeon, Monday, 7 February 2011 21:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

I quite like Teddy Thompson's cover of Leon Payne's "Psycho." That's all I've heard by him, but I'm curious. Plays it deadpan rather than impassioned on that one.

Frank Kogan, Monday, 14 February 2011 16:55 (3 years ago) Permalink

Tim McGraw was just on NBC's Who Do You Think You Are?, a genealogy reality TV thing, which I didn't see because I don't have a TV. But, presumably because of this, Sports Illustrated linked a fascinating piece they ran nine years ago on Tim's uncle Hank McGraw, who appeared in the episode. Hank was a year older than Tim's father, Tug, and was also drafted by the Mets; wouldn't abide racial segregation, wouldn't cut his hair, wouldn't compromise on anything, played well but never made it out of the minors.

Fame's like living under Nazis. You have to be on guard all the time. Tug can handle it. Tug makes a living being Tug, giving speeches all over. I'd rather be the little guy outside the palace gates than the one walking through them. When I put on slacks I feel like I'm putting on the enemy's uniform. Like I'm letting somebody down somewhere, some homeless guy on the street.

...

The spiritual side of the game is what I'd like to teach. People say great athletes block out the fans and noise and distractions — the hell they do. They take it in. There's a humility in a pure athlete like Jeter that allows him to disappear into the energy of the game. There are possibilities in baseball that most players never tune in to, space for art and dance and rhythm.

Nuance is what we're losing. Players need to learn what's not obvious, what's not on the surface. Now it's just, Jack one to make the highlights and hear an idiot go Boo-ya!

Baseball will go on no matter what any of us idiots does. We're just passing through the movie. But I'll tell you what makes me angriest about sports today, and what I'd like to teach kids: How we treat opponents. An opponent should get more respect on a ball field than Jesus or your parents. Because without an opponent it's just practice, and you'll never find out what matters. You'll never find out about yourself.

...

Baseball, relationships, jobs, anything that ever went wrong — I'm 50 or 51 percent to blame, and that's a low-end estimate. I don't really think the reason I didn't make the big leagues had to do with hair or being a rebel. To be honest, I never felt like I deserved to make it. I never felt I was good enough.

Frank Kogan, Monday, 14 February 2011 16:57 (3 years ago) Permalink

Here's the SI piece:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1026946/1/index.htm

Frank Kogan, Monday, 14 February 2011 16:59 (3 years ago) Permalink

Will check that out. Book I'm now reading (having finally finished Franzen's Freedom) is Big Hair And Plastic Grass: A Funny Ride Through Baseball And America In The Swinging '70s; that "funny" in the title is mainly just to sell books I think; i.e., yeah, there's humor in it, but being funny is hardly the main point of the book. Pennant race and stats stuff I usually half snooze through, but the anecdotes about individual players, the reserve clause and Curt Flood, Ball Four, Denny McLain's mob ties, racial strife, Astroturf and ashtray stadiums, how baseball was sold and changed, etc. can be engrossing (since '70s baseball was the last time I was really obsessed with any sport). Looks like Tug McGraw gets two mentions (at least indexed ones) in the book: "Like wise-ass M*A*S*H doctor Hawkeye Pierce ridiculing uptight Major Burns, McGraw began mimicking (M. Donald) Grant's speech once he thought the Mets chairman had left the clubhouse, chanting, 'You gotta believe!' Grant -- still in the clubhouse, but completely oblivious of the fact that McGraw was mocking him -- commended McGraw on his positive attitude."

More on topic, here's something on the history of black people in country music that Rhapsody asked me to write for Black History Month:

http://blog.rhapsody.com/2011/02/blackcountry.html

And a largely, but far from entirely, overlapping playlist I made based on the same theme:

http://www.rhapsody.com/playlistcentral/playlistdetail?playlistId=ply.44160337

xhuxk, Monday, 14 February 2011 17:18 (3 years ago) Permalink

Should've mentioned the baseball book's author: Dan Epstein (who does toss in anything funny he can dig up on Jewish big leaguers.) (Flipped a coin between that book and Karl Keating's Catholicism And Fundamentalism: The Attack On 'Romanism' by 'Bible Christians'. but decided to keep things light. Before Freedom, I actually read the first book I'd read in a very long time about music, namely Nelson George's 1988 The Death Of Rhythm And Blues, which I highly recommend.)

xhuxk, Monday, 14 February 2011 17:23 (3 years ago) Permalink

(Odd noun/verb disagreement in that black country playlist intro; been trying to fix it, so far to no avail.)

Xgau on new album and EP by Old 97s (who he suggests aren't alt-country anymore; guess I'll take his word for it)

http://social.entertainment.msn.com/music/blogs/expert-witness-blogpost.aspx?post=1b3e56fe-6105-422a-881e-e632fecaebdf

..and on new albums by Hayes Carll (which I haven't listened to since I didn't get it in the mail and I doubt I'll bother seeking it out even though I thought his previous two were okay) and Drive By Truckers (which I did get in the mail but decided not to listen to since everything I've heard about it makes it sounds like it'd be their dullest album ever and I don't want to get pissed-off or bummed out, and Xgau's review is no exception; i.e., "they turn down the boogie," as if they hadn't turned it down seven or eight years ago and have generally been turning it down more and more ever since)

http://social.entertainment.msn.com/music/blogs/expert-witness-blogpost.aspx?post=d5bc5d01-0bd8-4fe5-b190-a0bce7850b1b

xhuxk, Tuesday, 15 February 2011 16:57 (3 years ago) Permalink

You don't get cable so I don't supposed you've heard Alan Jackson's "Good Time" as these music for the latest GE commercial. Cast of hundreds of alleged factory workers doing boot scoot dance. For a company that's now famous for offshoring most of its labor and laying off blue collar workers.

Country, gotta love it. Perpetuate the comfortable myths, shut up and take the money.

Gorge, Wednesday, 16 February 2011 02:01 (3 years ago) Permalink

Wow, Xgau thinks "Five Years" is better than "Cracked Actor" and "Panic In Detroit" and "Queen Bitch" and "Suffragette City" and "Heroes" and "Space Oddity" and "Rebel Rebel" and "The Jean Genie" and "Changes" and "The Man Who Sold The World"! I do like "Five Years," especially for David going into a Dylan yarl at the end, but it's not in my top ten. "TVC15," on the other hand, I'm with (and pretty much all of Station To Station).

Frank Kogan, Friday, 18 February 2011 04:39 (3 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, I was taken about by his "Five Years" assertion, too; had no idea he loved it that much. (After I googled to figure out which Bowie song Old 97s actually covered.)

NYTimes cover story from this morning about much of rural America still lacking broadband access; haven't tried yet, but I'm hoping it's possible to zero in online on the map they included in the paper. Anyway, for the time being, it's obviously just one more huge factor in the marginalization of the poor. Curious, music-wise, in how the lack of web access will affect the future of certain outlying genres that still rely almost entirely on brick and mortar (and even mom-and-pop) retail -- not so much country, which has obviously conquered suburbia and is coming to terms with the digital age, but say Regional Mexican and, presumably, Southern Soul. Anyway:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/18/us/18broadband.html

xhuxk, Friday, 18 February 2011 19:15 (3 years ago) Permalink

What I mean is -- and this is obviously just conjecture -- I'm thinking the audiences for those genres might lie disproportionally in more remote areas unlinked to the web. And as brick-and-mortar stores disappear, access to the music could go with it, followed ultimately by that music itself. (Unless, in web-inaccessible areas, real record stores are having fewer problems than elsewhere. Which is possible, but I seriously doubt it, especially given diminished purchasing power of poorer fans.)

xhuxk, Friday, 18 February 2011 19:22 (3 years ago) Permalink

Also seems like you'd need internet access just to run a record store these days -- since I imagine that's how all the distributors do business, for instance.

xhuxk, Friday, 18 February 2011 19:25 (3 years ago) Permalink

hey, i never have posted in this thread & i don't really listen to country but i just wanted to pop in & say that the luke bryan track "someone else calling you baby" is one of my favorite singles of the year so far

i randomly caught it on a pop morning show that was doing a round up of #1 songs in the country & it's great -- some brief perusing shows that y'all were not feeling one of his other singles from last year -- this is the first i've ever heard of him tho

teenage cream (J0rdan S.), Friday, 18 February 2011 21:15 (3 years ago) Permalink

"All My Friends Say" was a jam.

President Keyes, Saturday, 19 February 2011 00:27 (3 years ago) Permalink

Don't know that I ever wrote either way about them here, but I like Luke Bryan's singles. "Do I" repeats those words so much they become some kind of mantra or even riddle, and lose their meaning in a way that I like. "Rain Is a Good Thing" (and a couple of the other non-singles on that album, if I'm remembering right) has an agricultural focus that always strikes me as more specific than most on-the-farm country songs. And yes, I've been enjoying hearing "Someone Else Calling You Baby" on the radio lately, though I think mostly for the melody.

erasingclouds, Saturday, 19 February 2011 02:42 (3 years ago) Permalink

Broadband's not so hot in Pasadena. AT&T and Charter are pretty crappy. The former is always throttling access on the margins. It would not seem cheap to people in that section of Alabama. You'd need to explain to them they could then steal most of the music they'd like to listen to so that the country CD at the bigbox store or whatever passes for it near the county seat would seem exorbitant.

Cynical -- but it's the truth. Paradoxically, Nashville seems to defend a lot of its stuff more aggressively than others.

Gorge, Saturday, 19 February 2011 03:14 (3 years ago) Permalink

Luke Bryan's pretty much always shot blanks to my ears; don't hate his stuff, but I don't think any of his hits have struck me as particularly special either, and so far with the new one his track record's still intact.

Longish NYTimes Arts & Leisure feature today about this Providence band called the Low Anthem said to use old-timey instruments and who have fans in Emmylou Harris and on WNYC's Soundcheck. Sounds like they'd be horrible ("the Low Anthem draws people in by going quiet and underplaying," puke), and doubt I'll get around to investigating with my own ears. But mixing folk influences and artsy fartsy sounds has worked a couple times in musical history I guess, so I'd be curious if anybody here has actually head them:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/20/arts/music/20low.html?_r=1&ref=music

xhuxk, Sunday, 20 February 2011 20:34 (3 years ago) Permalink

Meanwhile my own favorite rural-and-western song on the radio lately (I've heard it twice in the past month or two on Regional Mexican stations here) is "Mueveme El Pollo" by Banda San Jose Mesillas, which apparently concerns chickens and seems to have technically come out late last summer, judging from posting dates on three youtube clips I'm finding. (There may be earlier versions of the number by other acts, too; still trying to figure that out.)

xhuxk, Sunday, 20 February 2011 20:57 (3 years ago) Permalink

And let’s not forget about “Wire,” a midrecord dip into a classically inflected piece for three clarinets composed, and played, by Ms. Adams, who was an intern for NASA before joining the band.

Clarinets and working for NASA, even for free, would be enough for the shitcan in my book. Anyway, Avett Brothers also name-dropped.

Believe it or not, there was a guy at our gig last night who came to me after the show to buy a CD. He let slip he was an Avett Brothers and Arcade Fire fan. Astonishing, really.

Gorge, Monday, 21 February 2011 04:25 (3 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, I wrote that post above before half finishing half the Low Anthem feature, and once I reached to the jump page I realized that no fucking way would I like that band, if my life depended on it. They just sounded worse and worse as the piece went on.

And George, your show story reminds me of this guy Jesus, who was the art director at the Voice when I was there. Awesome guy, about my age or a couple years older I guess, and you were by far his favorite writer in the music section because sometimes you wrote about Uriah Heep, Yes, Savoy Brown, Robin Trower maybe, other '70s bands he loved. But somehow he wound up liking the first Arcade Fire album a lot when somebody played it for him, and, I think, Coldplay? Somebody like that. Perplexed the hell out of me.

xhuxk, Monday, 21 February 2011 04:54 (3 years ago) Permalink

I didn't tell you that he told me he'd bought a new Stratocaster and was starting a band and wanted some tips on how to get "the Rolling Stones sound." He -- in his late Fifties -- also said that both he and his wife, also along, now felt a little odd being among the only old people at soCal Arcade Fire shows. I sympathized completely. I asked him of he liked the Black Keys. Said he had the new album and liked parts of it.

Anyway, re Low Anthem again. The culture of NASA hasn't rocked since the days of "The Right Stuff." Now, if a member had been someone related to the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo astronauts, different matter.

Gorge, Monday, 21 February 2011 16:00 (3 years ago) Permalink

Well, a hunk of people think that Arcade Fire may owe their career to a future Ashlee Simpson fan, so you never know. (See here for elaboration.)

Funeral holds up pretty well, though thinking it's one of the great albums of all time is like thinking, I don't know, that Radio City is one of the great albums of all time. I realize that people do, and it's good and all that, but still, it's missing a certain amount of fire (and it's kind of not all that arcade-y either, when you come down to it).

Frank Kogan, Monday, 21 February 2011 23:13 (3 years ago) Permalink

"Someone Else Calling You Baby" was on my country singles long list for 2010, which I haven't yet posted anywhere (and at the moment I don't remember how the song goes).

Frank Kogan, Monday, 21 February 2011 23:19 (3 years ago) Permalink

The Low Anthem album is a chore, and I'd take the Vegas odds that it's something Chuck would hate if he heard it in full. My review of it is here, but the short version is that it plays out as an album for people who think the Avett Brothers are too fun.

jon_oh, Tuesday, 22 February 2011 00:04 (3 years ago) Permalink

Your review makes me think they must have taken far-miking in the empty spaghetti factory way too seriously.

Gorge, Tuesday, 22 February 2011 02:39 (3 years ago) Permalink

Big Hair And Plastic Grass: A Funny Ride Through Baseball And America In The Swinging '70s; that "funny" in the title is mainly just to sell books

Uh, no it's not -- the word in the title is "Funky" (which makes more sense), not "Funny." Oof. Guess I'm due for another vision checkup.

Singles Jukebox reviews current countrified singles by:

The Band Perry

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=3121

Thompson Square (have a feeling George might like at least one or two of the other tracks I mention on their album, btw):

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=3158

And, uh, The Decemberists

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=3129

xhuxk, Wednesday, 23 February 2011 16:07 (3 years ago) Permalink

Two northern West Coast female-led (one of them all-female) alt-ish/folk-ish/roots-ish country bands whose imminent new albums I've been listening to this week and, well, not hating. Not sure yet whether I "like" (or would recommend) them, but they're both at least okay, so far. Assume marginal, though, unless I say otherwise.

Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers, from Seattle

http://www.zoemuth.com/

Blame Sally, from San Francisco

http://blamesally.com/

Also been liking the upcoming new Those Darlins album -- which is way less country, more garage rock, than their first one, but I still hear some country in it -- more than I expected to. Favorite tracks so far are "Boy" and "Be Your Bro." Don't want to overstate things, though; definitely overrated the first one, at first.

xhuxk, Thursday, 24 February 2011 22:53 (3 years ago) Permalink

[i]Thompson Square (have a feeling George might like at least one or two of the other tracks I mention on their album, btw):<?I>

Yeah, the big jangle. Mostly on "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not." "Let's Fight" sounds like something the Big Kenny side of Big & Rich would come up with. Or a Jack Ingram tune. Haven't heard the rest.

Gorge, Friday, 25 February 2011 00:02 (3 years ago) Permalink

BTW, those jukebox evals, they kinda miss the point since guitars, including the jangle, are like, so boring.

Gorge, Friday, 25 February 2011 00:15 (3 years ago) Permalink

There's a better way of getting at what I meant. On YouTube there's the vid/studio album version of the Thompson Square single and a rendition of them doing it acoustically. Shoving aside the bare presentation and the environment, it's a good song, but the acoustic guitar just doesn't transform it like the electric chiming line on the single. The latter embeds the hook a lot more.

Gorge, Friday, 25 February 2011 00:56 (3 years ago) Permalink

JaneDear Girls "Wildflower" didn't do that much for me on CMT. A live performance on Jimmy Kimmel had the backing sounding like a boogie band, better. No idea what the CD is like.

Gorge, Friday, 25 February 2011 03:18 (3 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, I've been meaning to check out that JaneDear Girls album.

Wound up liking Blame Sally's album more than Zoe Muth & the High Rollers', a surprise since Blame Sally are clearly more folkies. Wouldn't swear by their lyrics, which sometimes make me cringe, but I like the multi-girl harmonies, and they have more interesting arrangements (from minor key to catchy almost-rock) in general.

Xgau on Carolina Chocolate Drops and Baseball Project (both sort of Americana, he says, though I categorized the Baseball Project under "powerpop" on Rhapsody):

http://social.entertainment.msn.com/music/blogs/expert-witness-blog.aspx

Me on the Baseball Project:

http://www.rhapsody.com/the-baseball-project/vol-2-high-and-inside#albumreview

Me on Left-Lane Cruiser (third straight album by them that I like more than Black Keys, and they are getting more country as they go on):

http://www.rhapsody.com/left-lane-cruiser/junkyard-speed-ball#albumreview

Singles Jukeboxers on Aaron Lewis from Staind's dumb tea-bag country crossover single:

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=3179

xhuxk, Tuesday, 1 March 2011 22:52 (3 years ago) Permalink

Some thoughts on Jerry Reed's 1982 LP The Bird[, and especially the song "I Get Off On It":

(vintage) country-disco

xhuxk, Wednesday, 2 March 2011 00:10 (3 years ago) Permalink

I think we all agreed on last year's thread the Staind guy's thing was pretty contemptible. But I thought it had a chance on the charts if they gave him a pass on CMT for getting beaten with the ugly stick which is now in vogue. The video hit all the phonus-bonus pieties, had guns in it and shit. And sure enough it is high in the CMT 20 countdown now.

Thought 24 Hr by Left Lane Cruiser sounded a bit like stoner rock, only faster. Lotta pig fuck in the vocals, something you can't accuse the Black Keys of. I don't really get the appeal of the hayseed douchebag hollering from the shed out back vocal technique. No one, no matter how far out in redneckville sounds like that, not even in Deliverance, right? But it's not uncommon. Decent shuffles and boogies, though.

Gorge, Wednesday, 2 March 2011 01:01 (3 years ago) Permalink

BTW, did Worley ever come through with a record after his Tea Party single? My estimate is that genre's opportunity has peaked, come and is now mostly gone.

The not-so-invisible hands of the Koch brothers don't rock and after November the GOP overplayed its hand. White people who can actually spell holding signs in Wisconsin have taken the air right out of Tea Party protests.

I'd be real interested in knowing how many heartland peeps who deserted the Dems in a fit of misdirected anger in November are now having real buyer's remorse.

Having said that, count John Rich now among the ranks of the certifiably desperate, playing one of the assorted new toadies to the Trump in the new "Celebrity Apprentice."

Gorge, Wednesday, 2 March 2011 01:11 (3 years ago) Permalink

He is apparently willing and ready to be a lickspittle for the right sums, probably much less than you'd think.

Gorge, Wednesday, 2 March 2011 01:12 (3 years ago) Permalink

I probably like Thompson Square much more than xhuxk, thanks to his tip. It's an album that could have done without all the pedal steel and been better for it. Very poppy hard rock explaining the bad reviews I saw for it in various country web pubs. About half of it sounds influenced from the Big Kenny rock side of Big & Rich, more generally with Everly Bros. vox on classic rock with shining guitars.

Except it's a guy and a gal with voices in virtually the same register, perfect for the arrangements.

Besides "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not," the cream of the crop, the next few -- My Kind Of Crazy, As Bad As It Gets, Who Loves Who More and Getaway Car, make it a keeper. Only underlines the hard reality that you can only sneak into classic rock/hard pop rock by laundering through CMT and such.

Read in the reviews that it was Jason Aldean's band furnishing the rock. The only lesson to be learned being that Aldean's tuneless party-hearty ersatz Bad Company with cowboy hats thing isn't the only thing they can play.

Gorge, Saturday, 5 March 2011 08:51 (3 years ago) Permalink

That album's been growing on me, actually. So has Steel Magnolia's album, which I think will always be connected with Thompson Square in my head, since they're both harmonizing married couples who put out their big-label-distributed quasi-indie breakthrough debuts -- one more pop-rock-influenced, the other more pop-soul -- within just a couple weeks of each other. They sound like two sides of the same coin to me, and really, I'd have to flip a coin to figure out which I like more. They're both pretty darn good. (By the way, though everything you'll read will tell you the new hit one is their debut, Thompson Square actually self-released an earlier, also self-titled, album four years ago, on a local Tennessee label called Sixgun. Entitely different tracklist, and presumably without Aldean's band backing them up. I haven't heard it, though.)

xhuxk, Saturday, 5 March 2011 13:23 (3 years ago) Permalink

That makes me curious enough to scrounge for it on the net. Did it have any title?

Thompson Square's back end doesn't do much for me but the first two-thirds makes up for it.

Gorge, Saturday, 5 March 2011 18:11 (3 years ago) Permalink

I actually like the last cut, "One Of Those Days," and cut #10 "As Bad As It Gets" is one of my favorites on the album.

Rhapsody is carrying the first Thompson Square album, which confusingly like the new one is called Thompson Square. (That's how I found out about it.) Unfortunately, the shared title seems to have mixed up the site's electronic data tools, which mistakingly pasted my review of the new album to both records. I'll try to get that fixed; meanwhile, here's a link to the 2007 one:

http://www.rhapsody.com/thompson-square/thompson-square

xhuxk, Saturday, 5 March 2011 18:28 (3 years ago) Permalink

Hmmm, anyone who buys that thinking "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not" is gonna be in for a big surprise.
I doubt if it's possible to stumble into a purchase anymore since digital makes taste and try before you buy almost automatic.

They took the bottle of Romilar away for the major label. Actually, that's too harsh. It's much much more country, almost all slow mood pieces and ballads. Except "Not Far Enough" which sounds Neil Young-ish, or moreso Tom Petty and Co. doing Neil Young. And "Kennesaw." The rest is OK if you're big on the singing but the songs aren't nearly as good. Not bad tunes per se, just pretty but meh.

Gorge, Saturday, 5 March 2011 23:12 (3 years ago) Permalink

Heard "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not" on the car radio for the first time today (either Austin country radio is lagging behind everybody else, or I just don't listen much anymore, or both), and wow -- what a great car song. Big clanging supermelodic Mike Campbell style jangle all through it, basically what George has been saying all along I guess, not just at the end, which I'd implied in my Singles Jukebox writeup. Definitely had been overrating that one. Guess I need to play the whole CD in the car.

xhuxk, Monday, 7 March 2011 02:32 (3 years ago) Permalink

Curious what people think of Sierra Hull's new stuff (http://www.sierrahull.com/daybreak/) - ostensibly bluegrass, but clearly shooting for some cross-over appeal...?

augustgarage, Monday, 7 March 2011 16:21 (3 years ago) Permalink

xp "Definitely had been underrating that one," I meant.

Of no concern to anybody who doesn't live here, but I enjoyed reading this Austin Statesman article yesterday, grading local dive bars and dancehalls on their Texas-ness, even though it's annoying that the writer seems to dismiss just about any country music that isn't decades old (and especially isn't Willie, Waylon, or Cash) as "generic pop country." (He also doesn't mention that Texans have really bland taste in beer -- seriously, Lone Star and Shiner Bock are kinda gross -- but that's OK.) Anyway, I don't think I've been to any of these establishments, including the three on Burnett, which are very close to here.

http://www.austin360.com/music/in-search-of-the-real-texas-experience-in-1299546.html?printArticle=y

Got a CD by Pieces by an upstate NY Southern rock five-piece creatively calling themselves The Steven L. Smith Band in the mail; sounds decent so far -- recalls Kentucky Headhunters at points (though the KH's rocked "Big Boss Man," only cover song here, a lot harder, and these guys seem to have more piano and sax parts, which sound pretty good.) Backup vocals in one song each by Jimmy Van Zant (Ronnie/Donny/Johnny's cousin apparently -- can't keep all those guys straight) and Crystal Gayle.

http://music.slsmith.info/

xhuxk, Monday, 7 March 2011 17:13 (3 years ago) Permalink

"CD called Pieces," I meant.

xhuxk, Monday, 7 March 2011 17:15 (3 years ago) Permalink

A new 1550-word roundup/overview piece I wrote for the Voice on current Southern Soul (much of which is certainly lower-case, if not upper-case, country):

http://www.villagevoice.com/2011-03-09/music/southern-soul-guide-sweet-angel-mel-waiters-and-luther-lackey/

xhuxk, Wednesday, 9 March 2011 13:57 (3 years ago) Permalink

Hee, hee...

AARON LEWIS’ DEBUT SOLO CD ‘TOWN LINE’ DEBUTS AT #1 ON BILLBOARD COUNTRY ALBUMS CHART AND #7 ON THE TOP 200 ALBUMS CHART

AARON LEWIS has been resoundingly welcomed into the Nashville community as his debut solo CD TOWN LINE enters the Billboard Country Albums Chart at #1.

Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Wednesday, 9 March 2011 22:01 (3 years ago) Permalink

For all the atrocities on display in "Country Boy" - the auto-tuning of George Jones bothered me the most...

augustgarage, Friday, 11 March 2011 06:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

http://new.music.yahoo.com/programs/the-new-now/19407/justin-biebers-girlfriend-lands-viral-hit-for-14-year-old-michaela-wallace

The latest atrocity, placed here because of the pro Nashville-songwriter product giveaway buried in the story. Which was delivered on my Yahoo news landing page as some kind of amateur effort that just happened to go 'viral' on Yahoo.

What was that record I reviewed made around the concept of the dolls that were in competition with Barbie a few years ago, xhuxk? Oh yeah, Bratz. Sounds just like that.

Gorge, Friday, 11 March 2011 20:07 (3 years ago) Permalink

I'm patently sick of the Taylor Swift cadence. Which is the same for every semi-ballad she does, climaxing in "Back to December" which ties it to a tremolo guitar line. Dub it the home girl West Lawn/Wyommissing/Governor Mifflin Pennsy rhythm. Which means nothing to you if you weren't living there. But I was.

Gorge, Saturday, 12 March 2011 08:25 (3 years ago) Permalink

Crystal Bowersox makes me ill. It's the tattoo on her back that looks like someone sicked up their lunchmeat on her shoulders while she's singing about "God" and "mentioning you."

Gorge, Saturday, 12 March 2011 08:29 (3 years ago) Permalink

Oh god, she just sang, "Mommy dear" and "bourbon breath."

Gorge, Saturday, 12 March 2011 08:30 (3 years ago) Permalink

And why aren't we talking about the Band Perry more? I'm beginning to thing that out of two tunes I there's the possibility they're as good pop rock through-Nashville-launderers that Thompson Square.

Take out the fiddle applique which just traces the vocal, turn up the guitar, or add a Hammond or a piano.

Gorge, Saturday, 12 March 2011 08:39 (3 years ago) Permalink

This is another one blown in the singles column because it was white, rock, and the lyrics weren't up to literary snuff again, right?

Gorge, Saturday, 12 March 2011 08:45 (3 years ago) Permalink

The thing that bugs the shit out of me, and I know it's just because it's a Kentucky thing, about the Bowersox line ("And you'd come home with bourbon breath/Jack in the air") is that Jack isn't bourbon. It's whiskey. So not only does the line scan poorly on its own merits, it's also *wrong*.

That said, for all the gross tats and white-girl dreds, I do think she has a better voice than some of the women currently on country radio.

jon_oh, Saturday, 12 March 2011 15:02 (3 years ago) Permalink

I honestly don't think I've ever heard a Crystal Bowersox song.

Have liked both Band Perry singles (though the first one didn't hit me until I finally heard it on the radio -- somehow, listening over shitty laptop speakers doesn't bring out the rock sound in country-pop songs for me like car radios do); haven't heard the whole album yet, but one is supposedly being sent to me. Will opine here once I get it.

Listened to the JaneDear Girls album this week, albeit over shitty laptop speakers (via Rhapsody.) Hit me as lightweight, consistently catchy, not really all that memorable, but maybe it just needs more listens, which I may or may not get around to. And yeah, John Rich's presence (as producer) is insescapable in the sometimes slightly dancey rockpop. One song uses AutoTune T-Pain-style. They seem to do the Taylor Swift cadence thing a couple times, too. Seemed okay, overall (I'd definitely pay a buck for the CD if I see one 10 years from now), but not probably nearly as good as Thompson Square (or Steel Magnolia or Stealing Angels.)

I'm not sure how much Berks County I actually hear in Swift's phrasing, by the way. But George has spent more time there than I have, I'm sure.

xhuxk, Saturday, 12 March 2011 20:10 (3 years ago) Permalink

So far I'm pleasantly surprised by Teddy Thompson's new Bella. Kid's got his own unpretentiously 50s-based vocal approach (and richness), somewhat like less daring but enjoyable Orbisonic, plus Del Shannononian, Everlysesque, Billy Swannese etc phrasing, with deft, not specifically retro arrangements (do include singing strings, but not too often).

dow, Sunday, 13 March 2011 19:42 (3 years ago) Permalink

Exciting new box from Bear Family...

augustgarage, Monday, 14 March 2011 01:16 (3 years ago) Permalink

Details, please!

dow, Monday, 14 March 2011 03:37 (3 years ago) Permalink

Heard the new solo album by Tara Nevins from Donna the Buffalo this week; probably too folksy and reverent (and it’s not like I go back and listen to whatever Donna the Buffalo CDs I still own much anymore), but I got through it painlessly, which doesn't happen with folk-country albums often, and it could conceivably grow on me.

Favorite country song I heard this week that I'd never heard before was "Country Mohammed," by immigration-obsessed Seattle-based Bosnian-Bulgarian-Japanese-American world-prog-metal band Kultur Shock, who Frank wrote about for me once at the Voice but who I'd basically forgotten about. Said Middle-Eastern hoedown was on their 2009 Integration; new album, Ministry Of Kultur is even better. (For a brief unsavory description, see the Rolling Past Expiry Hard Rock thread.)

xhuxk, Monday, 14 March 2011 14:40 (3 years ago) Permalink

Haven't listened to the new Tara yet, but solo debut Mule To Ride had some pretty fiery wiry dizzy comin' round the mountain outbursts, far beyond any Donna The B I've heard. Meanwhile, I'm smitten by Miss Willie Brown, a duo jumping into the Dixie Chicks gap, re bringing hearts and minds under stress through popwise whirlwinds of observation and expression--four songs of concise expansion and uncommon range for such a brief set can be found here http://www.misswilliebrown.com and another is linked in the following press release, which also heralds a four-song EP containing none of the ones on their site's jukebox, far as I can tell--so haven't heard those yet--but the ones I have heard are also rec to fans of (for instance) the cable series Army Wives, Little Big Town and um Van Zant I think (thinking of those last two while "The Bible" surges from verse to chorus again). Here's an excerpt of the press release:

-----Original Message-----
From: Mary Hilliard Harrington <maryhilli✧✧✧@thegreenroo✧✧✧.c✧✧>
To: bamall✧✧✧@a✧✧.c✧✧
Sent: Mon, Mar 14, 2011 9:05 am
Subject: Miss Willie Brown Releases EP And Hits The Road!


If you're having trouble viewing this email, you may see it online.
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A&M/OCTONE’S MISS WILLIE BROWN RELEASES FIRST MAJOR LABEL EP

Spring Tour With Country Music Star Dierks Bentley Begins March 17

2011 Tour Kick-Off Show Planned For
Tues. In Nashville


Nashville, TN - March 14, 2011 - A&M/Octone Records’ first country act Miss Willie Brown is set to release their first major label EP digitally tomorrow. Kasey Buckley and Amanda Watkins—usually found finishing each other’s sentences, talking over each other, making each other laugh and cry—are the two singers and songwriters who make up Miss Willie Brown, and the release of their self titled EP marks the arrival of a dynamic new duo in country music.

Produced by award winning producer Keith Stegall (Zac Brown Band, Alan Jackson, George Strait), the four track EP includes the up-tempo and funked-up tracks “Sick of Me,” “Good Fight” and Couyan Crazy.” It also covers tender emotional territory with “Freeland,” the story of two women waiting for their men to return from fighting overseas. Kasey and Amanda wrote and both sing lead vocals on all four tracks.

“Keith really jumped into our heads in terms of knowing what we like,” says Amanda, while Kasey adds that, “Amanda and I made a promise to each other a long time ago that we would do whatever was best for the song. It’s hard to do a lot of the time, because interests conflict and collide...but the song is everything to us. And now we’ve put some of those songs we love to play live on this EP, so we could get out on the road and hopefully start building a fanbase show by show. We want to tour hard...like the guys do!”

To preview “Sick of Me,” click here:http://www.thegreenroompr.com/misswilliebrown.html

Miss Willie Brown will celebrate the EP’s release and the start of their first major tour with a special show Tues. at the Rutledge in Nashville at 6 P.M. Immediately following the show, the duo will head out for a 30 date run on the JAGERMEISTER COUNTRY TOUR FEATURING DIERKS BENTLEY.

For a full list of tour dates and more information, visithttp://www.misswilliebrown.com

###

dow, Monday, 14 March 2011 18:59 (3 years ago) Permalink

Since I've mentioned it here a bunch of times, I should now mention that I've decided Steel Magnolia's album is in fact definitely not as good as Thompson Square's album. Still like most of it okay, especially "Bulletproof." But though their voices sound richer in general to me than, say, Lady Antebellum's, they also partake in a certain kind of commercial-post-jam-band ickiness (a la Dave Matthews? John Mayer? Maroon 5? somebody like that) that can really make me wince, especially in their way beyond embarrassing faux-reggae tune "Rainbow." Haven't yet decided whether the line "I'm not Jamaican/but Jamaican me lazy" (in a different song!) is racist.

xhuxk, Monday, 14 March 2011 21:00 (3 years ago) Permalink

My recent favorite country singles so far

Someone Else Calling You Baby Luke Bryan
I Can't Love You Back Easton Corbin
Colder Weather Zac Brown Band

And Jamey Johnson's record from last year is nice, esp the song Front Porch Swing Afternoon

JacobSanders, Tuesday, 15 March 2011 04:49 (3 years ago) Permalink

(oh sorry - that Bonnie Owens 4CD box came out in '07 - I guess it's back in print is all)

augustgarage, Wednesday, 16 March 2011 02:37 (3 years ago) Permalink

Goldy Locks takes on Ted Nugent on CMT

After some production stops and starts, Running Wild with Ted Nugent is set to air on CMT on March 23rd. Four consecutive episodes will air beginning at 1 a.m. central time. (Lady pro wrestling personality) Rock singer/songwriter Goldy Locks appears as one of the contestants in the raucous series which features Nugent as a survivalist trainer who then hunts his own students. “I eat maggots on the show!” – Goldy

Set your TiVo and enjoy. Thanks in advance for watching and if you want to see more of Goldy on network, TV, tell ‘em so! Call 615.335.8400 or PLEASE email i✧✧✧@c✧✧.c✧✧ with your comments and ask for more Goldy Locks!

Gorge, Monday, 21 March 2011 22:57 (3 years ago) Permalink

So, I finally got around to hearing the Band Perry album from late last year this week, and I think I like it a lot. Haven't been able to give it totally undivided attention yet, but for several plays in the background (at home, and in the car on the way to and from SXSW), the cuts that regularly jump out at me are tracks five and six, "Miss You Being Gone" and "Double Heart," which also seem to be the two real rockers on the record -- might well have missed a couple others so far, though.

Tara Nevins' new album has been growing on me too. Agree with what Don seemed to suggest about a previous solo record, that this is more sonically and emotionally intense than what she generally does with Donna The Buffalo. Cuts grabbing me most are probably "Tennessee River" and the fast reeling instrumental "Nothing Really."

xhuxk, Tuesday, 22 March 2011 13:44 (3 years ago) Permalink

The Band Perry -- deserving of some points for being a lot more pulled back that usual. Dependent on Kimberly Perry, who steals the entire show in the way of a vocal phenom like Noddy Holder. Of which none exist in Nashville.

She's right in the range of Slade's Noddy re "Play It Loud" which isn't that loud an album. But which the vocal rips through all the tunes based on country themes. With Slade it was cruel treatment of horses and the poor. The Band Perry makes it more self-obsessed American. The signature tune being about having to die to get people to notice you.

"Miss You Being Gone" is train beat country, which was most of Don Powell's beats on the hit Slade tunes in England.

I call The Band Perry glam country. With production pulled back, the emphasis being on the singer all the time. There are people doing hoo-hoo-hoo's and Kimberly Perry doing rock n roll emphases. So when the beats are legitimately country like on "fortune teller" the country instruments added aren't phony appliques, as usual. They're only gratuitous (the mandolins, accordion wheezes, fiddles and banjo strokes.)

Gorge, Wednesday, 23 March 2011 09:31 (3 years ago) Permalink

Which is to say The Band Perry is one of my fave records this year. Probably a bit more than Thompson
Square although I can't tell you why precisely right now. It's not because there are more jangle classic rock guitars. It's the personality of Kimberly Perry.

Gorge, Wednesday, 23 March 2011 09:40 (3 years ago) Permalink

Might have to walk The Band Perry record back a bit. There's a universal solvent character to KP's voice that wears me out a bit depending on the mood.

And if you get cable maybe you've seen the ubiquitous General Electric commercial with the line dancing set to Alan Jackson's "Good Time." Good time for GE, indeed, until the frontpage New York Times on the company's tax dodging.

That was the last affront. ;)

So I did a song on it, "GE & Jeffrey" country-style, borrowing Jackson for a couple seconds.

http://dickdestiny.com/blog1/2011/03/29/ge-jeffrey-the-tax-cheat-boogie/

Gorge, Wednesday, 30 March 2011 03:26 (3 years ago) Permalink

frontpage New York Times on the company's tax dodging.

This was a great, if absolutely depressing piece; was actually thinking of linking it here a few days ago, because of that Alan Jackson commercial (which is now inescapable during Sunday morning political talk shows). Anybody who hasn't read it, really should:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/business/economy/25tax.html

xhuxk, Wednesday, 30 March 2011 03:34 (3 years ago) Permalink

I want someone to glue "GE & Jeffrey" to the line-dancing video. Windows Movie Maker on my pc won't do it because of some software glitch having to do with memory size.

Shockingly, 60 Minutes took the opposite tack than the Times, giving a lot of time to some flack from Cisco explaining that the alleged 35 percent tax rate was what was causing the exodus. So he offered a bit of blackmail in the form of give us a 5 percent tax rate on the money and jobs we've already taken overseas and we'll come back. Stahl meekly added that the US government had already tried that bribe in 2004 and been rooked. No jobs were brought back.

Gorge, Wednesday, 30 March 2011 04:31 (3 years ago) Permalink

Before the corporate police drag it away for being truth in advertising.

Gorge, Thursday, 31 March 2011 16:29 (3 years ago) Permalink

Had a complete listen to the JaneDear Girls album. It's been <strike>pirated</strike> distributed for free by YouTube and been there undisturbed for almost a month so the label must have already given up on it.

It features a good dose shiny poppy hard rock. "Wildflower," the hardest -- "Free Ride," "Lucky You," "Shotgun Girl," "Merry Go Round." The latter is an almost direct rip of Big & Rich style. "Free Ride" sounds like the Donnas with a totally pointless fiddle glued on when the guitars are chugging and chomping. Why even add it? I never get that.

The album's not bad, adequate as hard pop rock, but a little too heavy in spots on the hack work for even me.

If Pauley Perrette's Lo-Ball had ever got out of major label hell demo-land ten years ago this is what they might have sounded like. But they wouldn't have had fiddle or the ticky-ticky novelty banjo that Big & Rich are so fond of.

I liked what I saw of them live on late night.

God, if I had a recording budget like this. Come to think of it, I don't need a recording budget like that.

Gorge, Saturday, 2 April 2011 02:07 (3 years ago) Permalink

ARE YOU GONNA KISS ME OR NOT

teledyldonix, Saturday, 2 April 2011 07:53 (3 years ago) Permalink

Hey George, curious what you'd think of the new Foster and Lloyd album. They've never really been on my radar, though I remember them being plugged by say Rockpile/Replacements/Bodeans fans at Creem years ago; had some country chart success in the late '80s (including four top 10 hits), but haven't charted since 1990, when they apparently split up. It's Already Tomorrow seems to be their first album since then; Tom Petterson from Cheap Trick is playing bass, and there's lots of jangle (Foster and Lloyd are both guitarist/vocalists), Everly Brothers harmonies, and some chugging semi-hard rock (at least "Hold That Thought," maybe more.) That said, most of it is making me shrug so far, and I'm trying to figure out why. Sometimes you're more open to this kind of thing than I am.

Elsewise, are Nashville releases just on hold, or what? Have any albums at all come out in the past couple months? Weird.

Christgau seems to be going somewhat alt-country crazy lately, in his msn.com Consumer Guide-style blurbs. A few links:

Those Darlins

http://social.entertainment.msn.com/music/blogs/expert-witness-blogpost.aspx?post=11d05e82-72da-4256-8e5f-c76c029b0f37

Drive By Truckers (he also did a long essay about them last month, fwiw)

http://social.entertainment.msn.com/music/blogs/expert-witness-blogpost.aspx?post=11d05e82-72da-4256-8e5f-c76c029b0f37

Loretta Lynn tribute/Lucinda Williams

http://social.entertainment.msn.com/music/blogs/expert-witness-blogpost.aspx?post=de166b12-0e0a-4266-ad98-92f821f15cfe

xhuxk, Saturday, 2 April 2011 20:18 (3 years ago) Permalink

Oops, actually this is the correct Drive By Truckers CG link:

http://social.entertainment.msn.com/music/blogs/expert-witness-blogpost.aspx?post=e1147bdb-abac-451a-a668-623dd45790bd

And his longer essay about them:

http://bnreview.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Rock-Roll/The-Righteous-Path/ba-p/4507

As I said, I couldn't even bring myself to bother checking out their new album, since everybody seemed to be saying it was even mellower than their previous few, and I've definitely passed the mellowness-tolerance threshold with those guys.

xhuxk, Saturday, 2 April 2011 20:25 (3 years ago) Permalink

Hmm, Foster and Lloyd "It's Already Tomorrow"... Hasn't yet been <strike>pirated</strike> freely distributed on YouTube and there's no obvious blogspot steal of it. Don't have a review copy but I did give a listen to the promotional they put on YouTube. Title cut has the jangle, sounded good but maybe more on the Byrds side of things because of the 12-string. B. Too stodgy swamp blues thing with some hard guitars was next, singing about a mandolin and learning to sing from a bird or something, my attention started skipping off it. Third sample tune was the lachrymose country lullaby mode and I couldn't take more than ten or twenty seconds of it. Maybe the rest of the album sounds better. By itself, wouldn't have made me curious to hear the rest.

Christgau does kind of a disservice to the Donnas in comparison with Those Darlins, I thin'. Coulda seen that coming.

"Be Your Bro'" is irritating. Liked "Red Light Lover" a lot more but I still wouldn't pop for an album. The determinedly thrift store rock genre has really never done much for me. Much better live, right? If more of the record is sacrificed upon the altar of YouTube perhaps I'll revise my opinion.

Gorge, Saturday, 2 April 2011 23:02 (3 years ago) Permalink

You folks watching the Academy of Country Music awards?

curmudgeon, Monday, 4 April 2011 02:18 (3 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, in the background. The Brokeback Mountain gay joke in reference to Gyllenhall/Swift at the beginning was offputting. Blake playing the clumsy stupid guy to Reba was not exactly Tommy and Dick Smothers. Then there was the Brady guy skit. Carrie Underwood did hard rock bordering on metal.
I think she's performed that tune about 1,000 times on TV. It gets louder and more thrusting but not better everytime.

Steve Tyler made weird noises during her song and "Walk this Way." Rihanna looks great, did another hard rock tune with Jennifer Nettles in which a guy who looked like the lead guitarist for Extreme in 1991 played a senseless solo. Ronnie Dunn was sub-mediocre. Brad Paisley won another award, it's pro forma, He's so famous he always gets a percentage of the spoil whether he's earned it or not. Toby Keith outright blew, pretty much mumbling his way through or phoning in whatever it was he was doing. xhuxk'd now, probably.

I foolishly expected it to be more tuneful than it was so some of the time was spent in reading "YOU Never Give Me Your Money," a new Beatles book I got for my birthday.

Now Alan Jackson is introducing some people: stocking cap Zach and James Taylor. Stocking cap, in Las Vegas, yet. Is he totally without pity?

Gorge, Monday, 4 April 2011 05:49 (3 years ago) Permalink

James Taylor looks like he's missing his false teeth. Which actually may be the case since he's playing sitting down.

Gorge, Monday, 4 April 2011 05:50 (3 years ago) Permalink

I didn't watch; was proof-reading galley proofs for my Greatest Hits book. Have since watched the Underwood/Tyler and Rihanna/Nettles duets on youtube. Okay, I guess, but not okay enough to want to hear them again. Thought Nettles outsung Rihanna.

Otherwise, am really liking Martina McBride's "Teenage Daughters" and Eric Church's "Homeboy." Both rock music as much as country, but different kinds. Bet George will like the McBride more; I probably do too, but haven't decided definitively yet.

xhuxk, Monday, 4 April 2011 13:44 (3 years ago) Permalink

One of its worst aspects was how totally tone deaf the production and delivery were to the times. It's Vegas and all -- but -- even Vegas has been slammed hard by the <strike>New Depression</strike> Great Recession. Everyone is exuding the height of opulence, there's all this backslapping and self-congratulation, and what's delivered was just not that great. When the centerpieces of the "country awards" show are Carrie Underwood's version of cock rock and a screaming overlong guitar solo while Rihanna is onstage, you're just telegraphing your total detached bankruptcy. Hey, we're rich and great so fuck all the rest of you. The only thing actually missing was Charlie Sheen. He was in Chicago, right?

Sex and the City 2 was on cable over the weekend and I caught a glimpse of it. It was panned -- got a 20 on Metacritic, I think -- and the women on the awards show just looked a lot like the actors in that movie. Horribly overdressed, looking like an assortment of plutocracy stereotypes, as appealing as gold toilet seats in casino lavatories. They made my skin crawl which was why I started reading a book.

Gorge, Monday, 4 April 2011 17:15 (3 years ago) Permalink

One of its worst aspects was how totally tone deaf the production and delivery were to the times. It's Vegas and all -- but -- even Vegas has been slammed hard by the <strike>New Depression</strike> Great Recession

I'll play devil's advocate. People want to escape and Vegas plus country lyrics helps them do so. McBride's "Teenage Daughters" was arguably relevant and hey Miranda Lambert won a bunch of awards. Plus didn't you think Taylor Swift playing a banjo on a porch while wearing a plain clothed 1930s style dress suggested an understanding of the recession?

curmudgeon, Monday, 4 April 2011 18:50 (3 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, you got me, didn't mention Martina McBride who was tolerable. I liked the studio version of the song better. The live set was off in the mix but it seemed that way for everyone to me. For me Taylor Swift crossed into irritating over a year ago so my persoanl antagonism cancels the homespun thing out.

Gorge, Monday, 4 April 2011 19:13 (3 years ago) Permalink

I've gotten used to Taylor's weak live vocals

curmudgeon, Monday, 4 April 2011 20:45 (3 years ago) Permalink

From CMT site:

Chely Wright is engaged, according to People magazine. "Out country singer Chely Wright and her fiancée, Lauren Blitzer, a GLBT Civil Rights activist, have set a date and plan to be married in Connecticut Aug. 20," a representative for Wright told the magazine. "They met through their youth advocacy work and say that their passion for Scrabble holds them together." Wright publicly came out last year. The singer, 40, who publicly discussed her depression and thoughts of suicide, has since become outspoken about her sexuality and wrote a memoir, Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer.

xhuxk, Thursday, 7 April 2011 01:28 (3 years ago) Permalink

Don't know if any of you are paying attention to American Idol, but it's got two country singers this year, both good: Scotty McCreery, got a trad voice even on nontrad material, maybe too imprisoned in it, but nice to listen to (here's "The River"; and Lauren Alaina, a 16-year-old with a big blustery voice who knows when to wallop you and when to hold back; on "Candle In The Wind" she went from soft and sensitive to a restrained wail as if it was all of a piece. She's got Carrie/Kelly versatility, could become someone special.

Frank Kogan, Friday, 8 April 2011 04:45 (3 years ago) Permalink

Scoop! Extra, extra, readallaboudit.

http://dickdestiny.com/blog1/2011/04/08/creepy-bruce-the-country-boys/

Gorge, Friday, 8 April 2011 16:32 (3 years ago) Permalink

Scoop! Extra! Bruce Ivins and the Country Boys vinyl 7-inch rip now on-line.

http://dickdestiny.com/blog1/2011/04/13/the-new-country-hit-infecting-the-land-extra/

Gorge, Wednesday, 13 April 2011 19:42 (3 years ago) Permalink

I think it can be said Bruce Ivins was more country than a lot of CMT Top 20 Countdown.

Gorge, Wednesday, 13 April 2011 19:50 (3 years ago) Permalink

Press release I just received:

COUNTRY MUSIC STAR TRACE ADKINS TESTIFIES TO CONGRESS ON IMPORTANCE OF PROTECTING CIVIL WAR BATTLEFIELDS

Hearing before House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies highlights the need for emphasis on preservation over the next five years, during 150th anniversary period

(Washington, D.C.) - Growing up in Sarepta, La., country music superstar Trace Adkins heard stories of his great-great grandfather Henry T. Morgan's military service. This personal connection to the past spurred his life-long passion for history, a love that today brought him to Capitol Hill to testify before Congress regarding the importance of protecting historic sites, particularly Civil War battlefields. Alongside Civil War Trust president James Lighthizer, Adkins declared these years of the Civil War sesquicentennial anniversary "the opportune time to redouble efforts to forever protect these hallowed grounds."

Both Adkins and Lighthizer had been invited before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies to testify to the importance of federal involvement in battlefield land preservation initiatives through the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program, a highly successful public-private partnership and matching grants program responsible for the permanent protection of more than 16,500 acres of battlefield land.

Trace Adkins is an advocate of preservation, not only in an effort to honor the past but as lessons for the future. Today he summarized his testimony by saying, "American battlefields serve as monuments to what can happen when political wisdom fails and our differences are allowed to escalate beyond reason."

Fans of Trace's music also know that he is an avid historian and supporter of the troops. Most recently, Adkins was joined by the West Point Glee Club at the Grand Ole Opry where they sang Trace's "Til the Last Shot's Fired," which they originally recorded together in 2009.

Both Lighthizer and Adkins encouraged members of Congress to allocate funds for battlefield preservation now and in the coming years, in recognition of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Friday, 15 April 2011 19:42 (3 years ago) Permalink

General Electric has tried a lot of things to counter the perception that it's the US's biggest corporate tax cheat since the New York Times expose on the matter was published. None of them have been particularly effective. However, they are worth noting. Particularly odious is it's pr operation encouraging employees to spam their own versions of "Good Time" line dance videos into
Youtube.

Here's Alan Jackson pimping for it:

Now you could think of it as just a bit of innocent fun. Except for the timing and the conspicuous coincidence with the company's exceptionally bad press.

I noticed larger and larger numbers of these employee videos arriving over the weekend, mostly because when I'd check the view count on my version, the entire right side of the page would be covered with them. So anything keyed off certain searches for GE has the potential to be littered with them.

I wrote about the idea behind, the mobilization of employee lickspittles to astro-turf an image on the Internet, here:

http://dickdestiny.com/blog1/2011/04/17/corporate-brand-spamming-on-youtube-or-mobilizing-your-local-lickspittles/

Yhey're not the first company to have done it. They won't be the last. But Alan Jackson surely ought to be less reptilian. Wow, GE will away free bottled water to the impoverished if American workers do this, he says. Well, GE could just give away free bottled water anyway without using it as a small carrot aimed at getting people doing the happy GE country line dance spammed into YouTube.

I wonder what Jackson got paid to do this.

Gorge, Wednesday, 20 April 2011 17:39 (3 years ago) Permalink

You could also make the argument, that corporate-wise, paying for all this -- including the little bit of charity bottled water (which can be written off), is still a lot cheaper than paying a reasonable and legitimate corporate tax.

So if Alan Jackson's so of the people why's he working so transparently for the ripoff man?

Gorge, Wednesday, 20 April 2011 17:49 (3 years ago) Permalink

Just in case anyone around here has yet to get on board with Sunny Sweeney (which seems unlikely, but still), her new single, "Staying's Worse Than Leaving," is the iTunes free single for the week.

jon_oh, Thursday, 21 April 2011 22:52 (3 years ago) Permalink

http://www.timesonline.com/news/newt-gingrich-and-ted-nugent-only-at-an-nra-convention/article_8cda908a-6eeb-11e0-b348-0019bb30f31a.html

Craig Morgan is the big music headliner, though, at some amphitheatre in Pittsburgh for the NRA Country concert. Articles didn't mention what must be others on the bill. Nugent is only there to give a talk -- "I Still Believe" -- which, if you were on Rolling Hard Rock, is the title of his new non-hit single, which isn't worth the free download.

Gorge, Monday, 25 April 2011 15:07 (3 years ago) Permalink

Is Randy Travis good? This looks like it might be; so do some other Cracker Barrel music specials (incl DVDs),
but so far I just eat there. Condensed press release:
_RANDY TRAVIS JOINS UP WITH CRACKER BARREL’S EXCLUSIVE MUSIC PROGRAM_
_Exclusive CD to Include Award-Winning Hits and Three Previously Unreleased
Tracks
LEBANON, Tenn_. (May 2, 2011) Country music star Randy Travis, known for
his award-winning hits such as “_Forever and Ever, Amen_,” “_I Told You
So_,” and “_1982_,” is releasing his newest CD exclusively with Cracker
Barrel Old Country Store^®. In addition to having these three hits, the
self-titled album, _Randy Travis_, also contains six other hits and three
previously unreleased songs for a total of 12 tracks. And because Randy
Travis and Cracker Barrel support our military personnel, a portion of the
proceeds from sales of this CD will be donated to Wounded Warrior
Project_^TM_. _Randy Travis _is available starting today at all Cracker
Barrel locations nationwide.
Randy Travis has won all of the major country music awards multiple times,
including seven Grammy^® Awards, 10 Academy of Country Music Awards, five
Country Music Association Awards, and eight Dove Awards, and his albums
through the years have sold over 20 million copies.
The self-titled _Randy Travis _is the latest in Cracker Barrel’s exclusive
music program, which features numerous projects. In March of this year,
Cracker Barrel released Kenny Rogers’ _The Love of God_, which debuted at #8
on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and #2 on the Top Christian Albums
chart. In January 2011, Cracker Barrel released _The Grascals & Friends -
Country Classics With A Bluegrass Spin_, which debuted at #1 on Billboard
magazine’s Bluegrass Albums chart and at #26 on Billboard’s Top Country
Albums chart. In November of 2010, Cracker Barrel released Smokey
Robinson’s _Now & Then_, which debuted at #19 on Billboard magazine’s R&B
chart and was nominated for an NAACP IMAGE AWARD. September saw the release
of the self-titled _Rodney Atkins_, which includes four #1 hits, and also
the release of Mandy Barnett’s _Winter Wonderland_, which offers up all the
authentic sounds of holiday traditions. In July, the company released Craig
Morgan’s _That’s Why - Collector’s Edition_, and in May the release of
Wynonna’s _Love Heals _debuted at #7 on the Billboard Magazine Top Country
Albums chart. February’s release of _Dailey & Vincent Sing the Statler
Brothers _debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Bluegrass Albums chart, where it
spent nine weeks in the top position and 18 weeks overall in one of the
three top positions. One of its songs was nominated for a Grammy award^®.
Over the last few years, Cracker Barrel has released exclusive CDs with Alan
Jackson, the Zac Brown Band, George Jones, Montgomery Gentry, Dolly Parton,
Bill Gaither, Ricky Skaggs, Aaron Tippin, Alison Krauss & Union Station,
Josh Turner, Amy Grant, Kenny Rogers, Sara Evans, and Charlie Daniels.

Tracks on Randy Travis:
1. Forever and Ever, Amen
2. No Place Like Home
3. 1982
4. Better Class of Losers
5. I Told You So
6. I'm Free - Previously Unreleased
7. Forever Together
8. It's Just a Matter of Time
9. She's Okay and I'm Okay - Previously Unreleased
10. Deeper Than the Holler
11. Three Wooden Crosses
12. This Song Doesn't Rhyme - Previously Unreleased

_

dow, Monday, 2 May 2011 18:48 (3 years ago) Permalink

Approved link to preview track from forthcoming Lady Antebellum album:
http://www.thegreenroompr.com/ladyantebellum.html

dow, Monday, 2 May 2011 22:16 (3 years ago) Permalink

Saw John Rich groveling on celebrity apprentice last night. It's official -- he's a desperate
wash-up. That sure didn't take long. I guess we now know who was the brain in the outfit behind that goofy exterior.

Gorge, Monday, 2 May 2011 23:22 (3 years ago) Permalink

But where is my Big K?

dow, Monday, 2 May 2011 23:28 (3 years ago) Permalink

Well, he seems to have put all of his solo album on YouTube -- Quiet Times of a Rock 'n' Roll Country Boy -- where no one listened to it there, either. Maybe if he'd actually rocked more on it...rather than have something like "Go Your Own Way" and its full orchestra in a church let's drown in the lugubriousness of love stuff.

Gorge, Tuesday, 3 May 2011 00:34 (3 years ago) Permalink

Probably being a bit harsh. Big Kenny deserves some points for giving away the album on YouTube.
And it's probably at least as good as Big & Rich's third, even without the benefit of the overexposed wedding video song.

Article at Salon, pretty much part of the omnibus overkill coverage of trying to tie everything into Osama bin Laden and the ten years since 9/11. This one makes the argument, poorly, that country is as popular as anything else now because of 9/11.

But the legacy of country music is bigger than the individual. Once the dust has settled, what will people see when they look back at country music in the aughts? Taylor Swift, the CMT Awards, the CMA Awards (completely different), Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban, Gwyneth Paltrow and "Country Strong"; just in the past year the popularity of the genre has allowed its stars to overtake the Grammys, both in nominees and interest in other music award shows.

Perhaps we can attribute the rise in popularity of country music as much to Swift, Underwood, Miley Cyrus and "American Idol" as we can to the attacks on Sept. 11. But I'd wager that these fresh faces in the industry flocked to country music specifically because it resonated with the first historical event they were alive to witness.

Don't hear much 9/11 in any of them. So Hannah Montana was a result, in some way, of 9/11? And Gwyneth Paltrow and Country Strong was so marginal and ignored as a product it's irrelevant.

Currently, I'll make the argument again that modern country is merely a reinforcer of white heartland delusions and myths. If Aaron Lewis is at the top of CMT's rotation with "Country Boy," and he is, that's just an exhibition in decadence and pandering, part of the sullen reaction to any intimation that the country has gone rancid in the last ten years. If bow-hunting, a Tea Party Flag, US flag tattoos, showing off your old army truck and ending the thing with an image of how you take your guitar and gun into the woods at the same time, has more in common with an intrinsic US citizen overcompensation that looks laughably phony, rather than sincere, to people who don't suffer from it. It's message: "I'll beat you up, run you over with my big truck or shoot you in the woods if <strike>you're not a real American</strike> you dis me."

And it's an inward, not outward, complaint because I guarantee he wasn't thinking about Osama bin Laden when he wrote it and the producer thought about getting Charlie Daniels to deliver his old white coot speech as a voice-over end.

No link. Meh.

Gorge, Tuesday, 3 May 2011 19:45 (3 years ago) Permalink

Condensed press release:
CMT DISASTER RELIEF CONCERT SET TO PREMIERE LIVE ON
THURSDAY, MAY 12 AT 9 PM ET / 8 PM CT

Talent line-up includes Hank Williams, Jr., Alabama, Keith Urban,
Lady Antebellum, Ronnie Dunn, Sara Evans and Tim McGraw

NASHVILLE – May 5, 2011 – CMT and its pro-social initiative CMT One Country
will air a live, 90-minute concert special featuring Hank Williams, Jr.,
Alabama, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Ronnie Dunn, Sara Evans, Tim McGraw
and many others to raise awareness and funds for those affected by the
recent devastating storms, flooding and tornadoes. The fundraising special
will air live from Nashville on _Thursday, May 12 at 9 pm ET / 8 pm CT on
CMT_ and will be simulcast on [2]CMT.com. Additional artists to be
announced; all money raised will benefit the American Red Cross Disaster
Relief efforts.
**CMT DISASTER RELIEF CONCERT is available for simulcast, free of charge,
to outside media. Satellite coordinates and restrictions will be available
early next week.

**CMT One Country encourages you to support our neighbors affected by the
recent devastating tornadoes and floods. Please text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to
make a $10 donation to support the American Red Cross Disaster Relief
efforts.

dow, Thursday, 5 May 2011 17:48 (3 years ago) Permalink

Okay, put on your thinking caps, feeling caps--Sweepstakes is high! (like to see how the family therapist is faring on their reality show too)

WYNONNA SURPRISES NAOMI WITH SPECIAL NEW SONG “LOVE IT OUT LOUD” ON “THE
JUDDS” OWN SEASON FINALE THIS SUNDAY_

_“How Do You Love it Out Loud?” Facebook Sweepstakes Starts Tomorrow!_

Nashville, TN (May 5, 2011) – Curb Records recording artist _Wynonna Judd_
has released a new song titled “_Love it Out Loud_” which is available now
on iTunes and Amazon.com. Beginning tomorrow Clear Channel Radio will be
streaming the track exclusively on all of their country radio sites.

Wynonna co-wrote and produced the track with Cactus Moser to honor the love,
affection and appreciation she has towards her mother. As the cameras were
rolling throughout _The Last Encore_ tour, Wynonna would sneak away to work
on creating this special tribute song which she presented to Naomi on the
final show of their tour in Phoenix, AZ. The surprise performance will take
center stage on the finale of “The Judds” this _Sunday, May 8th at 10pm ET_
on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

Starting tomorrow fans can enter the “_How Do You Love it Out Loud?”
Facebook Sweepstakes_ for a chance to win an exclusive chat with Wynonna via
Skype. To enter the contest, go to Wynonna’s Facebook page and post a
comment or photo in response to the question, “How do you Love it Out
Loud?” Do you give your mom a card every day to tell her you love her? Or
put a special note in your child’s lunchbox? Whether you love it out loud
in your community, with your family, friends, kids, or spouse…Wynonna wants
to hear about it!

One grand prize winner will get to spend 10 minutes with Wynonna via a
private Skype chat in June. Ten runner-up winners will each receive a
Wynonna Judd merchandise package. Winners will be randomly selected and
announced on May 18th.^. For official rules, visit [2]www.wynonna.com.

dow, Thursday, 5 May 2011 20:43 (3 years ago) Permalink

2 weeks pass...

Haven't been nearly as excited by any country this year as I was at this time last year; but I also haven't been exploring it as much. Here'd be my top 10 singles if the country critics poll were held today. It's a reasonably good set of records except that four of my top 5 were tracks I'd already heard last year (in fact, I voted "Mean" in the 2010 poll, when it was a promo single; now that it's an actual single I'll vote it again, only 'cause Geoff doesn't carry over votes from year to year like Xgau did, Geoff not having the order in his mind for that sort of thing that Xgau has). Anyway, the track in my top 5 I hadn't heard proves my point about my not being excited by country this year, that I'm willing to be moved enough by it to give it the time of day. Do think the Singles Jukebox crew underestimated by quite a lot how powerful the singing is (or ignored or didn't want to credit the power, for understandable reasons); also think there's a little more feeling and poetry in the words than anyone there is giving credit for, even if the anti-sellout ideas and survivalist stomp are strictly grade d scripts from backlot zeitgeists. Not that the poetry is even one-zillionth as poetic as Montgomery Gentry's "She Couldn't Change Me" or Shooter Jennings' "Daddy's Farm," and I don't tend to think "poetry" when I listen to those, either. And I can't say I don't share the impulse to give it a 0, its ideas being ignorant and stupid and destructive. But the singing and words combined hit me harder than the also-problematic-and-noxious-but-not-nearly-as-noxious-as-this-is "Homeboy," which I put at number six. Maybe if everyone else in my neighborhood were giving "Country Boy" a 7 or 8 I'd be the one to give it a 0, but they're not, so I'm not.

Don't know if I've ever heard a track by Staind. Maybe I should.

1. Taylor Swift "Mean"
2. Reba McEntire "If I Were A Boy"
3. Jamey Johnson "Heartache"
4. Aaron Lewis "Country Boy"
5. Reba McEntire "When Love Gets A Hold Of You"
6. Eric Church "Homeboy"
7. The Band Perry "You Lie"
8. Trace Adkins "Brown Chicken Brown Cow"
9. Carrie Elkin "Jesse Likes Birds"
10. Gretchen Wilson "I'd Love To Be Your Last"

From the little I've heard, Carrie Elkin is a restrained country bore with an OK voice, the voice getting lost in standard arrangements; on "Jesse Likes Birds" the voice manages to quietly dominate.

Can't really defend "I'd Love To Be Your Last"; needs some quiet domination, some steady, soft force; Gretchen can't hold it, and she's no Taylor Swift so can't work her tatteredness for drama and power. So, more pathos than intended, but the pathos reaches me.

Frank Kogan, Sunday, 22 May 2011 21:48 (3 years ago) Permalink

To my surprise, Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina are the last two standing on American Idol. I was sure that James Durbin would win it, he being a mediocre rocker with enthusiastic performing, just what's won the last few years. Think Lauren sings with vastly more life, subtlety, and passion than Scotty; but I also think I mischaracterized her a little upthread when I said she had a big blustery voice. I think she has a big blustery talent, but the voice isn't strong enough yet for all the bluster, and she often goes for wallop she can't reach. Scotty's got a strong love-man demeanor and goes for richness that his tonsils lack, though he's nice to listen to on a talent show. The out-of-character "Candle In The Wind I already linked is still the best thing she did. A weak field, so the overreaching sexpot Hayley Reinhart reached third place and to my surprise occasionally grabbed what she was grasping for, "House Of The Rising Sun" in particular being a song to reward all that stretching.

I'm still bitter about Didi Benami being knocked out in the tenth spot last year. Her "Play With Fire" is up there in feeling and smarts with anything Kelly, Carrie, Brooke, or Jordin sang on that show.

Frank Kogan, Sunday, 22 May 2011 22:22 (3 years ago) Permalink

I was thinking earlier today about how this thread seemed to have died, and then I couldn't really muster up (m)any real reasons why it shouldn't have. Really dire, uninspiring year for country so far.

I honestly don't think I could come up with a full 10 singles for the year that I would stand behind. I guess Miranda Lambert's "Heart Like Mine" would still count, and there's Sunny Sweeney's "Staying's Worse Than Leaving." I love the melody and production on "Mean" but find its entire premise problematic and sloppy based upon Taylor's overall persona, but I know that's not something that's an issue for everyone, and I'll probably end up voting for it by year's end anyway. "Barton Hollow" by the Civil Wars has a pretty great stomp behind it, as does G Love's "Fixin' to Die." I'll probably end up voting for Little Big Town's cover of "Born This Way," but I'm pretty sure Geoff Himes' head will explode. Or maybe even Gaga's "Country Roads" version of "Born This Way."

The only impression Lauren Alaina has made on me is that she needs a vocal coach, because she has possibly the worst breath control of any contestant to make it to the AI finale. There's potential there, but she needs a lot of work. I've yet to hear anything in Scotty's voice that the judges insist is there. The Josh Turner comparisons are obvious, but the only kind of presence I get from him is smarminess. The facial expressions don't help.

jon_oh, Sunday, 22 May 2011 23:04 (3 years ago) Permalink

Meant to call Carrie Elkin a restrained folkie bore. I ain't typin' fast, it's just I think slow.

Frank Kogan, Sunday, 22 May 2011 23:09 (3 years ago) Permalink

Well, today I saw/heard the midly nauseating tableau cast by the Sheryl Crow/Kid Rock video for "Collide" which was in at 16 on CMT Top 20 Countdown. After why I turned the show off.

Yeah, SC in a dive bar entertaining ol' greasy hair in his on backwards baseball cap. Urgh -- gurgle.

Gorge, Monday, 23 May 2011 00:31 (3 years ago) Permalink

It's probably been at least a decade (back to the late '90s) since I've been as bored by country as I am this year. Basically don't listen to the country station in the car at all anymore. Writing about it a lot less, too -- Though that's partly because Rhapsody's lately been having me review more metal, of all things. Also, judging from what I've picked up from albums added to Rhapsody at least, it seemed like three or four months went by when, week after week, there were basically no high- (or even middle-) profile new releases. (Keep meaning to check and see if anybody at Billboard ever did a story on that weird phenomenon, but I never managed to get around to it.) Guess that's turned around some in recent weeks (with Paisley anyway), but the genre/format seems to have entered into one of its periodic phases when it seems scared to be anything else but dull. That said, I guess if I did a top 10 singles so far for 2011, it would probably look something like this (though I'd be surprised if I'd list "Mean" on a Pazz & Jop ballot; like "Heartache," it feels too much like a 2010 song to me):

1. Taylor Swift - Mean
2. Martina McBride – Teenage Daughters
3. Thompson Square – Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not
4. Eric Church – Homeboy
5. Rosehill – Midnight America
6. Randy Montana – 1,000 Faces
7. Jamey Johnson – Heartache
8. Reba McEntire – If I Were A Boy
9. LeAnn Rimes – Crazy Women
10. Toby Keith – Somewhere Else

Top 10 country 2011 albums so far would shake out something like this -- Though seems like the Montana and Stealing Angels have maybe been postponed indefinitely, and I'd be stretching the year definition on another album and the genre definition on several others; really, if I'm going to count most of these, maybe I should count the Southern Soul albums I've liked this year too, or even the Dunn Boys' passable Pogues/Dropkick-style Irish folk punk from Nova Scotia for that matter.)

1. Randy Montana – Randy Montana (Mercury)
2. Stealing Angels – Stealing Angels (Skyville)
3. Thompson Square – Thompson Square (Stoney Creek)
4. The Band Perry – The Band Perry (Universal Republic ‘10)
5. Too Slim and the Tail Draggers – Shiver (Underworld) -- more hard rock/Southern boogie than country really
6. Blame Sally – Speeding Ticket And A Valentine (Ninth Street Opus) - more folk than country
7. Those Darlins – Screws Get Loose (Oh Wow Dang) - more garage/indie/"thrift store rock" (as George put it) than county
8. Left Lane Cruiser – Junkyard Speed Ball (Alive) -more Southern boogie/blues-rock/garage/pigfuck than country
9. Tara Nevins – Wood And Stone (Sugar Hill) - more folk than country
10. Steel Magnolia – Steel Magnolia (Big Machine)

Possible (though actually pretty marginal) semi-honorable mentions: Ashton Shepherd, Colt Ford, Janedear Girls.

xhuxk, Monday, 23 May 2011 01:53 (3 years ago) Permalink

Also like John Waite's new album, and he made the country chart with his Alison Krauss duet update of "Missing You" a half-decade or so ago. But I'm not hearing anything remotely country on his new one, so I don't think it qualifies. (If it did, it'd be somewhere near Thompson Square and Band Perry on the list above.)

xhuxk, Monday, 23 May 2011 02:02 (3 years ago) Permalink

A new career milestone, being officially named "Best Donald Trump Suck-Up" a week or so after the Trump is made a laughingstock on national tv.

http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/05/23/celebrity-apprentice-winner-john-rich/

Gorge, Monday, 23 May 2011 17:14 (3 years ago) Permalink

Almost all the Colt Ford album is on YouTube. "Every Chance I Get," "Work It Out," "Titty's Beer," "Country Thang," "This is Our Song," -- the last one is genre standard really phoned in-sounding white trash doing hip hop hard rock. It may be the he-man rapping & metal record with fiddles he wanted to make but after three or four songs -- no interest in the remainder of it. One supposes he thinks there's some link to Charlie Daniels in this but six months from now it won't be on any rotation lists unless something is force-fed through CMT.

Gorge, Monday, 23 May 2011 17:34 (3 years ago) Permalink

What's missing this year is mostly any trace of the elusive quality, fun.

Thompson Square's "I Got You" video, as corny as it is with the Sonny & Cher Show homage, has fun in it. Even if they weren't alive then. It goes with the record.

There's no fun in a lot of this high quality rote product. LeAnn Rimes' "Crazy Women" is not fun. Colt Ford's definitely not fun unless you're really into the 10,000th mediocre iteration of getting smashed with ugly people at a dive bar, playing cards and overeating.

Brad Paisley's album didn't look like much fun in the BestBuy racks. There he is, outstanding in his field, before the sunset or sunrise on the back cover.

The Band Perry flirt with not being fun. Particularly on those parts of the album where she bares her teeth and really works up a fury at mostly nothing. The other half where she doesn't do that I still like.

JaneDear Girls wanna be fun and probably are. I just don't like them more than a third.

Anyone hard rock as country slumming that I've heard this year hasn't been fun, mostly.

I keep getting stuck on the idea that the girls do it better than the guys. And I've come to the conclusion I tend to like them more because they're not ever hellbent on flinty or manly.

And the one thing Colt Ford has in common with Charlie Daniels is obvious and gratuitous, as a shot I'm gonna take anyway. They're the same size.

Gorge, Tuesday, 24 May 2011 05:23 (3 years ago) Permalink

Xgau on new Brad Paisley:

http://social.entertainment.msn.com/music/blogs/expert-witness-blogpost.aspx?post=937a5e57-8e48-45fb-9d4b-edd570dbde56#ic-anchor

doesn't mention any hot-shit guitar playing unfortunately. what's the word on that front?

Ioannis, Tuesday, 24 May 2011 13:16 (3 years ago) Permalink

Dunno yet. Have only heard the title track and the one with Alabama -- the latter of which was also done live with a guitar showcase tacked on. Neither do anything for me.

If my Chrisgau 180 rule is still reliable -- and it almost always is -- based on his grade, A minus, I'm probably not going to find anything on it.

Gorge, Tuesday, 24 May 2011 18:12 (3 years ago) Permalink

Two of his most underwhelming singles.

The Edge of Gloryhole (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 25 May 2011 15:19 (3 years ago) Permalink

My discussion on a particularly boneheaded editorial on copyright infringers at the LA Times:

http://dickdestiny.com/blog1/2011/06/07/todays-laugher-on-copyright-infringement/

Posted here because I've noticed how YouTube doesn't do much about entire country albums posted to the service if the star isn't really much of a money-maker and doesn't merit label enforcers/fixers.

Gorge, Tuesday, 7 June 2011 22:04 (3 years ago) Permalink

Just started paying attention to NBC reality music show The Voice, which has Blake Shelton as one of the show's four judges/coaches. The two guys on Team Blake are both rockoid countryoid manly voiced bores (though I'll give Jared props for auditioning with "Not Ready To Make Nice" and for Blake picking him on that), while the two gals are potentially very good, Xenia a kid with an expressive scratch in her throat whom I can imagine finding a way to deepen and darken a lot of soft pop; the other, Dia Frampton, is getting a lot of attention for her twisting and half wispy, half guttural version of Kanye West's "Heartless." Judge Cee Lo Green called it "probably the greatest rendition of a song I've ever heard," which seems to be a bit of an exaggeration, but she was fairly riveting. Anyhow, the rendition is not really relevant to country other than the fact that Blake Shelton's her mentor; but what's getting under my skin is that Carson Daly keeps carefully introducing Dia as "a shy singer-songwriter and novelist" from Utah, and judge Christina Aguilera always - very irritatingly - talks about how cute and cuddly Dia is, and yes, I suppose Dia is a shy singer-songwriter and novelist WHO ALSO HAPPENS TO BE THE LEAD SINGER OF A LOUD-ASS SHEMO BAND THAT USED TO HAVE MAJOR-LABEL DISTRIBUTION AND THAT'S RELEASED AS MANY ALBUMS AS TAYLOR SWIFT and they've done the Warped Tour and I reviewed them 5 years ago on Paper Thin Walls, so she's not exactly a stranger to the big scary stage, even if she is only 23.

Anyhow, it's a big year for Korean-Americans on talent shows, what with Dia getting lauded on The Voice and twinkle-toes Hines Ward winning Dancing With The Stars.

Frank Kogan, Wednesday, 8 June 2011 21:32 (3 years ago) Permalink

And I'll say that Dia plays right into the sweet shyness thing.

Frank Kogan, Wednesday, 8 June 2011 22:07 (3 years ago) Permalink

Here's a better link for "Heartless," though you'll have to juice the volume:

http://www.nbc.com/the-voice/video/week-seven-dia-frampton-sings-heartless/1332424

And here's Xenia's audition:

http://www.nbc.com/the-voice/video/week-one-xenia-audition-breakeven/1322692

Frank Kogan, Thursday, 9 June 2011 02:57 (3 years ago) Permalink

And this is probably the best of the show's country guys, Jeff Jenkins:

http://www.nbc.com/the-voice/video/week-one-jeff-jenkins-audition-bless-the-broken-road/1322699

Frank Kogan, Thursday, 9 June 2011 03:09 (3 years ago) Permalink

I tried digesting some of that Meg & Dia rot. There must be at least a hundred bands with that slathered in squeaky clean and cute corporate mall punk emo whatsis.

Couldn't stand it when I was getting Damone records, her brand sounds incrementally worse. If cute were like gamma radiation you wouldn't be able to stand within three feet of her without being burned to a cinder.

Gorge, Thursday, 9 June 2011 21:38 (3 years ago) Permalink

Hey, I actually pulled out that second Damone album a month or so ago -- Out Here All Night from 2006, the one with the Iron Maiden cover that I never noticed was an Iron Maiden cover until somebody told me -- and I was really surprised how well it held up. Can't think of many pop-rock albums in the past decade or so that I've liked more. (Their debut, which George had reviewed for me in the Voice, was a lot worse though, iirc.)

Probably still have an advance of the first Meg & Dia CD in a box in the closet. Kept trying to get into that at the time, but it never much clicked. Definitely didn't find it as unstomachable as most shemo/emo/screamo rot, but that's very small praise.

Have heard basically no new country I particularly care about in recent weeks, but then it's not like I've been hunting too hard, either. Got halfway through an advance of the new Connie Smith album on Sugar Hill; thought it was all at least pleasant but I haven't exactly been chomping at the bit to finish the thing, either. (I had never given her a second of thought before; know basically nothing about her old country hits, which seem to have been biggest in the mid to late '60s, then smaller and smaller through the '70s. If I'm reading Wiki right she never got higher than #101 on the pop chart, and that was with her first charting single, in 1964.)

Caramanica gave a good review to the new Ronnie Dunn solo album in the Times the other day, but the one single I heard was a snooze -- and given that Jon perplexingly seems to think Brooks & Dunn peaked with the likewise boring "Believe," he didn't quite persuade me to check that new album out. Maybe eventually.

xhuxk, Thursday, 9 June 2011 23:58 (3 years ago) Permalink

Can Miranda Lambert's new side project, Pistol Annies, bring this thread back to life?

The Ronnie Dunn album is serviceable enough, but there aren't any songs that are as good as his voice would have you believe they are. "Cost of Livin'" is the second single. Can't get on board with the idea that Brooks & Dunn peaked with "Believe." But for a couple of singles, I'd say they peaked with "Neon Moon," which I still love, and then it was all downhill for the next 15 years.

jon_oh, Thursday, 16 June 2011 18:32 (3 years ago) Permalink

I like the new Ronnie Dunn record, and I'm impressed by Blame Sally's folkie power pop. the latest Nashville Scene has my thoughts on Sally and on local act KORT, who are the Lambchop dude and Cortney Tidwell doing stuff off of Chart Records label in the '60s. Wagner sounds like an anemic, a more anemic Cat Stevens, but I think "Penetration" is an interesting and effective track. anyway, I've been absent from posting anywhere for a while, including here, but have been doing my usual thing for the Scene, and you guys may have read me on Those Darlins in the Voice a couple months ago; they're playing with Old 97's here next month. (Whose Grand Theater records I quite like, altho I am not sure if the first one is better than the second.)

But, want to check out what y'all have been saying before I pitch in much more, except to say I hung out with Charlie Louvin at a Nashville eatery where his guitarist Ben Hall was playing, a month before Charlie passed, and Charlie drove himself to the gig in his Cadillac from 50 miles south of Nashville!

And that I got on a Wynette and George Jones kick and listened to every Tammy LP from '67-'80 with a detour to her '87 bluegrass album, and at last count I think I've listened to 20 Jones LPs from Musicor era thru '92 and the "Walls Can Fall" LP. What a body of work. And Cal Smith, don't forget about Cal Smith...finally, in the vein of the great country past, I've seen now TWO clips of Gary Stewart on the "Pop Goes the Country" show from the '70s, one where he played the piano and scared Minnie Pearl and cut Jerry Lee's cousin to pieces, the other where he played electric guitar and looked totally cool.

See you guys soon...

ebbjunior, Friday, 17 June 2011 05:50 (3 years ago) Permalink

But for a couple of singles, I'd say they peaked with "Neon Moon," which I still love, and then it was all downhill for the next 15 years.

Disagree with this -- my favorite albums by them are easily Steers & Stripes and Red Dirt Road, probably followed by Hillbilly Deluxe and Cowboy Town, so I tend to think they improved with age until they started slipping a bit -- but I never understood until I moved to Texas the extent to which "Neon Moon" (which I've always liked fine but never loved) is their "Stairway to Heaven" or "Smells Like Teen Spirit" or whatever. That two-decade-old song is on country radio here ALL THE FUCKING TIME, and I could live without hearing it again. Seriously though, even as far as early B&D hackwork goes, I'd probably take any number of tracks over it -- "Lost And Found", "Brand New Man," "Mexican Minutes," "Texas Women (Don't Stay Lonely Long)," "Boot Scootin' Boogie." Maybe I'm just sick of it.

I'm impressed by Blame Sally's folkie power pop

Me too - mentioned them a couple times upthread already, and it's taking me several listens until I heard the powerpop part (minus much "power," but for once I don't seem to mind much). Real eureka moment was hearing the single, "Living Without You," apart from the album and over the P.A. at a Starbucks, of all places, and thinking "damn I really really like this tune" but not being able to place where I'd heard it before; when I googled it, I was all, "oh yeah, duh, it's on that Blaming Sally CD!" Now it's in the running for my best singles of 2011 list, and the album's been climbing my album list some, too. Last time I played it, something in its sound was even reminding me of what I liked about Chely Wright's album last year. I don't think it's as good as that -- too precious and wimpy, probably -- but it's growing on me. I need to remember to check out your Scene piece -- feel free to post a link here to jog my memory if you want. (And oh yeah, welcome back, Edd! -- though, to be honest, when it comes to this thread, you haven't missed a whole lot. We've all been almost as absent as you.)

In other country news, Randy Montana's album (my favorite of the year) finally has a solid release date, apparently, in late July. Also heard Eric Church's new one, out around the same time, and so far it's as frustratingly uneven as his other two, but it does seem to have at least a few real corkers. I'm starting to think though that I may overrated both Church's "Homeboy" and Martina McBride's "Teenage Daughters" a bit. And otherwise, I've been trying to figure out whether I like or hate Katie Armiger's hit Taylor Swift imitation, "Best Song Ever."

Also, the country album I've been liking the most, by far, this month, is eye-patched Dick Curless's old trucker-song LP Tombstone Every Mile, which I got sent free in the mail from Metal Mike Saunders, and which Joel Whitburn seems to say country-charted in 1965, though the cover of mine calls it "a Capitol reissue formerly titled Hard, Hard Traveling Man", which title doesn't seem to have ever hit the chart. (The 1998 Razor & Tie CD comp I've got by him, The Drag 'Em Off The Insterstate, Sock It To 'Em Hits, is also really amazing.)

xhuxk, Friday, 17 June 2011 15:46 (3 years ago) Permalink

Hey Xhuxk, here's the text of the Blame Sally pick, a shortie. I really think this is close to a great record, and while I quite like the uptempo numbers, and the r&b one that reminds me a little bit of Los Lobos at their best, and the Spanish-language number ditto, I think the "modal" "Appalachian" folkie guitarisms and harmonies are excellent, and to my ears beats a lot of similar stuff Nashville does. Caroline loves it as well but as usual descries some vocal problems the singers are having, but I don't hear that so much.

I really want to write something here about my adventures in Wynetteania and Jonesboro. My feeling is that the Musicor LPs such as If My Heart Had Windows ("The Stranger's Me" and "Between My House and Town" are just amazing), Sings the Songs of Dallas Frazier and I'm a People and Mr. Country and Western Music may have his best singing, but then '70s records like Alone Again and The Battle and I Wanta Sing (the one with a Jones face on the front of a careening tour bus full of whiskey and cocaine and Donald Duck comics) are just ace too, and I perceive no falloff on One Woman Man and Still the Same Ole Me and even '92's Walls Can Fall. And the 1980 Wynette/Jones reunion Together Again strikes me as a really fine record. (The only Wynette LPs I think are substandard are the covers-filled D-I-V-O-R-C-E and maybe a couple from the later '70s, where the production got a bit gloppy. (And from my interviews with Norro Wilson and others who participated in those Sherrill recordings, I believe the intention of those Wynette records was to update '50s pop--which is what Norro, Sherrill and those guys really liked, not country so much--with, as Xgau rightly says, the most soulful female vocalist in country history. But that's another post, I guess).

Anyway, here's the Blame Sally shortie:

The perfection of Blame Sally’s new full-length Speeding Ticket and a Valentine lies in the record’s brilliantly idiosyncratic appropriation of various pop and rock ‘n’ roll idioms. From folk-rock to power-pop, the San Francisco quartet has their own method — their lustrous harmonies and probing piano parts combine with gorgeous acoustic-guitar figures, and these four women write amazing songs. “Living Without You” is a slice of post-Beatles pop that puts you in mind of Matthew Sweet and The Bangles, while “Throw Me a Bone” takes folk-rock into new areas. iSpeeding Ticket is a surprising, funny and quotable record from start to finish: “You might not want to take this melody apart / But I feel changes coming on,” they sing in “Wide Open Spaces.” This is the great folk-pop-rock-country hybrid the world has been seeking, lo these many moons.

ebbjunior, Friday, 17 June 2011 20:48 (3 years ago) Permalink

as for Those Darlins, I think it's a really good record in many ways. Their manager is a friend of mine, and I heard the record way back late last year as they were homing in on the final mix and track order. So I lived with it a lot before it came out in March. I said this in my Voice review, but I really think they'd benefit from a different (better?) producer; too much goddam echo on the voices, esp. on Kelley's "Boys." The singing falls into my amateur category in some ways, not that I expect studied harmony singing from a garage band. It makes it--I am picky, I know. But I do think "Tina Says" is quite an amazing song and that their hearts are in glam rock. They're really good live, too--a zillion times better than they were back a few years ago.

Doing a lot of shorties these days on quasi-country bands. Here's one that ran briefly in Scene before the show got cancelled, so here it is in its entirety:

[COUNTRY ROCK GRAB-BAG]
CHAMBERLIN
Country rock continues to mutate in fascinating ways, and the Vermont quintet Chamberlin pulls off an intelligent updating of the form on their new full-length release Bitter Blood. Produced by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals guitarist Scott Tournet, Bitter Blood mixes slow, sad country shuffles with ingeniously constructed songs that recall everyone from Van Morrison and The Band to Band of Horses. With Mark Daly's pained, soulful vocals leading the way, Blood amounts to a post-modernist grab-bag of alienation and glorious fatalism--not to mention weird guitar licks and oddball chord changes. The record has a communal vibe: a track such as "Paper Crown" combines its swamp-rock guitar figure with overtones of gospel music, while "Turn Around" examines ennui and finds it wanting. Chamberlin is an ambitious, experimental band for whom the telling musical detail is as important as the content of their songs. 8 p.m. at fooBar EDD HURT

and here's my piece on Emmylou Harris' latest, which I thought was either over- or under-produced, take your pick.

ebbjunior, Friday, 17 June 2011 21:01 (3 years ago) Permalink

Finally, before I get out of here, I just want to brag a little and say I got to interview Kris Kristofferson recently--the Nashville Film Festival screened the movie Bloodworth, which stars Kristofferson and Val Kilmer and Frances Conroy. (Despite that, it has to be one of the worst films I've ever seen, sub-Lifetime channel coming-of-age crap based on William Gay's sub-Faulknerian novel set in 1950s Tennessee. So bad the film never opened in Nashville, and my piece on Kristofferson and the movie got kilt.) Anyway, I was real impressed by Kristofferson's easy manner and sense of humor, a real regular guy, and I got to ask him about the film Life and Times of Guy Terrifico, the slapstick mockumentary of Gram Parsons I've mentioned here before, as well as his authoring one of my favorite Faron Young songs, "Your Time's Comin'." He remembered writing the Faron Young song but affected memory loss about Terrifico until I prodded him. But there really aren't any KK solo records worth hearing.

ebbjunior, Friday, 17 June 2011 21:10 (3 years ago) Permalink

1 month passes...

Thank you Kung Pao Buckaroonies.

http://dickdestiny.com/blog1/2011/07/18/retraining-camp/

Gorge, Monday, 18 July 2011 22:14 (3 years ago) Permalink

Something I wrote about the new Randy Montana and Eric Church albums:

http://www.villagevoice.com/2011-07-27/music/eric-church-randy-montana/

xhuxk, Wednesday, 27 July 2011 16:43 (3 years ago) Permalink

Thank you YouTube for posting an entire pirated copy of Eric Church's Chief so elegantly for us to hear.

Gorge, Wednesday, 27 July 2011 20:19 (3 years ago) Permalink

The Eric Church album is definitely a pleasant surprise. He's damn near insufferable in interviews, and I still find "Homeboy" problematic, but the album is solid.

It's also far better than the albums by Chris Young or Blake Shelton. Shelton, in particular, seems to be coasting on the public goodwill he's built up thanks to his Twitter feed and his gig on The Voice. There have been rumblings that, after "Honey Bee" took off faster than anticipated at radio, his album was rushed for a July release after having initially been slated for September; either way, it's just inert, and most of the songs wouldn't have been any better-written in the fall.

Still just a terrible year for country. At least Taylor Swift released "Sparks Fly" as a proper single, but there's not much else to get on board with.

jon_oh, Thursday, 28 July 2011 02:11 (3 years ago) Permalink

"Homeboy" is serious crap. Not only for the pandering video but, y'know, the heavy metal crunch guitar -- I know something about this -- no guitars ever sound effective like that live.

I won't record stuff that sounds that way although a number of country artists besides Church seem to like it and it has some ability to impress idiots. I can do without anything that sounds Colt Ford-er-ized.

"Country Music Jesus" uses this same contrived supermetal guitar thing. Wow, it's so ... like ... heavy, especially when mixed with the knee-jerk banjo. Ludicrous.

"Drink In My Hand," "Springsteen," "Like Jesus Does" sound like a human being did them.

Gorge, Thursday, 28 July 2011 04:43 (3 years ago) Permalink

Revive.

Gorge, Friday, 29 July 2011 19:17 (3 years ago) Permalink

Interesting reads -- the Washington Post has been running a ubiquitous banner ad which, if you click through it -- leads to pages selling made-in-China counterfeit Gibson Les Paul electric guitars.

http://dickdestiny.com/blog1/2011/07/29/made-in-china-les-paul-counterfeits/

http://dickdestiny.com/blog1/2011/08/01/the-post-wont-do-the-right-thing/

http://dickdestiny.com/blog1/2011/08/01/counterfeit-gibson-les-pauls-continued/

Gorge, Monday, 1 August 2011 18:43 (3 years ago) Permalink

Gibson's domestic Les Paul manufacturing is, of course, in Nashville.

Gorge, Monday, 1 August 2011 18:44 (3 years ago) Permalink

ebbjunior, please post (at least an excerpt of) yr kilt KK piece here. I've always much preferred him as an actor (Cisco Pike, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Trouble In Mind for inst), but used to listen to The Silver Tongue Devil and I from early 70s and liked some of that okay, ditto the one where he let young Larry Gatlin sing a track (should've sung 'em all of course). also, paste of a gen, shoutout:
Hey yall, this year's webcast starts 8/13 at 5 Central, so according to this schedule (which could change), looks at the moment like we'll miss for instance Ray Price (who might reasonably expect Willie to guest) and Billy Joe Shaver. Among those prob past the dinner bell, I could live without Jakob Dylan and Jason Mraz. But even if perennials Willie-Neil-Dave-Mellen do the same old thing (maybe Neil will do something from A Treasure, though), worth checking are somewhut cosmic country picker Lukas Nelson, and roots-popster Will Dailey. Here's the lineup:
http://farmaid.blogspot.com/2011/08/farm-aid-2011-schedule.html (all times CST)
and here's some Will Dailey-- the video tagged Craig Ferguson is a fun place to start (no, not a song about Craig Ferguson, which would be a good idea, but anyway a good hot shot and worthy, rare exception to Ferg's no-music format)
http://www.willdailey.com/Music/index.html

dow, Friday, 12 August 2011 21:13 (3 years ago) Permalink

and re xpost link to ebbjunior's Emmylou review, here's my Newport Festivus 2011! threadtakes on her Newport set:

I'll catch up with a bunch of downloads etc of these sets later in the week, but back now for Emmylou & band: opening with a Stonesy groove, though milder vocal at the moment on "Six White Cadillacs." Now her cover of Gillian Welch's "I Am An Orphan", with good bass and accordion, drums kicking in.

― dow, Sunday, July 31, 2011 5:18 PM (1 week ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

So, Emmylou's mostly killer set, with her versatile Red Dirt Boys (incl Will Kimbrough). A few wishy-washy ballads, but mostly spirited, uptempo or not "Hello Stranger", for isnt) New song for/to Gram Parsons is the most immediately engaging of her originals (that I've heard, anyway, although this version of "Michelangelo" very strong; she's mostly and wisely pitching lower in her range in this set), followed by GP's "Luxury Liner", a gospel quartet, "Sin City", "Wheels", Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight", Steve Earle's "Goodbye" (one of the best on her Wrecking Ball), brought out the Civil Wars for "Evangeline", brought out Pete Seeger, who led us through his and God's hit "Turn Turn Turn" as a shuffle, ditto "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?", with a verse I didn't remember: "Where have all the graveyards gone/Covered with flowers every one/When will they ever learn?" Zing! George Wein: "We stahted this festival in 195? with Pete Seegah, and he's still heah. Come to Newport Jazz next weekend. Thank you." Meanwhile, catch the posted stream/download (get your NPR while you can)

― dow, Sunday, July 31, 2011 7:01 PM (1 week ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

dow, Friday, 12 August 2011 21:45 (3 years ago) Permalink

one more, on western swing x bop, which we've talked about on prev years of Rolling Country, re Gatemouth Brown, Charlie Parker jamming with Slim Galliard etc, here's guitarist Bruce Formam's band, Cow Bop:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/08/05/PKC51KG0M6.DTL&type=music

dow, Friday, 12 August 2011 22:33 (3 years ago) Permalink

Anybody heard Pistol Annies' upcoming debut album? Miranda Lambert, Angaleena (sic) Presley, Ashley Monroe, whoo-hoo! Brief interview here:
http://tasteofcountry.com/pistol-annies-interview-2011/"> http://tasteofcountry.com/pistol-annies-interview-2011/

dow, Monday, 15 August 2011 20:57 (3 years ago) Permalink

Dunno what happened with that. Click the second posting of the link.

dow, Monday, 15 August 2011 20:59 (3 years ago) Permalink

2 weeks pass...

Pistol Annies album is really good. Surprised there's not more talk about it here. I wish it *sounded* a *little* messier, but the songwriting is really strong beginning to end -- colorful without being cartoonish.

Trying to decide whether to get the full albums from Ashton Shepherd and Sunny Sweeney. Do they hold-up beyond the singles?

Hubie Brown, Tuesday, 30 August 2011 18:55 (3 years ago) Permalink

I'm wondering too. On a different subject here's Caramanica's NY Times article on Luke Bryan and some other country guys not wearing cowboy hats and what that means

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/28/arts/music/in-nashville-luke-bryan-and-others-forgo-cowboy-hats.html?pagewanted=all&smid=fb-share

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 30 August 2011 19:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

Hmmm, mulling over the fact that male country artists are strong-looking milchtoasts. Not the most daring observation.

And class rage to boot. “Bossman can shove that overtime up his can,” Mr. Church sings on “Drink in My Hand,” his tart sneer in overdrive. “I got a 40-hour-week worth of trouble to drown.”

Only a true tough guy could come up with that in 2011. Actually, it'd be more honest to sing about how you're stuffing all your frustration up cuz you can't afford to be fired in the new labor market knowing it's a fifty/fifty prospect, or worse, that you'll never work for the same miserable pay again.

In the context of contemporary Nashville, this qualifies as extreme bravery

Where have Mr. Adkins’s country bona fides gone? Here, at least, they’re buried in the bonus tracks: “Semper Fi,” a choked-up Marines love song, and “More of Us,” which, by the time you read this, may already have been adopted by Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign. “Don’t you think we’ve taken enough of all this giving in?” Mr. Adkins says, surlier than ever. “It’s about time for pushing back.”

One assumes the record was finished before someone could write a song about Seal Team Six, too.
I'd think the New York Times could afford to be a little more assertive on country music's increasingly delusional status as everyman patriotic wallpaper.

<img src=http://www.dickdestiny.com/texaspsychopaths.JPG />

Gorge, Tuesday, 30 August 2011 20:13 (3 years ago) Permalink

I'll prob take a chance on Sunny Sweeney again, given the first album (uneven but def worth checking: the young and the restless in Bumfuck TX) and "From A Table Away"(so calmly devastated--her heart is composed and decomposed).

dow, Wednesday, 31 August 2011 02:39 (3 years ago) Permalink

The Pistol Annies album is great. One of my favorites of the year.

thinveneer, Wednesday, 31 August 2011 16:40 (3 years ago) Permalink

The new Sunny Sweeney isn't bad at all - it definitely starts out strong. If you merged her debut and "Concrete" you could create one hell of an album.

She does have one song in which she advises a friend, Amy, that her husband would be loyal if she only treated him right. Seems he's been sleeping with Sunny. I eagerly await Sunny's next album where we hear about her being sent to Fist City.

thinveneer, Thursday, 1 September 2011 19:05 (3 years ago) Permalink

Indeed. She's a bit too hard on hersel re her greenhorn status on the first album, though it was obviously traveling on a learning curve. But she effectively used her frustration with that,in expressing her frustration with a lot of thangs, getting though those early days on the fringe of it all. Too hard on herself, I mean, in this recent interview, which is a hoot:
http://www.theboot.com/2011/08/23/sunny-sweeney-concrete-new-album-interview/

dow, Saturday, 3 September 2011 00:57 (3 years ago) Permalink

Oh yeah, and bluegrass stalwart Dale Ann Bradley up next, on the National Folk Festival, streaming this weekend on
http://www/folkalley.com

dow, Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:01 (3 years ago) Permalink

ah hockey, sorry: http://www.folkalley.com

dow, Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

I've never really listened to Keith Urban, but the more I hear that "Long Hot Summer" song the more fascinated I am that it is such a perfectly crafted radio song it could have likely been a hit for almost any singer. Pink, Kelly Clarkson, Eddie Money, Bryan Adams, Richard Marx, Lady Gaga ...

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 4 September 2011 12:02 (3 years ago) Permalink

I like "Hell on Heels" a whole bunch, maybe my favorite Lambert-involved song since 2008.

Anakin Ska Walker (AKA Skarth Vader) (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 4 September 2011 12:59 (3 years ago) Permalink

Most of his best singles are like that. In some alternate crazy world where Paul Westerberg made a try for pop stardom he'd probably sound like Keith Urban.

Jamie_ATP, Sunday, 4 September 2011 13:10 (3 years ago) Permalink

"Put You In A Song" is pretty tremendous

Jamie_ATP, Sunday, 4 September 2011 13:11 (3 years ago) Permalink

Huh. Verses of "Put You In a Song" are very Westerbergy. The music, at least. The chorus is a lot weaker than "Long Hot Summer," I think.

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 4 September 2011 13:39 (3 years ago) Permalink

From the thread National Folk Festival--Streaming Live Labor Day Weekend:

Awright, twentysomethings doing vitamins and Granpa's Western swing proud--Marshall Ford Swing Band is fronted by Johnny Gimble's granddaughter, Emily Ann. "Lulu's Back In Town", "My Window Faces The South", "A Shanty in Old Shanty Town" (where"The writing on the wall wouldn't mean a thing"). "We got it from the Slim and Slam version", as well they might; Bob Wills is sailing by a on a falsetto breeze too. "When you see the rosin fly/Sit up straight, don't bat an eye." That's called "Draggin' the Bow"--no drag son, perkier than ever. "Pluck my hearstrings with delight/Away we'll go/That's called draggin' the bow." Down for the ol' man/ ol' lady blues: "When will you ever leave me?"

― dow, Sunday, September 4, 2011 4:25 PM

oops, more rain. Not to say, judging by this set, the Marshall Ford Wing Band necessarily have the older Hot Club of Cowtown's instrumental chops, but they've got the spirit (and the voices). Book one band if you can't get t'other.

― dow, Sunday, September 4, 2011 4:59 PM

dow, Sunday, 4 September 2011 22:02 (3 years ago) Permalink

Listen here, for one place http://www.marshallfordswingband.com

dow, Sunday, 4 September 2011 22:06 (3 years ago) Permalink

http://dickdestiny.com/blog1/2011/09/06/made-in-china-day-at-guitar-center/

Gibson's troubles with the government, raided in Nashville, among other things.

Gorge, Wednesday, 7 September 2011 01:45 (3 years ago) Permalink

I've never really listened to Keith Urban, but the more I hear that "Long Hot Summer" song the more fascinated I am that it is such a perfectly crafted radio song it could have likely been a hit for almost any singer. Pink, Kelly Clarkson, Eddie Money, Bryan Adams, Richard Marx, Lady Gaga ...

― Josh in Chicago, Sunday, September 4, 2011

Richard Marx co-wrote this with Urban.

curmudgeon, Saturday, 10 September 2011 02:28 (3 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, Keith Urban's "Put You In A Song" made my Top Ten near the beginning of this thread, but wish he'd ease up on the dutiful-sounding positivity and sanitized melancholy. Either way, def needs to play more of that ace showtime guitar on his albums, hell even an all-instrumental set, like Paisley. Also: an exemplary feature, re well-chosen quotes from an uncharacteristically forthcoming interview, in fair ratio with pungent musical excepts--warning to some: it's blue-gr-a-s-s http://www.npr.org/2011/09/12/140366232/bill-monroe-celebrating-the-father-of-bluegrass-at-100

dow, Tuesday, 13 September 2011 19:58 (3 years ago) Permalink

Also for Monroe's 100th Birthday, a mix, which I thought at first glance incl Alvin and the Chipmunks, but it's another Alvin, dang it. Oh well, the Million Dollar Quartet are in here:
http://www.npr.org/2011/09/07/140247673/the-mix-happy-100th-bill-monroe From several years back, Big Mon is an unusually good tribute album--also unusual for spotlighting Monroe's pop-wise elements, especially considering producer Ricky Skaggs' latter-day schoolmaster (and sermonizing) tendencies. But he was Entertainer of the Year back in the day.

dow, Tuesday, 13 September 2011 20:14 (3 years ago) Permalink

Johnny Horton's version of "Battle of New Orleans" was the first song to pull me into the radio--an awesome epic cartoon, and git that musket ready boy. It was written by Jimmy Driftwood, a schoolteacher who, like many of that calling then and now, had to use lot of his own resources in the classroom. Horton had a big kiddie following, with vivid, sing-along songs, several from movies. This girl I knew had his Greatest Hits, her first LP, and she used to play it with a lipstick rubberbanded to the stylus, to keep it from skipping. Oh, she's long gone...This Ed Sullivan Show version of "Battle", the first link, seems a bit speedy and tinny, but dig the Arctic ballet--maybe cause of his Alaska songs? Links to them after "Battle", also "Whispering Pines":







dow, Saturday, 17 September 2011 17:35 (3 years ago) Permalink

3 weeks pass...

We are so happy to announce that Justin Townes Earle came home with the Song of the Year award for "Harlem River Blues" at last night's Americana Music Associations 10th Annual Honors and Awards!

There is an American Music Association?

curmudgeon, Friday, 14 October 2011 19:20 (3 years ago) Permalink

Americana

curmudgeon, Friday, 14 October 2011 19:20 (3 years ago) Permalink

Yep. Here are the nominees, with winners in double asteriks. Folk Alley has posted this with a stream of the 4/10 ceremony, which I haven't heard yet, so dunno how much actual music can be heard there:

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

**Band of Joy, Robert Plant**

Welder, Elizabeth Cook

Harlem River Blues, Justin Townes Earle

Blessed, Lucinda Williams

ARTIST OF THE YEAR

**Buddy Miller**

Elizabeth Cook

Hayes Carll

Robert Plant

NEW/EMERGING ARTIST OF THE YEAR

The Civil Wars

**Mumford And Sons**

The Secret Sisters

Jessica Lea Mayfield

DUO/GROUP OF THE YEAR

**The Avett Brothers**

The Civil Wars

Mumford And Sons

Robert Plant and the Band Of Joy

SONG OF THE YEAR

Decemberists with Gillian Welch- "Down By The Water"

Elizabeth Cook - "El Camino"

Hayes Carll - "Kmag Yoyo"

**Justin Townes Earle - "Harlem River Blues"**

INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR

**Buddy Miller**

Gurf Morlix

Kenny Vaughan

Sarah Jarosz

Will Kimbrough

dow, Friday, 14 October 2011 22:39 (3 years ago) Permalink

Merle's Working In Tennessee is a lot of fun, mostly barroom/boxcar/daydream sing-alongs, with a natcherly blooming windowbox of the fatalist, affirmative and absurd, especially on "Laugh It Off." Flexes some mellow heart muscle too (some, not a shitload).

dow, Thursday, 20 October 2011 21:21 (3 years ago) Permalink

Favorite song is the homelessness one about Saginaw that shares its name with a much worse Red Hot Chili Peppers hit; "Laugh It Off" second place probably. Solid record, but there's a lot I could quibble about, if I had time to quibble these days.

xhuxk, Friday, 21 October 2011 03:20 (3 years ago) Permalink

love listening to "if i die young" lately

surm, Friday, 21 October 2011 05:34 (3 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, they (the Band Perry) did that on Dancing With The Stars last week, hot stuff (funny given the title, cos song is not country goth or gothic, except in a hot Dancing With The Stars-appropriate way, "die"/"little death"/nice-sized O/musical sublimation way of country wisdom)

dow, Saturday, 22 October 2011 19:04 (3 years ago) Permalink

Xxhux's aforementioned quibbles with Working In Tennessee might well incl use of sureshot themes, re aforementioned barroom/boxcar/daydream sing-alongs, but his whiff-of-bs-bearing paper airplanes are bullseye or close enough, often enough for lazier me to be impressed--he really is Working it, somewhut. Top Ten? We'll see.

dow, Saturday, 22 October 2011 19:11 (3 years ago) Permalink

Neil Young's A Treasure turns out to be closer to Working In Tenn than I would have thought to expect, in terms of drollery, fecund foraging with Nashville cats (here touring as International Harvesters) and use of familiar elements. Only five prev unreleased titles, but the known ones haven't been redone on disc too often and everything's pretty sparky, except the first one, Amber Jean (and mebbe a couple others are too long). Several def (incl initial snoozes) def get better as they go along, which is not so common these days, much gracias. Fave: "Southern Pacific", where a forcibly retired railroad worker complains as the Harvesters klang and steam, way out on the redeye express. Kinda spooky--are they part of why he was retired? Note to self: This would have to be in Reissues, wouldn't it? Since Himes' Nashville Scene ballots have so far defined those as music rec. five or more years ago, and A Treasure's tracks are from mid-80s shows.

dow, Saturday, 22 October 2011 19:25 (3 years ago) Permalink

2 weeks pass...

Hi guys. I'm guessing that 50-100% of you are working country music critics, so maybe you're the best folks to help me out. Where do you turn for the best new country album reviews?

I've noticed that most of the links on this thread aren't to country-specific websites. The only ones I found were for Taste of Country and The Boot, the latter of which doesn't seem to do albums. Do you find them to be reasonable? Are there better country-dedicated sources? Or do more broad-spectrum sites like Village Voice and NYTimes just have higher-quality music criticism?

I've really been getting into country music this year and want to do my best to keep up with the new shit. Thank you, and high fives to infinity.

rustic italian flatbread, Thursday, 10 November 2011 12:04 (2 years ago) Permalink

The 9513 is 100% country and they cover nearly everything. ymmv on their quality.

Bruce K. Tedesco (zachlyon), Thursday, 10 November 2011 12:25 (2 years ago) Permalink

I just checked it out. Apparently it hasn't been updated since May.

rustic italian flatbread, Thursday, 10 November 2011 12:55 (2 years ago) Permalink

whoa really? apparently that was the last time i checked it. weird.

Bruce K. Tedesco (zachlyon), Thursday, 10 November 2011 14:34 (2 years ago) Permalink

I mised the CMA Awards on tv last night as I was out seeing Mexican pop singer Julieta Venegas. Will have to check youtube or elsewhere to see if there are any good performance clips

curmudgeon, Thursday, 10 November 2011 14:57 (2 years ago) Permalink

The9513 officially folded back in May. Juli Thanki, who is a terrific writer and an occasional contributor to the former site, started engine145 a couple of months ago, though it focuses more heavily on "roots" music than contemporary country.

jon_oh, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

winners from the 45th Country Music Association Awards:

Entertainer of the Year: Taylor Swift
Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert
Male Vocalist of the Year: Blake Shelton
Vocal Group of the Year: Lady Antebellum
Vocal Duo of the Year: Sugarland
New Artist of the Year: The Band Perry
Album of the Year: My Kinda Party, Jason Aldean
Single of the Year: "If I Die Young", The Band Perry
Song of the Year: "If I Die Young", The Band Perry
Video of the Year: "The House That Built Me," Miranda Lambert
Musical Event of the Year: "Don't You Wanna Stay," Jason Aldean featuring Kelly Clarkson
Musician of the Year: Mac McAnally, guitar
Music Video of the Year: "You and Tequila," Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter

curmudgeon, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

I didn't actually bother with the show, but Lady Antebellum over Zac Brown Band for Vocal Group and Aldean over Swift or Zac Brown Band are the only indefensible winners. A pretty accurate reflection of one of the poorest years for mainstream country I can remember overall.

jon_oh, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:44 (2 years ago) Permalink

band perry made out!

surm, Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:48 (2 years ago) Permalink

would kick it with: luke bryan

/\/K/\/\, Thursday, 10 November 2011 17:00 (2 years ago) Permalink

I drunk-tweeted this last night. I love country music awards shows because no other genre wholly embraces its gaudy bullshit and even gives a platform to its more mediocre talent (Chris Young! Thompson Square! That icky kid who won American Idol!).

Aldean beating Swift for Album of the Year was so shockingly wrong it was laughable; Lady A over ZBB is predictable bullshit, although Zac Brown holding a red Solo cup in the audience during this category showed exactly how much he doesn't give a fuck. Although the reaction shots of the night go to Swift: not even bothering to be fake-happy when Lambert won Female Vocalist, clapping politely and talking after The Band Perry sang (I really hope she was saying "Oh so that's what I'd be like if my voice was thinner and less charismatic, and I had a problem with words!"), and then going PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE while all the other EOY noms were like "haha I'm gonna lose to the girl." #taylorswiftsurprisedface!

Actually I think ZBB got jobbed most when "Colder Weather" lost out to "If I Die Young" (which is about 16 months old at this point! But I guess if Luke Bryan and Eric Church are still considered "new artists"...), but I can see why people think that's a good song.

At one point Carrie Underwood had on a Maria Bello Prime Suspect hat and some reject dress from the musical Chicago while introducing Luke Bryan and his strippers singing "Country Girl (Shake It For Me)" and afterwards Nicole Kidman shot this look at Keith Urban that was like "Haha can you believe this bullshit?! Oh you can, whoops!" Blake Shelton sang "Footloose." Sara Evans did that big hit and had an aerialist, maybe so people wouldn't fall asleep.

all the other twinks with their fucked up dicks (billy), Thursday, 10 November 2011 17:02 (2 years ago) Permalink

I kinda like Aldean's title cut but haven't heard the whole album so I won't debate you folks (yet) on its merits versus Swift's.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 10 November 2011 19:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/click-track/post/cma-awards-most-memorable-moments/2011/11/10/gIQAdree8M_blog.html

Some of these don't appear too memorable

curmudgeon, Thursday, 10 November 2011 22:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

Good job, internet: People on pretty well every country-specific message board I've checked are up in arms that Swift didn't look happy enough in her reaction shot when Lambert won Female Vocalist. Because awards shows need a villain.

To my ears, Speak Now is Swift's most unabashedly pop album ("Mean" notwithstanding) but whatever; Aldean isn't even remotely in league with her, and his album was far and away the weakest of the five nominees, including the Blake Shelton EP that inexplicably pulled a nomination.

Not a Faith Hill fan at all, but launching a comeback with a OneRepublic cover seems like an especially poor choice. Can't see country radio going for that single, but adult contemporary will likely be all over it.

jon_oh, Friday, 11 November 2011 16:22 (2 years ago) Permalink

I think Taylor will survive the message board comments.

curmudgeon, Friday, 11 November 2011 18:50 (2 years ago) Permalink

She may even write a song about them.

i couldn't adjust the food knobs (Phil D.), Friday, 11 November 2011 18:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

Well yeah, obviously. I just think it's indicative of how such a sizable and vocal part of the country audience actively looks for reasons to villify her.

jon_oh, Friday, 11 November 2011 18:58 (2 years ago) Permalink

haha blake shelton at the end

Bruce K. Tedesco (zachlyon), Saturday, 12 November 2011 00:52 (2 years ago) Permalink

i'm back and forth on the nikki lane album on iamsound. productionwise definitely feels "indie country" for the most part but she has chops and i like that she isn't afraid to divest herself of most of the pop/rock trappings and go for a full on woe is me honky tonk weeper either

saturdaynight (jk), Thursday, 17 November 2011 02:49 (2 years ago) Permalink


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