Jul
26

Album Review – Eric Church’s “Chief”

July 26, 2011 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  68 Comments

As we move to summer’s second offering by this supposed crop of “New Outlaws”, I can’t help coveting the idea of scrubbing Justin Moore’s awful country checklist music, but keeping his down-to-earth, aw shucks attitude, and exchanging it with Eric Church’s arrogant bravado. Maybe then we would at least have a New Outlaw that would be likeable, if not good. Because every time you talk about Eric Church, you have to preface it by saying what an arrogant prick he is. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s not let Eric’s attitude effect our opinions about his music, and give Chief a fair spin.

Out of the box, it is important to note that this album is not country in a traditional sense. This is not necessarily a criticism, just an observation. I would call it more “progressive rock country”, or something. Certainly there is country elements here, but if Chief has a recurring theme, it is the introduction of electronica and new sounds into the mainstream country format. Some of it is studio magic, stuff that cannot be re-created live, at least with authenticity. Some of this progressive approach is segregated at the beginning or ending of songs. But some of it creeps into the full song structures as well and makes for quite an interesting album.

I do not hate this album. It’s not great or good, but it is decent, and if anything, Eric Church deserves tremendous credit for creating an album that is this far off Music Row’s well beaten path, and goes beyond the simple back and forth between love ballads and braggadocios laundry list songs. There is some laundry list elements here, and love songs, but there’s a mess of songs that are neither. There’s some boldness, some risk, and some innovation, and some roots. These are things that are just not supposed to happen on a project originating from Music Row. Eric Church might not be an Outlaw, but he is certainly being “new”.

The first track “Creepin’” is one of the best of the album. A dirty, swampy approach with a hoodoo backbone and tribal beat, swimming with tasteful layers and effects that make a very engaging and unique composition. There are some elements in the song I might normally call foul on putting in a country song, but the whole approach works, and works well.

“Drink in My Hands” and “Like Jesus Does” both have a little of the laundry list tinge to them, with the former also falling into the safe Black Crowes guitar approach, and the latter feeling like it is pandering to a constituency, but they’re not bad for mainstream fare. “Hold On” is a catchy, straight up rock song, with little to no sonic attempts to fit it into the country format.

I was immediately struck by the tones and style of “Hungover & Hard Up”. Definitely not a country song, but very unique, with a little of a reggae beat, mixed with a Motown feel, but overall, this music is hard to place at all, which is a good thing. Too bad the lyrics are a little dull. Just because the approach of this album might be progressive, the words do not always follow suit, like with this song. They are very commonplace in an otherwise unusual approach.

I’ve already written a review for “Homeboy”, and I will recuse myself on “Country Music Jesus” for a song review once the whole story is told. “Jack Daniels” is a little funky in the Larry Jon Wilson mold, though I’m not sure Church could recognize that name. But this song has been written dozens of times, and is easy to pass over on the album.

“Springsteen”, just like “Hungover”, immediately struck me as something wholly unique, but in this track instead of being progressive, he crosses the border into creating pop. It feels like a Cars song in places, mixed with the reminiscent, country checklist formula. This song is a good idea that tries too hard and flops. The cadence of the words feels forced, with the lilting “Springsteen” lyric shoehorned into a dreamy, docile chorus that I admit some will find very catchy. “I’m Getting Stoned” is where the idea of adding a progressive approach to mainstream country songs went too far. Though the lyricism in this song is pretty good, maybe one of the better lyrical songs of the album, Eric Church is not Radiohead, and shouldn’t try to be.

“Over When It’s Over” is where Erich Church gets the balance right of bringing his new school approach to what is traditionally thought of as a traditional format. Along with the opening track “Creepin’”, it bookends this album with two strong offerings, that aren’t just enjoyable to listen to, but just might create an influential work that sees some of these elements and approach end up on other mainstream albums.

By the end, for all the positives from the progressive elements in the songs, you feel like playing it a little more straight might have accentuated the unique tracks and elements in this album better. He tries, and does what Sugarland’s ill-conceived “Steampunk” idea tried to, which is open up some new sounds to the country format. But maybe he tries too hard at times. And though there is a lot of new here, it is still grounded from a lyrical standpoint on what makes mainstream Nashville turn. Right when I was really getting into the groove of “Over When It’s Over”, here comes a cheesy Marlboro reference.

There’s not a lot of twang here, and if you come from the independent/underground country world, you’re bar may be set too high for Chief to hurdle. Whether it was Eric’s approach or businessmen in suits, as bold as it is, it is not bold enough to break all the tethers of Music Row’s bonds, and there’s just enough elements here and there to remind you of why even at it’s best, mainstream country falls just a little short from it’s safe approach.

But from a mainstream perspective, understanding this album came from the putrid, vapid depths of Music Row, the very place where dreams go to die, Chief is curious, bold, fresh, and refreshing.

1 1/2 of 2 guns up.

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Preview & Purchase Tracks from Chief

 

68 Comments to “Album Review – Eric Church’s “Chief””

  • All I know is, two years ago you would have said this is some gay shit. Because it is.

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    • It is hard for me to conclude what I would have said about an album two years before it existed. But I can guarantee it would have been uninformed.

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      • This guy sucks .. hard to beleave you would give his album a better review then the southern independent album.. just my 2 cents..

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        • Apples and Oranges. My take is that this one has been graded on a curve. Much more is expected from something like Southern Independent than from a Music Row entity.

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    • Every 4 or 5 years a few of these guys come around and are held up as the return of old country in Nashville, but it’s bullshit. These kooks name drop George Jones and Buck Owens and say it’s a shame they don’t get their due, they have a song with Jack Daniels in the title, wear a trucker cap, etc. etc. Yes, compared to the other crap on Music Row it’s better, but its like saying a rapist is better than a child molester. It’s the same over-produced, boardroom contrived dung that they’ve been putting out since the “Nashville Sound” started. Hellbound and .357 rule, but there’s some great bands out there that I don’t recall ever seeing on this site. I don’t know if it’s because they’re too heavy or punk or what, but if you’re going to include the commercial stuff you gotta include them.

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      • I don’t “gotta” include anybody. This is my fucking website. I’ve written over 1000 articles over 3 1/2 years to the tune of my own financial ruin to try and support underground country music. Don’t tell me what the mandate of Saving Country Music is, I’m the one who fucking wrote it, and I’ll write about whatever I want to write about, how I see fit, including giving some credit to a dude for putting out a decent album despite the machine it had to go through before finding its way to the public, a dude I’ve been very harsh to in the past. Remember this?

        http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/eric-church-tilt-at-windmills-no-more-a-rant

        “In a nutshell, Eric Church is a talent-less asshole. I made ready a paper bag and a nose plug and investigated his music thoroughly, and it is the lowest of the low. I’d rather have an elephant take a dump on my face that to listen to his stuff. I’d rather listen to my parents fuck. “

        So give me a fucking break if I want to go out of my way to be fair and honest about how I feel about this album, and I want to be fair and honest in how I deal with someone who when you boil it all down, is just a guy like me and you.

        And for all this bitching about what I do and don’t cover, I can only laugh. Just in the last week, I have written extensive, long-winded features on Austin Lucas, Larry & His Flask, and Dex Romweber, that nobody, and I mean NOBODY read. You could combine all the hits on those three articles combined, and it would equal 10% of the hits on this one. Oh, and this ” I don’t know if it’s because they’re too heavy or punk or what, but Larry & His Flask started as a punk band (and some would still call them a punk band), Austin Lucas fronts punk bands, and has been for 15 years, and Dex Romweber is just as important as anybody in forming the punk music we hear today.

        Saying I “gotta” cover such and such band is an insult. I’m doing the best job I can, and if that is not good enough for you, then find another website that has covered the .357 String Band and Hellbound Glory as extensively as I. I always encourage feedback, and especially negative feedback, but take a second to appreciate what I’ve done and what I will continue to do for underground country in the future, and be somewhat thankful you have something to be critical towards.

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  • Still a complete fuckin douchebag…….Homeboy is joke!

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  • Sounds just like all the other Pop Country bullshit we hear on the radio!!

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  • Trig I can’t believe you waste your time on this garbage when there are tons of true country bands that get little or no mention. Saving Country Music is the name of this site so I don’t see how Eric Church fits in unless its to spoof him or give 15 year old boys who don’t shower or wash their clothes an idol. And to all the people who fight tooth and nail defending this cookie cutter poser what the hell are yall doing on this site when you have cmt and gac and whatever sugar frosted networks that can give your ears and eyes diabetes!

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    • I stand behind my coverage of true country bands over the last 3 1/2 years. Nothing is robbing attention and money from true country bands more than this crop of “new Outlaws”, and nobody has been more outspoken against them than me. Justin Moore, Josh Thompson, Gretchen Wilson and others are nothing more than manufactured caricatures of country stereotypes built to rob folks of hard earned dollars. But Eric Church is his own animal. I have also been very critical of Eric Church in the past, and will likely be in the future. I do not like this album, but to lump this music unceremoniously with all the other garbage coming out of Nashville is simply exposing the uninformed and reactionary disposition of some purist country fans. In my opinion, the best way to expose the bad artists and to actually make that opinion count with folks who need to have their minds opened up to just what a farse Music Row is, is by putting personal feelings aside, and truly trying to judge music based on its merit. I had many critical things to say about this album and this music. But to simply discount it with only a sniff as “gay ass shit” (as some have said), only eliminates the possibility of changing people’s minds about the current state of country music, and exposing them to the excellent true country bands we all enjoy.

      And moreover, my main job has to be as honest as possible, and I stand behind everything said in this review 100% as my honest opinion.

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      • I see where you are coming from on one aspect. You have to be objective or you lose all credibility and get passed off as a closed minded idiot. I get that and give you credit. These Nashville faces for “the outlaw movement” do discredit and take away from true music like Eleven Hundred Springs, Jackson Taylor and the Sinners, Houston Marchman, and Mike Stinson to name a few. Trig this was no way an attack on you but here’s where I’m coming from. I didn’t grow up in the burbs. I grew up on a poor man’s dairy farm and I know what country life is all about. I’ve had to overcome the white trash and hick stereotypes through out my teens. So it really pisses me off about these excuses for artist playing towards these stereotypes like a badge of honor. I grew up poor not white trash there’s a big difference. That’s why I feel so strongly about not even acknowledging these individuals if you can call them that. Thanks for your time

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      • If you don’t like this album, then why would you give it 1 1/2 guns up. I may be misunderstanding your grading scale, but isn’t that like a 9 out of 10? Also it seemed like to me that you gave the album a fairly positive review.

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        • Also, you got a typo in there fourth paragraph from the end(“Over When It’s Over”).

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        • We’ll 7.5 out of 10 would probably be more accurate, but my grading scale is admittedly imperfect. What gave this album extra points is the fact it came out of a major Music Row label, EMI to be exact (see Sex Pistols), yet it is so far removed from anything else you will hear on mainstream radio. I understand that people that do not listen to mainstream radio will not be able to appreciate this, but having to keep tabs on that stuff to do my job, the amount of unique, original content outside of the Music Row models is pretty astounding. In fact, I think that is the next storyline that needs to be written, how Eric got this out under the nose of the suits, who without fail undermine any creative vision and freedom an artist tries to assert, especially one who is still trying to establish himself like Eric.

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  • i just downloaded it and I need to listen to it. I loved the Carolina album but I had a bad experience meeting him at a concert once, long before Carolina came out…and calling him an arrogant prick is being sweet. With that, I too am going into this record trying to be unbiased. We will see…

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  • I have to say I’m extremely shocked. I opened this article thinking it was gonna be just another article bashing another mainstream artist with nothing positive to say. Honestly it’s refreshing to see you give a mainstream artist some cred. Thanks for keeping the article honest and fair. I understand why most on this site would completely turn their heads or should I say hold their noses in regards to anything out of Nashville. I tend to walk the line between Underground and Mainstream but I see them as two totally different animals all together. I prefer the rock-country over the pop-country any day. I’ve always liked Eric Church’s music even though his personality does come off arogant. Now I can’t say I’ve liked all his songs but the majority of them are pretty good for Nashville standards. At least we aren’t hearing high school crush songs or disney jonas brothers type stuff here.

    But as I’d like to mention, I’d still rather hear Larry and His Flask, 357 String Band, Hellbound Glory, Whitey Morgan, over this anytime.

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  • Nice review. I liked his first album and will be giving this a chance. You’re in a tough spot. Either you ignore a release like this and catch hell for avoiding anything mainstream, or you cover it and get called a sell out for straying from the underground for one review here and there. I think the content mix you keep on this site is unique and good to see.

    A couple other big releases later in August that could be great but might not typically get coverage here are Jason Boland & The Stragglers and Robert Earl Keen.

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  • I think it was a good and honest review and i agree with everything you said good article. You think you could give us your opinion on Randy Montana?

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  • Let’s see . . . I’m not going to listen to it. The title’s are cliche, trying not to be cliche, save the Jesus songs and I want to know if Eric Church truley believes in Jesus and if so then why is he penning songs in the vein of escalating his manufactured country POP songs. It’s contrived, convoluted and crasse. His arrogance (as has been previously stated) implies forcefeeding and I already know what good music and songs are about. I don’t need spoon fed by a music row graduate who needs to up his ante to prove his outlaw-ism. The aeriator glasses paired with his down home baseball cap and look at me photo opportunities are boring, old and uncreative. If these were really good songs then they wouldn’t need the formula of look at me album covers paired with “this is different than before” songwriting. I’m sure at least one of these songs will make it to mainstream, tauted as new and different, and shoved down somebody’s throat. I have a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior and believe me, I rather doubt Jesus needs Eric Church to pump Him up. Eric Church is instead using theology to promote Eric Church, which is much different than singing gospel and showing reverance to Jesus Christ.

    I think Triggerman is trying to find something of value in this music row POP country artist by giving him a small benefit of the doubt. But I doubt music row will care as long as sales are up and the glory goes back to them. Where is the glory to Jesus? Not in record sales and greed. So, it’s my opinion that this album is rather a waste of time, to say the least. What’s with the title? Chief?! Is Eric Church an indian warrior? I think this album is over now.

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    • Oh no!!!! Triggerman halway liked something from mainstream country! You’re a sellout Trig!!

      Denise, why are you always so angry?

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      • Logan! What are you talking about?! I am one of the happiest people you will ever meet! I don’t care for things, however, like most people, such as greed, lying and thievin’. And I really don’t like child molestors and rapists. Overall, it’s a 90/10 split of happiness to anger. Remember that only Jesus walked on water.

        I would love Eric Church to come to this conversation and answer a few questions about his new album. That would make me happy!

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  • I agree with what everyone else is saying…I mean if you say you don’t like an album why give it 1 1/2 guns up when thats a pretty damn good score…why not…half a gun….just seems kind of hypocritical to me.

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    • Is that what “everyone else” is saying?

      What I said is “I do not hate this album. It’s not great or good, but it is decent.” When I said I don’t “like” it in another comment, I meant that you will probably not catch me rolling down the road jamming out to it, but that doesn’t mean I should let my personal tastes get in the way of the fact that it is a marvel something so original came out of Music Row.

      The last two paragraphs of the review I think people should re-read if they are confused by the grading.

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  • I think we are in an era where the objective review has been lost to most people. Triggerman is saying what he thinks about an album and giving it a fair review. Liking an musician and giving an musician an above average review of something doesn’t mean endorsement of an artist. Respecting the enemy doesn’t mean you are the enemy, (for lack of a better term).

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  • Triggerman, your audience will punish you for failing to support their preconceived notions of what you should say and do. Get ready for the poo to fly. For most ponies, one trick is more than enough.

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  • I cant claim to know anything about Church or his music. To be honest Ive never knowingly heard any of it. Country radio isnt my thing, and fair or unfair, I treat all new acts that are played on country radio (except Jamey Johnson) as if they have the plague.

    That being said I may be too closed minded in my blind distaste for mainstream country acts, as Im sure that behind all the ass kissing on music row, there probably is some real talent there somewhere to be found.

    Calm down folks. Kyle only gave his honest opinion of the music on this cd. He didnt say this cd is a must buy. He didnt say that Church is saving country music. Hell he didnt even say he loved this cd, only parts of it. All he said was that it didnt suck to his ears, and that there was something refreshing about that cd coming from music row.

    To each his own, I still aint gonna listen too it, but thanks for giving an honest review.

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  • Personally, I think it’s an amazing album. But as usual he’s bad mouthed because of the laundry list. And now the album isn’t country enough. Trig I will give you credit where credit is do. You are giving the album a chance and didn’t pick it up off the shelf and throw it immediately into the dumpster. Trust me when I say I loved “Sinners Like Me” and “Carolina”. But this is the best I’ve heard from him. I will admit I do think the first two albums were an attempt to impress the suits and execs. But now he finally seems to be doing his own thing. Not saying that he didn’t want to do the first to albums because I know he did. This one is Eric Church. And you can hear it in every last song, word, and chord.

    Trig, I’ll give you the fact that it’s not the most “traditional” of albums. But I think I said in another post on another article that you cannot expect these guys to revert back to that. Hank and Merle and Waylon and whoever else were influenced by came before them like Ernest Tubb and Roy Acuff. And back then, country music lovers hated them for transforming “the game” so to speak. Doesn’t “Family Tradition” touch on that at some point? The Eric Church’s and Josh Thompson’s had the opportunity to be influenced by not only all of them, but bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and AC/DC. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I would never expect any of them to do anything different. I respect your opinion, but there is a reality when it comes to these kind of the things.

    Favorite Songs on the Album: Creepin’ and Keep On

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    • “Family Tradition” did have the line “although his kind of music, and mine aint exactly the same.”

      “I Dont Think Hank Done It This Way” also a classic in outlaw country speaks to how music had changed.

      There is a huge difference in the changes made to country music by the real heros of the genre and the new people coming along. First of all, They changed the music for the better. Thats a big first. They never disrespected those before them, they never claimed to be as good as them. They did it when they were not in good standing with Nashville, but wanted to play what they wanted to play.

      If you dont think Waylon truly had a bad taste for the 60s-70′s pop music coming from Nashville, go listen to “Belle Of The Ball”.

      The biggest problem with Nashville Pop country is that without those who stood against the pop country then, country has become pop music again. Church aint standing up for anything other than the greenback.

      Since Hank Sr, with few exceptions (Waylon, Willie, Hank Jr, etc, more recently Shooter trying to promote real music as opposed to this garbage) no one that has a mainstream voice will fight for what this music is.

      Pop music and Country radio live side by side, They have no fences to seperate them. They have no boundaries between the two.

      Dont come in and say that these new pos’s are doing what Waylon and Jr did. They are not. The others got fans despite the system. Not by playing along. Ill take your Eric Church and raise you with Hellbound Glory, Robert Earle Reed, Imperial Rooster, Fifth on the Floor, Shooter Jennings, Hank3 etc.

      I’ll take my country with a side of real.

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      • Amen brother!

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  • I like this album. Why can’t artist’s have there own sound? Its not Texas country and its not Nashville country… “Carolina Country” is what comes to mind.

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    • No, no, no, no!!!!! Don’t dare call this shit carolina country. I love my home state way too much to let this shit represent it. Fuck that. “Carolina Country” is a mix of honky tonk, punk, but mostly that bluegrass that is so prevalent in this state. Don’t let eric church ruin our good name.

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  • I am not going to get into Trig’s review or if I like/dislike the album, but I think we have to realize that for things to change, it takes small steps. It always has.

    We didn’t get to pop country overnight. We didn’t get from Jimmie Rodgers to Hank to Waylon (outlaw Waylon, don’t forget he did the Nashville dance too for a while…along with Willie) over night. It didn’t go from Randy Travis to Garth overnight.

    It will take some less impressive artists such as Church, and to some here- Jamey Johnson, to stir things up a bit to allow some more “real” artists such as Hellbound and Whitey Morgan to get in the mix of the “mainstream” world and make country country again.

    In the mean time, artists like Hellbound, Whitey, Lukas Nelson, Shooter, etc… grow as well. I don’t think we have heard the best of them, do you? Give them a chance to grow as the scene changes with guys like Church working from the inside out. I don’t want to lump Church with Johnson…I think there is a huge talent and genuine-ness difference. But those two are on the inside. However they got there (both different paths) they are in the belly of the beast, and fighting it from within to shake it up. It is happening. This album is proof. Is it underground gold? No… but it isn’t Nashville pop.

    Plus, there are a couple tunes here… easily could be sung by Hank3, Biram, etc…

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  • The first song sounds like something Briam would sing. Does Biram use any electronic devices to make his voice sound as it does? Whether that be simply old school recording gear or something, I highly doubt when you speak with Biram in person he sounds like his albums.

    So why is mainstream ripped for using devices but the underground is ok?

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    • First off, you’re tilting at windmills. Nobody made that point, and in fact I went out of the way to say I liked the electronic treatments of the first song specifically.

      But to explain the difference, you need to understand the difference between mechanical, analog, and digital effects. Mechanical and analog effects, aka a can mic, spring reverb from a guitar amp, a police bullhorn, etc, are enhancements to actual sounds. Digital effects, like the ones likely used in Eric Church’s music, are made by taking sounds, converting them to 1′s and 0′s, crunching them by digital processors, and then re-creating them from 1′s and 0′s to sounds recognized by the human ear. Philosophically to some the digital process makes the sound less “real”, but sonically too it can make the sounds sound empty or shallow. “Warmth” is a term you see used for non-digital effects. To the trained ear, there is definitely a difference between digital effects, and mechanical or analog effects.

      I don’t have a problem with digital effects in general. It’s all about context.

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      • I always wondered how Biram got that effect from his voice too. Is it the type of mic he uses? I don’t know much of anything about the actual recording of music. So what you’re saying is something like a can mic or the effects III used on STH disc 2 are mechanical or analog while something like auto-tune would be digital?

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      • Trig, I wasn’t directing my question at you, I was simply making the call that when someone in the mainstream is called out for using some voice enhancement it is negative vs. an popular underground artist it is praised.

        I completely agree and understand the difference in how the sounds are made. Some may not, so your explaination of the difference is appreciated by them I assume.

        But fact is, the digital way is just new technology. Much like a bullhorn was new 50 years ago. No one can tell me that our beloved legends wouldn’t be playing around with digital things had they been around today.

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  • fuckin love this album, not quite as good as justin moore or aldean but damn close. 2 cocks way up.

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    • fuck yeah, fuck the haters

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      • Ha!

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        • im gonna donkey punch yo ass

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    • seriously though, this type shit gets my fuckin blood boiling. everywhere i look i see this fuckin guys face, not to mention twice on the front page here, then i think wow, this is why there was only ten other people at the hellbound glory show i drove four hours to see on wednesday. cuz people are buyin into the propaganda about the new outlaws whilst oblivious to the true and fuckin amazing alternative thanks to some good marketing and the fact that he(eric church) is maybe a fuckin cunthair better than some other mainstream pop singers they been hearing. meanwhile, leroy virgil toils in relative obscurity, to my benefit i could selfishly say as otherwise i might not’ve got to spend an amazing night hangin aroung with him, rico, frank and zeke, but heartbreaking on the other hand cuz they’re plaing mind blowing songs to me and a coupla my pals and the pretty bartender lady. they might draw crowds at other places other nights, but i couldn’t help thinkin on the drive home that these eric church types had perhaps played a role, a shitty sign of outright disgusting times, and though leroy says gettin rich would be the last thing he’d ever need, there’s gotta be some kinda balance. and by the way, they played a pile of new songs off the new hellboung glory album “Damaged Goods”, due out in october. gonna be the best HBG yet mark my words.

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      • Awesome, so now I “might” be partly responsible for the low turnout at Hellbound Glory shows. Rest assured, I’ve known about the Hellbound turnout problems way before Wednesday, and if there was anything else I could do about it, it would have been done. And what do you think is the best way to covert Eric Church fans to Hellbound Glory fans? Telling them Eric is a cunt hair away from Jason Aldean, or giving Eric credit where credit is due, but then explaining to them that Hellbound Glory is so much better? If insults and negativity are worthy and called for, I think I’ve proven that I am willing to dish it out. But nobody’s ever convinced me of anything by first insulting me or something I believe in.

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        • alright fella, can see how you thought i was insinuating that, not my intention. was tryin to say i’m sick of seein his face, sick of hearin the hype and marketing push( not talkin bout you here) behind someone i’d call marginally talented compared to unknown others. a matter of opinion i suppose, i just happen to completely disagree with you that he is due any such credit or is worthy of praise. that said, i do agree with 90% of what you cover here and i thank you for puttin out the effort you do. just aint with you at all on this.

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      • maybe there’s noone at the show you’re going to because of the music and not some conspiracy theory

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  • Trigger you’ve created legions of douchey blowhards that hate anything that is popular. Like I’ve said before, you’re all the goth kids of country music. You think you’re cool because you’re different, when your coolness should actually be defined by the quality of the music you listen to (try some Texas scene. Theyre going to overtake Nashville, not some mid life crisis meth head).

    Trigger, you’ve gotten much better since your 12 year old style rants about alan jackson, but you obviously liked the eric church album more than you let on.

    and sorry Icecouldcountry but you dont want to lump in who with what? jesus christ what a prick.

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    • Amen brother, Bet he likes Sugarland and Rascal Flatts too

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    • I’m not sure if your calling me a prick? Or what exactly you meant, but I didn’t want to lump together Eric Church and Jamey Johnson completely in my above comment. I think there is a definite difference in talent and who is being original/genuine between the two, but if there is a link with them it is that they are two artists in the middle of Nashville that are doing things a bit different.

      I agree with you that the TX scene is much stronger than Nashville right now if your looking for real country music.

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    • Trig didn’t create the fans on this site. He just gave us a place to go to where we can ‘discover’ different artists that we might be interested in. I prefer not to listen to the radio because while there may be a few songs on that I like or can even tolerate there are a lot more that in my opinion are just plain stupid or terrible. My husband, however, enjoys the mainstream country and when we are in the car together we listen to the radio about 80% of the time. When I just can’t handle it anymore, I pop in a cd. I have introduced him to Hank3, Bob Wayne, TPB, Wayne Hancock, etc. that I was introduced by way of not only Trig but a lot of other people I met through MySpace. I do not believe we think we are ‘cool’ just because we like what we like. Yes, in my opinion the underground country is better than what you hear on the radio. I do not force other people to listen to it and I do not tell people they are stupid for liking mainstream.

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  • First of all, as a guy that listens to mostly mainstream country where can i get my hands on some of there so called “underground” people/bands?

    Second why is Eric, Josh Thompson, Justin Moore, ect posers or fake? Eric’s country rock is completly different than mainstream counrty. Hank and company changed the game by being different. Now its bad that Eric is doing it? He has built his fan base through the little venues and just now playing big shows. He may be arrogant but i think you have to be to go completly against what counrty music has become. People hate tiger woods but he was very different and now, not so much recently, golf is not just watching grass grow, tiger made it exciting. Eric puts on one hell of a show, hes diferent and exciting.

    But for all seriousness i want to hear some of these underground guys. I cant believe they call them underground, which is a term that come from rap music.

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    • Actually the term “underground” began in the punk music scene, but isn’t a tribute to that either. It simply is used as a term to explain that the music enjoys no mainstream support from radio or labels.

      If you want to listen to some underground country music, here’s a place to start:

      http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/radio

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    • Bluecollar, the “underground” scene is pretty large to navigate. I suggest starting with some bands like:
      Hellbound Glory
      Whitey Morgan and the 78′s
      Jackson Taylor and the Sinners
      Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real (Willie’s son)
      Jason Boland and The Stragglers
      JB Beverly

      There are tons out there that you probably would just blow off as they don’t have much more than one or two songs that peak them, but the list above are artists with seriously good variety of music.

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    • @bluecollar

      A good place to start would be http://www.givememyxxx.com .

      There you can download a free compilation cd. 12 great songs from some of the best in the “underground”. A second free compilation cd is coming very soon.

      Also on that site they have what is called the grid. That is all those album covers you see. When you click on one it takes you to that artist web site. Most of the time they have streaming music to listen too.

      Another great way to learn about the “underground” scene is by hanging around this site.

      Trig covers alot of artist that I might not have heard of without his support of them (good review or bad). Plus in the comments sections on each article, you will usually see names of other artists pop up. Take those names and use google to find them. More often than not it is worth your time.

      Anyway, hope you like some of the artist. Many of them are making the kind of music that makes me proud to say I am a country music fan again.

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    • I’d highly recommend Kevin Fowler, he puts on one hell of a show, and sounds exactly the same whether he’s live at a county fair or on a studio album; and Pat Green (pre-Wave-on-Wave). I also would recommend Brian Burnes (“The Eagle and The Snake: Songs of the Texians” is one of my favorite albums, the stories it tells with Brian’s “Robert Earl Keen-like” voice are amazingly vivid. Billy Joe Shaver, Cooder Graw, Roger Creager, and everyone else on this album: http://www.amazon.com/Compadres-Texas-Outlaws/dp/B000QQRU10 which is the album that got me started on a lot of the music I listen to today. I’m partial to Texas Country, mostly because I’m from Texas and it’s closest to the traditional, outlaw, and hat-act country I grew up on. That said, I’m also a fan of The Bloody Jug Band (Trigger’s review piqued my interest, I listened to the samples on their website and bought the album, I want to see them live sometime and can’t wait to see what they put out next), Rebel Son (stumbled upon them by accident when searching for something else entirely on Youtube, after hearing “Bury Me In Southern Ground”, I was hooked!), Southern Culture on The Skids (more rockabilly than country, start with ‘Fried Chicken and Gasoline” if you want a feel for what they’re like.) If you’re into AMAZING guitar playing, look no further than either Junior Brown or ANY of the bands that has Kenny Vaughn playing for them. If you like bluesy-folksy-country-rockabilly I’d say try Seasick Steve (Saw him on the UK version of Top Gear playing a guitar made of two Morris Minor hubcaps and had to find out more. I now own all of his albums. “You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks” and “Cheap” are his best albums in my opinion, and all of them in between are excellent as well) It’s easy to find good, off-the-beaten-path music if you look for it. Blogs like this one, Youtube, Myspace, Slacker Radio (my word, the number of awesome bands from so many genres I’ve found through them!), and even local bars and fairs are great places to find what you’ll never hear on the radio.

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  • I agree with Rita, I hung out with him after his first album came out, gave him a good cigar and we smoked it on his bus, after his last album we met again and he was a complete d bag that didn’t care one bit that he had fans. My friend wanted to buy his album after the merch guy packed up, cash in hand and he just said sorry and walked away.

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  • Hey man good honest review, i agree with the score. I personally liked his past two albums… i’m from a small town in southern Missouri and the way i was raised i can relate to this music. Especially now because I serve in the military and on long nights in places most people wouldn’t ever hope to be these songs ring true to home. You can paint it as this guy just trying to make a name doing something that most people don’t, either way i like it. You were however honest in how you felt and if you mother fuckers don’t like his reviews don’t fuckin read them… instead of bashin the dude on a website he obviously spent a lot of time workin on..go write your own fuckin reviews if you are such amazing experts on country music. Most of you faggots haven’t even seen a farm let alone know the smell when your getting close to home.

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  • You all need to calm down a little and take a step back. How do you think your “underground” country came to be? When it first came out it was different and a lot of people didn’t like it and there are still a lot that don’t. Now, Eric Church is trying his own/new type of country that has more of a rock twist to it. You can’t compare him to any of the pop country artists today because his sound is completely different. And there is also plenty of other genres of music out there that we all dislike but they’re still there and most of these artists have some sort of talent whether we see it or not so give the guy a break because he is not anywhere near the other “pop” country artists we hear today.

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  • I’ve posted over on this website a time or two in the past to defend Church a little bit. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. For ‘Mainstream’ country music, Eric Church is probably as good as you’re going to get for now. At least he tries somewhat to give the ‘middle finger’ to a lot of the Nashville crowd. (Maybe throw Jamey Johnson in there as well and possibly to a lessor degree, Dierks Bentely because of his bluegrass roots.) I’m like the vast majority of folks on this forum who detest pop-country (i.e., Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts, Sugarland, etc.). Church might be a ‘prick’; I have met him on one occasion fairly recently and he was very humble and nice to me. At least he’s a songwriter and at least he hasn’t yet (and hopefully won’t) completely sold out like Aldean and many others already have.

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  • Holy shit you sound like a bunch of spoiled kids. The guns up/down score is less important than the actual review. Furthermore this “Us versus Them” mentality is awfully high schoolish, it’s not the fan’s of Eric Church that are the enemy, it’s the labels in Nashville. Quit slinging shit at each other, quit telling Trig what to review, and support your favorite artists. Why don’t you start a fucking Tumblr blog and cover the Texas scene more thoroughly, or the Alaskan country scene or whatever but Trig is one man, and he can’t cover everyone and everything.

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  • This album is spectacular. I don’t know what kind of music you expect from Eric Church but this is by far his most consistent album. Other than Zac Brown and Brad Paisley Eric is the best songwriter in country music at this present time. I have to give Like Jesus Does, Springsteen, Over When It’s Over, Drink In My Hand, and the bonus track Lovin’ Me Anyway a lot of credit. I can’t wait to hear more from this genius!

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  • This album has a depth that makes its selections grow on you the more you listen. There is a complexity that keeps you coming back again and again. I bought it because I heard Keith Urban’s endorsement.

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  • I don’t know what more you people want from a country music singer. He’s original, bold and fresh. This new song that Shooter put out is probably a shot at Eric Church. But if anyone has ever ridden someone else’s coattail to fame it’s Shooter. The song he put out was very weak all around. All 3 of Eric Church’s albums have been brilliant and solid from top to bottom. He is so far off mainstream country it’s unreal. Yall sound like a broken record…..Give Eric a few more years and he’ll be right up there with the rest of the true Outlaws. I’ll agree with Aldean and Thompson statements. But Eric Church is the man. His songs “Lotta Boot Left To Fill” and “Country Music Jesus” feed right into what this site is all about, and you’re still not happy. I like most of what comes out of Nashville such as Trace Adkins, Luke Bryan, Justin Moore etc. I see where you guys are coming from and I agree t
    o a degree. But when something like Eric Church comes around and you still bitch, you seem like a bunch of miserable whiney asses who don’t get their way and won’t be happy unless Haggard, Skynyrd, Waylon, and Hank 3 come back and write songs to please your agenda of what music should be.

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    • Eric Church is original? What about the clear line “borrowed” from clint black
      springsteen…funny how a melody sounds like a memory

      State of mind….aint it funny how a melody, can bring back the memories

      I dont see that as original

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  • This is the greatest country album in years. All you haters need to move on. Hank and Waylon are done, and Waylon’s son is an embarassment to his families name. This is the new outlaw country. Long live the Church.

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  • This album is one of the best country albums to come out in a long time. Im glad you gave Eric Church a chance. His singles in past years that you did not like at all have been by far his worst material. He needed to make a name for himself by releasing mainstream songs so that he could record something actually progressive. If you look back on his other two albums also, you will find a few good songs too. It is kind of like your pistol annies review, his best work was not released by the companies because it would not produce a hit.

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  • My problem with Eric Church music is his acting country and poor boy punching the clock, got no blue blood trust fund attitude. His family was one of the wealthiest of the county. Not to mention Drink in my hand copies Give me that Wink (Neal McCCoy)chorus verbatum. How Bout You copies Got Alot of Leaving Left to Do(Dierks Bently) Would you say the exact same words Brad Paisley says(tattoo playing peek-a-boo on your back) ? If you aint cheating you aint trying but let’s not award it with a grammy or ACM nod, right?

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  • Wow, this thread has been great! I found the review and read it because I like Chief and wanted to find out more about other music I might like. My thought on the passions and back and forth and misunderstandings in the thread is that I am not at an age that I can find good country music very easily. I listen to the radio, and Church is one of the better country musicians on country radio. I don’t have money to buy cds. I don’t have an ipod (or even a cell phone). I am only on the computer these days because my boss ran out of work for a bit (I am a carpenter). If these artists that you all have been mentioning are not on the radio, some of us are going to have a hard time finding them or listening to them. I really appreciate this site and specifically the post by Bluecollar and everyone’s responses that gave lists of recommended listening (which I wrote down). I understand the passion and the frustration, but you need to understand how some of us are listening. I like my local brews best too, but sometimes I can’t afford them or find them, and sometimes I just like a bud. Insulting me for enjoying a mainstream beer or musician isn’t really helpful. Your lists and suggestions are very helpful.

    Thanks for the review and the site and the posts!

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  • Ooops…uh oh.

    I’m taking your advice…not limiting myself to such a narrow view of country music…that I would limit creativity.

    I see what you have sacrificed for this website – much. This was a fascinating look behind the curtain.

    Your writing is meticulous and passionate…emotionally rawboned and I like your website very much. I wish you nothing but great success.

       1 likes

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