Well it’s about damn time. What an ass backwards country music world we live in where you get clued into a great new song through an advertisement, while radio continues to descend into a wasteland. But that was the fate of “Roots & Wings.” Now Miranda Lambert and Dodge have released the full thing, or actually two separate extended versions.
Amidst the graveyards of American dreams is where you’ll find the grey, bent, and wiry folklore rhythm master known as Charlie Parr nosing around, looking for his next discovery. With a resonator on his knee, and a tapping foot you could calibrate a Swiss timepiece to, Mr. Parr bends his back to looking for the perfect rhythm or melody for a mood like an archeologist looks for a lost civilization’s prized possession.
From the “If 90% of mainstream country music sucks, then 10% of it must be good” file, songwriter and performer Jon Pardi has just released an EP called The B-Sides 2011-2014 through Capitol Nashville, and it’s not a bad listen at all. Billed as a tide over for fans until a new album is ready to go, the release includes what was left when the final track listing was accumulated for his January 2014 debut.
Like rolling Buick sedans off the assembly line in Flint, Michigan one after another, day after day, year after year, not stopping to take breaks or reveling in little victories, but winning fans over one at a time, night after night, tour after tour in America’s derelict honky tonks until the word of mouth grew into a rumble, the crowds went from nearly empty to nut to butt, Whitey Morgan is now like a locomotive.
It’s not that The Honeycutters’ previous projects undercut Platt’s abilities by any stretch, but Me Oh My is the 14-song testament that you sense could be the centerpiece of her career when it’s all said and done. And though you might think of Amanda Platt as a songwriter first and then a singer, when she does give herself a chance to step out, she shows herself more than just capable.
No matter how many banjos, fiddles, and mandolins you infuse in the music, a song from Steven Tyler is not going to be country, because Steven Tyler is not country. Just like it doesn’t matter that Willie Nelson never uses fiddles, banjos, or mandolins in his music. He couldn’t stop from making a country song even if he tried. But unfortunately we can’t stop Steven Tyler from trying to make country music.
The truth is Mumford & Sons were in an impossible situation. And it wasn’t completely their fault. As the poster boys for the over-saturation of string bands in the early part of this decade, it was their destiny to have their ox gored by the popular consciousness. As soon as the humor in these bands with their little mandolins and banjos, suspenders and paperboy hats reached apex proportions in the zeitgeist, it was over.
As a two-piece duo that isn’t prone to veering too much off their path or putting any acrobatics into their music to gain attention, there will always be a certain capacity to the crowd it will draw. But Such Jubilee adds to the sweet little legacy of music that doesn’t just set heads to bobbing and limbs twitching, but fills the spirit with a light that glows long after the music ceases.
It’s a national embarrassment that an artist, singer, and songwriter like Chris Stapleton is just now getting his feet onto the ground floor of stardom while the morons he’s penning super hits for are out there starring in their own prime time televised specials. Forget the reams and reams of songwriting credits Stapleton’s accrued for a second; this dude can sing the pants off of anyone else.
Alaska via east Nashville is not a narrative you normally see play out in the itineraries of country records. But who would question whether the wilds of Alaska have enough wide open spaces, scenic vistas, or snarly honky tonks and hard times to inspire a good country song? Nobody would after listening to Todd Grebe & Cold Country’s new record Citizen.
Earlier this year, the news came out about Love & Theft really getting the shaft from their RCA label in Nashville. The story was they got dropped because they weren’t Bro-Country. They were told that in as many words. And even worse, it happened when they had masters sitting on a shelf with the label, so they were left in a lurch like so many major label acts are when the ax falls.
Music is not a skills competition. This isn’t the decathlon. They don’t hand out Grammy Awards for the band that can play songs from the most genres. They give Grammys to the artists who steady themselves and prove they are the best in a given musical discipline. I’ll give credit to the backing band of Weird Al for their alacrity. With the Zac Brown Band, I just want to hear good songs.
“Beautiful Drug” is not the Zac Brown Band spreading their creative wings. “Beautiful Drug” is not Zac Brown asserting his freedom as an artist. “Beautiful Drug” is not the boys from Georgia “defying genre,” though these excuses and many more will be levied in their defense, and you, YOU the sainted country music and Zac Brown fan will be charged with a treasonous level of closed-mindedness….
For those tragic songphiles who were done with popular music by late adolescence, started rummaging through their parents’ record collections and taking suggestions from older siblings and cousins about what was cool, and seem to be engaged in a lifelong pursuit of the essence of the listening experience—this is the manna, this is the potent stuff that still makes you feel like a listening virgin.
Ringling Road is a vibrant and well-written pronouncement of William Clark Green’s arrival as one of the new creative leaders of the next generation of country. The sensibilities to appeal to a big audience are there, but so are the country roots, and the depth of songwriting to where he can draw in both the passive toe-tappers and die hard song junkies.
Boy howdy did Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers absolutely clobber the ball out of the park with this one. When I first heard they were making this album, I thought we’d something more for the serious Red Dirt fan. Instead we get a completely fleshed out album full of original songs that rival or potentially surpass the work either of these Texas country stalwarts have done on their primary projects.
There’s just a cool factor about Dwight that appears will never wear off, regardless if the hips don’t shake and the knees don’t knock as much as they used to, or even if he’s the perfect specimen for male pattern baldness under the low brim of that cowboy hat. He’s still Dwight, and that caramel voice and cutting yodel will never be deprecated.
Some 70 years behind the times and yet still cooler than the rest of us, Pokey LaFarge is like the musical equivalent of the Austin Powers character brought out of cryogenic freeze to do battle with the forces of bad music by reminding the world of a time when popular songs still embodied taste, composition, and a timeless charisma instead of the diarrhetic pap dictated by the fickle tastes of 15-year-olds.
Brandi Carlile is exactly the type of strong-willed, vibrant and inventive female artist country music needs, yet country’s charts continue to be crested by the likes of interlopers such as Sam Hunt. Can we trade Sam Hunt to rock for Brandi Carlile, players to be named later, drafts picks, and/or cash considerations? Everyone wants to talk about where to find relevant female talent for country music, well here it is.
Hailing from the Florida region, Grandpa’s Cough Medicine is not exactly your grandpa’s bluegrass band, but they’re not solely a speed freak punk-gone-bluegrass outfit either. Combining the meticulous and highly-skilled artistry of authentic bluegrass traditions and modes with a punk-ish attitude and tempo, and adding a little bit of ribald and offbeat humor in their lyricism….