This isn’t any slick and polished nouveau bluegrass with lilting runs and brazen compositional poise, this is Stringbean and Grandpa Jones slapping away at strings while sucking on corn pipes trying to entertain folks on back porches and beyond. Unpretentious and fun, and fairly authentic to the Appalachian traditions, The Urban Pioneers will make you chuckle and strut, and see the timeless value in the old traditions of primitive country.
This song is so good—whether it’s the album version, just Hubbard with his guitar, or with a four-piece band like he played it on Conan—at first I truly believed it had to be a cover of a hit from a previous era that had been forgotten about. The song feels so classic, yet remains fiercely original, it’s a wonder how it was never written before.
Tyler Farr has morphed into the hardcore emo post grunge “my dad hated me so I’m angry at the World” guy of country music, and it’s not pretty. What a bizzaro world we live in where Aaron Lewis of Stand is sitting on stools and singing fairly straight laced country songs, and Farr is all bent over like he’s taking a BM, and clasping the mic like it was his bag of jewels after getting kicked in it.
Upon first listen, this new Jake Owen single is a superior candidate for an unabashedly scathing review. What, is he trying to rap again for goodness sakes? And though there may be a message, there’s really no story. At it’s heart, “Real Life” is yet another example of replacing rhythm for melody, and lists for story. So much for all of Jake Owen’s rhetoric about bringing more substance to country music.
The Deslondes is not a songwriters project per se. This is not a superpicking troupe or a project that’s all about exuding a bunch of punk energy through unplugged instruments. On paper, this band doesn’t work at all. It’s too busy, there’s no discernible frontman, and there’s nothing fashionable or cutting edge about their approach or style. But The Deslones have something that every band wants but few have…
Kacey Musgraves has found her niche, and she’s not wavering. When she released “Biscuits,” which was so eerily similar to “Follow Your Arrow” (partly because the two songs were dreamed up in the same writing session), we assured ourselves that it was just one song, and once we hear the full breath of Musgraves’ upcoming album Pageant Material it would exhibit much more variety.
Sam Outlaw is not his real name. Well, not really. His real name is Sam Morgan. But his mother’s maiden name is Outlaw, so it’s close. But he’s not a real Outlaw. Nor is he a real cowboy, even though he apparently owns a fine collection of over half a dozen Stetsons. The 32-year-old Sam Outlaw was an advertising salesman up to a few months ago.
Written solely by Carlson, the 5-song Release Me EP is a throwback, honky-tonkin, foot-stompin’ true country affair that lays full throttle on the twang and layers in the steel guitar hard and heavy. But this isn’t just all about styling and posturing to prove how country it is. Darci crafts some really smart songs and has an understanding of chords and arrangement and songwriting that separates her from the crowd.
The only thing I conclusively walked away with from this new Mickey Guyton EP is that Capitol Records Nashville has absolutely no idea what to do with this young lady. And that’s about par for the course for just about any up-and-coming female country artist at this moment. Mickey Guyton already released a 4-song EP in March of 2014. So what’s the deal?
You look at these two guys, and it is living history right in front of you. But they aren’t living history museum pieces. They are lucid, active participants in the music community, still writing and singing songs, still with the fire inside them to contribute to the genre they helped create, and pay country music forward to yet another generation of loyal and appreciative fans.
Some bad songs make you angry that such a monstrosity would ever be released under the country banner. Some make you sad for what country music has become. This one? Randy Houser’s entry into this new R&B sexy time Bee Gees-inspired country music disco craze? This thing had me laughing out loud so hard from being so embarrassing and absurd, I had milk shooting out of my nose. And I wasn’t even drinking milk.
A hiatus in The Trishas project presented a window for Jamie to spread her wings, and that’s what she does in Holidays & Wedding Rings. Far from a songwriter who has spent her best material on past projects, or is too burdened with home and family to find time for the guitar and notepad, Wilson taps into the keenest observations and inspirations of her career.
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.