Mar 27, 2009

Favorite Albums of '09 - First Quarter Report

Click on underlined artist names for their Myspace pages to listen! (Ben doesn't have a solo Myspace, but you can listen to samples on the Amazon link)

Feel free to comment on any of these, or to suggest some other great albums of early 2009!

1. Ben Nichols - The Last Pale Light in the West
A collection of gritty narratives based on Cormac McCarthy's gore-soaked epic, "Blood Meridian," it's as passionate and powerful as anything I've heard this year (and much of last), despite the narrow focus. I'm a huge fan of Ben's full-time gig, Lucero, and looking forward to their major label debut later this year, but it'll have to really be something to top this.
Prime track: "Toadvine"

2. Justin Townes Earle - Midnight at the Movies
This is the one where son overtakes father. Justin's warm, reedy vocals and classic country sound with a modern feel make this quite an engaging album.
Prime track: "Mama's Eyes"

3. The Gourds - Haymaker!
Ridiculously fun as always, but the song-craft never suffers for the sake of party and vice versa. Not quite up to the high bar set by their previous release, Noble Creatures, but still a very strong effort.
Prime track: "Shreveport"

4. Phosphorescent - To Willie
A loving ode to a legend. Nelson's songs retold through a filter of reverent indie folk sound great and remind you that Willie's not just an entertainer and troubadour, but a songwriter of the highest order. Phosphorescent's not bad either, putting their own stamp on the songs, not just performing rote covers.
Prime track: "The Last Thing I Needed (First Thing This Morning)"

5. Great Lake Swimmers - Lost Channels
An indie-folk band with some of the most beautiful vocals you'll ever hear, Great Lake Swimmers take a step in a new direction on this outing, upping the tempo a bit and eschewing the stripped down approach for an array of new instruments, to nice effect. "Pulling on a Line" is my favorite song of the year thus far.

6. Mastodon - Crack the Skye
Metal! Smart, masterfully technical and fairly innovative, but still headbangingly hard, Mastodon's beast of a record should appeal to fans of anybody from Iron Maiden and Metallica to Coheed and Cambria. Great music for working out, or washing the dishes.
Prime track: "Oblivion"

7. The Deep Dark Woods - Winter Hours
Prime track: "All the Money I Had is Gone"

8. Scott Miller - For Crying Out Loud
Prime track:
"Sin in Indiana"

9. Eric Church - Carolina
Prime track: "Where She Told Me to Go"

10. Strand of Oaks - Leave Ruin
Prime track:
"End in Flames"

Mar 26, 2009

Fun With Charts & Graphs

Click for a closer view. And don't miss the new "JR's Semi-weekly Songwriting Tip of the Week" just below!

JR's Songwriting Tip of the Week #3

You need to think about who you're writing for - the singer or group that will perform it. Like when I wrote "Mississippi Girl" for Faith Hill, which was like, her massive #1 comeback song... anyway, I knew my subject... she's a lil country girl from Star, Mississippi, where they only wear ballcaps and frequently ride their kids around on their backs because there's nothing else to do. And Faith's career had fallen off so bad, man, she was probably on her way to working at a nail salon or something until I brought her back onto the map. -JR

Not actually written by John Rich. Please don't assault me, John.

Mar 24, 2009

Kenny Chesney Parody

Living in Bass Ackwards
(Parody of Kenny Chesney's "Living in Fast Forward")

The body's a church house, well most of them are
But I've treated this 'un like a trashy strip bar
Gap-toothed blonde dancers and loud Motley Crue
My mama would beat me but she ain't got a clue

I been livin' in bass ackwards
Bud drinkin' sadsack out of control
I'm living in bass ackwards
Now I need to get off parole

My bar tab is up, my hair's matted down
Under trailer arrest on the outskirts of town
I worked at the Quik-Mart, until they caught me
Scratchin' off lotto, stealin' skin magazines

I been livin' in bass ackwards
Bud drinkin' sadsack out of control
I'm living in bass ackwards
Now I need to get off parole

I'm always runnin'
Police are comin'
I've been on Cops, yeah it's true
And the way that I'm headed
Might end up dead if
It's left up to my I.Q.
Uh huh ...

(Repeat Chorus 2x)
Yeah I need to get off parole
Oh, I still got two trials to go

Mar 21, 2009

Nickel Creek Do Britney

This isn't new by any means, but such a great cover:

Mar 18, 2009

.00 Review: Gloriana

(The song's free on iTunes this week, so I'm not gonna hold it to the .99 standard)
Gloriana - Wild at Heart

The People's Take
THE FARTHEST THING FROM COUNTRY (1 Star) - this is crap. this isn't even country, this is girly pop. don't waste your time.
- johnny cash 711

Why even have free music! (1 star) - the songs that have been coming on the free singles a horrible lately id rather have no free singles then something like this. Hurry up and put some real music on. not some girls tryin to sing country(i hate country) and pop at the same time. The only person ive heard that can do that and sound great is taylor swift.
p.s. this doesnt deserve a star

Excellent! I don't like country and this is very excellent! LIKE IT A BUNCH!!!! (5 Stars) - Mix a little John Mellencamp, a little Tom Petty, and a little Lady Antebellum -- and this is what ya get! Excellent!
-Llttle Ramona

My Take:
The song starts promisingly enough with a cool Mellencamp-esque clap beat going on and a nice vibe. The first verse was serviceable I suppose... a little too glossy for these ears, but whatever. Now, let's hop in the wayback machine. Drift back in your memory to high school. Don't wince... okay do. Remember the show choir? The group you could pay a buck every three months or so to get out of geometry to go see (and that's the only reason most of us went). They were the guys and gals who dressed in matching outfits and did cheesy choreography and sang the hits of the day and a few pop classics while smiling painfully... yeah, those folks. The roster usually included: one jock only there because he had rhythm and provided face recognition, four goody-goody in-crowd females who could sing pretty well, one chunky girl with an awesome voice, two popular guys, one in-the-closet guy and one mega-heartthrob who could sing like Elvis. Okay, back to '09... take two of the goody-goody gals and the two popular guys from said show choir and slap a guitar in one them's hands and you have Gloriana. As soon as the chorus hit, though, I was transported back there... x years :)... to that sticky GHS auditorium with the prancing songbirds and the super-loud harmonies and the face-cramping smiles and suddenly, I wanted to do some geometry proofs.

(All that said, it's catchier than I should admit and if they'd leaned more Eagles than show choir, it might actually become a guilty pleasure rather than an annoyance.)

Total value: N/A

The Checklist

Name Dropping
Dying Person
County Fair
Lost Love
Hometown Pride
Kindly Advice
Life Affirmation

Pop Sheen
Star Power

On the dayplanner

Friday is March's Country Day, featuring Willie Nelson, Taylor Swift, Pirates of the Mississippi, Cowboy Troy and more. So be here. Or bring me a beer.

JR's Songwriting Tip of the Week #2

Man, you gotta live the song. That's the only way you can get to the meat of it and make people believe you're living the same life they are. Like "Shutting Detroit Down" which is currently knocking on the door of the top 10 at this very moment as we speak... I'm as pissed as the next red-blooded American about all these rich smartass guys screwing around and doing as they please and getting away with it. Lost jobs? I'm there buddy... I got fired from mowing the local park when I was in high school and Lord almighty that sucked! -JR

(Not actually written by John Rich)

Mar 17, 2009

Fun With Charts & Graphs

Yes, a two-fer of new posts for Wednesday. Don't get used to it. ;)

Click for a closer view.

Concept by CM of Country California.

JR's Songwriting Tip of the Week

Wanna write a hit song? Just ask yourself: what would JR do? Then, by God, get in there and do it. Johnny Cash would say to take the bull by the horns and bring something to the table that nobody has before. Something nobody's ever considered before, like Gretchen Wilson. I discovered her... no actually, I'm her dad, no actually I gave birth to her myself. -JR

(not actually written by John Rich)

Mar 16, 2009

___ Deserves a Sackpunch

Here's the first in a new series where I rant about wrongs in music and music-related areas. "Sackpunch" is obviously figurative in many cases.

1. Whoever Keeps Signing Guy and Girl Country Groups
Ever since Little Big Town hit it medium, every record company has rushed out their own set of cute young co-eds who can harmonize and called 'em country. Lady Antebellum, while not in my collection, is obviously talented and have a lot of good songs in them. Little Big Town has vocal chops but their song choices have been anywhere from dull to moderately catchy. Things will only become more watered down from here though (oh too late... Gloriana), so let's stop now before I get angry. The herd mentality is what got y'all in the unenviable position you're in today, record companies.

2. Kurt & Layne Wannabes
It's been 17 years since grunge destroyed hair metal and changed mainstream rock music as we know it. Some would say that's a good thing, but I'm sure all would agree that an endless line of watered down Alice in Chains and Nirvana copycraps was not what Kurt Cobain or Layne Staley had in mind. Don't get me wrong... I enjoyed the originators and some of the followers but this sound is way past its sell-by date. Why does every dude singer sound like they've got throbbing hemorrhoids and no pillow to sit on? It's got to end (pun intended). Maybe there will be a new hair metal revolution to put an end to all the angst and grunting! Okay, maybe not.

3. Chuck Wicks
I'm afraid a sackpunch, in this case, might be a swing and a whiff... if you know what I'm sayin'.

4. Every Emo Kid
I thought emo was over in '05, but apparently not, judging by all the flophaired rats I've seen at the mall lately. I actually call a moratorium on the look and lifestyle moreso than the music. Go away, dark, teary wusses and wussettes. Life may suck but you suck harder.

Mar 13, 2009

The Name Dropping Song

Cashed My Paycheck (The Name Dropping Song)

I cashed my Paycheck for a few measly Bucks
Drove down to Miller's in my Red Ford truck
Feelin' Tucker-ed out, Haggard to the bone
I had a Hank'rin' for some ol' Daniels Black
Said Parton me, wontcha please fill'er up, Mac
I was in-Cline-d to satisfy my Jones

Cashed in my Paycheck
to spend some Jacksons Tilli(t)s light
Cashed in my Paycheck
and went Waylon Friday night

Stewed to the Gill-s, I wasn't feelin' too Wells
Ol' Webb called me a Patsy, I said "Coe to hell"
Then I felt Bare knuckles Strait 'side my head
He hurt my Pride so I had to Yoakam fast
Ain't as Young as I was, but I Toby'd his ass
Flatt on his back, I sipped Lonestar as he bled

Cashed in my Paycheck
to spend some Jacksons Tillis light
Cashed in my Paycheck
and went Waylon Friday night

Cops were on the way, Willie offered a ride
But first I had to tell some friends goodbye
Bye Joe and Martina, So long Brooks and Lynn
Bye Ray, bye Reba, see ya later Tim

(Repeat Chorus)

©2007 Corey Parkman

Mar 11, 2009

Sugarland Parody

(Parody of Sugarland's "Settlin'")

Fifteen seconds into my boss's fussin'
My mind drifted off like he was saying nothin'
Don't know what he said, or why his face got so red
I was concentrating on the fly buzzin' round his head
I need to get my thinkin' straight
Think I know what it's gonna take

I need Ritalin, ya wanna know why?
Cause I can't pay attention to save my life
Tired of my scatterbrain, so pile the pills high
Counseling ain't gonna work this time
I need Ritalin for... (uh, where am I?)

When I got home, my wife opened her mouth
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah is what came out
I think she mentioned her hopes and her dreams
But honestly I don't remember a thing
Today I woke to a slammin' door
Wish I knew what she left me for

I need Ritalin, ya wanna know why?
Cause I can't pay attention to save my life
Tired of my scatterbrain, so pile the pills high
Counseling ain't gonna work this time
I need Ritalin for... (what was I talking about again?)

I need Ritalin, ya wanna know why?
I'm easily distracted by flashin' lights
Tired of my daydreamin', so pile the pills high
Self help books ain't gonna work this time
I need Ritalin for... (spoken: uh, something.. I think)

I need Ritalin, ya wanna know why?
Cause I can't pay attention to save my life
Tired of bouncing off walls, so pile the pills high
I need Ritalin yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah


Mar 8, 2009

.99 Review - The Carter Twins

The Carter Twins - Heart Like Memphis

The People's Take

these boys will be a HUGE hit, just like those Jones Brothers (5 Stars) - okay, even though the Carter twins only have one song out, I can tell that they will be the next big thing in country music! Like seriously, they are so talented! Here are the positives about them: they are both amazing singers, one plays guitar and one plays keyboards, they are very handsome, tthey are young at the age of 18( better watch out Joe Jonas!), and hello! they are TWINS!!! That's a plus! So if you like Taylor Swift and the Jonas Brothers, you will definately like the Carter Twins. They will be country's Jonas Brothers!
-samie b.

(most are like the above)

well... (2 Stars) - I kinda like this song, but there is just one thing about. ITS NOT COUNTRY!! CMT will put anything out there these days, its stupid. There talented for sure, but stay in L.A. please.
- sam kenishaming

awesomely awful. (1 Star) - most cliche country garb i've heard. originality.
- Swag McNasty

My Take (written before I read the "people's" reviews):

Are these guys the male answer to Taylor Swift? Is there really a need for a male answer for Taylor Swift? Are they country's answer to The Jonas Brothers? If so, why? Who the hell are these guys anyway? Why won't I stop asking questions? The opening a cappella did not set things off right for me. I immediately pictured well-coifed hair, matching outfits, screaming tweenagers and managers with sticky palms. Yep, they come off like a good ol' boy band (or at least the 00's slightly less shiny and annoying version of a boy band) but I'll stop there at the accusations. The song is the issue at hand. In Urban-esque poprockcountry fashion, the boys describe a pretty girl who seemingly has it all, but has da blues 'cause a mean ol' man left her. Nothing wrong with that. It's a sturdy theme and just the fact that she actually experiences the very non-Clearchannel-approved emotion of sadness is refreshing on today's country radio. My two main problems with this song are its innate non-countryness and the triteness of the chorus' lyrics. That it's pop rock masquerading as country is nothing new and I should just accept it, cause it's never gonna change, so we'll begrudgingly move on for the sake of this review. 2nd point: Haven't we heard a woman related to a state/city/principality before? Recently? As in, on the charts at this very moment? It even relates her to California, just like Gary's does. So that's my main issue I suppose: get a new idea. The song sounds nice enough and will fit well on The Big 98 FM between weight loss clinic and McDonalds ads. You'll be singing along whether you want to or not, but you'll have this nagging feeling that it's very similar to the song that played just before and will play just after. One last thing... does every song have to be about a chick (She's country and God loves her because her heart's like Memphis)?? Not that I want to hear about a dude's smile or his tight jeans, but um...wouldn't radio's main demographic like to? Oh and it's not country. And is Lou Pearlman somehow involved here? I'll shut up now.

Total value: .42/.99

The Checklist
Name Dropping
Dying Person
County Fair
Check mark symbolLost Love
Hometown Pride
Kindly Advice
Life Affirmation
Check mark symbolPop Sheen
Star Power


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