Dec 31, 2011

Dec 30, 2011

Top 10 Albums of 2011 - Rev. Robert Earl Reed's Ten


FTM pal and Mixtape participant (you can still get it through Monday! and get his album Carlene as a free bonus!) Robert Earl Reed gives us his top 10 albums of the year.

Reverend Robert Earl Reed's Top 10 Albums of 2011


“Inner Planetary Honky Tonk” of the first degree.


REAL! Southern Rawk from the Ozarks


North Mississippi Hill Country Influenced Badassness


Awesome story telling about an awesome story teller


Pure Powerful XXX Music 


We are watching the making of a true American Songwriting Legend with every note


A Classic Beauty of Voice


Just plain Ole Bad Ass Music


An under heard, under appreciated, Mississippi Story Teller of Monumental Proportion (think Mark Twain)


Real Songs, Real Artists 





Here's a video from Powder Mill, the #2 finisher on the Rev's list:

Larry Lee would not be happy.

Dec 29, 2011

Best Songs of 2011



1. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - Codeine

2. Kasey Anderson and the Honkies - Exit Ghost



5. The Damn Quails - Fools Gold

The Rest of the Best:
Hayes Carll - Another Like You
Bad Meets Evil - Fast Lane
Stoney Larue - Dresses
Robert Earl Reed - Road to Hattiesburg
Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears - She's So Scandalous
Mike Ethan Messick - Walking Into Walls
Robyn Ludwick - Out of These Blues
Larry Hooper - Time to Go
Dawes - Fire Away
Hellbound Glory - Better Hope You Die Young
Willie Tea Taylor - Life is Beautiful
Eric Church - Springsteen
Blitzen Trapper - Love the Way You Walk Away
The Black Keys - Gold on the Ceiling
Drew Kennedy - Home to Me
Frank Turner - If I Ever Stray
Brad Paisley - A Man Don't Have to Die
Kelsey Waldon - God-Fearing People
JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound - I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
Glossary - Some Eternal Spark
Chris Young - Neon
The Damn Quails - Mary
John Moreland and the Dust Bowl Souls - Good Enough
Foo Fighters - Arlandria
Jimbo Mathus - Cling to the Roots
Amanda Shires - Ghost Bird
Pistol Annies - Trailer for Rent
John Popper and the Duskray Troubadors - Champipple
Ronnie Dunn - Cost of Livin'
Miranda Lambert - Mama's Broken Heart
Nick 13 - Carry My Body Down
Raphael Saadiq - Stone Rollin'
Big KRIT - Another Naive Individual Glorifying Greed & Encouraging Racism
George Strait - Poison
Centro-matic - Estimate X 3
Amos Lee - Flower

Justin Moore says...


FTM 101 Best Albums of 2011: 1-50





My tastes were more oriented towards roots-music this year than any in recent memory and The Damn Quails put out a stunning debut that satisfied my yearnings like no other. The unique voices of Bryon and Gabriel combine for divine harmonies and their writing is the class of contemporary bands that fall into the "red dirt" scene, or nearly any scene for that matter. There isn't a weak song on the offering and what's more, nearly every tune spent time lodged in my brain on replay at one point or another. Brilliant work, epic even. Best songs: All of them, but if you must have 1 or 2 …"Fool's Gold" and "Mary" always slay me.



Wrapped around the undeniable song of the year, "Codeine," is an album that more than pulls its own weight. Isbell fans may have hoped for something louder, but what they got was an artist-defining gem of a southern rock and soul record. Strong lyrics, excellent musicianship and plenty of easy-to-love melodies make this an album most anyone can appreciate, and true music lovers will adore. Best tracks: Codeine, Alabama Pines.





The boys went and growed up on us. While Hellbound Glory is still infatuated with the darker subjects - addiction, dysfunctional families and death, in particular - their songwriting has improved a great deal since their last album. Not that it was ever bad. It's just that this time around the songs are better developed. The hooks are hookier and the subject matter comes across more naturally - it no longer feels like they're trying to shoehorn in every deviant behavior and curse word they can, just because they can. This is a band on the rise and with material this good, they may eventually break down the wall between alt and country. Best tracks: Better Hope You Die Young, Knocked Off the Horse.



What else is there to say about Hayes? Rapier wit. Songwriting that recalls the greats of country and folk music. Memorable, affable voice. Actually has something to say. Just enough weirdness to keep him a little mysterious. Check, to all of those. This guy's the real deal; one of the few artists I'll buy an album from without hearing a single note. He never disappoints, never rests on his accolades. Thanks for another winner, Hayes! Best tracks: Another Like You, Chances Are.




Jimbo calls this "catfish music," and I see no better way to describe it. Confederate Buddha is a melting pot for southern music - R&B, rock, folk, country and swamp soul, all mixed, matched and sifted out at different times on the record. Mathus' writing is in turns poetic, straight-forward or abstract, all expertly crafted and emotionally performed. Best tracks: Cling to the Roots, Aces and Eights.




Bonnie Raitt, Janis Joplin and Neko Case in a blender vocals. Transgendered Hayes Carll songwriting chops. That was weird. …this album is great. 
Best tracks: Are You Ready to Die, Hell's Bells






The in-demand producer of #6/former hair band member/former 90's alt-rock band, the jack - nay master - of all trades turns in this hook-driven smorgasbord of power pop, hard rock and jangly country-flavored rave-up goodness. This album alongside #8 would make a killer party soundtrack. Best tracks: Synthesizers, Suckerpunch





If this is a sellout, I wish every artist who's been accused of such had such a well-done betrayal of ideals. The Black Keys expand their blues rock sound to (bluesy) glam rock and power pop without missing a step or making it sound contrived. Sometimes you just need to turn off your inner-critic and enjoy. Fun, fun, fun! Best tracks: Gold on the Ceiling, Nova Baby




Adele somehow straddles the huge divide between modern pop and "old people" soul music with great success. Even the songs that lack lyrically are made great by Adele's huge (but never diva-esque) voice. There hasn't been an artist in some time that brought together so many people in mutual admiration. This is a chick album that dudes can be unashamed to love. It's an old-school album that kids can groove to. Excellence. Best tracks - Rolling in the Deep, Someone Like You.



Sounding like the Black Crowes by way of Muscle Shoals, Ponderosa is a super-talented band of southern rockers who mostly steer clear of the clichés of the genre. Kalen Bush's lead vocals are stirring and the harmonies take their sound over the top. Ponderosa isn't reinventing the wheel here, but what they do, they do very well. Best tracks: Old Gin Road, Devil on My Shoulder.





13. Stoney Larue - Velvet
15. Ryan Adams - Ashes and Fire
16. Pistol Annies - Hell on Heels
17. Wilco - The Whole Love
18. Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears - Scandalous
19. Mastodon - The Hunter
20. Will Hoge - Number Seven
22. Miranda Lambert - Four the Record
23. Foo Fighters - Wasting Light
24. Justin Haigh - People Like Me
25. Frank Ocean - Nostalgia, Ultra
26. Frank Turner - England Keep My Bones
28. Bon Iver - s/t
29. Sunny Sweeney - Concrete
31. Bad Meets Evil - Hell (The Sequel)
32. Left Lane Cruiser - Junkyard Speed Ball
34. Big KRIT - Return of 4Eva
35. The Decemberists - The King is Dead
36. F*cked Up - David Comes to Life
37. Merle Haggard - Working in Tennessee
38. Eli Young Band - Life at Best
39. Adam Hood - The Shape of Things
41. Glossary - Long Live All of Us
43. Blitzen Trapper - American Goldwing
44. Dawes - Nothing is Wrong
45. Cody Canada and The Departed - This is Indian Land
46. The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow
47. George Strait - Here for a Good Time
48. Robyn Ludwick - Out of These Blues
50. Jason Boland and the Stragglers - Rancho Alto


Dec 28, 2011

Top 10 Brantley Gilbert New Year's Resolutions for 2012






















Thanks to some of my Twitter followers for sending in their submissions!


10. Research old country music to see who else is there to name-drop

- @thebenimal


09. Then see how many of those country legends' names can be crammed into one radio-friendly song


08. To rewrite his Wikipedia page to include that he's an outlaw that can kick anybody's ass because he listens to Johnny Cash. - @iankevans


07. Attempt to beat Matthew McConaughey for most times photographed shirtless in a year


06. Get a personalized Axe fragrance


05. Do a duet with Jason Aldean about how country we are and proud

- @AikoujOi


04. Make an album blending a modern edge with traditional and authentic outlaw country, eschewing clichés and putting forth his honest artistic statement, with making good music being the focus, not money. Ha ha, just kidding! More of the same shit!


03. Own more shirts with sleeves

- @alymae


02. Actually find a station playing Cash, Hank, Willie & Waylon

- @erikflatt


01. Lose 10 lbs so he can fit into his wallet chain from high school.

- @shelbyjo

Most Disappointing Albums of 2011

I've gotten to the point in my life that I just don't listen to bad albums. That's why you probably won't get a "Worst Albums of (whatever year)" list from me anytime soon. If I listen to a few songs and I hate them, I'm not going to waste my time hoping those were anomalies. These are 2011 releases that I had high hopes for but was let down.


Yelawolf - Radioactive
My initial semi-praise of this album seems overstated now. I've hardly played the album since the week after its release. It's not so much Yelawolf that's the problem here… it's the fact that there's so little recognizable as the Yelawolf I'd come to know and enjoy on his previous releases and mixtapes. I wanted southern culture on the skids (not the band, the thematic element). I wanted hard edges; damn the mainstream, make the mainstream come to you. Instead I got an inconsistent mishmash of sappy crossover hooks and "hard" love songs with a couple of nods to the past mixed in. Can an artist sell out on their first real album?



Reckless Kelly - Good Luck and True Love
Dumb lyrics sink this ship, period. Sure, these guys have never been Townes Van Zandt with electric guitars, but still. At least work on the words long enough that they aren't noticeable. I'm trying to come up with a comparison to an NBA ref… you don't even notice the good ones…. but that's not quite right; lyrics are important and most times I believe they should stand on their own… strip the music away and they're still enthralling. If you can't do that, at least run them by a Nashville song committee and let them blandify the lyrics so they fade into the background. These guys sound tired, and this was the year little brother (Micky and the Motorcars) finally beat up big brother.



Drive-by Truckers - Go-Go Boots
This album isn't that bad in the grand scheme of things, I'm just sick of the sad old man music. I'm sick of being lulled to sleep by one of the most badass rock bands in America. You've got those guitars in your hands and that whiskey in your glasses… put 'em to better use! Don't get me wrong, there are some great tunes on here (Used to Be a Cop, Mercy Buckets), but if I want almost entirely slow, depressing story-songs, I'll listen to Gordon Lightfoot. Pick up the pace!





Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers - Unida Cantina
They phoned this one in. Yawner of the first degree. RCPM is one of my go-to bands for comfortable heartland by way of the southwest rock music. Comfort is good, drudgery is not. I'm not sure what they were shooting for with the dopey album-opener "All Over the Radio." It sounds like they were going for a pop radio crossover when there's no bridge available for bands of this ilk to even cross. The lyrics aren't up to the standards set by previous releases (pre-No More Beautiful World) and most of the album sounds uninspired. "Empty Highway" is the only song that stuck with me.



The Jayhawks - Mockingbird Time
Again, not actually bad… but with the reunion of the original vocalists, I was expecting a homerun. The swelling melodies I'd hoped for are restrained. The big hooks I love are nowhere to be heard. Can they not hit the high notes anymore? I doubt it, and when you've got long range assault rifles in the arsenal, why just fire the pellet guns?





Lil Wayne - Tha Carter IV
Wayne still has a way with the one-liner, but this album just feels like a long string of puns. The beats are boring and the songs just don't hold together. A couple of old-school feeling tracks were winners (Blunt Blowin', 6 Foot 7 Foot) but the rest was difficult to listen to more than a couple times. For as much hype as this album had coming in, it has to be considered the biggest failure of the year.






Red Hot Chili Peppers - I'm With You
RHCP has enough cred in the bank that I'm going to check out anything they release, despite recent sparse and dull output. So, how was this one? Sparse and dull. You've got two of the most exciting artists of the past few decades (Flea and Anthony Kiedis) still in the fold and this is the result? As Andrew from rabbitsblack.com put it: "Five years of waiting, and they release an album that sounds like the B-sides of Stadium Arcadium (which was also disappointing)." Amen.





Note - The only truly awful album I listened to from start to finish this year was Justin Moore's Outlaws Like Me, which (as I said yesterday) is basically just a long string of "how damn country I am" tunes with lyrics a teenager could slap together.

Dec 27, 2011

Worst Country Singles of 2011

Click the songs titles to listen, if you dare.

This is what happens when ball cap sporting posers like Jason Aldean and Brantley Gilbert rule the roost in Nashville. Copycats. Sure, Tyler may have been around just as long as those two, but he didn't get a push till now, so it's all about record execs seeing dollar signs. When the first line mentions a "turned around camouflage trucker ball cap," you know what to expect from there. Tricked out tractors, Stetson cologne, fishing metaphors, city-girls-gone-country… it's all there. Oh, loud guitars too, but that's a given… it is a country song after all.

9. Justin Moore - Bait a Hook
I thought Justin had turned a corner when he introduced his new album with the solid "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away," but the rest of the album proved to be an entire collection of laundry list "how damn country I am" songs. And this one… I can't believe it hasn't come under critical fire for it's unspoken implication that a girly-drink-swilling, sushi-eating, Prius-driving boyfriend is more likely a closeted homosexual than a man deserving of the gal's love. If every man who can't skin a buck was unworthy of a female's partnership, I'd be out of a marriage y'all. And who the hell doesn't know who Jack Daniels is? The sissy boy this song is aimed at, that's who.

8. Trace Adkins - Brown Chicken Brown Cow
This porn joke turned country song turned puppet porn video served to cement Trace Adkins as the most scattershot artist working the top 40 these days. Trace has put out several songs in the past decade I'd name as my favorite commercial country tunes of the era. He's also put out at least 6 that are so indescribably bad, it's hard to see how they didn't top the country charts. It's not the hay loft love-making that makes this so bad - it's the terrible pun hook and the perverted farm animals who fight each other to get the closest view of the corn shucking. Even Trace knew this song was terrible, he pulled it from release to be spared the shame of the song not even cracking (huh huh, I said cracking) the top 30.

7. Big & Rich - Fake I.D.
Admittedly, I didn't hate Big & Rich's first album. It's over-the-top dumb fun and attempts to be nothing more. Since then, B&R have obviously struggled to recapture that juvenile attitude and hormone-filled energy to no avail. "Fake ID" proves their most awkward attempt at reconnecting with their youth. Think Travis Tritt flaming out with that awful "Girls Gone Wild" song a few years ago, or Clint Black uncomfortably parading around on the beach in a sleeveless T-shirt and jorts on the "Summer's Comin'" video. Kenny Chesney is the only older artist who can get away with that crap. This song has no weight whatsoever, no good hook, no interesting story, no soul. It's just a foolhardy attempt to get back on the radio with a lowest common denominator-aimed song that's more contrived than it is fun. Who wants to hear a thirty-something and a forty-something singing about trying to score fake ID's? It just doesn't make sense.

6. Tim McGraw & Gwyneth Paltrow - Me and Tennessee
The most annoying track on this countdown - "together we're singing/forever we're singing" goes the cringe-inducing chorus. Gwyneth isn't terrible, but her voice would be more suited to Colbie Calliat style singer-songwriter pop, rather than country. Ack, there's that chorus again - followed by some "yeah yeah yeah's" like they didn't know what else to fill the awkward space with. Awful. Damn near unlistenable. Yeah yeah yeah yeah.

5. Sawyer Brown - Smokin' Hot Wife
Sawyer Brown has now channeled the cheesy energy they once used to select their wardrobes into their music. The Bellamy Brothers-meets-Jimmy Buffett breezy island tune only tries to mine the popularity of similar Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown songs from recent years, but it adds nothing to the dopey lyrics. I suppose it might be okay for a 20-40 something artist to have a song by this title, but when it's from the 53 year old Mark Miller, it's just kinda creepy.

4. Colt Ford - Country Thang
From my review earlier this year:
"Country Thang" is YET ANOTHER listing song about, well, country thangs. And among thangs that Ford would like you to know are fixtures for the rural set are misspelelingllings (see song title) and uncorrect grammar, because "that's how we does it" down here! We also does it barefoot and crazy while the tin roof sings. We live in the pines in a shotgun shack with a high-priced huntin' dog baying around back. I bet you'll never guess what our women-folk wear. Yep, cutoff jeans. Apparently, in some necks of the south, women's clothing stores sell ONLY cutoffs, tight jeans, bikinis and short skirts. I wish.
Hey Colt, you sure you weren't better at golf?

3. Robin Meade - Dirty Laundry
The hottie-news anchor releases her first country single (because the world needed another star gone country) and it knowingly references her day job. Unfortunately that's the only thing remotely interesting about this cover of Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry." The soulless Muzik Mafia-lite background music sounds like something she bought from a show choir karaoke website. Her vocals are tolerable, but nothing that should have made her think she could make it in a world of Carrie Underwoods and Miranda Lamberts. The chorus is grating as hell. I'm not surprised this didn't even make a ripple, even in the age of lowered-standards Nashville. Putrid.

I was starting to come around to Luke Bryan. He's clearly got some vocal talent. Some of his songs are pretty darn country-sounding. His cheesy-charm even got me to tolerate the dopey "Rain is a Good Thing."
Whatever good will Luke had built up with me was completely spent (and he went into debt) with "Country Girl (Shake it for Me)." This despicably dunderheaded dance-country crapfest exhorted his girl to shake her posterior for the catfish, squirrels, rednecks, flowers, trees, CMT execs… whoever. It rehashes every Nashville cliché we hated the first fifteen times. CowboyLyrics.com claims this to be one of the song's lyrics: "with a gattle in her Bud to get a little wild." I'm pretty sure that's not right, but even a nonsense lyrics like that couldn't pull the IQ of this song any lower.

1. Kristen Chenoweth - I Want Somebody (Bitch About)
From my review earlier this year:
From the first word out of her mouth, you know the next three minutes won't better your life experience. By midway through the first verse (if you're still around), you're convinced you can write a better song with the local Montgomery Gentry cover band. By the chorus, you're feeling a growing sense that your organs are banding together to overthrow your mind for letting things go this far. By the end of the chorus, you're ready to jump into a Slayer mosh pit and leave the whole adrenaline and whiskey charged bunch lying in a pool of their own blood and broken limbs. If you make it to the end, you hate your ears. Or you're a blogger.
This one takes the cake as the worst country single of 2011. And it's not even close.



Notably left off the list: Toby Keith - Red Solo Cup; Brantley Gilbert - Country Must Be Country Wide; Jason Aldean - Dirt Road Anthem.
These songs, to varying degrees, at least had something worthy about them… don't get me wrong, I hate all three for different reasons, but "Dirt Road Anthem" is damn catchy, regardless of its lasting damage to the genre. "Country Must Be Country Wide" at least 'sounds' better than anything in my bottom 10. "Red Solo Cup" teeters on the edge between big-stupid-fun and just-plain-stupid for me, and some of the lyrics are lovably idiotic. I have a soft spot for intentionally moronic lyrics.

FTM 101 Best of 2011: 51-75


51. Ha Ha Tonka - Death of a Decade
52. Micky and the Motorcars - Raise My Glass
53. Glen Campbell - Ghost on the Canvas
54. Sam Sliva and the Good - And the People Say
55. 13ghosts - Liar's Melody
56. The Redlands Palomino Company - Don't Fade
57. The Horrible Crowes - Elsie
58. Social Distortion - Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes
59. Jay Z & Kanye West - Watch the Throne
60. Steve Earle - I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive


61. Have Gun Will Travel - Mergers & Acquisitions
62. Eric Church - Chief
63. Drive-by Truckers - Go-Go Boots
64. Robert Earl Reed - Carlene
65. Johnny Corndawg - Down on the Bikini Line
66. Amos Lee - Mission Bell
67. Gillian Welch - The Harrow and the Harvest
68. Jeremy Steding - I Keep on Livin', But I Don't Learn
69. Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring for My Halo


70. The Low Anthem - Smart Flesh
71. Jason Fratesi and the Dirt Road Jam Band - Cryin' Out Loud
72. Thieving Birds - S/T
73. Brad Paisley - This is Country Music
74. Nick 13 - S/T
75. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

Dec 22, 2011

Justin Moore says...


FTM 101 Best of 2011: 76-101

Maybe 101 albums is too many for a "Best of" list. Some may think it's indulgent or that I'm showing off how much music I listened to ....but that's not the case. I just love music so much and it needs to be seen that good music is still being put out in this day and age of disposable songs. I listened to many, many, many new albums in 2011 and passed on dozens more after previewing them. The FTM 101 includes all the albums I heard and think are most worthy of mention. Here's the first installment (higher up the chart will include write-ups).


76. Cage the Elephant - Thank You Happy Birthday
78. Chris Young - Neon
79. The Jayhawks - Mockingbird Time
80. Mike McClure - Fifty Billion
82. Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers - Unida Cantina
83. Trombone Shorty - For True
84. Too Slim and the Taildraggers - Shiver
85. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings - Soul Time!
86. Middle Brother - S/T
87. Blind Boys of Alabama - Take the High Road
88. Black Spiders - Sons of the North
90. Rachel Brooke - Down in the Barnyard
92. Switchfoot - Vice Verses
93. Childish Gambino - Camp
94. Deer Dick - Divine Providence

95. Hank III - Ghost to a Ghost/Guttertown
96. Zoe Muth & the Lost High Rollers - Starlight Hotel
98. R.E.M. - Collapse Into Now
99. The Gourds - Old Mad Joy
100. My Morning Jacket - Circuital
101. Black Stone Cherry - Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea

Scotty McCreery on the Shelf #6


















The end.

Dec 21, 2011

If ____ Wrote a Christmas Song: 2011 Edition


If Yelawolf wrote a Christmas song
Catfish Billy gettin' ready
Delivering gifts in a big box Chevy
Got meth and speed and Oxycontin
Everything the girls and boys are wantin'
If you on the naughty list, get shotgun pellets







If Hank3 wrote a Christmas song
I been drinkin' and druggin' underneath the mistletoe
I'm a crazed Christmas rebel from long ago
Always courtin' trouble and I'm always on the run
Got a hooker named Noel, snorting blow off her buns




If Lil Wayne wrote a Christmas song
I got the toys like Geoffry giraffe
And you're Dane Cook, can't make me laugh
Ain't got the gifts the ho ho ho's need
Joy to the *&^@#$ (*@#$ @!###$ let's smoke weed





If Toby Keith wrote a Christmas song
I love you, red Santa hat
On a old man who's fat
It's made in 'merica!
It's made in 'merica!





If Miranda Lambert wrote a Christmas song
Silver bells, shotgun shells
It's Christmas in Tishomingo
Aim your shot, see 'em drop
Soon Rudolph will be filleted






If Willie Nelson wrote a Christmas song
I'm dreaming of a green Christmas
That's how I celebrate the yule
Where the smoke is funky
And I got munchies
Let's stop for ribs and biofuel




If Brantley Gilbert wrote a Christmas song
Cut off jeans and country boy's kiss
That's what's on her Christmas list
Santa's ridin' down an old dirt road
Sippin' spiked eggnog from the console
Johnny Paycheck was an outlaw
I wish you Merry Christmas, y'all

Scotty McCreery on the Shelf #5


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