Kacey Musgraves - Merry Go 'Round
This song is EXACTLY what country radio needs right now: an infusion of reality. I don't mean scripted reality, I mean the gritty, hard-working, regret-filled reality that most people actually live. This track reminds me of a lot of Lori McKenna songs, but Kacey definitely has her own voice here, relating the resignation of a life settled for in a small town. Also reminiscent of Miranda Lambert's quieter tunes, but "Merry Go 'Round" is more powerful than anything she's released in a while. It's getting some early buzz and adds at radio - let's just hope the powers that be don't wuss out and let this great song go the way of other recent downers.
Gary Allan - Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)
This song isn't particularly country sounding, but at least it gets away from the angry-sounding rock of Allan's recent work. His voice is given room to shine and shine it does, bringing back the falsetto and the feeling of some of his early work. Even if it's no "Smoke Rings in the Dark," it's comforting to have Gary Allan back on the radio, sounding as great as ever.
Eric Church - Creepin'
Swampy, atmospheric and just weird, as country radio goes, "Creepin'" is a song that only someone with Church's track record could release to country radio with a straight face (okay, anybody not named Borchetta). Though the instrumentation is pretty rocked-out, the imagery and Eric's voice are undeniably country. If country music MUST stray from its roots further and further each year, this is an okay direction for it to go. "Creepin'" is well-written, strongly performed and 180° from everything else in the top 40.
Florida-Georgia Line - Cruise
See if any of this sounds new and unique to you: "Chevy with a lift kit," "farm town," "down a back road," "bikini top," "long tanned legs" …anything? Bueller? Throw in some auto-tune, poor grammar ("baby, you a song") and the fact that this song fits right into the Aldean/Bryan/Gilbert trend and you've got another band FTM's going to hate on for the foreseeable future. And I'll even admit the chorus is catchy as hell - almost guilty pleasure catchy - but all the negatives just take it too far in the wrong direction.
Brantley Gilbert - Kick It In the Sticks
See if any of THIS sounds new and unique to you: "barbed wire, moonshine, whiskey" (yes, that's in ONE line), "bon fire," "Skynyrd and George Strait," "bikini tops and Daisy Duke denim," "skinny dippin'" ….anything? Didn't think so. Is this a Farce the Music parody lyric? Nope. Also, in case you haven't heard this, it's basically a metal song. Seriously. It's way heavier than Jason Aldean's "She's Country," which was basically an AC/DC castoff. And BG and Scott Borchetta have the audacity to release this to country radio? Give me a break and stop it with the motherf**king son of a b*tch ass crap sh*t damn f**k c*** d**k $#%^ trucks.
Chris Cagle - Let There Be Cowgirls
Yet another rock song, but at least there are some fiddles and whatnot to keep it a little country. George Strait already did this one so much better with "How Bout Them Cowgirls." "World" and "cowgirls" are rhymed here, what else do you need to know? Cliché as you imagine. There's nothing at all in this song to distinguish it, unless you count the hair-metalesque guitar solo. Cagle came back onto the scene with a country listing song, now he's trying to keep his foot in the door with a female-empowerment anthem that really has nothing to say. Cagle was never an A-lister, but he used to be so much better than this.F