Oct 12, 2021
Aug 27, 2021
A fast-learning late-bloomer, Grayson Jenkins wrote his first song at 21 and now 7-8 years later is releasing Turning Tides, his third full album. Its writing was completed before the pandemic and recording took place just a few months in but Jenkins decided to hold off on releasing it, leaving him on hold, mentally and career-wise. He considered hanging it up more than once in 2020, but thankfully he did not.
If you’re a first timer like myself, Grayson Jenkins has a warm, reedy voice that welcomes you right in. His bio mentions Eric Church and Keith Whitley as descriptors, but I’m hearing more Bruce Robison. None of those are comparisons he’d turn his nose up at, I’m guessing. The music is much the same - enveloping and hospitable, a chilled out honky-tonk experience.
There’s a lot of what I’d call ‘soothing darkness’ sonically on this record. - a low key, soft approach, that while far from sparse musically, gives Jenkins a lot of room vocally. What he does with that space is croon to us of lonely nights, anxiety, hard work, and glimmers of hope.
The title cut is a main example of that sound of soothing darkness. Lyrically, though, it’s a ray of sun through drawn curtains, seeing hope after a hard time. Though written before these “crazy times,” one wouldn’t be wrong to apply the song to our current state.
“Low Down Lady” is a shuffling bar room toe-tapper that seems custom made for a Texas dancehall. It never gets around to explaining why she’s a “bad low-down lady,” but you know he’s crazy for somebody he ought not be, and it really doesn’t matter with a song this damn fun. Piano, steel, and a guitar solo fill this one out to perfection.
One of the highlights of the album for me, “Picket Fences” was co-written with Nicholas Jamerson (he of much independent country affection and also half the duo Sundy Best). It’s a fiddle-heavy look at the life of a musician compared to that of the average thirty-something. “I’ll take my rambling, keep your picket fence,” sings Jenkins, more than satisfied with the path he picked.
Turning Tides is yet another entry in the seemingly endless parade of excellent albums out of the Bluegrass State. At this point I’m surprised burgeoning musicians don’t move to Kentucky to get a dose of whatever’s in that water. Anyway, this record, it’s a good one and with it, you can still get in relatively early on another artist who’s gonna be a stalwart in the scene for years to come.
May 12, 2021
A poop emoji is negative; a strike-thru is positive.
The current Poop Rating of the Mediabase Top 20 is (-9) overall which is a 2 point improvement from February (the previous time we did this chart). The worst song is Dan + Shay’s “Glad You Exist,” but Sam, Dylan, Luke, and Cole also have terrible entries. The best song is Eric Church’s “Hell of a View” with Lainey Wilson’s “Things a Man Oughta Know” nipping at its heels. The chart is somewhat stagnant, quality-wise, but there are hints of promise.
Chart info from Mediabase/Country Aircheck.
May 11, 2021
(Real iTunes reviews)
Eric Church - Soul
The Marfa Tapes (Lambert, Ingram, Randall)
Thomas Rhett - Country Again (Side A)
Sam Hunt - Southside
American Aquarium - Slapper, Bangers, Twangers
Morgan Wallen - Dangerous
Niko Moon - Good Time EP
Carrie Underwood - My Savior
Apr 28, 2021
Apr 22, 2021
Mar 10, 2021
Feb 10, 2021
A poop emoji is negative. A strike-thru is positive.
The current Poop Rating of the Mediabase Top 20 is (-11) overall which is a 7 point drop from November (the previous time we did this chart). The worst song is Niko Moon’s “Good Time,” but there are a lot of contenders. The best song is Eric Church’s “Hell of a View.” The chart is really bad again, and there’s not even a Kane Brown song on it.
Chart info from Mediabase/Country Aircheck.
Feb 4, 2021
Jan 15, 2021
Lainey Wilson - Things a Man Oughtta Know
First and foremost, this is a country song. It's a modern pop-country song, but it features organic instrumentation, country vocals, country imagery, and story-telling. There's listing, yeah, but it's used to the furtherance of the theme, revealing the message a little at a time. Good stuff, and highly impressive as a debut single. And it seems to be getting some traction.
Carly Pearce - Next Girl
Clever hook, strong vocals, catchy melody, strong message. What's not to like? Carly is such a promising artist; I hope this is huge for her.
Eric Church - Hell of a View
A mid-tempo anthem in the vein of “Talledega” and “Springsteen,” this is another winner from Church. Hey guys in the category below: See! It’s possible to write a love song that isn’t whiny and tediously selling a supplicant viewpoint in a relationship. Be equals, you crybabies. Anyway, “Hell of a View” is catchy and poetic, and non-embarrassing.
Niko Moon - Good Time
I already said enough when I named this the worst ‘country’ song of 2020. It may qualify for 2021 too. It’s that bad.
Cole Swindell - Single Saturday Night
Cole has done some moderately better work recently (not that the songs I actually like are ever released as singles) but this isn’t in that category. This starts off with all the sonic signifiers of boyfriend country and gets no better from there. Listless, forgettable, and cookie-cutter. “White Claw” brand name drop… is that the first in a hit song? Anyway, this sucks and it kinda feels desperate.
Parmalee & Blanco Brown - Just the Way
Another boyfriend country song, I’m seeing a theme. There is nothing whatsoever country about this song. It’s listless, forgettable, and cookie-cutter. And it’s so cloying and wimpy. Stop worshipping women. I mean, don’t worship men either, or any other gender. Who wants to be pandered to this damn much? It’s amazing that something so boring and bland can make me want to punch inanimate things to get my rage out. Crap.