The Hodgepodge: Good Songs from Sub-Par Country Artists

This past week was super busy for me and I haven’t had much time to think about this week’s opener. I haven’t spent much time around the blogosphere and didn’t really find anything current that I could provide a unique voice to or a new angle on the topic. Obviously the biggest news in country music this week was Jason Isbell and Alan Jackson going 1-2 on album sales which is huge, and I’m happy for both artists on that achievement.

Like I said, since I don’t have a new or unique perspective to provide for that story line, this week’s opener won’t be too involved. The mainstream pulse is still rather bad, and upcoming releases don’t look to improve it much, if at all. I’m going to look at some sub-par artists; country singers and groups that I predict will get a C grade or lower in Josh’s updated grades which he’ll provide via The Country Perspective Show podcast. I’m going to list a few songs from these artists that I think are good songs, be it past single releases or album deep cuts.

Jason Aldean – One of my favorite singles from him is “Amarillo Sky.” A cut off My Kinda Party called “Church Pews or Bar Stools” is a nice, honest look at small town life and chasing dreams. But “The Truth” might be his best song he’s ever recorded.

Luke Bryan – Did you know Luke wrote “Good Directions” that Billy Currington recorded? As for Luke’s recorded singles, “Do I” from Doin’ My Thing is pretty dang good, even “Drink a Beer” showed some effort to have a bit of depth. But I admit that my favorite song of Luke’s is “We Rode In Trucks.”

Miranda Lambert – I classify Miranda as sub-par simply because the Platinum era has been full of mediocre to bad singles. Obviously the recent “Roots and Wings” is a great song, and singles like “Over You” and “The House That Built Me” are two very strong country songs. I’m also quite fond of “White Liar.”

Florida Georgia Line – Yes, even these two jokers have a few good songs. A guilty pleasure of mine from this duo is “Tip It Back” from their debut album; I think it’s a decent blue-collar, end of the work week drinking song. I don’t mind their cover of Black Stone Cherry’s “Stay” and even an EP cut called “Black Tears” is a good song they’ve written. Though, “Dirt” may forever reign as their best song.

Jake Owen – Mr. “Real Life” made some good country music before getting a number one with “Barefoot Blue Jean Night.” His early singles like “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You” are fantastic. An album cut called “Life of The Party” isn’t half bad, and who can forget “What We Ain’t Got?” But Jake Owen’s first top-ten single is an absolute gem. Let’s remember “Startin’ With Me.”

Blake Shelton – Years ago, Blake was making some great country music, but a change in producers turned the page to pop country crap. “The Baby” stands as one of his most heartbreaking country songs, and even his cover of George Jones’ “Ol’ Red” isn’t that bad either. However, Shelton’s debut single, “Austin”, is arguably his best song.

Brantley Gilbert – Brantley Gilbert has been in the middle of the road for pretty much his whole career. Even with douchetastic singles like “Small Town Throwdown” and “Bottoms Up,” Gilbert’s had some decent offerings like “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do” and “More Than Miles.” But Gilbert’s first album, A Modern Day Prodigal Son, is better than his other two combined. Listen to “Picture On the Dashboard” and “The Best of Me” and you probably wouldn’t believe it’s Brantley. I thought the title track from that first album is an honest, well written song too. Unfortunately, a live recording is all I’ve tracked down on YouTube.

See? Even the bad have some good in them! This is just a small selection I’m choosing to highlight. For the most part I wanted to focus on artists who had a bit deeper catalog to choose from, and artists who seemed to have strayed far from their early quality. If you are curious about my opinions on other artists I didn’t highlight here, I’ll entertain a few questions as long as they stick with the topic at hand: good songs from bad/sub-par country artists. And, as always, I’d love to hear some of your favorites from these artists too.

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases

  • Rick Elliot released his debut EP earlier this month. Two of the songs on the EP have been reviewed on the site with high praise. We will have a review on the EP soon.
  • Texas Country artist Kyle Park will release a new album this fall called The Blue Roof Sessions. Park currently has a new single out called “What Goes Around Comes Around.”
  • As reported by Saving Country Music, Canadian Country artist Corb Lund is working on a new album with producer Dave Cobb at the helm. The album will be called Things That Can’t Be Undone.
  • Brett Eldredge will release his second studio album, Illinois, on September 11th.
  • Alabama will release their first album of new music in over a decade on September 18 and it’s titled Southern Drawl.
  • Cassadee Pope just released a new single called “I Am Invincible.”

Today in Country Music History

  • Singer Neal McCoy (1958) and songwriter Gordie Sampson (1971) celebrate birthdays today.
  • In 1958, Johnny Cash began recording his studio album Greatest! which included the chart topping song “Get Rhythm.”
  • George Jones had the number one song in 1983 with the Merle Haggard penned “I Always Get Lucky With You.”

Throwback Thursday Song

“Waiting on June” by Holly Williams. As Holly says at the beginning of the song, “Waiting on June” was written about her grandparents from her mother’s side (not about Hank). This is simply a beautiful story song from her critically acclaimed 2013 album The Highway. The writing and descriptions in this song are excellent, and I personally think Holly has one of the more captivating singing voices in country music.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week


AC/DC’s Highway to Hell. This is one of my all time favorite albums. Highway to Hell is great rock music, and the last studio album AC/DC made with original lead singer Bon Scott before his death in 1980. The opening guitar riffs on the title track are fantastic and Scott’s voice is well suited for rock. While AC/DC had two of their best songs (in my opinion) in the post Bon Scott era, I would have loved to see where AC/DC would be if Bon Scott hadn’t passed prematurely.

Tweet of the Week

That’s a good way of looking at country radio today!

An Album Review That Will Make You Angry

Jason Gottfried from a publication called The Independent in the Southern Utah, Northern Nevada area wrote a scathing review of Alan Jackson’s Angels and Alcohol. Now, I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion; I’m very much a “to each their own” type of person. However, I can’t help to think that this review and Gottfried’s descriptions of Alan Jackson are quite misguided. I’ll leave a few snippets from the review linked above, but you really should read this in its entirety to get the full effect of how Alan Jackson’s music is equivalent to McDonald’s hamburgers:

All you dudes who love country music (or say that you do, at least) are getting your feathers all ruffled already. Take it easy. The fact that you can read alone sets you head-and-shoulders above your peers.

With $75 million burning a hole in your pocket, I’d hope that no matter how hopelessly mediocre your talents might be, you’d still be able to purchase the right dudes in Nashville to record your music and make it sound good. Other than the session players, there’s just not much going on here musically. Frankly, the best thing about Alan Jackson’s “Angels and Alcohol” is that it’s only 39 minutes long.

This track would be great if the theme—that being a drunk isn’t really the best approach to life overall—were genuine. However, it’s hard to take a guy who’s built an empire upon the graves of dead alcoholics seriously.

Well, Jason, it’s hard to take anyone who seems to write terrible reviews for shock value seriously.

31 thoughts on “The Hodgepodge: Good Songs from Sub-Par Country Artists

  1. Raymond July 30, 2015 / 11:14 am

    Well now looking at the title I now have a list.of artists new or old. Here we go. Little Big Town. If you guys consider them sub-par they actually have a lot of terrific.songs. Obviously Boondocks. Little White Church. Also check out the Tornado album you cut out Pontoon and you have a great album. Seriously LBT never has failed to let me down.

    Um ok Eli Young Band and Thompson Square.are another 2 along with Jana Kramer.

    I am gonna assume Cole Swindell, Thomas Rhett.(aka Ferret face) and Raelynn have no redeemable songs at all. Along with Hunter Hayes.

    Oh since you guys mentioned her what.about Cassadee Pope or Danielle Bradberry did they’re albums have some real good songs on there’s.

    That’s all the artist off the top of my head.

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    • Derek Hudgin July 30, 2015 / 11:44 am

      No, I don’t think any of those artists you mentioned have redeemable songs, nor do they have deep enough catalogs or a large difference between good quality or bad (like FGL’s “Dirt” compared to their last 3 singles).

      Save for Eli Young Band who had good songs prior to the release of “Drunk Last Night.” They were good before they got mainstream desperate.

      And for the most part Little Big Town has been consistent – save for “Pontoon” or “Day Drinking.” I like their albums before Painkiller

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      • Raymond July 30, 2015 / 12:22 pm

        Glad to hear on Little Big Town. Singles I recommend are Sober, Fine Line, I’m With The Band, You’rI e Side Of The Bed and especially Kiss Goodbye. It’s a shame about Eli Young Band they were one of my favorites and now I cringe.

        Do you believe Raelynn or Cole Swindell capable of making decent music.

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      • petemarshall724 July 30, 2015 / 6:00 pm

        I do like Little Big Town “Fine Line” and “Boondocks” and Little White Church. I do like Hunter Hayes “Wanted”, and early Eli Young Band’s music. Jason Aldean had some good song early in his career but now is hit or miss for me. FGL had some good early songs I do like “Dirt” Chase Rice had some good early songs. I agree with Raymond; Little Big Town never let me down either.

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      • Clovis Mello July 31, 2015 / 12:14 pm

        I think Cole Swindell’s “A Dozen Roses and a Six Pack” is a great song. Not a fan of him in general, but I’ll give him his due on that one.

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  2. ron12274 July 30, 2015 / 11:23 am

    I like Johnny Cash alot by Jason Aldean, I dont want this night to end by Luke bryan and Alone with you is a really good song from Jake Owen. I haven’t like much from Miranda the past few years but I enjoyed most of her early stuff. More like her is a great ballad and famous in a small town. Both were top 20 before she broke through with white liar, which is probably my fave from her. I’m still bothered that all other country women are ignored by the award shows since they’ve anointed Miranda the reigning best female vocalist. Like its hers to lose for the foreseeable future despite Carrie having much better singles this year

    Liked by 1 person

    • Scotty J July 30, 2015 / 11:28 am

      I like ‘New Strings’ which was also from her early days and didn’t even make the top 20 if I remember correctly. She had several great singles early before she became fixated on the ‘pissed of woman’ songs.

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  3. Zack July 30, 2015 / 11:26 am

    Excellent topic for discussion. Aldean and Brantley are the ones who get me the most furious, because while they (deservingly) get picked on, they’ve also got some incredible songs buried as album cuts. I admit that when it comes to Aldean, I still love both of his first 2 albums. “Back In This Cigarette”, “Asphalt Cowboy”, “Not Every Man Lives”…. just a few great cuts that hardly anyone knows about…. Once “She’s Country” hit the airwaves….well….The rest was history….

    Brantley Gilbert’s first album was great too, and if you look at him there, it’s like a totally different person. “Modern Day Prodigal Son”, “The Best Of Me”, “Saving Amy”, “Just As I Am”….again, more examples of a guy who’s more than meets the eye.

    Luke Bryan, well, admittedly I’ve never been the hugest fan, even with his first two albums. I agree though, “We Rode In Trucks” is his best song (and of course, his only song to miss the top 30 thus far). He’s also got “The Car In Front Of Me”, and “Tackle Box” which are both really good.

    I won’t comment on Miranda, mostly because I don’t feel as if she’s quite in these guys league…to each his own!

    You take anything of Blakes career from before 2010-2011, and you have a relatively solid artist.

    And jeez…..I’m definitely not reading anything else that critic has to say. It’s not that he’s wrong, it’s his opinion I guess. But his facts are way out of line

    Liked by 1 person

    • Scotty J July 30, 2015 / 11:33 am

      I think I could come up with about 10-12 Shelton single from that early period you mentioned that were good to great. I even liked his version of ‘Home’ which while not very country did come across as genuine where as now everything he releases just feels mailed in.

      My favorite part of that Jackson review is his claim that ‘Jim And Jack And Hank’ is somehow promoting domestic violence. That review is the very worst the internet has to offer.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Megan Conley July 30, 2015 / 12:21 pm

    First of all, where in “The One You’re Waiting On” does Alan Jackson objectify the girl or talk about her body parts? This is where this guy’s opinion goes from being a weird opinion to a rant having absolutely no basis. It feels like his point is to pick apart country music as a whole rather than Alan…if you don’t like country in the first place, don’t review it. Anyway, I agree with the others about Blake, most of his earlier stuff was great or at least good. Even some of his newer stuff hasn’t been bad–there were some great songs on both Based on a True Story, like “Lay Low” and “Mine Would be You” and on Bringing Back the Sunshine like “Lonely Tonight” and “Anyone Else.” As for Miranda, I don’t consider her subpar yet even though her latest singles haven’t been anything impressive, so I won’t comment on her. I haven’t checked out a lot of Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, or Brantley Gilbert, so not much to say there, although I did like some of Aldean’s earlier singles like “The Truth,” “Fly Over States,” and “Don’t You Wanna Stay.” As for Jake Owen, you can’t get much better than “Startin’ With Me.” Too bad that was overshadowed by crap like “Real Life” and “Beachin’.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fat Freddy's Cat July 30, 2015 / 1:07 pm

    Judging by his disparaging comments about country music fans, it sounds as if Mr. Gottfried intensely dislikes them. He probably doesn’t know any personally, or if he does he doesn’t deign to have civilized conversations with them. So I very much doubt that a review of a country album by him would be very helpful.

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  6. ellie July 30, 2015 / 2:14 pm

    If you like Brantley Gilbert’s song Modern Day Prodigal Son, you should check out he song Just as I am. That song reminds me so much of his first album,

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  7. Will July 30, 2015 / 3:16 pm

    I love these kinds of articles! It goes to show that you can find good songs from every kind of artist (except Sam Hunt), especially when you dig into the album cuts. Two of my favorites from artists I normally hate are Chase Rice’s “Jack Daniels and Jesus” and Cole Swindell’s “A Dozen Roses and a Six-Pack.”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Nadia Lockheart July 30, 2015 / 5:56 pm

    Firstly, on the topic of Good Songs By Mediocre Or Worse Vocalists…

    There are actually plenty of Jason Aldean songs I like. I’ve actually always considered him (with the exception of “Night Train”) to be an above-average album artist in that he selects better deeper cuts than most of his A-list and B-list peers that, sadly, rarely make it to radio in favor of pandering crap most of the time.

    “Don’t Change Gone”, “Tryin’ To Love Me”, “Two Night Town”, “Church Pew or Barstool”, “Fast”, “On My Highway”, “Not Every Man Lives”, “Grown Woman”, “Back In This Cigarette” and “I Believe In Ghosts” all perfectly reflect what Aldean is capable of when he truly sets his heart to it, along with the standout singles “The Truth”, “Tattoos On This Town”, “Amarillo Sky” and “Fly Over States”.

    *

    Luke Bryan, in contrast, has sadly rarely impressed me to date.

    Still, his debut album “I’ll Stay Me” was a respectable effort that was well-produced and had some very affecting moments that also show what he is capable of: most notably the beautifully heartbreaking “Tackle Box”, “The Car In Front Of Me” and, of course, “We Rode In Trucks”.

    It’s depressing that he hasn’t released ONE single since “We Rode In Trucks” that I really enjoy either for being truly affecting or being fun for all the right reasons. I absolutely dislike “Drink A Beer” and have to respectfully disagree with you in that I consider it one of his worst and most disingenuous recordings to date. The closest he has come to passable or pleasantly forgettable since “We Rode In Trucks”, to my ears, would be “Rain Is A Good Thing” (lyrically it’s absolutely stupid, but at least Bryan sounds likeable and the production is country enough) and “Play It Again” (again, very dumb and pandering lyrically, but has great technical songwriting and Bryan gives a passionate vocal performance considering how empty the material is).

    *

    Miranda Lambert has a hell of a lot of good songs that easily outnumber the offenders. I’m quite surprised she appears on your list.

    Even her current album has some gems. “Priscilla” is quite poignant and an ironic slice of commentary given her current situation. “Bathroom Sink” is very personal and real. “All That’s Left” is a fine slice of country soul. And I really enjoyed “Two Rings Shy”. Obviously, I love “Roots & Wings” as well.

    *

    Everyone here knows I tend to be more lenient on Florida Georgia Line than most here in that I hardly view them as the very worst that’s out there and as much as they’re not country the great majority of the time, I view them as mostly harmless and likeable as a whole.

    “Dirt” is the only single of theirs I definitely love, but they have shown flashes of potential here and there as well. “Confession” is another decent offering on their current album that shows potential as to where they can take their sound from here in welding their usual bombast with atmospheric, spacey and contemplative flourishes and vaguely modern bluegrass instrumentation. And on their debut full-length, if not for the bombastic, overcompressed production and some dumb lyrics, the title track and “Hell Raisin’ Heat of the Summer” would have worked reasonably well in that they try to pull off more of a melancholic, reflective twist on a prototypal party song. I also didn’t mind “Tip It Back” in that it has an infectious sing-along populist quality to it without getting obnoxious.

    *

    I personally like Jake Owen a lot. I’m just upset that he squanders his potential on so little regularly.

    Still, he has had some standout moments, as well as songs that aren’t particularly great but are elevated by Owen’s likeable, charismatic charm and populism.

    “What We Ain’t Got” is obviously one of them. But outside of that, “Startin’ With Me” was great, as was “Green Bananas”, “After the Music’s Stopped” and “Nothin’ Grows In Shadows” (I KNOW………….a Dallas Davidson co-write, sue me! 😉 ). And though nothing deep by any stretch, I did honestly like the subversive twist of “Life of the Party” off of his most recent album as well as the sentiment of “Drivin’ All Night”. They just work as radio-ready anthems.

    *

    Blake Shelton has hardly impressed me whatsoever in all recent memory, but he definitely has gems before “The Voice”.

    “Austin” is great. His cover of “Ol’ Red” is great. “Playboys of the Southwestern World” is a criminally underrated gem. “Problems At Home” resonates a lot to me. Most of “Blake Shelton’s Bar & Grill” is very likeable and has an everyman charisma driving it. The first four tracks off of “Pure BS” are a winning streak.

    Since then, it’s a crying shame that quality has become a rarity on his part. Still, “Who Are You When I’m Not Lookin'” was a great single just before he joined “The Voice”, and there are even a few “The Voice”-era songs of his that I either like or are at least respectable. “Red River Blue” was a fantastic duet with his ex-wife. His read of “Granddaddy’s Gun” is actually quite strong and affecting. “Frame of Mine” was a great bonus track off of “Based On A True Story…” And I have to admit that, on the right kind of day, I can actually find myself enjoying “I Still Got A Finger” as a guilty pleasure because his charisma is contagious.

    *

    Brantley Gilbert is a frustrating case.

    I KNOW he is capable of so much more, and I also KNOW that whole tough-and-buff douchebag personality is nothing but a cynical marketing facade.

    Why do I KNOW this? Because much like Jason Aldean, most of his single releases do not reflect what he records and his content as a whole. You can tell he has a sentimental, dewy-eyed streak just like Aldean, as much as they may deny it with their gruff exteriors. Most of the standard edition of “Just As I Am” are like Adult Contemporary during Daughtry’s era of chart dominance. “My Faith In You”, “Let It Ride” and “That Was Us” all reveal this, as does “I’m Gone” and “One Hell Of An Amen”. His to-be released “Stone Cold Sober” off of the deluxe edition is also fairly strong (even despite some electronic touches).

    Gilbert can be a pretty evocative songwriter when he wants to be. A vocalist…………um, not so much………….but I can still appreciate a good song when I notice it.

    *

    Liked by 1 person

    • Derek Hudgin July 30, 2015 / 8:38 pm

      I give “Drink a Beer” the benefit of the doubt, but I did debate about including that song for a while when I was writing this. For the most part, Luke’s music has been quite underwhelming to me.

      But I have to agree on Jason Aldean, he has many great album cuts that get overlooked because he releases crap after crap.

      And yes, objectively speaking, my inclusion of Miranda should probably be changed. I’ve never been crazy about her music, so in my eyes, she’s always been sub-par. I put too much stock on her recent singles in regards to her inclusion here.

      Like

    • Acca Dacca July 30, 2015 / 9:09 pm

      In my opinion, the best song Blake Shelton ever cut was the sixth track on Pure BS: “Back There Again.” That song is dripping with heartbreak, and struck me as so qualitative that I got even MORE pissed off that he’s turned to the dark side.

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      • Nadia Lockheart July 30, 2015 / 11:08 pm

        Oh, I absolutely agree and am glad you brought that up. I was meaning to but think I zoned out when reflecting on his discography as a whole and was focused on the first four tracks of “Pure BS” which are all solid too. But if not for the so-so fifth track, that would be five consecutive winners there.

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    • Derek Hudgin July 30, 2015 / 10:01 pm

      I also have to respectfully disagree with you about Blake’s version of “Granddaddy’s Gun.” Maybe it was because it was the first version I heard, but I find Aaron Lewis’ rendition of the song to be the best. I think Aaron brings much more emotional strength with his delivery while Blake just sort of sings the song without much charisma.

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    • Nadia Lockheart July 30, 2015 / 11:05 pm

      I’m not going to repeat my entire argument as to why “Drink A Beer” rates among his WORST singles to my ears.

      In a nutshell: 1) the lyrics are wafer-thin in anything resembling substance (Chris Stapleton, sorry about that……………have to call ’em as I hear ’em regardless of who wrote it, you know I still respect your latest effort), 2) Bryan’s vocal performance sounds so mechanical and tentative; particularly in the way he deadpans “Don’t feel like goin’ home!” or mutters “The good Lord knows the reasons why, I guess…”, and 3) tying the whole titular hook around beer itself smacks as pandering of the most ingenuous kind.

      The only surefire plus I can give that song is the stripped-down production. That song’s production is what “Strip It Down” should have in that the latter’s overproduction beyond the piano line, including the ridiculous reverb applied to his vocals and bizarre UFO-like electronic whirls in the bridge, renders it a laughable musical oxymoron.

      *

      I understand your frustration with her singles this era. She hasn’t released a single one I’ve truly enjoyed this entire cycle, and seeing that “Platinum” has been selling poorly over the past season, I doubt we’re going to get a fifth single this era.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Derek Hudgin July 31, 2015 / 9:26 am

        I get those arguments against the song. I agree mostly with point 3 of your argument, and I do find your argument and concerns valid. Like I said, I just give it enough benefit of the doubt, but the song is indeed a fluff and watered down in terms of a substance song

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    • Megan Conley July 31, 2015 / 2:43 pm

      I don’t usually agree with you about much, but I do about this: “Drink a Beer” was my least favorite Luke Bryan song (until “Strip it Down”) It gets on my nerves even more than stuff like “That’s my Kind of Night” and even “Kick the Dust Up” because at least in those songs, he wasn’t attempting to show any substance. “Drink a Beer” was a pathetic attempt at substance…at least his bro country crap does what it accomplishes. “Drink a Beer” was meant to be this emotional song from someone who had otherwise been releasing douche singles, and instead it came off as cold and calculated and painted him as even more of a douche.

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      • Nadia Lockheart July 31, 2015 / 4:35 pm

        Exactly.

        And that’s why I’m more than skeptical about Bryan’s promise to offer some more mature content this go-around. Why? Because he specifically cites “more ‘Drink A Beer’-type songs” in interviews as a specific example as to the “maturity” to expect. And if wafer-thin, watered down, calculated and tentative half-assed efforts is what we can expect from Bryan as far as “substance” is concerned that nod to “Drink A Beer” on this album……………….I want no part in it! -__-

        No, where Bryan should be revisiting for inspiration in providing more emotional, introspective and gut-punching content is “Tackle Box”, “We Rode In Trucks” and “The Car In Front Of Me”. THAT’S the kind of definition of substance I can get behind.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. petemarshall724 July 30, 2015 / 6:08 pm

    I like all Blake Shelton’s releases and Miranda Lambert songs except her last 3 released singles. Luke Bryan is a hit or miss for me, but I like his early stuff. Brantley Gilbert songs not bad but I don’t like “small town throw down”.

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  10. Lisandro Berry-Gaviria July 30, 2015 / 6:57 pm

    Good topic Derek!

    To be honest, I actually liked Aldean’s first two albums (and most of “Wide Open” as well, apart from “She’s Country”); especially cuts like “My Memory Ain’t What It Used To Be,” “Back In This Cigarette,” “Grown Woman,” and “On My Highway.” The second half of “Old Boots, New Dirt” (apart from “Gonna Know We Were Here”) is actually pretty decent, too.

    Bryan…well, even “I’ll Stay Me” showed some hints of the bro-country artist he was to become, but I appreciated the album’s fairly traditional sound, and he had three great cuts in “The Car in Front of Me,” “We Rode In Trucks,” and “Tackle Box”; however, I have to say that my favorite Bryan song is “You Don’t Know Jack” off of his third album.

    I wouldn’t quite classify Miranda as sub-par, although you’re right, the single choices off of “Platinum” have been pretty terrible.

    I actually found FGL’s debut EP “Anything Like Me” to be okay, or at least better than their two full-length albums; I particularly liked “Man I Am Today” and “Black Tears,” while I consider the latter FGL’s best song (“Dirt” is soiled for me because they basically just made it to shut up the critics). “Confession” is decent too.

    I haven’t actually listened to most of Owen’s discography apart from “Days of Gold,” but “Startin’ With Me” sounds pretty damn good.

    Yeah…once Bobby Braddock got replaced with Scott Hendricks as producer, Shelton’s music went downhill. I didn’t think “Red River Blue” was too terrible, but when “Boys ‘Round Here” was released I quit liking his music.

    Gilbert’s first album was decent, and he’s written some good songs about personal events (“You Don’t Know Her Like I Do” was inspired by his first breakup with his now-wife, and the track “Just As I Am” was inspired by winning his battle with addiction). So yeah, he can be a good songwriter when he puts his mind to it…but once he came in from the independent scene, his music took a turn for the worse.

    Interesting to note that almost all of these artists, had a decent, if not great, start to their career and then basically crashed and burned (in musical quality, not success).

    It’ll be interesting to see what Brett Eldredge’s sophomore album is like. I’m expecting somewhere around a 4 or 5/10.
    I wouldn’t call the Holly Williams song a “throwback” 🙂 …but yeah, it’s a pretty great song.
    Love that Reginald Spears tweet! It’s officially my new favorite analogy for country radio.

    And as for the “Angels and Alcohol” review…god, what an idiot. Obviously he hates country, so why the hell is he reviewing it? And also I had to laugh at these lines:
    “In 2015, country music is hard rock with a Southern accent, a twangy Telecaster, maybe a banjo or a fiddle, and that’s it.”
    Okay…you definitely don’t know shit about the current state of country music, Jason. Another reason you shouldn’t be reviewing this album. 2015 country music is pop and R&B, not even CLOSE to hard rock. Eric Church and Gilbert are the only two artists who come close to what you’re saying.
    And this one:
    “The genre has become so utterly vapid that even country musicians themselves are making fun of each other, like Zac Brown taking swings at Luke Bryan, not realizing that he’s a clown fighting his own shadow.”
    How on earth can people compare the music of those two artists? The ZBB will always be vastly better than Bryan, and I’m 100% sure they’ll never stoop to the level of “That’s My Kind Of Night.” That is pathetic and it only backs up my thinking that this guy is ranting about a genre he doesn’t even pay any attention to. I’ll be sure never to read any reviews from that dumbass.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Derek Hudgin July 30, 2015 / 8:32 pm

      Yeah, my inclusion of Miranda is probably a little misguided. I’ve never really connected with her music and thought her “angry girl” schtick was overt the top. She’s had some good singles, but overall, I’ve never been a big fan.

      And yes, Holly’s song is more of a “tossback” haha.

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  11. Acca Dacca July 30, 2015 / 9:02 pm

    I don’t personally care for Miranda Lambert at all, really. The ridiculously over-the-top put-on twang in her voice just bothers me. I also don’t like her constant “bad girl” songs. I’m all for female empowerment, but the cartoonish images she uses in the lyrics to sell the songs grate on my nerves. As for Jason Aldean, I’ve pretty much hated him since he made decent songs, much less now. He’s a complete hack: just a few years ago, half of his entire singles output was covers. “My Kinda Party” and “Dirt Road Anthem” were both recorded first by Brantley Gilbert and Colt Ford, “Johnny Cash” was first recorded by Tracy Byrd, “Amarillo Sky” was first recorded by McBride & the Ride, and “The Truth” was first recorded by Trent Willmon. I have no problem with covers, but I DO have a problem with an artist covering album tracks by other artists, not changing much of anything, and releasing them as singles to take all the credit.

    As for AC/DC, I’ve always preferred Brian Johnson to Bon Scott. Scott and his lyrics always struck me as creepy at best, pedophilia at worst. Not that he wasn’t a charismatic front man, I just prefer Brian; his voice, when in his prime, was a sound so intense Bon couldn’t get close to on his best day. I also prefer pseudo-metal AC/DC from the Johnson era to pseudo-rockabilly AC/DC from the Scott era. I think that Brian gets a bad rap only because he’s a replacement. Sure, he’s not as “charming” as Bon was, but it’s not his fault that Scott drank himself to death. As for the band only having two of their best songs since the former’s death, I find that to be a gross underestimate. In my opinion, quite a few career-defining songs appeared in the Johnson era. Some are underrated gems I’ve selected, others are classics that most rock fans are fond of and are heard often on the radio.

    Highlights:
    “Hells Bells”
    “Shoot to Thrill”
    “Back in Black”
    “You Shook Me All Night Long”
    “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)”
    “Guns For Hire”
    “Badlands”
    “Sink the Pink”
    “Who Made Who”
    “That’s the Way I Wanna Rock & Roll”
    “Some Sin For Nuthin'”
    “Thunderstruck”
    “The Razor’s Edge”
    “Big Gun”
    “Rock & Roll Train”
    “Rock or Bust”

    AC/DC is more of a singles act to me. Every album has filler, and despite protests from the Bon faithful, some of his albums were duds as well. High Voltage, ’74 Jailbreak and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap have so much filler it’s hard to wade through. The only “great” albums the band has made are Let There Be Rock, Highway to Hell, Back in Black, Flick of the Switch (EXTREMELY underrated album), The Razor’s Edge (awful vocal performance from Johnson aside, but still underrated and possibly the most diverse AC/DC album there is).

    Sure, AC/DC’s quality on the whole slipped during Johnson’s tenure, but there were three minds behind the band during Scott’s tenure as well as Johnson’s: the frontman, as well as brothers Angus and Malcolm Young. If the Young brothers aren’t bringing the riffs, there’s not much the frontman can do to liven things up. After all, the lyrics are an afterthought with this band; it matters not what the singer is singing but simply the delivery, just like the guitars. If the delivery is dull, so too will the song be. The reason Back in Black is so good and sold so many copies is because the band felt it needed to prove itself after choosing to continue on without Scott. After it sold a bajillion copies, I think they sort of settled into a slightly complacent role of “masters of the rock & roll universe” for a spell. That’s where we got For Those About to Rock (great title track, pretty much every other song is filler), they then fired Mutt Lange and self-produced Flick of the Switch, which was a little formulaic but a furious blast of noise unlike anything they’ve done since Let There Be Rock. Fly on the Wall had some gems but it was held back by some horrible production flourishes (specifically reverb) and Johnson starting to lose his voice. Blow Up Your Video was once again back on the filler bandwagon. However, the band got a shot in the arm when they teamed up with Bruce Fairbairn for The Razor’s Edge, which (like I said earlier) is probably the most diverse album they’v ever recorded. Unlike the rest, one can actually tell the songs apart even if you’re not listening all that closely. I really feel like this one was the last time they felt the inspiration to prove themselves once again after half a decade of being in a rut. After that, they pretty much had said all they had to say. They came out with Ballbreaker next, which is the dullest record they’ve ever made and the beginning of AC/DC’s “album every few years to remind you we exist” stage that they’re still in.

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    • Derek Hudgin July 30, 2015 / 9:24 pm

      I didn’t say, or mean to imply, that they ONLY had two of their best after Johnson took over. It was more meant as “even though I prefer Scott, my top 2 Favorite AC/DC songs are from the Johnson-era.” Those 2 songs are “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “For Those About to Rock.”

      I agree that they had many great songs once Johnson became the lead singer. Back in Black is a great, great album.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Acca Dacca July 30, 2015 / 9:30 pm

        Ah, pardon me. The actual statement reads “While AC/DC had two of their best songs (in my opinion) in the post Bon Scott era, I would have loved to see where AC/DC would be if Bon Scott hadn’t passed prematurely,” so I think you might understand why that came across as dismissive of Johnson. I didn’t get the impression that your two favorites were with him at all.

        Of course, what would you expect when my screen name is the phonetic fan pronunciation for the band in their native Australia? Not that they’re necessarily my favorite artist, I just knew no one else would have such an odd label as a screen name on Saving Country Music or Country Perspective, the main places I comment via WordPress.

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        • Derek Hudgin July 30, 2015 / 9:58 pm

          I realize my initial statement wasn’t as clear as I’d have hoped.

          I’ve always been a fan of AC/DC! And I had no idea that’s what your screen name alluded to the band! That’s awesome and certainly unique.

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  12. Josh Schott July 31, 2015 / 5:26 pm

    Great Hodgepodge, as always Derek. Didn’t have time to weigh in yesterday, as I was a little busy. But I love the great conversation above. I’ll add some of my favorites from subpar artists now:

    Aldean – Completely agree with all of the choices. I really like “The Truth,” one of my favorites from the mainstream in recent years. And it never really got the credit it deserved. Then again when you cut songs like “Dirt Road Anthem” people tend to not want to give as much credit as deserved. I would also throw in “Hick Town,” as it’s kind of a guilty pleasure song. What can I say I like the production.

    Bryan – The only ones I would add are “All My Friends” and “You Don’t Know Jack.” The latter was on the Tailgates & Tanlines album, so I’m not surprised it’s overlooked. One of the more heartfelt songs from Bryan.

    Lambert – Yeah I don’t have anymore to add.

    FGL – Just “Dirt” for me. I still can’t believe that they put out this good of a song.

    Owen – Agree with these.

    Blake & Brantley – The majority of their early stuff is all good, especially Blake. Maybe someday we’ll get this version of him back.

    I’ll also add Chase Rice’s “Jack Daniels & Jesus,” Tyler Farr’s “A Guy Walks Into A Bar,” and the majority of the early stuff from Chesney and Joe Nichols.

    Also that Jason Gottfried is a damn hack who should never be allowed to review music ever again. About as bad as a review I saw one time of somebody calling Isbell live boring and uninteresting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raymond July 31, 2015 / 5:36 pm

      While Kenny Chesney hasn’t had quite songs like “I Go Back” “Don’t Blink” or some of my favorites Everybody Wants To Go Heaven or like The Good Stuff. But Josh some Chesney songs that are in my opinion 10/10 Down The Road or You Save Me Beer In Mexico and a song that still makes me cry.Who You’d Be Today

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