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
I like to think they don’t play Alan and George on country radio anymore for the same reason they don’t let Lebron play high school ball.
— Reginald Spears (@ReginaldSpears) July 23, 2015
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.