Spinning All The Records — February 2020

Spinning All The Records is a brand new feature on Country Perspective that is a monthly overview of all the albums reviewed in the previous month on Country Perspective to give any readers, new and old, a quick look at what I covered and to catch anything you missed. In addition I take a look ahead at what I want to cover, upcoming album releases that catch my eye and a throwback album recommendation. So without further ado…

Looking back on February 2020, it was a surprisingly great month of high-quality releases. While the Tame Impala and John Moreland albums did not surprise me in the least with being great, the releases from Khruangbin & Leon Bridges, Tennis, and Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats really caught me off-guard with how great they were and proved themselves to be some of the best music you’ll hear in 2020. I did not expect to give this many high grades so soon and I mention this because something I didn’t like about myself in the past with this blog was so many 9s and 10s being given. But when I give them now I assure you that I put a lot more thought behind it. And I definitely welcome this influx of high grades, as the music is pretty damn good. If 2020 can continue to have months like this, we’re in for one hell of a year of music.

(Click on the album titles to read the full review)

Tenille Arts — Love, Heartbreak, Everything in Between

Love, Heartbreak, & Everything in Between is a good showing from Tenille Arts. The songwriting is really smart and shines at times and the production of Kline, Grand Vogelfanger and Adam Wheeler shows they know how to pull off a great pop country sound. A couple of unnecessary cuts, some average songwriting moments and a few small cases of getting carried away with the production bring this album down enough to prevent it from being a great album. But if you’re a fan of pop country I still recommend checking out Tenille Arts, as she shows a lot of promise and talent on Love, Heartbreak, & Everything in Between.

Pet Shop Boys — Hotspot

The highs the Pet Shop Boys deliver on Hotspot are really fun and are definitely memorable, while the lows are completely forgettable. It’s a bit of a roller coaster listen, but if you’re a fan of synth pop it’s worth listening to it a few times and picking out your favorite songs to go back to. But the album taken as a whole is just decent and leaves more consistency and cohesiveness to be desired.

Khruangbin & Leon Bridges — Texas Sun

Texas Sun is a truly brilliant little collection of music. As I said in the beginning, man I wish this was a full album instead of an EP. Khruangbin and Leon Bridges go together so well and come together to create a vibrant and colorful set of songs. It’s a true homage to the many sounds of Texas music that is fresh and invigorating. Do yourself a favor and listen to this exciting EP.

The Cadillac Three — COUNTRY FUZZ

Fun is a word I repeat over and over in this review. And it’s for good reason: that’s the ultimate appeal of The Cadillac Three and their album COUNTRY FUZZ. It’s entertaining country rock that aims to help you have a good time and forget your worries. The lyrics aren’t deep, and they aren’t meant to be; they’re meant to singalong with and have fun. So while this album may not be one for the record books or album of the year lists, it is an album that entertains and it’s exactly what you’re looking for when you just want to listen to something with loud guitars and big hooks.

Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats — UNLOCKED

Curry brings so much aggressive passion and rawness in his voice, along with his choice of diction in his delivery makes what would be an average banger into something that’s truly memorable. And this big reason is why UNLOCKED is the first great hip-hop album I’ve heard in 2020. While it doesn’t quite reach the heights of ZUU (an album I’m ashamed I omitted from my best of 2019 list), this is yet another high-quality project from Denzel Curry (and another great one from Kenny Beats too).

Tennis — Swimmer

With Swimmer, Tennis delivers an excellent album about love. It’s quickly became one of my favorite love albums. And this isn’t rash hyperbole on my end. I’m being serious when I say that this album truly delivers a heartfelt, genuine and truly touching take on true love. Love albums and love song are an absolute dime-a-dozen. They’re churned out every day. Most only focus on the surface level of love and the flip-side with heartbreak. What they don’t ever seem to focus on are the little things, the nitty gritty of relationships that aren’t easy to convey in an informative and interesting way. But that takes brilliant songwriting with equally high-quality production that aids it. Tennis delivers this.

Tame Impala — The Slow Rush

The Slow Rush is another great album from Tame Impala without a doubt. But it’s also hard not to see this album is a few missteps away from equaling the brilliance of Currents. It lacks focus in a few spots and there’s one song that just isn’t needed. But this is also a bit nitpicking admittedly. The production from Parker is once again deeply rich and textured, engulfing you with it’s fantastic details. And the songwriting mostly hits. So ultimately I can say this is one of the best albums you’ll hear in 2020.

John Moreland — LP5

LP5 is another fantastic album from John Moreland. He’s always been a great songwriter since his first album, but it’s the recognition to grow and experiment with his sound starting with his last album that’s taken him to a whole new level in my mind. Too many singer-songwriter artists think they have to stick to a stripped-down, folk-y sound for their lyrics to be taken seriously. At the same time, drum machines are dismissed as “not real instruments” used by pop stars. Well with LP5, Moreland proves both these claims to be moot.

Looking Ahead to March 2020…

As of this moment, there’s a few albums I’m heavily considering reviewing that were released in February. Those would be the new albums from Nathaniel Rateliff, The Steeldrivers and Hailey Whitters. As far as other releases I may have not covered, they simply didn’t catch my eye enough to review them or I feel I didn’t have enough thoughts for a review. But I most likely did listen to it (I listen to a lot more albums than I review), so feel free to hit me up in the comments and ask me about those, as I’m happy to answer with my thoughts on them. I want this monthly post to serve as not only a monthly review, but a place to cover anything “in the cracks” so to speak.

As far as upcoming new releases in March 2020, there’s definitely a few I want to highlight that catch my eye more than others. I’m curious to hear the new live album from Cream, Goodbye Tour – Live 1968, coming out on March 6. Usually I don’t like to review live albums, but I wanted to throw this out there for those into classic rock. Caitlyn Smith will be dropping her new album Supernova on March 13. I loved the previous album Starfire and this new one appears to be pushing the sonic envelope even more, so I’m excited about that one. The enigmatic Jay Electronica is rumored to be finally dropping a new album on March 18. We’ll see, as you can never be sure with him.

The Weeknd just recently announced a release date for his new album After Hours. So far I’ve enjoyed the singles I’ve heard from it and for the most part I liked the previous album Starboy, but I found that album to be a bit too long for my liking. I’m glad to see this one is four songs shorter. This will be dropping on March 20. Finally, Ingrid Andress will be releasing her debut album Lady Like on March 27. I find her voice and style of pop country to be promising. Her songwriting comes off as both catchy and sharp (the song “Both” in particular impresses me). So I’m curious to hear what she brings to the table with her album.

A Throwback Album I’ve Been Listening To That I Recommend

Travis Tritt’s Country Club

If you want some fun and “drive” in your country, Travis Tritt and this album in particular are a great place to start. It’s amazing to me how underrated Tritt is when looking back at 90s country, as he undoubtedly released some of the best. This album in particular showed you could make a stone-cold country album that still incorporates elements from other genres. Most importantly, Tritt just has the “it” voice for country music.

6 thoughts on “Spinning All The Records — February 2020

  1. Raymond March 3, 2020 / 11:12 am

    I am curious what was your overall thoughts on Carly Pearce’s album a couple weeks ago? I have heard great praise from it and I love “I Hope You’re Happy Now”, but the other collaboration with Michael Ray sounded like a borderline disaster


    • Josh March 3, 2020 / 1:19 pm

      Hey Raymond! I’d rate that around a 6. No disrespect to the late busbee, but his production is largely the issue that prevents it from being a great album. It either doesn’t match the song like on “Dashboard Jesus,” where the drum mix is just too loud. Or it’s just completely overboard like on “You Kissed Me First” or the Michael Ray song. On top of that the weird vocal effects on that song are just grating. It’s definitely the worst on the album and that’s a shame because I like the concept. The writing on the album is mostly solid. When the song and the production are actually in sync on the album it sounds great like with “I Hope You’re Happy Now,” “Lightning in a Bottle” and “Love Has No Heart.” They’re clearing trying to replicate the Maren Morris formula with Pearce since Morris has had so much success with busbee. But she just doesn’t fit that sound imo.


  2. Zackary Kephart March 3, 2020 / 5:03 pm

    Ha, when I first saw the headline and beginning blurb I’m like, “oh, this is kind of like what he used to do at the end of the month,” but then I read on and found it’s more than that! I really like the layout of this feature, btw.

    And to answer your question, well, I’m curious if you’ve listened to Tami Neilson’s new album or Aubrie Sellers’.

    Also, I wish I was more excited for Caitlyn’s. It’s bad to judge based off pre-release tracks but I am approaching with caution, haha. I’ll be excited to hear what Ingrid offers beyond her single (which I love, but I think there’s definitely more to her style that I think will determine her exact path in country).

    The album I’m probably looking most forward to is Gabe Lee’s ‘Honky Tonk Hell,’ with Ingrid coming in second. After that, well, Brandy Clark’s is on NPR, and I’m actually interested to hear Kelsea Ballerini’s new one too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh March 3, 2020 / 6:02 pm

      Haha yes! And thank you! I went back and looked at old features while coming up with this idea and I always liked that monthly playlist feature Derek and I did. Basically I like to think of this as a combination of The Hodgepodge and that feature.

      I haven’t listened to those two albums yet and both funny enough center around production. With Neilson, I found myself tired of the throwback aesthetic on her last album. With Sellers, her debut album just did not age well with me at all. I loved it upon release, but every time I’ve went back to it I find it to be worse and it’s the blaring production at the center of my criticism. So basically since both left a “bad taste” on my mouth with their previous album, it kind of pushed them down my listening list haha. But I definitely plan to still listen to them and I hope they both prove me wrong. And if they do I’ll gladly review them.

      Hey I can totally understand the trepidation with Caitlyn. She’s trying some different things and I feel like it’s going to be boom or bust. Hopefully the former haha. Agree on Ingrid. She definitely has a different feel about her, which makes her so interesting to me. As you said, her exact path is an unknown at this point.

      I’ll add Gabe Lee to my list. I didn’t know Brandy was on NPR, I’ll check that out. I would be more excited for her album, but Big Day in a Small Town was hit and miss for me. I liked 12 Stories more. Yeah I got more excited to hear the Kelsea one after I heard one released the other day, I can’t remember the name, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.


      • Zackary Kephart March 3, 2020 / 7:53 pm

        Yeah, I got Hodgepodge vibes from it too.

        Man, I totally hear you on listening to albums differently now. I remember when you, me and Derek gave New City Blues a 10. I definitely believed in it at the time, but now, yeah there’s a lot of albums I’d rate differently (which also means I’d grade some more positively too of course). Though I will say this, both of their albums are more of the same for them, so … yeah, haha.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Josh March 3, 2020 / 6:03 pm

      Also I just went back and saw that I loved Big Day in a Small Town. Hahaha! Shows how music tastes and views on albums can change so much!

      Liked by 1 person

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