Thanks For Reading The Second Chapter of Country Perspective

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. While this was not a post I was expecting to make right now, it’s an announcement I must make. Country Perspective is ceasing posting and is shutting down effective immediately. While it is unfortunate that I will not be able to continue the blog, I do so for a great reason. I’m getting a wonderful opportunity in my professional career to advance into a position I’ve been working towards for a while and in order to pursue this opportunity with my full focus and effort I have to cede my blogging duties here.

I’m very happy with how things have went in my second chapter here at Country Perspective, as I finally made the blog I had always envisioned when I first started this blog back in 2014. It’s been great reconnecting with fellow bloggers, readers and the music community through this blog and I thank every single one of you who have supported this blog in some form or fashion over the years. The fantastic people I’ve met and the memories I’ve made I will always appreciate, so again thank you!

And don’t think of this as goodbye, but merely the closing of one chapter to begin a new one. The blog won’t be going anywhere, as you’ll have full access to all of the posts in the archives. I won’t be going anywhere either, as you can follow me on Twitter @CountryPrspctve if you want to reach out and keep in touch. I’ll still be around and active in the music community in various ways. I mean I can’t stay away from music and writing all together, so you’ll be seeing me.

As always, thank you for reading! And I hope you have an awesome day!

Josh

Country Perspective’s Plans for 2021

Hey y’all! Happy New Year! Here’s to a safe and fun year ahead!

So let’s talk about my plans for the blog in 2021! I’m a little further behind on starting the year than anticipated because well I’ve been thinking and tinkering with ideas for the blog. I’ve also been working through the late 2020 album release backlog and as you know album reviews are the heart of this blog. That’s where I’ve been tinkering too. So here’s my thinking on what I want to do on Country Perspective in 2021 and I want to start with the big change I’m making with my reviews:

  • I’m ditching the traditional number grading system! This was something that I’ve been planning on doing since last fall and I nearly implemented it then. Simply put the biggest pain I’ve come to realize in writing reviews is coming up with a grade. It’s such a silly thing to fuss over. Is there really a big difference between an 8 and a 9? Hell I gave out high scores in the past like candy compared to the average reviewer. To me there’s too much focus on the number, when really a grade should just quickly tell the reader how much is the music worth your time. Speaking of which, here’s what will be taking the place of the traditional 1-10 grading scale…
  • A four-tier recommendation system! Here’s how it will work: There’s going to be four recommendations an album can fall under. The recommendations are Buy It, Stream It, Worth a Listen, Avoid It. The highest recommendation of course is Buy It. This means this is a fantastic album and it’s worth not only your time, but your money too. It’s an album that is worth visiting for years to come. Stream It means this is a pretty good to good album that is certainly worth your time to stream multiple times. It’s something I can see being worth revisiting many times. Worth a Listen means it’s worth streaming once or a few times to check it out. There’s a few songs in there that are good and at the very least worth looking at even though I don’t think it’s something that merits repeat visits in the future. Avoid It of course means I think it’s a bad to terrible album and not even worth taking the time to stream it.
  • So I went with this new recommendation system based on how I view music and my own listening habits, along with reading up on music forums about how others view reviews and what they want out of them. When I listen to an album and I’m really enjoying it and I know I’m going to want to listen to this for a while, I don’t think to myself, “man, this is a 9/10.” No, I listen to it on repeat and I make plans to buy this album on vinyl. When you want to invest both time and money in something I think that speaks volumes to the value you perceive it to have. Now please don’t mean that I’m commanding you to go out and buy it, as everybody is in a different financial situation and some of you I imagine just stream music, which is perfectly fine! Hell it can also sometimes take a couple years before I get around to buying something on vinyl (case in point I just bought Southern Family on vinyl last year). The big point is this recommendation system is more personal-based and comfortable for me. For you the reader I feel like it gives a pretty clear cut idea of how I view an album.
  • Speaking of personal, I’m going to lean more into the conversational style reviews I started doing last year. These reviews feel like they bring out my best writing and they’re also the most enjoyable, so this is the style I’m going to be using for all reviews going forward. This was something that it seems like many music listeners nowadays seek in reviews too.
  • People who read reviews overwhelmingly say they always read reviews after giving a good listen to the music itself. I thought this was interesting and something I’m keeping in mind with writing reviews moving forward. It’s not entirely surprising because of the ease of streaming of course. But a point I’m taking into consideration nonetheless.
  • In today’s hyper-paced, streaming-focused music world, it’s increasingly hard to keep up with all the releases and I hope the recommendation system is a better reflection of this too. I’m hoping this better sorts the wheat from the chaff so to speak.
  • I’m going to continue to cover multiple genres in reviews. I briefly flirted with the idea of going back to country only or doing full reviews for country and using The Endless Music Odyssey for other genres. But that just wouldn’t have worked for me and I enjoy exploring a variety of genres too much to limit myself.
  • The Endless Music Odyssey will be continuing as a regular feature. It will also reflect the new recommendation system.
  • I haven’t forgotten about Josh’s Jukebox Journal! This is something I hope I find the time to do somewhat regularly in 2021.
  • And of course there’s always a chance I come up with even more feature ideas! Something I’m really hoping to do this year is get into covering past albums. I’m always digging into a combination of new releases, old favorites and exploring past discographies of artists, so I certainly don’t lack things to talk about. If there was only more time in the day!

Thank you as always for reading Country Perspective! Here’s to an awesome 2021!

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.

A Quick Note!

Hi all! Thank you for stopping by and reading! I just wanted to drop a quick note about the lack of posts. I’ve been absolutely swamped with real work, so this has prevented me from writing here. Hopefully I can be back ASAP! There’s a few reviews I’m itching to write! But I just wanted to let you know what’s happening. At the latest I’ll return with new posts after Thanksgiving. Thanks for the patience!

Josh

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [March 6]

Each week we take a look the Billboard Country Airplay chart and grade the top 30 songs. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive one of the following scores: +5, +4, +3, +2, +1, 0, -1, -2, -3, -4, -5. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the current top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +150 and the lowest possible score being a -150. How do I determine the score for the song? The review grade it received on the site or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been reviewed yet, then I will make the call. The grade it has received or I would give it determines its Pulse score. The grading key: 10 [+5], 9 [+4], 8 [+3], 7 [+2], 6 [+1], 5 [0], 4 [-1], 3 [-2], 2 [-3], 1 [-4], 0 [-5].

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the current state of mainstream country music and determine if it’s improving or getting worse. Let’s take a look at this week’s top thirty…

  1. Chris Young (feat. Vince Gill) – “Sober Saturday Night” +1 (Up 1)
  2. Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots” +1 (Up 3)
  3. Michael Ray – “Douchey Pickup Song” -5 
  4. Brad Paisley – “Today” +2 
  5. Little Big Town – “Better Man” +2 (Down 4)
  6. Luke Bryan – “Fast” -1 (Up 1)
  7. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -2 (Up 2)
  8. Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” +4 [Best Song]
  9. Jason Aldean – “Any Ol’ Barstool” (Up 1)
  10. Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” -1 (Down 4) 
  11. Kelsea Ballerini – “Yeah Boy” -5 
  12. Brantley Gilbert – “The Weekend” -5 
  13. Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl”
  14. Sam Hunt – “Body Like a Back Road” -5 (Up 1) [Worst Song]
  15. Kenny Chesney – “Bar at the End of the World” -3 (Down 1)
  16. Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance”
  17. High Valley – “Make You Mine” -2 (Up 1)
  18. Dierks Bentley – “Black” -2 (Down 1)
  19. Luke Combs – “Hurricane” -1
  20. Dan + Shay – “How Not To” +1 (Up 2)
  21. Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” +4 (Down 1)
  22. Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl” +1 (Down 1)
  23. Darius Rucker – “If I Told You” 
  24. Lady Antebellum – “You Look Good” -4 (Up 2)
  25. Rascal Flatts – “Yours If You Want It” -2 (Down 1)
  26. Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” +3 (Down 1)
  27. Keith Urban (feat. Carrie Underwood) – “The Fighter” -5 (Up 1)
  28. Brett Young – “In Case You Didn’t Know” -2 (Re-Enters Top 30)
  29. Zac Brown Band – “My Old Man” +4 (Up 1)
  30. Miranda Lambert – “We Should Be Friends” +2 (Down 3)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -24

The pulse drops five spots this week.

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Runaway June – “Lipstick” +3

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Brett Young – “In Case You Didn’t Know”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots” – Up 3 from #5 to #2
  • Brett Young – “In Case You Didn’t Know” – Up 3 from #31 to #28

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Runaway June – “Lipstick” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Little Big Town – “Better Man” – Down 4 from #1 to #5
  • Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” – Down 4 from #6 to #10

Songs I See Going Recurrent & Leaving The Top 30 Soon:

  • Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” (Radio and Blake just can’t bear the thought of one week in the top 30 without a single from him, so chart jacking!)
  • Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” (This one appears to be out of gas now. We’ll see if EMI fights to keep it alive)
  • Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (The Fritos song finally appears done. No one will remember it)
  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her”
  • High Valley – “Make You Mine” (54 weeks. I bet it’ll reach the top 10 in another 25 weeks)
  • Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl”

On The Hot Seat:

  • Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven”
  • Miranda Lambert – “We Should Be Friends” (You can start panicking and worrying, Miranda fans. I’m being generous putting it here and not above because this is surrounded by radio darlings. Not good.)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Backstreet Boys) – “God, Your Mama, and Me”
  • Cole Swindell – “Flatliner”
  • Blake Shelton – “Every Time I Hear That Song”
  • Brothers Osborne – “It Ain’t My Fault”

 

As always be sure to weigh-in with your thoughts in the comments below.