The Endless Music Odyssey, Vol, 7 — Kylie Minogue, AC/DC, Cam & more!

Kylie Minogue — DISCO 

I’ve written many times on this blog about Carly Rae Jepsen’s style of pop music and how it has such a refreshing, timeless sound. This sound couldn’t have come from nowhere. There had to be artists before her that undoubtedly inspired Jepsen’s sound. So that set me off on a music discovery that brought me to several artists who shaped her sound and one of those artists is Kylie Minogue.

Turns out she’s been churning out catchy pop music for decades! Yet she’s never really caught on in the United States, which is both shocking and unfortunate because her music is phenomenal. Lucky for me this discovery of her music happened months ago and gave me ample time to familiarize myself with her music, as it happened to be she had a new album in DISCO dropping in November. Her new album DISCO is not much different from the rest of her discography: it’s fun, catchy and makes you want to dance.

Opening song “Magic” has an effortless glide about it and invites you into the album to have a good time. “Miss a Thing” is a bouncy invitation to escape to the dance floor and “Monday Blues” while predictable in it’s songwriting, just has a likably infectious beat. “Supernova” lives up to it’s name: this song is just a burst of energy a la the explosion of a star. The energy is cranked to the max, in your face and I dare you not to want to dance when the “burst” happens in the hook. “Say Something” utilizes the synth to perfection. “Where Does The DJ Go?” and “Dance Floor Darling” are absolute in ear worms in the best possible definition of the phrase. And the album concludes with the uplifting, inspirational love song “Celebrate You” that encourages you to fall in love with someone that makes the best of you come out. 

This album is full of soaring production that lives up to it’s album name while also giving it a fresh, modern feel. The songwriting focuses around love, excitement and just pure joy. To me it’s one of those albums that if you love pop and disco music, it’s impossible to come away not smiling. Minogue meant for this album to be enjoyable escapism and DISCO is absolutely phenomenal in this regard. It’s easily one of my favorite pop albums of 2020.

Grade: 9/10

AC/DC — POWER UP

I never thought I would get an opportunity to review one of my favorite acts of all-time. The first album I ever enjoyed front to back is AC/DC’s Back In Black and they’re the band I credit for falling in love with rock music. I’m even happier that I get to write positively about their new music, as their last album Rock or Bust was mediocre at best (putting it nicely). Of course there were several issues surrounding this album, as Malcolm Young wad rapidly declining in health. Everybody in the band is getting up in age. And lead singer Brian Johnson lost enough of his hearing that he had to stop touring with the band.

AC/DC is a band you don’t count out though. Angus Young rallied the troops for this album, reuniting the band to cut songs that him and his brother had stored in a vault for years. And thanks to the brilliance of modern technology, Johnson’s hearing was restored. The result: POWER UP showcases this group at their best. There’s anthemic, blaring riffs, strong hooks and powerful vocals. Critics of this band say they never change and well that’s the point. AC/DC has never pretended to be songwriting savants nor producing the most complex chord structure. Their goal has always been pretty simple: providing the anthems to a loud and fun party. They want you to have a good time and forget about the world. And they once again do this with what is most likely their final album.

You know you’re in for something great from opening song “Realize.” You got the signature gang vocals, a grasping energy, catchy riffs and sticky hooks. “Rejection” is a really enjoyable revenge anthem and lead single “Shot In The Dark” has one of the strongest hooks I’ve heard from an AC/DC single in several years. “Through The Mists of Time” immediately caught my eye with it’s very un-AC/DC title, as it seems more like a Led Zeppelin song title. And it’s arguably the best song on the album, as it’s soaring sound gives it a mystical aura around it. The gang vocals are a real treat on “Kick You When You’re Down” and the riff has some real muscle behind it. The buildup on “Demon Fire” is exciting, as the crashing of the drums on the hook makes you want to bang your head in unison. That’s when you know you have a great rock song. Johnson sounds as great as ever on this particular track too. And then the album appropriate concludes with the easy-to-singalong with “Code Red.” I can already picture this being a huge hit live. 

This record is a fantastic swan song and a perfect way for a legendary band to take their final bow. The entire band is on their A game and you couldn’t ask for better performances from these guys. I’ve seen some say this one of the group’s best albums and I can absolutely buy this argument. Personally I wouldn’t put it in my top three, but maybe top five. Regardless, I find this album to be quite poetic. Everybody thought this group was done when Bon Scott passed, but then they made their career-defining album in Back In Black. And everybody again thought they were done when Malcolm Young passed amidst other group issues. But once again they have surpassed expectations and made a damn great album.

Grade: 9/10

Cam — The Otherside

I thought my friend Zack at The Musical Divide wrote a fantastic review on this album, as he summed up in great detail the absolute frustrations of this record. So I highly encourage you to read his review. I’ll reiterate one of his main takeaways: man, I really wanted to like this album more. Cam is such a fun and likable artist who brings a lot of sly intelligence to her songwriting (see a song like “My Mistake”). She also did a solid job with producer Jeff Bhasker of mixing country and pop on her debut album

She once again teams up with Bhasker on The Otherside and the results just aren’t as good. The production on this album is flat and doesn’t stand out in any significant way. It just sort of all blends together, very much reminding of the disappointing sophomore Maddie & Tae album. Outside of “Dianne” (a three-year old song that sounds like it came from a completely different project) and “Like A Movie,” I won’t remember anything else from this album. There’s no wow moment and it’s not that there is any bad songs on this album, it’s just a forgettable record all around. I can remember pretty much remember every song from Untamed

So unfortunately the sophomore slump has struck with Cam. I wouldn’t be surprised if she bounced back in a big way on the next album, as she’s just too talented to be limited to albums like this one. I hope she switches up producers, as I think it’s needed. Personally, I think she could make some real magic with Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuk, as I think their approaches would mesh well. 

Grade: 5/10

Brent Cobb — Keep ‘Em on They Toes

The same story of Cam’s album above is the case for Brent Cobb’s Keep ‘Em on They Toes. I had high hopes for Cobb after being really impressed by Providence Canyon (an album I hope to one day cover). I will say Cobb does have a good excuse in that this album was basically something he did to kill time during quarantine. But then again there have been plenty of great quarantine albums released too. Just like Cam, Cobb will undoubtedly bounce back. If I had to pick some songs worth listening to from this album, I would pick the title track, “Shut up and Sing” and “The World is Ending.” 

Grade: 5/10

Parker McCollum — Hollywood Gold EP

There’s always another artist getting buzz out of the Texas country scenes. For me, these buzz picks tend to be hit and miss. Unfortunately Parker McCollum falls more into the latter. There’s just nothing about this EP that catches my attention. It’s perfectly fine music and it’s not terrible. McCollum has a nice voice. But I could close my eyes and pick a record out of the pile pop country records produced in the last year and I could find an album or EP of songs identical to these ones. Songs like “Young Man’s Blues” and “Hallie Ray Light” of course sound great when you compare it to country radio or if you’re just looking at Texas country. But when you put it up against all of country music, it does not stand out from the crowd enough to catch my attention and keep it. 

Grade: 5/10

(Put it like this to give you an insight into my grading: When I give an album a 5 or 6, it’s something I’ll listen to if you play it for me. But I won’t seek it out. If I give an album a 7 or 8, it’s something I can see myself seeking out and listening to six months to a year from now. If I give an album a 9 or 10, it’s something I can see myself seeking out and listening to for years.)

The Cadillac Three — Tabasco & Sweet Tea

I got three song into this album and said nope. I’ll still maintain COUNTRY FUZZ was a solid album though, as it had much better focus and songwriting. 

Grade: Don’t bother

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.

The Hodgepodge: The Resurgence of Vinyl & Why I Love It

Record Player

It’s no secret that music sales have seen a dip in recent years. This is especially the case when it comes to albums. Unless your Taylor Swift, artists struggle to get albums sold and as a result more emphasis has been put on singles. Another reason singles have been getting more emphasis than albums is streaming is now the most popular way listeners consume music. In 2014, on-demand streaming, both video and audio, was up 54%. This was no surprise to me. What was a big surprise to me however was the other format that experienced a gain in 2014: vinyl. What? People still listen to vinyl I thought? Indeed they do as vinyl experienced a gain of 54% in sales in 2014. In 2014, 9.2 million vinyl was sold compared to 2013 when 6.1 million vinyl was sold. These were the only two format to experience gains in sales. Digital album sales and digital song sales were both down 9% and 12% respectively.

As a 22-year-old person, I only remember back to cassettes being a thing. And that was when I was really young. For the majority of my life music was consumed either via CD or through digital means. With vinyl experiencing its highest sales since 1991 (Soundtrack started tracking sales then), this resurgence both perplexed me and intrigued me. In an age where digital music was right at your finger tips I didn’t see the need for vinyl. I chalked this up to just hipsters being hipsters and told myself to just move on. But I couldn’t do that. I found myself still intrigued as to why people love vinyl. I noticed a lot of the artists I listen to put their music out in vinyl too. For me this was a strange and new format.

Now being a history buff I was well aware of vinyl and how it was the way music was put out decades before. I worked briefly with vinyl as a radio DJ at my alma mater. When I say it briefly I mean one time and then never again. It was so much easier just queuing everything up digitally. Even CDs were much easier to work with than vinyl. By the way kudos to DJs back in the 60s and 70s who had to spin vinyl on the radio. That wasn’t easy work. So the point is that was the only taste of vinyl I had in my life up to this point.

I began to research online about why people love vinyl and why people have begun collecting it again. The most common reasons I came across were the sound quality, actually owning the music and the album format. Nostalgia was another reason listed, but obviously that couldn’t apply to me. The sound quality reason is a pretty hotly debated topic among audiophiles and casual listeners. Some people swear up and down that the sound of vinyl is much better than the sound of digital. Others say the exact opposite. As for my take, it depends on a variety of factors, but mainly it comes down to the vinyl pressing quality and the quality of the device you play it on. For the most part though, I don’t sense a huge difference between the sound on digital and the sound on vinyl. Your experience may vary.

The other two reasons certainly appealed to me. As I’ve said numerous times here on Country Perspective, I’ve found myself buying more albums than singles now. I used to just buy singles solely, but now I hardly ever buy singles. It’s made me understand why Garth Brooks wants his music not to be sold individually. Most true artists want you to listen to the whole album and really you should have to listen to a whole album to understand a song. A perfect example of this is Kendrick Lamar’s new album To Pimp A Butterfly. Each song tells a different part of the story being told and you have to listen to it from beginning to end to fully grasp it. As for owning the music, I’ve always been strictly against stealing music online. I’ve always bought my music legally. But buying it digitally certainly isn’t the same as buying a physical album. It’s just another file on your computer.

So with this all in mind I dove into the world of vinyl. I only bought two albums at first to make sure I enjoyed the format enough to continue my collection. I made sure to buy two albums I love too, as they could always be nice collectibles. The first two vinyl I ever bought were Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music and AC/DC’s Back in Black. Now you know how much I love Sturgill’s album, as it was Country Perspective’s 2014 Album of the Year. Back in Black to me is one of the best rock albums ever. Each song is simply great and it’s an album I can put on and listen to anytime, anywhere and enjoy it. Soon I bought another one. Then a couple more. Before I knew it I had myself a growing collection. Now I’m kind of addicted to vinyl. It’s crazy.

Why do I love this crazy format? Well more than anything it combines two of my favorite pastimes: listening to music and collecting stuff. From an early age I’ve always like to collect stuff from rocks (not my dumbest collection idea) to books to baseball cards (this is dumber than collecting rocks). I’ve also always liked looking at album cover art and the writing credits, things that are more emphasized in vinyl covers. Another pro of vinyl collecting today compared to yesteryear is most come with a CD and/or digital download copy of the album. You get two, possibly three formats, for the price of one. That’s a pretty good deal to me. And no it’s not just hipsters buying vinyl nor are you a hipster for buying vinyl. It’s a niche hobby for people who have a great passion for music for the most part (there are some hipsters, but they’re avoidable). Digital is still my main format, but vinyl certainly has a place in my heart now too. It’s made me have a greater appreciation for music and I look forward to growing my collection even bigger.

If you’re interested in getting into vinyl too feel free to reach out and I would be happy to answer any questions. There are also many great forums across the Internet that will answer your questions. Also don’t forget that Record Store Day is this Saturday! You can find out more information on that here. One more thing: For those wondering, this is my favorite vinyl record for multiple reasons:

Blackberry Smoke Vinyl

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases

  • Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers will release their new collaborative album Hold My Beer next Monday. You can order the album at this link. I’m pretty excited about hearing this one, as everything I’ve heard from it so far has been great. Two talents like Bowen and Rogers getting together for an album is something that doesn’t happen too often. I’ll definitely have a review on this one.
  • Texas country artist John Moreland will release his new album High Tulsa Heat next Tuesday. This is another album I’ve heard a lot of good buzz about and as someone who isn’t real familiar with Moreland’s work, I’m intrigued to give it a listen.
  • I think next week is Texas country release week. William Clark Green is also coming out with a new album next Tuesday and it’s titled Ringling Road. I’ve seen a lot of critics praise this one too. Can next week get here already?
  • The only mainstream release slated for next week is Brett Eldredge’s new single “Lose My Mind.”

Throwback Thursday Song

Sunny Sweeney – “From A Table Away” – I heard this song come on my local radio station this past week and forgot how great this song is. I was also pleasantly surprised to hear it on the radio. Why Kelsea Ballerini is on the radio and not Sweeney is beyond comprehension. Well I actually know why. But still Sweeney rocks and blows most on the radio away.

Non-Country Song of the Week

Sam Cooke – “Chain Gang” – You know that funky, upbeat sound of Thomas Rhett’s “Crash and Burn”? He ripped it off from Cooke’s “Chain Gang,” which is a way better song. Just give it a listen. It sounds exactly the same as the rhythm of “Chain Gang.” If I’m in charge of Cooke’s estate, I would be working on a law suit plan right now.

Tweet of the Week

You hear that Cole Swindell and Chase Rice? You’re creeps. Listen to Lindi Ortega.

Two iTunes Reviews That Will Make You Face Palm

Rhett Crash & Burn Stupid Comment 1

Rhett Crash & Burn Stupid Comment 2

Double the stupidity this week! These were both left under Thomas Rhett’s new single “Crash and Burn.” Apparently the first reviewer has never heard any of Rhett’s music that preceded his latest single. The second reviewer is just a moron. When Rhett’s career crashes and burns I hope he takes these two fans with him.

Schedule Note: There will not be a past pulse post this week. Between the large amount of album releases and covering the 50th ACM Awards, I just didn’t have time to do one this week. It’ll return next week. However I have a review coming out tomorrow of one of my favorite country albums of 2015 you don’t want to miss.

That’s it for the Hodgepodge this week! Be sure to sound off in the comments! 

The Hodgepodge: Is Pop Radio Better Than Country Radio Right Now?

500px-Train_wreck_at_Montparnasse_1895
A look at the current state of country radio and really mainstream country music in general.

Yesterday in this week’s current pulse of mainstream country music, I was pretty frustrated and exasperated with country radio. The reasons being of course is that nothing new is being tried by country radio and the songs with substance are getting harder to find. They’re simply rehashing the same old crap. Case in point: Jason Aldean’s new single “Tonight Looks Good On You” is surging and will undoubtedly reach #1 on the chart. It’s just another version of Aldean’s 2014 hit “Burnin’ It Down.” On top of that it’s a Dallas Davidson song. I mean come on! I thought country radio had moved passed Davidson’s bullshit, but apparently not.

So as I normally do when I get frustrated with terrible music, I go listen to music I enjoy. As I sat and listened to Hozier’s excellent 2014 debut album, an idea came to me for this week’s Hodgepodge. Why not take a look at pop radio and compare it to country radio? It’s a perfect time to do so when many country stations across the nation are playing blatant pop music. When Kanye West and Ed Sheeran are getting airplay on country radio, you know shit has hit the fan and country stations have run out of answers. So to conduct this comparison, we’ll take a look at the top 20 on the Billboard Top Pop Songs chart from last week and compare it to the top 20 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart from last week. The same exact rules will apply to this as the current pulse that runs every week.

The -3 score on last week’s pulse will not be used, since it’s the cumulative score of the top 30. Only the pulse of the top 20 will be used. By taking away the bottom ten songs, the pulse of the top 20 is 0. That will be the score we use to compare to the pop chart. Today you will get to see the very rare occurrence of yours truly evaluating pop music. See what you’ve done to me country radio? So without further ado let’s take a look at the Top Pop Chart:

  1. Taylor Swift – “Style” 0
  2. Maroon 5 – “Sugar” 0
  3. Ed Sheeran – “Thinking Out Loud” +1 (Sheeran is awesome)
  4. Bruno Mars & Mark Ronson – “Uptown Funk” +1 (This song is great, despite being overplayed)
  5. Pitbull & Ne-Yo – “Time of Our Lives” -1 (Pitbull sucks no matter what genre he is in)
  6. Ellie Goulding – “Love Me Like You Do” -1 (A terrible Fifty Shades of Grey song)
  7. Kanye West, Rihanna & Paul McCartney – “FourFiveSeconds” 0
  8. Natalie La Rose & Jeremih – “Somebody” -1
  9. Calvin Harris & Ellie Goulding – “Outside” 0
  10. Ariana Grande – “One Last Time” -1
  11. Nick Jonas – “Chains” +1 (I’m surprised I liked this)
  12. Zedd & Selena Gomez – “I Want You To Know” +1
  13. Taylor Swift – “Blank Space” -1
  14. One Direction – “Night Changes” -1
  15. Lillywood & Robin Schulz – “Prayer In C” 0
  16. Flo Rida, Sage The Gemini & Lookas – “G.D.F.R.” -1 (Flo Rida is the Toby Keith of pop music. He just keeps hanging on.)
  17. Jason DeRulo – “Want To Want Me” -1
  18. The Weeknd – “Earned It” -1 (Another terrible Fifty Shades of Grey song)
  19. Usher & Juicy J – “I Dont Mind” -1 
  20. Tori Kelly – “Nobody Love”

So the total current pulse of pop music is -8. Wow! It’s even worse than country radio! Yet country radio is borrowing from it. It shouldn’t be borrowing period from pop music, whether it’s better or worse. Still country radio is borrowing from a genre that is even worse. There are genre lines for a reason. The only common denominator between both groups of songs is the club theme. You can thank Sam Hunt for bringing this into country music. Music about going to the club is just plain dumb and it’s why people laugh at artists like Pitbull and Flo Rida. I will say though I would take pop’s club music over country’s club music.

After this not very surprising revelation, I think I can safely say that all of radio is nothing but a vast wasteland of garbage songs. Country radio isn’t the only one lacking substance. However it’s imperative if I point out the big different between both. Country radio and pop radio historically have been viewed completely different by listeners. Pop radio is a mix of several different genres all in one place for casual listeners to hear. Upbeat, fun, party songs are the norm for pop and everyone pretty much knows this. You don’t hear a lot of songs that you would consider classics get on pop radio today, save for the likes of Adele and Hozier maybe. In years past you had icons like Michael Jackson dominating pop, but I don’t see any singers like Jackson on the horizon.

Country radio on the other hand was always viewed by people as a place to go for songs about life, love and other themes that explore deeper meaning. It was the genre of substance. You could hear a song like Vince Gill’s “Go Rest High On That Mountain” and be brought to tears. George Strait’s “Give It Away” or Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” connected with anyone out there whoever had their heart-broken. Go back a little over ten years and you could hear a song on country radio like Josh Turner’s “Long Black Train” that had a great message to anyone of any age. These are the kind of songs that made country music what it was. It was what made you and me fans of country music.

Now an entire generation views country music as a laughing-stock full of songs about drinking, debauchery and partying. That respect country music once held in popular culture has eroded away. People turn on country radio and don’t even recognize the genre. Some people don’t even turn on the radio. Sure there is plenty of great independent country music out there and sites like this help spread the word of it. But why would people seek it out? After what they hear on country radio, it makes them run away from the genre. They’ve got such a sour taste from country radio that they won’t even try the good country music. Country music fans need something to believe in and hear to reaffirm their faith in the genre. Will we get that before it’s too late? For the sake of country music, I hope so.

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases

  • Will Hoge will come out with his new album Small Town Dreams next Tuesday. A couple of months ago we got a taste of what’s to come on the album and based on that I’m expecting this to be a good one. Derek will be reviewing this one, as Hoge is one of his favorites.
  • Kristian Bush’s debut solo album Southern Gravity will also be released next Tuesday. The lead single “Trailer Hitch” was a surprisingly good song, so it’ll be interesting to hear what the rest of the album sounds like and whether the sound of Sugarland is evident at all.
  • The third notable release next week and the biggest in the independent realm is Pokey LaFarge’s Something In The Water. This could quietly be one of the best releases in April.
  • On Monday, Jason Isbell tweeted: “New new album is done and mastered.” So maybe we’ll get this sooner than July? I certainly hope so. We should at least hear the first single from it very soon.

Throwback Thursday Song

George Jones – “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?” – You know how I was saying up above about how country music was the genre about life and connecting with everyday people? This song articulates that point perfectly. And it’s a song many country fans wonder today.

Non-Country Song of the Week

AC/DC – “Shoot To Thrill” – This is one of my all-time favorite AC/DC songs. The high notes blow me away every time.

Tweet of the Week

Anti-Bobby Bones tweets are always great. He’s another problem hurting country music, but that’s another post for another day.

Two iTunes Reviews That Will Make You Face Palm

Stupid EYB Comment 2

 

Stupid EYB Comment 3

 

I’ve been sitting on these gems for a couple of weeks. These were under Eli Young Band’s new EP Turn It On. The first one justifies this terrible EP by saying everyone’s going pop in country, so it’s fine. The other says it’s fine because they wrote all four songs. Here’s an easy way to determine whether or not a song or group of songs suck: people having to list reasons to justify why it’s good. People making excuses for it. A great song speaks volumes on its own merit and doesn’t need to be explained why it’s good.

That’s it for the Hodgepodge this week! Be sure to sound off in the comments! 

Album Review – Blackberry Smoke’s ‘Holding All The Roses’

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We’ve changed our minds! While I’d argue that Holding All The Roses is a rock album first (not that there’s anything wrong with that), Blackberry Smoke has always marketed themselves to country. They bring forth an excellent southern rock sound that blends country and rock ‘n roll as if the two are meant to be together. Even though this may be their most rock album of their collection, Blackberry Smoke still delivers some quality country tunes on this album. With all that said, plus due to the mere fact that Holding All The Roses hit number 1 on the Country Charts, Josh and I have changed our minds and are reviewing Holding All The Roses.

After checking out of Southern Ground Records, the Georgia rockers teamed up with Rounders Records and producer Brendan O’Brien for this new record. O’Brien has produced for the likes of AC/DC, Pearl Jam, and Bruce Springsteen. With Brendan O’Brien at the helm, it comes as no surprise that Blackberry Smoke channels their rock side more on this album. “Let Me Help You (Find The Door)” starts the album off with a bang with drums kicking a guitars licks setting the stage for a head-banger that likens to an Angus Young guitar riff. And the opening lyrics set the scene perfectly: “Why’s it got to be the same damn thing, the same damn song that everybody wants to sing?  The same sons of bitches still rigging the game; they sell the same old face with a brand new name.” One can’t help but think of the frustrating state of mainstream country listening to this song. The title track vents even more frustration. It’s the end of the line for lead man Charlie Starr in this song, and he’s ready to beat whatever’s keeping him down and move past it, victorious. “Holding All The Roses” trades acoustic guitars for electric between the verses and chorus, and the guitar solo in this one is fantastic.

For my money, “Living In The Song” has one of the top vocal performances of the album. It’s a song about living out the words to an old lonely, heartbreak song. He lets his pride get the best of him and his relationship, and he continues to live with a glass half-empty mindset of life. But on the flip side, the next track, “Rock And Roll Again” depicts the opposite. Here his baby is back and she’s helped him “get the rhythm in my stride again.” This is the shortest song with vocals on the album, but it’s one of the top overall tracks. An old-time rock and roll sound with simple guitar beats and drums, but great lyrics and vocals. “Rock And Roll Again” is just a fun song.

Blackberry Smoke slows it down for “Woman In The Moon.” This is a song about doing things in life your own, unique way. Living outside the circle and a tad bit off kilter, “Woman In The Moon” depicts a free spirit. Fittingly, this track features one of the more unique productions with some heavy guitar riffs and a slight screeching fiddle below the vocals. “Too High” is the most country song of the bunch. An acoustic guitar riff opens up the song with a sound that seems straight from an outlaw country song. Here his life’s rough and dragging him down: “That mountain is too high for me to climb.” This negative feeling is only temporary though.

“Wish In One Hand” tells the story of a man, or maybe a group of people, who want to be top dogs: the friendliest, the richest, the best. Yet we know that this “good boy image” is just one side, and wish as they may, they won’t be able to hide their dirty little secrets. Plus, this song features one of the best lines of the album: “Wish in one hand, shit in the other.” After a quick acoustic instrumental titled “Randolph Country Farewell”, we get the biting “Payback’s A Bitch.” The heavy guitar riffs and drums drive a tune about a man waiting for karma to get a woman who screwed him over. “Lay It All On Me” tells a little saga about hiding life’s dark secrets: a girl with a complicated family life. Her brother’s been scorned by a cheater, her dad’s a drinker and her mom is a bible-thumper. When she falls in love with the song’s narrator, he cheats on her and gets caught and is now running and hiding from her and her brother. It’s a fun, lighthearted country inspired song.

My personal favorite of the bunch is “No Way Back To Eden.” This song depicts how life has gotten too rough. Broken hearts, mistakes, sins have left us broken, and even though we may baptize ourselves or try to make ourselves feel better, the material world is beyond fixing. It’s an interesting mindset with some creative uses of religious elements to tell the story. But the acoustic melody driving this song is what sets this song apart. The album concludes with the wicked, angry “Fire In The Hole.” It’s a song about dealing with shady folks who control the way things work. Perhaps a studio executive? Lyrics like “You cross your fingers when you look me in my eyes” and “I can’t see why you are the one who holds the key, when you take yours it looks like nothing left for me” lead me to believe that. The production on this song is intense and ends the album just as rocking as it started.

Overall, Holding All The Roses is what southern rock is all about. Each song is unique and adds quality to the album. The lyrics are fresh and just damn fun to listen to; it’s really hard to find a song on here that’s bad. The album is paced well and even when Blackberry Smoke venture down a country alley for a song or two, those country songs are better than pretty much everything that radio offers. Holding All The Roses has a throwback feel to a golden era of rock and country music, delivering on every track. Their previous album, The Whippoorwill, was fantastic in its own right, but Blackberry Smoke followed it up with an equally outstanding record. Holding All The Roses will be a tough act to follow.

Grade: 10/10