Album Review – Kenny Chesney’s ‘Cosmic Hallelujah’

kenny-chesney-cosmic-bullshit

If you asked me what mainstream country artist I get questioned the most on when it comes to my position on them, it would be hands down Kenny Chesney. I usually have a pretty negative or lukewarm take on his music and this seems to take a good bit of people off guard, much to my surprise. I’m not sure why I’m supposed to be impressed by an artist whose career has consisted mostly of music about the beach, simplistic themes that have been done to death and drinking. I thought his last album The Big Revival really drove this across, but apparently it didn’t. So now Chesney returns with the followup to it, Cosmic Hallelujah. This title just screams bullshit to me, but I still gave it chance since there’s not many other releases coming up in November. It was pretty much what I expected all along and further reinforced my stance on his music because Chesney does absolute nothing new on this album.

This is same old tired schtick from Chesney I’ve heard for years from him. There’s a boring, generic song about how we should live it up because we’re alive, so let’s crack a can of (insert current Chesney beer sponsor) and party that I feel like I’ve heard a 1,001 times and counting. Can you guess which song I’m referring to? Trick question! This actually refers to multiple songs, including “Trip Around the Sun,” “Some Town, Somewhere” and “Winnebago.” Of course pretty much every song alludes to this theme in some way or another. Chesney sings about only listening to pretty girls on “All the Pretty Girls.” I don’t what the hell the appeal of this song is and I don’t really want to waste precious air and time on trying to figure it out. It’s three and a half minutes I’ll never get back.

“Setting The World On Fire” is this album’s big hit so far, despite the fact the guest of the song Pink sings more than purported main artist of the song, Chesney. The only thing I have to further add about this song is I would rather be listening to Pink over Chesney any day because her music is actually interesting. There’s a song on this album called “Bar at the End of the World,” which makes no sense because I thought Chesney and Pink already set the world on fire. Yeah I know this is a bad joke, but I assure you that this is more interesting than the song, which is also a bad joke.

I was expecting to like at least one song on the album and the most likely candidate seemed to be “Jesus and Elvis.” That’s because two of the three songwriters on the song are Hayes Carll and Allison Moorer, who I greatly respect and enjoy their work. Well I don’t even like this one because this song seems to have an idea, but never does anything with it. The theme seems to be reuniting with old friends, but this is never expanded upon or has anything meaningful to say. We just keep hearing Chesney drone on about velvet paintings of Jesus and Elvis. The album’s lead single “Noise” is so damn boring that country radio didn’t even like it and they’ll usually play any bullshit Chesney sends to them. That should tell you all you need to know about this lame attempt by Chesney to say something about the prevalence of media today. What’s sad is this is probably the best song on Cosmic Hallelujah. And I haven’t gotten to the very worst of this album.

I’m on record as not being a fan of Chesney’s hit song “Boys of Fall” due to the fact it’s a song that over-glorifies high school football to the point I want to puke and features some of the most saccharine bullshit I’ve ever seen spewed about sports. And this comes from a sport fans. So you can put me down for the same thing when it comes to this album’s concluding song “Coach.” Also I’m officially predicting this will be Chesney’s current single in the fall of 2017. If I had to pick the dumbest song of the album, it would have to go to “Bucket.” Written by Brett James and Craig Wiseman, this song is getting drunk and saying fuck it to your responsibilities. This isn’t just me showing anger; this is what the song is actually about as Chesney sings a line about how you should replace the b in bucket list with an f. Some will argue this is just a dumb fun song, but I argue this is just plain dumb.

There’s a lot of boring crap on this album and it makes me want to rip my hair out. But there’s only song on this album that really pisses me off and that’s “Rich and Miserable.” This might be the worst song of Chesney’s entire career, even worse than “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.” It’s a stilted, clunky, heavily pop influenced song that is essentially “Noise 2: Electric Boogaloo.” Chesney does not sing on this song, but is rather somewhere between shouting and mumbling. I think the title of the song perfectly personifies where Chesney’s career and mindset is at this time.

I can confidently say after listening to Kenny Chesney’s Cosmic Hallelujah that I never want to hear it again for the rest of my life. I absolutely hate this album and I was actively angry as I forced myself to listen to it. If you made me choose between listening to this album or Florida Georgia Line’s newest album Dig Your Roots, I would choose the latter every single time because the latter actually has some good songs. Chesney clearly isn’t trying anymore and just wants this paycheck. At this point he’s just rehashing the same old songs we’ve heard from him year after year.

Grade: 3/10

 

Recommend? – Hell No!

Album Highlights: Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing to see here.

Bad Songs: Rich and Miserable, Coach, Bucket, All the Pretty Girls

Wallpaper: The rest of the album


Stream The Entire Album Below I Guess:

Review – Erik Dylan’s “Pink Flamingos”

Erik Dylan Pink Flamingos

When you see and listen to your favorite artists, it’s easy to take for granted the amount of blood, sweat and tears that went into getting where they’re at in their career. Being a musician for a living isn’t easy at all and there’s no guarantees. Every gig can be make or break. Many pack up all of their stuff and head to Nashville to pursue their dreams. This is what Erik Dylan did, as the fourth generation farmer from Kansas decided years ago to head to Music City and make a career in music. After taking odd jobs and playing as many gigs as he could, one night he was discovered by Kip Moore. The country rocker introduced him to writers Brett and Dylan James, which lead to Dylan getting a publishing deal with Brett James and Warner Chappell. Dylan has went on to write over 400 songs, including helping write Moore’s “Comeback Kid” on Moore’s latest album Wild Ones. Paying his dues, Dylan is now set to release his own music, as he’s just released new single “Pink Flamingos.” It’s the first single off a new album coming later this year and if it’s an indication what’s to come on it, color me intrigued.

“Pink Flamingos” is rock-tinged country song about a woman named Becky dating a man who her neighbors recognize as trouble right away. Everyone else who lives in the trailer park except Becky has noticed the man has been checking out Becky’s daughter in her Sunday school dress, immediately establishing this guy as a major creep. One day when Becky is at work, the man does something to her daughter that’s over the line and I’m glad the song goes no further than this. So the neighbors take this matter into their own hands by shooting the pervert dead and burying him in the yard under the pink flamingos. As far anyone asks, the guy left town and they plead the fifth. So it’s a justified murder-revenge ballad with some dark humor in the hook, “pushing up pink flamingos.” It’s a really cleverly written song with a surprisingly detailed story. Dylan is one of those vocalists that when you hear him you know he was meant for country music. I also love the delivery of the line from him when he sings, “Nobody ever liked that son of a bitch.”

Overall “Pink Flamingos” is a fantastic song that fits Dylan like a glove and makes me want to hear more from him. It’s pretty appropriate that Kip Moore is the one who discovered Dylan, considering both Dylan and Moore both fall somewhere between rock and country in their sound. The instrumentation is underrated on “Pink Flamingos,” as it’s kept simple with guitars and light drums, allowing the song to tell its story. For those who enjoy well-written murder ballads like myself, you’ll really enjoy this song. I’m definitely keeping an eye out for his new album Heart of a Flatland Boy expected this fall. Erik Dylan proves with “Pink Flamingos” he’s one to watch in 2016.

Grade: 9/10

Review – Brantley Gilbert Misses the Mark with “Stone Cold Sober”

Brantley Gilbert Stone Cold Sober

When it comes to Brantley Gilbert, I’ve found there are two sides to him. There’s the album cuts side and the singles side. I found this out firsthand when I review his last album Just As I Am, which proved to be an okay album. What kept the album from being terrible and a complete waste of time were the meaning album cuts throughout it where Gilbert played to his strengths and actually produced some meaningful music. But what kept the album from being close to good were the songs released as singles. “Bottoms Up” and “Small Town Throwdown” are two of the worst singles I’ve heard on country radio in the last few years. Gilbert has to be amongst the worst of mainstream country artists when it comes to releasing singles, so it ultimately drags his image and respect down, at least in my eyes. Gilbert is now back with a new single, “Stone Cold Sober,” which is from the deluxe edition of Just As I Am.

The song immediately begins with some hip-hop/electronic sounds, which right away is a red flag. It’s also a little jarring, considering Gilbert hasn’t relied on this sound before. Sure he went full bro country and is one of main people responsible for rap infiltrating mainstream country music, but electronic beats was something he hadn’t used in his music until now. So I guess Gilbert is fine with being a trend chaser, which doesn’t surprise me at all. “Stone Cold Sober” is a song about a man who let his drinking get the best of him and as a result his woman left him. Now he’s begging her to come back into his life and promises he’s a changed man now. Gilbert is definitely going for a more serious song here, but I’m just not buying it. First off the song shouldn’t have electronic influences and is too upbeat for a song with this theme. It should be darker and slower because after all the guy in the song is not only battling demons, but has lost love too. Sounds somber, no? So the mood of the song should reflect this.

In addition, Gilbert just doesn’t sell the emotion of this song enough. Even though he doesn’t have a great vocal range, Gilbert has demonstrated an ability to convey enough emotion in a song to connect with the listener. It’s missing here. He just sounds bored and oddly not serious enough. The lyrics are also nothing special and really do nothing to stand out (the song was written by Gilbert, Brett James and Dan Layus). It’s the typical themes you find in a Brantley Gilbert song. Outside of the electronic sounds, the instrumentation isn’t bad though and keeps a solid rock country sound.

After listening to “Stone Cold Sober,” the song I immediately compared it to was Luke Bryan’s “Drink A Beer.” It tries so hard to be a more serious offering and has the elements to pull it off, but it just misses the mark in too many areas. “Stone Cold Sober” could have been a good song if the mood and tempo were slowed down and if Gilbert conveyed enough emotion to elevate the lyrics. And of course the electronic beats are completely unnecessary. There are so many mainstream country songs brought down by bad production and this is yet another example. Gilbert takes a swing and misses with “Stone Cold Sober.”

Grade: 4.5/10

Review: Carrie Underwood’s “Something in the Water”

I distinctly remember the first time I ever heard Carrie Underwood sing. It was back when I was watching American Idol (that was a long time ago) and I heard her audition for the show. Soon as she was done singing I knew I had just heard a future star and I knew she was going to win the show that year without a doubt. Her powerful and dynamic voice, plus her charming looks make record executives see money falling from the skies. Her first record, Some Hearts, she put out was quite good and decidedly country. It was on the second album, Carnival Ride, when she really took off and became a huge star. Unfortunately when artists become big stars they lose their original sound as it starts to drift to whatever is popular in the mainstream at the moment. This is what has happened to Underwood as her music has become decidedly more pop sounding and less country sounding. Not only that, but the songwriting and themes have gotten progressively worse. I can’t listening to her songs like “Cowboy Casanova,” “Undo It,” “See You Again” and “Blown Away.” To me these songs are not a true representation of Underwood’s incredible talent, which is her fantastic voice. And then she made the horrible decision of teaming up with Miranda Lambert on “Somethin’ Bad,” although I understand the reason they did it. Women are struggling to make it onto radio right now, even though Underwood has it easier than Kacey Musgraves or Brandy Clark. So when she announced she’s releasing a greatest hits album, along with a new single titled “Something in the Water,” I was hopeful she returned to her original sound and it sounded somewhat country.

Does she return to her original sound with this new single? Actually she does. The song is about someone feeling reborn and changed after being baptized in a river. It’s an appropriate return to a Christian theme for Underwood considering she’s releasing her greatest hits album and her first big hit was “Jesus Take The Wheel,” a decidedly Christian-themed song. It’s also appropriate with Underwood due to have her first child soon, so obviously with her deeply held religious beliefs she’s quite thankful at the moment. The songwriting is actually quite good in this song, so kudos to Underwood, Chris DeStefano and Brett James who wrote this song (thank you Windmills Country for this information). The song is definitely pop country, but at least there’s a banjo present in the song mixed in with the contemporary sounding pop/rock sound you hear in modern country songs. So at least this isn’t a straight pop song. The energy and pace of this song is fast and exciting, which will surely catch many listeners’ attention.

With Underwood being one of the very few female country artists with enough star power to be a hit on radio and have crossover appeal, I understand why she doesn’t release straight country music. It isn’t marketable enough for her label or brand, aka not enough money. So all I ask from Underwood with her music now is to at least sound pop country, have good songwriting and most importantly let her voice shine front and center. I think “Something in the Water” hits all of these points, so this is the best you can expect from Underwood considering the situation she is in. Someday she’ll make a straight country album and it’ll be great, but that’s many years down the road when Underwood is older and her star power fades. Her vocals were absolutely stellar on this single and wasn’t overshadowed by the production, which was a little overproduced, but didn’t overshadow the vocals. I think it has a great chance of being a top ten song that gets a lot of radio play.

I’m glad Underwood went back to a theme that represents her and she’s allowing her vocals do the heavy lifting in the song. If you don’t like pop country, you won’t like this song. If you can appreciate well written pop country and Underwood’s amazing vocals, you’ll enjoy this song.

Grade: 8/10

Review – Easton Corbin’s “Baby Be My Love Song”

I remember the first time I heard Easton Corbin on the radio with his debut single, “A Little More Country Than That.” Not only was it refreshing to hear, but I swore it was a new George Strait song. When I found out it was Corbin, I was immediately intrigued by this guy. I thought to myself that this guy is the real deal and is someone to watch in the coming years. That single went to #1 on the country chart and his follow-up to it, “Roll With It,” also went to #1. His next three singles all peaked in the top 15, with “Lovin’ You Is Fun” peaking the highest at #9. These singles all came out right around when bro country started to take over country music and as a result Corbin fell out of the spotlight a little bit. So for some reason he decided he needed to mix it up to get back in the spotlight by releasing the single, “Clockwork.” It was a mediocre pop country song and much different from what his fans expected from him. It only peaked at #31 on the country chart. So now he’s back with another single, “Baby Be My Love Song.” Does he return to his old sound?

Well it’s a bit complicated. Sonically it’s a return to his old sound. It sounds like a country song for the most part, with some pop elements fused into it to help draw the mainstream crowd to this song. Corbin’s voice is as great as ever, as there isn’t any auto-tune or other machines altering his voice. Unfortunately the lyrics for this song are…..well for the lack of a better word, horrible. To see the full lyrics for the song, click here. But here’s the chorus to give you an idea of the lyrics for this song:

Baby be my love song
Baby be my all night long
Be the buzz in my Dixie cup
My steady rockin’ ‘til the sun comes up
You know I really love to watch you dance
Baby be my, “Oh hell yeah!”
I feel a little sing-along, sing-along comin’ on
Baby be my love song

Yes, ladies and gentleman he mentions “buzz in my Dixie cup.” Easton has gone bro country for this song. What a disappointment! Corbin is too talented to be singing lyrics like these. The writers for this song are Jim Collins and Brett James. Between James’ history and Collins’ history, neither have written anything too horrible recently. Although Collins wrote Kenny Chesney’s “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” and Jason Aldean’s “Big Green Tractor” (Collins must really like tractors). Back to Corbin, I can’t believe he lowered himself to the dying trend that is bro country. He won people over with his traditional sound and abandoning it is a dumb move on his part.

When I saw Corbin was coming out with a single, along with Josh Turner, I thought that mainstream country music was going to get some real country music this fall mixed in with all of the other stuff coming out. Turner delivered with his single and Corbin failed with his. I’ll be surprised if this does well on the charts. This song isn’t good enough to get the bro country crowd behind it and is certainly not going to impress the traditional crowd. Corbin tried too hard to play down the middle with this song, trying to appease both sides of the country music aisle. The bro country crowd have their set artists and really aren’t going to gravitate to Corbin. The traditional crowd isn’t going to put up with bullshit lyrics like “Baby Be My Love Song” contains. I hope Corbin has a more distinct and fully traditional sound on his album because if he tried to play down the middle on his album it won’t go over well either. Again what a disappointment from Easton Corbin.

Grade: 4/10