Album Review — Brothers Osborne’s ‘Skeletons’

Now this is what I’m talking about! Those who have been following me as a music reviewer for a few years know that I’ve been more critical of the Brothers Osborne than many and that’s because I feel they haven’t lived up to their potential. Their debut album Pawn Shop was decent, but they definitely hit a sophomore slump with Port Saint Joe, a largely forgettable beach album. But with Skeletons they hit their sweet spot, a thumping and fun album that’s a good time from start to finish.

“Lighten Up” is a light and playful ode to finding silver linings in the chaotic world we live in and “All Night” is an absolute ear-worm with it’s catchy hooks. “All The Good Ones Are” has enjoyably slick guitar work with a cheeky theme of finding the most fun in the most dangerous situations. “I’m Not For Everyone” screams hit to me with it’s easygoing, sing-a-long nature and relatable premise. The album’s title track is fun, although it wears a bit quicker than the other fun tracks on the album, as it has one of the weaker hooks. Jay Joyce really excels with the production on this album, as it feels like he’s found the right sound for this duo and that excites me moving forward on future projects.

While this album has plenty of fun songs, it tackles other themes quite well too. “Back On The Bottle” is your classic country drinking song of finding joy in heartbreak through the bottle. And while it’s become a bit tiresome to have celebratory drinking songs in modern country, this song has enough charisma to win me over. “High Note” is a pleasant song about leaving a relationship on good terms and going out on a high note with one last hurrah. The soaring and smooth nature of this song is a nice breather too on an album full of “twangers” (country’s version of bangers).

The duo really surprise me when they drop an exciting instrumental in “Muskrat Greene.” It reminds me of when Brad Paisley would regularly sneak an instrumental onto the album and I wish more artists would do this. This instrumental segues nicely into “Deadman’s Curve,” a funny, yet serious song about trying to avoid falling in love with a woman who’s guaranteed to break your heart. “Make It A Good One” is admittedly a bit saccharine, but I can’t help but enjoy it’s sentiment. Not to mention I enjoy the lingering background synth in the chorus, as it really adds some emotion to the lyrics.

“Hatin’ Somebody” is a bit on the nose, but once again Brothers Osborne bring enough charisma to the table in both their vocal delivery and funky instrumentation that the message mostly sticks the landing. It would have been nice though to here some more depth behind this message beyond be nice and mindful of others. Closing song “Old Man’s Boots” is the only song on the album I skip most of the time, as it’s a mawkish, done-to-death theme that the duo fails to elevate and captivate my attention with.

Skeletons is easily the best album delivered by the Brothers Osborne so far. This duo at their best in my mind is the modern day version of Brooks & Dunn. What both of these duos excel at is delivering accessible, yet “smarter” versions of fun country music that doesn’t delve into mindless drivel like bro country nor does it feel forced like pop country. Then sprinkle in a few serious songs to give you a nice breather in between all of the partying and this is the perfect formula for the duo to follow. This is a really enjoyable album and definitely one of the top ten country albums you’ll hear in 2020.

Grade: 8/10

Reacting to The Absolute Joke of the 2017 ACM Awards Nominations

pile_of_shit

Let’s be honest, I’ve never been that fond of country music award shows. Outside of the 2015 CMA Awards that helped launch Chris Stapleton to a brand new level of stardom, I’ve pretty much scoffed at these shows. As I’ve said before, no other genre spends more time patting themselves on the back than country music. This is evident by the heaps of award shows held throughout the year and this trains the viewer to basically not give a shit. But nevertheless we keep an eye on these shows in hopes they get it more right each time. Well we now have the nominations for the 2017 ACM Awards and there’s no other way to put it. These are an absolute joke. My first reaction was are these the mainstream country radio awards? Because it’s mostly a list of radio darlings that programmers fall over themselves to play. After seeing these nominations it makes me not want to watch and may not. Each category seems to have its own joke, so let’s pick through each.

Entertainer of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Luke Bryan
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Keith Urban

No Eric Church or Chris Stapleton, but sure Aldean and Florida Georgia Line get nominations. Complete failure already before we even get to the more insane nominations. I know the ACMs are in the tank for Aldean, but could they be any less discreet about it? The only nomination even worthy of winning is Carrie Underwood for her excellent touring numbers and consistently churning out hits and I give her a snowball’s chance in hell of winning. Aldean and Bryan are the odds on favorites here.

Male Vocalist

  • Jason Aldean
  • Dierks Bentley
  • Thomas Rhett
  • Chris Stapleton
  • Keith Urban

Once again Eric Church isn’t a nomination. Church released the best album of his career and is releasing the best singles of his career. And every awards show is stiffing him. I guess the industry is pissed he isn’t giving them radio fodder anymore. But I’m guessing Church doesn’t give a shit. Another category with one worthy candidate in my mind: Chris Stapleton. Remember when Dierks Bentley was considered one of the good guys at these shows? Then he decided he wants to be Luke Bryan and make a bunch of cheesy and stiff adult contemporary schlock. No Tim McGraw. Also no Blake Shelton in any categories. Well there’s some good news.

Female Vocalist

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Maren Morris
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Carrie Underwood

I don’t know why Kacey continues to go to these awards show when she and everyone else knows she’s just a token nomination to fill out the field. What did she do in 2016 to earn a nomination? She didn’t release any new music. And keep in mind this isn’t a jab at her. She’s one of the best on a major country label. You would think Miranda is the shoe-in to win, but with her turn towards a more songwriter/Americana-like side I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Maren Morris wins. She seems poised to usurp Lambert as the new female darling in mainstream country and is racking up awards like crazy.

Vocal Duo

  • Big & Rich
  • Brothers Osborne
  • Dan + Shay
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Maddie & Tae

Big & Rich are a Vocal Duo nomination in 2017…..hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! They released one single last year that took like 40 weeks to peak at #14 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. They’re completely irrelevant. What in the hell makes them deserving of a nomination? Maddie & Tae are a complete token nomination like Musgraves above. I don’t see Dan + Shay being quite in the position to win yet. So it’s between CMA 2016 Duo of the Year Brothers Osborne and past years favorite Florida Georgia Line. I’m hopeful the former wins, but being a radio favorites show I expect the latter to win.

Vocal Group

  • Eli Young Band
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town
  • Old Dominion
  • Rascal Flatts

Eli Young Band?! Where are they getting these joke ideas for nominations? You’re telling me Eli Young Band is a nomination, but not Zac Brown Band who at least had a song reach the top 15 in the last year and are a mainstream staple? Get out of here! Lady Antebellum was on hiatus for all of 2016. Rascal Flatts are irrelevant. Yet despite this joke of a category, the best group Little Big Town should easily walk away with this award.

New Male

  • Kane Brown
  • Chris Janson
  • Chris Lane
  • Jon Pardi
  • Brett Young

Out of all the categories, this actually might be the one I have the least qualms with because these are all new male artists who have did something notable in the last year. Despite not being a fan of him, Kane Brown is deserving based on the fact that he does sell well and has great streaming numbers. While you and me might not like him, there are many he does resonate with and it’s ironic he’s one of the few nominations where the ACM looked beyond radio. Hands down this should go to Jon Pardi, who achieved a #1 album with California Sunrise, racked up a #1 hit in “Head Over Boots” and is on his way to another #1 in “Dirt on My Boots.” And I think it actually does go to him because his accomplishments blow the others out of the water. If anyone else wins I’m calling shenanigans.

New Female

  • Lauren Alaina
  • Cam
  • Brandy Clark
  • Maren Morris

That’s right they couldn’t even fill out the nominations for this one. Hey ACMs: Margo Price and Aubrie Sellers. Did you forget they exist? How is Brandy Clark new? This is just another award for them to give Maren.

New Vocal Duo/Group

  • A Thousand Horses
  • Brothers Osborne
  • Dan + Shay
  • LoCash
  • Maddie & Tae

None of these are really new, but then again barely anything else makes sense with these awards. I’m guessing Brothers Osborne or Dan + Shay win here.

Album

  • Dierks Bentley – Black
  • Florida Georgia Line – Dig Your Roots
  • Maren Morris – Hero
  • Keith Urban – Ripcord
  • Miranda Lambert – The Weight of These Wings

This should 1000% go to Miranda Lambert for her great album. But it’ll probably go to Urban or Morris or maybe even Bentley. You could take the best material from all of the non-Lambert ones, put it in one album and it still wouldn’t top Lambert’s album.

Single

  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color”
  • Florida Georgia Line – “H.O.L.Y.”
  • Tim McGraw – “Humble and Kind”
  • Maren Morris – “My Church”
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice”

Key distinction is this is single. I’m kind of surprised Thomas Rhett’s “Die A Happy Man” isn’t here, but rather under Song below. I don’t give Lambert a chance here either sadly. I could see any of the other four winning.

Song

  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color”
  • Thomas Rhett – “Die A Happy Man”
  • Tim McGraw – “Humble and Kind”
  • Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word”
  • Chris Stapleton – “Tennessee Whiskey”
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice”

I would be happy with any of the bottom four winning, but watch one of the top two win. If I had to pick the winner I would definitely go with “Kill A Word,” being the best song of the nominations and for Church getting screwed over in general.

Video

  • Chris Stapleton – “Fire Away”
  • Various Artists – “Forever Country”
  • Tim McGraw – “Humble and Kind”
  • Kelsea Ballerini – “Peter Pan”
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice”

With all due respect to the other videos, “Fire Away” is the no-brainer best video. It’s one of the powerful music videos I’ve watched in years and takes the song to a whole new level of meaning. Instead though “Forever Country” will probably win because it’s done insane numbers on YouTube and sold well (also great numbers on this very blog). The only hesitation I have of it winning is this song was specifically made for the ACM’s chief rival show CMA’s 50th Anniversary. How ironic would that be if it won an ACM Award?

Songwriter

  • Ashley Gorley
  • Luke Laird
  • Hillary Lindsey
  • Shane McAnally
  • Lori McKenna

McKenna has to win this one, right?

Vocal Event 

  • Dierks Bentley (feat. Elle King) – “Different For Girls”
  • Various Artists – “Forever Country”
  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All”
  • P!nk (feat. Kenny Chesney) – “Setting The World on Fire”
  • Chris Young (feat. Cassadee Pope) – “Think of You”

I could see a case made for any of these conceivably winning. I think this will largely depend on the other categories’ winners.

Predictions for Country & American Roots Categories at the 2017 Grammy Awards

Grammy

This Sunday we celebrate the biggest music awards show of the years. I’m of course referring to the 59th Grammy Awards, set to air Sunday night at 8 pm ET on CBS. Many of the awards however are presented in the pre-show that’s live streamed online and information for this can found be found here. After hosting for five years, LL Cool J steps aside as host and The Late Late Show host James Corden takes over. Multiple country artists will be performing on the show, including Sturgill Simpson, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban (most likely new single “The Fighter”), Little Big Town (part of tribute to Bee Gees), Maren Morris (duet with Alicia Keys) and Kelsea Ballerini (duet with Lukas Graham). Now let’s get to the predictions! Keep in mind I’m not the best at this prediction game, but I feel like I do a little better each year. The award shows can be unpredictable. And be sure to make your own predictions in the comments.

Note: I will not be doing a live blog this year. I will however be live tweeting it all on Twitter, where you can all of my live thoughts as the show unfolds. Just go to twitter.com/realcountryview to follow if you don’t have Twitter. I’ll also most likely be doing a recaps/reaction post.

Album of the Year

  • Adele – 25
  • Beyoncé – Lemonade 
  • Justin Bieber – Purpose 
  • Drake – Views
  • Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide To Earth

What I Would Pick To Win: Sturgill Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide To Earth of course. Just imagine the outcries afterwards of all the big names that got taken down by some guy from Kentucky who made an album for his son.

What I Predict Will Win: Beyoncé’s Lemonade is the clear favorite I think, with Adele being the closest competition. But with other big names in Drake and Bieber also here, the votes could easily split and lead to Sturgill pulling off an upset similar to Beck a few years ago. I’d be fine with Beyoncé and Adele winning if Sturgill doesn’t, as I enjoyed both of their albums.

Best New Artist

  • Maren Morris
  • The Chainsmokers
  • Chance The Rapper
  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Anderson .Paak

Who I Would Pick To Win: Anderson .Paak or Chance The Rapper, as both of their latest albums were awesome. But if I had to pick between these two, I would go with .Paak.

Who I Predict Will Win: Honestly I have no clue here. I could see any of these nominees winning, even Kelsea Ballerini because despite being a complete unknown outside of the country music bubble, Black River Entertainment continues to prove they have a lot of friends in high places. Morris is getting to duet with Alicia Keys and is quickly becoming a darling on the awards circuit. I’ll be content as long as Ballerini or The Chainsmokers don’t win.

Best Country Solo Performance 

  • Brandy Clark – “Love Can Go To Hell”
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice”
  • Maren Morris – “My Church”
  • Carrie Underwood – “Church Bells”
  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color”

What I Would Pick To Win: Miranda Lambert’s “Vice” (Anything but Urban’s song, which is ironically exactly what I wrote here last year)

What I Predict Will Win: Maren Morris’ “My Church” due to as I said above Morris quickly become an awards circuit favorite and this single being extremely popular. The other favorite I would think is Underwood, as she’s been a favorite of the Grammys.

Best Country Duo/Group Performance

  • Dierks Bentley & Elle King – “Different For Girls”
  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer”
  • Kenny Chesney & P!nk – “Setting The World on Fire”
  • Dolly Parton & Pentatonix – “Jolene”
  • Chris Young & Cassadee Pope – “Think of You”

What I Would Pick To Win: Woof this category is rough. I guess I would go with “21 Summer.”

What I Predict Will Win: Dierks Bentley & Elle King’s “Different For Girls” because apparently people are okay with stereotypical bullshit and really think this is some deep song.

Best Country Song

  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” (Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey & Steven Lee Olsen)
  • Thomas Rhett – “Die A Happy Man” (Sean Douglas, Thomas Rhett & Joe Spargur)
  • Tim McGraw – “Humble and Kind” (Lori McKenna)
  • Maren Morris – “My Church” (Maren Morris & busbee)
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice” (Miranda Lambert, Shane McAnally & Josh Osborne)

What I Would Pick To Win: Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind” (Not Urban or Rhett)

What I Predict Will Win: Any of these have a great shot at winning I think. But I think they’ll go with “Humble and Kind” or “Vice.”

Best Country Album

  • Brandy Clark – Big Day in a Small Town
  • Loretta Lynn – Full Circle
  • Maren Morris – Hero
  • Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide To Earth 
  • Keith Urban – Ripcord

What I Would Pick To Win: Sturgill Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide To Earth

What I Predict Will Win: A Sailor’s Guide To Earth is pretty much a lock here, with Simpson getting an overall Album of the Year nomination and a performance slot.

Best American Roots Performance 

  • The Avett Brothers – “Ain’t No Man”
  • Blind Boys of Alabama – “Mother’s Children Have a Hard Time”
  • Rhiannon Giddens – “Factory Girl”
  • Sarah Jarosz – “House of Mercy”
  • Lori McKenna – “Wreck You”

What I Would Pick To Win: Rhiannon Giddens – “Factory Girl”

What I Predict Will Win: The Avett Brothers – “Ain’t No Man”

Best American Roots Song

  • Robbie Fulks – “Alabama at Night” (Robbie Fulks)
  • Jack White – “City Lights” (Jack White)
  • Roddie Romero And The Hub City All-Stars – “Gulfstream” (Eric Adcock & Roddie Romero)
  • The Time Jumpers – “Kid Sister” (Vince Gill)
  • Lori McKenna – “Wreck You” (Lori McKenna & Felix McTeigue)

What I Would Pick To Win: Lori McKenna – “Wreck You”

What I Predict Will Win: Jack White – “City Lights”

Best Americana Album

  • The Avett Brothers – True Sadness 
  • William Bell – This Is Where I Live
  • Kris Kristofferson – The Cedar Creek Sessions
  • Lori McKenna – The Bird & The Rifle
  • The Time Jumpers – Kid Sister

What I Would Pick To Win: Lori McKenna – The Bird & The Rifle

What I Predict Will Win: William Bell – This Is Where I Live

Review – Brothers Osborne’s “It Ain’t My Fault”

brothers-osborne

Undoubtedly the biggest surprise of the night at the 2016 CMA Awards came in the Vocal Duo of the Year category. Everyone expected Florida Georgia Line to win it yet again. Instead rising duo Brothers Osborne pulled off the upset and took home the award. It was an entertaining moment because the duo were just as shocked as the rest of us and let their pure joy shine through as they accepted the award. It was also deserving because they’re one of the most promising acts on a major country label right now. While their debut album Pawn Shop didn’t blow me away, it showed glimpses of how great they can be and it offered some compelling single choices. And fortunately their new single is one of them, “It Ain’t My Fault.” It’s an instantly memorable song because of its upbeat and fun instrumentation. It’s a cross between roots rock and country, featuring rollicking guitars and rhythmic claps. This is the kind of song you’ll find yourself tapping your toe along to by the time the song ends. The song itself isn’t really deep, as it’s about a guy blaming a fun night out on the town on all of the circumstances around it like the drinks and exes. He’s not guilty of doing anything wrong you see, but just trying to have a good time. Yes, it’s not exactly deep. But this song isn’t going for this, it’s going for something fun and catchy. Considering that accomplished. This song wins me over on pure infectiousness. Compare this to the mid to slow tempo snooze fest at country radio and this song is like a double shot of coffee. Brothers Osborne bring something fun to the table without reverting to childish lyrics and worn out themes. For that “It Ain’t My Fault” is a win.

Grade: 7/10

 

Recommend? – Yes

 

Written by TJ Osborne, John Osborne and Lee Thomas Miller

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [Nov. 28]

Florida Georgia Line Roots

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. Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All” +1 (Up 1)
  2. Brett Young – “Sleep Without You” -2 (Up 1)
  3. Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” -3 (Up 2)
  4. Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” (Up 2)
  5. Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” (Down 4)
  6. Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” -4 (Up 1)
  7. Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” -2 (Down 3)
  8. Tim McGraw – “How I’ll Always Be” +3 (Up 1)
  9. Luke Bryan – “Move” -4 (Down 1)
  10. Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry” 
  11. Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” -1 (Up 1)
  12. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 (Down 1)
  13. Thomas Rhett – “Star of the Show” -3 
  14. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 
  15. Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” +4 [Best Song] 
  16. Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red” -5 
  17. Brad Paisley – “Today” +2
  18. Chris Young (feat. Vince Gill) – “Sober Saturday Night” +1 
  19. Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” +3 (Up 1)
  20. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -2 (Down 1)
  21. Little Big Town – “Better Man” +2 (Up 2)
  22. Michael Ray – “Douchey Pickup Song” -5 [Worst Song]
  23. High Valley – “Make You Mine” -2 (Down 2)
  24. Brantley Gilbert – “The Weekend” -5
  25. Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots” +1
  26. Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (Up 1)
  27. Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” +4 (Up 1)
  28. Kelsea Ballerini – “Yeah Boy” -5 (Up 1)
  29. Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl” 0 (Up 1)
  30. Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl” +1 (New to Top 30)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -30

The pulse drops one spot this week. 

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer” +2 (I’m surprised it held on for so long. But on the other hand this should have done much better. Country radio dropped the ball on this one)

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl” – Up 3 from #33 to #30
  • Little Big Town – “Better Man” – Up 2 from #23 to #21
  • Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” – Up 2 from #5 to #3

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” – Down 4 from #1 to #5
  • Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” – Down 3 from #4 to #7

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

  • Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” (Maybe. It could get the same treatment the song below has gotten and stick around)
  • Luke Bryan – “Move” (How is this is still here? FFS!)

On The Hot Seat:

  • Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” (Made small gains this week and is surrounded by fast-rising songs. Not good. This song is in a really bad spot and needs help quick if it wants to stick around. I don’t see it happening.)
  • Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” (Made better gains this week, but has same problem as “80s Mercedes.” It just isn’t in as bad of shape. Yet.)
  • Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (Picked up more steam, but I’m still not convinced it has staying power. I’m guessing his team is doing all they can to get it to last until the freeze.)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” (This actually has a nice path in front of it and I’m feeling optimistic)
  • Dierks Bentley – “Black”
  • RaeLynn – “Love Triangle” (Hmm….)
  • Miranda Lambert – “We Should Be Friends”

Special Note: Jerrod Niemann and Lee Brice’s “A Little More Love” is finally dead and dropped off the chart. It’s a Christmas miracle! Like a blind squirrel finds an acorn occasionally, country radio gets it right here.

Programming Note: There will be no Current Pulse of Texas Country Radio this week due to the fact there were zero changes in the chart positioning, as it appears there wasn’t any reporting for it Thanksgiving week.

 

As always be sure to weigh in on this week’s Pulse in the comments below.