Album Review — Cody Johnson’s ‘Ain’t Nothin’ to It’

I’m pretty sure I said somewhere before that a major label would be wise to pick up Cody Johnson and lo and behold it finally happened. So after years of selling an impressive amount of albums and tickets as an independent artist, Cody Johnson makes his major label debut with Ain’t Nothin’ to It. The album title track opens and it’s about a father giving his son advice on how to navigate marriage and life. It’s a solid track with some heartfelt lyrics, but at times it gets a bit cliché for my taste. “Noise” is your standard country love song that if you heard it playing you’ll listen to it, but you don’t really seek it out. It does nothing particularly well nor right. “Fenceposts” is a bit saccharine and too predictable for my taste. It’s about a young couple starting out and their grand plans in life and if the song bothered to go beyond a surface level of substance I could maybe get into it, but it plays super safe.

“Understand Why” is one of my favorites on the album and that’s because I enjoy the lyrical imagery of a man hiding out in a hotel on the dark side of the moon to get over his heartbreak. Like he’s so over the relationship that he’s on the moon, which gives you a pretty good idea how much is heart was broken. I also enjoy the country rock flavor of the song, mashing together fiddles and electric guitars. I hate “Long Haired Country Boy” and for two big reasons. The writer of the song is Charlie Daniels and the song is about not about wanting to be judged for his appearances and to be allowed to be himself. You contrast this with some of the stuff he has said recently and it’s quite hypocritical. You’d think he would follow his own advice. I can’t help but think about that when hearing this song. The other reason is any song that knocks going to college and glorifying the townie who barely passed high school just insults my intelligence and pisses me off.

“Nothin’ On You” sees Cody Johnson trying his hand at a Stapleton-style song and it’s not half-bad. I never really pictured Johnson doing a soulful country song like this, but he pulls it off for the most part. His voice is strong enough to carry the weight of the lyrics, which aren’t spectacular, but they make for a good enough love ballad. “Honky Tonk Mood” is a really fun track that I can imagine you can gleam from the title what it’s about. It’s not trying to be anymore than a dancing country song and it does this quite well. “Monday Morning Merle” is about a man trying to get over his heartache, but always ending up right back to listening to Merle Haggard on a sad and lonely Monday morning. It’s another highlight on the album, as it does a great job utilizing it’s various artist references without feeling too heavy handed or cliché. It’s a pretty good heartbreak song.

“Y’all People” is a song dedicated to “CoJo Nation,” yet Johnson didn’t write it. Makes perfect sense to not write a song that you’ve specifically dedicated to your fans. Sure. Also this song is bland as hell. I don’t really have anything to say about “Where Cowboys Are King.” It’s a song on this album I guess. Lead single “On My Way to You” reminds me a lot of the great songs on Johnson’s previous album. It works really well for Johnson and that’s because you can feel he relates to what he’s singing. There’s a genuineness behind it, so it gives the song the heart it needs to connect with you.

“Doubt Me Now” is a “piss off to the haters” song and I have no problem with these kind of chip on your shoulder songs. But this song doesn’t meet the grade for me in that regard because it doesn’t have enough anger or intensity. Instead it comes off as petty whining and the line where he actually sings LOL spelled out makes me cringe. The final song on the album is “Dear Rodeo,” which is the only song written by Johnson on the album. So it makes sense it’s the most personal, as Johnson expresses his emotions over being retired from the rodeo due to a career-ending injury. He was forced to let go of something he loved, yet he’s never really let it go. It’s excellent songwriting, as Johnson lays out all the details and gives you a great look into his psyche on the subject.

While there are several good moments on the album, there’s enough bad and lackluster moments that it weighs down Ain’t Nothin’ to It and prevents me from calling it a good album. While Johnson has never been known as an amazing songwriter, I know from his previous albums he’s capable of doing better.

Grade: 5/10

The Hodgepodge: Country Radio’s 15 Minutes of Fame Strategy

This week’s opening will be short. I just started a new job this week so I haven’t had a ton of time to thoroughly think through this topic, but it’s something I want to dive into and would love to see readers’ thoughts on this.

Mainstream country labels seems to aim more and more for just one hit single. For all the radio hype Chris Lane got for “Fix,” his album sales tell a different story. Girl Problems hasn’t sold well out of the gate, debuting at #8 on Billboard last week and falling off the charts this week. Outselling Lane last week was Texas Country star Cody Johnson, who still remains on the charts this week. And Cody Jinks, who debuted at #4 this week with I’m Not the Devil sold more than Girl Problems did.

It’s not really breaking news that independent country stars have strong album sales, as we saw last year with Aaron Watson, Jason Isbell, Blackberry Smoke, and Turnpike Troubadours all reaching number one on the album charts. A main reason for this could be the fact that independent fan bases seem more willing to purchase an album to support their favorite artist. But being able to sell an album well, especially at the heels of a hit radio song, could signify the longevity for an artist. Yes, Cody Johnson and Cody Jinks have established careers and released multiple albums prior to Gotta Be Me and I’m Not the Devil, but strong album sales only cement their place with their fans and in the music industry.

However, with Chris Lane selling poorly after “Fix” hit number one just screams one-hit wonder. So many times, we see artists, particularly trend-chasing B/C-level artists, only perform well at radio with a song or two. Most albums seem to get delayed, or they simply just sell like crap. How do Chris Lane or Big Loud Records expect to see any follow-up success? Not that I want to hear another full-fledged pop song from Lane, but why wasn’t Girl Problems given the same type of promotion as “Fix”? I just don’t understand why they chose to play the short game for 15 minutes of fame. Chris Lane isn’t the first, and he won’t be the last. This is just one of many, many problems with mainstream country radio.

Country radio is in the pits, and these hot, one-hit wonder type songs is a short-sighted attempt to gain listeners and revenue. Labels and radio execs aren’t thinking of the long game to improve and crawl out of its self-dug hole. I don’t claim to be a programming expert, but this type of strategy screams short-term thinking. It’s treading on water without looking for a boat to help stay afloat. And as long as radio continues this thought process, we’ll be continually treated to trendy singles followed by poor albums. Artists and labels who think solely about the one single and not the album are not building a sustainable music career.

Upcoming/Recent Country and Americana Releases

  • Jack Ingram‘s Midnight Motel will be released tomorrow.
  • Whiskey Myers’ newest album, Mud will be released September 9.
  • Also coming out on the 9th is St. Paul & The Broken Bones‘ Sea of Noise.
  • Amanda Shires will release her new album My Piece of Land on September 16.
  • Erik Dylan‘s Heart of a Flatland Boy will be released on October 21.
  • Mack McKenzie is releasing his sophomore album A Million Miles on October 22.

Throwback Thursday Song

Merle Haggard’s “My Favorite Memory” This single from Haggard was released on this day in 1981, and would go on to become Merle’s 25th number one single.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week

Frank Ocean Blonde In an act of defiance against the major labels and streaming, Frank Ocean left his label and self-released his highly anticipated sophomore album exclusively through Apple. With labels/streaming services/artists all at odds, this kind of move is big and could lead to more artists acting in the same fashion.

Tweet of the Week

It’s been a big week for Erik Dylan, who performed at this Guy Clark tribute with the likes of Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, and others. Dylan’s upcoming album was also made available for pre-order.

iTunes Review for Florida Georgia Line

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This was left under Florida Georgia Line’s Dig Your Roots, which is due out tomorrow. I’ve only heard “H.O.L.Y.” and “God, Your Mama, and Me,” but I haven’t been crazy about either song. This review says it all!

Album Review – Cody Johnson’s ‘Gotta Be Me’

Cody Johnson Gotta Be Me

Without a doubt one of the biggest pros of the digital era in music is it has allowed the rise and success of independent artists. In country music, Cody Johnson is perhaps one of the best examples. Hailing from the Texas country scene, Johnson has raised his profile steadily in recent years. He has major sponsors, is a fixture on the Texas charts, has great streaming numbers and sells a lot of album. This is without all of the support of a major label or country radio. With his new album Gotta Be Me, he sold 23,000 copies in its first week. To really put this into perspective: Chris Lane just hit #1 at country radio with his pop song “Fix” and only sold just over 6,000 copies of his new album in the first week. Johnson’s sales should have been great enough to land him his first #1 country album, but thanks to Blake Shelton’s 99 cents album deal on Google Play he missed out at the accomplishment (Johnson had the perfect response to this). With all of his chatter around the album, I decided to re-listen to the album after initially deciding not to review it. After more listens it grew on me and I decided to give it a proper review because at times this album can shine pretty bright.

The album’s title track kicks it off and right away you’re greeted with the warm, welcoming sounds of country music. If there’s one thing this album absolutely nails, it’s the instrumentation. This is a true country album through and through. In this song Johnson sings about how he sticks to his guns and always stays true to himself. It’s a solid song to start the album. This is followed by “Grass Stains.” It was kind of predictable where this song was going from the beginning, as it’s about a couple having sex in the grass. It’s pretty close to bro country lyrics and the very least are laundry list and predictable. This isn’t necessarily bad, but the fiddles can’t cover up unimaginative songwriting. One of the better-written songs and one of my favorites on the album is “With You I Am.” It’s a song about a guy telling his woman about how he was never the quarterback of the football team or flashy guy. He was the humble guy who stayed in the background. But now with her in his life he feels like a more confident, better person. Unlike some modern country songs about love, this one actually takes time to explain why this relationship is so meaningful.

Johnson harkens back to 90s country on “Half a Song.” I say 90s country because everything from the lyrics to the instrumentation remind me of something I would hear on the radio in that era. If country radio still actually played country music all the time, I would say this would be a hit single. It’s a love song that you can dance to, but also has heart and connects easy with the listener. “The Only One I Know (Cowboy Life)” is another song where Johnson sings about the kind of person he is and the life he leads. Now when I see most country artists with a song that is about living the cowboy life, I roll my eyes because it feels disingenuous and false. But with Johnson it doesn’t. Not only because he used to be in the rodeo and is from Texas, but also you can hear it in his voice as he sings.

The slower, pedal steel guitar-driven “Walk Away” is next. It by far digs deeper than any other song on this album, as it’s a cheating song about a guy finding out his love is cheating on him. She doesn’t know that he knows, as he finds the guy she’s cheating on him with. He buys the guy a drink and calmly explains to him that he needs to walk away from this affair because he loves her and wants to give her a second chance. It’s rare to hear this in a cheating song and see the cheated person give the cheater a second chance. It’s kind of refreshing to hear another take on a cheating song and I applaud Johnson for it. I would say this is the best song on the album. Johnson swerves back into cliché/laundry list territory on “Kiss Goodbye.” It’s another cheating song with a more modern instrumentation feel and features some spoken word from Johnson. The spoken word isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s kind of awkward and doesn’t improve the song. This song is just sort of there for me.

“Chain Drinkin’” is another song that you can tell where it’s going by the title of it. But predictable isn’t always bad. While this drinking song isn’t bursting with creativity, it’s easy to enjoy and tap your feet along with as you listen. What helps is it doesn’t take itself seriously and errs more on the light-hearted, humorous side. While ballads and cheating songs are the bedrock of country music, you need these fun songs to break it up too. Johnson relies on the old trope, “If you love something, set it free,” on “Wild as You.” Just like “Kiss Goodbye,” it’s a lightweight song and one of the more forgettable moments on this album. The same can be said of the next track, “I Know My Way Back (Clara’s Song).” Again not a bad love song, it’s just okay and not something I would go out of my way to hear. “Billy’s Brother” is about a man getting drunk in bar and a man remembering not to fight Billy. This is because of Billy’s brother, who sounds like he could kick anyone’s ass. The entire song revolves around getting drunk and the man hoping he can keep his hands off Billy. Predictably he doesn’t and I’m assuming Billy’s brother won another fight. This is the type of song I can imagine connects much better live than on an album.

After a streak of lighter songs, Johnson digs back deeper again with “Every Scar Has a Story.” He sings about all of the scars on his body, both physical and emotional, all tell a story about something that has happened in his life. This is from going headfirst off a motorcycle to getting his heart broke. Again in a more just world, this song is a hit. “I Ain’t Going Nowhere Baby” is about a man reaffirming to his love that he isn’t going anywhere and that he’ll always have a shoulder there for her to cry on. With already numerous love songs on this album and the record being 14 songs long, you kind of run out of steam by this point (more on that in a second). Gotta Be Me ends with another highlight of the album, “I Can’t Even Walk (Without You Holding My Hand).” It’s an acoustic bonus track that features both of his parents and it’s a really touching song. Normally I don’t review bonus tracks in my album reviews, but this song is so great I had to include it. It’s probably one of the coolest outros I’ve heard on an album and ends the record on a high note.

Cody Johnson’s Gotta Be Me is a solid country album. Is it one of the year’s best? No. What ultimately holds this album back is the songwriting and the album length. While there are a few moments of a good songwriting, too many times there are songs that have a been there, done that feel. In the case of a song like “Grass Stains,” it reminded me a little too much of the not so distant bro country era. At 14 songs, this album is just too long and can drag towards the end. This album would have been so much better if you cut the four worst songs. It would be an easier listen and the songwriting would be more forgivable. I will say though that this is a step up from Cowboy Like Me and I think it’s the perfect album for a mainstream country fan looking to get into Texas and/or independent country music.

Grade: 7/10

The Hodgepodge: Pop Duets Ignore Country’s Rich Talent Pool of Female Artists

Dierks Bentley feat. Elle King – “Different for Girls”

Brad Paisley feat. Demi Lovato – “Without a Fight”

Kenny Chesney feat. P!nk – “Setting the World on Fire”

One of the most recent musical trends out of Nashville, as you can tell by the above pairings, is partnering a male country singer with a female non-country singer to record a non-country song, probably in hopes for a crossover hit. Three big, veteran names in country music are using the big names from female pop acts to gain even more exposure and revenue.

This isn’t a terrible trend, and Paisley and Chesney’s songs aren’t terrible. “Different for Girls” has some backwards lyrics, but Dierks and Elle sing the song well, and I like the production to the tune. My only gripe with this trend is that it blatantly ignores a large, talented pool of female singers in country music. Females who already struggle to get songs on the radio by themselves. To be fair, Dierks Bentley also recorded “I’ll Be The Moon” on Black with newcomer Maren Morris, a song which received quite a bit of album promotional play and press before the album’s release. However, the label decided to move forward with the Elle King duet as the single, not the Morris duet.

I know the answer to this question is money and marketability, but why not record these same songs with country newcomers? Mickey Guyton has a vocal power similar to Demi Lovato, and could easily fit into “Without a Fight.” In Fact, on several occasions while on tour with Paisley, Mickey Guyton sang Allison Krauss’ role in “Whiskey Lullaby.” I think Mickey Guyton could have sung Lovato’s parts and “Without a Fight” could still be just as good.

Like I said, I know that there’s a certain marketability that comes with having Demi Lovato’s or P!nk’s name attached to a song as opposed to Mickey Guyton or Cam. Outside of the obvious pop demographic (which the songs are clearly catered toward), those two names are just simply more well-known. But even some singers like Kellie Pickler and Lauren Alaina are good singers themselves and have the American Idol notoriety surrounding their name.

Obviously the larger purpose of songs like the ones mentioned above is the fact that these females attract a non-country audience to song and probably double the listening potential. But coming off a year in which the problem of females on country radio, or lack thereof, was headlining everywhere, it’s odd to me that producers would gloss over that potential talent pool.

Chris Young recently had a number one song on the Airplay Charts that he recorded with Cassadee Pope. “Think of You” is just as Adult Contemporary sounding as the three aforementioned songs. So don’t try to argue that “country females won’t sell” because clearly a duet between male and female COUNTRY singers sold and succeeded.

I’m probably just beating a dead horse and screaming at a brick wall because complaint’s like this haven’t helped. Even with Tomato Gate on everyone’s mind last year, Carrie Underwood and Kelsea Ballerini are still the only females getting consistent radio airplay. Yet women like Lori McKenna, Brandy Clark, Aubrie Sellers, and Margo Price have all released great albums this year. Why don’t we hear them on the charts? Why aren’t labels pursuing duets with these talented singers? Yes, Aubrie Sellers has recently signed a deal with Warner, and Lori McKenna has seen excellent success as a songwriter from “Girl Crush” and “Humble and Kind.” However, it’s still a shame that several of country’s talented female singers are overlooked for a cash-grab pop duet.

Upcoming/Recent Country and Americana Releases

  • Mo Pitney has announced his debut LP through Curb Records. Behind This Guitar will be released October 7.
  • William Michael Morgan announced his debut album, Vinyl, will be released on September 30.
  • Reckless Kelly will release Sunset Motel on September 23.
  • Also on September 23 Dwight Yoakam is releasing a bluegrass album titled Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars…
  • Jack Ingram will release Midnight Motel on August 26. Hear the new single, “I’m Drinking Through It.”
  • The Cadillac Three will release Bury Me in Boots tomorrow.
  • Cody Johnson will release Gotta Be Me tomorrow.
  • Next Friday, both Cody Jinks (I’m Not The Devil) and Kelsey Waldon (I’ve Got a Way) will release albums. A day which is sure to be a good day for new country music.

Throwback Thursday Song

“Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn With all the talk of country duets today, what could be better than a duet from two of country’s best singers? Sit back and enjoy this 1973 hit from their duet album of the same name.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week

Foo Fighters “Everlong” The only non-country music I’ve listened to this week is the Foo Fighters Greatest Hits album, so I recommend what is probably my favorite Foo Fighters song.

Tweet of the Week

I told myself not to mention a certain country group that I wrote about in last week’s Hodgepodge, but this tweet pretty much sums up my opinions on “Comeback Kid.”

iTunes Review for Big Smo

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This guy hates the fact that country fans call Big Smo not country. Especially when later on in this review, he clearly states how Big Smo raps. Sure we don’t technically own the word “country” but we know which music is actually country music and which is actually rap or hick hop.

The Hodgepodge: Five Thoughts on Country & Americana Music Right Now

Thumbs Down

Derek is busy dealing with some stuff this week (don’t worry there’s nothing wrong, he’s just a little too busy to write), so I’m stepping in this week to write the Hodgepodge. It was good timing too, as I have multiple things on my mind I would like to discuss at the moment regarding the current states of country and Americana music. There was no way I could pick just one topic, so I’ve decided to do a little state of the genre type address on some topics I feel are pressing and need addressed. So enough pleasantries and let’s get to the talking points, starting with the most prevalent on my mind…

1. Country & Americana Music are Down in Quality in 2016

This seems to be the consensus amongst not only you the readers, but the industry as a whole. I agree with this sentiment, to an extent. There hasn’t been as much quality music being churned out this year compared to recent years. This is true not only for mainstream/popular country, but in the independent and Americana scenes too. But I see people talking like there’s a complete lack of quality and this just isn’t true. I think the issue people are getting mixed up here is genre qualifications and quality standards. No two albums exemplify this more than Sturgill Simpsons’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth and Robert Ellis’ self-titled album. Here you have two artists that have been consistently identified as country artists by the fans and are pretty popular too. They then both release albums that are sonically different from all of their previous releases. It’s a departure from their usual sound and as you know music fans don’t always react well to change. People are calling these albums bad because they’re not fitting their standards of genre qualifications. It’s not evaluating the actual quality of the music for what it is, but rather arbitrarily dismissing them for not meeting their sonic standards. This is flat-out lazy on the part of listeners and reviewers employing this train of thought. I will never dismiss quality music just because it doesn’t fit what I wanted. If its quality, it’s quality. I don’t give a shit if it doesn’t fit the genre I wanted it to fit. Of course I’ve already laid out this thought process on my review of Keith Urban’s Ripcord.

With this point aside, I think the better way to describe country and Americana music in 2016 is that there hasn’t been enough quality music that reflects the roots and sounds of the genre. There’s a lot of different sounds and influences being experimented with right now. I think mainly it’s a lot of artists trying to find a way to stand out while also trying to satisfy their own creative itches. I also stand by my point that a lot of artists are tired of being put in genre boxes. As Robert Ellis sings on “Elephant,” how can you call it art when you’re sticking to a dotted line? I have faith that things are about to improve, especially in the month of August where there are several potential album releases that could be album of the year contenders.

I think there’s a bigger problem though facing artists that is rearing its head in 2016. Both in mainstream and independent scenes the competition for eye balls has never been greater, which makes these problems so concerning…

2. Too Many Independent Country & Americana Acts are Failing to Stand Out/Get Their Name Out There

Many up and coming acts love to look at the likes of Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton as inspirations for their own path to success in music. They love to think they too can replicate the paths they took and be household names just like them. I get a lot of pitches every single week of starry-eyed, hungry and ambitious artists looking to have their music featured here right on the blog in the hopes that they can get enough promotion to stand out and be “discovered.” But here’s the problem I see: they don’t do enough to stand out. It’ll be good music, but it does absolutely nothing to stand out and be different from the crowd. Keep in mind I get pitches from all over the world, not just in the United States. As an independent artist you have to remember you’re going against thousands of other acts in the same position as you. If you want to be recognized and featured on blogs like mine, you have to do everything you can to be unique while also producing genuinely great music. It’s easier said than done. I may be coming off sounding like a pompous ass, but that’s not my point. If I featured and reviewed everything pitched to me, I would never get any sleep. Readers would be driven away by the lack of quality standout music. It’s my job to feature the very best not only to keep my sanity and keep readers’ attentions, but because somebody has to be a gatekeeper for quality. This means I have to turn down upwards of 90% of what is pitched to me.

Then of course there are artists out there who do make great enough music to standout and get featured on my blog, but they simply don’t do enough to grow their fan base and stand out even more. This could be due to lack of a web presence, social media presence and/or touring presence. It’s maddening to watch talented artists who have a chance to really break out squander opportunities before their very eyes and be stuck in the same position for years. Just being featured and getting critical acclaim on blogs like mine isn’t the end all be all to get your name out there. It’s 1% of the things you need to do to grow.

Of course on the flip-side…

3. Major Labels Have Become Too Reliant on Radio to Break Out New Artists

This comes after I had a lengthy and constructive conversation with Christopher Baggs the other day on Twitter. For those unaware, Baggs is a country music chart tracker and industry insider who is very knowledgeable when it comes to these subjects. I highly recommend following him if you don’t already. Anyway our conversation begins after he pointed out how this week on the aircheck chart that 30 of the top 70 songs did not move up or lower in position from the week before with their bullet along with no recurrent. On top of that there’s a very crowded release schedule. This is obviously a big problem. To see the full conversation between us, start at this tweet (click on the date to see the full conversation):

We both agree that right now the labels are on a very dangerous path that could potentially hurt all parties involved. Anyone who follows the Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music knows that there are a lot of songs being pushed way too long on the chart and overstaying their welcome. Chase Rice’s “Gonna Wanna Tonight” spent over a year on the chart! Major labels are taking a boom or bust approach to breaking new and lower level acts via radio and this in turn is delaying new albums from these artists. The Cadillac Three have spent several years on Big Machine and are just now releasing their first album under the label in August. This is all because labels are hell-bent on making singles work and this is just short-sighted. With all of the technology and resources at their disposal there’s no reason why they can’t find other ways to break these artists out and get their names out. I don’t understand why these labels just can’t accept that sometimes a song is not a hit and move on. If a song spends 20 weeks in the 30s to 40s on the chart without hitting the top 30, that should be a sign that this song is just not going to work. But every label has seemed to adopt this boom or bust attitude, so now we’re about to find out what happens when you try to put 100 gallons of water into a 20 gallon bucket (it’s not going to be pretty),

4. Female Artists Still Aren’t Given a Fair Shake 

I’ll keep this one short and simple. It’s over one year after Tomato Gate and not a damn thing has changed in regards to female artists at radio. The only female acts that can get consistently played at radio are Carrie Underwood (an established star) and Kelsea Ballerini (a pop artist that has a label behind her willing to throw obscene amounts of money into marketing because her boyfriend’s dad runs it). Jennifer Nettles will be gone from the chart soon. Miranda Lambert will get a nice initial run with “Vice,” but I highly doubt this song reaches the top of the chart. Maddie & Tae have appeared to be Musgrave’d by programmers. All the while labels continue to pigeonhole their new female acts into two categories: straight pop or throwback country. Of course things aren’t exactly great for female artists in independent scene either. Just like in popular country, male artists get far and away more attention than female artists at festivals. It doesn’t help also when critics like myself stick our feet in our mouth and call them great female artist when we should just say great artist like we do for male artists (I saw an artist point this out and it made me realize I’m guilty of this on occasion). Just overall we could do better on giving female artists a fairer shake and opportunities.

5. Despite all of these issues, I think fans are becoming more informed than ever.

I think slowly but surely more and more country fans are realizing they can’t rely on mainstream media and radio to get their country music fix. They’re taking to the Internet and discovering great artists on their own and through blogs like this one. It may not be that noticeable, but I can truly sense that people are no longer accepting the status quo that has been presented to them. If enough fans become informed and call the bullshit out, that’s when real change and progress gets made. Support your favorite artists and tell your friends too.

Upcoming/Recent Country & Americana Releases

  • As far as I’m aware there are no major releases on our radar this week. But next week the following albums will be released
    • Lori McKennaThe Bird & The Rifle
    • Hillary Scott – Love Remains
  • In two weeks Alan Jackson will release the box-set Genuine: The Alan Jackson Story digitally. It was released last year exclusively in a physical format at Walmart. As someone who owns it, I highly recommend it if you’re an Alan Jackson fan.
  • Also on August 5 Cody Johnson will release his new album Gotta Be Me.
  • Dolly Parton will be releasing a new album on August 19 titled Pure & Simple.
  • Amanda Shires announced she will be releasing a new album titled My Piece of Land on September 16.
  • On September 30 the legendary John Prine will be releasing a new duets album called For Better, or Worse. The female talent featured on the album will be staggering and expansive, including the likes of Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves.

Throwback Thursday Song

“Help Me Make It Through The Night” by The Highwaymen – Country’s greatest supergroup performs the classic Kris Kristofferson tune together. Just hit play and enjoy.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week

“Let The Storm Descend Upon You” by Avantasia – I’m not usually a big metal listener, but I instantly loved symphonic metal group Avantasia upon first listen. Their entire new album Ghostlights is highly recommended from yours truly, but my favorite on it is hands down this song. It’s a whopping 12 minute epic! But I assure it’s fantastic. This is probably one of my favorite songs of 2016.

Tweet of the Week

This is in reference to a recent interview Granger Smith had with The Boot, calling Texas the minor leagues. And this tweet is pretty damn funny (funnier than anything Earl Dibbles Jr. has ever done).

The Perfect Steven Tyler Album Review

Steven Tyler Sucks

There’s no chance in hell we’re reviewing the new Steven Tyler album because it is all kinds of awful. This iTunes review here sums it up pretty well (although I’m not sure if I agree on the Run DMC version of “Walk This Way” being bad). Tyler is nothing but a trend chaser desperately trying to cling to the spotlight.