The Hodgepodge: Zac Brown Band and ‘Jekyll + Hyde’ One Year Later

It was one year ago today that the Zac Brown Band released their 4th studio album, Jekyll + Hyde. Released on the heels of Uncaged, the excellent third album from the band, and a four-song rock EP produced by Dave Grohl, expectations were high for this album. Initially, the album seemed to fall in line with the expectations. We learned that the band would be covering Americana star Jason Isbell, and had a duet with rock star Chris Cornell from Soundgarden and Audioslave. Early access to “Dress Blues” and “Heavy is the Head” along with the album’s lead single “Homegrown” showed promise for another stellar album.

Come April 28th, downloads from iTunes were available, the album was on the shelves in stores for fans to buy. Everyone loaded the album, pressed play for track one, and then heard the unexpected. Electronic dance music pulsed through the speakers as “Beautiful Drug” played to kick off the album. The name Jekyll + Hyde rang true.

Dr. Henry Jekyll from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde conjures a potion that he hopes will suppress his evil thoughts and motivations. Much to his surprise, the potion acts in the opposite way, strengthening Jekyll’s evil alter ego, Edward Hyde. As the story goes, the evil Hyde continues to gain strength and overpower the good Dr. Jekyll. Jekyll and Hyde became synonymous with the good and bad in a person.

Zac Brown naming the album Jekyll + Hyde was perfect. He was completely aware of the content being released on the album, and the title could almost be an excuse or cry for forgiveness from the fans who were disappointed by the album. Those who were upset to hear not one, but two EDM-inspired songs on the album. The fans confused by the fact that the first six songs on the album jump around in six different genres: EDM, R&B, world-like, pop-country, big band/jazz, and rock. And those were the first six songs because those were the songs most we’re meant to hear. The band’s first four singles from the album (3 to country radio, 1 to rock radio) are found in this group.

Hearing Jekyll + Hyde for the first time was jarring. It’s an experimental album also meant to achieve commercial success. If you think the album was just a way for the band to try new things and have fun, they wouldn’t have released “Beautiful Drug” as a single. We had never heard Zac Brown Band sing an EDM/club song before, but they made sure we heard it, and they wrote it simple enough to take it to the top of the Country Airplay chart. Zac Brown saw dollar signs in the future, and he did everything in his power to stuff his pockets.

I was optimistic that the band’s Southern Ground strategic partnership with Big Machine et al. would result in some great opportunities for the band and the label’s lesser acts, all while Zac Brown maintained his creative vision. But Zac didn’t have a creative vision for his music, just a commercialized vision. Not two years after criticizing Luke Bryan’s “That’s My Kind Of Night,” Zac Brown eats his own words and released “Beautiful Drug” country radio. And I firmly believe that this was 100% the band’s idea. Take a look at this recent tweet from band member Clay Cook.

With a recent string of artists like Chase Rice apologizing for his new music, the Zac Brown Band are defending their crap. They’re happy to have written and recorded songs like “Beautiful Drug” because it was a successful experiment. A band who were once the outspoken gatekeepers calling out Nashville’s crap are now producing the same shit they criticized.

To an extent, you can’t blame a music artist for wanting to achieve a little more commercial success. But when that desire for more comes at the price of compromising the ground on which you once stood, it’s a disappointing transition. The desire for more money, the potion, brought about the band’s inner Edward Hyde.

It remains to be seen what the future will hold and how the band will follow this album era up. The Zac Brown Band island country staple, “Castaway,” is being released to country radio just in time for summer, which is almost guaranteed to help carry the song to another number one on the Airplay chart. With an album of 15 different songs, it’s possible that we could see a 5th single from Jekyll + Hyde be released to country radio. Maybe we’ll hear “Dress Blues” on radio after all, but time will only tell.

The past year has been disappointing in respect to the Zac Brown Band. They were one of the few mainstream artists leading the charge for quality music, and their foray into this EDM experimental world changed the minds of fans eager for something better than Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line. Some respect has been lost, but hope remains that Dr. Jekyll will win this time around.

Upcoming/Recent Country & Americana Releases

  • Tomorrow, Martina McBride’s Reckless will be released.
  • May 6 is a big release day for mainstream country and Americana.
    • Cole Swindell’s You Should Be Here
    • Keith Urban’s Ripcord
    • Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Things That We Are Made Of
    • Cindy Lauper’s Detour
    • Ryan Beaver’s Rx
  • Florida Georgia Line will release their debut single from their upcoming third album. “H.O.L.Y.” will be available tomorrow.
  • Maddie & Tae will release “Sierra” as their next single.

Throwback Thursday Song

Wade Bowen’s “One Step Closer.” I’ve mentioned a few times on this site about how highly I think of Bowen’s album Lost Hotel. This breakup song from the 2006 album is one his best songs, in my opinion. A great example of country music being modern without compromising the genre’s roots.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week


Fort Frances – Alio. Fort Frances is a Chicago-based indie rock band. There’s a hint of Americana roots in their sound and style, but Alio carries a dynamic rock sound throughout the album. The band has a big following in Lithuania, and are looking to expand their fandom with the new album. In Lithuanian, “alio” means “hello.” It’s a well produced album and quite honestly one of my favorite non-country albums I’ve heard so far this year.

Tweet of the Week

In the wake of the world learning of Prince’s death, a generic country account tweets lyrics to a Sam Hunt song. That deserves a bit more criticism, but Wheeler Walker Jr. did pretty well here.

iTunes Review of the Week

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 8.39.28 PM

A simple, yet effective review of Dallas Davidson’s new single “Laid Back.” Yes, the notorious bro-country songwriter has a country-rap single that includes vocals from Maggie Rose, Big Boi, and Mannie Fresh. Take this reviewer’s advice and don’t listen to it. Just say no.

 

Album Review – Thomas Rhett’s ‘Tangled Up’ May Be One of Country’s Worst Albums

Let’s just be honest here: Thomas Rhett’s accomplishments and notoriety in country music today are solely because his dad is Rhett Akins. Thomas Rhett is a mediocre vocalist whose debut album was nothing but generic pop and bro-country schlock. There was zero originality because Thomas Rhett is not an artist. He’s a puppet willing to sing whatever his label, Valory Music Company (a subsidiary of Big Machine), wants him to sing and become whatever persona his label wants him to be. In 2013, the money was in bro-country. Fast forward two years, bro-country has faded and the money is in R&B-influenced sounds that create funky, danceable beats. Rhett developed a professional crush on Bruno Mars and says he’s changed the trajectory of his career to emulate Mars’ style of music. Conveniently, that funk pop musical styling just happens to be what makes money for Big Machine these days. Combine that all together and we have Bruno Mars Thomas Rhett’s newest album, Tangled Up.

The album begins with a club beat called “Anthem.” Don’t be fooled, just because you’ll hear a banjo in no way makes this song country. Drum machine beats and hand claps are front and center in the production as Rhett merely narrates how the song works. He speaks, not sings, but speaks lines like “this is part where the bass gonna stop” or “You startin’ to feel the momentum build so bring it on back to the chorus” and my personal favorite line of the whole song “this is the verse where you don’t know the words and you don’t give a damn ’cause it feels good.” It’s almost as if the writers are blatantly making fun of the generation that buys into this shitty music simply because it’s a “good beat.” But don’t get me wrong, this song flat-out sucks. “Crash and Burn” follows. Josh sums the song up perfectly with this segment in the single review: “Rhett does not have the charisma and soul of Mars to pull the song off. You need a high energy singer with great chops to make this song great and Rhett simply doesn’t have that. I feel like the instrumentation swallows his voice on this song. You notice everything else on this song before Rhett’s voice.” You could take that first sentence and apply it to just about every song on the album.

Up next is perhaps the worst song of the album: “South Side.” Before we even get into the terrible funk music, we get a distorted computer voice in an English accent (why?) saying, “Please commence shaking your south side.” I fought every urge in my body to not skip this song the moment I heard that sentence. I knew from that the song to follow was going to be terrible, but I just had to listen to it to know how terrible. Firstly, the funk mixed with stupid banjos sounds a bit like “Kick the Dust Up.” Rhett, again, simply sings about how a beat makes people want to shake their ass. But the second verse of this song is probably the worst verse in country music:

Like Memphis, Tennessee, got in bed with CDB
And had a baby and when the baby cried
It made this sound, ain’t no lie it was funkified

ARE  YOU KIDDING ME?! Thomas Rhett claims his new “funkified” music is the love child of Memphis Soul and Charlie Daniels! There have been some terrible name drops in country music, but this one just may take the cake. This song deserves a dedicated rant on its own. Moving on before I throw my computer into a wall. We get the first song on the album that I can actually listen to without getting angry. “Die A Happy Man” is a blues inspired love song. The sentiment is there and it feels somewhat honest: even if he never travels to see the world, he’d still be a happy man as long as he has his wife. However, I’m still not crazy about the song. The lyrics are rather bland and clichéd as Rhett still paints a shallow picture of how his wife’s looks and sexuality are what brings him to his knees and makes it hard to breathe. Also, Thomas Rhett is not that good of a singer, and in “Die A Happy Man” you can hear him trying too hard to sound sultry and sentimental.

Tangled Up is an album chock full of ideas and sounds borrowed from others. No other song is as indicative of his lack of originality than “Vacation.” There are 14 credited songwriters for this train wreck. 14! But half of those songwriters come from the band War. Rhett wisely credits the band for the song because the beat of the verses is essentially the beat from “Low Rider.” The song is about a party at home, but the partygoers are acting like they’re on a tropical vacation. It’s stupid lyrics that Thomas Rhett poorly raps set to a borrowed beat. Even the second verse where Rhett raps about  a Walgreens beach chair and Busch Light sends the same simple life sentiment of Jake Owen’s “Real Life.”

“Like It’s The Last Time” is yet another generic pop country song about a party in a field. You have all the usual suspects here: Moonshine, trucks, raising cups up, hooking up with the girl you like, bonfires, generic mid-tempo guitars, pop beats, and an implication of Fireball shots. It’s just another song to add to the hundreds of corn field songs from the past two years. “T-Shirt” is a hookup song about a girl who keeps coming onto Thomas Rhett. Apparently the song depicts a couple who’ve had these rendezvouses before and vowed to stop, but obviously that doesn’t happen. It’s a boring up beat pop rock beat combined with terrible lyrics and bad vocals. “Single Girl” finds Thomas Rhett pleading to a single girl. He wants to be her man and Rhett, who doesn’t seem to understand the fact that people can be happy and satisfied while not in a relationship, questions why she’s single. He assumes that because she’s single that she’s lonely and that he can be the one to fix it. These assumptions are misguided, immature, arrogant and a little trashy.

Surprisingly, there’s an actual good song on this album. “The Day You Stop Lookin’ Back” is a song where Rhett sings to a girl with a broken heart. The lyrics are actually mature and respectful and the production is more organic with an acoustic guitar and very little pop effects on the drums. Rhett encourages her to stop letting a past heartbreak get the best of her because once she stops looking back, she can then move on. It’s not a great song, but compared to most of the garbage on this album, it sounds pretty good. But we return to the crap with the title track, “Tangled.” This song is straight disco with a backing vocal effects and auto tuned, funky keyboard notes, heavy drum beats for dancing, and a funk inspired guitar. The lyrics are just another song of how Thomas Rhett enjoys being with some female because of the way she loves him physically. “Tangled” is a good reminder of how poorly Thomas Rhett sings.

Another good reminder of Thomas Rhett’s poor vocal abilities can be found in “Playing With Fire.” Rhett sings this song as a duet with American Idol’s Jordin Sparks. She is a much better singer than Rhett. Her lone verse is a better vocal performance than the rest of the album, and she’s even under utilized. Sonically, it’s 100% a pop ballad, but not a bad one at all. Lyrically, it depicts yet another rotten hookup relationship where both parties know it’s bad for them. However, they give into those impulses because they love playing with fire. Thomas Rhett also collaborates with Lunchmoney Lewis on “I Feel Good.” This is a lyrical mess of random nothingness. It starts out describing a scene that would have belonged in “Vacation” then finds Rhett driving in his car celebrating the fact that he got paid. The lyrics of this song don’t make any sense, and Lunchmoney Lewis’ rap breakdown doesn’t help this stupid funk song at all.

Tangled Up finally comes to an end with “Learned It From The Radio.” This is a song where Thomas Rhett thanks Dallas Davidson, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line for teaching him how to be a cliché. “How to wake up, how to work tough, how to roll up those sleeves. How to throw down, how to get loud, and what to put in that drink. To give the stars in the sky a little halo, I learned it from the radio.” It’s every cliché list item from 10 years of mainstream country reworked into this narrative of “how I learned this, how I learned that.”

This album is a mess and shouldn’t even be called music. The songs that combine country sounds with funk sounds are just a hodgepodge of noise that would make a deaf person cringe. The actual funk, disco, R&B songs are shitty and Bruno Mars himself wouldn’t even try to record that mess. Mainstream country isn’t exactly moving away from bro-country. Sure, these songs aren’t pop rock corn field parties, but the lyrics are still the same trashy immature sentiments meant to boost bravado and masculinity. Tangled Up is an embarrassment to country music, it’s an embarrassment to funk and it’s an embarrassment to music in general.

Grade: 0/10

Album Review – Luke Bryan’s ‘Kill The Lights’, An Exercise in Avoiding Being Country At All Costs

Luke Bryan Kill The Lights

Luke Bryan just came out with his new album Kill The Lights. For weeks I’ve been telling myself that I’m not going to review this album. I told myself to just stay away from it and let this album be. There’s plenty of great country music out there that can be reviewed instead. Yet here I am reviewing Kill The Lights. The reason I ultimately decided to review this album is because the world needs negative reviews too. It’s too easy to just ignore a problem. You have to face it head on. It’s important to point out when a big artist makes such terrible music for educational purposes, critical purposes and of course for amusement. Luke Bryan has been one of the biggest stars in country music for the last several years and shows no signs of slowing down in terms of popularity. Kill The Lights went head-to-head in sales with Dr. Dre’s new album Compton. Bryan isn’t going away and he’s impossible to ignore. So I bit my tongue, held my nose and listened to Bryan’s new album. I actually half-expected for it be better than his last album Crash My Party. But I was very wrong.

The lead single and one of the worst songs of 2015, “Kick The Dust Up,” leads off the album. If you missed my take down of this horrible song, here’s a refresher: This is the same old shit we’ve heard for the last three years. As for the instrumentation, it’s a pop, rock, adult contemporary arrangement for the most part. The exception is a Middle Eastern guitar riff that cuts in on the first chorus and plays intermittently for the rest of the song. This is the only part of this song that I don’t hate. But why is it in the song? It doesn’t make any sense at all nor does it match the theme. My guess is that it was thrown in because they thought it sounded cool. Remember we’re not dealing with musicians here, just hit makers looking for more cash.

The album’s title track is next and it’s not any better. The sound of this song is just bizarre and couldn’t be any further from country. The rhythm of this song sounds almost exactly like “That’s My Kind of Night” and definitely has the same theme. The only difference is this sounds more like Sam Hunt’s version of “country” instead of bro country. This sounds like an album cut from a Starship album. Bryan’s newest monstrosity released to country radio, “Strip It Down” is next. This is basically Bryan’s version of Jason Aldean’s “Burnin’ It Down.” For a song that’s supposed to be sexy, Bryan sure sounds serious. And who the hell finds this crap to be sexy? All I picture is a 40 year-old Bryan lurching at a 16 year-old girl across the bar thinking she’s 18. The definition of creepy! Also this isn’t country at all.

Luke Bryan is joined by Little Big Town’s lead singer Karen Fairchild on “Home Alone Tonight,” a song that almost made me barf into my mouth upon first listen. And I’m just going to say it: they both sound absolutely horrendous in this song. When Fairchild doesn’t sound flat, she sounds distorted. Bryan’s charisma is completely devoid in this song. Oh and the people described in the song are completely unlikable and annoying. It’s about two people going out, partying and taking pictures of each other to send to their exes. What’s the damn point? There isn’t one. “Razor Blade” is another pointless, garbage song. The production in this song and really the majority of this album is grating on the ears. It makes Jay Joyce albums sound under-produced. It’s just another vapid drinking and hooking up song where Bryan tries to be sexy and fails hilariously.

It’s not until the sixth song on the album that there’s something that isn’t completely terrible and that song is “Fast.” It’s a song about life going too fast and trying to enjoy things happening in front of you at the moment. The lyrics are pretty decent, even though they feel reminiscent of “Drink A Beer.” But the big problems with this song are the instrumentation and production. It’s overproduced and isn’t country at all, unless you count drum machines as country because there’s plenty of those. The pace of the song is also too frenetic and doesn’t give the lyrics time to really sink in for the listener. In capable hands, this song could have possibly been good.

The overproduced bullshit continues on “Move.” This is “Country Girl Shake It For Me” version 1,529. I can imagine the only groups of people who would be entertained by such a vapid and shallow song like this are suburban teenage girls and soccer moms who lead boring lives. And you might say it’s out of line for me to mock the fans of Bryan, but you’re wrong. Their basic taste is part of the reason why country radio sucks so much. Of course it’s also equally the radio programmers’ faults for catering to them. Anyway this is another all-around terrible song on an album full of them. Bryan produces another not horrible track in “Just Over.” It’s a heartbreak song with lyrics that aren’t bad. But once again the bad production overshadows a song. There are way too much drums and not enough organ play that you can faintly hear at the beginning of the song. If you completely overhauled the sound of this song to make it country, this song would still need work though.

I said it for “Fast” and I’m going to say it again for “Love It Gone.” This love song has somewhat okay lyrics I guess, but the production is so damn annoying and overbearing that it’s hard to follow the song. I would love to post Zac Brown’s quote about not using real instruments here, but he’s a turncoat bastard on Bryan’s side now. So I’ll just point out how this sounds like every other adult contemporary song posing as country I’ve heard this year. “Way Way Back” is same shit, different song. The club beat is so damn blatant here that I can imagine Bryan was pissing on George Jones’s grave as he recorded this song. This song is a metaphor for it anyway. Bryan isn’t even trying to be country at this point. He’s accepted his role as the old guy desperately clinging to youth to continue to suck on the teat of stardom.

One of Bryan’s closest attempts at sounding country and sincere is on “To The Moon and Back.” It’s a song where Bryan expresses his love for a woman, without sounding like a misogynistic asshole. And it’s not overproduced either. It’s a Christmas miracle! But here’s the thing: it’s under-produced. This song is so lifeless and boring I nearly dozed off halfway through it. Still it’s one of the better ones on the album, but that’s not saying anything. The penultimate song on Kill The Lights is “Huntin’, Fishin’ And Lovin’ Every Day.” It’s the second Dallas Davidson co-write on the album. I hate typing that sentence. It’s one of my least favorite sentences. Usually anything associated with Davidson is just awful and something to avoid at all costs. This song is no different. Many will point out this song sounds country and they’re right, except it still stinks. This is just a callback to the “golden days” of the late 2000s when checklist country dominated radio and was the predecessor to bro country, the predecessor to the current crap on country radio. The people who call themselves “true country folks” and consider Justin Moore an outlaw country artist will love this song, as this song is a masturbatory exercise for them. Also the phrase “red dirt rich” is uttered throughout the song and I’m sure this just pleases you Texas/Red Dirt fans.

Kill The Lights mercifully comes to an end with “Scarecrows.” People who still have respect for Bryan and give him the benefit of the doubt will say this is a good song, but I’m not one of those people. This song will never be a single and that’s all that matters. Bryan is defined by what he releases to radio, not buried album cuts. The song is a heartfelt tune about not forgetting your roots and I can appreciate it in a vacuum. But I would rather imagine scarecrows coming to life and attacking Bryan and the bros hanging out in the cornfields. This image in my head is more entertaining than this album.

I didn’t think it would be possible for Luke Bryan to put out an album worse than his 2013 release Crash My Party and yet he has done it with Kill The Lights. There are so many issues going on with this album that I could have written even more about it, but it’s not worth spending any more time than I have on it. The first half of this album is so atrocious that it’s on level with some of the worst music I have ever reviewed on Country Perspective. The second half of the album has some decent music, but for most casual fans with taste there’s no chance in hell they make it this far into the album. Bryan at this point in his career has become Gumby for Music Row. He’ll bend and contort into whatever is the latest trend. In his last album he pandered to bro country and now he’s giving his own take on the Sam Hunt, R&B styled “country” music. There’s not a single good song on this album, only a few decent ones. Some are giving him a little credit for this, but they shouldn’t. The decent stuff won’t sniff country radio, so to me it’s all moot. Kill The Lights deserves the dishonor of becoming the second album ever on this site to receive the lowest score possible.

Grade: 0/10

 

Album Review – Montgomery Gentry’s ‘Folks Like Us’

Montgomery Gentry Folks Like Us

It’s always interesting to watch an artist or band on the back nine of their career. Some continue to make the same music they’ve always made, while others try to chase trends to hang onto their popular status and remain in the mainstream conscious. It can be hard for an act to accept that the glory days of their career are done and its time for the next phase of their career. Longtime country music duo Montgomery Gentry is certainly in the latter half of their career, as their last big hit came four years when “Where I Come From” reached #8 on the Billboard Hot Country songs chart. The only reason it really went that high on the chart too was because Dallas Davidson helped write it and his songs were the toast of Music Row at the time. So really their last big hit was in 2009, which was “One in Every Crowd.” When it comes to the recent music released by Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry, they’ve straddled between pandering to current trends and making music that made people fans of them. On their newest album Folks Like Us, its unfortunately more of the former than the latter.

The album begins with “We Were Here,” a song that reflects back on past times and memories. It has decent productions and vocals from the duo and it kind of reminds me of their old sound. This song could have been better and it could have been worse. Montgomery Gentry go to the bro country well on “Headlights.” It’s your typical summer, bro anthem that we’ve heard from so many artists that I can’t even get that angry about anymore. This is probably because it’s not even the worst thing in country music right now. The production on this song is completely forgettable. Seeing an older act like Montgomery Gentry do these songs is just sad and embarrassing.

“In a Small Town” is exactly what it says it is: a song about a small town. I’m so freaking tired of these damn songs. I think I felt nauseous as I listened to this song because the small town theme is just so overdone. This brought nothing new to the table in terms of the theme at hand. But wait it gets worse! The next song, “Back on a Dirt Road,” is even more terrible. More ridiculous bro tropes, including a reference at the beginning of the song to a “countrified club mix.” What the hell is that? This sounds like a song Jason Aldean would’ve done four years ago. This is one of the worst songs I’ve heard this year. The next song, “Two Old Friends,” is better, but that’s not saying much. It’s about two old friends reuniting with each other. Not a bad theme, but what hurts this song is the production and lyrics. The instrumentation is like a mash-up of pop country and Sam Hunt’s metro sound. It’s kind of dizzying. The lyrics are lukewarm and don’t evoke much emotion at all, which is needed in a nostalgic-driven song like this one.

The album’s title track is a giant-shout out to the everyday people across America. The usual themes of loving Jesus, living in small towns and wearing blue jeans are mentioned throughout the song. Can the songwriting get anymore average and safe than this? What happened to songs like “What Do Ya Think About That”? That was the Montgomery Gentry I enjoyed. Luckily, we get a taste of the duo I enjoyed at one point on “Pain.” It’s a heartbreak song where the man can’t shake the pain of losing his love. This is the type of song that fits in Montgomery Gentry’s wheelhouse perfectly. It tells a simple heartbreak story and the instrumentation doesn’t try to do too much. This easily makes it the best song on the album. Of course this brief quality in the album is broken up by the ridiculous “Hillbilly Hippies.” The song title was an obvious warning that his track would be at best an annoying checklist song. That’s pretty much what it is and includes a weird part in the bridge with some female vocals. This kind of reminds me of a song Big & Rich would do.

“Better for it” is one of the three good songs on this album. It’s about moving on in life and leaving bad memories in the rear view mirror. The man in the song has found the true love of his life now and he’s better for it. Not only does the song have an intriguing theme, but also there’s a steel guitar and an organ in the background. Why couldn’t the whole album be more like this song? The final song to close Folks Like Us out is “That’s Just Living.” It’s about taking the mistakes and scars you incur throughout life in stride and just chalking it up to living. The message of the song is accepting these bumps in life as part of the ride. This song can grow on you after a few listens, as it has a theme everyone can identify with. The vocals are good on this song too. This album closes out pretty song, as three of the final four songs are the best on it.

For the most part, Folks Like Us is a disappointing and forgettable album from Montgomery Gentry. The first half of the album is so bad that I think many listeners would stop listening at the halfway mark and give up on the album. Of course they would miss the second half of the album, which is actually listenable and features some good songs. This is poor track placement on Montgomery Gentry’s fault, although they’re hardly alone in mainstream country when it comes to this aspect. Even Miranda Lambert put her worst songs towards the front of the album on her 2014 release Platinum. If I wasn’t reviewing this album and listening to it as a fan with casual interest, I would have never listened past “Back on a Dirt Road.” By the way if that song gets released as a single, it will be on the year-end list for Country Perspective’s 2015 Worst Country Songs. It’s atrocious and blatantly panders to current trends. So in terms of recommending the album, I wouldn’t recommend it. But if you’re a fan of Montgomery Gentry or some of their music, I would recommend listening to “Pain,” “Better for it” and “That’s Just Living.” The rest I would recommend skipping. The bad really outweighs and bogs down Folks Like Us.

Grade: 4/10

 

The Hodgepodge: Breaking Down Florida Georgia Line Songs

Finally! The infographics have returned! For those that are new to the site, one of the most enjoyable features I did last year was using infographics to break down the composition of the music or the charts. In the past I looked at Dallas Davidson songs and Luke Bryan songs. For today’s infographic I decided to take a look at the music catalog of Florida Georgia Line. I’ve been wanting to do this one for a while now and I finally had time to do it. So without further ado let’s take a look at the interesting data I scooped up on Florida Georgia Line’s songs…

Breaking Down Florida Georgia Line Songs

Notes:

  • If you’re wondering, no I did not sit down and listen to every Florida Georgia Line song. I like my ears.
  • To see the lyrics for all of Florida Georgia Line’s songs, click here. They’re even funnier reading them out loud.
  • Bonus stat that didn’t make the infographic: 12 different artists are name-dropped in their songs. Those artists are Marshall Tucker, Hank Williams (multiple times), Lynyrd Skynyrd, David Lee Roth, Drake, Alabama (multiple times), George Strait, Merle Haggard, Mick Jagger, Bob Marley, Shania Twain and Florida Georgia Line. Yes, they name-drop themselves in a song.
  • Each album features one song each that doesn’t contain the term “girl,” “baby” or a similar term. So they’re consistent in this regard.
  • I thought about listing every type of alcohol reference and alcohol brand, but there was no way it was going to fit onto the infographic. Based on memory, Bacardi seemed to be the go-to reference along with fireball.
  • You have no idea how much amusement I got out of reading such terrible lyrics together. I can’t fathom how grown adults can sit in a room and concoct such brain-dead lyrics.
  • If you have anymore questions on what data I found or how I got it, ask away in the comments below!

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases

  • Toby Keith will be releasing his new album 35 MPH Town next Tuesday. I really don’t expect much from it.
  • Laura Bell Bundy just released a new album this week titled Another Piece of Me. I honestly had no idea she was still making music.
  • Sammy Kershaw just released a new album too and it’s called I Won’t Back Down. I will definitely be listening to and reviewing this one.
  • Clare Dunn is releasing a new single titled “Move On.”
  • There were several releases from Texas and independent acts in this past week, including: Dale Watson, Sam Outlaw, Uncle Lucius, Courtney Patton and more. See what I mean when I say there’s a lot of releases happening right now? Hopefully we’ll be able review all of these.
  • Also with the majority of these quality releases in the past week, Billy Currington’s Summer Forever and Gloriana’s Three albums will most likely not be reviewed. When it comes to reviews, Derek and myself always give preference to the better albums and these two are at the very bottom of our review list right now. We both found that each album, for the lack of a better word, sucked and really there wasn’t a single quality song on them. There’s no point in wasting time on bad albums, especially when they aren’t even big enough for hits. Sorry, but there’s just better music we would rather spend our time on.

Throwback Thursday Song

Jason Isbell – “Cover Me Up” – Of course I chose this song this week. I’ve been listening to Isbell a lot in the last week. Can his new album get here yet?

Non-Country Song of the Week

Weird Al Yankovic – “Word Crimes” – This was one of my favorite songs from 2014. Weird Al brilliantly combined the catchy beat from that terrible song “Blurred Lines” with a grammar lesson that many people need. Brilliant! I bet Florida Georgia Line could learn something from this song.

Tweet of the Week

And Cake Bowen once again nails it!

iTunes Reviews That Rock!

Thomas Rhett Sucks Vol. 1000

This week’s reviews are for Thomas Rhett’s “Crash and Burn.” It warms my heart to see other people skewer terrible music like this. The last review even comes from a fan of Rhett.

Note for Next Week: There will not be a Hodgepodge, as it will take the week off. All next week we’ll be giving our mid-year assessment of country music, looking at the best and worst throughout the genre so far in 2015. 

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