Review – Randy Houser’s “We Went”

Even though Randy Houser has been making music for nearly seven years, it wasn’t until his third album, How Country Feels, that Houser found a place in the upper tier of country acts. That album produced four straight top five singles for Randy Houser, with two number one songs in “How County Feels” and “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight.” Needless to say, cashing in on bro-country helped reignite Houser’s career, and he doesn’t appear to be hopping off that train anytime soon. Randy Houser’s new single, “We Went,” is your everyday, typical bro-country anthem.

What makes Randy Houser stand out from other solo male acts is the mere fact that he has a powerful, booming voice. Houser’s previous single, “Like a Cowboy,” is an excellent showcase of his vocal capabilities, and that isn’t lost in “We Went.” Houser’s producers know his voice is the main selling point for his songs, and they give Randy some moments to show off his pipes. However, a good vocal performance isn’t enough to cover for the tired, clichéd lyrics that plague the song.

When you summarize and take the song on the surface level, it’s actually kind of funny how many similarities there are to Luke Bryan’s new single, “Kick the Dust Up.” It’s a boring night in small town so Houser and his lady want to go out to the corn to make their own excitement. The similarities don’t stop there, just read these lyrics from the opening verse: “Foot on the gas, ready and throwing up a little dust like a pick up truck does in the mud.” I don’t think it’s coincidental that there’s an ode to dust being kicked thrown up. Also, his lady is turning him on, and Randy Houser is oh-so descriptive in that area. “Nobody knows how to get me going quite like you do when you do the things you do.” That couldn’t be any more vague or stupid. Toss in some lines about fogging up windows in place no one else knows and la-di-da, you have a country song in 2015.

There’s a small reference to being on the run from the cops in an attempt to give this song a little edge, but the focus of the song is without a doubt the 2015 checklist to ensure radio play. The production of the song is quick with the verses and choruses running together without any room to breathe until after the bridge. The quick succession sort of fits with the heavy guitars and “edginess” of the lyrics, but it doesn’t work. Also, don’t forget how a steel guitar is randomly placed in the solo to remind you this isn’t a pop rock song. The production is just all over the place. If it’s any consolation, How Country Feels is an album with some pleasant deep cuts among the bro-country singles released to radio. I think one can reasonably assume that Houser’s upcoming album should provide a similar variety. “We Went” is a shallow offer of bro-country from Randy Houser.

Grade: 3/10

Review – Luke Bryan’s “Kick The Dust Up”

Luke Bryan Kick The Dust Up

Once upon a time in 2013 Luke Bryan released one of the worst country songs of all-time. It was called “That’s My Kind of Night.” It was this song, along with Florida Georgia Line’s cover of Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places” (of all songs) that made me reach my absolute breaking point with mainstream country music. It was at that moment I started my crusade against bro country (I had just came back to country music after taking a months long hiatus). That is why I throw most of my venom towards Bryan and Florida Georgia Line, as they have the most blood on their hands. Fast-forward to today where Florida Georgia Line is slowing losing relevancy and Luke Bryan just released a new single titled “Kick The Dust Up.” The writers of the song are the exact same troika that wrote “That’s My Kind of Night”: Chris DeStefano, Ashley Gorley and Dallas Davidson. I never got a chance to pick apart the 2013 hit, but this new single is practically a clone. So let me explain why “Kick The Dust Up” sucks.

Let’s look at the lyrics first, as we start from the top. Here are the opening lyrics of the song:

All week long it’s a farming town making that money grow
Tractors, trucks with flashing lights backing up a two lane road
They take one last lap around, That sun up high goes down and
That song come on girl kick it on back Z71 like a Cadillac

First is the obligatory mention of something related to farming, an earmark of Bryan songs. This is to show everyone how “country” he is because he’s talking about tractors and trucks. And then of course the namedropping of a brand of car, another cliché regularly used in bro country songs. Dallas Davidson’s trademark word “girls” is here too. Remember how much he loves to to use this word or a variation?

Next is the chorus:

We go way out where there ain’t nobody, We turn this cornfield into a party
Pedal to the floorboard end up in a four door burning up the backroad song.
Park it and we pile out, baby watch your step down, Better have your boots on.
Kick the dust up,
back it on up,
fill your cup up,
Let’s tear it up up
And kick the dust up.

And we’re back to the damn cornfields, as this is one of the bros favorite spots to party. It’s important to note it’s on the backroads too, as this shows you’re a “badass outlaw.” More clichés are thrown in: parking, boots and a cup getting filled up. But is it a Dixie cup? How could you not specify, Bryan? This is important stuff!

Bryan then subtly rips the city life in the middle of the song because once again you have to mock those “city boys” for not living life like the bros:

Downtown they got a line of people waiting out the door.
10 dollar drinks, it’s packed inside, I don’t know what their waiting for.
Got me a jar full of ‘Clear and I got that music for your ears
And it’s like knock knock knock goes the diesel,
If you really wanna see the beautiful people

But wait a minute! I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the bro country artists sing about hanging out in clubs. Do they only go there when the country boys aren’t looking? You asshat bro country artists can’t even keep your story straight. Then there’s the obligatory mention of moonshine because country boys don’t drink those fancy city drinks. This is followed by the most douche line I’ve ever heard in a bro country song: And it’s like knock knock knock goes the diesel. I bet Davidson was smiling ear-to-ear as he wrote this horrendous line. Ah, but there is one more line in the song I need to address:

Just follow me down ‘neath the 32 bridge you all gonna be glad you did.

And there it is. The entire premise of every bro country song: trying to have sex down by the (insert bro destination). This time it’s a bridge. This is the same old damn 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.

This isn’t as bad as “That’s My Kind of Night,” but I don’t think even this trio of writers could pen such a terrible song that could top it. “Kick The Dust Up” is still a horrendous song that only contributes more to the gaping black-hole of creativity on country radio right now. Bryan is still churning out the same exact music he was putting out in 2013. In two years time he hasn’t changed a thing. Why? He hasn’t changed because he knows the mainstream country music fans will gobble this turd up just like the previous ones. We can blame these assholes making bro country all we want, but if fans out there keep accepting this kind of trash as music then they’re just as much to blame for country music’s problems too. So if you want to help country music: avoid this song at all cost and go listen to quality country music. Support the artists that deserve it. You can make a difference. “Kick The Dust Up” is just another black eye on the face of country music.

Grade: 0/10