The Hodgepodge: The Confusing Saga of The Band Perry Continues…..

The Band Perry confuses me. I have no clue what their intention is within the music industry. Are they mindless drones stuck in a contract that rebrands the band every year? Or are the three Perry siblings just trying to do all the different musical genres they can? The spark notes of the band’s short history:

  • In 2010, they release their first album with the great single “If I Die Young.” It’s an album I actually enjoy with a good modern country production.
  • Two years later, the band releases their follow up album Pioneer. The album has a little bit of more edge to it with songs like “Better Dig Two”, “DONE!” and “Chainsaw” being released as singles.
  • In 2014, The Band Perry returns to total country roots with their rendition of Glen Campbell’s “Gentle On My Mind” released as a standalone single. A recording that won the band a Grammy last year.
  • Late last year, the band takes a 180 turn and decides they want to be a pop group, with “Live Forever” acting as the jumping single for this transition. “Live Forever” bombs on the charts and The Band Perry stumbles through an awkward period of having their third album release get delayed, getting dropped from their label and presumably taking the reigns themselves for their pop move.
  • And now The Band Perry signs a joint deal with UMG’s Interscope and Mercury Nashville and is readying a new single for country radio titled “Comeback Kid.”

The big take away from all this is that The Band Perry’s attempt to turn pop failed…miserably. The new yellow branding and inspirational, youthful pop anthems like “Live Forever” and “Put Me in the Game Coach” crashed hard and fast. And now with “Comeback Kid,” the band is desperately trying to erase any evidence of the past 11 months. They’ve deleted all their tweets prior to the comeback branding, their website is completely redesigned with the ugly pink/beige color and typewriter text, only promoting upcoming concerts and the Fan Club. Yet going to their online store, for the moment, one can find old shirts for “Live Forever” on a page still designed for the Heart + Beat brand.

Clearly the band is moving on from the failed pop experiment and trying to reestablish themselves in country music. They’ve given no hint or preview as to what “Comeback Kid” may sound like. So maybe it’ll be more country along the lines of “If I Die Young” or “Gentle On My Mind”, or maybe it’ll be a song more in line with the Adult Contemporary musical trend hitting Nashville at the moment. But the real question is, how seriously will people take this move and return?

A year ago, The Band Perry basically admitted that they were a musical sellout by blatantly shifting to pop without warning. Are fans and radio alike ready to welcome the group back with open arms? It’s not like The Band Perry’s absence over the last year has been noticeable or left a gaping hole in country music, unlike Taylor Swift’s departure to pop. I’m sure if UMG is willing to sign the band after this failed move to pop, then the label is ready to invest some time and money to make sure The Band Perry’s image and inclusion in country music isn’t affected.

As someone who has mostly enjoyed the band’s output so far, I can’t say I’m excited about this. I think moving on and forgetting isn’t a good strategy. Personally, I’d like to see some transparency from the band about the move to pop, how it didn’t work, and why they did what they did. I do respect them for returning to country and possibly (hopefully) returning to their folksy/pop country style of music because that’s who they are. I just want to see them approach this comeback with some accountability that their attempt to move pop wasn’t a good move. Even Kimberly Perry took to twitter to throw some shade toward Little Big Town about collaborating with Pharrell, because we can only assume that was what The Band Perry was doing/wanted to do with their pop album. (Can’t link the tweet because even the siblings’ personal accounts have had tweets deleted).

August 1st will be the day that some of these questions will be answered. For some, The Band Perry may be forever tainted by this ungraceful move to pop, and others undoubtedly will be excited for the new music as if nothing happened. Aside from the fact that country radio is congested with singers desperately trying to make a name for themselves, I don’t think The Band Perry’s return to country will be smooth or grand. Maybe they’ll get a top 20 single with “Comeback Kid”, but I think this move pop hurt the band’s standing within the country music industry. And now they’re crawling back as if the last year didn’t happen. Regardless of how good their music ends up being, I think their musical saga lately has hurt the band to the point that they’ll never again be as big a country group as they were in the first half of the decade.

Upcoming/Recent Country and Americana Releases

  • The Turnpike Troubadours have a new single called “Come As You Are.” The song will officially be available for purchase tomorrow.
  • Blackberry Smoke has released a new single to promote a new album. “Waiting For the Thunder” will be the first track off their upcoming album Like an Arrow, expected October 14.
  • Lori McKenna‘s The Bird & The Rifle will be released tomorrow.
  • Hillary Scott‘s Love Remains will also be released tomorrow.
  • Cody Jinks‘ I’m Not the Devil will be released on August 12.
  • American Aquarium frontman BJ Barham will release a solo album called Rockingham on August 19.

Throwback Thursday Song

“Sick and Tired” Cross Canadian Ragweed (feat. Lee Ann Womack) From the band’s great album Soul Gravity, this collaboration with Womack has some excellent lyrics and great vocal harmonies. The song managed to hit 46 on the charts in 2004.

Non Country Suggestion of the Week

Cold War Kids. I as continue to explore some modern music outside of country and Americana, I heard this song on Alternative radio and I like it a lot. I’ve been listening to the band’s new album Hold My Home and it’s good music to check out.

Tweet of the Week

In the short lived twitter feud between Dylan Scott and Wheeler Walker Jr., Dylan Scott came to defend Chewbacca Mom after she joined him on the Opry stage. If you follow WWJ on twitter, then you probably know he hates that Chewbacca Mom has become so famous from her laugh video, and made fun of modern country’s embrace of the internet sensation. Dylan Scott (who has since deleted all the tweets) claimed that Walker’s music is trash and not representative of country music. That was an entertaining half hour to witness on twitter, and I hope someone somewhere grabbed screenshots of Scott’s tweets.

iTunes Reviews for Brantley Gilbert’s “The Weekend”

We’re sure has hell not going to bother with reviewing “The Weekend”, as I’m pretty sure our regular readers can anticipate what we’d say about it. But in case you’re curious, these reviews about sum up how I feel.

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The consensus here speaks volumes.

Review – Billy Currington’s “Drinkin’ Town With A Football Problem”

Billy Currington Summer Forever

To say Billy Currington has turned into a disappointment is an understatement. In the mid to late 2000s, I was quite a fan of the music Currington was making, with such notable singles like “Good Directions” and “People Are Crazy.” But ever since the bro country wave hit the genre, Currington has been steadily going downhill with his music quality. It started with “Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer,” a passable song with bro country tinges. Three years later it turned into his worst single, “Hey Girl.” Now I know a lot of fans don’t hold this song under the fire like a lot of other bro country songs, but to me this song didn’t get jeered enough. His latest single, “Don’t It,” was a mediocre and forgettable song. Yet, it topped the Billboard Country Airplay chart. In fact it was his ninth career airplay #1. That being said his newest album Summer Forever has experienced subpar sales and less staying power on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart than Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard’s Django & Jimmie album. And who’s the one with radio support again?

I think it’s obvious that Currington’s days in the spotlight are starting to wane. His singles continue to spiral downward in quality and his sales are nothing to brag about. If his label Mercury Nashville thought highly of him and his drawing power, then they wouldn’t have released his new album in June. It would have been in April or May. His last single, “Don’t It,” took several weeks to finally climb up the charts and just barely got to #1. I don’t expect his future singles to be any different, including his newest single “Drinkin’ Town With A Football Problem.” Just by looking at this title I could tell this was going to be a cliché filled song and I wasn’t wrong. Right off the bat this song takes on an annoying tone with shouts of “hey y’all.” It gets my attention, but not in a good way. It makes me want to turn the station or turn the song off instead of listening to it. Then you get lines like these, which populate the majority of the song:

Barhoppers, churchgoers
Marlboro Light smokers
Blue collar, red voters
Population 1,009

Ah! So it’s one of those songs where a bunch of stuff is listed and we’re supposed to relate to it because we’re all a bunch of clichés. Got it! It’s not like we haven’t heard this kind of song before. The main crux of this song and why all of these different things are listed is because it’s about small towns who love to drink and watch high school football. Again it’s not like we haven’t heard this song before. For those who aren’t picking up on my sarcasm or clicked the links, the songs I linked are Kenny Chesney songs, “American Kids” and “The Boys of Fall.” I’m not picking on Chesney here, but “Drinkin’ Town With a Football Problem” sounds like those two songs combined. I’ve talked about my “meh” feeling on “American Kids,” but let’s talk about “The Boys of Fall.” I absolutely can’t stand this song or any song that glorifies high school football. As someone who grew up in a town that is like the one in these songs, it’s a sickening theme to hear glorified because it’s just so easy and overhyped. But gullible mainstream listeners eat this stuff up.

Pretty much every country song about high school football is eye-roll inducing, bro chest thumping, douchebaggery that paints this happy, Mayberry-like picture of high school football. It talks about how important it is to the town and how these young men are learning such valuable lessons. I’m sure it does, but we all know that a lot of high school football isn’t like this. Yet, “Drinkin’ Town With A Football Problem” furthers this narrative. That’s why I was happy last year when Canadian country artist Kira Isabella released the song “Quarterback.” This song was about how the high school quarterback was a rapist and how his status protected him from being apprehended for his actions. Of course it didn’t take off here in the States because we’re not allowed to soil the sanctity of high school football. I’ll step off the soapbox now. Bottom line: these songs about the glorification of high school football are overdone and lack creativity. “Drinkin’ Town With A Football Problem” is no different.

The only thing I like about this song is the instrumentation, which at least has a nice pop country sound. It at least sounds like it belongs on country radio and doesn’t try to be an EDM or R&B song. The guitar play is on point and doesn’t drown out Currington’s voice too. So I’ll give credit in this area. Other than that this is pretty much another forgettable single from Currington. It was chosen because it’s a really safe choice. These types of songs have been proven hits for country artists for years and I expect this song to be no different. It’s slowly inching its way up the airplay chart, similar to “Don’t It.” I’ve given up on Currington producing quality music, as his latest album Summer Forever and this new single show that he just doesn’t care about putting out good music anymore. “Drinkin’ Town With a Football Problem” is just another song on the mainstream country conveyor belt and I don’t recommend listening to it. There are much better songs that deserve attention.

Grade: 4/10

Review – Jamey Johnson Makes His Return With New Single, “Alabama Pines”

Finally! While Jamey Johnson made his official return with new music on his Christmas EP in December, to me this is his official return. Fans having been waiting years for new original music from the Alabama singer and it’s finally here. Jamey Johnson posted on social media channels a letter explaining his new song, “Alabama Pines”:

Jamey Johnson Letter to Fans

As Johnson says in the letter, this song is a callback to his early days of starting his music career in Nashville. Sounds like the appropriate song to reintroduce himself to the country music world. And I couldn’t think of a better review to kick off the 2015 year in country music.

“Alabama Pines” is a tender, nostalgia ballad. I love the choice of starting the song off with at first subtle, yet ear-catching later acoustic guitar play combined with a “dream” effect sound. I listened to this beginning part over and over because it’s such a great introduction. The rest of the song sticks with a decidedly traditional sound, which is literally music to my ears. You can always rely on Johnson to deliver a great, classic country sound. I also love the incorporation of the piano in the song, which is more present in the second half of the song.

As for the lyrics, Johnson reflects back to his early days of starting his music career and heading to Nashville. He specifically mentions how he remembers driving down a dusty road (you know because he actually has, unlike most “country” artists) hearing the music on radio and how he “pined” to move to Nashville. When he got there he then realized he would “still be living with the Alabama pines.” In other words, he realized he didn’t really belong in Nashville and belonged in Alabama instead. I would love to know how many artists went to Nashville to make country music only to realize they didn’t need it to make country music. That’s obviously the realization Jamey has made, as he left the Mercury Nashville label and has started his own independent label, Big Gassed Records.

I’ll reiterate what I said above. This is the perfect comeback song for Jamey Johnson. It’s beautifully simple and traditional with a feel good message. It will also create a sense of nostalgia in many listeners I think too, something many mainstream country songs tried to do in 2014 and failed at doing so. The song reflects on simpler times when your younger and didn’t realize what you truly wanted in life. It’s after your experiences you truly realize what you want.

“Alabama Pines” is a pretty good song. It’s not great like “In Color” or “Lonesome Song,” but still pretty dang good nonetheless. Johnson hasn’t said if this is the first song off a new album. In fact he hasn’t officially announced a new album, as I said in my 2015 albums post yesterday. Whether this is just a one-off song like Wade Bowen’s “Songs About Trucks” or is the first single off a new album, it’s so satisfying to hear new Jamey Johnson music. This is the way I wanted to start off 2015 in country music. And Johnson not only made this great song, but is offering it for free currently on his website. I highly recommend getting it and telling all your country music friends that Jamey Johnson is back and just as good as ever.

Grade: 9/10

To download “Alabama Pines” for free, click here.