The Endless Music Odyssey, Vol. 4 — Margo Price, Jon Pardi, The Chicks & more!

Margo Price — That’s How Rumors Get Started

I really wanted to enjoy this album and there isn’t a single bad song on it. But yet after multiple listens not a single song sticks with me either. And it bugs the crap out of me how I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is that continues to be missing from Price’s albums. I’ve always been a fan of Sturgill Simpson’s production and while I think the direction taken with it suits Price’s style, it doesn’t necessarily work to her best either. I guess if I had to pick reasons of why this album just doesn’t work for me is it’s due to a lack of energy and presence of Price. She has a fantastic voice and yet it feels like she continues to be relegated to middling/softer vocal performances. So if it was up to me, I would like to see her go in a heavier rock direction and fully unleash her voice to see how the result turns out. 5/10

Jon PardiRancho Fiesta Sessions

Take this for what it is and you can find a lot of enjoyment in his small cover album. While the sound engineering isn’t the best and rawness of the recording exposes Pardi’s biggest weakness as a vocalist (sounding too thin at times), you can tell Pardi and his band really enjoyed recording this and this is infectious as a listener. It also further supports why I think Pardi needs to get away from his more traditional direction he’s been taking and get back to the more country rock sound of his first album. He just seems to enjoy himself more and it brings out his best too. Kudos to him having the guts to cover Prince too, as it is not an easy task and he actually does a solid job. 8/10

The ChicksGaslighter

This is one of my most disappointing listens of 2020. I’m still a big fan of the lead single and title track, as it’s energy is infectious. But this album becomes so tedious and monotonous to listen to thereafter. First off it feels less like a project from The Chicks and more of a Natalie Maines solo project. There isn’t enough harmonies. The “boat incident” is rehashed ad nauseam. But perhaps the worst thing about this project is the production. I’m a big fan of Jack Antonoff. Hell, he produced Country Perspective’s 2019 Album of the Year. But his production does not go well with The Chicks at all. It’s just too polished for this trio and pales in comparison to their previous sound. I had high hopes for the return of The Chicks, but this honestly feels like the Garth Brooks return all over again. 6/10

Tenille TownesThe Lemonade Stand

I come away from this album seeing a lot of potential in Tenille Townes. Her voice is distinctive and it sticks with you long after listening. And I think Jay Joyce is the right choice as producer, even though I think he can get a bit heavy handed with the production at times on this album. Townes is only going to get better as a songwriter too as she continues to get more experience. While there are a few too many moments where the songs just feel run of the mill, the moments that do work though are great, such as “Jersey on the Wall” and “Come as You Are.” 6/10

Mark ChesnuttNumbers on the Jukebox EP

The sound on this EP is just not mixed well at all. And I’m forgiving in this department when it comes to independent artists. But it’s just so jarring as the listener and I find it puzzling how live and studio recordings are intermingled. The songwriting is also a big step down from Tradition Lives, which is a great album. I expected a lot more from Chesnutt and this feels like a letdown.

Eric PaslayNice Guy

Man, what happened to this guy? He showed so much promise on his debut album. He’s a great live performer too. Then he released the terrible single “High Class” and it’s been steady down hill ever since. This mediocre batch of pop country only continues his descent. It just baffles me how an artist who seems to only be trending upwards to make such a sudden 180. Only Zac Brown Band and The Band Perry baffle me more when it comes to changing so suddenly.

RaeLynnBaytown EP

I’ve been enjoying the direction RaeLynn has been taking into more goofy, “kitchy” songs. This EP features even more enjoyable songs in this vein. “Judgin’ to Jesus” is really catchy and “Bra Off” makes me laugh at the new twist on a breakup song. “Fake Girl Town” doesn’t land for me as the tone just doesn’t fit RaeLynn nor the other tracks on the album. While the lighter side seems to fit RaeLynn best, “Me About Me” is a nice reminder of when RaeLynn wants to get more serious she can do quite well too. It honestly surprises me she hasn’t had more radio success because she has so many songs with great hooks and her charisma is infectious. But if you’ve been enjoying RaeLynn’s recent direction, this is an EP certainly worth your time. 7/10

Cassadee PopeRise and Shine

“I really want this record to sound like an acoustic Dashboard Confessional — like a country Dashboard record.” That’s what Pope says of this album and well mission accomplished. That’s not a good thing. It only makes me want to repeat again: Pope is not suited for country music. She has a great voice, but it is not suited for country. The pop punk of Hey Monday is where she needs to get back to, but we all know what’s more marketable and that’s what drives the decision making of most artists. It’s a shame.

Blackberry Smoke — Live Bandcamp albums

As always this band delivers and they deliver no better than when they’re in a live setting. These lives albums are admittedly not too different from their excellent 2019 live album Homecoming, but if you’re a fan of Blackberry Smoke it’s certainly worth checking out. If anything listen to the songs that aren’t covered on their previous live albums.

Albums from artists I’ve heard and will be covering soon:

  • Daniel Donato
  • Lindsay Ell
  • Duckwrth
  • CeeLo Green

Albums from artists I haven’t heard but on my to listen to list and will likely cover:

  • Caylee Hammack
  • Jacob Collier
  • The Mavericks
  • Tim McGraw
  • Josh Turner
  • Tucker Beathard
  • Taylor Swift
  • The Allman Betts Band

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [February 6]

lol

Each week we take a look the Billboard Country Airplay chart and grade the top 30 songs. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive one of the following scores: +5, +4, +3, +2, +1, 0, -1, -2, -3, -4, -5. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the current top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +150 and the lowest possible score being a -150. How do I determine the score for the song? The review grade it received on the site or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been reviewed yet, then I will make the call. The grade it has received or I would give it determines its Pulse score. The grading key: 10 [+5], 9 [+4], 8 [+3], 7 [+2], 6 [+1], 5 [0], 4 [-1], 3 [-2], 2 [-3], 1 [-4], 0 [-5].

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the current state of mainstream country music and determine if it’s improving or getting worse. Let’s take a look at this week’s top thirty…

  1. Thomas Rhett – “Star of the Show” -3 (Up 1)
  2. Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” -1 (Down 1)
  3. Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red” -5 
  4. Little Big Town – “Better Man” +2
  5. Chris Young (feat. Vince Gill) – “Sober Saturday Night” +1  
  6. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 
  7. Brad Paisley – “Today” +2 
  8. Michael Ray – “Douchey Pickup Song” -5 
  9. Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots” +1 
  10. Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” +4
  11. Luke Bryan – “Fast” -1
  12. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 
  13. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -2 
  14. Jason Aldean – “Any Ol’ Barstool” (Up 1)
  15. Brantley Gilbert – “The Weekend” -5 (Down 1)
  16. Kelsea Ballerini – “Yeah Boy” -5 
  17. Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (Up 3)
  18. Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl”
  19. Kenny Chesney – “Bar at the End of the World” -3
  20. High Valley – “Make You Mine” -2 
  21. Sam Hunt – “Body Like a Back Road” -5 (New to Top 30) [Worst Song]
  22. Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” +4 (Down 1)
  23. Dierks Bentley – “Black” -2 (Down 1)
  24. Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl” +1 (Down 1)
  25. Darius Rucker – “If I Told You” 
  26. Zac Brown Band – “My Old Man” +4 (New to Top 30) [Best Song]
  27. Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” +3 (Down 3)
  28. Miranda Lambert – “We Should Be Friends” +2 (Down 2)
  29. Dan + Shay – “How Not To” +1 (Down 2)
  30. Rascal Flatts – “Yours If You Want It” -2

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -25

The pulse drops six spots this week.

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Runaway June – “Lipstick” +3
  • RaeLynn – “Love Triangle” +2

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Sam Hunt – “Body Like a Back Road”
  • Zac Brown Band – “My Old Man”
    • As you can see above I’ve decided to change my grade to a 9/10 for the song because I realized it’s just not quite a 10 and I let my first impressions get the best of me in grading. Still a damn fine song, an early favorite for one of the best mainstream country songs of 2017 and in my mind the best in the top 30 right now.

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Dan + Shay – “How Not To” – Up 5 from #32 to #27
  • Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl” – Up 4 from #22 to #18
  • Kenny Chesney – “Bar at the End of the World” – Up 4 from #23 to #19

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Runaway June – “Lipstick” – Out of the Top 30 (#33)
  • RaeLynn – “Love Triangle” – Out of the Top 30 (#34)

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

  • Granger Smith – “If The Boot Fits” (Mercifully this one is done finally. A thank you ad was in Country Aircheck this week from Wheelhouse Records. Should be a big thank you considering radio is the only place Granger is relevant…)
  • Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill a Word” (Radio just doesn’t want to go forward anymore with this and the long jam at the top hurt this song’s progression too)
  • Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” (This one looks to finally be done I think, as it lost its bullet)
  • Brantley Gilbert – “The Weekend” (Now that his terrible album is out, this song should be on its last legs at minimum. Unfortunately I see “Bro Code” being the next single, as it’s selling well)
  • High Valley – “Make You Mine” (This just won’t go away. I refuse to remove it from this space!)
  • Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” (Somehow still here after 43 weeks)
  • Dan + Shay – “How Not To” (For some reason Warner has decided to pull this single and instead opting to push the duo’s new single in some new movie. It’s a shame, especially after that fantastic music video that was put out for this song)

On The Hot Seat:

  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” (The only reason I hesitate to say it’s going recurrent is Warner seems hell-bent on keeping this alive)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Lady Antebellum – “You Look Good”
  • Luke Combs – “Hurricane”
  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Backstreet Boys) – “God, Your Mama and Me”
  • Cole Swindell – “Flatliner”

 

Thoughts: There’s good news and bad new for fans of “Lipstick” and “Love Triangle.” Good news is there are lots of songs due to go recurrent. Bad news is these are the type of songs radio will gladly leave in the dust. If I had to guess, I would say “Love Triangle” has the best shot of sticking around despite losing it’s bullet as it has 10 less weeks on the chart than “Lipstick.” Not to mention RaeLynn’s album release is relatively soon and the label could conceivably keep it alive. But they could just as easily put out another single and push it in enough time for the album. Some additional bad news also is two radio favorites Justin Moore and Brett Young are just as little as a couple of weeks away from passing them. Hope for the best, but expect the worst.

 

As always be sure to weigh-in with your thoughts in the comments below. 

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [January 30]

Creepy Blake
Three weeks in a row of creepy eyes! Aren’t you going to miss this staring back at you next week?

Each week we take a look the Billboard Country Airplay chart and grade the top 30 songs. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive one of the following scores: +5, +4, +3, +2, +1, 0, -1, -2, -3, -4, -5. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the current top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +150 and the lowest possible score being a -150. How do I determine the score for the song? The review grade it received on the site or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been reviewed yet, then I will make the call. The grade it has received or I would give it determines its Pulse score. The grading key: 10 [+5], 9 [+4], 8 [+3], 7 [+2], 6 [+1], 5 [0], 4 [-1], 3 [-2], 2 [-3], 1 [-4], 0 [-5].

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the current state of mainstream country music and determine if it’s improving or getting worse. Let’s take a look at this week’s top thirty…

  1. Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” -1 
  2. Thomas Rhett – “Star of the Show” -3 
  3. Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red” -5 (Up 1) 
  4. Little Big Town – “Better Man” +2 (Up 2)
  5. Chris Young (feat. Vince Gill) – “Sober Saturday Night” +1 (Up 2) 
  6. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 (Up 2)
  7. Brad Paisley – “Today” +2 (Up 2)
  8. Michael Ray – “Douchey Pickup Song” -5 (Up 2) [Worst Song]
  9. Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots” +1 (Up 3)
  10. Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” +4 (Up 1) [Best Song] 
  11. Luke Bryan – “Fast” -1 (Up 2)
  12. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 (Up 2)
  13. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -2 (Up 2)
  14. Brantley Gilbert – “The Weekend” -5 (Up 2)
  15. Jason Aldean – “Any Ol’ Barstool” (Up 3)
  16. Kelsea Ballerini – “Yeah Boy” -5 (Up 3)
  17. Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (Up 3)
  18. Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl” (Up 4)
  19. Kenny Chesney – “Bar at the End of the World” -3 (Up 4)
  20. High Valley – “Make You Mine” -2 (Up 1)
  21. Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” +4 (Up 3)
  22. Dierks Bentley – “Black” -2 (Up 4)
  23. Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl” +1 (Up 2)
  24. Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” +3 (Up 4)
  25. Darius Rucker – “If I Told You” (Up 4)
  26. Miranda Lambert – “We Should Be Friends” +2 (Up 4)
  27. Dan + Shay – “How Not To” +1 (New to Top 30)
  28. Runaway June – “Lipstick” +3 (New to Top 30)
  29. RaeLynn – “Love Triangle” +2 (New to Top 30)
  30. Rascal Flatts – “Yours If You Want It” -2 (New to Top 30)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -19

The pulse improves nine spots this week!

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry” 0
  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” -4 (Glad to see this one gone, but the next one isn’t much better)
  • Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” +3
  • Lady Antebellum – “You Look Good” -4

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Dan + Shay – “How Not To”
  • Runaway June – “Lipstick”
    • Yes! So glad this one finally made the top 30. I don’t think it does any better than top 20, but still I’m pretty happy to see this just crack top 30.
  • RaeLynn – “Love Triangle”
    • Another one I’m glad to see make it. RaeLynn should be rewarded for her most mature single to date.
  • Rascal Flatts – “Yours If You Want It”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Dan + Shay – “How Not To” – Up 5 from #32 to #27
  • Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl” – Up 4 from #22 to #18
  • Kenny Chesney – “Bar at the End of the World” – Up 4 from #23 to #19

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” – Out of the Top 30 & Done

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

  • High Valley – “Make You Mine” (The song that just won’t go away. It’s been here forever and it’s well past due to go recurrent)
  • Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” (Loss of over 200k in audience and lost bullet. At 42 weeks it’s lucky to still be here)

On The Hot Seat:

  • Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” (Not in a great position and its close to hitting it’s wall. I still think it has enough left in it to maybe squeak out a top five, as Bryan will obviously pass him next week. But after that there’s three songs radio isn’t excited about and gives this song a cushion to stay afloat)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Lady Antebellum – “You Look Good”
  • Luke Combs – “Hurricane”
  • Zac Brown Band – “My Old Man” (Available Friday and impacting immediately, so expect hourly spins on iHeart)
  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Backstreet Boys) – “God, Your Mama and Me”

 

Thoughts: Well we finally got a nice purge on the chart and yet it still wasn’t big enough. There’s still multiple songs that should have went recurrent by now. Looking at you Garth, High Valley and Dibbles. There are some others that are real iffy too. But at least we’re finally starting to see some new songs injected into the charts. Also just as I predicted, country radio is starting to really get behind Turner. That’s nice news for him, even if I don’t like the song. He’s an old reliable and while I don’t think this reaches the top, it should at least reach top ten. Finally Jon Pardi continues to demonstrate he has a real hit on his hands, as he moves into the top ten just under 20 weeks on the chart.

 

As always be sure to weigh-in with your thoughts in the comments below. 

Review – RaeLynn’s “Love Triangle”

raelynn-love-triangle

When it comes to RaeLynn and her music, I haven’t exactly been kind. It was for good reason though because the music was downright awful (and sexist in one case). I’ve probably been one of her harshest critics. But as I’ve said before I criticize because I care and I welcome any artist to turn it around and deliver something that will make me eat crow. I honestly never thought RaeLynn would do this though because I’ve been completely skeptical of her talent. Well she proves me wrong with “Love Triangle.” This was the song she should have always led off her career with because this song gives her credibility and shows an unseen side the world needed to see. It’s a reflective ballad based on RaeLynn’s own upbringing about being a child raised by divorced parents. She goes through the same old routine every week of splitting time between parents, going to the same old place and being caught up in all of the entanglements of her parents’ divorce. It’s a deeply personal song and RaeLynn does a great job of letting this shine through. In a world where divorce is common, I imagine many listeners will be able to connect with this song. The production is subdued and really lets the lyrics do the heavy lifting, which is the right call. Strong piano play and a little more steel guitar that shows up too briefly could have helped the song stand out even more though. RaeLynn is still a limited vocalist and a better vocalist would raise the final grade admittedly, but this is her best vocal performance yet. Overall RaeLynn shows and proves more with “Love Triangle” than she has proven and shown with every song she released before it. I gladly eat crow and praise RaeLynn for releasing such a mature single, which I hope is the sign of more better music to come from her.

Grade: 7/10

Recommend? – Yes

Written by RaeLynn, Nicolle Galyon and Jimmy Robbins

Worst Country Artist 2016 Tournament: Vote on the Sour 16 Regions!

Sour 16 Country Perspective's 2016 Worst Country Artist Tournament

Welcome to the second round of Country Perspective’s 2016 Worst Country Artist Tournament! We’re now down to the Sour 16 and the match-ups are getting better and better. You know the drill from the first round: vote for who you think is the worst country artist in the match-up. Remember you have until Wednesday, March 23 at 2 PM ET to vote, so be sure to get your votes in! If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments below.

 

Pop Artists Region

 

 

We’re A Group & We Suck Region

 

 

Good ‘Ol Bros Region

 

 

Georgia Region