Josh’s Top Ten Country & Americana Songs – October 2015

October 2015

So the month of October was even better than I expected for country and Americana music. When putting together my top ten list at first I didn’t think there were a lot of candidates. Then I fully looked back through all of our reviews (it can be hard to keep up with all of the music sometimes!) and I realized that there a lot of releases competing for the top ten. From mainstream to independent there was plenty of music to satiate your tastes. Figuring out this top ten list was difficult and I changed my mind multiple times before finally coming up with the ten. It was especially difficult on the last couple of spots. For those songs that missed out, I give them a shout out in the honorable mentions. So without further ado here’s my top ten country and Americana songs for the month of October…

  1. Hailey Whitters – “One More Hell” – This will probably be a surprise to many of you readers, as I haven’t talked about this at all. If it wasn’t for Derek’s great review of Hailey Whitters’ new album Black Sheep I wouldn’t have even known about it. I finally got around to giving it a good listen and this song immediately stood out to me. It’s a personally emotional song for Whitters, as it’s about the death of her brother and how her family and herself are dealing with it. Everything about this song is so well done and even made me a little teary eyed. I can’t wait to hear more from Whitters in the future.
  2. Corb Lund – “Washed-Up Rock Star Factory Blues” – The new album from Corb Lund, Things That Can’t Be Undone, was a completely different sound than many expected and I enjoyed it thoroughly. This song is about Lund dreaming about losing his rock star life and being forced to work in a factory again. Not only does it tell an interesting story, but it also has some wry humor that will bring a smile to your face. The bluesy guitar licks throughout make it even better.
  3. Hailey Whitters – “Low All Afternoon” – Whitters’ second song of the top ten is a heartbreak ballad with an interesting perspective. It’s told from the perspective of the “other woman,” as she had been cheating with a married man for a while and expected to become his woman. Instead he ditches her and sticks with his wife, leaving the other woman to lament the situation. Whitters shows great emotion in her voice throughout this song.
  4. Jake Worthington – “This Damn Memory” – After many months of waiting Jake Worthington finally released his first original music via his self-titled EP and it didn’t disappoint. It was full of great, traditional country and the best of the bunch was definitely “This Damn Memory.” It’s a heartbreak song very much in the vein of the neo traditional country of the 80s that suits Worthington’s voice perfectly. He’s another one I’m anxious to hear more music from.
  5. Carrie Underwood – “The Girl You Think I Am” – Her new album Storyteller has proved to be divisive so far amongst fans and critics, but one song most seem to enjoy is “The Girl You Think I Am.” For good reason too, as it’s an emotional song about parents being proud of their daughter and the daughter trying to be as good as they say she is. I’m hopeful this song gets released as a single.
  6. Corb Lund – “Sadr City” – Here’s a song I think many have wrongly overlooked. “Sadr City” is about a man’s military life and not wanting to relive the memories he has experienced. This one of those songs where you need to just sit and listen, as it certainly isn’t the catchiest song in the world. But it’s a real song with a real story and that’s why I enjoy it so much.
  7. Hailey Whitters – “Late Bloomer” – Whitters sings about how it’s okay to be a late bloomer, whether in life or in your career. As Derek mentions in his review, this seems to be autobiographical for Whitters as her career took a while to launch and get going. It’s definitely one of those songs where I think anyone could relate to the theme at one point in their life.
  8. Carrie Underwood – “Choctaw County Affair” – This was without a doubt the most interesting song on Underwood’s new album. Written by Jason White, this song tells the tale of a murder and I’m a sucker for a murder ballad. Underwood’s sassy vocals go well with the lyrics and the harmonica play of Travis Meadows is icing on the cake.
  9. Jason Boland and The Stragglers – “Fat and Merry” – My October top ten closes out with two songs from the Red Dirt mainstay Jason Boland and The Stragglers. I have to say I haven’t listened to their new album Squelch as much as a I would like, but I’m changing that as you read this. “Fat and Merry” is a sarcastically upbeat tune that mocks suburbia life and features plenty of fiddle and steel guitar. The political commentary may go a little overboard at times on this album, but it’s just right here.
  10. Jason Boland and The Stragglers – “I Guess It’s Alright to Be an Asshole” – I have no other explanation of why I enjoy this song other than it’s just flat-out fun and gives me a good chuckle.

 

Honorable Mentions:

  • Charles Kelley – “The Driver” (feat. Dierks Bentley & Eric Paslay)
  • The Bottle Rockets – “Building Chryslers,” “Big Fat Nuthin'” & “I Don’t Wanna Know”
  • Corb Lund – “S Lazy H” & “Weight of the Gun”
  • Jana Kramer – “Last Song”
  • Jake Worthington – “That’s When”
  • Carrie Underwood – “Church Bells” & “Like I’ll Never Love You Again”
  • The Yawpers – “9 to 5” & “Walter”
  • Hailey Whitters – “Black Sheep”
  • Jason Boland & The Stragglers – “Heartland Bypass” & “Christmas In Huntsville”

 

The Hodgepodge: Mainstream Country Artists Need To Put Up or Shut Up

Joe Nichols (public domain)
Maybe a little less talk and a lot more action, Joe?

A couple of weeks back Grady Smith at The Guardian wrote an interesting piece that centered around mainstream country artists and how they don’t like the records they make. First off kudos to Grady for this piece, as it brings to light an interesting subject that needs to be discussed. For many years I have heard fans of mainstream country artists defend the bad music their favorite artists put out because they were forced to do it by their label. Well as I’ve learned ever since I’ve started this blog, this argument is a load of crap. And the quotes from mainstream country artists in this piece further back it up.

Joe Nichols is the main focus of the piece, who is the perfect artist when it comes to this argument. Any country fan knows that Nichols is capable of churning out great traditional country music, as early on his career he did this regularly. His deep, baritone voice is capable of belting almost any country song. Then he decided to sell out to bro country with songs like “Yeah” and “Sunny and 75.” Lately he hasn’t had quite the success. So now he’s crowing about he would just love to make a traditional country record. From Grady’s piece:

“If I could just make the record I wanted to make, I’d hire the country-est guys in Nashville. Kenny Sears, Opry members, the Time Jumpers, maybe Vince Gill to come sing. And we’d make a country record that probably wouldn’t get sold at all.” Nichols claimed that he’d love to record music with “lots of twin fiddles, steel guitars, country shuffles and western swing … But I’m not that rich.”

First off this argument from Nichols isn’t nothing new. He said something similar months ago. What makes this quote in particular more ridiculous is how far he takes it. He says that this kind of record wouldn’t “get sold at all.” Just this year there are countless examples that prove this wrong. Aaron Watson and Jason Isbell both had #1 country records making albums that are very country and have received praise from fans and critics alike. As pointed out by Saving Country Music, Sturgill Simpson’s 2014 album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music has sold over 100,000 albums. This is nothing to sneeze at, considering this beats out many B and C-list mainstream country artists’ album sales. Not to mention this led to Simpson getting a deal with Atlantic Records. So the idea that traditional country records don’t sell is absolutely false. And Nichols using the defense that he isn’t that rich is laughable too. Many notable independent country artists make a good living, so I find it hard to believe that an artist on a major label like himself is struggling for money. He’s also had five #1 country songs. Excuse me while I go play the world’s smallest fiddle for Mr. Nichols.

Later in the piece Smith brings up Jake Owen saying something similar in an interview. Here’s what Owen had to say:

“It’s never strictly about music,” Owen said, “because it can’t be that way. There are too many people invested in my career.” He continued, “I’ve got management and labels, radio guys, promoters looking to do a tour. You can’t start a tour if you don’t have the right songs to support it. There’s money that’s being spent. I got guys in a crew and I feel responsible for their lifestyles, their families and their livelihood. I can’t afford to be selfish, nor do I want to be.”

Once again another pathetic excuse. So releasing terrible music is all an effort to feed all of your underlings on your team? Please. I highly doubt Owen is thinking about them as he sits in his nice house or when he’s in the studio making music. This is the equivalent of corporations using kids in ads to shield themselves from criticism. And let’s hypothetically go along with this argument for a second. This essentially means these artists don’t believe in the music they’re putting out and doing it strictly for the bottom line. That sounds less like an artist and more like a businessman to me. Why should fans care about the music if the artist doesn’t care?

Grady goes on to make a lot of great points himself and if you haven’t read the piece yet you need to do it. I just want to add a few more to them. First selling out is not guaranteed to pay off. Jake Owen’s “Real Life” didn’t get above the top 15 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart and is already recurrent. His previous single “What We Ain’t Got” actually went higher, last longer and was considered by critics to be his best single yet. It also can alienate your fan base. Ask Jerrod Niemann. While “Drink To That All Night” was his biggest hit, it only proved to be a short-term burst in stature. His follow-up single “Donkey” was a complete flop because he took things too far. It’s highly doubtful he’ll ever reach the highest of heights in country music again. Lastly, this is a slap in the face to independent artists everywhere who bust their ass and put their blood, sweat and tears into their songs. Independent country artist Chris King says it best in multiple tweets:

https://twitter.com/ArtificialChris/status/655065080682250240

https://twitter.com/ArtificialChris/status/655065779465924608

https://twitter.com/ArtificialChris/status/655066197986152448

https://twitter.com/ArtificialChris/status/655066537582170112

https://twitter.com/ArtificialChris/status/655068270479872001

Bottom line: Mainstream country artists need to stop whining about wanting to make the music they want to make and just make it. Actions speak louder than words. Saying you’ll do something means nothing. You’re simply procrastinating and making an excuse. Mainstream country artists need to either put up or shut up because the talking has gone past the point of tiring. It doesn’t matter what you think, it matters what you do.

(And if Nichols wants to make that album with a lot of fiddle, he just needs to ask Dierks Bentley. Up On The Ridge, anybody?)

Upcoming/Recent Country & Americana Releases

  • Chris Janson will release his new album Buy Me A Boat tomorrow.
  • The Yawpers’ new album American Man will come out tomorrow. If you missed my review of it yesterday, click here.
  • Tim McGraw is releasing his new album Damn Country Music next Friday.
  • Josh Abbott Band will release their new album Front Row Seat next Friday.
  • Jeff Crosby and The Refugees will release a new album next Friday titled Waking Days.
  • Steve Martin and Edie Brickell are releasing a folk album on Friday called So Familiar. Yes, it’s the actor. I’m definitely reviewing this one out of sheer curiosity.
  • Ashley Campbell is officially sending “Remembering” to country radio for adds on November 9. If you missed my review of it, check it out here.
  • Brothers Osborne officially announced they will release their debut album on January 15, 2016 and it’s titled Pawn Shop. Click here for their official announcement and the album cover.
  • Lucinda Williams has announced she will release a new album titled The Ghosts of Highway 20 and it’ll be released on February 5, 2016 via Thirty Tigers.

Great Music Currently at Country Radio

The very best of country radio right here in a nice playlist. In order for a song to be added to the list, it must currently be in the top 60 of the Billboard Country Airplay chart, so this will be updated weekly.

Throwback Thursday Song

George Strait – “Check Yes or No” – Here’s a classic 90s song from King George himself. I grew up hearing this song all the time on the radio and grew to be one of my favorites from Strait.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week

I’ve said before on this blog how much I respect and enjoy Adele’s music. Well after waiting much longer than many anticipated, we finally get new music from her. This is her new single “Hello,” which is a heartfelt ballad that proves she is just as great as ever. As of this writing it already has 93 million views on YouTube. Crazy! Her new album comes out on November 20 and like her previous albums she helped write every song on it. No Chris Stapleton co-writes this time though.

Tweet of the Week

Grady Smith with the subtweet of the year! I think you’ll figure out who he is referring to…

iTunes Review That Rocks

Thomas Bieber

This week in Thomas Rhett Sucks he gets compared to a mix of Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber. That sounds about right, except Sheeran has some talent. The Bieber comparison works though.

Thanks for reading and be sure to weigh in below! 

Album Review – The Yawpers’ ‘American Man’

The Yawpers American Man

One of the things I love about using the Americana label is it can encompass and mean so many things. It’s the perfect label to put on a band like The Yawpers. Here’s a group that combines the sounds of rock and roll, country, blues and even a little folk to create a unique and fun brand of music. The Yawpers are made up of Nate Cook (lead vocalist), Jesse Parmet (lead guitarist) and Noah Shomberg (drummer) and they’re based out of Denver. Upon first listen of their brand new album American Man, I was immediately hooked. It’s an album that country and rock fans can both love equally. If you love both genres, you’ll enjoy this album even more. But before you listen to it, make sure your ears are ready, as this is a loud and rowdy record.

The in your face “Doing It Right” sets the album’s tone right off the bat. The song starts off at normal volume and slowly increases as the song plays. By the end of it you’ll want to bang your head along with the beat of the music. The frenetic guitar licks are a real trademark of this song and the entire album. The album’s title track is a slowed-down ballad about what it means to be an American and what American life is like today compared to the past. It’s definitely a song that makes you think and I think everyone will take something different from it. Lead man Cook really shines vocally on this song. “Burdens” is The Yawpers take on growing up in a small town and striving to leave that town to realize your dreams. The boy in the song is 17 and already knows he needs to hit the road while he’s young, otherwise he won’t ever get out alive. This song definitely has a classic southern rock/country vibe about it that makes it easy to enjoy.

Gritty would be the best word to describe “Tied.” The theme and the instrumentation are a gritty combination of blues and punk rock that will make this song a fan favorite at concerts. The fast-paced and upbeat “Deacon Brody” follows. This is just a flat-out fun song, as the instrumentation is so weird, yet so great too. While The Yawpers may entertain me with their loud music, they impress me when they slow it down in songs like “Faith And Good Judgment.” It’s a song about finding that constant balance in life between faith and making good judgments. The production in this song is perfect, as it elevates the lyrics and conveys the right emotion in the listener.

“9 to 5” is definitely one of the highlights of American Man. The song is about convincing a drifter to take on the freedom of a 9 to 5 job, as it offers more stability. From the catchy hook to the infectious guitar licks, you’ll remember this song for a while after hearing it. Another standout on the album, “Walter,” is next. Cook’s vocals, Parmet’s guitar licks and Shomberg’s drum play are just so cohesive on this song and combine to make yet another song that is easy to enjoy. This is the kind of song you turn on and crank the volume up to 11.

The Yawpers embrace their bluegrass side on “Beale Street.” As good as they are at rocking out in their music, I would love to hear them do more bluegrass inspired music in the future. Next is “Kiss It,” which is basically just a punch to the face in the form of screaming guitars (in a good way of course). This is another one that will be an absolute thrill to hear live. “3 am” is the longest song of the album, as well as the darkest. It’s about a man dealing with inner demons and hoping for another day of sun. By the end of the song, he thinks about turning himself over to Jesus in hopes that will save him. Sonically and lyrically, it’s the most powerful song on the album. American Man closes out with “The Desert.” It just feels like an appropriate closer to the album, as you’ll know when you hear it. And of course the last you hear in the song is the banging of drums and the licks of an electric guitar.

The Yawpers’ American Man is one of those albums you just need to hear for yourself, as words don’t really do it justice. But it’s definitely the type of music where you’ll either take it or leave it. My suggestion is to take it. If you enjoy country music and rock music you especially need to hear it, as there is plenty of both throughout this album and many songs give you both. The instrumentation is practically flawless and the songwriting is sharp and on point. If you enjoy bands like Blackberry Smoke, Banditos and The Legendary Shack Shakers, you’ll enjoy The Yawpers too. This is a band that has just as much fun making the music as you will listening to it.

Grade: 8.5/10

 

The Hodgepodge: Traditional Country Fans and Urban Country Fans Have Striking Similarities

The Odd Couple - Traditional vs Urban
Traditional country fans and urban country fans. Truly an odd couple.

You know I was going to destroy mainstream country artists for whining about not being able to make the music they want and using their employees’ well-being as excuses for churning out terrible music, but I’ve decided to tackle another problem that has been bugging me for a while. This is a problem that many fans of country music don’t want to face because they may just be part of this problem. One of the biggest issues in country music right now is the growing divide between traditional country fans and mainstream country fans. The absolute extremes of both sides showcases how this genre is essentially busting at the seams: at one end you have the hardcore traditionalists who refuse to give anything mainstream or close to it a chance. On the other end you have casual, radio country fans who refuse to give the likes of Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell the time of day. And guess what? You’re both hurting country music by not opening up your minds more.

Their refusal to open up their minds to either side is why this genre will never be “saved.” It’s why I view it as a silly notion to save country music (at least at this moment). Both sides would have to compromise and find a balance between what each wants. And thing is there’s plenty of balance out there demonstrated by various artists. A perfect example of this type of balance is Maddie & Tae. Here’s a fresh, young duo that makes country music that is rooted in tradition and still keeps it upbeat enough for casual fans to listen to them. Really the women in general seem to find the best balance to appease to both sides. Of course radio has been shutting them out for the most part, even though lately there have been a few more female artists showing up in the top 30 of the airplay chart, such as Jana Kramer, Maddie & Tae and Carrie Underwood. But I’ve come to the conclusion it’s just not country radio that’s been holding back females in the genre. It’s also the under-the-radar sexism that has existed in country music for decades.

Country music has always been male-dominated without a doubt. The female artists have always been held back and overshadowed by the male artists. I first came to this realization last fall when I compared #1 country songs from 1984 and 2014. At that time period for both years, only 10% of #1 songs were from female artists in 2014 and around 17% in 1984. Only a 7% difference in a 20 year gap. The only reason more attention is called to this nowadays is because the drastic shift in sonic changes and the much greater amount of media that covers country music. Country music has always had this problem with playing female country artists and will continue to do so. Why? Well let me tell you the harsh reality: staunch traditionalists can be just as sexist and misogynistic as the bro country and urban country fans.

Both sides will look at each other and it’s like they’re looking in a mirror. Both insist that their preferred style of country music is in the right. Both believe that their current favorite artists are the true evolutions of the genre. Both have a lukewarm opinion at best when it comes to female artists (I’ve seen this just by observing various country blogs and forums). Both love to mock and ridicule the other side. Both sides have posted childish and stupid comments on this very blog. Both sides don’t listen to country radio (streaming vs buying physical media). Both embrace whatever scene they worship puts out (urban country fans embrace every new artist with boyish good looks and a drum machine, while traditionalists embrace every grisly voiced indie artist from the underground). Both sides have a country music “savior” (another silly notion espoused by fan boys). And neither really want to embrace Americana.

Have I been some of these things sometimes? Absolutely. It’s why in recent months my attitude has shifted to taking a more balanced approach. It’s why I’ve given more coverage and will continue to give more coverage to Americana. But at least I’ve recognized it. Hardcore traditionalists and urban fans don’t want to recognize. Now I’m not trying to tell you how to think or what music to listen to at the end of the day. But I’m simply pointing out to those of you that fall under these categories that you are what you hate. The beauty of music is it’s all subjective and we all have a different opinion. You’re free to listen whatever you want and call it whatever you want. But when it comes to the livelihood of a genre and really the value of anything in life, you need to find a balance. Country music needs to find a balance. It needs to find a balance in its sound. It needs to find a balance when it comes to playing male and female artists. And it’s fans need to find a balance. When traditionalists can’t embrace a song like Charles Kelley’s “The Driver” and mainstream fans can’t embrace Jon Pardi and Kacey Musgraves, it’s a clear demonstration that country music is far from solving it’s problems.

Upcoming/Recent Country & Americana Releases

  • Carrie Underwood will release her new album Storyteller tomorrow. I’ll have a review on it early next week.
  • Chris Janson will release his first album under Warner Nashville, titled Buy Me A Boat, next Friday.
  • The Yawpers will release their new album American Man next Friday.
  • Brett Eldredge’s next single will be “Drunk On Your Love.”
  • Keith Urban will be releasing “Break on Me” as his next single. Expect a review on this soon.
  • Toby Keith is releasing “Beautiful Stranger” as his next single. Derek’s review on his new album will be out tomorrow.

Great Music Currently at Country Radio

The very best of country radio right here in a nice playlist. In order for a song to be added to the list, it must currently be in the top 60 of the Billboard Country Airplay chart, so this will be updated weekly.

Throwback Thursday Song

Reba – “The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia” – This is a true southern gothic classic, originally written and recorded by Bobby Russell. Reba’s cover is the most popular version of the song. It’s definitely one of those songs as a country fans it’s worth listening to if you haven’t heard it before.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week

The new album from the a capella group Pentatonix is pretty solid. I was blown away when I came across this group a few years back and still am today. They’re truly a unique and special group of musicians.

Tweet of the Week

Me too!

iTunes Review That Rocks

Thomas Rhett Isn't Country Part 1,584

A slam on Thomas Rhett AND Luke Bryan? That’ll get you featured in the Hodgepodge every time. And the comparison to Gwen Stefani is hilarious.

Thanks for reading and be sure to weigh in below! 

The Hodgepodge: Streaming Is Proving To Be Too Much of a Good Thing

Spotify

I make my return to The Hodgepodge! And this isn’t just a one-off appearance either, as I will be taking it over for the rest of the year. You’re probably wondering what’s up? Well Derek has a lot on his plate in the next month and I’ve got a few ideas that I’ve been wanting to write about, so this felt like the right thing to do for both of us. Don’t worry you’ll still see Derek around, as you’ll be seeing more reviews from him in the next month instead of The Hodgepodge. Derek has been doing a fine job with The Hodgepodge and will return to writing it in 2016. So what’s on my mind…

Streaming is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Of course I’ve discussed this before in The Hodgepodge. The first Hodgepodge column ever touched on it. So I wanted to revisit it now after I’ve had a lot more experience with a variety of streaming services. What inspired me to write this post was the following tweet I saw weeks ago:

For those unfamiliar with Zac Wilkerson, he’s an artist from Amarillo, Texas who’s music is a combination of soul, country and folk music. He’s an independent artist who doesn’t have a large following. So you can see how Spotify screws him and other independent artists over. Only $310 for over 60,000 streams is ridiculously low and is not enough to financially support anyone. To give you an idea between the difference of money between streaming and buying an album, let’s divide 63,640 by 1500. According to Billboard, 1500 streams equal one album sale. The result of the above equation is about 43 albums sold. The average album costs $12. So multiply 43 by 12 and this gives the amount of money made from the sales, which is $516. It’s not a huge increase from the $310 made from Spotify, but this is just a very basic comparison that doesn’t factor in many variables and other factors involved here. Did the people who stream Wilkerson’s music go onto buy an album from him? Or even merchandise or concert tickets as a result of discovering him? Unfortunately this is something that we can’t determine.

So the obvious downside of streaming is less money for the artist. The other downside of course is streaming is eating into music sales badly. According to Nielsen/Billboard data, digital song sales have gone down 10.4% and on-demand audio streaming has ballooned up 74% to 58.6 billion plays in 2015. Vinyl sales have once again increased this year, up 38.4% in sales. Also it’s worth pointing out that CD album sales are trumping digital album sales. So it’s a tale of two schools of thought in 2015: the casual listener who uses Spotify, Apple Music or some other streaming service and the traditional listener who prefers a physical media. There are a lot more streamers though than physical media purchasers. It’s the clear dominant preference of the average listener right now.

You could make a big argument that streaming has become so popular because the quality of music is down and people are reluctant to trust the music marketplace. But that involves a lot of opinions and it’s an argument that will just go round and round. I prefer to point out something more factual: streaming is simply too convenient. For $9.99 month you can get all the music you want from Apple Music, Spotify or Google Play. Spotify sweets it up even more by offering new users three months up front of Spotify premium for only 99 cents. These streaming subscriptions allow you to download unlimited music for offline play as long as you continue to pay a monthly fee. If you download just one album and you listen to it, you’re already getting your money’s worth. It’s ridiculously friendly to customers and inherently unfair to artists who aren’t named Katy Perry or Taylor Swift.

After years of dismissing streaming, I gave into streaming this year even, as I subscribed to Google Play music. It’s kind of important to have this as a music reviewer though. Do you really think I’m going to buy Luke Bryan albums to review them? This is where I point out the good side of streaming, which is discovery and quality control. I’ve discovered numerous new artists via streaming and I never would have been able to find them without streaming. Buying blind is something I was never a fan of and streaming allows me to listen to the music before deciding if I want to purchase the album. So when an artist puts out a bad album now, you can stream it instead of buying it and wasting your money. Of course this isn’t possible with Garth Brooks albums, as he’s an old man who refuses to get with the times and is forcing his crappy GhostTunes down everyone’s throats. But you get the point with the good side of streaming: it allows you to be a smarter customer and expands your music collection with easy discovery.

Streaming is obviously proving to be too much of a good thing. There isn’t any balance here, as the customers are reaping all the rewards and artists aren’t reaping enough from it. That’s not to say customers shouldn’t be getting a lot out of it, as they’re the lifeblood behind every artist. The customer/listener should be the priority. But if the artist isn’t making any money, there isn’t any music for the listener to consume. So here’s my solution to this ongoing problem: limit the amount of streaming. It shouldn’t be taken away completely, as I believe it has its place in the music industry. Instead let’s just put a cap to how many times you can stream an album and songs before you have to purchase it. Bandcamp, my personal favorite streaming service, has something similar in place right now:

By default, fans can play tracks on Bandcamp only a few times in full, after which they get a dialog prompting them to buy. As the artist, you can up this limit, or remove it entirely, from your Profile page (you of course always get unlimited plays of your own tracks, but for the curious, here’s what the purchase prompt looks like). When a fan makes a purchase, they get unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app for Android, iOS and Sonos, an optional download in a variety of high-quality formats including lossless, and of course the satisfaction of directly supporting an artist they love.

This is a great idea that is fair to the artist and listener. Make it to where an album can only be played, let’s say six times before the listener can no longer stream it. Also the option to download songs for offline listening and paying a monthly fee to keep them in your library should be banned, as this is just too much for the listener. They must be forced to buy the album after so many streams if they want to keep listening. By doing this the listener still gets plenty of streams to determine whether or not to buy the album, while the artists will get more sales. Artist discovery would still exist too. This is a win-win for everyone involved. I plead to the streaming companies and the artists to heed my advice and make the music environment an even better place for all involved.

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases

  • Jason Boland & The Stragglers will release their new album Squelch tomorrow.
  • Corb Lund will release his new album Things That Can’t Be Undone tomorrow.
  • Toby Keith will release a new album tomorrow titled 35 MPH Town.
  • Jana Kramer will be releasing her sophomore album thirty one tomorrow.
  • The Voice alumnus Jake Worthington will be releasing his self-titled debut EP next Friday. Based on what I’ve heard from it so far it’s very good.
  • Alt-country band The Yawpers will be releasing a new album on October 30 titled American Man.
  • Josh Abbott Band announced they’re releasing a new album on November 6 titled Front Row Seat.
  • The Band Perry will be releasing a new album on November 20 titled HEART+BEAT.

Great Music Currently At Country Radio

You know I spend so much time (rightly) ragging on all the crap on country radio at the moment. But I realized I need to spend more time promoting the good at country radio too, even if there isn’t a lot of it. So a new feature I’ve added here to The Hodgepodge is a playlist of the songs I consider good currently at country radio. In order for a song to be added to the list, it must currently be in the top 60 of the Billboard Country Airplay chart, so this will be updated weekly. So check it out below!

Throwback Thursday Song

“I Will Always Love You” – Dolly Parton – I’ve been listening to the new Don Henley album a lot and of course as I said in my review of it that my favorite song on it is the duet with Henley and Dolly Parton, “When I Stop Dreaming.” This made me want to listen to more music from Dolly and one of my favorites from her is this song. Everybody loves to say this is Whitney Houston’s song and it isn’t. This is Dolly’s song and she does it best and I will argue this with anyone. I also discovered Dolly sang this with Carrie Underwood a few years ago and you can see that here. Listen to both, as the first one is not only Dolly performing it, but explaining the story behind the song.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week

“Born to Shine” – Big Grams, Big Boi & Phantogram featuring Run The Jewels – One of my favorite groups in all of music and my current top favorite in hip-hop Run The Jewels is featured throughout this song, so I checked out this entire album from Big Gram, Big Boi & Phantogram. I didn’t like the album, except for this because it’s Run The Jewels and everything they touch is gold. I can’t wait for RTJ3.

Tweet of the Week

Drunken Martina is the best and if you’re on Twitter, the account is a must-follow. Also it was so great to see Rhett get outsold by Strait and Henley. Quality wins again!

iTunes Review That Rocks

Great Strait Review

Now here’s someone who gets it. I love this review even more because it’s someone who says they aren’t even a country fan and they know Strait is the real deal. This is why Strait is one of the all-time best.

Thanks for reading and be sure to weigh in below!