Spinning All The Records — April/May 2020

Hey all! So I wanted to give a quick update on the plans for the site moving forward and what’s been happening. First I wanted to address the abrupt stop in posts. The reason for this was due to a privacy issue that I would chalk more up to trolling than a legitimate concern. But at the time I wanted to be safe and closed the blog down temporarily. It’s now back of course, but I wanted to give you all an explanation, as I hated leaving you hanging without a reason. 

During this downtime I started to rethink of how I want to approach posting on the blog. And to be quite frank I was starting to fall into an old bad habit of mine of listening to post reviews, instead of listening and then posting a review when I’m ready. It’s so easy nowadays to fall into the trap of wanting to constantly keep up with every release and I find personally this ruins my own listening experience. So I realized I need to get away from my usual style and do something that fits me better. 

My first thought was a podcast and I even got to the point of test recording and a first episode written out. But unfortunately I’ve realized I simply just don’t have the proper amount of time to do one. As someone who has done a podcast before and felt I did it the right way, it takes A LOT of work and time to pull off, at least in the way I would want to do it. Just the recording and editing alone is arduous. So for now I’ve decided not to do a podcast. I’ve not ruled out doing one at another time, but for now it’s something that will be on the back burner. 

However, the tinkering with the podcast and the realization of the need to adapt my approach did lead me to an idea of how I want to approach writing moving forward. I look at the way reviews are approached nowadays, specifically by larger publications, and I see something that just isn’t natural in this constant rush to post reviews. Most people don’t listen to an album and form such an immediate judgement. And even after the initial judgement, that opinion can then shift even more with time. But reviews don’t reflect this; there’s a finiteness about them. You post the review, the grade and then the reviewer is put into a box of defending this take for…well forever it seems like. So I hope this new style and approach will be a better reflection of the way an average listener approaches music. Stay tuned!

For now I wanted to post all of the stuff I had written below for Spinning All The Records for April 2020. And thank you for reading!

Conway the Machine & The Alchemist – LULU

This is a really tight, short and cohesive album from start to finish. As always The Alchemist brings some really smooth beats, which fit the rapid fire delivery of Conway well. Not to mention the sampling used is great too, especially on “The Contract.” ScHoolboy Q delivers a solid feature on “Shoot Sideways,” but I especially enjoy Cormega’s feature on “They Got Sunny.” The veteran rapper spits absolute fire on his verses. If you enjoy coke bar rap and the work of the Griselda Records group (which I sang their praises of last year when I put Benny the Butcher on my album of the year list), you don’t want to miss this album. 8/10

Niall Horan – Heartbreak Weather

This is an enjoyable and solid album of soft rock meets pop love songs. Although I will say it’s not all straight-ahead love songs, as Horan weaves in themes throughout the album of insecurity, doubt and details of the hard road one can experience in finding love. The album has an overall sound of being bouncy, fun and upbeat, while Horan demonstrates himself to be a charismatic vocalist with range. And while there’s many fun moments like on “Everywhere,” there’s also some more serious and introspective moments that give this album a softness to balance it out (“Put a Little Love on Me” and “Still”). 7/10

Sam Hunt – SOUTHSIDE

I’m sure some of you wanted me to do a full review takedown of this album, but it’s just not worth it (and I don’t do rants anymore). The good of this album: opening track “2016” is by far the best song Hunt has ever done. It’s melodic, it has meaning and it has heart. While the Webb Pierce sample is just necessary, putting it aside, “Hard to Forget” is undeniably catchy. So is “Body Like a Backroad” (even though it feels completely shoehorned in the album). I still enjoy “Downtown’s Dead” as much as when I originally praised it on Fusion Country. And I appreciate the attempt at a bluegrass-influenced sound on “Let It Down.” I wish he would have explored this sound more.

Now to the bad and let’s just state the biggest issue. The ordering of the songs and overall theme of the story is a complete and disjointed mess. The overall flow of the album is like a zig zag, with no logical order whatsoever. “2016” should have been the closing song. “Kinfolks” is boring as hell and forgettable. “Young Once” is just absolutely stupid with it’s premise that dumb mistakes can be completely dismissed due to youth. “That Ain’t Beautiful” would be best described as having just a gross feel about it and features the worst side of Hunt and that is him wishing he was the Drake of country music.

“Breaking Up Was Easy in the 90s” has an annoying “I was born in le wrong generation” vibe. “Sinning With You” is the ultimate display of immaturity and also features nauseatingly cliche religious imagery that comes across so fake and insincere. “Drinkin’ Too Much” is best summed up as an abomination in every way, from his Drake impression to the lyrical content being disgusting and hypocritical. If Hunt ever indulged in his best tendencies, he could deliver a good album. But this is not it. 3/10

Western Centuries – Call the Captain

This band showed a lot of potential in their debut album. Their sophomore album was completely forgettable. And this album is very much along the same lines. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, but it just doesn’t stand out in any way for me.

Jessi Alexander – Decatur County Red

I can essentially repeat the same for this album. That’s the double-edged sword of independent country, well at least from my perspective. On one hand, I’m much more inclined to listen to country music from the independent realm because I know how to find it. But that also means I listen to more of it and that kind of makes the bar higher too. It’s a brutally competitive space, so standing out is key. This is a decent album and Alexander has a nice voice, but after a few listens I just don’t feel like coming back to it.

Knxwledge – 1988

This is mostly an instrumental album, not surprising as Knxwledge is mostly known as a producer, most notably his collaboration with Anderson .Paak as NxWorries. So I only recommend this album if you’re a music nerd like me who can listen to a half-hour of random beats and sounds. And if you do listen you can get a great fill of pop, R&B, hip hop and even some gospel sounds. It’s quite a relaxing, chill listen I might add too. Knxwledge cements himself further as a standout producer on 1988. 8/10

Logan Ledger – Logan Ledger

All of this build up and an intriguing voice only for this to be another new act that leans hard on a nostalgic style and adds nothing fresh to it. So it just comes off as boring. I couldn’t even make it through one listen.

Maddie & Tae – The Way It Feels

I did not expect to be sticking this album here. But then again I didn’t expect this to be a giant disappointment and I didn’t feel like re-writing the Caitlyn Smith review. Just like Smith, Maddie & Tae throw away everything on this album that made their debut album great: warm melodies, sharp songwriting and harmonies that melt the ears. In their place is schlocky pop country, copy and paste songwriting, and little to no harmonies. I literally yawned several times going through this album because it’s so predictable in it’s approach. And there’s so many boring moments that the few standouts like “Die From A Broken Heart” just get lost in this mundane and drab collection of songs. It’s just another album in a sea of albums. What a damn shame for a promising duo. 5/10

Ruthie Collins – Cold Comfort

Honestly I just couldn’t engage with this album and I think a big reason why is the image and presentation is such a 180 from her “Ramblin’ Man” days that this just comes off as too calculated and insincere for me. Maybe I’ll be able to revisit this later, but for now this comes off as “dress up” to me.


Any other releases in late April and any in May will likely be covered in some way coming soon! But please feel free to engage in the comments and ask me as always about anything that isn’t covered or for further clarification on any comments I’ve made above! 

Country Perspective’s Best Music Reviewed in August

Kelsey Waldon I've Got A Way

This is the monthly recap post of all the great music we reviewed on the blog in case you missed it or just came across our humble, little blog. So check this music out if you haven’t already.

10/10

Albums:

Kelsey Waldon – I’ve Got A Way

BJ Barham – Rockingham

Lori McKenna – The Bird & The Rifle

Songs:

Turnpike Troubadours – “Come As You Are”

 

9/10

Albums:

Dolly Parton – Pure & Simple

Cody Jinks – I’m Not The Devil

 

8/10

Albums:

Western Centuries – Weight of the World

 

Album Review – Western Centuries’ ‘Weight of the World’

Western Centuries Weight of the World

I want to say something right up front with this review and that’s I wish I had reviewed this sooner. Western Centuries is an up and coming roots rock country group that a lot more people need to be familiar with. The group is composed of Cahalen Morrison, Jim Miller, Ethan Lawton, Rusty Blake and Dan Lowinger. Each of them come from uniquely different backgrounds and they mix them together to create quite the compelling sound. The three lead vocalists of the group in particular really bring something different to the table, as Miller was the co-founder of Donna the Buffalo, Morrison has a country background and Lawton is a punk rock songwriter. On paper this doesn’t sound like it’s that harmonious, but trusts me once you hear this group on their new album Weight of the World, it sounds absolutely brilliant.

The album’s title track welcomes us in with a heavy dose of pedal steel guitar. It’s a great precursor to the stellar instrumentation that is featured throughout this album. The naturally upbeat “Double or Nothing” is easy to find yourself tapping your feet along with as you listen. The song is about two former lovers calling each other up to get back together, only for them to spend the night together. One of them leaves the next morning and they’re right back to being lonely again. While Western Centuries say they’re a mixture of roots rock and country, there’s a lot of moments just stone cold country like on “Knocking ‘em Down.” It’s just an all-around solid tune that wouldn’t sound out of place in the heydays of country music. “What Will They Say About Us Now?” tackles relationships and having to deal with everyone around you. A couple “paints the town” and live their relationship while they know their friends and family around them whisper about them. They both wonder what everyone will say about them after what they’ve done now. It’s a great take on dealing with nosey people and dealing with outside voices.

One of my favorites on Weight of the World is “Philosophers and Fools.” It’s a classic heartbreak song that brilliantly describes the fall and aftermath of a failed relationship. As the group points out in the song, “a seamless love is the construct of philosophers and fools.” It’s one of the most refreshing and honest takes I’ve heard on love in a song in quite some time. The quieter and downtrodden “Sadder Day” follows. This song focuses on the word play between the phrase “sadder day” and Saturday. The song is about how every Saturday is another sad day for a man who’s down and blue and drinks his sorrow away. He tries the best he can to get over his broken heart, but he just can’t. From the lyrics to the instrumentation, this song has everything that you want in a drinking song.

One of the things Western Centuries captures so well on this album is that warm, classic feel of country songs of yesteryear and is perhaps showcased at it’s best on “In My Cups.” This is a more upbeat drinking song and upon the first listen the song feels like a long-lost friend you’ve just rediscovered. These are the best type of songs because you can instantly connect before you even get through the first listen of it. “Hallucinations” sees a relationship seesawing between over with and back on again. Every time this man thinks his woman has left him she’s back in his sight again, making him question if he’s hallucinating. He could be, but it’s up to you the listener to decide. Either way a hallucination is a perfect way to describe someone trying to get over heartbreak.

Western Centuries makes an ode to loving drinking with “Off the Shelf.” Don’t hear too many songs about being in love with drinking, do you? That’s what makes the opening to this song intriguing because you think it’s about a woman until it’s revealed to be the bottle. It’s pretty clever songwriting by the group and features some fantastic instrumentation to boot. The instrumentation continues to shine on “The Long Game.” If there’s one thing you won’t hear me complain about on this album it’s the instrumentation, as I find it be damn near perfect on each song. Western Centuries addresses urbanization and the love of rural life on “The Old You.” It’s about a man driving out to the countryside to see what’s left of it and bask in its greatness. It reminded him of whom he used to be, thanks to his rediscovery of the little bit of countryside still left. It’s a song that makes you ponder about your own little community you may have grown up in or still live in today. The romantic approach to the rural lifestyle in this song is something I know I can appreciate. Weight of the World ends with the rocking “Rock Salt.” Featuring plenty of fiddle throughout, it’s yet another foot stomper on an album full of them. The harmonies really shine on this song and it really puts a nice stamp on a fun album.

From the album cover to each and every song throughout, Weight of the World is a true throwback album. It’s an album that harkens you back to the golden days of country and roots music from decades before. The rich vocals and instrumentation blend together seamlessly. This album hooked me in from the first listen and made me wish I had reviewed it sooner. It’s something that I think any fan of country and roots music can come to appreciate. Western Centuries is one of the most talented groups I’ve come across in country music this year and if you don’t know them yet, you need to change that by listening to Weight of the World.

Grade: 8/10