Aug 8, 2013

Jake Owen's new single "Days of Gold" is... different?

Just the other day I was thinking it's been about two years since Jake Owen released his last album (not counting last year's stellar EP "Summer Jam") and we were about due for some new music.

Sure enough, Jake's latest single "Days of Gold" was released to the Internet on Tuesday. Give it a listen here:

Now before "Barefoot Blue Jean Night" I was kind of on the fence about Jake. I had liked some of his previous singles ("Yee Haw," "Somethin' 'Bout A Woman," "Don't Think I Can't Love You") but hadn't been too high on his first two albums. "Barefoot Blue Jean Night" (the single and album) changed my opinion, especially the title track and his latest hit "Anywhere With You." I also caught him live in concert a couple times over the past two years and he is absolutely one of my top five favorite live acts in country music right now.

Now, about "Days of Gold." It's different, that's for sure. I'm not one to be opposed to a good up-tempo jam, but I don't think this is it. Instrumentally it's fine, although I'm not a huge fan of the percussion throughout. However, I'm not a big fan of how Jake sings it and nothing really stands out lyrically. It's not nearly as catchy as his recent singles.

"Days of Gold" feels like a runaway train and I'm not really sure where it's going.

Jul 23, 2013

Guess who's back?... Josh Thomspon

Hey everybody, I know I've been silent recently, but I'm going to work on changing that.

Also making a return to the country music scene is Josh Thompson. The "Beer on the Table" and "Way Out Here" singer has a new single out as of today called "Cold Beer With Your Name On It."

I really liked Thompson's last single "Comin' Around" and thought it was a step forward. However, he split with RCA Nashville and it's been 19 months since he's had new music out.

Fortunately, "Cold Beer With Your Name On It" is worth the wait. It's right in Thompson's wheelhouse, perfectly blending modern and contemporary sounds. Lyrically it's similar to Trace Adkins "Every Light In The House Is On," but it's a little less ballad-y.

Give it a listen and I think "you gotta admit, it sounds pretty good don't it?"

Mar 8, 2013

New country music for March

One of my favorite things is listening to new music. I don't know what it is but there's something about hearing that next great song or an up-and-coming new artist that really hits me. So I'm going to try and share some new music monthly with a Spotify playlist, highlighting new singles by bigger acts as well as new artists making noise. Here's March's list:

"Jump Right In" - Zac Brown Band: Seems like a fitting place to start. I'm sure a lot of people have already heard "Jump Right In" on local radio and if not I'd guess you will soon. Another great song by one of the best bands on the country music scene today.

"All Over The Road" - Easton Corbin: Corbin had a smash summer song a few years back with "Roll With It" and he's back in the summer sing-along driver's seat with "All Over The Road." Already starting to get some solid radio airplay.

"Fill In The Blank" - Greg Bates: A solid second offering from the "Did It For The Girl" singer. Another fun summer song, Bates suggests various venues to take his girl (presumably the one he did it for) and let's her pick the activity.

"Pretty Little Lie" - Blackberry Smoke: Thousands of lucky Zac Brown Band fans got to see Blackberry Smoke open ZBB's Carrier Dome show last fall and "Pretty Little Lie" is their current single. Not sure how much country airplay it will get but it's definitely worth a listen if you're into southern rock.

"Sleepy Little Town" - J.T. Hodges: Hodges has had a couple of charting singles with "Hunt You Down" and "Goodbyes Made You Mine." "Sleepy Little Town" is a change of pace, highlighting how quickly skeletons can be dragged out of closets in small towns.

"Lips" - Aaron Watson - Watson's been around the Texas music scene for a while but "Lips" is the first I've heard of him. He made a good first impression on me but I don't see "Lips" getting much play around here. Doesn't mean you shouldn't check it out.

"Only God Can Love You More" - Jerrod Niemann: Probably the most powerful song Niemann's recorded to date, "Only God Can Love You More" isn't exactly what the title implies. Niemann nails every note and hopefully this is the song that launches his career to another level.

"Runnin' Outta Moonlight" - Randy Houser: Speaking of launching careers, Randy Houser may have had that song with "How Country Feels." Now it's time to see if he can keep his momentum going. "Runnin' Outta Moonlight" could do the trick, but it will have to compete with summer songs from some of country's heavy hitters. Fortunately, Houser has the chops to do it.

"Anywhere With You" - Jake Owen: Jake Owen is definitely becoming one of those heavy hitters and he brings the lumber with "Anywhere With You." One of my favorite songs on his "Barefoot Blue Jean Night" album, Owen lays it on thick with lines like "as long as I'm where you're at I'm gonna have a real good view" and it definitely works. Great song.

"If You Want Some" - Joel Crouse: Crouse does a great job on his debut single, a fun, flirty number about a girl at a summer party.

"Better I Don't" - Chris Janson: Just when you thought this list was starting to get redundant Janson comes along and passes on his buddies' good-time country fun, insisting it's "Better I Don't." I've got a hunch he's gonna anyways.

"Beat This Summer" - Brad Paisley: Spring hasn't even started yet and already Brad's wistfully looking back on the end of summer, so it seems like a perfect ending to the playlist. Brad has another hit on his hand, despite thanks in large part to the unique sound of the track. You can feel the transition of the seasons throughout the song, starting in the heat of the summer while the end feels like you're just seeing the echoes of how great it was. Masterful work.

Jan 2, 2013

Blake Shelton's new song gets 2013 off to a good start

Oct 22, 2012

Review: Jason Aldean's 'Night Train'

Two days before revealing his historic concert announcement at Fenway Park Jason Aldean released his fifth studio album, "Night Train."

I don't know what it is about Aldean's albums, but it always takes me a while to warm up to them. On first listen I wasn't really impressed with "Night Train." I thought it had a couple good tracks, some ok ones and some I just didn't like.

I'm not sure why I was so disappointed. Maybe Jerrod Niemann's "Free The Music" spoiled me a little. Maybe subconsciously I was lashing out at the Georgia native for being an Atlanta Braves fan.

I don't know how this is gonna fly at Fenway.
Anyways, whatever it was, I was wrong. "Night Train" is actually pretty solid. Aldean's had several rocking hits throughout his career, from "Hicktown" to "Take A Little Ride," the lead single off "Night Train." Aside from "Wheels Rollin'," and "The Only Way I Know," Jason shies away from the big rockers on this album.

Don't get me wrong, Aldean's latest offering still gives off a strong rock vibe, but in more of a power ballad vein. Jason really shines on "I Don't Do Lonely Well" and does a great job with "Black Tears," co-written by Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard. The song appeared on the duo's first EP and Aldean more than does the powerful tune about a woman's life spiraling out of control justice.

The one song that this approach doesn't work with is "Talk." Basically, it's a subtler version of Toby Keith's "A Little Less Talk And A Lot More Action." Listening to the lyrics, all I could think was "this is song for Brad Paisley if I've ever heard one." Look at the chorus:
"Talk" was tailor-made for Paisley.
"I don't wanna talk anymore
I know enough about you to know all I wanna do is
Find out a little bit more
I don't wanna waste that moon and the heat on the hood of this Ford
I don't wanna talk anymore"
Tell me Brad's tongue-in-cheek style and twangy style wouldn't accompany those lyrics perfectly. Instead, Aldean makes it a romantic ballad that comes off as more cheesy than cheeky.

The good news is it's a rare derailment for "Night Train." Most of the other tracks are traditional country fare. Well, traditional staples like small-town living, falling in love and heartbreaks, all sung with Jason's progressive country-rock twang. Aldean really shines on the title track, as well as "This Nothin' Town" and "Staring At The Sun." The previously-mentioned "The Only Way I Know" also stands out, and features two of country's other rising stars, Luke Bryan and Eric Church.

Aldean's right on the money on "When She Says Baby," a tune co-written by Rhett Akins. Akins may be the most under appreciated man in country music. It seems like 95 percent of the time I hear a song I really like, Rhett had a hand in writing it. The "That Ain't My Truck" singer has hits like "Honey Bee," "Take A Back Road" and "All Over Me" to his songwriting credit, as well as numerous others.

Also, look a that mullet-mustache combo.
Akins' son, Thomas Rhett, inherited his father's knack for songwriting and is really starting to make his own mark in the country music business. The singer/songwriter (who will open for Aldean at Fenway) also co-wrote a song on "Night Train." "1994" is one of those songs fans will either love or hate. It's got the "Dirt Road Anthem" rock/country/rap vibe that I really enjoy. Even better, the entire song is a tribute to Joe Diffie. Now in 1994 I was all of six years old, but I still remember "Pickup Man," "John Deere Green" and "Third Rock From The Sun," all of which "1994" mentions. I never really thought of Joe Diffe as a star, but he had a solid career, and this ode to him is definitely my favorite track on the album.

Overall, I'd say Jason does a really good job on "Night Train." A few standout tracks, a lot of very good ones and a rare misfire here and there. Give it a listen below.

Oct 18, 2012

Jason Aldean to play Fenway Park

The Boston Red Sox are bringing another home-run hitter to Fenway Park this summer. The team's made it perfectly clear, he's here to play: Jason Aldean, two days after releasing his fifth studio album "Night Train" (which I will hopefully review soon), made the monstrous (get it!) announcement that he will be the first country act to ever play Fenway Park on July 13. Coming with him are Miranda Lambert, Jake Owen and Thomas Rhett.

Maybe Miranda will get a Red Sox jersey to go with this one she got at Wrigley.
Seeing Miranda (and Brad Paisley, of course) at Wrigley Field was one of the highlights of my summer (my year, my life, history of mankind?) and I've made my feelings about Jake Owen as a live performer known in the past (and even before that).

Long story short, he's one of the best.
Add Thomas Rhett, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite artists, and Jason, who had one of the most popular tours of the summer, and this should be one of the best shows of 2013. Hopefully I'll "Take A Little Ride" to Boston next July and check it out.

Your move Yankee Stadium.
Tickets for the show go on sale October 26.

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Aug 21, 2012

Fans praise Sunny Sweeney's "Carolina On The Line"