My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Monthly Archives: December 2008

Happy New Year!

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Have a safe and Happy New Year!  From all of us at My Kind Of Country. And may you have a wonderful 2009 …

Chris’s End of 2008 List: Top 10 Album Cuts

These are my favorite album cuts from albums released in 2008. I decided to do it for all genres, but there are only 3 songs that aren’t country, so I hope you guys like it! (I also shortened my comments to just a few sentences.)

Viva La Vida

10. “Strawberry Swing” – Coldplay

- The great looping guitar in the background with the hand claps makes this infectious track a great happy song. I know, “Coldplay on a country blog? What?”

Dawn Of A New Day

9. “Evolution” – Crystal Shawanda

- I just got this album the other day, and while the material was mostly mediocre, this song stood out. It’s her musical evolution, and she presses on, while her great vocal elevates it even further.

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Album Review: Reba McEntire – ‘Just A Little Love’

Just A Little LoveReba McEntire’s rise to fame was slow. She had her first #1 hit, “Can’t Even Get The Blues” in 1982, five years after her debut album was released. Reba McEntire, her self-titled debut didn’t even chart on the Country Albums Chart, nor did her following two albums. It wasn’t until 1981’s Heart To Heart she actually charted an album. Her first top-ten hit was a bit before that though, “(You Lift Me) Up To Heaven” peaked in 1980. When it became clear that she was leaving Mercury, the label she had been with since her signing in 1975, the label did as labels often do; they didn’t really bother with promoting her end of contract album Behind The Scene (See Trisha Yearwood’s Jasper County).

She left Mercury for MCA, and released her debut for the label in 1984. Just A Little Love was more of a soft pop album than a real country record, and Reba, dissatisfied with the end result went on to release My Kind Of Country later that year, an album that yielded her two #1, and is somewhat considered to be her breakthrough album. Things didn’t fare as well with the album’s predecessor Just A Little Love though. It produced two singles, the title track which was a top five hit, and “He Broke Your Memory Last Night”, a top fifteen hit. Reba’s lack of satisfaction with the album is however, just plain dumb according to me.

As I made clear before, this isn’t much of a country record. The records starts off gently with the title track, a soft, romantic ballad about everyday love, and how it can haul you through the stressful life that so many of us live these days. Surely one of Reba’s best tunes, and one of my favorite happy songs as well. The next track, “Poison Sugar”, picks up the tempo with a peculiar melody that’ll certainly get stuck in your head. Reba is warning the ladies in town not to be fooled by a man whom she refers to as “Poison Sugar”. She tells a tale of how she’s gotten over a man in the brilliant “I’m Gettin’ Over You”, only to reveal to us that she hasn’t moved on a single inch from where she was years ago when she was with him. The happy, up-tempo melody only adds to the song’s irony.

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Storytime!

As I usually am when I make discussion posts, right now I’m bored, so here I am!

First of all, Merry Christmas to everyone! (Or Happy Holidays, whatever, you know what I mean.) For Christmas, I got 50 Greatest Hits, the 3 disc box set from Reba McEntire, so needless to say, I’ve been listening to a lot of Reba, and I mean a lot! (According to my lastfm page, I’ve listened to around 70 Reba songs since yesterday) Listening to most of her singles in a row, I’ve heard a lot of good music recently, What stuck out to me was the number of story songs, from “Fancy” to “Somebody”, there are so many!

So for tonight, here’s the topic:

What is your favorite story song? Why?

Now, it can be as recent as “Already Gone” by Sugarland, or something like “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” by Reba, it doesn’t matter. Just include why you love the story so much.

So to start, I have so many, but I’ll try to dig out something interesting from my iTunes library…

Nickel Creek

Nickel Creek

 

Here we go! “The Lighthouse’s Tale” by Nickel Creek. If you don’t know them, they were a New-grass trio who are on an indefinite hiatus after making 3 albums, winning one Grammy, and being nominated for a few more. They are all acoustic, except for the material from their last studio album, Why Should The Fire Die? The band consists of Chris Thile, the amazing mandolin player, Sara Watkins, the fiddle player, and her brother Sean Watkins, the guitar player. Chris and Sara are almost always the lead vocalists, but the trio also harmonizes frequently. (They also trade instruments sometimes, but anyways…)

This song is from their first major album, Nickel Creek, released in 2000.

The song is a traditional 3 act story song, but it’s from the point of view of a lighthouse! Yes a lighthouse, I know, sounds crazy, right? Well it works, and comes off as a haunting and tragic love song. (Yes I said love song, just keep reading.) The song starts with the lighthouse introducing himself:

“I’ll tell a story, paint you a picture from my past
I was so happy but joy in this life seldom lasts.”

The narrator describes his keeper,and his fiancé. Needless to say, I don’t want to spoil the story, but it doesn’t end happily.

This story song is clever, while recounting a classic story, but it sounds fresh, and is entertaining. Maybe it’s Chris Thile’s normally amazing violin? His expressive lead vocals? The lyrics? Who knows, but it’s great.

Here are my honorable mentions, I love all of these story songs:
“Where’ve You Been” by Kathy Mattea
“Devil On The Left” by Jamie O’Neal
“She Didn’t Have Time” by Terri Clark

Listen to “The Lighthouse’s Tale” on Last FM.
Watch the music video.

J.R.’s End of 2008 List: Top 20 Singles

heidi120. Heidi Newfield – Johnny & June

Epic.  That’s the only word to describe this song.  Newfield’s performance is perfection, but the production – a throwback to the Meatloaf power ballads of the 80s – could have easily fallen into cheesy name-dropping semantics.  I am usually the first one to spit at a Johnny Cash or Waylon Jennings (or Kris Kristofferson) reference in a country song.  Unless, this is coming from someone I believe really does love the music of said artist.  For instance, every time Alan Jackson sings ‘I wanna hear some Jones’, I believe him. But this isn’t about dropping the name Johnny Cash into a song just to sell it.  This is a beautiful ode to the love story of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, and Newfield makes me believe she is paying homage rather than pandering.

jamey19. Jamey Johnson – High Cost Of Living

This is a great country song, plain and simple.  And one of the best hooks I’ve ever heard as Johnson sings in his gravelly tone, ‘The high cost of living/Ain’t nothin’ like the cost of livin’ high’.  He then goes on to explain in great detail the mistakes he made – and with stark candidness.  A real country song.  

gary18. Gary Allan – Learnin’ How To Bend

I admit, I wasn’t immediately sold on this one like I was ‘Watching Airplanes’, but the more I listened to it, it really grew on me and I grew to appreciate it for the great tune it is.  Superb vocals from Gary, even as he acends into near fasletto in the chorus.  

george117. George Strait – Troubadour

Out of all the fabulous and countless hits in the catalog of George Strait, this will be the one I remember him for best. This entire song just seems to sum up his entire time on earth. In lesser hands, this song could wind up sounding inferior and insincere, but when it’s George, you know it’s the truth, and by god, he’s been there and back. Catchy chorus too.

dolly116. Dolly Parton – Backwoods Barbie

Like ‘Troubadour’, I think this song sums up the life and times of Dolly Parton as well as can be done in three and a half minutes. And it shows us that she has a lot better grasp on her larger than life persona and caricature looks than any of us. ‘I’m just a backwoods Barbie, too much make up, too much hair/But don’t be fooled by thinking’ that the goods are not all there’. Never underestimate Dolly Parton. I pity the fool who would.

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J.R.’s End of 2008 List: Top 10 Albums

ashton10. Ashton Shepherd – Sounds So Good

Stone country. Shepherd wrote or co-wrote every track on this superb debut album. She’s singing about the things in everybody’s life – universal themes delivered with a thick Alabama accent. And, man, am I a sucker for an Alabama drawl.

patty9. Patty Loveless – Sleepless Nights

One of the finest singers to ever sing a note taking on some of the greatest songs ever written.  Patty puts her own stamp on each and every one of these country classics, and makes them sound fresh again.  Fabulous. faith8. Faith Hill – Joy To The World

I wouldn’t normally include a Christmas album on a year-end list, but a good friend sent me this album and I didn’t listen to it for the first couple days. When I did, I discovered Faith Hill singing Christmas chestnuts in perfect voice. Plus, the one new tune, ‘A Baby Changes Everything’ is an instant classic. george7. George Strait – Troubadour

George Strait has consistently delivered top-notch material for some 27 years now, and this past year was no exception. A great album here with tracks like ‘House of Cash’, (a duet with Patty Loveless), ‘House With No Doors’ as well as the superb two first singles – ‘I Saw God Today’ and the title track.

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Country Singles Chart Summary – 12/24/08

billboard3

Rascal Flatts jump to #1 this week, Darius Rucker’s holiday offering is the Hot Shot Debut, and as expected, lots and lots of Christmas songs hold onto to spots in the lower spectrum, with several getting Breaker icons.

New to the chart this week are Whitney Duncan’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ at #60, Tim McGraw charts with ‘Nothin To Die For’ at #57, while Mrs. Tim McGraw’s ‘Joy To The World’ re-enters the chart at #52.  Darius Rucker has the Hot Shot Debut, bowing at #49 with ‘Winter Wonderland’. Several other holiday songs are making leaps this week, Rascal Flatts’ ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ jumps 9 spots to land at #41.  ‘Blue Christmas’, the Elvis Presley duet with Martina McBride also leaps 9 spots, settling at #36.  This is the King’s first top 40 country hit since ‘Lovin’ Arms’ went all the way to #8 in 1981.  

The #1 spot goes to Rascal Flatts this week, as ‘Here’ eases in from #2 last week.  Montgomery Gentry fall from the top spot to #2.  And Sugarland seem like they’ve ‘already gone’ as high as they will (it was too easy – I had to) as they hit #3 this week, but lose spins.  ‘Chicken Fried’ falls another spot to #4 and Brad Paisley & Keith Urbans’s ‘Start A Band’ holds steady at #5.  The rest of the top 10 is made up of Alan Jackson, Billy Currington, Dierks Bentley, Jamey Johnson, and Blake Shelton – in that order.  

Merry Christmas everybody! 

Oh, and you can see the entire chart here.

Chris’s End of 2008 List: Top 30 Singles

This is my 2008 top-30 singles post! First, about my singles list, I attempted to avoid songs that could still impact the charts more, songs like Miranda Lambert’s “More Like Her” or Little Big Town’s “Good Lord Willing”. I made some exceptions as you’ll soon see, but I tried to keep it to songs that peaked on the charts in 2008. Anyway, here are my top 30 singles of 2008! If you read my albums post, I’m warning you, this post is even longer…

That Don’t Make Me A Bad Guy

30. “She Never Cried In Front Of Me” – Toby Keith

- It’s not very country sounding, but Toby gives a great performance to a very good sad song. It’s probably my favorite song from him.

Long Trip Alone

29. “Trying To Stop Your Leaving” – Dierks Bentley

- Dierks is doing what he does best, it has energy, but still has meaning and great singing. A very solid single from a great album.

Fearless

28. “Love Story” – Taylor Swift

- Yeah, I did it, Swift’s on my list! I actually love this song, it’s creative and different from other artists, but I’m young so I may be biased. I also love the sound, especially the fiddle near the end that I find myself whistling. 

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Chris’s End of 2008 List: Top 8 Albums

This is my post for my top albums of 2008! I was looking at the new albums I had bought this year, and I only bought around 12 new country albums, most of which I thought were undeserving of being on my year-end list. So, I narrowed it down to 8 worthy candidates. I’m warning you, my comments can get lengthy, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

PS: My top 30 singles will be posted later today.

Sounds So Good

8. “Sounds So Good” – Ashton Shepherd

- This album is the epitome of potential. She has a great voice, the production is good, if a little too much at parts, and she can write. She just needs to work with other writers and hone her skills to produce songs better than the ones found on this album. That potential is worth a place on this list for me.

The Life Of A Song

7. “The Life Of A Song” – Joey + Rory

- After hearing their single (Cheater Cheater), I knew this album would be country, but I didn’t know how serious it would be. It turned out to have some very heavy songs, like “Rodeo” and “To Say Goodbye” that are sad, but the album is country through and through. There are very few to no electric instruments, and Joey’s pure voice rises above the acoustic background to add the necessary emotion to the songs. Could one ask for more?

A Place To Land

6. “A Place To Land” – Little Big Town

- So this album was re-released this year, and it really is that good. I put it on this list because it deserves to be recognized, because it’s a very entertaining album. I’ve heard people say they decided not to get this one because they think it’s worse than The Road To Here, but this album is better! The re-release made it better because 3 new tracks were added, and 2 of those tracks are amazing.

The first, “Good Lord Willing”, is the band’s new single. It’s similar to Dierks Bentley’s “What Was I Thinking”, but LBT’s harmonies and the great chorus make “Good Lord Willing” much much better. Another new song, “Love Profound”, is an acoustic ballad that explores how love “has no limits” or “knows no bounds”. It’s a pretty song that sounds great, due to harmonies again, and has great lyrics.

As you see, the harmonies on this album make it worth buying. The songs are great, and the harmonies of this great group make them even better.

Rattlin’ Bones

5. “Rattlin’ Bones” – Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson

- I’ve only had this for about 2 weeks, so it hasn’t quite grown on me yet, but I love it already. This is another all acoustic album, but this one was reportedly recorded in only a week, so it has that rough edge to the music that makes it very unique.

The harmonies between this husband-wife duo are heavenly, with them having mostly equal parts is most songs. They have real chemistry and tackle sad songs like “One More Year” to the fun “The House That Never Was”. They make each song stand out from the others and sound like they are doing what they truly love. They also make the listener feel what they are singing about, and it’s a very magical experience.

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Single Review: Martina McBride – ‘Ride’

Cover for "Ride" single.

Cover for "Ride" single.

I got up today and noticed that this single was finally available on iTunes, so I bought it! The song’s been out for a few weeks, but I thought this was a good time to actually review it.

This song is another of Martina’s inspirational songs, and this time she relates life to a roller-coaster. The premise of the song is lines like “It brings you up slowly then shoots you like a rocket towards the ground/
it twists and it shakes you before it turns you upside down.” If you haven’t heard it (she performed it on the CMAs), it’s very uptempo and decidedly not country. The lyrics are nonsensical sometimes, with such as lines like “Time Turns a Wheel and Love Collides “. What wheel? What’s colliding? Why is all this happening? What kind of roller coaster were the writers of this song on when they decided to write it? Does Martina even like roller coasters? The line of questioning just gets more and more ridiculous when you think about it all. However, the song moves so fast, you don’t even notice the garbled ideas expressed in the chorus, so it doesn’t really bother one much.

Martina doesn’t scream here! She just sings strongly, but she never screams or hits any real power notes, and she sounds amazing. If she sounds like this on all of her new album (March 31, 09), those songs will be some of her best vocal performances to date.

The production is heavy on electric guitar and drums, but it works well with what the song is trying to accomplish and makes for a great up-tempo mood. It may not seem like it, but Martina really doesn’t have very many true up-tempo songs, because she hovers around the mid-tempo range most of the time. When she chooses a good fast song like this one, she really shines, even if it isn’t the best song. I’m happy that it’s doing well on the charts (It’s currently at #25 as of last week) mostly because she is one of my favorite singers out there. I liked her last album, but if they had picked better songs (Like “Love Land” or “House Of A Thousand Dreams”), she might have done better on the charts.

Overall, this song sounds great, even if it’s a bit short on coherency, but it doesn’t really detract a ton from the song because it moves by quickly and is a fun song overall. I’m mostly glad Martina has chosen good material to have as a single, so hopefully this album will be more successful.

Songwriters: Michael Davey, Andrew Dorff and Chris Robbins.

Grade: A-

(This song isn’t on lastfm, so here’s a link to Martina’s myspace page)

40 and Fabulous

rf1Fox News recently published its 40 Hottest Over-40 Hotties. The list contains 2 of country music’s most beautiful women – 3 if you count Sheryl Crow as country, but I don’t. But I think they missed a few. Where is Dolly Parton? Martina McBride? Sara Evans? Lee Ann Womack? Shania Twain?

Here is a sample of some of the countdown ladies who I think deserve their spot, or are so off the wall, that it’s just mind-boggling …

40. Reba
38. Madonna
36. Sheryl Crow
34. Tina Turner, 69
31. Jean Smart, 57
26. Sara Palin
16. Kylie Minogue
8. Fran Drescher
6. Julia Roberts
5. Cloris Leachman, 82
3. Faith Hill
1. Demi Moore

What’s your take? Fox News called them the ‘hottest cougars’ of 2008. So what ‘cougars of country’ do you think should have made the list? Why?

reba16faithhill1_e6zoom_411831lee-ann-womack1dollyparton1martinashania4cad1ac9-0c31-4e55-8cba-4c158299db9b

If I Were A Country Song…

The album, I Am ... Sasha Fierce, featuring If I Were A Boy

The album, I Am ... Sasha Fierce, featuring "If I Were A Boy"

First of all, I admit it. I’ve used this as a discussion topic before on the 9513 forums! Unfortunately, it didn’t get that much of a response there, so I decided to re-try it here, hopefully more people will see it here.

So I was listening to the song “If I Were A Boy” by Beyoncé, and I thought, “With tweaking, completely different production, and stuff like that, this would make a good country song!” (it was one of those random thoughts I tend to have with no warning.) The song has been a recent hit, even though it’s overshadowed by her other current single “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” (which is one of my favorite songs, but I doubt you guys would ever like it) that is currently at #1 on Billboard’s singles charts.

If you haven’t heard the song, it’s really a role-reversal song between the narrator and eventually her ex-lover. The narrator tells about the things she would do if she were a boy, but near the end, she reveals that her now ex-boyfriend is the one who had been treating her wrongly, who had been doing the things wrong in the first place! It’s a wonderful twist to a beautiful song, and it flows well, and the concept carries to the great music video where Beyoncé literally poses as her guy. The song has drama, it’s catchy, but still has meaning and is surprisingly not shallow.

Listening to the lyrics, I think the idea sounds creative enough for a country ballad. The pain the narrator is feeling is so evident in Beyoncé’s performance, and the lyrics themselves, although the production is bombastic. I could see it being sung by someone with a big voice, I think Carrie Underwood could nail it. It would be pop-country, but I think the concept is good enough for a great country song.

So here’s my question:

What non-country songs do you think would make good country songs?

Also what do you think of the song I picked? “If I Were A Boy” may not have been the best example, but it’s the first one that came to me. Yes, I am a big Beyoncé fan, please don’t make fun of me! (The song I used on the 9513 forums was “Bust Your Windows” by Jazmine Sullivan, FYI)

Discuss!

Video of “If I Were A Boy”

Country Singles Chart Summary – 12/17/08

billboard1Yuletide offerings still dot the lower rungs of the Hot Country Songs chart this week, Montgomery Gentry holds steady to the top spot, Carrie Underwood has the Hot Shot Debut, and nothing much changes at the top of the heap.

Steve Holy enters the chart at #60 with ‘What Might Have Been’ and Faith Hill’s ‘Little Drummer Boy’ beats its way in at #59, while Josh Gracin bows at #58 with ‘Telluride’. The Hot Shot Debut of the week is Carrie Underwood with ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’ settling at #54. Sarah Buxton’s ‘Space’ holds its #38 position while still gaining spins. Joey + Rory move up one more spot to #32 with ‘Cheater, Cheater’ while Miranda Lambert ascends 2 to the #26 position with ‘More Like Her’. Also making moves are Taylor Swift’s ‘White Horse’, sprinting to #20, up 6 spots – she is once again the Most Added and has the Most Increased Audience, for the second week.

Lee Ann Womack, meanwhile, falls 3 spots to #23 this week. Brooks & Dunn featuring Reba on ‘Cowgirls Don’t Cry’ also falls 2 spots to #15, but is still increasing in spins and audience. Lady Antebellum’s ‘Lookin’ For A Good Time’ falls one slot to #12, switching places with Blake Shelton’s ‘She Wouldn’t Be Gone’.

Jamey Johnson holds steady to his #10 position – still increasing in spins too. ‘Feel That Fire’, the new tune from Dierks Bentley drops to #9 as it trades with Billy Currington’s ‘Don’t’ – which rises to #8. Alan Jackson’s ‘Country Boy’ holds onto the #7 ranking, and Tim McGraw falls 3 to land at #6 with his latest top 5, ‘Let It Go’. Brad Paisley with Keith Urban go top 5 this week with ‘Start A Band’. Sugarland is still on the rise with ‘Already Gone’, keeping its #4 place. ‘Chicken Fried’ falls one spot to #3 while Rascal Flatts jump 3 positions to #2 with ‘Here’. And Montgomery Gentry rolls into the #1 spot for the second week with ‘Roll With Me’, their second straight chart-topper from their Back When I Knew It All album.

See the entire chart here.

Album Review: SHeDAISY – ‘Fortuneteller’s Melody’

shedaisy2
I’m bored right now, so I figured I would review the album I decided to start listening to, AKA Fortuneteller’s Melody by SHeDAISY.

If you’ve read my posts on the 9513’s forums you would probably know that I love SHeDAISY. I don’t care if they’re poppy; it’s great pop. I consider them one of the most underrated artists out there right now. I feel that they were unfairly shunned by radio with other female artists, but hey it happens.

What’s the worst is that this album, their most ignored album, is overwhelmingly their finest album to date! Mostly this is due to the stellar writing of sister Kristyn Osborn, main writer and background singer for the group. She has written some real gems on this album, but I’ll start from the beginning.

This album starts with “23 Days”, an up-tempo track that describes the feeling of being far from the one you love, but you are on your way to get to them, as in “23 days of Tennessee time and I’m back to you.” The song is great, fun, and instantly singable; a radio hit that never got a chance. Unfortunately, this song was never a single, but it was featured on a Sleep Number commercial, which sparked downloads instantly. This song sets the style for the majority of the album: poppy, but more acoustic and more organic-feeling than their previous albums. It reminds me of Sheryl Crow, but better and leaning a little more country.

The next standout track is the album’s first single, “I’m Taking The Wheel”, one of the best up-tempo songs I have ever heard, and it still has depth. It’s about a relationship that’s beginning to fail, and the narrator decided to take control of the relationship and save it. It has a strong melody and great lyrics, making it instantly great, especially with the driving beat in the background and the more country instuments.

The best two tracks on the album? The two sadder songs, the first being “In Terms Of Love”, which also happens to be the album’s second single. The song talks about getting over a lost loved one, since Kristyn had just gone through a divorce while writing, the pain shines through on this great track. The track has great fiddle and gentle strings that frame the sisters’ flawless harmonies. The narrator tells her ex, “I don’t think about then in terms of now/ I found a way to start again somehow/ I don’t think about what we thought it was in terms of love.” The song comes across as nice, but with a little edge of how a failed relationship needs two people to make a mistake, but it’s still hard to get over it.

The second song, “She Gets What I Deserve” has the sound of Sugarland’s “Very Last Country Song”, but the lyrics and theme of Sugarland’s “Stay”! This song is from the point of view of the other woman, but the song deals more with how the narrator has hurt the wife of her lover; a woman she has never met but knows all about. It’s the narrator looking “into the windows of the home I’ve torn apart/ I can’t help but wonder, what happened to my heart.” She feels like she deserves first the man, then later the pain, showing a change of heart in how she seeks forgiveness from God. This song is by far the country-est song on the album, and is just gorgeous.

Interestingly enough, the worst song on the album is the only one that SHeDAISY has ever recorded that wasn’t at least co-written by Kristyn, namely “God Bless The American Housewife”. The song is meant to be tongue-in-cheek on how Desperate Housewives (it was featured on the show’s soundtrack CD and has a funny music video) has made housewives look too sexy and jealous all the time. The song is supposed to be funny, but comes of as mawkish and insincere, and ultimately doesn’t work.

Besides that song, the rest of the CD is solid, if similar sounding. This album being overlooked is a terrible crime, but it’s far too late now. Maybe their upcoming album in March will be accepted by radio and buyers.

Grade: A-

Listen to the entire album on Last FM.

I almost forgot about …

sammykershawThere are so many artists and songs I’ve been a fan of over the years, that it’s inevitable to forget about a song or album that at one time I absolutely loved. Especially when you’re constantly adding to your music collection. So, I always like reading the What’cha listening to? thread on the9513’s forum. Likewise, I look forward to Thursday’s Recommend a Track discussion at Country Universe. Mostly because somebody will almost always remind me about a forgotten gem.

Thanks to 9513 forum member Occasional Hope – playing Sammy Kershaw’s ‘Politics, Religion, and Her’ – I dusted off my Sammy Kershaw CDs and ripped them to the computer so I can enjoy them on my Windows Media Player. Thanks, Occasional Hope! I had almost forgotten how much I loved Sammy’s rich baritone on chestnuts like ‘Yard Sale’, ‘I Can’t Reach Her Anymore’, and ‘Fit To Be Tied Down’. I’m also a big fan of Kershaw hits like his debut ‘Cadillac Style’ and fun songs like ‘Third Rate Romance’ and ‘Vidalia’.

So, what artists have you forgotten about? And recently had a reunion with their music? What artist would you recommend to a fellow country fan? Tell us why, and what your favorite songs are by that artist …

Listen to Sammy Kershaw – Politics, Religion, and Her on Last FM.

The9513 Last FM Group – Chart Update

95132 The9513 Last FM Group has a new chart update posted, summarized by yours truly. If you haven’t joined this group yet, head on over and join up with us now. And here’s my little run-down of the happenings on our very own country chart, 9513 style:

Membership is still climbing on the9513’s Last FM group – we are up to 35 members and counting. And King George still reigns supreme on the9513 group chart this week., holding the #1 artist spot and 3 of the top 20 albums.

Standing behind the King, we find Sugarland, Garth Brooks, Lee Ann Womack, and Brooks & Dunn in the top 5. Scrolling down, we find one of the most eclectic mixes of artists I’ve seen on our group chart, Artists like Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, Wynonna Judd, Coldplay, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Barenaked Ladies, Rosanne Cash, Merle Haggard, and hundreds more make appearances.

Brad Paisley’s 5th Gear is the top album with 9 listeners. Josh Turner, Brooks & Dunn, Taylor Swift, and Keith Urban occupy the #2 through #5 spots. Some other great albums members are listening to include Trisha Yearwood’s Heaven, Heartache, and the Power of Love, Coal by Kathy Mattea, Julie Roberts’ self-titled debut, and my favorite Tim McGraw album, Set This Circus Down has 7 listeners.

Kathy Mattea charts nearly every track from her concept album, Coal this week. Her best showing is ‘Sally In The Garden’, digging up 5 listeners. The top 3 tracks all have 8 listeners, but Taylor Swift rides her ‘White Horse’ to the front; while Lee Ann Womack’s ‘Last Call’ and Sugarland’s ‘All I Want To Do’ are right on her heels. Swift’s ‘Love Story’ and Jimmy Wayne’s #1 radio hit ‘Do You Believe Me Now’ round out our top 5. Some really great tracks are scattered among some real crap (but that’s just this writer’s opinion, of course) in the track chart. A sample of the really great tracks include Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson’s ‘Sweetest Waste Of Time’, Reba McEntire’s ‘Lonely Alone’, ‘I’ve Come To Expect it From You’ from King George. Also, Joe Diffie’s ‘In Another World’ and Dolly Parton’s ‘Here You Come Again’ are certainly worth listening to.

The entire chart can be seen here.

Jeopardy! Country Edition Discussion

Stars from Law & Order on Jeopardy!

Stars from Law & Order on Jeopardy!

So I was surfing wikipedia after watching an episode of Law & Order: SVU, and I followed a link to “Celebrity Jeopardy!” Looking through the total list of contestants over the years, I spotted some country stars, namely Kathy Mattea (Who won her game in 1994), Naomi Judd (1998), and Brad Paisley (2003). As a huge Jeopardy fan (I hope to be on the show one day, I’m very good at getting the answers), I pose this question:

Which current country stars do you think would do well? Who would do badly? Who would you want to see face off in a trivia showdown?

For the obvious answers, Kellie Pickler would surely lose, if Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader is any proof, and most mainstream male acts seem unintelligent (at least not in the kind of trivia knowledge required for Jeopardy). On the other side, I think Jennifer Nettles would be interesting to watch, but I’m biased since I love Sugarland so much. I think she seems smart, but with celebrities it’s so hard to know…

I would like to see Natalie Maines and Toby Keith face off. They both seem fairly knowledgeable, but they could finally settle that unresolved dispute, and we would finally know who is better! (I vote Natalie…) I bet it would get very heated though, to say the least.

Another suggestion? Pit the members of groups against each other! See which Rascal Flatts member is the smartest? Or have Kathy Mattea come back and whoop them all? Who knows!

So what do you guys think?

Video Review: Sugarland – ‘Love’

sugarland2The first time I watched this video, I felt a mix of emotions. Awe, adrenaline, and anger.

I was in awe of the visual effects. The video opens with several thousand fans waving green glow-sticks, then Jennifer Nettles appears under a strobe light singing the first line. Nettles continues singing through the first verse in her heavenly and throaty delivery as flashbulbs shutter all over the arena amidst that sea of green glow sticks. Meanwhile, Kristian Bush is strumming away in his ‘isn’t this cool’ fashion.

The adrenaline kicks in around the third chorus as pseudo-pyrotechnics rain down on some of the brightest footlights I’ve ever seen, making for a real visual treat on screen. So I can only imagine how cool it looked to a front-row concert attendee. And this is where the anger sets in. Somebody other than me was witness to this shoot and I am downright jealous. I’ve not yet experienced a Sugarland concert, and this video makes me realize now more than ever, that I must.

I have to admit, I didn’t like this song a lot at first. And just like ‘Already Gone’, I thought it was a bad choice for a single. (I personally would have went with ‘It Happens’ then ‘Joey’ and then finally ‘Very Last Country Song’ as the album’s final single. But what do I know? Maybe Nettles and Bush plan to cultivate 6 or 7 radio singles from Love On The Inside, the album is certainly strong enough.) But since the CMA performance and this knock-you-over music video, the tune itself is growing on me.

And since the video isn’t available on youtube yet, and either CMT doesn’t allow embedding or I don’t know how to to it, you have to follow this link to see the video. As soon as it becomes available on youtube or I learn more about embedding, I will embed it in this post. Until then, enjoy what I think is a splendid video from these peachy Georgia natives.

A-

Single Review: Jamie O’Neal – ‘Like A Woman’

Just in case some people don’t remember Jamie O’Neal, she debuted with the two number 1 singles “There Is No Arizona” and “When I Think About Angels” from her debut album Shiver in 2000. Then she had a sharp drop-off with her next singles, coupled with label troubles with Mercury Nashville, which caused her to exit the label after her second album was never released.

Then Jamie returned on Capitol’s roster and released a new album titled Brave and had 3 sucessful singles, most notably “Somebody’s Hero” which reached #3 on the charts. Then in 2007, she released another failed single (“God Don’t Make Mistakes”), another failed album, another label exit. Now, in 2008, she has signed to 1720 Entertainment, an indie label that includes Rissi Palmer. Now she has a new single and a new album on the way! Cue in “Like A Woman”.

Now I decided to review this single after I noticed that none of the other blogs I read have reviewed it, so here I am!

Now first I would like to say I do like this song, but it’s just not what Jamie needs to restart her career. Starting out it has mostly piano and strings with very little country elements besides a little steel guitar floating around, so this song is firmly in the country-pop category. The premise of the song is a wife who wants to rekindle the flame with her husband saying “tonight I want to feel like a woman.” The lyrics are fairly nondescript, with some cliches and the usual images and metaphors that go with this king of song. In other words, the lyrics are nothing special, but they aren’t bad, just boring.

From that, the song doesn’t sound special, right? However, Jamie has a put out a great vocal performance, especially during the sweeping chorus that has a great melody. She hits the great notes of the chorus with the power necessary, but she’s not screaming at all, just singing. Her vocals have the emotion that you can tell she really wants to feel her man’s love again, and you really believe her.

All in all, this song is good, but not great. Unfortunately, it’s not what Jamie needs right now. She needs a home run song, and this song just isn’t it: it reminds me of a song an artist puts out when they know it’ll be a hit even if it’s not top-notch. It’s good, but not good enough to bring her career back to how it started, which is why it’s hovering in the mid 50’s on the charts right now. I hope it goes higher, but I don’t know if it will at all, especially with all the Christmas songs clogging the lower half of the charts right now.

With her vocals though, I think her upcoming album will be great, assuming it gets released and she stays on the label. Knowing her track record so far, who knows if the album will come out at all, but I really hope it does!

Grade: B-

Listen to Jamie O’Neal – Like A Woman on Last FM.

But are they any good?

waylon1This review by the fabulous Jim Malec over at the9513 and the ensuing comments got me to thinking about how patriotic songs are received by the general listening public. There is of course that portion of the population who are going to love anything mildly patriotic and pull the little flag out of their back pocket and begin waving it to the beat. Kudos to them. On the opposite side of that, we have listeners who have been disenchanted with the American machine and are going to immediately despise and dismiss these songs. Then, there more sensible music listeners who will listen intenly to the song and then decide whether it’s good or bad. Simple enough, right?

And I think there are some songs that have gotten it right over the years. Someone pointed out Waylon Jennings’ ‘America’, and I think that’s a fine choice – and here’s why: Unlike the laundry list of items in the Atkins tune, Jennings actually has something to say about America and why he loves it.

And my brothers are all black and white, yellow too
And the red man is right, to expect a little from you
Promise and then follow through, America

And the men, who fell on the plains
And lived, through hardship and pain
America, America
And the men who could not fight
In a war that didn’t seem right
You let them come home, America

It just sounds like more thought went into those lyrics than:

Cause it’s a kid with a chance
It’s a rock n roll band
It’s a farmer cuttin’ hay

Are you a fan of patriotic songs? Why or why not? And what flag-waving songs do you think got it right?

Listen to Waylon Jennings –  America on Last FM.

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