My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Neko Case

Our Grammy predictions

The 52nd annual Grammy Awards show airs January 31, 2010 at 8 p.m. on CBS.

Earlier we told you who we’d each like to see winning in the country categories this year. Now it’s time to go out on a limb and say who we expect to win. We didn’t do very well last time, due to collectively underestimating the CMA voters’ enthrallment to commercial success.

Best Male Country Vocal Performance
Trace Adkins – ‘All I Ask For Anymore’: Chris
Billy Currington – ‘People Are Crazy’
Jamey Johnson – ‘High Cost Of Living’: Jordan Stacey, Occasional Hope, Razor X
George Strait – ‘Living For The Night’: J.R. Journey
Keith Urban – ‘Sweet Thing’

Jordan: The Grammys always go for this type of song: critically acclaimed, sold a lot of albums, and has been listed in best of lists all year. The Grammy’s won’t ignore Jamey Johnson.
Razor: While I like the Trace Adkins song very much, I think the award for Male Vocal Performance will – and should – go to Jamey Johnson. It received a tepid response from country radio, but the Grammy’s are somewhat less inhibited and Puritanical in their selections. This was a true highlight of 2009, and I expect that the Grammy voters will recognize that and reward the song appropriately.
OH: See my comments below on Song. I believe Jamey will win at least one of these categories, but possibly not both.
J.R.: Strait is long overdue for a string of trophies from the Grammy’s. His first-ever statuette came from the NARAS last year in the Best Country Album race, and I think he’ll add to his collection this year.

Best Female Country Vocal Performance
Miranda Lambert – ‘Dead Flowers’
Martina McBride – ‘I Just Call You Mine’
Taylor Swift – ‘White Horse’: J.R. Journey, Occasional Hope
Carrie Underwood – ‘Just A Dream’: Chris, Jordan Stacey, Razor X
Lee Ann Womack – ‘Solitary Thinkin”

Razor: ‘Just A Dream’ and ‘White Horse’ are the only two songs in this category that can legitimately be called hits. It would be a further travesty for Taylor Swift to win over Carrie in a vocal performance categeory. The Grammy’s are more prone than the CMAs or ACMs to reward artistry over commercial success. While ‘Just A Dream’ is no artistic masterpiece, Carrie is hands down the superior vocalist.
OH: The Grammy voters don’t always care if something’s a hit, but nothing here is sufficiently artistically compelling to win on that account. I agree it’s between Taylor and Carrie, and travesty or not, I think Taylor will carry it on her current awards and commercial momentum.
J.R.: Taylor is white hot right now, pardon the pun. Grammy voters have traditionally either went for tracks that make strong artistic statements or the flavor of the day. This year, with nothing really standing out from the pack as brilliant in this category, I think name-recognition will swing it for Swift.
Jordan: They seem to like Carrie, and it’s a much stronger song than ‘Last Name, so she will probably walk away with this one.

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Year In Review: Chris Dean’s Top 10 Albums of 2009

These albums are an interesting mix: a few indie albums, a comeback album, a mainstream major release (or 3) and a live album that shouldn’t go together. However, from the albums I heard this year, these were my favorites, the ones I kept listening to. Hopefully you agree, but maybe not and that’s what makes the end of the year so interesting! Maybe you’ll find something new on my list that you didn’t think to listen to.

10. Southern VoiceTim McGraw (Curb)

A last minute entry on my list, this album was not what I expected. I hadn’t even listened to his new singles, and I wish I’d paid more attention. This album is a mature bunch of story songs such as the morbid “Good Girls”. The most touching is ‘You Had To Be There,’ a scene in a prison where a father talks to his son through a glass window and a phone. Even lead single ‘It’s A Business Doing Pleasure With You’ is a fun pop-country song that manages to be fresh.

9. Destination Life – Rhonda Vincent (Rounder)

A finely crafted bluegrass album that’s entertaining from start to finish. An infectious version of ‘Stop the World (And Let Me Off)’ is by far my favorite track here.

8.Middle Cyclone – Neko Case (Anti)

I had the chance to see Neko in concert right before this CD came out, and I wish I had; this is a unique collection of natural disaster-inspired love songs. ‘This Tornado Loves You’ is awesome, and the album artwork is one of my favorites ever. I mean come on, holding a sword on a car hood? Yeah!

7. Live At Eddie’s Attic – The Civil Wars (Sensibility)

A free, digital, live album- this duo is a hidden gem. ‘Poison & Wine’is raw and heartbreaking- not to mention they can really sing live. Hopefully a studio album will be in the works…

6. The Long Way Home – Terri Clark (Bare Track)

A little more slick than I expected, nevertheless this album has very fine tunes, especially the AA-themed’A Million Ways To Run’ and the clever “If You Want Fire”.

5. Song Up In Her Head – Sarah Jarosz (Sugarhill)

In the vein of Nickel Creek, Sarah Jarosz’s album is progressive bluegrass with plenty of banjo. A cover of the Decemberist’s ‘Shankill Butchers’ is the highlight.

4. American Saturday Night – Brad Paisley (Arista)

I didn’t expect to like this album, but I did and I have been playing it for the past 6 months. ‘Everybody’s Here’ is a gorgeous ode to not having a good time at a party. Anyone else surprised that a solo, mainstream male artist made it on my list? I kind of am.

3. Sara Watkins – Sara Watkins (Nonesuch)

Her solo debut is surprisingly not a continuation of Nickel Creek (Although that would still be awesome!), Sara brings more country tunes. The mournful ‘All This Time’ and swingy ‘Any Old Time’ show her real talent.

2. Mountain Soul II – Patty Loveless (Saguaro Road)

Do I need to say anything? Probably not, but I will. I actually like this album more than the first Mountain Soul, but it doesn’t quite have a knockout track like ‘You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive’. ‘Diamond And The Crown’ with Emmylou Harris comes really close though, with it’s hymn-like organ and wonderful performance.

1.Revolution – Miranda Lambert (Sony)

I meant to write a review here for this album, but life got in the way. This album manages to be diverse and cohesive at the same time; a feat last accomplished so deftly by a mainstream artist when Trisha Yearwood released Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love. ‘The House That Built Me’ made me miss home so much I shed a tear, something that very few songs have the power to do.

2009 album recommendations, album previews

2009 has been interesting, a crappy year for mainstream country music overall, but I would say a good year for other genres. Since the year is 75% over, I just wanted to share some of my picks from the year so far (inside country music and out) and a look at a few upcoming albums. Note: these are albums I’ve been enjoying, some may not appeal to you guys, but these albums have been played heavily by me. I also didn’t include albums I’ve reviewed, but most of those are still played a lot by me… Here are some recommendations from 2009 so far:

the long way home terri clarkThe Long Way Home by Terri Clark -Her indie debut reminds me of Fearless, only better. There are some really great tracks hidden in here- it’s a shame it won’t be heard by almost everyone. Favorite Track: “A Million Ways To Run” -This song is a look into the mind of someone at what seems to be an AA meeting- and it sounds real, not contrived.

mi planMi Plan by Nelly Furtado -She got me into Spanish music, and this album has some gorgeous cuts with great guests. Favorite track: “Bajo Otra Luz” which features Julieta Venegas & La Mala Rodriguez -This song has a great beat while the lyrics tell of how one sees their life “under another light” after their ex leaves them.

live-on-insideLive On The Inside by Sugarland -Cool live album that proves Jennifer sounds as good, if not better live. Favorite track: “Circle” -This cover just sound like it was made to be covered by Sugarland, it’s got energy and sounds great with the mandolin in the background. Jennifer’s voice just soars, while staying restrained, not to mention you can’t even tell it’s live.

breakthrough colbie caillatBreakthrough by Colbie Caillat -She’s not deep, but this album is very pleasant and good after a long day of classes. Her voice is pleasant and the songs are fun and she never really tries to be more than that. Favorite track: “Begin Again” -A catchy chorus with great acoustic-pop instrumentation makes for a very enjoyable song.

twangTwang by George Strait -Solid, as usual, but better than Troubadour by far. It’s definitely a George Strait album! Favorite Track: “Beautiful Day For Goodbye” -A man laments how nice the weather is while his lover leaves, definitely a heartbreaker akin to “Living For The Night”. I personally prefer “Living”, but I didn’t want to recommend the first single!

destination_lifeDestination Life by Rhonda Vincent -She’s so talented, and this album just sounds awesome. It’s very fresh and all of the players are just amazing. Favorite track: “Stop The World (And Let Me Off)” -This oft-covered song has a great flamenco feel mixed with bluegrass instruments, a true treat that I wasn’t expecting from Rhonda Vincent.

middle cyclone neko caseMiddle Cyclone by Neko Case -She’s different, but this album is a little more straightforward with lyrics that are easier to get. Honestly, I wish I had bought tickets to see her in New York City, but I didn’t quite get too… Lame. Favorite track: “This Tornado Loves You” -This opener has some cool opening guitar work that segues into lyrics comparing the narrator to a tornado that loves… or is she really a tornado?

Here are some upcoming albums that I’m looking forward to:

mountain soul iiMountain Soul II by Patty Loveless -Honestly, I’ve already heard it, and it’s really good. I like it better than Mountain Soul, but that’s my personal opinion, and I bet most people will disagree with me on that point. My favorite track right now is “Diamond And The Crown” which features Emmylou Harris on harmonies. (September 29th)

revolution miranda lambertRevolution by Miranda Lambert -I love the first two singles, and 15 tracks is like one-and-a-half times Crazy Ex-Girlfriend! I’ve heard the album has some really good songs, and I recommend Wal-Mart’s soundcheck performances where she performs a few of the new songs. Hopefully the fact that it’s loud doesn’t bug me, but I don’t think it will. (September 29th)

memoirs of an imperfect angel mariah careyMemoirs Of An Imperfect Angel by Mariah Carey -The lead single “Obsessed” had strange autotune, but the second single is a cover of “I Want To Know What Love Is” and is pure ballady goodness with gorgeous vocals, something Mariah Carey does well.I liked her past two albums, so I think I’ll like this one too. (September 29th)

Shakira_She_Wolf_2009She Wolf by Shakira -Yeah, I know, “WHAT?” This album is supposed to be like electro dance-pop with asian influences- whatever that means, but if it’s all like “She Wolf”, I’ll love it. I love the title track, and sometimes I get in the mood to dance, and this album seems like it’ll be too much fun. I think I just like it when someone howls in the middle of a song… (October 5th)

play on carrie underwoodPlay On by Carrie Underwood -I’m the rare one that likes “Cowboy Casanova”, but I’m hoping this album will be much better than Carnival Ride, but I’m not keeping my hopes up. I think everyone’s hoping for an album of “I Told You So”s, but I bet when it comes out her anti-fans will be the ones saying “I told you so…” (November 3rd)

Sugarland Gold And GreenGold And Green by Sugarland -Being the massive Sugarland fan I am, I found out they were making a Christmas album, and I was actually excited- something a Christmas album never does for me. It includes the five Christmas songs that were included on the Wal-Mart re-release of Enjoy The Ride, plus five new songs written by the duo. Two Sugarland albums in two months? I’ll take that. (October 13th)

As-of yet untitled… by Alicia Keys -The first single, “Doesn’t Mean Anything” (Listen to it here) is really great, very meaningful and gorgeous- it bodes well for this project. (Winter 2009)

As-of yet untitled… by Gary Allan -I like him and his voice, although I disliked Living Hard, we’ll see about this one. (2009)

So what about you guys? Favorites of 2009 so far? Upcoming ones that you’re ready for?

Recommendation: Live songs & albums

So being the Sugarland freak I am, I went to Wal-Mart to get Live On The Inside the morning it came out- before they had even put it on the shelves. I had to find a worker to get the box of new CDs open to get me one so I could have it. Not being a fan of live CDs, I was worried, but Live exceeded all my expectations. With superb singing of both Sugarland’s hits and mostly great covers, I was very happy. So for my recommendation this week, I’m going to recommend 3 tracks from 3 live albums that I’ve enjoyed:

live on inside“Better Man” by Sugarland (Originally by Pearl Jam)
Playing this for friend, he remarked the bridge wasn’t energetic enough and listening to the original, he was right, but Sugarland does a good job here. This song has themes that belong in country music, and the mostly acoustic arrangement works out to make a cool cover. This is one of my favorites from Live On The Inside, as well as “The One I Love” and “Circle”. Watch a preview of it on Youtube.

cwlive“Poison & Wine” by The Civil Wars (Original song)
Thanks to this article from Country Universe, I discovered their free live album, Live at Eddie’s Attic (You can still download it for free here). I was pleasantly surprised to find two very talented singer/songwriters making very good music, “Poison & Wine” being my favorite. It’s a gorgeous song with driving piano that underlies it’s sadness. Watch it live on YouTube.

album_tigers“Rated X” by Neko Case (Originally by Loretta Lynn)
A #1 hit for Loretta Lynn, this controversial song does well in the hands of Neko Case, still sounding country, but all Neko. I almost got to see Neko Case live in New York City this year, but unfortunately I didn’t get to go. Sadly you can’t hear this song anywhere, but iTunes has Neko’s excellent live CD, The Tigers Have Spoken here.

These three albums have made me like live albums more, now I want yours.

What live albums or tracks would you recommend?

Recommendation: “Fox Confessor Brings The Flood”

Neko CaseThis week’s recommendation is a little left-of-center, from Neko Case, an artist who’s become less country and more unique with every album. The song is “Fox Confessor Brings The Flood”, the title track from Neko’s stellar 2006 album. As usual with Neko’s songs, the meaning is not apparent right away.

The story of this song is reportedly taken from Ukranian fables where the cunning fox betrays a wolf by becoming close to him, AKA being the confessor. The wolf believes that the fox can control nature, namely the water. When the fox tells the wolf to wade into the ocean, only for the wolf to wind up drowned, dead and betrayed. Neko takes elements from this story, only replacing the wolf with herself and her lovely voice. Neko also asserts she’s an orphan, giving her character motivation to leave her terrible past to go with the Fox Confessor. All along, Neko’s voice is surrounded by wonderful production, with guitars and haunting sounds aplenty.

I take from this song to be careful who you trust, just because someone says they can control the ocean doesn’t mean they can. It’s a classic plot, betrayal makes up Jesus and Judas as well as Caesar and Brutus, and it’s an unfortunate fact of life.

While this song is not really country, it’s such a fantastic song that’s usually overlooked and has drama and plot worthy of the greatest country songs.

What are your recommendations for this week?  What are your favorite tales of betrayal?

Mixtape Time!

mixtapeI was talking to a friend yesterday morning, and he told me that I need to give him a mixtape so he can “assess my personality”- so I decided to try and make my mixtape to try and encompass all of the music I listen to in just a limited number of tracks, say around 15-20. It was pretty difficult, but I tried to cover the major artists I listen to (Sugarland, Lee Ann Womack, Nickel Creek, Patty Loveless, Trisha Yearwood, SHeDAISY, etc.) as well as outlying genres beyond country music (Radiohead, Neko Case, Alicia Keys, Jazmine Sullivan, etc.) and I think this is a great set of songs that really gives an intro to my musical tastes- and it was difficult to decide on these songs for sure.

Then I thought it would be interesting to post my mixtape here to display it, and I would like you guys to do the same! You guys can post yours in the comments, mine is just below.

“15 Step” by Radiohead
“Fallin’ “ by Alicia Keys
“Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” by Beyoncé
“Lions, Tigers & Bears” by Jazmine Sullivan
“Rattlin’ Bones” by Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson
“The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore” by Kathy Mattea
“Last Call” by Lee Ann Womack
“Fly Like A Bird” by Mariah Carey
“House Of A Thousand Dreams” by Martina McBride
“Coming Back To You” by Melinda Doolittle
“Desperation” by Miranda Lambert
“This Tornado Loves You” by Neko Case
“This Side” by Nickel Creek
“On Your Way Home” by Patty Loveless
“Gravity” by Sara Bareilles
“Don’t Worry ‘Bout A Thing” by SHeDAISY
“Very Last Country Song” by Sugarland
“Three Mississippi” by Terri Clark
“Wrong Side Of Memphis” by Trisha Yearwood

Click the link to hear the song- all of them are last.fm links except “This Tornado Loves You”, which is a youtube video. I hope you enjoy mine and post your own!

March Cover Art

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Looking at Amazon.com, I stumbled upon the new album artwork for Keith Urban’s Defying Gravity. Now, I’ve gathered a few country releases coming up in March, and I want to see what you guys think of the album artwork.

Well, the Neko Case one has been around for a while, and is probably my favorite of the three. I mean come on, Neko on a car with a sword? It just doesn’t get much cooler than that. I also like the cool writing of the album title into the background- it’s creative, and random, which seems to be the theme of her upcoming album.

On the other hand, the McBride cover is elegant, but the “bleeding” effect is really cool looking. I like her cover for Waking Up Laughing, but looking at it now, it looks boring, so I like how this one is more interesting. Shine also has one of my favorite fonts that I’ve seen in a while, which sounds kind of geeky to say. Her expression kind of makes it look like she got knocked out though…

Finally, we get to the Urban album. This is a radical departure from his last cover, which gave a darker tone to the hard times he was going through. This cover seems to reflect the more upbeat tone of this album, if ‘Sweet Thing” is any indication. He seems to be past his rehab and enjoying married life and his daughter, which should make for a happy album. I like how in the cover he is literally “defying gravity” by being sideways, so it links it more to the album material than other album covers.

Interestingly enough, all three of these have a gray-ish background, which can get boring after too many similar ones. I prefer albums with more color, like Sugarland’s latest, but these three are unique and interesting album covers from some of my favorite artists. Of course, this will be my first Neko Case album, but I already love her!

So what do you guys think? Are these good or not?

PS: Martina has posted new tracks from her album on her myspace.

Free Download! Neko Case – ‘People Got A Lotta Nerve’

You have probably seen this on The 9513, but here is a free download of Neko Case’s new single, “People Got A Lotta Nerve”.

From Neko’s Myspace page:
“The promotion will run from January 13 to February 3, 2009. Five dollars will be donated [to the Best Friends Animal Society] for every blog post and one dollar for every user of iLike that adds the song to his/her profile.”

Neko Case's upcoming album, Middle Cyclone

Neko Case's upcoming album, Middle Cyclone

Personally, a friend recommended her to me, and I’ve been planning on getting her new album Middle Cyclone, that comes out on March 3rd, mostly because of the cover.

I have to say, this song has convinced me I do like her, since I haven’t really heard any of her music before this. She’s not very country, but it’s here anyway, just because it’s for a good cause and it’s good music. Any song that mentions Killer Whales and Elephants and still makes sense is a good song in my book. (It’s a very small book.) Her album also gets my “Coolest Album Artwork” award, mostly for the sword.

Download here!

Enjoy!