I'll state right up front – this is going to be one of our only posts for the week, folks. My schedule is very busy right now, and with the lack of any real projects that interest me to write a review or feature in some type of way, we're don't have a lot to say this week (although I do have plans for one project that may be out next Monday. I have to see).
So naturally when I have nothing to say about a particular project I think of an underlying topic that's on my mind and share it with you all to see what you all think. I believe that I've harped on this subject enough already, especially lately, but maybe there will be something here, we'll see.
Anyway, I was chatting with a friend of mine, Michael Rauch (of the Cheap Seat Report) over on Twitter. I'll share what was said and figure out where to go from here. It all started with his tweet, “I may be wrong on Natalie Hemby's “Puxico” based on reviews. But to me it's a snooze fest”. I replied, “There is no “right”, there is no “wrong”. Whether music is good or not is completely up to you”.
Now, that right there is a topic I'm going to explore very soon, but for now let's continue this conversation. He replied to my tweet by stating, “I think this one may be getting the “I need to like it because all the cool kids like it” treatment. I just don't get it.”
Just a quick note on my schedule, I will be extremely busy this week, meaning that we will be pretty light on content here. I have this piece as well as an opinion piece coming out soon. I'm also hoping to have an album review done by the end of the week.
Anyway, I reviewed the newest single from Brothers Osborne titled "It Ain't My Fault". Check it out at thisiscountrymusic.weebly.com or click here to be taken directly to the review.
Author: Leon Blair
Who? - Ray Cardwell as well as his band, Tennessee Moon comprised of Kyle Wood on mandolin, Richard Starkey on guitar, Kelsey Crews on banjo, and Michael Testagrossa on reso-guitar along with of course, Ray on bass guitar on vocals.
Album Release Date / Producer? - January 13th, 2017 / Pat Flynn
Genre? - Bluegrass
Opinion On The Artist's Discography Overall Up To This Point? - This is Ray's debut album so I can't answer this.
Where Might Other People Know This Act From? - I'm honestly not sure. If you keep up with Bluegrass you might have heard of Ray, but otherwise I'm not quite sure.
Is There Any Sort Of Event Surrounding the Making Of This Album? - There was a Kickstarter campaign to help release this album so congratulations are in order for Ray and his band for getting it out here.
Author: Leon Blair
Who? - Joey McGee, native of New Orleans and Texas based.
Album Release Date / Producer? - January 8th, 2017 / Steve Carr & Joey McGee
Genre? - Americana, Country, Folk, Rock, Bluegrass
Opinion On The Artist's Discography Overall Up To This Point? - Well, from what I found in my research, Joey has two projects that came prior to this – 2012's great Fades To Sun as well as 2010's Love Is The Way both of which earn favorable receptions for me.
Where Might Other People Know This Act From? - To be honest, I'm not quite sure. This album is apparently Joey's way of breaking into Americana, so you probably haven't heard the name before. I actually only knew this was out due to reader, Robert notifying us in a comments section.
Is There Any Sort Of Event Surrounding the Making Of This Album? - Per Joey, “the spark of inspiration for Terlingua Taproot stems from conversations I had with a friend – a brassy artist-rancher type – who owns a place on the outskirts of Austin named Terlingua. He challenged some of my writing (something like “this sucks” was said), and that became the splash of cold water I needed at the time. We should all be so blessed to have such an honest friend!”
Author: Leon Blair
I reviewed the latest single from Cole Swindell and Dierks Bentley titled "Flatliner" today over at This Is Country Music. You can view the review here - http://thisiscountrymusic.weebly.com/home/single-review-cole-swindell-feat-dierks-bentley-flatliner
For the record, a grade of a D indicates a strong 3 to a light 4 out of 10
Author: Leon Blair
Who? - The Band Of Heathens, based in Austin. Texas. They are composed of Ed Jurdi (Guitar. Keys, Vocals), Gordy Quist (Guitar, Vocals), Trevor Nealon (Keys, Vocals), Richard Milsap (Drums, Vocals), Scott Davis (Bass, Vocals)
Album Release Date/Producer? - January 13th, 2017 / Jim Vollentine
Genre? - Americana, Rock, Country
Opinion On The Artist's Work Overall Up To This Point? - Well, after listening to their previous albums prior to this release, I can say that they're probably a band that I respect more than I actually like. Don't get me wrong, I liked what I heard mostly, but they've always seemed like an extremely experimental band, enough to the point where the material just didn't really click with me. Their 2008 self-titled release was probably my favorite for being a little more rough and gritty than their other work. However, I had heard a lot of critical acclaim surrounding this album from friends in the blogosphere, so I decided, "hey, let's give this a shot".
Is There Any Sort Of Event Surrounding The Making Of This Album? - I've seen the band posting the definition of the word, "duende" a lot. The word itself means, "a quality of passion and inspiration", so naturally it probably means how they want to describe their latest album of the same name. Other than that, no not to the best of my knowledge.
Who? - The Infamous Stringdusters, based in Charlottesville, Virginia. The band is comprised of Chris Pandolfi (Banjo), Andy Hall (Dobro), Andy Falco (Guitar), Jeremy Garrett (Fiddle), and Travis Book (Double Bass).
Album Release Date/Producer? - January 13th, 2017 / Billy Hume along with the band themselves
Genre? - Contemporary Bluegrass, Country, Folk
Opinion On The Act's Discography Overall? - After sampling their earlier albums prior to listening this along with fully listening to their last release, 2016's Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish I had found them sooner. They are a great band, and I like their sound a lot. If there are Country acts out there who are truly “evolving” the genre with their work, The Infamous Stringdusters are doing the exact same thing for Bluegrass. As such, this was probably my most anticipated album of 2017 at the time that I wrote this.
Where Might Other People Know This Act From? - Their last album, 2016's Ladies and Gentlemen featured a ton of artists such as Lee Ann Womack, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Aoife O' Donovan, Sarah Jarosz, and many more, so if you were fans of any of those artists you might have checked them out before. Otherwise, they've been at it for almost a decade now so anyone who is a fan of Bluegrass most likely has heard of them.
Author: Leon Blair
Who? - Natalie Hemby, from Nashville Tennessee
Album Release Date/Producer? - January 13th, 2017 / Mike Wrucke
Opinion On The Artist's Work Overall? - Puxico is Natalie's debut album, so I can't say for sure until I get to the review. She's a great songwriter though. Speaking of...
Where Might Other People Know This Artist From? - Natalie Hemby has written songs for artists such as Lee Ann Womack, Miranda Lambert, Eli Young Band, Little Big Town, Sunny Sweeney, and Kacey Musgraves among others.
Is There Any Sort Of Event Surrounding The Making Of This Album? - Well, apparently in 2011 Natalie Hemby began work on a documentary about Puxico, Missouri. The actual town is apparently where she spent her summers as a kid, so this is supposedly a tribute to that from what I could gather.
Author: Leon Blair
Wait what? An album that got away? Where's the review? - Well, here's the thing. Have you ever visited a country music blog only to find out an album you like hasn't been reviewed and probably won't be either? Moreover, have you ever heard a blogger say they didn't review it because they "couldn't find the words" to say about a particular project? Well, that's essentially what this feature will be - a dedication to the albums we don't enough to say for a full review but still want to highlight regardless.
Ah alright, so this means you could probably cover everything that comes out then and take the easy way out, right? - No, absolutely not. This feature will only highlight the albums that I've given a lot of listens to and just couldn't muster up the words for a full review. I'm not going to give everything one listen and give my short thoughts just to cover more music. That's cheating.
("Exploring the Classics" (ETC) is an ongoing series in which I highlight and discuss an album from country music's past that is of particular noteworthiness due to general acclaim, influence, historical import, commercial success, or some combination thereof. While in many instances I'll be revisiting albums with which I've long been familiar, in others I'll be experiencing these works for the first time. What albums count as "noteworthy" is obviously highly subjective and determined at my discretion, but I'm not too strict about it. I do, however, feel that these are the works that tell the story of country music and all of its many roots and branches.)
There are some songs that are extremely catchy and fun to listen to. And then there are songs with great lyrics that blow you away by their profundity or ingeniousness. But only rarely does a song fall into both of these categories. But dare I say it, I think that describes close to the majority of tracks on Todd Snider's terrific 2006 album, The Devil You Know.
Todd Snider released a string of solidly-received alt-countryish albums throughout the '90s and early '00s, and even got a small taste of mainstream success when both Gary Allan and Mark Chesnutt cut one of his songs, but he never seemed to fully realize his potential and put it all together for one album. That all changed in 2004 when he released what many consider to be his finest work, East Nashville Skyline. He then followed it up in 2006 with The Devil You Know, which made many year-end lists and in my view nearly equals its predecessor.