I…I just don’t get it.

November 7, 2015

Sigh. Everyone’s been raving about Chris Stapleton, so I guess I’m just gonna have to be the odd man out here.

I don’t get the hype. He respects the greats, and he writes good songs for himself, but with all the absolute shit on radio that has his name on it, I just don’t think he’s all everyone is touting him as. I realize the same thing could be said of Jamey Johnson, but Johnson’s own music was, shall we say, a lot better than Stapleton’s. More country, at any rate, to my ears. I’m not against Stapleton’s own recordings per se; the stuff on Traveller is a shit-ton better than what’s played on radio, but it’s just not really my thing, at least upon first listen. Too much blues & Southern rock & not enough honky-tonk a la Aaron Watson and Wade Bowen/Randy Rogers. I was telling Sabra the other night that the Allman Brothers did the Southern rock thing better in the 1970s and Stevie Ray Vaughan did the blues better in the ’80s than Stapleton is doing them now. (That cover of Charlie Daniels’ “Was It 26” is pretty good, though.)

Maybe it’ll get better with repeated listens, but I don’t know. He’s better than FGL, Thomas Rhett, and the like, to be sure, but he’s no Sturgill Simpson or Randy Rogers. And his album was okay, but I can name a bunch of other country albums that we bought this year that were better:

• Aaron Watson, The Underdog

• Wade Bowen & Randy Rogers, Hold My Beer Vol. 1

• Corb Lund, Things That Can’t Be Undone

• George Strait, Cold Beer Conversation

• Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free

• Turnpike Troubadours, self-titled

• William Clark Green, Ringling Road

• Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard, Django & Jimmie

(Best one of the above? Probably a toss up between the Strait man and Bowen/Rogers….)

I will say, though, that at the very least Stapleton’s win was something else that put the lie to Gary Overton’s “if you’re not played on country radio, you don’t exist” bullshit, and that is a victory in and of itself — not to mention the fact that it enraged so many fans of the shit music people are trying to pass off as “country” anymore.

A couple of questions…

October 31, 2015

…for O. Ricardo Pimentel:

Let’s just say you got the ban on selling everything but hunting guns that you agitate for. And let’s just say that banning them did nothing to reduce crime (just as the last “assault weapons” ban did), and no one took advantage of your mythical buy-back program. And let’s just say that Congress AND the President of the United States, in some alternate universe, authorized and mandated door-to-door gun confiscation and that such passed constitutional muster as per the United States Supreme Court.

Would you sign up for one of those confiscation teams? You know, put your own skin in the game? Or send your son and/or daughter to do it? Or would you send other people’s sons and daughters to do it, as you sit in your air-conditioned office and exult our collective ostensible reason and wisdom while they get massacred? Because whether you want to admit or not, that’s what all these policies you advocate are going to come down to.

Assuming, again, that we lived in said alternate universe (and thank God that we do not).

A few words on Granger Smith…

October 17, 2015

…or, Why should we give people a pass just because they made good music once?

From the comments to the review from Country Perspective of Granger Smith’s “Backroad Song”:

Not every song has to be deep….Not every song has to be a deep, depressing Jason Isbell ballad.

This is the second-most-worn out argument behind “country music must evolve.” It’s one that’s trotted out damn near every time yet another dumb party-in-the-country song comes out, and it’s bullshit. Not every song has to be a dumb party-in-the-country song either, but that’s sure as hell what we’re getting, and I for one am fucking sick and tired of it. It was worn out two years ago, and now it’s just rank and rotting.

And then there was this:

His entire repertoire of music proves at least one thing: He deserves better.

I don’t see how Granger Smith should get a pass on the crap he makes now just because he allegedly used to make good music. That’s like saying Pat Green should get a pass for “College” and “Country Star” because of “Nightmare” and “Take Me Out to a Dancehall.” If anything, he should be held to a higher standard because of it.

But even if he did get a pass just for the music he once made, it still deserves to be pointed out that with this song and his career moves, Granger Smith is shitting on the entire Texas and Red Dirt country movement. We’re going to be pointing to Texas and Red Dirt as a better alternative to the Nashville crap and they’re going to point to Granger Smith and”Backroad Song” and ask us what the hell is the difference between Texas and Nashville. It’s not fair and it’s not accurate, but perception is reality, and to be honest we have every right to expect better than crap like this stupid song out of Nashville in the first place, let alone Texas. Hell, the biggest reason Texas and Red Dirt music has gotten so damn big in the first place is because of the crap like this! Do we really want people to think of Granger Smith instead of the Turnpike Troubadours whenever Red Dirt is mentioned? I sure as shit don’t.

I mean, really. Like I said back at Saving Country Music when Trigger reviewed “Backroad Song,” I know people bitch about Josh Abbott, and I can sort of understand why, but that shit makes Abbott sound like Rollercoaster-era Randy Rogers, or Jason Boland and the Stragglers. And if we don’t call these people out when they pull stunts like this just because they’re from Texas, then Texas really is no better than Nashville.

Saturday music musings, 10.10.15

October 10, 2015

Well, this is interesting:

There was another big battle at the top of the country albums charts last week, and once again the good guys won….In the end it was The Eagles drummer, singer, and songwriter Don Henley coming in at #1 with 87,500 albums sold of his traditional country effort Cass County….Running up was George Strait‘s Cold Beer Conversation, which came in with sales of 82,700, despite limited availability through Wal-Mart and Apple Music only, and was announced less than a week before its release….Thomas Rhett‘s Tangled Up ended up selling 62,900 copies…

I’m sure Rhett’s defenders would say, “But buying albums isn’t really a thing anymore!” And it’s been noted elsewhere that the younger generation is streaming more, which would explain at least part of it.

However, it has also been noted elsewhere that the artists get paid peanuts (figuratively speaking) for streaming compared to downloading albums or buying them physically, as we’re not yet to where that particular model is that profitable. And we all know that money is ultimately what keeps things rolling. So from that perspective, it looks like Real Country Music has won quite a victory here.

You could say — as some people have — that this is meaningless with streaming on the rise, but then on the other hand it isn’t; it makes for a handy reminder that traditional country music fans can make a difference, as we are willing to spend the cash for those full-length albums as opposed to streaming them and the artists barely getting paid for that.

Now, whether Nashville or radio pays attention to that is anyone’s guess, but there you go.


Chris Lucas, of LoCash (h/t Country California):

‘Bro country’ has changed country music for the better. I don’t know why people call it bro country, maybe because it has a beat behind it. Country music has been singing about trucks, drinks, and girls for years. Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, ‘There’s a Tear in my Beer.’ It’s always been there, and I just think when something gets so popular, people tend to be negative.

What Chris Lucas seems to miss, as does everyone else making his “argument,” is that folks like Merle Haggard sang about a lot of other things too, whereas these new people all sing (almost literally) the same song over and over. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at that, coming as it does from one of the folks who brought us “Truck Yeah.”

Also, regarding “(There’s A) Tear In My Beer”, as Sabra said, “More to the point, he’s using a song about self-destruction in the wake of heartbreak to make a point about drinking and partying songs, which makes it painfully obvious he’s never so much as listened to the chorus of it.”

I said not long ago that Thomas Rhett was the very personification of the song “Gone Country.” I should amend that statement to include Chris Lucas also.

“…I hear down there, it’s changed, you see, well they’re not as backward as they used to be…”


Speaking of Thomas Rhett

As weird as it may sound coming out of my mouth, I’m probably the biggest country music fan that is such a fan of Justin Timberlake and of Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift.

One hears Rhett talk over and over again about the pop artists he likes, but never anything about the country artists he likes other than all his contemporaries. I wonder why that is? It could never be because he’s not really a fan of country music beyond the extent that he can get filthy rich doing whatever and calling it that, could it? Naaaaaaahhhh…


Back on a more positive note: Jason Boland’s latest album, Squelch, came out yesterday, but we pre-ordered it and got it last Friday. Condition Hüman, the second Queensryche album with Todd La Torre, was released Friday a week ago also.

I’ll have to listen to the Jason Boland album more to get a better bead on it…

…but I can say that new Queensryche album is really damn good. That first album was anything but a fluke. I’ll probably have more in-depth observations on it at some point, but for right now I can say this: If you look at the first five albums of the original QR lineup and how the music progressed from the self-titled EP to Promised Land, and compared the self-titled EP to the first album with La Torre, Condition Hüman would be right about where Rage for Order was as far as the refinement of the sound goes. And you can hear influences from all of that era all the way up to the Promised Land album. Ever since Geoff Tate was fired, I’ve seen here and there that while there were all-new songs written by the current lineup on the self-titled album, Michael Wilton and Scott Rockenfield had written and demoed for the last few albums with Tate a number of songs that Tate had rejected, which would be included on this album. If that is indeed true, it’s a real shame, because there’re some damn fine songs here that compare very favorably with the band’s best work. So far my favorite songs on it — in chronological order — are “Arrow of Time,” “Guardian,” “Eye9,” “Bulletproof,” “Just Us,” and “All There Was.”

I tell you what, I was surprised as shit that Michael Wilton didn’t have a hand in writing that last song, because it has a freaking awesome twin-guitar bit that sounds like it came straight off the EP or The Warning

First impressions: George Strait, Cold Beer Conversation

October 4, 2015

19th straight year of buying George Strait albums on release day, and to sum it all up, he’s still got it.

I wasn’t terribly impressed with ‘It Was Love” the first couple of listens, but that song has started to grow on me. A bit too pop-county-ish for my tastes with what sounds like a drum machine, but it is still a nice little song that would fit in well on country radio —that is, if country radio was still the least bit interested in anything remotely resembling actual country music.

“Let it Go” and “Wish You Well” both channel the Jimmy Buffett-ish island very well without actually aping the sonics of such. I think I like the latter better, as I’ve never really been that big on the timpani as an instrument in country. Also, “Wish You Well” does lean more to the more polished yet still solidly traditional country that Strait music has become over the years, with the steel guitar occupying a very prominent place in the song, but “Let it Go” is still not a bad song by any means. Also, the title track is much, much better than the title might imply. Not that we should have been scared that George would “go bro,” but with what country music has become with ostensibly reliable artists selling out left and right this year, being skittish is somewhat understandable. As it turned out, it’s just two old dudes shooting the bull:

We could sit here all night trying to make it make sense. A little buzz is probably all we’re gonna get. But that’s alright…

Arguably the centerpiece of the album is “Everything I See,” written by George and Bubba with Dean Dillon and Keith Gattis, a tribute to the elder Strait’s father who died at 91 a couple of years ago. Strait really poured his heart into this performance, and you can tell. I got the idea that even in the recording of the song that made it to the album, he had a hard time getting through it. And though it is a very personal song, the most personal that the man has dared to get at least since 1988’s “Baby Blue,” it is certainly widely if not universally relatable to those of us who still miss loved ones long passed.

And all I could think when I heard “Something Going Down” was Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan, take note, this is how you do a sultry love song. Between the swelling strings and Strait singing about a fever burning him up, it’s a bona-fide knockout.

There are some really fun songs on the album too. George doing Western swing a la “It Takes All Kinds” is a treat, though I don’t think I’ll ever be at least a bit unnerved by the King singing about liking a dip in his top lip. And the theme of “Goin’, Goin’, Gone” — Friday afternoon drinking after the work day’s through — is one as old as time, but Strait sounds so damn good doing it that it really doesn’t matter, and it’s yet another solidly country song, and the bar singalong at the end really contributes to the mood. Strait’s vocals through the entire album are really second to none. He’s never been a bad singer, but he sounds exceptional here. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but he really nailed it.

I am still trying to figure out where this album stands in the GS catalog as far as best and all the runners-up, but it’s way up there. If you’re a longtime Strait fan like I am, you’ll love it. I love it more with every listen.

Does one take it seriously, or not?

September 27, 2015

Ryan Adams covering Taylor Swift’s 1989, that is. There seem to be some people saying that it shouldn’t be, but there’s just one small problem with that:

With where he has positioned himself, Ryan Adams has automatically set certain expectations and is going to be judged by a certain standard by a lot of people, i.e., that no matter what he releases (hipster bullshit or not) it’s going to be a big deal and it will perceived as genius by those people solely because of where he has positioned himself on the musical spectrum. It may not be entirely fair — to an extent it’s unmitigated bullshit — but it is what it is, and the standard has to be kept up somehow.

To put it a different way — what if this had been done by Jason Isbell? Or Aaron Watson, or the Turnpike Troubadours? Would anyone be singing its praises then? Would we be saying to not take it so seriously? Or would we be saying, “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT? YOU ARE BETTER THAN THIS, GUY!”

If it is the latter — and don’t bullshit, we all know it damned well is — then why should we give Ryan Adams any leeway?

None of this is to say that such cannot be done. I’m not against one artist covering an album by another artist per se. But this isn’t Merle Haggard making an entire album of Bob Wills songs, or Dream Theater covering Metallica’s Master of Puppets. This whole thing strikes me as Ryan Adams being what seems to be his insufferable artiste hipster self, and undermining an entire musical movement — the very movement that he helped create — in the process. I know Ryan Adams doesn’t give a shit about that movement, but there are a lot of people who do, and I can sympathize with them feeling stabbed in the back because of this — not to mention because of Adams’ saying, repeatedly, that he does not like country music.

And then there’s stuff like this:

Only a few hours after Adams’ release, Father John Misty’s Joshua Tillman released his own cover—of Adams’s 1989 cover….Maybe Tillman realized that his attempt at trolling ended up elevating the game of 1989 covers to a whole new, impossibly meta, level: a cover of a cover in the style of classic band, where can it even go from there?

Straight to hell, that’s where. Indie music “artists” covering big pop albums everywhere you look, and their hipster fans chuckling at teh irony of it all. And I’m not the first to point this out, but who’s to say that Ryan Adams isn’t gonna come out down the road and call this project another thing he did just because he appreciated the irony of it? You know, just like he did with his country stuff?

I swear, there’s just so much wrongness here, it’s like it’s fractally wrong. And shit like this doesn’t help matters:

Why Doesn’t Pitchfork Review Artists Like Taylor Swift (Unless They’re Covered by Ryan Adams)?

…And this is where, I fear, gender may play a role. Of the most popular genres, the ones they’re most likely to ignore—pop and mainstream country—are also the genres where you’re likely to see as many women in the audience as men.

TL/DR: Slate sees no problem with Pitchfork reviewing Ryan Adams’ cover of this, just a problem with the Taylor Swift original not being reviewed, because of course SEXISM.

Look. I don’t mean to say that gender discrimination is not a thing anymore or even that it isn’t important, but if there’s a problem with the music itself, then maybe the music should be the main focus as opposed to the artists’ genitalia. Maybe that’s too much to ask from Slate, considering the fact that Slate is a slightly-less-deranged version of Salon, but it’s still something to strive for if we’re going to get anywhere with saving country music, or with retaining any shred of integrity with music in general.

My favorite take on it, though, was back in the comments at SCM:

That’s the problem with him. He’s a hipster and hipsters only take themselves seriously. Nothing else and no one else. I just don’t trust him. He makes country albums and then turns around and says he “fucking hates country music.” And notice how that happens after the underground country world started to gain more followers. Hipsters are always doing shit like that. Find either the least popular thing or the most popular thing and run with it.. Ironically of course. Fuck that arrogant mop headed son of a bitch. Even if he did do this album for fun, how could he in good conscience record something that’s gonna bring in revenue for people responsible for the decline of real talent in the industry?

Well, isn’t THAT the $64,000 question? Sure, people could say not to take it seriously, but maybe they should be telling that to the people in the music press who are taking it seriously and treating it like the indie equivalent of Ropin’ the Wind.

Monday music musings, 21.9.15

September 21, 2015

In one corner, Randy Owen, lead singer of Alabama:

I think that’s what Nashville still offers. They’ve got great songs and these great artists that can sing the phonebook, and that’s why they’re selling out stadiums.

In the other, Don Henley, lead singer of the Eagles:

What passes for country music, it’s formulaic. Where’s the insight? Where’s the reflection? Where’s the depth?

That’s quite an…interesting contrast. It’s certainly not in a good way, mind you. I more or less said my piece on Alabama last week, and all of it is just as applicable here. To add to that, I’m sure former Alabama drummer Mark Herndon is thanking his lucky stars that the other three guys don’t want to have anything to do with him after the way they’re crapping all over their legacy as of late.

All of it is to say in relation to this, though, that Randy Owen might have been legitimately considered an authority on good songs once upon a time, but now? Not so much. The Don Henley quote makes for an interesting counterpoint. How sad that an old classic rocker can see modern country music for exactly what it is but one of the biggest country stars of his day can believe — and try to tell the rest of us, to boot! — that the urine running down his leg is rain.

(I’ve been a bit more leery of Henley’s upcoming country album after the Steven Tyler and Bret Michaels turds, but if his and Dolly Parton’s cover of the old Louvin Brothers chestnut “When I Stop Dreaming” is any indication, that album might actually be very good as opposed to even just passable. We shall see.)


Scott Hendricks might say that “Real Men Love Jesus is “not a Jesus song,” but either way, it’s still pretty stupid, as most if not all songs based on insipid bumper sticker slogans are. I don’t love football, and I never did the Saturday night bar thing. So by Scott Hendricks’ standards I’m not a real man. Which doesn’t particularly bother me, but it’s still one more reason I tell people now, “I like country music, not the crap Nashville passes off as such anymore.”

And the less said about Michael Ray, the better. I saw Ray defended on another site as follows:

“Ray could give you a three hour concert of Merle Haggard and George Jones songs and do it convincingly….Unfortunately, doing that would not get him on the radio and would have not landed him a recording contract.”

Which may be true of course, but the same could probably be said of Darius Rucker and his foray into country music has been one disappointment after another too.

As for Ray doing what he had to do to get on the radio and whatnot…perhaps that may be true, but then I go back to what I say a lot about the mainstream game being rigged with a bunch of crappy rules that don’t benefit the artists or the longtime fans who give a damn about the genre. You might say he has no choice but to play the game, but as for me I beg to differ. The Red Dirt and Americana scenes are full of people who are playing an entirely different game by an entirely different set of rules, and I’m going to take a shot in the dark here and say that they’re doing pretty well for themselves, at least well enough not to have to apply for jobs keeping the shopping carts off the Walmart parking lot.

Ray seems to have made his choice, and that is fine. But if songs like this are what comes of it, then he deserves every bit of criticism that comes his way.


Speaking of Red Dirt, the long awaited new album from the Turnpike Troubadours came out Friday, and it’s very good. So far I’d have to say my favorite songs from it are “The Mercury,” the remake of “Easton and Main,” and the cover of the Old 97s’ “Doreen.”

Monday music musings, 14.9.15

September 14, 2015

…wait, what? People still care what Darryl Worley thinks?

I still catch myself breaking out in a sweat when I sing that song. I was so angered. I was just so angered by the coward of the attacks.

Oh, wait, Taste of Country. Never mind.

In all seriousness, when you talk of complete wastes of potential in 2000s country music, Darryl Worley’s pretty high up on the list of people who blew their potential all to hell between bad songs and/or career choices. I bought his first two albums — Hard Rain Don’t Last and I Miss My Friend — and they were both pretty good. But with Have You Forgotten, I was like, nope, no more of that shit — even if only because the album was mostly a compilation of songs from those first two albums riding on the success of a song that never should have been written in the first place. Sucks, too, because Worley had a solid voice quite evocative of Keith Whitley and was a pretty good songwriter too, at least if the credits on his albums didn’t fall victim to the whole “third for a word” phenomenon. But he put himself in the position of putting out poorly-written propaganda, and, well, you see how well that’s worked out for him.


Man, Dale Watson just nails it

The best songwriters and best musicians in the world live in Nashville, Tennessee. Unfortunately, that whole thing is a business plan. Music is made, but it’s like a sweatshop.

…as does William Clark Green:

It’s kind of like gentrification. What happens is you have neighborhoods in every town that you consider it poor. People live there forever and then somebody builds a Starbucks and it ruins the neighborhood. Rich people move in and make these sidewalk diners, and tax values go up. And we can’t afford to be there anymore.

Those are some really interesting analogies, and ones that put the whole “it’s just evolution of the music” argument into perspective. It’s certainly not a flattering perspective, either. You could very well argue that what’s going on isn’t evolution of the music, but consolidation of the music — consolidation into that big mono-genre that Trigger’s always talking about at Saving Country Music. And the same arguments against sweatshops and gentrification apply here, also, because there’s no long-term benefit to the music with what’s going on here. It’s just the artificial shift of the music from targeting an older demographic to targeting a younger, allegedly hipper one with the cheap mass-produced product, and we’re going to see the same thing happen to the music that happened to Suzette Kelo’s neighborhood. That’s where this is all gonna end up. Bet on it.

(h/t Country California)


Quote of the day, from a Redditor on Judas Priest, discussing the 25th anniversary of the release of Painkiller:

They’re absolutely not dad rock…unless your dad is metal as fuck.

Yep, that’s pretty much it, although I thought they were kinda meh for a long time. While they weren’t as banal and uninteresting as, say, Fleetwood Mac or U2, all the Judas Priest songs I heard on the radio got to be pretty boring after a while. I had heard so much about how Priest were one of the baddest-ass of the metal bands out there, and I heard songs like “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming,” “Turbo Lover,” and “Breaking the Law,” and I thought, really? That’s all there is?

And then I heard this.

Metal as fuck, indeed. And the entire album is just as great. I had much the same reaction to this as I did to Queensryche when I heard the Operation: Mindcrime songs for the first time, i.e., “Holy spitballs, this is the same band?” I have heard that not all of JP’s stuff was quite as hard and fast as the stuff on Painkiller, but I am definitely interested in exploring their back catalog….

Tuesday music musings, 12.9.15

September 12, 2015

Oh, huh, more defensiveness from Luke Bryan:

For people to call me the father of it (bro-country), well, whatever. It just seems like a term that was invented to cheapen me as an artist.

Sounds like all the criticism is getting to him.

Well, tough shit. Like I’ve said before, if Mr. Bryan doesn’t wanna get called out for making crap music, there’s a reeeeeaaaaaally easy way to make that happen. And as for the term “bro-country” cheapening him as an artist…well, it seems to me he’s doing a bang-up job of that all on his lonesome, whatever term one might use to characterize his “music.”


Aaaaaand, more of the same from Thomas Rhett:

I love my dad with all my heart. But that’s one of the main questions I’ve been asked since I became an artist. To this day, every phoner I do for a radio station, one of the first things is, “I played your daddy’s songs back in 1995.”

Well, that’s kinda apropos, considering that if it weren’t for Thomas Rhett’s dad’s connections he’d probably be sweeping the floors at Walmart.

And as I’ve said before, that in itself is a meta-commentary of sorts on how bad things have gotten in mainstream country, because Rhett Akins’ record even before the Peach Pickers was nothing to write home about. He had a serviceable voice but never released anything particularly memorable. Truth be told I kinda liked “Not On Your Love.”

Or was it “She Said Yes”?


How bad can a song called “Southern Drawl” be? Pretty damn bad.

The title of this song was bad enough, to be sure. I shut it off about 55 seconds in.

They had some clunkers, to be sure, but I was a big Alabama fan back in the day. I say every now and then that pop-country isn’t necessarily bad by default; it’s just that it used to be a whole lot better. Acts like Glen Campbell, Earl Thomas Conley, and Alabama are usually the examples I use to support that observation. I don’t know why they feel like they have to cheapen their legacy with this any more than they already have with songs like the *NSYNC duet and “When It All Goes South.” You’d think they’d have been set for life after their ’80s success….

Monday music musings, 24.8.15

August 24, 2015

Sigh. No, Kelsea Ballerini. Just, no:

I think that the key is respecting the roots and traditions of country music and always putting value in that, but country radio has really opened its arms to other influences. It’s been really cool to me to watch someone like Sam Hunt, whose lyrics and roots are in country but you can hear that he listens to Drake and Justin Timberlake — and that’s OK. It allows songwriters to be more honest, because it’s like, “This is who I’m listening to.”

This is, in a word, crap. Prime example: Aaron Watson listens to Sam Hunt. He straight-up admitted to Saving Country Music that he had Hunt’s album and that he thought it was good, even as in the same sentence he said it was the most un-country thing he’d ever heard. Yet if you listen to even The Underdog, even at its poppiest, you’re not going to hear anything that sounds like Sam Hunt. Why? Because Aaron Watson is a country music singer and he’s not ashamed of it. Granted, he’s not my favorite non-Nashville guy (that honor goes to Jason Boland), but even so, I’d still be very hard pressed to say that Watson didn’t love country music with every fiber of his being or that he was being even slightly dishonest with his fans by not sounding anything like Sam Hunt.

But I am not the least surprised with such self-serving claptrap coming from an early-Taylor-Swift wannabe like Kelsea Ballerini, who seems to be only trying to make a name for herself in country music because she couldn’t hack it as a pop singer right off the bat.


I really wanted to believe Jody Rosen was trolling Grady Smith here

Mainstream country, it’s smart music. Even if it’s a big dumb song about kicking the dust up or whatever, it’s very intelligently done.

…but unfortunately, he appeared to be deadly serious. I don’t know. I guess that tripe is smartly done in that the writers figure out what the most lucrative demographic likes and then give it to them, but then when you look at it that way, that seems to imply that all the people outside mainstream music that isn’t writing about trucks, beer, and girls are the dumb ones — and surely I don’t have to spell out the obvious problem with that.


On a more positive note, via Galleywinter on Facebook, today marks the 11-year anniversary of the release date of the Randy Rogers Band’s Rollercoaster — a seminal Texas music album if ever there was one. I actually discovered that album in 2008, strangely enough as I was looking for another piece of red dirt music (Cross Canadian Ragweed’s Garage, for the curious), and I was floored at how great it was — not that I’d have expected anything different with the writers on that album (Rogers, Cody Canada, Radney Foster, and Kent Finlay, among others). I bought it for “Tonight’s Not the Night,” but I also really liked “Somebody Take Me Home,” Finlay’s “They Call It The Hill Country,” and the RRB versions of “Again” and “This Time Around.”

I thought it was pretty funny that “This Time Around” was on that album, because the Ragweed version of that song was the reason I was looking for Garage….


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