Posts Tagged ‘music’

Sunday music musings, 1.5.16

May 1, 2016

You know, it’s funny. I’ve long sung the praises of Metallica in this space. I’ve always thought, even as I branched out and discovered more metal bands, that they were one of the greatest, for those first five releases alone. But not long ago, something happened that made me wonder about some things.

What was that?

Well, I went and bought the new Megadeth album, Dystopia. And quite simply, it freaking destroys. With the umpteenth lineup change, to boot, as drummer Shawn Drover was replaced with Lamb of God’s Chris Adler, and guitarist Chris Broderick was replaced with Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro after the former members’ respective resignations from the band.

 

 

 

Now, I don’t know how good or bad the albums were that Megadeth made between the ones with the classic lineup (Dave Mustaine, Nick Menza, David Ellefson, and Marty Friedman) and 2009’s Endgame. But I have heard various songs from those albums and liked them all, but I know that a lot of the time one or two songs might not be enough to judge the whole album. But I can tell you that two of the three albums released at least since 2009 — Endgame and Thir13en — were pretty damn good. (I wasn’t terribly keen on what I heard from Super Collider.)

Meanwhile, Metallica has released one album in the last 7 1/2 years, and as good as it was, we haven’t gotten anything from them since other than an EP of unreleased songs from the Death Magnetic sessions. Not just that, but also, if we’re gonna be quite honest about it, Metallica effectively delivered only one album of original music worth listening to between the Black Album and now. And it makes me wonder what the hell’s going on. I heard a friend say that James Hetfield has been burned out since The Black Album, and quite frankly, it’s the only thing that makes sense. (Sure, Cracked might try to tell you that Reload was okay because the band still plays “Fuel” live, but as I’ve put it before, while that song was okay, it’s certainly no “Creeping Death.”) They say that the best revenge is living well, and I gotta say, if you define “living well” as “making good music for a much longer period of time than the band you got fired from,” Dave Mustaine has most certainly gotten his.

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I was at Whataburger one day last week, having my customary morning coffee, as my ears were being assaulted by Florida-Georgia Line’s “Sun Daze,” with the line, “rock a little bit of hip-hop and Haggard and Jagger.” I’ve said before that that whole country/hip-hop mixtape/cd/playlist is one of the more inauthentic tropes, as you’re not gonna get me to believe for a minute that Tyler Hubbard is going to be spinning Merle Haggard beside N.W.A or that Luke Bryan plays Conway Twitty followed by T-Pain. But you know what it made me think of? This:

“If you like Lynyrd Skynyrd on the radio, let me know and I’ll sing you ‘Free Bird’. I like Johnny Cash, Grandmaster Flash, I’m name droppin’ like you never heard.”

And then there was this comment from Saving Country Music on the Triggerman’s review of the duo’s new single:

this Florida Georgia line song is exhibit A of why you leave the religious songwriting to Jews like Bob Dylan (gotta serve somebody; slow train coming), Leonard Cohen (hallelujah), Irving Berlin (White Christmas), and Kinky Friedman (they don’t make Jews like Jesus anymore), and to Muslims like Yusef Islam / Cat Stevens (peace train) and Richard Thompson (don’t renege on our love).

So we can add to the list of FGL’s myriad sins the fact that they make an unknown number of alleged real music fans forget about the existence of Billy Joe Shaver. “You Just Can’t Beat Jesus Christ”? “Live Forever”? Sheesh…

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Sabra and I both follow Jason Boland on Facebook, but she beat me to the mention of this, but apparently Mr. Boland named his dog Gary Stewart, after Mr. “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles)” himself. A couple of days later it occurred to me to go looking on Amazon, and what do I find but his landmark 1975 album Out of Hand available for download.

Worth the money?

You bet it was, for the three singles alone. I’ve long thought that if I never heard “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles)” again I wouldn’t miss it a bit. Much like Marty Robbins and “El Paso,” it seems like radio thinks that is the only song he ever did. But much like “El Paso,” it works a lot better in the context of the album. His version of “Backsliders Wine” was the first one I ever heard, and still the best. (As a bit of an aside, it’s amusing to think that song and “Wildfire” were both written by the same person.)

But still, after all these years, my favorite Gary Stewart song ever has to be this album’s title track.

(Fun fact about that song: one of its writers, Jeff Barry, was a co-writer of some of the biggest pop hits of the 1960s, among them The Crystals’ “Then He Kissed Me,” the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” the Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love,” the Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack,” and the Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar,” which was later recorded by Wilson Pickett.)

Wednesday music musings, 20.4.16

April 20, 2016

Oh, God. This crap again?

I think sometimes we can get into a place where music gets so serious that it becomes unreal too. And it seems like sometimes the more people stick a knife in your gut and make feel this thing, “It hurts so bad” is almost as unrealistic as anything [else] I’ve heard.

So I think that there’s a lot of criticism out there that’s over the top. Just lighten up a little bit. It’s music. With the technology we have today, you can find what music you’re looking for; quit shitting on the people who are making their own kind of music.

I realize that I’ve talked at length before about this, and there’s really not a whole lot I can say beyond what I’ve already said. But there was something I saw not long ago that made Randy Houser’s remarks here especially offensive to me as a country music fan, in the context of how mainstream “country” radio has changed in the last few years.

As everyone paying attention knows, Aaron Watson’s 2015 album The Underdog was arguably his biggest album yet, making a No. 1 debut on the Billboard country album chart and selling more than 60,000 copies to date, all without the benefit of radio airplay. But songs from that album have still been released for radio airplay — “That Look, “Freight Train,” and “Getaway Truck.”

Of these, only the first has charted, and it only made it as high as No. 41. The next single on deck is “Bluebonnets (Julia’s Song),” and — let’s not kid ourselves here — it’s likely going to meet the very same fate. What’s so bad about this, you ask?

Well, once upon a time that song would have had a decent shot at being a radio hit, but with all the bro-country and now this metro-country shit on the radio anymore, that’s pretty much gone out the window. Put another way, Aaron Watson writes about his own experiences just like those idiot bros do, and his efforts go ignored. I think that country music is the worse off for that, and you’re damned right I’m gonna crap on the people that are responsible for it. What makes Aaron Watson’s writing about what he knows any less worthy of radio airplay than the aforementioned idiot bros writing about what they know? That it’s about something meatier than another night on a tailgate in front of a bonfire?

I think that’s probably the flip side of what I said a bit ago about Aaron Watson and Jason Isbell possibly being mainstream stars had it not been for the implosion of the genre in the early-to-mid 2000s in the wake of the Dixie Chicks incident — that is, the likes of Florida-Georgia Line, Sam Hunt, and Thomas Rhett would never have been given the time of day in Nashville, and we’d still have quality music on the radio that at least bore some resemblance to country.

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I seem to be all about old multi-artist tribute albums anymore…

Back in 2006, Palo Duro Records released Viva Terlingua! Nuevo! (later renamed Luckenbach! Compadres! after a lawsuit by Jerry Jeff Walker). This album was a tribute of sorts to Jerry Jeff Walker’s legendary Viva Terlingua!, featuring various artists from the Texas and Red Dirt country scenes covering the songs from the album — albeit in a different order — and a few other songs from Walker and sideman Gary P. Nunn. I’d been meaning to check it out for the last few years, but for some strange and unknown reason it slipped my mind till last weekend. I had said before that the lineup of artists on that album looked really promising — Cory Morrow, Tommy Alverson, Brian Burns, Ed Burleson, and the Derailers, among others.

Did they deliver?

Why yes, yes they did. I had not heard all the songs from the original album, but of the ones I have heard — “Desperadoes Waiting for a Train,” “Sangria Wine,” “Up Against The Wall Redneck,” and “London Homesick Blues” — the covers of them here are all as good as or even better than the originals. Most of them were covered in their original style, but Two Tons of Steel turned “Sangria Wine” into a shuffle that was a lot of fun. Brian Burns is probably only behind Jason Boland when it comes to the best singers on the Texas and Red Dirt scenes, and his version of “Desperadoes” is absolutely exquisite, as I knew it would be. And there couldn’t have been a better closer to the album than the Lost Gonzo Band doing “Gonzo Compadres”; that and Cory Morrow’s “Up Against the Wall Redneck” never fail to make me grin. Pretty much the only song I didn’t really care for was Morrison-Williams’ “What I Like About Texas,” because, let’s face it, that song belongs to Gary P. Nunn.

 

 

And that brings me back to the whole “music doesn’t have to be heavy all the time” thing. If I had to describe this album in one word, it would be fun. Luckenbach! Compadres!  is probably one of the most fun albums I have ever bought, and yet there isn’t a tailgate or bonfire to be found on it. It’s almost as if Randy Houser and the rest of those idiot bros don’t have any idea of what they’re talking about.

Shocking, right?

In memory of Merle Haggard…

April 6, 2016

…who died today at 79:

Austin Lucas, via Saving Country Music, who has a great collection of reactions:

“Just absolutely fucking gutted to hear about the passing of Merle Haggard.”

That’s about it. The music Merle blessed us with will live on, but we have still lost something that is absolutely irreplaceable.

Wednesday music musings, 9.3.16

March 9, 2016

Well, I certainly was not expecting this.

Blake Shelton to Adam Levine, on The Voice:

“Country’s not always about exactly what you sound like, but it’s about what you want to represent with your music,” he told the contestant. “It’s guys like you that get me so excited about the future of Nashville. Dude, you’re country.”

Then Adam Levine breaks in, “No, no! What does country and its many counterparts get to have its own club. Music reaches millions and millions of people all over the world. It’s not supposed to be in a box.”

Judge Christina Aguilera weighed in with, “I think that’s a great speech Adam.”

And then Blake Shelton responded.

“I’m not sick of the fact that [country] is this exclusive club. And it’s up to us as country artists to protect who’s in that club. Otherwise, it gets too far away of what the heart and soul is of country music. If you don’t know where it comes from, how in the hell are you gonna know where it should go? That’s why we protect it.”

Gotta say, just like Trigger did, that is quite the about-face from the “old farts and jackasses” line Shelton was spouting a little mote than three years ago. I don’t know how sincere it was, but good for him for saying it. Now, if he follows this up with a change in his own music, so much the better.

And note, if you will, how similar Adam Levine’s take on country music is to that of Chris Stapleton:

“Music reaches millions and millions of people all over the world. It’s not supposed to be in a box.”

“…it’s all just music, man. If you like one of them, great, go buy it….I would rather people stop caring about lines.”

Now, they have the right to their opinion, but it’s rather disconcerting just the same, considering Adam Levine in all likelihood couldn’t tell you the difference between Bob Wills and Mark Wills. I eagerly await Mr. Levine’s eventual country album…or, you know, not.

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Still, though, Cindy Lauper recording a country music covers album looks…intriguing, reservations be damned. The whole “people from other genres going country” thing has a rather spotty track record as of late, to be sure, but that track listing is damn near flawless. Somehow I doubt Bret Michaels and Steven Tyler even know who Patsy Montana is. And I probably could do without ever hearing any version of “Hard Candy Christmas” again, but I would venture to guess that with the songs she’s choosing to record here, she’s probably going to be fairly true to the originals. We’ll see.

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Speaking of covers, I recently picked up Tulare Dust: A Songwriters’ Tribute to Merle Haggard, from 1994. I had heard a couple of songs from this album — Billy Joe Shaver’s “Ramblin’ Fever” and Robert Earl Keen’s “Daddy Frank (the Guitar Man)” — in a couple of different places. If I remember correctly it was on Sirius and 95.9 the Ranch. I really enjoyed those two songs but had not heard any of the other songs, but a glance at the list of guests on that album was quite promising — among others Iris Dement, Dwight Yoakam, Joe Ely, and Lucinda Williams.

Yeah.

Let me tell you, a tribute album is not always going to be a sure thing in execution even if it looks good on paper. I remember sometime last year, we picked up Lucky, which was Suzy Bogguss’ Merle Haggard tribute album. Suzy Bogguss  doing Merle Haggard, with her love of Real Country, can’t go wrong with that right?

Not so much. The best way to put my own disappointment in that album is like this: her renditions of Haggard’s classics, while sung quite beautifully, were done in a style not suited to them at all. It was the type of music that you’d drink White Zinfandel with as opposed to Jack Daniels or even Shiner Bock.

This album, though? Well, all of the above-mentioned artists’ cuts are my favorites — with Shaver’s rendition of “Ramblin’ Fever,” my very favorite Merle Haggard tune at the top of the list — but every single artist here did Hag proud, even though they’re not all note-for-note originals.

But don’t take my word for it:

 

 

Saturday music musings, 27.2.16

February 27, 2016

Well now, isn’t this something

While the opening of ticket sales for RodeoHouston’s lineup of concerts always leads to an online scrum for the best seats, plenty of tickets are still available for 20 of this season’s 21 concerts as of the weekend before the rodeo.

The 2016 RodeoHouston concert lineup includes The Band Perry, Chris Young, Jason Aldean, Jason Derulo, Cole Swindell, Shawn Mendes, Miranda Lambert, Pitbull, Brett Eldredge, Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker, Los Huracanes Del Norte, Banda Los Recoditos, Kenny Chesney, Kid Rock, Jake Owen, Florida Georgia Line, Little Big Town, Brad Paisley and Keith Urban.

Like I said before elsewhere, that’s just a real dumpster fire all the way around. And it’s looking like the potential rodeo attendees agree. I told a college buddy who lives in Houston that you’d probably be better off going to the Hideout if you’re a fan of real music. Trigger at Saving Country Music had the best response to this:

“Look, I understand you’ve got to have some mainstream names to put butts in seats. This is all about busine$$. But are you really going to try and tell me that Cole Swindell and Billy Currington are going to draw better than if you put Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers on the same night, especially after they just name dropped your event in their last record together? This lineup sucks ass. They might as well just project a rebroadcast of the CMA Fan Fest on the side of the Astrodome and save the talent budget, or just loop the latest Now That’s What I Call Country CD over the loud speakers. All the great work artists like Aaron Watson have done on the rodeo circuit, and this is the lineup we get? Ever heard of Chris Stapleton? He’s like the hottest country music artist on the planet right now. Maybe look into it.”

Would Rogers, Bowen, Watson, Stapleton, and the like have sold better than The Band Perry, Jake Owen, and Brett Eldredge? I don’t know, but given the popularity of the first three here in Texas it certainly couldn’t have hurt to find out. (The San Antonio rodeo organizers certainly weren’t afraid to book Stapleton; he’s playing the rodeo here tonight.) It’d be interesting to find out what was behind those sales figures — especially those of The Band Perry, who have reportedly been catching a ton of flak from fans and others for taking a more pop direction with their latest music. It’s probably not a big stretch to conclude the two are related, especially considering their latest album was supposed to have been released last November but has been repeatedly delayed and in fact has yet to see the light of day.

At any rate, I just can’t help but point and laugh, because I don’t remember the numbers of unsold tickets being quite so high. Evolution of the genre, huh? Yeah, okay.

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Speaking of SCM, Trigger pretty much nailed Granger Smith to the wall:

Despite some declaring the #1 for “Backroad Song” as a victory for Texas country, it is anything but. It was Granger’s abandonment of Texas country and the values of that scene, and walking away from the decent songwriting evidenced earlier in his career that finally got him the commercial success he has clearly craved over the last few years.

In getting to #1, Granger ditched Thirty Tigers—the label/distribution company for many other Texas country artists including Randy Rogers Band, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Aaron Watson, The Josh Abbott Band, and the Turnpike Troubadours—and went with the newly-minted imprint of Broken Bow Records (Jason Aldean, Randy Houser) called Wheelhouse Records. There’s nothing Texas about Granger Smith’s #1 except that Texas was the scene he left behind to get there. It’s a shallow victory, if a victory at all; like proclaiming Kelsea Ballerini’s #1’s for purely pop songs at the top of the country charts as a victory for female artists.

Yep. All the great artists that come out of this scene, and Granger Smith is the one they choose to propel to mainstream stardom? It boggles the mind. I remember bitching about Pat Green’s Nashville output back in the day, but this business makes even “Country Star” sound like the second coming of Jason Boland and the Stragglers. In the comments it was suggested that Smith made the moves he did to provide for his family. Which is perfectly legit, but at the same time I think yet again of Aaron Watson. He has a wife and kids too, and I’m sure he’d like to provide for them just like Granger Smith wants to provide for his family. And you see how radically different their respective approaches were. They yielded different results, to be sure, but I think Aaron Watson’s approach probably worked out better when everything is taken into consideration.

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And speaking of Mr. Boland, you know why he’s awesome? Because instead of singing about tailgates and bonfires, he sings about “re-gentrify(ing) the shitty part of town.”

I gotta say, Squelch is really growing on me. I figured it might; after all, it’s Jason Boland, and how can you go wrong with that? This probably my favorite song on it right now, along with “Fuck, Fight, and Rodeo.” But I never saw that last one coming.

Still can’t be arsed to spin Traveller anymore, though. When I get my new Mac next week and get everything moved over from the dead one, it’s probably gonna go off the ‘pod…

Grammy musings

February 16, 2016

Well, to the extent the Grammy Awards mean anything anyway…

Jason Isbell winning Best Americana Album for Something More Than Free and Best Americana Roots Song for “24 Frames” was great, but it would have been even better to see those awards presented during the prime time telecast. SMTF was absolutely one of the best albums of the year in any genre, and Isbell more than deserves the primetime exposure.

Also, SMTF should have had Sam Hunt’s slot in the nominees for Best Country Album, at least. Or hell, pretty much any of the albums I listed here should have had that slot, and any of them would be worthy of recognition as the best of the year. But at least Sam Hunt went home completely empty-handed yet again, and that in itself is a victory.

What’s that? Why is it a victory if, as I so often proclaim, all of these award shows are one big circle-jerk?

Well, I’m not being willfully blind here. These awards are recognition by one’s peers, and said recognition does often go hand-in-hand with sales success and in part determining the direction of at least the mainstream component of the genre. And frankly, the less recognition that the likes of Sam Hunt and Thomas Rhett get, especially at the higher levels like the Grammys, the better. This metro-country thing needs to die a horrible screaming death, and the sooner the better, even if it means Chris Stapleton gets overhyped at least a little bit longer.

Yeah, okay, screw this guy.

February 9, 2016

Chris Stapleton:

I don’t think country music needs saving from anything. Whether you like modern incarnations of what country radio hits are, or you like what I’m doing, or you like something really off in folk, poetry Americana land, it’s all just music, man. If you like one of them, great, go buy it….I’m connected to all kinds of things in that way, and I like all kinds of music. But I would rather people stop caring about lines. Nothing gets on my nerves more than somebody else spending all their energy and time talking about something that they don’t like, and trying to convince you [that] you shouldn’t like it, and this thing over here is better. … I don’t like sushi. In fact, I kind of loathe sushi. But I don’t go around trying to convince my wife or any of my friends, “Oh, you shouldn’t eat sushi, it’s terrible.” It’s the dumbest thing ever. It doesn’t make sense to me why we do that with music.

Well, he’s not too smart then, is he?

I’ve already been over the utility of genres, so we won’t go over that again, but you know what this sounds like? It sounds suspiciously like, “If you don’t like what they play on the radio, don’t listen to it.”

Which in most cases I’d do. I’m not a fan of hip-hop, so I don’t listen to the hip-hop station. I’m not a fan of most of the stuff that the Contemporary Hit Radio stations ran into the ground 20-30 years ago, so I don’t listen to JACK-FM. But I do like country music. You see the problem there?

I don’t necessarily mind having to look elsewhere to find Real Country Music or at least some approximation of it, but it’d be nice if we could turn on the radio and actually hear country music, or at least a better representation of it than the likes of Sam Hunt or Luke Bryan. His stupid analogy doesn’t even hold up. The issue is not that sushi haters are going around telling people they shouldn’t like it; it’s that sushi lovers object to, say, chicken spaghetti being marketed as sushi. I am reminded of the old question asked of gun people, slightly rephrased:

“Why don’t you traditional country fans go off and start your own genre?”

“We did. Who let you in?”

Seriously, I’ve tried to be objective and pragmatic about the whole thing. I’m not a fan of Stapleton’s own music and definitely not a fan of all the dreck on the radio with his name on it. But I thought, better that he win the awards and get the recognition than all the hacks that have taken over the mainstream. Theoretically, that may well be true. But none of this takes place in a vacuum. Here we are, with so many fans of Real Country Music pinning their hopes on this guy for getting substance and identity back into mainstream country, and here he is prominently and publicly taking the side of all the people who have turned the mainstream component of the genre into the shithole that it is. Maybe such should have been expected — after all, we all know who butters his bread, no matter how people try to rationalize that all away — but it’s still quite disappointing just the same.

On rockers going country…again.

January 28, 2016

I remember a few months back, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler dropped a “country” single titled “Love Is Your Name.” Didn’t really think too much about it, other than it was kinda meh. Not outright FGL/Luke Bryan bad, but not really anything to write home about either. I did think at the time, though, that one of two things was going to happen:

• Tyler would be one and done, the song would flame out and we wouldn’t hear anything from him again; or

• We would get something like this.

After all, it’s not as if, like Don Henley, Steven Tyler had a respect and love for Real Country Music instilled into the fiber of his being as he grew up in East Texas listening to one of the greatest country music stations of all-time (KWKH out of Shreveport, Louisiana, the 50,000-watt powerhouse that was the home of the Louisiana Hayride). But it’s still embarrassing just the same. The lyrics are bad enough, but instrumentally it’s pure fluff. You strip the lyrics away and it sounds almost like something Kelsea Ballerini would have recorded, or Taylor Swift back when she was still marketing herself as a country music artist. And in a way, that’s the most damning thing of all, especially when you compare it to everything Aerosmith recorded up until about 1982 or so. If this is anything to go by, Steven Tyler as a musician doesn’t have a shred of self-respect left.

And there’s more than one bitter irony in that song’s mention of Tom Petty and “Free Fallin’.” What’s that, you ask?

Well, in addition to the fact that Tom Petty himself has made no secret of his disdain for the type of “music” Steven Tyler is subjecting us all to once again….Petty’s drummer, Stan Lynch, co-produced — and co-wrote every song on —  Don Henley’s Cass County, widely (and quite justifiably, IMO) praised as one of the best country albums of 2015. You compare the two and it’s like night and day. On one hand you have Steven Tyler trying to keep up with the bros when that sound is more or less on the way out already, and on the other hand you have Henley singing duets with folks like Merle Haggard and Dolly Parton (the latter of which is a cover of a Louvin Brothers song from 1958). I’ll admit Cass County wasn’t quite as in my wheelhouse as all the Texas music we bought last year or the new George Strait album, but it was still quite good.

I’ve heard a lot of folks talking crap about Megadeth over the last few years because of the direction Dave Mustaine has gone with the band, and to an extent I can understand, especially with some of the stuff I heard off Super Collider. But even that was miles ahead of this whole Steven Tyler embarrassment. I suppose if there’s any consolation to the whole thing, it’ll be that everybody else is going to see Steven Tyler’s country experiment as the embarrassment that it is. Of course, a lot of these people will be Sam Hunt/Luke Bryan/FGL fans, but hey, any chair in a bar fight, I suppose…

Monday music musings, 26.1.16

January 26, 2016

I hear some people try to rebut the assertions voiced here by saying that people have always said, in every era, that the music is worse than it’s ever been, or that it was better in some previous era. To an extent such is right, and it has always been about the money to an extent, but on the other hand the people saying the music is worse than it’s ever been are going to be right at some point. And I honestly can’t see how it can be argued that mainstream country is at least as good now as it has ever been, or better than it has ever been, or that it is not any more about money now than it has ever been. I have said it before and will say it again: there is a market out there for music with substance. If there wasn’t, folks like Sturgill Simpson and Aaron Watson would be stocking the shelves at Walmart. I have a very, very difficult time believing their music would not resonate in the mainstream on some level. They might not sell 10 million copies per album, but country music has always been a niche genre to an extent anyway. In that respect, I think folks like Garth Brooks and Shania Twain were arguably the worst things ever to happen to mainstream country music, because the record labels saw that kind of success and started chasing after it as hard as they could, identity of the genre be damned.

Of course, there’s the whole Dixie Chicks thing to contend with also; had they not been blacklisted back in 2003, they could have been a counterweight to the more pop influences that came along in the later half of the 2000s. Their first three albums combined sold 25 million copies, and there’s no doubt they had years of great music left in them. We probably wouldn’t be having this discussion if they were still around. For all anyone knows, Watson and Isbell might even be mainstream stars.

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Sigh. I have said it before, but I will say it again:

I don’t know what happened to Dierks Bentley. I completely agree with the bit about the stupid singles for the last few years, but then his first couple of albums were solid all the way through — all killer, no filler, even the singles. Long Trip Alone was where he started to lose me; not that it was bad, just meh, for reasons I can’t quite explain. I thought at the time, well, it’s just the delayed sophomore slump. He’ll get his mojo back next go-round.

And then came the first two singles from Feel That Fire. I don’t know which one was worse, the title track or “Sideways.” That was about the time I jumped off the Dierks Bentley wagon. I heard his bluegrass album was pretty good, but I never got around to picking it up; that was about the time I stopped paying attention to the mainstream for the most part. I know dude’s gotta play the game, but it’s quite disappointing just the same. For all I know all his albums since Long Trip Alone are plagued by the same thing that dragged down Lee Ann Womack’s I Hope You Dance — the radio singles were the weakest of the bunch, while the album cuts held up the standard for greatness — but I just can’t be arsed to find out anymore, especially since there’s so much other good stuff out there.

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Seeing this gives me quite the feeling of schadenfreude. Why?

Because unless I’m missing something, Infinity blowing up KILT hasn’t been working out too well for them. Hell, maybe there is something to what folks are saying this bro-country thing starting to run out of steam. I talked to one of my college buddies who lives in Houston not long ago and he said that KKBQ 92.9, the other modern country station in Houston, was actually the better of the two as far as the music they played. Talk about things being ass-backwards….

Sure is nice to see Country Legends 97.1 still going after so long. 2016 is its 13th year on the air, after six format changes on that frequency since it came on the air in the Houston area in 1991. I never would have thought that station would last that long. Here’s hoping for another 13 years.

Wow, I didn’t even know he was sick.

January 19, 2016

…or, as one Redditor said, “Who’s next?’ was rhetorical. WE weren’t asking for another death.”

Glenn Frey, a rock ‘n’ roll rebel from Detroit who journeyed West, co-founded the Eagles and with Don Henley formed one of history’s most successful songwriting teams with such hits as “Hotel California” and “Life in the Fast Lane,” has died.

Frey, 67, died of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia, the band said on its website. He died Monday in New York. He had fought the ailments for the past several weeks, the band said.

The Eagles were probably the first classic rock band that I ever got into, thanks to my folks. Whenever I talk about the cultural pervasiveness of music and how that plays a part in the fact that so many of us like music that came out before we were born or when we were very young, the Eagles are one of the first bands that always come to mind. Now, if I never heard “Hotel California” again I wouldn’t mind it a bit, but the rest of their stuff was great.

As great a team of songwriters as Don Henley and Glenn Frey were, though, this right here has always been my favorite song they recorded.


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