Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2012 ACMs Thoughts & Predictions Part 1

With the Academy of Country Music Awards coming up on April 1st, I thought I'd take a moment or several to share my thoughts about the nominees and who I believe should win versus who I believe will. I'm thinking that I'll do a blog afterwards about what I thought of the show and all the winners and performers and all that. It'll be interesting to see how close I get in terms of the winners. I have a feeling that it'll be a good show this year and I'm so happy that Blake Shelton will be back to co-host with Reba McEntire. Reba's proven that she's more than capable of hosting the show herself, but I love Blake and I love watching them interact. Watching them is practically a show in and of itself, so it should be fun. I'll have to track down a list of who all is performing, though I won't be commenting on that until after the show. Now my focus is on the nominees. This is the first part of what'll end up being a four part series - it seemed like a good idea to break it up since there's a decent amount of ground to cover.

So let's get to it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Song review: Eric Church's "Springsteen"

You know, I don't think I've ever read as many reviews as I have since I started this blog. I've never placed much stock in reviews - which may be an odd thing to read from a person who is currently working on one, I admit. But I really never have because a review is just one person's opinion, nothing more and nothing less, and should always be taken with a grain a salt. Ultimately, when you hear a song you'll either like it or dislike it. Maybe you won't have any particular opinion of it one way or the other; that happens. The point is that you're going to come to your own conclusions about the song about listening to, regardless of what a reviewer says. Something that one person loves will be something another person hates and vice versa. The cool thing about this, and about music in general, is that there's something out there for everyone. So if you don't like one thing, they'll be something else you will and it's all good.

The reason I'm bringing all of this up is to say that while reviews have never held much weight in terms of my own opinions, it's still interesting to see how different people respond to the same song. Usually if you look up reviews of a song, or anything for that matter, you'll come across a whole slew of opinions. That fact taken into consideration, it's interesting when you come across a song where pretty much all of the reviews match up. Either a mutual love or a mutual hatred. These songs are to be taken with a level of seriousness because when people with different background and preferences feel the same way about something, it really means something. Mainly that it's a song that you really need to take a listen to, especially when the reviews are good.

And that all said, I've read a bunch of reviews of "Springsteen" and every one of them has been positive. Granted, I haven't read every single review written about it, but still. There's been a bunch and so far I've seen nothing negative. And if someone is going to give it a bad review, it's not going to be me.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Song review: "There She Goes" by The Dirt Drifters

Since I just did a post talking about why everyone should listen to The Dirt Drifters, it only seemed fitting that I do a review of their brand new single "There She Goes", which was released to radio on the 13th of this month. This is another song that I was happy to see become a single because it happens to be a favorite of mine of the CD it's on, This Is My Blood.

Sticking with the format I used on my first review, I'm going to start by talking about the lyrics. Because we all know this is the most important part of any song. I find this to be a great piece of songwriting. I love the visual of the first verse  and all the storm imagery being used to describe this girl who has just left. One of my favorite lines in the song in general, after that first verse? "You ain't nothin' but a 'used to be', another memory. There she goes." I don't know what it is about that line. There's a finality about it; whatever happened, this relationship is over with no hopes for a reconciliation. It's just done and she's just gone and all this guy can do is watch her leave. I also love this bit: "Well, you know you should've seen it coming from a mile away. But you didn't hear the wind change, 'til you felt your heart break." Such fantastic lines there.

Musically speaking, I like the feel of this one. As I'm sure you've figured out if you've been reading this blog, the way a song feels is very important to me. A song needs a good groove and this has it. I like that the music is kind of in the background up until the end of the first chorus and then kicks in, leading off the next verse. I keep finding myself being drawn to the drums here when I focus on the music by itself. They've said that they played on the record themselves so that means that would be Nick Diamond on drums. Very nice job by him. I don't really like highlighting any one person since I don't want to inadvertently insult someone else. So I'll cover by saying that I think that all of the playing is good here. My ears just want to focus on the drums for whatever reason.

But that's when I'm paying more attention to the music, the rest of the time I'm fully invested in the lyrics which means that my props need to shift over to lead singer Matt Fleener. In listening to this, what I like is that it really feels like he's living out this story as it plays out. Like he's actually addressing his friend or whomever and isn't singing for an audience. You know? Great vocal delivery.

One of the things that I love about this song and what I think will help set it apart on radio is the call and answer of the chorus. How you hear the "There she goes" and then the following lines answer back. It takes a great lyric and adds a little something extra. I can't think of any song that this reminds me off which is fantastic. Songs should never remind you of other songs. This is so different from the other songs out right now and I'm hoping that that'll help it get played. I feel like this song needs to be played based on that fact alone - and also that it's such a great song.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a video for this one. One because videos are vital in the success of a song; something I've always believed. And two because the video potential for this is so high, I'd love to see what a director would do with this.

Great song. Make sure to request it! And buy yourself a copy of it while you're at it. Shoot, buy the whole album. Make your ears happy.

Artist you should be listening to: The Dirt Drifters

This is the first post of what's going to be an ongoing series. There's so many fantastic artists out there that deserve to be listened to who you may or may not be familiar with. Maybe it'll be someone you have never heard of or maybe it'll be a person or group whose name you might know, but that's about it. And sometimes I might focus on a more well known artist and talk about why I believe they deserve their fame. Whatever the case may be, this is where I'll be sharing my thoughts on why you should listen to the person or people in question. All of the people I talk about are going to be current artists and is the first of what'll end up being multiple ongoing series of post. I'm also going to be doing one highlighting various artists from the past who aren't with us any longer - a series that is currently untitled, so if anyone has any suggestions, let me know.

To kick off this series, I've decided to focus on a group of guys who call themselves The Dirt Drifters

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Album review: Dierks Bentley's Home

So, yeah, I've said in a previous blog that I think that 2012 is going to be the year of Dierks Bentley and in listening to this album again in preparation for this review, I'm even more convinced that it's true. I think that Home might just be the best album that he's ever put out and it's nice to see so many positive things being said about it.

Some quick thoughts before I go a little deeper into it:
- I love albums that have a nice flow to them, when it feels like each song naturally leads into the next in a way that works and makes sense. I think Home has a very nice flow to it.
- One of my favorite things about this album is that it has so much life to it. I think there's a certain energy to it that's hard for me to describe.
- I really like how it was produced.
- One of the marks of a great album is one that you can listen to all the way through without skipping over songs and I think that this album is like that. I have songs I like more than others, of course, but I really don't see myself skipping over any of them.
- All the songs feel like they belong here; sometimes they'll be albums with one or more songs that just don't seem to fit with the rest, which is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. With this album, I can understand why each song is here which is great.
- I think this has a nice range to it, both in terms of tempo and emotion.

Now that's the album as a whole - now I want to focus on each song individually. The version I'm reviewing is the one from Target with the two bonus tracks on it. Here we go:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Video review: Thompson Square's "Glass"

Now that I've gushed about the song, I want to talk about the video since it just came out a couple of days ago. It was directed by Roman White and can be found on or here:

Oh, black and white, how I love you and the fact that you were used here. I'm a sucker for black and white because it can add such an intimacy and classic feeling to a video and I think it was the perfect choice here. I love the set in this, all the glass around them and the fact that glass was breaking around them. Though that said, I have to give them both props here because honestly if it were me, having glass thrown down right by me would freak me out. If either of them was, it definitely doesn't come across.

This is such a beautiful video, I think they both look great in it. Shawna's white dress is pretty gorgeous. The parts when they're together are beautiful, you can almost feel the chemistry between them in this and it just makes it feel very real. Which is very important for me when it comes to videos. I also like how this video and the song itself show a side of them that hasn't really been shown before. I love when that happens. I really don't know what else to add here. Just that I think that it's a beautiful video for a beautiful song. Wonderfully directed by Roman White, who is a favorite of mine.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Song review: Thompson Square's "Glass"

So I remember the first time I heard this song. I was on my way home from a doctor's appointment several months ago and had their CD in my car so I decided to pop it in and listen to it since I hadn't really done so before then. Now, I don't know about any of you, but every now and then a song will come along that sort of metaphorically smacks me in the face and makes an instant impact on me. It doesn't happen all that often and when it does it's always a surprise. This was one of those songs. So, I can basically sum up my thoughts about this song with this next statement: I love it and am so happy they made it a single! End of story. Blog done.

Friday, February 17, 2012

My top 50 videos of 2011: #2 and #1

Okay. Now. I said that I basically knew what my top three would be when I started making the list for this. Out of those three, I knew that Blake would come in 3rd. I figured that out early. But I have to admit that I went back and forth on the top two for a while. They're pretty equal in my eyes and what makes it harder is that they're both songs I love by two artists I love. What it ultimately came down to is the fact that one of them used "the twist" and the other did not. But really, both videos are fantastic and the difference between the two is pretty small. So let's get to it!

My top 50 videos of 2011: #5 - #3

Top 5! I can't believe it! It's taken longer than I hoped it would to get here, but that's okay. I've liked doing this and am thinking of other kinds of countdowns to do at some point. Something that will probably not be happening for a while. In the meantime, before I get into my top 5 videos from 2011, here are the links to all of the other parts of this countdown for anyone who may have missed any of them or for anyone who wants a reminder of what came before. Starting at #50 and going all the way down to #6.

All right. So that's where we've been. I've said it multiple times, but I really feel like 2011 was a great year for country music and the country music video and this list is a good example of why. In thinking about this list, I want to say that I think that 2011 goes to the male solo artists. This is in no way to knock any of the women or duos or groups; a lot of them had some pretty incredible years. Miranda Lambert, Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum for example. All of which had crazy success last year and all of which have elevated themselves to a new level in their respective careers. But when I think about all the music that's come out last year and parts of 2010 and this year, it occurs to me that almost all of my favorite new CDs were done by male artists.

Some examples for ya:
My Kinda Party, Jason Aldean
Chief, Eric Church
Neon, Chris Young
Red River Blue, Blake Shelton
Tailgates and Tanlines, Luke Bryan
and most recently Home, Dierks Bentley

I think all of the above are fantastic albums that I feel that anyone who loves country music should have. I think that the men of country music have stepped up to the plate in a big way lately. I have a feeling I'm forgetting a couple, but these are the ones I listen to the most. Again, this is not in any way meant to insult the women, duos and groups of country. Just that as a group, the solo male artists seem to be the strongest. A belief that is reflected in my top 5: every artist featured in this final part of the countdown is in fact a solo male artist. Three of which are brand new to the countdown. Only one of them has been mentioned before.

Now, as I'm sure you may have noticed, there's only going to be three videos in this part. The reason being that I ended up having a lot to say about the top two videos and honestly, it just made this feel so long. I know pretty much all of these have been pretty long, but this one seemed like too much. That and I kind of liked the idea of letting the top two have their very own post. A post that will be up very shortly. But first things first...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My top 50 videos of 2011: #10 - 6

When I first started this countdown, I had no idea that I had so much to say about all of these videos. There's been a few where the words haven't come easily and others where I couldn't seem to stop myself. It's been an interesting experience for me and hopefully interesting for my readers as well. We're now going to be getting into the top 10 and I'm very excited about reaching this point. In a year of great videos, these were the cream of the crop, in my opinion. So let's begin...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My top 50 videos of 2011: #15 - #11...bit of a long one

What I like about this next part of the countdown is that each song/video kind of highlights one part or aspect of the genre. You have a song about a girl getting revenge on her no-good boyfriend/husband/whomever. You have a song about the end of a relationship that should probably never have begun in the first place. You have a song that features a life lesson and one looking back on days long gone. And you got a love song. All themes that frequently pop up in country music and for good reason. These are the kinds of things that just about everyone can relate to. And if you haven't found yourself in one of these situations yet, just hang in there because I'm positive that you will at some point. So, get yourself a nice beverage, get good and comfortable and come check out the next five videos in the countdown.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My top 50 videos of 2011: #20 - #16

Here we go. The top twenty. There's only four more posts left in this countdown, including this one, and then I'll be done and moving on to something else. I think that this part of this countdown was one of the toughest for me to rank. Mainly because a lot of these videos are so close in quality to me. A lot of the others were easier to place, whether they've been in here already or have yet to come. But this batch and the one that'll come right after were probably the hardest ones when it came to deciding what video would go where. And after all that this, this is what I've come up with. So let's get to it.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

My top 50 videos of 2011: #25 - #21

All right, so this is the halfway point. There's been 25 great videos so far and 25 more to come. With no disrespect to any of the videos from the first half, this is where it gets serious. Well, as serious as a video countdown on a blog can get. These are what I believe to be the 25 best videos of the 2011. So let me get to it.

A hint of what's to come

Well here I am, getting ready to start off the next half of my videos of 2011 countdown, but I wanted to take a minute or so to write about what I have in the works once I finish this project. Just so everyone has a heads up of what's coming.  I'm going to be starting my song reviews and there'll probably be some video ones coming soon since it seems like there's a bunch of new ones getting ready to come out. I had the privilege of being able to attend Dierks Bentley's album release concert at the Ryman on the 2nd of this month and have a review of that in the works. I'm not going to go into details just yet, but I will say that that concert may be one of the best ones I've ever been to. And speaking of Dierks, I'll be doing a review of his new CD, Home, once I have a chance to listen to it. I think there'll be a review of Kellie Pickler's new album as well at some point. Also, I just went to a couple of Grand Ole Opry shows and I was thinking of doing recaps of both of those.

I'll also be starting what I'm roughly referring to as my series of the people behind the artists. As fans, we obviously focus on the artist themselves, but the truth is that there are so many people involved behind the scenes that contribute to an artist's success. I'm a big believer in the idea that country fans should have a good appreciation of all of these people, even if we never actually get to see them. Aside from that I'm planning on doing a post about concert etiquette and one featuring some photography tips I've learned from years of taking pictures at concert with varying levels of success. I'm not a professional photographer by any means, but I have figured some things out that I want to share with anyone who has an interest in concert photography. And in addition to all that, every now and then I intend on highlighting different artists, particularly the ones I think everyone should be listening to if they aren't already.

So yeah...I have a ton of writing to do by the looks of it. If there's anything that anyone thinks would be interesting, topics or whatnot, I'm definitely open to suggestions. Just let me know! Again, I promise I don't bite. :-)

All right, now it's time for me to get working on the next part of the countdown. The song of the moment for anyone interested: "Am I the Only One" by Dierks Bentley. A song with a video that may or may not be appearing in my countdown at some point. I'm just sayin'.