Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Album review: Feels Like Carolina by Parmalee

I don't think I can properly express how excited I am to be reviewing this. I'm been wanting this album for a while now and it's finally here. I'll be getting to the review shortly, but I wanted to take a second to announce that I'll be doing a giveaway over the next few weeks. I haven't done one in a while and it's safe to say that this'll be the biggest one I've ever done. I bring it up here because Feels Like Carolina is going to be one of the albums included. More details to come sometime over the next few days.

So. Feels Like Carolina. Right off the bat I give Parmalee credit for doing the bulk of the writing on the album and for cutting and/or writing songs with lesser known songwriters. I have absolutely nothing against all the popular songwriters out there, but it's great to see acts who are willing to give other people a shot. There's so many fantastic songwriters out there so I love seeing writers I've never heard of get cuts. The result is a collection of songs that take some familiar country themes and tweaks them. Not so much that they're not still familiar, but enough to make you see them in a different way.

Continuing with this idea, let's talk melodies and how great it is when people care about them. There's so many songs out there that sound exactly like other songs and it's one of my musical pet peeves. Another? When you know what the next line is going to do or be before it happens. I like when songs take me by surprise either lyrically or musically and the songs on this album do both.

Okay, Parmalee's doing good so far. Checking off some of the things I want in an album and here's another one: flow. As in, this album flows nicely from one song to the next. Another item to check off? Energy. As in, it can be found throughout. A lot of the reviews have been focusing primarily on the vocals. But I want to focus on something else first: Scott Thomas. You know, that dude on drums that no one ever seems to talk about? Sure, people talk about their incredible backstory and we praise them for never giving up and for not letting adversity stop them. As we should. But can we take a moment to appreciate Scott's skills as a drummer? So much of the energy comes from the drums and percussion. That's the heartbeat. It matters. And it's so present on this album. So let's give the drummer a bit of love, shall we? He's more than his backstory.

Now the vocals. Solid harmonies that never overpower the lead vocal? Check. In the same vein, harmonies that help showcase both the lead vocal and the lyrics? Check check. A lead singer who knows the proper way to deliver a lyric? Check. Staying on that path, a lead singer who makes you believe what he's singing? Check! People are focusing on Matt's vocals for a reason. His voice is a great mixture of warmth, grit and affability. Not to mention that I believe every word he sings.

So do I like this album? Eh, it's okay.

No, I don't actually like this album - I love this album! It's such a solid album and one that is worth every penny.

Let's take a peek at each song individually.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

CMA Predictions: Part 2

I was just skimming over the list of all the performers for the show this year and it looks like this is the year of the collaborations. There's always a few, but it seems like there's more than usual this time. Zac Brown Band will be joined by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, Hunter Hayes will be performing his new single with Jason Mraz, Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert are singing their new duet and Taylor Swift will be performing with Vince Gill and Alison Krauss among others. And then Alan Jackson and George Strait will be teaming up to honor George Jones. There'll also be a special tribute to Kenny Rogers that will include Rascal Flatts, Jennifer Nettles and Darius Rucker. I don't know; just seems like more than usual this year. Should be interesting.

In any event, in Part 1 of my predictions I talked about Entertainer, Male Vocalist, Female Vocalist, New Artist, Group and Duo. Now it's time to shift focus a bit. Starting off with…

Saturday, November 2, 2013

CMA Predictions: Part 1

Well it's that time again. Less than a week until the CMA Awards and everyone's been busy making their predictions and sharing their thoughts. So I figured I better hop on that train before time runs out. Remember: the CMAs are on ABC this coming Wednesday (November 6th) at 8/7 Central. This year the CMA will be doing a live stream of the press room, starting at 5/4 Central over on http://www.cmaworld.com/cma-awards/. Might be worth checking out.

I've done prediction posts a few times and I never seem to do them the same way twice. Oh, they all amount to the same thing. My thoughts on who I think will win and who I want to win and why. But I always seem to tweak the posts in some way or another. This time I'm going to be including a list of who I would've nominated if I was able to. Because like so many of you, I don't agree with every nomination and you know what? That's okay. Never let anyone tell you that you need to be in perfect agreement with the CMA. I bet we all have artists that we wish would've gotten nominated and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Who do you think got snubbed this year? Out of the people nominated, who do you want to see win? 

How about performances? I always look forward to just about every performance, though if I had to pick the three I was most looking forward to? That would be Eric Church, Little Big Town and the George Jones tribute that will be done by Alan Jackson and George Strait. The CMAs better give said tribute the amount of time it deserves. This is George Jones we're talking about here, one of the greatest voices that country music has ever known. Arguably the greatest. He deserves a proper tribute, wouldn't you say? On paper it looks good: I think Alan Jackson and George Strait are perfect for this. But they need to give them a good amount of time. Or I will not be happy and I don't think I'd be alone.

Also, in case you missed it, I want to give you a chance to be featured on here as a guest blogger. You can check out the post with all the details here. Scroll on down to the fifth point.

Now: time for some predictions.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Review: Let Hope In by Pete Wilson

At its heart country music is, and always has been, about the lyric. It's everyday life set to music. Our everyday lives are full of so many different kinds of things. Different experiences, different emotions, different relationships and so on. And country music goes into all of it. There is a country song for just about any situation you can think of. A lot of it's about good times. Good experiences and emotions. But I think that the best country songs - the best songs, in general - are the ones that speak to the heart. Oftentimes those are the ones about not so great times.

You know, those times when something happens that leaves you reeling. Someone you love dies or your relationship falls apart. You lose your job or you get diagnosed with some life-threatening or chronic disease. Maybe it's not you; maybe it's a friend. You struggle with an addiction or some kind of disorder. And so on. These kinds of things make for a great country song, but when we're going through it ourselves? These are the kind of things that can cripple us. That can take away our joy and steal our hope and leave us feeling anxious or depressed. Scared or angry. You get the picture. Sometimes we feel this way for years at a time and it never seems to get any better. So what do we do about it?

If you follow me on twitter or Instagram or Pinterest (I'm countrymusicatk on all of them), you may have seen me talking about a book that's coming out on October 1st called Let Hope In. And that's what I'm going to be talking about today. You can watch the book trailer here.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Album review: Bring You Back by Brett Eldredge

To say that I was happy that this album finally came out would be an understatement. I first saw Brett Eldredge open for Trace Adkins in Baltimore on July 1st, 2011. I don't always remember dates of concerts I go to, but I remember this one for two main reasons. The first: it was on my birthday. The second: I got to meet Trace Adkins at this show and that was pretty cool. This show also marks the time I truly became a Brett Eldredge fan. His debut single "Raymond" had come out the previous fall if I'm remembering correctly and I loved that song the first time I heard it. But I didn't know much about Brett outside of that single. Before the concert I liked the song; after the concert, I liked the man himself.

So I hate that it ended up taking so long for his debut album to come out. It seemed like it was constantly getting pushed back to the point where I was starting to worry that it would never come out. It's been a long couple of years on this front. I'm sure there's a ton of reasons why albums get pushed back. Legitimate reasons. But that doesn't make the wait any less frustrating for us, the fans, and to a likely greater extent, the artist. I always feel bad for the artist when this happens. The upside to the wait is that it gives them time to put together the best album possible. And I'd imagine that the wait makes the payoff worth it. This album debuted at #1 on the iTunes Country Albums shot and his single "Don't Ya" went #1 roughly around the same time and stayed there for two weeks. The comments I've seen about this album have by and large been very positive. 

Now I have a confession to make. Like I said, I've been waiting for this album for a long time. I can't remember the last time I anticipated a debut album so much. I wanted it bad. Me and every other Brett Eldredge fan out there. Here we have a guy who is a great performer with a great personality, a man who is one of the most entertaining people in the genre. Not a bad looking man either, if we're being honest here. A man who I would go as far to say is among the best male singers in the format. Every song I've heard him perform these past couple of years - whether live, on TV or online - I have loved. Every single one. So I had high expectations for this album. Very high expectations. To the point that I was actually a little nervous to listen to said album because I wondered if my expectations were a little too high. I needn't have worried.

I love this album. I think it was well worth the wait. More than worth the wait, perhaps. It's not just a strong debut album; it's a strong album period. I have to give a big kudos to everyone who was involved in the creation of Bring You Back. From Brett and all of the other songwriters to all of the fine musicians and the team of producers and the engineers. Not to mention all the other people involved behind the scenes. And I would like to thank his record label Atlantic Records/Warner Music Nashville for not giving up on Brett and for getting this album out. Money spent on this album is money I consider very well spent. 

Bring You Back features a great collection that go together very well, a fairly impressive feat when you consider that eight producers worked on this record. You'd think that would mess up the flow, but it doesn't somehow. I was pretty surprised to see just how many producers there were. Lots of terrific musicians on here too. I like the playing throughout and I especially like how the music never overshadows the vocal. I said it earlier: I believe Brett is one of the best male singers in the format. It would be a shame for him to get lost in the music and I was so happy that didn't happen. Brett co-wrote 11 of the 12 tracks, all "Bring You Back". There's something very relatable about these songs and that's always a good thing. This album has a warmth to it that I adore. A lot of that comes from Brett himself and the way he delivers these songs. There's a difference between singing a song and delivering a song and it's a difference that Brett seems to understand very well. I highly recommend that everyone go out and pick yourself up a copy if you haven't. You won't regret it. 

And that wraps up the main part of the review. If you just wanted a short (well, short-ish) read, than this is where you'll leave me. Thanks for stopping by! As always, I'm going to say a bit about each song individually after the break. So if you're in the mood for a longer  (i.e very long. Like very long.) read, than stick with me. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Odds, Ends and an Announcement

I can't believe it's September already. I know I've been MIA for a while now and that's been because things have been a little hectic lately. I spent most of the last month helping to pack up the house I grew up in and didn't have time for writing. This post is going to be a pretty short one. I figured I'd take some time to run through some of the things that will be coming up on this blog.

First: reviews. I've been such a horrible reviewer this year. I knew it'd been a while, but I was stunned to come on and see that I haven't reviewed anything since January. There's been so many great songs and albums released so far this year and I hate that I've let so much time go by without talking about most of them. So I intend on getting some long overdue reviews up, mainly of singles but also some albums. 

Second: cover series. My covers wish list series is one I enjoy writing and so I'm planning on getting more of those out. Especially since I keep thinking of more songs I'd like to see country acts cover.

Third: CMA related stuff. The nominees for this year's CMA Awards will be announced by Sheryl Crow and Florida Georgia Line next Tuesday. I'm really interested in seeing just who gets nominated this year. Once again, I'll be sharing my thoughts and making some predictions. This year's CMA Awards will be airing on ABC on November 6th. 

Fourth: non-country music related things. There won't be too many of these kinds of posts, but I think I might start writing about other things every once in a while. Starting off with a review of a book that's coming out on October 1st called Let Hope In by Pete Wilson. If you follow me on either twitter or instagram, you may have seen me talking about this. In an interesting turn of events, I was chosen to be on the launch team for this book. I'm pretty excited about it. As part of that, it seemed only fair for me to talk about it here on my blog and other social media sites. So you can expect to see more about that this coming month.

Fifth: the introduction of a brand new series tentatively to be called I'm With the Band, after the song of the same name by Little Big Town. I'm really looking forward to this series. Why? Because I will be giving YOU, my dear readers, the chance to be featured as guest bloggers. See, we all have our favorites. We all have that one artist that we love above all the others. Some of us have multiple artists we love over most others. Maybe it's that we feel like their songs speak directly to us. Maybe it's that we can see this act (or acts) as many times as possible and never get tired of the show. Perhaps we've met them and it was such an incredible experience that we feel somehow connected to them on a personal level. It might be that their live show is something you could see 5, 10, 20, 50 + times and never get tired of it. Maybe the shows get better every single time. It could be that we've been there from the beginning of their career and have spent years supporting them in whatever way possible. You get the idea. I don't know about y'all, but I personally love hearing why people love the artists that they do. I've heard some pretty cool stories over the years and I know there's a ton more out there. Stories that I think deserve to be told. 

Now, I do plan on writing some posts for this series myself, but I'd love to have you all become a big part of it. There's not too many rules here. The main one is that you can write about whomever you wish, just so long as they are a country artist. It can be someone current. It can be one of our great legends. It can be one of the big superstars, someone just starting out or anyone in between. It can be a singer or a musician. Have more than one favorite? You can submit as many posts as you wish. I just ask that you only write about one artist per submission. How long should the posts be? I'm going to say no less than one paragraph and no more than a page. The way it would work is you submit the post and when I post it on here, I'll probably do a bit of an introduction and then your post would be featured after the cut. You can use your real name if you want, but you don't have to if you're not comfortable doing so. Just let me know how you want to be credited and that's how you will be. I don't see this being a problem with a series like this, but keep in mind that I do not allow profanity on this page. Again, I don't see this being an issue, but wanted to get that out there.

Interested? Email me at countrymusicATK@hotmail.com and put I'm With the Band submission as the subject so I know what it is. This will be on ongoing thing; no deadline to worry about. 

And that'll do it for this update. Thanks for reading! 

Friday, July 5, 2013

CMA Fest recap: The Grand Ole Opry 6/4/13

I've been wanting to write about the Grand Ole Opry ever since I started this blog and for some reason it's just never happened. So I'm very happy to be getting this post out there as part of my CMA Fest recap. Just a heads up: this is pretty picture heavy. In case I haven't mentioned it before, clicking on a picture should enlarge it. Every picture I post is one I took, unless I say otherwise. All of these in here are mine. CMA Fest really got me in touch with the zoom on my camera, I'll say that. I'm going to talk more about this particular Opry show after the break, but first I wanted to talk a bit about the Opry in general.

Starting with some basic facts that I'm sure some, if not many, of you will already know. The Grand Ole Opry is a radio show broadcast on WSM 650AM. They've recently created an app and you can listen to the shows on that as well. The Opry started in 1925 and is the longest running radio show in the United States. I've been to several Opry shows and I wish that everyone could go to a Grand Ole Opry show at least once in their lifetime. I'm not just talking about country fans either; I mean people in general. It's an American institution and one of the best things about country music. Go to an Opry show and you'll see current country stars mixed in with up-and-comers and legends. There's really nothing else like it.

Some of you have probably been to one or more Opry shows. And there might be some of you who have never been to a show, but have watched one of the specials on GAC. I'd like to address the second group for a moment. I've seen people complaining about how you don't see legends on the Opry stage anymore and I'd bet money that most of them say that because of the TV specials. I love that GAC showcases the Opry, but you need to keep in mind that it is a TV show. The shows you see featured don't show how it really is. There are country music legends performing at every Opry show. But for some reason they never make the specials. Instead, they take all of the current popular or upcoming acts and stick them in the same segment. And instead of having each artist do their entire set like they usually do, they'll have them do one song and then come back later to do another. This is not typical. At a standard Grand Ole Opry show, an artist will come out and do their entire set and that's it. Sometimes you might see someone come back to sing with another act. And then sometimes artists will be in town and randomly decide to swing by and do a song or two.

So how long is a typical Grand Ole Opry set, you may be wondering? An act will usually do somewhere between one and four songs. I've been to a couple of shows where an artist did five. These were usually when said artist was a big name closing the show. The Opry is a great way to be introduced to an act, in my opinion. They don't get much time so you can bet that they're going to hit you with their best. And then if that act goes on to become one of your favorites, there's something pretty cool about having first seen them at the Opry.

For me anyway and I'm sure for several others. See, I love the Opry. It is one of my favorite things to experience. I say experience because that's really what it is; you don't simply go to the Opry, you experience it. I don't believe there's a such thing as a bad Opry show, though some shows are better than others. The shows during the week of CMA Fest are probably some of the strongest shows of the year. So let's talk a little bit about this one.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

CMA Fest recap: Day 1

I've been to CMA Fest a few times by now and it's usually hard for me to pick a favorite night because they tend to be pretty evenly matched. Not so this year. In my opinion, the first night was the strongest night by far. Before the show we headed to the BMI stage that was set up outside of LP Field. They had performances there each night of the festival, but we only made it to the first one. And that's where this starts.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

CMA Fest recap: Day 2

So day 4 was JakeCarrieStormGate 2013. Day 3 was the Lenny Kravitz fiasco. Day 2? Well, there was  some sort of technical difficulty and a huge failure to communicate just what was going on. A situation that they chose to handle by not handling it. The artist involved? Little Big Town. But like the other couple of days, I'll get to that later.

Let's start with the beginning of the night show at LP Field.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

CMA Fest recap: Day 3

All right, so we covered day 4 and what I dubbed as JakeCarrieStormGate 2013. Now we move backwards to Saturday, day 3, which gives us yet another controversy. This time involving the surprise guest. A guest which has me wondering just what on Earth the CMA was thinking. Actually, scratch that, I can guess what they were thinking: having this artist showing up on the TV special airing August 12th will make for good TV. Or rather, what they believe will be good TV. I may be way off base here, but lately it feels like there's people out there who seem determined to prove that country music is cool. And do so by trying to cater to fans of other genres. It's the only explanation that makes sense.

The problem? Well, first it implies that country music isn't cool already and that's nonsense. Country may in fact be at the height of its coolness. Look at how just about every singing competition has a country judge now. People say that having Keith Urban on Idol or Blake Shelton on The Voice helps the genre, but I think it's the other way around. Having a country act on helps those shows. Country music, once the red-headed stepchild of the music industry, has become a force too powerful to be ignored. Country fans have proven to be a valuable commodity. Thanks in no small part to their unwavering loyalty. Country music is perhaps the coolest it's ever been. So what's up with the CMA, or networks like CMT, trying so hard to prove their coolness to people who don't care about country music? And in doing so, alienate the people who do?

Again: I could be way off base here. But there's no other logical explanation I can think of that justifies why they'd choose this particular guest. A guest who may have performed a longer set than any of the other acts during the night shows. So I still have to ask just what the CMA was thinking? And why?

Of course, my day didn't start off with this guest of dubious inclusion. It started earlier, at the Bud Light Stage at the Bridgestone Arena Plaza...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

CMA Fest recap: Day 4

Hello everyone. Long time, no post. I'm not going to waste time with excuses that don't mean much anyway. The important thing is that I'm getting back into writing and what better place to start than with this year's CMA Fest? I hadn't been for a few years and this is the first year I've attended as a Nashville resident. I was pretty surprised by how different living here seemed to make things. I'm not even sure I can describe it, but it was an interesting experience. I really didn't get to do as much as I'd originally hoped, but I figured that I'd talk about the things I did and the shows I went to. I'll be breaking it up by day and event and also talk about a few others things. Like what could be improved upon and believe me, there's a lot.

Now I'm sure some of you looked at the post title and maybe got a little confused. No, you did not miss any posts. I've decided to do something a little strange and work my way backwards. Starting off with day four and ending with day one. Why? Well, if you were at the festival or if you've been reading about it, than you know that there was a fair amount of controversy surrounding the last night. I've seen some misconceptions about what exactly happened Sunday and I really wanted to address those. Give my take on the evening and share a few pictures. Suffice to say, CMA Fest did not end on the best note. It did not end the way I'm sure they thought and hoped it would.

So if that sounds like something you want to hear about, I invite you to sit back and relax, perhaps with a nice beverage of some sort, and keep on reading. Be warned: this is a long one.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Covers Wish List #3

Welcome to the third installment of this series! If you missed them, you can check out parts 1 and 2 here and here, respectively. Again, this is an ongoing thing I'm doing and I'm enjoying it so far. It's fun trying to think of songs that never, or rarely, get covered and then deciding which current artist could do it best. Each installment will feature 10 songs and then if anyone would like to suggest any, let me know and I'll add it in as a bonus song in a future installment. It can be any song, from any artist in any genre from any time period.

Before I get started, I want to first to tell everyone about a movement going on in country music right now. Some of you may have heard about this already. I'm taking about the "Sixty for Sixty" movement. What is it, you ask? Well, George Strait will be turning 61 on May 18th. So far in his career he has had a total of 59 #1s. Now we're not talking about the same song being released on multiple charts or remixes of songs that chart; we're talking about 59 different songs that all went to #1. He's not called King George for nothing. We're talking about a man who has touched countless lives and influenced so many other artists over the course of his career. An artist who has stayed true to himself all these years;  one of the most loved and respected artists in the genre.

Right now his current single "Give It All We Got Tonight" is #14 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and #11 on the Mediabase country chart. If it keeps climbing like it has been, it will become his 60th #1. And now you see what the "Sixty for Sixty" movement is all about: giving George Strait his 60th #1 while he is still 60. How can you help? Request, request, request. Talk about it. Tweet about it. Check out the movement's website, http://sixtyforsixty.com, for more ideas and information. We have until May 18th. We can do this.

Now let's talk covers. Sticking with the format I've been using: namely, the name of the artist who I'm suggesting the song for will be in bold. The song title and original artist will come next, with a little explanation of why I chose it. To my knowledge none of these songs have ever been covered by any of these artists, but that's not to say that it's never happened. Just that I've never seen or heard about it and would like to.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

My 2013 ACM Thoughts, Picks & Predictions Part 2

Wanted to stop this off by saying that if you have any thoughts about anything I write about, I'd love to hear them. Whether you agree or disagree, I welcome opinions of all kinds. All I ask is that everyone remain respectful. I had a comment come in last night on one of my reviews that I ended up deleting due to the use of profanity. That's something that I'm not going to tolerate. There's no need for it. I don't like deleting comments, but I will remove any that include profanity. Right now I allow anonymous comments and I'd like to keep it that way. Hopefully that comment will prove to be a fluke; it's the first one I've gotten that I felt I had to remove. I really don't think this will be a big problem, but I wanted to get this out there. 

So now that that's taken care of, here's the rest of my ACM thoughts, picks and predictions. Kicking it off with...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My 2013 ACM Thoughts, Picks & Predictions: Part 1

Well, the Academy of Country Music Awards - the ACMs - are less than a week away. So it seemed like time for me to get myself into gear and get my picks all posted. I'm going to try to get all my picks up in two posts and then I'll be doing a couple of follow up posts sometime after the show. Remember the show is this Sunday, April 7th, on CBS at 8PM Eastern and will be hosted by Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan. I'm going to miss seeing Reba hosting, but I'm looking forward to seeing what Blake and Luke come up with. I can only imagine.

I have to say that I thought some of the nominations this year were downright wacky. Some great examples of industry politics coming into play for some of them. I don't blame the artists for this; I just think it's messed up. So for anyone who was disappointed that one of their favorite artists didn't get nominated for anything, please keep this in mind. There were some major snubs this year. Not to mention some ridiculous inclusions. But no matter. They are what they are. So let's get to it. My 2013 ACM picks and predictions. Part 1.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Covers Wish List #2

Welcome to the second installment of my covers series. Check out the first part if you haven't already. Since picking songs using shuffle worked so well for me the last time, that's exactly how I'm going to do it every time. As far as I know none of these songs have ever been done by any of these artists. I forgot to mention it last time, but wanted to urge everyone to check out any songs that they don't know. You should be able to preview all of them on Amazon or iTunes. Or even YouTube. Once again, if any of the artists featured in this installment happen to come across this than they can take it as a challenge. I imagine that some of the choices might throw a few of them for a loop if they did see it. Especially one of them. Remember: I'm trying to think out of the box and not always go with what seems obvious. Some choices are more creative than others.

If you came to this post via a direct link and missed part 1, you can find it here.

So that said, let's get started.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Covers Wish List #1

I'm a big fan of the shuffle feature. Sometimes there'll be a specific album I want to listen to and in those cases I usually end up listening to the songs in order. But most of the time I'll listen to music on shuffle. Whether it's a certain artist I'm listening to or one of my many playlists. I like the randomness of it. Of course, as anyone who listens to their music on shuffle knows, it can make for some pretty interesting transitions. Downright strange ones at times. Especially if you're like me and have some playlists that have a little bit of everything on them. It is said shuffle feature that inspired this post, which is going to be the first of who knows how many. I see this being an ongoing thing.

See, the other day I was doing something on my computer and listening to music and it went from Carrie Underwood to Janet Jackson. As I was listening to the Janet Jackson song, it occurred to me that Carrie Underwood could probably do an interesting cover of it if she wanted to. That got me thinking about covers in general and remembering some of the covers I've seen done in concert. And country artists seem to love doing covers. Not all of them, but many. Country acts will cover all sorts of different kinds of songs, though the most popular seem to be older country songs, classic rock anthems and relatively recent pop hits. I've seen some great ones over the years...and a few that maybe should've never been attempted. More good ones than not. I don't think I'm alone in saying that there's certain songs that I'd love see certain artists cover. 

In fact, as it turns out, there's a lot of songs I want to see covered. I had no idea how many until I started writing them down as I thought of them and quickly ended up with a list of over 50 songs. Wow. I was overdue to write a new post and didn't feel like reviewing anything, so I decided to start this series. A little different, but it should be fun. I'll do 10 songs at a time. There'll be songs that won't be too unexpected, others that you might not recognize and some that may leave you wondering if I've suffered a blow to the head recently. I was trying to think a little outside the box here. As far as I know, none of these artists have ever done any of these songs. 

Since the shuffle feature is what inspired this, I've decided to let that determine what songs I include and in what order. Yes, I actually made a playlist of all these songs. Because, why not? If there's any songs that you would like to see covered by a country artist, let me know and I'll include it in a future post. Giving you credit, in whatever way you want me to. First name, twitter handle, what have you. And if any of the artists mentioned here happen to stumble across this post, they can take the suggestion as a challenge and maybe give said song a shot. Stranger things have happened, after all.

Starting off with the song that got me thinking about all of this...

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Song review: "Carolina" by Parmalee

As I've said before, I think it's interesting to read reviews of songs before I review them myself. Not because anything I read influences what I write, but because I like to see what other people think of a song. And in reading some reviews for "Carolina" I've concluded that some people just don't know what to think of Parmalee. So what usually ends up happening: they say it's not country and the review becomes more about that than the song itself. Sometimes the accusation is valid; most of the time it's an excuse to give a bad review. Now don't get me wrong - these people are free to write what they want about it and free to feel how they feel about it. I just think that a lot of times people are too quick to say a song or artist isn't country.

My thoughts on whether or not Parmalee is country? Well, the past few days I've been on what I'm going to call a Parmalee binge: watching performance videos and interviews, in an attempt to get a better feel for who they are as a band and people. And in doing so, I've noticed that they never seem to identify themselves as country directly. Lead singer Matt Thomas tends to describe them as "the country side of rock". Yeah, these guys are rockers, but they have definite country leanings. Enough to justify their place in the genre, in my opinion. A few years ago that may not have been the case, but times change. Genres grow and develop and, really, country music has always been a kind of melting pot anyway. It's always pulled from other formats. I propose that we stop trying to pigeonhole country music into being one kind of sound and one kind of sound only. That we stop trying to minimize what country music is and instead choose to celebrate its diversity.

Now that said, let's talk about the song itself. First they were putting dogs on roofs and hogs in kitchens; now they're singing about love and home. Who knows what they'll sing about next?

Let's go deeper.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Top 12 Artists of the Year: Part 2

I was just thinking about this list and thinking about all the great artists who didn't make the cut. And there's a lot! I keep saying it: 2012 was a very good year for country music. It seemed to be a year of artists discovering exactly who they're supposed to be, musically speaking. I get so excited when that happens. It just makes everything that much better. Finding and creating the music one is supposed to make increases their confidence. You can see it. They start seeming a lot more comfortable and in that, having more fun. 2012 was a great year for that. In saying that, it is my hope that those who found their sound keep it. And that the ones who are still looking, still trying to figure it out, find it. That's my hope for 2013. One of them anyhow.

Of course, now it's time to look back. But first it's time to make a change. See, I really wanted to keep this at 12 artists. 12 for 2012. I deliberated over my choices and had to make some tough cuts. There's some people I really wanted to include, but didn't because I decided that others deserved it just a little bit more. In most cases I was able to let it go. Most. Not all. There was one artist in particular that I felt bad for not picking. It's been bothering me since I cut him. Even making me feel oddly guilty - a feeling that was made worse when someone asked if he would be included. So, I've decided to give him an honorable mention. Because I really think he deserves it. Consider him to be lucky #13. 

So who is it? Who gets the honorable mention? Well, here's some hints. He's tall. He's handsome. He likes women in black dresses. He's a Tennessee native. He has a great voice. I'm of course talking about...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My Top 12 Artists of the Year: Part 1

 Well, it's that time of year when blogs and country sites all over create lists just like this one. I always enjoy reading these lists because it's interesting to see who people choose and why. I'll be honest. When I decided to make my own list, there were some artists who came to mind instantly. But choosing the rest was very hard for me. I didn't base this on numbers or sales or anything like that. Rather, I tried to think of which artists interested me the most this year. Which ones stood out among all the others and why. In doing so I realized that a lot of artists impressed me this year. Some of whom it almost pains me not to include. But there could only be twelve. There will be artists that you may be surprised to see on here and some who you'll be surprised to not see on here. Some of which surprised me when I chose or didn't choose them.

So who made the cut? Well keep on reading to find out. Including some of my pictures in here because why not? That said, you'll note that there won't be pictures of some of them and that's just because I don't have pictures of all of them.