Old Crow Medicine Show Signs With Sony Music Nashville

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Talk about a pleasant surprise! Today Sony Music Nashville officially they’ve signed the popular, Grammy-winning Old Crow Medicine Show to their label. They’ve been assigned to the Columbia Records Nashville imprint and have announced the release of a new album of Bob Dylan covers, 50 Years of Blonde on Blonde. It will be released on April 28 and it celebrates the 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan’s release of his album Blonde on Blonde. The group recorded this album live at the CMA Theatre in May 2016. It is already available for pre-order on their site and will be available everywhere for pre-order this coming Friday. They’ve also announced a tour supporting the album, Old Crow Medicine Show Performing Blonde on Blonde. You can see the full tour dates schedule below.

It makes perfect sense that this iconic roots group would be honoring Dylan, as the band has crafted two great songs out of Dylan chorus, the most famous being “Wagon Wheel.” The band really came onto people’s radars after Darius Rucker covered it of course. The bigger news here is a major country label signing Old Crow Medicine Show. Certainly not for a lack of a talent because they’re one of the best groups in country/folk today. Certainly not for a lack of achievements: members of the Grand Ole Opry, certified platinum status, multiple Grammys and a very popular touring band.

It’s that a major country label would actually sign them. Or perhaps not. We’re now seeing the effects of the rise of acts like Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton. It’s forced major labels to pay more attention to acts outside the mainstream sound who sell and cultivate a major following. They’re still never going to get played on country radio. But they’re more relevant and sell better (both touring and music) than many on the radio. Remember Sony Music just recently also revived Monument Records inking Caitlyn Smith, an artist in a similar position. This very well could signal a shift in the way major country labels do business. We’ll have to wait and see.

 

MAY 2017
4          Santa Barbara, CA @ The Granada Theatre
5          Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
6          Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
8          Portland, OR @ Revolution Hall
10        Seattle, WA @ The Moore Theatre
12        Salt Lake City, UT @ Delta Hall at Eccles Theater
13        Aspen, CO @ Belly Up Aspen
14        Denver, CO @ Paramount Theatre
20        Knoxville, TN @ Tennessee Theatre
22        Washington, DC @ Lincoln Theatre
24        New York, NY @ The Town Hall
25        Boston, MA @ Orpheum Theatre
28        Cooperstown, NY @ Brewery Ommegang
30        Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE
31        Columbus, OH @ EXPRESS LIVE!

JUNE 2017
1          Cincinnati, OH @ Taft Theatre
2          Louisville, KY @ Iroquois Amphitheater
8          Chicago, IL @ The Vic Theatre
9          Milwaukee, WI @ Pabst Theater
10        St. Paul, MN @ The Palace Theatre
11        Kansas City, MO @ Uptown Theater
12        St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant

UK/Netherlands
JUNE 2017
24        Manchester, UK @ O2 Ritz
25        Glasgow, UK @ O2ABC
28        London, UK @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire
30        Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso

Album Review – Brett Young’s Self-Titled Debut Album is Music Nyquil

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So you’re walking into a bar looking to get yourself a nice drink. You walk up to the bartender in the mood to try something new and ask for the best new beer he’s got. He says sure thing and hands you a glass full of supposedly great new beer. You take a drink and immediately spit it out, exclaiming to the barkeep this is just warm tap water. He insists it’s great and flavorful. This is Brett Young and his music in a nutshell and the bartender is Big Machine Records. Young’s first two singles “Sleep Without You” and “In Case You Didn’t Know” bored me out of my mind, so I wasn’t going to be surprised if there were more of these type of songs on his self-titled debut album. But I held out some hope maybe he gives us something interesting. I can say after listening to this album that isn’t the case.

Somehow every song on this album is a snooze fest like the first two singles. I thought Chris Young’s I’m Comin’ Over would be the most boring, toothless album I would ever talk about on Country Perspective. But Brett Young (no relation of course) somehow has managed to deliver a more vanilla album and I wrote an entire rant of how much I’m Comin’ Over bored me. It’s truly amazing how safe this album is and how it stays as far away as possible from anything remotely risky. It’s like Young looked at Chris Young, Brett Eldredge and Martina McBride and challenged himself to make music more boring than those three combined. And I understand why these artists make such bland music. It sells really well and resonates with a lot of people, which I respect your right to choose to listen to this music. But I don’t understand how you can listen to this when almost anything else is more interesting to hear. You’re probably wondering why I’m not breaking down the tracks by now, but there’s absolutely no point when every song sounds the damn same. Each one fails to stand out and makes me wish I was listening to anything else. At least Sam Hunt pisses me off with his music. This music from Young makes me feel nothing.

Brett Young’s self-titled album is something that has happened and exists. I will not remember it and will only listen to it again if I need help falling asleep because sleep aid is this album’s most useful trait. What’s worse is the success of sleepy music like this will only encourage more artists to play it super safe and never take any risks. If people are happy and content with hot dogs, why bother with serving up prime rib? It’s much easier and cheaper. As long as something sells major labels don’t give a flying shit whether it’s good or even interesting. Brett Young’s self-titled album makes for great commerce, but terrible art.

Grade: 3/10

 

Recommend? – No

Album Highlights: None

Bad Songs: None

Wallpaper: The entirety of this album


Album Review – Nikki Lane’s ‘Highway Queen’

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There were several albums I was looking forward to hearing in 2017. All of the usual big names that almost everyone else echoes like Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton get thrown around and are expected. But perhaps one of my most under-the-radar choices was Nikki Lane’s new album Highway Queen. She’s an artist I haven’t had a chance to discuss as much, but should very much be heard by all country music fans. Her voice is a callback to the “golden days” of country music and many have likened it to icon Wanda Jackson. Her first two albums she tended to get overshadowed by their big name producers, Dave Cobb and Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys respectively. It’s something she’s discussed in many interviews and for her third album she wanted to make sure she was the focus and sounded like her. Hence why her boyfriend and fellow artist Jonathan Tyler helped produce Highway Queen. Well this was a pretty smart choice because the results are quite fantastic.

From the very first notes of “700,000 Rednecks” you get a taste of the old school country with a strong slice of swagger that permeates throughout this album. It just fits Lane so well and again it was such a great choice for Tyler as producer. The album’s title track comes off as Lane’s personal creed. The song tells of a strong, independent woman who confidently hits the open road alone and relishes the challenges ahead. “Lay You Down” is about dealing with living and dying alone. A woman sees her man walk out on her for the last time, as he goes onto die with nobody there to lay him down. The drum play helps make this song standout, really helping drive the emotion of the song across. There are a lot of fun tracks on this album, but the most fun probably has to be “Jackpot.” It’s a love song that likens finding love to hitting the jackpot in Vegas. Who said love songs can’t be fun? So many love songs today are overly serious or not serious enough, while this finds the perfect sweet spot. Love is also the theme of “Companion.” The woman recalls her past rocky relationships and is grateful to have finally found the right one and be his companion. The throwback rockabilly sound gives the song a waltzing feel, the perfect cool-off after the high energy of “Jackpot.”

“Big Mouth” is one of the most catchy songs I’ve heard about telling someone to shut the hell up. The in-your-face lyrics and the grooving rhythm go together perfectly. The aching “Foolish Heart” is about the fear of losing everything. It’s about not being able to bear the thought of losing love now that you’ve found it and can’t fathom being alone. Lane does a great job of really bringing the emotion out of the lyrics and makes for one of the best songs on the album. “Send the Sun” is a song I imagine Lane and Tyler’s musician lifestyles inspired, as it’s about a couple struggling to be apart while on the road. Each want to send love the others way, hoping it gets them through until they see each other again. Highway Queen ends with “Forever Lasts Forever,” a song about the end of a relationship. It’s a recollection of the wedding vows the couple took and Lane creatively twists them into the perfect story of heartbreak. The line that really just hits it on the nose: “Because we said until death do us part and it was true/Because my heart feels like it’s dying.” There are many great songs on this album, but this song is the album’s crown gem and one of the best songs I’ve heard this year.

Nikki Lane delivers music excellence in Highway Queen. It feels like a truly breakout moment for Lane, as her personality and style shines though so well on this record. The instrumentation and production are spot-on and frames each song like they should, which shows how well Lane and Tyler worked in making this album. This album delivers the rollicking and fun foot-stompers just as well as it delivers emotional gut-punchers. Mark my words: this will go down as one of the best country albums of the year. Lane hits the jackpot and wins big with Highway Queen.

Grade: 9/10

 

Recommend? – 100% Yes!

Album Highlights: Forever Lasts Forever, Foolish Heart, Jackpot, Lay You Down, 700,000 Rednecks

Bad Songs: None

Wallpaper: None


Review – Wheeler Walker Jr.’s “Pussy King”

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Every once in a while you get an artist who comes around and completely changes the game. The genre is never the same after their arrival. In 2016 country music got this artist and his name is Wheeler Walker Jr. His debut album Redneck Shit was one of the most memorable albums of the year, landing at #30 on our top albums of 2016 list. It was also one of the raunchiest, most debauchery-filled and most honest albums I’ve heard in recent memory in country music. Thanks to fellow Kentuckian Sturgill Simpson, Dave Cobb produced the debut and of course brought out the best in Wheeler. Now Walker is back with a new single “Pussy King,” the lead from his new upcoming album Ol’ Wheeler set for release on June 2. And as you can see from the title, Wheeler is singing about something he’s quite familiar with from his debut record. The song opens with Wheeler proclaiming, “Wheeler Walker Jr. motherfucker…I’m back.” The instrumentation is decidedly more blues influenced, with the prominent harmonica and rocking guitars. The song also has soulful backing vocals, that gives the song a more powerful sound than any of the songs on his debut record. The song itself is of course about Wheeler having sex with women all over the place in many different ways. There are multiple hilarious lines, including my favorite: “Catholic virgin who thinks anal doesn’t count.” Wheeler’s new single “Pussy King” sees Wheeler stick to this tried and true self, while also elevating his sound. Can’t wait to hear what the album has in-store.

Grade: 8/10

 

Recommend? – Yes (although not for the faint of heart and you probably shouldn’t listen to this at work without headphones)

 

Written by Wheeler Walker Jr.

Album Review – Alison Krauss’ ‘Windy City’

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When discussing some of the best and brightest artists in the history of country music, Alison Krauss is a name that should come up. I feel like she’s one of the most underrated artists of the genre, probably due to being more involved with bluegrass with her band Union Station. But she’s pretty much done it all in both genres. Her 27 Grammys, tied for second most all-time, is shining proof of this. Whether it’s her bluegrass work with Union Station, doing a duet album with Robert Plant or her own great work on her own, she shines and gains widespread attention. Now after over 18 years, Krauss has released a new album of solo material. Together with veteran country producer Buddy Cannon, the two picked out ten classic country songs to cover. And the results are really good.

The waltzing “Losing You” opens up Windy City. Right away it’s obvious Krauss sounds as fantastic as ever on this tragic Brenda Lee heartbreak ballad. Krauss gets more upbeat on “It’s Goodbye and So Long To You.” It’s an instantly catchy track with plenty of horns and steel guitar. Krauss delivers a Dolly-like vocal performance, really giving the song more punch. The album’s title track is a heartbreak song about Chicago capturing the heart of a woman’s man and begging to have him back. She walks the lonely streets of the city wondering if she’ll ever win him back. It’s an adaptation of the Osborne Brothers’ song of the same name. One of my favorites on the album is her cover of Willie Nelson’s “I Never Cared For You.” It’s a clever song about the person saying they never cared for their ex, although admitted to be an outright lie and a coping mechanism in a time of heartbreak. Krauss really nails the emotion of the song. “River In The Rain” is an Roger Miller song that Krauss does more than great justice. Originally this was a duet between Huck Finn and a slave, but Krauss turns this into a touching love song. Anyone can cover a song, but I love it when an artist makes the cover their own and Krauss certainly does this.

Another standout on Windy City is Vern Gosdin’s “Dream of Me.” It’s a song that perfectly suits Krauss’ voice, as she sings of telling her man to dream of her every time he feels down and blue. Laden with plenty of steel guitar to go with these great lyrics, this one was an instant favorite for me. John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind,” made famous of course by Glen Campbell, is another cover on Windy City. It might be my new favorite cover of the song. Of course this is a really enjoyable song in itself. “Poison Love” is a really simple song that you can instantly gravitate to and find yourself singing along with from the first listen. The piano-driven Brenda Lee song “All Alone Am I” is a taste of how great Krauss can be on more vulnerable tracks. But this is best demonstrated on the album’s final track “You Don’t Know Me.” It’s an Eddy Arnold song about letting possible love slipping through your fingers and being left to forever wonder what if. You’ll never truly know them and they’ll truly never know you. It’s regret that’ll never leave you. Krauss is at her absolute best here, as well as the instrumentation. Each perfectly frames the song and delivers a gut-punch to close out the album.

For fans of classic country and Alison Krauss, Windy City is a real joy to listen to from start to finish. I really applaud Krauss and Cannon for picking a great group of songs to cover. There’s plenty of variety, a song for any mood you’re in on this album. Each listen through you’ll have a new favorite. It’s also an educational album for those aren’t as informed about the history of the genre and brings to light some quality old artists worth knowing about. I wouldn’t be surprised if this album sees Krauss add to her staggering Grammys total. Krauss once again delivers really good music with Windy City.

Grade: 8/10

 

Recommend? – Yes

Album Highlights: You Don’t Know Me, I Never Cared For You, It’s Goodbye and So Long To You, Dream of Me, Losing You

Bad Songs: None

Wallpaper: None