Monthly Archives: February 2010

Single Review: Miranda Lambert, "The House that Built Me"

With her last single, “White Liar,” becoming Miranda Lambert’s second top ten hit and her first number one, it’s time to release her third single from her Revolution album. Can the latest single, “The House That Built Me,” repeat the massive succes of “White Liar?”

It’s no secret today’s country radio rarely gives traditional singles a chance at radio success. However, they’ve recently made exceptions for some gems like Jamey Johnson’s “In Color,” Carrie Underwood’s version of “I Told You So,” and even Lambert’s “White Liar.” Now, they should make another exception for Lambert’s “The House That Built Me.”

The song is an all-around masterpiece. The lyrics, written by Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin, deal with the narrator reminiscing about the house where she grew up. Lambert recalls the memories she had in the house from doing her homework to learning the guitar to even remembering where her favorite dog was buried.

The production is one of the best that I’ve heard on a single in awhile. Not only is it traditional enough to have been played back when that style ruled radio, but it’s done brilliantly. From the guitar intro to the smooth steel guitar in the background, the production never overshadows the brilliant vocal performance turned in by Lambert.

This will go down as one of, if not, the best song of Miranda’s career. In fact, I think this performance will challenge Carrie Underwood’s “Temporary Home” at next year’s Grammy awards for the Best Country Female Vocal Performance award. Even if it’s not a massive radio hit, Miranda Lambert should be proud she’s chosen this song as a single.

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Billboard Chart Flash: Week of Feb. 15 – 21

For the third week in a row, Lady Antebellum and Josh Turner keep their strong holds on top of the Billboard Country Albums and Hot Country Songs charts. Read to see if there was any other movement on this week’s charts.

In their fourth week on the charts, Lady Antebellum keeps its firm grip on the number one position on the Country Albums Chart. This week, Lady A sold another 144,000 copies which pushed them over the one million mark, making Need You Now Lady A’s second platinum album. The rest of the top five albums remain in the same order as well with Josh Turner’s Haywire holding strong at number two and Taylor Swift’s Fearless trailing in the third slot. The Zac Brown Band’s The Foundation remains number four while Carrie Underwood’s Play On holds steady at number five.

Only two albums made their debuts this week with the Josh Abbott Band’s She’s Like Texas coming in at twenty-eight while Brandon Rhyder’s Head Above Water slides into the forty-first position.

Over on the singles chart, Josh Turner is still making people dance with his hit “Why Don’t We Just Dance” which holds as the top country song in America for a third week in a row. Holding strong at number two is Brad Paisley’s latest hit, “American Saturday Night.” Darius Rucker’s “History in the Making” slides up one to number three while Jason Aldean’s “The Truth” falls one to number four. Billy Currington’s “That’s How Country Boys Roll” keeps its hold on the number five position.

This week saw five songs debut on the Hot Country Songs chart with Jason Aldean’s “Crazy Town” leading the pack at number 49. Miranda Lambert tries to follow up the massive success of “White Liar” with her next single, “The House That Built Me,” which comes in at 51. Jerrod Niemann comes in at 52 with “Lover, Lover” while Ash Bowers’ “Ain’t No Stopping Her Now” finishes at 53. The fifth debut of the week belongs to Blaine Larsen and his song “Chillin'” which bows in at 54.

With the release of Sarah Buxton’s debut album this week, we’ll see if Lady Antbellum can make it five weeks atop the albums chart or if Need You Now will finally be dethroned. Meanwhile, Brad Paisley is trying to score his 17th number one hit, but Josh Turner will try to hold him off for another week.

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Album Review: Easton Corbin, Easton Corbin

Country newcomer Easton Corbin recently found himself inside the top ten of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart with “A Little More Country Than That” and is now gearing up to release his self-titled debut album, Easton Corbin. With his old school traditional style of country music, Corbin has been widely regarded as being the new torchbearer of traditional country. Does he live up to those expectations on his album?

Corbin has made it known that his influences include country legends Keith Whitley, Merle Haggard, and George Jones. On his debut album, those influences shine through on just about every song. With vocals that infuse the old style of Whitley with a more mainstream tradition style like Joe Nichols, Corbin proves he can sing just about anything from honky tonk tunes to classic heartbreakers.

The album opens with the infectitious “Roll With Me” that contains a production style that would’ve fit in perfectly during the traditional movement of the 1990’s. The album continues with the debut single, “A Little More Country Than That,” and the heartbreaking “Far From Memphis.” The latter song finds him singing about trying to leave the pain from a failed relationship behind by driving to Miami but finds out the pain travels with you no matter where or how far you go.

The album’s strongest honky-tonk song is “The Way Love Looks” which contains all the necessities of a great honky-tonk tune. The upbeat melody makes it almost impossible to resist the urge to get up and dance. The steel guitar and fiddle riffs are fantastic and only make the song better. Corbin’s vocals are spot on and add plenty of personality to the song about telling a woman how good love looks on her. This song could almost be a happier version of George Strait’s “You Look So Good In Love.”

The album’s strongest song is “Don’t Ask Me ‘Bout a Woman” which finds the narrator talking to his Grandpa on a front porch swing. The conversation leads to the grandpa telling him about how women aren’t “made to figure out they’re just made to love.” To me, this could be the cousin of Brad Paisley’s hit “Waitin’ On a Woman.” The song is filled with an infectitious melody that could be two-stepped to in a bar. Something that can be said about most of the song on the album.

The lone cover on the album is “Let Alone You,” a song that first appeared on Blaine Larsen’s album Rockin’ You Tonight. Though it’s not quite as traditional as Larsen’s version, Corbin brings a more mainstream factor to it which allows it a chance to be released as a single. I prefer Larsen’s vocals on the song but Easton brings his own vocal styling to the song which makes for a hard comparison.

The only slight blemish is the island vibed “A Lot to Learn About Livin'” which finds Corbin experimenting with a more mainstream/less traditional song. With its production, the song sticks out like a sore thumb on a more traditional sounding album. Along with that, the lyrics are fairly average and conveying its message about learning to not sweat the small things and just enjoy life.

Overall, its a fantastic debut from one of country music’s brightest rising stars. The production sticks to Easton Corbin’s more traditional leaning artistic beliefs and his vocal performance shows how comfortable he is singing that style. If I was a drinker, I could see myself sitting at home or in my garage listening to this album with a few cold ones…it’s that good.

Now depending on if country radio can take a break to give Corbin a chance, he has a real shot at becoming one of country’s biggest stars. If you love traditional country music, this album should definitely be in your collection.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

(Easton Corbin’s debut album, Easton Corbin, hits stores on Tuesday, March 2, 2010)

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Single Review: Kenny Chesney, "Ain’t Back Yet"

Country superstar Kenny Chesney had a streak of four number one hits going before it came to an end when his last single, “I’m Alive,” failed to make the top five. Can he get back to the peak position of the charts with his new single “Ain’t Back Yet?”

On his newest single, Chesney reverts back to his old country rock style he’s all but ignored the past couple years. His most recent country rock inspired song was 2005’s “Living in Fast Forward” which went number one. In my opinion, this style better suits his voice than the recent beachy, island vibe he’s been topping the charts with.

On this song, penned by Craig Wiseman and Chris Thompkins, Chesney finds himself singing about some of life’s experiences that have gotten him where he is now. Though the song is a perfect fit for Chesney, his vocal performance feels a bit forced and he doesn’t seem fully invested in the song. The production is actually very good and unfortunately brings even more focus on the lackluster vocal.

With 21 career number ones, it’s obvious that Kenny Chesney has a strength in choosing radio friendly songs. In fact, the last Chesney single that failed to peak inside the top 10 was back in 1999 when “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” peaked at number eleven. So even when he isn’t at his best, which he clearly isn’t here, its all but guaranteed this will be another chart topping hit for the superstar.

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Single Review: Jason Aldean, "Crazy Town"

Jason Aldean has finally struck a chord with country radio stations which has resulted in three straight number one singles, all from his platinum selling album, Wide Open. His new single, “Crazy Town,” is the album’s fourth release, but can it rise to the top of the charts like the three previous singles?

After slowing down the tempo at country radio with songs “Big Green Tractor” and “The Truth,” Jason Aldean returns to his signature southern rock sound on “Crazy Town.” The song is about how crazy a town Nashville is with all the neon dreams that are so hard to make come true for singers and songwriters. The song is average in its lyrics which contain some peculiar lines about making drunk girls “scream and shout” and how you have to “bend those strings til the Hank comes out.”

The production reverts back to Jason’s style of southern rock meets hard rock much like the style of his smash, “She’s Country.” The production suits Aldean’s vocal strengths and rarely do you hear Jason having to fight to be heard, something that he and his producers do very well. I think this production is a strong suit for Aldean because he doesn’t have quite enough vocal ability to pull off many ballads, though he’s chosen a few great ones to pull off.

When Aldean releases a single with his signature rock production, he’s all but guaranteed at least a top 10 hit. I expect this song to not only hit the top 10, but also extend his streak of number ones to four. If that happens, he’ll be the first artist since Carrie Underwood to have four or more straight number one singles from one album (she had four number ones off of her album Carnival Ride).

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Billboard Chart Flash: Week of Feb. 8 – 14

If you look at Billboard’s Country Albums and Hot Country Songs charts, you’ll notice no change among who is atop those charts.

For the third week in a row, Lady Antebellum’s massive sophomore album, Need You Now, stays put as the country’s number one album, holding off the strong debut of Josh Turner’s latest release, Haywire. Lady A sold another 207,500 copies which brings its total sales for three weeks to a massive 897,300 copies, so expect the album to go platinum next week.

Turner’s album posted a strong opening week of 85,300 copies sold which secured the second spot and the highest debuting album of the week. Meanwhile, Taylor Swift’s Fearless, Zac Brown Band’s The Foundation, and Carrie Underwood’s Play On round out the top five at numbers 3-5, respectively.

Over on the singles chart, Josh Turner spends a second week atop the chart with his smash, “Why Don’t We Just Dance,” while Brad Paisley’s “American Saturday Night” climbs up to number 2. Jason Aldean’s latest number 1, “The Truth,” takes a slide down to number 3 while Darius Rucker’s “History in the Making” stays put at number 4. Rounding out the top 5 is Billy Currington’s “That’s How Country Boys Roll.”

On a quick side note, country newcomer Easton Corbin nabs his first top 10 single of his career as his hit “I’m a Little More Country than That” climbs up two notches from 11 to 9. Leading this week’s debuts is Kenny Chesney who skyrockets to number 23 with his latest “Ain’t Back Yet.” Other debuts include Katie Armiger “Kiss Me Now” (number 57), Jessica Harp’s “A Woman Needs” (number 58), and Steve Azar’s “Sunshine” (number 60).

With no big releases coming next week, look for Lady Antebellum to reign supreme for a 4th week in a row. On the singles chart, can Brad Paisley dethrone Josh Turner for another number 1 single? We’ll have to wait and see!

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Single Review: Danny Gokey, "My Best Days Are Ahead of Me"

On the last season of the hit tv show American Idol, Danny Gokey struck a chord with fans who voted him to a third place finish. After surprisingly signing a record deal with RCA Nashville, Gokey released his debut single to country radio titled “My Best Days Are Ahead of Me.” Can his success on Idol carry over to the country charts?

While on the show, it was often said that Danny’s voice was filled with lots of soul and I’m sure everyone thought he’d go down that road once his run on Idol was over. Instead, he went with country where he can’t really show off the soulfulness in his voice as much. That’s the most obvious flaw with his debut single. The song doesn’t allow Danny to show off his soulful vocal range, though he fights to include his signature growl and high notes into parts of the song.

Lyrically, the song is very mediocre in conveying its overdone message of how there will always be better days ahead in life. The song includes cliche verses about realizing you’re still young enough to look into the future and know that your best days are ahead of you and verses about how you have more “sunsets to witness” and more “beaches to walk on.”

The music reminds me a bit of Jessica Simpson’s country tune “Come On Over” in that they both contain a steel guitar melody that takes a back seat to the pop-leaning production. Paired with Gokey’s vocals, the production seems a bit out of place and doesn’t quite fit in with the singer’s signature sound.

It’s obvious the purpose of releasing this as the debut single was to make a splash at country radio. However, I think it’ll cause a flop instead. Here’s to hoping he has better material on his debut album which is set for a March 2nd release.

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Single Review: Laura Bell Bundy, "Giddy On Up"

Brodway star Laura Bell Bundy trys her hand at country music with her debut single, which is another girl done wrong by her cheating boyfriend song, something that’s become the norm among country’s newest female artists. But is her song strong enough to seperate her from the pack of country blonde powerhouses Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift?

“Giddy On Up” has quite a catchy country-pop hook and after hearing it you instantly find yourself singing the chorus. Unlike some of the other pop-country artists, Bundy infuses the pop hook with plenty of banjo and fiddle sounds which keeps it more on the country side, but barely. Her voice, which reminds me of Kellie Pickler, packs plenty of personality which is needed to pull of a song like this; however, I can see some listeners finding it somewhat irritating and annoying.

Though the song exudes plenty of Bundy’s charm and personality, I think it’s a bit too much. The production seems loose and rambunctious because there’s just way too much going on in the song and finds her fighting to be heard over the music.

If Laura Bell Bundy wants to compete with the likes of Underwood and Swift at country radio, she’s going to need stronger material and tighter production.

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Single Review: Easton Corbin, "A Little More Country Than That"

When I first heard Easton Corbin’s debut single on the radio, I thought it was a new George Strait song that I’d never heard before. Turns out, it was a country newcomer who loves traditional country and cites Merle Haggard, George Jones, and Keith Whitley as some of his influences, something that is a rarity among today’s newcomers.

Since its release late last year, “A Little More Country Than That” has found itself climbing up the charts and just outside the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs Chart. The song’s narrator tells his love interest just who he is by explaining how country he is, even saying how he’s more country than a Hank song with a strong “steel ride” that sends “chills down your back.” The song backs up the line by using plenty of steel guitar along with a strong fiddle melody which makes you miss the days where those sounds controlled the airwaves. Corbin’s vocals resemble a younger George Strait and it’s obvious the aforementioned artists had quite an influence over his voice and the types of songs he wants to record.

This song is a breath of fresh air amongst the current pop driven country that’s controlling the radio waves. I expect big things from this newcomer and I no doubt see him becoming traditional country’s biggest hope of keeping the old style alive.

(Easton Corbin’s debut album, Easton Corbin, is set for release on March 2, 2010)

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Get Easton Corbin’s Debut Single for FREE

This week, country newcomer Easton Corbin’s debut single, “A Little More Country Than That,” is this week’s Free Single of the Week on iTunes. Corbin, who hails from Florida, has been climbing up the charts with this song which finds him singing about small town life (be on the look out for a full single review in the next few days). Along with getting the single for free, you can also pre-order his debut self-titled debut album for a limited time.

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