Review: Zack Walther And The Cronkites "Ambition"

Fans of New Braunfels, Texas band Zack Walther And The Cronkites are fired up, and they have every reason to be. ZWC's new album "Ambition" fully lives up to its lofty title. This is one Texas country band whose star is on the rise. "Ambition" puts all the top Texas music band's on notice: Step up your game or move over for Zack Walther And The Cronkites.
ZWC's current single "Georgia Cane" is a Texas music triumph that slowly builds momentum leading into the powerful chorus. "Georgia Cane" boasts memorable lyrics and a confident vocal performance by Zack Walther. It is followed by the equally pleasing "Tumbleweed" which blends traditional country melodies with Texas music themes.

Zack Walther And The Cronkites are unique in the Texas music marketplace. The band is essentially a combination of Red Dirt and southern rock. This is a winning formula for success in both the Texas country and mainstream country markets. Indeed, the musicianship of the band mixed with the deep, rich southern vocals of Walther are an unbeatable pairing. This is most clearly illustrated on the anthemic tracks "Without One Sound" and the best song on the album, "Down Easy." The aforementioned song is country perfection, and "Down Easy" deserves to be on the country charts.

The band shows its more vulnerable side on the terrific "Just Say When," and this cut shows true artistry by Zach Walther And The Cronkites. Likewise, "Money Tree (Everything I Need)" showcases a bluesy-country vibe that allows the band to soar. But the biggest surprise of the album is the rockin' final cut "Pull The Pin" which is one of the best hard-driving Texas music tunes to come around in years.

It's clear that the country boys of Zack Walther And The Cronkites are deadly serious musicians who have produced a southern rock and Texas country barn-burner. "Ambition" is a great title for the album. But, on second thought, the band should have called it "Success." Certainly, no one could argue with that.

Review: Kyle Park "Anywhere In Texas"

Plain and simple, Kyle Park can sing. This country boy's new album "Anywhere In Texas" is just as irreverent and powerful as his mischievous Texas grin and confident posture on the album's cover suggest it will be. Indeed, Park's second album "Anywhere In Texas" boldly announces a new Texas music star vying for dominance with the likes of Jason Boland, Randy Rogers and Stoney LaRue. That's good company.
Kyle Park is first and foremost a brilliant songwriter, and he has written or co-written all 12 songs on the album. Park's tunes are universally melodic with bold, yet personal lyrics. Hard working men and country women can easily identify with his songs. For instance, "Cold In Colorado" shows Kyle Park in top form, and the chorus has a killer hook.

Kyle Park's current Texas Music Chart hit single, "Don't Look," is a memorable song that deserves all of the accolades it has received. But the best song on the album is the sentimental final cut titled "These Days." On this track, Kyle Park produces a pitch-perfect, yet understated vocal performance that perfectly suits the song.

However, the real secret to Kyle Park's success on the album "Anywhere In Texas" is his pure country voice that is easily identifiable on country radio. "Tossin' And Turning" illustrates Park's vocal skill with a simple lyric and melody that hits on all cylinders. "Baby I'm Gone" and "Day By Day" follow the same winning formula. Another successful cut is a song Park co-wrote with Wade Bowen, "A Woman Like You."

The biggest surprise on "Anywhere In Texas" is the moving love song "Living Room Loving." This song could be a major mainstream country radio chart hit. Moreover, the hard-driving "First Day Of Summer" is a potential Texas country radio hit that should be released to Texas radio a few weeks before summer.

It's no wonder Kyle Park has a mischievous smile on the cover of his excellent new album "Anywhere In Texas." That's because he knows a secret that other people are just beginning to find out. You see, Kyle Park believes he's the best new country artist anywhere in Texas. And, you know what, he is.

Review: Austin Cunningham "Made To Last"

You may not know the name Austin Cunningham, but you've certainly heard his music. Cunningham has been the writer or co-writer of songs recorded by his buddy Chris Knight, Big and Rich, Hank Williams, Jr, Dolly Parton, Faith Hill, Martina McBride and dozens of others. With his fourth album, "Made To Last," Austin Cunningham has produced 13 top-notch songs that cannot be ignored.
As a singer-songwriter, Austin Cunningham is unique. He has an identifiable country voice that fully encapsulates the thoughts and feelings of everyday, working country men and women. The album's first cut, "This Town's On My Nerves" is illustrative of the frustration of many in these days of recession and job losses. Likewise, "Go Easy On Yourself" is a powerful anthem for people facing tough times. This song is a simple, but powerfully uplifting song that could be a country radio chart hit.

The album's title track clearly shows the full range of Austin Cunningham's vocal and writing talent. "Made To Last" is a country music masterpiece performed with passion and a high level of skill. After hearing this track, listeners will find it almost unthinkable that Cunningham is not yet a household name.

Austin Cunningham, a Garland, Texas native who now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, also writes and performs traditional country tunes with ease and confidence. "Take Me Back To Fort Worth" is a rockin', high-energy barn-burner that will be a popular at live shows. Likewise, "The Last Great D.J." is a toe-tapping song with a killer melody and a potent story.

The real reason for Austin Cunningham's success on the album "Made To Last" is his passionate lyrics and delivery. "Recipe For Disaster" showcases Austin Cunningham as a troubadour with great success. But it is "Try Jesus" that is the greatest surprise of the album. This track mixes gospel with Texas country and traditional country in a new and fresh way. Indeed, it is virtually impossible to hear this song without compulsively clapping your hands. And that's a major compliment in the country music world.

"Made To Last" is a must for any fan of real country music. Although any country music songwriter would be envious of the list of artists who have recorded Cunningham's songs, "Made To Last" is definitive proof that Austin Cunningham is both a talented songwriter and a gifted country vocalist. As it turns out, the album's title, "Made To Last," is actually the perfect description for Austin Cunningham himself.

Review: Doug Stone "Live At Billy Bob's Texas"

There's a good reason Doug Stone is a country music star: This man has a golden country voice that is unmistakably his own. With his 18-song, new album, "Live At Billy Bob's Texas," Doug Stone once again proves that he is a force to be reckoned with in country music. In short, Doug Stone's voice in 2009 is just as potent as it was when he first became a star.
It is a pleasure and honor to revisit major Doug Stone country hits that dominated the country charts for so long. On "I Thought It Was You," Doug Stone puts a new spin on the classic song with subtle changes in his vocal phrasing. His deep, rich voice resonates with a passion that makes the song seem fresh and new.

"Little Houses" is also given a small, but noticeable makeover that allows the lyrics to be heard in a new light. But the major success of "Live At Billy Bob's Texas" is the classic "Too Busy Being In Love." Doug Stone wisely chose to keep the winning track almost exactly the same, and the music and vocals are successful in every way.

Other hits on the album include "Faith In Me Faith In You," "I Never Knew Love," "Why Didn't I Think Of That," "More Love," the terrific  "I'd Be Better Off (In A Pine Box)," "Make Up In Love," "A Jukebox With A Country Song" and, of course, the massively popular "In A Different Light." The album also includes a bonus studio track, the powerful "Don't Tell Mama."

While the music of some country music artists of the 1980s and 1990s doesn't hold up to the standards expected today, Doug Stone once again shows his true range of talent and musicianship. This album first grabs listeners with its familiarity but continues to keep fans on the edge of their seats with a freshness and quality virtually unmatched by popular artists of the day. Doug Stone's new album "Live At Billy Bob's Texas" is not to be missed.

Review: Mo Robson Band "Live At Adair's Saloon: Deep Ellum, Texas"

The Mo Robson Band is one hard-working group of Dallas guys. For almost a decade, Mo and the boys have been crisscrossing America with their hard-driving brand of Texas country music. And the 16 songs on "Live At Adair's Saloon: Deep Ellum, Texas" fully capture the magic of the band's hugely popular live shows while delivering top-notch production and pitch-perfect vocals.
The album starts strong with the traditional country songs "Walkin' In My Shoes" and "Jim Beam Whiskey." But the live album at Dallas' famed Adair's Saloon really begins to hit its stride with the third song, the terrific Red Dirt track "First One To Go." This is followed by the memorable Texas music cut "Even Angels Fall."

The Mo Robson Band's third album also features the song "Rolling Down This Highway," which is a genuinely roadworthy, Texas music masterpiece. The diversity of the Mo Robson Band - or MRB as they are affectionately known by fans -  is clearly illustrated on songs like "Adios, Goodbye" and the traditional remake of Social Distortion's "Ball And Chain."

The two best tracks on the live album are "Good Morning Warden" and "Amarillo Sand." The two songs are both almost seven minutes each and fully showcase the band at their best. "Good Morning, Warden" is a little bit Chris Knight mixed with some Jason Boland. It's a "must-have" addition to your MP3 player or iPod.

The Mo Robson Band's "Live At Adair's Saloon" also features two bonus studio cuts, including the new single "Gettin' Gone." This track is reminiscent of the type of music Waylon Jennings would be producing if he were living in today's country music marketplace. And that's a high compliment, indeed. This song is destined for a long run on the country music charts. The other studio track, "Mitchell Stone," tells the hard-luck story of a friend who has hit rough times.

The Mo Robson Band plays 200 concert dates a year, so it's amazing the band had time to craft a live album this good. Indeed, "Live At Adair's Saloon" is actually a tribute to all of the fans who have sold out hundreds Mo Robson Band shows at honky-tonks, bars and venues across Texas (and beyond) over the last decade. With the new fans that are bound to discover the Mo Robson Band with "Live At Adair's Saloon," you better get your MRB tickets early next time around.

Review: Stephanie Briggs "Birds Barely Know Us"

Stephanie Briggs "Birds Barely Know Us" is a uniquely wonderful, Texas folk-Americana album that never fails to surprise or impress from the first song to the last. Although the music of this New Braunfels, Texas native is difficult to categorize, Stephanie Briggs has more than her fair share of country fans, including Wade Bowen, Randy Rogers and Cody Canada of Cross Canadian Ragweed.
"Don't Come Calling" is the album's most compelling track and has the feel of an indie-rock anthem with rock-solid vocals by Briggs in a song she wrote. The tough lyrics and passionate delivery combine to create a memorable musical experience. Briggs doesn't pull any punches: "Don't see me don't touch me / Don't act like you can fix this dear."

One of the best tracks on the album is "Difficult Positions" which has a Tori Amos meets Bjork vibe that is refreshingly eclectic. Likewise, "Mix Tape" showcases Briggs as an artist with musical skills reminiscent of an early Suzanne Vega. Make no mistake, Stephanie Briggs is one talented musician.

While all the tracks on the album are successful, the contest for "best song on the album" is definitely a two-horse race between the aforementioned "Don't Come Calling" and the ethereal final cut, "Looks Like This Is My Motivation." The winner is "Looks Like This Is My Motivation," which is the perfect example of a song and artist meant for each other. With its haunting vocals and sparse instrumentation, this cut is a beautiful display of musicianship that should win Briggs new fans from a wide constituency of music lovers.

Stephanie Briggs is a unique and talented singer-songwriter with a fresh perspective. Indeed, Stephanie Briggs album, "Birds Barely Know Us" deserves a look by country music fans who are willing to expand their musical horizons to include a mixture of Americana and folk. It's no wonder both Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers are Stephanie Briggs' fans.

Review: Dean Seltzer "Lady Luck"

Dean Seltzer describes his music as "high energy, obnoxious, redneck rock 'n roll." Well, he couldn't have said it better, because Seltzer's terrific new album titled "Lady Luck" is a hard-driving, rockin' amalgamation of Red Dirt and traditional country that is bound to make Dean Seltzer the biggest new Texas music star this year.
Dean Seltzer's vocals pop with emotion and intensity on his new single titled "Anyway," which offers a memorable (and hummable) melody and catchy lyrics. This was the perfect choice for Seltzer's first single, as evidenced by the fast rise of "Anyway" on Texas country radio.

The one thing you should know about Dean Seltzer is that he is honest to a fault. In his unofficial bio, Seltzer says: "Like any male musician on the planet, I started playing guitar and singing to pick up girls." And it is this no-holds-barred authenticity that makes this album so successful on tracks like "Version Of The Truth" and "Meteor Shower."

Dean Seltzer wrote or co-wrote five of the album's eleven songs, including the best cut on the album, "Beatle Song." This song has a smooth beat, confident vocals and should be album's second single. "Beatle Song" should be released at the start of summer, because this Dean Seltzer track is destined to be a massive summer hit.

Seltzer shows his more vulnerable side with the deadly serious cut "Huntsville (Life On Death Row)" and the melancholy "Gen 5." But it is on the song "No Way No How" where Dean Seltzer proves that he has the chops to forge a long-term, mainstream country career.
It appears Lady Luck did indeed smile upon Dean Seltzer, because the album "Lady Luck" is an enviable showcase of country talent. But luck can only take you so far, so it's a good thing that this country boy's hard work and keen musical skills are the things that are going to take him to the top.

Steve Martin "The Crow: New Songs For The 5-String Banjo"

Steve Martin is an amazing comedian, but he is also one of America's greatest banjo players. Martin's new recording "The Crow: New Songs For The 5-String Banjo" showcases his superb instrumentation, and the 15 songs on the album take listeners on an enjoyable musical journey.

Jason Aldean "Wide Open"

Jason Aldean fans are getting a special surprise today, because you can download his new album a day early. Just click here to download the entire album. Jason Aldean's vocals soar on the new album that includes the hit "She's Country."

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