Showing posts from August, 2009

Review: Buster Jiggs "Heartache Jubilee"

Buster Jiggs is no ordinary Texas country band. This uniquely-named group from Hondo, Texas is releasing its first album for Fort Worth's Smith Entertainment titled "Heartache Jubilee." With a female lead singer and a band mascot consisting of a little red devil playing guitar, Texas music fans will find that Buster Jiggs' new album offers classic Red Dirt musical stylings along with a devilish sense of fun.

The band formed ten years ago with a male lead singer, and Kristen Muennink only became Buster Jiggs' lead singer in 2007. Her husband, Scott, is the band's drummer. "Heartache Jubilee" begins with "She's Gonna Break Your Heart." Kristen offers a rich, full-bodied Red Dirt vocal performance that is never forced. Texas music rarely offers exceptional female solo artists or lead singers, and Kristen's fine vocals set Buster Jiggs apart from the current crop of Texas bands.

"Addicted To You" is an infectious musical trea…

Review: Jason Eady "When The Money's All Gone"

Jason Eady's strong baritone vocals sparkle and surprise on his third album "When The Money's All Gone." Each song is as socially relevant as the album's title, and the Mississippi native's new project is the most musically innovative of his career with elements of soul, gospel, blues, country and Cajun music.

The album's cover art shows a long stretch of power lines with what appear to be empty factories in the background. The concept of the album "When The Money's All Gone" is perfect for the tough times we're living in, but Jason Eady's music doesn't seem to dwell on the negative. In fact, the album starts out with a New Orleans-style, gospel party song "God Fearing Blues." It's almost impossible to stop yourself from clapping your hands and tapping your feet when listening to the opening song.

The title track, "When The Money's All Gone" is a more sober affair, and the lyrics offer a life lesson. E…

CMA Music Festival Tonight On ABC 8/7C

Be sure and watch the CMA Music Festival tonight (August 31) at 8/7c. It's gonna be a great program jam-packed with classic country music performances.

This year's country music line-up includes Kellie Pickler, Julianne Hough, The Zac Brown Band, Kid Rock, Sugarland, Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, John Rich, Reba McEntire, Jamey Johnson, Martina McBride, The Judds, Trace Adkins, Jake Owen, Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean, Darius Rucker, Brad Paisley, Brooks & Dunn and Dierks Bentley.

The 2010 Country Music Association Festival is June 10-13. If the 2009 show is any indication, the 2010 show should not be missed.

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Review: Willie Nelson "American Classic"

Willie Nelson's new album will soothe the soul. In a world currently filled with Ponzi schemes, home foreclosures and plunging retirement accounts, "American Classic" provides listeners with a vacation from reality that reminds them of years gone by and better days ahead. In the tradition of Willie Nelson's critically acclaimed "Stardust," "American Classic" is one of the best albums of the year in any genre.

"American Classic" marries Willie Nelson's pure country voice with some of the best songs ever written. The result is musical magic that casts a spell that won't let you go. The album begins with the terrific "The Nearness Of You." Willie Nelson performs the classic track with an understated elegance. The album picks up the pace with "Fly Me To The Moon," which is a toe-tapping delight.

The biggest surprise on the album is Willie Nelson's reinterpretation of his classic "Always On My Mind."…

Review: Grant Langston "Stand Up Man"

Grant Langston is an enigma. He has the sardonic wit of David Sedaris and the musical sensibilities of a combination of Ryan Adams and Waylon Jennings. Surprisingly, it works. Indeed, this Alabama native turned Los Angeles musician has created his own unique blend of rock and irreverant country. Sure, there are hundreds of rockabilly music acts across the United States, but Grant Langston and his band, The Supermodels, are different from all of them.

The album begins with the title track "Stand Up Man," which is reminiscent of early Dwight Yoakum songs. "Stand Up Man" is a carefully produced and melodic track that shows Grant Langston is no musical lightweight. It's followed by the terrific "Burt Reynolds Movie Brawl" which should be immediately released to Texas country radio. "Burt Reynolds Movie Brawl" has the potential to be a Number One Texas country chart hit. Country fans will eat it up like homemade vanilla ice cream at a church soci…

Download John Fogerty "The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again"

The new John Fogerty album "The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again" will be released tomorrow. But you can download it today - a day early. This twelve song collection has a classic, traditional country sound combined with John Fogerty's classic style. It will be a welcome addition to your music collection. One listen to his terrific cover of "Heaven's Just A Sin Away" or the melodic "When Will I Be Loved," and you'll be hooked like a catfish on stink bait.

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Review: Scott Miller & The Commonwealth “For Crying Out Loud”

Times are tough for everyone, and musicians at all levels are feeling the financial pressure of decreased concert attendance and lower merchandise sales. So Scott Miller had an idea. He pressed 1,000 CDs full of fresh demos he produced himself on a home computer titled "Appalachian Refugee Demos," and he promised each buyer handmade cover art. The albums sold out quickly on his website, and every cent was used to produce Scott Miller & The Commonwealth's stellar new album "For Cyring Out Loud."

Considering how the album was financed, "For Crying Out Loud" begins with the appropriately titled "Cheap Ain't Cheap (For Crying Out Loud)." This track is an amalgamation of styles that is unusual for Scott Miller, but this rockin', sing-along anthem works by providing relevant social commentary for Americans trying to decrease their spending.

Scott Miller's signature Americana style returns with the terrific second track "Sin In…

Review: Kendel Carson “Alright Dynamite”

Kendel Carson is a beautiful blonde with a gorgeous, Americana voice. For the last two years, she's performed all over North America and Europe following the release of "Rearview Mirror Tears." And if Kendel Carson's unique blend of rock and country won't get you going, absolutely nothing will. This woman is destined for great things, and her new album "Alright Dynamite" proves it.

The album begins with the sultry "Oh Baby Lie Down," which has a killer melody, compelling harmony and soft instrumentation. It's followed by the terrific, upbeat "Belt Buckle" which shows the influence of Americana giants like Lucinda Williams. However, "Alright Dynamite" really hits its stride with the tender "Lady K." The song begins softly and builds to a mesmerizing crescendo.

Kendel Carson is not your ordinary 24-year-old woman. Her remarkable voice has a raw passion and energy, and it's obvious she's an "old soul…

Review: Shane Howard Band "Out Of Control"

Shane Howard likes to talk about his tiny hometown of Riesel, Texas near Waco. No doubt, this small town of less than a thousand people gave Shane Howard hundreds of song ideas. For instance, the bluesy track "Rumors Fly" is appropriate for any resident of small town America.

Riesel gave Shane Howard a good childhood, and the life lessons he learned in Riesel have been set to music in the Shane Howard Band's new album "Out Of Control." Howard pays tribute to his town in the appropriately titled "My Town." He sings: "You ain't been nowhere until you've been to my town."

The title track "Out Of Control" shows the Shane Howard Band is an interesting mixture of Texas country and rock. Howard's music and vocals show that he has been influenced by a diverse group of musicians, ranging from 80s hair bands to Red Dirt. Shane Howard's vocal performance is intense, and, as a singer-songwriter, he feels every lyric.

The best s…

Review: Ben Tyler Johnson And The Hired Guns EP

Ben Tyler Johnson and his band, The Hired Guns, are bursting with Texas energy and raw emotion on their new self-titled EP. After making a name for himself in his home of Smithville, Texas, Ben Tyler Johnson is ready for greener pastures and country music success.

The five-song EP begins with "Trouble Was My Middle Name," which is a dark, brooding Texas country cut. Although he's just barely over the legal drinking age, Ben Tyler Johnson has the voice of someone much older, and he gives the impression that only a few years ago "trouble" really was his middle name. As a songwriter, Ben Tyler Johnson has a willing audience ready to listen to his stories in song about his more rebellious years.

The biggest surprise of the album is the tender ballad "Whiskey Kiss." Slow songs show the mettle of a singer, and "Whiskey Kiss" proves that Ben Tyler Johnson has the vocal chops to move forward as a Texas country artist. With a little tighter producti…

Review: Mark Wayne Glasmire "Life Goes On"

Mark Wayne Glasmire is in his early 50s, has a name that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue and looks like your next door neighbor. Throw all those supposed liabilities in the mix, and Mark Wayne Glasmire is still the best up-and-coming Americana artist in the United States today.

One listen to Glasmire's fantastic new album "Life Goes On" will make you scratch your head and wonder why this mild-mannered, Arlington, Texas singer-songwriter isn't already a household name. The album begins with the beautiful ballad he wrote "True Love Knows," which has an interesting Lonestar meets Darius Rucker sound. The next track, "You Opened My Eyes," has a refreshing contemporary country sound mixed with a vocal style reminiscent of John Denver.

"Shelter From The Storm" has a harder, Texas country edge combined with a winning melody. "Shelter From The Storm" should be released to Texas radio, where it deserves to be a major chart hit. …

Review: Collin Raye “Never Going Back”

After a long and successful music career including fifteen number one country chart singles, Collin Raye could certainly afford to retire. But his new album, "Never Going Back," proves that Collin Raye's best days are yet to come.

The title track, "Never Going Back," presents Collin Raye's vocals in fine form. On this song, Collin Raye has combined his signature sound with a little Don Henley light rock that suits him well. But the next two songs, "Take Care Of You" and "Don't Tell Me," are sincere and nurturing. They mark a return to the Collin Raye style that is known and loved around the world.

The biggest surprise on the album is Collin Raye's beautiful and heartfelt Christian song "The Cross." This track is the best Christian country song since "Three Wooden Crosses" from Randy Travis. The memorable melody, touching story and stellar vocals create a true musical treat. Likewise, the uplifting "The O…

Review: Brandon Kinney "Smells Like Texas"

Any red-blooded Texan would want to share a beer with Brandon Kinney. This country boy looks like Texas, sounds like Texas and, yes, smells like Texas. In fact, Kinney's new album, "Smells Like Texas," is an odoriforous, rollickin' good time.

With songs like "Pull My Finger," it would be easy to write Brandon Kinney off as a country comedy act. But that would be a mistake, because Brandon Kinney is a prolific songwriter who's written tracks for Randy Travis, Lonestar, and even has a new song (Ain't Goin' Down On Brokeback Mountain) on Willie Nelson's new album "Lost Highway." By the way, "Pull My Finger" is actually a melodic, surprisingly hummable classic country track.

Brandon Kinney flexes his Texas country muscle with his current radio single, the feel-good "Hicks" which he co-wrote with Trent Willmon. This cut is making it's way up the Texas country charts and deservedly so. Kinney has a unique, country…

Review: Seth James "That Kind Of Man"

Let's be honest, Seth James seems like a tough guy. On his new album cover, Seth James has the expression of a man looking for the guy who stole his wife. In reality, Seth James is looking for you - yes you. He's daring you to pick up his CD, and give it a spin. If you do, you'll be instantly hooked on "That Kind Of Man."

The Texas musical pedigree of Seth James is as solid as they come. His grandfather was a honky-tonk pianist from the 1940s to the 1950s and his dad an accomplished drummer who gave his son his first guitar (a Gibson Southern Jumbo). Seth James' musical skills are put to good use on the rockin' first track "Thing For You," which has a great Phil Vassar meets Stoney LaRue vibe. The current radio single "Leaves Of September" introduces Seth James' strong, rich country voice. Two songs he co-wrote showcase his soulful pipes even more. The bluesy "Cigarettes, Anger And Wine" is terrific, and the love song "…

Review: Watermelon Slim "Escape From The Chicken Coop"

If you like your music hard and fast with a slightly cheeky sense of humor, then Watermelon Slim's new album "Escape From The Chicken Coop" should be at the top of your music wish-list.

With songs like "Skinny Women And Fat Cigars" and "It's Never Too Hard To Be Humble," this Norman, Oklahoma native and Vietnam War veteran has crafted a unique, signature album that will be enjoyed and appreciated for years to come. Primarily known as a legend of Blues music, Watermelon Slim has conclusively provided his country music "bona fides" with the terrific track "Hank Williams You Wrote My Life." Watermelon Slim's brilliant vocal performance will make true believers out of even the most skeptical country music aficionados.

Truck drivers will especially appreciate fine music like "18, 18 Wheeler" and "Truck Driving Songs." The cut "Wreck On The Highway" is a winning combination of southern gospel and blu…

Review: The Jeremy Miller Band "Way Too Fast"

The talented Austin, Texas musicians who make up The Jeremy Miller Band chose the perfect title for their new album "Way Too Fast." That's because the album's ten songs prove these country boys are going places - fast.

The album begins with the title track "Way Too Fast," a rockin' Red Dirt anthem with major country radio chart potential. The song, which is reminiscent of the best tracks of Cross Canadian Ragweed and Reckless Kelly, sets a positive tone for the album, and it's followed by the even better "Take A Look." This breezy, reflective song offers great lyrics, a memorable melody and a positive life lesson. The next cut "Sorry" also strikes the right balance of emotion and passionate intensity to make it a winner.

The Jeremy Miller Band have covered all its bases on "Way Too Fast." There's something for everyone. For instance, "17 Wheels" is a heartfelt cut that has a Randy Rogers vibe. "Reckle…

Review: Casey Donahew Band "Moving On"

The Casey Donahew Band is a perfect example that hard work pays off. With "Moving On," Casey Donahew has embarked on a new chapter of his slow climb up the ladder of country music success. The band quietly became a force on the Red Dirt scene by relentlessly touring small bars and honky tonks across Texas beginning when Casey Donahew was a student at Texas A&M. Now, with tens of thousand of fans, this Burleson, Texas country boy isn't looking back.

The Casey Donahew Band is a family affair. Casey Donahew's wife, Melinda, manages the band and reaches out to fans with a personal touch. But at the end of the day, it's the music that matters. "Moving On" is the band's fourth album, and the previous efforts included the self-titled "Casey Donahew Band," "Lost Days" featuring the cut "Stockyards" and the hard-pumping "Live, Raw, Real In The Ville" with the hit "Crazy" (co-written by Casey Donahew and M…

Review: Sons Of Bill “One Town Away”

Bill Wilson is either a very lucky man or the world's greatest dad. As a tribute to their father, sons Sam, James and Abe formed the band "Sons Of Bill." The three Wilson brothers joined with bandmates Brian Caputo and Seth Green to create "One Town Away," which is one of the best Americana albums of the year.

Besides bucket loads of talent, the band members obviously have no shortage of persistence. After sending demo recordings to producer Jim Scott (Whiskeytown, Tom Petty, Wilco), the famed engineer for Rick Rubin called the Charlottesville, Virginia band to offer his time. The result is a tightly produced, Americana gem.

"One Town Away" begins with "Joey's Arm," which is a hard-luck song in the vein of Chris Knight. The pace picks up with the breezy "Broken Bottles" The lyrics are heartfelt, and the lead vocals have a charming authenticity. But the standout track on the first half of the album is "The Rain," a har…

Review: Yim Yames (Jim James from My Morning Jacket) "Tribute To" EP

Jim James of My Morning Jacket offers a raw and sincere tribute to George Harrison with the stellar new EP "Tribute To." Recording under the name, Yim Yames, he covers two tunes from the Beatles and four tracks from Harrison's "All Things Pass" in a masterful performance that will be remembered for years to come.

The EP starts strong with the beautiful, understated "Long Long Long." The voice of Yim Yames has an ethereal quality that brings the lyrics into crisp focus. The multi-layered vocals on "Long Long Long" are highly effective, and sometimes Yim Yames sings in a whisper. It is almost like Yim Yames is telling you - and only you - a guarded secret in the most melodic way possible.

The pace picks up slightly with "Behind That Locked Door" The quiet intensity in the voice of Yim Yames indicates that the artist feels a special kinship and affection for George Harrison. "Love To You" has a great country vibe and featur…

Review: Musikanto "Ghost Pain"

Musikanto's debut album 'Ghost Pain" is an alt-country and Americana music lover's dream with lush melodies, thought provoking lyrics and breezy, uplifting vocals.

Musikanto set out on a solo career after growing up on and Chicago's northside and most recently performed with the Windy City's Sleeper Car. But with "Ghost Pain" it is clearly obvious that Musikanto was born to be a solo act. Musikanto's father enjoyed hard-to-find roots rock and folk music, and this influence shows. But Musikanto's musical style is an interesting amalgamation of the music his father loved combined with elements of soulful British rock, 90s pop/rock and Ryan Adams-style alt-country. This is a powerful and winning combination.

The album begins with the melodic "Misty Morning." For someone who has never heard Musikanto, the first song will be a revelation. The artist's name "Musikanto" might indicate the music is soul or R&B. Likewise, th…

Review: Kat Moore Band “Big Texas Sky”

It's clear that The Kat Moore Band treasures the lasting legacy of country music legends, and the band's debut, "Big Texas Sky," embraces classic country and adds a unique, rockin', bluesy vibe that captivates listeners from beginning to end.
Lewisville, Texas native Kat Moore was raised by musician parents and has been a fixture on stages across Texas (especially in Dallas-Fort Worth) since the age of 11. The years of experience show in Moore's confident vocal performance on "Big Texas Sky." Kat Moore is a singer whose voice demands attention, and her band's album is especially relevant because it will broaden the minds of listeners who have a more narrow view of the definition of country music. The message of the album is clear: The Kat Moore Band loves to have fun playing country music with a little added rock and blues, and the band wants you to have a good time, too.

The album starts off strong with the catchy honky tonk track "Roll Wit…

Review: Matt Stell & The Crashers "The Sound And The Story"

Matt Stell & The Crashers' new release "The Sound And The Story" was released regionally a few months ago in Southern and Central Missouri, Central Arkansas and Western Kansas where the band has received widespread radio airplay and toured extensively. Now, Matt Stell & The Crashers are ready to expand their territory to the rest of the USA with their own fiery brand of Red Dirt music.
Matt Stell is either really lucky, a good salesman or one heck of a charming guy. You see, Stell only began playing music while he was a sophomore in college. Within a few months, he became buddies with the owner of a famous local honky tonk in his Missouri college town who then introduced him to his future bandmates.

Now, when they're not headlining their own sold out shows, Matt Stell & The Crashers open for major label acts like Jason Boland, Cross Canadian Ragweed and The Eli Young Band. But it wasn't just luck that made Matt Stell a success. He wrote every song on &…

Review: The Kyle Bennett Band "Grey Sunrise"

The Kyle Bennett Band's self titled debut album, known by fans as "The Red CD," was a bestseller. It introduced a bold and confident Red Dirt, Texas music band ready to take on the world. Today, it's clear that The Kyle Bennett Band, which was formed in 2004, is a little older and a little wiser. Indeed, "Grey Sunrise" takes us on the band members' journey toward maturity - both as musicians and as country boys living in a world of double digit unemployment and substance abuse. Even the album's cover offers a subtle warning about the dangers of carnal temptation.
First of all, The Kyle Bennett Band (KBB) is not a one horse act. Kyle Bennett founded the band with John Siedler, and the band is finished out with guitarist Jon "Fish" Hunt, drummer Beau Brauer and bass player Rody Molder. The five men of the group all have unique strengths and undeniable country music talent. Certainly, the band's blend of fun and professionalism shines thro…

Review: Deryl Dodd "Together Again"

Authenticity has been the key ingredient for Deryl Dodd's success in country music. And after more than thirteen years since he released his first album with Columbia Records, Deryl Dodd is back with "Together Again," a deeply personal album that might be his best yet.

Deryl Dodd's path to solo country music success began when he worked as a guitar player and back-up singer for Martina McBride. After a successful run in Nashville, Dodd moved back to Texas and was asked to record an album for Smith Music's landmark "Live At Billy Bob's Texas" series of albums. This was followed by "Stronger Proof" and "Full Circle."
But with "Together Again," something seems to have changed in the life and the music of Deryl Dodd. The country music artist seems to be in the midst of rediscovering his musical roots and his connections with loved ones of years gone by. This makes for a compelling album, and "Together Again" is a m…

Review: Jack Ingram "Big Dreams & High Hopes"

Jack Ingram didn't take the easy route to mainstream country music success. He spent years touring the Texas music circuit and had his ups and downs along the way. However, his perseverance has paid off in a big way, because Jack Ingram's seventh studio album, "Big Dreams & High Hopes," is his best yet.

The project starts off strong with the breezy "Free" by Jay Knowles and Trent Summar. "Big Dreams & High Hopes" also features the heartfelt Top 20 hit "That's A Man," which offers a compelling story in song. The terrific new single "Barefoot And Crazy," which was co-written by Rhett Akins, offers a rockin' beat, guitar solos, crisp lyrics and a pitch-perfect vocal performance from Jack Ingram.
The biggest surprise of the album is the poignant "Seeing Stars" featuring the vocals of Patty Griffin on a track Ingram wrote with Chris Tompkins. The voices of Jack Ingram and Patty Griffin provide glorious harmo…

Review: Sean McConnell “The Walk Around EP”

Occasionally, even a jaded music journalist is caught off guard. A few weeks ago, our business office received a rather average-looking EP from a new artist named Sean McConnell. On the cover of the EP, McConnell is wearing what appear to be vintage Ray-Bans and a facial expression that makes him seem somewhat aloof - almost like he's hiding something. After pumping up the volume and waiting to be underwhelmed, Sean McConnell's secret was revealed. The magic moment he opened up his mouth, Sean McConnell unleashed his massive lyrical and vocal skills.
The first track of Sean McConnell's “The Walk Around EP” is the terrific "Hold On" which begins with a quiet intensity and slowly builds to a crescendo worthy of the best country and rock musicians. The lyrics are bold, and the tune has a contemporary rock vibe with a great melody. McConnell's songwriting talent is mind-blowing upon first listen, but a little research shows that Sean McConnell has written songs fo…

Review: Adam Hood “Different Groove”

In the tradition of John Prine and Warren Zevon, Alabama native Adam Hood stands head and shoulders above the rest of the new crop of roots singer-songwriters. In fact, "Different Groove" illustrates Adam Hood's love affair with rock and country music treasures of the past while still breaking new artistic ground.
With ten studio tracks accompanied by a band and three acoustic cuts, Adam Hood's "Different Groove" starts out strong with the blues-infused country track "22 Days Too Long" and is followed by the love song "Shelly" which offers a unique Gavin DeGraw meets Darius Rucker vibe.

The biggest surprise on the album is the classic country track "Late Night Diner." This is an amazing nod by Adam Hood to the pioneers of country music. Indeed, the lyrics are thought provoking, and Hood's vocal performance is pitch-perfect. But the album's finest moment is the cut "Whole Town Talking." The track has beautiful i…