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Showing posts from November, 2010

Review: The Classic Imperials "Still Standing"

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In the world of Christian music, there is no group that can match the long and fabled history of the Imperials. The group began with Jake Hess, later performed with Elvis and then successfully morphed into a pioneering force in the burgeoning contemporary Christian music (CCM) scene. After all that, some of the most famous members joined together in 2010 to form The Classic Imperials" with the new album "Still Standing." Indeed, the 11 terrific songs prove that the Classic Imperials are rock solid and standing tall.
The album begins with the bold anthem "Live My Life." The passionate vocal performance and instrumentation is a perfect package to reintroduce the Classic Imperials. However, the group really shines on the country track "No More Looking Over My Shoulder," which deserves radio airplay on both country and gospel radio. "Brighter Day" is a modern, upbeat praise and worship song that will manage to surprise both current fans and yo…

Review: R.W. Hampton "Austin To Boston"

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The world's number one cowboy country singer is back with a new collection of songs that will thrill existing fans and bring in thousands of new ones, too. R.W. Hampton's "Austin To Boston" is a terrific example of an artist who is comfortable in his own skin and is not afraid to venture outside traditional country and western song selections.
Every fan of cowboy country already knows that an R.W. Hampton album will have top notch production and stellar vocals, so the biggest surprise is the album's uniquely wonderful song choices. "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" was an inspired choice that Hampton dedicated to his wife and kids. Likewise, "Shortgrass" was written as a tribute to Hampton's son Cooper (and Cooper's best friend, Dawson) who decided to join the Marines while in high school. The two buddies have now traveled the world, and their service to the USA has been honored in perpetuity by R.W. Hampton's memorable song.

R.W. …

Review: Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez "The New Bye & Bye: The Best Of The Train Wreck Years 2002-2007"

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Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez are one of the top 10 country duos of all time. When the partnership amiably disbanded, no one expected the two to ever record new music, but Taylor called Rodriguez about releasing a greatest hits record, and the pair decided to record four new songs for the album "The New Bye & Bye: The Best Of The Train Wreck Years 2002-2007."
"Your Name Is On My Lips" is an especially fitting title for the first new song on the disbanded duo's album. On the cut, they both sing: "It is a good thing." They're only half right, because the song is better than good - it's great. Taylor's understated vocals are heartfelt, and Rodriguez has never sounded better. As usual, the instrumentation on the track is near perfect.

The tender "On An Island" showcases the restrained musicianship of two master musicians. Another new song, "Play It Again Sam," offers powerful insight into human emotion and love. The…

Review: Dave Caley "Live This Life"

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Dave Caley loves good, old fashioned country music, and Caley's newest album is a sensational look into the mind and heart of a God-fearing country boy. Dave Caley's biggest hit to date is "God's Grand Ole Opry," which celebrates the traditional country greats of years gone by. However, Caley advances his own career with the new album that blends traditional country with cowboy country and gospel.
Dave Caley's parents probably never imagined that their son would become a country musician when he was born in Blackpool, England. Caley claims Michigan as his home state, and he is in the Michigan Country Music Hall Of Fame. However, Caley and his wife, Christina, now call Kokomo, Indiana home.

The album begins with the title track "Live This Life," which has a cool, retro vibe. The country quotient rises considerably on the gospel-tinged "Chosen One," but Caley's star really shines on the ballad "Hard To Be Honest." Caley&#…

Review: Andy Meadows "Give Me The Microphone"

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Andy Meadows immediately surprises and impresses listeners from the very start of his terrific new album "Give Me The Microphone." You see, the album cover featuring the young and smiling Meadows does not give the slightest hint that this country boy possesses a deep, rich, Josh Turner-esque voice that bolts out of the speakers upon first listen.
The album begins with "Forbidden Bliss" and is followed by the stellar title track "Give Me The Microphone." This cut proves that Andy Meadows has a distinctive country music sound that would be instantly recognizable on country radio.

On "Inspiration," Andy Meadows successfully performs a beautiful country music ballad and proves that he's no one trick pony. However, it is on the next track "Jenna's Song" where Andy Meadows shows he has true star quality. Meadows' lyrics are honest and deeply personal when he confesses that the thought of Jenna is driving him insane. On his websi…

Review: Adam Holt "The Sunday Troubadour"

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The state of Alabama doesn't always get the musical respect it deserves, but up-and-coming country artists like Adam Holt prove that the Gulf Coast state is a hotbed of musical talent. On "The Sunday Troubadour," singer Adam Holt runs the musical gamut of rock 'n' roll, blues, soul and country. And it's darn good.
Holt chose the right song to lead off the the album, because "Door #1" is a bold country anthem with a memorable melody that allows the artist to showcase his most positive country music credential: his golden country rock voice. "Door #1" deserves to be a Top 10 country radio hit, and "Sideways" has much of the same charm.

The next cut "Big Girls" is another bold country cut that pays tribute to a large segment of country music fans who will eat this song up faster than free samples of bacon at the Piggly Wiggly. Holt channels his inner Darius Rucker on the next track "Cheaters Never Win," which al…

Review: Justin McBride "Live At Billy Bob's Texas"

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World champion bull rider Justin McBride knows how to work a ranch, and "Live At Billy Bob's Texas" proves that he can also work the crowd of the most famous stage in Texas country music. McBride is a natural and charismatic entertainer who has a big future in country music.
McBride starts by saying "Hello, Texas" and immediately begins the song "Tonight Ain't The Day," which is a traditional country song that is performed with passion. The outlaw country track "That Was Us" showcases the best aspect of Justin McBride. As a former PBR champion bull rider, McBride has an instant cowboy tough guy appeal that will be massively popular with country music fans. "Don't Let Go" has much of the same charm and a memorable melody.

The cut "Beer Drinkin' Songs" (featuring J.W. Hart) is especially appropriate at the world's largest honky tonk. At the same time, the bull riding champion saved the best track for last: …

Album Review: Richard Craine "The Essence Of My Life"

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Classifying the music contained in Richard Craine's "The Essence Of My Life" is no easy feat. The Bristol, England singer-songwriter would probably best be described as alt country in America. But that label is too simplistic, because it would seem that the essence of Richard Craine's life can be found in the nooks and crannies of the album's ten songs.
"Phoenix Eyes" has  a cool Americana and folk rock vibe that oozes with intensity. The next track, "The River Stroll," will catch listeners off guard, because Craine's intelligent lyrics satisfy the soul.

The most surprising track is the classic rock 'n' roll cut "Mistrust, Mistreatment And Misunderstanding," which has a cool retro vibe. The best chance for a radio chart hit is probably "Simple Things," which offers a memorable chorus and an engaging story. "I Love You" also has chart potential.

"The Essence Of My Life" is an eclectic album t…

Album Review: Brian Burke Band "Unraveled"

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The Brian Burke Band is brand new to the Texas music scene, but you wouldn't guess it from hearing the new album "Unraveled." If Brian Burke can create an album this brimming over with raw talent in only a few months, then he and the boys might be duking it out with the Randy Rogers Band in no time.
Burke briefly attended Blinn College in Bryan, Texas and later Texas State University. His experiences there and a chance meeting with Cory Morrow at a private concert eventually led to a 5 song ep, a move to Fort Worth and, ultimately, the album "Unraveled" beside bandmates Clark Kaupke, Jake Williams and Brian Kirkpatrick.

The first track is "Shore To Shore," which has a pleasing contemporary country sound. However, either "Hope You're Gonna Be Mine" or "Break For You," might have been the best choice for the album's first song. "Break For You" has confident vocals and tight production that build to a rousing cresce…

Review: Marshall Chapman "Big Lonesome" & "They Came To Nashville"

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Nowhere is Marshall Chapman's influence greater than in Nashville, Tennessee, and stories from the lives of her famous friends are the basis of Chapman's compelling new book "They Came To Nashville" and album "Big Lonesome." The book chronicles the lives of country stars you know, and the CD offers her personal reflections on the loss of a musical soulmate.
Chapman recorded almost all of the album "Big Lonesome" after her best friend in music, Tim Krekel, died in June 2009. However, the title track was recorded shortly before Krekel's passing, and he provided the cut's terrific vocal harmony. The title track - recoded using ADAT -  had been lost, but it was later found in steel player Tommy Spurlock's Austin garage and faithfully restored using ProTools. The cut is a fitting tribute to a master musician. In addition, Marshall Chapman has rarely sounded better.

"Down To Mexico" was recorded after a flight to Mexico six days a…

Album Review: Fiery Blue "Fiery Blue"

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Mix a talented New York City singer with an Austin music producer and a San Diego songwriter and you get a spine-tingling sound that blurs the edges of rock, folk and alt-country. Indeed, the self-titled album "Fiery Blue" is a revelation of musical restraint and carefully harnessed talent that will hopefully lead to many more musical collaborations for the talented threesome.
Singer Simone Stevens does a lot of the heavy lifting on the album with an effortless vocal style that is truly pleasing to the ear on the carefully produced first track "Hide Away." However, the album's uber-cool style is obviously due to the hard work of producer Gabe Rhodes.

One of the biggest surprises on the album is the beautiful "Wild Bird," which deserves to be an alt-country chart hit, and Simone Stevens gives her most vulnerable performance here. "Wild Bird" would be a perfect addition to the playlist of Sirius-XM Radio's Coffeehouse channel and a number…

Album Review: Wil Forbis & The Gentlemen Scoundrels "Shadey's Jukebox"

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No one would call Wil Forbis average. If fact, it would probably be fair to say that Wil Forbis and The Gentleman Scoundrel's new alt-country CD "Shadey's Jukebox" is one of the two or three most eclectically entertaining albums of the year.
Besides being a musician, Forbis is also a well-known San Diego pop culture commentator on his site Acid Logic site. However, the album proves that he obviously enjoys exploring all elements of music from pop, to metal to his new-found genre of alt-country. Surprisingly enough, it works.

The project begins with the high-energy "Let's Get High On Jesus." While this song will never be mistaken for gospel music, the track has country charm and could be an alt-country and Americana chart hit.

The next track, "Hope Kills," is a bluesy country rock cut and "Where There's A Will There's A Way" is a big-band style musical treat. Forbis' country juices begin flowing again on "Larelay (Ta…

Album Review: Circe Link And Her Discount Candy Family Band "California Kid"

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The talent of Circe Link bursts to the surface on her new album "California Kid." The album is brimming over with vibrant energy and engaging lyrics, and the artist and her Discount Candy Family Band make a bold impression on all 11 tracks.
The album begins with "Salvation," which showcases Circe Link as an artist who sounds like she could be the love child of Miranda Lambert and Steve Earle. (Don't laugh, because it's truly a high compliment.) The next track "Random Act Of Kindness" offers the softer side of Circe Link with great artistic flourish.

Circe Link used to describe her music as "cowboy jazz," but even she recognizes that this moniker is too simplistic. The Los Angeles, California resident is obviously heavily influenced by the flourishing California music scene, and it shows on "Getting High (On Your Own Supply)." The intimate title track "California Kid" is also a winner.

The softer side of the artist is…

Album Review: Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band "Legacy"

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The trailblazing bluegrass legend Peter Rowan is back under the careful supervision of mega-producer Alison Brown. "Legacy" harkens back to the style Peter Rowan learned as an apprentice of Bill Monroe more than 45 years ago. As you might expect, Rowan and his Bluegrass Band deliver in spades.
The album begins with the intensely memorable cut "Jailer, Jailer" and is followed by the piercing lyrics of "The Family Demon." The instrumentation and vocal performance are faultless. However, the album really comes into its own with the understated and beautiful "Father, Mother."

The album's biggest surprise is the Americana country track "So Good," which could easily find radio chart success in multiple formats. The country lullaby "The Night Prayer" has much of the same charm and could win over even the most skeptical critic of bluegrass music.

The gospel tinged "Let Me Walk Lord By Your Side" is a traditional bluegr…

Album Review: Tommy Alverson "Texas One More Time"

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Tommy Alverson has a golden country voice that is the perfect compliment to a cold beer. That's high praise in Texas. Indeed, "Texas One More Time" continues the fine musical tradition of the Texas country music legend. Not that we would expect anything less.
The album begins with the outlaw country title cut "Texas 1 More Time" and is followed by the beautiful "Don't Mind If I Do" and the radio-ready musical gem "Broken Hearted People."

Tommy Alverson never cheats his fans, and "Texas One More Time" offers a jam-packed 14 songs, including the traditional country gem "Sweet Love." However, the best track and biggest surprise on the album is the new Tex-Mex classic "Move To Texas."

The elder statesmen of the indie Texas music scene proves he knows lots about his love for beer on the self-penned track "I Wish I Didn't Love You." Likewise, the blues-infused vocal performance on "All Of These…

Album Review: No Justice "2nd Avenue"

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There's a good reason that Stillwater, Oklahoma's No Justice is at the top of the Red Dirt heap, and "2nd Avenue" proves it one more time. Plain and simple, "2nd Avenue" shows these country boys are as good at rocking the speakers of your pick-up as they are at pumping the country crowds during sold-out shows.
The album begins with the upbeat "Goin' Nowhere" which offers a memorable melody. However, the second track is the album's biggest surprise. "WW II" is hard-driving Red Dirt rock track that could find success with both Southern rock and Red Dirt fans alike.

The intense title cut "2nd Avenue" is a radio-ready country hit. But the best song on the album is the powerful "5 More Minutes." It offers a stellar vocal performance and deserves to be a radio chart hit in multiple formats. Program directors should give this OAR meets the Randy Rogers Band cut a spin on their playlists.

The musical excellence conti…

Album Review: Long Woodson "Robyville"

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Contemporary Texas country has found a new hero in Long Woodson and his brand new CD "Robyville." Woodson's comfortable vocals and outlaw country attitude make for compelling listening that will leave listenters wanting more.
The album begins with "Jimi" which has a retro-cool vibe reminiscent of Hayes Carll. Woodson's vocal perfomance is confident without feeling forced. At first listen, "Jimi" would not seem to have country chart potential, but on repeated listens the cut has indelible charm and a memorable chorus.

"Creole Man" showcases Long Woodson's obviously mixed love affair of classic rock and classic country. The lyrics are the star of the show. The third track "Nikki" shows Woodson's technical skills as a vocalist and could be enjoyed in both coffee houses and saloons. Likewise, the title track "Robyville" is an eclectic musical treat.

The biggest surprise is the country bar crowd anthem "Horny…