Showing posts from August, 2011

Album Review: Stoney LaRue "Velvet"

On the TV show "Seinfeld," George Costanza mentions his desire to "drape" himself in velvet if it ever becomes socially acceptable. Well, George's mother can safely get out the cutting shears because Stoney LaRue has created a musical masterpiece with "Velvet" that will make you want to wrap a bolt of velvet around you and never let go.
It's been six, long years since Stoney LaRue offered up his last studio album, but the famed Red Dirt star has been a road warrior with more than 250 dates a year after his successful "Live At Billy Bob's Texas" album helped him forge a road-worthy band.

Now, after three years of hard work, the new album "Velvet" begins with "Dresses." No, Stoney LaRue hasn't gone soft or started a garment-making sweat shop. "Dresses is an atmospheric, Texas country cut that includes elements of folk and Americana. The bluesy "Wiregrass" showcases LaRue's stellar vocals,…

Album Review: Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward "Live In The Living Room"

Changing musical directions can sometimes lead to a burst of creative energy. This holds true for Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward in their new album - the stripped down "Live In The Living Room." Parker's fame comes largely from his stellar reputation in Texas country/Red Dirt music, but this acoustic set proves that the band could draw just as many fans from Americana and roots music.
Creating an atmospheric live album that does justice to a songwriter's music and a band's long hours of practice is no easy feat, but Rodney Parker makes it look easy on the first cut "Firelight." Likewise, the easy-going "Highway Blues" is perfectly performed. So fire up the subwoofer, close your eyes and pretend that you're in the living room with Parker, 50 Peso Reward and about two dozen friends in Corinth, Texas where the album was recorded.

The project really comes into its own with the track "Guitars," which slowly builds to a memorable…

Album Review: Micky And The Motorcars "Raise My Glass"

The sixth album is the charm for the hardworking Micky And The Motorcars who don't disappoint with the eleven new cuts on the beer and whiskey-drinking celebration titled "Raise My Glass," which takes listeners on a rollicking Texas nightlife adventure that might leave you still feeling the fun in the morning.

The album begins with the title track "Raise My Glass," which is a classic Red Dirt cut that fires on all cylinders. However, the next song is somewhat of a surprise. "A Thousand Tears" starts off with a new sound for Micky & The Motorcars and slowly builds to a rousing crescendo.

The album's first single "Any Longer Any More" has a soaring melody and offers a tight vocal performance. It is followed by the album's biggest surprise - the tender love song "How Far I'll Go." The intense vocals and superb instrumentation allow the listener to clearly consider the thought provoking lyrics.

"Far From You"…

Album Review: Midnight River Choir "Welcome To Delirium"

The album "Freedom Wine" from Midnight River Choir impressed just about everyone who heard it, and now the fun-lovin' country boys are back with "Welcome To Delirium," which is just about as enjoyable as a 12:00 am river rafting trip - and, by the way, exactly where the group formed.
If Gavin DeGraw and Sunny Sweeney had a love child, he might sing a song like the first track "Mile Marker," which is breezy, radio-ready song that is extraordinarily memorable. However, the band's Red Dirt vibe is resurrected with the terrific "Arms Of A Stranger," that once again showcases the band's superb vocal harmony.

However, it is the quiet love song "Run Away From Me" that is the album's biggest surprise, and the tender, restrained vocals are pitch perfect. The Midnight River Choir manages to impress once again with the next cut, the bluesy rock "Take You With Me," which showcases the band's terrific instrumentation.

Album Review: Reckless Kelly "Good Luck & True Love"

Texas country aficionados rejoice, because the world's best Red Dirt band is bringing fans "Good Luck & True Love" with a new album. Reckless Kelly carefully planned every detail on the project, including one of the best CD packages of any country album this year.
Great cover art is important, but it's the music that matters most to Reckless Kelly, and the album begins with the mid-tempo, Red Dirt anthem "Give It A Try." However, the cut "Save Me From Myself" really kickstarts the album, and the song with the melodic chorus is certain to be another #1 hit for Reckless Kelly.

"Guarded Heart" is a classic country love song and features angst-ridden vocals and superb instrumentation. Indeed, it proves to be the perfect intro for the album's biggest surprise, the hard-rockin' "She Likes Money, He Likes Love," which will please concertgoers and radio program managers looking for an upbeat country hit.

The traditional …

Review: David Serby "Poor Man's Poem"

If political folk maverick Woody Guthrie were alive today, he probably would be inclined to go to iTunes and download David Serby's new album "Poor Man's Poem." However, Serby would likely feel so honored that he would give Guthrie a few cases of CDs for free.
David Serby's first song, the title track "Poor Man's Poem," takes its cue from the musical heritage of the past, and Serby's folksy style belies the serious message of his thought provoking lyrics. The next cut, the quiet "A Love Song From Miguel," offers a laid-back tale of love that is smooth like butter.

The song "Lay Down My Colt" blends folk and elements of cowboy country with remarkable success, but it is the story in song "Sugar Creek" that is the album's biggest surprise. The instrumentation is perfect, and David Serby's vocals are delivered in a half-spoken/half-sung manner that works.

Political folk comes easy to David Serby because his 9 t…

Review: The Greencards "The Brick Album"

Musical wunderkinds The Greencards have enchanted musicians like Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan so much that they invited the group to tour with them. Now, in their fourth studio project, "The Brick Album," The Greencards will once again wow the CD buying public with their brand of Americana/bluegrass/alt rock fusion that has led to a diverse and well-deserved following among young hipsters and older fans of traditional country.
Sam Bush is featured on the first song "Make It Out West," and the experimental cut is a satisfying musical experience. However, the album really amps up the country flavor with the quiet "Faded" and the intelligent lyrics of "Naked On The River." These two cuts ramp up the anticipation for the latin-infused country track "Heart Fixer" featuring country star Vince Gill.

However, it is the bluegrass instrumental tune "Adelaide" that emerges as the song with the best instrumentation on the entire album. …

Review: Moonshine Bandits "Whiskey And Women"

If the country music industry decided to hire some of their own to act as bouncers with the goal of keeping out the scourge of "pop" country, the first and only name on the list would probably be the hard-working, talented and extraordinarily intimidating "Moonshine Bandits." The only problem would be keeping the Moonshine Bandits away from the "Whiskey And Women," which is, unsurprisingly, the title of their very accomplished and entertaining new album.
The project begins with the country, hip-hop track "For The Outlawz" (featuring Colt Ford and Big B). The explicit song has a great beat and outstanding lyrics that will continue to roll around the brain long after the track ends. The sing-a-long cut "Whiskey River" is a classic country beer-drinking song with the Moonshine Bandits signature charm.

"Shine With Me" is a fast country track with shout-outs to groups as diverse as bloggers and juggalos - along with just about ev…

Review: Gary Nicholson "Texas Songbook"

Home state hero Gary Nicholson has had a long and varied career that has taken him from deep in the heart of Texas all the way to Hollywood, where his work has been featured in movies as diverse as Crazy Heart and Major League. Now, Nicholson is paying tribute to his home state with "Texas Songbook," featuring Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel - along with many more Texan friends.
The album begins with the recent inductee into the Texas Songwriters Hall Of Fame singing the track "Texas Weather." Nicholson's quietly confident vocal delivery never fails to impress, and "Texas Weather" has a memorable melody.

The bluesy "Same Kind Of Crazy" showcases a more passionate side of Nicholson who is joined by Delbert McClinton on harmonica and Red Dirt vocalist Randy Rogers. The melodic "Fallin' & Flyin'" is just good old fashioned fun. Women occupy Gary Nicholson's mind on "Messin' With My Woman" and the next…

"Ready To Fly" by T.J. Broscoff Reviewed in Texas Country Chart Magazine

The hit Texas country single "Pillow" is taken from T.J. Broscoff's new album "Ready To Fly" which chronicles the artist's new-found freedom from addictions. Read the full review in our sister magazine Texas Country Chart by clicking here or click the album cover below to read the full review.

The 12-track album by T.J. Broscoff follows an early career in rock music. Read the complete review by clicking here or reading Texas Country Chart Magazine.

Review: Gwendolyn "Bright Light"

The nature-loving San Gabriel, California country girl named Gwendolyn is best described by one simple word: refreshing. With the current crop of over-produced country music fare, it is exhilarating and indeed comforting to hear an artist like Gwendolyn, who lets her voice be the star of the show on her stimulating new album "Bright Light."
Much of Gwendolyn's charm is derived from her pure country voice that has an air of innocence. "Bright Light" begins with the appropriately titled "Discover Me." However, it is the stunning vocal performance on the title track "Bright Light" that will begin to truly entice listeners to yearn for more. The catchy-melodic track is perfectly produced by Ethan Allen (Patty Griffin).

The country quotient rises considerably with the interestingly-titled "Tater Tots And Whiskey Shots," a song that would make legends of country proud. The next cut "Shake A Leg" may be the album's best cha…

Review: Shawna Russell "Shawna Russell" (Self-Titled Album)

After her breakthrough album "Goddess," Oklahoma's favorite new country music star Shawna Russell has emerged with a new, self-titled album that is destined to take her to even greater heights.
If you ever wondered what a true country star sounds like, the album's first song will quickly let you know. The confident "Sounds Like A Party" shows that Russell's voice is in perfect form. The next track "Waitin' On Sunrise" has a retro-cool, country melody that is performed with rare musical flair.

The anthem "Phoenix" showcases Russell's soaring vocals and proves that Shawna Russell can compete with the top country music artists in the market today - both male and female. The biggest surprise of the self-titled album is the quiet "Was It Good For You," which could find radio chart success. Shawna asks: "Was it good for you?" Listeners will only be able to answer with a simple "yes."

The rockin' …

Review: Katie Quick "Valley Between Love"

If Taylor Swift had a talented cousin, she could definitely be named Katie Quick. The artist's new album "Valley Between Love" could easily find crossover success, such as the kind enjoyed by the female vocalists of Lady Antebellum and The Band Perry. Indeed, "quick" might soon prove to be the operative word as she could have a meteoric rise on the country charts.
The meaty 14 song, almost 56-minute album begins with the pop country anthem "On My Own" and is followed by the country track "Valley Between Love," which offers elements of traditional country and country gospel.

"Best In Me" is a soaring cut that shows Quick's beautiful vocal gift, and it could be a major hit with some slight production adjustments. The biggest surprise on the album is "Chicago Summer Nights" which is by far the best song of the entire album. The song is sung with a quiet confidence that will tug at the heart. "Make You Mine" ha…

Review: River Rouge "Not All There Anymore"

If you're looking for a good time or even need a little break from the rat race of life, consider purchasing the fantastic new album from River Rouge appropriately titled "Not All There Anymore."
The fun begins with the uplifting blues-infused "Black Licorice," which also includes elements of rock and even gospel. "Murder Of The Crows" is a light Americana treat with efficient instrumentation, but it is "Usurper Hero" which is the album's biggest surprise. The retro-cool vibe is infectious.

The country rock quotient rises considerably with the terrific "Arc Welded Love," and the Foo Fighters-esque "Good At Goodbye" will please melodic rock fans. The album's best moment comes on the inspired sing-a-long "No Good For Nothing," which is an Americana gem.

The final song on the album continues the band's laid-back, fun-loving music. "Yes" is a perfectly performed piece of ear candy that ends th…

Review: Folk Family Revival "Unfolding"

Creating a winning sound is no easy feat, but the four good ole boys of the Folk Family Revival make it look easy on their new album "Unfolding."
The front of the album cover is absolutely beautiful, but the back cover unexpectedly gives absolutely no clue to the age, ethnicity or gender of Folk Family Revival members. In fact, the cover leaves little impression at all except to suggest that some folk music will be on offer.

The album begins with a somewhat mysterious instrumental intro that leads into a great surprise: the uptempo cut titled "Unfolding." In fact, the song is superb and features elements of Red Dirt, traditional country and only hints of folk and Americana. The passionate vocals from Mason Lankford are intense - as is the instrumentation from two of Mason's brothers (Barrett and Lincoln). Adopted brother and friend Caleb Pace (Guitars / Mandolin / Lap Steel) rounds out the foursome.

The bluesy "Fallin'" offers a comfortable melod…

Matt Stell's "Vestibule Blues" Reviewed by Texas Country Chart Magazine

Singer-songwriter Matt Stell who hails from Morrilton, Arkansas has released a sophomore album which has been reviewed by our sister magazine Texas Country Chart. You can read the full article by clicking the album cover below.

"Vestibule Blues" features 11 songs and a run-time of more than 43 minutes. Click on the album cover above to read the complete review or click the album cover above to go directly to

Review: Barefoot Mark "Let The Beast Run"

Country and blues artist "Barefoot" Mark Cullimore is about as Texan as they come, and "Let The Beast Run" proves that this west Texas country boy has an infectious passion for music. Indeed, like the cover suggests, Barefoot Mark's "Let The Beast Run" leaves a surprisingly impressive musical footprint, and, by the way, bluesy Barefoot Mark knows how to "saaang."
The album begins with the ironically titled "Florsheim Shackles." Yes, Barefoot Mark does seem to really have a musical vendetta against shoes. Country audiences will appreciate the gravel in Mark's voice. The second track "Her Shoes" is actually one of the album's finest moments. The instrumentation, vocal performance and lyrics all combine well to create a full-bodied musical experience.

The biggest surprise on the album is the title track which fuses rock, blues and country, but the best song on the album is the R&B-tinged "All Right To Be Me…

Review: Fiery Blue "Our Secret"

There probably isn't another American three-person band that has one member in New York City, one in Austin and the final member in California. However, Fiery Blue makes it work, and their stellar debut proved it. Now, the threesome have produced their best work yet with the new album "Our Secret." Singer-songwriter Simone Stevens (NYC) starts the festivities with the mysterious "Crystal Ball," and the pace actually picks up slightly with the ironically-titled "Slow Down." This folk-country track has radio potential and effectively highlights Gabe Rhodes (Austin, Texas) musicianship and the songwriting talent of Paul Marsteller (San Diego, California)

To understand Fiery Blue, you first have to set aside any musical prejudices because these talented folks carefully fuse elements of rock, pop, country, folk, Americana and blues. Although the combination sounds disjointed, the unorthodox Fiery Blue has found a way to make it work.

"Wheels Up"…

Brad Dunn & Ellis County "Ranch Cat" Reviewed in Texas Country Chart Magazine

Featuring the band's current single "Red, White And Blue," Texas country band Brad Dunn & Ellis County have delivered a 14-song, almost hour-long album that has more than a few surprises. Click here to read the full review published in our sister magazine Texas Country Chart. Or click the album cover below.

The hard working newcomer to the Texas music scene is planning on making a name for themselves on the Red Dirt scene. Read the full review in Texas Country Chart Magazine.

Tom Cheatham "Scars That I'll Keep" Reviewed in Texas Country Chart Magazine

Texas-based singer-songwriter Tom Cheatham delivers an accomplished sophomore album titled "Scars That I'll Keep" which has been reviewed by our sister magazine Texas Country Chart. Click here or the album cover below to read the full review.
Cheatham's touring schedule has been hectic around the state of Texas, and his recent move to Dallas from Austin helped influence his songwriting and performance style. Read the full review by clicking here or visiting Texas Country Chart magazine.

Jeremy Steding "I'll Keep On Livin'" Reviewed in Texas Country Chart Magazine

The Red Dirt artist Jeremy Steding continues his creative prowess with the Walt Wilkins-produced "I Keep On Livin,' But I Don't Learn" which has been reviewed in our sister magazine - Texas Country Chart. To read the full review, click here or the click the album cover below.

"I'll Keep On Livin', But I Don't Learn" includes 11 songs, including the standout title track, the remarkable Americana cut "Arkansas Rain" and the tender "Brandi Sue." Read the full 500-word review by clicking here or visiting

Review: Back Porch Mary "Life Is Now"

The indie troubadours that make up the melodic "power-tonk" group Back Porch Mary have much to be proud of. Without ever gracing the racks of even one record store, the group has managed to sell an impressive combined 50,000 units. Indeed, the fact that these country boys manage to thrive in the Austin, Texas music scene is just another reason that "Life Is Now" for Back Porch Mary.
The back cover of "Life Is Now" proudly notes that Mike, Joe and Ryan (no last names) are the group members, and their sound can best be described as Barenaked Ladies meets Reckless Kelly. If there is any doubt, this is a major compliment indeed.

The album begins with the melodic "No Bad News Today," which has an insanely memorable chorus that is even more impressive because most songs were written by Mike Krug. His lyrics sparkle, and Krug also knows how to write a hook. In fact, the band's self-described "power tonk" does offer some similarities in …

Review: The New Black 7 "The Old Becomes New"

The evolution of the music industry over the last few decades has caused a blurred vision of country music that now seems to include music that used to be classified as 'pop.' However, there is no mistaking the hard-edged sound of The New Black 7 on their superb new 5-song CD titled "The Old Becomes New."
The album begins with an anthemic tribute to small town life in "Small Town Song," and the cut offers a winning country rock track with a memorable chorus. The next cut "Kick The Tires" is a cool retro-tribute that seems reminiscent of a mixture of the melodic vocal blend of Alabama and and the fire and passion of Waylon Jennings.

Love is in the air on the next track "That Ain't Love," which is the album's best cut by a mile. This Red Dirt-inspired song offers laid-back vocals and a confident vocal delivery. The New Black 7 (or NB7 as fans affectionately call them) should consider releasing this track to radio. It could be a ma…

Free Download: Rodney Atkins "Take A Back Road"

Our friend Rodney Atkins new CD "Take A Back Road" won't be out until October 4, but you can download the title track "Take A Back Road" right now for free. UPDATE: The offer is now over.
You can also preview all 13 songs on the new album and even pre-order it by clicking here. Song titles on the new album include the title track, "He's Mine," "Family," "The Corner," "She's A Girl," "She'd Rather Fight," "Feet," "Cabin In The Woods," "Just Wanna Rock N' Roll," "Growing Up Like That," "Tips," "Lifelines" and "Farmer's Daughter."

Rodney Atkins never disappoints, and you will probably find your new favorite song on the 13-song Rodney Atkins album titled "Take A Back Road" that drops October 4, 2011.

News: Eli Young Band Turns "Crazy Girl" Into Download Gold

The Red Dirt dynamos of the super-successful Eli Young Band have hit a major musical milestone with sales of more than 650,000 to date of the group's hit single "Crazy Girl."
The single was certified gold for sales of more than 500,000 downloads, and the song has had a terrific average of 40,000 downloads per week since its release. This week, the cut climbed to #18 on the Billboard Country Songs Chart, and it also found a place at #17 on the USA Today/Country Aircheck chart.

On Monday August 8, 2011 the Eli Young Band attended an event at Republic Nashville where they received gold plaques. Bassist Jon Jones said the accomplishment was a dream come true: "When you walk into a recording studio, you see these gold records on the wall and wonder what it takes to get there." He added: "We're very lucky 'Crazy Girl' is gold. Making a gold record has been one of our goals since we started making music."

Label head Scott Borchetta said Republic…