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Posts from January 2013


10 Country Albums Due in Early 2013
 
Tim McGraw, Gary Allan, Brad Paisley and More Have New Music on the Way
Tim McGraw
Tim McGraw
With the holiday season behind us and all those "Best of 2012" lists thankfully over with, let's turn our attention to new music coming down the pike in early 2013.

Tim McGraw and Gary Allan both have new releases in the works. Plus, some of country's brightest new stars, like Randy HouserAshley Monroe and The Band Perry, are pushing ahead with new projects.

Established favorites like Brad Paisley and LeAnn Rimes are hoping to mount another charge to the top of the charts, while legacy artists like Kris KristoffersonEmmylou Harris and Rodney Crowellshow there's no substitute for the wisdom of experience. 

Here's a small taste of what's to come, listed in alphabetical order.

Gary Allan, Set You Free
Gary Allan says he feels a renewed sense of energy on his ninth studio album, Set You Free. Slated for a Jan. 22 release, the album features a few firsts for the Californian. Allan decided to gain new perspective by co-writing with women for the first time ever (Sarah Buxton, Hillary Lindsey and Rachel Proctor), plays lead guitar on a number of tracks and recently had a polyp removed from his vocal cords, revitalizing his signature smoky vocals. And longtime fans will appreciate a purpose-built track listing that reveals the personal struggles Allan has endured over his career. "It's all about healing," he says. "It's all about the evolution of getting better."

The Band Perry, Title TBD
The Band Perry's highly-anticipated sophomore album features the chilling single "Better Dig Two,"another dark take on love and obsession in the vein of "If I Die Young." That latter track ended up going platinum four times over, leaving this family trio with a tough act to follow. Produced by the legendary Rick Rubin (Johnny Cashthe Avett BrothersKid Rock and the Red Hot Chili Peppers), the band has been focused on overcoming that pressure. "[Rubin] has just been a masterful mentor, so I think we felt a little bit more of the sophomore jitters before we actually pushed the record button," Kimberly Perry told Billboard magazine. "Now we're feeling really, really excited about everything."

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Old Yellow Moon
The creative partnership between Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell dates back to the mid-'70s and Harris' Hot Band, of which Crowell was a member. Since then, the pair's solo careers have orbited each other and sometimes crossed paths, but never before have they collaborated on an entire project like Old Yellow Moon. Set for a Feb. 26 release, the duets album was produced by Brian Ahern (Harris' former husband and longtime producer) and features four songs written by Crowell. According to Crowell, the album's tone recalls the classic Southern California blend of country and rock that made Harris famous. "I always hoped we would someday do this record," Harris admits. "And now I can finally cross it off my bucket list."

Randy Houser, How Country Feels
Randy Houser's personal and professional lives have been better than ever in the last year. "I don't know how it happened, but everything in my life has started lining up," says the golden-voiced Mississippi native. He hopes to keep the trend going with the release of his third full-length album, How Country Feels, on Jan. 22. Named after the Top 10 single of the same name, Houser's latest project explores his new family life (he welcomed his first son, West, in 2012), his upbringing in the deep South and, of course, his penchant for good times. Zac Brown contributes as a co-writer.

Kris Kristofferson, Feeling Mortal
Legendary singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson will complete his trilogy of Don Was-produced albums on Jan. 29 with the release of Feeling Mortal. It's his first album of new material in four years and follows 2006's This Old Road and 2009's Closer to the Bone. "I hope I'll feel this creative and this grateful until they throw dirt over me," says the 76-year-old. That ominous-but-gracious outlook is explored in-depth on Feeling Mortal as Kristofferson examines the twilight years of his life and his most formative past experiences. The album's 10 tracks were recorded over three days and feature a stable of top-notch musicians, including pedal-steel player Greg Leisz and violinist Sara Watkins.

The MavericksIn Time
After nearly a 10-year hiatus, the Grammy award-winning, Latin-infused country band the Mavericks are back on Feb. 26 with an album of all-new material. In Time features all the playful energy and heartfelt romance that fans have always loved about this band of musical misfits. Cuban-American crooner Raul Malo still leads the group and also takes on co-producing duties for the new album which includes in 14 tracks like the Roy Orbison-influenced "Born to Be Blue" and the horn-blasting "Back in Your Arms Again." Malo says, "The idea that we came together and made this record is a testament to faith, fate and chance. This is the record we are most proud of."

Tim McGraw, Two Lanes of Freedom
In some ways, Tim McGraw's Two Lanes of Freedom is a lot like a second debut for the veteran country star. It represents his long-awaited move over to a new record label and an unleashing of creativity that the singer has admitted to bottling up over the past few years. "This album was a way to reach a little further back, to all that I'd done throughout my career, and bring both sides together," he says. "It's a combination of that discovery, along with some rediscovery." The new project comes out Feb. 5 and features the fist-pumping "Truck Yeah," the nostalgic "One of Those Nights" and a collaboration withTaylor Swift and Keith Urban on "Highway Don't Care."

Ashley Monroe, Like a Rose
As one third of the trio Pistol Annies, Ashley Monroe has finally stepped into the spotlight she deserves. But now the spunky 26-year-old Knoxville, Tenn., native is ready to show what she can do on her own.Like a Rose will be the singer-songwriter's second full length album, although her first (Satisfied) was only released digitally. Coming out March 5, Like a Rose was produced by Vince Gill in the old-school tradition. "We just got the band in a circle and started playing," Monroe says. "I never went back in to do a second vocal." That traditional approach also reveals itself in creative co-writes with Guy Clark, Jon Randall Stewart, Shane McAnally and Little Big Town's Karen Fairchild. Meanwhile, Monroe duets withBlake Shelton on the clever "You Ain't Dolly (and You Ain't Porter)." 

Brad Paisley, Title TBD
Brad Paisley says he pushed himself while recording his new album, which has yet to be officially named. Instead of following the standard procedure for recording a country album -- fancy studio, well-known session musicians and digital editing -- Paisley built a home studio on his property and kept everything as simple as possible. He even refused to fix any mistakes that were made. "My goal when I set out to do this record was to completely be on a ledge and challenge myself that way," the charismatic singer said. The first single, "Southern Comfort Zone," is another example of Paisley's desire to shake things up. The album is due April 9.

LeAnn Rimes, Spitfire
With tracks names like "Borrowed," "I Don't Wanna Give You Back" and "What Have I Done," it appears that LeAnn Rimes is ready to musically vent the emotions surrounding her relationship with actor Eddie Cibrian. After their very public affair and eventual marriage, Rimes has weathered a storm of detractors and abusive onlookers, even going so far as to check herself into a rehab facility to deal with the stress. She hopes to have made it to the other side now, and her new album, Spitfire, is due April 30. 

Also on the way are albums from Luke BryanEric ChurchKacey MusgravesDarius Rucker andThompson Square, although no release dates have been set. 

Bryan will submit the fifth installment of his Spring Break series of EPs, while Church turns in a live album recorded in Chattanooga, Tenn. A sassy young songwriter with a few Miranda Lambert cuts already under her belt, Musgraves is releasing her debut album featuring the anti-ballad of small-town life, "Merry Go Round." Rucker is highlighting his True Believers set with a cover of Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel" featuring Lady Antebellum. And Thompson Square look to follow up on a stellar 2012 with their sophomore album, which includes their romantic new single, "If I Didn't Have You."

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Cowboy Jack Clement Tribute Concert Jan. 30
Cowboy Jack Clement
Cowboy Jack Clement
Cowboy Jack Clement, a beloved Nashville producer and songwriter, will be the subject of a tribute concert in Nashville on Jan. 30. Bobby BareEmmylou Harris,Kris Kristofferson and Charley Pride are among the artists scheduled to perform at the event at War Memorial Auditorium. The concert will be titled "Honoring a Legend: A Tribute to Cowboy Jack." Tickets start at $45, and proceeds will benefit the Music Health Alliance and the Cowboy Jack Clement Fund. Clement, 81, lost his house and studio in a fire in 2011.
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12 Civil War Songs to Check Out
 . . . After You've Seen Lincoln
Film's Popularity Could Spark Renewed Interest in Music Inspired by American History
The Carter Family
The Carter Family
Nominations for the 85th annual Academy Awards will be announced Thursday (Jan. 10). If seven Golden Globe nominations for the Steven Spielberg filmLincoln are any indication, there's going to be a huge upsurge of interest in Civil War history -- just as there was following Ken Burns' 1990 documentary on the subject aired on PBS. 

Many songs inspired by or connected with the war continue to be sung in concerts, at folk and bluegrass festivals and around campfires nearly 150 years after the last shot of the last battle was fired.

Each song listed here, in no particular order, has been recorded by a variety of artists in an array of different musical formats. These particular versions are among the most popular and are all accessible on the Internet.

"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," The Band -- Written by The Band's Robbie Robertson, this song focuses on the fall in 1865 of Richmond, Va., the capital of the Confederacy, and on the deprivations survivors suffered after the war was over.

"Two Little Boys," the Country Gentlemen -- Written in 1902 as a sentimental music hall tune, this story of two brothers fighting on opposite sides in the Civil War had become a bluegrass standard by the 1970s. The devotion between the brothers, even in the heat of battle, will bring a tear to the sternest eye.

"Last Letter Home," the Amazing Rhythm Aces -- "I joined the Southern cavalry for fun," says this dying soldier whose wounds are so grievous that "the morphine seems to do no good at all." It is a chilling statement about the heartbreaking bravado of youth and the impulse that ensures nations an endless supply of cannon fodder.

"Shiloh's Hill," Jimmy Driftwood -- Sometimes titled "On Top of Shiloh's Hill," this is a vivid first-person chronicle of the 1862 battle in western Tennessee in which more than 24,000 soldiers were killed or wounded within the space of two days. In this account, a son fighting for the Union realizes he has just killed his own father.

"Bonnie Blue Flag," Tennessee Ernie Ford -- This rousing marching song salutes by name each of the 11 states that seceded from the Union to form the Confederacy. It was written during the first year of the war when hopes were high that the South would have an easy victory. 

"The Vacant Chair," Kathy Mattea -- The death in battle of a soldier from Massachusetts inspired a poem that was soon set to music. It visualizes what family gatherings will be like with one chair at the table forever vacant.

"Marching Through Georgia," Jay Ungar -- A jubilant account of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman's scorched-earth march from Atlanta to Savannah in late 1864. It effectively broke the back of the Confederacy. 

"The Faded Coat of Blue," the Carter Family -- This weeper memorializes the death of a "brave lad" who now lies in an unmarked grave in his "faded coat of blue." The lyrics suggest he may have starved to death.

"The Legend of the Rebel Soldier," Charlie Moore -- Here a rebel soldier lies dying "in a dreary Yankee prison." Attended by a preacher, the soldier asks again and again, "Will my soul pass through the Southland?" Now a bluegrass classic, the song is a variation of "Shall My Soul Pass Through Old Ireland," a tribute to Irish patriot Terence MacSwiney, who died in a British prison in 1920 after a 74-day hunger strike.

"Aura Lee," Jim Reeves -- The melody to this Civil War-era song about a "maid with golden hair" became famous as the melody for Elvis Presley's 1956 hit, "Love Me Tender." In the movie of that title, Presley plays the youngest of four brothers -- and the one who stays home while the other three are off fighting for the Confederacy.

"Lorena," John Hartford -- Although this song was published five years before the war started, it remained to become a sentimental favorite with homesick troops on both sides. Indeed, some commanders said it was so emotionally powerful it inspired a few soldiers to desert. 

"When Johnny Comes Marching Home," Mitch Miller Chorus -- Depending on the lyrics, which are many and diverse, this is either a celebration or a repudiation of war. Johnny returns either triumphant or hopelessly crippled. Generally, it was the former, and that's how it's sung in this version.

The fertility of the Civil War as a source for songs is evident in the two multi-artist albums issued so far in The 1861 Project. These are some of the best-crafted and most-thoughtful takes on the war currently available.

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Blake Shelton’s Co-Host for the ACMs Announced

 

Luke-bryan-at-the-acms

Aaaand it’s... Luke Bryan!

It’s rare for co-hosts to consist of two males so I’m quite surprised that this is the outcome. I fully expected (and hoped for) Miranda Lambert to join Blake to present the show, but Luke Bryan is an able substitute in my opinion.

I think it will be interesting to see the dynamic between the two, and I can see a night of homoeroticism to come, y’know, with Luke being essentially a sex object and all.

Bring it on! We will see all this go down when the 48th annual ACMs 2013 air onSunday, 7th April. Will you be there?


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So What Of The New Music Of 2013?

 

 

Kacey

So, as everyone’s adjusting to the idea of it being 2013, and the coming events of the new year, I thought I’d take you through some of the new artists and new releases of 2013, and what I’m most looking forward to etc (as if I’m a tastemaker, ha). Read away for the lowdown.

Albums I’m Looking Forward To:

  • Ashley Monroe – Like A Rose
I began listening to Ashley back in about 2007 on MySpace, then my life moved on and I forgot about her, only to rediscover her every so often as the credited songwriter on an album sleeve, and finally when the Pistol Annies were formed. Their 2011 album, ‘Hell On Heels’ was amazing and I really hoped that Ashley would also consider making her own music again. The announcement came a few months ago when Ashley posted a new song, the title track, on her Twitter, stating that her album would be released 18th December. I loved the new song and was excited to hear the record BUT then Ashley and Vince Gill (who happens to be her producer) wrote a new song and the release date was pushed back until 5th March. I was gutted, but I am now counting down the days until I can finally hear this long-overdue life-affirming release from such a prolific songwriter of country music.
  • Kacey Musgraves – TBA
I’ve never watched Nashville Star (occupational hazard of living in the UK) so I had never heard of Kacey Musgraves before this year, and although I had vaguely heard the name, it wasn’t until the beginning of December that I finally listened to ‘Merry Go Round’. That’s it, I was hooked, I researched her, wrote articles, bought the track and if my iPhone was counting the number of times I have played it, it without exaggeration would be in excess of 70 or 80, at least. My favorite country release of the year. Very little album information has been released so far but it does at least seem it will be this year it comes out, although that is little consolation for someone like me who absolutely cannot wait. Watch this space.

Continue reading "So What Of The New Music Of 2013?" »

Kacey

So, as everyone’s adjusting to the idea of it being 2013, and the coming events of the new year, I thought I’d take you through some of the new artists and new releases of 2013, and what I’m most looking forward to etc (as if I’m a tastemaker, ha). Read away for the lowdown.

Albums I’m Looking Forward To:

  • Ashley Monroe – Like A Rose
I began listening to Ashley back in about 2007 on MySpace, then my life moved on and I forgot about her, only to rediscover her every so often as the credited songwriter on an album sleeve, and finally when the Pistol Annies were formed. Their 2011 album, ‘Hell On Heels’ was amazing and I really hoped that Ashley would also consider making her own music again. The announcement came a few months ago when Ashley posted a new song, the title track, on her Twitter, stating that her album would be released 18th December. I loved the new song and was excited to hear the record BUT then Ashley and Vince Gill (who happens to be her producer) wrote a new song and the release date was pushed back until 5th March. I was gutted, but I am now counting down the days until I can finally hear this long-overdue life-affirming release from such a prolific songwriter of country music.
  • Kacey Musgraves – TBA
I’ve never watched Nashville Star (occupational hazard of living in the UK) so I had never heard of Kacey Musgraves before this year, and although I had vaguely heard the name, it wasn’t until the beginning of December that I finally listened to ‘Merry Go Round’. That’s it, I was hooked, I researched her, wrote articles, bought the track and if my iPhone was counting the number of times I have played it, it without exaggeration would be in excess of 70 or 80, at least. My favorite country release of the year. Very little album information has been released so far but it does at least seem it will be this year it comes out, although that is little consolation for someone like me who absolutely cannot wait. Watch this space.

Continue reading "So What Of The New Music Of 2013?" »


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What’s 2013 Set To Hold In Country Music?

 I Have A Go At Making Some REAL Predictions...

Kellie-pickler-cma-awards-2012-red-carpet-09

Well, we had my summary of 2012 in country music, and after querying it on Twitter, apparently people would like my take on what’s in store for the bright new year. I’m going to predict things at random. Mostly they’re educated guesses, but we all need a few totally off-the-wall predictions, right?

  • Hillary Scott’s baby will be a boy. I have no idea what is telling me this, but something is.
  • Another country star will get pregnant. I think Carrie and Miranda (who have often been asked about kids) are more set for 2014/15, but a country star somewhere is bound to get pregnant.
  • As for Taylor Swift relationship drama, I think after a couple of months the relationship with Harry will be over (although judging by her most recent tweet, “...’til you put me down.” It may already be), and she will have another two more relationships before the year is out, with a couple of other people she’s romantically linked with in the media but it doesn’t come to anything. Taylor has learned that relationships = publicity so I think her record label will be onto her to keep in the public eye in this way.
  • Kellie Pickler’s 2012 album ‘100 Proof’ wasn’t very well promoted by her label, who she then split from last year, but now she has signed with Black River Entertainment I think she will release a brand new single, totally out of left field and blow everyone away.
  • Kristian Bush will release an EP of acoustic sessions and a few songs he’s been working on, whilst Jennifer is off on maternity leave with her baby. It just makes sense and I really want it to happen.

Continue reading "What’s 2013 Set To Hold In Country Music? I Have A Go At Making Some REAL Predictions..." »


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2012 End Of Year Country Charts Examined

Billboard: 2012 End Of Year Country Charts Examined

Tayla

So it’s now 2013, and a brand new year for country music, but I bet you’re still thinking about 2012 and wondering who really came out on top in 2012. Billboard have compiled a few end of year charts, but they’re a little hard to find and on separate pages, so I thought I’d put them all together in one article, with a little of my own two cents about the results. I’ve taken the first 25 from each chart, but they all go up to #50 or #100 so I suggest you check out the links for each chart for more information.

Top Country Artists

  1. Taylor Swift
  2. Jason Aldean
  3. Luke Bryan
  4. Lady Antebellum
  5. Carrie Underwood
  6. Eric Church
  7. Zac Brown Band
  8. Blake Shelton
  9. Toby Keith
  10. Kenny Chesney
  11. The Band Perry
  12. Tim McGraw
  13. Miranda Lambert
  14. Rascal Flatts
  15. Lionel Richie
  16. Lee Brice
  17. Hunter Hayes
  18. Scotty McCreery
  19. Brantley Gilbert
  20. Little Big Town
  21. Jake Owen
  22. Dierks Bentley
  23. Kip Moore
  24. Josh Turner
  25. Eli Young Band

Continue reading "Billboard: 2012 End Of Year Country Charts Examined" »


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Introducing Walk Off The Earth...

 You Don’t Want To Miss This

Walk

You may have heard of Walk Off The Earth before, as they’re pretty famous on YouTube for doing inventive and creative and amazing covers of popular songs, including an awe-inspiring version of Gotye’s ‘Somebody I Used To Know’, and their most recent, a vocal-bending rendition of Taylor Swift’s ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’. However, it was tonight that I first heard one of their own songs, and felt I had to share. I wouldn’t call them country, but this song definitely has country elements to it, albeit country pop, and is so infectious and amazing that I just had to share.

I know people say this all the time, but just for the chorus and the funny video, you really won’t regret taking four minutes out of your life to watch this.

Here you are:

Thank me later.


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