Pistol Annies - “Takin’ Pills”
This may not ever get an official country radio single release (it’d ‘interfere with’ miranda’s solo stuff) but that doesn’t mean that the song should be completely ignored. This fantastic trio is not just some vanity project for Miranda Lambert and her pals Angaleena Pressley and Ashley Monroe. Instead, it’s a real band of three ‘pistols’ who write and sing great modern country music with plenty of references to their influences (Loretta Lynn particuarly on this song). “one’s srinkin’, one’s smokin’, and one’s Takin’ Pills” the song says as the trio sings about how they manage the stress of a touring band. If country radio would actually allow room for this song, I think it’d become a hit.
Ingram Hill - “Broken Hearted In Birmingham”
This memphis trio has been touring the country for around a decade or so now singing some of the best modern ‘adult rock’ that you’re likely to hear. They have a loyal set of fans throughout the country which has allowed them to tour the whole decade and make a nice living from it. Always a band with rootsy influences, Ingram Hill is set to showcase those roots more than ever on their brand new album for Rock Ridge, the same label which now has country acts Amy Dalley and Chelsea Bain (amongsts other roots-rock acts like Sister Hazel and Tony Lucca). This track is their lead ‘single’ and it showcases the band’s roots and sound in an excellent showcase of what the strong self-titled album’s all about.
The Roys - “Still Standing”
Elaine Roy has a voice that recalls Dolly Parton manytimes and it showcases her to be one of Country and Bluegrass music’s better vocalists. While “Still Standing” likely isn’t going to be a mainstream country radio hit, it is nonetheless a strong acoustic country song that’s a very good showcase for bluegrass with fantastic instrumentals from fiddles and dobro while banjo and Lee Roy, the other half of this brother sister duo leads with his mandolin. A strong, likable single that tells me their upcoming sophomore record for Rural Rhythm Records is going to be fantastic.
Kip Moore - “Beer Money”
I wrote about this song a couple of weeks ago but now that its’ officially off and running at country radio, I thought I’d revisit it here and re-affirm what I said back then. The song is a hit. Moore’s gritty vocal style gives him a unique to country radio sound and his ‘country/rock’ sound manages to blend the best of both the burgeoning ‘alt/metal country’ with more traditional-leaning ‘roots country’ sounds. It’s an intoxicating blend and that all should help this single, which is clearly about some good times with the one you love no matter how much money you really have, and while they may not have a lot of money to go out on the town, they have enough beer money to have a great night together. Tell me what young (or young at heart) person hasn’t gone through this emotion?
Luke Bryan - “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”
For those who didn’t like Luke’s last single because of the ‘you make my speakers go boom boom’ line, this one might be more palatable to you but perhaps it wont be with its roots-rock slide guitars and glossy production that clearly showcases a modern country song (even if you can hear the steel guitar clearly audible in the mix with a few fills here and there too). The chorus of “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” is strong and that’s a good thing because that’s basically all there is to the song outside of two two-line verses. Yes, the theme has been done nearly as much as “country boys with trucks” theme has but Luke sings this one well and with the tasty melody accompaniment, it’s a memorable radio song.
The Lumineers - “Ho Hey"
This is a rootsy band which uses a raw approach to their vocals and this tune in particular has The Lumineers selling hundreds of thousands of albums. “Ho Hey” is a song that’s garnered nearly 3 million youtube hits, is a big hit on the AAA and Adult Pop charts and has garnered a lot of indie buzz from places like Pitchfork Media and now they’ve managed to get some Alternative rock airplay in addition to landing on the Americana charts. I think the song could do well on mainstream country radio too, if given a shot. Even if it doesn’t, it’s further proof that the genres are all starting to cross-polinate more than ever before
Tim Montana & His Shrednecks - “Mr. Barnwell”
A favorite of David Letterman and Paul Schaffer (who guests on the CD) finds Tim Montana shedding his cowboy image of the past couple albums and embracing a side that was always in his music, that of the hard-rocking, rowdy side that fans might associate more with Hank3 than a country boy from Montana. Still, the bands’ blend of 80s hairmetal riffs with southern rock a la Skynyrd or modern band Blackberry Smoke is a sound that seems to be heading to mainstream country music and while they’re a little ahead of the curve, their sound is also not too far removed from Shooter Jennings’ stuff. There’s a definite market for this music and it keeps getting larger and larger by the day. Mainstream stations may not play this but SiriusXM might (because they’re ahead of the curve on much of the new music).
The McClymonts - “I Could Be A Cowboy”
This Australian trio of sisters has been steadily seeing single after single rise up the Music Row charts and the same can be said for this single, “I Could Be A Cowboy.” Currently a Top 40 hi t on the chart, this mid-tempo ballad showcases a band with sterling vocal harmonies that recall a mixture of the classic Judds sound and the modern country family harmony of The Band Perry or the harmonies of Little Big Town. What this means is that The McClymonts have a sound that has made them big stars in Australia and with both of thier first two albums (“Chaos and Bright Lights” and the current “Wrapped Up In Good”) both released and in stores in the USA, the trio has set themselves up nicely for success with this single. Melodically it’s beautiful with fiddles and steel guitar and mandolins guiding the smooth and understated production from Nathan Chapman.
Kelleigh Bannen - “Sorry On The Rocks”
After releasing a cool indie recordin 2008, and touring with 90 shows in 90 days, Kelleigh Bannen signed with Mike Dungan’s Capitol/EMI Nashville outfit and then suddenly seemed to disappear for a couple of years. Well, she has resurfaced now with this Paul Worley-produced single that showcases a very capable singer with a sound that retains the feisty and rootsy-feel of Emmylou Harris mixed with the contemporary flair of the Dixie Chicks and Lady Antebellum. It’s a sound that works well and should finally give EMI Nashville a female artist presense (outside of Lady A and Little Big Town) on the charts. It’s melodic, the lyrics are strong (talking about the fact that her man can only apologize for the things he’s done to her after drinking enough to let his guard down).
Randy Rogers Band - “One More Sad Song”
Jay Joyce worked his magic with Eric Church and Little Big Town and now it really seems as if he’s one of mainstream country music’s most innovative producers as he’s managed to help give Randy Rogers Band enough of a mainstream edge to their already strong Red Dirt Country sound. Randy Rogers remains one of the most emotive vocalists in country music and in the ‘quiet’ verses of “One More Sad Song” Randy showcases this over interesting percussion, fiddle, and guitar melodies while the chorus is downright anthemic. It’s an intoxicating blend that should be the final ingredient to helping Randy Rogers Band become a mainstream country radio fixture and proves that UMG Nashville was smart to stick with the band through three albums in a time when most other artists are usually one or two singles and done. It’s an old-school approach that works and should really be something labels stick to now, a belief in a band no matter what, the same thing turned Vince Gill and plenty of other artists into household names when the timing seemed right.