This week we take a look at some tracks that are mostly from independent country artists and bands. But don’t let this independent moniker fool you as they music they’re making rivals much of what comes out of the big labels on Music Row. Of the ‘big label artists, we take a look at the just-announced new singles from Eli Young Band and Dierks Bentley. The other eight singles include indie artists of various styles (from traditional, to contemporary country to country/rap to country soul to country rock, it’s all covered here).
Joey+Rory – “When I’m Gone”
Joey Martin Feek has one of the purest altos you’re likely to hear in all of country music nowadays. On “When I’m Gone,” she deftly tells of a story that certainly hits home for anyone who has lost a cherished family member or friend. “When I’m Gone” is absolutely gorgeous and while it deserves the chance to be heard on major radio airplay stations, sadly the genre seems to have moved on from this kind of country music and that’s a true shame for there is nothing better than a great, emotional song like “When I’m Gone.” The track is but one of the 12 awesome tracks on the husband and wife duo’s His and Hers album.
Anthony Orio – “Girls Will Be Girls”
This hard-working, hard-touring singer/songwriter has been playing 200+ dates a year and has honed in on a contemporary country music sound that falls somewhere between the country soul of James Otto and Keith Urban’s rock-n-roll infused country music. It’s a winning sound and perhaps nothing on his album Between Home & The Bright Lights is as representative of this sound than “Girls Will Be Girls,” the fifth track on the album. It’s hook-filled, well performed and produced and just plain fun, the kind of song that not only sounds good on country radio but also at an entertaining live show. Downright fun.
Flynnville Train “The One You Love”
Written by the Kentucky Headhunter’s Richard Young, Fred Young & Doug Phelps, “The One You Love” is a blast from the past in the sense that it is the kind of real sturdy power ballad with some bluesy, minor-key changes backing up strong vocal band harmonies. This is the kind of monster hit ballad that used to dominate all sorts of radio playlists and it’s certainly strong enough to become the biggest hit of Flynnville Train’s career. Really, really solid stuff here, y’all.
D. Vincent Williams – “Down By The River”
One of my favorite songwriters in town, D. Vincent Williams finally scored a record deal when he signed to Bigger Picture Entertainment. Not one to waste his considerable chops, D. Vincent teamed with Keith Stegall to record his upcoming album and this single, an infectious and obviously country sing-a-long. This ain’t a country song masquerading as a country song. It’s a country song through and through and recalls Mac McAnally,
Alex Flanigan – “Diesel, Guns and Rust”
Well produced with some percussive oomph that will have you clapping and singing-a-long, this newcomer has a song that’s out of the Miranda Lambert and Gretchen Wilson school of country rock. It’s a strong country story song with a memorable bluesy melody and Flanigan has a vocal delivery that doesn’t need autotuning and that allows her to deftly deliver a song well worth hearing on playlists and video channels of modern country music.
Eli Young Band – “Say Goodnight”
It has been an awesome thing to see this band grow into the superstar act that they are now. I’ve been a fan since they were on their producer Frank Liddell’s Carnival Recordings label for their album Level (the record that had their first Top 40 country hit “When It Rains”). “Say Goodnight” is a perfect example of the band’s growth with this moody and romantic ballad. Not only does it showcase their strong musical growth but it showcases a band unafraid to record songs that may be out of their typical comfort zone. One of the many great songs on their break-out album Life at Best, the first for Republic Nashville after Jet Black And Jealous was recorded for Republic Records/Universal South. They literally could’ve gone anywhere to follow-up #1 singles “Crazy Girl” and “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” and instead of going for a late-summer and fall uptempo tune like “Skeletons” or “How Quickly You Forget” (both which sound cool), the band went for this mid-tempo ballad.
Alexandra Demetree – “Just Alone”
Here’s an interesting story song about a woman who is looking for Mr. Right but she’s not going to compromise her values and needs just to be with somebody. She has quite a few friends around and has the faith that love will come her way soon enough. Alexandra has a strong voice and the production here is equally good, with a definite mainstream country music feel but if I had to be honest, I think the drums feel a tad too ‘canned’ and perhaps a little too ’80′s’ or ‘drum machine’ sounding, which drags down an otherwise solid debut single (which could be a hit despite the production).
Dierks Bentley – “Tip It On Back”
After scoring critical acclaim with the Up On The Ridge record, Dierks Bentley has returned to mainstream country form with Home and this has resulted with three consecutive #1 hits in “Am I The Only One, “Home,” and the most-recent hit “5-1-5-0.” “Tip It On Back” is set to be the fourth single from the album and it is one of the best tracks on Home. The song is all about taking time to enjoy life and get out of the bad mood or feeling that may have resulted in the need to ‘forget’ things for a while. The melody is moody and accentuates Dierks’ vocal while also allowing the mandolins and other instrumentals to shine. Dierks may just have his hit his creative and commercial stride with these singles as “Tip It On Back” feels like another #1 hit.
The Moonshine Bandits – Super Goggles
Clearly not my grandfathers or even the country music that I grew up on, “Super Goggles” is nonetheless a song that suits a specific part of the audience, the same audience that plays country music and hip hop and pop on their iPod and “Super Goggles” is the kind of song that fits within that kind of playlist. The Moonshine Bandits have some of the most-loyal fans and have really grown their footprint outside of Southern California the past year. They even appeared at the CMA Music Festival this year (and managed to film their video for the tune while in town). “Super Goggles” may never be a country radio hit but I can guarantee this fun, melodic sing-a-long (which is about a guy who has drank enough alcohol to believe that the women in the bar are more attractive to the band than they thought they were when they arrived at the bar) is well worth visiting if you’re an openminded kind of music listener. This is by far the best the band has sounded and the song is just pure fun.
Corey Wagar – “Take Ya Back”
This spirited 19 year old recalls JoDee Messina a little bit on this follow-up to her debut hit “I Hate My Ex-Boyfriend.” The GTR Records artist has moxie to spare here as she sings a tune that showcases strong sing-a-long lyrics that just sounds good coming across my ears, no matter whether it’s through iTunes, my car stereo, home stereo, CMT Pure or any other delivery system. This is all about mood and melody and fun and Corey Wagar delivers that in spades and should easily have a good career in country music and is certainly an artists that major labels should be interested in.