Recommendation XLV: Marty Stuart (w/ Connie Smith)

Yeah, I know. You can’t believe your eyes? Me neither haha. Poor pathetic ole me is back with a new entry! I haven’t posted in like a year (even after I did a new look to the site. Sad, isn’t it?) Well, I got the writing bug biting again and wanted to fill you a lil in on some new stuff about me and what I’ve been digging lately.

The main reasons I haven’t been posting is life has been/is just busy, and I’ve dived into other more time-consuming activities… but one big significant problem is that my freakin’ computer is too damn slow! Every time I turn it on, my laptop literally takes like 30 minutes to start up the screen and sometimes it’ll shut itself off when it has too much going on. Utterly irritating, to say the least, but I digress from my main subject…

My forty-fifth recommendation is: Marty Stuart’s (with Connie Smith) “I Run to You” from his 2010 Ghost Train: The Studio B Sessions album. My post title practically gave it away haha, and I’m sure most people who read/used to read my blog already know about this gem however I wanted to write about it regardless.  I realize that I have already recommended Marty’s music in the past but 3 years has passed and this record can’t go ignored. Truly one of country music’s best guides to its history and tradition, Marty Stuart can always be counted upon to create timeless soul-driven pieces of art and this is no exception. I love watching his Marty Stuart Show on RFD-TV when it airs and soaking up on that intoxicating steel and fiddle (which is pretty much meaningless on today’s radio) and really feeling it, so real country fans oughta check that out.

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Top 10 Least Favorite CM Radio Singles of 2009

Welcome to 2010! I told you I would make a least favorite list for 2009′s country radio singles and here it is (prolonged, yes, but it’s here). My Christmas and New Years were interesting, but good (first time my family and I have ever celebrated Christmas at a Thai restaurant – long story haha – and I also spent New Years Eve for the first time as a 21-year old in downtown Denver, which was entertaining and freezing). I’ve been lazy about going to the gym this past month, so now that this new decade is amongst us, I must partake to that healthier lifestyle again either tonight or tomorrow (probably tomorrow lol).

Keep in mind, like I said in my previous entry, I didn’t listen to a lot of country radio this year, so I am not aware of all of the bad songs from this year and I’m only going by what I hear and remember.  And the hippo? To be explained soon. Now to my list of…

Top 10 Least Favorite Country Music Radio Singles of 2009:

  • 10. “River of Love” – George Strait:
    • Now you know why the top picture is hanging out there: I think that river looks filthy and those hippos are ugly, which is kinda like the song (hippos are very deadly too! – the comparisons can go on and on).  King George is my favorite artist of all time, but not even he can get away with recording a bad song.  This is one shining example. I don’t hate the song and there are definitely worst songs out there, but even with its radio success, it was an unappealing choice for a single, from an artistic standpoint and considering he had better choices from his Troubadour album.  The only sorta-saving grace of this Chesney-like downgrade is the steel guitar solo and George’s voice, otherwise, it’s just filler I try to like and occasionally sing along with, yet it’s bad stuff. This river stinks!
  • 09. “Ride” – Martina McBride:
    • Another one of my favorites has found themselves on my naughty-list: Martina.  Lately, she’s kinda hit-or-miss with me, so this single wasn’t exactly a shocker.  Basically a “This Ones for the Girls” Part II-ish thing, but that’s not good.  I’m a very optimistic person, but give me a break: I guess it’s the feeling that this song is geared towards teenage girls again that gets me, and even if it isn’t, it just sounds like it. The lyrics are just weak. Vocals just okay this time.
  • 08. “Sissy’s Song” – Alan Jackson:
    • I’m definitely getting burned at the stake for this one haha! I know the back-story to this and I appreciate his idea for a tribute song to her and all, but no disrespect intended, I just could never get into this one. The production, first of all, I do applaud its simplicity, however when you combine that sorta production with the melody and the vocals, it just sounds like a gnawing nursery rhyme to me. That being said, I love Alan Jackson and even though I’m not a fan of this song, I can see why people would embrace it.  Just not my cup of tea.
  • 07. “It’s America” – Rodney Atkins:
    • Opportunistic. Guaranteed to be a hit because if someone says they no likey, they’re labeled as a terrorist-sympathizer lol. I love America, although when he sings about it, you almost feel ashamed haha (I’m kidding, but you know what I mean. It could have been done much better, all around – He’s only had one good single). And he needs to take off that damn cap!…

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Top 10 Favorite CM Radio Singles of 2009

“I’m just a ghost in this house. I’m just a shadow upon these walls. As quietly as a mouse, I haunt these halls…”

… Totally describes my activity amongst these parts the second part of this year! I didn’t even bother to lurk.  I’m hoping to change that and post again.  I really got disinterested and I chose to dedicate my time towards other things, even though the blog was probably the most popular when I left it.  It just gets hard to post so often, so I apologize for my self-imposed exile, but alas I am back (I will make a personal blog entry in the future with my new discoveries).

Anyway, over the last few days I’ve been thinking of which songs to put on my list.  I really didn’t listen to too much commercial country radio this year, because XM Radio and my iPod are superior in all ways possible to that, and my ears craved other genres’ music a bit more. That said, what I did hear on today’s country was not very good anyway haha. My list is based on the songs I did hear and enjoyed and I’m sure there are some great tunes I missed, but this is what I’m gonna give you, so you better like it!

Top 10 Favorite Country Music Radio Singles of 2009:

  • 10. “Seein’ Stars” – Jack Ingram w/ Patty Griffin:
    • I’m well aware that this single was kinda just released but since it doesn’t seem to be doing that well, I decided I might as well bunch it onto ’09 (though I hope it turns around and becomes huge in 2010).  The reasons I like it is why it will probably bomb: because it’s more alternative country than mainstream, it’s slow-paced and radio probably doesn’t have any idea who Patty Griffin is! I love the simplicity of it and their vocals go together really well in the chorus.  I hear this on XM and every time, I like it more.
  • 09. “Busted” – Patty Loveless:
    • People are probably going “what?” with this one.  I know it wasn’t really a single single and had zero airplay on the radio, BUT it says on Wikipedia that it was a single, so that’s good enough for me for this one! Loveless’s album, Mountain Soul II, is THE best country album of the year, in my opinion, and seeing as I’m not doing anything album-related for year-end countdowns, this is my way of honoring it.  This highly covered Harlan Howard song hasn’t been done exactly like this: above the cotton-picking to coal mine lyric change, Patty’s emotional mountain voice really shines here.  Despite the depressing state of the narrator’s life, the song makes me smile through how good it sounds. The addition of Del McCoury for sure makes that smile bigger.
  • 08. “People Are Crazy” – Billy Currington:
    • I’ve read reviews saying that the production of this isn’t that country, and though maybe it’s just my 90′s-radio-upbringing messing with my ears, it sounds super country to me, compared to everything else. I appreciate the fact that Billy is recording different styles of music and this one was a pleasant surprise.  I agree that some of the lyrics, like the so-called chorus, could definitely be better done however the song as a whole is very nice.  His phrasing in certain parts recall classic country pieces, which I think is pretty cool, and the steel-usage is too.  I think if I sang this song, I would probably change “crazy” with an expletive though haha.

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ACM’s “Artist of the Decade”: George Strait Review (Aired 05.27.09)

Rumors of my death are not clear, nor are they true.  I’ve been wanting to post but kept putting it off and did not have the time to execute it.  This review was a good way to get something in, without it being a recommendation.  I’m hoping this does not take too much time to write lol (but hopefully, still be long), so here goes!

Yeah my review is a bit postponed… it’s about a week and a half later and people probably don’t care about it anymore.  I ended up watching the tribute show the next evening after it aired because my eyes were glued to the Nuggets vs. Lakers game that night (my team lost, of course lol)…but anyway, I’ve been looking forward to this tribute show ever since I heard about it months ago.  The taping for this show took place the night after the ACM Awards in April.  George Strait is THE man and my favorite artist of all time, and it’s so cool to see this (sometimes) fine lineup of artists honoring him by performing his songs from throughout his career.  Overall, I immensely enjoyed and wish CBS would air re-runs so more people could see it.

Sugarland opening the show with their version of “Adalida”.  I usually don’t care for Jennifer Nettles‘s voice, but it worked really well here and you could tell she and the guy were passionate about it.  Though the lyrics are more suited for a male, it didn’t matter.  Love that Cajun feel!  YouTube performance video link.

Toby Keith followed with “Unwound”.  It had noticeably a slightly updated production but still kept the same basic sound, and Toby did an excellent job.  I haven’t heard his voice sound this good and spirited in years!  You don’t hear this song too often (unless you play it on iTunes), so it was a treat to hear it on here.  YouTube performance video link.

One of my personal favorites, Brooks & Dunn were next.  They chose, well Ronnie Dunn chose, for them to sing “The Cowboy Rides Away”.  This is a fine example of how well traditional country, a theme of cowboys, and B&D go together.  It even got Kix Brooks to sing along, in more than just harmony, equally on the chorus.  I really loved that, and Ronnie sang the hell out of the song.  YouTube performance video link.

The following performance was unique.  First, because the song choice is one of my least favorite Strait songs ever, and a song I don’t ever really listen to: “It Ain’t Cool to Be Crazy About You”.  The production on the original song, IMO, is so so boring and poppy, but with the second surprise, that being a duet of the song with Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton, it was given new life and a more than tolerable listen.  They did a sweet job and it was nice to watch (Blake was also really funny in his opening words in regards to his Pure Country ode).  YouTube performance video link.

In a change to a non-Strait part of the evening, in a nod to past Decade Artist honorees, they added them into the show, with Keith Urban performing a medley of Marty Robbins‘s hits ["Singing the Blues", "El Paso", "A White Sport Coat (And a Pink Carnation)"].  I admit that Urban’s voice sounded good, but I still don’t buy him as a country singer, so the covers, to me, felt awkward and took too long.  He did better than three other people though, so I’ll consider it “OK”.  YouTube performance video link.

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44th Academy of “Country Music” Awards Reaction

No, I am not dead and yes, I am a horrific monster for being so neglectful to this blog.  I feel so bad for posting nothing new since middle February.  I’ve been pretty busy and overwhelmed with work, dealing with student loan crap, I took a birthday trip, and I procrastinated too too long.  I don’t have much time to make posts these days, but I figured tonight was feeling good and I wanted to voice my opinion on some new things.  First off, the ACMs that took place on Sunday night – what a travesty to watch! These things get worse every year, seriously.  Even as an optimistic person, I don’t see a lot of real hope for the future of (mainstream) country music…

(I know, symbolism can only go so far, but I edited the above pic this way because, once again, the awards were all about the money – thus the ugly green color lol. I also used the “shoplifter” font because every time I watch these things, I feel like something big has been stolen from me, and from country music. The exclamation point kinda symbolizes how the intended audience for this show has young people written all over it!)

To begin, I did watch most the show on Sunday night (I switched back n forth between the awards, and one of my new favorite TV shows, Celebrity Apprentice – which I gotta say, as much as I love Clint Black and his music, I really didn’t like him that much in this last episode, and I am shocked that he wasn’t fired, as he should have been…but I still enjoy his music hehe).  I didn’t watch all of the Awards (thank God), but will comment on what I remember…even almost a week later. Here are reaction blogs from CU, 9513, and CC.

So, anyway, Brooks & Dunn semi-opened the show with their hit, and one of my favorites, “Play Something Country” (which caught me by surprise because that was their single like two years ago?), which was soon interrupted by Taylor Swift, Sugarland, AND Rascal Flatts (and Carrie Underwood joined too) who all sang small segments of their hit songs, which cut back n forth between the artists, and ended with a sing-a-long to B&D’s song.  Now, cutting forward to Taylor later in the show: she gave an over-the-top/I’m trying-too-hard performance of one of her new songs with a piano and David Copperfield, which began with “magic” and ended with an exaggerated head-into-arms gesture, which was supposed to be acting I’m guessing?  Wow, tragic.  There’s about a million more sells from teenage girls who were touched by how emotional it was (and btw, “Album of the Year”? WTF?).  Sugarland sang some song, and like I’ve said many times before, I’m not a fan of their’s, so I skipped forward…just don’t like that accent.  I didn’t even listen to the Rascals. Yuck.  No more screeching, please.  Carrie performed “I Told You So” in a huge staged-sized red dress and did one of the best vocal performances of the night.  I may not care for the song, but she did really good.  She seems to perform live best with the slower tunes. (oh, and congrats to her Entertainer win, though I do wish Strait won it, for selfish reasons :p).

Reba McEntire is hosting again and that’s great.  I love her and there’s a sense of comfort with her.  She did well with hosting duties, like always, and she became one of my favorite performers of the evening with her new single, “Strange”.  That song reminds me somewhat of “I’m Gonna Take That Mountain” , just with some rock sounds.  Can’t wait to hear the studio version.

Kenny Chesney and “Out Last Night”.  Hmm…decent, but still boring.  Would have been cool to see him with Mac McAnally, instead.  One thing I gotta say: I’m glad he didn’t win anything! (I’m a meanie, I know, that’s for sure, but I mean it.)

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Check This Out: “Red Light” – David Nail

I usually don’t do single “single” reviews (meaning a current radio song featured in its own individual entry), but I felt inspired to do one tonight. When I was on iTunes about a week ago, I was glancing through the new country releases. None of them really stood out to me a whole lot, so I figured I’d listen to one of the new ones that I had never heard of. Once I pressed play to this new song, I was quickly drawn to how catchy it was, and what a good find it turned out to be.  Later on, I downloaded it from Amazon (gottsa have the MP3!) and I am happy with my decision.

“Red Light”, the current (third) single from newcomer, David Nail, is a fine example of what good mainstream, contemporary poppy country can be.  Some may disagree and be quick to write him off as just another pretty boy trying to make it in country by singing slick material, but I don’t think he is.  I’m not sure what his other material sounds like, so I will not be quick to label him as anything yet, but he has potential and this single is really cool (Nail, please, don’t make me look bad lol.  Don’t become a Rascal Flatts, etc.-wannabe… although this acoustic performance video of a different song, “Here In Misery (Missouri)” shows otherwise – he does have talent.).

It says something I have never heard in a song (well, there are different variants of it, of course, but I can’t think of one like this, at the moment): it’s about the moment when his girl told him it’s all over when they’re stopped at a red light in the sunshine, and how it hit him hard, and unexpectedly, because it was not the typical setting or environment for such a blow (there is a time and place, c’mon).  Just imagine a seemingly normal, nice Sunday out on a cruise with your companion and then all of a sudden, getting blown away with that kinda news – there’s a huge visual contrast between what’s going on outside in the car and inside your heart when you get that news.  Like a car crash that physically didn’t happen but you’re feeling it internally, anyway.

I think the song captures that moment and feelings really well, and Nail’s vocals are sincere and invoke that heartbroken, world-crashing-down mood this type of song needs.  The production accompanies his voice and the lyrics like it should (Frank Liddell, Miranda Lambert‘s producer, might have produced it, it looks like).  I really do feel bad for him, and if a song can make me feel like that, it’s good.  I can somewhat relate to that sinking feeling, but won’t get into that.

I definitely am interested to see what else he puts out, and hope this song serves as a platform for a quality-heavy career.

Buy on Amazon.com / Buy on iTunes.  (lyrics below)

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Recommendation XXXXIV: Wynonna Judd (double-shot)

Awesome awesome.  Life’s not too shabby for me.  My work hours have increased (much to one of ex-co-worker’s dismay – stealing is bad – remember that, but I do still feel sorry for him) and I am also planning my trip to California, which I will embark on in less than half a week, and in addition, I receive my tax refund in a few days.  With regards to my possible soon return to college life, for anybody who cares, I just need to find a co-signer to help me with a student loan from the bank to pay off my balance, and then I am set to go back in the fall (I, of course, will have to deal with paying off the loan and interest after graduation, so I am not excited about that).  Tonight, I’m supposed to clean up my messy room and organize my papers and letters to look decent and civilized (so I won’t have to jump obstacles and get through the mazes any longer).  Sad to admit some old habits don’t die hard.

My forty-fourth recommendation is/are: Wynonna Judd’s “I Can Only Imagine” from her 2005 Her Story: Scenes from a Lifetime album AND “Are the Good Times Really Over?” from her 2009 Sing: Chapter 1 album.  Yes, TWO covers/remakes from the powerful and feisty red-head Wynonna Judd.  How exciting.  My love for Wynonna began, I think, with one of her first solo singles, “No One Else On Earth”.  I think I grew up more with solo Wynonna more than with The Judds… though I do know, bluegrass-tinged, “Why Not Me?”, is my favorite Judds song, and “No One…” is my favorite Wy song.  Over the years, it’s been cool to see Wynonna as a genre-chameleon who can sing just about anything, and these two songs I’m going to highlight show that.  It wasn’t that hard for me to choose which ones, because these, in my mind, were instant classics to me once I heard them. Wy made them her own.  (Btw, anybody see her on NBC’s Kath & Kim earlier this month?  That was funny how they basically made the episode about her, and how the mother and daughter were crazy fans of her’s. Molly Shannon is hilarious.)

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