Right Then, About This Whiskey Riff Business

Yes, I know I’m late to the party; I was out of town when the uproar broke out. And yes, I know maybe I shouldn’t give Whiskey Riff the satisfaction of even acknowledging this idiocy, as plenty of other outlets have already done it. If you don’t know by now, Whiskey Riff posted an article Friday asserting that the reason we all hate mainstream country music is because we were all losers in high school. Florida Georgia Line, Sam Hunt, Luke Bryan–well, they’re the good-looking jocks who get the popularity and the girls, and we’re all just jealous because we didn’t live this lifestyle in high school and can’t relate to or understand it. Essentially, we’re all just the geeks and misfits, and now we’re holding some sort of grudge against the jocks.

I won’t waste time doing what other blogs have already done fantastically; others have already defended the reasons we criticize mainstream country music. I won’t tell you my back story in an effort to explain my situation in high school, and I won’t lie and say I was extremely popular either. I won’t tell you about the mainstream artists I do enjoy–you can find that for yourself in the reviews. I will say the most offensive part of this for me was the part where we’re all jealous of FGl, Luke, and Sam because they’re good-looking and get all the girls. Ok, so even if we go with this assumption, and even if that twisted bit of logic explains the problem men have with these artists and their music, where does that leave women? What about all the women who are offended by this music? Or have all the listeners of bro country and Sam Hunt’s “Body Like a Back Road” become so desensitized to the thoughts and feelings of females that they can’t imagine them doing anything but shaking their asses on tailgates?

Now, I can’t truthfully say I hate all this music, and there are good or decent songs in all of these artists’ catalogues. I’m not close-minded enough to say everything they release is pure shit, and I will be the first to praise good material from them. As far as Sam hunt, some of his music would be fine in pop, it’s just not country. But can you not understand how offensive these songs are to women? We are treated like objects in these songs, as Maddie & Tae pointed out in “Girl in a Country Song.” There’s a reason that song was a hit–women everywhere related to it. It’s not a compliment to tell me to “slide that sugar shaker over here’ or to say I have a “body like a back road.” I said I wasn’t going to state my back story, but I will say that I have been “complimented” in this way, and when that’s all you hear, all it makes you feel is cheap. Women want to be told we’re beautiful, not just sexy, and we want to be appreciated for our minds, not just our bodies. And we have dreams beyond driving around in some guy’s truck on Friday night with our bare feet on the dashboard.

And women, you’re selling yourself short if some of this doesn’t offend you. These songs objectify us and make us things to be possessed; indeed, the article even says the artists “get’ the girls. It’s why women have disappeared so drastically from the airwaves in such a short time. Who wants to listen to a song by a female? How can a woman even have an intelligent thought when all she does is drive around in a truck with a guy? Nobody wants to hear her point of view; they want to hear from the guy who’s “getting” her. Pretty much the only consistent exception on country radio is Kelsea Ballerini, and that’s because she’s sold herself short to sing about being this type of girl.

It’s fine if you like this music, I’m not attacking you for personal taste. This is not an attack on the artists either; some of them seem like perfectly nice people. This is simply about the music and the lyrics and the lessons they teach. and if you think I’m making a big deal out of this, I refer you back to the Whiskey riff article. People are simply jealous because they weren’t good-looking and popular and didn’t get the girls. The writer doesn’t even consider the girls at all in making this argument. That’s how insignificant songs like this make females. He didn’t even take into account females who might have a problem with this when he made that assumption because all he could see were losers who didn’t get them. And if a large portion, as he says, can relate to this type of music, then a large portion of the country are learning to be sexist pigs and think it’s normal. And I know this will not change a thing, but I can’t stand by either. Next time, consider your audience before you make an idiotic statement like this.

P.S. None of these artists are good-looking/sexy at all, give me a man who sings bass, and actually knows a George strait song instead of just name-checking him to sound cool.

P.P.S. Can you please refrain from writing any more stupid pieces, so I can get back to reviewing artists instead of replying to this shit?

Ok Trigger, I gave in to Shinyribs and I Got Your Medicine (review)

Rating: 9/10

First, credit to Trigger and Saving Country Music for advising us all to “don’t resist, just give in” to this group. Well, it’s taken me a couple weeks and a few listens, but I keep coming back, and this album keeps getting better, so I can say now I’ve given in, and it’s time to talk about this. Secondly, no this is not country; SCM said it was country in places but “only by accident,” the leader of the group, Kevin Russell, calls this “country soul” and “swamp funk,” and Apple Music labeled it traditional folk. I’d probably call it zydeco–which I learned in New Orleans at Jazz fest is Cajun music–with heavy soul influence and a smattering of country thrown in. Regardless, it’s good American roots music, and I hate that I haven’t discovered shinyribs sooner, especially since they’ve been embraced by the Texas scene despite their Louisiana sound. This might seem strange on the surface, but Texas and Red dirt fans generally embrace all kinds of live music,, and that’s where shinyribs excels. During my brief acquaintance with them, I’ve learned that they are known, among other things, for having conga lines at their shows. There is difficulty sometimes in translating all that live energy into an album, but I Got Your Medicine does exactly that, and it’s a refreshing, fun listen.

In the opener and title track, Kevin Russell is talking to someone who seems to be rather depressed with their life and he says, “I got your medicine.” I think it’s an appropriate opener and album title because that’s what this record is; it’s a breath of fresh air, a break from all of life’s worries. Much of this album is just fun and catchy. The instrumentation is fantastic; you’ll hear saxophones, trumpets, flutes, keyboards, and real drums. The awesome instrumentation and Russell’s incredible charisma really sell tracks like “Trouble, Trouble” and “Don’t Leave it a Lie.” There’s “Tub Gut Stomp ‘n’ Red-eyed Soul,” and no, I have no idea what that title or any of the song means, but I love it. It just puts a smile on your face. There’s ‘a certain Girl,” where Russell is trying in vain to get a girl to notice him, but he won’t tell us her name. Speaking of the real drums I mentioned, they’re excellent in this one. “Hands on Your Hips” has to be one of the most fun cheating songs ever; here, the narrator has caught his girlfriend with another man’s “foot on your lips.” I have to give Shinyribs credit for shattering the glass ceiling and introducing foot worship to country music. Then there’s “I Don’t Give a S**t,” where the characters sing about being a “match made in hell,” but deep down, they really care about each other. The group even makes faith lighthearted with the album closer, “The cross is Boss.”

But mixed in with the fun tracks, and making them stand out all the more, you get hit with serious moments. “I Knew it All Along” is an excellent heartbreak song, displaying Kevin Russell’s strength both as a songwriter and as a vocalist. “Nothing Takes the Place of You” is another serious song pulled off well by the group. Then there’s “I Gave up All I Had,” featuring their signature lighthearted instrumentation but telling a story of a man who gave up the love of a woman and four children for someone, or something, else, and now he is regretting it with all his being.

The only thing I can really say against this album is the song “Ambulance” takes the fun one step too far. This song is just ridiculous, at least for me. The narrator here wakes up in an ambulance and speculates on all the things that could have put him here. For me, this is honestly the only thing that brings the album down to a nine.

Not everyone is going to get behind this album, but it’s definitely something you should all give a chance. It’s a fun record that can just brighten up your day. If you’re a fan of soul, or good, live-sounding music, you should check this out. Give it a couple listens, and you’ll be giving in to Shinyribs just like I did.

Listen to Album

Reflecting on: Dixie Chicks–Wide Open Spaces

Welcome to our first Random Reflections, a new weekly feature in which Brianna or I will discuss an album–or perhaps a song on occasion, but more than likely an album–from country’s past that we would recommend. These are not reviews; anything we would put here at all would probably be an 8 or higher anyway. There are no rules other than that the music being discussed has to have been released prior to June 2015, the birth month of Country Exclusive. We are not going through “classic” albums, and there’s no rule on style or era either, these are just simply a way for us to highlight more music, and for us and our readers to discover older material and become more acquainted with country music’s history. With all that said, I’d like to reflect on one of the first country records I ever owned, the debut album by the Dixie Chicks.

Release Date: January 27, 1998
Style: mostly traditional country
Who Might Like This Album: traditional country fans, fans of Maddie & Tae, maybe fans of Pistol Annies or other all-female groups
Standout Tracks: “I’ll Take Care of You,” “Am I the Only One,” “Tonight, the Heartache’s on Me,” “You Were Mine,” “Loving arms,” “Once You’ve Loved somebody”
Reflections: Well, if you haven’t gotten into the Dixie Chicks before now, you definitely should. Fly is probably more well-known, and Home is certainly more critically acclaimed, but this debut started it all for them, and it’s one of the first country albums I ever fell in love with. The harmonies of the Dixie Chicks are unmatched; the only thing I’ve ever heard come close are those of Maddie & Tae, and that’s a beautiful thing. The lyrics in some of these tracks are outstanding, and it’s traditional pretty much throughout. They weren’t afraid to explore sensitive themes either–“I’ll Take Care of You,” one of the highlights of their short career, deals with a same-sex relationship, and that’s something not seen often in country. This album was made at a time when good songwriting mattered and when it wasn’t so hard for women to be successful in the mainstream. Country might be much different today if the Dixie Chicks hadn’t been blacklisted, but that’s another story. For now, go check out this album and their other work.

Listen to Album

Let us know what you think about this feature, and share your own reflections in the comments below!

EP Review – Kimberly Dunn – New Smoke Show Vol. 1

Rating: 7/10

I’ve liked Kimberly Dunn since her last album, Forever on the Run, came out some years ago. I like how her songs aren’t always super-deep and sad. Which is why I don’t know why it’s taken me so many weeks since this EP came out to have a listen, but now that I’ve done so? I’m even more sad I waited.
Things kick off with “High Horse”. It’s a song about someone who thinks they’re better than everyone else, and Kimberly is saying how she can’t be glad for them when good things happen. They take from everyone else just to get what they want. It’s a nice way to open the album, because it’s not a slow song. Plus, there’s a nice guitar solo in it, too. I just wish her vocals had been performed better. This is because at the end of some words and phrases, her voice sounds pretty strained. It seems to break a bit, which is something I noticed on her last album too.
Next is “Traffic”. It’s one of my favorites off of this EP. The song talks about how she’s in traffic, and that time spent waiting gave her some perspective on her current relationship. He’s no good for her, and she just needs to get rid of him and stop taking him back. It’s catchy, fun, and has great subject matter.
“Stand on It” is yet another lighter song. It’s all about how she doesn’t follow convention. Not being able to be put into a box, she stands on that box instead. It’s a fast song with nice guitar work, and I’m definitely a fan. “Until We Never Meet Again” is a breakup song. She owes a lot of bills, and is sick of being hurt by her boyfriend. Therefore, she kicks him out, burns all of his stuff, and sends him back to his mom’s basement. It’s a slower song and shows off her vulnerability to great effect.
“You Belong With Her” is a really good song, because she’s sending her cheating boyfriend back to the woman he cheated on her with. I’m definitely a fan of this, because she’s not crying or sad he cheated. She just kicks him out, and says he got what he deserved, and that that woman is perfect for him. I have to add here that the fiddle in this song is awesome.
The last song on here, “Lonestar” is my favorite. When I first saw the title, I was a little nervous. I thought it was just another song about Texas. It turns out that I thought wrong. What “Lonestar” is actually about is her being a wanderer. She’s with a man who just wants to be with her, put down roots, and build a life. Instead, she’s a singer and a dreamer, and always has to be on the road. While this can admittedly be an overdone theme, I just found it very well-done in this song. Her voice really shines here, and it’s one to check out.
This EP is one I knew I had to cover when I heard it. I just loved some of these songs too much. I had to talk about them. In some places, Kimberly Dunn’s voice is weaker than it should be, but in others, that’s more than made up for. There are only six songs and they’re pretty short, but I’m a fan of that. She says what needs saying, and that’s that. I think you should check out this EP if any of these songs sound good to you. It’s not the most amazing piece of music, but you don’t feel put through the wringer upon listening to it either, and that’s quite refreshing.

Buy the Album on Amazon

Single Review: Thomas Rhett’s “Craving You” (supposedly featuring Maren Morris)

Country rating: 0/10
Pop Rating: 2/10

New music from Thomas Rhett, just what I’ve been waiting for. To be fair, almost anything could be better than the God-awful experience that was Tangled UP, an exercise in being everything but country while simultaneously insulting as many other genres of music as possible with the shit music it produced. Well, “Craving You” is better than that, if only marginally. It’s not completely terrible as a pop song, but I dare you to show me one shred of country influence in this song. Sonically, it’s sort of like Keith Urban’s “The Fighter,” as it has an 80’s pop sound. Lyrically, it’s yet another song about love and sex being compared to alcohol and drugs, so even if it’s not blatantly horrific, it’s bland and forgettable even as a pop song. You would think the inclusion of Maren Morris might make it at least bearable, and in the few lines she gets, her vocal ability does put that of Thomas Rhett to shame, but that’s probably why she doesn’t get more lines–and oh yeah, she’s female–so basically, her part in this amounts to nothing more than that of a glorified backup singer. It’s not featuring her, it’s more like “with a cameo appearance by Maren Morris.” But let’s slap a female name in the credits and that way, when this thing becomes a #1 hit, the programmers and industry executives can point to this as a step forward for women and feel better about themselves.
The best things I can say about it are that it’s better than his previous album and that it doesn’t immediately strike me as being ripped off. Of course, if it were ripped off, it might be better; we all know Thomas Rhett’s original output is far worse than when he destroys the work of other talented artists, “Vacation” being the horrendous exception…but I digress. IN short, it’s a bad pop song being sent to country radio because it couldn’t survive in the genre where it belongs, and with a few insignificant lines for a token female to make the whole thing seem like progress.