Tag Archives: bro country

Album Review: Thomas Rhett–Tangled Up [a rant]

Rating: 0/10

**Language**

Now, I have reviewed bad albums. Luke Bryan’s Kill the Lights nearly made me wish that I had been born deaf rather than blind, saving me the horror of that experience altogether. But never before have I actually become angry when listening to an album for review–until now. Congratulations, Thomas Rhett. This, this is the most blatant, unashamed disregard for country music that I have ever witnessed, employing influences from nearly every genre except country and then labeling it “country” for some cash because in many cases, the “songs” concocted here would be laughed out of any other genre. I wrote that Don Henley made his album with obvious love and respect for the genre; one gets the feeling listening to this that Thomas Rhett went into this with outright hatred, disrespect, and defiance toward country music and its fans. Tangled Up is so named because of Thomas Rhett’s many influences, wich apparently include r&b, disco, funk, rap, rock, pop–anything but country–and his father was Rhett Akins, so he can’t even play the cluless Florida Georgia Line card here. He is so purposeful at avoiding anything having to do with country, and so arrogant and disrespectful about it, that all I can say is he should have went all the way and named this album Fuck Country Music, as this is the actual, unashamed theme…hey, at least he has a theme, I suppose. Maybe if he’d named it that, he could have thought of something for a cover, instead of leaving this to the fans in lieu of actually employing any creativity, self-expression, and/or brain power himself. If he’d gone with the above title, the cover could have shown him flipping off Hank or burning a Merle Haggard album…but I digress.

This thing begins with “Anthem,” a club song with electronic beats that is so blatantly non-country you get the feeling Thomas Rhett put this there on purpose out of pure, unbridled arrogance. The opening line is, “This is the beat that puts the fire on your feet, gives you the license to be a little crazy”–exactly, this is the beat that gives me the license to rip you and this album apart, Thomas Rhett. There is also a line that says, “This is the verse where you don’t know the words, and you don’t give a damn ’cause it feels good.” Goes nicely with my new theme, so points for that, I guess–too bad you didn’t name your album this, then I might have called it the perfect opener. “Crash and Burn” is next; now, I actually liked “Crash and Burn” when it first came out, but after it became apparent to me that Rhett ripped off Sam Cook’s “Chain Gang,” this song lost much of its appeal–and in the context of this album, it’s even worse, showing that one of the rare decent songs is still not country and was someone else’s idea in the first place. I wouldn’t blame you for liking “Crash and Burn” as a piece of music, but in the context of this album, it definitely sucks.

“South Side” is next, and if this gets released as a single, this will be one of the worst songs of the year. If there was a theme song for metro-bro, it would be this: the funk/r&b/rap song advising women to “shake your south side.” Um, no. “Die a Happy Man” is actually a good love song with some real emotion–just one huge, glaring problem: it’s an r&b song. There’s nothing remotely country about this. It’s also ironic that he name-drops Marvin Gay here–I was annoyed when they threw in names like Haggard and Strait, but this is almost worse. He will go on to name-drop Guns n’ Roses and Third Eye Blind in this album–bro country threw in all the country names to prove its country cred, metro-bro throws in as many non-country names as possible in its effort to mock country and traiditionalists. As if this album wasn’t non-country enough, next is “Vacation.” This horrifying display has fourteen songwriters, and I
already gave this brutal ruining of “low Rider” the ripping it deserves, and I don’t have much to add. Songs like “Vacation” are generally what Rhett would produce if he went to r&b, rather than decent ones like “Die a Happy Man,” so “country” is where he’ll stay, ruining my beloved genre with this musical disease that he has unleashed on mankind.

“Like It’s the Last Time” is typical bro country–“boots,” “jeans,” “truck,” “party lights,” you get the picture. Thomas Rhett, this is so 2013. But seriously, I can’t believe how welcome bro country is after what I’ve just been subjected to–it’s almost as if he put it there as some sort of sick, arrogant irony to show all us traditionalists bro country was not the worst thing that could befall us, and only the beginning of the war on our beloved country music. “T-Shirt” is possibly the most obnoxious song on this entire thing–it’s some sort of r&b/funk song about how the girl looks good in his T-shirt. Rhett does some really annoying Sam Hunt style spoken word here that only adds to the unoriginality, non-countriness, and general horror of this track. “Single Girl” sees Rhett asking a single girl if she wouldn’t rather be with him than be alone. This is not headache-inducing, but it’s boring, bland, and yes, non-country. Also, if he planned on singing any of this album to her regularly, I’m sure she’d rather die alone. “When You Stop Lookin’ Back” is about not looking back on the past, but rather moving on and looking forward. This does feature some acoustic guitar and perhaps could be called “r&b country,”–for about half the song–but half a song on an entire album is not enough to save this album or to call it country. “Tangled” is like a bad Maroon 5 song, complete with Thomas Rhett sounding like a terrible Adam Levine. I don’t even know what else to say.

I’m going to single out “Playing With Fire” here, as it’s the only song that I actually think is a good song in its rightful genre. It’s a pop song featuring Jordin Sparks about being in a relationship that isn’t right for them, but they can’t help “playing with fire.” For a pop song, it’s actually pretty good, and Jordin Sparks really helps this track. But just like “Die a Happy Man,” that doesn’t help a country album. There is not a shred of country in it, and at this point it would take Rhett singing Alan Jackson’s entire discography to make up for the monstrosity I have been forced through so far. “I Feel Good” brings us back to mindless party bullshit, and this song features LunchMoney Lewis, which actually makes this album worse–I didn’t think that was possible, so good job, Thomas Rhett. I should mention that this song name-drops “Georgia,” so I guess we’re supposed to automatically give this a “country” designation. The album concludes with “Learned it From the Radio,” an appropriate metro-bro anthem where Rhett explains that he learned all of his douche behavior, including how to drink and kiss girls, from the radio. I believe it, I really do.

Forget “Murder on Music Row,” where no one found the weapon. This album is Thomas Rhett holding up the weapon and dancing around in the street. If you like Thomas Rhett, so be it; your musical taste is your choice and none of my business. But when this r&b/funk/disco/pop music is so shamelessly allowed to be sent to “country” and to compete with George Strait, Don Henley, and Clint Black for album sales, it becomes my business, and I’m not going to sit by silently.

May King George personally come and kick Thomas Rhett’s ass if this collection of shit prevents George from having a #1 album this week!

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P.S. I love my readers and country music too much to post a video in any sort of support of this album.

P.P.S.

Review: Alabama Sells Out Hugely with “Southern Drawl”

Rating: 0/10

Alabama, what were you thinking? I can’t even believe I had to write the above title. You gave us “Mountain Music,” “Love in the First Degree,” “Roll On,” and so many other great songs. You had a remarkable career as one of the most successful groups in country music history. You haven’t produced a studio album in fifteen years, and this…thing is what we get? Did you hear Florida Georgia Line say “Alabama on the boom box,” or Jason Aldean say he was “jammin’ to some old Alabama with you baby” while he was “burnin’ it down” and think, “We can make cool music too?” Or was it the collaboration with Brad Paisley who was “listenin’ to old Alabama, parked somewhere in Tennessee” that made you think this would all be okay? Whatever it was, this thing is pathetic…you had no reason to sell out, and you won’t be successful doing it. The recording of this song will have been nothing but an embarrassing stain on the great legacy of Alabama.

Okay, as everyone can see, Alabama’s new song “Southern Drawl” sucks. The intro sounds exactly like “We Will Rock You.” They added in fake applause which go oh so nicely with the blaring rock guitars. Then the vocals start, and I can’t tell if this is a bad parody of checklist/bro country or just an ill-advised attempt to be cool, but this is some sort of song listing all the things that make them Southern. “Life sounds better with a Southern drawl” might sound more convincing if they had a Southern drawl while singing it. Their vocals are terrible and not Alabama quality, and they can’t keep up with the track. Then the bridge comes, and with it the only redeeming quality in this song, the piano solo. That might have moved it up to a 1, but then Alabama actually raps. Yes, I wrote that sentence…Alabama raps. And with that, I don’t know what else to say about it, it’s just awful, and I wish I had never heard it and could erase this from my knowledge/memory of Alabama. This song has received virtually no attention except for its bad reviews, so there was literally no point in selling out like this. Their album, also named Southern Drawl, is due out September 18th, and it can only be better than this. Then again, I never thought I would hear this train wreck come out of the Alabama that I loved. If this is what was coming after fifteen years, they should have never made another album.

Here’s a live version–and it should tell you something about the recording that I had to listen to most of this to tell that it was indeed a live version. It doesn’t sound all that different.

Album Review: Luke Bryan–Kill the Lights

Rating: 2.5/10

When an album is preceeded with “Kick the Dust Up” and
“Strip it Down,”
you can only assume the album will be more of the same. So when I listened to Kill the Lights, I was expecting an album of trend-chasing, radio-ready singles and hoping for at least one or two good country songs thrown in at the end as an afterthought. I should expect more from an artist like Luke Bryan, but that’s unfortunately not the case. I can be thankful, I guess, that the album does offer a few good songs at the end, although this leaves me wondering why Luke Bryan uses his status and potential to churn out shit like “Kick the Dust Up.” Oh, wait…because quality doesn’t equal airplay. So unfortunately, most listeners will not get to the end and hear the good on this album.

“Kick the Dust Up” opens the album, and I am not going to waste my time explaining why this is horrible. If you’ve heard it, you know it’s terrible bro country garbage, and if you like it, you aren’t going to be persuaded by my bashing of it, so let’s move on. Next is “Kill the Lights,” which is another boring bro country anthem, infused with more pop elements so that it is hard to tell whether he’s trying to keep his core fans or appeal to Sam Hunt fans. It mixes the worst of both of those trends to make a completely obnoxious song that will probably be a massive radio hit. Also, the chorus sounds remarkably close to his 2013 hit “That’s My Kind of Night” in terms of rhythm. I hated that song the first time, and this version isn’t any better. I already explained my problems with “Strip it Down,” and actually, hearing it in the context of the album, it’s not that bad. This speaks to the quality of the album rather than the quality of “Strip it Down.” It is another trend-chasing song, only now he is chasing the “Burnin’ it Down” trend established by Jason Aldean. Three songs, and I haven’t heard any country whatsoever–unless you count the references to back roads, present in all three songs, which I don’t.

The scene shifts from the back roads to a club with “Home Alone Tonight,” a duet with Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild. This had potential to be one of the better moments on the album, but it boils down to a song about taking a “payback picture” and sending it to their exes, followed by a text saying they aren’t going “hhome alone tonight.” Instead, they are going “shot for shot for shot” with a stranger and then hooking up. Karen Fairchild should be embarrassed to be included in this song; this is the same voice that gave us “Girl Crush,” and now she is using it for evil.

From there, Kill the Lights moves up from terrible to songs that are more mediocre and forgettable. “Razor Blade” is a straight pop song that deals with a woman who “won’t cut you like a knife, like a knife, that little look in her eyes will cut you like a razor blade.” “Fast” is a boring song infused with hip-hop beats about how life goes by too fast. Six songs in, and still no country. Next is “Move,” a rocking song about watching a girl move in the moonlight. Aside from being a bro country dance mix, this song loses hope when Luke Bryan does a spoken-word bit in the middle; also he says “M-o-v-e” way too many times. Having said that, it’s much less annoying/offensive/obnoxious than his previous bro country material. Next is “Just Over,” a breakup song that uses the word “over” to explain that he thought she would “come over, stay over, wake up hung over, still head over heels for me” but “it’s just over.” This is decently written, but its main problem is production; eight songs in, and no country. However, he could release worse singles than “Just Over.”

“Love it Gone” brings in the first country touches. This is a song about “loving gone” all of his woman’s troubles. This is still a forgettable song to me, but at least it sounds like pop country. “Way Way Back” reverts back to pop and sings of getting “way way back” to the early days of a relationship. Apparently their relationship started on a back road though, as he goes to this yet again.

All of a sudden, “To the Moon and Back” comes on. I hear acoustic guitars and stripped-down instrumentation. Here is a country love song about loving a woman “to the moon and back.” I hope this will be a single. It should be noted that this is the first time Luke Bryan sounds like he is not bored singing. This is the Luke Bryan that sang “Do I,” “Rain is a Good Thing,” and “All My Friends Say.” “Huntin’, Fishin’, and Lovin’ Every Day” is next, and you will either hate it because it has clich├ęs, or you will like it because it has country instrumentation and sounds believable. Personally, I enjoy this song because Luke sounds like he believes what he is singing. It talks about country life, but not in the cartoonish way that “Kick the Dust Up” does. It proves a song can be lighthearted and talk about country life without being offensive. Last is “Scarecrows,” a song that reminds me of Florida Georgia Line’s “Dirt.” It reflects on the mark left on those old back roads, saying, “we’ll always be here wherever we go, just like the scarecrows.” This is a heartfelt country song and one of my favorite Luke Bryan songs to date. You will never hear “To the Moon and Back” or “Scarecrows” if you do what I would have done and ignore this album because of “Kick the Dust Up” and “Strip it Down.” I only heard these songs because I reviewed it, and they proved that Luke Bryan is capable of so much more than the crap he releases to radio. So, I would not recommend this album by any means, but do listen to the last three songs.

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Single Review: Kelsea Ballerini’s “Dibs” is Female Bro Country

Rating: 1/10

When it comes to Kelsea Ballerini, I have mixed feelings. She is seen as the next Taylor Swift in country music, a comparison that is both fair and unfair in some ways. They are both more pop than country, but I actually preferred Taylor’s brand of country, and certainly her songwriting, to Kelsea’s. Having said that, I had far less of a problem with “Love me Like You Mean It” than many traditionalists, and while I didn’t feel that it deserved country airplay, I thought it was a good pop song and was proud of Kelsea for hitting No. 1 with it. I’d prefer a more traditional artist, but seeing as “country” radio is basically pop radio with banjo these days, Kelsea must still be recognized among her piers as having a remarkable achievement for a female country artist, even if “country” is nothing more than a label to her.

This brings us to Kelsea’s second single, “Dibs.” For me, the instrumentation here is slightly better than in “Love me Like You Mean It.” I base this on the fact that when I first heard “Love Me,” I thought I was listening to a pop song. When I play “Dibs,” the thought that comes to mind is pop country. The bigger problem with “Dibs” is the lyrics. Basically, it is about Kelsea calling “dibs” on some guy she sees at a bar. Here are the lines in the chorus that made me lose all hope for this song:”If you’ve got a Friday night free and a shotgun seat, Well I’m just saying I ain’t got nowhere to be.” Really? What happened to “Girl in a Country Song?” Maddie & Tae said, “We used to get a little respect, Now we’re lucky if we even get to climb up in your truck, keep our mouth shut, and ride along.” Apparently Kelsea doesn’t want respect and is fine with riding shotgun. I don’t know about the rest of the women out there, but I’m with Maddie & Tae.

At the end of the chorus, Kelsea goes into a very annoying Sam Hunt style spoken-word list of what she’s calling dibs on:

I’m calling dibs
On your lips,
On your kiss,
On your time,
Boy, I’m calling dibs
On your hand,
On your heart
All mine

Later in the song, she actually sings these lines which is much less annoying and makes me wonder why we had to be subjected to the spoken-word bit in the first place. Oh, right…because it worked for Sam Hunt so it must be awesome.

Bro country was bad enough, but now we have females singing it? The worst part about this is that there are actually some decent songs on Kelsea’s debut album that I wouldn’t mind being released as singles. It’s actually a decent pop album–a terrible country album, but a decent pop album–so if she released “First Time” or “Secondhand Smoke” or “Peter Pan,” all of which are closer to pop country than this spoken-word pop song, I’d have less of a problem. Even “Xo” which is a straight pop song like “Love Me” that doesn’t belong on country radio at all would bother me less. This is upsetting because a woman has stooped to singing the bro country crap…and it will get played. I would rather Kelsea identify herself with pop because that’s what she really is, but as long as she continues to call herself country, she could at least refrain from releasing singles like this. I’ll take straight pop labeled country over female bro country any day.

Album Review: Easton Corbin–About to Get Real

Rating: 2.5/10

Easton Corbin is one of the most frustrating people in country music for me. I became a fan with his first two singles, “A Little More Country Than That” and “Roll With It,” but for me, he has gone downhill from there. With a voice nearly identical to George Strait’s, he lends himself naturally to traditional sounding country and could be a leader in this “country” radio climate. So it is all the more disappointing that he has chosen to capitalize on the bro country craze, and when I listened to this album, it quickly became nothing more than a contest for the song with the worst pick-up line.

The album opens with “Kiss me One More Time,” a relatively decent, if forgettable, love song. I have no problem with this song, although it did not stand out at all. Next is “Guys and Girls,” which is about him asking to be “the guy beggin’ for one last dance” and she’s the “girl who says you missed your chance.” All hope for this song ends here with the next line:

Let’s take it to the parking lot and put the tailgate down
Turn it into a Saturday night and a small town world,
A cooler of beer, a little truck bed twirl in the moonlight.

Contender No. 1 for worst pick-up line on the album.

“Clockwork” is about a relationship that doesn’t work. It reminds me of Chris Young’s “I’m Comin’ Over,” only much more boring. “Diggin’ on You” is next, and contender No. 2 for worst pick-up line goes to “I’m buzzin’ on, kissin’ on, trippin’ on, diggin’ on you.” Seriously, who writes this and thinks it’s good? And immediately after this comes the single, currently at NO. 5 on Billboard Country Airplay, “Baby, Be my Love Song.” This sounds like it would be a great song, but no; here we have the pick-up line, “Be the buzz in my Dixie cup”–I hope there aren’t any women out there who find this at all romantic.

Next is the title track, an actual decent love song (I know, surprising)

It’s about to get real good,
Come on baby, get real close,
Girl, you know I want you real bad, got me fallin’ fast,
Let’s take it where it wants to go.

Following this is “Yup” which is as unoriginal as the title–just a song about picking some girl up at a bar, minus a dreadful pick-up line. “Wild Women and Whiskey” is a pretty good song and reminds me of something George Strait might have sung. This is infuriating because it proves that Easton Corbin is capable of singing something decent. “Are You With Me” is another good song (two in a row, he’s on a freaking roll) about taking a chance on love.

The streak is broken with typical bro country anthem “Damn Girl” which is ironic because he actually says, “this ain’t just a pick-up line, damn girl.” Again, who writes this? “just Add Water” is a summer anthem like Brad Paisley’s “Water”–no problem with this one, but nothing stood out. Last is “Like a Song,” a decent song about a woman who has left him and is stuck in his head like a song.

Musically, About to Get Real was great. Every song sounded country–very few pop or hip-hop influences to be found. Somehow this frustrates me even more. It proves that Easton Corbin could be great if he wanted to be, but he has chosen to cash in on a trend instead. Consequently, I don’t think I will remember most, if any of these songs within five minutes.

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