Britney's a bad mom and Notre Dame has a bad football team and Rolling Stone doesn't matter, but some recent reviews drive home that point for the umpteen-hundredth time. Rascal Flatts' utterly bland and pointless, even by their standards, Feels So Good was awarded 3 out of 5 stars while Gary Allan's solid, if unspectacular, Living Hard only rated a 2 of 5. WTF? Do they have ears? I realize two different people did the reviews, but honestly. What's the standard at RS now? Airplay? Unit shifting? If so, that makes sense, since the Flatts will surely have 3 number one hits and another top 5 off their current drink coaster while Allan will struggle to get two songs in the top 10. Rascal Flatts is shiny and pop and mom friendly and background music and vanilla pop tarts. Gary Allan is edgy and real and dad friendly and roll down the windows/crank it up or go cry in your beer music and a cold pizza/bloody mary breakfast. Rolling Stone is in the magazine selling business. Artists who sell large amounts of albums sell magazines. RF will be triple platinum by Christmas while Allan will maybe hit gold around February next year. Quantity over quality. Barry Bonds is a cheater. Water is wet.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
One of the best songs on Gary Allan's new album Living Hard, "She's So California" (and a sure-thing single till this week) contains the following lines in the chorus:
She's a wildfire out of control headed for ya
So when you get burned
Don't say I didn't warn ya
Cause she's so California
That reminds me of the bad luck timing of Joe Nichols' "Talk Me Out of Tampa," on his album III released around the time of Katrina.
I mean surely there's a hurricane, Due to hit there any day
No real commentary on this except it's too bad such a catchy song will never play on radio, but one has to be sensitive to the feelings of those involved in tragedies like the California fires and Hurricane Katrina. There are a few other decent singles on Allan's album, so no big deal in the grand scheme of things.
My prayers go out to those affected by the fires in southern California (even the celebrities :)).
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Carrie Underwood - Carnival Ride
Real Score: 5.5
Nashville Adjusted Score: 6.5
Argh! After hearing the lead-in single "So Small," and reading recent comments from Carrie about keeping it country and whatnot, I was expecting so much more. Surely she'd use her clout to get some stronger material - to gently force some more songwriterly material onto Clearchannel radio. Nope. What I got was a tolerable, but far from excellent, country pop unit shifter. It's easy on the ears while it's traveling in one and out the other.
The opening song, "Flat on the Floor," was a punch in the gut to my expectations. Sure, it sounds kinda country, and it's catchy, but the lyrics... the lyrics...
"I'm flat on the floor with my head down low
Where the sky can't rain on me anymore
Don't knock on my door 'cause I won't come
I'm hidin' from the storm 'til the damage is"
What??? Carrie, please don't release that song as a single. The collective IQ of America's youth is low enough.
I love “The More Boys I Meet”…that saying had to turn into a hook one of these days and the quirkiness of this song makes it a real winner. "Just a Dream" is another very solid track - a soldier-who-didn't-come-home tearjerker that far outshines most other songs of similar ilk - and probably the strongest song on the album aside from "So Small." Carrie's cover of Randy Travis' "I Told You So" is spot-on, if lacking a shade in authentic pain. "Wheel of the World" strives to be a lot more than it really is.
I wanted to like this album a lot more than I do, but it’s more like a debut than a second album - more sizzle than steak. She’s big enough that she could have recorded some deeper, more meaningful songs. Lori McKenna's got a lot of kids, Ms. Underwood could have helped gal out a little.
Carrie Underwood is a tremendous talent and one of the brightest stars in the commercial country music universe. I'm certain she'll put out an album worthy of her gifts before she hangs it up, oh, 20 years down the line. As it stands, Carnival Ride is just that… loud and fun with lots of pretty lights (not sure what that meant), but you can only stand to ride once or twice every now and then without feeling a little queasy.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Kevin Fowler - Bring it On
(Out of 10)
Real score - 6.25
Nashville adjusted score - 8.0
The Cream: Long Line of Losers, Slow Down
The Fluff: Best Mistake I Ever Made
The S#!&&y Stuff: Feels Good Don't It
The bottom line: Much better than I expected, after reading other reviews. Kevin brings an authenticity to the songs that could sound exceptionally cliche coming from less-likely-to-have-lived-every-word artists. This is good, harmless fun and a great party/driving album. Nothing earth shattering, but definitely booty shaking. I could see several songs on this CD climbing the charts and bringing Kevin into the commercial spotlight for the first time.
Brooks and Dunn - Cowboy Town
Real score - 5.75
Nashville adjusted score - 7.5
The Cream: Ballad of Jerry Jeff Walker, Put a Girl In It
The Fluff: Proud of the House We Built
The S#!&&y Stuff: Cowboy Town, Johnny Cash Junkie
The bottom line: As inconsistent as you'd expect from this talented, but radio-sensitve duo. The good is nearly great (see The Cream), but the bad is really bad (the name checking but devoid of any heartfelt homage "Johnny Cash Junkie"). The Kix Brooks helmed songs are particularly good. Ronnie Dunn's voice is in top form even on the clunkers.
Rascal Flatts - Still Feels Good
Real score - 3.0
Nashville adjusted score - 5.0
The Cream: Winner at a Losing Game
The Fluff: everything else, except...
The S#!&&y Stuff: Bob That Head
The bottom line: While I don't really care for RF's schtick (it's not really "for" me anyway), they usually pick some great songs for their releases, but not so much this time. "Bob That Head" is truly embarrassing.