Happy New Music Day! Check out these releases…

So I had to make a quick post to highlight that today’s new music release day is brimming with tons of interesting albums. Unfortunately I’ve been too busy to write reviews lately, but I have been listening to a lot of music. You can bet that I will be reviewing Yola’s Walk Through Fire as soon as I can (could there be a more appropriate album for Fusion Country?). Anyway here’s all of the intriguing artist album releases you should check out. So far I’ve only listened to Dee White’s Southern Gentleman and Durand Jones and The Indications’ American Love Call and they’re both excellent.

  • Dee White
  • Durand Jones and The Indications
  • Hozier
  • The Cactus Blossoms
  • Quaker City Nighthawks
  • 2 Chainz
  • Queensryche

I would be shocked if you listened to all of these and didn’t find at least one album to enjoy. With this many interesting albums I had to take a moment to share this. Anyway enjoy new music Friday!


Album Review – Rival Sons’ ‘Feral Roots’

Rival Sons is one of the many great rock bands today that easily prove the rock is far from dead. I remember I came across this band when they released their fantastic Great Western Valkyrie album. It’s one of my favorite albums of the 2010s and it set the bar in their discography. It’s also when Dave Cobb started producing their albums and now he’s not only producing their work, but the band is signed to his imprint Low Country Sound/Elektra Records. So with the release of their new album Feral Roots, it’s hard not to measure it against their best. And after thoroughly listening to it, it’s safe to say this album is very much in the vein of their best work.

  • Like any great rock album, the opening song needs to smack you in the face (preferably with guitars) and that’s exactly what “Do Your Worst” does. Lead vocalist Jay Buchanan delivers the lyrics with passion and a sense of urgency, which is exactly what you want in a sex anthem like this. The hook of this song is poppy and instantly catchy.
  • “Sugar on the Bone” is another song that has an incredible hook you’ll be singing along with on the very first listen. The heavy drums from Michael Miley give the song a “big” feel and I love the buildup to the crashing guitars of Scott Holiday and Dave Beste in the bridge.
  • Right away these two opening songs show how great Rival Sons is at incorporating their influences (blues rock) without blatantly ripping them off. The hooks and themes for these songs are straight out of the AC/DC playbook of songwriting, but they don’t sound exactly like any AC/DC song.
  • The instrumental opening for “Back in the Woods” immediately made me think of Van Halen. It just instantly grabs your attention and refuses to let go. The instrumentation in the bridge is so damn good with the way everything just crashes together to create this perfectly heavy, symphonic sound. It’s rock, baby!
  • “Look Away” opens with an acoustic sound before switching back to a heavier, methodic sound. The lyrics for this song are gripping and grim, painting a picture of a dystopian, misled society.
  • These lyrics in particularly really catch my ear: “You watch the distribution/Of a mass confusion/Spread by the institution/Find your inclusion/Of you in your own delusion/Instead of thinking you’re the solution.” The lyrics don’t go on to be about anything in particular, leaving it up to you the listener for your own interpretation. Personally, I think it works as a critique of the bias and partisanship in journalism today.
  • It should be pointed out part of this album was recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, which has a long history of influence on soul music. You can feel it’s influence throughout the album, particularly in the title track. It’s got a smoky, mystic feel about it in both the lyrics and sound. There’s a definitely a Led Zeppelin IV influence to it too.
  • “Too Bad” is your classic break up, revenge rock song. The man is glad to have moved on, while the woman regrets the breakup. The man gleefully taunts her perceived mistake and relishes that she wants him back so bad. It’s cathartic and satisfying for him. I really enjoy songs like this where the character and their feelings are described so well that you can imagine yourself as them during the song. It’s got such a great sing along quality to it. I also imagine if you’re just coming off a breakup, this song is even more fun.
  • “Stood By Me” is a real feel good song about friendship. The central character in the song describes going through a terrible time and getting back to where they belong thanks to a great friend being there for them. It’s a simple song, but it has one of the best messages on the album.
  • “Imperial Joy” is another song with mystical lyrics centered around finding your joy and letting it be your compass in life. Again a feel good song with a nice message. While these two songs aren’t the flashiest on the album, they give the album a solid dose of substance that balances out the wild moments that celebrate the excesses of rock.
  • “All Directions” is one of the quietest moments on the album, as it’s acoustic-based at first. By the end though it slowly builds up louder and louder until Buchanan is screaming by the end of the song. It’s solid and I can enjoy it, but it’s probably one of my lesser favorites.
  • “The End of Forever” is another heartbreak song, but this time it’s much messier and complicated. One line in particular sums up the feelings for both sides: “The best and the worst thing we’ve ever had.” They’re glad to be letting go, but regretting it too. Just like the previous song, it’s one of my lesser favorites on the album. This is mainly because this song has the weakest hook on the album.
  • The final song on the album “Shooting Stars” is simply incredible. Talk about ending on a strong note! The anthemic nature, Buchanan’s battle cry conviction in his vocal delivery and the soaring backing choir combine together to create one of the band’s best songs ever. The best rock songs get your blood and fists pumping and this song does this from the word go. I can only imagine the scene at a concert when the entire crowd sings this in unison.

Feral Roots is another great album from Rival Sons. While I would be hard-pressed to say this is their absolute best work, it ranks up there as one of their best albums without a doubt. It feels like the magic has been recaptured on this album by the band and Cobb. While this record doesn’t re-invent the wheel in terms of sound or creativity, it’s a reminder that you don’t always have to get fancy to make great music. Feral Roots is that heavy dose of hard blues rock you’ve been craving.

Grade: 8/10

Album’s Top Highlights: Shooting Stars, Back in the Woods, Too Bad, Do Your Worst, Sugar on the Bone, Look Away

Producer: Dave Cobb

Songwriters: Jay Buchanan, Scott Holiday, Dave Cobb, Dave Beste

Review – George Strait’s “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar”

You can never complain about new music from George Strait. The legendary country artist needs no introduction, as even if you’re not a country fan, you’ve had to have heard a Strait song at some point in your life. He’s been producing great music for decades. Now he’s getting set to release another brand new album, Honky Tonk Time Machine, and its lead single “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar” is out now.

  • Right away you’re greeted by a familiar, warm and inviting melody. It’s a sound that’s always fit Strait.
  • The lyrics of the song are well-treaded territory for Strait too, as it’s about the sights and scenes of your average honky tonk bar in towns across America. It sets the scenes well and it’s a theme any country fan can get into.
  • There really isn’t much else to say about the song. It certainly doesn’t compete with his best material, but it’s another solid song in Strait’s deep library of music.

In a time when many traditional artists are failing to capture attention, you can’t complain about getting the tried and true from one of the all-time greats. “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar” is a song that’s easy to enjoy and slide right into your playlist.

Grade: 7/10

Songwriters: George Strait, Bubba Strait & Dean Dillon

Review – Chris Janson’s “Good Vibes”

Chris Janson has demonstrated since his debut album that he has the ability and voice to make great music. But he has yet to demonstrate a level of consistency in his music. Both of his albums released so far have been mixed bags in terms of quality, featuring both great songs and forgettable to terrible songs. His latest single “Drunk Girl” was his biggest hit since “Buy Me a Boat,” so I was hopeful this would embolden him to pursue more quality songs in this vein on his third project. We now get the first taste of this album with lead single “Good Vibes.”

  • Right away this song proves to be another good one from Janson. I instantly connect with the opening verse: “I ain’t watched TV today/Bad news it can just stay away/If you ain’t got anything good to say/Then shut your mouth.”
  • As someone sick of the non-stop negativity and toxicity of all media (from TV to social), this verse just hits a home run with this sentiment. And I imagine there are many others who feel the same. Who wants to engage with all of this bullshit?
  • This song has a simple message: shut off all the negativity and enjoy good vibes. Find and enjoy happiness. It’s nothing deep, but breezy, feel good songs like this are essential. Not every song needs to be Bob Dylan/Guy Clark-level songwriting.
  • It has a fun and bouncy melody to match the lyrics. It’s instantly catchy. The phrase “good vibes” will connect well with younger listeners too. Older listeners may cringe at this observation, but the genre needs young listeners if it wants to have a future.

“Good Vibes” is a timely and fun song from Chris Janson. I know I’ll be enjoying this one for a while.

Grade: 8/10

Songwriters: Chris Janson, Ashley Gorley & Zach Crowell

Review – Brooks & Dunn’s “Brand New Man” (with Luke Combs)

For several days the legendary duo had been posting #Reboot on social media, vaguely hinting at a return with some sort of announcement. Well now we know Brooks & Dunn are releasing an album of re-imaginations of their iconic hits with several modern country artists joining them on each song. One of the first songs released is a re-imagining of “Brand New Man” with one of the most popular artists in country music today, Luke Combs.

  • I love how right away we get instant harmonizing from the three artists. They sound great together! So I’m hooked from the get-go.
  • They do well balancing the vocals throughout, while also continuing to pepper in the great harmonizing.
  • The revamped production sounds great. It gives the song a renewed punch.
  • It’s amazing how timeless and excellent this song still sounds several years later. But anyone who listened to 90s country knows this.
  • They’re actually releasing this to radio and I think it could be a huge hit once again. Why not? It’s early sales are excellent. I don’t hear anybody asking for less music from Luke Combs. And what country fan doesn’t enjoy Brooks & Dunn? This song checkmarks every box.

There’s not much else to say except this song has always been great and it’s still great with this re-imagining. Big props to both Brooks & Dunn and Luke Combs.

Grade: 9/10

An Update on Fusion Country

I wanted to take this moment to reaffirm Fusion Country is not going anywhere. I haven’t been posting a lot due to being busy and a lack of fusion country music to discuss. The latter prompted me to re-evaluate the focus of this blog moving forward.

Lately, I’ve strongly considered re-launching Country Perspective because I want to start writing about all types of country music again, along with other genres. But I realized that I was essentially taking what I’ve created here and applying it to a two-years dormant blog. On top of that there’s the biggest hurdle: people expecting the old CP to return and that will never happen as I’ve said before. This blog is really what I’ve wanted all along, but I’ve realized one hitch. The limited focus has held me back a bit and that’s a pretty easy fix.

So effective today I’m expanding to cover all parts of country music (that I want to cover). There will still be an extra focus on country music that expands boundaries and horizons with it’s style and sound that I dub “fusion country.” I’ll also be covering other genres of music when I feel like it. I’m a music fan first and foremost, so this blog should reflect it. In addition I’m trying a new review format.

Some other notes I would like to put out:

  • As of now, I will not have any social media platforms promoting the blog. They’re vile and toxic and I want no part of them. So if you enjoy what you see here, please feel free to spread the word. I also recommend subscribing to the blog via email, so you don’t miss a thing.
  • This is something I’ve wanted to get off my chest for a while: I’m not going to engage in any specific criticism or fight with blogs/authors moving forward. I spent too much time in the past engaging in petty/vague bickering with people I perceived as a threat and competition. But us writers shouldn’t view each other as such. We should be allies who strive to make each other better. So whether it’s Saving Country Music or Grady Smith, I want to get along with everybody and I extend the olive branch to anyone I had a negative experience with in the past. Again I just want to get along and if interested, work together.
  • You might have noticed the comments section has been closed. It’s now re-opened. I missed the discussion and feedback aspect. My reasoning for this temporary closing was flawed.
  • Will The Ultimate Pulse of Country Music return? I haven’t decided yet. I want to re-evaluate the formula and format.
  • I will continue to not take any pitches for reviews and features. There’s no email to submit them to either and if any publisher/artist/label even attempts to solicit me in any way, shape or from, you will be permanently banned. No exceptions. I write about whatever interests me. Your PR and promoting is not my job and problem. You are welcome to take part in this blog as a reader and lover of music.

I hope you’re as excited by these changes as I am. I look forward to engaging with you in the comments again!

Review – Kelsea Ballerini’s “Miss Me More”

Kelsea Ballerini’s output of country pop has been a mixed bag for me. She either hits big or misses big. With her new single “Miss Me More,” it’s definitely a hit. The audience agrees too, as this single has by far outperformed her other singles during the Unapologetically era. It’s an energetic redemption anthem about a woman regaining her independence after breaking free from a controlling and toxic relationship. She runs through the list of things she was forced to change about herself to please him and realizes after ditching him that she would rather be herself than be someone she’s not. It’s an inspirational, timely and catchy track. The production will be a turn off to more traditionally-minded fans and admittedly this song leans more heavily on the pop side. But the lyrics, message and Ballerini’s vocal performance make this an undeniably good track. Not to mention, the music video for this track perfectly compliments the song. “Miss Me More” certainly doesn’t miss and lands what I believe will be a career hit for Ballerini.

Grade: 8/10

Songwriters: Kelsea Ballerini, David Hodges & Brett McLaughlin