Tag Archives: Maren Morris

Album Countdown 2019: My Disappointments (19-28, rather 28-19)

28 Dec

I usually rank all of these artists higher, so I was particularly disappointed in them in 2019.  And can we just talk about how country music is totally off the rails right now?  Like, what the fuck happened to it?  Where has it gone?  It’s really superficial, lacking most of the elements I look for in a good country song.  The closest thing to it is this folksy Americana/roots stuff that Brandi Carlile ran off into.  Roots in fine in small doses.  But I want country, country!  And I’d like Brandi to go back to a more folk-rock sound.  Please and thank you.

 

28. David Gray:
He used to be one of my staples. And I was very excited to see his new album had ‘jazz’ right in the title! I really expected something. But alas, the tunes were quited and meh. And I aborted (which I never take lightly) the song by song review because of boredom.

 

27. Marren Morris
Her breakthrough albums made me an instant fan! I really liked it and had it on heavy rotation for 2 years. So I was excited to see her next effort since she has more fame, clout, money to go in a direction she wants musically. I’d have liked to see more personality on the 2nd album–it was kinda forgettable despite the duets. What a disappointment.

 

26. Madonna
File this one under: Expert Trying Too Hard. Yes, Madonna will always have it. But I could tell she was really trying to get in touch with a moment to better fit the aesthetic of 2019. Like that mom that borrows her 16 year old’s clothes to try to fit it with the kids.
“Extreme Occident” right/left/lost is not strong enough, and I found it to be a political cop-out. Madonna has never shied away from telling us who she is and what she thinks. Also, she has a large following and big audience that she influences. Finally, she’s a bit removed from the chasing fame and certainly financially stable. So what does she have to lose by making a big statement?
“Bitch I’m Loca” speaking part at the end was funny.
“I Don’t Search” very electronic (house?) with kinda dreamy lyrics. I, of course, like the “Vogue”-eske snaps.
“Faz Gastoso” is foreign language (Spanish?) and has an R&B tough-gal sound and a lot of tongue-rolling. It also has that sound given to a lot of 3rd world scenes with the instrumental breakdown and all. As a matter of fact, I felt a sense of dejavu listening to it, and was trying to figure out if it was copied from something…

 

23. Lady Antebellum:
I found the album a little ‘too.” You know overly sentimental and trying too hard.
-”The Thing That…” Nice harmony and nice like echo effect of the singing.
-”What If I Never” I liked how they alternate male vs female vocals on the verse then came together on the chorus. It’s a good concept-the thought that time might not always heal broken hearts caused from breaking up.
-”Pictures” Short and meh.
-”Downtown” Tells a story, with a lot of description.
-”On a Night Like” Is a nice love song.

 

22. Avett Brothers
-ugh! Too much talking! Every song is ruined with talk.
-”New Woman…” good political points/feminism, but I think it must have been written before Trump? It’s pretty optimistic, and the current political landscape and state of feminism is (I would say) bleak.

 

21. Jonas Brothers
The album seems quite generic and boring.
“Used to be” poppy. Just Ok.
“Love Her” is nice with the snaps and la-las.
“Hesitate” I like the sentiment of the lyrics.

 

20. Luke Combs
I was actually pretty disappointed this album was such a let down compared to the prior one that was well written. This one felt more forced and came off as phony to me–not nearly as authentic as the last album. I also thought that deep, resonant singing got lost on this one.
-“Angels Workin…” Has a good beat, is a good tailgate song, and was probably the strongest offering on this album.
-“Every Little Bit..” I like that it’s sad and cheeky. I always enjoy a good break up song, and this one is relatable.
-“Beer Never Broke” is a good tailgate song.
-“Even though…” Daddy? Um no, you’re too old for that, Luke. The song is folksy.
-“Frigerator Door’ is trying too hard to force sentimentality.
-“Mexico” is kinda short and meh-not that notable.
-“Better Together” is just OK. The singing is kinda rough.
-“Lovin on You” sounds like a jukebox song, with a good beat, and love lyrics.
-’Even Though” is too much for me. I put in in the ‘Army Wives’ category.

 

19. Thomas Rhett:
It isn’t the autobiographical catchy tunes of the other album I liked. I found most of the songs felt too short. He did more shorter songs and I wish he had added to each one even if the album turned out shorter.
-”Don’t Threaten me w/a Good Time” party song, fun, jam-band instrumentals
-”blessed” nice love song, only complaint is that it’s too short
-”VHS” is mildly catchy like the other album, but not in a strong way. Watered down summer jam.
-”Notice” is a nice, catchy love song. I like the detail in it, and I like how singable it would be at concerts.
-”Sand” is a summer party song and also a love song. I think the singing is good here-some higher notes
-”Beer Can’t Fix” is the Jimmy Buffet island song of the album. Calypso sound and duet sounds nice for the beach.
-”Don’t Stop Drivin’’ has a nice beat, more poppy.
-”Barefoot” gives a nice mental image. Has some background vocals reminiscent of the other album.

TOP 6 Albums of 2017 (after much adieu)

14 Jan

#6-Imagine Dragons

In the past, I liked Imagine Dragons just fine.  They were an agreeable band for work or other group settings that called for a musical consensus.  They were a neutral background sound.  Evolve stands out.  It’s easily in the top albums of the year.  The lyrics are meaningful, the album as a whole is cohesive, and each song is good.  There are no throw away songs here.  And the catchiness is at it’s peak, every song gets inside you.  Best song of the year–tied with Ke$ha’s “Prayer” is “Believer” oh my gawd!  They had factored even higher in my list all year long, but several last minute discoveries upset their easy top 3 place.  Still, this is good, and just shows how diverse the music was in 2017, and how many new artists came right out of the gate as contenders.

#5-Demi Lovato

After much deliberation, she settled on my list above magic Dragons because her emotion on Tell Me You Love Me is tangible and raw.  These songs are an obvious ‘fuck-you’ set to somebody.  You can feel the maturity, hear the singing power, and tell she went through a transformation while writing this and came out the better for it.  There are only 2 songs on the album that I didn’t care for (“Daddy Issues” and “Ruin the Friendship”) but big deal.  Plus, she gets extra bonus points for “Sorry, Not Sorry” my 3rd favorite song of the year, and very favorite diss song.  I was going to post a link to that video, but it was horrible.  Bad boots, bad kissing scenes, not the awesomeness I had imagined.  So here is a song without a video to ruin it.

#4-Lee Ann Womak

This is different from her prior adult contempory/easy listening/country touchy-feely stuff.  Different in a great way!  The Lonely, the Lonesome, and the Gone is bluesy.  The emotion isn’t contrived here—you can feel it.  Womak’s voice is thick with pain and grief and she easily conveys some gritty emotion.  Guitar is played with soul.  She reinvented herself, or slid into another niche—and I whole-heartedly approve!

#3-Sam Smith

I thought his radio hit was more of the same.  Urban R&B sounding stuff.  Which is good, but has been very overplayed in 2017.  I get it–every non-white, non-male, minority needs to shout right now.  Good on the industry for finally including other voices on the scene.  But it shouldn’t just get put on the radio, because it fits a certain image/demographic–the songs should be GOOD.  And the R&B is starting to get a little diluted.  Anyway, when I heard Sam Smith’s first single, it was just another one.  But when I discovered The Thrill of it All as a whole I was blown away.  The album isn’t another cookie-cutter to take advantage of the latest sound that sells.  It breaks stereotypes and pushes at boundaries, while showcasing a true writing and singing talent.  I like the gospel influence, and Smith’s resonant voice.  I like how a gay man (I haven’t researched this, it’s an assumption based on the songs).   speaks of love of religion–and men, and shows they are not mutually exclusive.  I admire the genuine way in which Smith has assembled the album.

#2-Marin Morris

She played SxSW in 2016 so I feel like neither she or her new album are exactly “new.”  But her album, which I heard in December, has been officially released in 2017.  And she’s fresh and awesome.  Every song is memorable and catchy.  Every song is good!  She’s part Miranda Lambert, part Gretchen Wilson, and part Shania Twin (in her hey-day).  And she is blowing up!  With good reason.  The hype (I’m assuming there is–I don’t really see TV, magazines, or forums in my daily life now) is legit.  This gal is the real deal.  Add to substantially talented, and I don’t think we’ll be seeing the end of her anytime soon.  I hope her sophomore album holds up.

#1-Ke$ha

Earns my #1 spot with her album, Rainbow.  The aptly-named album proves Ke$ha can pull of a range of sounds and show her true colors (pun intended–sorry, I couldn’t help it, it’s just too easy).  Sometimes, I would have to double-check these were still Ke$ha songs, and Spotify hadn’t run in to the next artist’s album, or those annoying “suggested songs” because it would be something that sounded different.  Which is good.  This album showcases the talent I always knew/hoped she had.  On her other works, I always liked the dance, but wanted something more substantial and serious also.  This is it.  In Rainbow she does not just talk through the songs as in the past (though there is that) and Ke$ha proves she can SING.  After Ke$ha’s traumatic experiences being sexually abused by her management, then held hostage to her contract, she has some pain and strength that make these songs outstanding.  Tied for best song of the year is “Praying” which shows both vulnerability and a new maturity.  I love how Ke$ha experiments with different genera categories and sounds on this album.  “Woman” is the girl-power anthem necessary to empower feminists in this Trumpian-sexism.  Ke$ha plays with a country sound on “Hunt You Down” and the game works out in her favor.  She has a campy-punk song (yes, apparently, you can have both at once) in “boogey feet.” The duet (“Old Flames”) with Dolly Parton is spot-on.  And “Godzilla” reminds me of the Juno soundtrack.  And yes, there are still the cheeky dance songs to shake your ass to!  Finishing with “Starship” was just the right move to reinforce the maturity, talent, and reinvention in the rest of the album.  I just can’t emphasize enough how Rainbow shows the range that I’d always hoped Ke$ha could pull off.

Here’s my full 2017 songs/albums list so you can listen for yourself.  I hope you enjoyed these countdowns!

Best New Artist in 2016

31 Dec

Countdown to the Best New (to me) Artist of 2016:

14. Cat’s Eyes- 1950’s type pop that reminds me of Linda Gore.

13. Moose Blood- Best band name, but a little bit of a depressing sound. Not bad, just a little more down then I usually gravitate toward. I would listen to another one of their albums.

12. Banks- Tough-gal, with R&B flavor and club beat.

11. The Brothers Osborne: Country and feisty. These songs WILL get stuck in your head.

10. Girl Blue- Clearly someone to keep your eye on. There is so much potential here. “Call Me Home” is soft and sweet, “One and Only” is tough and strong. I can’t wait to see where she goes, I don’t think this will be the last we hear of Girl Blue.

9. Shovels & Rope- The frenetic pace of the music is amped up and interesting. They would have rated higher if the singing was a little more pleasing. It sounds like loud talking, really. But the music is different and makes up for the shout-sings–mostly.

8. Maren Morris- The recording quality is poor, like, really, really bad-probably the worst on this list. It sounds like someone sitting in a bar held their phone up and then uploaded it. It’s sort of hollow and 1980s cassette tape–taped over a few times. The quality of the work itself is nice though. I find Morris’ lyrics and singing refreshing. “My Church” is one of my favorite tracks and speaks to how a passion can be almost spiritual. I don’t know if she writes all of her own songs, but she wrote at least one, “Second Wind” that Kelly Clarkson recorded. I like how the songs are country, but saucy. See “Drunk Girls Don’t Cry” a poem on raising your standards as a female. It’s progressive ideas in a country format–I like it!

7. The Mowgli’s- I think they may have had a prior album–but I don’t think I’ve heard anything from it. This album is sort of a soft-country crossed with Hansen sometimes (“Alone Sometimes”) and The Plain White Tees (“Arms & Legs”) other times.

6.  Shawn Mendes- Maybe he was around in 2015 and earlier, it sure seems like his “stiches” song has been at least. But I don’t know if the whole album was out earlier, or if the single dropped very early in 2016. At any rate, I see great potential here. It’s like a more mature Bieber. And “Air,” “No Promised,” and “Bad Reputation” grab you instantly.

5. The Ballroom Thieves- The background instrumentation is really the star here. There is a cello? It lends a resonant, interesting sound to the trend of going hipster-bluegrass. Don’t get me wrong, hipster-bluegrass is probably my favorite genre right now, but bands shouldn’t be doing it only to break in the business or get into a smaller awards category.

4. NEEDTOBREATHE- Let me get this out of the way first–I hate when artists use mispellings, all caps, symbols, numbers, or other nonsense in their name. All caps, one word? Sigh. But the sound is Kings of Leon meets Fall Out Boy in a church choir. It’s kinda hipster, with roack and gospel. I especially like “Happiness” with it’s churchy vibe, “Don’t Bring That” that sounds like music played in a car chase, and “Great Night” feat Shovels & Rope.

3. American Authors- Bouncy, happy, and just enough electronic to suit the Millennials.

2. Tim Moxam- Hipster country. Gentle strumming, and an old school country singing style. It’s right up my alley. “Harvest for the Queen” is so great of a song! It’s poetry on guitar.

1. The Heavy- My favorite new artist of 2016! Check out “Big Bad Wolf” and tell me you’re not a fan too. It’s interesting and upbeat. “Short Change Hero” addresses sociology in a catchy way. They sound like a cross between CeeLo Green and Lord Huron. A little bit hipster, a teeny bit motown. It’s a really good mix, and I can’t wait for more.