Warning: Foul language
You won’t find a song on Wheeler Walker Jr’s sophomore album Ol’ Wheeler that doesn’t have an explicit content warning. Wheeler Walker Jr/Ben Hoffman burst onto the scene just a year ago with his debut album Redneck Shit. His brand of anti mainstream and traditional country music has been great to watch and he clearly fills a void in the explicit country music department. At a time in country music when artists are going more vanilla and less country Wheeler Walker Jr is giving the industry the finger and doing his own thing.
Of course with Wheeler Walker Jr there is plenty of comedy in his songs and that’s fantastic. However, what I love about Walker Jr the most are the songs that aren’t meant to be humorous. That’s not to say I didn’t chuckle a bit the first time I heard “Summers in Kentucky” but it wasn’t because the song was even meant to be funny. The shock of some of the words used on this song will make you laugh at first. It’s an honest song without the bullshit. Two people that were in love when they were young drifting apart and lived separate lives. The woman had a couple kids and is settled down with a husband but her former lover still misses her and wants her back. He’s heard that she hasn’t aged well but then again neither has he. It’s not only the best song on the album but one of the best songs you will hear all year.
I like all the songs on the album for different reasons but again the songs that I love the most are the ones that aren’t meant to be humorous. “Fuckin’ Around” is another great example and I love Kacey Walker (Nikki Lane) for this track as well. The husband decides to come clean to his wife about his cheating while out on the road only to find out she’s been cheating on him also. This track was originally supposed to feature Maren Morris but I actually think Nikki Lane is better anyway. “If My Dick is up, Why am I down” has Wheeler singing about all the women throwing themselves at him now that he’s a country singer. Even though they are all over him and part of him likes that he can’t help but still feel down. It’s a song that may make you laugh at first again however when you peel it back and get passed the vulgarity it’s a very emotional track.
The lead single on the album was “Pussy King” and I think you can infer what the song is about. It was cool to hear the harmonica and New Orleans sound on this song which is also pretty damn hilarious. The funniest track on the album for me has to be “Finger in my Butt.” This one definitely gets the funniest reactions from people in my car who have never heard Wheeler before. The song is 1 minute in 26 seconds of hilarity.
Wheeler Walker Jr without a doubt followed up Redneck Shit with another great album. If you can’t get passed the foul language, you are missing the point. It’s meant to be funny while also including some stellar traditional country tracks that put modern mainstream country to shame. Great album.
Best Songs: Summers In Kentucky, Fuckin’ Around
Like every month I will be taking submissions for the Community Writing Piece. To anyone that is new to the blog or this feature, this is an opportunity for you the reader to submit any piece of writing/s that you would like. It could be a song, poem, story, really anything you want. The deadline for submissions this month will be Friday June 23rd. You can submit via email at email@example.com or in the comment section of this post. I look forward to your submissions and thanks again for participating!
Over the last few weeks I have been thinking about new features that I can add to the blog that would be interesting and stimulate conversation. This is a new feature that I will do from time to time when idea’s for it pop into my head. Essentially, this feature will be me shortly describing something that I have been considering and asking that you the reader tell me what your thoughts are about it. So without further ado…
For the first piece with this feature I would like to talk about politics and music. Obviously, country music is no stranger to artists with strong political opinions both liberal and conservative. Recently, ESPN announced that it would be bringing back Hank Williams Jr. to be the voice of Monday Night Football after a hiatus following comments about former president Barrack Obama. The Dixie Chicks have basically been exiled from country radio after Natalie Maines criticized former President George W Bush. I can go on and on with examples but specific examples aren’t really the point of what I am going to ask. I am curious how much an artists politics affects your listening habits in regards to their music. Does it matter if it was simply a comment they made or if they are constantly outspoken like Charlie Daniels is? Do you do it subconsciously if you do or does it happen without you realizing?
I know that at times I have been guilty of this. As someone with very strong political views who has a real interest in politics I would be lying if I said it didn’t factor into the equation. For me personally though it’s not difference of opinion that drives me away from certain artists music it is the artists that are nasty about it and attempt to shove their beliefs down the throats of everyone else. Whether or not it matters that so many of us allow these things to affect our listening habits is worthy of discussion in my opinion.
Every week we will take a look at the top 30 Mediabase Country Chart. We will re-rank the songs on the chart based on the quality and overall enjoyment of each song. Next to each song I will provide the ranking that we would give it and the actual ranking on the Mediabase chart in parenthesis (From America’s Music Charts). Songs that are in the color red are songs that are either recurrent or in danger of going recurrent soon, while blue is for songs that I predict will go to number 1 at some point. At the end of each ranking there will be some thoughts about the current chart as well as any news or updates that are deemed important. I hope everyone enjoys this weekly post and feel free to comment/agree/disagree with anything you see.
This is from last week. It failed to post not sure why but here it is.
- Zac Brown Band “My Old Man” (16) up 3 A
- Midland “Drinkin’ Problem” (14) up 3 A-
- Drake White “Makin’ Me Look Good Again” (30) down 2 B+
- Maren Morris “I Could Use a Love Song” (29) up 1 B+
- Carly Pearce “Every Little Thing” (28) up 3 B+
- Old Dominion “No Such Thing As a Broken Heart” (17) up 4 B
- Brothers Osborne “It Ain’t My Fault” (21) up 2 B
- Darius Rucker “If I Told You” (4) up 1 B
- Dan and Shay “How Not To” (5) up 2 B
- Luke Combs “Hurricane” (3) down 2 C
- Kip Moore “More Girls Like You” (23) up 2 C
- Brett Eldredge “Somethin’ I’m Good At” (25) up 1 C
- Justin Moore “Somebody Else Will” (15) up 3 C-
- Tim Mcgraw & Faith Hill “Speak to a Girl” (18) up 2 C-
- Billy Currington “Do I Make You Wanna” (20) up 2 C-
- Blake Shelton “Every Time I Hear That Song” (7) up 2 C-
- Rascal Flatts “Yours If You Want It” (10) up 1 C-
- Brett Young “In Case You Didn’t Know” (2) no change C-
- Cole Swindell & Sellout “Flatliner” (13) up 3 D
- Dylan Scott “My Girl” (8) up 4 D
- Dustin Lynch “Small Town Boy” (26) up 1 D-
- LoTalent “Ring on Every Finger” (27) up 2 D-
- Thomas Rhett & Maren Morris “Craving You” (9) up 5 D-
- Keith Urban & Carrie Underwood “The Fighter” (11) up 2 F
- Kelsea Ballerini “Yeah Boy” (24) down 14 F
- Dierks Bentley “Black” (1) up 2 F
- Lady Antebellum “You Look Good” (12) up 3 F
- Chris Lane “For Her” (22) up 2 F
- Brantley Gilbert “The Weekend” (19) down 12 F
- Florida Georgia Line & Another Boy Band “Boy Band’s Are Lit” (6) up 2 F
New To The Top 30: “Every Little Thing.” Carly Pearce is IHeart’s new On The Verge pick. I was first introduced to her when she appeared on Josh Abbott’s single “Wasn’t That Drunk.” From what I have read she has had a long difficult road getting a record deal with Big Machine. This song in particular is pretty good and tows the line between country and r&b without crossing it. I am fearful for what path she will go down after this inevitably reaches number one. Will she go in the r&b direction or more traditional?
Songs That Left The Top 30: “Body Like a Backroad.” I think I have made my feelings about this song pretty clear.
Songs In Danger: “The Weekend”
“Yours If You Want It”
Quick Thoughts: “My Old Man” jumped 3 spots this week. There are a number of songs in front of this that could fall off the chart in the coming weeks so I continue to stand by my prediction of number 1. Brett Eldredge however continues a slow climb.
Scotty Mccreery has always been someone I rooted for. Ever since I heard him sing “Your Man” on American Idol I have loved his voice. But voice is not enough for me to like someone’s music and with Scotty I have always been left wanting more. With his first couple albums I felt they were very juvenile and boring. When the lead single to his third album was released it was clear Mccreery was unhappy with the direction his label was making him go in. “Southern Belle” was a bad bro country type song and in interviews he had given about the song it was clear he wasn’t comfortable with it. After that single bombed at radio he was released from his record label Mercury and it was unclear what would be next for the now 23 year old. Well now with the new record label Scotty has released a new lead single to his third album and it’s exactly what I had hoped to hear from him since the beginning. “Five More Minutes” is a song about wanting just a little more time to do things and be with the people who you loved before it’s gone. Things like your first love, your last football game and seeing your grandfather one more time. It’s an idea that was actually done by Granger Smith on his most recent album and it goes by the same name. I consider both to be great songs and I don’t want to criticize anyone for stealing the idea because I really don’t have a clue. What I do know is that Scotty is back on the right track with “Five More Minutes” and hopefully it can have enough success at radio to warrant his third studio albums release.
Song Grade: 8.5/10 B+
Before the Zac Brown Band released their last album Jekyll and Hyde in 2015, I had had a great deal of respect for them even though they were never one of my favorite bands. Like most mainstream acts I had liked their early work but began to like their more commercial music less with time. What I really disliked about their music the most were the beach songs which seem to be released as a single on every one of their albums. I just don’t really feel anything when I listen to the radio made beach songs and the Zac Brown Band is obviously capable of much more interesting and thoughtful music. When Welcome Home was announced as their follow up album to the mess that was Jekyll and Hyde, they had promised to get back to their roots “Foundation Style” (first album). Honestly when I heard them go out of their way to talk about getting back to their roots I believed them and when “My Old Man” was released as the lead single I had very high hopes for this album.
So, with that all being said did the Zac Brown Band actually make good on their promise and get back to “Foundation Style” music? After many listens to Welcome Home I can’t say anything really except yes. Now the album isn’t perfect and has moments that feel a little too safe and boring but as far as getting back to their roots musically they are there. The lead single “My Old Man” is a really great song that is a tribute to Zac’s father. The production is very dialed back and the music is mostly acoustic with a light fiddle in the background. It’s a song that is one of the few songs that I would classify as great on country radio.
The album opens with the song “Roots” that really shows the band trying to move past the EDM nonsense even if Zac is still pursing that on the side. No matter where this life takes him his roots always keep him grounded and remind him of where he belongs. Where I have my most criticism of this album is the fact that it is too safe and too generic. Songs like “Real Thing” and “Family Table” are other songs on the album that are far from unique and frankly bore me. And I am pretty sure we don’t need to hear another beach song from the Zac Brown Band so can you just make “Start Over” go away? The idea for the song is actually not bad with two married people trying to save their marriage by going on a vacation to a tropical paradise. But, the song is weirdly happy and upbeat for a song about a failing marriage and it’s pretty obvious a few days on a vacation won’t save this marriage.
I think I have done enough criticizing at this point so let me say what I love about this album. I already mentioned the fact that “My Old Man” is a fantastic song but so are the final three tracks on Welcome Home. “Your Majesty” is a beautiful love song with tremendous fiddle play. It’s honestly a song that I would love to listen to on the beach as opposed to “Start Over” because it’s a song that is easy going and relaxing but actually has something to say which is important to keeping my attention. “Trying to Drive” is another great love song featuring pop singer Aslyn. I’m usually not a fan of pop singers on country songs but she really doesn’t sound out of place on this song and the two sound good together.
Finally, the album concludes with what is probably my favorite song on the album “All The Best.” This song supposedly features Kacey Musgraves but I can hardly hear her! I would like this song even more if Kacey had more of a prominent role. The song is about wishing your former lover love and happiness even if it can’t be with you. The narrator loves her too much to wish her anything but the best. He even hopes that she doesn’t make the mistake that he makes by falling in love with someone that will break her heart. Zac sounds terrific on this track and bravo on the dialed back production again, less really is more here. It’s a shame these last three songs were buried at the end because along with “My Old Man” they are the real highlights.
Overall I have to admit I am a little bit disappointed in this album. After I heard “My Old Man” and “All The Best” I was convinced this would be one of my album’s of the year. It’s not that this is a bad album though and good for the Zac Brown Band for getting back to their roots with this album. I find this to be a solid album overall and surely one of the best mainstream albums that will be released all year. Not an album of the year contender but a damn solid album.
Grade: 7.5/10 B-
Best Songs: All the Best, My Old Man, Your Majesty