Welcome to the second collaboration piece that I have done summing up the month in country music. For the month of April I have had a chat with Megan at Country Exclusive and you can see it below.
Alex: Okay so let’s start it off with what was the best thing you reviewed this month
Megan: Angaleena Presley’s Wrangled. That just struck some chords with me and just kept getting better every time I listened to it. Jason Eady stands out too, but not quite on the level of Angaleena’s album.
Alex: Presley’s album seems to be hit or miss for a lot of people. For me that album has gotten better the more I listen to it and I’ll have my review out next week. As far as Jason Eady I have only listened to it once fully so I’ll reserve judgement
Alex: My favorite album that I reviewed this month was no doubt Sam Outlaw’s Tenderheart
Megan: On Presley’s, you’re right, that seems to be hitting a lot of people differently. I was telling Leon of Country Music Minds that I think Wrangled will fundamentally speak to women on possibly a deeper level. Stuff like the title track and “Good Girl Down” especially. But I love how that album, along with several others recently, has sparked so many different opinions. It’s boring to read the same opinion from everyone, and true music and art gives us something to talk about. I’ll take polarizing over boring any day because at least that artist/album had something to say.
Megan: Tenderheart was good, but it didn’t quite impress me on the level of Angeleno. But Sam Outlaw goes along with what I was just saying, his style is specific and seems to be hit and miss for different people.
Alex: One thing I will say negatively about Presley’s album is that it can be a little too grungy for me if that makes sense. Complete opposite of Tenderheart in sound. I definitely like it more than I dislike it though. It comes across as honest and she has something to say whether you agree with her or not.
Megan: Yeah, grungy makes perfect sense, and I’ve been struggling for a word to accurately define the production on it, but that one’s good. Sam Outlaw’s is so clean, and I will say again, it reminds you that it doesn’t take grit to be real. Polish can work too.
Alex: So on to a different subject, we both wrote rebukes of that horrible Whiskey Riff piece as did Leon at Country Music Minds and Farce. Would you like to talk about what you thought about it?
Megan: I thought pretty much what you and Leon and Farce thought, that it was offensive and untrue. And plus, I thought that by saying people are only hating on these guys, FGL, Luke, Sam, because they get the girls, that completely ignores women who might have a problem with this music. I just wanted to address it from a female perspective because that’s not represented enough in Nashville, Texas, hell, even on these blogs. I guess I felt like I had something to say about it that hadn’t been addressed, I don’t know if that made sense.
Alex: Absolutely! To me the article was brilliant for what they were trying to accomplish and that was clicks. They knew that it would rile up people who like independent and traditional country and it would bring in traffic to their site. And by Whiskey Riff leaving out the female perspective completely in their article only further proves the point that in country music the female perspective is hardly ever expressed.
Megan: Yeah, Whiskey Riff basically tweeted me the same thing, that they were happy to be getting the hits our responses fueled. They also mentioned “our 6 interns, all of whom are girls” to which someone replied that they’d rather be called women. I think the female perspective has taken a direct hit as a result of music like this because it’s not interesting to hear from women if your view of them doesn’t extend beyond hooking up on tailgates or posing in Canaan Smith covers.
Alex: I actually couldn’t believe that Canaan Smith’s song cover art was actually a woman’s behind. But worse than the cover art is the song. It’s really brutal and Miranda Lambert should not be dragged along for that ride.
Alex: Is there anything specifically that you wanted to talk about?
Megan: She absolutely shouldn’t. Let’s talk about IHeart. Could be the way forward for radio when they finally collapse. They’ve got 12 months to figure it out, but something tells me they’ll be just as clueless when that 12 months runs out. Still, could be the end for the Canaan Smiths of the world at least.
Alex: I make no secret that I cannot wait until the day when IHeart and Cumulus collapse. I have no idea what the impact will be on country as a whole but it doesn’t seem like the industry is doing anything for when radio collapses. It’s so silly that these labels continue to spend millions of dollars promoting these horrible singles to radio still. Chris Stapleton is projected to sell a quarter of a million records in his debut week for pete sake. People want better music and when you give it to them they give you their money!
Alex: What good is promoting these garbage singles doing for a majority of these artists careers? Look at how many Cannan Smith type artists are out there that nobody cares about. Even guys like Jake Owen who have had some success. Radio needs to collapse to fix the problem
Megan: I couldn’t agree with you more. I think collapsing can only help it. It could be that we’ll start to see more local radio again and support for local artists. I mean, only time will tell obviously, but people say that radio means nothing in 2017 because of streaming and easier access to better music, but I think radio has its unique purposes, and I think if it went back to being more localized, and DJ’s could have the freedom to play what they wanted, people would listen.
Megan: Trigger at SCM made a point that podcasts are on a massive rise, so people still gravitate toward something personal like that, and if radio can adapt, it can probably stay around a good while.
Alex: I just have a feeling that radio won’t learn from their mistakes. I doubt localized radio is coming back on a large scale. Adaptation is not something that radio or country music knows how to do but maybe I’m being overly cynical.
Megan: Country music definitely has a problem adapting, that’s been one of its biggest issues throughout the history of the genre.
Alex: There’s two more things I wanted to get to. Was there anything that you heard this month that you didn’t like or that didn’t click with you and what are your plans for your blog in May?
Megan: Somehow I feel like that first question was inspired by my very public reaction to Charlie Worsham and “Birthday Suit.” Honestly, with the exception of the title track, “Please People Please” and “Cut Your Groove,” that album just bored me. Brianna reviewed it, an it didn’t especially click with her either, although she also liked “Old Time’s Sake.” In May, let’s see….Stapleton, Zac Brown Ban, Willie Nelson coming quite soon…really looking forward to ZBB’s album especially. Other than that, not much is planned, we tend to cover what hits us, whether that be in a great way or in a pretty horrific way, and there’s not much rhyme or reason or planning to it. But hoping to find something surprising in May that blows me away like Presley did in April.
Alex: I liked Worsham’s new album but not every song was great to me. “Birthday Suit” is one of the weirder songs that I have heard for sure haha. And same with me I plan to review all that stuff and I’d like to get my Presley and Eady reviews out asap. And believe it or not but one album that I’m a bit excited for which is out in June is Wheeler Walker Jr. I didn’t think that he would follow up his debut with a better album but the first 3 songs from the new album have been good to me. Not sure how you feel about it being a woman but I like him.
Megan: Lol I like him and respect him. I’ve only heard the first song from the new album, and it didn’t impress me as much as his debut album, didn’t really like the bluesy direction it went in. I’ll have to reserve judgment on the others. In June, I am now excited for Steve Earl, that announcement made my Friday.
Alex: Steve Earl in June and Turnpike Troubadours in October is pretty damn cool. And not to brag but I go see the Troubadours in June and Stapleton in July.
Megan: That reminds me, one of the cooler things I got to do in April was seeing Jason Eady at his album release show. Definitely do this if you get the chance. Jealous about Stapleton, that sold out in 5 minutes here. I’ll probably get to see Turnpike in September at Medicine Stone, so can’t hate you too much for that, lol.
Alex: Alright, this was fun thanks for the convo!
Megan: Thanks, this was really cool to do. I enjoyed it.