Country Music Is Actually a Thing

Thursday, June 5, 2014

  • Courtesy of the Label
  • Luke Bryan
Mainstream country music gets an unfair rap as being universally over-polished and formulaic, a notion that artists like Kacey Musgraves and Eric Church obliterate every time they strap on their guitars. But there's a granule of truth to the stereotype, and a particularly damaging sub-genre - known as "bro-country" - is lending it far too much credibility right now.

Booze, chicks, jacked-up pickups, extreme redneck sports, spring break - artists like Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and even Blake Shelton are leaning way too heavily on such themes in their music these days, and the entire trope can be summed up in one word: douchey. Yet bro-country isn't the only brand of 'baggery currently afflicting Nashville. No, douchebags are a diverse lot, and here are the 10 biggest 'bags currently cranking out (s)hits in Music City today:

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Friday, May 16, 2014

  • Courtesy of the artist
  • Country Lips
Punk and country are generally considered opposite ends of the music spectrum, but they have more in common historically than most people realize. Long before event the emergence of alt-country a couple decades ago, amphetamine-popping, whiskey-gulping, pot-smoking badasses like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson played the roughly same role in Nashville that The Ramones, Iggy and the Stooges, and others were filling in New York. 

That outlaw spirit has faded since back in the day, but Country Lips might be the pick-me-up line of speed country needs to start kicking ass again. They have a Wu Tang-sized lineup (eight members, including accordion and fiddle players) and they have steadily rocked the shit out of every venue and festival in the greater Seattle area since releasing their debut Touched on 10-inch vinyl in 2012. Now they have a proper LP -  Nothing to My Name  - and have embarked on their first West Coast tour with a stop Sunday night at The Overpass in Silver Lake.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

  • Jessica P. Ogilvie
  • Britney
After two weeks of Coachella came Stagecoach, held this past weekend at the Empire Polo Club in Indio. Attendees dressed in their finest Western-meets–Forever 21 attire — ass cheeks hanging out of Daisy Dukes, their legs coming to an abrupt end in cowboy boots.

Men sported a uniform of jeans, Stetsons and bare chests. 

There was the ferris wheel turning slowly against the evening sky, and American flags rustling gently in the breeze.

At one point a flannel-clad bro-dog with a green John Deere trucker hat emerged through the metal detectors, high-fiving a security guard once he made it inside. "Go hard or go home, motherfuckerrrrs!" he yelled.

The 2014 edition of Southern California's biggest country music festival has come and gone. Here are the highlights and lowlights.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Jena Ardell
Don't be fooled by Moot Davis's twangy, charismatic drawl and country love songs.

He may appear polished in his custom suit and tie, but the truth is: he's as wholesome as rotten apple pie.

Judging his cock-sure gait and posture, we pegged him for an actor, and we were right; acting is something he pursues when he's not touring with his band.

Davis, who splits his time between L.A. and Nashville, performs at The Mint tonight, and is releasing his fourth studio album, Goin' In Hot, on April 15.

The work contains the romance of Chris Issak mixed with the classic, country sounds of Woody Guthrie. Davis's past work can be heard on the soundtracks of more than 20 movies and TV shows.

We met up with Davis at one of his favorite haunts, Viva Cantina in Burbank, to chat over beers and dessert.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • Courtesy of the artist
  • Tim McGraw
I went sky divin'
I went rocky mountain climbin'
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull name Fu Manchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
-Tim McGraw, "Live Like You Were Dying"

It was a normal Thursday afternoon about ten years ago. My dad was driving me home from high school in his big red Chevy Avalanche. The truck rolled up to the stoplight and my father reached for the volume knob. His hand hovered over it for just a moment as he looked at me.

"Remember," he said. "I want this played at my funeral." Then he turned it up. The massive opening piano chords to Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying" rang through the cabin, a string section and guitar arpeggios joining the mix.

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Have you heard of country music? Apparently it discusses the lives and times, hopes and aspirations, heartbreaks and tragedies of people who live in the "country." Truth be told, most country fans actually live in "exurbs," but really country is a state of mind. And a profitable one at that! So much so that those paragons of trendiness at Rolling Stone are even opening a Nashville office.

Nashville, the epicenter of country, is often accused of employing a cookie-cutter formula with the songs it churns out. Well, I personally love cookies, and in fact aim to pick up some part-time work at one of those big ol' hit factories down there. So, ahead of them there Country Music Awards in a few months, here are my ideas for country songs. They're just titles, and some are a bit rough, but they all speak to deep, human truths, or at least would still be understandable if sung over the roar of an ATV engine.

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Me, Taylor and my brother Rory backstage
  • Me, Taylor and my brother Rory backstage

I never set out to be a music journalist. If it hadn't been for a bizarre series of events -- including, um, the urging of Taylor Swift -- you wouldn't be reading this now.

It happened like this: During my senior year at the University of Arizona in 2011, I began writing about music for my school paper. Three articles into my time at the Arizona Daily Wildcat, I wrote a piece called "Why Bros Love Taylor Swift." Though my friends thought it was funny, it didn't exactly set the internet on fire.

But then, somehow, she actually read the thing.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

By Caitlin White

Earlier this month Phonte dropped much knowledge about which rappers correspond to which classic television shows. To wit: Jay is The Wire; Nas is Breaking Bad; Kanye is Lost; East Bound and Down is Action Bronson, etc. It's a fun game, and anyone who thinks too much about hip-hop has definitely tried their hand at playing in some form or other. Here, we compare rappers to female country stars. Because why not? GO!

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Lucinda Williams
By Darryl Smyers

For the better part of four decades, Lucinda Williams has been one of the best songwriters going. Over the course of ten albums, Williams has moved from earthy blues and folk to jangly country/pop. What has remained consistent is her breathtaking vocal delivery and unflinching honesty.

A propos of, um, nothing except for our love for her (and the fact that she lives in L.A.!), we took a shot at listing the 11 best songs in her catalog.

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

By David Thorpe

Shut up, everybody, because I have HUGE news: Billy Ray Cyrus is teaming up with HomeTown Buffet!

Buffets, Inc.® is proud to announce its latest tie-in with country music, this time with the singer/songwriter/actor Billy Ray Cyrus and his 13th studio album, Change My Mind. Beginning April 11, guests can pick up Cyrus' latest CD at Ryan's®, Country Buffet®, HomeTown® Buffet, Old Country Buffet® and Fire Mountain® for a special $8.99 price, while supplies last. Proceeds from the CDs will support the Armed Services YMCA® for Operation Outdoors, a camp program that assists the children of military personnel during deployment.

Count me in! What could be more sublime than listening to a Billy Ray Cyrus record in its natural habitat, pairing each song with authentic HomeTown cooking? Almost everything! But it's also a fine opportunity to combine two iconic American traditions (doofus pop country and shoveling food into my fat face) into one gravylogged bacchanal of sensual hillbilly excess.

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