Sunday, December 15, 2013

album review: 'feels like carolina' by parmalee

I'm starting to think that bro country might be beginning to recede a bit.

Yes, if you go looking at the country charts right now, you'll find Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan at the top, but their songs aren't in the meatheaded checklist variety that were inescapable and insufferable through the summer and fall of this year. Hell, Keith Urban (fresh off of his inexplicable inclusion on Rolling Stone's 'Best Albums of 2013' to the surprise of, well, everyone) and Miranda Lambert managed to have their lukewarm ballad 'We Were Us' wrestle control of the top spot for about three weeks on the country charts.

But then again, maybe I'm just being optimistic, because there's plenty of bro-country still on the charts as we speak, which takes us to the somewhat mixed blessing that comes with trends - the chance for new acts or even older struggling acts to break through by jumping onto them. This takes us to the band we're talking about this week, Parmalee. This band has been around since the early 2000s, but they've had a lot of difficulty breaking into the mainstream until this year, where they were signed to Stoney Creek records, which I know as the label backing Jason Aldean. This group seems to have a lighter, more upbeat vibe to them than their more successful labelmate, though, which meant I was cautiously optimistic stepping into their new album Feels Like Carolina. Did it turn out okay?


Ugh... not really. Let me make this clear, Parmalee's Feels Like Carolina is only an album you should get if you've heard every other bro-country album this year and still want more, because this album brings nothing to the table that you haven't heard a dozen times or more so far this year. I'm not surprised the label opted to drop this album in December, because if it had been released in the mid-summer or fall, nobody would have noticed it.

Now let me make this clear: the album isn't bad - in fact, it avoids some of the tropes that can make bro-country kind of a pain at points. The instrumentation, for instance, is almost entirely organic and the few moments of electronica aren't easy to spot and can be ignored. And while the production has sanded back most traces of an edge or presence in the guitars, it's nothing that'll aggravate or annoy. In fact, if I've got a point of praise, it's the fact this album is more in line with the burly, Kid Rock-inspired brand of country rock that at least sounds somewhat cohesive. 

And fortunately for everyone, the lead singer Matt Thomas is a good enough singer to lend some presence to the band. He doesn't have a lot of country grit or flavour, but his voice is strident and is capable of being emotionally driven. He - and indeed the entire band - remind me a lot of Daughtry with a smoother country twist, basically an act that's listenable but nothing all that special or interesting, and that's basically my ruling on Thomas. He's a good singer, but he doesn't stand out.

So okay, what about the lyrics? Well, what about them? This is arguably the point where I'd say the album could have shown some variety - but that doesn't happen. Instead, we get a collection of songs that would only pass as filler on any better bro-country album this year, and none of them have much flavour or explore a single idea that hasn't been done already. Hell, I'm fairly certain that they appropriated chunks of 'Sure Be Cool If You Did' by Blake Shelton for 'Close Your Eyes', the similarities are jarring. If I were to tentatively point to an album highlight, I guess it would be 'Back In The Day', but even that only rises to 'pretty good'. And that song isn't excusing dross like 'Musta Had A Good Time', which is the spawn of 'This Afternoon' by Nickelback and 'Last Friday Night' by Katy Perry and not nearly as fun as either of those songs, or 'Day Drinkin',' a song that sounds like third-rate Kenny Chesney (which means it's a fourth-rate Jimmy Buffett knockoff). The one thing I'll say for this album's lyrics and theme is that it is focused and doesn't attempt to disguise the fact that this album was destined to become a go-to frathouse album, even down to the solitary sensitive track 'Think You Oughta Know That', a song that tries every line in the book to get a girl to stay with them and even then that song doesn't have the presence or raw energy of Florida Georgia Line's aptly titled 'Stay'!

That's the big problem with talking about Feels Like Carolina by Parmalee -it feels like everything this band is trying to do has already been done better elsewhere, and this year no less. I'll give the album credit for feeling like it comes from a genuine place, and despite some of the more questionable songs (like the extremely presumptuous 'Already Callin' You Mine'), I wouldn't brand this album as bad, per se. If anything, it's just bland and boring, the sort of material that gets popular at the tail end of a trend that's already winding down. And while it does suck that this was Parmalee's big break into mainstream success, there's very little here that got me interested. Even Jake Owen's Days of Gold, an album that played in the same field and worse production, had more charisma, variety, and presence than this. So Feels Like Carolina gets a 5/10 from me and a recommendation only if you've heard everything else in this trend - but in that case, you've already heard it done better.

1 comment:

  1. Một nguyên nhân nữa doanh nghiệp không mặn mà với vấn đề đóng kinh phí này là chưa có chế tài phạt, không đóng cũng không thấy bị làm sao.
    dịch vụ làm bctc tại đan phượng thạch thất
    dịch vụ làm báo cáo tài chính tại sóc sơn
    dịch vụ làm báo cáo tài chính tại tp hcm
    Đẹp quá thể ^^
    Để có pic để đời này cũng phải dùm không ít vũ lực ^^
    P/s : mang tính chất hận thù @@

    ReplyDelete