Showing posts with label ashley monroe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ashley monroe. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

video review: 'interstate gospel' by pistol annies

Yeah, I know I'm a bit late posting this one, but it really is a pretty great album, definitely take the time to hear it.

And on a slightly different note...

Sunday, November 11, 2018

album review: 'interstate gospel' by pistol annies

It's hard not to consider albums by the Pistol Annies as minor miracles.

And if that sounds condescending or disparaging to the talents of the three women in this group, it absolutely isn't intended that way - more to highlight that supergroup projects of any stripe rarely work or balance themselves out well, much less rise to the sum of their parts and at points even exceed them. Keep in mind the alchemy of a project like this: Miranda Lambert might have been a critically beloved hitmaker coming out of the 2000s, but Ashley Monroe was far from proven on her own as label nonsense had stymied an otherwise fantastic debut project. And Angaleena Presley hadn't yet kicked off her own solo career that would win critical acclaim from indie country fans, but from few others. 

And yet the Pistol Annies found a way to make it click with two terrific albums in the early 2010s, mostly because of the sort of understood balance and chemistry that led to a unification of theme but a distinct voices. And what I've always found amusing is the subversion of expectations: from opening singles like 'Hell On Heels', you might expect the trio to use their collaboration as a wish-fulfillment distillation of their most recognizable archetype, but they were smart enough to lend impressive amounts of nuance and detail to their storytelling to not only accentuate everyone's unique voice, but also a thematic core with real weight to not just show who they were, but what got them there. And then after knocking it out of the park in 2011, they'd do it again in 2013 with Annie Up, which added a bit more meat to their stories even if the quality wasn't quite as consistent, even as the insurgent bro country scene would bulldoze over everything in the rest of that year.

Fast forward to now, five years later... and it's hard to ignore how much has changed. All three women have put out multiple solo albums to the point where it's hard not to assume that a reunion was never in the cards. And there's been upheaval too: while Ashley Monroe's material has been more reserved and light with the wry hidden edge, Miranda Lambert has chronicled her infidelity and the collapse of her marriage in the sort of weighty double album that casts a long shadow, while Angaleena Presley made the sort of blistering and pitch-black solo indie country albums which won a ton of acclaim and where a Yelawolf collaboration actually made sense! If anything, each artist has drilled into their solo voices and sounds so deeply that it makes you wonder that if bringing things back together will dampen this power or strike the same balance. But you can bet I was curious to see if this reunion could make lightning strike a third time, so what did we get with Interstate Gospel?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

video review: 'the blade' by ashley monroe

And that's one. Next review on its way soon, stay tuned!

album review: 'the blade' by ashley monroe

Okay, fun experiment. Name a country band that is all women and more than just a duo. Then name one that might have some mainstream appeal... and that's not the Dixie Chicks.

At this point, a few of you are probably wondering who could possibly fit that category, and in 2011, we got an answer: the Pistol Annies, a group formed of newcomer Angeleena Presley, A-list powerhouse Miranda Lambert, and underground country starlet Ashley Monroe. Together they cranked out the pretty damn excellent debut Hell On Heels in 2011 and the great followup Annie Up in 2013, but they're probably most well-known for collaborating with Blake Shelton and playing background vocals on 'Boys 'Round Here', easily one of the worst hit songs of that year. And I don't blame any of the Pistol Annies for that - they're a hell of a lot better than the minimal role they played in that song. Hell, Ashley Monroe proved that when she showed up on Blake Shelton's next album on the song 'Lonely Tonight', one of the few highlights of that record.

And yet some of you are probably wondering why the hell I called her an underground starlet. Well, Ashley Monroe initially was positioned a decade ago as another entry in the wave of fire-spitting female country singers in the mid-to-late 2000s, but Sony outright refused to release her debut unless she had a charting hit, eventually only getting a fragmented release briefly in 2006 before finally getting on iTunes in 2009. A damn shame, because the album is great, a gem where only diehard fans and the country underground seemed to care.

Fast forward to 2013, where the Pistol Annies were gaining swell and Ashley Monroe had signed to Warner Bros Nashville in order to release her follow-up record Like A Rose... and like her last release, it barely made the charts and the only people who seemed to care were those in the country underground - plus a lot of critics, because, again, the album is excellent. Not perfect - it's got its rougher, hokier moments, and the duet with Blake Shelton that ends the album is pointless - but it had a certain lived-in maturity that proved really charming, especially with songs like 'Weed Instead Of Roses' that were a bit goofy but still a lot of fun.

So now that her career has stabilized - probably bigger than ever thanks to the Blake Shelton collaboration - I wasn't surprised when I heard her newest album is a slight pivot towards the mainstream, and I really wasn't all that worried. After all, she was still the primary songwriter, and it's always a good thing to have more women getting critical acclaim in country. Were my assumptions correct?

Friday, December 12, 2014

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - december 20, 2014 (VIDEO)

Much easier to edit this one - which was a welcome shift, these videos take forever.

Okay, let's see how much I can get through before the end of the year. Nicki Minaj, Charli XCX, Ariel Pink, and PRhyme for sure, so stay tuned!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - december 20, 2014

For this episode of Billboard BREAKDOWN, we've actually got a bit of a slower week as the holiday season comes even closer and major releases begin to slow down. This leads to a bit of an odd week, with major chart movement linked most to old songs being rotated out, the shift back to equilibrium after the American Music Awards last week that gave several songs a boost they subsequently lost, and the creeping dominance of The Voice as it heads towards its final episodes.