Showing posts with label blackberry smoke. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blackberry smoke. Show all posts

Monday, April 16, 2018

video review: 'find a light' by blackberry smoke (ft. the lp club)

Not quite a great project - which yes, is disappointing - but overall, pretty solid and I'm happy Ethan and I were able to pull this together. Enjoy!

Monday, January 9, 2017

the top 25 best albums of 2016

And now, the final list, the one that always gives me the most anxiety but also the one that I'm always happy to have finalized by the end of the year - or by the first few days of next year, I'm going on vacation for the first week of January and I'm in a bit of a rush to get packed and ready on time, so this video might be a day or two late. 

But in an odd way that's kind of representative of 2016's albums as a whole, as I've definitely not seen a lot of common consensus surrounding picks - and fair warning, that'll be very true with these as well. Great records in 2016 came in fits and spurts, with a lot of big returns that didn't quite impress me, some debuts that blew me out of the water, and a predominant theme of endings that ran through a lot of albums that I covered and loved this year. I'm not quite sure if it's reflecting the tempo of the times or my personal feelings surrounding the year, but this list really feels all over the place, all albums I loved but coming from radically different locations, styles, and genres than I expected. In other words, there are albums that you will not recognize on this list, and a few major exclusions.

But it also runs deeper than that: for instance, this is the first year I've ever given out a perfect score on this channel - and then I did it twice. I'll get more into this when I talk about the albums at length, but I would recommend you consider my top two choices as interchangeable at best, I flip back and forth with them every day. There's also a whole bunch of albums that narrowly missed the cut, from punk veterans like Against Me!, White Lung and Jeff Rosenstock, to metal and experimental rock like Swans, Savages, Epica and Tarja to hip-hop powerhouses like clipping., Ka, LMNO, Elzhi, and Denzel Curry. And as I've mentioned a number of times, country had one of its best years in recent memory, and that led to some extremely painful cuts, from the superb pop country of Jennifer Nettles to the neotraditional tones of Cody Jinks and Mark Chesnutt to the stripped back indie starlets like Karen Jonas and Dori Freeman. Everyone I just mentioned dropped albums this year you can consider honourable mentions that I couldn't rank if I wanted to and are all worth your time, but now it's time for the list proper, starting with...

Thursday, October 20, 2016

video review: 'like an arrow' by blackberry smoke

Man, this was so needed right now - although from the looks of things nearly every record I've given a 9/10 has some link to country, go figure.

On a definitely less likable note, Kings Of Leon up next, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

album review: 'like an arrow' by blackberry smoke

If you saw my Whiskey Myers review about a month or so ago, you knew this was coming. 

Hell, even if you didn't you probably would expect that I'd cover Blackberry Smoke's newest album, especially considering how much I liked their last album Holding All The Roses early last year. The compositions and grooves were tighter, their production was better than ever courtesy of legend Brenden O'Brien, and the lyrics showed the band taking southern rock tropes into fresh new directions that were a little more high concept, especially when the instrumentation got a little more experimental along the way. In short, it was easily Blackberry Smoke's best album to date...

And it also went to #1 on the US Country album charts. This is for a band, I should remind you, with no crossover singles or big radio push, and while you could give some credit to the release not facing huge competition, it also was another sign of the sea change that's been happening in country music, especially on the album charts. And keep in mind they hit #1 after leaving Zac Brown's Southern Ground label - they did this off an independent label, and that says a lot, especially in country. So when you hear that they're planning to follow it up with a record this year that they also produced themselves... well, I'm always cautious about this sort of thing, but I wasn't going to miss it, especially if they could keep up their momentum. So how does Like An Arrow shoot?

Monday, February 23, 2015

video review: 'holding all the roses' by blackberry smoke

Well, that turned out pretty damn great. Think I need to get to some more country soon...

So yeah, I'll be covering the new Mavericks record, but first... hmm, not sure yet. Need a bit more time before Big Sean, so I might take care of some old business first. Stay tuned!

album review: 'holding all the roses' by blackberry smoke

You know, I don't tend to talk much about southern rock - and really, I'm a little surprised at that myself. Inspired by blues, country, and hard rock - three genres I do really like, it was most prevalent in the 70s from the country rock scene originally driven by the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd and from there it's been around for decades in scattered that do accrue a fair amount of popularity, spanning Tom Petty to Kid Rock to the genesis of sludge metal. As such, it falls into a bit of a weird niche, typically landing on classic rock radio or some of the harder country stations, never quite reaching the peaks of the 70s beyond scattered success from a few acts. You could almost argue that it's gone underground, but it's less that and more that like other genres such as bluegrass or grunge or some offshoots of punk, it's just not as popular as it was and ends up catering to smaller, cult fanbases.

That's not saying that there aren't some southern rock bands that are worth following. Case in point, Georgia band Blackberry Smoke. Affiliated with acts like the Zac Brown Band and Eric Church, if you're looking for an act that would define modern southern rock - a distinctive country twang matched with groove-heavy hard rock - Blackberry Smoke would be that band. And for the most part, they were a pretty damn solid band - the melodies were prominent, the guitar solos were great, Charlie Starr's vocals had real flavour, and with every record, the songwriting was steadily getting more nuanced and distinctive. If I were to pinpoint an early weakness on those first few albums, it'd probably be in some of the lyrics - not that they were bad for the genre, but that some of their material began to run together a bit. And like most hard rock, sometimes the sleaze could get a little obnoxious.

But their 2012 album The Whipporwill was their best yet, and I was curious to check out their 2015 record Holding All The Roses, especially when it managed to top the country album charts last week. And sure, country's been slow thus far this year, but to think that the album had enough coming from an independent label without a huge single tearing up the radio was promising, especially considering the album has notched some solid critical acclaim. So I checked it out - how is it?