Showing posts with label jason eady. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jason eady. Show all posts

Sunday, August 12, 2018

video review: 'i travel on' by jason eady

So yeah, not quite blown away by this one, but it's still genuinely great all the same. Definitely check it out!

album review: 'i travel on' by jason eady

I've said this a number of times before, but it bears repeating: if you're looking for about the purest expression of indie country being produced in modern times, you pick up a Jason Eady record. The man has the uncanny ability to write songs where you're struck by how the hell nobody would have composed them before as they seem so elemental and straightforward, with the sort of layered nuance and eye for detail that pushes his material into damn near transcendent territory. There's nothing gratuitous or indulgent or wasted and with records like 2014's Daylight & Dark and 2017's self-titled release, he's released country that rises to the apex of the genre...

But there has been two criticisms of his work, both of which I get but neither of which bother me all that much, the first being that his songs can be a little too heavy and melancholy, which often leads to the follow-up that his work as a whole can feel a bit sedate and sleepy at points. I disagree with both points - the writing and compositions are tight and emotionally gripping enough that it's never bothered me, and it's not like his records run long - but Eady has taken those notes to heart and it led to a shift in the creation of this surprisingly quick follow-up project... which if possible stripped things down even further. No overdubs, primarily acoustic, recruiting two ringers from bluegrass of all things - although Eady has made it very clear that he'd never call this a pure bluegrass album, showing the sort of respect and consideration for the art you rarely ever see anymore for any genre - but with a focus on quicker tempos and a feel as if everyone was in the same room for the recording. Now on the one hand I had no idea how much Eady might be able to emphasize that even more - his records have always sounded incredibly intimate in their production - and while I was a little shocked how quickly these songs emerged, I definitely wanted to hear them as soon as possible, so what did we get from I Travel On?

Saturday, January 6, 2018

the top 25 best albums of 2017 (VIDEO)

Well, nearly forgot about this one... but not to worry, it's still here. Enjoy!

Next up, the debut of The Trailing Edge - stay tuned!

the top 25 best albums of 2017

Of all the years I've put together year-end lists for albums, this might be the hardest it's been - and believe it or not, it's for the best possible reason: I covered an abundance of incredible music in 2017, arguably more than I ever have before! Even though I didn't give out any perfect scores, this year showed multiple genres giving us the goods, from a revitalized rock scene to several country gems to underground hip-hop making a major resurgence to pop putting forward its best showing in years - and that's not even getting to the genre-defying oddities that utterly blew my mind!

But what this also meant were cuts... in a year where I could put together a top 50 and still feel like I'm leaving stuff off, this was particularly brutal. Once again, I was very tempted to expand this list, but again, I'm highlighting the best of the best, and that means while these could have made it in a weaker year, for 2017 they didn't cut it. I won't deny that hip-hop got hit hard in this, as I really wanted to include records from Quelle Chris, Jay-Z, milo, Armand Hammer, Tyler the Creator, Rapsody, Yelawolf, and yes, Kendrick Lamar on this list and I can't. And queue the outrage by everyone that DAMN. is not making this list, but considering there are  five hip-hop records that beat him out to get here, there isn't room for complaining. And I don't want to hear anything from the indie set either than Father John Misty, Kirin J. Callinan, Spoon, The xx, St. Vincent, and Alvvays missed the cut too - all great records, to be sure, but not quite good or consistent enough. Honestly, the most painful cuts for me came in rock - where Creeper, Chelsea Wolfe, and Ayreon all missed it - and especially country, where Natalie Hemby, Angaleena Presley, Dori Freeman and Chris Stapleton all didn't make it - again, great albums, but limited slots. Finally, we have three records that would have sparked controversy had they landed on the list so there is a part of me they just missed the cut: Jhene Aiko, Brand New, and Niall Horan - although there is another part of me that would love to see everyone's expression if Niall made my year end list and Kendrick didn't.

But again, those are my Honourable Mentions... and now onto the list proper.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

the top 50 songs of 2017 (VIDEO)

And there we go. Massive videos, really proud with how they turned out - enjoy!

the top 50 best songs of 2017

I said on Twitter a few months ago that of all of my year-end lists, this one is always the most complicated - because it's by far the most personal. With the constraint of a list of hits or talking about records in aggregate, you've manufactured some distance - but if you're just going through the list of the songs that spoke the most to you regardless of whether they were a single or not, there's no separation or barrier.

And when you add to the fact that 2017 was a tumultuous year - not just for me but for most of the world, although I did have my own share of trying times - it's a little unnerving to go through the cutting process and realize how dark it truly got. There isn't much escapism in this top 50, and what escapism does show up is very much colored by consequences waiting in the wings. I'm not saying it's downbeat - in comparison to the melancholy that colored a lot of last year, there are more pronounced moments of joy and triumph - but it is by far the most unsettled, pulling the least punches and ultimately producing a psychological profile of my year in 2017 I'm still not quite sure what to do with. But hey, all of these came from albums I covered this year, and I wouldn't have spent a month pruning this list to its form now if I didn't have faith in it - even though I can guarantee there'll be a fair few conspicuous entries that aren't here if you're comparing to other critical lists. So let's get this started...

Friday, June 30, 2017

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2017 (VIDEO)

And there is THAT weight off my shoulder. Whew, ton of work to get that out... and yet it's not over, as I've got another special video dropping soon, so stay tuned!

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2017

There have been a lot of people who have said that 2017 has not been a good year for music, on the charts or otherwise... and from a certain point of view I can see it. Hip-hop in particular has had a really rough past few months, and between pop stars flopping, mainstream country continuing to spiral, and entirely too many records from established acts not living up to their potential, indie or mainstream, I can see why people are calling 2017 a disappointment.

I can also say that I don't buy it for a second, because for me, 2017 has been awesome. I already have plenty of songs to line my list of the best hits, and going into this point at the midyear, I have more records that I've scored 9/10 than ever before. Granted, it also seems like one of those years where the critical darlings aren't quite crossing over in the same way, and if you haven't heard of most of my favourites, that would be why - and that's not even counting the stuff I had to cut, and man, there were a few rough choices there. I think part of this comes from Patreon helping to shape my requests - once the scheduling got figured out as part of this experiment, things began to click and I started covering a lot of stuff I really loved. 

So you all know the drill by this point: twelve albums in order - an order that could shuffle by the end of 2017 - twenty-four songs in chronological order of my reviewing them (yes, I'm expanding the list, it's that kind of year), and keep in mind that if they don't make this list they've still got a real shot for the list at the end of the year, so let's get this started with...

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

video review: 'jason eady' by jason eady

Yeah, it should be of absolutely no surprise to anyone that I adore this record. Killer writing, great production, so subtle and understated in the best ways possible, and impossibly tight. GET THIS ALBUM.

And after this... huh, this'll be interesting indeed. Stay tuned!

album review: 'jason eady' by jason eady

It's a bit of a trend for indie country critics - and I include myself in this category - to assert that when it comes to Jason Eady, some people should just leave the room. If you're coming in looking for pop country or style or anything to detract from many have deemed some of the purest forms of the entire genre, especially out of Texas, this is not for you. If you're looking for something that might cross over into the mainstream... well, maybe in Texas, but I'm only qualified to say that because the mainstream country scene has no idea what it's doing and throwing everything at the wall to see what'll stick, from Chris Stapleton to Thomas Rhett. And it's not like Jason Eady didn't dabble with softer tones on AM Country Heaven in 2012 that could have possibly crossed over.

Suffice to say, he didn't stick with it, and in early 2014 he delivered Daylight & Dark, a stunning pure shot of fantastic country music that if not for Run The Jewels would have topped my best albums list that year. And while so many lined up to praise Sturgill Simpson and the other indie darlings as the scene inflated over the past few years, Jason Eady seems to slip out of the picture - and yeah, I partially blame myself for that, because when he dropped an acoustic duets album with his wife Something Together in December of 2016, I missed it too. Part of it is country's lousy web presence, but Eady also seems to run just below the radar for too many folks, and some for whom I've played his material can get a little intimidated by his soft, plainspoken, yet cutting delivery - for a lot of people, it's a purer form of country than they can handle.

In other words, this was among my most anticipated projects of 2017, and I had the highest of expectations going in, especially considering his songwriting only seems to be getting more refined with each passing album. So what does he deliver on a self-titled record?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Thursday, January 12, 2017

album review: 'something together' by courtney patton & jason eady

So I get the feeling this is my fault again in a big way. I mean, I could blame the collective country music press for dropping the ball here - and I do - but to some extent if I was that invested in one of my favourite indie country acts putting out a record, I should have been on top of it. Granted, this is also a prime example of what happens when the artist decides to drop a record early without warning and not having the huge fanbase of someone like Run The Jewels or Beyonce, but we're getting ahead of ourselves with this.

So, if you've been watching since around 2014 you might recognize the name Jason Eady, a Texas country artist who played the sort of relentlessly realistic, amazingly well-framed, powerfully written country that wouldn't seem to have a chance in hell in the mainstream, and while he made his play to that crowd in 2012 with the softer AM Country Heaven, his 2014 album Daylight & Dark pulled no punches. There was a purity to that record's grit and sound that still gets to me to this day, and as such it should be no surprise that outside of... hey look, it's Run The Jewels again, it would have been my top album of 2014.

But if you remember that record, it also had a song with fellow singer-songwriter Courtney Patton called 'We Might Just Miss Each Other', featuring a pair of estranged lovers going to the same bar and trying gamely to avoid each other for plenty of understated and complicated reasons - kind of ironic, given that she's his wife. The two are a songwriting pair, and that's a powerhouse couple to be reckoned with, so I was eagerly anticipating their planned acoustic collaboration Something Together, especially if they were primed to push their songwriting into interesting places to play different roles. The album was announced in October of 2016 to be released in early 2017... and then the record leaked early on Courtney Patton's website, with physical copies now available this year. And from what I can tell, nobody really seemed to notice because not only did I get no requests for it, but it seems like practically nobody else online decided to review this project, including critics I would otherwise expect to be on top of this! But okay, that happens, and I might as well be first to the punch here, so how is Something Together?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

the top 25 best albums of 2014 (VIDEO)

And that's it for me for 2014! The last of the lists, probably one of the more controversial ones, but hey, it's what you get.

I want to thank all of you for sticking with me this long - if it wasn't for you crazy cats, I wouldn't have gotten this far or I probably would have spent my time elsewhere long ago. As it is, let's keep up the hustle, and I hope to see you all with more album reviews, Billboard BREAKDOWN, and maybe something new in that new year. Stay tuned!

the top 25 best albums of 2014

And now, the final list, the most important and likely the most hotly debated selection, the top 25 albums of 2014. Some of these entries you will recognize as they've been acclaimed by plenty of publications already, but there are a few surprises here that definitely need their due consideration.

One thing to preface this list: while I have seen many year-end lists, these are all my personal choices based upon what stuck with me the most this year. And to qualify, they have to be one of the 210 albums I reviewed in full this year. And believe me, this list had a few painful cuts, but I'd prefer to keep this list smaller and respect the cream of the crop rather than reward albums that might not deserve the same acclaim.

But enough, wasting time, let's get this started!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

the top 50 best songs of 2014 (part ii: 25-1) (VIDEO)

And there's part two. One last list to come, stay tuned!

the top 50 best songs of 2014

And now onto the third list, and by far one of the hardest to make. This year I discussed 210 albums and from there I had just under 700 songs that I considered eligible for this list. From there, the task of narrowing it down and ranking them was excruciatingly difficult, because I want to make sure this list was of the best of the best, and even with that I had to make some painful cuts. And once again, keep in mind these are not the hits. We have singles and deep cuts here, from artists who are defiantly mainstream to those lodged deep in the underground. And one more thing: for a song to land on this list, it has to have been released from an album I reviewed this year. If it was just a single, it doesn't cut it - but on a contrary note, if the single dropped last year or even the year before and the album was only released now... well, it qualifies in my books.

But enough wasting time, let's get this started with...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2014

Holy shit, this video took hours. Really happy with it... except for some of the volume levels on the music, but that was such a pain in the ass to get right that I'm fine with where they are.

Next up, Mastodon. Stay tuned!

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2014

I've been debating with myself pretty consistently over the past few weeks whether or not to make this. It's a pretty common thing with critics to take stock of their favourites at this point of the year, and considering I've covered 108 albums thus far this year, in terms of sheer volume it'd make sense for me to go back and take stock of what I've heard and what deserves consideration going into the second half of the year. And while I'm leery about spoiling my year-end list, long-time fans will probably be able to figure that out anyways, so why not go the extra mile and draw a spotlight to some acts that are definitely worth the consideration. 

So without further ado:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

video review: 'daylight & dark' by jason eady

Damn, this album was great. In case you need more incentive after my review, GET THIS ALBUM.

Next up... well, things might get heavier up in here. Stay tuned!

album review: 'daylight & dark' by jason eady

I've recently come to a realization about my own musical preferences that is both unsurprising and a little exasperating: I tend to prefer interesting or powerful songwriting over grand musical experimentation at points. It's one of the reasons I've long been reticent about covering a lot of material with growled or screamed vocals - or, on that note, covering a lot of R&B - because the actual words on the page don't quite matter as much as the way they're delivered with that style. To me, presentation isn't always enough, which means I tend to be harsher on underwritten indie or hard rock in comparison to some critics or kinder to acts with more narrative ambition in genres like country. Now obviously there's more to it than that - I love good melodies, solid production, and sheer epic music as much as any, and my favourite music combines all these elements, but if I were given the choice between endlessly catchy earworms but lousy songwriting or riveting lyrics with quieter or less interesting instrumentation, I'll usually take the latter.

So it always puts a smile on my face when I find country acts like Jason Eady, a critically-praised singer-songwriter who is easily one of the strongest songwriters I've seen in a while, with an uncanny knack for great melodies and original lyrics with a ton of detail and flavour. I wouldn't say he's the greatest singer in the world and the basic building blocks of his songs are reasonably conventional by country standards, but the details are what knocked him into my good graces. The first album I took a look at was 2009's When The Money's All Gone, a rough-edged, incredibly organic record that wasn't afraid to go into the bleak, lurid details that you didn't see hit mainstream country radio in the same way. It was dark, it went for emotional gut-punches, it was brilliantly framed thanks to Jason Eady's expressive delivery, and if I had been reviewing five years ago, it would have had a solid shot at my Top Ten list that year.

Eady followed that album in 2012 with AM Country Heaven, which proved to be a small mainstream breakout and a critical success, but I have to be honest and say I didn't quite like the album as much. Oh, the songwriting was still great and songs like 'AM Country Heaven' were perfect barbs launched at the increasingly sterile country music establishment, but at the same time I felt the production and instrumentation weren't as varied or interesting. Some of the texture had been sanded away and the instrumentation had a more accessible vibe (which was inevitably why the album was successful), and while that was fine, his previous album just stood out as more unique and closer to the grimy outlaw country that I've always loved. So when he released his newest album Daylight & Dark, I wasn't sure what to expect. The songwriting was likely to still be there, but would he move towards an even more polished and accessible sound, or return to the roughness of his earlier work?