Showing posts with label little big town. Show all posts
Showing posts with label little big town. Show all posts

Monday, March 13, 2017

video review: 'the breaker' by little big town

Well, this is getting a rougher response than I was otherwise expecting... eh, it happens. Again, a good return to form, but it should have been better.

But that's not the only record I'm reviewing tonight... stay tuned!

album review: 'the breaker' by little big town

It's been a running narrative and critic in-joke that Little Big Town share a fair bit in common with Fleetwood Mac, or at least their progression suggests the similarity. Sure, they started on the outskirts of country, blending in elements of pop and folk, but in 2014 with Pain Killer they took a hard left turn towards the sort of experimentation and melodic tones that ran through Tusk, and got a significant amount of critical acclaim for it. And in 2016 they did it again, ditching Jay Joyce's production for Pharrell's as they made the sunny pop record Wanderlust that seemed to reflect common tones with Fleetwood Mac's Mirages...

And now it's time we put that overdone comparison to bed because at this point of career parallels Fleetwood Mac released Tango In The Night in 1987 in the midst of solo albums and cocaine abuse, and I'm not sure Little Big Town are doing much of either. In fact, the buzz I heard was suggesting that Little Big Town were at least trying to pivot back towards country, reuniting with Jay Joyce on production and recruiting veteran country songwriters like Natalie Hemby and Lori McKenna to help. And to me that was a really good sign - not just because I wanted to avoid the implosion, but Jay Joyce has steadily become a more subtle and nuanced producer and there were at least traces of interesting ideas on Pain Killer that I'd love to see developed further, especially if the writing could match it. I wasn't going to say I had high hopes - I was lukewarm on the lead-off single 'Better Man', which was contributed by Taylor Swift of all people - but I still go back to cuts like 'Live Forever' and 'Tumble & Fall' off Pain Killer, and if they got the awful pop impulses out of their system on Wanderlust - which was thankfully ignored by anyone with taste - this could be good? So how is Little Big Town's return?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - november 19, 2016 (VIDEO)

Well, this was precisely what I needed on an awful political day, a whole lot of shallow shouting in my ears. Just fucking perfect.

On that note, there might be a political tinge that'll creep into upcoming reviews where appropriate. Just felt that it's important to warn you if you get turned off by that sort of thing, but culture matters, and even if I'm insulated by a border from the president-elect's new administration, he still has the capacity to do damage, and I'm not taking this laying down. Stay tuned!

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - november 19, 2016

First, a bit of housekeeping. As some fans are probably very much aware, the episode of Billboard BREAKDOWN from last week is blocked in all countries because Sony decided they didn't like my usage of Little Mix, even though I gave it Best of the Week. I was tempted to drop and reupload it, but at the moment I also have the entire script and attached videos on my blog for that episode, so you can head over to, check it out there, and just imagine my dulcet tones saying all of it.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Sunday, June 19, 2016

album review: 'wanderlust' by little big town

The release of this album should not be as controversial as it is.

And make no mistake, it's been controversial - which is always kind of bizarre considering Little Big Town is not a band you would expect to court controversy. But between 'Girl Crush' last year and the lead-up to this release, this group has somehow wound up in the headlines more than you'd ever expect. But then again, given how consistently Little Big Town has been compared to Fleetwood Mac, another mixed gender group that has been steadily sliding across genres, it's not that surprising. Their 2014 release Pain Killer was considered by many critics to be analogous to Tusk in its genre-bending and experimentation - most of which fell flat courtesy of Jay Joyce's overdone production.

And yet thanks to the success of 'Girl Crush', Little Big Town were bigger than ever and attracted a producer not exactly known for country: Pharrell Williams, one of the big names behind The Neptunes in the 2000s and nowadays known for his work on The Voice and the song 'Happy', which absolutely ruled 2014. So in between a series of trips between LA and Nashville and even a quick collaboration with Justin Timberlake, they put out a quick breezy record that the band themselves made very clear wasn't country at all. And let me blunt: that's fine, I was fully confident the band would sound fine in a pop context, and I'm not going to blame them because desperate country radio programmers would be plugging their songs in regardless. And if they wanted to dash out a quick side project that would be their version of Fleetwood Mac's Mirage - although you have to hope it's better than that record - I was certainly curious. So how did Wanderlust turn out?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - december 12, 2015 (VIDEO)

Well, that took longer than I wanted it to... eh, I'm still getting used to the new format (that's why I made that stupid Cole Swindell mistake... gah, two weeks in a row, get your game together, dude).

Next up, need to tackle some old business before dealing with Coldplay, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - december 12, 2015

It's the calm after the storm, the time of year where everything seems to fall back into place after frantic reshuffling to make it appear that the onslaught never really happened and all is right with the world.

Why, yes, I'm talking about Adele taking back chunks of the chart from Justin Bieber, why do you ask? Okay, snark aside, while everyone predicted there'd be chunks of Adele's new album breaking onto the Hot 100, it's not as pervasive as you'd expect, and along with plenty of returning entries and chart shuffling, it's more indicative that Bieber and to a lesser extent One Direction didn't have the same staying power.

Friday, February 13, 2015

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - february 21, 2015 (VIDEO)

Bit late getting to this, but with a week this underwhelming, it kind of fits that it's this late.

Next up, I was going to cover Vulnicura, but I think I need to deal with this surprise Drake album... hoo boy...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - february 21, 2015

Okay, we've got another busy week on Billboard BREAKDOWN here - multiple new entries into the top ten, a whole load of songs shuffling up and down the charts, and a slew of new chart arrivals, some that were easy enough to predict and some that did seem to come out of nowhere. More importantly to my American audience, the week chronicled by this Billboard Hot 100 corresponds with the Super Bowl, and that meant one artist performing at the Half Time show  managed to make a big impact with two singles surging back to the charts. Here are two clues: it wasn't the headliner, and it was one of the few things interesting about the whole experience before the mother of all bad calls courtesy of the Seahawks. I mean, wow - no matter how many bad songs show up this week, I don't think anything is beating that.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

video review: 'pain killer' by little big town

Forgot to post this last night - quite literally fell asleep with the screen to post it and I didn't click the button. Figures.

Okay, next up... well, honestly I'm not sure what I'm going to do next, I still need more time before I cover Devin Townsend. Stay tuned!

Monday, November 3, 2014

album review: 'pain killer' by little big town

As I mentioned in the past, there was a considerable amount of time in the 2000s when I didn't listen to a lot of country music - sure, I caught what was on the radio and I still appreciated the genre, but for the latter half of that decade, country music was not on my mind - which really is a shame, because there were a fair number of great country acts in that period that made great albums. 

And one of the biggest acts to unfairly fall under my radar was Little Big Town. One of the more unique groups in modern country, they consist of the female singers of Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman, and the male singers Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet, and made their first big smash in 2006 with their second album The Road To Here. Going back through that album, they remind me a lot of Lady Antebellum in their mid-tempo vibe, but that's where the similarities ended. For one, their harmonies were excellent, and they tended to have a more rollicking edge to their instrumentation, even when it was very acoustic and polished - which, of course brought the comparisons to Fleetwood Mac... and yeah, it's kind of hard to miss. From a melodic standpoint, the similarities get pretty stark, especially on their third album A Place to Land - but on the other hand, speaking as a Fleetwood Mac fan, they were never straight-up copycats and did have some very well-written songs. 

Unfortunately, their early career was fraught with label difficulties, as their label Equity Records went under and Little Big Town was moved over to Capitol Nashville midway through releasing singles from their third album. They pulled things together for The Reason Why in 2010, which injected some sharper texture and energy into their typical midtempo vibe and it paid big dividends. They followed it up in 2012 with Tornado, which I really like thanks to the rough-edged production of long-time Eric Church producer Jay Joyce, but by that point it was hard not to notice the shift in their songwriting and the increased number of writing credits that weren't from the band. Granted, they were working with good songwriters and let's be honest, lyrical flair was never my biggest focus with Little Big Town, but it was a warning sign. And given I wasn't a fan of their lead-off single 'Day Drinkin', or their collaboration with Miranda Lambert 'Smokin' And Drinkin' that showed up on her last album Platinum, I was a little uneasy - yeah, they were working with Jay Joyce again, but they were also six albums into their career and country music as a genre is in a weird transitory place right now - what did it mean for Little Big Town's new album Pain Killer?