Showing posts with label zac brown band. Show all posts
Showing posts with label zac brown band. Show all posts

Saturday, November 30, 2019

the top ten best hit songs of 2011 (VIDEO)

And here we are - great list to put together, really happy y'all seemed to enjoy watching it, and it's the last of the retro lists finished for the 2010s!

Next up, I've got an episode of Resonators coming so stay tuned!

the top ten best hit songs of 2011

You know, I've said a number of times that my favourite lists to make are the top ten hits of any respective year, mostly because I have peculiar taste when it comes to my favourites and any chance to compliment songs people have actually heard... well, it's a nice boost. And once this is done - and with the exception of 2019 - I will have created these top tens for every year in the 2010s, and given that seemingly everyone is doing a retrospective, it does feel nice to place everything back in context.

But really, if you're examining 2011 in any way, shape, or form, it's a year that defies easy contextualization. Generally a really good year - although I still give a slight edge to the best of 2012 and 2015 - but not one that seemed to fit with any specific trends or sounds. If anything, it felt more like a year dominated by personalities, from the dueling pop divas to the rise of Adele's thunderous 21, an album that seemingly defied all expectations with its success. Yeah, rock was kind of non-existent on the Hot 100 - and you could argue hip-hop was kind of a mixed bag sliding through transition from the club boom - but between pop, soul, R&B, and a surprisingly bright year for country, there was a lot to like about 2011. More importantly, it was a year where the great songs were consistently great, where I didn't even have much difficulty filling out a solid - albeit surprising - list of Honourable Mentions. As always, the songs had to debut on the Billboard Hot 100 year-end list in 2011 to qualify, so let's get things started with...

Thursday, September 26, 2019

video review: 'the owl' by zac brown band

Yeah, this sucked... but to be fair, pretty much all the critics and fans are saying it too, so preaching to the choir, I guess?

Anyway, I think it's about time I get to JPEGMAFIA, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

album review: 'the owl' by zac brown band

When you think of the Zac Brown Band, what do you think of?

Mostly likely you think of the band responsible for songs like 'Chicken Fried' or 'Toes' or 'Knee Deep', lightweight, relaxing fodder that has a bit of a jam band vibe but a lot of rich, warm harmonies and colour. If you're more of a fan you probably remember songs like 'Goodbye In Her Eyes' and 'Colder Weather' and how the band has always had an underrated strength for ballads, or even how their 2012 album Uncaged took a willingness to experiment into one of the best mainstream country albums of the decade. 

If you're deeper in the country scene, however, especially recently, you might know the Zac Brown Band a little differently. You might know that frontman Zac Brown has been chafing at what he might view as the arbitrary restrictions of country - seemingly unaware of how the indie scene has been plumbing new depths and sounds every single year, which you'd think he'd know given his collaboration with Dave Cobb in 2016, but that's a different story. You might have heard that the same year he put out a back to basics album Welcome Home produced by Dave Cobb, he also made an EDM-folktronica... thing called Sir Rosevelt near the end of that year... which wound up being universally panned by anyone who knows electronic music as dated, badly produced, and while having catchy moments feeling more than ever like a vanity project. And that's what we were hoping would remain the case for the Zac Brown Band, especially after their dabblings with electronic music on 2015's Jekyll + Hyde, which for the record did see some success, but nowhere near consistent enough to sustain a full project - so if Zac Brown had a side project to shove that sound into, all fine and good.

What nobody was suspecting was The Owl, a project where it appeared that Zac Brown was doubling down on the electronics and pop flourishes to the shock and alienation of all of their country fans - and let me make this clear, the buzz has been horrible for this album. Even mainstream critics are not giving this a pass, so as one of the few guys who can defend pieces of Zac Brown's electronic forays, I wanted to give this a chance... so what did The Owl deliver?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

video review: 'welcome home' by zac brown band

So yeah, pivot back to comfortable territory, I just wish I liked it more. Oh well, it happens.

Next up, though... it's gonna be bad, folks, strap in!

album review: 'welcome home' by zac brown band

To explain why this album exists, we need to go back a few years. It's 2015, and anticipation was high for the newest album from the Zac Brown Band - but of course there were concerns. Everyone knew the band was capable of delivering quality - even if they had a penchant for laid-back beach fare they had still put out three remarkably solid records with great melodies and harmonies and lyrics that, while not exactly great, could hit some real potent emotions. And for me, they had been responsible for some of the best mainstream country songs in recent years, a beacon of real talent in an increasingly oversaturated bro-country scene. But the lead-off singles here seemed different, increasingly stepping outside of country in favor of rock...

And yet little did we expect what Jekyll + Hyde turned out to be. Putting it simply, despite how much I liked the record it was a mess, full of stylistic pivots into rock, metal, reggae, EDM, and even occasionally country music! And again, there were great moments - Zac Brown has a knack for hooks like few in mainstream country - but the pileup of genres alienated a lot of the group's fans, especially those who had followed from their loose, jam-band roots. And again, even though I did like that project and think their experimentation did occasionally stick the landing - I hold 'Tomorrow Never Comes' is as close to a country/EDM mix that actually works that has ever been made, and the rock-leaning tracks definitely have their fans - for a lot of country fans it was a step too far.

And so in the lead-up to Welcome Home, you can tell they were doing everything they could to re-establish their country credentials. Zac Brown himself contributed to a song on Dave Cobb's Southern Family compilation - which I still hold is the best album of 2016 - and apparently they connected so well Dave Cobb was pulled on to produce the entire new record. And despite this reassuring step, I was still a little concerned - I wasn't against Zac Brown experimenting, he had stuck the landing a fair few times, I just wanted the cohesion to be there and the songwriting to connect. But hey, if we're going to get a solid, grounded country record, this is something the Zac Brown Band can do well, so what did we get?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - february 25, 2017 (VIDEO)

This was certainly a less excruciating week than last time - more diversity here, for one - and I'm fascinated to see how the Grammys impact things going forward. Until then, back to my schedule and... hmm, P.O.S.. Well, this could be fun, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - february 25, 2017

So folks, did you have enough of me talking about Big Sean when the review dropped last night? Well, it's not over - because to replace Migos and as a lead-in to the expected chaos that'll come with the Grammys, Big Sean brought in six new songs to the Hot 100 to an already busy week. Yeah, believe it or not, I'm not sure he's the biggest story here, from some major shifts in our top ten to a swathe of new arrivals peppering the rest of the Hot 100.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - august 13, 2016

You know, there's an adage I have on this show that the Canadian charts are always better, mostly because we didn't get rid of rock radio and we at least try to cultivate more unique Canadian acts. And yet if we look at the 2016 Hot 100, which many critics are already claiming is one of the worst years on record for this decade, it's been dominated by two Canadian artists coasting more off production than any sort of lyrical or vocal personality. Now I could make the argument that we as Canadians tend to manufacture some distance with our stars - Drake and Bieber have both been bigger south of the border than they have here - but on the other hand, we did let Bieber debut at #1 where he only landed #2 this week, so take it as you will.

Friday, March 25, 2016

video review: 'southern family' by dave cobb & various artists

You know, if I don't find another record that matches this, it'll be a compilation record that'll be my album of the year. Weird, but I'm kind of down with that - mostly because it quite literally is that goddamn amazing. Chills everytime, man.

Next up... well, might as well deal with Zayn, so stay tuned!

album review: 'southern family' by dave cobb & various artists

This has easily been my most anticipated record of 2016. And to explain why, we need to go back to 1978 and an independent country release called White Mansions. Written by singer-songwriter Paul Kennerley, it was the rarest sort of release in country music: a narrative-driven concept album containing multiple artists each playing a distinctive part. This was in the height of the outlaw movement, and as such recruited artists like John Dillon, Steve Cash, Jessi Colter, and Waylon Jennings himself, even pulling on Eric Clapton to play guitar on a few tracks. And while the tighter budget definitely shows at a few points, the ambition was unmistakable: this was the story of the Civil War from the South's point-of-view, but pulled zero punches about the roots of the conflict and the deep, lingering scars left on the American psyche, especially in the South. I can say bluntly that the political fallout would make such a record impossible to make today - and I can say without hyperbole that it is a classic country album, and if you're lucky enough to find a copy, I can't recommend it highly enough.

So why is any of this relevant? Well, if you've been watching the resurgence of outlaw country around the edges of Nashville, you shouldn't even be surprised. Over the past two to three years and the increasingly sterile and meat-headed modern country scene, the independent country scene has expanded like never before. Part of this is the rise of the Internet allowing local acts to gain groundswell, but at the epicenter is one incredibly gifted producer whose hands have touched most of the best country records of the past several years: Dave Cobb. Now I've raved about this guy a number of times on my channel - and if you know his production background you'll understand why - but what you probably don't know is his work behind the scenes, becoming the new caretaker of the legendary Studio A in Nashville and establishing his own publishing imprint, which gives him the ability to foster greater talent. Of course, it's also helped matters that he's produced some of the biggest indie country albums of the past few years, from Sturgill Simpson to Jason Isbell, from Lindi Ortega to the Grammy-winning debut album from Chris Stapleton.

And all of this has given him the clout and budget to pursue the sort of passion project country fans don't dare to dream about: a concept record inspired by White Mansions with the sort of line-up that would seem impossible. Let's run through the list: Jason Isbell, Chris and Morgane Stapleton, Jamey Johnson, Brandy Clark, Holly Williams, Brent Cobb, Anderson East, Shooter Jennings, John Paul White formerly of the Civil Wars, Rich Roberson of the Black Crowes, and not to completely exclude the mainstream, Zac Brown and Miranda Lambert. This is an Ayreon project for country music from one of the best producers in the industry, which meant that while this is my most anticipated project of 2016, it was also the one where I had the highest of expectations - could Dave Cobb pull this off?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

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

And just think of it, the day after I try to edit a video down just below fifteen minutes, the copyright strike is retracted. GAH.

Anyway, next up is Grimes, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - november 21, 2015

No time for introductions this week - busy week, we'll get to more details surrounding the influx of new country when we get to it, if I want to keep this episode under fifteen minutes because of this goddamn copyright strike, gonna have to go fast!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - june 13, 2015

Well, that didn't last long. Almost as quickly as it took the top slot, Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar were elbowed off the top, and it's not exactly surprising that happened either. Once again, the fight over the top will likely be the biggest story this week, but it obscures what happened below, where a whole load of songs surged up the charts and we got another well-sized crop of new songs - and in a nice change of pace from last week, most of them are actually decent!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

video review: 'jekyll + hyde' by the zac brown band

Man, I wish this album could have been stronger... although then again, experiments like this are always risks, so it's not surprising it might not have pulled off the power of a record like Uncaged. Eh, it happens.

Next up... honestly, I've got a few that I'm interested in covering. Stay tuned!

album review: 'jekyll + hyde' by the zac brown band

If you were to ask me what my most anticipated album of 2015 was... well, depending on the day I would have given you a number of answers. Depending on the genre I would have given you a number of answers, but I was getting asked about country, it wouldn't have even been a challenge. And for me, it's always a little odd admitting things like this, because it sets expectations for this review and immediately there'll be accusations of bias or some silliness like that. Let me say that my critical faculties are not impaired, and I'm not going to give something a pass just because I'm a fan - my Nightwish review was proof of that.

That said... the Zac Brown Band is probably one of my favourite country bands ever. The project of singer-songwriter Zac Brown and a killer selection of multi-instrumentalists and backing singers, it was a band that started small with The Foundation in 2008, and while I liked that album for its singles and a couple lightweight deep cuts, it wasn't until their 2010 record You Get What You Give that they seriously won me over. Not only was this a band that knew their neotraditional country and had a gift for killer melodies and great texture, but they were also strong songwriters that could sketch great pictures and had the talent to work with the greats like Alan Jackson. And with songs like 'Colder Weather' - which I should remind you all was my pick for the best hit song of 2011 - they proved that the success of 'Chicken Fried' or 'Toes' wasn't going to confine them to lightweight beach fodder.

But while You Get What You Give was a damn solid record, 2012's Uncaged was damn near a masterpiece. No joke, if I were to make a list of my top records of 2012, it'd be fighting with Kendrick Lamar and Frank Ocean for the top slot. Not only was the writing even better, it showed the band getting more experimental, fusing elements of reggae, bluegrass, rock, and even R&B into their music - and what was all the more amazing is that they made it feel cohesive and powerful with songs like 'Goodbye In Her Eyes', 'Natural Disaster', and 'Last But Not Least' standing as some of their best ever.

And then things really got interesting. They put out an EP with Dave Grohl, Zac Brown later showed up on one of the best songs of the Foo Fighters' Sonic Highways, and with an upcoming collaboration from Chris Cornell on their newest record Jekyll + Hyde - along with Sara Bareilles of all people - it looked as though the Zac Brown Band were continuing their experimentation. What worried me, though, was the producer: Jay Joyce, who in recent years has developed a bad reputation for overproduction and turning albums that could have been amazing or at least passable from Eric Church, Little Big Town, and Halestorm into complete messes. And I'll admit, I was worried here: I knew Zac Brown had a reputation for a tight grip in the studio, but swapping out Keith Stegall, known for working with Alan Jackson, for Joyce struck me as a monumentally bad decision, especially considering they were already working with Grohl! But even putting that aside, I hoped for the best: did the Zac Brown Band manage to pull something together?

Friday, January 23, 2015

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - january 31, 2015 (VIDEO)

Overall, a pretty solid week - happy I was able to get this out before the convention kicked into high gear.

Okay, time to enjoy myself and maybe catch an album - or four - in between. Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - january 31, 2015

So this was a pretty simple week on the Billboard Hot 100 - in that there were movements and changes that you could easily predict. And yet it was almost a deceptive week on the charts, where it might seem a lot happened - we even got a new song debuting in the top ten, and trust me, we'll get to it - but it's not exactly disruptive to the status quo, and if anything, its success is all the more predictable.