Another one! I received another friggin’ email from a publicist asking me to review something! Now, am I already overreacting? Yeah, I know I am. It’s the principle of the thing though. I shut Country Music Minds down because it became about anything other than a fun little music blog, and operating as if I’m some legitimate blogger competing with other blogs is part of the reason as well. Sure, I have a Twitter and an Instagram account for this blog, but I haven’t even published every single post to them lately. I even discouraged search engines from displaying the blog! Hell, I’ve only kept my Twitter account around to stay in touch with people without linking things to my personal account. Otherwise, I’ve been happy with my time at The Musical Divide. It’s not a prison writing here, and the readers I do have are good friends I’ve made through various online interactions. Why do I need anymore?
Oh right, sorry, you came here since you may be curious about which albums I no longer like/dislike. Sorry about that. I do promise that the small rant has a part to play in this though. The final month that Country Music Minds was in full operation (May), I don’t know what was in the air, but I covered a LOT of albums…most of which I don’t share the same feelings for anymore. Some were ones where I gave into pressure, others were where I simply just jumped the gun. When I made this blog, I secretly uploaded all of them with different thoughts before I made this blog a little more public, so you can already read most of my revised reviews. Still, I want to sort of explain where I’m coming from with my revised thoughts, so all I’ll be doing is revisiting some early reviews from this year.
John Moreland – Big Bad Luv
I hate the original review I wrote for this. Granted, this was the album that sort of signaled the beginning of the end for me at Country Music Minds. You see, I was lucky. I got to hear this album early…at least I sort of did. I got this the week before it was released, and wouldn’t you know it, the same week it was being released was my week for final exams (I was a sophomore in college at the time). I was studying, I didn’t have time to really absorb any new music. Still, they wanted a review by the day it was released, so I forced it in my ears. Sure enough my brain being as fried as was just wasn’t picking up on the details in this album. It just sounded boring and I was irritable and a zombie at that point. That’s why I like not setting any time limits for myself. Sure, sometimes I can turn around a review pretty quickly, but that’s because it’s on my time – no one else’s. Look, I’m not blaming this publicist. I let Country Music Minds turn into what it became and I’ll forever hate that. It wasn’t until a re-listen to this album in July where I just found what I was missing. I loved it. I had the time to focus and the mental capacity as well. “Holy shit, what was I originally thinking?!? This is amazing!” The songwriting is just amazing, and the melodies on this thing are very sharp (Megan Bledsoe explains this better than I do). If you want to know more, the new review is here. 9/10.
Colter Wall – self-titled
As for this album, God…I REALLY wanted to love this. In fact, this might have even been my most anticipated album of 2017. My initial review of this was even glowing to a large extent. For awhile there, I actually did believe that I loved this too. However, after revisiting it multiple times, it just doesn’t carry nearly the same spark as it once did for me. I’ll admit, the pressure was on with this one. Colter’s former producer as well as his father both followed Country Music Minds on Twitter, so being “critical” was a little hard for me, especially once I saw the bloodbath of a comments section that emerged over at Saving Country Music from Kyle’s review. I think I tried to like it too since I loved Colter’s debut EP. It was dark, heavy Americana that was like a cool mix of Townes Van Zandt and Johnny Cash. This album just doesn’t have nearly the same flavor to it. In fact, Josh Schott over on Twitter said it best regarding this album: it’s boring. There is little more supporting these songs than maybe some acoustic guitar and pedal steel. Plus it suffers from the ever frustrating trend in indie Country music of being chock full of mid-tempo or down-tempo material. I mean, where’s the energy? The songs are very well-written, sure, but it’s about as exciting as watching grass grow. 6/10 for this album.
Chris Stapleton – From A Room Vol. 1
I’ve said multiple times both here and on Twitter that this has been a down year for truly top tier albums, and while I would retract that statement now, it was certainly true in early May. We had some excellent albums courtesy of artists such as Sunny Sweeney, Marty Stuart, and Rhiannon Giddens, but a lot of projects just felt disappointing or unable to sustain their momentum all the way through. That’s why I was hungry for something excellent when I sat down to listen to this album, and look, it is still good. I just don’t know what I was thinking giving this such a high grade of a 9. It’s a solid project, but that’s about it. It’s a very enjoyable, consistent set of songs, and while no track is outright “bad” other than the pretty weak “Death Row”, outside of “Broken Halos” and “Second One To Know” there’s not a lot I return to either. I think I’d agree with others at this point when they say this does feel a tad short, as if it’s missing just one more track to really complete it all. Then again, I can see where I was coming from with this project. I listened to this on my first day of summer vacation, so naturally I was in a great mood and likely more excited to have time to devote to this blog. The overblown postivity was pretty justified here. Still, it is a fine project from Chris, just not an excellent one. 7/10 for this album.
There are a few other examples such as Dale Watson and Ray Benson’s latest buddy album or me being way too kind to Josh Turner’s latest album, but these were the major ones that reflected my biggest changes. I like where I am now. I do want to try to tone down on the harsh language and all, but I like that I’m a more honest writer over here. It makes the actual writing a LOT easier, and I’m thankful for anyone who’s stuck around.