Tag Archives: Country

Johnzo West ‘Glory’

About a year ago Musically Diversified did an artist profile on singer/songwriter Johnzo West. Since then West has been very working on his own solo album and performing live with Billy Ray Cyrus. We recently got the opportunity to take a listen to West’s latest album, and we were blown away with the ten tracks he presents on Glory, which was released in February.

Glory is a great collection of songs that show West’s skills on guitar and vocals. The album starts off with a song entitled “Don’t Leave Me Hangin’” which is a track that starts off nicely with some great guitar work, but is definitely carried by a great vocal performance by West. The song really takes off during the chorus sections and is especially good during the wah drenched guitar solo. The next song is called “The Shallows” which is a track that has been re-worked from West’s 2008 release Bring On The Burden. It’s a great song that features a soulful performance from West on vocals.

“Heart of Stone” is another great track on the record. The lyrics tell a great story and the accompaniment suites the lyrics perfectly.  “Tell Your Mother” is the next track and this song has a very country feel, especially the drums which keep a steady beat that keeps the country time while the guitars slide in and out. West’s vocal fit perfectly over this track.

“The Constant” is the next track on the album, and it has a great funky feel from the beginning. The bass, guitars, and drums instantly catch your attention, and you get to the chorus and West’s vocals take over. “On My Way” is a great track that is an old school rocker and features great guitar work throughout. Lyrically it tells a great story too.

“The Good Fight” is probably my favorite track from West. Lyrically and musically it just works, and makes a very enjoyable listening experience for anyone involved. Arrangement wise the piano and guitar work excellently.

Glory is a great collection of tracks. Be sure to take a listen HERE

-B. Harlow

Johnzo West

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My Take on Brad Paisley’s “Accidentally Racist”

First of all I’d like to state that I feel music should have a message. I would also like to state that I like music that has a political message, but to me Brad Paisley’s “Accidentally Racist” ft. L.L. Cool J. makes a very akward statement. At first I thought this was comedy, but then I thought that it was probably a publicity stunt to promote Paisley’s new album, Wheelhouse which came out yesterday.

Here’s an honest review of the song. It’s a flop. It’s a terrible attempt at a political song based on history. The lyrics of the song are tacky.  “To the man that waited on me at the Starbucks down on Main, I hope you understand / When I put on that t-shirt, the only thing I meant to say is I’m a Skynyrd fan.”  Come on Paisley. What is that? Pure shit. LL Cool J’s lyrics aren’t any better like when he says  “RIP Robert E. Lee but I’ve gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me, know what I mean.” Another verse that is all together strange.

All in all a weird song.

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Quick Artist Profile: The Dirty Dixies

The Dirty Dixies were formed in 2008 in Nashville, TN. The main mission of the group was to provide the listener with songs they can relate to. Some topics from their songs  range from driving down to Mexico, to Buying beer at Texaco. But most importantly for the Dirty Dixies is that the listener remember that the most important things in life are their dogs, their trucks, and their woman.

-B.H.

April fools.

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Quick Artist Profile: Futurebirds

If you want a listening experience that is very pleasurable, I’d suggest looking no further than the Athens, GA based band, Futurebirds. Futurebirds are a great amalgamation of Country, rock, and a slight portion of psychedelic-rock. The band which consists of Payton Bradford, Thomas Johnson, Carter King, Dennis Love, Brannen Miles, and Daniel Womack formed in 2008, and since then have been creating their unique sonic brew.

Since the bands creation they’ve been delving into their classic rock and country roots to create music that is truly a throwback (but in a good way.) If I had to compare their music to anyone artist it would be Neil Young, especially on songs like “Battle For Rome.” But then again the band definitely has its own sound mixing in acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, mandolin, pedal steel, and percussion with sweetly arranged harmonies.

Be sure to take Futurebirds for a listening test drive because you will be in for a joyous listening experience.

-B. Harlow

Futurebirds

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Who Is The White Buffalo?

One of my favorite shows is the FX network series, Sons Of Anarchy. On the show’s season finale last year they chose to feature a haunting rendition of the Leadbelly song, “House of The Rising Sun.” The song more closely resembled The Animals cover of the song, but had a very cool   bluesy feel and altered lyrics to fit the story of the show. It was truly one of those songs that fit the show perfectly. What I really wanted to know was, who was behind this awesome rendition. At that moment I stumbled across The White Buffalo.

The White Buffalo is actually the stage name of singer, Jake Smith. Smith has a big voice, and he knows how to use that gift to display tremendous songwriting and storytelling talents. His songs encompass blues, country, folk, and at points straight up rock. What I enjoy about Smith most is his amazing lyrics and singing ability. His songs vary in topic from things such as everyday life, to various outlaw characters. His ability to tell stories through his songs reminds me a lot of Bruce Springsteen.

Smith has put out two full lengths and three EP’s under the White Buffalo moniker. Most recently he put out the full length album, Once Upon A Time in The West. The album consists of thirteen songs, and also produced two singles, “BB Guns And Dirt-bikes” and “Wish It Was True.” The songs on this album take the listener back to when all was good and when vagabonds traveled the countryside, much like Smith’s stage-namesake, the buffalo.

Anyone that likes music would enjoy The White Buffalo. I hope that this man continues on his great path of success.

-B. Harlow

Check Out The Music Video for “Wish it Was True” Below:

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Aerosmith Release Their First New Album In 11 Years With, ‘Music From Another Dimension!’

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last month, you know two huge events are happening today. One of these events is the release of Aerosmith’s new studio album, Music From Another Dimension! The other huge ordeal happening is Election Day (Get out and vote!) Yesterday the two combined when Aerosmith played a show on the front stoop of their original apartment at 1325 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. The rally was to promote voting, but also to promote the new record which I will be focusing on today.

Music From Another Dimension! is Aerosmith’s first album of original material since 2001’s, Just Push Play. Any Aerosmith fan who has been waiting for a new album will not be disappointed with Music From Another Dimension!, but let me say if you were expecting an album like 1976’s, Rocks this is not that. Likewise if you were looking for an album like 1993’s, Get A Grip this is not the album for you. But if you are the third-party that was hoping for an album that encompasses all of Aerosmith’s best features throughout their career, then this new collection of fifteen tracks is for you.

Music From Another Dimension! starts out “LUV XXX” which features a very creepy spoken intro by producer Jack Douglas. But then the drums kick in followed by a very 70’s inspired riff. Steven Tyler’s vocals come in next, but one will notice that not only are they harmonized by Joe Perry, but also by John Lennon’s son, Julian. Coincidentally Jack Douglas was also John Lennon’s producer and one of the last people to see Lennon alive.

The second track on the album is a great song called “Oh Yeah” which is a very Rolling Stones-esque double time number. The song features horns along with loosely played guitars. But what brings the track together are the background singers and the horn section who give the track a certain depth. This track is followed by an odd song called “Beautiful” which is reminiscent of Aerosmith’s 1990’s sound. The track mixes killer riffs, spitting vocals, and sweet melody. This song is nothing like anything I’ve heard before, and the arrangement is very odd especially towards the end when it sounds like a new song altogether.

Next up is the Tom Hamilton penned, “Tell Me” which is one of my favorite songs on the album because it reminds me of The Beatles mixed with Aerosmith’s more ballad oriented material. This is especially true when it comes to the guitar solo and refrains. “Tell Me” is followed by a great track called “Out go The Lights” which is cowbell driven bluesy number featuring a great syncopated riff, and also featured a cool background vocal section. Tyler’s lyrics also great and are filled sexual innuendo and double-entendres. Just when you think the track is about to end, Joey Kramer’s drums come back in and so does Perry’s guitar, and this is when he provides a great syncopated funk driven guitar solo.

“Legendary Child” is up next, and this song starts off with a very cool and unique backwards guitar that goes into a riff that sounds a lot like Led Zeppelin’s “The Wanton Song”. Steven Tyler’s vocals follow, and the song is instantly kicked up a notch. Then the song takes an odd turn when we go to this atmospheric section. This is then interrupted rudely by Joe Perry and Brad Whitford’s monster riffage. Then another verse that is full of Steven Tyler’s usual witty lyrics kicks in.  This time the band chooses to forego the atmospheric pre-chorus section, and go straight into another chorus. This chorus is then followed by a short guitar break, and then a ripping Joe Perry solo. At the end of Perry’s solo back-masked guitars are moving in and out, and Tyler repetitively sings the song’s title till the song comes to a conclusion. This is one of the best tracks on the record.

Next up is the latest single, “What Could Have Been Love.” Now I have mixed feelings on this song. I love the melody and chorus and I can’t stop listening to the track, but I also think it is a song that was made for radio to sell units.

Whatever wrong doing I found with “What Could Have Been Love” is undone however by the next track, “Street Jesus.”  “Street Jesus” is centered on a bluesy riff by Brad Whitford who had been kicking the lick around for 15 years, but it has finally found a home on this track. To me this song would fit nicely in the bands catalog between the songs “Toys in The Attic” and the great bluesy number, “Rats in The Cellar.” What really makes the song great is how it features excellent guitar work from Whitford.

Next up is the track “Can’t Stop Loving You,” but unlike the other ballads on the album I don’t think this track is throw away track. The beginning starts off with a very Beatles-esque Mellotron intro, but then leads into an acoustic guitar driven section that is accompanied by Kramer’s steady beat. On the chorus Steven Tyler gets harmonized by Carrie Underwood who adds awesome flavor to the track especially when she takes the next verse which also features a lyrical reference to Aerosmith’s 1973 song “Mama Kin.” Underwood takes the next chorus and is nicely harmonized by Tyler. This then leads into a very Beatles-esque breakdown, but then that country flavor comes back in with the final chorus.

“Lover Alot” is the next track, and this song is another straight forward rocker that features grooving guitars and Tyler’s vocal spitting on top of the music. What gets me with this track however is Hamilton’s bass which makes this track sound super tight. He finds the perfect space in between being a rhythmic instrument and a melodic instrument. Something many bass players simply fail at.

The next track that caught my ear was “We All Fall Down” which was penned by Dianne Warren who also wrote the bands hit, “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing.”  The song starts off with guitar, orchestra, and piano. Tyler’s vocal seamlessly floats over the top of the song. The chorus then comes in and this is when the song reaches climax especially the third time around.

“Freedom Fighter” is a Joe Perry penned song and it is also sung by the guitarist. This song is not bad or good it’s just kind of there. “Closer” follows “Freedom Fighter,” and I have to say that it is another filler track that I didn’t really enjoy.

Now interestingly enough one of my favorite tracks on the album is the very James Bond-esque Perry written track, “Something.” This track is a real rocker and features great swaggering guitar parts that sound awesome. Perry’s vocals also sound good on this track something that has always been a give or take thing for him.

The Album concludes with the song “Another Last Goodbye” which is actually a ballad I enjoyed. The track which was written by Tyler, Perry, and Desmond Child is actually the perfect mellow way to conclude the album.

Music From Another Dimension! is a great album with fifteen tracks worth of solid Aerosmith material, and now it’s time for you to make your judgement. Go out and get this album, and see why I am thrilled with it. Aerosmith delivered now it’s our time to receive.

-B. Harlow

 

 

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Taylor Swift Releases Her Fourth Album, ‘RED’

So let me just start off by saying that I am not a regular on this website, and honestly not even the biggest enthusiast of music so no biting my head off for not analyzing the music right and no pointing out something that I probably missed. I am an enthusiast of Taylor Swift however. To me, she can do no wrong and her music will always be a favorite of mine. Her new album, Red, that was released on Monday is now my new obsession and I am not ashamed of it.

Having already listened to each of the songs more than a dozen times in just the first couple of days, I have to say that I enjoy this collection that she has created. People may say that she no longer belongs in the country genre with the release of this album, but I honestly enjoy her music no matter what genre she ends up in. You have to remember that Taylor is an artist, one that has a broad range of fans and I feel that she is trying to appeal to everybody; she is expanding beyond her country days, and by doing this challenging herself in other genres. So come on people, let’s try to commend what she has done because I bet it wasn’t easy.

Right off the bat I had a few favorites. Having downloaded the several singles that she released before the album dropped, I was already pretty well acquainted with those songs and I enjoyed every one of them. Of course, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” is a sort- of “Call Me Maybe” piece that is catchy and annoying yet you just can’t seem to get it out of your head. Then she released “Begin Again,” a slower number summarizing how her love life is starting to turn around and realizing that what she used to have with somebody might not be as good as what lies ahead with someone new.

Let me just say before I keep going that yes, Taylor Swift does write a lot of mean, angry love songs about boys that screwed her over, and hey maybe she is a little crazy, but her songs are entertaining right?? I personally love the truthfulness that her songs contain, and honestly most of them are really freakin’ catchy.

Okay, back to the songs. Her third single that came out was “Red” and honestly it is one of my favorite songs of the whole album. Describing different parts of breakups, “losing him was blue like I’ve never known, missing him was dark grey all alone” Taylor makes you imagine love, the good and the bad parts of it, in a different way than you normally would because “loving him was red.” The fourth and fifth singles released were “I Knew you were Trouble” and “State of Grace.” Many people might disapprove of the “dubstep” sound present in “I Knew you were Trouble,” but I personally enjoy the song and it adds variety to the album and to her list of talents as well. I have not been able to connect with “State of Grace” as much as the majority of the songs, but I like it, it’s another upbeat song about the beginning of a new love and her not expecting it. I feel as though a good amount of her songs on this album have to do with new love and it is refreshing to see that.

There are another 10 songs or so, which would make this review way too long, so I will just emphasize a couple more of my favorites. “Everything has Changed” featuring Ed Sheeran is pure magic. Their voices work so well together and it is a perfect combination of two people and a guitar mixed in with other instrumentation. And my other favorite is “22,” a song that never fails to make me want to get up and dance around my room like a typical girl. It is so upbeat and makes you feel good because “we’re happy free confused and lonely at the same time. It’s miserable and magical oh yeah.” Will be on repeat for a while that’s for sure.

Overall, I am a big big fan, and I think that everyone that has always liked Taylor Swift should definitely check Red out. It is different from her usual material, but that is what makes her the unique artist that she is and why most of us love her! Hope everyone enjoyed my post; this was a lot of fun to do. Also, her “Begin Again” music video came out Tuesday night so also check that out.

-K. Heller
Kyndal is a native of Shrewsbury, MA and is currently a sophomore at Clemson University studying elementary education. As a newly appointed “southern belle,” she is a big fan of artists like Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, etc. and has attended a number of country concerts, including Taylor Swift’s of course (3 to be exact)!  

 

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West End Motel Release New Song, “Burn it Down”

Musicians are notorious for a couple of things. One of these things are side-projects. Some side projects are just god awful, but some just work. A clear example of this is Brent Hinds of Mastodon’s side project West End Motel which is a great combination of country, western, rock, and soul. The band which was formed sometime around 2002 recorded some songs over a period of seven-year, but disbanded as  Tom Cheshire and Hinds both had very busy schedules. But In 2009, the band reunited along with the addition Mike Shina for a one-off as a band called, County Hell. Instead of County Hell being a onetime only thing it truthfully re-launched West End Motel. The band recently released a track entitled “Burn It Down” which will appear on the band’s new album, Only Time Can Tell, which will be out October 30th.

“Burn it Down” is truly a great track that really emphasizes a very soul and groove oriented vibe. The song starts out with a clear sample, but this leads into a very soulful country riff. The vocals then come in with the refrain. The refrain ends quickly, and this is where you hear Hind’s uniquely nasally vocal which is doubled to give it a cool echo effect. I also enjoyed the awesome horns and walking bass lines that are prominent throughout the track. The real highlight of the song however is Hind’s guitar solo which is mixed very dominantly.

This band is great, and I can’t wait to hear the rest of their new material when it comes out later this fall. Make sure you give it a listen. I’m sure you will not be disappointed.

-B. Harlow

Check out to the song  which is streaming  HERE

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Mumford & Son’s Sophomore Album, ‘Babel’ is Finally Here

The date September 25th couldn’t have come soon enough for fans of the English folk-rock band, Mumford and Sons. But now the day has past, and it has left behind the band’s new album, Babel. After a performance of “I Willl Wait” and “Below My Feet” on the September 22nd  episode of Saturday Night Live, Babel quickly became the most talked about of the releases this week.  The album which consists of twelve tracks truthfully lives up to the hype that has been generated behind it.

The album opens up with the title track; “Babel” this song is a very upbeat banjo and guitar driven song with great dynamics in tempo. The Next track is entitled “Whispers in The Dark” this track to me was very well composed, and takes a very simple arrangement and makes it work. The third track on the album is the single, “I Will Wait.”  The guitars and banjo seem to mix together really well on this track. They only tweak I think could make the song better is if they moved the piano up in the mix more, it would have given the song a lot more movement. Vocally the song is very impressive, and contains many soaring vocals, but also many smooth parts.

“Holland Road” is the fourth track on the album, and to be truthful I think this is one of the best songs Mumford & Sons have written. The lyrics and the music throughout the song bring the listener on a journey that leads to a horn interlude that is placed perfectly in the song. This gets echoed nicely by the vocals.

“Ghosts That We Knew” is up next, and this song is very calm and less country sounding than the majority of the album. It starts with just vocals and guitar. Eventually the piano comes in with a section of harmonized vocals. This is followed by the introduction of a tenderly plucked banjo that gives nice movement to the track.  The musical arrangement of the song really helps to emphasize the lyrics and melodic structure of the song.

“Lover of Light” is next up on the album, but I wasn’t really impressed by the song as I felt it was to reminiscent of the band’s debut release.  However I did enjoy the simplistic banjo solo. The next track to take note of is the eighth track, “Reminder” which is a very melancholy number which is very simple with just vocals accompanied by guitar. The song is short but sweet, but this makes it a nice change of pace.

The next song is entitled “Hopeless Wanderer.” Lyrically this track is one of my favorites, but it is the clear emphasis on the piano that makes me really enjoy the track. It feels throughout the track as if the banjo and guitar were only there to emphasize the piano. This changes around the 3:30 mark when the banjo takes over the track.

“Broken Crown” follows, and to me has one of the nicest finger picked acoustic intros. The vocals come in next. Soon this builds and the piano and banjo join the mix, but they are not so far up in the mix that it brings down the very subdued feel of the song. This changes around the halfway when the music builds into a great section. Again this track plays with the band’s awesome ability to get soft and then loud again.

The second to last song on the album is the track, “Below My Feet.” This song is a very haunting, and plays with the traditional Mumford and Sons formula. The vocal harmonies on the track though are fantastic and add a depth to track, as does the random Pete Townsend-esque electric guitar.  “Not With Haste” closes the album, and I have to say that it did not disappoint in terms of closing the album, as it was a nice reflective piece of music that really pulls the album together.

Although very similar to their debut release, Mumford & Sons have put together an album that I’m sure will keep them out of the sophomore slump. This is a fantastic album, and a candidate for the best album of the year.

-B. Harlow

Check Out The Music Video For The Song, “I Will Wait” Below:

 

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Bob Dylan Releases New Album, ‘Tempest’

Bob Dylan is an American icon, regardless of the generation Dylan’s music speaks to people. To this day he continues to produce music that speaks to the masses, and continues to tour which is amazing for being 71. Last week Dylan put out his latest album, and I have to say I’m very impressed with this collection of ten tracks.

The album starts out with the impressive “Duquesne Whistle” a gritty blues number that Dylan wrote with Robert Hunter whom also wrote and performed with the late, Jerry Garcia. The track which runs at almost six minutes starts with guitar which then gets double by piano. It really starts to pick up when the drums and walking bass line kick in. Then Dylan’s soulful and gravely vocal comes in. Next up is the track, “Soon After Midnight” which is a slower song that lyrically is great, but musically kind of boring. The next track on the record is a real rocker, and entitled, “Narrow Way.” The track is a fast blues, but you definitely get more of an early rock and roll feel. I enjoyed the track, but at seven minutes it got a bit repetitive. “Long and Wasted” years is up next, and to me it was one of the most enjoyable tracks due to the story telling nature and the way the track just had that very easy groove.

“Pay in Blood” is the fifth track on the album and to me this sounds like a Keith Richards penned Stones song. The piano and guitar groove very much like something Richards would pen, but the vocals throughout are uniquely Bob Dylan. Again, Dylan finds himself telling another enjoyable story that is much like a soap opera with the lines “You got the same eyes that your mother does/If only you could prove who your father was.” This story telling aspect and the very Rolling Stone’s like vibe makes this one of my favorite songs on the record.

Next up we find the track, “Scarlet Town” this is also another track where Dylan shows his tremendous story telling abilities. It is truly a haunting tune driven by banjo and a haunting violin played by David Hidalgo.

After listening to the great slab of work that was “Scarlet Town,” I found myself very disappointed by the next track entitled “Early Roman Kings” which musically is a clear rip off of a Muddy Waters riff, with only some added accordion and keyboards to make it sound different. This track was followed up by another track called “Tin Angel” which is driven by a small band and a prominent fretless bass that sounds magnificent and emphasizes the dramatic nature of Dylan’s lyrics.

The title track, “Tempest” follows “Tin Angel,” and to me this is an epic song about the sinking of the Titanic. Dylan’s imagery is just magnificent, and unlike most people who portray the sinking, he does not candy coat it.

The final track on the album is entitled “Roll on John,” and is a tribute to John Lennon. The song starts off with a nice progression, and leads into a verse that tells the story of John Lennon from The Quarrymen to the sudden fame of the Beatles. Dylan also makes numerous references to Lennon’s own words when he sings lyrics that came from Beatle’s classics, “Come Together” and “A Day in The Life.” The song is truly an amazing tribute to a great musician and friend.

Tempest is an amazing piece of work by Dylan. Musically Bob Dylan is on par with his best material, but when it comes to lyrics, you can see why some refer to him more as a poet than a musician.

-B. Harlow

Check Out Bob Dylan’s music video for “Duquesne Whistle” Below:

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