It’s Trio Collection release week, y’all!
So we took last week off for the Labor Day holiday weekend, which means that we didn’t cover Sturgill Simpson’s Facebook posts about the ACM Awards, Merle Haggard, mainstream country, Miranda Lambert, and Garden & Gun magazine, or the seemingly endless series of responses to his remarks. At this point, honestly, it’s a topic that’s been well-covered, so we’re going to delve into topics that didn’t necessarily garner the same degree of attention.
Other than Simpson’s lobbing a Molotov Cocktail at Music Row, what has been going on? The release of The Complete Trio Collection is something that we’ve been eagerly anticipating for months, and that set has been well worth the wait. The trend of male country acts performing duets with female pop stars made its way into The New York Times, while Garth Brooks performed at Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium for the first time in his storied career. A list of “The 50 Greatest Alt-Country Albums of All Time” had us arching our eyebrows even more than Simpson’s remarks did, just as Americana music found a permanent home on a Nashville radio station.
Miranda Lambert, Lori McKenna, and Tami Neilson all released new music videos, and the new releases and reissues from the past two weeks include a high-profile album from Jason Aldean, along with better options from the likes of Chatham County Line, Tim Easton, Dex Romweber, The Time Jumpers, Whiskey Myers, and Chely Wright. There’s also a Waylon Jennings’ vinyl release and reissues from Bobbie Gentry and Dottie West. So there’s a lot to take in!
New Releases & Reissues: 9/02/2016
Chatham County Line, Autumn. (Yep Roc)
Bobbie Gentry, Touch ‘Em With Love (1969), Fancy (1970). (UMC)
Waylon Jennings, The Lost Nashville Sessions. (Country Rewind)
James Vincent McMorrow, We Move. (Burning Rope / Faction)
Gary Stewart, Your Place Or Mine (1977). (RCA Legacy)
Jack Tempchin, One More Song. (Blue Elan)
Porter Wagoner, The Definitive Collection. (Real Gone Music)
New Releases & Reissues: 9/09/2016
Jason Aldean, They Don’t Know. (Broken Bow)
Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1969 Archive Box. (Fantasy)
Billy Ray Cyrus, Thin Line. (Blue Cadillac Music)
Elise Davis, The Token. (Thirty Tigers)
Tim Easton, American Fork. (Last Chance)
Pete Kent, The Hidden Hand. (Revolver)
Aofie O’Donovan, Man In A Neon Coat: Live From Cambridge. (Yep Roc)
Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, & Emmylou Harris, The Complete Trio Collection. (Rhino)
Dex Romweber, Carrboro. (Nonesuch)
Earl Scruggs, Earl Scruggs Performing With His Family And Friends (1972). (Columbia / Legacy)
The Time Jumpers, Kid Sister. (Rounder)
Ward Thomas, Cartwheels. (Sony Music CG)
Dottie West, Here Comes My Baby (1965), Dottie West Sings (1966). (Morello)
Whiskey Myers, Mud. (Thirty Tigers)
Jack White, Jack White Acoustic Recordings 1988 – 2016. (Third Man / Columbia)
Wilco, Schmilco. (ANTI / Epitaph)
Joy Williams, Venus EP. (Sensibility Music)
Chely Wright, I Am The Rain. (MRI)
Billboard Country National Airplay:
#1: Jake Owen, “American Country Love Song”
Most Increased Audience: Jake Owen, “American Country Love Song”
Debuts: Dylan Scott, “My Girl” (#52); Kane Brown, “Thunder in the Rain” (#57); Don’t Call Them Brooks & Dunn, “Damn Drunk” (re-entry, #58).
Most Added: Eric Church feat. Rhiannon Giddens, “Kill A Word” (18); Darius Rucker, “If I Told You” (16); Carrie Underwood, “Dirty Laundry” (16); Keith Urban, “Blue Ain’t Your Color” (15); Florida Georgia Line feat. Tim McGraw, “May We All” (14).
Notes: Owen’s single holds off a strong push from Kelsea Ballerini’s “Peter Pan,” which looks to ascend to the top of the chart next week; in its 48th chart week, William Michael Morgan’s “I Met a Girl” moves up from #7 to #10; Morgan stays ahead of the worst song in the top 40, Tucker Beathard’s “Rock On,” which moves up to #8 because country radio remains deeply broken; or does it..? Blake Shelton’s terrible attempt at a Miranda Lambert diss track, “She’s Got A Way With Words,” is testing horribly with audiences and looks to be the single to break his years-long streak of #1 hits, dropping from #7 to #9; speaking of Lambert, “Vice” attains a new peak position at #17; after bouncing around in the lower 20s for months, Drake White’s “Livin’ the Dream” has gained some momentum, making for his first top 20 single as it moves up to #20; as expected, the iHeartMedia OnTheVerge promotion is paying off handsomely for Lauren Alaina’s “Road Less Traveled,” which is at #28 after just 3 weeks on the chart; Thomas Rhett’s “Vacation” has cracked the top 30; finally catching a headwind after 3 months, Josh Turner scores another top 40 hit, as “Hometown Girl” moves up from #44 to #36; after just 5 weeks, The Band Perry’s petulant bit of revisionist history, “Comeback Kid,” has dropped out of the top 40, falling to #43 this week; Carrie Underwood’s “Dirty Laundry” (#47) and Eric Church featuring Rhiannon Giddens’ (!!) “Kill A Word” (#48) make for the best one-two combo on this week’s chart; RaeLynn’s “Love Triangle” got off to a quick start a few weeks back but hasn’t built upon it, falling from #52 to #54 and losing some audience this week; Chase Rice’s “Everybody We Know Does” has already fallen off the chart.
Elsewhere on Billboard‘s radio charts:
The Lumineers score yet another hit at AAA radio, as “Cleopatra” moves up from #11 to #7; Norah Jones’ “Carry On,” which sounds adjacent to her country-inflected work with The Little Willies, moves from #17 to #14; the current singles from The Avett Brothers, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Wilco, Elle King, and Shovels & Rope all lost total spins this week; Adult Top 40 may have finally grown weary of Florida Georgia Line’s “H.O.L.Y.,” which drops from #21 to #24; Adult Contemporary radio, however, seems to have embraced the duo’s crossover hit, as it moves up from #27 to #19 on that chart; it’s likely to overtake Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind,” which continues to tread water at #15; Hillary Scott & The Scott Family’s “Thy Will” hold at #2 on the Christian radio chart for a third straight week.
News & Notes
To commemorate this week’s essential release of The Complete Trio Collection, Rolling Stone found where YouTube user “LindaAusFan” had uploaded the entire 20-minute appearance by Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris on The Tonight Show back in 1987. It’s every bit as terrific as you might imagine, and it’s worth every second. (JK)
“I just wanted to make something that was honest for me… When we started recording, I had these songs that were around for a while. Because I wrote it for me, I think that a lot of people have gravitated towards my honesty and the hard things I’ve been through because everybody else goes through those types of things.”
— Margo Price may have been unjustly shut out of the CMA Awards nominations last week, but she’s actively been building a name among the voters at NARAS. She gave an insightful interview and performed some of the songs from her breakthrough album, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, for the Grammys’ website. There are already rumblings among prognosticators that this type of promo could pay off for Price when this year’s Grammy nominees are announced. (JK)
The invaluable NPR “First Listen” series has Amanda Shires’ exceptional new album, My Piece of Land, available for streaming prior to its official release. (JK)
Lori McKenna’s The Bird & The Rifle is one of the year’s finest albums, and the singer-songwriter has posted an intimate live performance video of its title track. (JK)
“Solo female artists have struggled to get attention on the country charts, but women continue to dominate pop, and those singers potentially raise the profiles of the male country singers who take them on as partners. Rod Phillips, a radio programming veteran who now leads the iHeartCountry conglomerate, calls this surge in pop collaborations ‘a plus’ for country radio.”
— The ever-reliable Jewly Hight looked at the recent spate of high profile co-ed duets in an essay for The New York Times. Hight spoke with Dierks Bentley, Cassadee Pope, and some radio insiders about why this trend has taken root recently and what potential impact it may have on the country charts. The subjective quality of these duets isn’t discussed as part of Hight’s piece, and that may be the key consideration when determining if this trend has much staying power or just ends up as a more of a footnote. (JK)
We have some strong opinions about what was included– and particularly about what wasn’t– in Paste magazine’s list of “The 50 Best Alt-Country Albums of All Time.” Which, of course, is partly the point of lists like this, but, hoo boy… If you’re reading the list and find yourself wondering where are Kelly Willis, Guy Clark, Alejandro Escovedo, Richard Buckner, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Kim Richey, BR5-49, Fred Eaglesmith, Bruce or Charlie Robison, Shovels & Rope, Hayes Carll, Slobberbone, Whiskeytown, Kelly Hogan, Hank III, Cowboy Junkies, Freedy Johnston, Allison Moorer, Todd Snider, Iris DeMent, Lucero, John Hiatt, The BoDeans, Junior Brown, Robert Earl Keen, Southern Culture on the Skids, or Tift Merritt… well, you’re not alone. (JK)
Juli Thanki of The Tennessean conducted a delightful interview with Bill Anderson for the paper’s podcast. They discuss his new book, which he co-authored with Peter Cooper, called Whisperin’ Bill Anderson: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music. (LMW)
Miranda Lambert premiered the music video for “Vice.” Its imagery is maybe a bit too on-the-nose with the song’s lyrical content, but it’s still a far sight better than the majority of country music videos. (JK)
“I don’t know why I stayed away from here for so long… I didn’t feel like I belonged here. But, I tell you what, if you could have ever sent a message to an artist tonight, you sent it. I feel the love in this room.”
— Garth Brooks addressed the crowd during his performance at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Rolling Stone recapped Brooks’ first-ever concert at the historic venue. The show also served to launch his new SiriusXM channel. (LMW)
“When Jon Pardi’s ‘Head Over Boots’ recently topped the Country Airplay chart in its 46th week, the achievement was remarkable on a number of levels. For starters, the song is a shuffle that jumps out of the speakers as one of the most country-sounding records heard on the radio in the last year. Additionally, it’s Pardi’s fifth single, but his first to crack the top 10, meaning label Capitol Records Nashville demonstrated the kind of persistence that is increasingly rare in the current record industry economy where ‘one and done’ is closer to the norm when an artist fails to score a hit out of the gate.”
— Phyllis Stark of Billboard took a look behind the curtain at the ascent of Jon Pardi’s “Head Over Boots” to the top of the country radio charts. Stark spoke with several radio programmers about the single and its lengthy chart climb and how their initial resistance to such a 90s-sounding single gradually changed. (JK)
For those who still listen to terrestrial radio, WMOT (89.5 FM) in Nashville has changed its format from a mix of jazz and news to Americana; the station’s footprint extends as far as Bowling Green in southwestern Kentucky to the Alabama border, and the format switch gives Americana its first dedicated radio station in that region of the country. (JK)
It’s hard to believe, but Country Universe favorite Tami Neilson somehow just keeps getting cooler and cooler every time we hear from her. After breaking hearts with 2015’s “Lonely,” this week the powerhouse singer premiered the retro-styled music video for her rollicking new single, “Holy Moses.” She’s kind of the best. (JK)
That will do it for this week. As always, let us know in the comments if there were things we missed!