Archive for the ‘News’ Category

BTW, eMusic Is Kind of Awesome Again

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

There was considerable grumbling among eMusic’s 400,000-ish subscribers last year when the formerly indie-centric music download service enacted a dramatic increase in monthly user subscription fees in exchange for posting a few good chunks of the Sony catalogue. Thankfully, the service endured the backlash long enough to strike up another major-label deal, this time with Warner Music Group (and no additional price hike – so far).

The deal is a huge treat that helps ease the burn of the increased price, bringing with it classic catalogue work from the likes of Emmylou Harris, Dwight Yoakam, Randy Travis, Gram Parsons, Neil Young, Travis Tritt, Eddie Rabbitt, Linda Ronstadt, Jerry Jeff Walker and more. That’s in addition to the Dolly Parton, George Jones, Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette, Willie Nelson, Sons of the Pioneers and others already brought in by Sony and other labels. With per-track costs averaging at about $.45 depending on your monthly plan, the newly rejuvenated service could prove quite enticing to catalogue fans who like to cherry-pick. Let’s hope deals with Universal Music Group and EMI are forthcoming.

eMusic’s blog post on the expansion can be found here. For more information, see the site itself.

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Listen to the New Carrie Underwood Single: “Cowboy Casanova”

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Courtesy of reader Aaron, here’s the new Carrie Underwood single, “Cowboy Casanova”:

Click “More” to hear. Review to follow soon.

Brooks & Dunn are Breaking Up

Monday, August 10th, 2009

brooks-dunnCountry superstars Brooks & Dunn are breaking up.  They will release a hits collection this fall, followed by a tour next year. It seems that last year’s Cowboy Town will be their final studio album.

From their official website:

To Our Fans:

After 20 years of making music and riding this trail together, we have agreed as a duo that it’s time call it a day. This ride has been everything and more than we could ever have dreamed …. We owe it all to you, the fans. If you hear rumors, don’t believe them, it’s just time.

We will release our #1s … and Then Some on September 8th and come see you all one more time in 2010, with The Last Rodeo Tour (dates to be announced).

In honor of this classic nineties act, a Starter Kit will follow later tonight. In the meantime, here’s a video clip to help you get ready for “The Long Goodbye”:

H/T: Whitney Pastorek at EW

Album Sales Update: July 2009

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

It’s time for an album sales update, our first since May 23.   Brad Paisley is off to a strong start with American Saturday Night, selling 130k in its first week. That’s about 70k less than his previous two studio albums – Time Well Wasted and 5th Gear – opened with, but not a terrible drop-off, considering the state of the music market.

Meanwhile, the new studio albums by Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban are slowing down considerably, now being outpaced on a weekly basis by 2008 releases by Taylor Swift, Zac Brown Band, Darius Rucker and Lady Antebellum.

Among younger acts with a new album in 2009, the most impressive sales are coming from Jason Aldean, while 2008 releases from Kellie Pickler, Billy Currington, and Randy Houser are showing new signs of life.

Biggest disappointments? It’s hard not to look in the direction of Martina McBride, who has barely cleared the 100k mark on her new studio set.  Lee Ann Womack’s 2008 set just made it over that mark, too.  Then again, one only needs to have sold 455 copies to make the chart this week, with the anchor position going to Wynonna with that total. Her covers album Sing – Chapter 1 has sold 41k to date.

Here are the latest totals for albums released over the past three years that are still charting:

2009

  • Rascal Flatts, Unstoppable – 842,000
  • Keith Urban, Defying Gravity – 452,000
  • Jason Aldean, Wide Open – 384,000
  • Kenny Chesney, Greatest Hits II – 281,000
  • Dierks Bentley, Feel That Fire – 219,000
  • Martina McBride, Shine – 104,000
  • John Rich, Son of a Preacher Man – 103,000
  • Eric Church, Carolina – 94,000
  • Rodney Atkins, It’s America – 88,000
  • Jake Owen, Easy Does It – 81,000
  • Randy Travis, I Told You So: Ultimate Hits – 78,000
  • Montgomery Gentry, For Our Heroes – 64,000
  • Willie Nelson & Asleep at the Wheel, Willie & The Wheel – 56,000
  • Steve Earle, Townes – 47,000
  • Colt Ford, Ride Through the Country – 45,000
  • Jason Michael Carroll, Growing Up is Getting Old – 45,000
  • Wynonna, Sing – Chapter 1 – 41,000
  • Hank Williams Jr. – 127 Rose Avenue – 34,000
  • Ryan Bingham, Roadhouse Sun – 15,000
  • Tracy Lawrence, Rock – 11,000
  • Darryl Worley, Sounds Like Life – 8,000
  • Holly Williams, Here With Me – 5,000
  • Charlie Robison, Beautiful Day – 3,000
  • Tanya Tucker, My Turn – 3,000

2008

  • Taylor Swift, Fearless – 3,464,000
  • Sugarland, Love on the Inside – 1,683,000
  • George Strait, Troubadour – 914,000
  • Alan Jackson, Good Time – 869,000
  • Darius Rucker, Learn to Live – 754,000
  • Kenny Chesney, Lucky Old Sun – 721,000
  • Zac Brown Band, Foundation – 681,000
  • Rascal Flatts, Greatest Hits Vol. 1 – 680,000
  • Lady Antebellum, Lady Antebellum – 674,000
  • Toby Keith, 35 Biggest Hits – 652,000
  • Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song – 509,000
  • Toby Keith, That Don’t Make Me a Bad Guy – 403,000
  • James Otto, Sunset Man – 374,000
  • Julianne Hough, Julianne Hough – 314,000
  • Kellie Pickler, Kellie Pickler – 261,000
  • Dierks Bentley, Greatest Hits – 255,000
  • Brad Paisley, Play – 247,000
  • Dolly Parton, Backwoods Barbie – 208,000
  • Tim McGraw, Greatest Hits Vol. 3 – 206,000
  • Billy Currington, Little Bit of Everything – 191,000
  • Trace Adkins, X – 185,000
  • Montgomery Gentry, Back When I Knew it All – 184,000
  • Joey + Rory, Life of a Song – 167,000
  • Blake Shelton, Startin’ Fires – 165,000
  • Eli Young Band, Jet Black and Jealous – 108,000
  • Lee Ann Womack, Call Me Crazy – 102,000
  • Craig Morgan, Greatest Hits – 81,000
  • Hank Williams III, Damn Right Rebel Proud – 80,000
  • Randy Houser, Anything Goes – 79,000
  • Lost Trailers, Holler Back – 69,000

2006-2007

  • Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift – 4,129,000
  • Carrie Underwood, Carnival Ride – 2,918,000

2009′s Remaining Release Schedule Comes into Focus

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

2009Thus far, 2009′s releases have done little to fire up the charts,

with most of this year’s strongest-selling albums being holdovers from 2008. While Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, and Keith Urban have sold strongly, the chart remains dominated by last year’s releases from Taylor Swift, Sugarland, Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, and Jamey Johnson.

So what’s left for 2009? Here’s what we know so far:

New Releases

  • Carrie Underwood will release her third studio album on November 3, with a lead single going to radio this fall. Her previous set, Carnival Ride, is nearing sales of 3 million, and produced four #1 singles and a #2 single, all five of which were certified gold in their own right.
  • George Strait will release Twang on August 11. It’s the follow-up to his 33rd platinum album Troubadour, a set which produced his 43rd #1 single and earned him the first Grammy of his career, along with a pair of CMA trophies (Single and Album)
  • Miranda Lambert is readying Revolution for September 29. Lead single “Dead Flowers” is struggling at radio, but that’s never slowed her down at retail anyway.
  • Reba McEntire’s Valory debut Keep on Lovin’ You arrives August 18. Lead single “Strange” is approaching the top ten.
  • Willie Nelson releases another standards collection called American Classic on August 25.
  • Rosanne Cash will release The List, a covers album, on October 6.
  • Sarah Darling releases Every Monday Morning on July 28.
  • Mac McAnally’s Show Dog debut – Down By the River – comes out on August 4. McAnally recently scored a big hit teaming up with Kenny Chesney on “Down the Road”, and was the co-writer on several classic Sawyer Brown singles like “All These Years” and “Thank God For You.”
  • Mindy Smith releases Stupid Love on August 11.
  • Radney Foster and The Confessions release Revival on September 1, with guest appearances by Dierks Bentley and Darius Rucker.
  • Chris Young releases The Man I Want to Be on September 1.

Reissues and Compilations

  • Brooks & Dunn release the 30-track #1 Hits…and Then Some on September 8. Track listing here. The set is preceded by lead single “Indian Summer.” The duo’s previous set, Cowboy Town, was their first to fall short of gold certification. The new hits compilation is similar in set up to top-selling collections by George Strait, Toby Keith and Reba McEntire in recent years.
  • Wounded Bird just released 2-albums-on-1-CD collections for Kris Kristofferson on July 7. Eight albums are included from his 1972-1981 output
  • A pair of Tommy Cash’s albums from 1970 will combine on one CD on July 21; Tommy is the younger brother of Johnny Cash
  • Hank Snow’s 1958 album When Tragedy Struck is being remastered and reissued on August 11.

I’ll be picking up many of the above releases, but I have to say that I’m most looking forward to picking up all of the remastered Beatles albums and the Madonna anthology this fall.

What releases are you most looking forward to in the second half of 2009?

Prayers for Ferlin Husky

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Ferlin HuskyCountry Universe is sending out good wishes and prayers for the health of country music legend Ferlin Husky, who has been hospitalized with serious ailments.

Husky is best known for the gospel classic “Wings of a Dove”, which spent ten weeks at #1 in 1960.  His other chart-toppers are “Gone”, which also spent ten weeks at #1, and his debut single, “A Dear John Letter.” He was the featured artist on that record, with Jean Shepard being the lead artist, and it spent a cool six weeks at #1.

Husky’s popularity at his peak was not limited to the radio dial, as he appeared in eighteen films and several television shows.  At 83, he remains an active performer. Here’s hoping he heals up soon and gets back on the road, where he still has fans waiting to hear him sing his classics, five decades after he began his long and successful career.

You can watch Husky perform some of his classics after the jump.

Wings of a Dove

Gone

A Dear John Letter (with Jean Shepard)

Dolly Parton’s Video Diary on Michael Jackson

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

I certainly didn’t expect to create a third Country Universe post on Michael Jackson, but longtime readers know that this site would enter an extended period of mourning should anything ever happen to Dolly Parton.

She posted a video diary today about Jackson’s death. As usual, she radiates humanity and warmth. Those who are fortunate enough to have Parton as a character witness on judgment day should count their lucky stars!

H/T: Mandi Bierly @ PopWatch

George Strait Goes Platinum…Again

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

george-straitGeorge Strait’s Troubadour has been certified platinum, his 33rd album to reach that sales mark.

How rare is this accomplishment? He trails only Elvis Presley (45) and The Beatles (39) among all recording artists.

Strait’s nearest country competitors are Alabama (20), Reba McEntire (19), Kenny Rogers (19) and Garth Brooks (16).

George Strait is one of those artists that I buy every album of. I remember being amazed how many albums he already had released when I became a fan in the nineties.  It’s good to see him still going strong.

How many Strait albums do you own? What other artists do you buy every release from?

2009 Americana Music Association Awards Nominees Announced

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

The nominations for the 8th Annual Americana Music Association Awards have  been announced:

ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Real Animal, by ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO
Written in Chalk, by BUDDY & JULIE MILLER
Jason Isbell & The 40 Unit, by JASON ISBELL & THE 40 UNIT
Midnight At The Movies, by JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE

ARTIST OF THE YEAR
ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO
BUDDY MILLER
JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE
RAUL MALO

INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR
BUDDY MILLER
GURF MORLIX
JERRY DOUGLAS
SAM BUSH

NEW & EMERGING ARTIST
BAND OF HEATHENS
BELLEVILLE OUTFIT
JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE
SARAH BORGES

SONG OF THE YEAR
“Chalk,” written by JULIE MILLER, performed by BUDDY MILLER & PATTY GRIFFIN
“Country Love” by the GOURDS
“Homeland Refugee,” by JOE ELY, JIMMIE DALE GILMORE, and BUTCH HANCOCK, performed by the FLATLANDERS
“Rattlin’ Bones” by KASEY CHAMBERS & SHANE NICHOLSON, performed by KASEY CHAMBERS & SHANE NICHOLSON
“Sex And Gasoline,” by RODNEY CROWELL, performed by RODNEY CROWELL

DUO GROUP OF THE YEAR
BUDDY & JULIE MILLER
FLATLANDERS
KASEY CHAMBERS & SHANE NICHOLSON
RECKLESS KELLY

The awards will be given out at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on September 17. Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale will serve as hosts.

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Stagecoach Festival: <em>Your Call</em>

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

indioIt has finally cooled off here in Southern California, so I'm headed out to the Stagecoach Festival in Indio, California this weekend, April 25-26! The country cousin of Coachella, Stagecoach is now in its third year and will be playing host to nearly 40 acts, including Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley, Little Big Town, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown Band and Miranda Lambert.

I'm excited for the festival, particularly because it hosts a mix of country music, from mainstream country to bluegrass, folk, roots rock and alt-country.  With three different stages – appropriately named “Mane,” “Palomino” and “Mustang” -  set on the beautiful Empire Polo fields in Indio, the Festival provides a fantastic opportunity to check out the entire gamut of styles and personalities in country music.

This year, Stagecoach is featuring the following artists:

> Miranda Lambert

  • Lady Antebellum
  • Zac Brown Band
  • Randy Houser
  • Charlie Daniels Band
  • Reverend Horton Heat
  • Kevin Costner & Modern West
  • Lynn Anderson
  • The Sacred Cowboys
  • Maxim Ludwig and the Santa Fe Seven
  • John Linn Band
  • Earl Scruggs
  • Doyle Lawson
  • The Infamous Stringdusters
  • Chris Stuart and Back Country
  • Waddie Mitchell
  • Dale Watson
  • Jim Lauderdale
  • Knitters
  • Poco
  • Pure Prairie League
  • Jerry Jeff Walker
  • The Duhks
  • James Intveld
  • Hot Club of Cowtown
  • Ralph Stanley
  • Ricky Scaggs
  • Peter Rowan
  • Greensky Bluegrass
  • I'm setting out to review as many of the performances at Stagecoach for Country Universe as possible, but I recognize that it may be hard to hear every single act.  So, I am asking you guys, the readers, to help me out:

    Which five (5) acts performing at Stagecoach do you most want to read about here at Country Universe? Any burning questions you want answered?

    Thanks!

    Anyone else headed to Stagecoach?

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