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Album Review: Randy Houser, <i>How Country Feels</i>

February 2, 2013 Ben Foster 11

randy houser how country feels album

Randy Houser
How Country Feels


Randy Houser impressed the critics with 2010’s They Call Me Cadillac, but country radio yawned, and neither of the album’s two singles cracked the Top 30.  Houser’s Stoney Creek Records debut thus comes across as a mea culpa of sorts, as Houser shrugs his shoulders in defeat, and gets ready to do some good old-fashioned pandering.

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Album Review: Sara Evans, <i>Playlist: The Very Best of Sara Evans</i>

January 29, 2013 Ben Foster 3

sara evans playlist

Sara Evans
Playlist:  The Very Best of Sara Evans


While Sara Evans is reportedly in the studio hard at work on her forthcoming seventh studio album, Sony Legacy has released a new fourteen track retrospective of her sixteen-year career – the latest installment in the label’s Playlist series.  Coming nearly five and a half years after Evans’ 2007 Greatest Hits package, Playlist:  The Very Best of Sara Evans intersperses several of her biggest hits with a few less expected inclusions.  While there is some great material to be heard, there are a few missed opportunities as well.

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2012 CMA Nominations

September 5, 2012 Ben Foster 60

The list of nominees for the 46th annual Country Music Association Awards has been released. Eric Church had a big breakthrough this past year, and such is reflected in the nominee list – Church leads the pack with five nominations. Current favorite power couple Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert follow with four each, including a shared Song of the Year nod for their co-write “Over You.”

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iPod Check: Most Played Song by Twenty Country Artists

August 12, 2012 Kevin John Coyne 24

Since bringing back Recommend a Track proved so popular, I’m resurrecting another CU oldie but goodie: the iPod check.

I’ve only recently discovered the Most Played feature on iTunes, since it never had any relevance until iPods were large enough in memory to sync all of my music. So going back to early 2011, I have a lengthy list of the songs I’ve played the most.

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Single Review: Sara Evans, “Anywhere”

March 31, 2012 Ben Foster 7

Nothing like a good country music driving song, right? I could make a whole road trip playlist full of them. Ostensibly, Sara Evans upcoming single “Anywhere” is seeking a spot on my road trip playlist. It’s a bit off-putting, unfortunately, that the lyric plays more like a watered-down knockoff of Jo Dee Messina’s “Heads Carolina, Tails California.”

At the very least, the single earns points for a committed vocal performance on Evans’ part, as well as a cool banjo-rocker of a production, which could have made for a pleasant little slice of pop-country. But the song structure is totally not there.

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2012 ACM Awards: Staff Picks & Predictions

March 30, 2012 Tara Seetharam 17

Throw on your bedazzled boots – the 47th annual Academy of Country Music Awards air live from Las Vegas this Sunday at 8 p.m. EST. The show promises to be a melting pot of performances, with oddball duets like Rascal Flatts and Steve Martin – and no, that’s not an April Fools joke. The CU staff picked and predicted the awards below. Tell us your thoughts, and check back for our live blog on Sunday night!

Entertainer of the Year

Should Win:

  • Jason Aldean
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley
  • Blake Shelton
  • Taylor Swift – Jonathan, Dan, Tara, Leeann, Kevin, Ben, Sam

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Top 40 Singles of 2011, Part Three: #20-#11

January 4, 2012 Kevin John Coyne 6

The countdown continues to continue. Scroll down to the bottom to hear samples of each song and to share your comments!

Top 40 Singles of 2011, Part Three: #20-#11

Joey + Rory

Individual Rankings: #6 – Sam; #15 – Leeann; #17 – Ben

Joey Feek is not a woman to be trifled with. Blow off a day with her to go fishing with your buddies, and be prepared for a holdout that would make the recent NBA lockout look like a bathroom break. Along with a steel guitar-centric, pure country sound, the song’s humor doesn’t wear thin after repeated listenings. (Are you paying attention, Brad “Camouflage” Paisley?) – Sam Gazdziak

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Pop Goes Country – A Cover Song Report Card

November 15, 2011 Ben Foster 40

Cover songs can be a hot topic at just about any given time. We recently got to hear a somewhat underwhelming OneRepublic cover by Faith Hill, which Kevin recently reviewed. Other recent attempts include Sara Evans’ pop-country reworking of Rod Stewart’s “My Heart Can’t Tell You No,” as well as last year’s polarizing Beyoncé cover by Reba McEntire.

Since cover songs are so much fun to talk about, I thought I’d weigh in on a few well-known cover songs from the past few years – the good ones, as well as a few that we would rather forget. My criteria is simple: A good cover song should bring something new to the table, and the song should be treated in a way that is well-suited to the artist as well as the genre. This list focuses specifically on country covers of non-country songs.

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2011 CMA Awards: Staff Picks and Predictions

November 7, 2011 Ben Foster 28

It’s that time of year again! The time when we all dutifully tune in to the CMA Awards show, raise our eyebrows at the “What the heck are they doing here?” award presenters, and afterwards complain about how totally un-country the whole show was. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I can’t wait.

We’re pleased to share the Country Universe staff picks for this year’s CMA Awards, as well as our predictions of who the winners will be. This year we have some highly competitive categories in which predicting the winners is quite difficult, leading to some significantly divergent picks among our writing staff. Agree? Disagree? Join in the discussion in the comment thread below, and let us know.

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Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists: Sara Evans

August 7, 2011 Ben Foster 41

I was in my early teens when I first discovered Sara Evans… and I thought she was the greatest thing since sliced bread. The rich throaty texture of her distinct voice reeled me in quickly, and her entertaining mixture of traditional and contemporary influences had me thoroughly hooked.

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