Sunday Selections: October 23, 2016

It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas, and it isn’t even Halloween yet.

Full disclosure: Leeann is our resident guru when it comes to Christmas music, so this week’s slate of new releases leaves me– pardon the pun– a bit cold. We’re still over a month away from Black Friday, but record labels seem to believe that listeners are ready to start their holiday celebrations with what seems like a full 12 days’ worth of Christmas albums.

In terms of non-holiday music, it’s a slow week for new releases, highlighted by a nifty collection of “prison songs” from the 50s through the 70s, and a live album by Americana favorite Ryan Bingham.

Elsewhere, it was also a slow news week. Without any major controversies or media-wide talking points and with only a handful of noteworthy artist interviews, this week’s post is a bet of a reprieve from some of the longer round-ups we’ve had of late!


hangmans-bluesNew Releases & Reissues: 10/21/2016
Ryan Bingham, Ryan Bingham Live. (Axster Bingham)
Charlie Daniels Band, Fire On The Mountain (1974), Million Mile Reflections (1979), Full Moon (1980). (BFD)
Brett Eldredge, Glow. (Atlantic Nashville)
Exile, Wrapped Up In Your Arms For Christmas. (BFD)
Donna Fargo, That Was Yesterday. (Varese Sarabande)
John Fogerty, Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music. (Memoir – Back Bay Books)
Amy Grant, Tennessee Christmas. (Sparrow)
Waylon Jennings, The Lost Nashville Sessions. (Country Rewind)
Jerry Lee Lewis, Mean Old Man (2010). (Shangri-La Roots / Verve)
The Oak Ridge Boys, Celebrate Christmas. (Gaither Music Group)
Rascal Flatts, The Greatest Gift Of All. (Big Machine)
Streets of Laredo, Wild. (Dine Alone)
Various Artists, The Hangman’s Blues: Prison Songs in Country Music (1956 – 1972). (Omni Recording)

garth-brooksCharted Territory
Billboard Country National Airplay:
#1: Locash, “I Know Somebody”
Most Increased Audience: Garth Brooks, “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance”
Debuts: Garth Brooks, “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (#19); Chris Lane, “For Her” (re-entry, #56); Joe Nichols, “Undone” (re-entry, #57); Jana Kramer, “Circles” (re-entry, #58).
Most Added: Garth Brooks, “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (84); Thomas Rhett, “Star of the Show” (34); Blake Shelton, “A Guy With a Girl” (30); Brad Paisley, “Today” (26); Kelsea Ballerini, “Yeah Boy” (17).
Notes: In a competitive race for the top spot, Locash’s “I Know Somebody” vaults up from #6 to #1; mercifully, Tucker Beathard’s “Rock On” missed the top spot, dropping from a #2 peak back to #6; Miranda Lambert’s “Vice” gets passed yet again, bumped down from #12 to #13; Drake White’s “Livin’ the Dream” attains a new peak of #15 in its 45th chart week; Carrie Underwood’s “Dirty Laundry” continues a fast ascent, up to #17 from #20; Lauren Alaina scores a top 20 hit with “Road Less Traveled,” despite a slight drop in its audience for the week; Eric Church and Rhiannon Giddens’ “Kill A Word” moves up to #21 after just 8 weeks, making it one of Church’s fastest-rising singles to date; after “Vacation” quite correctly bricked at radio, “Star of the Show” gives Thomas Rhett another fast-rising hit, as it moves up to #22 in just its third week on the chart; “Forever Country” manages to hold at #39 for a second week, though it continues to lose audience; after stumbling for a few weeks, RaeLynn’s “Love Triangle” has picked up some momentum, up from #52 to #48; the bottom ranks of the chart show very little growth in audience, with only Chris Lane’s execrable “For Her” (#56) and Jana Kramer’s “Circles” (#58) earning bullets this week from #49 to #60.

Elsewhere on Billboard‘s radio charts:
The Lumineers’ “Cleopatra” moves up to #2 on the AAA chart, where Norah Jones’ “Carry on” holds at #10 for a second week; “True Sadness,” the title track from The Avett Brothers’ latest album, debuts at #29; Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ new single, “Wasting Time,” scored an additional 4 station adds at AAA; Kenny Chesney & Pink’s “Setting The World On Fire” scored 8 total station adds at Adult Top 40 this week on the strength of a push for crossover airplay and Pink’s most recent single having been moved to recurrent status; Garth Brooks’ “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” landed a station add from the same station that added Brad Paisley’s “Today” last week; Hillary Scott & The Scott Family’s “Thy Will” actually scored a gain in airplay at Christian radio this week, where the former chart-topper moved back up to #2.

Wynonna&TheBigNoiseNews & Notes

“They’re very much about the songwriting… I found that to be very healing for me because I’ve lived in a world of statistic-making and I’ve had all those years of, ‘OK, how many tickets were sold tonight?’ This isn’t all, you know, Luke Bryan and posturing and let’s see who can drum up the most applause. This is about really telling your story. It feels very intimate, too. It just feels really good to say: ‘This song [‘Jesus and a Jukebox’] was written by Travis Meadows,’ and he’s my favorite poet in such a long time that actually writes from his own experience, rather than, ‘OK, let’s try to truck-and-tailgate into the charts.'”
— The one-and-only Wynonna didn’t mince words when she told Rolling Stone about the approach she took to recording her latest project, the terrific Wynonna & The Big Noise, and to the tour in support of the record. Wynonna spoke candidly about feeling surprised that Americana audiences have embraced the album and her live show and how the music of The Judds would fit squarely into the middle of today’s “Americana” boundaries. (JK)

“Simpson served a couple of years in the Navy right out of high school, and though he never ended up on the frontlines, the experience certainly seems to color his view of the military. Nowhere is this made clearer than on A Sailor’s Guide to Earth’s five-and-a-half-minute closer, ‘Call to Arms,’ where Simpson takes the lingering effects of the War on Terror, compounds them with media noise and the digital age’s narcissism, and sets the whole shebang ablaze with a distinctly punk-rock anti-establishment rage.
— Jillian Mapes of Pitchfork wrote about the political relevance of Sturgill Simpson’s song “Call to Arms,” from A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, in an editorial, “Phones, Drones, & Country Music: On Sturgill Simpson’s Necessary ‘Call to Arms’,” which will be featured in the indie-crit stalwart’s upcoming print edition. (JK)

Lauren Alaina debuted the music video for her single, “Road Less Traveled,” which finds the singer sporting some mid-80s level shoulder pads. (JK)

“I draw a huge distinction between country music and country radio. Country music is alive and well, just not on country radio. If you are reading this, you have access to the Google machine and can find all the country music you want. Just turn off your radio and do five minutes worth of digging. It’s there… Country radio is the labels playing a game of three card Monty. Find the good song among the utter and absolute garbage. Keep listening. We’ll play it eventually. In the mean time, here’s a steady diet of crappy EDM and puke-inducing creepy misogynistic tripe. But you’ll keep listening, until you won’t. And that’s happening more and more.”
— Michael Rauch, in an editorial for his terrific View From the Cheap Seats blog, continued the conversation we mentioned in last week’s Sunday Selections post about the current debate as to whether or not country music needs to be saved and how the rise of Americana figures into that debate. (JK)

Remember GhostTunes? No? Garth Brooks may hope that’s the case, too, as he inked a lucrative deal with Amazon this week to market his music. (JK)

“Every time I see Garth Brooks it makes me feel awful, and that includes his recent show at the Ryman Auditorium, which earned more standing ovations than I could count. It’s not because I don’t like his music — I always have and always will. It’s because I am filled with regret over the critical and judgmental things I wrote about him in the Scene 15 to 20 years ago, when the arrogance and ignorance of youth convinced me that I knew everything.”
— Beverly Keel, on the subject of Garth Brooks, wrote an insightful reflection about how her views of the superstar have changed over the course of both his career in entertainment and her career in journalism. When so many people are quick to dismiss critics as basement-dwelling vultures who are constantly sharpening their talons, it’s refreshing to read Keel’s piece, which is built upon humility and grace. (JK)

It’s taken a few months to get going, but Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ “Wasting Time” has finally started to gain some momentum at AAA radio. (JK)

Jamie Lin Wilson’s Holidays & Wedding Rings was one of our favorite albums of 2015; she recently dropped by the offices of The Tennessean to say hi to the awesome Juli Thanki, presumably, and to perform several tracks from her record. (JK)

“But I’ve found musicians to be some of the most generous people. Every day, I feel almost astonished that I’m doing what I love, and so there’s this desire to give back, and I’ve found that in almost every musician I’ve met. And then there’s gentle persuasion.”
— Emmylou Harris claims she didn’t have to twist too many arms to convince artists like Steve Earle, The Milk Carton Kids, and Robert Plant to join her on her current tour, the proceeds of which are donated to the Jesuit Refugee Service. (JK)

“I remembered starting this journey of making the new record, and going back to something that Reba McEntire told me years ago – I was going to constantly be re-inventing myself. I really didn’t know what that meant at the time. Working with great engineers and producers in putting these sounds together that people haven’t heard on a Ty Herndon record before. For me, that made it very current. I also played around with the way I sang a little bit, which made for a very fun experience.”
— Ty Herndon told Chuck Dauphin of Sounds Like Nashville that some advice he once received from Reba McEntire had a huge influence on the recording of his new album, House on Fire. Herndon claims that the album will sound familiar to fans of his 90s work while also drawing from the dumpster fire that is trends at current country radio. (JK)

The legendary John Prine officially scored the best-selling album of his career last week with For Better Or Worse; prior to the album’s release, he stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to perform “I’m Telling You” with Holly Williams. (JK)

That will do it for this week. Again, Kevin’s been on fire with new reviews, so check back daily for more new content!


  1. I really hope you guys review “Road Less Traveled” (that music video is really cute). Lauren Alaina song is struggling on the charts, but I would love to see a review (same hopefully with “Circles” and “Lipstick”).

    I am so annoyed that their is already Christmas music being released. I just feel like it’s annoying to release Christmas music before even Halloween.

  2. @ Raymond,

    Look for a review of the Alaina single later this week, though, as I mentioned before, it’s not one of my favorite singles.

    @ Jason,

    The Wynonna interview with Rolling Stone occurred after her well-received series of performances during Americana Fest. I’m sure there’s overlap with the country audience, but I thought her comment in the interview about asking the crowds on her current tour how many people how many people had seen her perform before was revealing, in that regard.

  3. Thats fine Jonathan. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (I can’t think of a song everyone likes) I would just like to see a review (any plans with Kevin reviewing “Lipstick” or “Circles” by Runaway June and Jana Kramer respectively?)

  4. Raymond,
    You must be a glutton for punishment!

    As the resident Christmas guru around here, I believe the Brett Eldredge Christmas album will actually be released this coming Friday.

  5. I have to agree with Raymond on this–it’s going a touch overboard to be promoting Christmas albums before we’ve gotten past the witching time of Halloween (my annual tradition on that day is to watch THE SHINING).

    And beyond all that, how much is this avalanche of Christmas album releases really about the holiday itself rather than just another crass attempt at making money off of it?

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