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Album Review: Parmalee – Carolina

Parmalee – Carolina

Parmalee - Carolina
Parmalee – Carolina

I think perhaps the week of 12/8/2013 will be one that Matt, Scott, Josh and Barry are going to remember as a turning point in their career.  Their single “Carolina” hit #1 – “Feels Like Carolina” their debut CD was released and in their words, they had “really good seats” at the ACS’s & they introduced Thomas Rhett. Things are getting “real” for them after a long hard climb the hard work and dedication is paying off as their dreams are materializing as we speak.

I waited to hear “Feels Like Carolina” for over a year and am thrilled it is finally here! Parmalee has a lot to offer the music world and I’m glad they are getting their chance to share it with us. I was comfortable with the album on the first listen to – to me that is a good sign. – Familiar in an odd sense, the songs are fresh and thankfully Parmalee’s sound comes out loud in clear in each and every song.

They kick it of in high gear with “Musta Had A Good Time” – humorous lyrics with some fantastic music backing up them up! The song took me back to the “good ole days” of my youth and “the house” that we all frequented to get our “party” on.

Day Drinkin – has a great feel and flow to the song – Matt does some fun things with some of the lyrics like his “Lets’ Go” love it – keeps you swaying to the music for certain

“Dance” – what a fun beat – what a fun song from when Matt starts is off with “Aw start it up.” The song has traditional country sound mixed with “new” sound keeps it very relevant for radio play today!

“Dance” Starts with a great country vibe – fun lyrics meld well with the music – will fill the dance floors with it’s boot scootin feel.

“Carolina” – Y’all are probably most familiar with “Carolina” – I liked the song the first time I heard it however it is one of the songs that grows and resonates. It’s like fine wine the more you hear it the better it becomes. It showcases the softer side of the guys and tells us what it’s like for them on the road missing that special someone –

“Think you Oughta Know That” – Matt’s tender voice reaches through to the core as the song builds you pick up the nuances of Matt’s voice – the honesty – the rawness the vulnerability you hear is sexy. This is one of my favorites on the album.

“My Montgomery” is a great song with catchy lyrics and strong music backing them up, its talking about going back to “small town” home.’ The musicality, the beat of it hooks you as Matt’s voice draws you in with his sultry voice.  You always hear that “country music” is about the “lyrics and story they tell” based on that this is an outstanding “country song.”

The guys next single just released to radio is “Close Your Eyes” This song captivated me from the get go!! Matt does a fantastic job of portraying the emotion of the song! Very subtle and sexy – might be my favorite Parmalee song!! The song is well written as it sets the setting for a the “perfect” romantic night ~  Start requesting it – I certainly see another #1 coming with this one, and I bet it climbs there pretty quickly.

It’s a fun album!! Over all “Feels Like Carolina” runs the gambit from the tender heart warming songs like Close Your Eyes  to Harder hitting songs like I’ll Bring The Music and a few in between – the common thread in the CD is some top notch writing with fantastic delivery by Matt, Josh, Barry and Scott!  I foresee it being very successful in introducing the music world to Parmalee!!

-Guest Columnist Nickie Techmanski

Album Review: Brett Eldredge – Bring You Back

Bring You Back
Bring You Back
From song one, “Tell Me Where You Want To Park,” Brett Eldredge gets on it! His ooooo is pretty sexy in a very subtle way getting the point of the song across. It’s got kind of a “feel good” feel to it and is one that I can see getting air time. Certainly the type of song you can picture everyone singing back to him at a show.

“On and On” stands alone – it’s simple yet the music is fantastic. It’s an easy light song with deep rooted emotion oozing out of the lyrics.

“Gotta Get There” is another “quirky” song with a catchy beat – you feel comfortable with it and want to sing along the first time hearing it.

“One Mississippi” holy moly this song is fantastic. The piano sets the tone throughout the song. It’s a bluesy type country that really highlights the flexibility in Brett’s voice. I’m hooked on this one. The intricacy of the lyrics is great and the delivery is second to none. “Everyone has their demons’ – ain’t that the truth. It questions why we run. From the beginning, Brett’s vulnerability brought me deep into the song. They lyrics are so telling and the realism that Brett is able to bring to the song is outstanding! Literally the song gives me chills time and time again. Hands down one of my favorites – special spot on my iPod.

“Bring You Back” is Brett’s newest single and the second he’s released off the CD. Honestly it is so heartfelt that I imagine it has quickly become a staple on many a girl’s play list. It is so realistic for us all as we all have “fears” and we all have “heartbreak.” We all tend to live in a world of denial when it’s convenient for us emotionally and I think that is why this song a resonated so well so quickly.

On “Waited Too Long” you get another glimpse into Brett’s wide range vocally. Strong – yet soft! The delivery allows me to picture a video as I hear the song.
Brett walking on a dark rainy night with the moon trying to glow as it is peaking out behind a cloud, he pauses, looking at a house, up at a window then out of the door he sees her walk out on another man’s arm, with deep angst in his eyes he lowers his head “I waited too long.”. Now, that my friends is what country music is all about it tells us a story, delivered to good music felt in the heart.

“Mean To Me” is another deeply felt song. Brett does make you believe every word that he’s singing. The music keeps you anticipating … the lyrics deliver the “fire” … perfection.

“Signs” has a strong musical interlude that I love. It probably has the truest “country sound” on the CD because of the strong fiddle playing. I like the upbeat toe tappin’ sound. It’s a song you can see being used for a “soundtrack” small town football Friday night scene.

I like the beat the ‘oddity’ of it in “Go On Without Me,” it brings the song to a different place, it’s as if it’s your heart beating. The ending is like life’s last heartbeat. Simply put, it just made a playlist of mine that I won’t be around to play.
Some of the songs tend to stray in a direction many will say ‘that’s not country,’ however that to me is unimportant. The entire collection of songs is great and will be relevant in today’s country. He didn’t take it too far into the pop realm, so I think it will be well received by even the more traditionalists. Brett exceeded my expectations with the entire CD, his vocals are outstanding and not repetitive. The music is some of the best I’ve heard in a long time, at times it as if he has a symphony backing him up. I could go “On and On” talking about how great this album is but what I’d really recommend is for you to grab it and give it a spin to see or should I say hear for yourself.

-Guest Columnist,
Nickie Techmanski

Album Review: Aaron Watson – Real Good Time

Aaron Watson – Real Good Time

Raise Your Bottle to Aaron Watson and his new CD! From the very first boot scootin’ beats of “Real Good Time” as a country music fan you are in for a real treat! The Honky Tonk Kid has some pretty hard hitting “Texas” country boys helping him out. The CD is a bit of who’s who in Texas country featuring collaborations with the likes of Willie Nelson, who joined him for one of Aaron’s classics, the title song from his 2004 album The Honky Tonk Kid. Justin McBride joins him for “Cadillac Cowboy” which is another fast paced song, one that will fill he dance floors through time. Justin and Aaron sound fantastic together!

You’ve got “Texas Boys” where Pat Green and Josh Abbot sing along about the “crazy life” of the TX music scene. It’s a great tune I like to call a ‘warning label’ for ladies that think they want a ‘country musician’ for a mate with lyrics like “So If you think you can take it, enjoy the nonsense and noise girl it ain’t easy holding onto hard living honky tonkin Texas boys” and “ask Willie’s 4 ex-wives”. The music is rich and makes you appreciate the band behind the words.

“Dear Blind” surprised me, with Aaron and Kevin Fowler, who joined him on this one, being such avid hunters I expected the song to be about …well hunting. To my surprise it’s a frisky little song about having their “baby up in a deer blind” with a different kind of hunting in mind – it made me giggle.

Speaking of frisky, he always does a special song for Mrs. Aaron Watson on each CD. This one “Lips” is well yes “frisky”. I knew when listening to the short 10 sec clip he previewed for us this was Kimberly’s song. Although he was a bit nervous for her to hear it, and she thought that perhaps it was a bit risqué for him to put on the CD I am glad he didn’t listen to her. Hands down this is one of my favorites on the CD. I adore the song and being married for 29 years, and as a women, I can appreciate it! He wants to be sure his children know through his music as well as through their personal living how he loves their momma, and this song will do that for eternity. It teaches them not only how he loves her but how they should love and be loved in their future when they grow up and move towards the relationship period in their lives.

A very poignant song “July In Cheyenne”, he did for Lane’s mama. Lane Frost was a bull rider that was killed while riding at Cheyenne Frontier days. Elsie, his mama didn’t feel that the movie, 8 seconds, paid proper tribute to his whole life. Yes he was a world champion bull rider, but that wasn’t his biggest accomplishment in her eyes. It was the fact that the year before his passing he asked Jesus to be his savior, and had walked a very different walk that final year. He walked along side Jesus. So Aaron had one goal in mind with the song, he wanted Lanes mama to approve and like the song. He went about the song in his wonderfully story telling way and set the story straight. Although it is really one line, it is a very powerful line at the end of the song “if you’re washed in blood you’ll see him again and casino it won’t be in rain in the mud in July in Cheyenne.” It is no surprise that Elsie loved the song!

When I once asked Aaron about cover songs, he said the only time he will put one on his CD’s if he can do it better, improve upon it. Well as a huge Fleetwood Mac fan I was curious to hear “Leather & Lace”, he had Elizabeth Cooke join him on it. I (♥♥♥♥♥)LOVE it! It quickly became one of my favorites and most listened to songs on my iPod.Elizabeth’s voice is more vulnerable than that on the original song, which brings the honesty out in Aaron. Elizabeth’s’ sultriness paired with his yearning voice take you inside their emotion. You can feel it leap out of the speakers and believe they are in love. I would sure love to hear another duet by them!

“Nowhere Fast” is a bit different for Aaron and it shows the depth of his talent! It is country through and through but has a bluesy edge to it. Makes me want to hear more like it! He tells a story once again through the intricacy yet simplicity of his lyrics. “I’m gonna watch those cotton candy clouds float on past I’m going somewhere where I know I’m going nowhere fast ♫ ♪ like a lazy Sunday drive ♫ ♪ feeling good to be alive ♫ ♪ leave all my troubles in the past”.

“Raise Your Bottle” is an important song to Aaron! His father came home from war a disabled vet he knows firsthand the sacrifices our military families make! He wanted to honor them past, present and future, therefore every penny of profit ever earned on the CD goes to help the troops. The proceeds go to the “boot campaign”, which is a grassroots movement begun by 5 women to raise proceeds to help the military families adjust to living upon their return. A very small percentage of the money raised by them goes towards “operational” costs. The vast majority of it goes to “cultivate awareness of the challenges they (our servicemen) face upon return and raise funds for military programs meeting the physical and emotional needs of our heroes.”

Aaron wants to make music his kids can be proud of and I must say mission accomplished once again!! The musicality of the CD is steeped in Country tradition with Aarons flare for “Aesop’s fable” type lyrical stories. I know you have heard one of my favorites lots in the review, simply because it is a must have CD!

Nickie Techmanski

– Nickie Techmanski – Guest Writer


Album Review: Blake Shelton – Cheers It’s Christmas

I LOVE this CD! It is a perfect fusion of “traditional memory lane” type songs with more obtuse ones as well as Blake originals. The CD gets off to a rockin start when wife Miranda Lambert
joins him for “Jingle Bell Rock” ~ Miranda and Blake complement one another with a symphony
backing them up. They add a bit of country twang to it and it sets the perfect mood for the CD.
It sets the perfect mood for the season. Although the players change the musicality remains
consistent and extraordinarily strong throughout.

A few of them take me down memory lane. Being a young girl at my grandparents’ open
house as their friends and neighbors filtered in and out visiting holiday cheer – music playing in the background the entire time. My sister and I often times played DJ on the 45, that duty, honor, later
shared with our cousins. “Let it Snow” and “Winter Wonderland” and I’ll Be Home for Christmas”
are some of the true classics and Blake did them proud. “Let It Snow” is finger snapping good, and
honestly I can picture Blake standing there singing the song swaying, snapping along.

Personal friend of his, Kelly Clarkson joins Blake for “There’s A New Kid in Town” –
STUNNING! This instantly became my favorite version of this song, my favorite on the CD. From the
very beginning Blake touched me with the honesty in his voice then when Kelly joined him, simply
put, it turned amazing! It literally gave me goose bumps. This song is a must on my Christmas
playlist and will become one for the ages. Another that reached out and grabbed me was his
collaboration with Xenia – his ex ‘student’ on the Voice. She brings out a vulnerable tone in him,
not sure I can say I’ve heard that in him before as they put a Xenia spin on Silver Bells. I wouldn’t be
unhappy to hear more of either of these two with him on an upcoming song.

Longtime good friend, mentor and fellow Oklahoman, Reba McIntire joins him
for “Oklahoma Christmas” they instill upon us that it doesn’t matter where you are, you can have
your ‘customary Christmas’. He and Michael Buble’ harmonize beautifully on “Home” a song that
Michael re-wrote to fit the holiday season. Blake gets downright bluesy in “Blue Christmas” with
the Pistol Annies.

“Time For Me to Come Home” is one that is sure to become a classic. He co-wrote and
performed the song with his Mother Dorthy Shackleford. It’s all about the longing of a “son” to
come home from the road for Christmas. Very country and very true to what they know from
personal experience. A feeling many a mom and dad have had about both a son and daughter
during the holiday season. Especially in today’s ‘nomadic’ world “Mama just called and said it’s time
for you to come home” ♫

‘Cheers its Christmas’ is an outstanding CD! From the beginning song “Jingle Bell Rock” till
the ending “The Very Best Time of Year” a melodic country blues song, co-written by and featuring
Trypta-Phunk ( an instrumental rock/funk group formed by Nashville based musicians – who spend
most of their time touring with Blake as his band.) There is some fantastic collaboration on the CD
yet without question Blake kept it “country” but it should have mass appeal to any true music lover.


I think Blake enjoyed working with his collaborators as much as I enjoyed listening to them as evidenced
in the stellar quality of the CD. After doing the review I read the liner notes from the CD – You can feel
the love Blake poured into the CD in every song!
Blake’s Liner Notes
“Miranda, your voice is home to me. I love you!
Reva, you’re my hero. I love you!
Kelly, you seriously amaze me. I love you!
Micheal, I can’t believe you re-wrote such a personal song for this. I love you (not in a weird way)
Xenia, such a unique and beautiful voice. I love you!
The Pistol Anniew, y’all make me look so cool. I love you!
Team Blake from the Voice Season 3, you are ll supoerstars. I love y’all!
Trypta-Phunk, so cool that we finally recorded together. I love you!
Mom, you are my inspiration for this album. I love you!

Very special thank you to my producer Scott Hendricks I’m so glad we went into the uncharted territory
together. You made this a reality for me. I love you! Special thanks to Charlie Judge for writing such
incredible arrangements and working so hard on the album. I love you!”

–Nickie Techmanski