As much as I was prepared to dislike it, Aaron Lewis’ latest single, “That Ain’t Country” is actually really good, and really country.
You’ll remember Lewis as the lead singer from Staind, the 90s metal band famous for “So Far Away” and other down-and-out jams.
Lewis’ main caveat about today’s country music? It ain’t depressing enough, and it damn sure doesn’t sound like Haggard or Jones or Cash.
“Whatever happened to the country songs full of truth and consequences, all things gone wrong? Someone came and changed it up, made it all a lie,” he sings backed up with steel guitar.
The most intriguing thing about “That Ain’t Country,” the latest takedown of “generic” country in recent weeks (Bo Burnham’s “Country Song” and Kevin Fowler’s “Sellout Song” both do masterful jobs at calling out the hypocrisy within the genre), is that many of the tropes he calls out are frequently employed by members of his new label, Big Machine. Lewis recently signed with Big Machine imprint Dot Records.
“That ain’t country, it’s a natural fact, full of good times and happy endings, my life ain’t like that”— Big Machine signees like Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw and Rascal Flatts are responsible for much of the pop-country crossover Lewis bemoans.
Lewis has also been known to comment on the “political nature” of Nashville and the way that the machine of singers and songwriters isn’t anything he wants to be a part of. He wrote “That Ain’t Country” himself, by the way.
Fans can expect a new album out from Lewis sometime this year.
Other New Music
“American Country Love Song”— Jake Owen
Sure to be another summer hit just like his “Beachin'” was in 2013, the coolest thing about “American Country Love Song” is its unofficial/official interactive 360 degree music video, sponsored by Owen’s new Beach Whiskey brand. The other music video is here, which shows more of a story behind the song’s carefree summer lyrics, but the interactive one shows just how much technology has changed the format.
“Remedy (Part 1)” and “Remedy (Part 2)”— Zac Brown Band
Zac Brown Band’s “Jekyll + Hyde” album has its fair share of detractors for not being an entirely “country” album, but it’s one of the most ambitious efforts in modern country today, and that extends to its music videos.
A trilogy of music videos focusing on “Remedy,” “Tomorrow Never Comes” and “I’ll Be Your Man (Song For a Daughter) showcases the story of a young woman who flees home after an altercation with her alcoholic mother. The videos are spooky, dramatic and unsettling. Look for Part Three later this week.
Country Music Shows
The shows aren’t in Austin (sorry), but anyone who got free tickets from Ticketmaster as a result of the company’s recent class action lawsuit can use them in Dallas to go to a few good country shows. Among the artists available through the voucher are Rascal Flatts, Dierks Bentley and Brad Paisley.
Now, for this week’s Austin shows:
–Gordon Lightfoot at ACL Live. When he played this venue two years ago, the Canadian folk icon used Mark Twain’s famous line “reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” joking about a radio station’s mishap a few years back. At 77, though, Lightfoot is one of those artists worth seeing while the opportunity remains. Everyone knows the classics — “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Sundown,” “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” — but Lightfoot’s catalog runs decades deep, with plenty other gems worth revisiting or discovering anew. (And if anyone ever doubted just how powerful a song “If You Could Read My Mind” is, listen to Johnny Cash singing it at the end of his life.) $29-$69. 8 p.m. 310 Willie Nelson Blvd. acl-live.com. — P.B.
-Singer-songwriter Curtis McMurtry subs for his father James at the Continental Gallery, which features a late jazz set with the Ephraim Owens Experience.—D.S.S.
–Warren Hood plays ABGB
-Catch two of Austin’s finer female country singers as Kelley Mickwee and Carson McHone share the bill at Strange Brew.—D.S.S.
This is the Country Music Roundup, a weekly blog where we’ll give you the latest news in country music releases and local country shows. For a more in-depth analysis of the genre and where it’s headed, check back with our weekly Gone Country blog every Thursday.
Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @jakeharris4 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.