Country Music Roundup: William Michael Morgan hits No. 1

This Week’s News

Traditional country fans, there might be some truth to that sound bite George Strait gave us earlier this week. A traditional voice has climbed to the top of country radio after 58 weeks on the radio and 49 weeks on the Mediabase/Aircheck charts. William Michael Morgan’s “I Met a Girl” calls to mind an earlier time in country’s ever changing genre cycle. Seriously, take a listen with your eyes closed, and tell me it doesn’t sound like 1996.

Interestingly enough, “I Met a Girl” was written by Shane McAnally, Sam Hunt and Old Dominion’s Trevor Rosen.

If you liked that song, Morgan’s critically acclaimed album “Vinyl” is now available. And if you want some more traditional country made this year, check out Jon Pardi.

This Week’s Best New Song

I’ve lauded the Drive-By Truckers’ new album “American Band” on this blog before, but now that I’ve had the chance to listen to the whole thing, I can’t say enough good things about it. Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley leave no doubt where they stand politically on this album. A long way from 2001’s “Southern Rock Opera” yet intrinsically intertwined, “American Band” finds the two grappling with their place in America as white men trying to be effective allies for change in the middle of one of the most divisive election cycles America has ever seen. It works.

One of the more even-keeled songs is “Once They Banned Imagine,” about how in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Clear Channel Communications (now iHeart Media) banned 165 songs from the airwaves. Curiously, one was John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

Sung by Cooley, the song uses that incident as an example of the racial and factional divide that occurred: “Once they banned ‘Imagine,’ it became the same old war it’s always been.”

The end of the song becomes a warning to the listener in country music’s most scathing lyric of the year, bar none: “Are you now or have you ever been in cahoots with the notion that evil could change? When history happens again, if you do or you did, you will be blamed. From baseless inquiry to no-knocking entry becoming the law of the land, it’s a half-cocked excuse for bullet abuse regarding anything browner than tan.”

Regardless of your political beliefs, this album is country music’s most important one of the year.

 

This Week’s Worst New Song

Is that Pibull, rocking a beard and sporting a Southern accent? Why, no, It’s Zac Brown! In a side project! Doing EDM-inspired music with the guys that brought you “Beautiful Drug”! And they call themselves Sir Roosevelt! And they have a new song called “Sunday Finest”! And they want you to like it because it’s new and exciting!

OK, so it’s not country music, but it’s not an alter ego like Garth brooks’ Chris Gaines fiasco, so it’s really Zac Brown. And if Brown wants to sow his wild oats, he has that right. But I don’t know what to make of this, except that country radio is gonna play it, I guarantee it. And that’s a shame.

This Week’s Best Country Show in Austin

Fans line up at the gate as ACL Fest 2016 opens on Friday morning. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

Fans line up at the gate as ACL Fest 2016 opens on Friday, September 30, 2016. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

Obviously, it’s ACL Fest. From Margo Price to Amanda Shires to Anderson East to Willie Nelson himself, Weekend Two of ACL Fest is packed full of twang. Check out this week’s “Gone Country” on Thursday to see your best options each day.

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 week.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @jakeharris4 or by email: jharris@statesman.com.


View Comments 2

%d bloggers like this: