DISClaimer (6/12/09)

cunderwood-beginnings150The indies are in the driver’s seat this week.

The big news is that Kentucky native Clay Underwood graduates from his prior DisCovery Award win to having the Disc of the Day with the title tune to his new CD. Even more surprising is that his only real challenger is also on an independent label. That would be the estimable Darren Kozelsky.

There’s not much to report in the DisCovery Award category. Oh, there are newcomers here, but only Lower Broadway denizen Lewis Copeland rises to lcopeland-hntnkprincess150the occasion. I’m not much for pseudo Southern rock, but he does get points for writing, producing, marketing and singing the redneck-humorous “Honkytonk Princess” all by himself.

CLAY UNDERWOOD/New Beginnings And Old Honky Tonks
Writer: Terry Dennis/John Edwards; Producer: Jimmy Layne, Jennifer Layne & Clay Underwood; Publisher: What Is Written/Magic Mustang, BMI; PLC (track) (www.clayunderwoodmusic.com)
—He’s country. I like him. And any song that name checks “Conway and Haggard” is fine with me. Plus, it’s a waltz, which I’m a sucker for. This previous DisCovery Award winner has it all going on—great songs, excellent record production, vocal talent and a CD guest appearance by the sublime Marty Raybon.

CRAIG MORGAN/Bonfire
Writer: Tom Botkin/Kevin Denney/Craig Morgan/Mike Rogers; Producer: Phil O’Donnell & Craig Morgan; Publisher: none listed, BMI/ASCAP; BNA (CDX)
—It roars like its title.

JAKE OWEN/Eight Second Ride
Writer: Jake Owen/Eric Durrance; Producer: Jimmy Ritchey; Publisher: none listed, BMI/IMRO; RCA (CDX)
—The ACM New Male Vocalist winner has a head scratcher. Let me get this straight: A complete stranger wants him to take her home just because he has a truck with big tires, and he’s boasting that he’s going to take her on an 8-second ride?

DARREN KOZELSKY/Seven Vern Gosdins Ago
Writer: Liz Hengber/Arlos Smith; Producer: J.R. Rodriguez & Phil O’Donnell; Publisher: Hengber/Smith, ASCAP/SESAC; Spinville/9 North (CDX) (www.darrenkozelsky.com)
—He was doing fine until somebody fired up the jukebox and played three George Jones tunes, a Doug Stone weeper and seven Vern Gosdin songs. Now his heart is plumb busted. What a neat song. Darren is longtime favorite of this column, and his cool factor just went up again.

ROCKIT ROGER RICHARDSON/The First Cowboy In Space
Writer: Mike Lawler/Robert Steven Dintsch; Producer: Mike Lawler; Publisher: Coofermo/Popred, ASCAP; Star Base (CDX)
—When was the last time you heard the words “intergalactic” and “extra terrestrial” in a country song?

JOHN AMOS/We Were Hippies
Writer: Eric Cash/John Amos; Producer: Gene A. Cash Sr.; Publisher: Division, BMI; Music Row (CDX) (615-397-9100)
—Yes, it’s THAT John Amos, the actor from TV’s Good Times. He’s not much of a singer, but the novelty tune has a grin or two. The gist of it is that being a proud, pot-smoking hippie is a lifetime thing.

MICHELLE TURLEY/Hard Times
Writer: C.F. Turley; Producer: C.F. Turley; Publisher: Pop Dark, BMI; Victorio (615-269-0474)
—Our first female entry this week should have stayed home. Her soprano on this rocker veers into Minnie Mouse territory.

GRANT LANGSTON/Stand Up Man
Writer: Grant Langston; Producer: Rich McCulley & Grant Langston; Publisher: Grant Langston, ASCAP; MSG (track) (www.grantlangston.com)
—Raggedy garage country, performed with vim.

SHEA FISHER/Don’t Chase Me
Writer: Tammy Hyler/Shaye Smith; Producer: Richard Landis & Steve Forde; Publisher: Check Out That Skyline/Evergreen/ICG/EMI Blackwood/Addymak, ASCAP/BMI; Stroudavarious (CDX) (www.sheafisher.com)
—What is this? Cheerleader hip-hop with a steel guitar?

LEWIS COPELAND/Honkytonk Princess
Writer: Lewis Copeland; Producer: Lewis Copeland; Publisher: Lew Tunes, BMI; Wing2Fly (CDX) (www.lewiscopeland.com)
—“Which one of you boys got the biggest truck?” she asks, slopping her drink down the front of her dress. He falls in love while the rock track screams.

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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