DISClaimer Single Reviews (2/22/12)

Everybody’s trying to introduce new artists, so do you think it might be Country Radio Seminar week or something?

More than half of the contenders in this week’s column are baby acts. But despite the plethora of newcomers, I didn’t find one that I thought deserved a DisCovery Award.

On the other hand, there were plenty of Disc of the Day contestants. So many, in fact, that I’m giving out Male, Female and Group honors. The Male Disc of the Day prize belongs to Hunter Hayes, who sounds like he has a real breakthrough single with “Wanted.” The Female is my longtime favorite Kellie Pickler with her “100 Proof.” The Duo/Group disc is unquestionably Thompson Square’s striking “Glass.”

Party on, conventioneers.

LISA MATASSA/Wouldn’t You Like to Know
Writer: Lisa Matassa/Don Rollins/Jody Gray; Producer: Jody Gray & Don Rollins; Publisher: Strike the Match/Curtis E. Flush/Smyth of Tunes/Chrysalis, BMI/ASCAP; 9 North/itiswhatitis (www.lisamatassa.com)
—The gals giggle and whisper to each other in the dance club, keeping the guys in the dark about what is going on. The production has a rocking, country-funk backbeat, and Matassa sings with plenty of oomph.

KELLIE PICKLER/100 Proof
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; BNA (ERG) ()
—Their love might be soaked in sauce, but it’s the real thing. Beautifully done.

THOMPSON SQUARE/Glass
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Stoney Creek (ERG) ()
—This extremely well-written love ballad points to the fragility of romance. The harmony blend is just perfect, and the ear-tickling track ebbs and swirls. Spin this.

CLINT MARTIN/I Love Being Me
Writer: none listed; Producer: Tommy Detamore & Clint Martin; Publisher: none listed; CM (www.clintmartinband.com)
—This is a textbook example of what country rock is supposed to sound like. He sings with a down-to-earth drawl, and the band kicks butt behind him. Stinging guitar work, crisp percussion and righteous energy.

AARON LEWIS/Endless Summer
Writer: Aaron Lewis; Producer: James Stroud & Aaron Lewis; Publisher: WB/Greenfund, ASCAP; R & J (www.aaronlewismusic.com)
—He shows off confident lung power here. It’s the same old song, the one about country kids hanging out and having summer fun, but you have to wonder a little about someone who name-checks Jason Aldean and Miley Cyrus in the same lyric. I never liked Staind as a rock band, but I have to confess that with this single, its lead singer’s transition to country is complete.

KRISTEN KELLY/Ex-Old Man
Writer: Kristen Kelly/Paul Overstreet; Producer: Tony Brown & Paul Overstreet; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/Scarlet Moon, BMI; Arista Nashville ()
—He was cheating on her with her best girlfriend. Then he gets tired of the girlfriend and hits on her again. No wonder she’s ticked off. Funky fun.

HUNTER HAYES/Wanted
Writer: Troy Verges/Hunter Hayes; Producer: Dann Huff & Hunter Hayes; Publisher: Songs of Universal/Songs From the Engine Room/Happy Little Man, BMI; Atlantic ()
—Not to be confused with the 1990 Alan Jackson smash with the same title, this song’s a tenor-voiced ballad wherein he wants to make her feel wanted. Hayes’ perfectly expressed vocal is a thing of wonder, and the melody is magnetic. I hear a hit.

BRAD WOLF/Too Many Mondays
Writer: Brad Wolf/Don Goodman/Sharon Resnick; Producer: Johnny Morris, Buddy Resnick & Don Goodman; Publisher: Big Hitmakers/Circle South/Little Tornadoes, BMI; Motion ()
—The blue-collar lyric is so strong that it really doesn’t matter that he sounds like he’s struggling to stay on pitch. Raucous barroom shenanigans.

CLAUDIA LEE/Hollywood Sunset
Writer: Max DiCarlo/Adam Iscove; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed, ASCAP; CLM 96 (www.claudialeelive.com)
—This pert blonde is featured on the CW TV series The Hart of Dixie. She’s 15 and sounds almost exactly like Taylor Swift.

LORI SMITH/What’s in it for Me
Writer: Bucky Jones/Tom Shapiro/Ron Hellard; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Universal Polygram/McBeck, BMI/ASCAP; 615 (615-776-2060)
—Not to be confused with the 1994 John Berry hit with the same title, this one’s a slow, sultry ballad pleading for lasting love. She has an interesting voice with a slight vibrato that’s particularly ear-catching when she dips into her dark alto register.

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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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