DISClaimer Single Reviews (7/18/12)

Eric Church and Kelleigh Bannen

I hope you’re ready to rock, because tempo tunes dominate this week’s musical menu.

One of them, “Creepin’” by Eric Church, captures the Disc of the Day award. Don’t go accusing me of hopping onto a star’s coattails: This boy was winning Disc of the Day prizes from me long before radio got on board and Mr. Platinum came calling. Even if he’d never become a Somebody, I’d be in the Church Choir.

Newcomer Kelleigh Bannen is rocking, too. And for her efforts, she wins this week’s DisCovery Award. Coincidentally, both of these artists record for EMI.

Speaking of DisCovery winners, the two non rockers in this stack of platters both come from previous winners. Katie Armiger continues her nearly perfect string of A-plus performances with “Better in a Black Dress,” and Tim Culpepper remains our most potent young heir to the honky-tonk throne with “Pouring Whiskey on Pain.” Perhaps not coincidentally, both singles are the most “country” sounding things on tap today.

KELLEIGH BANNEN/Sorry on the Rocks
Writer: Kelliegh Bannen/Troy Johnson; Producer: Paul Worley & Jerry Smith; Publisher: No Such Thing/Yacht Haven, BMI/SESAC; EMI (CDX)
—Feisty and forceful. She’s a punchy belter with something to say to a wayward beau who’s being shown the door. I dig both her singing and her song.

BUCKY COVINGTON & SHOOTER JENNINGS/Drinking Side of Country
Writer: William J. Covington/Robert Covington/Donald Medlock; Producer: Bucky Covington; Publisher: Travelin’ Zoo/EMI CMG, ASCAP; eone (CDX) (www.eonemusic.com) —The thumping backbeat is cool, and the lyrics are loads of fun. All in all, a raucous good time. Songwriters “William J.” and “Robert” are Bucky and his twin brother Rocky.

LONESTAR/The Countdown
Writer: Jaren Johnson/Manny Medina/Ryder Lee; Producer: Lonestar; Publisher: Sony-ATV Harmony/Texa Rae/Manny Medina/OCTPOB, ASCAP/SESAC; 4 Star (CDX) (www.lonestarnow.com)
—Not previously noted for rockers, these guys prove they have the uptempo goods with this pile-driving road song. The “countdown” is the time and miles it takes to get back to the one he loves.

THE WHEELER SISTERS/This Is Gonna Get Ugly
Writer: Kelly Archer/Jim McCormick/Justin Weaver; Producer: Jim McCormick; Publisher: Universal-Careers/Little Blue Lizard/Crape Myrtle, BMI; Ocala (www.wheelersisters.com)
—The track is kinda junky sounding in its attempt to sound “exciting.” But the song is sturdy, as is the vocal delivery.

ERIC CHURCH/Creepin’
Writer: Eric Church/Marv Green; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/Sinnerlina/Warner-Tamerlane/The Good The Bad The Ugly, BMI; EMI (track)
—Veteran readers already know how crazy I am about this artist. I believe he has won more Disc of the Day awards than any other act in the long history of this column. This time around, he’s rocking so righteously that you might not catch what an extraordinary lyric this is. “Since the day you left… I can feel the lonely, I can hear the crazy, just a creepin.'” “What the dreams forget, the whiskey remembers.” “Your cocaine kiss and caffeine love got under my skin and into my blood.” If the crunchy production doesn’t knock you up the side of your head, his biting vocal will.

CHASE RICE/How She Rolls
Writer: Chase Rice/Brian Kelley; Producer: Chad Carlson; Publisher: Dack Janiels/Big Red Toe, BMI; Artist Revolution (track) (www.chaserice.com)
—Promising. The frothing production threatens to overwhelm his performance, but the solid song and his boy-next-door vocal carry the day.

BRANTLEY GILBERT/Kick it in the Sticks
Writer: Brantley Gilbert/Rhett Akins; Producer: Brantley Gilbert & The Atom Brothers; Publisher: none listed; Valory Music (track)
—I am becoming weary of artists writing rural-themed lyrics paired with screaming electrified rock tracks and calling the result “country music.”

BREAKING SOUTHWEST/Reckless & Wild
Writer: Kent Bell/Kyle Gaston; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed, BMI; BS (830-253-8813)
—Galloping across the plains and kicking up a cloud of dust, this is classic country-rock music with a decidedly contemporary spin. Send more.

TIM CULPEPPER/Pourin’ Whiskey on the Pain
Writer: none listed; Producer: Elbert West; Publisher: none listed; HonkyTone (track) (615-452-9844)
—This guy earned a DisCovery Award with his “Ghost” debut single back in January. This title tune of his CD confirms his status as a masterful new traditionalist. On it, he has a boxed set of Hank, a bottle of Jack and a honky-tonk heartache as big as a house. Somewhere, Keith Whitley is smiling.

KATIE ARMIGER/Better in a Black DressWriter: Katie Armiger/Blair Daly; Producer: Chad Carlson; Publisher: Purple Monkeys/Southside Independent/Internal Combustion/Kickin’ Grids, SESAC/BMI; Cold River
 —Put away that wedding gown, because she’s hitting the road to live her life before she settles down. The imaginative, minor-key arrangement, the haunting “woh-oh” interjections and her semi-whispered punctuations all conspire to seduce your ears. I continue to be impressed with this young artist’s efforts. Play her. Producer Carlson, by the way, is notable as the engineer/mixer on the records of a little nobody named Taylor Swift.

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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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