DISClaimer: Train Teams With Ashley Monroe

Train's Pat Monahan and Ashley Monroe in video for "Bruises."

How interesting: The two best country platters of the week both come from bands who are considered to be outside the country format.

The British folk-rock combo Mumford & Sons has definitely earned its acoustic bona fides while rising to Platinum and Grammy-nominated status. Now it is knocking on country music’s door with “I Will Wait.” I, for one, would open it.

The San Francisco pop rockers Train have also attained Platinum and Grammy recognition. They’ve also appeared on CMT with Martina McBride. They perform super catchy songs and lead singer Pat Monahan blends fantastically well with mountain soprano Ashley Monroe. All of that is why “Bruises” is the Disc of the Day.

And since Mumford & Sons have never appeared in this column before, that qualifies them for a DisCovery Award.

Mumford and sons

HANNAH BETHEL/No Where Left to Roam
Writer: Hannah Bethel; Producer: Andy Sheridan & Hannah Bethel; Publisher: Hamywyn, BMI; Hannah Bethel (CDX) 
—She sings splendidly, with just the right blend of sweetness, ache and hillbilly heart. The softly brushed drums, scampering fiddle, plaintive dobro and stacked vocal harmonies are all pluses, even if the title seems buried in the lyric.

RANDY HOUSER/How Country Feels
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Stoney Creek (track) 
—The title tune to Houser’s upcoming CD is a solid stomper that places his bruiser voice right up front, where it belongs. The man can sure-nuff sing. Play it.

CLAYTON BELLAMY/Straight Into the Sun
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; MDM (ERG) 
—I think it’s meant to sound slow and sultry. It put me to sleep.

Writer: Pat Monahan/Espen Lind/Amud Bjorklund; Producer: Espionage & Butch Walker; Publisher: EMI April/Ptimon/Stellar, ASCAP; Columbia 
—Train writes such catchy tunes. No wonder it has a shot on country playlists. Especially when collaborating with a hillbilly angel like Hippie Annie. This little sparkler is an addictive audio delight.

Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; MDM (ERG)  
—This Canadian has a slightly folkie bent, but with all the earnest “heart” that good country singing requires. The mid-tempo song is loaded with hooks, and the production is stellar. In short, come on down.

Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Glassnote (ERG) 
—It’s a frothy, banjo-and-guitar driven track with loads of energy. Their haunting vocal harmony work captures your full attention. I have been smitten with this folk-rock band for quite some time and think this format could do itself a big favor by inviting the Mumfords to the party.

Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; B-Venturous (ERG) 
—His quivering, quavering vibrato is either a welcome novelty or an audio irritant. Take your pick.

PAT GREEN/Even the Losers
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Sugar Hill (ERG) 
—His voice sounds as urgent and rousing on a semi-ballad like this as it does on his crowd-pleasing rockers. I remain a fan.

Writer: Daylon Greer; Producer: Eric Racy; Publisher: none listed, ASCAP; EBN (track) 
—This Arizona four-piece jangles like The Byrds, twangs like The Eagles, rocks like Creedence and crafts tunes that sound as good as familiar oldies. A classic country-rock sound.

KEVIN DEAL/There Goes the Neighborhood
Writer: none listed; Producer: Lloyd Maines; Publisher: Piedrero, ASCAP; Blindfellow (track)
—This perennial Texas favorite is back with a new collection this year. Its bouncy, banjo-backed title tune and lead track lets you know you’re in for a good-natured ride. Ragged but right, as they say.



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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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