DISClaimer: Championing The Underdogs

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Old Crow Medicine Show

Yes, Luke Bryan has a new single, and, yes, it sounds good, and, yes, it is a hit. Nevertheless, my Disc of the Day award is going to the underdog Grand Ole Opry stars Old Crow Medicine Show. The real story du jour is the battle for the DisCovery Award. Dean Alexander, Kristian Bush, Chris Lane and Ben Rau are all worthy contenders. In a close call, I’m giving it to Chris Lane.

BEN RUE/I Can’t Wait (Be My Wife)
Writers:Ryan Ogren/James Bailey/Jon Berry/Peter Munters/James Ulrich; Producer: Kyle Lehning; Publisher: none listed; ASCAP/BMI; Arista (CDX)
-This pretty ballad has lyrics that are woven with vivid details. His singing voice is sincere, if a little generic sounding. I think I hear a hit.

DYLAN SCOTT/Mmm, Mmm, Mmm
Writers: Dylan Scott/Forest Glen Whitehead; Producer: Jim Ed Norman; Publishers: Curb/Want a Fresh One/Black River, ASCAP; Sidewalk (CDX)
-A little swampy. A little funky. A little saucy. A whole lot Southern.

LUKE BRYAN/Roller Coaster
Writers: Cole Swindell/Michael Carter; Producer: Jeff Stevens; Publishers: Sony-ATV Tree/Sony-ATV Cross Keys/243 Music, BMI/ASCAP; Capitol
-This rolls with verve and spirit. I like it that the vocal is mixed up bright and high, while the percussion is kept simple and steady. Very, very summer-y.

KRISTIAN BUSH/Trailer Hitch
Writers: Kristian Bush/Brandon Bush/Tim Owens; Producers: Kristian Bush/Tom Tapley; Publishers: Songs of the Architect/Another Song of the Architect/Archuleta, ASCAP; Streamsound
-I have always maintained it’s a shame that this fine singer was so consistently overshadowed in Sugarland. This bopping, percolating disc reveals a performer with jaunty personality to spare. The bonus is that there’s a nifty message beneath the happy rhythm: You can’t take it with you when you go.

AMERICAN YOUNG/Wasn’t Gonna Drink Tonight
Writers: Lee Brice/Billy Montana/Jon Stone; Producers: Jon Stone/Justin Niebank/Lee Brice; Publishers: Mike Curb/Dandon Ranch/Hears That Skyline/Adios Pantalones/BMG, BMI/SESAC; Curb (CDX)
-The jittery rhythm track is nervous sounding. It doesn’t go with the smooth singing. And that gliding vocal performance doesn’t match the downbeat lyric.

SARA EVANS & ISSAC SLADE/Can’t Stop Loving You
Writers: Victoria Banks/Phil Barton/Emily Shackleton; Producer: Mark Bright & Sara Evans; Publishers: Chrysalis/45th Parallel/Sixteen Stars/Horipro/Liz Rose/Songs of Kobalt, ASCAP/BMI; RCA
-Duet partner Slade is the lead singer of the pop/rock band The Fray. Evans dominates the track, which is loudly busy and bombastic. They try to redeem it by repeating the title over and over and over again as the noise crashes around them. Pass.

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Chris Lane

CHRIS LANE/Broken Windshield View
Writers: Rodney Clawson/David Lee Murphy/Shane Minor; Producer: Joey Moi; Publishers: Big Red Toe/Big Loud Bucks/Old Desperados/N2D/Sony-ATV Tree/Code Six Charles, BMI/ASCAP; Big Loud Mountain
-This backwoods rocker packs a punch. Lane’s passionate vocal rides atop a churning track and delivers a dirt-road anthem with panache. Ear catching.

JUSTIN MOORE & VINCE NEIL/Home Sweet Home
Writers: Nikki Sixx/Tommy Lee/Vince Neil; Producer: Jeremy Stover; Publishers: Sixx Gunner/Downtown/Tommyland/Safe N Sound/WB/Mars Mountain/Cherry Lane, ASCAP; Valory
-The song wasn’t even a hit when Motley Crue sang it. Pointless.

DEAN ALEXANDER/Live a Little
Writers: Dean Alexander/Laura Veltz; Producers: Justin Weaver/Dean Alexander; Publishers: Warner-Tamerlane/Get Along/Hits of Parallel, BMI; Elektra
-Hooky. The title is interjected with stacked harmonies throughout the performance. The choppy rhythms, sunny guitar solo, urgently boyish vocal and overall groove all scream summer. Irresistible.

OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW/Sweet Amarillo
Writers: Dylan/Secor/Fuqua; Producer: Ted Hutt; Publishers: Special Rider/Blood Donor, SESAC/BMI; ATO (track)
-Old Crow Medicine Show had a Gold Record with “Wagon Wheel” long before Darius Rucker covered the tune. Can lightning strike twice in the same place? I think so, especially when there’s a performance this charming, propulsive, thumpy, rootsy and earnestly relentless. The Dylan/Secor combination repeats its winning ways.

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About the Author

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

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