DISClaimer: The Boys Are Back In Town

phillip fox band

Phillip Fox Band

Groups are in the spotlight today.

The bands bearing the names of John D. Hale, Phillip Fox and Josh Abbott have three of the best discs of the listening session. Plus, we have an audio reunion of the Girls Next Door.

Fittingly, The Phillip Fox Band is one of the day’s award winners. This mostly bearded foursome worked some 175 dates last year in and around its native Ohio, and the practice shows on its debut CD, Heartland. A tip of the hat and a DisCovery Award to this group.

The Disc of the Day prize goes to Darius Rucker, for being so gosh-darned addictive sounding.

MIKE & DORIS MERRITT/Love Will Get You Through Times of No Money
Writers: Sam Lorber/Tim DuBois/Jeff Silbar; Producer: Ron Hemby; Publishers: Warner Bros./Bob Montgomery, ASCAP; Palomino (track)
-Doris knows this song well. In 1986, when she was Doris King and a member of Girls Next Door, it became the group’s first country hit. Now it is a standout track on her new country-gospel CD Detours, and guess who have reunited to sing it with her anew? That’s right, and her former partners Cindy, Diane and Tammy harmonize just as smoothly with her as ever. This well-produced album is recorded with Doris’s minister hubby, but it is not a collection of duets. Rather, each of them has solo outings.

Darius Rucker

Darius Rucker

DARIUS RUCKER/Homegrown Honey
Writers: Darius Rucker/Charles Kelley/Nathan Chapman; Producer: Frank Rogers; Publishers: Universal/Cadaaja/30A Getaway/Kobalt/Songs of Universal/Art in the Pain, ASCAP/BMI; Capitol (CDX)
-It has a cool, funky backbeat, plus a jaunty attitude. The sexy joy of the whole thing is irresistible, because it is as catchy as can be.

KACEY JONES/You’ve Tried the Patience Out of Me
Writers: Kacey Jones/Denise Stiff; Producers: Kacey Jones and Duane Sciaqua; Publishers: Zamalama/Scared Stiff, BMI; IGO
-Darkly bluesy. Sung in Kacey’s low register, the song means business as a female fed-up kiss-off. Deliciously drawling, languidly rolling and full of terrific guitar twang.

RICK PATTERSON/Good For Me Deer
Writers: Rick Patterson; Producer: Rick Patterson; Publishers: RDP, BMI; RDP Music
-The comparisons to hunting deer and collecting a female trophy (”with a big nice rack”) are beyond insulting.

BILLY RAY CYRUS/Like A Country Song
Writers: Tammy Hyler/Shaye Smith; Producers: Tammy Hyler & Shaye Smith; Publishers: Melody Roundup/Bluewater, BMI; Melody Roundup
-Wryly humorous. Everything is going wrong in his life — the wife, the household, the relatives, the truck, the dog. No wonder, “My life is turning out just like a country song.” The laid-back delivery and no-hurry instrumental pace are nice changes of pace for him.

EASTON CORBIN/Baby Be My Love Song
Writers: Jim Collins; Brett James; Producer: Carson Chamberlain; Publishers:Music of Cal IV/Tractor Factor/WB/Songs of Brett/External Combustion, BMI/ASCAP; Mercury
-Artistically, it’s been pretty much steadily downhill ever since 2009’s “A Little More Country Than That.” This doesn’t reverse the trend, although it is blandly listenable.

GARTH BROOKS/People Loving People
Writers: Lee Miller/Chris Wallin/busbee; Producer: Mark Miller; Publishers:Warner Tamerlane/Writers of Sea Gayle/Red Cape/29 Cent Hamburgers/Ole/BMG Platinum/Hello I Love You/Jam Writers Group, BMI/ASCAP; RCA/Pearl
-It’s been a very long time since we were hippies and thought idealistic lyrics like this were meaningful. Nevertheless, he is singing well.

PHILLIP FOX BAND/You Are The Girl
Writers: Phillip Fox/Matthew Hexter; Producers: Joe Viers, Phillip Fox & Jonathan Kampfe; Publishers:New Damn Book/LEMILOE, BMI; New Damn Book
-They have a beefy, full-blooded country-rock sound, and the lead singer delivers with plenty of moxie. The song title is somewhat buried, but otherwise, this is a band with a great deal of promise.

JOSH ABBOTT BAND/Hangin’ Around
Writers: Josh Abbott/Josh Osborne/Shane McAnally; Producer: Keith Stegall; Publishers: Warner-Tamerlane/Victory Bells Ring Out/One Little Indian Creek/Songs of Black River/Universal/Smack Ink, BMI/ASCAP; Atlantic
-I have been a big fan of this group throughout both of its previous indie-label releases. Its graduation to major-label status retains most of its strengths — a hooky song, strong vocals and an imaginative arrangement. Radio ready.

JOHN D. HALE BAND & JASON BOLAND/Devil In Disguise
Writers: Gram Parsons/Chris Hillman; Producer: Cody Braun; Publishers: Irving, no performance rights listed; Camel Ranch
-Breezy, classic-sounding, California-style, country-rock music. Even though it has a spotless Texas pedigree.

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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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