It’s the world turned upside down.
Just about everything in this week’s column is unexpected. I never thought I would be giving an award to the likes of Steven Tyler. First off, I am philosophically opposed to carpetbaggers from pop going “country.” Secondly, it seems counterintuitive to give a newcomer award to a member of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. But facts are facts. His single is tops, and this is the first time he’s been in this column. So he gets a DISCovery Award.
Despite the presence of heavy hitters like Thomas Rhett, Zac Brown and Thompson Square, the Disc of the Day winds up being a dead heat between two much lesser known acts. So come to the podium, Tebey and Old Dominion.
THOMAS RHETT/Crash and Burn
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Valory (ERG)
—It has a somewhat ‘60s retro quality, what with the hand claps, background vocal grunts, whistling and bright, pop chorus melody. Quite listenable.
THOMPSON SQUARE/Trans Am
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Broken Bow
—A shuddering guitar, a quirky-jerky tune, electro-processed vocal touches and shouted “Hey’s” are stirred together in this ode to a sporty ride. Bouncy.
TEBEY/When the Buzz Wears Off
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Road Angel (ERG)
—Ear catching, thanks to a warmly personable vocal, a rushing-forward arrangement, a hooky melody, a youthful vibe and an imaginative lyric. I dig this a whole big bunch. Credits, please.
OLD DOMINION/Break Up With Him
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; RCA (ERG)
—I’m a big fan of this group, so I’m delighted to see it getting a major-label shot. From the spoken-word verse introductions to the super melodic choruses, this has everything it takes for success. As catchy as the dickens.
ZAC BROWN BAND/Loving You Easy
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Big Machine (ERG)
—Jaunty and ultra romantic. His lead vocal is loaded with friendliness, and the band’s signature harmony singing is as flawless as ever. This goes down so smoothly, it’s bound to be a hit.
JOE SCHMIDT/Jesus Loves Me
Writer: Joe Schmidt; Producer: Mark A. Burch; Publisher: none listed, BMI; JS (CDX) (www.joeschmidtmusic.net)
—Yes, it’s the familiar Sunday-school song, dressed up with some new lyrics and sung in a chesty, macho baritone. Pass.
STEVEN TYLER/Love Is Your Name
Writer: Lindsey Lee/Eric Paslay; Producer: Dann Huff; Publisher: Hound Hill Works/Hear Candy/Riding Songs/Spirit Catalog Holdings/s.a.r.l./Five Stone/Spirit Two, BMI/ASCAP; Dot
—I’ve been dreading the country debut of Aerosmith’s lead singer. Surprise: It doesn’t suck. Aided by a tuneful, extremely well written song and a sprightly, choppy production, Tyler sends his tenor skyward amid mandolin flourishes and sunny harmony singers. Very, very playable.
COUNTRY JACK HARPER/I’d Say We’re Even
Writer: Jack Harper; Producer: Gene Breeden; Publisher: none listed, ASCAP; CJH (track)
—Plain-jane country, unadorned with today’s pop production touches. Old fashioned and wobbly sung, but sweetly intentioned.
Writer: Josh Kear/Gordie Sampson/Hillary Lindsey; Producer: Julian King & Jim Catino; Publisher: Global Dog/Lunalight/Words & Music/Bughouse/Dash8/BMG Rights/Hillarodyrathbone, ASCAP; Columbia (track)
—“They don’t have a rehab for heartbreak.” He’s going through withdrawal, now that it’s over between them. Sung with passion, at the top of his range. With lots of screaming electric guitars around him to add to the “excitement.”
TORI MARTIN/Woman Up
Writer: none listed; Producer: Chuck Ebert; Publisher: none listed; Martin 3 (www.torimartinofficial.com)
—Bluesy and stomping, with a female-empowerment lyric. Her vocal is a little bit shakey, but it’s the attitude that counts here.