DISClaimer: Survey Of Current Music City Pop/Rock

Old favorites and new dancefloor darlings mix and mingle in today’s survey of current Music City pop/rock.

The enduring Nashville popsters of yore are Los Straitjackets, Take 6 and Webb Wilder. The electronic wunderkinds are Cappa, Mona and Davis Mallory.

The Disc of the Day award belongs to, of course, Taylor Swift, who is currently conquering the world (again) on tour.

The DisCovery Award goes to Birdtalker, a Nashville quintet that’s about to issue its debut album.

BAD COP/Dreamer Man
Producer: Chris Grainger
—It’s been a long wait for the new album by this Nashville post-punk outfit. But Hello Mr. Sunshine is out now, and so is this snarky emphasis track. Lead singer Adam Moult has a classic tenor snarl/whine that delivers sarcastic and/or ironic lyrics with flair. The band is minimalist thrashy, featuring old-school, small-kit drumming and jangling electric guitar. In previous seasons, Bad Cop’s music has had network syncs (ESPN, Showtime), been used in a Capri Sun ad and has enjoyed in-store promotion by Converse sneakers.

TAKE 6/Change the World
Writer: Tommy Sims/Gordon Kennedy/Wayne Kirkpatrick; Producer: Mark Kibble & David Thomas
—This Grammy winning a cappella jazz vocal ensemble has titled its new CD Iconic because it contains Take 6 versions of modern pop chestnuts. The group’s gospel background is revealed in “Nothing But the Blood.” It does a particularly nice job with the Christopher Cross oldie “Sailing.” And its Music City roots are showing with this groovy cover of Eric Clapton’s anthem, penned by three of Nashville’s best tunesmiths. The ballad is turned inside out via tempo shifts, melodic improvisations and background scatting. Ear opening.

Writer: R. Field; Publisher: Sharp Circle, ASCAP
—Written by Beatneck R.S. Field, this steaming, unrelenting, power-pounding blues rocker was originally recorded by Wilder 30 years ago. But The Fabulous Thunderbirds picked it up and made it a 1988 hit, so the original sat on the shelf. Now it’s the title of Wilder’s new collection of previously unreleased stompers. Clap hands and shout, “Hallelujah” at this rock ‘n’ roll evangelist. Then get up and dance to his muscular takes on Little Richard’s “Lucille,” Lightnin’ Hopkins,’ “I’m Wild About You Baby” and Sam & Dave’s “Ain’t That a Lot of Love.”

MONA/Thought Provoked
—I was initially smitten with this Music City band last year via its sex-positive viral-hit video “Kiss Like a Woman.” Mona’s new Soldier On CD drops June 22, and it has sent out this tease track to promote it. The hallmarks here are a hooky, soaring, anthem-like chorus, crunching guitars and a searing high-tenor lead vocal. Stomping and glam infected, evoking nouveau Queen.

Writer: Taylor Swift/Max Martin/Shellback; Producer: Max Martin & Shellback; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/Taylor Swift/MXM/Kobalt, BMI/ASCAP; Big Machine
—Now that she’s launched her tour, sales of Taylor’s Reputation CD are bound to spike. This thumpy, seductive, swoony single sure won’t hurt. A dreamy track to get lost in.

—This EDM lady splits her time between L.A. and Nashville. Her new single is a catchy, light-hearted, bubbling bopper with winsome vocals and rhythmic pops, drops and dollops. Very promising. Cappa showcased her sounds at the Hutton Hotel’s cool Analog venue on Wednesday evening.

Producer: Lopic Panillo
—With the Nashville Pride Festival approaching (June 23-24), this singer-songwriter’s music is timely indeed. His “Pride Edition Music Video” for this poppy track is out now. The infectious track highlights his breathy vocals, steady beats and synth accents. Mallory first achieved notoriety on MTV’s Real World Denver and three seasons on the game show The Challenge. Since moving to Nashville about four years ago, he’s written more than 300 dancefloor songs, including “Not That Far Away,” “Loud,” “Dance With Me,” “Be Without You” and “Anyone Would Know” all of which have internet videos.

LOS STRAITJACKETS/(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding
Writer: Nick Lowe; Producer: Neil Brockbank; Yep Roc
—These masked marvels have this instrumental twanger as the title tune of their tribute CD to Nick Lowe. He’s often noted for his witty lyrics, but the Nashville surf rockers shine their spotlight on what a cool melody maker he is as well.

SWING SET/Make Mine a Double
Writer: Bois/Mosser/Scheinman/Shropshire/Spencer; Producer: Eight O’Five Jive; Publisher: Red Rudy Too Tunes, BMI; Red Rudy Too Tunes
—This came out last year, so I am quite tardy in getting to it. The quintet dresses in period costumes of the ‘30s and ‘40s when it plays its jump-blues tunes. The sound may be vintage, but the tunes are originals. Liven up your next cocktail party with this.

BIRDTALKER/Feel Like a Broken Heart
Missing Piece
—This is the advance tune for this Nashville band’s debut CD, which drops on June 22. It’s an upbeat, lo-fi outing with folk-flavored vocals backed by a crunchy rhythm track and nifty electric guitar licks. A previous Birdtalker track, “Heavy” amassed 21 million Spotify streams, I am told. Also check out the band’s delectable “One” lyric video and amusing dance clip “Graveclothes.”


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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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