Derek’s Top Ten Country Songs – March 2015

Derek Top 10 March

Another month, another top ten list! Several independent album releases and one fantastic new single make up my list. April’s looking at many releases, several of which I’m personally looking forward to. However, this is March and women or women in a part of groups, make up quite a bit of my list this month! Without further ado….

1. “Let It Shine” by Rick Elliot – A callback to outlaw country, Elliot has a great voice for country music and this song showcases it. And to think he’s only 18! Rick Elliot is bringing back the golden sound from country’s best era.

2. “Mama Let the Wolf In” by Allison Moorer – This is the best song off Down to Believing. “Mama Let The Wolf In” is a response to Moorer’s son’s diagnosis of autism. She sings from a perspective of blame and guilt, and her emotions fly in this song.

3. “Make A Liar Out of Me” by Striking Matches – Justin Davis’ vocals shine on a track where he rediscovers love. However, the best part of this song is the 75 second guitar solo closing the song. “Make A Liar Out of Me” rocks on all levels.

4. “By God” by Houndmouth – Great production? Check. Awesome vocals? Check. Fantastic lyrics? Check. This song has the whole package! The best song off Little Neon Limelight.

5. “The Stranger At My Door” by Brandi Carlile – This rocker is the standout off of The Firewatcher’s Daughter.” The production here is spectacular and Carlile’s vocals shine.

6. “When the Right One Comes Along” by Striking Matches – Beautiful lyrics describing love in a realistic way. A stripped-down production behind Sarah Zimmerman’s vocals are a perfect accent to the song.

7. “Down To Believing” by Allison Moorer – Touching lyrics exploring the aftermath of a heartbreak: Simply, do we or don’t we believe that we’ll be back together. Moorer’s vocal performance here are flawless.

8. “Wilder (We’re Chained)” by Brandi Carlile – I love the subdued, slow tempo of this song of life and love. From the sound effects to the vocal performance, this is one of my favorites off Carlile’s album.

9. “Sedona” by Houndmouth – I love this song tribute to “Little Hollywood.” The groove of the melody combined with the vocals are awesome on this track.

10. “Windfall” by Joe Pug – This Chicago singer-songwriter sings about taking charge in life. You’ll go nowhere if you wait around for handouts. This is my favorite off Pug’s new album of the same name.

 

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Josh’s Top Ten Country Songs – March 2015

March 2015

We started off 2015 with two great months of country music. So it was only natural that March would be a let down. Mainstream country music only produced one pretty good album along with a bunch of garbage. Fortunately independent and alt-country came through with some great releases, including an album of the year candidate. Putting together a top ten this month was a little easier as a few albums dominated the majority of the top ten. Let’s take a look at the best ten country songs of March 2015…

  1. Houndmouth – “15 Years” – The aforementioned album of the year candidate was Houndmouth’s new album Little Neon Limelight and it’s littered with great songs. If you haven’t checked this album out yet, you need to asap. While there were a lot of great songs, the song stood out for me the most was “15 Years.” It essentially captures the feeling of the entire album. It’s fun, well-written, contains good harmonies and the instrumentation is spot-on. Ironically once the song is finished playing, you can hear one of the members say, “Yeah I totally botched that.” If that’s what botched sounds like, give me botched music.
  2. Striking Matches – “Hanging On A Lie” – Mainstream country music wasn’t good at all in the month of March, except for one group. If you want to call them mainstream that is. That group is Striking Matches and their debut album Nothing But The Silence, which is surprisingly pretty good. Derek rightly praised this album for its brilliant harmonies and engaging ballads. I didn’t expect to like it as much, but I enjoyed listening to this album thoroughly. Country music is struggling to find new music on radio, yet this song is right under their noses. Put “Hanging On A Lie” on the radio please.
  3. Allison Moorer – “If I Were Stronger” – Moorer’s first new album in several years, Down To Believing, had a lot of good music throughout. There’s one particular three song stretch on the album though that just blows me away. One of those songs and the third of those three songs is “If I Were Stronger.” This sounds like a stirring ballad you would hear from Martina McBride in the 90s and that isn’t a bad thing. Moorer’s voice soars in this song and the piano gives it the perfect tone.
  4. Lindi Ortega – “Tell It Like It Is” – Can Ortega’s new album come out already? “Tell It Like It Is” is the first song off of it and if it’s any indication of what we’re in for with the album, it may be a candidate for Country Perspective’s 2015 Album of the Year award. The Canadians’ sultry voice and the bluesy instrumentation combine to produce an alluring and enjoyable song. Again I can’t wait to hear the album.
  5. Houndmouth – “By God” – The second appearance from Houndmouth and the song that rounds out the top five is “By God.” Here’s what I had to say about this song in my album review of Little Neon Limelight: “By God” is a rock country song with a rocking beat and a subtle, sinister undertone. It’s about a man who has things going wrong around him and insisting for them to “turn out the lights,” but to leave his “candle burning.” The harmonies are spot-on throughout. Everything in this song simply works to make for one of the best songs on the album. 
  6. Brandi Carlile – “The Stranger At My Door” – Carlile makes her first appearance in the March top ten with “The Stranger At My Door.” It’s from her fiery and damn good album The Firewatcher’s Daughter. This song in particular is quite dark while brilliantly blending country, folk, blues and rock. At the end of the song though it crashes into a rock ‘n roll frenzy and really adds an exclamation point it. This is another album you definitely need to hear.
  7. Allison Moorer – “Down To Believing” – The second Moorer song to make the top ten is also part of the great stretch of three songs on the album. It’s the album’s title track, “Down To Believing,” which is a song that grapples with a difficult relationship and whether it’s worth holding onto. Moorer drew from her past relationship with fellow alt-country artist Steve Earle, so the feelings being expressed by Moorer in this song are real and genuine. It’s makes for emotional and touching music.
  8. Striking Matches – “Make A Liar Out of Me” – The other standout song to me on Striking Matches’ debut album is “Make A Liar Out of Me.” What makes this song so great is you can sense the chemistry between Davis and Zimmerman is completely in-sync. It makes the song feel more believable and emotional. Kudos to producer T Bone Burnett for getting the production just right on this song too.
  9. Rick Elliot – “Let It Shine” – The California, old school country artist makes his first appearance on a Country Perspective top ten list with his second single, “Let It Shine.” And that’s only because I reviewed his first single after that month’s top ten list was published. “Let It Shine” is a brilliant throwback to the Bakersfield sound, while also sounding modern. Elliot’s voice is flawlessly brilliant. The best is yet to come for this young country artist.
  10. Brandi Carlile – “The Eye” – The top ten list for March is rounded out by another Brandi Carlile song, “The Eye.” From my review of the album: “Carlile’s powerful voice punctuates through on “The Eye.” Her powerful voice combined with the backing vocals of the twins, it makes for great harmony.”  

Honorable Mentions:

  • Brandi Carlile – “Beginning To Feel The Years”
  • Houndmouth – “Gasoline” & “Darlin'” 
  • Allison Moorer – “Tear Me Apart”
  • Ronnie Reno – “All That’s Worth Remembering”