Sunday, April 27, 2014

stevo "cd" review: "the outsiders" by eric church

Happy Sunday, peoples and peepettes! 

Sorry this one took so long.

Stevo “CD” Review.
“The Outsiders” by Eric Church.
12 tracks, 51 minutes (approximate).

Let’s begin.

Track 1: “The Outsiders”.  Uum, wow.  This is certainly an interesting track to open the “cd” with.  I’m not saying that it’s bad; it’s just not what you’d expect.  The song opens up for the first forty seconds or slow as a slow, drawn out, haunting song, and then at the forty second mark, BAM!, the switch gets flipped, and we go up tempo big time into a type of rock that sounds like something Hank Williams would have put out.  Then at the midpoint, it slows right back down for a moment, before it just explodes with energy, emotion, and a really damned good sounding, uuh, sound.  You even wind up with a few “raise the lighters and wave ‘em side to side in the air” moments taking this thing to the finish.  The last minute?  Is one of those guitar / drum riffs that you’d expect in a live show to buy time at the end of a track for a stage reset or something, not in the opening track to a “cd”.

Best / Favorite Lyric:

“We’re the bad news, we’re the young guns.
We’re the ones they told you to run from.
Yeah, a player’s gonna play, a hater’s gonna hate;
And a regulator’s born to regulate.

When it hits the fan, and it all goes down,
And the gloves come off?
You’re gonna find out …

Just who we are!
We do our talking!
Walk that walk!
Wide open rocking!

That’s how we roll!
Our backs to the wall!
A band of brothers –
Together, alone!

The Outsiders!”

Grade: A-.  A very ambitious start.  And I happen to like ambition.

Track 2: “A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young”.  And after a very up-tempo start, we definitely slow and strip things down.  If the first track is more a Southern rock style you’d expect from a Hank Williams or a Lynyrd Skynyrd, this is much more like … you know what it kind of reminds me of, is “Whiskey Lullaby” by Alison Krauss and Brad Paisley.  It’s a song that you the sound and pacing, makes you think is about a tragedy, or about something unpleasant.  Then you listen to the lyrics, and you realize, it’s anything but.  It’s about a dude who lived life to the fullest, only now he looks back, and can’t understand why he risked it like he did, when what he truly wanted, was there all along.  Let’s just say, this song and me?  We could be friends.

Best / Favorite Lyric:

“What the hell made you love
A man, who was gonna die young?”

Grade: B+.  A pretty solid effort.

Track 3: “Cold One”.  And now we get a more traditional country sound.  And like the first two tracks, I like how this sounds.  The extended riff at the from the 1:50 mark to about the 2:50 mark, a solid minute, was phenomenal.  As for the song itself?  Eeh.  Outside of the riff, I didn’t really care for it.  Still, if this is the worst effort on this “cd”, I’m going to be a happy man.

Best / Favorite Lyric:

“I still like to drink a beer,
But a long neck I won’t do.
‘Cause every time I see one sweating,
Man I break out in one too.”

Grade: C.  It’s there.  It’s not memorable, it’s not horrendous.  It’s just there.

Track 4: “Roller Coaster Ride”.  And on track four, we finally get a song that, at least initially, sounds like you’d expect an Eric Church song to sound.  And kids?  It’s good.  It’s a phenomenally good song.  In the interest of full disclosure, my five favorite efforts by Mr. Church would be:

5. “Over When It’s Over” (off “Chief”).
4. “What I Almost Was” (off “Sinners Like Me”).
3. “Hell On The Heart” (off “Carolina”).
2. “Love Your Love The Most” (off “Carolina).
1. “Sinners Like Me” (off “Sinners Like Me” – hey, it is one of the two official anthems of my life, after all (along with Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Wanna Be”).

This song?  Slides somewhere between “Hell on the Heart” and “What I Almost Was” on first listen … and might rise another spot, if I listen to it enough.  Just a phenomenal effort from start to finish (and the closing sounds, you don’t really see coming).  Just a phenomenal effort.

Best / Favorite Lyric:

“Since you had to go?
I’ve been on a roller coaster ride!
Up and down I go, over you,
About to lose my mind!”

Grade: A.  Loved this effort.

Track 5: “Talladega”.  Oh Sweet Jesus.  Everything I just said about the track before this one?  Multiply by fifty.  This honestly might be my favorite effort he’s ever done.  Everything – and I mean everything – about this song, works.  The sound is great.  The lyrics are awesome.  

And the sentimental value of said lyrics, what the story this song is telling, totally hits the mood I’ve been in for the last few months or so – one of looking back at your favorite moments of life, your “greatest hits”, and realizing that no matter how things ultimately turned out?  

The journey to get here, was worth it.

Best / Favorite Lyric:

“Like a storm?  Time rolls on.
You can’t hit pause, as we just did.
Most days in life?  Don’t stand out.
But life’s about those days that will. 

Like rocking rando, getting rowdy,
Shooting roman candles at
The man on the moon,
‘Til the Alabama sun was breaking …

Over Talladega!  Boys raise up,
Whiskey in your glass!
Here’s to turning up, slowing down,
And cars that go real fast!

We were laughing and living,
Drinking and wishing, and thinking
As that checkered flag was waving,
Sure would like to stay in Talladega …”

Grade: A+.  This is going in the work playlist like, now.

Track 6: “Broke Record”.  Southern rock sound to open, and throughout.  It’s not a bad song.  But after the last two efforts, this feels more like filler, than a potential single.

Best / Favorite Lyric:

“Your lips?  Your hips?
When you touch ‘em to mine,
Each and every time,
I’m hypnotized!  I’ll admit it!

Your moves?  Your grooves?
It’s some heavy stuff,
I can’t get enough!
Girl your love’s a drug, I can’t quit it!”

Grade: B-.  I wouldn’t hit fast forward if this popped up on Pandora, but I wouldn’t be searching this track out either.

Track 7: “Like A Wrecking Ball”.  This is just a fun, laid back little tune, a romantic ballad, if you will.  It’s about love, and romance, and … (lee corso voice) aw, f*ck it! 

It’s a song about a dude screwing his girl so hard, that … well … seriously, you try not to laugh at the visuals, because I couldn’t. 

Best / Favorite Lyric:

“I’m gonna find out,
What this house is made of!
Been too many nights,
Since it felt us make love!

I wanna rock some sheetrock!
Knock some pictures off the wall!
(I wanna) love you baby,
Like a wrecking ball!”

And …

“That old house?
Is gonna be shaking!
I hope these bricks and boards
Can take it!

But I won’t be surprised,
If the whole damned place just falls!
I’m gonna rock you baby,
Like a wrecking ball!”

What’s that?  One more?  (fidelity ad guy voice) Why not!

“And that old house?
Is gonna be shaking!
Rafter rocking;
Foundation quaking!

Crash right through the front door,
Back you up against the wall!

Love you baby,
Take it right there baby!
Rock you baby,
Like a wrecking ball!”

Track 8: “That’s Damn Rock and Roll”.  This one actually has an old school Rolling Stones feel and sound to it, and as someone who finds a way to work as many Stones classics into the Mixology list as I can get away with (I was up to six by season end!), I heartily approve.  This one kinda reminds me at times of “Gimme Shelter”, and that’s a good thing, since it’s either my third or fourth favorite Stones track*.  Give this one a listen.  I can’t envision it as a single, but it’s damned good.  Because it is damned rock and roll.

Best / Favorite Lyric:

“It ain’t a middle finger on a t-shirt
The establishment’s trying to sell;
It’s a guy with the balls,
Who told the establishment to go to hell.

It ain’t about the money you make,
When a record gets sold;
It’s about doing it for nothing,
‘Cause it lives in your soul.

That’s?  Damned rock and roll!
That’s?  Damned rock and roll!”

Grade: A.  Really cool song.


(*: come on, no post of mine is complete without at least one random sidebar rant.  My ten favorite Stones tracks: 10) “Jumpin Jack Flash”, 9) “Angie” 8) “Miss You”, 7) “Paint It Black”, 6) “Start Me Up”, 5) “Mother’s Little Helper”, 4) “Gimme Shelter”, 3) “Mixed Emotions”, 2) “Sympathy for the Devil, 1) “Get Off Of My Cloud”.  And now back to the regular portion of these poorly prepared remarks.)


Track 9: “Dark Side”.  You build for forty seconds to the first lyric.  And the sound is kinda neat – it definitely hints at something big coming.  Only … the moment never arrives.  This song just didn’t work for me.  To me, this is the first dud on the “cd”.  And it’s a clunker.

Best / Favorite Lyric: honestly, there wasn’t one.

Grade: D.  Not a fan.

Track 10: “Devil, Devil (Prelude: Prince of Darkness)”.  I’m not a fan of the word “prelude”.  Only this prelude, works.  Quite honestly, the first four minutes of this song (the “prelude”), if you close your eyes, and just listen, you can picture Coach Taylor standing there in the Dillon or East Dillon locker room, giving his inspirational speech of the night.

The song itself also lives up to the hype the four minute prelude sets up.  I had my doubts seeing a nearly nine minute run time.  I never once found myself bored or waiting for this thing to wrap up.  That’s the mark of a good song.

Best / Favorite Lyric:

“I’ll tell you a well-known secret,
Of a tiny place known far and wide.
The devil walks among us folks,
And Nashville is his bride.

Of all the chaos he has caused and done,
His greatest trick?
Is to every guitar-totin’ dreamer,
The devil don’t exist.

But me?  I shook his hand.
I know that he is real.
So devil?  You can screw yourself,
And then go straight to hell!”

Grade: A for the Prelude, B for the song itself, so I’ll split the difference and call it a B+.

Track 11: “Give Me Back My Hometown”.  If you’re a fan of Mr. Church, you’ve heard this song.  If you haven’t, you’ve missed out.  This is one of Mr. Church’s best efforts, in a career filled with tens of them at this point.  Great sound, love the story the lyrics tell, and you will too.

Best / Favorite Lyric:

“All the colors of my youth?
The red, the green?  The hope, the truth?
Are beating me black and blue,
‘Cause you’re in every scene.

My friends try to cheer me up;
Get together at the Pizza Hut.
I didn’t have the heart to tell them,
That was our place.

These sleepy streetlights on
Every sidewalk street,
Shed a light on everything
That used to be.

Give me back my hometown.
‘Cause this is my hometown!”

Grade: A.  Phenomenal first single choice.

Track 12: “The Joint”.  Uum, this is not how I would have closed out this “cd”.  I’d have flipped this and “Give Me Back My Hometown”.  To bastardize a quote from the great Dean Wormer: “slow, boring, and pointless is not a good final impression to a “cd”, son”.

Best / Favorite Lyrics: honestly, none.

Grade: F.  I despised this track.

Final verdict: Only one truly awful track, only two I didn’t care for, out of twelve.  Three A+’s, three more A’s / A-‘s, plus three B+’s / B’s (along with one C, one D, and one F). 

Spend the money on iTunes or Amazon or whatever your legal provider of choice is.  You won’t regret it.

Overall Grade (Theismann Scale): 12-4, Division Winner, Wildcard Round Bye, Conference Championship Game Participant.  A damned solid “season” for this “cd”.

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