Review: Sam Hunt’s Montevallo

Artist: Sam Hunt
Album: Montevallo
Release date: October 27, 2014
Label: MCA Nashville
Genre: Country pop

Montevallo is the debut album for country music artist Sam Hunt, whose songwriting skills were featured on several country stars’ songs, such as Keith Urban’s Cop Car and Kenny Chesney’s Come Over.

samhuntmontevallo

First thing’s first, Hunt may be the very definition of a modern country man. His use of electronic synth arrangements and palm-to-knee slapping rhythm makes him immediately stand out from other male country music artists who choose to have a more traditional sound. His music is unlike any other in his genre and his contemporary look on “what is country” is definitely featured on the album. It’s also interesting to note that Hunt co-wrote every track on the album.

Montevallo may sound a bit “typical” for a first time listener. A majority of the tracks featured on the album are in some way about a woman and leaves a lot to be desired regarding Hunt’s diversity as an artist. While some of the songs feature a generic approach to the characteristic “country song about a woman”, Cop Car, for example, has a different way of expressing his feelings towards a woman which proves to be a nice touch to the album.

Hunt has his own unique sound which makes him stand out from other country artists. The catchy lyrics and quick-paced dynamic use of instruments in his debut single Leave the Night On dare to appeal to those who aren’t typically fans of country music. The pop-inspired hit would fit comfortably on the Country Music Channel as it would on MTV. Leave the Night On has a typical “bro-country” theme to it (country songs by men about getting drunk, girls in tight jeans, etc.) however it has its own charming appeal that’ll make your fingers tap and your head bop, and not roll your eyes and mutter “It’s just another country song”.

The way he mixes normal speaking with an outburst of song in Take Your Time and Break Up in a Small Town is an odd touch to his album, and I’m not too positive that’s a good thing. It kind of sounds like a musical where the character is engaging in dialogue and then randomly busts out into song and we, as an audience, are expected to think that is completely normal. It’s a unique twist to the typical song format, and for that, I applaud him for trying something new. However, these tracks that would otherwise be great listens with deep, emotive lyrics and a great sound, are mainly outstanding for the wrong reasons.

An interesting track to make note of on Montevallo is Single for the Summer; it’s probably the only track on the album that doesn’t have any typical country music traits to it: there are no mentions of drinking beer in the lyrics, and the quick strums of an acoustic guitar are also absent. This song has an almost dreamy sound to it with an electric synth-like sound and a slow, fading ending that makes you feel as if you are gradually dozing off to sleep. This daring track doesn’t seem fitting for a country-pop album but happens to be one of the best songs on the album for the sole purpose that is something very different that Hunt has tried and subsequently nailed as a music artist.

Overall, Montevallo is a step in the right direction for Sam Hunt that can be easy listening for all sorts of people, ranging from diehard country music enthusiasts to mainstream pop music fans and anywhere in between. His unique twist on modern country-pop music definitely makes for a great sound that can be repeated with a glass of white or a schooner of beer.

Or a bottle of water. If that’s your thing.

– by Noah La’ulu

Whatever Happened to My Rock N’ Roll?

It may be flogging a dead horse to point out that the music industry has gone all to hell over the past wee while but if post-mortem equine flagellation is what is required to make a positive change then Phar Lap and Red Rum need to watch their step in horsey heaven because it’s whipping time…

Reining in on the horse related puns… It does seem that the music industry needs to have a good sit down in a darkened room and have a quiet word with itself. It’s hard to remember a time when the radio has been so painfully difficult to listen to and popular music been so laughably bad.

A coke can for Mr. Derulo as he clearly always forgets his name. (SOURCE: Eva Rinaldi's Flickr photostream)

A coke can for Mr. Derulo as he clearly always forgets his name. (SOURCE: Eva Rinaldi’s Flickr photostream)

Messrs Guetta and Derulo seemingly engaged in some kind of battle for the already blanched souls of the world’s youth. What’s worse is they love it. They really love it. Try and point out that it’s unmitigated shite without any redeeming features, that it’s musically immature, emotionally stunted and sexist to the point of being insulting to the collective intelligence of every woman in the world (take a bow Derulo and Thicke). If you were to point out these unassailable truths, you would be met with derision for being too old to understand and probably you would be called a dick.

 And that’s fair enough. I called by own father a dick when he likened Radiohead to the sound of “a fella being drowned in a river in the fog” and said he “wouldn’t open the back window if they were singing in the yard” in relation to Jurassic 5. The difference is that he was wrong and we on this occasion are right. It’s piss poor music for people who don’t really like music.

You may well point out at this stage that the singles chart has always been insufferable bollocks chosen by the pre-pubescent and the lonely and… yeah, it has but it used to be a battleground. Where there was “Blue Da Ba Dee Daba Da” there was Blur and where there was Crazy Frog there was Belle and Sebastian. Recently it seems the war is has been lost. Top to bottom, song after song with no heart.

Please don’t feel I’m focusing unfairly on the boys. The women are letting the side down just as badly. Forget Regina Spektor and Karen O. Step forward Perry, Minaj, Swift and She Who Must Not Be Named… Ke$ha. These lot make Spears, Aguilera and ol’ humble tits herself Shakira look like excellent role models for youngsters the world over.

It’s Cowell and his ilk. That merry band of music killing morons determined to suck the last dying breath from an already choking music industry. If we allow the musical gene pool to become so stagnant that Simon Cowell is everyone’s daddy then the end result is a music industry born of incest.

Think of One Direction and their compatriots as sperm swimming away up the musical fallopian tube. Not our fastest swimmers I think you’ll agree. So One Direction (living up to their name in fairness), arrive at the egg which bears a striking resemblance to Danni Minogue who smiles beatifically down at tiny Harry Styles (she is 85,000 times bigger than him after all). He wiggles in and as they say, Robert’s your mother’s brother. Now repeat the process again and again and therein lies the problem. Lots of musical halfwits releasing songs with cunning titles like Best Song Ever, kicking their arms and legs at the same time on the musical swings and hobbling around and around the musical chairs.

I suspect many people out there would blame the internet for the decay of the once vibrant music industry and not many would object to that assessment. Radiohead’s Thom Yorke for example, described Spotify as, “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse.”

It’s hard to disagree with him when it would seem that a great (great) many of us have completely given up on paying for any music at all. A point aptly demonstrated when Radiohead’s In Rainbows was released and fans allowed to pay whatever they chose. The end result was 62 per cent of us decided that what we wanted to pay was nothing. And bearing in mind that was in 2007… I don’t think that percentage would change for the better today.

The result seems to be that to succeed you’re better off appealing to the majority. And considering the meteoric rise of Bieber and Swift I’ll just hold off on putting my faith in the wisdom of crowds.

There are of course more holes in my argument than in the rationale of a pro-gun lobbyist  and there are of course amazing musicians and bands coming out all the time, like The Tallest Man on Earth, The Milk Carton Kids and Cosmo Jarvis just to name a few (pardon the plug), but I think the point I’m making so badly is that for once wouldn’t it be nice if the biggest band in the world was the best band in the world?

– by James Andrews

To Bieb or not to Bieb, that is the question

We’ve all heard about it over the last few days and rolled our eyes.

Justin Bieber has once again proved to the world why he currently holds the title for World’s Biggest Douchebag – and that’s coming from a self professed Belieber.

Despite the big love I hold for the little cutie, I have to say that he’s not doing much to uphold his reputation at the moment (unless of course you know him for the bad he’s done and not his talent, in which case he’s upholding that reputation to perfection), what with his ‘retiring’ from music so he can drink, drive, drink AND drive, and get high as a kite on Mother Nature’s prohibited greenery. The last thing this kid needed was another headline.

Even with all his sick tatts, is he even that cool? (SOURCE: Justin Bieber's Shots page)

Even with all his sick tatts, is he even that cool? (SOURCE: Justin Bieber’s Shots page)

From the very first time I heard Bieber sing I have vouched for his talent, but I will not tolerate his light hearted attitude towards the law, and neither will the world. As if it wasn’t enough that he spent his time in Australia tagging hotels and went home to add driving under the influence to his résumé, Bieber has now found himself in the spotlight for a racial slur – by which I mean a ridiculous joke told by a child to a girl to impress her.

Whilst I do not condone his behaviour of late, or his appreciation of racial based jokes, I have to admit that the whole situation has been blown a little out of proportion. To top it off, further footage was then leaked showing Bieber warming up his vocals to a song he sings, bleeping out the lyrics and replacing them with derogatory references to a particular community. Granted that Bieber was just a sweet little girl in these two videos, you would think he would know better, but I pose the question; should he really have known better? Do grown adults today not still promote the very behaviour that Bieber has exhibited in these two videos?

There is no doubt that he could have better taste in jokes, but quite frankly the situation is ridiculous. Do we not have more pressing issues to bring to the worlds attention? Surely the world hasn’t become so pathetic that we find the need to fill our news hour with the plights of fallen Hollywood stars whose stints on the red carpet are now nothing but a distant memory.

Look around Bieber, do your research. If he was as racist a person as these videos make him out to be, do you not think the likes of Usher and Kenny Hamilton (Bieber’s head of security) would have brought him back down to earth? Reality check people, there’s more to life than what you see on your television.

What you ask is the moral to this story? Haters gonna hate.

– by Melissa Tonitto

I Look So Perfect In My Own Underwear, Thanks

If you don’t get the 5 Seconds of Summer reference, you are forgiven.

5 Seconds of Summer is an Australian punky pop band from Sydney (reprazent!) who have released the annoyingly catchy She Looks So Perfect song. If it interests you, they have also been the opening act for artists such as Hot Chelle Rae and One Direction.

Boy bands will never die apparently. (SOURCE: Melissa Rose's Flickr photostream.)

Boy bands will never die apparently. (SOURCE: Melissa Rose’s Flickr photostream)

Back to their annoyingly catchy song, I’m going to put it out there that I genuinely like the song – which will come as a shock to those who know me as the country-lovin’ bogan that I am. In saying that, the lyrics to this teeny bopper song are… questionable to say the least.

For instance, the most recognisable line from this song reads: “You look so perfect standing there in my American Apparel underwear.” It rhymes. It’s cute. It makes teen girls everywhere flock to their nearest American Apparel store to buy mens underwear and rock them for that extra confidence boost. Because if one of the blokes sees them wearing mens AA undies, they’re so in!

Okay, now that’s done… rewind. These guys are singing about a girl wearing her boyfriend’s underwear looking like Grace Kelly or something. Let that sink in while I repeat myself… a girl wearing her boyfriend’s underwear. I get how it may be perceived as cute if the girl was wearing her boyfriend’s shirt or beanie or blazer, but his underwear? The hygiene police would have a riot over this. Who knows what that bloke’s done in those American Apparel underwears she’s wearing? Let’s not forget that, unless the bloke is rake thin and/or the girl’s a larger woman, they would be sagging around her girl bits looking like a diaper because she can’t fill it out properly. I don’t personally understand what is sexy about a chick wearing her boyfriend’s saggy underwear to be honest. That may just be me, but who knows.

The boys continue to sing “Your lipstick stain is a work of art”. Do I want to know where that lipstick stain is? Unless I just have a dirty mind and need my mouth to be washed out with soap, that could be very cute. A bit full on for the young teeny bopper age group, but cute nevertheless.

However, they rhyme that line with  “I got your name tattooed in an arrow heart”. Not even on my most hated enemy do I wish they get a loved one’s name tattooed on them (excluding family members and/or pets). I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and guess that the members of the band are all under the age of 21. What would possess a 21-year-old to get a girlfriend’s name tattooed on them? What would possess anyone to get a lover’s named tattooed on them? This might sound hypocritical, but I don’t judge anyone on their life choices; if you want to cross dress and live with dolphins, be my guest. But the idea of getting a lover’s name tattoo is just tacky and it doesn’t seem to be practical because the harsh reality is there is every chance of that person packing up and walking out on you. And you have to live with that permanent reminder on you forever. So for these guys to be shouting it from the heavens to impressionable teenage girls just seems a little far fetched to me.

“If I showed up with a plane ticket and a shiny diamond ring with your name on it, would you wanna run away too?” It’s as if these guys moulded their song off Travis and Abby’s relationship from the Beautiful Disaster series. Except their story isn’t cute and full of fuzzy wuzzies; it’s just ridiculous.

I get that the song is just taking after that traditional boy band pop song mould of singing about a beautiful girl and making it annoyingly catchy, but come on – there have got to be better ways to write these songs. Because I’m still not convinced that a girl who doesn’t know she’s beautiful would flip her hair to the extent that it gets guys “overwhelmed”.

– by Noah La’ulu