We've got quite a backlog of CDs we've never gotten around to, so we're going to try to chip away at the pile with this regular feature. The plan: to take a few at a time and play each CD for as long as I can stand it.
Sheryl Crow (Kennett, Missouri)
100 Miles to Memphis (A&M)
Well, the phrase "it is what it is," is exactly what it is--annoying and hardly informative. But, a slight alteration to the dynamics of that phrase can reveal much--like my opinion on the new album from the MILF-y Sheryl Crow. See, it isn't what it thinks it is--at least, as far as I was able to tell from the small number of tracks I was able to stomach. This collection aims for the soulful beefiness that made Memphis such a famed musical destination, but ends up sounding like Crow repeatedly violating a karaoke machine.
I made it: all the way through track three, "Sign Your Name."
Brandon Rhyder (Carthadge, Texas)
Head Above Water (Self-released)
Brandon Rhyder has been independently building his brand on the red dirt scene for several years now. His powerful vocal and rich falsetto gives his product a mark of distinction that is a welcome quality in the increasingly flooded and watered-down red dirt/Texas country field. While the record sounds good--really good, actually--the writing really gets in the way of simply letting the record shine. "Rock Angel" and "You Burn Me" are filled with odd lyrics and imagery that borders on nonsensical. Rhyder wrote each of the songs for the disc and given the fact that one of our state's best writers, Walt Wilkins, produced the album, going solo on the writing credits seems to be more than a little wasteful.
I made it: through track seven, "Head Above Water."
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Framing Haley (Nashville, Tennessee)
A Promise to Burn (SMG)
Hey, want to piss people off, right at the start of an album? Follow the Framing Haley model, and you'll be sure to do just that every time. This one starts with over a minute of plodding piano mixed with intermittent static so bland that it makes that new Sheryl Crow disc sound like freaking "The Dock of the Bay." Sorry, there's not enough time in the day for that shit.
I made it: 1:06 into track one, "Intro."