Gone Country: Texas Country Part II – 50 Chart Toppers
A weekly column about all things country.Posted by Melissa Daniels
50 Songs. 4 hours. Holy Heck.
Yep. That’s right. I listened to the first 50 chart toppers on the Texas Regional Radio Report’s “Top 100” Chart. What better way to fully immerse myself in the sub-genre than to listen to what’s topping the charts.
There are two main charts that track Texas Country radio play: the Texas Music Chart and the Texas Regional Radio Report. Side by side, the lists were incredibly similar. It really just comes down to how you track spins, which I’ll be honest with you… is something I could pretty much care less about.
- The songs all have a rough sound quality.
- There are literally no women in the Texas Country scene. Yes, okay, that’s a lie, and a bit dramatic, but of the first 50 records on the chart, there are THREE WOMEN. I repeat, THREE WOMEN! And two of them comprise one vocal group. I’m thoroughly disappointed.
- A lot of these chart toppers sound pretty mainstream to me. It could be my non-musical training background, but I’m having a difficult time distinguishing too many differences between Nashville and Texas tunes.
Of all the songs I’ve checked out, I have to say my favorite is Rich O’Toole‘s “Drunk Girl.” Specifically because it just about put me in a state of hysteria. You’ve got to listen to it to fully understand what I mean. I wouldn’t be surprised if this song finds itself circulating mainstream country radio. O’Toole has a humorous way of making a drunken female escapade sound endearing.
On a more serious note, Green River Ordinance‘s “Dancing Shoes” is artistically my favorite record on the chart. I really wouldn’t consider these guys Texas Country, even despite them being form Fort Worth, though. Their sound is something reminiscent of alternative rock. And maybe that debunk’s them from qualifying as my favorite-favorite, but in true Outlaw fashion, I don’t give a rip! They’re incredible! But if you’re not buying it, “Slow” by Josh Grider would be my next choice.
Most of these songs are available via Spotify, if you’d like to hear the mastered copies. Below I linked in most of the songs via YouTube. Some versions are live, or in-studio radio performances. Consider yourselves officially warned that not all the links are of the upmost quality, but I did my best.
Below you’ll find the first 50 of the 100 records on the Texas Regional Radio Report, as well as my reax to each song. Eventually, I’m going to put together a playlist for you. Yes. I am choosing to spare my ears for all of my faithful readers. I will weed through the crap to provide you with beautifully sweet Texas tunes. Now, please keep in mind that these charts change on a weekly basis, so the chart I’m pulling from is for Week 24 (week ending 6/15/12). And without further ado…
Texas Regional Radio Report: Top 50/100
#1: Stoney LaRue – “Look At Me Fly” : For being in it’s second week at #1 on the charts, I’m not really sure what all the hubbub is. Absolutely enjoyed the guitar chords, but the lyrics did nothing for me.
#4: Curtis Grimes – “Irresponsible” : First thought was that the song sounds pure mainstream Nashville. Grimes voice is a mix between Josh Turner, Chris Young and Scotty McCreery. Regardless, the song is fun and playful.
#6: Eli Young Band – “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” : I didn’t even know this band was considered Texas Country, mostly just because they’re blasted all over mainstream country radio. I’m slightly obsessed with the song.
#12: Rich O’Toole – “Drunk Girl” : Never have I ever heard anyone make a drunk escapade sound so damn endearing! This record is a love song to a drunk girl. It jumped up two spots from the previous week, but why this isn’t #1 on the charts, baffles me! Hilarious!
#13: Eleven Hundred Springs – “Hard Workin’ Just Ain’t Workin’ Anymore” : Sounds like something Willie Nelson would have sang about. Or an updated version of a Johnny Cash lyric. The title is almost a full rip off of a Travis Tritt song, however: “Country Ain’t Country Anymore.”
#17: Whiskey Myers – “Anna Marie” : I’m typically drawn to anything and everything surrounding whiskey, and this was no different. I’m considering adding Anna in front of my middle name (It’s Marie, in case you were wondering).
#19: JB and The Moonshine Band – “Beer For Breakfast” : As the title track off their recent album, JB and his band make you want to crack open a cold one to start your day. The record is upbeat and will definitely get you out of bed in the morning.
#21: Josh Grider – “Slow” : Digging the violin in this one, and really everything about it. It sounds a little mainstream, but with that unfinished sound that keeps it true to the Texas Country sound.
#22: Green River Ordinance – “Dancing Shoes” : I very much enjoy Josh Jenkin’s vocals. He sounds like an alternative cross-over artist. The band is signed to Capitol Records and they have a mainstream sound. I don’t see them as fitting the Texas Country Profile, but I think I’m their newest fan.
#27: The Rankin Twins – “Rain” : First of all, major props to the Rankin Twins for being holding the highest spot as female artists on the charts after this past week. Second, this is a great track. Harmonies are gorgeous, and the record has a very authentic feeling.
#29: Mockingbird Sun – “That Girl Tonight” : Made me want to get up and dance. And I almost did! Mockingbird Sun has a fresh sound, that is stylistically, semi-reminiscent of the Zac Brown Band. I’m a fan.
#30: The Damn Quails – “So So Long” : Singers Gabriel Marshall and Bryon White are a couple of old souls, making some amazing music. I was sold from first listen. “So So Long” features solid harmonies supporting a classic farewell story.
#31: Brian Keane – “Living Is Killing Me” : Keane has a sick rasp to his voice that is unmatched by any other artist I’ve come across within the top 50. He’s got a fun and flirty style in this record that can easily translate amongst country, rock, and alternative fans alike.
#32: Cody Johnson – “Guilty As Can Be” : In the past week, this track has had the most adds per radio station cycle and the highest spin increase (means largest increase in times played). Johnson has an old school tone to his voice that reminds me of Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, and Travis Tritt. His sound and lyrics in “Guilty As Can Be” sounds like it could have been released along side some of the Nashville chart toppers in the early 90s.
#34: Brandon Jenkins – “Heaven Sent” : Adding this one to my top favorites list. Jenkins vocal style is of the speaking variety in “Heaven Sent,” with the exception of the chorus. His sound is unlike anything I’ve heard so far, on the charts.
#35: Phil Hamilton – “Bad” : Off his album, Renegade Rock N Roll, Hamilton owns this farewell ode to a bad girl. The overall feeling of the song is definitely lethargic due to the subject matter, but in someway is also uplifting. I attribute that to his incorporation of a hopeful harmonica.
#36: John Slaughter – “Don’t Drink My Whiskey” : Clever play on the typical “don’t touch my woman” mantra. Upbeat, and absolutely appealing. Even more hilarious is this precious little dude singing the same song.
#37: Kyle Park – “Leavin’ Stephenville” : Automatically taken by the opening fiddle (something I’m always attracted to), but to be frank, Park’s vocal style here reminded me of my pop-punk rock days, listening to The Starting Line and New Found Glory. Circumstantially, this was almost too weird for me to listen to.
#38: Granger Smith – “That’s What I Do With It” : All about embracing hardships, this record has a “yes I can” attitude, relative to your typical Rascall Flatts inspirational tune, but with some evident Texas Country swag.
#39: Brian Burke –“Close” : I absolutely love sweet, playful love songs, and Burke’s “Close” is no different. What made this one stand out in my mind, however, was the fact that aside from the barely-there-banjo, this record sounded as thought it could fair next to something John Mayer or Jason Mraz.
#40: Johnny Cooper feat. Kimberly Dunn – “Moving On” : Not a bad song, but it sounds too Top 40s to be circulating the Texas Country radio airwaves. In an interview with Guitar Shop TV, Cooper called himself a pop, country and rock singer, having been inspired for “Moving On” by several different Beatles songs. Makes sense, too.
#41: William Clark Green feat. Josh Abbott – “Catch Me When I Fall” : Absolutely love this one. To me, and to what I know of Texas Country at this point, I’d say Green hits the nail on the head with this song. It’s rough n’ raspy vocals are met with a lot of soul and just enough rock to persuade even those who despise country.
#43: Thom Shepherd – “Band Aid On A Bullet Wound” : This record absolutely sounds mainstream Nashville, and because I love mainstream Nashville, I love this record. It’s the melody and the fiddle that gets me.
#44: Brandon Rhyder – “Shine” : I’m on the fence about this one. I enjoyed the fast pace the song carried, and most of the lyrics, but there was something missing. I can’t quite put my finger on it though. At about 2:20 there’s an awesome guitar solo, though.
#45: Casey Berry – “I Lie” : I’m pretty sure we’ve all lied like this one time or another, which makes this record relatable. Berry also has a sweet rasp to his voice that makes the connection between emotion and lyrics transparent.
#47: Kristen Kelly – “Ex-Old Man” : I fell in love with the song from first listen. It’s currently circulating mainstream country music radio, has a hilarious story, and Kelly is easily one of the strongest female vocalists that I’ve heard in a while. I’d put the pack of her punch right up there with Miranda Lambert (who is also a true Texas Country singer – believe it or not).
#49: Bleu Edmondson – “Black And White” : Haven’t heard lyrics this raw in all 49 other chart toppers. Edmondson sings about loosing his family’s house, and trying to keep it together as a ripe 18 year-old as his home life falls apart. Add this one to the top of my list.