Best of ’14

As we begin wrapping up this emotional and absurd year, it’s nice to turn your brain off from the news and wrap it around the amazing music 2014 created, instead.

Whittling what I considered the top albums of the year down to 10 wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be, especially after Run the Jewels dropped their phenom of a sophomore LP in October. Some of the albums, like Lost in the Dream and Sunbathing Animal, were surprise additions, especially since I couldn’t get fully into the former until about a month ago, but it just reminds me every recording needs at least a handful of listens before they’re written off.

But here they are – the albums and musicians who settled themselves into my mind the best this year. Be sure to let me know what you think! There’s clearly nothing I like more than hearing what everyone else has been listening to. ūüôā

10. The War On Drugs – Lost in the Dream


Definitely the road trip record of the year, Lost in the Dream does a great job of pushing you forward. There’s plenty of steady, uptempo beats in there to keep you going, and it’s lush with savory rhythm. But these instrumentals, combined with frontman Adam Granduciel’s everyman vocals, also inspire you to take pause and really invest yourself in the songs. So keep your eyes on the road and just let this lovely album complement everything you’re passing by.

9. Amen Dunes – Love


This terrific LP is equal parts airy/solid as a rock. Damon McMahon brought in collaborators on piano, guitar and drums to craft a truly pretty album that is gorgeous without the lipstick and hairspray and high heels. Rather, it’s an au naturel work that flourishes where it should and is the essential soundtrack to a rainy Sunday afternoon.

8. Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal


These Brooklyn boys just landed themselves the title of SPIN’s Band of the Year, and after seeing their electric, smart and energetic set at last spring’s Sasquatch!, it makes plenty of sense. They did release another album, Content Nausea, just six months after Sunbathing Animal, but it’s their first of 2014 that really established the group for me. It’s one that mirrors early Magazine or Talking Heads, with a polished yet slightly more rockin’ edge.

7. Azealia Banks – Broke With Expensive Taste


Oh sweet Azealia, how we’ve missed you so. Her firecracker attitude meshes just fine with her darling vocals and lightning fast delivery on this long-awaited debut, and she’s got it all backed with lusciously danceable beats. She had me at “212”, of course, and did a fantastic job of building around that song with plenty of tracks that rival it.

6. Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music


While my thoughts on modern country music remain the same, I was still FLOORED when I learned of Sturgill Simpson and his old school country ways. The man embodies outlaw country much as Waylon, Merle, Kris and Johnny did back in the ’70s, and he clearly does it without effort. It’s refreshing as hell to hear someone bringing back the original meaning of country music to the genre.

5. St. Vincent – St. Vincent


St. Vincent may have merely remained on the outskirts of my radar with her first four albums, even though one of these was with mastermind David Byrne, but there was no way to deny her my time once she released this self-titled gem. Rightfully quirky and captivating, St. Vincent is a marvel of a record that challenges all musicians to step up their game and embrace sounds of the future.

4. Benjamin Booker – Benjamin Booker


Talk about an introduction. On his self-titled debut, Benjamin Booker paid no apology to anyone and just went about creating an explosive album all his own. Dripping with beautiful punk and blues and soul, this LP told tales of sadness and reinvention. A truly impressive piece of work sung through Booker’s appealing yet scraggly vocals.

3. TV on the Radio – Seeds


Never has TV on the Radio done me wrong with an album, and it’s remarkable they remain as innovative from each one to the next as they have, time and again. Seeds is just as uniquely catchy as anything TVOTR has ever done, but it’s got heart, and reads like the mindset of any driven human being out there. In essence, this album leaves you feeling it was written as the score for your every day, and won’t stop from you bursting out of your chair and launching into dance whenever the music so inspires you.

2. Ty Segall – Manipulator


No surprise Ty made the list, and not just because I love him so. Manipulator is the garage rock virtuoso’s most refined to date, and is chock full of delicious reworks of all kinds of ’70s rock. Segall shines best on this release as he reinvents glam, melding it nicely with the kind of sounds invented by The Kinks.

1. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2


Allow me to be so bold as to say RTJ2 is the definition of rap. Not of the many variations today’s rap holds, nor of yesterday’s and all its innovation, but of where the genre should be, following decades of development. Killer Mike and El-P cover all the bases with this intelligent record, delivering their rhymes with genius consideration and propping them up with style of every flavor. Their collaborations were jaw-dropping (Zack de la Rocha, Travis Barker, etc.), and the inclusion of extreme talent such as Gangsta Boo was brilliant. I applaud these guys for just about every second this album is made of.

Honorable Mention: The Growlers – Chinese Fountain; Woods – With Light and With Love


End o’ the Year Playlist

It’s gotten to the point where my temptation for end of the year lists almost outweighs my longing for Christmas. Not because I ever agree with those of major publications (really, Rolling Stone? U2 and their invasive album is the best of the year?), but because these lists ramp up my argumentative nature and prepare me for the “no, this album’s better!” battles I’m sure to be having with friends and family this time of year.

That’s why I’m ecstatic to be releasing my very own Best Albums of 2014 list later this week, as well as today’s playlist, which features all the songs I couldn’t shake this year.

The irony is that a few of these songs were widely popular, and played almost to death on the radio. Usually that kind of music turns me off instantaneously, but the indie connotations and creativity of songs like Vance Joy’s “Riptide” and Milky Chance’s “Stolen Dance” made their popularity very okay by my standards.

There was also the impressive solo debut from Hamilton Leithauser, former frontman for The Walkmen, who showed with songs such as “Alexandra” his unique vocals will always sell albums, be they backed by a band or not.

A ton of good rap came out this year, and while nothing from Run The Jewels made my fave songs list (Spoiler alert! You’ll see them in my Best Of albums list later this week, of course.), some excellent others did. The combination of Future, Pusha T, Casino and Pharrell Williams (who is nicely out of his element on this track – this ain’t no Robin Thicke jam) for “Move That Dope” is genius, leaning heavy on old school formula with the injection of just the right amount of modernized beats.

DJ Snake and Lil Jon also crushed it with “Turn Down for What”, as did Big Sean and E-40 for “I Don’t Fuck With You”. The latter just makes me laugh, and I don’t see it as offensive, it’s just a guy stating his fed up feelings for his¬†needy ex, loud and clear.

Maybe my #1 for the year was Angel Olsen’s “High Five”, though – girl released a terrific solo full-length debut with Burn Your Fire for No Witness, and don’t be surprised if she ends up here to stay.

There were also a slew of top drawer videos this year, but major props belong to Queen Bey and her fantastic linked-to-the-lyrics choreography of “7/11”. Enjoy:

So with that, congrats, 2014 – you left a lot of good tunes ringing in my ear. What did I forget, though? What other songs rocked your year, sweet blog followers?

Mark Ronson deserves your thanks

On this day of giving thanks I’d like to put the excellent Mr. Mark Ronson in the spotlight, mostly cuz I’m still cherishing what he did for us on last weekend’s Saturday Night Live.

I’ve always been a fan of Ronson and his work as a producer, especially after I discovered 2007’s utterly fantastic Version, of which he enlisted a string of great artists to do ingenious covers of newer songs for. That included Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie” and the spectacular Ol’ Dirty Bastard remake of Britney Spears’ “Toxic”. Not to mention “Just”, featuring Phantom Planet, which has remained a staple of every dance mix or playlist I’ve made since.

I kinda lost track of Ronson these past few years – his last album, Record Collection, dropped in 2010 – but then he showed up out of nowhere alongside Bruno Mars for the most recent SNL. Now, I have zero interest in Mars, and honestly can’t name a song he’s done on his own, but seeing him paired up with Ronson definitely intrigued me. It had to mean he’d produced Mars’ latest, which could only indicate the R&B pop star had finally found someone to improve his sound to the proper degree.

And damn did he prove this last Saturday night. After giving a terrific throwback performance with the finger snappin’ “Uptown Funk”, Ronson and Mars dropped an awesome bomb by bringing Mystikal into the set for “Feel Right”. MYSTIKAL. Talk about fierce guest arrival. And the shake ya’ ass man guested hard. So well it was easy to forget Mars was even on the stage with him.

But anyways, it’s clear neither “Uptown Funk” nor “Feel Right” could’ve been made, let alone even conceptualized, without Ronson’s hands in the mix. So thanks, man. Especially for being so talented with your productions you can make someone like Bruno Mars look cool. Cannot wait to hear the rest of what you’ve been up to lately…

11/23/14 Playlist

It is with this new playlist I regretfully inform I’ve decided to halt the releases of these mixes as “weekly” offerings. As much as I absolutely love sharing music with y’all, I’ve come to realize I don’t have the time to put as much effort into new playlists each week as I’d like to. Don’t worry, though – I’ll still be posting plenty of playlists month to month, so that you always have something lovely for your ears.

And so with today’s playlist I address the problem of songs being overpoweringly good, even if they are by someone you can’t stand. Which of course you can read more about in my latest opinion piece. ūüôā

Featured this week are musicians I have zero problem hating, such as Edward Sharpe (his demeanor is just so very annoying to me) or Jack White, Michael Jackson or Axl Rose. There’s also the ones that have maybe one or two songs I can’t shake (Britney Spears, Bon Iver) no matter how much I dislike the artist, as well as the musicians we’ve all heard can be cocky and selfish when it comes to the industry, or their personal lives (Josh Homme, QOTSA; John Gourley, Portugal. The Man; Isaac Brock, Modest Mouse).

Also thrown in are those who just exhibit bizarre and aggravating behavior (Foxygen, Lana Del Rey), and the groups that were so damn good once, then sold out to create nothing but nonsense (Kings of Leon).

It’s not a question of these being guilty pleasure songs, but rather, feeling guilty about liking music from someone I don’t like. So I wanna know: who are some artists you’re not ashamed to like the music of, even if they’re personalities or attitudes are offensive or unbearable?

Love/hate relationships with musicians

Following the release of the much awaited full-length debut from Azealia Banks a few weeks ago, it felt as if 2 hours passed before she was mouthing off again. This wasn’t entirely surprising, as she’d practically written herself out of a career with her often racist and homophobic Twitter rants against fellow collaborators Pharrell, Disclosure and more, as well media icons such as Perez Hilton.

Thanks to her disparaging remarks, and lack of new material following her smash single “212” in 2012, it was easy to give up on her. It also didn’t help she didn’t even show up for the concert I hoped to see her in a couple years ago, at Sasquatch!, an absence she never explained.


Banks’ debut was supposed to be released later that year, but conflicts with Interscope Records led to her being dropped from the label. She got lucky, though, as the label dismissed her from the contract and still let her maintain rights over the songs she’d put together thus far.

And that’s what helped¬†Broke With Expensive Taste, a truly remarkable and brazen piece of work, come¬†to be. So far I’ve been in true love with this album, and I’ve been overly impressed with Banks’ skills every time I listen to it.

That’s why it was deflating and extremely disappointing to hear Banks get right back to her unnecessarily catty ways almost the minute the album dropped. In an interview with The Guardian Banks rehashed her anger with Disclosure, going so far as this:

I want to punch one of them in the face ‚Äď the little one [possibly Guy Lawrence]. The ugly one. I want to hit him so bad. I saw him at the airport in Australia and I came over to him and I was like: ‚ÄėHello? Like, what are we going to do with this song?‚Äô And he was just being a dickhead. I started crying, I was so angry. I wanted to hit him. I cannot stand that little boy with all those pimples around his mouth. I love their music, though.

Anyone with a clear head can see the confusion, uncertainty and desire to be audacious in this statement, but that doesn’t forgive Banks for her hateful remarks. Yet, as much as we may¬†disagree with her social behavior and commentary, does it make it okay to still like her music?

I’ve thought a lot about that lately, because Banks isn’t exactly the only musician I both love to hate, and hate to love. There’s Kanye, of course, as well as everyone from Jack White to Odd Future. Each of these artists do a terrific job at cultivating attitudes and personalities I loathe, yet create undeniably talented and appealing music that’s generally¬†impossible to resist. They go about this in different ways, but it still leaves me appreciating the music over anything else. Sure, the mere thought of who Kanye married and impregnated (no need to bring up her name, that’s done enough in the media) is enough to make one sick, but that doesn’t distract from the genius he possesses in creating innovative and unique new music. And Jack White’s just an asshole who not so secretly feels he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, yet I crank the radio every time anything from Elephant comes on¬†the air.

Rap collective Odd Future,¬†on the other hand, is made up a bunch of likable guys who write lyrics all women should hate and be offended by – yet a large number of females, such as myself, remain entranced with their music. Fader just wrote a great article¬†about what keeps women fans in love with the group, and the interesting reason¬†nearly everyone interviewed gave was: Odd Future don’t¬†give a fuck about what people think about them. So even when they’re being blatantly misogynistic with what they’re saying, and rapping stories of rape and murder…it’s okay because the group doesn’t what care what people think?¬†Somehow, yes. Odd Future, especially founder Tyler, The Creator, have done well at balancing their offensive lyrics and stage presence with equal parts love and respect for the fans, making it almost¬†clear they don’t mean what they say with their music. Just as with Banks, this in no way forgives¬†them, but it does somehow allow their music and/or social commentary to be offensive yet admired.


Now, as much as I hate to bring Taylor Swift into this conversation, a musician I in no way love, nor like the music she creates, I will commend her for the narrative she’s given in regards to Spotify lately. While Swift’s career has already left her reeking of money for the rest of her life, she remains against free and streaming services like Spotify because she feels “there¬†should be an inherent value placed on art”, and such services don’t do that for her. And it’s that sentiment which¬†helps somewhat explain my consent and adoration toward musicians I can’t stand for one reason or the other.

A piece of art, an album, a song –¬†the higher the value and quality, the easier it is to separate it from the maker and he or she’s negative attributes. I will admit, sometimes it gets tough to like something designed by someone so obviously awful…yes, I will forever cherish “Toxic” but will never in my life say one nice thing about Britney Spears…but if something’s good, why deny it? This could lead to a broad conversation about my ethics, and questionably forgiving people for their wrongs, but this article isn’t about me. It’s about praising the value of art and music for what it is, not for who made it.


And on a closing note, while an artist may immensely increase the likability of a piece by being a nice guy or gal, such behavior also has the potential of lessening the edge to their work and leaving their character uninteresting to fans. It’s almost a double-edged sword for musicians, which in a bizarre way lends more support towards allowing them to be whoever the hell they want to be. Which I firmly believe anyone, musical or not, has the right to do. So keep on with your crazy ways, Azealia. Because at this point, your musical output still manages to speak more than your insensitive social output does.

Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2


Grade: A+

It’s good enough Killer Mike and El-P are at it again as Run the Jewels, but it’s clear they’re so much more than just back in the game with their sophomore album. From start to finish Run the Jewels 2 breaks all the rules and accomplishes things unheard of because neither Mike nor El refuse to be meek.

Both have become brazenly good at delivering raps that are parts autobiographical and socially aware. They also get vulgar at times, but that’s the last thing that matters when listening to a Run the Jewels album – there’s too much good stuff going on to get hung up on something as trivial as that. In fact, it’s best if you plug your headphones in to hear this record for the first time, to catch all that’s happening. A lot of genius is at work in this 39 minutes of unskippable music, and it’s heavily layered with irresistible beats.

But if you wanna talk vulgar, let’s talk about the brilliance of “Love Again (Akinyele Back)”. While the song might offend with its frequent reference of putting his “dick in her mouth all day”, it’s former Three 6 Mafia virtuoso Gangsta Boo that flips the script midway through and turns the track into one for the ladies. Especially when she steps in and says, “That’s what ya want, huh? Well lemme tell ya a little story‚ÄĚ and proceeds on with a wonderful tale about sexin’ with a boy she turned into a “motherfuckin’ man”.

The guest appearances are thundering throughout: there’s Blink 182’s Travis Barker, flat out crushing the drums on “All Due Respect”, not to mention ZACK DE LA ROCHA rapping poetic on “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)”. That last one is chill-inducing, with de la Rocha announcing “I’m miles ahead of you” as he rips savagely into each word just as he’s always done. It only complements him further that the song surrounding his verses is full of electro hip hop meets short burts of rock bass riffs.

Much of RTJ2 comes off as a party album, especially with spectacular tracks such as ‚ÄúBlockbuster Night Part 1‚ÄĚ. With a rad backbeat chugging along, Mike defiantly tells it like it is: “murder mayhem melodic music”. There’s also plenty of EDM’esque sounds infiltrating the album, as well, and it amplifies the party appeal to nearly untouched levels.

It’s not all a party, though, as the beats darken with the lyrics for “Lie Cheat Steal” or “Crown”. The latter is a tale Mike shares of his sordid past, when he once dealt cocaine to a pregnant woman, and the music chosen for it is perfect: slow, with a commanding beat, and occasional inclusion of gospel sounds.

All told, this is easily one of the best albums of the year, and the duo behind it have broken lots of ground putting it together. It’ll be super exciting to see what’s ahead for Run the Jewels, because the back and forth between El-P and Killer Mike is as impressive as I’ve seen with Outkast. Obviously Big Boi and Andr√© 3000 have uniquely defined individualities when they rap together, and RTJ doesn’t have that just yet, but that shouldn’t discredit how well they work together. Especially since they’re already establishing profound¬†identities with their work.

Maybe one of the most fantastic attributes the duo has so far is their confidence in what they’re doing, which is shown in just the first few minutes of their second album. Mike proclaims “history (is) being made” with this recording, and El-P explains Run the Jewels is the answer. To what? Everything, obviously.

11/9/14 Playlist

Today’s playlist comes courtesy of my mood. It’s not the weather, or maybe it is, but something’s got me really appreciating female singers today. Many of them just know how to sing about love and heartache better than men, that’s all. There’s also quite a few, notably Erika Wennerstrom from Heartless Bastards, The Pack A.D.‘s Becky Black or Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, that know how to strum and sing the blues as well, if not better, than their male counterparts.

And composing these playlists the last few months has definitely revealed I like female musicians lots more than I thought. I guess I’d just foolishly convinced myself lady singers were for suckers, and that there were only about five respectable female guitarists and drummers out there. Such a biased, undignified and flat out dumb mentality…at least I can say my mind’s been finally, and firmly, changed on that, thanks to the extreme talent so many women have with their musical ways.

So enjoy this collection of badass ladies as they deliver a delicious blend of pop, R&B, punk and almost everything else. It’s already doing a great job of modifying my mood for the day.


Whatever happened to good ole country music?

I don’t like Taylor Swift. Never have, probably never will. I’m not about to get into all the reasons why, but I’ve found one of the biggest reasons helps explain my motivation to rant about the continuing decline of country music.

Because it is in my opinion the launch of Swift’s career was yet another nail in the coffin of traditional country music, and it was almost the one that sealed it away. What does “traditional” mean for this genre, though? There are obviously countless beliefs on that, but I like to think mine’s fairly valid. Mainly because my formative years of age 0 to 11 were spent listening to almost nothing but the country music that had been created between 1940-1993.


The legends of this half century are names almost anyone can identify, whether they listen to this style of music or not: Hank Williams, Sr., Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Waylon and Willie, George Strait, Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, etc. And what does the music of these artists have in common? Simple yet mesmerizing lyrics, backed by chord progressions and rhythms both powerful and unforgettable. Whether it be a slow movin’ love song or honky tonkin’, havin’ a good time tune, these musicians and their songwriters knew how to connect the words to the music in a way that was emphatically country. There was always a steel guitar in there, or just enough twang, plus a defiant or all-knowing personality that told you how things were with their harmonizing vocals.

Each tune had a topic of interest their fans could easily relate to, and they were¬†generally stories centered around rural living. George Strait and Chris LeDoux were terrific at honoring the cowboy lifestyle with their lyrics, and¬†Loretta Lynn would sing of¬†the trials and tribulations of growing up in¬†Kentucky’s “Butcher Holler”, or¬†lend strength to women with songs such as “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)”. Lynn¬†wasn’t the only one offering support to the ladies, though – the female singers of country music have long been advocates of women empowerment, and standing up to¬†wrongdoin’ men. And they always did it in either a playful or serious way, both of which were highly effective at getting their point across.¬†

Whether it be a male or female country musician, however, the¬†songs were always compelling because the artists were such good storytellers. A lot of that had to do with their songwriters, as well, but those front men and women were so authentic¬†with their delivery. It’s almost impossible to not get chills when you hear¬†Cash sang “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die”, because he has a way with that guitar and those words that just convinces you he’s telling the truth.


Fast forward 50 years or so from Cash and the like, and what have we got? In comparison with the founders and torch bearers of this genre, very little that could stand up as actual country music. Sure, every genre out there requires advancement and innovation, but that does not mean it should be reshaped and morphed into another, however, like country has done under the pop-driven influence of artists such as Swift. Or get whittled down to nothing more than redneck party music that features the same idea and tone, from song to song.

Swift, someone who now barely associates with the genre that founded her, obviously wasn’t the first country starlet to mix some pop into her music – it’s safe to say the ’90s were rife with such musicians, all yearning to have a bit of crossover success with their catchy tunes. No surprise, then, that I stopped listening to country music around that time. I will admit to having enjoyed songs like Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine”, or “Wide Open Spaces” by Dixie Chicks, but I was also a teenaged girl, and more or less felt those songs had been written for me.

As country music entered the 21st Century it was also devastating to see the way politics would come to heavily affect its brand. The carnage¬†of 9/11 did implement a more patriotic spirit in most Americans, but it also riled up country singers like Toby Keith, and this left country radio heavily populated with songs about “the no good Middle East” and how we should rally to kick the Taliban’s ass. While the sentiment might have been one shared with many people at that time, the construction of such tunes¬†felt tacky, and was veering¬†away from what country music meant.

I’ll be honest in that I¬†don’t know much about the vast landscape country music is potentially comprised of¬†these days, but it’s because every time I’ve been subject to it in the past 15 years, it’s been the same song, slightly reworked from another. And it’s usually not very good, so I don’t listen further. That’s why it was great to see Entertainment Weekly writer Grady Smith publish this video last December, which correctly¬†defines the state of country music today:

It’s¬†tough to make it all the way through that video. Which is so sad for a genre that was once vibrant with entertaining lyrics and appealing music to back it. Here’s hoping the industry will somehow find its way back to its roots, and resurrect some of the respect it once held with fans. I feel we owe legends such as Hank Sr. that, and so much more. ‘Til we can be so lucky, click here for a reminder of what’s been lost.

11/2/14 Playlist

As the rain begins settling in for Portland, my taste in music starts turning toward¬†the moodier¬†and¬†more darkly emphatic tunes out there. Black Mountain, Kurt Vile, Blitzen Trapper: it’s this kind of expressive stuff that¬†accessorizes the grey,¬†and often melancholic, clouds for me the best.

In fact, I mostly cherish this drizzly season, and harbor very little hatred or aversion to it, because it seems art is that much more beautiful under these conditions. Especially music Рwhile the gloomy atmosphere may bring your spirits down, the solution is almost always somewhere in your favorite record.

And the songs this week are definitely from a few of mine. I appreciate the artists above for the way they selectively pepper meaning into their work, and back it with compelling and powerful music. It leaves me with appropriate weaponry in battling the wintertime blues.

10/21/14 Playlist

Y’all get a nice musical peek into my childhood with this week’s playlist. Being raised in a rural part of Nebraska by a father who was once a champion bull rider, and older siblings who were all involved in rodeo at some point or another, I was exposed to little more than country music until I was about 10. One of the first songs I can remember learning the lyrics to was George Strait’s “All My Ex’s Live In Texas”, and my family can attest I sang it all the damn time.

My dad is also the reason I even love music as much as I do, and it’s because he would have the radio or cassette player going throughout much of his work day, and I could tell at an early age he held a high respect for quality musicians. This resonated for me later, as I began to explore music for myself, and still does today, as I appreciate the greats he introduced me to.

This of course includes Hank Sr., Loretta Lynn, and all the other legendary singers on this list, but it’s my brothers and sister who turned me on to everything from Reba McEntire to Nitty Ditty Gritty Dirt Band in the ’80s. There was also a period of time when I thought Kentucky Headhunters were just about the coolest thing out there, but I was also 8, and my “Dumas Walker” lovin’ brother had just graduated high school. It’s amazing how much influence an older sibling can have on you.

I more or less stopped listening to country music around the time Shania Twain entered the picture with her fantastic debut single, “What Made You Say That”, because not long after, country started turning pop and/or ridiculous. I can barely tell you a thing about country music today, because I’ve completely tuned it out of my life thanks to this kind of nonsense. Zac Brown Band and Kacey Musgraves (check out her great video for “Follow Your Arrow” here) randomly found their way in thanks to friends who still stand by the genre, and for that I’m thankful. Their music leaves a tiny bit of hope for the rest of those fools that have forgotten country music means more than just a song about a girl in tight blue jeans.

1993 was the last time I even purchased a country album, and it was In Pieces, by Garth Brooks. That man was an absolute genius, and I’m not ashamed to admit I still know most of the words to his songs. Brooks is one of the few remaining artists out there who refuse to stream via sites such as Spotify, but just last month he did launch GhostTunes, a service that allows users to purchase material and listen to it through any of their devices.

He’s also made it next to impossible to find footage of his music videos, or performances, online, so here’s the best I could do for you…enjoy as Reba introduces Garth in this absolutely hilarious rendition of “Friends In Low Places” from an early ’90s music awards show: