Old Boots. New Dirt.

Artist: Jason Aldean
Listenability Scale: 93%
Released by: Brokem Bow Records
A Review by:
Andy Labis

Well shit. I admit I pretty much dismissed caring about Jason Aldean and his new album, “Old Boots, New Dirt” after hearing the first single, “Burnin’ it Down.” Although a little catchy, I really didn’t care for it. It was nice and all, had some dirty, thought-provoking lyrics like “We’re just hangin around… Laying right here, naked in my bed.”, but I guess any thoughts of being a big-shot music mogul who can pick singles should just run out of my head because I would find myself changing stations whenever the fastest selling country single in 2014 would come on the radio.

Lucky for me I was given the chance to hear the rest of the album, and although I’ll let you know my favorites by the end of this review, I won’t count on any of my choices being the next hit single, though the album has potential for a ton of them.

“Just Gettin’ Started” kicks off the album, upbeat, and the stage is set that Jason’s on a trip of having a great time, mixing a bad-boy image with a touch of the sensitive side, and “Show You Off” continues the country-rockin’ attitude of “Hey, I’ve got this hot girl. Look at me.”

There’s a lot of up-beatness on the album, continuing on with songs like “Sweet Little Somethin’” and “I Took It With Me,” as well as “Tonight Looks Good On You,” but me, I was really liking a lot of the more thought-provoking, slower, reflective songs.

Songs like “Tryin’ To Love Me” and the line “I pushed, you pulled. Should’ve just fell into you…” bring instant thoughts of the jackass guy who doesn’t know how lucky he is with the good woman, and “Don’t Change Gone” is a wonderful, reflective look at a love, gone.

My favorites on the album, you know, those songs I can listen to over and over again, contain the trio of the title track, “Old Boots, New Dirt” that is another reflective-style song of trying to move on, “If My Truck Could Talk” which is just a fun look at something in your life that knows more about you than you do as well as knows every story of your life (I really love the lines “Anything to shut it up.” and “I’d have to find a river bank and roll it off, if my truck could talk.”), as well as the previously mentioned “Tryin’ to Love Me.”

Jason Aldean seems to like to portray the bad-boy image a lot, but “Old Boots, New Dirt” shows he’s quite the sensitive kind of guy, who also happens to like some cold Jack Daniels. My not really caring for “Burnin’ it Down” aside, I have to say that listening to “Old Boots, New Dirt” reminded me not to dismiss an album because of one song that’s not to my taste because I’m not fast-forwarding through anything else on the album. It’s 93% on the Entertainment Ave! Listenability Scale from me for “Old Boots, New Dirt.” If you, like me, aren’t a fan of his fastest selling single of 2014, I encourage you to give the rest of the album a try. You’ll probably like it.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!!


Artist: Lady Antebellum
Listenability Scale: 91%
Released by: Capitol Records Nashville
A Review by:
Andy Labis

You might think Lady Antebellum, after four albums, would begin to lose their ability to stay fresh and shift a little into “resting on our laurels” mode, as well as that sometimes cookie-cutter, hit-manufacturing process some artists will drift. You would be wrong. Their fifth studio album, “747”, is as fresh as ever, contains a number of songs that keep getting stuck in my head, and though not perfect shows that the trio of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood aren’t about to just take the safe route with manufactured, radio-friendliness, and a “Whoa oh” thrown into a song for good measure.

If you’re a country fan you’ve undoubtedly heard “Bartender.” It’s been all over the country charts hitting the top spot easily with sing-a-long goodness and the fact that the girl is “comin’ in hot.” “Bartender” shows a little where most of the album is going, at least theme wise, with a lot of love is over (Bartender), missing love (Damn You Seventeen), realizing you’re just being used in love (Just a Girl, with the line “cuz I’m always your consolation prize”), and hoping love doesn’t fall apart (the barreling-through-the-skies title track, 747, “she gets a little bit closer to saying ‘Goodbye’” and the ever catchy “This 747 can’t go fast enough.”).

Lady Antebellum - 747The album, though, does have its share of happy things in love and living, like the reminiscing of “Down South,” challenges of getting the perfect girl in “She Is”, and what has the potential to be at every country wedding for a first dance or prom come come the Spring, “One Great Mystery” with sure, some sappiness in a line like “If I go first, I will wait for you,” but as someone in love with a girl who makes me happy every day I too wonder often “What did I ever do to make you fall for me?”

Though “Freestyle” isn’t my favorite track on the album, I will give credit with throwing in a nice Matthew McConaughey “All right, all right” reference, and “Lie With Me” kind of just floats out there for me, which I feel a little bad writing because in their press release it mentions Hillary Scott having high hopes for the song. I do understand the story of it and see the scene of the song play out, but it just doesn’t stick with me. I don’t find myself hitting the fast forward button on either of them either, though, so maybe they are continuing to grow on me.

While stretching their wings a little bit and trying a few new things, especially an album mostly of up-tempo, foot-stomping fun, I don’t think Lady Antebellum is drifting too far from their harmonious sounds to upset anyone in their fan-base. An album like 747, in fact, keeps them sounding fresh so it’s not just a collection of “That sounds just like…” album.

I will say when “Bartender” was on the radio I would eventually find the song stuck in my head at odd hours of the day. After listening to 747 the trio of “Damn You Seventeen,” “747,” and “One Great Mystery” have taken over, on a shuffle loop, invading my shower time, waking time, and just sitting around time. With that I’m thinking there are probably a few more hits destined for the radio from the album.

747 is Lady Antebellum goodness and 91% on the Entertainment Ave! Listenability scale. Whoa yea!

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

The Job

Artist: Michael Stanley
Listenability Scale: 100%
Released By: Line Level Music
A Review by:
Andy Labis

Michael Stanley has been on a “The…” theme for the last few albums, going from “The Hang” to “The Ride” and now to “The Job,” his 10th solo album. Combine those ten with the thirteen albums from the Michael Stanley Band and if there was ever a story to be written of a man who loves to be a songwriter, and a songwriter whose progression of writing has shifted and grown over the years, I think Michael might make the best subject. Say what you will about the “local” versus national stardom Michael has always had, you can never say that the man doesn’t put his heart and soul into his writing and telling stories in his music, stories of challenges, of love, of sex, of work, of life.

Still rockin’ though with a slight country-rock sound to it, “The Job” opens with “Everything’s Fine,” which sure, has a line I find a little cheesy with the likes of “Everything’s fine, right up till it’s not,” but the song of danger and thrills of a woman on the loose is a fun way to set the stage for an album that will take you through excitement, challenges, and hope.

The title track brings a guitar-driven look at the career Michael has had, from buying a guitar because of Elvis to playing for a hundred thousand people underneath the stars. “One more night, one more show, but that’s the job.” That’s Michael’s job, but I think he loves it more than heading to Florida with a 401k.

There is some darkness on the album in the likes of “Breaking News,” with an acoustic guitar melody of loss and reflection, and “Dark Angels,” a ballad that musically reminds me of “Wasted Time” from the Eagles, which shouldn’t come as a surprise with the likes of Bill Szymczyk handling Producer duties.

Michael does have some good times on the album, though with some hesitation, like the sensual and bluesy “Velvet Parkway” where he’s “Going down, down, down, down, down” and feeling her body start to sway, and “Taking the Long Way Around” where sometimes love takes awhile.

My favorites on the album, though, are the songs of hope, like “Maybe This is the Day,” up-tempo with a violin interlude that is something you don’t always hear on a Michael Stanley song, and a song I can’t get out of my head, “You Just Never Know,” opening with a bluesy feel and the lines “We’ve all got memories riding with us, That tell us where we’ve been,” continuing to the chorus of hope “If you feel you’re going under, you’ve got nothing left to bleed, everything has stole your thunder, and you find it hard to breath… Just gotta take the fight into the heart of another night, … ‘cuz you just never know.” Sometimes there is just a song that sticks with you on an album, and for me this is that song.

Another winner from Michael Stanley as far as I’m concerned, “The Job” might be dark at times but the mix of his guitar-driven rock sound, that “Eagles” vibe he’s always had, and a little more bluesy-ness makes this one stay on my “can always listen to” music rotation list. Great lyrics, fantastic solos and singing from the likes of The Resonators, and thirteen solid tracks that take you on a journey lead to 100% on the Entertainment Ave! Listenability Scale for “The Job.”

I sort of always hate writing reviews of Michael Stanley songs, mostly because in my head I hear his lines of criticism of reviewers (From Midwest Midnight “He was taken to task by some critic who asked,” a line that for the longest time I thought was “some critical ass…”, and from Poison Pen with “Those who can, do. Those that can’t, write about it.”), and here I am, writing about it. I suppose, though, Michael has more things to worry about than some “critical ass” doing a review because, as he puts it in “The Job,” “There are songs that still need to be written, there are songs that must get played,” and he is the man to do it, even it happens in a club around from the glory days.

That’s it for this one! I’m Andy!! L8R!!!

Do You Buy Any Music on CD Anymore?

Do you buy any music on CD anymore?

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The other day I get an email from one of my favorite music folks, Michael Stanley. Alright, it was technically from the record company releasing his music, Line Level, and it was announcing that Michael Stanley had a new CD coming out called “The Job,” and that I should get it now!

Sweet! Or so I thought.

I go to the link, and sure they have some mail order options to pay them money, and they’ll send me a CD, but I’m there looking for a link to iTunes, or at least Amazon, because, like the kids, I don’t have time to wait for new music, let alone want the trouble of paying online and waiting for a CD to arrive in my mailbox that the mailman might damage. No, I want my new Michael Stanley now!

Okay, no link. I’ll head directly to the sources. iTunes. Nope, no listing. Amazon. There it is! Wait, it references a CD available, but on a release date of May 6th?

Jumping over to the Michael Stanley message board there are people who seem to have gotten the CD, so right now it looks like the old-fashioned way is the only option of getting a new music fix, or trying to find someplace to download it illegally.

Now I’m sure there is some metric about the profitability of selling the CD yourself, via mail order, before releasing it on the digital platforms, and some folks still won’t put things out there on the digital realm (Garth Brooks – please, for the love of all things big and small, let me pay you more money to get clean, digital copies of your music), but alas, it looks like if I want to actually download some new Michael Stanley, it’s going to be a while.

It’s weird, because as the computer life is changing, and laptops aren’t coming with DVD slots anymore, let alone people who live by the tablet and smartphone only, it seems limiting to release things on CD only anymore. I know “The Job” will be on iTunes eventually because his other release have ended up there, I just hope Michael sends me an email letting me know so his new CD doesn’t become an afterthought. In the meantime, if he wants to send me one to review, I’ll be happy to listen to it in the car, I suppose, since that’s the only place I really have a CD player anymore.

Okay, this wonder was a little lengthy to get to it, but I wonder: Do you buy any music on CD anymore?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!!

Will We Hear Another Song from The Chainsmokers?

Will We Hear Another Song from The Chainsmokers?

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The other day I’m doing some channel-hopping on the Dude-mobile radio, and I land on some relaxing Eminem with Rihanna. I’m singing along, nailing the Rihanna parts, the song finishes, and on comes a new beat I’ve never heard before. I quickly look at the display on the radio, and it says the song is called #selfie. Basically it’s a dance beat with some girl talking about being at a club, but mostly talking about taking another “selfie.” You know a selfie, those generally dorky pictures of yourself with or without some friends, taken with your camera-phone, which we can now count on to go away quickly thanks to the old folks at the Academy Awards trying to be hip and ruining another thing the youngin’s enjoy.

Anyhow, the song plays along, with the girl, Alexis Killacam, speaking in rapid, broken-thought, rambling commentary about club-going, some dude named Jason, but mostly how she is going to post another lovely photo of herself to the internet where, and she’s not commenting on this, but you know five years from now, when she is looking for a job, she will have forgotten about her long-forgotten Instagram account, because, really, who will be using Instagram in five years, and her potential employer will see these wonderful photos and not hire her.

Fine, I’m coming up with my own story for this girl, back to The Chainsmokers.

In my in-depth analysis of The Chainsmokers, I’ve come to find they are a DJ due from New York City, one of the born the year I graduated from high school (Ugh!) who came up with the song on a lark. They wanted to spotlight the conversations they would hear in a club, and sure, capitalize on the term “selfie.” Smart dudes.

The song is kind of funny, is going viral, of course, and my guess will go away in about a month. As much as this song will be gone, it’s still kind of difficult for DJ’s to break into the world of the mainstream, so I’m wondering: Will we hear another song from The Chainsmokers?

Do You Have Any Desire to See an Opera?

Do You Have Any Desire to See an Opera?

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Sitting in front of the TV there was an add for Shen Yun at the Chicago Opera House, which I guess is also where the Lyric Opera happens in Chicago, and it occurred to me that one of the weird things on my bucket list is to go to an Opera. I don’t really know why. I guess part of it is that scene in “Pretty Woman” where Richard Gere explains to Julia Roberts that some people enjoy the opera, but for others, it becomes a part of their soul, or something like that. Also, back when I used to work in downtown Chicago, I would walk past the Chicago Opera House and sometimes the backstage doors would be open I would be fascinated by the stage props that I could see. Part of it also probably has to do with my enjoying a good musical, and although different, what the hell.

In a not-so-weird juxtaposition I suppose, another thing on my list is to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana.” My guess is you probably have heard the song “O Fortuna” in a movie yet have no idea what it is (Go ahead, Google it), and back in the day, in the search for the song, I came across a CD of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Levine, and realized I like the entire thing.

There are a lot of operas to choose from so in the end my challenge, in thinking about seeing one, is finding one that would be a good introduction to see if I’m one of those that would enjoy it, or if it would become part of my soul. I’m sure I’ll find my way, someday, to the opera, but I wonder: Do you have any desire to see an opera?

That’s it for this one! I’m Andy!! L8R!!!

Has a Music Video Ever Ruined a Song for You?

This plight makes me admit a few things I don’t know if I really want to out here on the internet. First off I’m a fan of girl pop music. Yes, I’ve been a Deborah Gibson fan back when she was Debbie, like me some Avril Lavigne, and yes, you can catch me singing some Miley Cyrus every now and then. Miley Cyrus’ latest “in the spotlight” escapades aside, I’m usually able to separate the crazy from the music, and for whatever reason I’ve been liking her song “Wrecking Ball” that has been hitting the airwaves, not to be confused with the Bruce Springsteen anthem, “Wrecking Ball.” The Miley song is catchy, in that girl pop kind of way, and then there was talk about the video, how Miley gets naked, and this, that, and the other thing. Not really caring that much, and with MTV not airing videos anymore, I didn’t really try to search it out.

Then the other morning I was up early, popped the Vevo (The go-to place for music videos now) on, and decided I would catch up with some music video watching while I was doing some writing. There on the menu was the Miley Cyrus “Wrecking Ball” video. Deciding I should see what all of the hubbub was about I decided to watch it, and I have to say I don’t know if I can listen to the song anymore as I think the video ruined the song for me.

Sure, Miley was in her short hair (which I don’t like), in underwear, and sometimes naked, in a video with a wrecking ball and a sledge hammer, and she’s slithering around, which is fine. Then she starts that creepy “tongue sticking out” thing that had grossed everyone out when she was on the VMA’s, and this weird sneer thing is going on as well. I know I’m an older dude now, and maybe I’m slowly losing touch with the youngins, but the entire video just creeped me out, and her prancing around in her underwear just didn’t come off sexy at all. That and the fact that it’s just a crappy music video for a song that actually had some potential to make a decent music video.

The bummer part now is that whenever the song comes on the radio all I’m going to think of is Miley, with that tongue, licking the wrecking ball. Sure, she needs to grow up and out of her Hannah Montana persona, but hopefully she’ll get over this phase quickly, or stop making videos, or else I’m going to have to turn to radio station so the image doesn’t make me want to throw up a little bit in my mouth. I’m also worried that she has the potential to now ruin Saturday Night Live for me, as she’s hosting and singing, and if there is a lot of tongue wagging I have a feeling I won’t be able to watch. Miley, please stop with the tongue!

With the song “Wrecking Ball” now ruined by a slithering Miley and her tongue (an hopefully not Saturday Night Live this weekend), I’m plighting: Has a music video ever ruined a song for you?

That’s it for this plight! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Ingram Hill

Artist: Ingram Hill
Listenability Scale: 91%
Released By: Rock Ridge Music
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

I will say that I didn’t know a thing about Ingram Hill (It’s a band, not a person), when their press release came through my email, and I will also say that I didn’t read said press release, I just started listening to the tracks on their self-titled “Ingram Hill” release. I started tapping my foot, humming along, and somehow kept listening to it over and over, all the while thinking to myself, “Self, I really like them. They fit nicely into country radio these days. I can see nearly every song being a hit on the local country station, and if they would lose a banjo, maybe The Mix.” Then I read their bio, and I became a tad confused as most things about them referenced Southern rock, touring with the likes of Hootie and the Blowfish, Maroon 5, and Hanson, and about the only thing country referenced was how they are from Tennesee  and they drift “much deeper into the tones of traditional country than the outfit’s more rock-influenced prior works,” and “it just naturally ends up sounding a bit country.” Guess I should have read the press release first, but damn, none of that really matters because I really like this record.

I have nothing with which to compare them in their repertoire, but as I stated, and they reflected in the press release, “Ingram Hill” is a solid record in the country vein, with some great storytelling about life on the road and relationships of cities, love, and craziness. The record opens with “Behind My Guitar,” a great look at being that dude on stage looking at the crowd, and continues into “Oh My,” probably the funnest song on the record, about a one night stand that turns into adventure when the girl’s man comes home – “So I grabbed my jeans, and hoped that I’ve seen, the last of old Mr. Right.” Things continue with a tribute to home in “Good Ol’ Dixie,” and we eventually get to “Those Three Words,” sounding similar, and as good, as anything Tim McGraw or Kenny Chesney would put out these days, although, thinking about Kenny’s tendency towards drinking songs, “Yellow House,” where “all the drunkards go hang out,” might be more his ilk.

You get music about a city that just keeps letting you down (“Broken Hearted in Birmingham”) and songs about the right woman (“Those Three Words” and “Who Needs a Sunny Day”), but mostly you get a batch of songs with great stories, and sorry to the band if this isn’t where they want to go, but if Darius Rucker can shift from Hootie to country, Ingram Hill can easily switch teams to the country side as well as keep with the adult contemporary crossover, maybe even better than a Lady Antebellum has, because they are already schooled in a sound that can translate to both parts of the radio dial, they just would need to lose a banjo or two in a remix.

Out of the eleven tracks on “Ingram Hill,” there is only one I can take or leave, so I have to say that this was a most welcome press release as I think I have a new band to pay attention to, and hope their career jumps to that next level. 10 out of 11 leads me to a 91% on the Entertainment Ave! listenability scale for “Ingram Hill.” Download it and have a good time – that’s an order!

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

What’s New? A Podcast of: Here Comes Britney Spears’ Circus, Here Comes “Twilight,” and Here Are “Jillian Michaels’ Clips of the Week!”

The Dude on the Right is

a little melancholy for this podcast,
what with Thanksgiving coming up and
his not traveling to the Old Country this year (and it’s not even because he’s a
Radio Shack Manager anymore), but at least he’ll be spending time with his BFF,
which is nice.  It’s also nice for him that he’ll be thinking about seeing
"Twilight" and "Bolt," rather than actually seeing the movies "Twilight" and
"Bolt," but nothing beats his anticipation like getting the initial word that
Britney Spears might be showing up on her "Circus" tour in the Chicago area, in
March of 2009.

Thankfully he still watches "The Biggest Loser" giving him a new batch of
inspiration thanks to "Jillian Michaels’ Clips of the Week!"  The Dude is
now inspired to fight another day!

Here Comes Britney Spears’ Circus, Here Comes “Twilight,” and Here Are “Jillian Michaels’ Clips of the Week!”


The Dude on the Right

Nothing gets me more exciting than news about Britney Spears, but, okay, news
about Britney Spears doesn’t normally get me excited, but

I’m podcasting solo
, and I got a notice from

Pollstar that as of today she only has one concert date in 2009,and it’s in the
Chicago area
, probably for her "Circus" tour, and in the words of "The
Pointer Sisters," I’m so excited!  Yay!

Two movies open this weekend, and
it’s all about the teen girls and children, so I also podcast a bit about
"Twilight" and "Bolt," and as Thanksgiving is upon us, I am a little melancholy
because this will be the first Thanksgiving that I don’t make the trek to the
"Old Country" since my days in retail as a Radio Shack Manager or working at a
camera store.

Thankfully, though, as a touch of sadness enters this podcast,
there’s nothing like my "Jillian Michaels’ Clips of the Week" segment to snap me
back to reality, and inspire me to face another day!

And as always, thanks for listening!

That’s it for this one!  I’m The Dude on the Right!!  L8R!!!

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