Gretchen Wilson – Redneck Woman

Gretchen Wilson’s debut album Redneck Woman is poised to kick off a new era in country music. Part of the self-titled Muzik Mafia (along with fellow country singers Big and Rich), the young singer/songwriter from a tiny trailer park in Illinois embraces her “redneck” roots and spins it into grade A gold.

The autobiographical album sets Wilson apart from her contemporaries with its grit and power. After tooling around the Nashville scene for years and having door after door slammed in her face, the raven-haired songstress is more than ready to have her say.

Every great singer should have anthem. While it usually takes years to develop such a song and a persona to match, Gretchen Wilson gets it right off the bat with her title track “Redneck Woman”.

As she sings with pride about keeping her “Christmas lights on / on my front porch all year long” it’s nearly impossible to not give Gretchen and her fellow redneckers a big “Hell Yeah” salute! “Here For the Party” also announces that Wilson is in the house and ready to country rock or as she puts it “I’m here for the beer and the ball busting band”.

Proving that she did pick up some old-fashioned country lessons during her dues-paying stint in Nashville, Wilson sprinkles some class-sounding ballads throughout Redneck Woman. “When I think About Cheatin” is as slow and soulful as anything that Patsy Cline ever sang while “Chariot” is a slowburner with a gospel blues feel.

When Wilson sings about how “I’m gonna get me a chariot / Yeah a big gold eagle on the hood” you know she means it. In fact, she’ll probably be the one cruising past you on the highway with the pedal to the metal.

“Homewrecker” finds the spunky singer going on the defensive. Someone is going after her man and she’s not going to take it lightly.

The song has Wilson’s signature fire, but it feels a little too typical when placed with the albums other ground-breaking material. Perhaps, this is an example of paying more dues to the Nashville scene who seems to demand that every country album have this type of track.

Wilson ends her album on a high. The whole album obviously showcases bit and pieces of her life, but the last track “Pocahontas Proud” doesn’t pull any punches. From “running with the crowd” in Pocahontas, Illinois to tending bar fifteen to her refusal to be kept down by years of rejection and concluding with the birth of her own daughter at twenty-seven, Gretchen Wilson is determined to “make Pocahontas proud”.

It’s a good bet that Gretchen Wilson probably is the biggest thing to ever come from her home town. But more importantly, she’s broken through all of the supposed boundaries of country music.

Her album Redneck Woman crashed through a ceiling that many thought was concrete instead of mere glass, but nonetheless, it came crashing down in surrender to this new kid in town.

Hopefully, Wilson will continue to travel down her own road – even if that means breaking a few more of those rigid Nashville rules.

Gretchen Wilson is definitely here for the party and for the long haul!

Synth Music Has New Contender: “Disillusion” May Be Disillusioned

Synth pop has been around for about as long as the genre “pop” itself was coined. Then, in the ’80s, we experienced synth punk. Blondie ventured into that realm, and groups like The Epoxies have kept it going. But never in my wildest dreams did I think the world would get to experience synth metal.

Now, many have compared the group Disillusion with earlier groups such as Nine Inch Nails and Tool, but unlike those bands, Disillusion’s “Gloria” album rarely strays from its formula and rarely dares to be bold with its music. The vocal effects at times are just a little too weird and the songs seemingly go nowhere.

However, due to these changes from the pattern set by previous bands and its delving deeper into industrial-style metal, it’s possible that Disillusion is on the cusp of something big. Perhaps it’s because it doesn’t feel the need to be overly metal that Disillusion could be the next big thing.

The music is somewhat unremarkable, although the occasional emotional bursts in the timing are interesting. The lyrics are the typical melancholy crooning, but if nothing else the album has cuts that would have a home at a gothic disco somewhere in Europe or New York or, dare I say, at some underground gay leather club.

Ministry they’re not. Disillusion is a little too polished and downplayed to be like one of Al Jourgensen’s metal forays. They have the potential to make it big, but American tastes in both metal and club music will have to change in order for them to take hold here.

Disillusion’s sound is absolutely Euro, which is something they do deserve credit for in not trying to alter their sound and pander for American favoritism.

There’s an epic element to them that’s similar to Rammstein, but actually try and compare Disillusion to Rammstein would be like comparing a Honda Civic to a Volkswagen Jetta. They’re both smaller, sporty cars, but each with its own uniqueness.

Disillusion is very popular in their home country of Germany and continues to have exposure in the underground in the U.S. It’s hard to see Disillusion on a major tour with other metal-oriented groups, though.

A tour of techno, synth and goth clubs specializing in Euro would most likely be where Disillusion would be sequestered on a U.S. tour. “Gloria” certainly appeals to synth fans, Euro dance enthusiasts and even to the goth community to a degree.

Short of that, they might have a little too selective of an audience for their own good.

Let’s End Music Stereotypes

The recent rise of young artists has made a presence when it comes to the music industry.
Take for example, Jesse McCartney. He’s been on the radio with his song, “Beautiful Soul,” and “She’s No You.” McCartney is only 17, and has accomplished much at such a young age.

There’s also Aaron Carter, 17, who’s the youngest solo male artist to have 40 singles to his name. He’s been popular with young audiences, and recently came out with songs such as “One Better,” and “Saturday Night.”

When you mention the names McCartney or Carter, you’ll naturally assume that the only audience that’s really interested in this pop-rock music is teenage girls. However, this isn’t necessarily correct, and it’s a stereotype that I think needs to be addressed.

I recently attended an Aaron Carter concert in Erie, Pennsylvania, and happened to get a chance to listen to his music. I like the song, “One Better,” by Carter. It’s about learning from mistakes, and that it’s not always easy to tell others what you’re going through, but that in order to become a better person, you should never give up.

Why do I bring this up? Because I happen to be a guy, and when I’ve mentioned this to some people, they’ve formed a stereotype. They just don’t think that it’s normal for a guy to like this kind of music. I’d beg to differ.

If a person were a child or a teenager, and happened to like someone who was much older, and they inspired them with their music, then that to me is perfectly fine. Likewise, if a person who is older likes the music of a younger artist, that doesn’t make that choice a bad one either. The selection of music shouldn’t be about what sex you’re or how old you happen to be.

Words to a song can have a powerful influence on others. I’ve heard of people who were able to overcome obstacles and get into a better mood just from a single song and because an artist had a powerful way of making their music come alive and it related to the individual who was listening to it.

While music is subject to different interpretations and tastes, let’s get away from stereotypes. We can learn from the examples of McCartney and Carter that there’s no age limit when it comes to talent. The same should be true when it comes to the individual’s choice of music no matter what sex or age, you happen to be.

Music Review: Solo And Chamber Music For Flute

I attended the Solo and Chamber Music for Flute in the Light Recital Hall on Tuesday, November 07, 2006 at 7:30p.m. UW Whitewater’s Music Department presented a Music Mosaics Concert featuring Robin Fellows, who played flute, Myung-Hee Chung, who played piano, and Julie Cross, who sang soprano.

After skimming the program before the performance began, I noticed the phrase Cantata No. 45, and remembered learning about Cantatas at the beginning of the music section for WOTA. Cantata is a choral work with one or more soloists and an instrument ensemble.

The particular Cantata that was being played was in the second song, “Gott, ist Unser Sonn’ und Schild” by J.S. Bach and was used as a duet between the flute and the singer with the chorus of the piano.

The first song, “Wer Gott bekennt aus wahren Herzensgrund,” was also by J.S. Bach, but had a more joyful and upbeat melody.
The rest of the performance was done using only the piano and flute. The third song, by Louis Ganne, was “Andante et Scherzo” and had three different parts to it. The beginning was a sad and somber tone, the middle had a lot of flute repetition, and the end was a quick pace.

In the final piece before the intermission were a sort of bi-polar mood swings in Garbriel Faure’s “Fantasie” which were broken up into two parts: Andantino where the piano was low and somber and the flute alternated between high and low pitches, and also Allegro where both instruments repeated after the other in an excited harmony.

After the intermission “Sonatina for Flute and Piano,” by Eldin Burton, began with three different mini sections of Allegretto Grazioso, of deep, somber, yet high pitches; Andantino Sognando, of calming lullabies that turned to fearful confusion; and Allegro Giocoso, an upbeat rhythm with a quick pace.

The very last piece was “Serenade” by Howard Hanson. This particular song started off slow and somber, and then picked up with the piano repeating while the flute danced, then slowly began to die down, and then ended with a gentle resurrection to life again.

I found this event to be quite enjoyable, however, I think it could use less or shorter pauses. By pauses, I mean, the performers kept exiting the stage after each song section, including the intermission, but it was too much of looking at an empty stage for my taste.

It seemed awkward and nobody knew why they kept leaving; many people kept looking around or whispering, and weren’t really sure when to clap either. I was very surprised with how complete their music sounded with only a singer, a piano, and a flute.

I was shocked at how well they did with the small amount that they had to work with. I would definitely recommend this to others as long as they know to expect some delays.

Satellite Radio: XM Versus Sirius

Are you tired of radio stations fading in and out, as you travel? Or how about those stations that have more commercials than music?

Maybe you would enjoy listening to a book or a talk show as you go about your business. Satellite radio solves all these problems, letting the listener decide what they would enjoy hearing. Two companies are responsible for satellite radio at this time. These are XM radio and Sirius radio.

Making a choice between these two companies can be confusing, as they are very similar in the programming that they offer. However, with their similarities, there are also some differences, which is the reason that XM has more subscribers than Sirius. XM has over 4 million subscribers, while Sirius has over 1 million subscribers.

The differences between these two companies are the programming they offer. XM offers over 150 digital channels while Sirius offers over 120 digital channels. To break it down further, XM offers 67, commercial-free music stations, and Sirius offers 65 commercial-free music stations.

The entertainment channels offered vary greatly among these companies, with XM offering more. XM offers comedy, talk, books and drama, as well as variety including MTV and VH1 exclusively. XM also offers award-winning XM KIDS channel.

Sirius offers comedy, talk, variety and children’s programming as well.
Both companies cover traffic and weather, with XM offering 21 dedicated channels, Sirius offers 20 channels, some sharing with other venues.

Both XM and Sirius cover sports, but the companies vary in which types of sports they carry. XM carries Major League Baseball, Nascar and College, including ACC, PAC-10 and Big 10 football and basketball. Sirius covers NFL, NBA, NHL, as well as NCAA March Madness, English Soccer and Horse Racing.

Other programming, such as talk shows, varies with each company. XM offers The Bob Edwards Show, Hear Music – music at Starbucks, MSNBC, Tom Petty, Then…Again…Live, Snoop Dogg, Quincy Jones, Artist Confidential and more.

Sirius offers Howard Stern, Martha Stewart, Bill Bradley, Maxim, The Wise Guy Show, Jim Breuer Unleashed, OutQ, NPR, EWTN Global Catholic Network and more.

Buying equipment, subscription rates and activation fees are all the same with both companies. Equipment can be found in many places, such as Wal-Mart, car audio retail stores or even online.

Subscriptions are $12.95 per month for both companies, with money saving long-term options available. XM offers a family plan, with 4 additional XM radios for $6.99 each per month. Activation for XM costs $9.99 using the internet, or $14.99 using the telephone, while Sirius activation is $10 using the internet, or $15 using the telephone.

When deciding on which satellite radio company to use, the customer will have to decide on the programming options that they are interested in. The programming options are about the only difference in the two companies.

Trick Pony A Treat To Country Music Airwaves And Your CD Collection

Halloween may have be over, but here’s one more trick for you, and it is quite a treat. Meet Trick Pony, a new trio that is kicking country up a few notches. Lead singer Heidi Newfeild’s raspy and very powerful voice can be compared to a Bonnie Raitt or Janis Joplin. Coupled with guitarist Keith Burns and bassit Ira Dean, the trio creates perfect three-part harmony.

Trick Pony’s self-titled debut starts of with an explosive and countrified “Pour Me,” which sets the stage for the rest of what follows: a rockin’ country album that could be the soundtrack to every corner barroom.

Aside from “Pour Me,” the gem of this album is the incredibly catchy “On a Night Like This.” A country song that actually utters the word “SEX” has got to be cool! Okay, it’s not quite what you think. A girl’s daddy warns her about the opposite sex, but one night she realizes she just may want some lovin’.

Another barroom romp is “Party of One,” a sure slap in the face to any man who repeatedly stands his woman up. To get back at a lover guilty of this act, this rousing song has a woman booking a table for two, and makes him wait. And wait. How’s that feel, honey?

Like Tequila? Grab a shot of the calypso-tinted “One in a Row.” Broke? The clever and catchy “Spent” will become your new personal anthem! The trio is joined by a superstar duo of Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings on the Cash-penned “Big River”.

Heidi hands over the lead vocals to Ira in “Just What I Do” which brings characters from history, Jesse James and the Wright Brothers, back to life. Keith gets his shot on the nifty “Can’t Say That on the Radio,” where a man calls a “Cryin, Lovin’, Laughin’ or Leavin'” type show to talk about an ex-lover, but the DJ tells him, “I’d really like to help you out, but you can’t say that on the radio!”

The trio is joined by a superstar duo of Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings on the Cash-penned “Big River.”

So, Trick Pony can rock the jukebox, but what about the tear-in-my-beer type songs? Heidi may appear to be a real rocker, but “Now Would Be the Time” and “Stay in a Moment” exemplify a sweeter and softer side of Trick Pony.

Just for fun, they threw in “No Hidden Track,” which is basically a recording studio blooper track, which shows the group’s sense of humor.

Trick Pony has created a spectacular debut album that is very much country, and that’s something you don’t find too much anymore in country music. There’s one more piece of ear candy to fill your Trick (Pony) or Treat.