Garth Brooks, 'Man Against Machine': Everything You Need to Know
Details of Garth Brooks' new studio album had been coming in nibbles until the singer shared all 14 songs with media on Halloween. 'Man Against Machine' is out November 11, and fans shouldn't have trouble getting their hands on it. It's be available at places good music is found, and at GhostTunes.
Album art, tracklisting and which stores will carry it were a few of the details revealed.. Here is everything there is to know about 'Man Against Machine,' Brooks' ninth studio album. He also shared the names of songwriters, and the stories behind why he chose the 11 songs he didn't have a hand in writing.
Brooks' reason for naming his first studio album in 13 years isn't subtle. "Music has always been a reflection of where mankind is at the time," he says. "For 14 years, I have watched heart and soul, dreams and individualism, fighting for their very existence in a world of increasing technology. This album is a reminder to all those who dream, work, and fight for what they believe; do not give up your vision."
The country icon has himself taken on the "machine" in recent years, refusing to turn his music over to iTunes or participate in social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. He keeps it real with old-school ways of sharing news; good old-fashioned press conferences and an email newsletter have served as Brooks' favored modes of communication.
During the Oct. 31 press conference he also revealed that the specific "machine" he's staring down in the album's cover photo is a music industry that's become increasingly reliant on technology. Right now the industry makes it hard on itself he says, and songs like the title-track make it clear he's out to fix that.
The feel-good singalong 'People Loving People' was Brooks' first offering to radio in 2014. The initial response was overwhelming, with nearly every radio station in America spinning the surefire hit for listeners. Since its "street week," the momentum has slowed, but the inspirational mid-tempo track continues to be played with regularity.
"It's people loving people / That's the enemy of everything that's evil / Ain't no quick fix at the end of a needle / It's just people loving people," Brooks says at the chorus. The easy-to-embrace anthem may not be what fans were expecting from such a legendary storyteller, but it's true to the message this singer has been preaching for years.
'Man Against Machine' (Larry Bastian, Jenny Yates, Brooks) - For the first time Brooks named an album after one of his songs. The album's opener is a blue-collar anthem that name checks John Henry during the chorus. Right away fans know he's out to make a statement.
'She's Tired of Boys' (Amanda Williams, Brooks)
'Cold Like That' (Steven Lee Olsen, Melissa Peirce, Chris Wallin) - A tough ballad Brooks thought could have been a Nickelback song. "I could be the train for a change you could be the one tied to the track," he sings.
'All-American Kid' (Craig Campbell, Brice Long, Terry McBride) - The title track almost tells the story, but one has to listen to this tale of a boy growing up on a football field only to choose his country over his dream to feel the impact. It's more conventional Garth Brooks.
'Mom' (Don Sampson, Wynn Varble) - A rip-your-heart-out conversation between God and an unborn baby that's nervous to be introduced to the world. "She'll put you on a path that will bring you back to me," he sings. The singer has a hard time holding himself together while performing this song. He brought the room to tears during a recent performance on 'Good Morning America.'
'Wrong About You' (Adam Wright) - "You were right about so many things that I'm starting to think I was wrong about you," Brooks sings during this love song. It's another straight-forward country love song that's easy to embrace.
'Rodeo and Juliet' (Bryan Kennedy, Brooks) - The uptempo swinger is about a young girls love of the rodeo.
'Midnight Train' (Peirce, Matthew A. Rossi) - Actual train samples add to the drama of this swirling country song. It's about a guy who can't outrun the memory of an ex lover. She haunts him while he sleeps. Brooks called this song "an epic piece for me."
'Cowboys Forever' (Varble, John Martin, Dean Dillon) - Brooks' required cowboy song. There's one on each album, but the singer says this one may be one of the 10 best songs of his life.
'People Loving People' (Lee Miller, Wallin, busbee) - See above. As is true of all of Brooks' music, a streaming version of this song is not available online.
'Send 'Em on Down the Road' (Marc Beeson, Allen Shamblin) - A ballad about raising kids. "You can't cry for 'em / Live and die for 'em / You can help them find their wings but you can't fly for 'em / 'Cause if they're not free to fall, than they're not free at all / And though you just can't bare the thought of letting go / You pick 'em up / You dust 'em off / And send 'em on down the road," he sings.
'Fish' (Wallin, Varble) - A relaxing story about why it's important to keep it simple. It mirrors the well-told story of the Mexican fisherman.
'You Wreck Me' (Stephanie Bentley, Kevin Kadish, Dan Muckala) - Brooks works the high end of his vocals on this song. It begins with a strong piano riff.
'Tacoma' (Caitlyn Smith, Bob DiPiero) - The final song on 'Man Against Machine' may be Brooks' favorite. It's a soulful story he says he feels blessed to sing. Fans who enjoy his old-school rhythm and blues yearnings will appreciate 'Tacoma.
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Florida Georgia Line: Anything Goes
There's been no shortage of eyes on Florida Georgia Line as they prepared 'Anything Goes,' their second studio album. The duo rocketed to superstardom on the strength of 'Cruise' and several other hits from 'Here's to the Good Times,' so fans — and haters — wondered if they'd be able to capture lightning in a bottle twice.
'Anything Goes' features 12 songs from well-known and not-so-well-known songwriters. Joey Moi is back to produce, and sonically, he brings what he's famous for: heavy guitars wrapped in club-inspired rhythms and reverb soaked vocals. That said, Florida Georgia Line sample plenty of new styles that will surely surprise fans.
During the past year, Hubbard and Kelley have promoted a "Why not?" lifestyle. They're even said to be beginning a Can't Afford Not To clothing line, based on a hashtag they often use. 'Anything Goes' is reflective of this news, and the songs are reflective of an open-minded approach to creating a truly unique second album.
'Dirt' was the first single from 'Anything Goes,' and Hubbard and Kelley don't downplay it. "That song is a song I think we moved to Nashville to write," Kelley tells the Tennessean. "We didn't write it, but we knew immediately that was our song." The duo explain to Taste of Country that releasing a song with more emotional depth wasn't critical at this point in their career, but it's tough to imagine their popularity not waning without a different style for fans to lean into.
'Sun Daze' seems primed to be the second single. The laid-back, marijuana-friendly reggae groove introduces yet another new style from Florida Georgia Line. "All I wanna do today is wear my favorite shades and get stoned," they sing. The duo tell ToC the word "stoned" may be replaced with "home" for a radio edit.
The Remaining Songs:
'Anything Goes' (Felix McTeigue, Chris Tompkins, Craig Wiseman) – The title track sets the tone for the next chapter of FGL's career. It's "setting the standard of no rules" Hubbard says to 'Today.' Find one of two Alabama name-checks in the very first second of the song. "Victoria's Secret ain't no secret no more," Hubbard sings later on during this riverside party song.
'Good Good' (Hubbard, Kelley, Cary Barlowe, Sarah Buxton, Jesse Frasure) – 'Good Good' is most similar to songs from the duo's first album. "Sippin' seven and seven is seven jeans," they sing, name-checking Shania Twain early on. "Go on and shake your thing like a leaf / Nobody gonna see it but the moon and me."
'Smile' (Chris DeStafano, Dallas Davidson, Ashley Gorley) – Sonically this song stands out with a banjo introduction that leads into producer Joey Moi's favored mix of rock, country and electronica.
'Sippin' on Fire' (Clawson, Matt Dragstrem, Cole Taylor) – Hubbard urges an ex to forget about her boyfriend for a night. There isn't much heartbreak on 'Anything Goes,' but one finds shadows of it here.
'Smoke' (Josh Kear, Tompkins) – Piano and female vocals allow this song to stand out as unique. After the intro, it's sonically similar to many of the others on the album, although the whine of the steel guitar is remarkable. "She'll always float, back through my mind like smoke," Hubbard sings.
'Bumpin' the Night' (Bart Allmand, Tompkins, Clawson) – Kelley takes lead again during parts of this mellow groove. "Two bottles of Bud / Two speakers in the truck / Two people in love just bumpin' the night," FGL sing at the chorus.
'Angel' (Clawson, Hubbard, Kelley, Ross Copperman) - The second half of 'Anything Goes' is packed with mid-tempo and slow love or lost love songs that still pack energy. Lyrically, this song is about as easy to wrap your mind around as any the duo has released.
'Confession' (Clawson, Copperman, Matt Jenkins) – It'd be a shame if 'Confession' didn't end up as a single. The songwriters penned a chorus that's both emotional and sonically satisfying, and Moi does a fine job in amplifying the message. "This is just a moonlight soaked / Ring of smoke / right hand on a cold one confession," Hubbard sings.
'Like You Ain't Even Gone' (Tompkins, Hubbard, Kelley, Clawson) – This track begins with an eruption of emotion from Hubbard. The songwriting team put together a true breakup song that drips with hurt.
'Every Night' (DeStefano, Gorley, Hubbard, Kelley) – The most electro-infused track on 'Anything Goes.' After a half-dozen more subdued songs, FGL finish with one that's sure to sound good near the end of their live set.
Lyrically, Florida Georgia Line stick to what made them famous, but sonically, they take chances with songs like 'Sun Daze,' 'Dirt' and 'Bumpin' the Night.' Hubbard and Kelley made no attempt to recreate 'Here's to the Good Times.' Their efforts to push past boundaries result in some of the more satisfying moments on 'Anything Goes.' Perhaps most importantly, they prove they're capable of showing emotional depth.
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Blake Shelton: Bringing Back The Sunshine
On Bringing Back The Sunshine, the eighth studio disc from Blake Shelton, there are plenty of songs that will go hand in hand with weekend parties and celebrations, but if you look a little deeper into the album, you will see another side of the four-time CMA Male Vocalist of the Year. The uptempo songs are entertaining, but it's the ballad performances that set this disc apart. Read on for Billboard's track-by-track review of Blake Shelton's Bringing Back The Sunshine.
"Bringing Back The Sunshine" - An energetic way to get the album started with some nifty guitar licks, this is four minutes of pure adrenaline rush.
"Neon Light" - With his exuberant and very expressive personality, Blake Shelton can get away with songs that others simply can't. (Take "Boys 'Round Here" for example.) This flows off of the radio, and just works. Is it a lyrical masterpiece? Maybe not, but it does have enough interesting wordplay to keep it compelling.
"Lonely Tonight" - This track is reminiscent of Shelton's work on albums such as Startin' Fires or Pure B.S. ear candy - which still stands as some of his best work. The song comes complete with harmony from the outstanding Ashley Monroe.
"Gonna" - It's a breezy performance about setting the romantic mood. Radio will likely eat this one up. Though it's nothing out of the ordinary, it's definitely not offensive.
"A Girl" - Sometimes the most effective lyrical approaches are the most simple and direct. That's the case with this gem, which details all the crazy things a man just might do in the name of love.
"Sangria" - The steel work from Russ Pahl gives this song a deep and moody feel that is both romantic and dramatic, and also crosses the line into fantastic.
"Buzzin'" - Infectious guitar sounds make the song work. Though it doesn't plow a lot of new musical ground, the "B-B-B-Buzzin" reference of the chorus make this song memorable. RaeLynn adds some effective harmonies on the cut as well.
"Just South Of Heaven" - One of the more traditional arrangements on the album, this song is simply going to be heard - and heard often. The odds of the track being a single are about as good as Shelton cracking a joke at Adam Levine's expense on The Voice. It's the artist expressing his sensual side, and doing it quite well!
"I Need My Girl" - On this powerful song, Shelton hits some fancy notes, as the singer allows himself to be perhaps the most vulnerable of any of the cuts on here. The chorus helps to hammer this one out of the proverbial ballpark.
"Good Country Song" - Strip away all the drum beats, words like "Buzzin'," and you will find that Blake Shelton is one of the most reverent artists about the genre out there today. If you grew up a fan of the format, this one will make you proud, and do a little fist-pumping in the air!
"Anyone Else" - An excellent lyric by Luke Laird, Barry Dean, and Natalie Hemby, you can take this song to be a reflection of the breakdown of a romantic relationship or possibly a statement to the haters that pop up in the business after someone has made it. Whatever the case, Shelton exudes the moment, and wrings passion out of every line.
"Just Gettin' Started" - The album started on a rollicking note with the title cut, so it would stand to reason that Shelton would end the disc in a blaze of glory by going out like he came in. Though there's nothing terribly complex about it from a lyrical standpoint, it doesn't take a nuclear physicist to know that this cut will no doubt get a Blake Shelton concert kicked off in 2015!
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Brad Paisley: Moonshine In The Trunk
Brad Paisley's 'Moonshine in the Trunk' album is a particularly, purposefully inspiring album with no less than four songs meant to remind the listener that he or she can achieve anything. There's not a drop of pain or bittersweet to be found on Paisley's 10th studio release, which follows 2013′s 'Wheelhouse.'
Songs like 'High Life' and 'Gone Green' quench a thirst for Paisley's unique sense of humor. The first may be the best of the 15 tracks on 'Moonshine …' Carrie Underwood steps up to poke fun at herself and a culture of money-hungry Americans. They even take a not-so-subtle jab at the Nashville songwriter who accused them of stealing 'Remind Me.'
"I heard a song a couple months ago, was Carrie Underwood on the radio / Reminded me of a poem my brother wrote back in second grade / I know she didn't steal it but so what / We lawyered up and we sued her butt."
The meat of the album is songs like 'River Bank,' 'Limes' and '4WP' - those mid-to-uptempo tracks that steer straight down country Main St. One won't find a single offensive lyric among the 15. There are plenty of drinking songs (tequila and margaritas, por favor) and a few gentle love songs.
'Perfect Storm' may be the best lover:
"She destroys me in that T-shirt / And I love her so much it hurts," Paisley sings around an impressive orchestration and the familiar "whoa-whoas" that dot so many of his most recent projects. "She doesn't just rain, she pours / That girl right there's the perfect storm."
Fans will find confidence and encouragement in most of the rest. There's 'Crushin' It' and 'Limes':
"You take it all with a grain of salt / And realize sometimes it ain't your fault."
'American Flag on the Moon':
"Tonight, I dare you to dream / Go on, believe impossible things / Whenever anybody says there's anything we can't do / I mean, after all, there's an American flag on the moon."
And most impressively, 'Shattered Glass':
"Bust that ceiling out, the sky's the limit now / The world is changing fast / Wear your hair back and run / Like you ain't ever done before / It's your time at last / All you've been through ain't in vain / Come on, baby, make it rain down shattered glass."
It's here the singer opens his heart, showing a vulnerable color that painted so many of his previous albums. One finds less of it on 'Moonshine in the Trunk,' a party album that aims to make you feel good at the end of the day.
Key Tracks: 'High Life,' 'Shattered Glass,' 'Perfect Storm'
The Leak: While some will always wonder if Paisley's album leak was truly against his label's wishes, it's easy to understand why he did it. After 'Accidental Racist' was leaked and turned on its head, the singer says he wanted to be sure he was in charge of the presentation of this album.
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