CHART NEWS: Josh Abbott Band Rules The Texas Music Chart, New Entries by Mark McKinney & The Washers

While Stoney Larue's "Travelin' Kind" is less than 100 spins away from Number 1, the Josh Abbott Band holds steady at Number 1 on the Texas Music Chart with his mega-hit "I'll Sing About Mine."

Rounding out the top 5 for the week ending January 28, 2013: Jason Boland & the Stragglers "Obsessed" at Number 3, Reckless Kelly's "Pennsylvania Avenue" down 2 to Number 4 and the Eli Young Band holding steady at Number 5.

Mark McKinney and Bri Bagwell scored their first week on the Texas Music Chart at Number 43 with "She Ain't Leavin'" - while The Washers barely squeaked out a Number 50 showing with their new hit "Like A Gypsy Should."

Rounding out the Top 10 this week is the Randy Rogers Band with "Trouble Knows My Name - up 12 places to Number 6. Aaron Watson is also up 3 places to Number 7 with "Lips," and The Great Divide rise  from 13 to Number 8 with its single "Without You." Holding at Number 9 is The Departed's "Worth The Vision" and Curtis Grimes falls 3 places to an honorable Number 10 with "Smile." View full chart by clicking here. 

Other notable chart jumps come from Jon Wolfe's "The Only Time You Call" which rises a massive 14 slots to Number 35 in its second week on the chart, and Josh Ward's "Sent Me You" jumps 11 places to Number 37.
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SINGLE REVIEW: Tyler & the Tribe "Heaven & Hell"

Rockin' the house is no problem for the down-home boys known as Tyler & the Tribe. Like all good outlaw and Red Dirt bands, the Tribe has a little bit of good and a little bit of bad - sometimes a whole lot of the latter. However, this is how Texas loves its country bands, and Tyler and The Tribe's superb new single "Heaven and Hell" gives you a little bit of both.
Tyler & The Tribe - Click above to download "Heaven & Hell."
The cut begins with an easy-going sound reminiscent of the best work of Micky and the Motorcars, and it slowly builds to a toe-tapping melody that includes the memorable phrase: "I've got a foot in heaven and one in hell."

The laid-back vocal performance is intensely interesting, and some vocalists might have chosen to oversing. To its credit, Tyler & the Tribe resist the urge, and the song works as a radio friendly sing-a-long song that actually has some added depth upon repeated listens. The band's careful instrumentation also deserves special mention.

In the song, Tyler & the Tribe repeatedly tell us that they have a foot in hell. However, based on this track, the band's career seems to be firmly in an upward trajectory.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Deryl Dodd "Random As I Am" ("ranDDom As I Am")

Music doesn't come much better than Deryl Dodd's stirring new album "Random As I Am." Indeed, the well-known country star has produced a project that will probably land on many Top 10 country album charts at the end of the year, and the unique cover art and title should not scare away traditional country fans. That's because Deryl Dodd has produced 13 uncompromising, Texas country tunes that will make both grandsons and grandfathers feel as happy as the Cowboys winning the Super Bowl.
The album is actually titled the misspelled and case-confused "ranDDom As I Am," but it starts off with a perfect grammar, slam dunk hit - the current single "Baby Where's My Bottle." Deryl Dodd's voice has never sounded better, and the production quality is stellar. However, it is the quiet and nuanced "Loveletters" that showcases Dodd's perfectly matured vocals. This is another radio-ready cut that will be especially pleasing to female fans.

However, the album's biggest surprise is "FM 2213," which illustrates a mixture of influences, including bluegrass and Red Dirt. Next, the stirring "Anybody Out There" is a heart-wrenching personal examination that has a winning, melodic chorus. Traditional country elements work for Deryl Dodd on "Fallin,'" but he again surprises with his beautiful vocal performance on "I'll Be Comin Home To You."

Radio program directors will rejoice with the Darius Rucker/Josh Gracin-esque cut "Love Around Here." This song is destined to be a major radio hit, and it could find mainstream country radio success. Honky tonk country fans will find plenty to like with "Somethin Aint Always Better Than Nothin."

However, the best track on the album is the toe-tapping, sing-a-long track "Can't Say No To Larry Joe." Concert audiences will eat up this cut faster than chicken wings at Hooters. Traditional country lovers will enjoy "One Night Too Long," and Deryl Dodd saves another potential Number One country chart hit for last with the terrific "Who Am I." The well-written lyrics and clear country melody are refreshingly simple without being simplistic - a difficult feat.

"Randon As I Am" showcases a country musician who has decided to write and perform music that he loves without the trappings of the cookie-cutter, country pop sound that permeates the country music scene at the moment. Deryl Dodd may describe himself as random, but you'll just call him (and his new album) darn good.
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ALBUM REVIEW: Matt Stell "Vestibule Blues"

A "vestibule" is defined as the passage before an entrance, and that makes "Vestibule Blues" a fitting sophomore album title for singer-songwriter Matt Stell, who has traveled a long way since his fine debut album "The Sound & The Story." However, Stell is still on the cusp of widespread recognition, and "Vestibule Blues" proudly proclaims that the artist is ready for the big time - on his own terms.
The album begins with a story-in-song titled "Robert Tatum" and features Stell's deep, rich country voice. Indeed, "Robert Tatum" proves to be the perfect start to the Morrilton, Arkansas native's album, and Matt Stell's lyrics constantly highlight the viewpoint of  hardworking men and women.

The heartfelt "Memphis On The River" is a triumph of the highest order, and Stell's vocal performance has improved since his first album dropped in 2009. The song has a comfortable melody and features a confident performance. "Break Me Down" has much of the same charm and features a retro-country melody that works.

Stell's Arkansas heritage is celebrated in the inspirational cut "Piney Woods." The song itself is a bona fide hit, but the pace may need to be slightly increased along with more of a contemporary country (or harder Red Dirt vibe) to get radio to take notice. Likewise, an artist like Blake Shelton could make "Piney Woods" a Number One country chart hit, which proves that Stell is a great songwriter.

The bluesy "Speak Once More" is the album's biggest surprise, and it shows a new side of the Arkansas singer. The title cut "Vestibule Blues" offers thought provoking lyrics and is the album's best track. However, the Americana song "The Way You Are" is a close second as it shows the vulnerable side of the golden voiced country boy. The anthemic "Walk Away" proves to be the perfect end for the album and is probably the most radio-ready cut. The song provides a moral lesson, offers a compelling hook in the chorus and showcases great production and instrumentation. In short, radio program managers should immediately add "Walk Away" to their playlists.

"Vestibule Blues" showcases an artist who has truly found his purpose with a signature bluesy country/Americana vibe which illustrates that Matt Stell will soon be leaving the "vestibule" by joining the party at the top half of the country charts.
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ALBUM REVIEW: Brad Dunn & Ellis County "Ranch Cat"

The most successful country music vocalists seem to have an easy-going manner and a confident vocal delivery, and newcomer Brad Dunn & Ellis County definitely fit the bill on their new Texas country album "Ranch Cat."
The 53-minute, 14-song album begins with the upbeat "3 Days in Mexico" that could easily find a home on both Texas and mainstream country radio. "Piece Of Me" has much of the same charm and offers a superb melody. "Gone" is a more heartfelt love song that should please female fans.

The fourth track and current single "Red, White And Blue" is a hard-edged Texas country cut which radio stations should slurp up faster than peach tea at a church picnic. However, the comfortable traditional country style of "This Time" is even more pleasing as Dunn delivers a subtle but effective vocal performance.

The honky tonk song "Barstool" fires on all cylinders and should prove to be a concert favorite, but it is the Americana/blues track "Feed The Chickens" which is the album's biggest surprise. Brad Dunn & Ellis Country have some soul, and it is on full display while they "Feed The Chickens." The final cut "Southern Wind" is probably the best song on the entire album, because the song fuses all of the best elements of the group - confident vocals, strong instrumentation, memorable melody and thought-provoking lyrics.

"Ranch Cat" is a triumph of the highest order, and fans of traditional and Texas country will want to run - not walk - to see Brad Dunn & Ellis County in concert. These country boys know how to make sweet country music, and here's hoping another 14 songs make their way out of the ranch real soon.
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