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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VIDEO REVIEW: Luke Olson "Me And This Road"

Producing a cover of a critically-acclaimed Chris Knight classic is the Red Dirt equivalent of a new R&B artist singing a Whitney Houston classic. But Luke Olson's on-target vocal interpretation of "Me And This Road" allows allows the San-Antonio, Texas country star to make the song his own while adding a different texture to the original Chris Knight classic. In short, both the video and song are winners.

The video itself is beautifully produced with lush scenery, and Luke Olson even loses his trademark cowboy hat for part of the performance and proves to be a truly likable country video star. As a veteran performer,Olson seems comfortable and at-ease on camera. Director Jeff Horny and editor JD Garza also deserve special credit for their exceptional work on "Me And This Road."
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ALBUM REVIEW: Tom Cheatham "Scars That I'll Keep"

The Austin, Texas music scene was the homebase of singer-songwriter Tom Cheatham for the last five years or so until his recent move to Dallas. The change of scenery obviously caused a creative explosion within Cheatham that is fully evident on his sophomore album "Scars That I'll Keep," which continues the artist's unique fusion of traditional country and Red Dirt music.
The album begins with the melodic "Empty Heart," which is pure radio ear candy. Cheatham has built on the success of his debut album "Restless Heart," and his vocals have never sounded better.

A harder-edged Cheatham emerges on "Forgiveness," but it is the bluesy title track "Scars That I'll Keep" which is the album's biggest surprise. This track could potentially chart in several radio genres, and it deserves the support of program managers. Likewise, the album's production headed by Erik Herbst (Eli Young Band, Josh Abbott) is stellar.

In many ways, Tom Cheatham is at his best on easy-going, laid back tracks like "Help Me Hold On" which offers a confident vocal from Cheatham that could best be described as John Mellencamp meets Randy Rogers. The song also boasts a memorable melody. A more tender side of the artist emerges on the folk-tinged "Letting Go."

The inspiring "Learn To Live" is a traditional country track that could find a home on mainstream country radio. "One Good Reason" has much of the same charm. The Red Dirt anthem "Tonight" should please concert audiences, and the love song "Angel" will be a favorite of Cheatham's many female fans.

The album ends with a classic Texas country track titled "Lead Me On," and it is by far the project's best song. This cut has a Wade Bowen-esque sound that is fused with other popular Red Dirt elements. Texas radio stations should immediately add "Lead Me On."

"Scars That I'll Keep" is an accomplished album from an up-and-coming Red Dirt artist that deserves to be followed and supported by fans of Texas country. However, Cheatham's appeal is broader than the Texas music market, and he could easily find mainstream country success with his brand of memorable lyrics, tight production and, of course, the right song. "Scars That I'll Keep" is definitely a record you'll want to hold onto.
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ALBUM REVIEW: T.J. Broscoff "Ready To Fly"

Drugs and alcohol fueled talented musician T.J. Broscoff during his early years culminating in the artist hitting bottom after selling his shoes for a hit of crack. However, Broscoff had a musical gift, and he had previously scored critical success fronting a rock band called "The Unknown." Thankfully, Broscoff managed to do what many others cannot by freeing himself from his addictions and offering some apologies to family and friends. This culminated in a solo Texas country career that produced his moderately successful first album "Detour Phoenix" and his newest album "Ready To Fly," which features the hit single "Pillow."
Broscoff acknowledges his past missteps in the Texas country cut "Trixie," which was named for Broscoff's partner. Likewise, listeners cannot help but notice the artist's hard-edge, country voice.

Relationships are once again on Broscoff's mind on "Hold," which is a laid-back and reflective tune about a friendship between a man and woman that never goes any further. The sweet "Atmosphere" is a melodic gem that reflects on relationships that are new.

The biggest surprise of the album is the reflective title track "Ready To Fly." This song is T.J. Broscoff's autobiography in just over 4 minutes, and it is a deeply personal musical journey that gains even more resonance with the knowledge of his dark past.

The Red Dirt track "Bigger Better Than You" is a boastful song that will be a popular song in bars across the Lone Star State. The current single "Pillow" is a toe-tapping musical delight, and it is followed by "Jamie's Heart," which is a retro-cool track that can best be described as Rick Springfield meets Randy Rogers.

However, the best song on the album is the passionate "Run," and Broscoff's vocal performance is both haunting and confident. The song builds to a rousing crescendo, and the artist's throaty vocals increase the song's impact on listeners.

"Wrong Side Of The Tracks" is a radio-ready cut with a memorable melody, and radio program managers should take notice. The album ends with the tender "Maria Dreams," which discusses a Mexican man and woman who dream of a better life in Texas.

There is no better name for an album by T.J. Broscoff than "Ready To Fly." Broscoff has a musical gift - both his vocal and songwriting talent - that was put on hold while he fought his addictions. Now, he's ready to fly, and this is one plane Red Dirt fans should hop on without delay, because T.J. Broscoff has put the world on notice that he is determined to give both new fans and old a first class seat every time.
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ALBUM REVIEW: Nick Verzosa "She Only Loves Me"

It's hard not to appreciate the rich country voice of new Red Dirt star Nick Verzosa on his debut album "She Only Loves Me" following his successful five-song effort "The Smoking Gun EP" (read review by clicking here). The aforementioned EP yielded two hit singles "Look Back To Texas" and "Back When Love Was Easy." Indeed, the themes of "love" and "Texas" are constantly at the forefront of this young artist's terrific new project.
The album begins with the current single and title track "She Only Loves Me," which was produced by Texas country legend Walt Wilkins. Neither Verzosa or Wilkins disappoint with this easy-going honky tonk song that mixes elements of classic rock n' roll with Red Dirt sensibilities. Texas country fans should drink this track up faster than Bud Light at a Kevin Fowler concert.

The next cut, "So Mean," is Nick Verzosa's melodic, slow-burning ode to the mean girl in his life. The bluesy soul is perfectly conveyed, and this cut could also find success on radio. However, the album's big surprise is the quiet and vulnerable cut "Lazy River Days." Nick Verzosa finds a cool Uncle Kracker meets Wade Bowen swagger on this song that is very appealing.

Four of the 11 songs on the album were previously on Nick Verzosa's EP, including the previously mentioned singles "Look Back To Texas" and "Back When Love Was Easy" along with the Red Dirt cut "Something Lucky" and "Let It Go." The new song "Stronger Than That" is a dark love song that sizzles with passionate intensity, but it is "I Wouldn't Answer" that emerges as the album's best cut. This story in song deserves to be a radio hit, and Nick Verzosa's vocal performance is pitch perfect combined with the heartfelt lyrics and masterful instrumentation.

"Change Your Mind" increases the album's fun quotient in a major way, and the rockin' cut should prove to be an audience favorite. Likewise, the quirky track "7th Year Senior" should also have Texas country audiences rolling in the aisles with laughter.

"She Only Loves Me" from Nick Verzosa lives up to the high expectations set by "The Smoking Gun EP," and that is no easy feat. Nick Verzosa may think that she is the only one who loves him, but the evidence provided here proves that many thousands more will soon love him, too.
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