-->
Music

Trace Adkins: The Definitive Greatest Hits: Til the Last Shot's Fired

Of all 2010's country double albums that included Jamey Johnson songs, this was the second best.


Trace Adkins

The Definitive Greatest Hits: Til the Last Shot's Fired

Label: Capitol Nashville
US Release Date: 2010-10-12
UK Release Date: 2010-10-12
Label Website
Artist Website
Amazon
iTunes

As if mandated by federal law, nearly every article about Jamey Johnson’s The Guitar Song has mentioned that Johnson co-wrote “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” for Trace Adkins. One of Adkins’s best-known hits, “Badonkadonk” shows off his goofy side. Adkins’s new two-disc compilation, The Definitive Greatest Hits: Til the Last Shot’s Fired, sums up his time on Capitol Records (he’s now on Toby Keith’s Show Dog label), and roughly a third of its songs are played for laughs. “Badonkadonk” kicks everything off with a strutting chunk-rock beat, a smack-your-grandma-simple guitar riff, and the eternal question, “How’d she even get them britches on?” It’s some kind of art.

Adkins is one of country radio’s most reliable purveyors of novelties and just-plain-funny songs because he delivers them all straight. Where a nitwit like Rodney Atkins (“Farmer’s Daughter”) cloys for our good will, Adkins’s funny songs barely deign to wink at us, and sometimes they make him sound a little intimidating. We can chalk this up to three factors:

1. Trace Adkins’s funny songs are all about the delirious joy of being Trace Adkins;

2. He knows how to exploit the low end of his range for comic effect;

3. He can rock harder than most rockers.

When Adkins croaks out the rapped verses of “Chrome” (the “favorite color” of a lady he admires), or wraps his tongue around the various pick-up lines and baseball metaphors of “Swing”, you can savor the pure physical pleasure of his voice right along with him. Also infectious are the braggadocio of “Ladies Love Country Boys” and “I Got My Game On” (two other Johnson co-writes), and the giddy horndoggerel of his early hit “I Left Something Turned On at Home”. (Hint: it’s not an appliance.)

Adkins is a good enough singer that he can convincingly deliver dramatic showstoppers, too. His two military odes, “Arlington” and “Til the Last Shot’s Fired”, are moving precisely because they’re not jingoistic screeds of the type favored by Darryl Worley (“Have You Forgotten?”). Rather, they’re plainspoken soldier songs, sung with stoic restraint and accompanied with a refreshing lack of bombast. Or at least “Arlington” is. “Last Shot” starts off as a simple prayer for peace, and then balloons into a time-traveling war fantasia, complete with a well-enunciated contribution from the West Point Cadet Choir. Sort of a “serious novelty” in its country context, it’d fit in well on the latest Josh Groban album. Another serious novelty is the baptism tune “Muddy Water”, where Adkins gets dunked by the same gospel choir that lures his wife toward the bedroom in “Hot Mama”.

Ultimately, Adkins is a master of the Throw-It-At-the-Charts-and-See-What-Sticks school of country singing. He’s a master because most of his stuff sticks and he sings it with ease, even when he picks the most boilerplate ditties offered him. (Adkins co-wrote only two of these 28 songs.) His non-novelties range from forgettable (“Big Time”) to maudlin (“All I Ask For Anymore”) to actually pretty good (“Every Light In the House”). Your tolerance for this stuff may vary. Depending on your mood, generic country songs can be as satisfying or as boring as generic John Wayne movies, but they’re shorter and they create a good ambiance for getting your bake on. (Pies, smart aleck: this isn’t a Willie Nelson album.)

With the right voice and the right song, even country-by-numbers can whup you upside the head. In Adkins’s case, that number is “You’re Gonna Miss This”, his biggest pop hit and a contemplation of lost time worthy of Proust, or at least Prine. Adkins sings it with the same rueful machismo he uses to joke around, only for chills instead of laughs. As the country-convert hero of “Songs About Me” can attest, this guy knows how to make his songs speak truth, whether they’re silly or high-minded. There’s just not a whole lot he can do with the dull ones.

6
Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image