Shania Twain is the Artist of the Week

SHANIA TWAIN AOTW15 years ago, Shania Twain scored her sixth number-one country single with “You’re Still the One”. This song went on to become an international mega-hit, and it earned her 4 Grammy nominations, of which she won 2. This week, she celebrates her 48th birthday, and Slacker is paying tribute the Queen of Country Pop.

Shania’s album “Come On Over” is still the best-selling album by a female and the top-selling country album of all time. She was one of the leaders of country music’s renaissance in the 1990s, introducing millions of new listeners to the genre. In 2004, she went on hiatus until she started her “Still the One” residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas last year. She is currently working on her fifth studio album, and her fans anxiously await her new music.

On this week’s Artist of the Week station you’ll hear her biggest hits, the music that influenced her as a child when she was singing in bars, and the hundreds of artists that she influenced and inspired.

Listen to Shania Twain on Slacker’s Artist of the Week.

Tim McGraw Honored for “Highway” Milestone

Less than two dozen artists on the planet can boast 34 No. 1 singles, so there was a big reason for Tim McGraw to celebrate this week in Nashville. Friends and colleagues threw a party for the country superstar in midtown Music City to commemorate his 34th chart-topper, “Highway Don’t Care,” which also features Taylor Swift on vocals and Keith Urban on guitar.

Photo by Rick Diamond- Getty

Photo by Rick Diamond- Getty

“I’m a big fan of Keith’s and big fan of Taylor’s. They’re two of the best artists we have, not just in country but in music in general,” McGraw told Slacker and other partygoers, including Urban himself, who beamed at his friend on stage. “Keith is one of those guys who makes everyone look at us here in Nashville, and I’m so proud to have him represent us. And Taylor is so smart, talented, beautiful, and a spectacular songwriter. It was a big deal to have her on this record, and especially a big deal for my three daughters!”

Plaques commemorating the song’s rise to the top were presented to the singer, his producer Byron Gallimore and the “Highway Don’t Care” songwriters, Mark Irwin, Josh Kear, Brad Warren and Brett Warren. McGraw showed as much appreciation for the writers as he did his collaborators.

Brett Warren, Brad Warren, Mark Irwin, McGraw, Byron Gallimore; photo by Thien Phan

Brett Warren, Brad Warren, Mark Irwin, McGraw, Byron Gallimore; photo by Thien Phan

“There are people at 7-Eleven who can sing better than I can, but there are not a lot of people who can write a great song,” he mused. “This town is full of those people. They’re passionate about what they do and work hard at it. The best (songwriters) in this industry are right here in Nashville.”

McGraw’s wife, Faith Hill, was also at the party, as the couple shared a rare night out together in Nashville. They will resume their series of Soul2Soul shows at Las Vegas’ Venetian Hotel and Casino in October. McGraw is also working on a new movie but is keeping mum on details, joking that he’d lose his role if he said anything about it just yet.

Listen to McGraw’s latest No. 1, “Highway Don’t Care,” here.


Song Stuck in our Head: Jake Owen’s “Days of Gold”

Jake-Owen-472x472Florida-born country star Jake Owen picked up the guitar after a wakeboarding accident sidelined him from sports. He eventually made his way to Nashville and released his debut single “Yee Haw” in 2006.

His as-yet-untitled fourth album is set for a December release but we’ve already got the first single.

Listen to the new single, “Days of Gold” on demand now – it is Slacker’s Song Stuck In My Head. 

Brett Eldredge’s “Bring You Back” is Slacker’s Album of the Week

BRETT-472x472Country newcomer Brett Eldredge proves a man of many moods on his debut album, “Bring You Back.”

He first made us cry with the sentimental “Raymond,” then turned charming flirt with his catchy “Don’t Ya.” The album features diverse songs delivered in that soulful voice that has seen Eldredge deemed country’s next big thing and “Bring You Back” deemed Slacker’s Album of the Week.

Listen to “Bring You Back” on demand this week on Slacker’s Album of the Week station here. 


Florida Georgia Line Announces Dates for First Headlining Tour

FGL_Hi-Res_Photo_8.29.12-1024x682It’s been a long time since an act has shot to superstardom as quickly as Florida Georgia Line. The country duo, comprised of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, signed their first major label record deal just one year ago … and what a year it’s been! They have already scored quadruple platinum sales of their debut single, “Cruise,” which stayed at #1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs Chart for a whopping 19 straight weeks, and their debut album is closing in on platinum sales. That’s on top of ACM and CMT award wins and yet another chart-topper with “Get Your Shine On.”

After opening two of the hottest tours of the year, Taylor Swift’s Red Tour and Luke Bryan’s Dirt Road Diaries trek, the guys’ next road trip will feature their own name at the top of the bill. This fall, Florida Georgia Line will embark on their first headlining run, the Here’s to the Good Times Tour 2013. “This is another dream of ours coming true,” says Kelley. “I couldn’t be more excited and more proud of the tour.”

Kicking off Oct. 3 in Brookings, SD, the trek will hit 32 cities before wrapping up Dec. 14 in Kent, WA. (See below for a full list of cities and dates on the tour.) Colt Ford will open, along with Tyler Farr on select dates and Dallas Smith on alternate dates. The first show to go on sale – the Oct. 19 stop in Lexington, KY – sold out in just 23 minutes.

While we wait for this fall’s high-energy shows, savor the rest of summer with Florida Georgia Line on our Country Summer station. Along with “Cruise,” you’ll find several other songs on the station that are perfect for an August road trip, including Brad Paisley’s “Beat This Summer,” Easton Corbin’s “All Over the Road,” Jake Owen’s “Summer Jam” and more.

Click here for a full list of tour dates and listen to Florida Georgia Line’s hits on Slacker’s New Country First and Country Hits now.

Jennifer Nettles’ Solo Album Merges Mix of Influences

179521_569869983053192_436173243_nDynamo country duo Sugarland has always incorporated a hodgepodge of influences in their platinum-selling music, blending country with pop, rock and soul, and even going so far as to cover Beyonce and Pearl Jam. So it’s no surprise that when lead singer Jennifer Nettles stepped out on her own to make a solo album, she colored outside the country lines.

“I started writing for this project a few years ago, leaving myself open as a writer and not wanting to stagnate, not wanting to become a caricature of myself,” the singer told Slacker and other music industry friends at a recent party previewing her upcoming album. “I wanted to take the risk of recreation, and that’s what this record turned out to be.”

Teaming with famed rock producer Rick Rubin and recording at his Shangri-La Studios in Malibu, Calif., Jennifer didn’t have much of a rulebook to play by when it came to making the album. But she was adamant about one thing: keeping production to a minimum.

“Rick is wonderful at capturing the most live sound that we can,” explains the 38-year-old musician. “We have all this technology, but it’s a performing art that’s meant to be experienced live. And to capture that live performance sound is sometimes illusive, especially with technology now because you can auto-tune it to death.”

While its track list incorporates influences ranging from gospel to classic rock, the yet-to-be-titled album will most surely be embraced by country radio. In fact, its first single, “That Girl,” serves as a long-awaited response to country queen Dolly Parton’s iconic tune, “Jolene.”

“It’s the story of a woman who doesn’t realize that the person she’s just been with has somebody else,” says Nettles. “And then when she does, she calls her immediately and says, ‘Even though I had my eye on this guy, I don’t want to be that girl. I don’t want your man.’ Consequently, we’ve taken to calling it ‘The Ballad of Jolene.’”

Another song that will fit right in on country radio is one the lauded vocalist co-wrote with ‘80s and ‘90s pop legend, Richard Marx. “Know You Want to Know” is a toe-tapping tune that pokes fun of the magnification of celebrity through social media and tabloid journalism. (It’s certainly a far cry from “Hold On to the Nights” and “Right Here Waiting,” so Nettles jokes that Marx is quite proud of stepping outside the box himself, as well.) Other songs previewed at the party in Nashville included a soulful cover of Bob Seger’s “Like a Rock,” along with a few touching, powerful ballads written by Jennifer.

Jennifer Nettles’ “That Girl” is set to hit country radio on Aug. 19. There’s no word yet on a release date for the full album but in the meantime, check out Sugarland and other hits on Slacker’s New Country station.

Court Yard Hounds Return With ‘Amelita’

Screen Shot 2013-07-20 at 4.04.15 AMThe future of the Dixie Chicks isn’t looking so bright, but Court Yard Hounds is certainly filling the void. The duo, comprised of Chicks co-founders Martie Maguire and Emily Robison, released its sophomore album, Amelita, this week. The collection not only shows a happier side of the Texas sisters, but also solidifies them as a band, and not just a side project.

While the Hounds’ 2010 self-titled debut was largely inspired by Robison’s divorce from country crooner Charlie Robison, Amelita is the product of more diverse songwriting inspiration. “I’ve been freed of all of those time-heals-everything kind of things,” says Robison. “Now, I’ve opened up to other ideas and ways of looking at life and the world. [Amelita is] not only a more hopeful album, but it’s more fun.”

The Texas-bred siblings wrote or co-wrote most songs on the new album and describe it as country meets adult alternative, meets adult contemporary. While their more organic sound is certainly a departure from the Dixie Chicks, an old memory from the superstar trio’s heyday is what inspired the title track, which is about underage prostitution.

“We were shooting the video [for the Chicks’ “Long Time Gone”] across from basically what was a brothel,” Maguire explains to CultureMap Austin. “Women were standing out in the doorways, and we were so naïve and we were going, ‘Why do all these women have their doors open?’”

Maguire, who takes over lead vocals from her little sister on two of the album’s 11 tracks, insists the Hounds’ sophomore disc reflects a stronger backbone. Starting over again after a multi-platinum-selling, Grammy-sweeping run as the Dixie Chicks was somewhat daunting, as they had to prove themselves again. But in the three years between Hounds albums, their musical confidence has skyrocketed.

“We’ve approached it differently because we felt like okay, we are a band,” says the fiddle player. “We aren’t just two ex-Dixie Chicks anymore, we’re a band and we like our sound and we’re going to continue to do this and hopefully get better at it, and share something new this time around.”

As for the Chicks, neither Maguire nor Robison will come right out and say they’re done, but they do warn to not hold your breath for new Dixie Chicks music anytime soon. Lead singer Natalie Maines released her own solo project, Mother, earlier this year and is busy touring in support of the project. And the Court Yard Hounds are quite content concentrating on their own venture – a musical refreshment after being with the Chicks since 1989.

Listen for Court Yard Hounds on our Americana station here. 

Luke Bryan ‘Tailgates’ in Nashville

When it comes to his whirlwind success, Luke Bryan insists it takes a village. The country music superstar was celebrated at a party Wednesday (July 10) in Nashville, where Slacker joined about 200 music industry colleagues in raising a glass to the double platinum sales status of Bryan’s Tailgates and Tanlines album. Photo by Alan PoiznerThe humble singer used his time in the spotlight to thank everyone from his road crew and co-writers to the head of Universal Music Group Nashville, Mike Dungan (pictured left with Bryan), whom he called a “whiskey drinkin’, partyin’, runnin’ the biggest label in the world kind of guy.”

Tailgates and Tanlines was the eighth biggest-selling album of any genre in 2012 and spawned three No. 1 hits. It was nominated for Album of the Year at both the Country Music Association Awards and Academy of Country Music Awards. Yet selling two million copies of the project is a feat Bryan admits he can’t really grasp.

“I remember when we were celebrating one million. I never imagined getting to two million,” he said from the stage. “It takes so many people to make this happen. Thanks to everyone who helped me do what I’ve always dreamed of. So many people in this room have watched me go from somebody who was so ignorant and naïve to somebody that’s … well, maybe not naïve but there’s still a lot of ignorance. [laughs]”

And a lot of days away from home. Bryan is currently on his sold-out Dirt Road Diaries tour and credits wife Caroline with holding down the fort in Nashville, chasing after their two sons, Bo (5) and Tate (2).

“I want to thank my wife for letting me be on the road and shake my butt,” laughed the “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)” singer. “Caroline busts her butt with the boys and is the perfect wife to let me have this career. We were down in Grayton Beach (Florida) last night, and we had the boys on the bus … Tate was sleeping in the bottom bunk and woke up about what, three times?”

“About 30 times,” Caroline corrected him from the audience.

“Thirty? Well, I was up for two of them,” the singer joked in response, then continuing his little family story with something that might make his youngest child blush in a few years. Bryan was excited to report that Tate “poo pooed on the potty” for the first time last week – another feat to which he credits the tireless parenting of his better half.

Bryan will have very little downtime between his current tour and promotion of his next album. Crash My Party is set to hit stores Aug. 13, and we’re betting it will be another two million-seller. Its title track, which you can hear on our New Country First station, is already No. 4 on the Slacker EQ chart.

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