Artist Profile: Jack Johnson

AOTW-JACK-JOHNSON-472x472Surfer, activist, and mellow troubadour Jack Johnson releases his 6th studio album, called “From Here to Now to You.”

As he recently stated in an interview, “I play around with stuff but I don’t really feel the need to reinvent myself to remain relevant. I feel part of a tradition of singer-songwriters, of playing acoustic guitar and sharing songs. I’ve always felt like a traditionalist. I appreciate other people pushing boundaries but I never really felt like doing that with my own music.”

And in keeping with that spirit, the new album is a collection of Jack Johnson’s reliably mellow acoustic style and observational narratives. Let by the single “I Got You,” his new album is a perfect way to send off the remaining, lazy days of summer.

On this week’s Artist of the Week station, you’ll hear the musical DNA of Jack Johnson: his biggest hits along with tracks from his kindred spirits like Donovan Frankenreiter, G. Love, Matt Costa, and Ben Harper to his forbearers like Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Neil Young, and Bob Marley. You’ll also hear his collaborations and music from the artists that he’s influenced.

Listen to Jack Johnson on Slacker’s Artist Of The Week.

David Nail Hints New Album Will Reflect New Mindset

davidnailCountry star David Nail has a good sense of humor about people who don’t realize that it’s him singing the infectious new song, “Whatever She’s Got.”

“At first, people were saying, ‘Is this really David Nail? But he only sings sad songs!’” the singer tells Slacker with a laugh.

Nail says “Whatever She’s Got” was a no-brainer when choosing the first radio single from his upcoming fourth studio album. Its romantic lyrics and up-tempo beat set the tone for the entire project, which he hints has much more of an energy boost than his previous efforts.

“I’ve had the reputation of being a balladeer, but I’m in a happier place in my life, both personally and professionally,” the vocal powerhouse reveals. “So with this record, we just wanted to have fun and that’s translated into the music.”

So far, so good. “Whatever She’s Got” is among the Top 5 highest-rated songs on our New Country First station. Nail has also been leaking other tracks from the album, which is due early next year, and has been getting great feedback.

“People are either really good liars or they like it,” he says. “I choose to think the latter!”

 

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.

 

This Week’s Slacker EQ Charts Are Out Now!

EQ PlayYou’ve arrived at Slacker’s EQ charts for the week of August 18th! Take a look here. 

We look at the listening behavior of millions of Slacker music fans, and we measure what you listen to, skip, Heart, and Ban. Armed with that data, we are able to present these charts, which are a true measure of how engaged you and millions of music fans are with the songs that you hear. These are the songs that you love the most this week across all genres. Here are some insights from every genre:

This week Katy Perry “Roars” on to our overall chart with her latest single. It lands at number 8 in the highest debut that we’ve seen all year.  Imagine Dragons’ “Demons” also makes a huge jump, moving up 28 spots to land at number 15.

Over in Pop, this week saw two major releases by superstar artists, which left us asking the question: “Katy or Gaga?” Slacker listeners answered with a resounding “KATY.” Ms. Perry’s “Roar” makes the biggest debut in Slacker EQ history, landing at number 4 in its first week of release, which was aided by its feature as a Slacker “Song Stuck In My Head” on the day of it’s release. Lady Gaga’s “Applause” was also featured as a “Song Stuck In My Head” and had a very respectable debut, bowing at number 29 in its first week.

Jason Aldean’s “Night Train” continues to be a big hit with Slacker’s country fans, as it moves up 9 spots to crack the top 10, and could be a number one record on the Country chart within a few weeks. After hosting an “I Am The DJ” station for Slacker in July, Eli Young Band’s songs have been shooting up the EQ Charts, and this week their latest track “Drunk Last Night” moves up 12 spots to land at number 28.

Amongst Slacker’s EDM fans, Zedd reigns supreme at the moment, as his “Clarity” is close to unseating Daft Punk at the number 1 spot, and his “Fall Into the Sky” makes its debut this week at number 40.

On The Hip Hop/R&B chart, Robin Thicke still holds the number 1 spot with “Blurred Lines,” but his new track “Give It 2 U” jumps up a remarkable 289 spots to debut at number 37. Jay-Z’s “Holy Grail” moves up to number 3 on it’s inevitable march to the top, and Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” has the biggest debut of the week, landing at number 15 in its first week on the chart.

Slacker’s rock fans have driven two notable debuts on the Rock chart; Stone Sour’s “Tired” and Skillet’s “American Noise” both crack the top 40 this week. On the Alt/Indie chart, Cage The Elephant’s “Come a Little Closer” debuts at number 40 after being featured as a Slacker “Song Stuck In My Head” last week, which exposed the song to millions of listeners throughout the US and Canada. And after being championed by Slacker’s Indie curators since March, The Unlikely Candidates’ “Follow My Feet” is starting to engage Slacker listeners, as it debuts at number 37.

This chart will be updated next week–Check back next Wednesday to see which songs music fans all over the US and Canada are most engaged with! You can also hear all of these songs on the Slacker Top 40, hosted by Slacker DJ Parker—listen here! 

Want to learn more about what the EQ score is? Read more here or check out our nifty infographic here.

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. 

Eliane Elias Celebrates Chet Baker on Slacker Jazz

Eliane Elias I Thought About YouWhile the Great American Songbook and Bossa Nova might at first seem to be disparate juxtapositions, it’s wise to remember that Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto were huge fans of Chet Baker’s relaxed, lyrical delivery of standards. Baker remains an iconic pioneer of West Coast Cool, as both an immediately identifiable vocalist and versatile trumpeter.

On her new Concord Jazz release, “I Thought About You,” vocalist /pianist Eliane Elias pays tribute to vocalist/trumpeter Baker, without losing sight of her Brazilian roots.  Eliane’s former husband, trumpeter Randy Brecker, puts his personal  stamp  on  “There Will Never Be Another You, “ “That Old Feeling,” and “Just Friends.” His phrasing shows that he is aware of Baker’s clear tone and subdued style yet inventive enough to develop a sense of originality on these standards.

Just as Baker grew up listening to music of the ‘30’s and ‘40’s, Elias and Brecker obviously grew up with an appreciation for Baker’s charismatic delivery and subdued style.  Elias, who has previously paid tribute to Jobim and Bill Evans on record, once again proves she is an artist beyond category!

Enjoy the essence of Eliane Elias’ “I Thought About You” on Slacker Jazz and Slacker Modern Jazz!

In Memoriam: Ray Manzarek Dies at Age 74

Ray ManzarekThe Doors’ founding keyboardist, Ray Manzarek, died in Germany this Monday morning after a long fight with cancer, his publicist said in a statement. He was 74 years old.

As a founding member of the Doors, his legacy is not only as the man who met Jim Morrison the poet and guided him to become Jim Morrison the frontman, but as one of the most notable keyboardists in rock history–playing the keys like a lead instrument.

Join Slacker in paying tribute to his legacy here.

1 2