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METALLICA AT THE DRIVE-IN: "WE'RE RISK TAKERS"
A peek at how the deal went down. (8/13a)
THE GREAT CATALOG GOLD RUSH
Is mining the past the future? (8/10a)
MAYBE, JUST MAYBE:
THROUGH THE FOG
Breaking down the radio charts - or just breaking down. (8/13a)
TOP 20: WAVE ELECTION
Taylor holds firm. (8/13a)
THE BABE & THE MULE
Interscope's co-MVPs (8/7a)
BTS BRINGS IT
They're so dreamy.
VOTE BY MAIL
It's a conspiracy, because everyone does it.
IS IT CHRISTMAS?
No, but we're thinking about cookies.
WOKE MUSIC
Protest songs that sound like now.
Music City
PARDI RE-UPS WITH SONY/ATV
8/3/20

Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville has extended its worldwide publishing agreement with Jon Pardi.

Pardi is known for “Dirt On My Boots,” “Head Over Boots” and “Heartache On The Dance Floor,” and his recent collaboration with Thomas Rhett on “Beer Can’t Fix.”

“Jon Pardi is a honky-tonk genius—his music is dynamic and captures every aspect of life and love, which is why his songs will remain timeless,” Sony/ATV Nashville CEO Rusty Gaston said.

Pardi noted, “Sony/ATV has been incredible to work with and has believed in me from the start. We all share in a unique, creative vision that has taken us to some incredible places, and I’m excited to keep that going.”

INTRIGUERS MAKING WAVES: TENILLE TOWNES
7/31/20

By Holly Gleason

With the charisma and wide-open heart of early Melissa Etheridge, Townes has lit up stages on tours with Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris and Patty Griffin.

Her Big Hearts for Big Kids Foundation has raised in excess of $2m—earning her the Canadian Country Music Association’s Humanitarian of the Year award at the tender age of 18. But what makes the guitar-brandishing Everygirl stand out is her songwriting.

Lemonade Stand, produced by Jay Joyce (Eric Church, Cage the Elephant, Little Big Town), is the blast of hip, older-sister wisdom everyone needs. With the breathtaking tribute “Jersey on the Wall,” the empathetic “Somebody’s Daughter” or the no-freaking-way “Holding Out for the One,” Townes brings a heaping dose of Faith Hill kindness and Shania Twain self-respect without sacrificing her sense of humor. With its sweeping, gleaming beats, Stand is as frisky as it is evolved.

INTRIGUERS MAKING WAVES: RYAN HURD
7/31/20

By Holly Gleason

Hurd is the closest thing to a classic singer/songwriter as you’ll find in Music City, occupying terrain somewhere between Jackson Browne/Neil Young and Ed Sheeran/Jason Isbell.

Yes, he’s written massive hits for Diplo with Morgan Wallen (“Heartless”), Blake Shelton (“Lonely Tonight”), Luke Bryan (“Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset”) and Lady A (“What If I Never Get Over You”), all of which are reconfigured on his new EOM EP, as well as Tim McGraw (“Last Turn Home”) and Maren Morris/Brothers Osborne (the Grammy-nominated “All My Favorite People”); but he’s more compelling stripping things back and unfurling little moments that hold big memories.

“To a T” has 89m plays on Spotify alone, where “Diamonds or Twine” and “Love in a Bar” are just under 30m. For the organic-leaning musician, success on his terms seems destined to flow from reflecting love, striving and connecting on a deeper level back to the 20- and 30-somethings seeking (and settling into) their places in the world. Those values make his new “Every Other Memory” linger long after it’s finished playing.

INTRIGUERS MAKING WAVES: HAILEY WHITTERS
7/31/20

By Holly Gleason

Whitters never cared about fitting in, preferring to use honesty like a flamethrower. “Ten Year Town” offers the grueling truth of Nashville without flinching or backing down, while “Janice at the Hotel Bar” paints a picture of a grown woman making the best of a less-than-2% life; so much wisdom is strung into her small talk that it holds the song together.

Especially affecting is “All the Cool Girls,” which uses a creeping rhythm track underneath a song that expresses the real truth inside what so many girls who could be the heroine of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” are feeling.

A realist, the girl from Iowa who co-wrote Little Big Town’s “Happy People” delivers The Dream on her own Pigasus Records. This strong blast of ’80s Steve Earle/Rosanne Cash/Patty Loveless-style credibility-country inspired The Washington Post’s Chris Richards to call it “the year’s deepest country album.”

INTRIGUERS MAKING WAVES: CAYLEE HAMMACK
7/31/20

By Holly Gleason

Larger than life, glowing with punk-rock energy, an electric technicolor persona and a life that informs her songwriting more than any six tabloids, three seasons of Shonda Rhimes shows and a month of Presidential briefings, Hammack is her own Roman candle of talent.

Having surrendered a full music scholarship to Belmont University for a guy who eventually left her—for an older woman who had three kids and lived in a double-wide—she escaped Georgia and summoned the grit to sleep in her car in a Walmart parking lot when a motel seemed too seedy. Later, she survived a devastating fire that destroyed her home.

The songwriter/producer/full-throttle vocalist’s positivity-seeking If It Wasn’t for You drops in August; its many highlights include the quirky, down-home “Family Tree” (where the kids “get high school high” for Sunday dinner), the Kacey Musgraves-feeling “Small Town Hypocrite” and the clever Southern-charm kiss-off “Preciatcha.”

INTRIGUERS MAKING WAVES: LAINE HARDY
7/31/20

By Holly Gleason

The 20-year-old Hardy possesses a voice that sounds like a best friend from back home. But last year’s American Idol winner is more than just a kid who sings. He’s also a guitar player of the first order, having honed his musicianship since the age of eight, and that’s something producer Michael Knox (Jason Aldean) understands.

With “Tiny Town” shipping to Country radio after “Ground I Grew Up On” established Hardy as a voice for young America, the guy with over 29m streams is connecting across DSPs, video channels, social media, Radio Disney Country and iHeart’s national morning show hosted by Bobby Bones.

“Tiny Town” is a scroll of all the things that make up life in Livingston, La., and thousands of towns just like it. A source of comfort and joy and a reminder of the best part of who we are, the dark-haired tenor arrived just when we needed him most.

INTRIGUERS MAKING WAVES: MICKEY GUYTON
7/31/20

By Holly Gleason

If the only standing ovation at UMG Nashville’s 2020 Country Radio Seminar showcase at the Ryman—for her femme-empowering “What Are You Gonna Her”—weren’t enough, Guyton returns on the crest of Black Lives Matter with the equally of-the-moment vital truth that is “Black Like Me.”

A powerhouse vocalist of the Carrie Underwood school, the Texas-born and -raised songwriter embraced her personal reality in an industry logjammed for women and struck a powerful chord in this time of reckoning. No surprise, then, that there’s early Grammy buzz for her brand of classic power country.

This 10-year overnight sensation is invested with a singular, real-world perspective of the sort America is clamoring for.

INTRIGUERS MAKING WAVES: CADY GROVES
7/31/20

By Holly Gleason

The mixes for Bless My Heart were done. Groves was waiting out COVID quarantining for the photo/video piece that would wrap up a years-long chapter. The emo-pop star, who’d opened The Bamboozle Road Show with LMFAO, Good Charlotte, Boys Like Girls and Third Eye Blind, had returned to her heartland roots—and found allies in the SMACKSongs creative trust.

With a cover of James Blunt’s “Bartender” and her own life-cataloguing “Bless My Heart,” the impossibly musical songwriter managed to pull sunshine from dark moments and disappointment. Which made it doubly ironic when, on 5/2, the irrepressible Groves passed away.

This release, fulfilling a promise her team made to realize her musical legacy, shows the kind of joy amid darkness that made her music such a passion point for kids seeking someone who understood.