See, we were meant to have an all-country Wednesday, but then our editor happened…
Martin Skidmore: I loved Big & Rich, so I was looking forward to this, but there’s something wrong. Maybe it’s too straightforward country rocking, maybe it’s missing their extraordinary genrefucking flair, maybe it’s lacking any detectable irony or humour, maybe it’s just that I miss the great vocal combination. It’s reasonably catchy and energetic, but it feels routine and flat.
Hillary Brown: Oh, lord. John Rich checks off the boxes on the “country-music” form but adds no self-awareness to compensate for the perfunctory manner of the exercise. With a strong vocal performance, it’s possible the song could have overcome the “country music that makes hipsters’ ears bleed” lyrics, but, sadly, that’s not to be found.
Anthony Easton: I love how badly behaved John Rich is — genuinely in the sense of drunken fist fights and too much cocaine badly behaved — and I keep hoping that the stories that get told with a tut-tut in blogs like 9513 and Nashville Gab will translate to a kind of musical break through. I have partied with cowboys and I don’t doubt that Mr Rich is capable of the debauchery they are capable of, but why can’t I hear the whiskey and pig grease dripping all over this lame ass attempt at pleasure?
Alfred Soto: Since I haven’t thought about Big & Rich since 2006, I expected more from John than a reclamation of the genre for the likes of frat guys much younger than him, especially when Luke Bryan’s doing more for whiskey-and-frisky. “Highfalutin’ clubs” don’t need mustachioed assholes like John showing patrons how to have a hellraisin’ time. Formally, though, this is interesting: the stop-start dynamics, John’s non-asshole vocal, and taut soloing are the good time they promise. In an age when Brad Paisley’s made this sort of thing unnecessary, let’s hear it for rowdiness.
Alex Ostroff: Rich’s country-and-proud-of-it persona always verged on cartoonish, and it seems he’s finally embraced it. “Country Done Come to Town” is all signifiers and precious little substance — twang, Hank, and Howdy’s. His days as a horse of a different colour are behind him; still, he can’t help but write songs that swing, even when he’s playing it safe.
Chuck Eddy: Has a ZZ Top riff. Has some semblance of a ZZ Top groove. Doesn’t have much else. Maybe Big Kenny will hook up with Jerrod Niemann.
Frank Kogan: Country comes to town with a funky metal riff, but the track plods anyway, and Rich isn’t just short the harmonies that he and Big Kenny once created, he’s missing Kenny’s expansive heart, too. Big & Rich were a traveling carnival and interplanetary roadshow, stuffing everything they could into the parade. Now John’s just another chip-on-his-shoulder country boy who’s gonna show the city slickers a thing or two, and learn nothing in return.
Michaelangelo Matos: This is about as soft-pedaled as it gets. Just cliché upon cliché, the occasional semi-clever line only making the verve his old duo had on their first album seem further away.
David Raposa: When Rich tries to put some actual boot scoot into this boot scuff of a song with an all-together-now “hell yeah,” all I done got to offer in return is a resounding “heck no.” And when Rich namedrops Hank, which is a roundabout and half-ass way to invoke the sort of shit-kicking sass this song sorely lacks, all I can think about is Hank Jr. shilling for the NFL as if he wishes he were rolling over in his grave. PS — I really hope that any folks glomming onto some sorta class-centric “fuck Gucci & that namebrand bullshit” message here (which Rich is and isn’t hinting at) actually try and shop for some Lucchese boots. (Caveat emptor: you’re gonna need that 5% discount.)