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Josh Ward
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Josh Ward Looks to Repeat the Success of ‘Sent Me You’ With His New Single, ‘Promises’ – Song Review

After reaching a new level of success with his hit single 'Sent Me You', Mongomery, Texas native Josh Ward is faced with the tall order of following up a chart-topping record. He'll take a crack at it with a very different song from the sweet, honest ballad:  a rocking honky tonk country tune called 'Promises'.

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Category: Music News, Reviews
Now You See Me review
Summit Entertainment
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‘Now You See Me’ Review

The magic of cinema and the magic of magic tend to cancel each other out. Once you convince someone they're seeing alternate realities, alien conquerers, and distant futures, pulling a rabbit out of a hat looks a little underwhelming. It is a cruel, sad truth that a single cut negates all the impact of the greatest act of sleight of hand.

So, a movie about magic needs to be about more than just magic. The silly but not entirely unpleasurable 'Now You See Me' is about showmanship. There are a lot of good actors in this movie, including Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Melanie Laurent, and Mark Ruffalo. They play illusionists, mentalists, hucksters, debunkers, billionaire industrialists, Interpol officers, and FBI agents, respectively(ish). All of them, no matter whether they're wool-pullers or wool-pullees, look like they're having a grand old time misdirecting us through a labyrinthine plot involving magicians, bank heists, and decades-old vendettas. For a while, the fun is infectious. I found myself chuckling at the outrageous character names -- Dylan Rhodes! Jack Wilder! Arthur Tressler! Thaddeus Bradley! J. Daniel Atlas! -- and grinning at the ludicrous twists. Like a mark at a good magic act, I knew I was being worked over and was enjoying every second.

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Category: Movies, Reviews
After Earth review
Sony Pictures
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‘After Earth’ Review

Seventeen summers ago, Will Smith gave us the catch phrase "welcome to Earth" and then punched an alien in the face. This time he's the invading alien (kinda) and his new line "this is Earth" is much more doom and gloom than swagger. An international icon, father and potentially the next great crazy celebrity, Will Smith is finally ready to pass the baton to his son Jaden.

But it isn't a baton he's using in 'After Earth' (an original sci-fi film based on a story of Smith's own creation) but a C-40 Cutlass – a doohickey kinda like Darth Maul's lightsaber, which springs out different blades depending on what you need. Actually, we never quite know how the Cutlass in 'After Earth' works, but it is one of a number of really nifty gizmos that populates the half-baked mythos of this film.

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Dustin Lynch
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images
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Dustin Lynch, ‘Wild in Your Smile’ – Song Review

'Wild in Your Smile,' Dustin Lynch's third single from his self-titled debut album, is another vocal showcase for the 28-year-old Tennessee native. The song is a fan favorite, one many liked for the followup to 'She Cranks My Tractor.' As Lynch hashes out a familiar story, his confidence is both reliable and charming.

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Category: Reviews
Dierks Bentley
Christopher Polk, Getty Images
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Dierks Bentley (Feat. Kacey Musgraves), ‘Bourbon in Kentucky’ – Song Review

Dierks Bentley breaks from his longtime producer Brett Beavers to record his new single 'Bourbon in Kentucky.' Sonically, the song is more experimental than anything the Batman and Robin duo put together. Beavers and Bentley's best work shook like a rattlesnake or pierced deep into the veins with a heartbreaking poison capable of inducing painful flashbacks of past relationships. Few have been as successful over the past decade.

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Jaida Dryer
Streamsound Records
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Jaida Dreyer, ‘Half Broke Horses’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

'Half Broke Horses' is a song many songwriters would be afraid to record. Jaida Dreyer's single is rooted in difficult memories. There's no mistaking the pain in her twang as she tells the story -- and it is a wonderful story. The problem with recording such songs is they often turn out brilliantly, and fans want to hear you sing them again... and again... and again. Blake Shelton knows this -- it's why his wife Miranda Lambert cut 'Over You' instead of him.

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Category: Reviews
Darius Rucker
Kevin Winter, Getty Images
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Darius Rucker, ‘True Believers’ – Album Review

Darius Rucker sings with more energy than a nuclear power plant, but his new album 'True Believers' is safer than solar power. He captures the spirit of his live show -- one of the best in the business -- on each of the 12 tracks, but one yearns for for something unique and unexpected. 

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Fast and Furious 6 review
Universal Pictures
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‘Fast and Furious 6′ Review

'Fast Five' attempted - and quite successfully I might add - a reboot of sorts for the entire 'Fast and Furious' franchise, turning a series of movies about car racing into one exciting heist film. It was big and brash and sweaty and a complete success. So where do you go from there? 'Fast and Furious 6' attempts to answer that question by adding an -er suffix to all those adjectives above. Bigger, brasher, sweatier.

'Fast and Furious 6' is like 'Fast Five' on nitrous - director Justin Lin hits that proverbial turbo boost to go bigger, faster, stronger - and at times, that is a great thing. But when the NOS runs out, the drag race just turns into a drag.

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Cassadee Pope
Republic Nashville
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Cassadee Pope, ‘Wasting All These Tears’ – Song Review

Cassadee Pope didn't rush to release her debut single 'Wasting All These Tears' as so many reality show winners do. It's been six months since she won Season 3 of 'The Voice,' and the singer seems to have made the most of the time, as the track is a polished and unique semi-country arrangement. 

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Category: Reviews
Hangover 3 review
Warner Bros.
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‘Hangover 3′ Review

'The Hangover' giveth and 'The Hangover' taketh away.

The first 'Hangover' made Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and especially Zach Galifianakis stars, and it elevated Todd Phillips from middling Hollywood director to name-brand comic auteur. But in the film industry, success that surprising and enormous demands more success; the beast must be fed. But as 'The Hangover Part II' and especially the new 'Hangover Part III' prove, it is very hard to make a good sequel to a truly original idea. 'Part II' went the rehash route, recycling the plot of the first movie so brazenly you almost had to admire its chutzpah. 'Part III' finally breaks with the formula a little (SPOILER ALERT: there is no hangover), but still doesn't produce anything even remotely worthy of the first film.

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David Nail
MCA Nashville
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David Nail, ‘Whatever She’s Got’ – Song Review

'Whatever She's Got' represents a new sound -- and new look -- for David Nail. The 'Let It Rain' singer previously relied on a strong voice and bittersweet lyrics to work songs up the charts. The new track is pop-friendly and not nearly as deep.

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Kree Harrison
Kevin Winter, Getty Images
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Kree Harrison, ‘All Cried Out’ – Song Review

They say specificity is the soul of narrative, which would mean Kree Harrison's first post-'Idol' single 'All Cried Out' lacks soul, or narrative. The ballad is a showcase for her vocal range and power, but it's never made clear why the Texan is so bummed.

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Category: Reviews

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