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Pain and Gain review
Paramount Pictures
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‘Pain and Gain’ Review

I watch a lot of 'Project Runway.' My wife likes it -- and, yeah, I like it too. A show dedicated to fashion design that features creative and powerful women is a weird thing to think about while watching a Michael Bay movie but that's exactly what I did during 'Pain and Gain.' Bay could learn a thing or two from that show about editing. Not in the cinematic, cutting shots together sense; that he's got. This is a different kind of editing.

It's the kind that is often called out by the 'Runway' judges when they tell the contestants (I'm paraphrasing), "This is too busy. You need to edit. That blue fuzzy hat that looks like a tribble distracts from the gorgeous, ornately sequined dress. The dress is enough. You don't need the tribble hat. Edit."

A Michael Bay movie -- particularly 'Pain & Gain' -- is a sequined dress with a blue tribble hat.

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Joanna Smith
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Joanna Smith, ‘Girls Are Crazy’ – Song Review

In general, songs that paint an entire group of people with one broad brush stroke don't fare well on country radio, but Joanna Smith is hoping to prove 'em wrong with her new single 'Girls Are Crazy.' The peppy new track is fun and flirty, and a short hop backward for women in country music.

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Category: Reviews
Tate Stevens
RCA Nashville
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Tate Stevens, ‘Tate Stevens’ – Album Review

The debut effort from Tate Stevens is about as straight-forward of a country album as you'll find. 'Tate Stevens' is an end cap-at-Walmart sort of record that proves the 'X Factor' winner can compete with the big names in Nashville.

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Category: Reviews
Granger Smith
Granger Smith
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Granger Smith, ‘Dirt Road Driveway’ – Album Review

If you look back over Granger Smith's early album covers, you'll find that he presented himself as a hat act. Sonically he's come a long way since those efforts, with his latest album 'Dirt Road Driveway' falling squarely in the singer-songwriter sub-genre of country music. It's an album that would sound best at a coffee house, not a honky tonk. 

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Category: Reviews
Lee Brice
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Lee Brice, ‘Parking Lot Party’ – Song Review

Songs like Lee Brice's new single 'Parking Lot Party' are easy to dismiss. It doesn't pack near as much punch as 'I Drive Your Truck,' but that's far from his intent. The South Carolina-raised singer is looking to add to the tailgate soundtrack, and at this he's successful. 

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Krystal Keith
Show Dog Universal
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Krystal Keith, ‘Krystal Keith’ – EP Review

Krystal Keith proves she has the talent to make it in Nashville, but a larger sample is needed to distinguish her as her own artist. At her best she's Bonnie Raitt for a new generation -- but at other times her style, pacing and lyrics are too heavily influenced by Toby Keith.

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Category: Reviews
The Statesboro Revue
Facebook
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It Was Worth the 5-Year Wait for The Statesboro Revue’s ‘Ramble on Privilege Creek’ – CD Review

I've been a fan of The Statesboro Review for a few years now. Since I first listened to the Austin-based band's debut CD, 'Different Kind of Light' in 2008, I was hooked on their sound. Stewart Mann and his band brought to my ears a terrific blend of southern rock, country, soul, bluegrass and folk, delivered in a fashion that seemed so natural. Along with their growing fan base, I've waited patiently for a follow-up, and 'Ramble on Privilege Creek' is finally here. And there is zero letdown.

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Category: Music News, Reviews
Randy Rogers Band
Angela Weiss, Getty Images
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Randy Rogers Band, ‘Fuzzy’ – Song Review

The Randy Rogers Band go for broke on their new single 'Fuzzy' from an upcoming album called 'Trouble.' This story of a wild night out is what 'The Hangover' would sound like if written by a country band.

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Randy Rogers Band
Facebook, Randy Rogers Band
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Randy Rogers Offers Something Very Different With His New Single ‘Fuzzy’ – Song Review

The Randy Rogers Band earned the right to stretch his boundaries a long time ago. The success they have seen in his 13+ years as a Texas country singer/songwriter allows that, and his legions of fans embrace the fact that Rogers pushes the creative envelope and still makes great music. With a new CD, 'Trouble' coming out April 30th, at least one song from the album has a very different feel from what we've heard from RR in the past, and that's the latest single, 'Fuzzy'.

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Willie Nelson
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Willie Nelson, ‘Let’s Face the Music and Dance’ – Album Review

'Let's Face the Music and Dance' is a great place for a young country music fan to meet Willie Nelson. It won't be his most famous, and it won't create any hit singles. This wonderfully consistent effort proves what longtime fans of the legend already know: At 79 years old (80 on April 30), Nelson is still as important and skilled a vocalist as there is in country music. 

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Vote to Determine the Top 10 Videos of the Week in Taste of Country’s Countdown

Can anyone stop Carrie Underwood? 'Two Black Cadillacs' has built a house on top of the ToC Top 10 Video Countdown, but there are more than a few big bad wolves looking to blow it down. New videos from Florida Georgia Line and Taylor Swift enter the voting poll this week, in addition to returning Top-10ers from Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton and Toby Keith

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Category: Reviews
Chris Cagle
YouTube
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Chris Cagle, ‘Dance Baby Dance’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

'Dance Baby Dance' is one of the finest songs of Chris Cagle's career -- perhaps his best ballad. A few fathers (and maybe a couple of mothers) will be wiping away tears before the end of the first verse. He hits that sweet spot between familiar and hokey. 

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Category: Reviews

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