Harmonizing Duo Kings Anchor Inaugural Big Gay Country Holiday

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Jarrod McCabe
Kings, littorally.
I would date boys in high school and college who happened to play the guitar; then I realized, instead of dating them, I wanted to be them," says Steph Bishop, one-half of the poignantly pure-voiced duo Kings, accurately self-tagged as "queer country folkies" with "tight vocal harmonies, strings, stomps...intelligent, inventive songwriting, politics, humor."

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2014's Top Country Albums Prove the Music's Flourishing, Radio Be Damned

Categories: Country

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Here's my imitation of executives in Nashville: "Let's put the one that sounds like a Lionel Richie ballad right after the tailgating song with the AC/DC power chords." This year's country-music crop boasts some marvels, but I've never found less to like in the albums pumped out of Music Row, where sequencing three strong tracks in a row is as long-gone a tradition as Nudie suits. Even the best big-biz album on this list, Miranda Lambert's Platinum, demands editing on the consumer end: You'll like a lot, and you'll skip more than you should have to.

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'Stand With Hillary' Is 2016's First Political Pop Smash

Categories: Country, Politics

In a Camarillo strip mall, where a toasty Quiznos breeze mingles with the funk of Jamba Juice, a nameless cowboy strums a guitar. He's thinking of a woman he knew years ago, way back in aught-twelve. She was a good woman, a loyal wife and a patriot, but her country let her down with negativity and gender-based attacks. But now it's 2016 (?) and the time has come to stand at her side. In a gently Auto-Tuned country twang, the cowboy begins his lonesome song.

This poignant country ballad has been bouncing around both wings of the political snarkosphere all day; this morning, it had a couple hundred views and zero comments; this evening, it has nearly 50,000 views and comments have been turned off (and probably not due to an embarrassment of praise).

It's already a minor viral phenomenon, but is this video important? Is it an intriguing preview of the 2016 election or a meaningless piece of cultural jetsam? I decided to find out.

Done. It's the second one. But let's laugh at it anyway.

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Children's Albums Are Bad for Children

Categories: Country

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Recess Monkey: Bad for Kids
In Washington state, where I live, marijuana is legal and sold in special stores. This poses an interesting quandary for parents. Do you: (a) raise pot in the vein of beer when discussing it with your children, or (b) embrace the federal standard and advise that they abstain from it altogether, until its legality is the law of the land?

The answer is (c): Sit your toddler down in her car seat, and let Kacey Musgraves explain.

See also: Kacey Musgraves Makes Country Music You Can Use

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The Internet Couldn't Kill Brad Paisley, and That's a Good Thing

Categories: Country

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Paisley, helpfully leaving room for you to Photshop in Cool J.
One of the many things off about "Accidental Racist" was its thudding bluntness. Savvy Brad Paisley, long the country star of choice of people who don't buy music at Wal-Mart, had always been more sly than that. On ace hits like "American Saturday Night" and "Welcome to the Future" he stormed radio with progressive truisms -- immigration is good! A black president is worth celebrating! -- that he cannily embedded in country-music themes. He was a master of inception, making his gently lefty beliefs feel like they had actually been part of Nashville thinking all along. In short, he brought listeners with him.

See also: Even Country Music Is Ready for Marijuana Legalization

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10 Country Artists You Should Be Listening To

Categories: Country

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Courtesy of ATO Records
Caitlin Rose
This blog recently ran down the "10 Biggest Douchebags in Country Music." That's all well and good, but it only tells half the story -- country is far from a moribund, cheesed-out genre.

In fact, there are countless up-and-coming country craftsmen and women who are worthy of your attention. So if you're wearing out your lone Johnny Cash record, you're doing it wrong. Here are 10 of 2014's top outlaws.

See also: The 10 Biggest Douchebags in Country Music

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Somehow, Brandy Clark Is Getting Even Better

Categories: Country

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Look, we called Brandy Clark's 12 Stories the best country music record of 2013, so of course we were lugging expectations with us Friday as we piled into one of those supper-club booths in the Highline Ballroom. 12 Stories lives up to its title so well that it could also rank on any list of its year's best short-form lit-fic: It's full of lives laid bare in just a line or two, stubbed-out folks in what's left of real America fumbling toward escape via prayer, pot, pills, drunken hook ups, and -- in its one triumphal moment -- getting lots of shit done while a drunk spouse sleeps one off.

See also: Even Country Music Is Ready for Marijuana Legalization

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