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Best of 2011 Checkpoint: Looking Back (and Ahead)

guy clark tribute

Since we're just past the halfway point of 2011, this seems like a pretty good time to reflect on some of the best stuff we've heard so far this year and take a look at how the rest of the year is shaping up musically. First, favorite albums so far. What new releases have you been enjoying the most? If you had to recommend one recent release to a friend, what would it be? While these things are always wildly in flux with me, I've managed to throw together an unranked Top 10 that looks … [Read more...]

Shuffle ‘Em Up, Summer Shut-In Style

summer mix

Here at Country California headquarters, we're welcoming summer in the customary manner: by catching some rays and firing up the grill hiding indoors from the 100-plus degree heat, praying the air conditioner doesn't quit. It'll be safe to step outside again sometime in September. Until then, we have lots and lots of good music to keep us occupied. Ancient iTunes folklore suggests that the first 20 randomly-selected songs of the season set the tone for the months ahead. I don't know if that's … [Read more...]

When One Line Messes Everything Up


You know when a song's rolling along just fine, and then one line throws everything off, either because it doesn't fit with the rest or because it features a flaw in logic or grammar too glaring to ignore? I know the bit about "Do you paint your toes because you bite your nails?" in "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking" is such a line for many people, seeming to suggest that the object of the singer's affection is some sort of freakish toenail-chewing contortionist. The image of her gnawing on … [Read more...]

The Country Questionnaire, Part VII

ronnie dunn tat

At long last, we're back with a new set of 22 questions/prompts aimed at stirring up some discussion, or at least some snark. Just copy and paste the list into the comment box, fill in your responses, and post your completed survey for all the world to see. Simple as that. 1. Ronnie Dunn's other embarrassing tattoo: 2. Worst song currently on the charts: 3. Suggested song title for Justin Moore: 4. Songwriter you'd most like to see get a bunch of mainstream cuts: 5. Real reason for Carrie … [Read more...]

Stop, Drop, Shuffle

George+Jones (WinCE)

It's that time again: Fire up your iTunes, Windows Media Player (probably just me...) or other music software of choice, set it on shuffle, and show us what you've got. If all your music is still on CD/cassette/vinyl/abacus/what-have-you and thus not shuffleable, just sit quietly and twiddle your thumbs. We'll be done soon. Remember, embarrassing surprises give your list character, so leave 'em in. We promise not to laugh... too much. This Train - Randy Travis Guess Things Happen That … [Read more...]

The Rainy Saturday Shuffle

It's been a few months since our last shuffle post, so fire up your media player of choice and show us what you got. We'll take the first 20 songs that appear. No skipping the embarrassing ones! 1. Anywhere But Here - Sammy Kershaw 2. Red Letter Day - Bruce Robison 3. Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down - Willie Nelson 4. Runaway Ramp - Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen 5. Out of My Mind - Vince Gill w/ Patty Loveless 6. Yesterday's Wine - Joe Nichols w/ George Jones 7. Drinkin' Dark Whiskey … [Read more...]

The ‘Appreciate What You’ve Got’ Shuffle


If you're anything like me, listening to music makes you want to listen to more music, and your appetite's always bigger than your disposable income. Here's a shuffle aimed at reminding myself of all the good music I already have, some of it listened to only once or twice in more affluent days. If you ever find yourself collecting music faster than you can truly listen to it, or neglecting older favorites in favor of the latest and greatest, post your own shuffle in the comments and let's feel … [Read more...]