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Brad Paisley
Joe Raedle, Getty Images
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Brad Paisley, ‘Beat This Summer’ – Song Review

Brad Paisley wasn't joking when he said he was working to push himself places never gone before on his upcoming album, 'Wheelhouse.' The second single, 'Beat This Summer,' is a double-take sort of record in that after it begins, you do a double-take toward your stereo or computer to try to make sense of what's going on. 

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Randy Houser
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Randy Houser, ‘Runnin’ Outta Moonlight’ – Song Review

Much like he does on the lead single from 'How Country Feels,' Randy Houser forces you to smile on 'Runnin' Outta Moonlight.' His vocal performance demands attention and offers a pleasing reward in a story of two lovers enjoying a date in the country.

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Jason Aldean
Broken Bow Records
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Jason Aldean, ’1994′ – Song Review

Jason Aldean's nostalgic trip to a time of mullets and loud, heavily-starched cowboy shirts is a fun novelty on the 'Night Train' album. But if '1994' had a cinematic equivalent from that same year, it'd be 'It's Pat.' Like the movie, the song is cute the first time, and maybe fun when it's late and you're drunk, but after that ... 

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Eric Church Like Jesus Does Video
Vevo
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Eric Church Keeps It Simple in ‘Like Jesus Does’ Video

Eric Church's video for 'Like Jesus Does' is one of the most simple and spare videos in recent memory. But what it lacks in visuals it makes up for in its heft. It's just Church, without his signature aviator shades, seated in front of a microphone, strumming away at his guitar. He's wearing a skull cap, but we can still see his eyes. It's a stark, black and white video, and the camera pans in tight.

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Gary Allan
MCA Nashville
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Gary Allan, ‘Pieces’ – Song Review

If Gary Allan's chart-topper 'Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)' was optimistic, his follow-up single 'Pieces' is downright plucky. The uptempo country-rocker may be the most contented single he's ever released.

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Blackberry Smoke
Jason Merritt, Getty Images
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Blackberry Smoke, ‘Pretty Little Lie’ – Song Review

There's a genuine honky tonk feel to Blackberry Smoke's new single 'Pretty Little Lie.' The song is short on polish and long on lugubrious love. While honest and heartfelt, it's a story that's difficult to embrace.

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Kenny Chesney
Donald Bowers, Getty Images
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Kenny Chesney, ‘Pirate Flag’ – Song Review

From the first note, one knows the new single from Kenny Chesney's upcoming album is filled with more hope than much of the pensive material on 'Welcome to the Fishbowl.' 'Pirate Flag' opens softly -- with strings and a bouncy mandolin -- before Chesney begins to tell his story. 

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Greg Bates
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Greg Bates, ‘Fill in the Blank’ – Song Review

Greg Bates flashes a mischievous sense of humor in his new single 'Fill in the Blank.' The 'Did It for the Girl' hitmaker is proving to be from the George Strait school of music, but he must have taken a Master Class on Tracy Byrd somewhere along the way.

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Gary Allan
Facebook
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Album Spotlight: Gary Allan, ‘Set You Free’ – ToC Critic’s Pick

Gary Allan delivers the emotionally rich album his fans expect while stretching his sound in multiple new directions on 'Set You Free,' the singer's ninth studio album and first in three years. The songwriting is strong from the first track to the last, with Allan mixing moments of joy and hope within his familiar anguish.

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Parmalee
Stoney Creek Records
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Parmalee, ‘Carolina’ – Song Review

"Polished" is not a word one would have used to describe Parmalee after the North Carolina foursome shared their debut single 'Musta Had a Good Time' in 2012, but the rowdy country rockers' follow-up single 'Carolina' is as radio-friendly of a track as you'll find. It's not clear that either style is a perfect fit for the Thomas brothers and their bandmates.

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Lady Antebellum
Capitol Nashville
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Lady Antebellum, ‘Downtown’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

Lady Antebellum have never been funkier than on their new single 'Downtown' -- the first from the trio's upcoming fourth studio album. A guitar lick postmarked 1962 steers the song and pushes the band in an exciting new direction.

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Randy Houser
Stoney Creek Records
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Randy Houser, ‘How Country Feels’ – Album Review

Randy Houser comes in from the edges of country music with his third album 'How Country Feels' -- his first on new label Stoney Creek Records. The singer wrote just seven of the project's 15 cuts, but employed many of Nashville's top songwriters to help with the others.

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