Song Review: LoCash, “Beers To Catch Up On”

Okay, now I’m confused: Has the current trend changed, or is it just the verb tense?

In my last LoCash review, I questioned whether or not the forgettable “One Big Country Song” would “have enough oomph to earn the duo a continue before they run out of extra lives.” The duo got lucky, however, and the song #2 peak earned Chris Lucas and Preston Brust a stay of execution and the right to release a third single from their album Brothers. That single turned out to be “Beers To Catch Up On,” which combined with Florida Georgia Line’s new abomination “Long Live,” makes me wonder if the Cobronavirus trend has actually receded or just adjusted to its new reality. With nihilistic partying falling out of fashion, songs like this are flipping to the next best thing: Dreaming about the partying they did in the past and hoping to recreate such events in the future. Unfortunately, talking about such things in the past and future is no more endearing or interesting than it was in the present, and the song winds up being more boring than nostalgic.

The production here suffers from the same problem as that of “Long Live”: It’s just a watered down version of a standard Bro-Country mix that doesn’t work as anything but a sleep aid. The song opens with an acoustic guitar and a clap track, then slowly fills up the background with electric guitars and organs that mostly run together (there are some steel-guitar-esque sounds as well, but it’s hard to tell if they’re actually from a steel guitar or just another electric axe), and that’s pretty much all you get. The instrument tones are dark and reflective, and the regular minor chords help emphasize the disappointment that the shenanigans aren’t still going on, but most of all the slow, deliberate cadence and lower volume levels make the song just as punchless and lifeless as “Long Live.” It’s a mix that try to make you lament the loss of times that aren’t worth mourning, but only succeeds in curing your insomnia.

The good news is that I think I know who the lead singer of this duo is now: Based on a cursory video/audio analysis that took at least three minutes, it looks like Brust is handling the lead vocals here (his voice reminds me of Granger Smith, which isn’t exactly a flattering comparison). He covers the song’s minimal technical demands without any trouble, but he’s severely lacking in the charisma department: Not only does he fail to sell the listener on the appeal of small-town pleasure-seeking, he doesn’t even make these activities sound like fun. He claims to be excited about spending some time with his old crew, but he sure as heck doesn’t sound excited. (For his part, Preston does his best Brian Kelley impression, contributing some indistinguishable harmony work that doesn’t add a ton to the track.) It’s a mediocre performance that passes in one ear and out the other without the listener ever noticing that it was there.

Lyrically, the song makes me think a lot about an album cut from Midland’s On The Rocks, “Nothing New Under The Neon,” as both feature the narrator meeting up with someone (eventually a whole bunch of someones in this track) and reminiscing about the good ol’ days. So why do think “Nothing New Under The Neon” might be the best track from On The Rocks and this song is so underwhelming? The short answer is that “Nothing New Under The Neon” has a sense of both maturity and trauma that this track lacks. Instead of talking about lost loves and family members, “Beers To Catch Up On” is just a laundry list of Bro tropes in disguise: “Trucks, longneck bottles, dirt roads, classic artist name-drops, Friday-night all-night parties”…you know, the same generic stuff I roasted “Long Live” for just a few days ago. While it’s not a 1-to-1 copy (they talk SUVs instead of pickups, and this song talks about fishing instead of women), it still comes across as incredibly juvenile and suggests that the narrator hasn’t moved on from the moment (especially with its proposal to go beyond remembering the activities and repeat them instead). As a result, it makes the narrator feel less sympathetic than they should: Oh, you can’t go drink yourself silly anymore? Here, let me play you a tune on the world’s smallest violin. (That line saying “it ain’t far from yesterday” feels especially delusional: We’re light years from last March, let alone the narrator’s glory days.) In short, this is a poorly-written mess that fails to sell its premise to the audience, and is not something I’m keen on hearing on the radio.

“Beers To Catch Up On” is a maudlin, uninteresting track that tries to mash the Cobronavirus trend with some garden-variety nostalgia, and winds up falling flat on its face. Its lackluster production barely registers a pulse, its writing reeks of immaturity , and while LoCash is present, they’re not terribly persuasive. The truth is that a) Bro Country had its moment, b) that moment is not now, and c) people would prefer to move past it rather than relive it. Where that leaves LoCash remains to be seen, but if they don’t improve their schtick, reminiscing about the career they used to have will be all they have left.

Rating: 4/10. Pass.

Song Review: LoCash, “One Big Country Song”

Sorry fellas, but you’re going to have to take a bigger swing than this.

If careers were gas tanks, then LoCash is staring at a low fuel light right now. They haven’t had a solid radio hit since 2016’s “I Know Somebody,” and while their latest single “Feels Like A Party” did just enough to convince Wheelhouse Records to release Brothers into the wild, its #26 airplay peak excited exactly no one (and its quality earned it a spot on my 2018 worst-song list along with its predecessor “Don’t Get Better Than That”). Group members Chris Lucas and Preston Brust need a humdinger of a single to justify keeping their parking space in the country music lot, and their latest attempt at obtaining one is “One Big Country Song,” the second single from their latest album. While its admittedly a step up from the garbage they’ve been foisting on it over the last year or so, it’s still a long way from being good or memorable, and it’s questionable as to whether it will have enough oomph to earn the duo a continue before they run out of extra lives.

The production is the same old summery, party-ready mix that everyone else is leaning on (seriously, Chris Janson used the exact same setup and arrangement on “Good Vibes.), and ends up sounding like every other song LoCash has ever released. After a brief opening with some acoustic and electric guitars with actual texture, it quickly morphs into exactly what you’d expect: Bright, overly-clean electric guitars backed by a mixture of real and synthetic percussion (of course there’s a clap track here; why would you expect anything different?). It’s the same old empty sonic calories LoCash always delivers, and the moderate tempo (which is slow by LoCash standards) means it doesn’t even bring the energy it usually does. There’s just nothing distinct or memorable here, and it while its light, bouncy vibes complement the positive nature of the lyrics, it doesn’t motivate the listener to actually pay attention to the lyrics, and the whole thing just flows in one ear and out the other, forgotten as soon as the next track comes on.

I’ve never cared enough to actually determine whether Lucas or Brust is the lead singer, but honestly, it sounds like they kidnapped Janson as well as his producer to make this song happen. The singer’s delivery is mediocre at best, as their range is never really tested during the singing parts and their flow on the pseudo-rapping lines feels awkward and uncomfortable (the singer also loses all their tone and power, and generally sounds awful).   Worst of all, the listener only kinda-sorta feels the good vibes being put out by the duo, and their attempts to pitch a big tent and say “hey, we’re all country!” feel completely disingenuous and unconvincing (the lyrics deserve a lot of blame for this, as we’ll discuss later). As hard as they try to step away from their Bro personas and sell us a deeper message, this feels like the same party-hearty narrator I’ve heard on every other LoCash song, and I’m just not interested in hearing from them anymore.

I have two major problems with the lyrics:

    • The narrator paints using the broadest, most-general brush they can possibly find, like a medium or psychic fishing for someone to connect with their vague statements. Everything the narrator references as about as vague and generic as it could possibly stated, most pointedly on the bridge:

      Who ain’t got a story to tell?
      And who ain’t made it through some hell?
      Who don’t love somebody, don’t miss somebody?

      In casting a wide net like this, the song eschews the interesting details that might actually entice people to pay attention, and ends up failing to connect with anyone at all.

  • On the surface, this is a “bring everyone together” song, with the narrator trying to convince everyone that they’re all the same deep down. However, if you listen to some of their scenarios they use to try to convince us of this (wild times in our youth, holy blue jeans, drinking after work, closing down bars), you realize that no, we all don’t actually have these experiences or perform these activities. The song would like you to think that it’s trying to unite us instead of divide us, but quite a bit of this stuff is ripped straight from the “I’m so country!” tunes that are clogging up the airwaves right now. This track is as geared to the stereotypical country audience as any other song, and I’d be offended at their attempt to pull the wool over our eyes if the song didn’t put me to sleep so fast.

“One Big Country Song” is nothing but one big snorefest, and gives the audience no good reason to do anything but catch up on their sleep while it’s playing. The production is aggressively bland, the writing is vague and tries to sell us a bill of goods about how inclusive it is when it’s really not, and LoCash just kind of exists amidst all the chaos. A forgettable track like this may be better than the drivel this duo has subjected us all to over the last few years, but forgettable doesn’t put gas in the tank, and LoCash may soon be stuck hitchhiking their way out of Nashville.

Rating: 5/10. One big mess.

Song Review: LoCash, “Feels Like A Party”

Apparently LoCash is unaware of the definition of insanity.

Bro-Country has been officially dead for a while now, but that hasn’t stopped some of the acts it spawned from trying to recapture its magic. Chief among these offenders is the former LoCash Cowboys, who tried going back to this well earlier this year with “Don’t Get Better Than That.” Nobody else, however, was interested in traveling back in time with the duo, and the song peaked at a laughable #44 on Billboard’s airplay chart and wound up at #4 on my “worst songs of 2018 so far” list. Most artists (even acts like Florida Georgia Line) would take this as a sign that the Bro-Country ship has finally sailed, and adapt their sound to the genre’s changing climate. Instead, LoCash has decided to double down on the faded trend, releasing “Feels Like A Party” as their latest single. The song is as mindless, shallow, and unoriginal as you’d expect, and while it would probably have been a massive hit a few years ago, there’s no place left in country music for this garbage in 2018.

The production opens with some swampy synths and a dobro, bringing to mind FGL’s “Smooth.” However, it quickly pivots to a slicker sound, bringing in the usual electric guitars, a mix of real and synthetic percussion, some organ chords, some background “hey!” shouts, and even a few horn stabs to drive home the party vibe. Honestly, this thing sounds like every other Bro-Country song I’ve ever heard (all it’s missing is a token banjo), with its deliberate tempo, bright tones, and carefree atmosphere, and while the horns are an interesting touch, they aren’t used enough to distinguish the song from its peers. The mix certainly captures the party spirit of the lyrics, but it feels like empty sonic calories, and doesn’t have a whole lot of energy or groove behind it. Bottom line: It’s generic, it’s uninteresting, and it’s already been done a hundred times before.

Now, let’s revisit my assessment of Chris Lucas and Preston Brust’s performance from “Don’t Get Better Than That”:

There’s nothing even remotely unique or compelling about the duo, and the song would sound the exact same if it were performed by a replacement-level Bro-Country singer (in fact, it might sound better). The track barely tests the singer’s range or flow, the pair’s harmonies are run-of-the-mill and unimpressive, and neither singer has the charisma to elevate the song beyond ‘bros singing a superfluous party song,’ even when the lyrics leave them an opening or two. In short, this performance is forgettable at best, and it’s best for all involved if we forget it.

Nearly everything I said then still applies now: Instead of bringing something new or unexpected to the table, Chris Lucas comes across as just another generic Bro, and Brust’s part could have been done by any random dude without anyone noticing a difference. The song demands little of the pair’s range and flow, and is completely reliant on the act’s ability to pass along the party vibes to the audience, and LoCash just doesn’t get the job done.

The only difference I see between this single and the previous one is that the lyrics don’t offer any opportunities for the pair to elevate the song even if they could. Frankly, the writing couldn’t be more unoriginal or brainless if they tried:

It feels like a party
It feels like a damn good time to me
A bunch of country girls and back road boys
All here to drink and sing
So go on pour me something cold
Cause we ain’t bout to leave
It feels like a party
It feels like a party to me

Every Bro-Country trope is well represented here: The booze, the trucks, the “country girls and back road boys,” the party-all-night attitude, and even the objectifying language (“If it tastes like a party, shakes like a party”? Really?). Even by Bro standards, however, this song stands out as vague: There are no name drops of liquor brands or old-school artists, no description of the venue besides being a parking lot, no mention of movement beyond the “shakes like a party” line…forget being “the party to end all parties,” this gathering doesn’t sound like much of a party at all.

Just like its predecessor, “Feels Like A Party” feels like a song that has no reason for existing. The production is bland and predictable, LoCash contributes nothing beyond “bros being bros,” and the writing is so vapid and fuzzy the song might as well have scrapped them entirely. LoCash might think that they can recapture their old magic and bring Bro-Country back into style, but they’re beating a dead horse, and their country career will likely be buried with it.

Turn out the lights Locash, the party’s over.

Rating: 3/10. Keep your distance from this junk.

Song Review: LoCash, “Don’t Get Better Than That”

Sorry LoCash, but it does get better than this song. A lot better.

LoCash rode the Bro-Country wave to success a few years ago, positioning themselves as an off-brand Florida Georgia Line with generic, uninteresting hits like “I Love This Life” and “I Know Somebody.” As the wave receded, however, the pair struggled to adapt to the new landscape, and their last single “Ring On Every Finger” limped its way to a disappointing #16 peak on Billboard’s airplay chart. Now, as a mob of male duos vie to claim FGL’s vacant throne (Brothers Osborne, Dan + Shay, Walker McGuire, etc.), LoCash is doubling down on their old Bro sound with ” Don’t Get Better Than That,” which, in ten words or less, is just “I Love This Life, Part 2.” It’s a move that reeks of desperation, and even amidst the frustrating mediocrity of its competition, this song stands out as particularly awful.

For as sparse as the production is here, it’s amazing just how artificial this song sounds. Melody duties are mostly handled by an electrified acoustic guitar, and the track is backed by a synthetic bass and prominent hand-clap drum machine line. The choruses add some electric guitars and “oh-oh” background vocals, and a real drum set eventually jumps in to aid the drum machine, and while these additions give the mix a bit of spacious atmosphere, they aren’t enough for the song to shake that artificial feel. Likewise, while the bright instrument tones and fast pace give a track a lot of positive energy, it’s just energy for energy’s sake, as the whole thing just feels empty and vacuous when paired with the lazy lyrics (we’ll get to those). This song is the new poster child for empty sonic calories, wasting its positivity through its lack of purpose.

I have no idea who handles the lead vocals here (Chris Lucas is generally billed as the lead singer, but he and Preston Burst sound indistinguishable to me), and honestly, it doesn’t matter: There’s nothing even remotely unique or compelling about the duo, and the song would sound the exact same if it were performed by a replacement-level Bro-Country singer (in fact, it might sound better). The track barely tests the singer’s range or flow, the pair’s harmonies are run-of-the-mill and unimpressive, and neither singer has the charisma to elevate the song beyond ‘bros singing a superfluous party song,’ even when the lyrics leave them an opening or two. In short, this performance is forgettable at best, and it’s best for all involved if we forget it.

And then we get to the lazy laundry list that passes for the song’s lyrics… If you’ve heard “I Love This Life,” you already know what’s here: A list of the most unimaginative imagery ever (drinking, driving, floating on a river, Friday night, Sunday morning, name-dropping random bands), and the proclamation that it “don’t get better than that.” Seriously, did the writers put any effort into this song at all? It’s like they all got together and said “Hey, uh, that loving life did really well for us, so…yeah, let’s do that again.” To be fair, there are a few moments of deeper meaning hidden here (for example, “ever heard the words ‘I love you, daddy'”), but they’re left to drown in a sea of country clichés. Quite frankly, there is no reason for the song to even exist, outside of being a last-ditch attempt to prop up the career of an unremarkable country duo.

In short, “Don’t Get Better Than That” is a reheated, uninteresting, and generally pointless excuse for a country song. It’s a giant leap backwards even from “Ring On Every Finger,” and provides more incentive for the genre to end LoCash’s career than to prolong it. If this is the best the duo can come up with for a swing-for-the-fences, keep-us-on-the-radio track, Nashville needs to boot them out of town and change the locks.

Rating: 3/10. Avoid this junk.

Song Review: LOCASH, “Ring On Every Finger”

If LOCASH proves anything with “Ring On Every Finger,” it’s that if you keep setting your expectations low enough, eventually you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

I’ve been unimpressed with the output of the rebranded LoCash Cowboys thus far: “I Love This Life” is a checklist song with some of the laziest songwriting I’ve ever heard, and “I Know Somebody” is a by-the-numbers Bro-Country track that does nothing to stand out from the crowd. I went into “Ring On Every Finger” expecting very little, and while that’s mostly what I got, there were some modest surprises buried in the track.

The production…well, that wasn’t one of the surprises. LOCASH tends to rely on pop-sounding guitars and synthetic beats for their sound, and that’s pretty much what you get here. The music seems a bit dark and serious compared to its subject matter, and uses way more minor keys than a supposedly-happy song should.

I’m not sure which member of LOCASH is handling the lead vocals here (Chris Lucas is called the lead singer here, for whatever that’s worth), but whoever it is doesn’t get much of a chance to shine. The song keeps the singer constrained to a narrow range, to the point of making them sound monotonic most of the time. (The fact that the production drowns the singer in vocal effects doesn’t help either.) There are flashes of talent here (the few falsetto notes here are impressive), but the hard to get a feel for the singer’s skill level when the song keeps them from displaying it.

So where exactly did the song exceed my expectations? Well, the lyrics and themes are a huge step up from LOCASH’s previous work. (Apparently someone made the wise decision of not letting LOCASH’s Lucas and Preston Brust write their own material, as they tried to do on the awful “I Love This Life.” ) The song minimizes the “girl” references that plague most songs like this, and actually includes some clever lines like “I ain’t gettin’ down on one knee, girl I’m gettin’ on two,” and “dropping f-bombs like ‘forever.'” The song also avoids objectifying the object of the singer’s affection, and instead revolves around a simple marriage proposal that indicates the singer actually values the girl beyond the shape of her booty. The stronger writing here makes a big difference, and makes the rest of the song’s underwhelming package a little easier to swallow.

Overall, “Ring On Every Finger” is a baby step forward for LOCASH, although it’s still a long way from a great (or even good) song. Still, progress has to start somewhere, so let’s hope LOCASH makes this a trend and forces us to adjust our expectations accordingly.

Rating: 5/10. Forgettable, but not awful.