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Reviews

Dierks Bentley
Christopher Polk, Getty Images
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Dierks Bentley (Feat. Kacey Musgraves), ‘Bourbon in Kentucky’ – Song Review

Dierks Bentley breaks from his longtime producer Brett Beavers to record his new single 'Bourbon in Kentucky.' Sonically, the song is more experimental than anything the Batman and Robin duo put together. Beavers and Bentley's best work shook like a rattlesnake or pierced deep into the veins with a heartbreaking poison capable of inducing painful flashbacks of past relationships. Few have been as successful over the past decade.

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Darius Rucker
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Darius Rucker, ‘True Believers’ – Album Review

Darius Rucker sings with more energy than a nuclear power plant, but his new album 'True Believers' is safer than solar power. He captures the spirit of his live show -- one of the best in the business -- on each of the 12 tracks, but one yearns for for something unique and unexpected. 

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boiled crawfish
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Crazy for Crustaceans!

National Geographic tells the world about the best part about being in Louisiana in the spring - the crawfish boil, of course!

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42 Movie Review
Warner Bros.
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’42′ Review

My grandmother, Rhoda Singer, died earlier this year. She lived much of her life in Brooklyn and was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. Her favorite player was Pee Wee Reese, the Dodgers' scrappy white shortstop who famously silenced a racist Cincinnati crowd by putting his arm around his black teammate Jackie Robinson during pre-game warmups.

I thought about my grandmother a lot while watching '42,' the new biopic of Jackie Robinson and his quest to break the color barrier in baseball. On an intellectual level, I can tell you a dozen things wrong with the movie, from its excessively preachy dialogue to its bloated length. But on an emotional level, I have to admit that this movie bypassed my brain and grabbed my heart, pulling each and every string contained therein firmly and repeatedly. It's a pretty good tribute to a great man. And when Pee-Wee and Jackie embraced on that field in Cincinnati I cried.

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Luke Bryan
Capitol Nashville
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Luke Bryan, ‘Crash My Party’ – Song Review

A new song from your brand new ACM Entertainer of the Year! What do ya'll think of 'Crash My Party'?

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Hunter Hayes
Ethan Miller, Getty Images
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Hunter Hayes, ‘I Want Crazy’ – Song Review

In his new song 'I Want Crazy.' Hunter Hayes doesn't soar like Ronnie Dunn or croon like Chris Young. His vocal performance is an exercise in diction -- and memory. Simply put, he packs a ton of words into a tight space without straining or slurring one idea into another. It's not easy. 

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Brad Paisley
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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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Tim McGraw
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Tim McGraw (Feat. Taylor Swift and Keith Urban), ‘Highway Don’t Care’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

While Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift's vocals on 'Highway Don't Care' would be enough to make the song a hit and one of the best of 2013, it's Keith Urban's guitar that makes the track one of the best collaborations of the decade -- maybe even ever. Each artist brings his or her best effort to the song from McGraw's 'Two Lanes of Freedom' album. It's a sterling example of what can happen when artists are left to be artists, without the handcuffs of music business politics. 

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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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Gary Allan
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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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