Alan Jackson

Self + Medicine: Sykamore, Album Review

2018 is starting with excitement and new music for Sykamore, as the 26 year old Carseland, Alberta native releases her new album, Self + Medicine.

The six song EP is a combination of unreleased tracks and previous singles, and showcases the voice that will endear her to fans, and the songwriting chops that earned her a publishing deal with Home Team, the publishing house run by Virginia Davis, Rhett Akins, and Thomas Rhett.

Throughout the EP we hear songs of love and heartbreak – solid material for country music. It’s uplifting and lovely, it’s sad and sweet, it’s youthful and emotional, and it’s a set of six songs that offer an opportunity for connection with listeners who are willing to close their eyes, listen, and be taken on a trip through their own stories.

Self + Medicine also does a great job or varying tempos, mixing up the beats, and giving listeners something new to key in on (past her voice) in each song.

From the opening notes of We Were Alright (the longest song on the EP) to start the show, to the playful shout of “Take that all you Hillbillies!” at the very end of Dance Card, Sykamore makes the most of her 21 minutes of album. And while we wish there were about four more songs here to prolong our listening experience, this is a strong start for the Calgary-based artist.

Note: The nod to 90’s classic, Don’t Rock The Jukebox, in Dance Card, is one of my favourite little moments on the EP. And if you love Alan Jackson, you’ll likely love it too.

The first time we saw Sykamore live was in late 2015 when she hit the stage in Toronto at The Phoenix for a one song showcase performance. That night we heard the young Calgary-based singer/songwriter perform Houseboat, which was released as a single in April of 2016 and appears as track number five on Self + Medicine. We’re glad the track made the record so that folks who may not have heard it before get a chance to now.

The current single, Better Half, was released in April 2017, and has received new life with the release of an official music video (her first) on December 29. The song is a good time, sweet and easy to get into, and paints the picture of the kind of supporting relationship that we’re all hoping to be lucky enough to have when good turns to bad.

These six songs are a great introduction to country music fans that don’t know Sykamore, and they’re a fantastic reward for fans that have been with her over the last few years.

Listen to Self + Medicine today and leave a comment telling us which track is your favourite!

Sykamore, Self + Medicine Tracklist

1. We Were Alright
2. Playing The Fool
3. Hayloft
4. Better Half
5. Houseboat
6. Dance Card

Boots & Hearts 2018 Lineup Announcement #1: Florida Georgia Line, Alan Jackson, Thomas Rhett, and more

Boots and Hearts is one of the biggest weekends on our calendar every summer. We’ve been at each of the first six festivals, and are looking forward to lucky number seven in 2018.

And now we know who to start getting excited for as B&H have announced their first round of performers, including three headliners that will take the main stage and run the show at Burl’s Creek.

We don’t know which night each Florida Georgia Line, Alan Jackson, and Thomas Rhett will take the stage, but we’ll be ready to share that info with y’all when it becomes available.

Now, let’s have a look at the first six names on the Boots and Hearts 2018 artist roster…

Florida Georgia Line

Back again after a Sunday night gig as headliners, Florida Georgia Line, will hit the Boots and Hearts stage in front of tens of thousands of fans who should be in a party mood.

Yes, this is Florida Georgia Line, so there will be a whole bunch of people who complain about their return to the festival… but the truth is that Tyler and BK are headlining stars who know how to command a crowd, have a list of radio hits, and put on a show.

If we’re lucky (fingers crossed) we’ll hear the entire crowd singing along to H.O.L.Y. like we did in Toronto in 2016. It was an amazing live music moment, and we’d love to try to duplicate it at B&H 2018.

Florida Georgia Line Boots and Hearts 2015

Alan Jackson

I’m not entirely sure that I’ve processed this news to its complete extent yet. True story.

Alan Jackson is one of the country music stars that shaped my fandom when I was young. I listened and learned and sang along… and as when he starts singing Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow, Don’t Rock The Jukebox, and Chattahoochee, I’ll be the adult feeling like a kid who’s singing along as loud as I can.

This is huge. Really big. I’m excited.

Thomas Rhett

In our Boots & Hearts 2018 predictions post I included Thomas Rhett as the bonus name… and we nailed it!

Rhett’s Life Changes album will give him an expanded live library, and his showmanship and entertainment value are sure to get the crowd going. We know he loves to dance, and we’re sure we’ll see it on Crash And Burn, and we can’t wait to hear new songs like Smooth Like Summer and Sixteen this August.

We said we wanted to see Thomas Rhett in a headlining role – and here he is.

Thomas Rhett Boots and Hearts 2015

Billy Currington

Currington has 11 US Country Airplay #1 hits, and six other songs that made it into the Top 5 on the country music charts. He’s been making music that’s been hitting country radio since 2003, and we’re finally going to see the Georgia native at Boots and Hearts this year.

We can’t wait to sing along to Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right, People Are Crazy, and the Sam Hunt penned, We Are Tonight. It’s gonna be fun!

Dallas Smith

One of the biggest country music stars in Canada is coming back to Canada’s biggest country music festival… and it’s going to be good.

We’ve seen Dallas Smith headline Thursday night’s kick off party, we’ve seen him main stage as the evening crowd poured in, we’ve seen him play arenas and amphitheatre stages – and this dude rocks every stage.

Related: Side Effects Tour: Dallas Smith, The Cadillac Three and Friends Rock Oshawa

Be ready for the hits, high energy, and the chance to give some Canadian love to Dallas Smith next summer!

Dallas Smith CNE 2015

Brett Young

Here’s another we got right in the prediction post… and man we’re happy about it. Brett Young is an emerging star and he’s got a ton of talent.

He’s going to get up on that stage, and he’s going to kill with songs like Sleep Without You, In Case You Didn’t Know, and Like I Loved You. Be ready for it to get loud and happy and give you goosebumps when the country music loving crowd starts singing along.

Stay tuned for more names to be added to the Boots and Hearts 2018 lineup – and if you’re wondering who else we predicted for next year, check out our 15 Boots & Hearts 2018 Artist Predictions.

Music’s Best Moustaches, presented by the Moustache Growers Union Local 416647

Presented by the Moustache Growers Union Local 416647

We have always been big fans and big supporters of Movember!

This year, thereviewsarein is participating to help raise awareness and funds to support men’s health initiatives as part of the Moustache Growers Union Local 416647… and we’re excited for the rest of the month.

To help celebrate, we’ve got some fun content coming that we’ll share with you all soon. But for today, we’re reaching into the internet archives to shout out 10 amazing moustaches from the world of music.

Many of these mustachioed men are no longer with us – but we remember them, their music, and their facial hair fondly.

We haven’t put them in order, because they’re too good to rank. But we welcome you to leave a comment telling us which moustache you like best!

Jimi Hendrix

The Beatles


Freddie Mercury

Lionel Richie

Jesse Hughes

Alan Jackson

George Michael


Kix Brooks

Iron & Ashes: Andrew Hyatt Album Review and Q&A

Sometimes it’s hard not to write about artists and albums without using tired adjectives and metaphors. Sometimes it’s easy to just lean on previously printed sentiment and move on. But sometimes it isn’t easy, sometimes there’s more to the story, and more to the music.

It really feels like this is one of those times.

Andrew Hyatt isn’t new to the country music scene in Ontario or Canada. Country fans know him from his radio singles, That’s How I’m Living, MGR (Me And A Girl And A Radio), and his most recent release, the CMT featured, She Ain’t You. Those who have listened know that Andrew is the real deal, that he’s got the voice to back up the songs and the songs to connect with listeners. And those who have seen him on stage know that he’s not a studio creation.

And now, with the release of his debut full-length album, Iron & Ashes, Andrew Hyatt seems ready to show more people, open more eyes, and put himself in a brighter spotlight.

The disc (or download, or stream) offers 12 tracks, moving smoothly from top to bottom, and telling stories that are all too relatable. Hyatt isn’t just singing about girls and beer and pickup trucks. He’s not just selling promises of good times and sunshine. He’s telling stories that feel real. These are songs that will allow you to close your eyes and either remember a time in your life, or create a movie in your head of what this thing might look like. This album is complete, not just because it features 12 tracks and not four, but because it completes a journey, it takes its time with you, and it gives you everything it’s got. Yes, it would be awesome if there were another six songs tacked on the end, but nobody is going to feel cheated when the acoustic cut of She Ain’t You finishes playing.

We’ve had the chance recently to talk to, and about, Andrew more than once. We saw him live twice during Canadian Music Week, where he poured it all out, sweating and singing and slaying on stage – and we gladly told stories about those sets. We also had the opportunity to help feature Andrew Hyatt as the Country Music Association of Ontario’s Artist of the Month for May 2017. Telling a little bit more about where he’s from, the work he’s put in, and how far we think he can go.

But this post isn’t about that. It’s about telling you that Andrew Hyatt has a collection of songs on Iron & Ashes that deserve to be heard, played, replayed, sung along to, and listened to in silence. There’s no wrong way to consume this record. It isn’t one dimensional. Like we said, it connects.

Iron & Ashes Tracklist

1. That’s How I’m Living
2. MGR (Me And A Girl And A Radio)
3. She Ain’t You – Band Version
4. Girl I Do
5. Can’t Win ‘Em All
6. Goodbye Gone
7. Running On Empty
8. We Only Kiss On Sundays
9. Most Of Me
10. On Me
11. Laid Back Easy
12. She Ain’t You

We don’t grade albums, we don’t give out stars, we don’t put our thumbs up or down – but we do recommend music that we like, and that we think you’ll like.

This is that music. It passes our subjective tests, and we believe that it’s worthy of your time and attention.

We also think that Andrew Hyatt is a star in the making, a name that you’re going to get used to hearing, and a good dude on top of that.

We had the chance to catch up with Mr. Hyatt to ask him about the album, playing live, and cover bands – and while we didn’t ask him to rank himself as a social thinker, deep drinker, good time chaser or, good love maker, we may have to the next time we catch him.

Thanks to Andrew for his time and his answers. Check out the Q&A now, and hit play on the stream to listen to Iron & Ashes.

Trust us.

Q. If you could use 1 word to describe the feeling of Iron & Ashes
coming out, what would it be?

AH. Thankful

Q. Did you have a goal or theme in mind when you were writing the songs
for the album?

AH. I had been going through a lot of changes in my personal life and I really needed to write it down.

There was a quote by Leo Tolstoy that says: “truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold.”

That sort of set me in the direction of writing the record and how refining life can be uncomfortable but worth it.

Q. She Ain’t You grabbed a lot of people’s attention. What do you think
it is about that song that connects with people?

AH. Honestly it’s relatable. I got really vulnerable and honest on that song.. people connect because they’ve all lived it.

Q. What is your favourite thing about playing a stripped down set?

AH. I love being able to tell the stories and let people in a little more on the intimacy of the songs.

Q. What is your favourite thing about playing a set with the full band?

AH. The energy of standing in stage with some of your best friends is amazing. Before shows, no matter how tired we are we always remind each other that at 65 (if we make it) we will be wishing for it !

Q. If you were going to front a cover band, who would you be covering?

AH. I’d be in an Alan Jackson cover band just so I could grow a duster and water ski in jeans!

Note: If you don’t know what Andrew’s talking about, click this link ->

Q. In 25 words or less, describe what Iron & Ashes is to you as an album?

AH. Most of this record I was given the opportunity to just make music and put it out… it’s scary but I’m proud of the end result.

And proud he should be.

Listen to Andrew Hyatt’s Iron & Ashes now…

5 Quick Questions with Jason Benoit!

We caught up with Newfoundland’s Jason Benoit during Canadian Country Music Week in London, ON and had the chance to sit down with the All Wanna Party singer to play through 5 quick questions.

Jason has been putting in work on the country music scene, and we know there’s a lot more coming to add to what we’ve seen and heard in the last couple of years. And we’re looking forward to all of it.

Learn a little more about Jason Benoit and check out photos from our sit down and from his performance at Boots & Hearts 2016.

Q1: If you were on a long drive and could only listen to 1 album on repeat, what would you choose?

Jason: The Eagles, Greatest Hits

I love The Eagles, and am currently hunting for old vinyl to add to our collection – so I have no argument with Jason wanting to sing along to songs like Take It Easy, Lyin’ Eyes, and Take It To The Limit on a long drive.


Q2: What is the first song you remember knowing all of the words to so you could sing along?

Jason: Chattahoochee, by Alan Jackson

This is a solid answer. It’s fast, fun, and about as classic as 90s country gets. Grab your ripped jeans and water skis!

Q3: When you’re not working on music, what is your favourite down-time hobby?

Jason: Carpentry and working with reclaimed wood.

Jason is a hands on kinda guy, so when he has the time he likes to dig into a project at home and make something. I wonder if I should tell him that I need some pieces for the condo?

Jason Benoit BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

Q4: What is the most important thing for you to have when you walk into a songwriting session?

Jason: A guitar.

Makes sense to us. I mean, if you’re going to write a country song and it’s going to be guitar driven, you’d be in good shape to start there.

Q5: Which artist do you think we should be paying more attention to right now than we probably are?

Jason: Chris Thile.

Thile is a hell of a musician, and Jason is right, we probably don’t pay enough attention to him. Check him out on the mandolin with Nickel Creek, and as the new host of U.S. radio program, A Prairie Home Companion.

ccma-awards-2016-strut-social-house-jason-benoit-1562Jason Benoit BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016Jason Benoit BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016Jason Benoit BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016ccma-awards-2016-strut-social-house-jason-benoit-1556

1 year ago

5 Quick Questions with Chris Buck Band!

We had a chance to hang out for a few minutes with Chris Buck of the Chris Buck Band while we were in London, ON for Canadian Country Music Week – and while we had him we popped him with 5 quick questions.

#5 has the ballsiest answer… so stick around til you get to it!

ccma-2016-chris-buck-1260Q1: Let’s say you’re on a long road trip and you could only listen to 1 CD over and over… what album do you choose?

Chris: Blue Rodeo by 5 Days in July

We have zero argument against getting in the car and listening to this album on repeat. In fact, I think I’ve done it.

Q2: What is the 1st song you can remember knowing all the words to so you could sing along?

Chris: Chattahoochee by Alan Jackson

We didn’t ask Chris to sing the song… but if he ever shouts out for requests at a show and we’re there, you can bet that’s what we’ll be yelling for!

Q3: What is your #1 hobby that you can dive into during your downtime?

Chris: Hockey!

Really, that was his answer. We got him to drill down a little more and found out that he still likes to play with his buddies ay home when he gets a chance – but he’s not a huge fan of playing in the beer league.

Q4: What is “the” thing that you need to have when you walk into a writing session?

Chris: A melody or a song title

We know it’s not a “thing”, but it makes sense. Chris said he needs to walk in feeling like he’s got something to start from, which sounds pretty reasonable.

Q5: Can you give us a prediction for the 2016-17 NHL season?

Chris: The Toronto Maple Leafs make the playoffs

He did add that it would be in the 8 seed in the Eastern Conference… but the playoffs is the playoffs, and there are a lot of fans hoping he’s right.


1 year ago

Top 10 Musical Moustaches #Movember

I love Movember. I love the coming together of Mo Bros and Mo Sistas to help raise awareness and money to help dudes with physical and mental health needs.

In fact, this is the 6th year in a row that I’m growing my own moustache in support of the cause.

Movember 2015 LogoSo, to celebrate the season, and draw a little more attention to moustaches everywhere – I’ve put together a list of 10 of my favourite moustaches in music.

We’ve got a mix of genres in here and that’s because we like a mix of music.

So let’s have a look at the list and some music – and if you would like to support my Movember campaign you can click this link:

10. Dave Grohl
When you think of Dave you probably think of his glorious beard – but think of the music videos the Foo Fighters have given us over the years and you’ll get some lovely moustache action. We all love Dave, so we’ll count it!

9. Rivers Cuomo
Rivers isn’t well known for his ‘stache – but he’s rocked it, and been comfortable doing so. Weezer has been part of the music I love for a long time, so he’s on the list!

8. Tim McGraw
My favourite Tim McGraw moustache is nearly 20 years old now, when a young Tim was breaking into country music and making a name for himself. His mullet/moustache combo was intense, especially with the cowboy hat thrown in.

7. Brandon Flowers
Brandon Flowers has a moustache that makes him look a little sleazy. I don’t love it. But I don’t hate it. And he’s a great performer and proud wearer of his lip sweater.

6. Jimi Hendrix
If we were judging purely on music, Jimi is higher. But we’re not. His moustache isn’t outstanding, I’ve never admired it for it’s beauty. However, it’s there and consistent and part of who he was – along with those wicked guitar skills.

5. Kix Brooks
One half of Brooks and Dunn has a moustache, and it’s enough moustache for both of them. Kix has had one hell of a career on stage and as a radio host – but he’s on this list because his moustache is a thing of beauty and often matches his hat.

4. John Oates
Such a pretty ‘stache. John Oates is best with Darly Hall, but his moustache stands on its own. Add it to his private eyes and we’re sold!

3. Alan Jackson
I love Alan Jackson, and his epic moustache. He’s had it for as long as I can remember, and I hope it lasts forever. Mr. Jackson has more hits than some baseball players. I’m happy to have him on this list.

2. Lionel Richie
In a long and storied career, Lionel Richie has done it all. And we’ve had the chance to look at his moustache while he’s done it. Welcome to #2 Mr. Richie.

1. Freddie Mercury
I’m not sure what I have to say about this one. Have a look, think about it for a minute. There you go. #1 on the list and in our hearts, Freddie Mercury.

2 years ago

Anything Goes: Florida Georgia Line at Boots & Hearts 2015!

On a Sunday night, after 4 days of country music and beer and dancing and sweat and fried food and new friends and old friends, Florida Georgia Line took over the Boots & Hearts main stage and brought the energy we expected…

Florida Georgia Line Boots and Hearts -3737There was perhaps more anticipation for the start of this set than any other after an unfortunate delay to the the start of it – and maybe the biggest release of energy and cheering and relief when Tyler and Brian started their show with Every Night, a heap of beach balls flying into the crowd, and a whole lot of singing from the 35,000+ in attendance.

We had never seen FGL before, and while we knew it was going to be a party, we didn’t know that we were going to be singing along with all of the radio hits, catching a case of the feels when the boys slowed it down for Dirt, and being really happy and impressed when they invoked our more classic country sensibilities by going to Alabama, Garth Brooks, and Alan Jackson.

Florida Georgia Line Boots and Hearts -3799Without a doubt, these boys like to have a good time. And they want for the people in the crowd to have a good time. Their banter is polished, their energy is infectious, and they aren’t scared to pander in all the right ways – telling the crowd they’d missed Canada with an exclamation of “it’s been too damn long”.

If we had to pick two highlight moments of the Florida Georgia Line set, we’d have to say…

  1. The sound of the crowd singing along to Round Here, the first song that they really got loud and proud to know the song and show the artists what they had to offer.
  2. The end of the show, the boys playing Cruise, and busting out the Nelly remix version – supplying the rap as needed.

Check out the set list from Sunday night, some more pics and stay tuned for more coming soon!Florida Georgia Line Boots and Hearts -3760

Florida Georgia Line Boots & Hearts Set List

🎉 Every Night
🎉 It’z Just What We Do
🎉 Round Here
🎉 Anything Goes
🎉 Get Your Shine On
🎉 Sippin’ On Fire
🎉 Bumpin’ The Night
🎉 Party People
🎉 Dirt
🎉 I’m In A Hurry (And Don’t Know Why)
🎉 Stay
🎉 This Is How We Roll
🎉 Sundaze
🎉 Mix Tape Medley: Friends In Low Places, Forgot About Dre, Chatahoochie, This Is How We Do It
🎉 Cruise (remix)

Work Hard. Play Harder. Be Awesome!

Florida Georgia Line Boots and Hearts -3889Florida Georgia Line Boots and Hearts -3758Florida Georgia Line Boots and Hearts -3765Florida Georgia Line Boots and Hearts -3754Florida Georgia Line Boots and Hearts -3738Florida Georgia Line Boots and Hearts -3795Florida Georgia Line Boots and Hearts -3904

2 years ago

Movember Journal 2014: Day 8 – Cowboy Up!

Cowboy MovemberIt’s been a big week for country music news in this neck of the woods – and it’s also been a big week for my face. My bare cheeks have been subject to the cold winds for the first time in a year and my moustache has been doing its best to sprout for Movember.

So today, on morning 8 of Movember 2014, I’ve got a journal entry that pays tribute to some country music cowboys.

#MoChaKaTO Update! 
Super excited to tell you that we have prizes for the Movember Challenge Karaoke Toronto raffle coming in from Huely Socks, Woodbine Racetrack, eOne Entertainment Canada and more! Keep up to date on the #MoChaKaTO happenings and RSVP for the event here: Movember Challenge Karaoke Toronto – the 5-time, 5-time, 5-time, 5-time, 5-time edition!

Okay, let’s look at some ‘staches!

Alan Jackson MovemberAlan Jackson
Alan Jackson’s golden moustache has been part of country music for more than 2 decades and is revered wherever steel guitars are played. Look at it sitting there perfectly on his upper lip, shielded by the brim of his white hat and looking magnificent!

Mr. Jackson, you sure do know how to grow a Mo.

Kix Brooks MovemberKix Brooks
Formally of Brooks and Dunn, and now award winning radio host, Kix Brooks’ moustache has been thrilling fans for a long time. Whether his microphone is on stage or in studio, he’s a voice that country music fans know and love – and a moustache that is perfectly recognizable under that sweet black hat.

Usually the bad guys wear black hats, and this is one bad ass moustache – but we’re pretty sure Kix Brooks is a good Mo Bro!

Tim McGraw MovemberTim McGraw 
We had to go back to the mid-90s to find this moustachioed photo of a young Tim McGraw… but it was worth it. Look at that ‘stache creeping down the sides of Tim’s mouth like a wild vine. He may not have kept it, but remember this – he had that moustache when he landed Faith Hill!

Tim, if you’re reading this, bring back the ‘stache!

Brad Paisley MovemberBrad Paisley
Now it’s clear to see that this Brad Paisley moustache is a fake. In fact, Paisley is doing his Ron Burgandy in this pic… but we don’t care. Look at that dark hair residing under that white hat, it’s glorious. Hopefully Brad has seen how great he looks and has decided that it’s time to ditch the goatee and go with the ‘Mo.

Good luck in your moustache growing efforts Mr. Paisley. Can’t wait to see you at Boots & Hearts 2015!

Joshua Cowboy Movember Day 8 2014Joshua Murray
Okay, so I’m no cowboy country singer… but I sure would like to be. And for the 6th year in a row I’m growing in my moustache to raise some money for Movember Canada. 8 days in I’m pretty happy with how my ‘mo is growing and I’m optimistic that by the end of next week I’ll have a real moustache to show off to the world.

If you would like to donate to my face and help change the face of men’s health, visit my Mo Space page at and give whatever you can. Every dollar is appreciated and helps a good cause.

Thanks to everyone who is supporting Mo Bros and Mo Sistas around the world!

Be awesome!

3 years ago
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