Album Review: Florida Georgia Line - "Here's To The Good Times"
By: Matt Bjorke
When I was first made aware of "Cruise," I was immediately drawn in by Florida Georgia Line's catchy chorus and overall country/rock sound. Blending the 90s 'grunge' sound with country music isn't exactly 'new' (Aldean, Big&Rich, etc) but it certainly seemed to work well with Florida Georgia Line, so well in fact, that the duo which released the single as an independent artist are now celebrating "Cruise" as a Platinum-selling, #1 hit which leads off their debut Here's To The Good Times, an album released through a record deal with Republic Nashville.
And after listening to the 11 track album (13 if you get the Target Exclusive CD), there's no doubt in my mind that Florida Georgia Line's more than a one-hit-wonder as nearly every song on Here's To The Good Times has the sound and feel of a hit Country Radio single. "Round Here" is one of the tunes that wasn't featured on the EP It'z Just What We Do and the track (co-written by Rodney Clawson, Thomas Rhett and Chris Tompkins) fits what Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley's sound just right. The banjos and mandolins drive the percussive electric guitar-drenched melody and once again showcase just how big this band's potential is, something they follow-up on with future singles "Get Your Shine On" and the title track "Here's To The Good Times," a song that feels ready to be a used in a beer commercial.
The majority of Here's To The Good Times is a great soundtrack to a party, the kind of feel-good, sing-a-long songs most artists wish they could write/record one or two of yet here we are with an album of 11 (or 13) of 'em. "Stay" is the lone song that's not of the 'party vibe' yet the song still has a lot of tempo and despite being a cover of a Black Stone Cherry song, it suits Florida Georgia Line and is emotional and features some nice mandolin and steel guitar work (though you'll have to strain a bit to hear the latter).
"Hell Raisin' Heat Of The Summer" has a heart-beat like percussive element to the melody as the duo sings about the wild and innocent times of days gone by, be it as careless teenagers or college students. It's a song that many will be able to relate to. Sarah Buxton provides some harmony vocals on "Dayum, Baby" that provide a sort of 'angelic' feel to the harmonies and if not for the "Dayum baby" being repeated often, this song would be a shoo-in for radio consideration but there are enough conservative radio stations to suggest that they possibly won't release it to radio but look for this to be a big fan favorite. The Cadillac Black's Jaren Johnston (co-writer of Keith Urban's "You Gonna Fly") guests on "Party People," this record's final track - for the regular version at least - and it's another interesting pop-hook filled track written by Luke Laird, Shane McAnally and J.T. Harding. The chorus is catchy and could very well be enough to give FGL another ear-worm hit with the potential to cross-over to Pop Radio even.
Like I mentioned earlier, Here's To The Good Times is a record that is chock full of hits and is way more than 'just' "Cruise" with a few filler songs. It's the work of a band who not only has captured an audience seemingly overnight but also has the potential to be the biggest duo in Country Music and headlining their own arena shows by the time the end of this album's 'cycle' with Country Radio.
(Review originally posted December 4, 2013)