Corey Smith, "Empty Rooms"
Corey Smith has never been one to bow to authority figures (see "Fuck the Po-Po," his personal account of power gone unchecked). But the Jefferson, Georgia, singer-songwriter is particularly defiant on "Empty Rooms," the first hint of his upcoming album. This time, Smith is cutting down the corporate music business: "I wouldn't trade my freedom for a minute on your stage / I'd rather play in empty rooms," he growls, doubling down on his vow to never record "cookie-cutter shit." Best known for his road-warrior touring and big-with-the-college-crowd songs like "Maybe Next Year" and "21," Smith embraces funk and fury on "Empty Rooms," resulting in his strongest effort in years. J.H.