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Eric Church

CHURCHGOING FOLK: Eric Church's The Outsiders, the week's one major new release, is set to have the biggest bow of the year so far—in the 280-300k range—when it splashes down on the HITS Album Sales Chart next week. The EMI Nashville Outlaw Country trailblazer has earned stellar reviews and a passel of new fans (including several folks in this office) for his fourth studio album, while his radio story starts up with "Give Me Back My Hometown." The second single is #15 on the Mediabase Country chart and a Top 5 Greatest Gainer at the format. It follows the very hard-rocking title track, which established the set's genre-busting bona fides as leadoff single; "The Outsiders" had a world premiere across all Clear Channel Country stations last year, and Church brought the house down with it at the CMAs (see the above clip). A listen to the entire album shows that Church is perfectly comfortable channeling everyone from Hank Williams and Willie Nelson to Metallica and the White Stripes. Noted one major-label exec to us recently, "I wondered where all the rock fans were until I went to an Eric Church concert." (2/12p)

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