The Eli Young Band's just-released 10,000 Towns is their first project since Life at Best arrived in 2011, and the guys admit they took extra time to make this their best piece of work yet.
"For the first eight songs for the record, we went back to Dark Horse Studios, which is out in the middle of the country in Franklin, Tenn.," singer Mike Eli told CMT Hot 20 Countdown. "It kind of feels like camp out there, and you get to just be surrounded by music. Then we also recorded in Denton, Texas, which is where we recorded our first independent record. And then we recorded a little bit here in Nashville, so we kind of shook things up a little bit and tried to really put ourselves in different situations to see how that affected the record. And it seemed to have worked right."
According to the four members of the group -- which has steadily grown in popularity since their first release in 2002 -- there has been a noticeable evolution of sound.
"I think, generally speaking, I'm really proud of the fact that we were able to make something a step up from everything before," bassist Jon Jones said. "If you listen to all five records we made since we were an independent band starting out, you can find out what goes where. Chronologically, I think this sounds like the next generation for us."
Building on the success of hit singles "Crazy Girl" and "Even if It Breaks Your Heart," the musicians say they find themselves with a newfound confidence on 10,000 Towns.
"There's a combination of confidence and also more eyes on us," Jones admitted. "A little more pressure than ever before. But we're in a cool place as artists that we know if we put out a great record, people will pay attention to it and people kind of know who we are at this point. Not everybody gets to that point, so in a way it was very empowering and has really kind of pushed us to make the best record we possibly could."
For more from the Eli Young Band, tune in to CMT Hot 20 Countdown Saturday and Sunday (March 8-9) at 11 a.m. ET/PT.