One To Get Started, Three 'Til We Go

Sometimes YouTube's "Recommended" panel yields gold: Couldn't resist posting this clip, as it combines two of my favorite things in the whole wide world.


4 Records, 2 Blurbs

Lazy or economical? You decide.

Pistol Annies, Hell on Heels > Miranda Lambert, Four the Record: I would despair that Miranda's fourth album is her least inspired, but a) the downturn from Revolution to Four the Record isn't nearly as steep as from the near-perfect Crazy Ex-Girlfriend to the only-fine Revolution; and b) there's Pistol Annies! Hell on Heels, Lambert's side-group debut with Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, is spontaneous and quirky where Four the Record feels strained, it's a quick jolt of country-pop pleasure where Miranda's latest solo outing plods in places (especially toward the end). If, as Christgau suggests, the Pistol Annies are now Miranda's outlet for her hell-raiser "Kerosene"/"Gunpowder and Lead" side with the big Nashville ballads (e.g., "The House That Built Me") the default raison d'ĂȘtre of her solo albums, where does that leave the less neatly categorizable, middle-way (but not MOR) material that made up about half of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (think: "Desperation," "Guilty in Here," "Famous in a Small Town"). Miranda, at her best, has more than two sides; I just hope her new work set-up doesn't change that.

Sorry 4 the Wait > Tha Carter IV I like Tha Carter IV more than a lot of Lil Wayne fans do, and I've totally come around "How to Love," which at first I didn't care for; the part where Wayne sings, "You seen a lot of crooks and them crooks still crooks," such a basic line on paper, tickles the ear in such an unexpected way. And it's actually poignant, too. But the formula that dictates that Wayne's mixtapes will always be better showcases for his specific genius than his studio albums are holds true post-prison. There's a sense on his best mixtapes--Da Draught 3, Tha Carter III mixtape, and now Sorry 4 the Wait--that virtually anything could happen at any moment; see, for example, the title track on this new one, where Wayne raps over "Rolling in the Deep." That delirious sense of possibility is what's mostly absent from his studio albums, even when they're very good (Tha Carter's II and IV) or great (III).