Some short thoughts on what I've been spinning lately...
Britney Spears is just as much a product of American celebrity culture as she is a symptom. With 2007's Blackout she came back with that sharply pointed, tongue-in-cheek delivery that worked as well as self-referential theatre can--which was quite well. Circus looks to revert back to a more superficially attractive naivety while still keeping the weathered eyes of a would-be pop queen who has actually seen her share of shame. It mostly succeeds at this, while coming off only slightly as missing the mark. She knows you're watching and she is starting to like it again.
I never really liked Skynyrd, but I like this. Drive-By Truckers have been around way longer than I've been running my mouth about music. In that time they've become one of the the most well respected Alt-Country acts to ever gain "indie" cred. Brighter Than Creation's Dark is every bit as musically layered as it is conceptually rich, and what makes it so impressive is the uncompromising way in which these lush sounds are ushered out of the speakers. Whether it's the wall of noise used to make "That Man I Shot" so memorable, or the light twanging and general breeziness on a track like "Bob," Brighter Than Creation's Dark is like a love drug for clueless country haters like myself.
Love Is All have a specific existence in a pop-punk world that is actually so completely listless and hopelessly romantic that it is endearing instead of annoying. A Hundred Things Keep Me Up at Night couldn't be a more apt title, as Josephine Olausson makes an art out of smiling like a petulant child in the face of her seemingly endless melodrama. A fast pace as well as a blistering melodic presence provide this with a marked identity. Like their previous LP Nine Times That Same Song, A Hundred Things... finds a careful mixture of 60's chamber pop and 80's post-punk that is just as blissful as it sounds without ever going overboard with the sweet tooth.