Had pegged both of these as high B Pluses until I played them a few days ago just to make sure. It keeps happening. I can’t remember a time where my sober reactions after a few spins has been proven wrong when revisiting later. Anyway, I’ve been telling myself I’ll drop a large group of Honorable Mentions soon, though that’ll only happen once I give everything I want to put in another chance.
ASHLEY MONROE – Like a Rose (Warner Bros.): Member of Miranda Lambert’s Pistol Annies, her second or third solo release, though the first two garnered no attraction, made in 2007 or so, four years before she gained recognition on Hell On Heels. What distinguishes Monroe from her PA counterparts is her wry humor; sleeping with the landlord when she’s a dollar short on the rent, toking hard and downing shots to make her guy look better, stealing a pickup at age fourteen. Considering none of her shtick beyond “Weed Instead of Roses” is as obvious as Lambert’s and oftentimes depressing in detailing drunken mishaps, this took a long time to sink in. But just wait for that plunky bass drop on the title track to sync with the subtle accordion. Wait for that subtle slide up the scale she squeezes into the chorus of “The Morning After.” But don’t wait for that final duet, a cheesy back and forth with Blake Shelton. Some things just never take root. A MINUS
TEGAN & SARA – Heartthrob (Warner Bros.): Power electro-pop twin sister duo from Calgary, accused of selling out or alienating their fanbase or whatever. Being unfamiliar with their back catalog and unopposed to slick production and well-oiled drum machines, I enjoy it with my reservations elsewhere. Most likely coincidental, but “I Couldn’t Be Your Friend” sounds suspiciously similar to Wussy’s “Humanbrained Horse,” though less coincidental are the similarities between “How Come You Don’t Want Me” and Rebecca Black’s “Friday,” though T&S do far better. Tossing in R&B (“Now I’m All Messed Up”), shamelessly copping 80’s Starship-esque tropes (“Closer”), and channeling a less-depressed Sinead O’Connor, these are songs of resilience, of looking forward after a decade in the biz. A MINUS