Music

Miranda Lambert - "Vice" (Singles Going Steady)

Taken as a whole, it's a low-stakes commercial country soap opera with lofty ambitions but little authenticity.

Pryor Stroud: After first skirting fame on the American Idol knockoff Nashville Star, Miranda Lambert bulleted to the forefront of modern country with an ambidextrous voice that could tackle tumbleweed ballads, radio-ready twang-pop trifles, and vengeful odes with equal aplomb. "Vice", the first single from her upcoming LP, strands this voice in new dramatic territory: a chain of Middle America towns filled with the noise of barroom jukeboxes and cars speeding off into the distance, Lambert's many vices -- her ex-lovers, one night stands, and late-summer flings -- left behind in disheveled beds before they even have a chance to remember the night before. Taken as a whole, it's a low-stakes commercial country soap opera with lofty ambitions but little authenticity; there are moments when Lambert communicates real regret, a grief welling up behind her eyes, but the melody doesn't give her enough room to confess what she really wants to say. "Maybe I'm addicted to goodbyes," she sings, the chorus looming ahead of her like a storm cloud of secrets, and then she dives forward, ready to own up to her faults, immersing herself in the truth behind these secrets for the first time. After all, admitting you have a problem is the first step out of addiction. [6/10]

Brian Duricy: The song starts out promising: a song about songs? Certainly right up my alley. But the meta ends after the first hook, and the track fizzles out from there. Lyrically it becomes trite (love is a vice, who could've guessed?) and the slow smolder of the instrumentation doesn't add much. [5/10]

Jordan Blum: From a technical standpoint, everything here works. Lambert has a nice voice, and she sings with a lot of conviction and personality. Likewise, the production is squeaky clean. I actually expected this to be more generic, but the sparse arrangement and slightly eerie effects throughout help it stand out from other country/pop tracks. The songwriting itself is nothing special, but the mixture of standard vocals/melodies and bleak, almost noirish tones is quite interesting. [7/10]

Steve Horowitz: Miranda Lambert continues to create new music out of old bottles (an attempt at a joke about alcohol). The drinking and other bad habits she alludes to just make her sound more human -- that and that ache in her voice. The song plods along nicely, but a more intense workout would reveal her journey into the volcano as something more treacherous. Just playing a record twice isn't much of a self-punishment. Needles can be used for worse pain, as she knows, and this vice comes off as too benign for what she implies is real suffering. [6/10]

Chad Miller: The melody isn't the most interesting thing in the world, but the harmonies and pulsing bass really help the track out. That said, the parts that feature next to no music lose a lot of momentum. Fortunately, the end of the track is splendid with its terrific harmonies and defiant background vocals. [7/10]

SCORE: 6.20

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image