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Hot Stuff: Miranda Lambert – Rare Gem of Modern Country Music

Miranda Lambert is a breath of fresh air on the modern country landscape. Miranda Lambert is a breath of fresh air on the modern country landscape.

We’re doing something a little different this week here in Hot Stuff. That’s right, ya’ll. This week there’s no pop, no metal, no hip-hop, no synthesizers. We’re getting’ down home with the twangiest edition of Hot Stuff ever. We know growers are a diverse bunch, so we’re accommodating the cowboys among you with some country, western, and bluegrass choices. We’ve also got some alt country selections for you who like your twang a little further from the mainstream. We’ll be back to our usual eclectic selections next week, but for now, grab your ten-gallon, your spurs, and saddle up.

Miranda Lambert – Four the Record

The state of modern country music is pretty disheartening in general, but there are still some diamonds in the rough. Miranda Lambert is one of those gems. She’s slick enough to run with the glitzy mainstream country stars, but her songs have enough of an edge that they remain compelling even while many of the commercial trappings of modern country remain in tact. This isn’t down and dirty country the way the outlaws and cowboys did it when “country & western” were still dirty words, but Four the Record is damn fine listening all the same. That makes it an oddity in the modern country landscape, and a welcome breath of fresh air for those of us who miss some high-quality twang on the airwaves.


Merle Haggard – Working in Tennessee

One of the all time greats and damn near the last of the real outlaw country stars, Merle Haggard is still turning out good records at age 74. He’s into his sixth decade of recording and performing, and he’s still about a thousand times better than most of the so-called country acts on the radio that sound more like ‘80s power balladeers than down-home cowboys. Working in Tennessee may not be Haggard’s finest work, but there are a hell of a lot of good songs on this record. If you love Haggard, Working In Tennessee will not disappoint.


Del McCoury Band – Old Memories: The Songs of Bill Monroe

We’ve got a legend paying tribute to another legend on this record. Hey, it’s not too often that Hot Stuff is going to feature two septuagenarians in the same article, but this is a special week with both Del McCoury and Merle Haggard on our list. McCoury is a bluegrass forerunner, and here he pays tribute to the godfather of hillbilly music, Bill Monroe. These are backwoods songs of the highest quality. One thing you can always count on in a genuine bluegrass album is top notch musicianship, and the Del McCoury Band’s treatment of Monroe’s tunes features nothing less. This one’s a treat for bluegrass fans far and wide.


The Wooden Sky – City of Light EP

The hippest twang in the current musical landscape is what has come to be known as “alt-country.” Not sure if that deters you or soothes you, but a record this good doesn’t need to be pigeonholed. The Wooden Sky serve up an EP of memorable songs that are down to earth but catchy. The tunes swing but still retain a healthy dose of melancholy. Highly recommended.


13ghosts – Garland of Bottle Flies

This is the most rock-influenced of our records this week. 13ghosts weave tales of being down and out, incorporating a hard-hitting dose of jagged edged country with a serious rock n’ roll attitude. This is the darkest twang you’re likely to hear this year, but the songs often find a sweet side, too. If you need an antidote for the slick glitz of the airwaves, look no further than 13ghosts. This is music with integrity. Let it get under your skin.



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Some classic Bill Monroe.
Last modified on Friday, 13 July 2012 15:10

Happy is a regular contributor to RosebudMag.com and has written for various other publications, including Black Belt, Inside Hockey, and FoxSports.com. He transitioned to life as a writer following a decade-long career as a touring musician. He lives with his son in Vancouver, British Columbia

Website: www.rosebudmag.com/hkreter

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