Miranda Lambert at Jiffy Lube Live
“Platinum,” the title of Miranda Lambert’s newest album, is a tribute to both the shiny discs she gets every time she sells a million copies of a record and to the blonde wig atop her most obvious role model: Dolly Parton. Like Parton, Lambert has an uncanny knack for combining commercial and critical appeal. “Platinum” is Lambert’s fifth straight No. 1 country album, and she’s the only artist to finish first or second four times in the Nashville Scene’s Country Music Critics’ Poll.
Both Lambert and Parton connect with the broad country audience by exploiting the most familiar formulas, and both please critics by giving those blueprints an unexpected twist of poignancy or self-deprecating humor. The new album’s title track, for example, offers the well-worn trope of a young woman’s struggle for success, but Lambert deflates the usual pompousness with the punch line “What doesn’t kill you only makes you blonder.” On “Smokin’ and Drinkin’, ” by contrast, she takes the Nashville formula of the field-party song and upends the celebration of beers and buds into a ballad of tremendous regret over “the one that got away.”
Onstage, like Parton, Lambert uses her high-wattage smile, state-of-the-art country-pop sound and down-home “ah, shucks” persona to make you think she’s not as smart as she actually is. But as soon as the audience lets down its defenses, she hits her listeners with an unexpected left hook, such as a dip into 1930s Texas swing or a stinging critique of modern consumerism. — Geoffrey Himes
With Thomas Rhett and Justin Moore on Saturday at Jiffy Lube Live. Show starts at 7 p.m. 703-754-6400. www.jiffylubelive.com. $29.25-$54.
Watch: Miranda Lambert's "Automatic"
Frog Eyes at DC9
Back in the early ’00s, Frog Eyes was part of a strong crop of Canadian artists making — and getting noticed for — tuneful, quirky and hyper-literate indie rock. Now, a decade later, a number of those acts, such as New Pornographers and Destroyer, have graduated to larger venues and more established audiences. Frog Eyes, meanwhile, has maintained a small, if devoted, cult following.
Which is unfair, but not entirely unexpected, since the quartet was — and, really, still is — a lot freakier than its peers. Lead by singer-songwriter Carey Mercer, the band wedged dense and surreal lyrics into piano-driven tunes that were part cabaret, part bugged-out post-punk noisemaking. It was brainy stuff, but Mercer, both in the studio and in concert, imbued the songs with a manic, aggressive physicality. At times he crooned like Bryan Ferry, but more often, he bellowed, writhed and hollered.
Until recently, the band has been on an extended break. Frog Eyes’ most recent full-length, “Carey’s Cold Spring,” came out amid grim circumstances: Mercer’s father died while the band was writing and recording the album, and once the final mixes were approved, the singer was diagnosed with throat cancer. Now, though, Mercer is reportedly cancer-free and well enough, we hope, to deliver with his usual gusto. — Aaron Leitko
With PS I Love You on Monday at DC9. Show starts at 8:30 pm. 202-483-5000. www.dcnine.com. $14.
Watch: Frog Eyes' "Masticated Outboard Motors"
Third World at the Howard Theatre
Mixing genres in music isn’t always a welcomed practice. Artists are often expected to stay in one lane, and any deviation can stir criticism.
Longtime band Third World is one of the world’s most celebrated reggae groups, even earning the title of “reggae ambassadors.” Yet Third World has continued to push boundaries, experimenting with soul, funk and pop, under the watchful eyes of reggae purists. In a 1992 interview with Billboard magazine, former lead singer William “Bunny Rugs” Clarke said of Third World: “Strictly a reggae band, no. Definitely a reggae band, yes.” (Clarke, whose signature vocals drew praise from fans and critics, died of leukemia in February.)
The band rose to fame in the 1970s and ’80s, thanks in part to its album “96 Degrees in the Shade” and such hits as “Try Jah Love,” co-written and produced by Stevie Wonder, and its remake of the O’Jays ballad “Now That We Found Love.” The crossover appeal and versatility of Third World’s music help explain the band’s staying power, not to mention its impact on the music industry — heard in songs such as Big Boi’s “Run Th3 World,” which sampled Third World’s “How Can You.”
In June, the group released its 21st studio album, “Under the Magic Sun,” which includes covers of such classics as Jackie DeShannon’s “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” REO Speedwagon’s “I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore” and Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues.” The band continues to demonstrate its ease with other genres by borrowing songs and making them their own. The members of Third World are not just ambassadors of reggae, but ambassadors of music. — Macy Freeman
Tuesday at the Howard Theatre. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. 202-803-2899. www.thehowardtheatre.com. $20 in advance, $25 at the door.
Watch: Third World's "96 Degrees in the Shade"