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Critic’s Notebook: Gretchen Wilson, Hiss Golden Messenger, Daft Punk

Notable recordings in the world of pop music.

Gretchen Wilson

One of the most instantly likable voices to crash Nashville in the aughties has promised us three new albums this year, which would nearly double her discography. But it’s going to be tough for Wilson to eclipse her first offering of 2013, “Right on Time,” a delightful balancing act of heft and humor.

She flexes her versatility in one song, “Grandma,” about a matriarch who decides to make up for lost decades by taking her first puffs of weed at age 92. The tale goes from hilarious, to heavy, to weepy and back again. If you listen to only one song about a nonagenarian stoner this year – or in 90 years – make it this one.

Hiss Golden Messenger

North Carolina songwriter M.C. Taylor doesn’t describe faith as a safe place so much as the destination across some unbridgeable gulf. “Haw,” Taylor’s new album as Hiss Golden Messenger, is a deep and stunning thing, 11 folk-rock songs steeped in comforting Appalachian melody and restless 21st-century anxiety. Album opener “Red Rose Nantahala” can be heard as a protest anthem and a prayer, demanding basic human rights (“Let me love the one I want”) and begging higher powers to intervene (“Oh lord, let
me be happy”).

Daft Punk

Anyone who’s ever stared down the corner of a painting or underlined a couplet in a book of poetry can appreciate the sonic crumbs Daft Punk has been tossing ravenous fans in recent weeks. The visionary dance music duo is set to release a new album, “Random Access Memories,” next month and has unveiled a few scrumptious swatches of music via television commercials, which fans have stitched into repeating loops and posted on YouTube. Log on and listen – over and over and over. It’s viral hype and bliss hypnosis.

Chris Richards has been the Post's pop music critic since 2009. He's recently written about the bliss of summer songs, the woe of festival fatigue and a guide on how to KonMari your record collection.



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