Listening Station: Miranda Lambert’s “Four the Record”; Florence + the Machine’s ‘Ceremonials’

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“Shake It Out” begins with stately church organ and quickly explodes into an anthem of empowerment. “It’s hard to dance with a devil on your back,” Miss Welch howls, “so shake him off.” Ghosts and demons figure prominently on the other songs, too, replacing the antagonist ex-boyfriends that fill most albums by female songwriters.

“Ceremonials” deals with heavy stuff, resting its weight not on Miss Welch’s broken heart but on her desire to drive out the darkness that lurks inside all of us. In that sense, it’s closer to keening than traditional pop music, but it’s also framed in a hip, 21st century context, with every high-church violin riff matched by an infinitely listenable melody. This is pomp and circumstance with an indie rock heart, a meticulously crafted album that overshadows its own influences.

 

Reissued Version of “Achtung Baby”: Even Better than the Real Thing

2011 has seen its fair share of reissued albums, including deluxe editions of Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” R.E.M.’s “Life’s Rich Pageant” and Suede’s entire catalog. Leave it to U2, perhaps the world’s biggest rock band, to turn the time-honored tradition on its head by releasing several ornate versions of “Achtung Baby.”

The hefty price tag will probably deter anyone who isn’t in Bono’s tax bracket, but the “Super Deluxe Edition” is a must-have for those who still listen to “Achtung Baby.” Pairing the original tracklist with four DVDs and five bonus CDs, the reissue shines a new light on the original album, which turns 20 later this month. Most of the remixes are fairly disposable, but the outtakes are fantastic, with songs like “Lady with the Spinning Head” sounding every bit as tuneful and sonically innovative as those that made the final cut. Of course, the real treat is the actual album itself, which continues to pack a serious punch.

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