Album: Hell on Heels (Sony)
Why we care: If you can't wait 'til Nov. 1 for country spitfire Miranda Lambert's new album, Four the Record, this sorta-supergroup might tide you over for a spell. With songwriting pals Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, Ms. Gunpowder & Lead has formed a retrofied trio that talks tough and harmonizes sweet: "We like fast men and cheap guitars."
Why we like it: Making like the Traveling Wilburys in garters and curls, Lambert ("Lone Star Annie"), Presley ("Holler Annie") and Monroe ("Hippie Annie") trade lead vocal duties. Lambert is by far the biggest star here, but the Annies ride as one. Yeehaw, indeed.
Reminds us of: The Sun Bonnet Trio — Bunny, Bubbles and Beulah — from Disney World's Country Bear Jamboree.
Download this: Takin' Pills
Weezer, OK Go
Album: The Green Album (Walt Disney)
Why we care: Muppet mania is about to go whole hog (whole piggy?) with the Nov. 23 release of Jason Segel's franchise-reinvention flick The Muppets. Disney owns Kermit's green tuchus these days, and the Mouse House doesn't spare hype, so here we go: an uneven but crazy-fun collection of classic Muppet cuts covered by alt-rockers.
Why we like it: Gypsy jazzbo Andrew Bird offers a gorgeous reading of Bein' Green. But Weezer and Paramore's Hayley Williams make Rainbow Connection vomitiously twee. Thankfully, OK Go jacks the insanity back up with Muppet Show Theme Song.
Reminds us of: Go to tampabay.com/blogs/poplife to see OK Go's Fozzie-tastic video.
Download these: Bein' Green and Movin' Right Along (by Alkaline Trio)
Album: Concrete (Republic Nashville)
Why we care: If one of the Pistol Annies ever goes down in a tragic mechanical-bull-riding accident, Texas twangstress Sweeney would fill in fine — and no doubt guzzle 'em under the table. Her second full-length, with its ferocious don't-mess-with-me backbone, firmly establishes her as one of Nashville's newest and brightest.
Why we like it: Thanks to Miranda Lambert, the outlaw cowgirl is back in fashion on Music Row. Sweeney attacks her songs (most of which she co-penned) with everything she's got in her lipstick-tomcat arsenal: "I'm gonna kiss all the boys 'til I kiss your memory goodbye." You've been warned, Romeo.
Reminds us of: The godmother of TNT Tanya Tucker is a hot 'n' heavy influence here.
Download this: Drink Myself Single
Album: What Matters Most: Barbra Streisand Sings the Lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman (Columbia)
Why we care: My interest in La Streisand peaked when she wore those hot pants in 1979's The Main Event. But hey, Mary "the Diplomat" Daly turns 70 next week, and she's a Babs fan. So this review's for you, Mom.
Why we like it: Everything Streisand sings these days is a gauzy stroll through Tiffany's; an eye-rolling take on Windmills of Your Mind is smothered in overwrought romance. She's THE diva, and flaws turn her off. At 69, though, Babs can still hit most of her notes, and you can tell she adores her Bergman buddies.
Reminds us of: Any ideas what I can get my mom for her 70th? I guess a card and a Hickory Farms log won't cut it this time, huh?
Download this: I'll Never Say Goodbye