SUGARLAND & r & & r & Love on the Inside & r & & r & 4 STARS & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & his looks to be Sugarland's breakout record, filled with frothy pop songs dressed up just enough to fit the Nashville model. And this duo out of Atlanta knows how to write a crowd-pleaser, with sing-along choruses ("We Run"), soaring songcraft ("Love") and funny lyrics ("My trusty-rusty had a flat / I borrowed my neighbor's Cadillac ... Knew that truck the moment it hit me / Out stepped my ex and his new girl / 'Sorry 'bout your neck, baby....'"). This is a polished pair, and Love on the Inside is a great soundtrack for what's left of the summer.
Singer/songwriter Jennifer Nettles can twang it up, but she also features a more mainstream sound ("Already Gone") this time out. And guitarist/songwriter Kristian Bush has pushed a bigger, more electric, arena-ready sound ("Take Me As I Am"). Hard to say if all that will help them conquer more than country radio, but this record gives them a good shot.
-- TED S. McGREGOR JR.
DOWNLOAD: "Steve Earle"
THE BLACK ANGELS
Directions To See a Ghost
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & ry as some bands might to hide their influences and roots, it takes only a slightly trained eye to note the elements that hearken back. And if the influences step forward too strongly, a strong case for a lack of imagination can be made. That being said, this Austin-based band lets their latest album title do the speaking in an amazingly prescient fashion. If you want to hear the Velvet Underground-meets-Joy Division, check out the Black Angels.
Full of fuzzed-out psychedelic guitars and echoed feedback, the 11 tracks here offer an aural roadmap across the best of the late-'60s rock. And because many of the songs are more than five minutes long, there is much to devour, especially during the 17-minute closer, "Snake in the Grass." The album will definitely test the patience of many listeners, but it's well worth the necessary effort. Anything with sitars can't be all bad.