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The Chicks and Dream Wife with the new and noteworthy 

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The Chicks, Gaslighter (Columbia) – Early LP and CD copies moved to distribution before the country trio dropped “Dixie” from their name, but the Barbie-doll album design shows they’re being as subversive as ever. Natalie Maines and cohorts aren’t aiming for a full-throttle indictment of Trump’s America so much as pointing to the hypocrisy of middle-class existence, which may be even tougher for their original audience to handle. The arrangements and lyrics of the dozen songs are tighter than any previous outings, giving Gaslighter the aura of a masterpiece.
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Dream Wife, So When You Gonna… (Lucky Number) – Among women’s punk bands launched since 2015, this British trio wanted to carve out the sassiest niche. The opening track “Sports!” suggests a manifesto marked by curses and snarls, but the music takes a sudden, rich melodic turn, with the guitars bearing a shimmer similar to Johnny Marr’s best riffs. The timbre of the music may be unexpected, but Dream Wife sounds far more mature and accomplished than in their first album, even in a band once defined by its messiness.

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