(Note: Lady Gaga's show at the Wells Fargo Center, originally scheduled for Monday, has been moved to Thursday. All May 12 tickets will be honored. See the end of this preview for more information.)
Lady Gaga is very serious about being taken very seriously, not just as a musician (she's a fine pianist) and a singer (there's a reason Tony Bennett likes to duet with her), but also as a performance-art icon and pop totem. It's worth taking seriously her desire to be taken seriously. That ambition percolates through all she does, right down to the way she has styled the name of her current tour - artRAVE: The ARTPOP Ball - with a disconcerting mix of small and BIG letters. Based on her most recent album, ARTPOP, Gaga's garishly costumed, and sometimes all but nude, live show seeks to capture that CD's strange mix of rapid-fire electro and lyrical emotionalism, embracing her vulnerability and raging fortitude. Her easier-going pop tunes get less time. Gaga's Little Monster fan base loves a challenge as much as the fans' favorite artist does. This should be wild.
- A.D. Amorosi
She made her name in bluegrass, but Rhonda Vincent also excels at straight-up country. On her new album, Only Me, the singer and mandolinist delivers both styles. The first disc is labeled "Bluegrass," and the second is "Country," and the accompanists are different. The connections between the two, however, are underscored by the fact that one of the "bluegrass" songs is an old George Jones-Melba Montgomery country number, "We Must Have Been Out of Our Minds," with guest vocals by country neotraditionalist Daryle Singletary. And there is this: From the hot picking of the bluegrass opener "Busy City" to the western swing of the country finale, "Drivin' Nails," everything is masterfully done and deeply felt.
- Nick Cristiano
Chromeo ignores the line between the sublime and the ridiculous. The Montreal duo of Dave 1 and P-Thugg are serious about their love for all things electro-pop, and on White Women, their fourth album, they turn their attention to late disco/ early New Wave music, say, 1978-83. It's full of perky sequencers, funky bass lines, and period-specific gated reverb drum sounds. Each track risks being a pastiche, and even when pastiche happens, it transcends its obvious source material because of its sheer joy: These sounds connote a distant, carefree, giddy musical era, and it's hard not to smile and dance along. The lyrics - about sexy socialites, old 45s, and various means of seduction - are lighthearted and lightweight, but Dave 1 is a seriously seductive singer. Ignore questions of authenticity and Chromeo is pure - or ironic - fun.
- Steve Klinge