Second line of first song from Brooklyn country-rap DIYers B-Star: "You won't see me on MTV posing in chaps." I suppose the singer in the crinoline is no problem, though—like most small acts, B-Star has a better sense of what they're fighting against than what they're fighting for. Country and rap together isn't nearly the big whoop they make it out to be—word to the Disco Four and the Bellamy Brothers. Where they could win is in a strong argument for overlapping roots and working-class camaraderie. Instead, we get missed opportunities (no "Laffy Taffy" for the pre-set burlesque?), easy bromides about hospital cutbacks and—cue sound of Lou Dobbs gasping—outsourcing, all with a side of anti-bling condescension ("It's not a party 'til Jay-Z stabs someone." Hee-haw.) Frontman Rench is a charmless rapper, mistaking observation for insight, but an intuitive singer, always dour, sharpening his duets with the hoopskirted Veronica Dougherty, who shines in "Recession" and the smoky, excellent "Too Far Gone." (Violinist—I mean, fiddler—Michi Wiancko is also slumming below her... More >>>