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Picks and Pans Main: Music

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Luke Bryan

Spring Break … Here to Party |


After releasing four Spring Break EPs in the previous four years, country star Luke Bryan packs up the kegs and coolers for a full-length blowout on Here to Party. The 14-track album rounds up brew-swilling songs originally on each EP-from the honky-tonk humor of “Take My Drunk A** Home” (off 2009’s Spring Break with All My Friends) and “Cold Beer Drinker” (2010’s Hangover Edition) to the rock-guitar riffing of “Love in a College Town” (2011’s It’s a Shore Thing). Two of the best cuts-the soulful ballad “Shake the Sand” and the quick kissoff “Spring Break-Up”-come from last year’s Suntan City. Bryan gives the set a double shot of freshness with two new tunes-“Just a Sip” and “Buzzkill”-that keep the drinking theme flowing. At 36, though, he may soon need to hang up going after college chicks.

Ashley Monroe

Like a Rose |


Clearly Ashley Monroe has some serious connections in Nashvillle: A member of Miranda Lambert’s side project Pistol Annies, she got Vince Gill to coproduce her new solo album and Blake Shelton to show up for a snarky duet, “You Ain’t Dolly (and You Ain’t Porter).” Monroe’s thorn-sharp wit-and country traditionalism-also bloom on other Rose highlights like “Two Weeks Late” and, best of all, “Weed Instead of Roses.” But the resigned heartache of “She’s Driving Me Out of Your Mind” is no joke.