FEATURES

ETHAN JOHNS

ETHAN JOHNS
ETHAN JOHNS A second-generation production wiz moves to the other side of the glass By Michael Gallant For Ethan Johns, producing rock stars means carrying on the family business. After all, his father is famed producer Glyn Johns, whose credits include Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, Linda Ronstadt, Bob Dylan and the Who. “It wasn’t a big deal for me to have any of those people show up at the house,” says Johns, who grew up... 

ERIC JOHNSON & MIKE STERN

ERIC JOHNSON & MIKE STERN
ERIC JOHNSON & MIKE STERN Two guitar wizards on one album mean twice the musical magic By Jeff Tamarkin By any measure, Eric Johnson and Mike Stern are two of the most accomplished guitarists in recent history, but it’s doubtful anyone ever considered they’d make an album together. Stern, after all, is a renowned jazz artist, having had his initial breakthrough in the ’80s as a member of Miles Davis’ band. Johnson, on the other hand,... 

SCOTT WEILAND

SCOTT WEILAND
SCOTT WEILAND                         The former STP frontman returns to rock ’n’ roll on his latest solo set Blaster is Scott Weiland’s third solo album and his first under the moniker Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts. But whatever the name, any music Weiland releases lines up with the unforgettable output of his former bands: ’90s alt-rock greats Stone Temple Pilots, and supergroup Velvet Revolver, with Slash and Duff McKagan.... 

DONNY OSMOND

DONNY OSMOND
DONNY OSMOND His latest celebrates the former teen idol’s biggest musical influences  In the 50 years since Donny Osmond made his debut alongside his brothers on The Andy Williams Show, he’s recorded 60 albums, including his latest, The Soundtrack of My Life. The album features songs that were significant in the 57-year-old performer’s life, from the Beatles’ “The Long and Winding Road” to the Supremes’ “Baby Love.” Stevie Wonder... 

JONI MITCHELL

JONI MITCHELL
JONI MITCHELL One of music’s greatest singer-songwriters creates an inspired box set Joni Mitchell is an eight-time Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who’s influenced everyone from Courtney Love to Taylor Swift. So it’s only fitting that her new box set has been crafted with care. It isn’t her first retrospective, but Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, a Ballet, Waiting to Be Danced is something special. The 53 tracks on these four... 

THE DECEMBERISTS

THE DECEMBERISTS
THE DECEMBERISTS The indie folk favorites take their time to create a compelling new album It’s been four years since the Decemberists’ sixth studio album, The King Is Dead, shot to the top of the Billboard 200 chart. Finally, the Portland, Oregon-based folk-rock band—frontman Colin Meloy, guitarist Chris Funk, keyboardist Jenny Conlee, bassist Nate Query and drummer John Moen—follows up with What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World.... 

ALLISON MOORER

ALLISON MOORER
ALLISON MOORER On a new studio set, the acclaimed roots artist mines pain for poetry  Five years ago, as Allison Moorer released her seventh studio album, Crows, she was married to singer-songwriter Steve Earle and pregnant with their son. Now, as she releases her latest, Down to Believing, much has changed. Her near-decade-long marriage to Earle has ended, and their son, John Henry, has been diagnosed with autism. But Moorer has never been shy... 

AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT

AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT
AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT The critical favorites rewrite the rock rulebook on a Dope new album It’s official: The Airborne Toxic Event is no longer a “proper rock band.” The California quintet’s new album, Dope Machines, pairs loud guitars with glitzy synths and canned beats with live drums, and although leader Mikel Jollett struggles to define the sound, he knows it’s not what people were expecting. “There’s a set of rules you’re supposed... 

FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE

FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE
FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE Bro-country’s premier duo finds their musical sweet spot naturally Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard—the party-starting dudes behind the country juggernaut Florida Georgia Line—are taking a breather to look back on the monster year they’ve had. Their new album Anything Goes topped the charts—and their latest No.1 hit “Sun Daze” caps a series of chart-scorching hits. What’s more, their new tour landed a Top 3 spot... 

BETTY WHO

BETTY WHO
BETTY WHO A popular viral video leads to a major-label debut for a dance-pop diva Even if you don’t recognize her name, you’d likely recognize Betty Who’s breakout hit “Somebody Loves You,” which played as the backdrop of a 2013 viral video of a man proposing to his boyfriend in Home Depot while dancing with a flash mob. “Even today, people are falling in love with that song for the first time,” says the Australian singer-songwriter... 

TOWER OF POWER

TOWER OF POWER
TOWER OF POWER Hip for nearly 50 years, the soul vets prove you just can’t stop the funk Ask Emilio Castillo—who co-founded Tower of Power in 1968—how his band has survived, and he offers a simple answer. “It’s because we make the music exactly the way we want it to sound,” he says. “We noticed years ago that if we try to deviate from what we do, it doesn’t work—we still sound like us, only a bastardized version. So we’re going... 

JOEL CROUSE

JOEL CROUSE
JOEL CROUSE HOMETOWN: Holland, Mass. INFLUENCES: Waylon Jennings, Keith Urban, Tom Petty ALBUM: Even the River Runs, out now WEBSITE: joelcrouse.com A pastor’s son from a small farming town outside Boston, Crouse started singing in church at an early age. At 13, his Alabama-bred grandfather gave him his first guitar and introduced him to such legendary artists as Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. Three years later he was playing... 

SKYLAR STECKER

SKYLAR STECKER
SKYLAR STECKER HOMETOWN: Middleton, Wisc. INFLUENCES: Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Ne-Yo ALBUM: Firecracker, out now WEBSITE: skylarstar.com At just 12 years old, Skylar Stecker has a vocal range and a drive to succeed that rivals artists twice her age. Daughter of former NFL running back Aaron Stecker, she wrote her first song in the third grade, the same year she made her onstage debut at a hometown talent show. “That’s when I knew music was what... 

EDDIE KRAMER

EDDIE KRAMER
EDDIE KRAMER The legendary producer recalls creating some of rock’s greatest recordings By Michael Gallant Eddie Kramer is a rock icon. The sheer number of superstars whose music he’s shaped is stunning—from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin to Buddy Guy, Anthrax and Carly Simon. “I’m still standing and still making records,” the 72-year-old says with a laugh. Born in South Africa, Kramer studied classical piano before... 

JOE PERRY

JOE PERRY
JOE PERRY Tracing his journey through the highs and lows of rock stardom  By Russell Hall More than forty years have passed since guitarist Joe Perry partnered with singer Steven Tyler to form the songwriting core of Aerosmith. During those years the Boston-based superstar rock band—which also includes bassist Tom Hamilton, drummer Joey Kramer and guitarist Brad Whitford—has experienced every triumph and tribulation imaginable. “In the beginning... 

SOUNDGARDEN

SOUNDGARDEN
SOUNDGARDEN Eclectic tracks from the past find new life on the band’s box set   Kim Thayil isn’t big on loose ends. For years, the Soundgarden guitarist had thought about rounding up all of his band’s B-sides, covers, live tracks, soundtrack cuts and other stray recordings, and now it’s done. The Seattle grunge pioneers released Echo of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across the Path, a triple-disc box set that delivers precisely what the title... 

ROBBY KRIEGER

ROBBY KRIEGER
ROBBY KRIEGER The innovative Doors guitarist wants fans to know the band’s real story Director Oliver Stone’s 1991 biopic The Doors offered many insights into the legendary group’s music. Now, with the release of the Doors’ self-produced 1968 film documentary Feast of Friends, fans have access to a more realistic depiction of band members’ lives and their creative process. At its center is Robby Krieger, whose dazzling guitar work helped... 

SMASHING PUMPKINS

SMASHING PUMPKINS
SMASHING PUMPKINS Billy Corgan’s latest features familiar-but-fresh sounds and a new Crüe Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan doesn’t mean to burst your bubble—but if you’re thinking “hopeful and positive” when you hear “Monuments,” a standout track on the new Smashing Pumpkins album Monuments to an Elegy, then you’re mistaken. Speaking from Chicago, Corgan says that the line “I feel all right tonight” is “kind of meant... 

JOE BONAMASSA

JOE BONAMASSA
JOE BONAMASSA The dedicated bluesman mines Music City talent for an album of originals When Joe Bonamassa started work on his 11th solo release, Different Shades of Blue, the guitarist-vocalist knew he needed to shake things up. So Bonamassa teamed up with top Nashville songwriters—including Jonathan Cain, James House and Jerry Flowers—to pen original tunes. “I owed it to my fans to do an all-original record, and I owed it to myself to prove... 

KRISTIN CHENOWETH

KRISTIN CHENOWETH
KRISTIN CHENOWETH The effervescent actress and singer does her hometown proud on a new album On her first live album, Coming Home, Kristin Chenoweth found herself on familiar terrain. The Tony Award-winning actress and singer performed a pair of sold-out shows at the Kristin Chenoweth Theatre in her hometown of Arrow, Okla. “I absolutely wanted to make my hometown a part of the album, so I had my high school choir sing backup on one of the gospel... 

BUSH

BUSH
BUSH    With a new album, the grunge-rockers are on the road and on the run again When it came to Bush’s new album, Man on the Run, founder and frontman Gavin Rossdale was in a quandary about what to call it. “I always thought it’s a cop-out to use a song title as an album title,” says Rossdale. “But I wanted something universal, and that song stood out as something affecting most people—not having enough time to satisfy every area... 

CHARLI XCX

CHARLI XCX
CHARLI XCX The red-hot songwriter channels a variety of influences on her latest Charli XCX is blowing up—from her co-writes and features on Icona Pop’s “I Love It” and Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” to her own solo hit “Boom Clap,” the 22-year-old U.K. singer-songwriter has dominated the airwaves for the past two years (and earned two Grammy nominations). After releasing several under-the-radar singles from various mixtapes, an EP and her... 

BILLY IDOL

BILLY IDOL
BILLY IDOL Looking back—and forward—with a new   book and fresh music Billy Idol relived the first 58 years of his life while writing his new autobiography Dancing With Myself. He remembers wandering around his house in the middle of the night, thinking about the music he made with punk rockers Generation X in the 1970s, the hits he scored as a solo artist in the ’80s, and his encounters and collaborations with everyone from Debbie Harry to... 

KÊTA

KÊTA
KÊTA HOMETOWN: Greenwood, Ind. influences: Elvis Presley, Imogen Heap, the Supremes ALBUM: Generation Call EP, out now WEBSITE: whoisketa.com Born into a musical home—her mother was a classically trained violinist and vocalist, and her father played guitar—Kêta grew up singing at church and county fairs. But at the age of 10, her budding career was halted after contracting Lyme disease. “My life was all doctor’s appointments, tests, needles... 

LARKIN POE

LARKIN POE
LARKIN POE HOMETOWN: Atlanta INFLUENCES: Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, the Band ALBUM: Kin, out now WEBSITE: larkinpoe.com As descendants of Edgar Allan Poe, sister duo Larkin Poe has extended a long line of talented yet tempestuous artists. “We have a very colorful family history,” says Rebecca Lovell, 23. “There were a lot of creative, hot-headed and intelligent branches that went against the grain in our family tree.” Early on, Larkin Poe... 

RO SHON

RO SHON
RO SHON HOMETOWN: L.A. INFLUENCES: Prince, will.i.am, Michael Jackson ALBUM: I Am Ro Shon EP, out now WEBSITE: roshon.com Ro Shon burst onto the scene as star of the Disney hit show Shake It Up and celebrity dancer on Dancing With the Stars. But he decided to take a break from TV to focus on his greatest passion. “Music is something I’ve done all my life,” says Ro Shon, 23. “But I haven’t really taken that step to say, ‘Here I am!’... 

BUTCH VIG

BUTCH VIG
BUTCH VIG The pioneering platinum producer continues to explore new sonic landscapes By Michael Gallant When Butch Vig helped create Nirvana’s 1991 masterpiece Nevermind, little did he know the project would fundamentally transform the rock world. Though the Grammy-winning, multiplatinum producer had been toiling behind the glass for nearly a decade, that iconic album marked the beginning of a singular career. Following Nevermind, Vig helmed groundbreaking... 

KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD

KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD
KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD For the onetime guitar prodigy, home is where the heart—and the blues—are By Jeff Tamarkin Watching icon Stevie Ray Vaughan at just 7 years old impacted Kenny Wayne Shepherd in ways he could never have imagined at the time. “I had a very early introduction to blues music,” says Shepherd, “and watching Stevie Ray altered the course of my life. He played with such raw emotion and passion and fire. From that day forward... 

ANNIE LENNOX

ANNIE LENNOX
ANNIE LENNOX The Scottish soul diva soars on a singular standards set Annie Lennox—the wonderfully eccentric, madly soulful former Eurythmics singer—has released a decidedly nonstandard standards album. Nostalgia, the follow-up to 2010’s critically lauded A Christmas Cornucopia, came about totally by accident after Lennox performed some jazz tunes with Herbie Hancock at the 2012 International AIDS Conference. “It struck me that I had this... 

LENNY KRAVITZ

LENNY KRAVITZ
LENNY KRAVITZ The rocker-turned-actor turns rocker again with a new studio album In the 25 years since Lenny Kravitz released his debut album Let Love Rule, he has released 10 studio albums, won four Grammys, and scored hits like “It Ain’t Over ’Til It’s Over,” “American Woman” and “Fly Away.” After recent star turns in such films as Precious, The Butler and the Hunger Games franchise, the 50-year-old singer-songwriter returns to... 

THE FLAMING LIPS

THE FLAMING LIPS
THE FLAMING LIPS                         Putting their own spin on a landmark Beatles album   For many musicians, approaching the crown jewel of the Beatles catalog would take a lot of nerve—but for the Flaming Lips, reimagining Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was less about intimidation and more about wonder. “Out of sheer curiosity, we picked  some Beatles songs and thought, ‘How are they doing that?’” says frontman... 

MELISSA ETHERIDGE

MELISSA ETHERIDGE
MELISSA ETHERIDGE Collaboration takes the Grammy-winning rocker in new musical directions Going into her 13th studio album, Melissa Etheridge had two songs written and was well on her way to recording another set of driving, heartfelt pop-rock tunes—the type that have earned her two Grammys and a devoted fan base—but then she realized something. “I can make Melissa Etheridge songs until the cows come home,” she says. So she dramatically shook... 

THURSTON MOORE

THURSTON MOORE
THURSTON MOORE Crossing the ocean brought the influential rocker a new wave of creativity  “Permanently? I don’t know what that would mean,” says Thurston Moore, laughing. The 56-year-old singer and guitarist of the legendary alt rock band Sonic Youth is not referring to the potential length of the iconic band’s hiatus, which began when Moore split with wife and longtime bandmate Kim Gordon in 2011. Rather, he’s considering whether his... 

THE MADDEN BROTHERS

THE MADDEN BROTHERS
THE MADDEN BROTHERS The Good Charlotte rockers take a detour to explore a new creative path Here’s what you should know upfront about Joel and Benji Madden’s debut record as the Madden Brothers: “It’s completely different from Good Charlotte,” says Joel. “If you’re looking for high-energy pop punk, it’s definitely not that.” The tattoo-covered twins started jamming in their tiny, unheated Maryland bedroom at 15. After moving west... 

LITTLE BIG TOWN

LITTLE BIG TOWN
LITTLE BIG TOWN   Success brings a wealth of changes for the resilient country rockers For more than 15 years Little Big Town has delivered irresistible harmonies, timeless melodies and compelling songs—but the path to success has hardly been a straight line. In the late ’90s they landed a major record contract, but the deal fizzled. In 2002 the group released their debut album on an indie label—but it didn’t fare well. Three years later,... 

LUCINDA WILLIAMS

LUCINDA WILLIAMS
LUCINDA WILLIAMS For one of Americana’s most celebrated artists, the best is yet to come Lucinda Williams has enjoyed a singular 36-year career that has included recording a dozen albums, collaborating with countless artists, and winning three Grammys. Yet the 61-year-old performer harbors no doubt her artistry is still on the ascendant. “I see myself as an anomaly,” says the Louisiana-born artist as she releases Down Where the Spirit Meets... 

JESSIE J

JESSIE J
JESSIE J The U.K. pop star kicks off her quest to conquer the U.S. with a Bang Bang Jessie J is hoping she finally has America’s attention. With the out-of-the-gate success of “Bang Bang”—the lead single off her latest album, Sweet Talker, that features red-hot pop star Ariana Grande and rapper Nicki Minaj—she’s longing to score her first No. 1 album. “I’ve never had one before anywhere, so that would be my biggest achievement,”... 

KANDACE SPRINGS

KANDACE SPRINGS
KANDACE SPRINGS HOMETOWN: Nashville INFLUENCES: Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday ALBUM: Kandace Springs EP, out now WEBSITE: kandacesprings.com “Ever since I can remember, music has been a part of my life,” says Kandace Springs. “My dad was always playing music in the house, in the car, singing in the mall—everywhere! He taught me how to harmonize.” An R&B singer-songwriter, Spring’s father also imparted an appreciation... 

JACQUIE LEE

JACQUIE LEE
JACQUIE LEE HOMETOWN: Colts Neck, N.J. INFLUENCES: Alicia Keys, Corinne Bailey Rae, Adele ALBUM: Broken Ones EP, out now WEBSITE: jacquielee.com Jacquie Lee was a shy young girl who bravely conquered a tough case of stage fright in fifth grade after securing the title role in her school’s production of Mulan. A half-dozen years later, Lee grew up to be a poised, talented performer who finished as the runner-up on the fifth season of The Voice.... 

MATTHEW KOMA

MATTHEW KOMA
MATTHEW KOMA HOMETOWN: Long Island, N.Y. INFLUENCES: Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Don Henley ALBUM: As-yet-untitled LP, out 2015 WEBSITE: matthewkoma.com The son of a New York singer-songwriter, EDM musician Matthew Koma aspired to write compelling songs at a young age—and he succeeded, landing a publishing deal at just 16. “My favorite songwriters are the ones who tell stories that are rooted in real emotion, but who find a way to get... 

JOHN MAYALL

JOHN MAYALL
JOHN MAYALL For the British blues master, music proves the fountain of youth By Jeff Tamarkin A towering figure among the progenitors of British blues, John Mayall’s dedication to his craft remains as strong as when he first discovered the music. Now 80, the blues pioneer still relishes the road—playing more than 100 gigs a year—and the recording studio. In fact, Mayall’s latest record, A Special Life, finds him as excited as ever—and that’s... 

ANGÉLIQUE KIDJO

ANGÉLIQUE KIDJO
ANGÉLIQUE KIDJO African music’s premier diva celebrates the power of women Afropop star Angélique Kidjo has been a force in African music for more than two decades. With her new album, Eve, she narrows her focus to capture the sounds and spirit of African women. Produced by Patrick Dillett (David Byrne, Fatboy Slim), Eve is a sunny, pulsing celebration of the resilience of the feminine spirit, sung in various West African languages by women’s... 

JENNY LEWIS

JENNY LEWIS
JENNY LEWIS Taking her time pays off for the Rilo Kiley singer on a new solo set  After taking three years to write, record and re-record her third solo album, The Voyager, Jenny Lewis cut the final version in a week and a half with producer Ryan Adams at his Pax-Am Studio in L.A. “Once we started rolling, we just ran through all the songs,” she says. While working on the album, the former Rilo Kiley frontwoman—and half of Jenny and Johnny—stayed... 

JASON MRAZ

JASON MRAZ
JASON MRAZ                   Enjoying the creative freedom that comes with multiplatinum success   “I’m still riding on the success of ‘I’m Yours,’” Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Jason Mraz admits as he winds through the streets of Tokyo. He’s on his way to the airport after promoting his fifth studio album, YES!, in Japan. “Thanks to that song, my bills are paid, I get to travel the world—and now I’m able to make... 

COUNTING CROWS

COUNTING CROWS
COUNTING CROWS Frontman Adam Duritz phoned in the inspiration for their latest album In the years following 2008’s Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, Counting Crows toured, released a couple of live records, and paid tribute to their heroes with a covers album. One thing they didn’t do: make a lick of new music. Frontman Adam Duritz took a break from penning Crows material to collaborate with writer Stephen Belber on the play Black Sun. Meantime,... 

LIV WARFIELD

LIV WARFIELD
LIV WARFIELD HOMETOWN: Peoria, Ill. INFLUENCES: Nina Simone, Etta James, Tina Turner ALBUM: The Unexpected, out now WEBSITE: livwarfieldmusic.com The daughter of a Pentecostal deacon, LiV Warfield grew up in a household where musical entertainment was discouraged, so she set her sights on a different path—as a sprinter. “I kept my voice a secret for more than 20 years,” she says. “Athletics were my primary discipline and the encouraged formula... 

GRACE WEBER

GRACE WEBER
GRACE WEBER HOMETOWN: Wauwatosa, Wisc. INFLUENCES: Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan ALBUM: The Refinery, due October 2014 WEBSITE: graceweber.com Growing up in the Milwaukee suburbs, young Grace Weber drew musical inspiration from a somewhat unlikely source. “When I was 12, I joined a gospel choir in the inner city and discovered this amazing soul scene,” she says. In 2006, Weber earned the prestigious Presidential Scholar in the... 

SEVYN STREETER

SEVYN STREETER
SEVYN STREETER HOMETOWN: Haines City, Fla. INFLUENCES: Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Yolanda Adams ALBUM: Album due out 2014 WEBSITE: sevynstreeter.com Sevyn Streeter believes the art of live singing is therapeutic for the performer and audience. “Music is emotional. Your job is to make people feel something,” she says. “The best way to do that is to sing and speak to something they’ve personally been through.” Streeter first achieved... 

NATHAN EAST

NATHAN EAST
NATHAN EAST With his first solo album, the renowned bassist shortens his bucket list By Jeff Tamarkin For more than four decades, Nathan East has contributed dynamic and innovative basslines to recordings and live performances by a vast array of artists, including Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Michael Jackson, Beyoncé and duo Daft Punk, whose Grammy-winning platinum album Random Access Memories features East on 10 tracks, including the smash “Get... 

AIMEE MANN & TED LEO

AIMEE MANN & TED LEO
AIMEE MANN & TED LEO                        Creative chemistry turns songwriting buddies into new duo the Both   She’s a Grammy- and Academy Award-nominated songwriter; he’s a socially conscious punk-rocker. Together, Aimee Mann and Ted Leo turned a friendship honed online into a new project they’re calling the Both. What began as an onstage collaboration grew into plans for an EP, which then expanded into a self-titled album... 
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