Spotlight

EELS

EELS
EELS No plan is no problem for E and his band of indie rockers      Heading into the studio without a single song written could easily lead to chaos, but on the latest Eels album, Wonderful, Glorious, the casual approach was key to  bringing the band together. “Normally I have a concept or musical idea of what I want a record to sound like, but I went in with none of that,” says frontman Mark Everett (better known as “E”). Instead, E... 

TRISTAN PRETTYMAN

TRISTAN PRETTYMAN
TRISTAN PRETTYMAN An intensely personal album deepens her connection with fans Singer-songwriter Tristan Prettyman shares the difficult aftermath of her breakup with fellow artist Jason Mraz on her recently released third album, Cedar & Gold. At first reluctant to sing about the personal trauma, she eventually embraced the opportunity to connect more deeply with her audience. “I wondered if it was going to be too much information,” Prettyman... 

PUBLIC ENEMY

PUBLIC ENEMY
PUBLIC ENEMY For founder Chuck D, rap has always been much more than just rhymes Chuck D would be spending his time clinking champagne glasses now that Public Enemy is to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But the man who led the charge to revolutionize hip-hop has always been on a serious mission. Those who knew him as a student at Adelphi University recall his passionate debates about politics, philosophy and music, some of which... 

BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION

BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION
BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION    Luminaries from the rock world find their own chemistry together   Black Country Communion’s latest record, Afterglow, wasn’t even out when reports began flying that tension between singer and bassist Glenn Hughes and guitarist Joe Bonamassa could mean the end of the hard-rock supergroup. But in no time the dustup was quelled. “We’re really good friends,” Hughes says. “It was just a small blip there for... 

KEYSHIA COLE

KEYSHIA COLE
KEYSHIA COLE The R&B singer-songwriter learns the value of collaboration Keyshia Cole is in her Manhattan hotel room, high above the city’s frenzied activity, talking about her fifth studio album, Woman to Woman. Myriad demands compete for her time—phones ring, her dog barks—but for now she’s in a different head space, back in the studios in New York, Los Angeles and Cleveland where she wrote and recorded most of the album’s 15 tracks... 

RYAN BINGHAM

RYAN BINGHAM
RYAN BINGHAM The roots rocker plugs in and discovers a new talent      Three years ago Ryan Bingham rocketed into the limelight with “The Weary Kind,” the Grammy-winning theme song he co-wrote and performed for the acclaimed film, Crazy Heart.  The L.A.-based singer-songwriter cherished the success, but the experience didn’t change him much. “Everything happened so fast,” he says. “I just tried to hang on for the ride while it lasted.... 

KYLIE MINOGUE

KYLIE MINOGUE
KYLIE MINOGUE Fresh arrangements give the global pop star’s biggest hits new life “If I turn up at the studio in heels or with my hair done, I probably just arrived from an event,” says Kylie Minogue with a laugh. “Other times my shoes are off, the makeup is off, I’m making a mess. I like to feel completely comfortable, and I am a complete clown in the studio.” It’s been 25 years since the Australian pop queen’s cover of Little Eva’s... 

PAUL KELLY

PAUL KELLY
PAUL KELLY America gets a chance to discover a revered artist from Down Under  It may seem Paul Kelly’s been especially prolific lately. Or it might seem the Australian singer-songwriter has simply been playing up his past. But in fact, it’s been a bit of both. Recently there’s been a deluge of all things Kelly—from the stateside release of two career-spanning compilations (Songs from the South Volumes 1 & 2 and The  A to Z Recordings,... 

CORIN TUCKER BAND

CORIN TUCKER BAND
Seth Lorinczi, Sara Lund, Corin Tucker, Mike Clark CORIN TUCKER BAND The indie rocker chooses musical democracy for her new album   After writing all the songs on her 2010 solo debut, 1,000 Years, Corin Tucker took a more collaborative approach on her latest. Kill My Blues was very much a team effort, as Tucker and her backing musicians jammed out the tunes in their rehearsal space. “We needed to open more doors for the band to evolve,” Tucker... 

SHEMEKIA COPELAND

SHEMEKIA COPELAND
SHEMEKIA COPELAND Belief in the power of song drives this vocalist’s musical mission Shemekia Copeland sits in her hotel room in Harlem, counting down the minutes until she begins a spate of interviews to discuss her new album, 33 1/3. Her husky voice betrays a bit of anxiety knowing that the public is about to hear her latest. “I’m sitting here thinking ‘Wow! My album is out today.’ And I’m in Harlem, my old stomping ground.” Since... 

DWIGHT YOAKAM

DWIGHT YOAKAM
DWIGHT YOAKAM  Country’s hippest cowboy offers of-the-moment insights in a fresh new set Most of the time, Dwight Yoakam lives in the moment. The 55-year-old Kentucky native prefers not to have any long-term goals aside from continuing to find joy in his work. It’s a strategy that’s served him well in his near three decade career as a singer-songwriter-actor. “When I started doing more film work, I began not waiting until I had time to... 

JEFF LYNNE

JEFF LYNNE
JEFF LYNNE The ELO mastermind releases two different—yet sonically linked—projects  In a 1974 radio interview, John Lennon said of Electric Light Orchestra, “I call them the Son of Beatles, but I’m sure they’re doing other things we never did.” It’s a compliment that Jeff Lynne recalls word for word, in Lennon’s Scouse accent, and treasures to this day. “That was a big moment for me,” Lynne recalls. “Almost a benediction.” Lennon’s... 

ELLIE GOULDING

ELLIE GOULDING
ELLIE GOULDING Global success scores the singer more creative control on her latest      Ellie Goulding hit the ground running after she released her debut album, Lights, two years ago, and she hasn’t slowed down one bit. In her native England, she won a coveted Brit Award and was invited to play at the Royal Wedding. In the U.S., she scored an unexpected hit with “Lights”—which has been downloaded a whopping 3 million times. Now Goulding,... 

CAT POWER

CAT POWER
CAT POWER After years of recording covers, Sun brings her original tunes to light      Long before Cat Power recorded Sun—her first album of original material in six years—she knew there would be an album with that title. “Before I did The Covers Record, I was on tour with these songs that I wrote and some cover songs, playing this Passion of Joan of Arc movie by Carl Dreyer,” says Chan Marshall, the woman behind Cat Power, of her 2000... 

JJAMZ

JJAMZ
Alex Greenwald, Michael Runion, Z Berg, James Valentine, Jason Boesel JJAMZ Five successful artists go from musical friendship to supergroup  It’s a steamy summer afternoon, and Elizabeth “Z” Berg is in a van with the rest of the newly formed band JJAMZ, ready to embark on a 24-hour trip from Austin, Texas, to Billings, Mont. “Well, I’ll get a book read. That’s a positive,” Berg chuckles. “Somehow I am built for tours, which is good... 

THENEWNO2

THENEWNO2
Jeremy Faccone, Frank Zummo , Dhani Harrison, Jonathan Sadoff, Nick Fyffe THENEWNO2 A Beatle’s son forges his own path with a little help from his friends    Dhani Harrison is humble as he discusses the mysterious art of musical inspiration. The son of late Beatle George Harrison plays down his natural knack for finding lively hooks and heartfelt lyrics. “You never know what spark is going to be created,” he says. “Collaborations can change... 

CHRISTIAN SCOTT

CHRISTIAN SCOTT
CHRISTIAN SCOTT Connecting past and present in one genre-stretching collection Christian aTunde Adjuah isn’t just the title of Christian Scott’s new double album—it represents a new phase in the jazz trumpeter’s life. “I felt my experience is indicative of someone who probably shouldn’t be called Scott all the time,” says the New Orleans native, explaining why he now goes by Christian aTunde Adjuah Scott, completing a tie to his African... 

MINDY SMITH

MINDY SMITH
MINDY SMITH Taking chances is paying off for one of Americana’s most distinctive talents     “The risk is pretty intense, but it’s worth it.” Mindy Smith is discussing the realities of navigating the music industry as an independent artist. Her new self-titled album is her first after parting ways with Vanguard Records in 2010. “The opportunity to go indie presented itself when my contract was up,” Smith says, “and it felt right... 

TENACIOUS D

TENACIOUS D
TENACIOUS D Playing their music for fun and the industry for laughs How does a comedy duo follow an album that won neither stellar reviews nor sales? Turn it into a joke, of course. Tenacious D’s 2006 film The Pick of Destiny and its accompanying soundtrack garnered a lukewarm reception at best, but it has since gained a cult following. After six years, Jack Black and Kyle Gass have returned with their follow-up, Rize of the Fenix—rife with self-deprecating... 

THE MEMORIALS

THE MEMORIALS
THE MEMORIALS From Berklee to Berkeley, their art has always been a collaborative effort   When recording their second album, Delirium, the Berkeley, Calif., outfit known as the Memorials employed a wonderfully effective everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sonic philosophy. For the follow-up to 2011’s self-titled debut, band organizer and former Mars Volta drummer Thomas Pridgen, vocalist Viveca Hawkins and guitarist Nick Brewer kept the tempo cranked... 

EVERCLEAR

EVERCLEAR
EVERCLEAR   Life changes bring the inspiration for their long-awaited new album    Everclear fans have been waiting for an album of new material since 2006’s Welcome to the Drama Club. Now that the band has released its eighth studio record, Invisible Stars, leader Art Alexakis explains that it simply took that long before he felt he had something new to say. “I wasn’t writing songs for a while because I didn’t feel like I had anything... 

GOSSIP

GOSSIP
GOSSIP Beth Ditto on personalities, producers and rocking for the right reasons   Creating the follow-up to a hot-selling major-label debut can be downright stressful, but Gossip was looking to do so with as little drama as possible. After 2009’s Music for Men proved a success, the Portland trio’s members readied a new batch of songs—but found themselves unsettled on the album’s direction. “Being just a three-piece, it would be easy to... 

ANDREW BIRD

ANDREW BIRD
ANDREW BIRD Breaking out with his barn, his band, his baby and his books     After a long stretch of working mainly solo, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird was in a more sociable mood while making his latest album, Break It Yourself. It’s easily Bird’s most collaborative effort in years. He recorded the 14 songs during two week-long stints playing with his band in a barn on his family’s farm in Western Illinois.... 

SPECTRUM ROAD

SPECTRUM ROAD
SPECTRUM ROAD Jack Bruce and friends pay tribute to one of fusion’s founding fathers    The word “supergroup” gets tossed around a lot, but Spectrum Road makes an impressive case for itself. Each member of the quartet comes with a wildly impressive résumé. Guitarist Vernon Reid is the prime mover behind Living Colour, the juggernaut that helped define rock-funk in the ’80s. Keyboardist John Medeski, one-third of Medeski Martin &... 

DAR WILLIAMS

DAR WILLIAMS
DAR WILLIAMS  Making sense of the modern world through the myths of an ancient time   When she titled her eighth and latest album In the Time of Gods, singer and songwriter Dar Williams wasn’t just looking for something that sounded lofty. On the contrary, Williams has lately been fascinated with Greek mythology and its gods and goddesses—Zeus, Hermes, Athena and their compatriots, whose tales she considers a prism through which to see the... 

THE HIVES

THE HIVES
THE HIVES Sweden’s super-caffeinated, supremely confident rockers rediscover one another   Onstage, Hives frontman “Howlin’” Pelle Almqvist has moves like Jagger and the personality of a carnival barker. Comically arrogant, he’s there to tell you how great his band is and how thoroughly you’re about to be rocked. Discussing the group’s latest studio effort, Almqvist is less prone to bold proclamations. He’s plenty confident, but... 

WILSON PHILLIPS

WILSON PHILLIPS
WILSON PHILLIPS   Three members of classic pop royalty dedicate an album to the ones they love    The members of Wilson Phillips first drew worldwide attention for their quintuple-platinum 1990 self-titled debut—and for their status as rock royalty. Sisters Wendy and Carnie Wilson were the daughters of Beach Boy Brian Wilson, while Chynna Phillips’ parents were John and Michelle Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas. The group has always... 

SPIRITUALIZED

SPIRITUALIZED
SPIRITUALIZED  Crossing continents in a quest to find the heart and see the light   Jason “J. Spaceman” Pierce, frontman and guiding light of English rock band Spiritualized, adamantly disagrees with those who think music must follow rules. After all, he’s been swirling rock, R&B, pop and more into richly textured sonic landscapes throughout his career. But there’s one rule in which he believes fiercely: There’s a delicate but real... 

JESSIE BAYLIN

JESSIE BAYLIN
JESSIE BAYLIN Putting a new spark into her career with unexpected help from her grandmother    “Three days before I was to start recording this album, the label cut my budget in half,” says Jessie Baylin. “Then the next day, they cut it another quarter.” The Nashville-based singer-songwriter took the hint. “They listened to the demos and didn’t think I had the songs,” she recalls with a sigh. “They wanted to put me with hit writers,... 

M. WARD

M. WARD
M. Ward The “Him” of She & Him takes a confident step back to center stage   After releasing 2009’s Hold Time, Portland-based singer and songwriter M. Ward largely put his solo career on hold. He toured and made albums with Monsters of Folk—an indie-rock supergroup also featuring My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis—and She & Him, the duo Ward founded with actress and singer Zooey Deschanel.... 

COWBOY JUNKIES

COWBOY JUNKIES
COWBOY JUNKIES  Bringing a nomadic journey to a close, while looking ahead to the next  After more than 25 years together, the members of Cowboy Junkies have but one goal: “Survival,” says guitarist and primary songwriter Michael Timmins with a laugh. Yet their recent activities suggest broader ambition than that. Over the last 18 months the Canadian band has released a quartet of separate but linked albums dubbed The Nomad Series. “We had... 

DR. DOG

DR. DOG
DR. DOG  Fresh faces, familiar places and a newfound urge to have a good time    On their last album, the members of Dr. Dog tried to teach themselves new tricks. They left their familiar Philadelphia practice space and studio, Meth Beach, and enlisted the help of an outside producer. The result was 2010’s Shame, Shame—an album that, for all its groovy nods to the Beatles and Beach Boys, was uncharacteristically somber. “It was sort of a... 

SKYLAR GREY

SKYLAR GREY
SKYLAR GREY  You know her voice from hip-hop hits—now it’s time to get to know her  Not many artists rack up four Grammy nominations before releasing a debut album, but Skylar Grey’s career has hardly followed a traditional path. After writing hits and singing hooks for acts like Eminem, Dr. Dre and Lupe Fiasco, Grey is preparing to release her own debut album, Invinsible. “Being a songwriter is a great life, but I can’t imagine ever... 

GAVIN DeGRAW

GAVIN DeGRAW
GAVIN DeGRAW  Keeping a positive attitude even while  taking a beating—literally   “It didn’t break my will, but it did break my nose,” cracks Gavin DeGraw about the unwelcome experience of being assaulted last August in Manhattan. The native New Yorker was attacked by three men and then hit by a taxi as he stumbled away. His injuries forced him to cancel tour dates as he readied his new album, Sweeter, but he betrays no bitterness. “I... 

CAROLINA CHOCOLATE DROPS

CAROLINA CHOCOLATE DROPS
CAROLINA CHOCOLATE DROPS Keeping string-band music history alive while pushing it into the future  Last year had its ups and downs for Carolina Chocolate Drops. The North Carolina string band won a Grammy for 2010’s Genuine Negro Jig album, but experienced the loss of founding member Justin Robinson and the addition of multi-instrumentalist Hubby Jenkins. The combination of heightened expectations and seismic changes in the band was a recipe for... 

KASABIAN

KASABIAN
KASABIAN  Hitting a new groove after 15 years of   boundary-breaking music  It’s 10 a.m. in Australia, and Kasabian guitarist Sergio Pizzorno can’t quite stifle a yawn—it’s early by rock-star standards, yet late by new-parent requirements. “I’m pretty good on just a few hours’ sleep,” says Pizzorno, who fits both descriptions. He is energized by the positive reaction thus far to Kasabian’s latest album, Velociraptor! “It’s... 

OTIS TAYLOR

OTIS TAYLOR
OTIS TAYLOR   A self-described musical “reporter” takes a hard look at a broken world   Otis Taylor watches through the window as the snow falls outside. Most would find it serene—a dusting on the mountains surrounding Boulder, Colo., the place he calls home. But not Taylor. “It’s dark and overcast,” he says with a shrug. The bluesman, 63, readily describes himself as a pessimist, one who warns that he has little patience for answering... 

KELLIE PICKLER

KELLIE PICKLER
KELLIE PICKLER The country songbird’s third album offers a shot of something a little stronger   “Where’s Tammy Wynette when you need her?” sings Kellie Pickler on the opening cut of her third and latest album, 100 Proof. The tune refers to a broken love affair, but Pickler might just as well be pointing the question toward modern-day country music itself. As a child in North Carolina, Pickler’s grandparents fed her a steady diet of songs... 

WARREN HAYNES

WARREN HAYNES
WARREN HAYNES A powerhouse guitarist stands alone to put his stamp on a classic sound   Between his very high-profile day jobs in Gov’t Mule and the Allman Brothers Band, virtuoso guitarist Warren Haynes isn’t lacking for musical outlets. But when he found himself with a batch of songs that weren’t suited to either group, he diverted them to Man in Motion, his first solo studio album since 1993. “They were songs I’d written that I’d... 

HEARTLESS BASTARDS

HEARTLESS BASTARDS
HEARTLESS BASTARDS Erika Wennerstrom aims her latest songs directly at the pain of heartbreak After the end of a nine-year relationship, Heartless Bastards frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom went for a drive. As she made her way across the nation from West Texas to Ohio, she thought hard about what she wanted to express about her experience through music. Once she figured it out, she booked some studio time and got ready to spill her guts. “Then there... 

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS
THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS  After almost three decades of cleverness, this duo is still right on track   “We didn’t get into music to meet girls or to strike a pose,” says John Flansburgh, who formed the clever alt-rock duo They Might Be Giants with John Linnell in 1982. “It was about having crazy ideas and taking those ideas as far as we could. A lot of people find the idea of humor in music childish, but what we do is post-adolescent. It’s... 

NADA SURF

NADA SURF
NADA SURF Revisiting the past, a rock trio discovers an unexpected need for speed   In early 2010, Nada Surf treated hometown fans in New York City to full performances of what were then its three most recent albums. The material in question spanned 2002 to 2008—years in which the trio enjoyed a remarkable second act, cultivating a newfound cult success that eclipsed their lone mainstream pop hit, 1996’s “Popular.” Taking stock of the Nada... 

KATHLEEN EDWARDS

KATHLEEN EDWARDS
KATHLEEN EDWARDS  Digging herself out of a familiar hole, with a hand from a new friend  Since her 2003 debut album, Failer, Kathleen Edwards has gradually honed her craft as a singer and songwriter whose finely wrought character sketches teem with both sardonic humor and knife’s-edge emotional danger. “And then part of me felt like I had fallen a little bit too complacent,” says Edwards, an Ottawa, Ontario, native who now lives in Toronto.... 

WILLIAM SHATNER

WILLIAM SHATNER
WILLIAM SHATNER  An unlikely music maker’s bold new mission:  to create a sci-fi-concept album William Shatner’s philosophy toward his life and career has served him well. At the very least, it’s kept things interesting. “I’d suggest that saying yes to opportunity is the way to lead your life, with some discretion,” says Shatner, 80. “So I said yes to an album I called The Transformed Man.” That misunderstood 1968 spoken-word effort,... 

RUTHIE FOSTER

RUTHIE FOSTER
RUTHIE FOSTER  Making the time to pour her soul into some of her favorite songs  Ruthie Foster is running a little late. “Pardon my tardiness,” she says. “I was getting a head start on dinner and tending to my six-month-old all at the same time. I keep it challenging when I’m at home.” Multitasking is but one of her talents, although it does have its limits—a desire to help raise her daughter, Maya, who she and her partner, Katie, adopted... 

GYM CLASS HEROES

GYM CLASS HEROES
GYM CLASS HEROES After a much-needed break, a hip-hop heavyweight rocks with a hot sequel Gym Class Heroes fans who feared your favorite hip-hop group was gone forever during the long wait for a new album since 2008’s The Quilt: Co-founder and drummer Matt McGinley feels your pain. “I know the passion I feel for other bands that I get ridiculously excited about when they put out new albums,” says McGinley, enjoying a rare day off the road... 

JOE NICHOLS

JOE NICHOLS
JOE NICHOLS  Can a neo-traditionalist find his way in modern country? It’s all good   Since his platinum-selling debut Man With a Memory in 2002, Joe Nichols’ earthy baritone and easygoing charm have made him one of Nashville’s most reliable neo-traditionalist singers. But the 35-year-old Arkansas native admits those talents were almost dimmed by personal drama at the beginning of his career. “I’ve had a lot of straightening up to do,... 

UH HUH HER

UH HUH HER
UH HUH HER  Post-label living means unprecedented artistic freedom—and maybe a second job  Life without a record label has its ups and downs. After parting ways with Nettwerk in 2009, Camila Grey and Leisha Hailey of Uh Huh Her decided to go the indie route and self-release their sophomore album, Nocturnes. While creativity was never in short supply, funding was. “We were running out of money, so I was like, ‘I need to get a job!’” says... 

M83

M83
M83 Why Anthony Gonzalez left France to seek his fortune in California  Before starting work on ambient pop act M83’s latest album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, bandleader Anthony Gonzalez uprooted himself and moved from his native France to Los Angeles. The essence of his new surroundings seeped into the project, an ambitious two-CD set comprising 22 songs. “Sometimes you need to be driven by something new,” Gonzalez says. “I was surrounded... 

MEGADETH

MEGADETH
MEGADETH After three decades of metal, Dave Mustaine and company still won’t be stopped  Just a few months ago, Megadeth leader Dave Mustaine wasn’t sure he’d ever play guitar again. He experienced crushing neck and back pain when the band entered the studio to record its new Th1rt3en album in May, but soldiered through. While touring as part of the traveling Mayhem Festival this summer, he could barely stand onstage and at one point was nearly... 
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