Spotlight

3OH!3

3OH!3
3OH!3 Boulder’s most famous alternative rap duo offers something for everyone   “Our live show is less a musical performance than a social happening,” says Nathaniel Motte, one-half of the electropop duo 3OH!3. He and fellow member Sean Foreman have made a concerted effort to engage a diverse audience. “We’ve always tried to have our live shows be inclusive,” Motte continues. “We don’t want to close any doors.” At times, that means... 

JASON ISBEL

JASON ISBEL
JASON ISBEL Welcoming sobriety, the former Drive-By Trucker digs deep  “Usually, I was too drunk to read, much less write,” says Jason Isbell. “The biggest difference in making this record is that I had more time and energy. I knew all along what I needed to do to make the songs better, but it’s hard when you’ve got that nagging feeling telling you to drink.” The 34-year-old singer-songwriter has been sober for nearly a year after entering... 

30 SECONDS TO MARS

30 SECONDS TO MARS
30 SECONDS TO MARS The post-grunge rockers shoot for the stars on their latest effort  With a name like 30 Seconds to Mars, they expect jokes about space. But the L.A.-based band got the last laugh when they sent a copy of “Up in the Air,” the first single from their latest album Love Lust Faith + Dreams, to the International Space Station. “We went to see the rocket go up,” says drummer Shannon Leto. “And a couple of weeks later we went... 

SKYLAR GRAY

SKYLAR GRAY
SKYLAR GRAY An all-star songwriter finally releases her anticipated debut   Skylar Grey built her reputation on writing songs for superstars, so it’s understandable that she wanted her debut album to reflect her own personality. Originally set for release two years ago, the album was delayed. Songs were tweaked, added and removed—and now Don’t Look Down is finally seeing the light of day. Grey used the downtime to her advantage. “I got... 

FILTER

FILTER
FILTER On their latest, the unorthodox rockers welcome back the drum machines  Throughout the last 20 years, Filter has covered a broad spectrum, from intense industrial rock to shiny pop. On their sixth full-length album, The Sun Comes Out Tonight, they strike a balance between electronic and acoustic. Their loud/quiet contrast, exemplified by 2002’s hit single, “Take a Picture,” led a Warner Bros. exec to refer to the band as “musical schizophrenia.”... 

GOO GOO DOLLS

GOO GOO DOLLS
GOO GOO DOLLS   The moody alternative rockers look at the brighter side on their new set   “I’m an artist as much as anybody’s an artist,” says Goo Goo Dolls frontman John Rzeznik, placing air quotes around the word artist. “Sometimes I can be a bit of a precious little bitch about my work. But not being precious about it, digging in and putting the sweat into it, is where the really good stuff comes from. And being determined to not... 

BOBBY McFERRIN

BOBBY McFERRIN
BOBBY McFERRIN The vocal acrobat pours his joy into songs  of faith and devotion  “Making music is the most joyful experience I know,” says vocalist and conductor Bobby McFerrin, best known for his 1988 Grammy-winning smash, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” His new album, spirityouall, is a collection of devotional songs and original compositions. “Without faith I couldn’t walk, much less sing,” says McFerrin. “My career is very public,... 

JIMMY EAT WORLD

JIMMY EAT WORLD
JIMMY EAT WORLD Looking at love and life with a new perspective—and a new producer Though best known for their optimistic 2002 hit “The Middle,” Jimmy Eat World’s lyrics have always leaned more toward heartache and internal struggle. With the polished rock of their eighth album, Damage, frontman Jim Adkins decided to write an album that reflected the world-weary attitudes of someone who has grown up writing love songs. “The kinds of love... 

MELISSA FERRICK

MELISSA FERRICK
MELISSA FERRICK Teaching opens creative doors for the veteran singer-songwriter Teaching lyric writing at Boston’s Berklee College of Music has fostered a career renaissance for folk-rocker Melissa Ferrick. “I’m surrounded by all these jazz musicians, classical composers and theater professionals,” she says. “There’s such an intensity—and it’s a good thing. It’s made me into a happier live performer. I’ve been exhausted but completely... 

EVE

EVE
EVE After a decade of changes, the rapper turns up the intensity on a new set  In the 11 years since her last album, Eve has been rather busy. She released singles, made guest appearances on more than a dozen tracks for other artists, had her own sitcom, appeared in the two Barbershop films, and launched a fashion line. But Lip Lock, her long-awaited return, wasn’t a snap decision. “It’s been a bit of journey. I’ve been trying to put out... 

SPIN DOCTORS

SPIN DOCTORS
SPIN DOCTORS   The alt-rockers revisit their blues roots and reinvent their sound   While touring in England behind the 2011 release of Pocket Full of Kryptonite: 20th Anniversary Edition, the Spin Doctors made a discovery: Their future lay in their past. Before the band hit the charts in the early ’90s with peppy, poppy alt-rock tunes such as “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong,” “Two Princes” and “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues,” their stock... 

PATTY GRIFFIN

PATTY GRIFFIN
PATTY GRIFFIN The beloved singer-songwriter crafts a melodic tribute to her father “When I was younger, I could dive headfirst into writing about things like I knew a lot about them,” says Patty Griffin. She pauses, then laughs, “Now I realize I don’t know anything about anything.” Considering the singer-songwriter’s poetic and revealing lyrics have led artists like Emmylou Harris and the Dixie Chicks to record her material, many would... 

TALIB KWELI

TALIB KWELI
TALIB KWELI Proving labels can’t confine or define him on   his latest project  Talib Kweli has a well-earned reputation for being a smart, socially and politically aware lyricist. But with Prisoner of Conscious, his fifth solo album, Kweli is hoping to show he’s in touch with his emotional side. “Just calling the album Prisoner of Conscious,” says the rapper. “I don’t see myself as a prisoner of conscience, so I set out to make an... 

ADAM ANT

ADAM ANT
ADAM ANT The former U.K. chart-topper gets back into the swing of performing     Creatively speaking, Adam Ant has soared over the mountaintops and stumbled on the valley’s floor. Clinically diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2003, he had fallen off the radar eight years earlier, after the release of Wonderful. He eventually battled through the disease to release Adam Ant Is the BlueBlack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter, his first studio... 

MADELEINE PEYROUX

MADELEINE PEYROUX
MADELEINE PEYROUX The jazz-pop vocalist’s new collection reimagines a country classic For many artists, a covers album often becomes a mishmash of haphazardly chosen songs that suit the singer’s voice better than they suit each other. But on The Blue Room, jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux not only interprets the work of other artists, she also pays tribute to one, Ray Charles, and his pioneering album Modern Sounds in Country  and Western Music. “Something’s... 

THE MAVERICKS

THE MAVERICKS
THE MAVERICKS Serving up a fresh helping of their distinctive Tex-Mex-via-Miami magic  The Mavericks—one of the more dynamic acts on the 1990s country scene—are back with their first full-length album in nearly a decade. “We hadn’t been in the same room together in that time, much less made music together,” says frontman Raul Malo. “There was talk of a reunion tour, but that wasn’t reason enough to bring back the band. The Mavericks... 

JOHN CORBETT

JOHN CORBETT
JOHN CORBETT Proving his musical mettle with a laid-back, Texas-tinged new album John Corbett made his name in Hollywood, but when it comes to music he’s no poseur—and latest album Leaving Nothin’ Behind offers proof. “The fact is, I have more of a pedigree to play this kind of music than guys with No. 1 hits right now,” says the West Virginia native who’s been playing country music since he was a kid. “The good news is that when people... 

JOSH ROUSE

JOSH ROUSE
JOSH ROUSE The pensive singer-songwriter strikes an upbeat tone on his latest effort     For Josh Rouse, family played an important role in the writing and recording of his 10th album, The Happiness Waltz. In 2006, Rouse moved from Nashville to Spain with his wife, and the couple now has a young child. He’s settled happily into fatherhood and married life, but his newfound responsibilities make for a delicate balancing act. “Before I was just... 

LISA LOEB

LISA LOEB
LISA LOEB The ’90 chart-topper looks to the past to find new inspiration  Lisa Loeb has spent the last few years steeped in the world of children’s entertainment. She released children’s albums in 2008 and 2011. She wrote a children’s book, and has a new one coming out in April. She started the Camp Lisa Foundation to send underprivileged children to camp. And she had her second child in June 2012. So what coaxed her back to making pop... 

COHEED AND CAMBRIA

COHEED AND CAMBRIA
COHEED AND CAMBRIA    The eclectic rockers release the second half of an ambitious set   Claudio Sanchez is chilling in the Florida sunshine. The frontman for progressive rock band Coheed and Cambria is decompressing after spending the last two years writing and recording the group’s epic double-volume albums The Afterman: Ascension (October 2012) and the sequel released four months later, The Afterman: Descension. Like the band’s previous... 

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.... 
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