Spotlight

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... 

VAN HUNT

VAN HUNT
VAN HUNT Tracking down the sound in his head, even if it leads him to the world of punk rock “There has always been a sound in my head that existed long before I made records,” says Van Hunt. It’s a sound the Atlanta native has been chasing throughout his life, even as he became a star with two major-label R&B releases in 2004 and 2006. When his record label permanently shelved a more adventurous third album, he became even more determined... 

RACHAEL YAMAGATA

RACHAEL YAMAGATA
RACHAEL YAMAGATA How she found independence, a new sense of purpose and a banana-colored tent When Rachael Yamagata elected to record her latest album, Chesapeake, at producer John Alagia’s home on the Chesapeake Bay in Easton, Md., she knew there wouldn’t be room enough for all the players and contributors. So she went to a camping equipment store where she discovered what she calls the “Diva Tent.” “I found this big, banana-colored, yellow... 

CHRIS ISAAK

CHRIS ISAAK
CHRIS ISAAK When one of rock’s coolest crooners sings Sun Records classics, it’s a good, good thing Chris Isaak can’t stop laughing. He’s at home in San Francisco, watching with rapt attention as his manager’s playful Maltese runs, dives and slides across the floor. “It’s hilarious!” Isaak exclaims. “You can tell he’s having fun.” He’s not the only one. On the new Beyond the Sun, Isaak himself clearly has a blast crooning... 

MICHELLE BRANCH

MICHELLE BRANCH
MICHELLE BRANCH Country turned to pop when Nashville frustration gave way to London inspiration Michelle Branch is hanging up her cowboy hat for now. Even after she stormed the country charts in 2006 as half of hit duo the Wreckers, Branch’s own planned solo country effort was met with years of record-label delays. The frustration motivated Branch to return to her roots with West Coast Time, her first pop record in eight years. “It was kind of... 

ROBERT EARL KEEN

ROBERT EARL KEEN
ROBERT EARL KEEN This Texas veteran isn’t trying to be clever, but don’t go thinking he’s cymbal-minded Robert Earl Keen has always been a clever songwriter—perhaps, he recently decided, a little too clever for his own good. “I was always trying to think outside the box,” says the Texas stalwart, whose new Ready for Confetti is his 12th studio effort in 27 years. “For this album, I didn’t concern myself with that. If it was a straightforward... 

ANTHRAX

ANTHRAX
ANTHRAX Heavy-metal survivors put turmoil behind them for a return to furious fighting form Thrash-metal giant Anthrax has survived a number of challenges, from lineup changes and record-label headaches to the public-relations nightmare caused by a 2001 series of deadly terrorist attacks using the bacteria for which the band was first named 30 years ago. But the last few years have been especially uncertain, as Anthrax’s lead-singer position became... 

JOHN HIATT

JOHN HIATT
JOHN HIATT Have a little faith in him—this prolific elder statesman is still cranking it up John Hiatt just can’t understand the way some acts make albums. “You get a group like U2, who rent a place in Berlin for 10 grand a week,” he says. “You can’t write songs somewhere else? You’re gonna get the flavor of Berlin? What is that?” By contrast, the veteran singer-songwriter chose to record his new Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns at Ben... 

CHRISTINA PERRI

CHRISTINA PERRI
CHRISTINA PERRI How one unexpected dance catapulted her into a promising career Few young artists can point to one particular time on one particular evening as the precise moment they broke through to a national audience. But for then-unsigned and unknown singer and songwriter Christina Perri, that moment came when her song “Jar of Hearts” was heard by millions accompanying dancers on the hit reality-competition TV show So You Think You Can Dance.... 

LENNY KRAVITZ

LENNY KRAVITZ
LENNY KRAVITZ For this one-man band, no influence is out of bounds—even the Partridge Family “Maybe I’m schizophrenic,” says Lenny Kravitz with a chuckle, contemplating his reputation as one of rock’s most committed multi-instrumentalists. From his 1989 debut Let Love Rule through the new Black and White America, Kravitz has consistently played almost all the instruments on his albums. “When I’m playing various instruments, I take on... 

SARAH JAROSZ

SARAH JAROSZ
SARAH JAROSZ Stretching bluegrass boundaries—and shrugging off the ‘child prodigy’ tag Sarah Jarosz is enjoying a moment of rare respite in the midst of an extensive summer tour. “It’s been pretty rigorous, but it’s been good,” says the Texas native with a sigh. The fresh-faced 20-year-old is clearly more than up to the demands of the road—but as evidenced on Follow Me Down, her new sophomore album, Jarosz’s abilities on guitar,... 

GLEN CAMPBELL

GLEN CAMPBELL
GLEN CAMPBELL A pop and country legend wraps up an astonishing career on his own terms Glen Campbell was recording his new album, Ghost on the Canvas, when producer Julian Raymond handed him a guitar he’d never played before. The Country Music Hall of Famer cradled the Gibson 335 and “whipped out the solo like he’d been playing it his whole life,” says Raymond, looking at Campbell with a sense of wonder as the two sit together on a couch in... 

JEFF BRIDGES

JEFF BRIDGES
JEFF BRIDGES Whether it’s his latest movie or his new album, this is one creative dude Oscar-winning actor, acclaimed photographer, singer and songwriter: Is there anything Jeff Bridges can’t do? “I’m not a very good auto mechanic,” he confesses with a chuckle. Music is another story. While best known for his work in front of the camera, Bridges has been playing and singing for half a century. He picked up the guitar as a kid, influenced... 

THE KOOKS

THE KOOKS
THE KOOKS After years of accolades at home, this band opens their ‘Junk’ yard to the U.S. Luke Pritchard, frontman for U.K. rockers the Kooks, has a very set-in-stone way of presenting his songs to his bandmates. Or does he? “I am not like those songwriters you read about who are going to the guys with all the parts and saying, ‘Here’s what you guys do,’” says Pritchard. Then he stops, shakes his head and laughs, realizing that’s... 

THE BANGLES

THE BANGLES
THE BANGLES Learning to love the ’80s, with some help from a real-life revolution With lyrics about hating school, liking donuts and striking silly poses, the Bangles’ 1986 hit “Walk Like an Egyptian” would have hardly been pegged as a political anthem at the time. Yet when protestors took to the streets of Cairo earlier this year to demand the ouster of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, many there adopted the song (penned by Liam Sternberg)... 

BATTLES

BATTLES
BATTLES How to avoid the sophomore slump? Scrap the second album altogether A year ago, the members of the experimental, largely instrumental math-rock band Battles faced a challenge that even their astounding technical wizardry might not help them overcome. Specifically, how to forge ahead as a three-piece following the departure of multi-instrumentalist Tyondai Braxton, and what to do with the already completed tracks planned for their highly anticipated... 
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