In This Issue

SARAH McLACHLAN

SARAH McLACHLAN
TIME TO SHINE Life’s hard knocks stoke the creative fire for Sarah McLachlan By Russell Hall For Sarah McLachlan, life in recent years has been punctuated by loss and change. Her 2010 album, Laws of Illusion, mourned the dissolution of her near decade-long marriage. Since then she’s endured the death of her father, and—less traumatically—ended a 24-year partnership with her management team and record label. “Losing my dad, separating from... 

ROBIN THICKE

ROBIN THICKE
SMOOTH BLEND Robin Thicke scores by blurring the lines between pop, soul and hip-hop By Russell Hall Although many artists become more serious with age, Robin Thicke sees himself on a reverse course—shedding youthful intensity in favor of a more freewheeling aesthetic. “I started out with very lofty ambitions,” says the 37-year-old. “The guys I admire got more serious as they got older. John Lennon went from ‘Help!’ to ‘Working Class... 

JOHN LEGEND

JOHN LEGEND
URBAN LEGEND With his own brand of hip-hop soul, John Legend aims to make R&B cool again By Russell Hall ven as a child John Legend always knew exactly what he wanted. “I’d watch Star Search and imagine one day meeting Ed McMahon, and getting four stars,” he chuckles. “Shows like American Idol and The X Factor probably have the same effect on kids today—the belief that you can get discovered, and out of nowhere your talent can suddenly... 

SWITCHFOOT

SWITCHFOOT
SWITCHFOOT The surfing rockers travel the world in search of waves—and inspiration    After 17 years and seven studio records, Grammy-winning Switchfoot looked to shake things up for their new album, Fading West. The longtime surfers—the band’s name is a surfing term—traveled to exotic global destinations to ride waves and compose. “The concept was, ‘What if we went to these spots around the planet to find that place between danger... 

KELLIE PICKLER

KELLIE PICKLER
KELLIE PICKLER When it comes to country music, the reality star keeps it real   Kellie Pickler knows well the serious nature of reality television competition: She gained fame on American Idol in 2005 and won the Dancing With the Stars trophy last year. But the North Carolina native hit a new level of serious on her fourth studio album, The Woman I Am. “I’ll fight for my creative freedom,” she says. “I’m not going to be stuck in a box.”... 

Avril Lavigne

Avril Lavigne
A REBEL  RETURNS Punk-pop princess Avril Lavigne makes a fresh start with a new romance, new label and new album By Russell Hall rustrated by disputes with her record label over the direction of her last album, 2011’s Goodbye Lullaby, Avril Lavigne found herself at a low point in the wake of its release. “I wasn’t going to make another record unless I could do exactly what I wanted,” she recalls. But suddenly a new path emerged. “I... 

Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow
WHERE THE HEART IS Sheryl Crow—and her music—find a Home in the country By Russell Hall Call it a slight turn, not a giant leap. That’s how Sheryl Crow assesses her nimble move into mainstream country music. She’s quick to point out that even “All I Wanna Do”—the Grammy-winning megahit that vaulted her into the limelight 20 years ago—featured a country staple: pedal steel from beginning to end. “I don’t think it’s that big... 

JACK JOHNSON

JACK JOHNSON
JACK JOHNSON  The master of laid-back acoustic folk-pop rides the waves of success By Russell Hall Some of Jack Johnson’s best ideas for songs come when he’s alone—on a surfboard. “I learned to play guitar to sit on the front porch and have sing-alongs,” he says. “Ultimately songs are there to share—it’s a social thing. But surfing is an escape for me, a way to have solitude and reflect on things. I do more writing in the ocean than... 

SAMMY HAGAR

SAMMY HAGAR
SAMMY HAGAR The Red Rocker marks a milestone with an album full of famous friends   In 1973, Sammy Hagar recorded one of the great rock screams of all time on the intro of Montrose’s “Rock Candy.” It was only the first of many howls to come from a 26-year-old kid who would go on to a singular career that included hit records as a solo artist and as frontman for bands like Van Halen and Chickenfoot. Four decades later there’s no end in sight—and... 

ELVIS COSTELLO & THE ROOTS

ELVIS COSTELLO & THE ROOTS
ROOTS ROCKERS Master wordsmith Elvis Costello funks up with musical magicians the Roots By Russell Hall Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson knows how to bide his time. Nearly five years ago, the Roots’ drummer and bandleader met for the first time with talk show host Jimmy Fallon to discuss potential musical guests for Fallon’s new late night TV show. As newly hired music director—with the Roots as house band—Questlove listened intently as Fallon... 

ARCTIC MONKEYS

ARCTIC MONKEYS
ARCTIC MONKEYS The English indie rockers dive into an R&B groove on their new set  Four albums—and seven years—after releasing their debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, the Arctic Monkeys’ latest record, AM, finds the band tapping into R&B melodies to shake up their guitar-driven sound. “We started with, ‘What if you go with Aaliyah melodies and riffs from Black Sabbath?’” says frontman Alex Turner. “Some... 

FLEETWOOD MAC

FLEETWOOD MAC
FLEETWOOD MAC These days the road has never been smoother for the Hall of Fame rockers   Fleetwood Mac has been virtually synonymous with two things—classic songs and internal drama. Both aspects were epitomized on the group’s 1977 multiplatinum album Rumours, but only recently has their legendary volatility been stripped away. “If you go back to 2003, when we were coming off the making of Say You Will, there was still a bit of tension between... 

SARA BAREILLES

SARA BAREILLES
SARA BAREILLES Singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles pursues artistic growth, not chart-topping tunes—and yet the hits keep coming Many artists who find success with a particular formula refuse to change that approach. Not Sara Bareilles. Since bursting onto the scene with her 2007 smash “Love Song,” the singer-songwriter has placed a premium on expanding the parameters—to the point of embracing creative discomfort. “My music is a reflection... 

THE NATIONAL

THE NATIONAL
THE NATIONAL Collecting critical raves and fans the old-fashioned way—one at a time    They’re no overnight sensation, but over the course of nearly 15 years and a half-dozen albums, New York indie-rockers the National have reached impressive critical and commercial heights. As they play high-profile slots at Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza this summer and release their latest album, Trouble Will Find Me, the group acknowledges that slow and steady... 

BLAKE SHELTON

BLAKE SHELTON
BLAKE SHELTON  Country’s fiercely independent superstar revels in pushing boundaries     For Blake Shelton, celebrity is simply part of the package that comes with being a successful musician. That philosophy has kept him grounded despite massive stardom gained as a mentor on TV’s mega-hit The Voice. Shelton’s easy wit and charm have endeared him to millions, even as he’s endured his share of slings and arrows. “I learned a long time... 

JOE SATRIANI

JOE SATRIANI
JOE SATRIANI With a new set, the guitar virtuoso showcases his Unstoppable talent By Russell Hall Surprisingly, Joe Satriani doesn’t always pay scrupulous attention to detail. His new album, Unstoppable Momentum, is a case in point. Only after the project was complete did it occur to him that the opening track was in 5/4 time. “A few things got past me,” says the guitar ace with a laugh. “It never dawned on me that it might be weird to start... 

SARA BAREILLES

SARA BAREILLES
SARA BAREILLES The chart-topping pop singer-songwriter keeps her work fresh by embracing creative discomfort. ASHANTI With a new album on her indie label, the artist-actor-businesswoman is doing it all on her own. THE NATIONAL Fifteen years into their career, the New York indie-rockers are enjoying their “overnight” success. BLAKE SHELTON The country superstar loves bending the rules and adding pop, rock and hip-hop touches to his music. TOMMY... 

ROD STEWART

ROD STEWART
ROD STEWART The raspy-voiced legend breaks free of creative blocks to pen his first rock album in decades. MEGADETH After 30 years, the metal icons aren’t afraid to push the envelope and take risks with their music. INDIA.ARIE The R&B chanteuse nearly called it quits, but a new perspective inspired her latest album. STEVE EARLE The noted singer-songwriter’s new effort explores hard times, politics and redneck glorification. JOE SATRIANI The... 

PARAMORE

PARAMORE
PARAMORE A GAME CHANGE Now a trio, Paramore bounces back from turmoil with a cathartic, creative new set By Russell Hall Sometimes it’s true: What doesn’t destroy you makes you stronger. Just ask Paramore. Two years ago, with mainstream success firmly in their grasp, two key members of the pop-rock group walked away. Remaining members—singer Hayley Williams, bassist Jeremy Davis and guitarist Taylor York—were roiled by the defection, unsure... 

ALICE IN CHAINS

ALICE IN CHAINS
ALICE IN CHAINS Setting the musical bar high and releasing no album before its time      In July 2011, Alice in Chains frontman Jerry Cantrell began working on the band’s new record, but the process proved too painful—not artistically but physically. The guitarist was experiencing severe shoulder pain and underwent surgery to remove bone deposits. A nightmarish scenario for any guitar player, Cantrell wrote it off as an occupational hazard.... 

STEPHEN STILLS

STEPHEN STILLS
STEPHEN STILLS His career at 60 years and counting, an icon looks back—and forward By Jeff Tamarkin Even at 82 tracks packed onto four CDs, Carry On, the new Stephen Stills retrospective boxed set, barely scratches the surface of one of rock’s most iconic careers. After all, how can one afternoon’s listening encapsulate a half-century of creativity? We first heard Stills in 1966 with Buffalo Springfield (“For What It’s Worth” remains... 

TIM MCGRAW

TIM MCGRAW
Two decades into his superstar career, Tim McGraw is still hungry for new musical adventures Tim McGraw is a man in motion. Twice a day, even while on tour, he hits the gym—lifting weights in the morning and devoting a couple of hours to a grueling CrossFit regimen in the afternoon. The concept of constant movement is also the driving force behind his creative philosophy. “I’m always looking for something that propels me forward and makes me... 

DIDO

DIDO
DIDO A soulful synth-pop hit-maker turns up the electronic heat Dido took her time making her latest album—five years, in fact. But the deliberate pace allowed her to develop a more ambitious sound for her fourth record, Girl Who Got Away. Although Dido has always favored acoustic backbones surrounded by delicate synths, Girl reflects a bold expansion into electronic production. Since she first made waves with her 1999 debut No Angel, the 41-year-old... 

THE JOY FORMIDABLE

THE JOY FORMIDABLE
THE JOY FORMIDABLE The ambitious indie rockers explore a bolder, broader range of textures  After spending years refining their debut album, Welsh rockers the Joy Formidable wrote their follow-up, Wolf’s Law, on a much shorter timeline. Though the writing process started off in a familiar place, they didn’t let that limit them. “We went back to the basics of songwriting, which was me and Ritzy with a guitar, jamming vocal ideas over it, or... 

ALICIA KEYS

ALICIA KEYS
  ALICIA KEYS – FIRED UP With a new album and a host of other projects, Alicia Keys is sizzling  BY RUSSELL HALL Sometimes an offhand comment can lead to magic. That’s exactly what happened to Alicia Keys as she began making her new album. Taking note of Keys’ energized demeanor, an interviewer called the 31-year-old singer-songwriter a girl on fire. “That’s it!” Keys thought. “That describes everything I’m feeling. Now... 

TEGAN AND SARA

TEGAN AND SARA
TEGAN AND SARA Twin talents enjoy the view from the bright side on their latest project After 13 years and a dozen albums, identical twins Tegan and Sara Quin are not afraid of change. “We always aim to create a slightly different record each time we step into the studio,” says Tegan. Take their latest album, Heartthrob. “Sara encouraged me to write outside my usual themes, like self-loathing, loss and heartbreak. So I wrote love songs for... 

AARON NEVILLE

AARON NEVILLE
AARON NEVILLE  An American treasure revisits the music that honed his otherworldly vocals   Aaron Neville has sung R&B, gospel and country, everywhere from Bourbon Street to Sesame Street, but now he’s returning to the street-corner sounds he’s loved since boyhood with his doo-wop record, My True Story. For the new album, Neville’s first on Blue Note Records, he called label president Don Was, who in turn reached out to longtime doo-wop... 

ALICIA KEYS

ALICIA KEYS
FIRED UP –  With a new album and a host of other projects, Alicia Keys is sizzling  Sometimes an offhand comment can lead to magic. That’s exactly what happened to Alicia Keys as she began making her new album. Taking note of Keys’ energized demeanor, an interviewer called the 31-year-old singer-songwriter a girl on fire. “That’s it!” Keys thought. “That describes everything I’m feeling. Now I just need to figure out what being... 

SOUNDGARDEN

SOUNDGARDEN
SOUNDGARDEN The seminal grunge-rock band picks up right where it left off  Nearly 16 years after their breakup, iconic grunge rockers Soundgarden are back with King Animal, their first new music since 1996. The band—singer Chris Cornell, guitarist Kim Thayil, drummer Matt Cameron and bassist Ben Shepherd—first formed in 1984, and blew up 10 years later with their smash Superunknown, only to call it quits in 1997. “We just got burned out,”... 

DONALD FAGEN

DONALD FAGEN
DONALD FAGEN The Steely Dan co-captain finds new freedom on his latest solo effort By Russell Hall  Two years ago Donald Fagen decided to wipe the slate clean. His first three solo albums—1982’s The Nightfly, 1993’s Kamakiriad and 2006’s Morph the Cat—had been tied together by unified themes, based on stages of Fagen’s life. For his new record, Sunken Condos, Fagen cast aside such constraints. “Those first three albums, which appeared... 

TAYLOR SWIFT – Holiday Issue

TAYLOR SWIFT – Holiday Issue
TAYLOR SWIFT The 22-year-old shrugs aside mega success to focus on what matters most—her growth as an artist.   SOUNDGARDEN - The seminal rock band’s first studio record in 16 years proves they haven’t forgotten how to rock.   JOHN HIATT - One of music’s most revered singer-songwriters gets even more passionate about his work. DONALD FAGEN  - The Steely Dan co-founder finds new creative freedom and reward on his latest solo... 

KISS

KISS
KISS For a long time, beginning in 1999, Paul Stanley wasn’t sure Kiss would make another studio album. Worse, he wasn’t sure he wanted to. Ironically, it was the making of the previous year’s Psycho Circus—the much-ballyhooed record that featured original members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley reunited with Kiss founders Stanley and Gene Simmons—that put Stanley in that frame of mind. As he tells it, Criss and Frehley were recalcitrant participants,... 

MATCHBOX TWENTY

MATCHBOX TWENTY
MATCHBOX TWENTY On the pop-rockers’ latest release, everyone gets a turn in the spotlight Matchbox Twenty’s new album, North, is the band’s first collection of all-new material in a decade. It’s also their first release to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. But what really sets the record apart is the group effort to make it. Rob Thomas has long been the frontman and songwriting engine driving the pop-rockers, scoring hits like... 

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,... 

BRANFORD MARSALIS

BRANFORD MARSALIS
BRANFORD MARSALIS  Some call it magic but for this sax genius it’s just “playin’ tunes”  By Jeff Tamarkin  Branford Marsalis has never been one to hold back. The 52-year-old tenor and soprano saxophonist freely says and plays what he wants. So the title of his quartet’s new release Four MFs Playin’ Tunes shouldn’t shock anyone—but it does. “A writer came to the session and asked my least favorite question: ‘What’s the concept... 

JOSS STONE

JOSS STONE
JOSS STONE The neo-soul sensation wraps her vocals around a new set of classics Joss Stone was a nervous 16-year-old kid in 2003 when The Soul Sessions made her a star, thanks to its old-school grooves and the slinky hit “Fell in Love With a Boy,” a vivid reworking of a White Stripes song. Nearly a decade later, the British singer decided she’d like another crack at it. She re-teamed with Soul Sessions producer Steve Greenberg for her latest... 

ALANIS MORISSETTE

ALANIS MORISSETTE
It’s a midsummer morning, and Alanis Morissette is enjoying some rare downtime in her hometown of Ottawa, Canada. Although she’s lived in Los Angeles since the mid-’90s, clearly there’s no place like home. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been here,” she says. “I used to come up three times a year but almost two years have passed this time. Today we’re getting all the cousins together—having about 10 kids in one place. I’m... 

RUSH

RUSH
  The Governor General’s Performing Arts Award is the highest honor the nation of Canada can bestow upon its artists. The first recipient was Gweneth Lloyd, who co-founded the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. This year the honorees included Stratford Shakespeare Festival artistic director Des McAnuff, classical pianist Janina Fialkowska, choreographer Paul-André Fortier and several other creative Canadians familiar with respectable, best-behavior black-tie... 

NORAH JONES

NORAH JONES
NORAH JONES How she made the most unexpected music of her career with some help from Danger Mouse.  In June 2009, Norah Jones was somewhere not many people would expect her to be: in a small Los Angeles studio, cooking up new music with producer Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton. Ten years ago, Jones’ diamond-selling debut, Come Away With Me, established her as a pop icon with a soft, jazzy touch. Each of her follow-up solo albums—all of which... 

GARBAGE

GARBAGE
GARBAGE Pioneering alt-rockers push forward, leaving the labels and the ’90s behind   On the eve of Garbage’s first tour in more than seven years, guitarist Duke Erikson is puzzled. “I’m trying to figure out how the hell to pack all this stuff,” he says, facing an unruly pile of clothes. “I can’t remember how I did this before.” Luckily, he and his bandmates had no such trouble reminding themselves of the chemistry that propelled... 

GRACE POTTER

GRACE POTTER
GRACE POTTER She and her Nocturnals look a little more glam, but they’re grittier than ever   By Russell Hall  Back in 2010, fans of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals had a couple of big changes to deal with. First there were two new members, bass player Catherine Popper and guitarist Benny Yurco. But for listeners who had been following the band since it first hit the jam-band circuit in the early 2000s, the second change might have been even... 

JASON MRAZ

JASON MRAZ
JASON MRAZ A talk about the meaning of music, finding the right sound and his favorite four-letter word. Jason Mraz is in a noisy Los Angeles rehearsal hall, taking a break from doing something that doesn’t come easily to him: telling other people what to do. Mraz first emerged from the Southern California coffeehouse scene just over a decade ago armed only with a guitar, a sweetly melodious tenor voice and a rapidly growing stack of original... 

COUNTING CROWS

COUNTING CROWS
COUNTING CROWS Adam Duritz and company make an eclectic set of covers their own  Nearly two decades have passed since Counting Crows exploded onto the scene with their multiplatinum debut August and Everything After and its smash single, “Mr. Jones.” Even as the band has built on that foundation with one critically acclaimed album of originals after another, it has carved out a reputation for interpreting others’ material—from filling in... 

LYLE LOVETT

LYLE LOVETT
LYLE LOVETT  One of America’s great singer-songwriters marks the end of an era Twenty-six years into his recording career, Lyle Lovett is still amused by the attempts to categorize his music. “Even now, people who don’t really listen to country music still think of me as country, and people who listen to country don’t,” he says. “It’s an odd place to be.” Odd perhaps, but Lovett can thank his idiosyncratic nature for providing... 

Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Raitt One of music’s most beloved icons slides back into the rock ’n’ roll slipstream. Bonnie Raitt is always listening. “My ear’s always cocked for a possible direction,” she says. “Something that’s inspirational, either a song I want to do or a songwriter I want to investigate further. We’ve got hundreds of CDs in our collection and files on our computer. I take songs with me on my iPhone and listen every day when I go... 

The Roots

The Roots
The Roots Questlove talks about making dark, gritty hip-hop in “the happiest place on earth.” Make no mistake, the average modern person has a very full to-do list from day to day. But does yours look anything like Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s? Today he’s driving from his native Philadelphia to New York City, where he’s due to help put on a pair of Jay-Z performances at Carnegie Hall. That’s just a side project, of course—his main... 

U2

U2
U2 A look back at the making of The Joshua Tree on its 25th birthday. In the middle of the 19th century, members of the still-new Mormon religion found themselves under attack from theological opponents. By the time the church’s founder, Joseph Smith, was killed by an angry mob in Illinois in 1844, his followers were already making their way westward in search of more tolerant climes. Their journeys brought them by the mid-1850s to the Mojave Desert,... 

RINGO STARR

RINGO STARR
RINGO STARR Rock’s most famous drummer remembers the Beatles and looks ahead to a Starr-filled future. THE FRAY    Earning scars, telling stories and letting themselves get a little bit louder in the process. KEITH JARRETT    Jazz’s premier improvisational pianist reveals the joy and anxiety of playing without a net. SEAN GARRETT  The producer behind some of today’s biggest R&B radio hits takes you into the studio. ANI DiFRANCO  How... 

COMMON

COMMON
COMMON Catching up with the rapper, actor, author, poet and unlikely magnet for controversy. LOU REED How one of rock’s fiercest iconoclasts found common ground with the mighty Metallica. PETER GABRIEL Finding fresh new blood in familiar favorites with the help of a symphony orchestra. RAY MANZAREK The legendary Doors’ keyboardist extraordinaire isn’t finished lighting new fires just yet. JAM & LEWIS Behind the board with one of the greatest... 

CHICKENFOOT

CHICKENFOOT
CHICKENFOOT Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony and Chad Smith are on a rock ’n’ roll mission. TORI AMOS Centuries-old classical compositions helped point this piano goddess in a new direction. ALICE COOPER America’s favorite shock-rock legend revisits his most beloved nightmare—with a few twists. VINCE GILL One of country music’s greatest guitarists, singers and songwriters finds a space of his own. LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM The guitar... 
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