Posts tagged with "May 2011"

CARLY SIMON

CARLY SIMON
  CARLY SIMON WAS DRESSED FAIRLY CONSERVATIVELY when she turned up at legendary photographer Norman Seeff’s Los Angeles studio to shoot the cover for her 1975 album Playing Possum. But after a couple of glasses of wine, Seeff posed a provocative question: “Well, don’t you have something on under that?” Simon gamely stripped down to her black teddy and began dancing around the studio to the Shaft soundtrack as Seeff snapped away. “It... 

DEREK TRUCKS & SUSAN TEDESCHI

DEREK TRUCKS & SUSAN TEDESCHI
DEREK TRUCKS & SUSAN TEDESCHI Two guitar aces making beautiful music together—onstage and off “Music is supposed to be medicinal,” says Derek Trucks. “It should be uplifting and it should be a tool for relief. That’s the point of a band like this.” The group he’s talking about is the Tedeschi Trucks Band, the 11-member ensemble (including two drummers, background vocalists and a horn section) he leads with his wife and fellow master... 

JONATHAN EDWARDS

JONATHAN EDWARDS
JONATHAN EDWARDS How Mr. “Sunshine” found an audience without the help of the music business “Sunshine,” the Top 5 hit from Jonathan Edwards’ self-titled 1971 debut album, announced his arrival with a bang. But the Minnesota-born singer and songwriter proved unable to follow that now-classic tune with another big pop hit—a quandary that he ascribes in part to troubles with his management. “Suddenly I had some street cred and respect... 

ROBBIE ROBERTSON

ROBBIE ROBERTSON
ROBBIE ROBERTSON Finding good medicine by fearlessly facing his past Robbie Robertson always avoided addressing touchy subjects like his early days with the Band, his decision to leave the group in 1977, and his wild times during those days with his longtime collaborator, movie director Martin Scorsese. But on How to Become Clairvoyant, his first new album in 13 years, the Toronto-born singer, songwriter, guitarist and film-music composer tackles... 

HERB ALPERT

HERB ALPERT
HERB ALPERT A master of the trumpet and music business alike reflects and looks ahead By Bill DeMain With a career of nearly five decades behind him, legendary trumpeter Herb Alpert still takes the same approach to reinterpretation that he always has. “I like to do songs that are familiar, then put my own little twist on them,” he says. “There’s no fun in doing them the way they’ve been done before.” He takes just that approach on his... 

MARCELLA ARAICA

MARCELLA ARAICA
MARCELLA ARAICA “Painting the sound of the song” for some of pop’s biggest hitmakers By Michael Gallant When engineer and mixer Marcella Araica steps into the recording studio tonight to mix Beyoncé’s latest track, chances are she won’t be thinking about producers, record labels or the millions who will soon hear her sonic craft. More likely, she’ll be too busy channeling Pablo Picasso. “I always compare mixing to painting,” she... 

BRUCE HORNSBY

BRUCE HORNSBY
BRUCE HORNSBY For this restless keyboard innovator, the only constant is change By Russell Hall “It’s been 25 years since my first album,” observes Bruce Hornsby. “Most fans who got on this train early on aren’t there anymore. And that’s fine. Those who wanted me to stay the same or keep making the same album were probably disappointed a long time ago.” While many of Hornsby’s peers have become nostalgia acts, his own career has indeed... 

RAY DAVIES

RAY DAVIES
RAY DAVIES Reinventing the Kinks catalogue with a roster of all-star friends For almost a half-century Ray Davies has been rock’s own artful dodger. Slipping through pigeonholes and ducking stylistic dead ends, the native Londoner has always confounded easy labeling. With the Kinks he played the parts of white bluesman, vaudeville dandy, folk revivalist and heavy-metal screamer, penning wildly diverse classics like “You Really Got Me,” “Tired... 

ARCTIC MONKEYS

ARCTIC MONKEYS
ARCTIC MONKEYS After a frenzied five years, it’s time to take a look back—briefly The Arctic Monkeys instantly became a sensation in their native England upon the release of their punchy, hard-charging debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. “It’s only been five years, but it seems like a long time ago,” observes frontman Alex Turner. Before heading into the studio to make the new Suck It and See, Turner and his bandmates... 

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE
DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE Making beautiful music from “electronic junk,” one note at a time Death Cab for Cutie guitarist and producer Chris Walla didn’t want his bandmates getting too comfortable during the making of their seventh and latest album, Codes and Keys. To keep them on their toes, he crafted a recording itinerary that took the group to more than half a dozen studios over 10 months. “Environment is everything with records,” says Walla.... 

KIMBERLY CALDWELL

KIMBERLY CALDWELL
KIMBERLY CALDWELL After moonlighting in reality TV, a lifelong performer rediscovers her voice After a successful run on the 2003 season of TV’s American Idol, Texas native Kimberly Caldwell detoured into work as a TV personality with gigs on outlets like Fox Sports and MTV. Now she returns to center stage with her long-awaited debut album, Without Regret, a set of party-starting anthems and pensive, stirring ballads that reintroduces the lifelong... 

HIROMI

HIROMI
HIROMI A Japanese jazz prodigy finds her voice as she returns to a healing home When a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in March, many touring artists canceled their plans to visit. Japanese classical and jazz pianist Hiromi, however, rearranged her touring plans to come home. “Bands have just stopped coming, and I respect that decision,” she says from Tokyo, where she has just completed a string of 18 benefit concerts. “But... 

AUGUSTANA

AUGUSTANA
AUGUSTANA Changing direction in the studio put this band on the right path No one can accuse Augustana frontman Dan Layus of lacking ambition. When the band stepped into the studio to make its self-titled new album, Layus was determined to capture the classic sound of 1970s Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen. “We wanted to make the kind of album we grew up with,” he says. “Something along the lines of Damn the Torpedoes or Darkness on the Edge... 

MOBY

MOBY
MOBY An insomnia-prone electronica master explores the music of the night Long after the last song has finished and the fans have gone home, electronica kingpin Moby often finds himself alone in hotel rooms, unable to sleep. Until a few years ago he’d turn to alcohol. But now that he’s given that up, he is finding new ways to cope with boredom and insomnia on the road. Heading into his last world tour, Moby had an idea: If you can’t escape... 

FLOGGING MOLLY

FLOGGING MOLLY
FLOGGING MOLLY Finding humor in desperate times, making use of the rowdiest means possible The difficulty of trying economic times is a theme that fuels Celtic-punk band Flogging Molly’s latest album, Speed of Darkness. It’s also a social condition the punk-meets-pub-rock band’s founder, Dave King, knows firsthand. He and fiddler-guitarist wife Bridget Regan divide their time between his native Ireland and Regan’s hometown of Detroit, two... 

JESSIE J

JESSIE J
JESSIE J A rambunctious creator of hits for others seizes center stage for herself At 23, Jessie J has already built an impressive résumé as a songwriter, penning hits like Miley Cyrus’ 2009 “Party in the U.S.A.” While some might feel a twinge of jealousy seeing their songs chart for other artists, Jessie J has played her supporting role graciously. What’s most important to her is finding the best fit for each of her creations. “It’s... 

BOOKER T. JONES

BOOKER T. JONES
BOOKER T. JONES Stax’s keyboard legend brings it back home to Memphis As the house band for Memphis’ legendary Stax Records throughout the ’60s, Booker T. and the MG’s—organist Booker T. Jones, guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn and drummer Al Jackson Jr.—was perhaps the most prominent and influential R&B band of the era. Providing backup for such soul titans as Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Albert King, Eddie Floyd... 

QUEENSRŸCHE

QUEENSRŸCHE
QUEENSRŸCHE Three decades of envelope-pushing hard rock—and they’re just picking up speed On the opening track of Dedicated to Chaos, Queensrÿche’s 12th and most recent album, frontman Geoff Tate sings, “You ain’t seen nothing yet/We’re just picking up speed.” Though “Get Started” is ostensibly a love song, that lyric could easily be applied to the progressive-metal band itself, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this... 

LAURA JANSEN

LAURA JANSEN
LAURA JANSEN HOMETOWN: Los Feliz, Calif. INFLUENCES: Joni Mitchell, Queen, Barbra Streisand ALBUM: Bells, out now WEBSITE: laurajansen.com Laura Jansen has done quite a bit of moving around in her life—from her birthplace of Breda, Holland, to Brussels, then Zurich, Connecticut, Tennessee and California. Along the way she studied at a music conservatory in Holland and at Berklee College of Music in Boston before finally launching her musical career... 

CARTER’S CHORD

CARTER’S CHORD
CARTER’S CHORD HOMETOWN: Los Angeles INFLUENCES: Fleetwood Mac, Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings ALBUM: Wild Together, out May 23 WEBSITE: carterschord.com Joanna, Emily and Becky Robertson grew up in the midst of country music history. Their parents, Barny and Carter Robertson, were members of the late Waylon Jennings’ 1970s band—he as keyboardist, she as backing vocalist. The sisters themselves made their debut singing on Jennings’... 

GRAHAM STOOKEY

GRAHAM STOOKEY
GRAHAM STOOKEY HOMETOWN: Littleton, Colo. INFLUENCES: Lenny Kravitz, John Mayer, Stevie Ray Vaughan ALBUM: The Basement Tracks, out now WEBSITE: stookeymusic.com Graham Stookey took piano lessons as a child, but he truly found his calling when at age 13 he saw a show by acoustic guitar master Phil Keaggy. “After that I decided I wanted to play the guitar,” he remembers. “I enrolled in guitar lessons from an excellent teacher, and my journey... 

THOSE DARLINS

THOSE DARLINS
THOSE DARLINS Screws Get Loose thosedarlins.com These Tennessee gals could have gone the Dixie Chicks route, but they growl as well as they harmonize, coming on like a gang of Wanda Jacksons. They also rock like backwater Ramones, playing punk rock with country swagger and plenty of kid-sister sass.  Read More →

TS & THE PAST HAUNTS

TS & THE PAST HAUNTS
TS & THE PAST HAUNTS Caveman Rock myspace.com/tsandthepasthaunts Having led his last band, Piebald, from punk to perky piano-pop, singer Travis Shettel joins British garage foursome the Duke Spirit for a ’60s-influenced EP that’s a little of both. Shettel remains a master of geeky sincerity even on the raging title cut, his invitation to dance like a Neanderthal.  Read More →

SPIRIT PEOPLE

SPIRIT PEOPLE
SPIRIT PEOPLE Dragoons spiritpeople.bandcamp.com There’s probably an anthropological explanation for the prevalence of tribal percussion in New York indie rock—something about artsy kids migrating from other places and wanting to feel connected. With its restless drumming and appealingly amorphous guitars, this debut will make a fine soundtrack for someone’s Ph.D. dissertation.  Read More →

KREIDLER

KREIDLER
KREIDLER Tank myspace.com/kreidlerde When the creepy mannequin-robot thing on the cover of this album fancies a dance, he probably reaches for some Kreidler. The German foursome is factory-like in its fashioning of these tracks—quasi-funky, neo-Krautrock jams made from drum thumps, synth squiggles and fat-bottom bass. It’s rigid, but it’s sexy.  Read More →

JACOBS LADDER

JACOBS LADDER
JACOBS LADDER Back to Life jacobsladdermusic.com With the same sparkle-to-crunch ratio that made stars of Yellowcard, New Found Glory and numerous other ’00s pop-punk bands, Jacobs Ladder aims high with its debut EP. On “Home Alone Tonight,” singer Oren Maisner sits heartbroken “by the fireside”—unexpected imagery for a Miami musician, but effective nonetheless.  Read More →

ZOOBOMBS

ZOOBOMBS
ZOOBOMBS La Vie en Jupon thezoobombs.com Tokyo’s Zoobombs are finally getting ready to drop on America. These Japanese rockers have been kicking out the jams since the mid-’90s, but as this digital-only, career-spanning sampler points out, their sound is pure 1970: Stooges punk meets Sly Stone funk. Songs like “Way In/Way Out” and “Get It Together” start out as conventional bluesy garage tunes, but the Bombs stretch them out with organ... 

SOMETHING FIERCE

SOMETHING FIERCE
SOMETHING FIERCE Don’t Be So Cruel somethingfiercemusic.com Neither “Future Punks” nor this disc’s title cut is a reggae song, but with their sparse guitars and go-go basslines, both songs have the agitated bounce of “Police and Thieves,” the Clash’s first foray into Jamaican music. Something Fierce has clearly been studying the Clash closely, but the Houston trio is equally fond of the Jam and the Undertones—groups that knew crummy... 

SHARKS

SHARKS
SHARKS The Joys of Living myspace.com/sharks When the Sharks’ James Mattock sings lines like, “Never allow yourself to forget to run against and through the darkness,” his heart is working harder than his brain—and that’s precisely as it should be. Like their American counterparts in Gaslight Anthem, these tattooed, greasy-haired Brits are rock ’n’ roll zealots. They base their faith on two sacred 1978 texts—Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness... 

ROCKY BUSINESS

ROCKY BUSINESS
ROCKY BUSINESS A Rebel’s Roar wearerockybusiness.com “Feeling like Biggie when he laid ‘Juicy,’” rapper Strictly Business announces on his duo’s debut EP, making a comparison that’s not quite right. SB, as he’s known, is a motormouth MC from the Notorious B.I.G.’s old Brooklyn ’hood, but that’s where the similarities end. On “Juicy,” Biggie sipped champagne and celebrated his rise from gutter to penthouse. Contrast that with... 

LAB COAST

LAB COAST
LAB COAST Pictures on the Wall myspace.com/labcoast Leave it to Canada, the no-big-whoop capital of North America, to produce a band as unassuming as Lab Coast. Lax and lovely, this 12-song, 19-minute collection is available as both a digital download and old-school cassette—fitting, since it sounds like it was recorded straight to boombox. Therein lies the charm: These Calgary rockers take the lo-fi slacker-pop sound of American contemporaries... 

THE HORROR THE HORROR

THE HORROR THE HORROR
THE HORROR THE HORROR Wilderness myspace.com/thth With the Strokes back in action, stylistic descendents The Horror The Horror picked a great time for reinvention. This is the Swedish quintet’s third album—traditionally the make-or-break one—and singer Joel Lindström knows the dangers of failing to evolve. “Come in with the underground, go out with the undertow,” he sings on “Vanity,” a song about feeling like the last of the ’00s... 

SETH GLIER

SETH GLIER
SETH GLIER Next Right Thing sethglier.com Like his hero, James Taylor, Seth Glier has seen fire and he’s seen rain. Also like Taylor, the 21-year-old Massachusetts-born singer-songwriter is a firm believer in keeping cool, taking the good with the bad and never, under any circumstances, raising his voice. Glier’s sophomore album is filled with sweet, slice-of-life piano-pop tunes, and whether he’s singing about bombs falling on Baghdad (“First”)... 

THE GET UP KIDS

THE GET UP KIDS
THE GET UP KIDS There Are Rules thegetupkids.com Three years after re-forming a band that started out during Bill Clinton’s first term, the Get Up Kids knew as well as anyone that they couldn’t return with yet another emo-pop album. They instead have chosen to lean heavily on synths and effects to avoid backsliding into familiar territory, creating their bleakest, spikiest, most electronic collection yet. The Kansas City quintet still works toward... 

JIM BIANCO

JIM BIANCO
JIM BIANCO Loudmouth jimbianco.com Even in a bad economy, people are willing to pay extra for products of rare character and quality. Case in point: Jim Bianco’s third album, a fan-funded collection that combines the populist soul-pop of Huey Lewis’ greatest hits with the gruff vocals and skewed humor of early Tom Waits records. Bianco is more Lewis than Waits—he never sounds like a wizened, whiskey-soaked lounge lizard—but he can turn a phrase... 

BAMBI KINO

BAMBI KINO
BAMBI KINO Bambi Kino bambi-kino.com Before they were proven songwriters, the Beatles were the hardest-working cover band on the Reeperbahn, the main drag in Hamburg’s red-light district. Fascinated by this period, Bambi Kino—members of Nada Surf and Guided by Voices, among others—recorded this album at the Indra Club, scene of the not-yet-Fab Four’s first German gig. The disc features tunes the lads would have played in 1960—everything... 

AURICAL

AURICAL
AURICAL Something to Say auricalmusic.com Rachel Rossos and Michael Gallant are classically trained musician-composers with incredibly diverse résumés. She’s written orchestral works and performed at Lincoln Center, while he’s scored plays and jammed with Phish’s Page McConnell and Herbie Hancock (full disclosure: Gallant is a contributor to M Music and Musicians). Aurical finds the duo in pop-rock mode, and their cleverness comes through... 

SHANNON AND THE CLAMS

SHANNON AND THE CLAMS
SHANNON AND THE CLAMS Sleep Talk shannonandtheclams.com Large and in charge, singer and bassist Shannon Shaw presides over her Clams like a misfit Marvellete or punk-rock version of a John Waters film character. She lives for the teen melodrama of doo-wop and early-’60s girl-group pop, and on this Oakland trio’s sophomore album, she pouts and growls but never plays the pushover. Shaw sounds genuinely heartbroken on ballads like “Tired of Being... 

PRINCE: CHAOS, DISORDER, AND REVOLUTION

PRINCE: CHAOS, DISORDER, AND REVOLUTION
PRINCE: CHAOS, DISORDER, AND REVOLUTION By Jason Draper [Backbeat Books] Mercurial rock icon Prince is a difficult subject for biographers—privacy-obsessed and reluctant to be interviewed, when he does open his mouth he’s likely to throw you off the trail with a cryptic pronouncement. So author Jason Draper wisely sticks with a very nuts-and-bolts approach in Chaos, Disorder, and Revolution, an exhaustively researched volume that lays out... 

AMY SPEACE

AMY SPEACE
AMY SPEACE Land Like a Bird [Thirty Tigers] With Land Like a Bird, Nashville-based singer and songwriter Amy Speace has created a hypnotic set of songs that may be her best effort yet. She coos and croons through “Drive All Night,” “Galbraith Street” and “Ghost,” and assumes the role of nocturnal chanteuse on the alluring “It’s Too Late to Call It a Night.” There’s a decided sadness in Speace’s aching vocals and weary laments,... 

THE RAVEONETTES

THE RAVEONETTES
THE RAVEONETTES Raven in the Grave [Vice] In 2008, garage-rock revivalists the Raveonettes got their hands on some synths and recorded two uncharacteristic EPs, Beauty Dies and Sometimes They Drop By. The Danish duo still drew from ’50s and ’60s rock, but rather than stomping on distortion pedals they summoned the woozy-cool textures of ’80s dream-pop and David Lynch film scores. They followed those samplers with 2009’s bubblegum palette-cleanser... 

STEVE MILLER BAND

STEVE MILLER BAND
STEVE MILLER BAND Let Your Hair Down [Roadrunner/Loud & Proud] Steve Miller has lately returned to the blues-based sound he pursued prior to the poppier material that made him a radio staple in the 1970s, while maintaining the distinctive style he’s boasted for the past 45 years. His effusive vocals, vibrant guitar solos, playful humor and producer Andy Johns’ supple arrangements serve him well here as Miller navigates the same strict parameters... 

THE KILLS

THE KILLS
THE KILLS Blood Pressures [Domino] After releasing their third album together, 2008’s Midnight Boom, Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince took a break from the Kills and found new foils for their outsized personalities. Mosshart spent the hiatus singing for Jack White’s voodoo-punk supergroup the Dead Weather, while Hince found himself a U.K. tabloid fixture by getting engaged to supermodel Kate Moss. While their lives have changed, the duo’s musical... 

BRIAN SETZER

BRIAN SETZER
BRIAN SETZER Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL! [Surfdog] The most surprising thing about Brian Setzer’s first all-instrumental recording is that it’s taken him this long to try it. From his debut with the Stray Cats three decades ago, Setzer has consistently proven his six-string dexterity, applying his economical but vigorous playing primarily to rockabilly and neo-big-band swing. While the guitar is firmly front and center on this new set, Setzer’s... 

K.D. LANG AND THE SISS BOOM BANG

K.D. LANG AND THE SISS BOOM BANG
K.D. LANG AND THE SISS BOOM BANG Sing It Loud [Nonesuch] This is the first release that comes with an “and” after k.d. lang’s name since the Reclines shared billing on her first three records. The last of those, Absolute Torch and Twang, was also the last country album she made. So does the return of a band also signal a return to those roots? Not exactly, but Sing It Loud may be as close as she’s been since then. Siss Boom Bang contributes... 

EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY

EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY
EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY Take Care, Take Care, Take Care [Temporary Residence Ltd.] It’s been almost four years since Austin, Texas, post-rock instrumentalists Explosions in the Sky’s previous album. Their fifth and latest picks up as if no time had passed, continuing to showcase the band’s gift for crafting sweeping soundtracks for movies that have never been made. One almost wishes that the six tracks didn’t have such evocative titles (“Trembling... 

LAURA STEVENSON & THE CANS

LAURA STEVENSON & THE CANS
LAURA STEVENSON & THE CANS Sit Resist [Don Giovanni] Laura Stevenson covers a lot of ground on the second album with her band the Cans. She does sunny pop, rootsy angst and rock ’n’ roll bite, bringing an infectious charm to each of them with her sweet, slightly rumpled voice. Sometimes she murmurs as if singing to herself, and sometimes she lets fly with full-throated bursts. She does both on lead single “Master of Art,” a standout track... 

IGGY POP

IGGY POP
IGGY POP Roadkill Rising … The Bootleg Collection 1977-2009 [Shout! Factory] Fans of Iggy Pop know the deal by now: There is a seemingly endless number of live recordings out there (mostly of illegitimate origin) that document the singer’s manic energy and raw onstage aggression, but most are tinny audience recordings. The four-disc box set Roadkill Rising finds Pop himself culling performances from some of the best—and best-sounding—bootlegs... 

SONS AND DAUGHTERS

SONS AND DAUGHTERS
SONS AND DAUGHTERS Mirror Mirror [Domino] Sons and Daughters’ 2008 album, The Gift, saw the Glasgow-based band toughen up the folk-goth sound first unfurled on their 2005 debut. Mirror Mirror finds the group ratcheting up the aural dynamics—and the gloom factor—even further. Adding dance rhythms and electronica to the mix (as well as more vocals from guitarist Scott Paterson, flanking frontwoman Adele Bethel), the album comes off as an unlikely... 

THE ELECTED

THE ELECTED
THE ELECTED Bury Me in My Rings [Vagrant] Five years after its sophomore album, Rilo Kiley co-founder Blake Sennett and his band the Elected are back with more simple, summery sounds. Sweet, tender songs and breezy slices of romanticism are perfectly suited for summer fare, requiring virtually no brainpower to absorb. Easily digestible melodies laced with Ric Ocasek-esque economy are Sennett’s stock-in-trade, and whether you’re lying in your hammock... 
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