Posts tagged with "November 2012"

NAS

NAS
NAS   The enduring hip-hop storyteller’s latest title becomes his mantra    Several months after releasing his 10th studio album, Life Is Good, Nas is revisiting the title. “I was watching TV the other night and saw this woman had survived pancreatic cancer,” he says. “I was barely listening, because my mom passed from breast cancer, and sometimes it’s just too hard to watch. But I heard her say, ‘Life is good,’ and I thought, ‘If... 

MORGAN JAMES

MORGAN JAMES
MORGAN JAMES HOMETOWN: Modesto, Calif. INFLUENCES: Etta James, Donny Hathaway, Eva Cassidy ALBUM: Morgan James Live, out now WEBSITE: morganjamesonline.com Singer Morgan James entered the Juilliard School at age 18 as an opera student, but eventually abandoned that career path to pursue musical theater. “For a long time I wasn’t sure what to do with the fact that I’ve got this gigantic voice that doesn’t quite match how I look,” she says,... 

ALISHA ZALKIN

ALISHA ZALKIN
ALISHA ZALKIN HOMETOWN: San Diego, Calif. INFLUENCES: Carole King, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin ALBUM: March to a Different Beat EP, out now WEBSITE: alishazmusic.com  Singer-songwriter Alisha Zalkin’s love of music is deeply rooted in her Mexican and Jewish heritage. Her Jewish grandmother, a survivor of the Holocaust, was the youngest opera singer to be admitted into the Vienna Conservatory of Music before she was forced to flee Europe.... 

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,... 

DRUM ROLE

DRUM ROLE
DRUM ROLE Recording drums takes expertise, experience and experimentation Whether it’s a tight funk beat, driving R&B groove or blistering metal assault, nothing defines the character of a song like artfully played—and beautifully recorded—drums. But melding the magic of snares and cymbals with the right tincture of mics, preamps and recording know-how can be an elusive alchemy. Elements ranging from room acoustics to microphone selection... 

AIMEE MANN

AIMEE MANN
AIMEE MANN Getting it right for her latest effort required a fresh start After nearly three decades in the music biz and Grammy and Oscar nods under her belt, Aimee Mann wanted a new approach for Charmer, her eighth solo album—so she tossed her original batch of tunes. “I had some songs and played them all back to back and was like, ‘I’m not crazy about these,’” says the 52-year-old singer-songwriter and actress. “They didn’t really... 

JOHN HIATT

JOHN HIATT
JOHN HIATT At 60, the master singer-songwriter still follows wherever the music leads After 40 years and 21 studio albums, John Hiatt knows a thing or two about songcraft. On his new album,  Mystic Pinball, he even manages to make a grocery list interesting, wrapping it up in the grisly story-song, “Wood Chipper.” “It’s a bit of an homage to the Coen Brothers and the wood-chipper scene in Fargo,” he explains. “I started playing the... 

LIFEHOUSE

LIFEHOUSE
LIFEHOUSE Inspiration and experimentation lead to a sound shake-up on their latest    Since their 2001 monster hit “Hanging by a Moment,” Lifehouse has sold more than 15 million albums worldwide. But the big numbers are just a byproduct of the band’s vision. “We’ve been a pretty insulated group,” says lead singer Jason Wade. “We’re on the same label as these acts like Black Eyed Peas, U2 and Lady Gaga, but we do our own thing.”... 

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,”... 

MARTHA WAINWRIGHT

MARTHA WAINWRIGHT
MARTHA WAINWRIGHT Family love and loss provides inspiration for her new album   Music has always been a family affair for Martha Wainwright. She’s the daughter of Loudon Wainwright and Kate McGarrigle, niece of Anna McGarrigle, sister to Rufus Wainwright, and wife of bassist Brad Albetta, who plays in her band. It’s no surprise that family changes—the birth of her son, Arcangelo, followed months later by the death of her mother in early 2010—impacted... 

BENNY BLANCO

BENNY BLANCO
BENNY BLANCO A prodigious talent schools the music business in Hit-making 101         By Michael Gallant Benny Blanco has crafted pop magic in the studio for today’s biggest stars, including Katy Perry, Maroon 5, Rihanna and Bruno Mars. He’s scored more than a dozen No. 1 hits and was named Songwriter of the Year at this year’s BMI Pop Awards. Oh, and he’s 24. That’s an impressive career at any age, but only more so considering its... 

PETER FRAMPTON

PETER FRAMPTON
PETER FRAMPTON  The master guitarist revisits the album that made him a rock icon By Eric R. Danton  Frampton Comes Alive! has defined Peter Frampton’s career. Only his perspective has shifted—from surprise and frustration to acceptance. The result is FCA! 35 Tour: An Evening With Peter Frampton, a two-DVD set that captures a tour celebrating the 35th anniversary of one of the most iconic live albums ever released. The double LP was Frampton’s... 

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... 

VICTOR WOOTEN

VICTOR WOOTEN
VICTOR WOOTEN The bass virtuoso follows his own path to musical innovation    Over the course of eight solo records, and many others he’s recorded as a member of progressive bluegrass band Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Victor Wooten has shown he’s rarely content to play by the rules. As one of today’s most innovative musicians, he’s furthered the evolution of bass from traditional role of backing rhythm to front and center as a lead instrument.... 

THE KINKS

THE KINKS
“Waterloo Sunset” THE KINKS WRITTEN BY: RAY DAVIES RECORDED: PYE RECORDS STUDIO, LONDON, MARCH 1967 PRODUCED BY: SHEL TALMY AND RAY DAVIES RAY DAVIES: VOCALS, ACOUSTIC GUITAR DAVE DAVIES: ELECTRIC GUITAR, BACKING VOCALS PETE QUAIFE: BASS, BACKING VOCALS MICK AVORY: DRUMS NICKY HOPKINS: PIANO, HARPSICHORD RASA DAVIES: BACKING VOCALS DAVID WHITAKER: STRINGS FROM THE ALBUM: SOMETHING ELSE (1967) One morning in February 1967, Ray Davies rolled out... 

BLONDIE

BLONDIE
PHOTOGRAPHER NORMAN SEEFF SHOT THIS SESSION for Blondie’s 1979 Eat to the Beat album at New York’s historic Chelsea Hotel, a famous haunt of the Manhattan arts crowd. “The band seemed to be part of that milieu,” says Seeff. “They were a quintessential New York group.” Singer Deborah Harry arrived late to the shoot and in a funk. “She walked away while we were shooting without explanation,” recalls Seeff. “We’re all standing... 

BOBBY BARE

BOBBY BARE
BOBBY BARE Darker Than Light bobbybaredarkerthanlight.com When a fella’s been recording for as long as Bobby Bare has, he gets to thinking about history—not so much his own, but the centuries’ worth of strange and wondrous songs that make up the American folk and country canon. Fifty years on from his first hit, the 77-year-old Bare picks a wide range of classics, everything from Dust Bowl laments (“Going Down the Road [I Ain’t Going to... 

JOHN CALE

JOHN CALE
JOHN CALE Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood john-cale.com Having tried every other genre imaginable—his spectrum spans avant-garde classical to the proto-punk of the Velvet Underground—John Cale has finally made his goth-pop album. With its tense beats and spooky electronics, Shifty Adventures suggests Cale has been on a serious Depeche Mode or Joy Division kick. His drab singing recalls the latter’s Ian Curtis—if not Paul Banks, frontman for... 

TURBO FRUITS

TURBO FRUITS
TURBO FRUITS Butter turbofruits.com When the going gets tough—too many long nights and drunken fights—Turbo Fruits get going. “Motorcycle, please take my problems away,” frontman Jonas Stein sings on “Harley Dollar Bill$,” leaving hopelessness in his dust. On their third album, these Nashville bashers drink, gamble, play with guns and get their hearts broken, but they find redemption where they can—sometimes on the open road, mostly... 

MONARCH

MONARCH
MONARCH Amber Waves of Cain monarch-the-band.com As Monarch surveys their kingdom—newfangled cities beset with old-timey problems, populated by single moms, drug addicts and Joe Six-Packs—they can’t help but smile. The L.A. quintet plays smart, tragicomic country rock—all reverb, twang, shuffling beats and spur-sharp wit. As frontman Jay Sosnicki spins his sorry tales, he neither pities nor mocks the folks he sings about. He knows the world... 

WHITEHORSE

WHITEHORSE
WHITEHORSE The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss whitehorsemusic.ca Whenever a married couple sings about the “seven-year itch,” there’s a tendency to think the worst: trouble in paradise. But Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland, the husband-and-wife duo behind this dark and stormy Canadian twang-pop duo, haven’t made a breakup record. Their full-length debut is all about keeping things spicy, and while the acoustic ballad “Mismatched... 

UNKNOWN COMPONENT

UNKNOWN COMPONENT
UNKNOWN COMPONENT Blood v. Electricity unknowncomponent.com Like Kurt Cobain with a keyboard or Trent Reznor with a cooler head, Keith Lynch, the lone Iowan behind Unknown Component, channels his hopes and fears into bummed-out synth-pop. He loves his faux string and choral sounds—touches that turn his home studio into a gothic cathedral—but judging by his mumbled delivery and searching lyrics, he’s not super enthused about much else. “Nowhere... 

RICK HOLMSTROM

RICK HOLMSTROM
RICK HOLMSTROM Cruel Sunrise rickholmstrom.com Through his association with Mavis Staples, who he’s backed onstage and on record, this blues-rock vet has gotten to know Jeff Tweedy, Billy Bragg and Neko Case—songwriters who cast traditional music in nontraditional lights. Here, Holmstrom does likewise, using back-alley guitar riffs and pop-Americana hooks to power cautiously optimistic songs about chasing down dreams. Things don’t always work... 

BONNIE BISHOP

BONNIE BISHOP
BONNIE BISHOP Free bonniebishop.com Bonnie Bishop’s latest could almost be a Kelly Clarkson record, only this raspy-voiced Nashville belter writes or co-writes all of her own country-soul jams. The opening trio of “Keep Using Me,” “Shrinking Violet” and “Free” are you-go-girl female empowerment anthems, and in a way, so is “Bad Seed,” co-written by legendary songsmith Al Anderson. That one centers on a politician’s daughter who... 

STACIAN

STACIAN
STACIAN Songs for Cadets stacian.bandcamp.com The really out-there pop music has never been limited to the coasts. Just as Detroit gave us eerily robotic early techno and Minneapolis spawned Prince—once Top 40’s chief experimentalist—Milwaukee has produced Stacian, aka Dania Luck. Keen on sci-fi imagery and primitive synth programming, this one-woman band fills her full-length debut with hypnotic minor-key riffs and harsh mechanized beats. Way... 

SLAM DONAHUE

SLAM DONAHUE
SLAM DONAHUE Hemlock Tea slamdonahue.com Sunshine pop for Brooklyn basement dwellers: There’s the tagline for this duo’s debut EP. Singer and guitarist David Otto has the soulful rasp and melodic sense of Them-era Van Morrison, and with the help of producer Ayad Al Adhamy, who’s pulled off similar retro-modern feats with Passion Pit, he sounds simultaneously young and used up, wide-eyed and red-eyed. “I’ll drop anything for fun,” he sings... 

EARLY GRAVES

EARLY GRAVES
EARLY GRAVES Red Horse earlygraves.com Without a lyric sheet, it’s impossible to say for sure, but the first word on the third album from these high-precision, higher-speed San Francisco metal mavens seems to be “death.” That would be appropriate, as new singer John Strachan fills a void left by founder Makh Daniels, who died in a 2010 van accident. Strachan and his steel-wool larynx keep pace with the band’s gnashing charge, and whether “Death... 

CRUSHED OUT

CRUSHED OUT
CRUSHED OUT Want to Give crushedoutmusic.com Jack White will leave behind boxcars of boss records, but his real legacy may be the male-female guitar-drum duo, a rock ’n’ roll model he virtually invented with the White Stripes. The latest—and one of the greatest—to follow his coed thud ’n’ thrash lead are Crushed Out, the husband-and-wife team of Frank Hoier and Moselle Spiller. These lovebirds dig Buddy Holly, the Ramones and most likely... 

BRICKWALL JACKSON

BRICKWALL JACKSON
BRICKWALL JACKSON Just Life brickwalljacksonband.com In life, this rock-tinged Virginia country-pop duo tells us, “There is no right or wrong way.” True, but as they celebrate the good stuff (four-wheel drive, spunky self-assurance) and make sense of the bad (miscarriages, heartbreak, sick children), it’s hard to argue with their methods.  Read More →

AMY GORE AND HER VALENTINES

AMY GORE AND HER VALENTINES
AMY GORE AND HER VALENTINES In Love thisisamygore.com Keeping one foot in the garage, poised to stomp on a fuzz box, the former leader of Detroit’s Gore Gore Girls joyrides through rootsy rock, country and even ’80s-style pop, a la Scandal’s “Goodbye to You.” The chorus on “Blackout” is bright enough to light the Silverdome.  Read More →

HABIB KOITE AND ERIC BIBB

HABIB KOITE AND ERIC BIBB
HABIB KOITE AND ERIC BIBB Brothers in Bamako habibkoite.com “Tombouctou” is your standard wandering blues—American bluesman Bibb and West Africa’s Koite have simply wandered very far afield. They’re caravanning through Mali, tracing the roots of modern music, and as with the other 12 songs, they hit on something fluid, uplifting and beyond time and place.  Read More →

THE REBEL LIGHT

THE REBEL LIGHT
THE REBEL LIGHT The Rebel Light therebellight.com On their debut EP, these L.A. indie-pop hopefuls announce themselves with guitars, pianos, strings, horns and synths. Amazingly, there are only three of them. With their big music and ideas (sample line: “All my heroes are dead”), they could be headed someplace, well, big.  Read More →

DOMENICO

DOMENICO
DOMENICO Cine Privê domenicolancellotti.com.br Your dad likes bossa nova and space age bachelor-pad music. You dig Radiohead. This Brazilian singer-composer brings peace to your weirdo family, playing groovy lounge jazz with an experimental bent. Dig the ray guns on “Hugo Carvana,” something George and Jane Jetson might have rocked on their honeymoon.  Read More →

ALICIA KEYS

ALICIA KEYS
ALICIA KEYS Girl on Fire [RCA] Some combination of talent and luck—the former outweighing the latter—gave Alicia Keys one of the biggest debuts of the ’00s. Songs in A Minor (2001) was a hit with hip-hop fans, housewives and just about everyone in between, and in the decade since, the R&B songstress has continually shown her savvy and taste. She’s built a career that lets her cruise the middle of the road without becoming middle of the... 

TITUS ANDRONICUS

TITUS ANDRONICUS
TITUS ANDRONICUS Local Business [XL] Somehow, Titus Andronicus stitched together a punk concept album about the Civil War and New Jersey on 2010’s brilliant The Monitor. The Garden State rockers take a less narrative approach on their latest, an autobiographical unburdening by frontman Patrick Stickles. He details an inadvertent electrocution on the jaunty sing-along “(I Am the) Electric Man,” a short stint living in New York City on the terse... 

COHEED AND CAMBRIA

COHEED AND CAMBRIA
COHEED AND CAMBRIA The Afterman: Ascension [Hundred Handed/Everything Evil] Products of the early-’00s emo boom, Coheed and Cambria distinguished themselves with an evolved, complex punk sound, basing all of their albums around a continuing fantasy storyline, The Amory Wars. Their sixth album, The Afterman: Ascension, continues the epic tale with all of the pageantry one would expect. At times mathematical, Coheed’s song structures display a... 

MADNESS

MADNESS
MADNESS Oui Oui, Si Si, Ja Ja, Da Da [Cooking Vinyl] In the late ’70s and early ’80s, Madness scored a Beatlesque run of U.K. hits, and for good reason: a Beatlesque way with melody. Initially affiliated with the 2 Tone ska movement, the septet put Jamaican bounce behind quintessentially British songs, sidestepping the political sloganeering of their post-punk peers to paint nuanced portraits of everyday London life. Their fourth album since... 

JAMEY JOHNSON

JAMEY JOHNSON
JAMEY JOHNSON Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran [Mercury] It’s fitting that Jamey Johnson, perhaps the best songwriter on the country scene, chose to honor one of the greatest and most prolific songwriters of all time. During his half-century in Nashville, Hank Cochran, who died in 2010, created a body of work so rich that this could have easily been a three-disc set. Instead, Johnson intersperses Cochran’s most famous songs, such... 

AMY WINEHOUSE

AMY WINEHOUSE
AMY WINEHOUSE At the BBC  [Universal Republic] Thankfully, the second posthumous Winehouse release isn’t filled with scraps that didn’t make last year’s Lioness. Drawn from BBC appearances, it reminds listeners what a charismatic vocalist Winehouse was. The early material, recorded circa 2004’s Frank album, showcases Winehouse’s jazz roots, pairing her sultry, scat-like singing with big band arrangements. The handful of tracks from her... 

BUDDY MILLER AND JIM LAUDERDALE

BUDDY MILLER AND JIM LAUDERDALE
BUDDY MILLER AND JIM LAUDERDALE Buddy and Jim [New West] The two brightest stars in Americana have found success with solo albums and written gems for giants like George Strait and the Dixie Chicks. They’ve also scored with collaborative efforts: Miller has played with Emmylou Harris and Robert Plant’s Band of Joy, while Lauderdale has recorded with Ralph Stanley and toured with Elvis Costello. This team-up album has been a long time coming. Comprising... 

CRYSTAL CASTLES

CRYSTAL CASTLES
CRYSTAL CASTLES  III [Casablanca] On the third album by this frequently terrifying Toronto duo, all of the elements needed to make euphoric dance music are present but just out of reach. Producer Ethan Kath and singer Alice Glass are handy with the celestial synth tones and four-to-the-floor beats, but rather than party like it’s the end of the world, these electro-goth freakniks anticipate the actual coming of the apocalypse. Apparently recorded... 

AARON LEWIS

AARON LEWIS
AARON LEWIS The Road [Blaster] Old-school country fans unimpressed by the modern state of the genre need only look to this, the sophomore country album by Staind frontman Aaron Lewis, for solace. Sure, Lewis was raised in Massachusetts, but thanks to his country-loving grandfather, he absorbed the sounds of the greats. And although he made his name with hard rock, his success in that arena has as much to do with his emotive storytelling as it does... 

DEFTONES

DEFTONES
DEFTONES Koi No Yokan [Reprise] Despite a good deal of drama—most notably bassist Chi Cheng’s near-fatal 2008 car wreck—the Deftones retained the distinctive alt-metal sound it forged in the early ’90s. Keeping its collective foot on the distortion pedal, the band’s seventh full-length album, Koi No Yokan, provides moments that range from hauntingly tender to downright punishing. Tracks such as “Leathers” feature slow, ominous intros... 

Color Me Obsessed

Color Me Obsessed
Color Me Obsessed:  A Film About the Replacements   [MVD Visual] A rock documentary with almost no music—and not a lick by the film’s subjects—Color Me Obsessed is the visual document the Replacements deserve. Brilliant one minute, awful the next, and doomed to fail, if their story can really be seen as a failure, the Minneapolis foursome is among the most mythologized bands of the last 30 years. As Goo Goo Dolls singer John Rzeznik says,... 

ANDREW BIRD

ANDREW BIRD
ANDREW BIRD Hands of Glory [Mom & Pop] Inspired by the popularity of his old-timey sets on his last tour, Andrew Bird returns less than a year after his last record, Break It Yourself. For this eight-song companion piece, the violinist and his band recorded in a barn around a single microphone. The approach was old fashioned, but the song selection was anything but. On the lone traditional tune, “Railroad Bill,” Bird’s jaunty fiddling and... 

HOW TO DESTROY ANGELS

HOW TO DESTROY ANGELS
HOW TO DESTROY ANGELS An Omen [Columbia] Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor continues to play mad chemist with industrial music, this time via a side project featuring his wife, Mariqueen Maandig. Her soothing voice lends a twisted effect to this EP. The largely acoustic “Ice Age” is oddly folksy, and for a six-song set, An Omen boasts a wide emotional spectrum. There are periods of tranquility that give way to invocations of disaster—something... 
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