Posts tagged with "SEPT/OCT 2011"

DAW DEAL

DAW DEAL
DAW DEAL Digital Audio Workstations can help you make a masterpiece—if you use them correctly  For decades making a record meant big studios, big budgets and countless feet of analog tape—but all that has changed. Today nearly any musician can get access to a computer and the necessary software required to craft an entire album in the comfort of his or her own home. So what exactly is this powerful software that makes the magic happen? The... 

Van Halen

Van Halen
    “WORKING WITH A ROCK GROUP IS ALWAYS A challenge,” says photographer Norman Seeff, remembering his 1979 shoot for the cover of Van Halen’s third album, Women and Children First. “There are times when a group comes in for a session and I perceive there is tension among the members.” One sure way to defuse that tension, he says, was to ask the musicians to bring their instruments—and sure enough, Eddie Van Halen was soon... 

Joe Henry by Jeff Fasano

Joe Henry by Jeff Fasano
Joe Henry by Jeff Fasano For M Music & Musicians Magazine – September/October 2011  Read More →

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... 

EVANESCENCE

EVANESCENCE
EVANESCENCE Amy Lee wanted to go it alone—but needed her band to bring the pain After forming in Arkansas in the mid-1990s, the members of Evanescence watched in amazement as their 2003 debut full-length album, Fallen, sold 17 million copies worldwide on the strength of hits like “Bring Me to Life” and “My Immortal.” Three years later the follow-up, The Open Door, racked up another 5 million. After such a whirlwind ride, bandleader Amy... 

VINCE GILL

VINCE GILL
VINCE GILL A country guitar slinger takes his craft all the way back home By Chris Neal When Vince Gill was putting the final touches on the newly built studio in his Nashville-area home, he had an unlikely burst of inspiration. He needed something to cut down on the amount of sunlight streaming through the tall windows of the room, and he knew just what material had the color and texture he wanted: the tweed from the front of a vintage Fender amplifier.... 

TORI AMOS

TORI AMOS
TORI AMOS Turning ancient sounds into a modern soundtrack for “cataclysmic change” Although Tori Amos studied at Johns Hopkins University’s elite Peabody Conservatory of Music in Maryland for five years as a child, classical music had long since been a thing of the past for the singer, songwriter and pianist who rose to fame in the 1990s with alt-rock hits like “Cornflake Girl,” “God” and “Silent All These Years.” That is, until... 

MASTODON

MASTODON
MASTODON Their toughest task yet: reinventing heavy metal on deadline Longtime fans may be surprised by some new twists on heavy-metal giant Mastodon’s latest, The Hunter. There’s the absence of the group’s usual concept-album narrative, and the presence of producer Mike Elizondo—who has worked with artists ranging from Dr. Dre to Carrie Underwood, but has very little hard rock on his résumé. Then again, fans might also be surprised to... 

JOE HENRY

JOE HENRY
JOE HENRY Being himself helps this artist-turned-producer help others do the same By Michael Gallant “When I listen to music, all I want to know is what works and why it works,” says Joe Henry. “I don’t care about genre distinctions. I’m happy to do anything that’s of quality.” Apt words from a prolific producer who has helped craft distinctive albums for artists as diverse as Elvis Costello, Aimee Mann, Mavis Staples, Brad Mehldau,... 

MUTEMATH

MUTEMATH
Roy Mitchell-Cardenas, Darren King, Paul Meany MUTEMATH Slimming down, stepping up and throwing new paint at the canvas Beset by strife both internal and external, New Orleans-based alt-rock band Mutemath nearly broke up while recording its 2009 album Armistice. So for its latest, Odd Soul, a few changes were due. Guitarist Greg Hill quit the band, leaving a trio of vocalist Paul Meany, drummer Darren King and bass player Roy Mitchell-Cardenas,... 

LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM

LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM
LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM Fleetwood Mac’s visionary guitarist reaps the solo seeds he’s sown By Russell Hall The story of Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album Rumours is well-worn: Fueled by the angst of the various romantic collisions among the members—singer and guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, singer Stevie Nicks, singer and keyboardist Christine McVie, bass player John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood—the album became one of the best-selling in rock history.... 

ALICE COOPER

ALICE COOPER
ALICE COOPER America’s favorite shock rocker dreams up an all-new nightmare It’s Alice Cooper’s party, and he’ll invite whomever he likes. “Anytime someone tells me I shouldn’t have a particular artist on an album, I take that as a challenge,” declares Alice Cooper. “I think, ‘I’ll take that person and create a situation where you see a different side of them.’” That attitude led the legendary shock-rocker to recruit such... 

NICK LOWE

NICK LOWE
NICK LOWE A rocker finds new magic by embracing change “I’m 61 years old now / Lord, I never thought I’d see 30,” Nick Lowe sings on his new release, The Old Magic. The subject of aging, and how to do it gracefully, is one that Lowe has given much thought over the last two decades. The British rock icon’s solution has been to reinvent himself as a bard steeped in a timeless-sounding blend of classic country and jazz standards. We caught... 

THOMAS DOLBY

THOMAS DOLBY
THOMAS DOLBY From ’80s hitmaker to modern-day tech innovator,  science has been good to him Contrary to the title of his biggest radio hit, London native Thomas Dolby has never been blinded by science. In fact, the preoccupation with technology hinted at in synthesizer-happy 1980s classics like “She Blinded Me With Science,” “Hyperactive!” and “One of Our Submarines” has allowed him to flourish well into the new millennium. After his... 

JANE’S ADDICTION

JANE’S ADDICTION
JANE’S ADDICTION The Great Escape Artist [Capitol] Two decades have passed since the first time pioneering alt-rock band Jane’s Addiction broke up, imploding from within via a variety of personality conflicts. Since 1997 the group has reunited in fits and starts with a series of bass players filling in for reluctant original member Eric Avery, including Flea, Martyn LeNoble, Duff McKagan and Chris Chaney. Avery finally rejoined the band in 2008,... 

FEIST

FEIST
FEIST Metals [Cherrytree/Interscope] What’s Leslie Feist been up to since her 2007 album The Reminder? Breaking up, from the sound of things on her latest. These songs play like letters from a broken heart, delivered in the Canadian singer’s typically understated style. Her drowsy voice—which works so well on the lovely offhand pop numbers for which she’s become known (“Mushaboom,” “1234”)—requires only a slight adjustment to sound... 

SUPERHEAVY

SUPERHEAVY
SUPERHEAVY SuperHeavy [Universal Republic] Mick Jagger, Joss Stone, Dave Stewart, Damian Marley and A.R. Rahman are billing themselves collectively as SuperHeavy, but the all-star quintet’s debut doesn’t quite earn them the label of supergroup. That criticism isn’t a knock on any of the album’s individual tracks. The first half could be the foundation for a perfectly fine, guest-heavy Marley record, and the last half would be adequate filler... 

CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH

CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH
CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH Hysterical [Red General] For a band whose very name implies hyperactivity, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have been surprisingly inactive for the last few years. Following a self-released 2005 debut that became an indie-rock sensation, the band released a hurried sophomore LP in 2007 before entering a self-imposed hibernation. That break led to the usual flurry of forgettable side projects, but now it’s back to business. Frontman... 

WILCO

WILCO
WILCO The Whole Love [dBpm/ANTI] Although its first seven minutes and last 12 minutes help to make The Whole Love Wilco’s boldest record since 2001’s landmark Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, those opening and closing marathons are also familiar reminders of leader Jeff Tweedy’s wide emotional range. Amid the gloom of the opening “Art of Almost,” Tweedy is the dark-clothed loner with his head down. Yet he’s the same man who, on the closing “One... 

THE BEACH BOYS

THE BEACH BOYS
THE BEACH BOYS The SMiLE Sessions [Capitol] In a scene from the classic movie Citizen Kane, the character of Mr. Bernstein (played by Everett Sloane) rhapsodizes about a comely stranger he briefly spied from a distance some 45 years earlier. “I only saw her for one second,” he says. “She didn’t see me at all, but I’ll bet a month hasn’t gone by since that I haven’t thought of that girl.” There is no beauty quite so radiant as that... 

BJÖRK

BJÖRK
BJÖRK Biophilia [Nonesuch] Björk’s eighth solo release is not so much an album as the foundation of an ambitious multimedia project. Partly recorded on an iPad and released (in addition to traditional outlets) through 10 interactive apps, Biophilia boasts a lyrical thread drawing from biologist Edward O. Wilson’s ideas about the connections that humans subconsciously seek with the life that surrounds them. By fusing African-derived rhythms,... 

GEORGE BENSON

GEORGE BENSON
GEORGE BENSON Guitar Man [Concord Jazz] As the title of Guitar Man makes clear, George Benson has rediscovered his axe. Benson began his career as a hotshot jazz guitarist in the ’60s—then in the mid-’70s, he discovered he could sing. Switching gears, he became a pioneer of smooth jazz and has rarely looked back since. Guitar Man offers irrefutable proof that Benson can still play, although all too often he eschews the more nuanced, exploratory... 

MATTHEW SWEET

MATTHEW SWEET
MATTHEW SWEET Modern Art [Missing Piece] After a nearly 30-year career and the critical acclaim reaped by much-loved albums like Girlfriend, Altered Beast and 100% Fun, Matthew Sweet has earned his place among power-pop’s elite. His up-and-down fortunes have been dictated all too often by never-ending shifts in record-label affiliations, but each new album still brings an endlessly renewed sense of possibility. True to Sweet’s retro sensibilities,... 

THE JAYHAWKS

THE JAYHAWKS
THE JAYHAWKS Mockingbird Time [Rounder] The big news for fans of this quintessential alt-country band is that Mockingbird Time is the first new studio release since 1995 to feature the Jayhawks’ original co-frontmen, Gary Louris and Mark Olson. Reunions can be iffy, but the Jayhawks have marshaled their strengths and assembled a recording truly worthy of their stellar reputation. The omnipresent close harmonies, smart songcraft, instantly memorable... 

RIGHT ON DYNAMITE

RIGHT ON DYNAMITE
RIGHT ON DYNAMITE In Vino Veritas myspace.com/rightondynamite Three songs into their debut album, these New Yorkers ask, “What Would Ringo Do?” If the ex-Beatle were 22 today, he might join a band like Right on Dynamite. The trio makes classic power-pop with a mussed indie edge, building big hooks from Daniel Murphy’s chunky guitars and excited mumbling.  Read More →

JONNY CORNDAWG

JONNY CORNDAWG
JONNY CORNDAWG Down on the Bikini Line corndawg.com The artwork and song titles (“When a Ford Man Turns to Chevy,” etc.) scream comedy record, but Corndawg is no hipster Jeff Foxworthy. His playing is too good, and his love of classic country—in all its heartbreaking, plainspoken, at times ridiculous glory—burns hotter than a backyard tire fire.  Read More →

TIM EASTON

TIM EASTON
TIM EASTON Beat the Band timeaston.com In Easton’s America, we’d all resist apathy (“Open Letter”), dream non-mediocre dreams (“What Do You Live For?”), and seek redemption in pop music (“Daily Life”). Whether he’s a purist or a dreamer, he’s got the raspy voice and troubadour soul to make it all seem tenable.  Read More →

THE VEDA RAYS

THE VEDA RAYS
THE VEDA RAYS Gamma Rays Galaxy Rays Veda Rays thevedarays.com Brooding and bombastic, Veda Rays jams straddle Echo and the Bunnymen-style ’80s psychedelia and U2 stadium pop. There’s also some modern ennui: a post-Radiohead dread that creeps into both the guitars and Jim Stark’s Red Rocks-ready bellow, giving the disc a seductive, shadowy tinge.  Read More →

ANNIE DRESSNER

ANNIE DRESSNER
ANNIE DRESSNER Strangers Who Knew Each Other’s Names anniedressner.com Now here’s a gal we can root for. A singer of plucky can-do folk-pop tunes—some electric, others acoustic—Dressner loves, loses and wakes up in Brooklyn bars wearing painter’s caps. She takes it all in stride, staying silly and sweet in a sourpuss world.  Read More →

THE PACK A.D.

THE PACK A.D.
THE PACK A.D. Unpersons thepackafterdeath.com Listening to the fourth album from this Canadian garage-rock duo, an image emerges of singer Becky Black. She’s red-eyed and sneering, hurt and angry, seconds away from either breaking down and bawling or bashing someone in the teeth. Her gnashing guitar riffs suggest the latter, as does Maya Miller’s total-war drumming. Their sound is violent and cathartic, and on “Rid of Me”—a start-stop rager... 

ADAM LEVY

ADAM LEVY
ADAM LEVY The Heart Collector adamlevy.com In Adam Levy’s hands, even murder ballads make for warm, easy listening. On the title track, he describes in suspicious detail a serial killer’s exploits. Levy’s narrator might be the guilty party, or in a metaphorical sense, he might just sympathize with the “cardiophile” and his hunger for human hearts. Either way, it’s a rare moment of darkness from this former Norah Jones guitarist. Levy specializes... 

THE MEKONS

THE MEKONS
THE MEKONS Ancient & Modern myspace.com/mekons On their 26th studio album, British post-punk vets and alt-country innovators the Mekons aim to cover 100 years of history, from the eve of World War I to the present. Frontman Jon Langdon’s lyrics touch on war, death, religion, nostalgia and the battle between good and evil, and because these themes are applicable to any era, few songs stand out as fundamentally “ancient” or “modern.”... 

ICEBIRD

ICEBIRD
ICEBIRD The Abandoned Lullaby rjselectricalconnections.com Philly’s answer to Gnarls Barkley, Icebird pairs producer and multi-instrumentalist RJD2—known for both his Mad Men theme and string of solo albums—with soul man Aaron Livingston, who’s sung on albums by the Roots, among others. The sound is spaced-out, low-key hip-hop crossed with moody psychedelic soul—a confluence of bumping beats, doo-wop pianos and analog synths. Highlight “Just... 

MR. LEWIS AND THE FUNERAL 5

MR. LEWIS AND THE FUNERAL 5
MR. LEWIS AND THE FUNERAL 5 Delirium Tremendous myspace.com/mrlewisthefuneral5 A pulp novel set to music, the second album by this Austin sextet is overrun with losers, boozers and other lowlifes. They’re all given voice by Gregory Lewis, a scenery-eating thespian of a frontman with Tom Waits’ taste for gallows humor and gutter poetics. Lewis opens the disc by singing, “There’s murder and cheap canned beer all around the highway,” and just... 

JON REGEN

JON REGEN
JON REGEN Revolution jonregen.com Jon Regen is a man who knows his instrument. The piano isn’t great for rocking out unless you’re Jerry Lee Lewis or Little Richard, but it’s perfect for sophisticated, slightly retro pop songs. Regen writes his with the smart, jazzy feel of Ben Folds or Randy Newman, and on such tunes as “She’s Not You (But Tonight She’ll Have to Do)” and “One Part Broken, Two Parts Blue,” he gets to play his favorite... 

ARRICA ROSE & THE …’S

ARRICA ROSE & THE …’S
ARRICA ROSE & THE …’S Let Alone Sea arricarose.com In Southern California, Stevie Nicks is a goddess and Depeche Mode are conquering heroes. Arrica Rose isn’t yet on their level, but the San Fernando Valley native is very much of their kind—an enigmatic enchantress adept at blending classic folk-rock songwriting and dark, dreamy atmospherics. She’s got a song called “Summer’s Gonna Burn Me (So Are You),” and that title sums up... 

URSULA 1000

URSULA 1000
URSULA 1000 Mondo Beyondo ursula1000.com If Ursula 1000 multi-instrumentalist, DJ and mastermind Alex Gimeno hadn’t invited Fred Schneider to sing on his latest album, the B-52s frontman might have known instinctively to show up anyway. Music this fun demands the kind of kooky enthusiasm Schneider brings to “Hey You!” a Technicolor dance track stuffed full of fuzz guitars, handclaps, whistles and honking car horns. Elsewhere, the Brooklyn-based... 

STEVE BELLO BAND

STEVE BELLO BAND
STEVE BELLO BAND Go Berserk! myspace.com/stevebello It’s no wonder Ibanez tapped Steve Bello to endorse its seven-string guitars. The New Jersey metalhead shreds with rare speed and fluidity, whether soloing or weaving the intricate leads that substitute for lyrics in his instrumental jams. On his fifth album Bello expertly mixes metal subgenres, grounding himself in the classic ’80s sound heard on opener “Surfing to Venus.” The trio flavors... 

CENTRO-MATIC

CENTRO-MATIC
CENTRO-MATIC Candidate Waltz centro-matic.com Of the nine tunes on Centro-matic’s latest, only one, “All the Talkers,” really lets listeners in. It’s about an overhyped rock group winning over a roomful of seen-it-all hipsters. “But the band, they were not like the ones before,” sings Will Johnson, still a rock ’n’ roll true believer 15 years after founding Centro-matic in Denton, Texas. Johnson’s faith in guitar groups might stem... 

JOE ELY

JOE ELY
JOE ELY Satisfied at Last ely.com Satisfaction doesn’t necessarily equal complacency. On this disc’s title track, Joe Ely finds contentedness by pushing forward, living for the moment, feeling his “bandana waving free.” Having toured with everyone from Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore (his partners in supergroup the Flatlanders) to the Clash, the veteran Texas country rocker sings with well-earned wisdom and self-assurance. He knows all... 

TOMMY STINSON

TOMMY STINSON
TOMMY STINSON One Man Mutiny tommystinson.com Long before his current stint in Guns N’ Roses, bassist Tommy Stinson served his apprenticeship with the Replacements—simultaneously the Beatles and Rolling Stones of the ’80s alt-rock underground. The Minneapolis group could be sharp and melodic, like a punky Fab Four, but also shambolic and self-destructive—particularly onstage, after a few drinks. Fortunately, Stinson seems to have soaked up... 

JUSTIN HINES

JUSTIN HINES
JUSTIN HINES Days to Recall [Decca] If “handicapped” is just a state of mind, then Canadian Justin Hines is as healthy as anyone. Born with Larsen syndrome, a disease that dislocates the joints and confines him to a wheelchair, he consistently exudes optimism on Days to Recall (his American debut and fourth album overall). With a voice that trumpets triumph and tenacity, he literally whoops his way through opening track “Just the Same” and... 

VARIOUS ARTISTS

VARIOUS ARTISTS
VARIOUS ARTISTS Phil Spector Presents the Philles Album Collection [Phil Spector Records/Legacy] Phil Spector was never about albums. Monaural 7-inch 45s ruled his world, and with them he elevated the pop single to an art form. Give Spector three minutes and he—with the help of his handpicked, world-class songwriters, engineers, vocalists and musicians—could tell a story for the ages. Nonetheless, Spector did release albums on his own Philles... 

GEORGE STRAIT

GEORGE STRAIT
GEORGE STRAIT Here for a Good Time [MCA Nashville] George Strait sings “I’m not here for a long time, I’m here for a good time” on the title cut of his 39th studio album, but the fact is that he has been here for a long time. That’s not a knock; Strait has made a towering virtue out of consistency. The big news here is Strait’s continuing late-career development as a songwriter after three decades barely ever picking up a pen: He co-wrote... 
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