Posts tagged with "Spotlight"

GYM CLASS HEROES

GYM CLASS HEROES
GYM CLASS HEROES After a much-needed break, a hip-hop heavyweight rocks with a hot sequel Gym Class Heroes fans who feared your favorite hip-hop group was gone forever during the long wait for a new album since 2008’s The Quilt: Co-founder and drummer Matt McGinley feels your pain. “I know the passion I feel for other bands that I get ridiculously excited about when they put out new albums,” says McGinley, enjoying a rare day off the road... 

JOE NICHOLS

JOE NICHOLS
JOE NICHOLS  Can a neo-traditionalist find his way in modern country? It’s all good   Since his platinum-selling debut Man With a Memory in 2002, Joe Nichols’ earthy baritone and easygoing charm have made him one of Nashville’s most reliable neo-traditionalist singers. But the 35-year-old Arkansas native admits those talents were almost dimmed by personal drama at the beginning of his career. “I’ve had a lot of straightening up to do,... 

UH HUH HER

UH HUH HER
UH HUH HER  Post-label living means unprecedented artistic freedom—and maybe a second job  Life without a record label has its ups and downs. After parting ways with Nettwerk in 2009, Camila Grey and Leisha Hailey of Uh Huh Her decided to go the indie route and self-release their sophomore album, Nocturnes. While creativity was never in short supply, funding was. “We were running out of money, so I was like, ‘I need to get a job!’” says... 

M83

M83
M83 Why Anthony Gonzalez left France to seek his fortune in California  Before starting work on ambient pop act M83’s latest album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, bandleader Anthony Gonzalez uprooted himself and moved from his native France to Los Angeles. The essence of his new surroundings seeped into the project, an ambitious two-CD set comprising 22 songs. “Sometimes you need to be driven by something new,” Gonzalez says. “I was surrounded... 

MEGADETH

MEGADETH
MEGADETH After three decades of metal, Dave Mustaine and company still won’t be stopped  Just a few months ago, Megadeth leader Dave Mustaine wasn’t sure he’d ever play guitar again. He experienced crushing neck and back pain when the band entered the studio to record its new Th1rt3en album in May, but soldiered through. While touring as part of the traveling Mayhem Festival this summer, he could barely stand onstage and at one point was nearly... 

VAN HUNT

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

RACHAEL YAMAGATA

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

CHRIS ISAAK

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

MICHELLE BRANCH

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

ROBERT EARL KEEN

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

ANTHRAX

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

JOHN HIATT

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

CHRISTINA PERRI

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

LENNY KRAVITZ

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

SARAH JAROSZ

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

GLEN CAMPBELL

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

JEFF BRIDGES

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

THE KOOKS

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

THE BANGLES

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

PETER BALDWIN

PETER  BALDWIN
PETER  BALDWIN HOMETOWN: Anchorage, Alaska INFLUENCES: Erykah Badu, James Brown, Michael Jackson ALBUM: Peter Baldwin in Vodville EP, out now WEBSITE: peterbaldwinrocks.com Peter Baldwin grew up singing in the church where his mother served as choir director. As a high schooler he eventually formed his own choir, and learned to play a variety of instruments. After graduation he headed for Orlando, Fla., to study recording at Full Sail University.... 

BATTLES

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

YOUSSOU N’DOUR

YOUSSOU N’DOUR
YOUSSOU N’DOUR A Senegal-born international superstar finds a familiar spirit in Jamaica For Senegalese vocal legend Youssou N’Dour, making a reggae album was all about completing a circle. After all, one of reggae’s most prominent strands of DNA comes from the music of African slaves brought over during the 1800s by European-held slaves—a connection that was particularly important to the music of reggae’s greatest legend, Bob Marley. “I’m... 

GOMEZ

GOMEZ
GOMEZ Who are their fans? You might be surprised—they certainly are How can you pick out a Gomez fan from a crowd? Answer: You can’t. “No one can identify our audience,” declares guitarist Tom Gray, one of Gomez’s three singers and four songwriters. “That’s certainly the case at gigs. If you took people in the audience out of the room and said, ‘What do these people have in common?’ you’d have a hard time figuring out what it... 

THE JOLLY BOYS

THE JOLLY BOYS
THE JOLLY BOYS Melding a unique traditional folk style with unexpected new elements Trends come and go, but the Jolly Boys have been playing mento music—a Jamaican folk style that was a major influence on reggae and ska—for nearly 60 years. The veteran band extends and expands that tradition on Great Expectation, a new collection that trades its usual fare for mento interpretations of songs by the likes of Amy Winehouse, the Clash, Johnny Cash,... 

MATT NATHANSON

MATT NATHANSON
MATT NATHANSON Reaching the masses by stripping down and reinventing a pop-friendly sound Bob Dylan has worked with some interesting collaborators over the years, but singer and songwriter Matt Nathanson believes the rock legend missed out on one that would have been particularly interesting. “I’ve always said if Bob Dylan had written lyrics for Def Leppard, he’d have had the perfect band,” Nathanson says. As that unusual rock fantasy suggests,... 

THE GREENCARDS

THE GREENCARDS
THE GREENCARDS A devoted fan following helped inspire and finance a new album, brick by brick Being a bluegrass band in Australia isn’t exactly a lucrative profession. Ask the Greencards’ mandolin player Kym Warner how they dealt with that dilemma, and he offers an obvious answer. “Well, we’re here, aren’t we?” In this case, “here” is Nashville, where Warner and Greencards co-founder, singer and bassist Carol Young, have chosen to... 

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... 

THE DUKE SPIRIT

THE DUKE SPIRIT
THE DUKE SPIRIT A powerhouse band, a flamethrowing singer, a bruising album—and home décor too Liela Moss is covered in paint. The Duke Spirit’s lead singer is taking advantage of a lull in the group’s tour schedule to take care of some decorating around her house in London. “You’ve got to keep things looking nice,” she chirps in her clipped, melodious British accent. Few would guess that this cheerful, petite gal-about-the-house is... 

JASON ISBELL

JASON ISBELL
JASON ISBELL The feeling, the fever, the folks, the fiddles, a farewell and the 400 Unit Jason Isbell is not feeling well. “I’m always kind of glad to get sick at home,” he says optimistically, “because I don’t want to mess with it when I’m on the road.” He’ll have to get out of his sickbed soon, like it or not—he and his backup group the 400 Unit have just completed their new album, and a series of high-profile gigs awaits. The... 

WANDA JACKSON

WANDA JACKSON
WANDA JACKSON The Queen of Rockabilly proves you’re never too old to earn new Stripes When the blues had a baby called rock ’n’ roll, Wanda Jackson was there for the delivery. “Back when I was touring with Elvis in 1957, we didn’t even call it rock ’n’ roll,” she remembers. “It was just ‘the kind of songs the kids liked.’” Jackson credits her then-boyfriend Presley with encouraging her to branch out from her country roots... 

BAND OF HEATHENS

BAND OF HEATHENS
BAND OF HEATHENS The secret to this Austin collective’s success? Don’t plan, just play It’s noon in Austin, but the Band of Heathens’ Gordy Quist sounds like he’s still sleepy. “I’m a bit hazy,” he says by way of apology. “It’s been a long 24 hours.” With upward of 200 gigs a year, the group’s devotion to its packed-out schedule comes naturally by now. In fact, the Band of Heathens was quite literally born on stage—the group... 

PANIC! AT THE DISCO

PANIC! AT THE DISCO
PANIC! AT THE DISCO No need for alarm—the synth-popsters have returned to the dance floor When Panic! At the Disco announced in July 2009 that it was reinserting the exclamation point it had dropped from its name the previous year, there were two ways to read the news. One: The Las Vegas band really was panicking. This would have been understandable, given that bassist Jon Walker and guitarist and primary lyricist Ryan Ross had just quit, leaving... 

JOHN OATES

JOHN OATES
JOHN OATES Writing a musical autobiography by rediscovering his roots When John Oates first started getting to know Darryl Hall more than four decades ago, the two young Philadelphia natives had a love of R&B in common. But Oates had another passion, one that got obscured during the duo’s subsequent rise to pop stardom: roots music. Although you might not guess it from Hall and Oates’ hits, he cut his teeth on classic folk and blues as a... 

DENGUE FEVER

DENGUE FEVER
DENGUE FEVER Giving new life to a genre once thought lost to tragedy When the brutal Khmer Rouge regime took control of Cambodia in 1975, it set about destroying all elements of Western culture. American-influenced music was banned, and singers like Sinn Sisamouth, Pan Ron and Ros Sereysothea were put to death along with more than a million of their countrymen. Cambodia’s distinctive brand of garage-style rock practically vanished. “So much of... 

THE DEARS

THE DEARS
THE DEARS Welcoming new voices and familiar spirits into a house built on constant change Over the last three years, no fewer than 15 people have had the privilege of calling themselves Dears. Of the four musicians who joined founding frontman Murray Lightburn and longtime keyboardist Natalia Yanchak in recording the band’s fifth album, Degeneration Street, three are on their third stints as Dears. For their loyal service, they earned a privilege... 

OVER THE RHINE

OVER THE RHINE
OVER THE RHINE A veteran duo gets a boost from its fans and a helping hand from a new ally After two decades and more than a dozen albums, Over the Rhine decided to take matters into its own hands with its latest, The Long Surrender—and into the hands of its fans as well. The husband-and-wife duo of Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist turned to listeners for financing, a notion sparked by their newfound teaming with veteran producer Joe Henry.... 

CORINNE BAILEY RAE

CORINNE BAILEY RAE
CORINNE BAILEY RAE How love songs from the past pointed her to the future You can trace the creative renaissance of Corinne Bailey Rae back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The Grammy-nominated English singer and songwriter performed last summer at a White House concert honoring Paul McCartney, recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize. Her soulful take on McCartney’s “My Love” is now a highlight of her new digital-only release The Love... 

TIMES OF GRACE

TIMES OF GRACE
TIMES OF GRACE A nearly broken man repairs himself with the help of an old friend Spending two weeks hospitalized and immobile in 2007 left Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz plenty of time to think. Rather than dwell on his current circumstances (surgery for a severe back injury he suffered while on tour in England), Dutkiewicz started composing what became The Hymn of a Broken Man, the debut album by his side project with former Killswitch... 

ADELE

ADELE
ADELE For a British singer coming into her voice, a bad habit leads to a great discovery Smoking is bad for your health, but it can be good for your musical education—just ask Adele. During her U.S. tour following her breakthrough 2008 album, 19, the Grammy-winning British singer wound up spending a lot of time with her Nashville-based bus driver. “I used to have to smoke at the front of the bus, and I would stay up there with him for a 10-hour... 

BEN E. KING

BEN E. KING
BEN E. KING After 50 years of R&B, a legend takes   on the Great American Songbook Fifty years is a long time for a song to remain popular, but that’s how long it’s been since Ben E. King first sang his standard “Stand by Me.” Today the classic—written by King with the producers of his original recording, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller—is still ranked as the fourth most performed song of all time by the performing rights organization... 

SOCIAL DISTORTION

SOCIAL DISTORTION
SOCIAL DISTORTION An all-American band explores its rock ’n’ roll roots and its own checkered past If well-inked Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness doesn’t already have a “Lucky Seven” tattoo somewhere on his body, now’s the time to get one. On Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes, the California band’s seventh album, Ness continues his streak of building fresh songs from familiar ingredients. By now, the singer and guitarist should have... 

TED LEO & THE PHARMACISTS

TED LEO & THE PHARMACISTS
TED LEO & THE PHARMACISTS How a lack of inspiration helped at least one band avoid disaster If things had gone as planned, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists would have released a new record last year just weeks before their label at the time folded—which would likely have doomed the album to failure. Fortunately, things didn’t go as planned. “We actually started recording and wound up feeling like it just wasn’t coming together,” Leo says.... 

CYPRESS HILL

CYPRESS HILL
CYPRESS HILL The hip-hop pioneers are back in business and ready to rock Cypress Hill didn’t intend to wait so long between albums, but the pioneering Los Angeles rap group had some business to attend to between 2004’s Till Death Do Us Part and the new Rise Up. Among other things, the foursome toured abroad, worked on solo projects, changed management and switched record labels. “We revamped everything, and it took longer than we thought it... 

THE CHIEFTAINS

THE CHIEFTAINS
THE CHIEFTAINS Finding a vivid common ground between Ireland and Mexico The Irish are deservedly proud of their talent for telling tall tales. But even Chieftains founder Paddy Moloney had a hard time believing the story behind his group’s ambitious new album, San Patricio, based on the story of a battalion of Irish expatriates who fought against Americans in the Mexican War. “There’s a Catholic Irishman, John Riley, who came from Galway to... 
Copyright © 2011 M Music & Musicians Magazine ·