When Portland, Ore., orchestral outfit Pink Martini was seeking a temporary replacement for frontwoman China Forbes — who was sidelined after vocal cord surgery — bandleader Thomas Lauderdale chose an unlikely candidate: Storm Large, a bawdy blues belter known for Bay Area rock combos such as Storm and Her Dirty Mouth, as well as a stint on the CBS reality show “Rock Star: Supernova.” His gamble paid off. Read More
In music’s new digital, do-it-yourself era, a young band has to adopt a fierce work ethic to succeed. That’s what Mette Lindberg, bombshell frontwoman for the Danish pop-R&B outfit The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, believes.
“You need to use what you’ve got to reach as many people as possible,” the Little Eva-chirpy singer says. “We don’t have a major label and we’re doing a lot of business things ourselves, so we grab what’s there. And I think it’s important that you see the opportunities, you know?” Read More
Feisty folk-punker Frank Turner may strum a mean acoustic guitar and sing in a streetwise British accent on his reflective new Epitaph outing, “England Take My Bones.” But don’t mistake him for the similar-sounding, more politically minded Billy Bragg, he asks. He’s not a protest singer. Read More
For Welsh septet Los Campesinos!, it’s not enough to simply offer fans new albums, like its musically upbeat but lyrically melancholy fourth effort, “Hello Sadness.” Their cultlike following deserves something unusual and special, the members recently decided. So they launched Heat Rash, their own quarterly magazine, with each issue including a 7-inch single with two exclusive tracks, unavailable anywhere else. Read More
Four years ago, after his sophomore record with Howlin Rain was released, bandleader Ethan Miller approached his mentor — Rick Rubin, who had signed him to American Recordings — with a question: When and how should he begin work on its followup? Studio vet Rubin didn’t pull any punches. “He said, ‘Start writing songs now, and I don’t want to hear the next two good songs. I want to hear your next 40,’” recalls Oakland-based, retro-minded Miller, 35. Read More
Anya Marina is a huge fan of “Portlandia,” the zany Oregon-set sketch comedy from Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. But the singer-songwriter — who recently moved to Portland from Los Angeles — thinks the hit IFC show barely scratches the eccentric surface of the city, which inspired “Felony Flats,” her new self-produced CD. Read More
In the surreal, Victoriana-inspired world of vocalist-violinist Emilie Autumn, there is only one constant: honesty. Simply asking her how she’s doing will result in a disarming dissertation, such as this response last week: “Here’s how I am,” she says. “I just attempted to pour a cup of tea, and the only vessel I had was a Styrofoam cup. But there was a hole in the cup, so now I’ve scalded myself with boiling tea water and I’ll have third-degree burns on my violin-holding hand for the show tonight.” Read More
“Mockingbird Time” — the latest Rounder release from the recently reunited Minneapolis outfit The Jayhawks — chimes with Byrds-jangly 1970s optimism in great new alt-country tracks such as “Hide Your Colors,” “Closer to Your Side” and “She Walks in So Many Ways.” It’s so seamless, in fact, that you’d never guess founding members Mark Olson and Gary Louris hadn’t recorded together as The Jayhawks since 1995’s “Tomorrow the Green Grass.” But Louris managed to wrangle the now-Oslo-based Olson — plus most of their original lineup — for this comeback, and produce it as well. Read More
They say that, career-wise, if you step out into the unknown void, the universe will reward such blind bravery. Jessie Baylin used to believe the old adage. But the New Jersey-born, California-schooled singer-songwriter lost faith for nearly two years, as she struggled to release her Dusty-Springfield-classy third album, “Little Spark.” Read More
A year ago, the future was looking bleak for Michael Fitzpatrick — aka one sharp-suited, neo-soul frontman Fitz, of Fitz and The Tantrums. “We were broke, losing money at every turn, and putting everything on the line for this band,” he says. But old-school fingerpoppers such as “Money Grabber” and “Pickin’ Up the Pieces” struck a chord with Triple-A radio, and the hitmakers return to San Francisco to headline two huge shows this week, after appearing alongside their longtime hero Daryl Hall on his “Live From Daryl’s House” webcast. Read More
Where Brittany Howard lives, on 18 secluded acres in rural Athens, Ala., there are certain skills you inevitably acquire — like how to deal with coyotes, water moccasins and other unusual dangers.
“It floods a lot here, and when it floods it’ll wash out a giant snapping turtle, so you’ll see him chilling on top of our hill or just trying to make his way back into our creek,” she says, adding that once their iron jaws clamp down on something, they won’t let go. Read More
While 29 years in showbiz can certainly provide clarity, for power-pop veteran Tommy Keene, it can offer a lot of hilarity, as well. Around 1986, when he was making a splash with his Geffen-launched debut album “Songs From the Film,” the music industry was glutted with high-salaried fat cats. “And where are those people now?” he asks, snickering. “The A&R people making $5 million a year and flying first-class with their kids to the North Pole for Christmas, and arranging for a reindeer to come out and meet them on the runway?” Yes. Painfully true story. Read More
Many singers fantasize about meeting their artistic idols. But young Rumer (born Sarah Joyce) is actually living that dream.
With only one album to her credit — the cabaret-chic “Seasons of My Soul” — she already has spent a summer at the home of Carly Simon, at the invitation of Simon’s son Ben Taylor; hung out on James Taylor’s farm; and performed a duet with Leon Russell onstage in London, at the request of concert headliner Elton John, who praised her as “Just extraordinary, a beautiful voice — she’s going to be a huge star.” Read More
As the fable goes, Kristine Flaherty’s transformation from bookish Stanford student to hip-hop dervish K.Flay started on an innocent dorm room dare. While studying for degrees in psychology and sociology, she was lamenting the sorry misogynistic state of modern rap to a classmate, who challenged her. Read More
Comic book superheroes have been plagued by an existential dilemma for decades: Where does, say, fictional millionaire Bruce Wayne end and his vigilante alter ego Batman begin? Or vice versa? It’s the same problem that scholarly, mild-mannered musician Chris Carrabba is confronting. For the past 12 years, he has recorded and performed as outgoing Dashboard Confessional, and has been branded the tattooed tough guy of the emo movement. “Dashboard is a strong reflection of who I was as a young adult,” says the serious songwriter, 36. “But I’m not a young adult anymore.” Read More