In 12 years of touring, Toronto-bred, honky-tonk kitten Lindi Ortega discovered a universal travel truth, couched in a Far East metaphor: “You can read about China all you want, but it’s not until you visit it that you get a real understanding for it,” she says.
It explains her sudden move last December to Nashville, birthplace of the vintage country music she grew up idolizing, and echoing, on 2011’s “Little Red Boots” and her new Music-Row-tracked “Cigarettes & Truckstops.” Read More
With its upcoming seventh CD, “Heartthrob,” Canadian twin-sister act Tegan and Sara might have composed the ultimate breakup album.
They did it in an unusually startling style by setting aside their acoustic guitars for new wave-school synthesizers on Greg Kurstin/Mike Elizondo-helmed tearjerkers such as “Goodbye, Goodbye,” “I Was a Fool,” “I’m Not Your Hero” and “How Come You Don’t Want me.”
But there’s just one little aesthetic problem, according to Sara Quin: “We didn’t actually break up!” Read More
There’s a method to her creative madness, says former Bay Area resident Meshell Ndegeocello, whose projects range from covering work by Prince and Gil Scott-Heron to the new album “Pour une Ame Souveraine (For a Sovereign Soul) — A Dedication to Nina Simone.” It’s all about casual confidence. “I don’t want to be this jazz musician who thinks everything I fart out is super-special,” says the bassist. “And I don’t want to be a pop musician, where how you dress and everything about you is on display. Read More
The audience was stunned at first. It wasn’t expecting chart-topping pop artist Barry Manilow to suddenly stop his show at the Sleep Train Pavilion in Concord with an offbeat observation like, “I tell ya, folks — the older you get, the slower you pee!”
But gradually, laughter erupted, then spread. It was funny, his devotees — known as Fanilows — decided. Funny because it was true.
Where: HP Pavilion, 525 W. Santa Clara, San Jose
When: 7:30 p.m. Read More
Belgian folk-reggae singer Selah Sue says she had an unusually happy childhood. A tomboy, Sue wore the same baggy T-shirts as her brother, and she was quite popular with her schoolmates.
She never studied herself in the mirror. Then puberty hit and everything changed.
She says, “Suddenly, bam! I got breasts, I got a figure, and it was the hardest time of my life. I had very low self-esteem, and I thought I was the most ugly, stupid person in the world.” Read More
When Wu-Tang Clan leader and rabid chess enthusiast RZA was asked who was his favorite showbiz opponent, he responded in a heartbeat: Paul Banks. It’s true, says Interpol’s cryptic crooner. He and the rapper have played several serious games. “But RZA is an infinitely better player. He’s beyond hobbyist. He’s studied — and I’ve just played tons of chess. And chess goes by ranking systems, so if you’re in some chess community online, it’s very humbling. Read More
Eight years – what once seemed like a long span – separate saxophonist-keyboardist Elliot Bergman and his dulcet-toned singing kid sister Natalie. After studying jazz, composition and African drumming in college, Chicago-based Elliot, 31, formed an Afrobeat combo called Nomo, while Natalie, now 23, gradually mastered recording her quirky folk songs on computer via GarageBand. Read More
Jeff Lynne tries not to think about his staggering songwriting success with his 40-year-old symphonic rock outfit Electric Light Orchestra — classics such as “Livin’ Thing,” “Telephone Line,” “Mr. Blue Sky” and “Hold on Tight” that keep popping up in films, commercials and TV shows. Read More
In Tim Burton’s campy reboot of the old horror soap opera “Dark Shadows,” it’s 1972, vampire patriarch Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) has just returned after 200 years of imprisonment, and a huge celebratory concert is scheduled.
To headline, a teenage descendant suggests the hottest act of the era, shock-rocker Alice Cooper – leading to some hilarious gags: Upon first spying the androgynous star onstage, Barnabas shudders, “Ugliest woman I’ve ever seen!” Read More
The charade was difficult to maintain, says the Canadian artist who assumes the name Al Spx (in honor of her punk idol, the late X-Ray Spex bandleader Poly Styrene) and performs as Cold Specks.
Wanting the best for her, Spx’s Somalian born parents pushed her into college, hoping she would graduate with a law degree. But in 2009, she quit school to pursue songwriting, and pretended to attend courses into the next semester – all for her folks’ benefit. Read More
On 2010’s “Innerspeaker” — his first album with the fuzz-rocking, neo-psychedelic Aussie outfit Tame Impala — bandleader Kevin Parker worked hard to keep up blithe hipster appearances. Read More
There’s a furnace-hot blast of warmth rising from “Wolf’s Law” — the upcoming sophomore salvo from Welsh power trio The Joy Formidable — in the bass-heavy “Tendons,” the tribal stomper “The Maw Maw Song” and the plush, orchestral first single, “This Ladder is Ours.” Ironically, most of it was recorded in a tiny log cabin in Maine, 30 miles outside the nearest town, in ice-cold January earlier this year.
“Have you ever been to Maine in the dead of winter?” vocalist-guitarist Ritzy Bryan asks rhetorically. “It. Is. Intense.” Read More
Growing up in tiny Red Lion, Pa., singer-keyboardist Elizabeth Hale and her drumming kid brother Arejay drifted toward music as toddlers and issued their first EP, “Don’t Mess With the Time Man,” when they were barely into their teens. Read More
Bangles bandleader Susanna Hoffs says she had no recent plans to record a solo album. But the new, 1960s-sophisticated “Someday” boasts the Petula Clark-jangly “November Sun,” a Lulu-delicate “Picture Me” and Beatles-bubbly “Raining” and “One Day”— all produced by her old pal Mitchell Froom.
She had been busy promoting her group’s 2011 comeback “Sweetheart of the Sun,” and looking after her two sons with her filmmaker husband Jay Roach. Read More
Some parents push their children into acting, modeling or even beauty pageants. Growing up in Littleton, Colo., Sera Cahoone’s mother took her to a Denver blues bar instead so she could back local R&B guitarists on her favorite instrument, drums. Read More