At 22 years old, Adele was inspired by the works of Etta James, Jeff Buckley and Jill Scott when she decided to enroll in the BRIT school. By the time of graduation she had perfected her sound and emerged as a soulful songbird and MySpace sensation in 2007 and 2008.
Some people call him space cowboy, some people call him the gangster of love, but most know him as Steve Miller, the guitarist and vocalist whose laid-back, infectiously catchy tunes have soothed the nation for decades.
Though Annie Clark began as a member of Sufjan Stevens' touring band and The Polyphonic Spree, those experiences do little to explain the incredible things that happen on Strange Mercy, her third album under the moniker St. Vincent. As if unleashed from the constraints of her previous work, Clark straight-up shreds.
Ditching the prog-folk of their previous two albums, The Decemberists have taken a more cut-and-dried approach with The King Is Dead. Recorded in a barn outside of Portland, the album has strong ties to R.E.M. in sound and production — Peter Buck, guitarist for R.E.M., decided to climb on board for three songs.
The Chain Gang of 1974 is the stage name for DJ Kamtin Mohager, a longtime beat master whose penchant for dance-inducing music and reverence for '80s pop pushed him to create this solo project. Mohager points to a childhood of Persian music, then inspiration by Tears for Fears and Talk Talk, as the muse for his inner rhythms and keen sense of melody. After playing bass on tour with 3OH!3 for a few years, Mohager moved to Los Angeles for a change of scenery — and to write Wayward Fire, his second album.
The title of Garland Jeffreys' latest album is an apt description of his life's work overall: The King of in Between. A singer-songwriter whose blend of rock 'n' roll, reggae, blues and soul is as edgy as it is full of social commentary, Jeffreys knows what it means to be an outsider, as evidenced by his accessible yet unclassifiable music.