Bruno Mars knows exactly what he is doing, and he does it better than just about anyone in the business. Not only has he released two chart-topping albums, sold over 100 million copies of his singles and albums and won multiple Grammys, but he’d made a name for himself prior to all of this as a songwriter and producer.
In 2014, what does punk rock mean? “Playing as fast as you can? Playing three chords?” poses Atom Willard, drummer for Against Me! “Spiking your hair? Punk rock is doing what isn’t generally smiled upon by the masses,” Willard says. “Doing something you believe in and isn’t easy to do — basically going against the grain.” Willard says the gender transition of Against Me! vocalist Laura Jane Grace (born Thomas James Gabel) is one of the most punk rock things he’s ever witnessed.
There’s something about Warpaint’s double music video for “Disco//Very” and “Keep it Healthy” that rings of the 1996 alt-witch flick The Craft. Perhaps it’s four badasses walking towards the camera, or Theresa Wayman’s and Emily Kokal’s ode to ’90s fashion wearing a plaid mini skirt over jeans and a Chicago Bulls T-shirt respectively.
Miranda Lambert is one of country music’s top female artists, but she has a gutsy-ness and grittiness that many women in country lack. She’s got sass and strength as well as suffering and insecurities, and isn’t afraid to reveal any of it in her lyrics.
A major attraction of the Oregon Festival of American Music’s two-year exploration of the so-called American songbook in Hollywood is rediscovering the original incarnations of stories most of us remember only from the later movies they inspired.
Tuscon, Arizona, duo Sweet Ghosts took their name from a poem by Jack Gilbert: “Again and again we put our sweet ghosts on small paper boats and sailed them back into their death …” And listening to Sweet Ghosts’ latest release Certain Truths, it is easy to imagine “sweet ghosts on small paper boats.”
Alongside Neil Young and Bob Dylan, Tom Petty has one of the most distinctive voices in rock music. And when you have a distinctive voice, it gets spoofed a lot by comedians. So I ask Mike Campbell, longtime lead guitarist with Petty’s band The Heartbreakers, which comedian does the best Petty impersonation?
“But what really matters is not what you believe but the faith and conviction with which you believe,” wrote the great Norwegian authur Knut Hamsun in his novel Mysteries. Hamsun — who, unfortunately, ended up believing some pretty vile stuff — nonetheless may have been forecasting the astral projections of fellow countrywoman Martine Kraft, the virtuoso violinist and songwriter.
Like something from your grandma’s collection of 45s, “10-gallon funnyman” Sourdough Slim harkens back to the days of the singin’, yodelin’, joke-tellin’ cowboy. You might be asking yourself: Is the world really waiting for a revival of the Burl Ives, Will Rogers and Gene Autry sound?
Time changes things, and Goo Goo Dolls bassist Robby Takac knows this as well as anyone. After all, before he and Johnny Rzeznik became one of the more notable pop rock acts of the last two decades, they preferred to be noisy rather than pop savvy.
If all you know of Soul Asylum is a touching little torch song called “Runaway Train,” listen up: Long before that unexpected hit was released in 1992, Soul Asylum had achieved a rare kind of cult status among fans of guitar-heavy alt-rock — a status founded largely on the soulful songwriting and indubitable white-boy groove of frontman Dave Pirner.
Unlike previous efforts, Mike Last feels The Stagger and Sway’s latest release, Fun and Games, is a rock ‘n’ roll record — a sound the quartet has moved toward since adding Brian Schierenbeck on lead guitar.
This time each year, Eugene respectfully steps back and offers the stage to the Oregon Bach Festival. And no wonder: The 44-year-old classical music institution abounds with so many attractive performances, workshops, lectures and other events that we couldn’t even begin to cover them all in last week’s issue. Here’s a rundown of some remaining top recommendations.
The last bro standing from the ’90s jam band/groove-rock scene (Sublime, Dave Matthews, Blues Traveler et al.), Garrett Dutton, better known as G. Love of G. Love & Special Sauce, is way too chill to care much about superstardom.
On record, San Francisco’s Geographer is somewhat blunted by an ambition to sound thoroughly “now,” to fit into whatever mold successful modern rock bands are expected to fit into in these wild and wooly days of making music.
Around the 35-second mark on “It Ain’t Easy,” track 14 on Sassparilla’s recently released impressive double album Pasajero/Hullabaloo, something begins to sound very similar to a song cemented on classic rock’s Mt. Rushmore.