Last week, returning pop hero Justin Timberlake topped the charts with The 20/20 Experience, only his third album in a decade-long post–'N Sync solo career. No one was surprised when he debuted at No. 1.
Consider the one-man band: those brainy, studio-savvy musicians who can get the right sound out of any instrument they pick up. Solitary reflection is a given in their process, and that helps make them natural vessels for songs about summer romance — the most poignant of which take place long after the fling is over and only the memories remain.
Playing a free concert comes with risks. Sure, more people will show up, but they may care less about who's on stage than they do about catching up with friends; ironically, it often means the band has to work harder to win over the crowd. Seattle's Ivan & Alyosha did just that on the final night of the 2013 South by Southwest music festival, at a club called TenOak in Austin, Texas.
Think of Lord Huron as an imaginary world as much as a rock band. Bandleader Ben Schneider has created characters and stories that fit together within an entire narrative filled with mystique. It's a bit dreamlike. To get an idea of how many layers there are in Schneider's invention, look at this website for author George Ranger Johnson. According to the site, George Ranger Johnson lives in Tuscon, Ariz. and writes adventure novels whose titles are identical to the song titles of the band Lord Huron.
This July, The Rolling Stones will play London's Hyde Park for the first time in 44 years. The band's last concert there — July 5, 1969 — turned out to be a defining moment in musical history, which those who were there will never forget. Mick Jagger hasn't.
The Dutch band Blaudzun had its work cut out for it at the SXSW Music Festival, as it somehow wound up opening for a March 15 showcase of Turkish music. But Blaudzun's songs are so undeniably infectious that, by the time the band played "Elephants" — the song featured in this Front Row video — the folks at Austin, Texas' Cedar Street Courtyard were singing and dancing to music they'd never heard before.
Singer and violinist Emily Wells was one of our favorite discoveries at last year's South by Southwest music festival. Her 2012 album Mama was a surprising and beautiful mix of hip-hop beats and strings, with folk-flavored pop arrangements. Now Wells is back with a re-imagined, all-acoustic version of Mama, with the songs stripped bare and her voice more fragile than ever.