Blonde Redhead Want to Keep Listeners Guessing

Blonde Redhead
Photo by Marlene Marino courtesy Press Here Publicity
Blonde Redhead
Blonde Redhead's bio informs "they have developed a sonic language of their own." This may, of course, be due partially to the multiculti makeup of this 21-year-old lineup. Twin brothers Amedeo and Simone Pace -- guitars and drums, respectively -- hail from Milan, spent their teens in Montreal, attended college in Boston, and live in Brooklyn. At one point Simone was studying Spanish, German, French, and English while speaking Italian at home -- and worshipping Brazilian drummer Porthino.

"But that's something really out of Blonde Redhead," asserts Simone, calling from an elevator in Los Angeles in the midst of the trio's tour. "I don't know how [Porthino] influences our music in any way. I wanted to play my own music, but when we met [Japanese-born singer-guitarist] Kazu Makino [in 1993], everything fell into place. It was a fine balance between forgetting what we learned in school" -- the Berklee College of Music -- "and trying to be open-minded about who we are in music."

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Mavis Staples Is Just Starting

Photo by Chris Strong via
It was 1955 the first time a 16-year-old Mavis Staples played the Apollo Theatre with her family, led by the late Roebuck "Pops" Staples, as part of Thurman Ruth's Gospel Caravan. "I remember it very well," says Staples, now 75 and calling from her lifelong home on Chicago's South Side. "It was good me and my sisters were so young; we could run up those stairs to our dressing room on the third floor," she recalls. "We had lots of Chock Full o'Nuts; I remember it all. It was so exciting."

More than a half-century later, the storied singer, who went solo with her 1969 self-titled album, has become an American treasure, with 14 records behind her and more, no doubt, in the future. But it wasn't until her 2007-onward affiliation with punk label Epitaph's sister company Anti- (also home to another long-beloved late bloomer, Bettye LaVette), that she truly entered the pop-culture zeitgeist. Staples's first effort for the label, 2007's We'll Never Turn Back, was produced by Ry Cooder. Her two subsequent studio albums were helmed by Wilco hero Jeff Tweedy.

See also: Q&A: Bettye LaVette on Thankful N' Thoughtful and Losing a Grammy to Eric Clapton

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Proudly Satanic Deicide's Secret to Success? "Surrounding Yourself With Positive People"

"How do you hide an upside-down cross burned into your forehead?" No, the query is not the faux setup for a joke, it's an actual concern for singer Glen Benton when he attends his teenage son's school functions. Nonetheless, the (true) punchline is: "A large hat collection."

It's been 25 years since the Deicide frontman/bassist had a day job (floor coverings, if you must know), so obfuscating his music stratagems, i.e., the aforementioned cross, or song titles like "Death to God," "Homage for Satan" and "Godkill" is not a big concern. (After all, the band name does mean "the killing (or the killer) of a god"). Plus, controversy--health department inspectors at early Deicide gigs due to raw meat being thrown into the crowd, or a more recent feud with Chicago band/tour mates Broken Hope--can only help when you're a death metal band. Indeed, Deicide, along with Cannibal Corpse, are the genre's two biggest sellers.

See also: Ten Metal Albums to Hear Before You Die

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Bob Geldof Is Back "Leaping Around Like a Twat" With Boomtown Rats

Boomtown Rats 2014
It's been more than 25 years since Bob Geldof, Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, performed with his lil punk/new wave band the Boomtown Rats in the United States. And more than 30 since that band's first (and most prominent) American radio entrée, "I Don't Like Mondays," featuring a sadly prescient lyrical storyline about the nation's first high-profile school shooting.

Of course, in the last decades Geldof's been busy feeding the world, becoming a household name less for music than for activism including Live Aid, anti-poverty efforts in Africa and father's rights.

See also: Ten Metal Albums to Hear Before You Die

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John Doe of X: "You Feel As Though You Haven't Wasted Your Life"

"We thought, 'why don't we do something that involves the most work possible?' And the most rehearsal, trying to figure out how to do these damn songs that we kinda gave up on a long time ago," says X singer/guitarist John Doe with a laugh.

See also: A Complete Guide to Which X Show You Should Attend

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Bob Log III: "The Cramps Would Be So Proud of Me"

Bob Log III
"I realized a long time ago that drunk people and 4-year-olds are really the same thing," says Bob Log III, taking a break from playing dolls with his niece in his sister's Los Angeles backyard. "And that's how I approach my show."

Leader of the one-man-band that bears his name, Log assures that his gigs are perfectly appropriate for the younger set, despite the fact that one of his most popular ditties is "Boob Scotch," a song that's about, you guessed it, drinking Scotch off boobs and is often acted out by bare-breasted attendees of both sexes at shows. Kids, like boozers, "drool, fall over, and are mostly just having a good time, but there's always the surly one in the corner."

See also: Top 10 Douchiest Guitarists of All Time

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Fill in the Blanks With the Tontons

Credit Julie Worsham
The Tontons
The Tontons may be from Houston, but we hear a bit of New York's Blonde Redhead in their music, albeit with a lot more melody, a touch more straightforward rawk (and a lot less hunky Italian twins). Lead singer Asli Omar has severe Solange vibes (a soaring voice, style for days), and when we premiered the band's track "Pony" off their latest album Make Out King and Other Stories of Love back in January, it wormed its way into our heads to such a degree that we legit lost a lot of friends over the fact that we wouldn't stop singing it out loud. It's fine, though.

The Tontons play Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 2) tonight, and so we asked them to play a little game of "Fill in the Blanks" with us, wherein we start a sentence and ask them to finish it. Take a look and check them out tonight. They're only Bun B of UGK's favorite Houston band. You don't need those friends anyway.

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Mastodon's New Album Is "Very Death-Oriented" and Thus Perfect for Summer

Photo by Travis Shinn
Mastodon drummer/lyricist Brann Dailor believes his band's new record, Once More 'Round the Sun, is an "awesome summertime fun-time record. It's seasonal." Because? "All the song titles are very death-oriented." Hmmmm. Surely summer usually means light tunes like Weezer's "Islands in the Sun," "Saturday in the Park" by Chicago or maybe "Summertime Girls" by Y&T? Not in this case. "Not that it couldn't be enjoyed in the winter," he furthers. "But I remember records coming out in the summertime and it's on at every party you go to--we had that mindset when we were putting it all together and deciding which songs were going to sit this one out."

See also: Live: Neurosis and Mastodon Obliterate Faces

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Kyng Are Happy to Outwork You

Eddie Veliz was "born in East LA," the area infamously name checked by Cheech & Chong in song. As Veliz explains in his SoCal vernacular, in his 'hood, kids "were either in a thrash metal band, a super scum punk band, or listening to regional mariachi music. Or maybe a hip-hop kid. We only had (alt radio giant) KROQ, or KLOS, where you'd constantly be listening to 'Jungle Love' by Steve Miller Band." Eddie's inspiration came from further East--Birmingham, England, birthplace of Black Sabbath. So it makes perfect sense that Kyng's musical mantra is "What would Tony Iommi do?" in homage to Sabbath's legendary axeman.

Still, growing up in the musical mecca of Los Angeles provided ample fodder, and actually imbued Veliz with an "I can do better than that" intent once he started hitting the Whisky, Roxy, and Viper Room as a teen in the mid '90s. "I was super-stoked to be there," he remembers, "but I'd see the bands who were playing and they were fucking shitty. They sucked."

See also: The 10 Best Metal Albums of 2013

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Moon Hooch Offer More Sax Than You Can Handle

Wenzl McGowen, a man without a country--but with a saxophone and surfeit of creative musical and ecological ideas--heads up Moon Hooch, a two-sax-and-drum trio who initially came to prominence underground ... as in New York subways. Born in Spain, and living in Austria, Germany, and Portugal, McGowen grew up on a tiny, isolated farm, home-schooled, initially finding his passion as a painter, then playing saxophone (the instrument a legacy from his grandfather) and reading all day. But his band isn't as insular or precious as that early existence might indicate.

See also: The 10 Best Jazz Shows in NYC This Month

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