Monthly Archives December 2014

On the Charts: There Is Taylor Swift and There Is Everybody Else

December 31, 2014 Music

REMEMBER WHEN THERE WERE 10 OR 20 TAYLOR SWIFTS EVERY YEAR?: There is Taylor Swift, and there is everybody else. Adele, Beyonce and the Frozen soundtrack have managed to sell a lot of albums, but only Swift's 1989 is a reminder of the old days — according to Billboard, it's the first to hit more than 200,000 sales in each of its first nine weeks since Usher's Confessions in 2004. This week, the number is 326,000 copies, or 430,000 "equivalent units," which is newfangled chart shorthand for  including track sales and streaming data. Because 1989 is not streaming via Spotify or others, we can assume much of this number comes from singles — "Blank Space" is iTunes' Number One song this week, and "Shake It Off" is Number Seven.



20 Best Pop Albums of 2014

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Dustin Lynch Producer Mickey Jack Cones Talks Studio Tricks, Motley Crue Drama

December 31, 2014 Music

When Mickey Jack Cones moved to Nashville in 1996, he was a twentysomething Texan who'd already spent more than half his life onstage. As a pre-teen, he had landed a gig playing guitar in his mom's vocal group, opening for bands like the Platters along the way. Later, he became the leader of his own group, as well as a bar band that played George Strait and Coolio covers on the Texas dancehall circuit. It was a good gig, but Cones eventually decided to focus on a different skill — studio work — by leaving town, heading to Tennessee and enrolling in Belmont University's production program.



Dann Huff on Faith, Keith and Rock-Infused Country


The day he registered for classes, Cones grabbed lunch at Planet Hollywood, which had opened up its

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Hear Gwen Stefani and Pharrell’s Soul-Searching ‘Shine’

December 31, 2014 Music

Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams inhabit the mind of a soul-searching bear on "Shine," a breezy ballad written for the computer-animated film comedy Paddington. "One thing about me / I'll be there for my team," Stefani croons over acoustic guitars and horn blasts. "I'll do anything to protect my people's dreams." Pharrell makes a vocal cameo at the climax, navigating his falsetto. A low-quality "Shine" leak hit the Internet on Wednesday and is available to stream below. 



Gwen Stefani: 'Making Music Isn't the Same After Kids'


The two musicians – who both served as coaches on Season Seven of The Voice – first announced the collaborative track in November. Paddington, a big-screen adaptation of Michael

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Hear Pantera Guitarist Dimebag Darrell’s Previously Unreleased ‘Whiskey Road’

December 31, 2014 Music

A previously unreleased song performed entirely by Pantera and Damageplan guitarist Dimebag Darrell, "Whiskey Road," is now streaming online. The guitarist, who died 10 years ago this month, recorded the tune in 2001, when Pantera were wrapping up what was to be their final U.S. tour. Guitar World, which premiered the tune and has pressed the song to a vinyl flexi-disc, is also offering a guitar TAB transcription of the track online.



Phil Anselmo Honors Dimebag Darrell, 10 Years Later


The song is a countryish rocker that begins with acoustic guitar and soaring, "Free Bird"-style steel guitar as Darrell sings in a deep voice about drinking the song's titular libation. "Whiskey road, take me home and wash away the pain," he sings. "Whiskey road, leave me whole and

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See Bruce Springsteen, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars Honor Sting at Kennedy Center

December 31, 2014 Music

Sting waved his fists victoriously in the air and grinned from ear to ear when Bruce Springsteen took the stage to pay tribute to the former Policeman at this year's Kennedy Center Honors, broadcast Tuesday night. The other honorees of the evening were Al Green, Tom Hanks, Lily Tomlin and ballerina Patricia McBride. Springsteen put a gritty spin on "I Hung My Head," Sting's tale of manslaughter and guilt that first appeared on his 1996 album Mercury Falling and was later covered by Johnny Cash. When the E Street Band frontman played a rapid-fire solo just before a gospel choir came out to sing along, Sting just closed his eyes.



Sting's Visceral, Emotional 'The Last Ship' Arrives


Lady Gaga toasted Sting as well, singing and

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Noel Gallagher Is ‘F-cking Sad’ That Beady Eye Broke Up

December 31, 2014 Music

Given the infamous animosity between brothers and former Oasis members Liam and Noel Gallagher, you'd think the sibling rivalry would extend into their post-Oasis careers. However, Noel Gallagher appears genuinely upset that Liam's Beady Eye broke up suddenly back in October. "I'm very fucking sad about Beady Eye, because I know they really wanted to make it work," Noel Gallagher told Q (via The Hollywood Reporter).



Oasis Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together


"I’m amazed Liam has chucked it in, but he won’t stay out of the limelight for long," said Noel, whose post-Oasis band the High Flying Birds will release their second LP Chasing Yesterday on March 2nd. "I think Liam should make a solo record – put his balls on the line, put his

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Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos Releases Several Giddy New Songs

December 30, 2014 Music

Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos has shared the demo of a new song "Somewhere," via his Eastern Shift project, as well as several other new tracks in various states of completion. The 90-second "Somewhere" bursts with all the synthesizer giddiness of a Passion Pit tune or mid-2000s Kanye West, complete with a high-pitched helium voice singing Barry Manilow's "Somewhere Down the Road" lyrics about how in the future, "you will see that you belong with me" before breaking to the sound of a cheering crowd. Pretty Much Amazing first reported on the track, which appeared on his SoundCloud.



50 Best Albums of 2014


Other tracks Angelakos posted include an "All Right Passion Pit Remix" of One Republic's "Love Runs Out," an instrumental co-credited to

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Bluegrass Pioneer Charlie Stamper Releases His First-Ever Album

December 30, 2014 Music

When influential bluegrass fiddler Art Stamper died in 2005 at 71, the style of playing he popularized with the Stanley Brothers in the Fifties was already well established. The old-time mountain sounds of his native Kentucky, however, lost one of its greatest champions and historians. Fortunately, there is another: Art's sibling Charlie Stamper. This month, the elder Stamper brother released his first-ever album at the age of 84, Glory to the Meeting House.



Inside the Bluegrass Civil War


A collection of songs and snippets of conversation, the project, released on the small label June Appal Records, was co-produced by J.D. Wilkes, leader of Southern-gothic punk band the Legendary Shack Shakers. Wilkes, a fellow Kentuckian, discovered Stamper while researching his

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New Year’s Eve 2014: Flaming Lips, Diplo, Drake Highlight End-of-Year Shows

December 30, 2014 Music

John Oliver may not be the biggest fan of New Year's Eve, and he's definitely got a point about wasting December 31st by "having to stare at Ryan Seacrest for five solid minutes, waiting for him to tell you what the time is." But fear not, revelers — Rolling Stone has compiled a list of all the best New Year's Eve shows happening across the country.



Pitbull Teases New Year's Eve Party: 'We're Making History'


This cornucopia of concerts includes choice offerings from across the musical spectrum, including The Flaming Lips and Foxygen at The Warfield in San Francisco; Blood Orange at the Plaza Park Hotel in Los Angeles; Disclosure at Pier 94 in New York City; Diplo and Skrillex at Madison Square Garden; Drake at the Marquee at The

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Michael Stipe Returns to Stage as Patti Smith’s Surprise Opening Act

December 30, 2014 Music

In an interview with CBS This Morning in early-December, Michael Stipe proclaimed, "I think I'll sing again." Stipe had only made a few appearances behind the microphone since R.E.M. disbanded in 2011, but at Patti Smith's concert at New York's Webster Hall Monday night, Stipe served as the surprise opening act, delivering his first substantial performance in nearly four years and making his debut as a solo artist.



Michael Stipe: 'I Think I Will Sing Again'


Stipe's six-song set was mixed with R.E.M. songs and unlikely covers. Stipe opened up with a rendition of Vic Chesnutt's "Lucinda Williams" before launching into the "Theme From 'New York, New York'." Stipe, who performed on keyboards for the performance, next shared his version of Smith's

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