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    What You Should Know About... Taio Cruz

    Find it hard to keep track of the newest pop music phenoms but don'twant to look dumb at a party? We're here to help. Here'sSPIN's handy cheat sheet to pop's flavor of the month: Who: Taio Cruz Huh? It's pronounced Tie-o, not Tay-o. Why you've heard the name: This British R&B smoothy's dancefloor-friendly pop smash "Break Your Heart," featuring Ludacris, recently hit No. 1 on the Billboard 100. His sophomore album, Rokstarr, entered the Billboard Top 200 at No. 8. How he got started: The 27-year-old Cruz was a successful songwriter and producer for the likes of Justin Timberlake, Usher, Ke$ha, and Britney Spears, so he knows his way around a hook. He might remind you of: A slightly less randy Akon. Favorite video props: Speedboats and hot women. Blimey!

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    Breaking Out: The Jim Jones Revue

    Lately, hellzapoppin' boogie believer Jim Jones has been dealing with a problem unknown to his stylistic forefathers. "I like to wear vintage string ties," says the howling frontman, "but the real old ones are clip-ons. They were fine for Hank Williams, but if you're rocking out like I am, they fall off. Maybe that's why I'm one of the only guys still wearing 'em." Retro neckwear isn't the only thing that Jones' London-based quintet is doing its damnedest to bring back. The raw, rebellious spirit of Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis -- spiced with Detroit proto-punk testifying -- courses through the band's self-titled 2008 debut, which gets a Stateside release this month (via Punk Rock Blues/Redeye). "Think about it," implores Jones, who first encountered early rock via his private-eye dad's collection of 45s.

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    Why They're Called... We Are Scientists

    Welcome to the weekly SPIN.com feature "Name That Band!" in which we get the inside stories behind the mysterious monikers of some of our favorite artists. (See past episodes of Name That Band! here.) This week: We Are Scientists, whose new album Barbara is out June 15. Why We Are Scientists: "We got the name not long after graduating from Pomona college in 1999," recalls singer-guitarist Keith Murray. "[Bassist] Chris Cain, me, and my friend Scott, who we started the band with, had moved up to San Francisco from L.A. County. We were returning the U-Haul trailer that we'd rented for the move. As we were sitting there watching the U-Haul guy inspect the trailer to make sure it was still in good condition, we could see him glancing at our stuff suspiciously. At the time we all had glasses and buzz cuts and just generally sort of looked like jackasses.

  • Wolf Parade, 'Expo 86' (Sub Pop)

    Part of what made Wolf Parade's opening double shot-2005's Apologies to the Queen Mary and 2008's At Mount Zoomer-so thrilling was how the band leaped between Spencer Krug's glammy keyboard-based oompahs and Dan Boeckner's desperate, comparatively down-home guitar chugs. The arty dude/rock dude dichotomy has powered bands since forever, but rarely was it handled with such dizzying aplomb. With these guys, the vertigo was a kick. Put away the Bonine. Expo 86 is the first album from the Montreal foursome that sounds as if it was made by only one band. High points like the rollicking "Cave-O-Sapien" and mechanically funky "Ghost Pressure" suggest that Krug and Boeckner have internalized each other's idiosyncrasies, such is the ease with which the former revs and the latter lurches.

  • Stars, 'The Five Ghosts' (Vagrant)

    On The Five Ghosts' winsomely tragic "Fixed," Amy Millan coos about the moment a lover's "touch turns into fisticuffs," and it's impossible to believe she's singing about violence as anything other than a metaphor. That's a problem when the band's entire approach is treating the romantic entanglements of earnest bobos as matters of terminal importance. Still, Ghosts' flowing, synth-backed melodies are a vast improvement on 2006's hammy In Our Bedroom After the War, if not 2004's near-perfect Set Yourself on Fire. Cute isn't what Stars aim for, but it's often what they achieve. BUY:Amazon

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    Why They Call It... Bonnaroo

    Welcome to the weekly SPIN.com feature "Name That Band!" where we get the inside stories behind the mysterious monikers of some ofour favorite artists. (See past episodes of Name That Band! here.) This week: A special festival edition, featuring Jonathan Mayers, co-founder of Bonnaroo, which kicks off June 10 in Manchester, Tennessee. Why Bonnaroo: "Well, we were based in New Orleans at the time we came up with the name, which was around 2001," recalls Jonathan Mayer, co-founder of Bonnaroo production company Superfly. "We wanted to find a name that had a connection to where we were and what was inspiring to us. I remember sitting in my apartment looking up old records online and I came across this Dr. John album called Desitively Bonnaroo. The word 'Bonnaroo' looked cool. It turned out that it's Creole slang for 'good stuff.' That just seemed to represent what we're about.

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    How They Became... The Temper Trap

    Welcome to the weekly SPIN.com feature "Name That Band!" inwhich we get the inside stories behind the mysterious monikers of some ofour favorite artists. (See past episodes of Name That Band! here.) This week: Australia's the Temper Trap, currently on tour. Why Temper Trap: "It's derived from Temper Temper, which is a name we were thinking of," says bassist Jonathon Aherne. "But we changed it because there was already an emo band in Milwaukee or something called Temper Temper. I remember not wanting to go with the Temper Trap because I thought it didn't mean anything. But I guess it has sort of a psychological angle to it. To be honest, feelings in the band are still mixed about the fact we're called the Temper Trap." Previously Rejected Names: "I wanted us to be called Hearts. Unfortunately the rest of the band didn't." Best Band Names Ever: "I think Local Natives is great.

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    Breaking Out: The Constellations

    Elijah Jones, drawling frontman for eclectic Atlanta rock collective the Constellations, wanted the centerpiece of his band's seamy debut, Southern Gothic (Virgin), to be a radically reworked funk version of Tom Waits' carnival barker shuffle "Step Right Up." But before he could realize that vision, he felt obliged to ask for permission -- twice. "We were tearing the original apart," says Jones, 32, of the song, in which he name-checks a rogue's gallery of regulars at his favorite watering holes, "so I sent our new lyrics to Tom for approval. A little while later, his people said he was cool with it. I also went around to everyone I mentioned in the song to make sure they dug it, too." And? Jones laughs.

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    Festival Guide: Soundgarden

    You guys last played Lollapalooza in 1996. Do you have a sense of how the festival has changed since then? Thayil: There used to be a lot of camaraderie between the bands when it was a traveling festival. I don't know if that can happen when it's site specific.Cornell: From the lineup, it looks like there's a little bit of everything, which was always part of the Lollapalooza idea. Does knowing that you might be playing in front of Lady Gaga fans or MGMT fans change the way you approach the performance? Cornell: I don't think it would be possible for Soundgarden to try to come up with a set list that would appeal to Lady Gaga fans. Maybe what we wore would be different. I would be interested to see, for example, what Kim might wear.Thayil: A Devo flowerpot hat. How's rehearsal been going?

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    Q&A: Russell Brand Speaks 'Greek,' Dirty Lyrics & More

    In the upcoming, Get Him To The Greek, salacious British comedian Russell Brand reprises his Forgetting Sarah Marshall role as rocker Aldous Snow. This time around, though, the Aldous Snow experience isn't limited to the silver screen. Out June 1, the soundtrack to the film is credited to Snow's band Infant Sorrow and features 15 songs written by the likes of the Libertines' Carl Barat and Jarvis Cocker and sung by the star. We spoke with Brand about Aldous Snow's rock star inspirations, dirty lyrics, and whether or not his fictional alter ego would get along with his fiancée, Katy Perry. Aldous Snow exudes an instantly recognizable rock star charisma. Who were some of the frontmen that you were studying when you created the character? Mick Jagger. Noel Gallagher. There's a little bit of Robert Plant in there - some Jim Morrison as well. There's something about the walk.

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