• Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, 'Beat the Devil's Tattoo' (Abstract Dragon/Vagrant)

    Six albums in, BRMC still seemingly pick their songwriting styles by throwing darts at a rock'n'roll genre chart. Tattoo offers deeply committed re-creations of bleary balladry ("Long Way Down"), stoned Americana ("The Toll"), distorto-pop ("Bad Blood"), and spacey trips into wah-wah oblivion (the ten-minute "Half-State"). Sometimes, as on the Velvets-y vacuum of "Evol," the trio merely imitate instead of inhabit. But those moments are redeemed by many others that prove original thoughts aren't always necessary for a gritty good time. BUY: iTunesAmazon

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    How She Became... Little Boots

    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: UK charmer Little Boots, who'll be hitting Coachella on her current U.S. tour. Why Little Boots: "It's a nickname from my best friend," says Little Boots (the stage name of Victoria Hesketh). "She called me that because I've got very small feet. I think she came up with it about two years ago when we were still studying at the University of Leeds. But it's also a reference to the Roman emperor Caligula, whose name means Little Boots. Mostly though, we just thought the name was funny and it stuck." Previously Rejected Names: "The only other band name I used was for my old band Dead Disco.

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    Download: Year Long Disaster's "Cyclone"

    Consisting of guitarist-singer Daniel Davies (the son of Kinks guitarist Dave Davies), bassist Richie Mullins, and Third Eye Blind drummer Brad Hargreaves, City of Angels trio Year Long Disaster blasts raunchy Sunset Strip boogie -- with a touch of Zeppelinesque bombast -- all over their new Black Magic: All Mysteries Revealed. Roll down the top and blast "Cyclone," the album's last track. LISTEN: Year Long Disaster, "Cyclone"(DOWNLOAD MP3)

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    How They Became... Biffy Clyro

    Welcome to the new 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 we tried something different. We spoke with Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro, who are known to tell false stories about the origins of their name. The tale they made up for us may not be true, but we found it witty and charming nonetheless. Enjoy. The band's new album, Only Revolutions, hits U.S. shores on March 9. Why Biffy Clyro: "There's a famous British musician called Cliff Richard," explains singer-guitarist Simon Neil, "and when me and [drummer] Ben [Johnston] were 13 and bored in our little Scottish town of Ayr, we'd think up imaginary Cliff Richard merch products.

  • Frightened Rabbit, 'The Winter of Mixed Drinks' (FatCat)

    On the rousing "Swim Until You Can't See Land," the best song on this determinedly downcast Scottish quintet's third studio effort (dramatically produced by Peter Katis of Interpol renown), singer Scott Hutchison tells of wading out to sea while a scornful woman throws stones at his back. His proud croon and the band's surging folk rock mean the emotional effect is closer to rebirth than suicide, but by the time the fourth song to feature a metaphorical drowning rolls around, the string parts start to matter more than the sentiments, which was probably not the intent. WATCH: "Swim Until You Can't See Land" BUY: Amazon

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    Q&A: Slash Goes Solo

    Even though his road-doggin' ex-bandmate Axl Rose has been hogging the headlines since Chinese Democracy finally saw the light of day a year-and-a-half ago, former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash has been busy too -- on April 6, the top-hatted six-stringer will release his first solo album. Featuring vocal contributions from the likes of Fergie, Kid Rock, Lemmy, Chris Cornell, Ozzy Osbourne, and Maroon 5's Adam Levine, the self-titled Slash features the heavy riffage and soaring, bluesy solos beloved by fans of the guitarist's work in GNR and Velvet Revolver, but it also offers its share of surprises. "I gave an open canvas to the singers," says Slash, speaking on the phone from L.A., "And I think some of them decided to go in unexpected directions." Given that you're used to making music with a stable band lineup, was it a challenge to work with so many different singers?

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    Yeasayer Talk 'Poppier' New Album

    Two months before the release of Yeasayer's new album, I get a sign that the band's world has changed. I'm sitting in a jury selection room at the Brooklyn Supreme Court on a warm day in early December. An Orthodox Jewish woman is arguing with a defense lawyer about the details of the traffic accident we're being asked to consider when someone taps me on the shoulder. "Hey, man," whispers the dude beside me. "What do you do for a living?" I tell him what I do. "Really?!" He asks excitedly. "Did you hear the new Yeasayer?" By now, he and many others have heard Odd Blood, the band's second album. "The fact that people know us and are eager to hear us is completely new," says guitarist and singer Anand Wilder, sitting in a messy room at Manhattan's '50s-style Ace Hotel, one leg on the glass coffee table in front of him, the other flung over his chair's armrest.

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    Hot Band: Surfer Blood

    Scholarship money usually goes toward, you know, school, but John Paul "JP" Pitts, guitarist and singer for Florida's Surfer Blood, had other ideas. "I got some cash for college from the state government because I had good grades," says the unrepentant 23-year-old. "But I ended up using a bunch of it to buy microphones -- good ones." He laughs. "I eventually quit school. My parents weren't too happy about that." The Pittses have presumably come to terms with their son's decision.

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    How They Became... The Flaming Lips

    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: Oklahoma City alt-rock icons and recent SPIN cover boys the Flaming Lips, who launch their spring tour on March 12. Why the Flaming Lips: "Back in 1983 when we were approaching our first gig," recalls frontman Wayne Coyne, "we really didn't know what we were gonna be called. It was still sort of the punk era back then, but we didn't want to be called something too political like the Dead Kennedys. I'd read somewhere about a group called the Flaming Hands, which was a name I'd liked and that led to the Flaming Lips. But I've had a lot of people come up to me and tell me that they really know where the name comes from.

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    Eric Clapton, Paul Simon Join Yoko Ono Jam

    During the career-spanning video montage that opened Tuesday night's We Are Plastic Ono Band concert celebration of Yoko Ono at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, a quote flashed on the screen: "There's a reason the coolest guy in the world fell in love with her." And if the evening's star-studded renditions of Ono's songs wasn't likely to win over those who aren't already down with twisted avant-garde funk, resolutely childlike pop, and the guest of honor's trademark warbling, wobbling, and shrieking vocalizing, the constant cries of "We Love You, Yoko" coming from audience suggested that those who are went home happy. The concert was split into two halves.

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