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    Meet Dr. Doom: Pentagram's Bobby Liebling Returns

    Forty years ago, with his band Pentagram, Bobby Liebling invented a style of fiendishly heavy metal that hardly anyone heard. He spent the ensuing decades in a haze of hard drugs and big trouble. Now, with the genre he spawned on the rise and a young wife and baby boy in tow, Liebling is feeling the first rumblings of success. Here's where things start to get weird. I'm staring, so Bobby Liebling slides closer to me on the couch and shows me his right arm. It's abnormally thin, the result of a third of the flesh being surgically planed off to minimize the damage caused by more than 20 years of shooting heroin. It's also covered in small divotlike scars, some incurred during crack-induced fits when he believed parasites were eating his skin. Liebling is 57, about 5'6", and slightly built, with a trim mustache and eerily blue eyes.

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    Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger's Gainsbourg Homage

    On their new EP, La Carotte Bleue, the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger's Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl indulge their Francophile jones – the swoony duo is heavily influenced by such icons of Gallic cool as Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin -- by recording a couple tracks in French. The video for the EP's sinisterly funky "Comic Strip," premiering here, is also a Gainsbourg homage (and a Gainsbourg cover). The original promo clip for the lissome 1968 classic featured the famed lothario singing to Brigitte Bardot, dressed for the occasion in a skin tight purple jumpsuit.

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    Why They're Called... The Joy Formidable

    This week: The Joy Formidable, whose soaring The Big Roar won kudos from SPIN earlier this year. The Welsh trio are currently on a spring tour of the United States.(See past episodes of Name That Band! here.) Why Joy Formidable: "We came up with the name when we were writing songs together in north Wales in 2008," recalls frontwoman-guitarist Ritzy Bryan. "To be completely honest, naming the band was never something we were over-occupied with. We were more interested in writing experimental songs. Coming up with the Joy Formidable name was very unconscious. It was conceived very naturally. It was just a phrase that had been floating around. I think I'd written it on a scrap of paper. I was doing a lot of scribbling on loose pieces of paper back then. It's hard to dissect how you come up with a phrase. It wasn't tied to anything specific.

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    Words of Wisdom: Peter Bjorn and John

    Drinking lagers on a cold, slushy January night at a Brooklyn diner across from the intimate, sold-out Rock Shop, where in a few hours they'll perform the entirety of their snappy new back-to-basics guitar-pop album Gimme Some (StarTime International), Peter Bjorn and John have the relaxed bearing of men who enjoy their freedom, which is to say, their ability to hock loogies at will. "When I worked in a symphony orchestra in Sweden, I always wished I could spit onstage, but only the trumpet players were allowed," says impish drummer John Eriksson, the most heavily bearded, and only non-blazer-wearing member of the trio (he's opted for the Winnipeg tuxedo: blue jeans and jean jacket). "Now I can spit onstage whenever I want. I always appreciate that." Bassist Bjorn Yttling, tall and wry, raises an eyebrow.

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    Why They're Called... Cold War Kids

    This week's edition of Name That Band: California rockers Cold War Kids, who are currently touring behind the sleekly powerful new Mine Is Yours. The group headlines New York City's hallowed Radio City Music Hall on March 24.(See past episodes of Name That Band! here.) Why Cold War Kids: "I had the name six or seven years before the band started -- so probably since 1997," says bassist Matt Maust. "I was traveling in Eastern Europe with my brother. There's this big park in Budapest where they dumped all these statues that had been removed after Communism fell. Now it's just a place where people can go and have picnics. There's a playground there. So being in that environment just made the phrase 'Cold War Kids' pop into my head. I may have heard it before. I'm a cold war kid, too -- I was born in 1979. Originally, I used the name for a website I had where I posted art and poems.

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    Breaking Out: Sharon Van Etten

    Given that Sharon Van Etten studied music production at Middle Tennessee State University, stuck around the school's town, Murfreesboro, after dropping out to help run a small concert venue, and then worked as a publicist for indie label Ba Da Bing after moving to Brooklyn in 2006, it's fair to say that she's more comfortable with the music business than most young musicians -- except for one thing. "I was really shy about sharing my music with people," says the soft-spoken New Jersey native. "When [Ba Da Bing head] Ben [Goldberg] saw I was playing shows, he was like, 'Why didn't you tell me?'?" She did, and late last year, Ba Da Bing released Van Etten's Epic, a seven-song EP full of gently heartbreaking confessionals set to winding melodies and flowing arrangements of clean electric guitar punctuated by pedal steel and cracking drums.

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    EXCLUSIVE: An Horse's Melodic 'Is It Love?' Song

    An Horse's Kate Cooper isn't one to let idle hours go to waste. "After [2009 album] Rearrange Beds came out, I had some time off in Los Angeles," says the singer-guitarist, one half of the Aussie indie-pop duo (Damon Cox handles drums). "It was the first time in a long time that I had the opportunity to just sit around and write songs." The driving, crisply melodic "Dressed Sharply," from the band's upcoming Walls (April 26), came from those leisurely writing sessions. "I wrote it at like three or four morning -- some ungodly hour," says Cooper about the wonderfully giddy song, which finds her passionately singing, "Every word that you send me / I will read." "It's about sending emails to someone who's a friend and realizing that the relationship might be turning into something else," she says. "Anyone in particular?

  • Next Big Things 2011: Lykke Li

    Next Big Things 2011: Lykke Li

    Sweden's latest contender for pop supremacy wants to be your prostitute, but also knows that selling herself isn't going to make her happy. What's a shy superstar-in-the-making to do? [Magazine Excerpt] Sitting in a bustling Ukrainian diner in Manhattan's East Village on the coldest morning of a young December, Lykke Li Zachrisson, swaddled in a bulky sweater, straightens her black leather newsboy cap, places her hands on both sides of her smooth, broad face, and tries to make things clear. "My whole world is crazy right now," the 24-year-old singer says quietly and thoughtfully, which is how she says most things. "I could just sit here and tell you" -- she swaps her singsongy Swedish accent for a sarcastic celebuhonk -- "I'm so grateful to be here. I love my life. But it's better to be honest.

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    Why They're Called... An Horse

    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: Former Tegan & Sara tourmates An Horse, whose Walls, the follow-up to the highly touted Rearranged Beds is out in April. Why An Horse: "The name came from an argument that I had with my sister," says singer-guitarst Kate Cooper. "She was living next door to me in the same apartment block in Brisbane. She's a book editor and gets to work on incredible ones like Nick Cave's and Leonard Cohen's. We were chatting. Grammar came up, as it often does with us, and she said that you say 'An' before 'H', rather than 'A.' I was like, 'That's bullshit.' She said, 'No, that's true!' and it became a running argument between us.

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    Why They're Called... I Set My Friends on Fire

    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: Singer Matt Mihana of up-and-coming Miami, Florida, screamo act I Set My Friends On Fire explains the genesis of the band's name. Currently signed to stalwart indie label Epitaph, Set begins a spring tour on March 7. Why I Set My Friends On Fire: "The name is based on lyrics from a song by one of our old bands called We Are The Cavalry," says singer Matt Mihana. "The song was 'My Maserati Goes 185' and the lines were, 'The altitude is higher / We have something to set on fire / Your face / In flames.' We thought it would be cool to keep the spirit from the old band and put it into our new band.

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