David Peisner



  • Margot & the Nuclear So and So's, 'Not Animal' (Epic)

    Don't let the absurdist band name, surreal titles ("Hello Vagina," "A Children's Crusade on Acid"), and trippy atmospherics fool you -- these Indiana upstarts are exactingly crafty songwriters. Their major-label debut is drenched in the same warm sonic haze and bizarro imagery as Flaming Lips, but any weirdness comes in service of the songs, as frontman Richard Edwards' supple voice conveys tenderness, desperation, and wit over an inviting tangle of guitars, keyboards, strings, and horns. There's hardly a misstep -- perhaps due to Epic, which settled a problematic discussion over the album's contents by releasing two versions. Not Animal is the tight, label-approved set; the less focused though still compelling Animal! is available only on vinyl. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Devin the Dude, 'Landing Gear' (Razor & Tie)

    Devin the Dude's enthusiasms are pretty conventional -- weed, wine, women -- but those are the only conventional things about him. As a rapper, he veers between explicit boasts and self-deprecating wisecracks in a matter-of-fact flow that serves as a pointed contrast to the syrupy coo that he employs when singing his hooks. His new album is eclectic to a fault: Thumping, bass-heavy come-on "Let Me Know It's Real" feels like Aquemini-era OutKast; "Stray" is a super-slo-mo R&B sheet-soaker about his tendency to "strangle stupid bitches"; the woozy "I Need a Song" is earnest and introspective. None of this will make Devin a star anytime soon, but that's less his fault than it is everyone else's. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Kings of Leon: American Regal

    Kings of Leon: American Regal

    Caleb Followill needs a dentist. The day before the biggest gig of his life, the 26- year-old Kings of Leon frontman is standing outside a boutique hotel in London, flanked by his bald, tattooed bodyguard and his girlfriend, a thin, dark-haired model named Lily Aldridge. Down the block, a handful of onlookers nod toward Followill, who has a gray trilby tilted low over his heavily stubbled face and a maroon Jordache T-shirt and skinny black jeans tightly covering his ropy frame. "I've been grinding my teeth," he says, climbing into a waiting car.

  • K'naan, 'The Dusty Foot Philosopher' (Interdependent Media)

    "If I rhymed about home and got descriptive / I'd make 50 Cent look like Limp Bizkit," claims this Somali expat on "What's Hardcore," a bleak but bouncy throwdown from his debut album. The dude isn't kidding: K'naan grew up in the war-ravaged streets of Mogadishu, before emigrating to Toronto as a teenager. This would be only an interesting side note if K'naan weren't a deft, imaginative lyricist who buoyed his desperate tales with warm, hooky melodies, African percussion, clever pop-culture references, and a surprising dose of humor. Fortunately, he is. BUY: iTunesAmazon

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    D'Angelo: What the Hell Happened?

    [This article was originally published in the August 2008 issue of SPIN. To coincide with the release of D'Angelo's long-awaited third album, Black Messiah, we're repromoting this feature, which looks at the singer's post-Voodoo, pre-comeback struggles.]On a Sunday in April 2006, Gary Harris pulled up to D'Angelo's large starter mansion outside Richmond, Virginia, in a limo. Harris, the A&R man who'd first signed D'Angelo in the early '90s and who had overseen his 1995 debut, Brown Sugar, was on a mission: to escort the singer to Eric Clapton's Crossroads Treatment Centre in Antigua.As he walked into the spacious kitchen, Harris knew this wouldn't be easy. Spread across the kitchen table, marble countertops, shelves — nearly every available flat surface — were empty alcohol bottles of all conceivable varieties. "There was scotch, vodka, beer," Harris recalls.

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    Power Ballots

    Deafening screams echo off the walls of the large gymnasium at South Carolina State University on this evening in late January. Flashbulbs pop. People jump up and down, shaking hand-lettered signs reading WE WANT CHANGE and S.C. STATE LOVES BARACK over their heads. Near the front of the stage, beneath a lectern adorned with a blue STAND FOR CHANGE banner, an army of camera-phone-wielding teens and twentysomethings jockey for position as a handsome black man appears. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome...Usher! The man who's sold nearly ten million copies of his 2004 album, Confessions, takes the stage sharply dressed in a gray sweater, jeans, and a khaki jacket with the collar popped.

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    Who's Next '08: B.O.B.

    Bobby Ray Simmons was an early bloomer. At an age when most kids are still mastering the finer points of tag, the man who would later be known as B.O.B. was mapping his future. "In kindergarten I had to draw a picture of what I wanted to be when I grew up," the Atlanta-based MC says. "I drew a rapper. I didn't really know what a rapper was or what they did -- I just wanted to do it." He figured it out soon enough. By middle school he was toting a notebook filled with rhymes and posting his own stanzas on Internet rap forums. Such ambitions didn't necessarily impress his classmates. "All through my life, I was hated on," he says. "When I was in middle school, they used to write in my rhyme book, 'You suck' or 'This sucks.'" His cousin taught him how to craft beats with the software Fruity Loops, and by 15, B.O.B.

  • The View, 'Hats Off to the Buskers' (1965/ Columbia)

    Like the Jam before them, the Libertines were a phenomenon in Britain that never clicked on this side of the pond. The View descend directly from that pissed-off, working-class punk-pop tradition -- in fact, their debut owes such a debt to the Libertines, it's tempting to dismiss them as imitators. But class warfare is best fought by guys whose fingernails are still dirty with nine-to-five grime, and between snarling, desperado salvos like "Superstar Tradesman" and hopeful romps like "Wasted Little DJs," these young Scotsmen have grime to spare, along with a belief in rock's power to rescue them from it. BUY: iTunesAmazon

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    Story of the Year: The October Surprise

    October 10, 2007, is a day that will live in infamy in the hearts of major-label executives. That was the day Radiohead, after more than a decade with Capitol Records, self-released their seventh album, In Rainbows, digitally, without a price tag. The same day, news broke that Madonna was leaving Warner Bros., her label since the early '80s, to sign with Live Nation. Her deal cedes percentages of her touring, merchandising, licensing, and CD and DVD revenue to the concert promoter in return for a cool $120 million. Notably absent from both equations, at least at this early stage, was the mention of any traditional record label.

  • Lil Wayne

    Getting an audience with Lil Wayne is tricky. Interviews are pushed back, postponed at the last minute, and often just canceled. But it's not late-night partying keeping Weezy occupied: Dude is working. His latest album, Tha Carter III (Cash Money/Universal), caps off an astonishingly productive two years for the 25-year-old New Orleans MC (born Dwayne Carter), which has seen him churn out rhyme after rhyme for mix tapes, other artists' songs, or just to give away online. When we finally catch up with him in Atlanta, he holds up a CD-R. "I've done 18 songs in the past two days," he says. "I'm in the studio every night." Don't you have any other hobbies? I haven't found nothing that excites me more. Pussy, no. Money don't even do it for me. I hate strip clubs, so that's not what I'm going to do. If I ain't onstage, I'm in the studio. I'm only going out when you pay me.

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