• Bethany Cosentino

    Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino on Getting Emo and Clowning Around

    Though Best Coast's 2010 debut album, Crazy for You, won an ocean of fans for its fizzy, lo-fi surf pop, frontwoman Bethany Cosentino swears she's still the same weed-and-Wavves-loving girl as always. "I'm not some crazy asshole who walks around super-conceited or anything," says the 25-year-old by phone from the Los Angeles home of the aforementioned band's Nathan Williams and their Internet-famous cat, Snacks. Along with multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno, she will try to continue her ascent this May, when Best Coast release their follow-up, The Only Place (Mexican Summer). Lusher than its predecessor, the album was produced by Jon Brion (Fiona Apple, Kanye West), who pushed the duo into unknown territory.

  • Sinéad O'Connor / Photo by Neil Gavin

    The Inquisition: Sinead O'Connor

    Since 1992, when she famously ripped up a photograph of the pope on Saturday Night Live, Sinéad O'Connor has been better at getting press for her perplexing antics than for her music. There was the 1999 decision to become ordained as a priest, her 2000 announcement — and subsequent disavowal — that she was a lesbian, and her 2007 revelation that she was bipolar (which she later said was a misdiagnosis). O'Connor's career-long roller coaster took an even dizzier turn recently, as she transformed her official website into a clearinghouse for raunchy blog posts about anal sex and her search for a courageous suitor. The latter culminated in an on-again, off-again marriage to substance abuse counselor Barry Herridge.

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    Florence Welch on Her Fear of Treadmills, Lady Gaga, and 'Ceremonials'

    Though still a relative newcomer, Florence Welch has already amassed some impressive achievements, not the least of which is the more than 3.3 million copies sold worldwide of her 2009 debut, Lungs, a two-year campaign capped off with a stint opening for U2's little mom-and-pop road show. But for our money, the 25-year-old singer will be hard-pressed to trump her own family history: Her uncle is John Stockwell, the actor who played Cougar in Top Gun. "I didn't really get the importance," admits Welch. "But if I tell any guy, they're like, 'Oh my God.' For years, I didn't realize what a tool I had at my disposal!" The leggy redhead and her band, Florence and the Machine, will look to soar with the soulful Ceremonials (Universal Republic), the follow-up to Lungs. We spoke to Welch in San Francisco. Lungs made you a pretty big deal. Are you prepared to get even bigger? I don't know!

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    Tough Questions for 'Weird Al' Yankovic

    Much has changed in the music industry since "Weird Al" Yankovic debuted on the scene with "My Bologna," his 1979 parody of the Knack's "My Sharona." But the accordion-playing jokester is still as popular as ever. Actually, scratch that — at age 52, Yankovic is reaching his peak; his latest album Alpocalypse, debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard 200, his highest-charting LP ever, due mainly to his video for "Perform This Way," a parody of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," which has racked up more than eight million views on YouTube. The October DVD release of "Weird Al" Yankovic Live! The Alpocalypse Tour gave us a fantastic excuse to talk shopScalable, non-watermarked brightcove.createExperiences();The new album cover depicts you as one of the Four Horsemen, only smiling and waving. Is that what we can look forward to in the impending Alpocalypse?

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    Tough Questions for Peter Murphy

    The ideal setting for a chat with Peter Murphy would be a sepulchre, not a Manhattan sushi bar blaring "Hotel California." Yet, across the table, the vampiric singer is garrulously discussing David Bowie while slurping miso soup. "The Man Who Sold the World was the first true goth record," he says. "Listen to it." Murphy knows the genre well, given that it sprung up around his 1978-83 stint as frontman of Bauhaus, an English quartet remembered as much for the macabre nine-minute "Bela Lugosi's Dead" as for the decades of postbreakup squabbling. A triumphant reunion at Coachella 2005 -- where Murphy appeared dangling upside down above his microphone -- led to a tour and album (2008's Go Away White), but ended in a meltdown. Now 54 and living in Istanbul, Murphy is talking up Ninth (Nettwerk), a gripping showcase for his haunting baritone. Your voice has held up nicely.?Congrats.

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    Tough Questions for Ben Gibbard

    In the three years since Death Cab for Cutie released their gold-selling Narrow Stairs, frontman Ben Gibbard has quit drinking, moved to Los Angeles, and--oh, yeah--married movie darling Zooey Deschanel. The former Seattle resident has also taken up running in a major way. "I hit a wall at mile 19," says Gibbard, 34, a few days after he'd finished the L.A. Marathon with a time of 3:56:34. "I would have liked to have been a little faster." Change will be the operative word for Death Cab fans when they hear Codes and Keys (Atlantic), the band's slickest, hookiest, and least mopey album yet. Gibbard, who is also known as one half of the still-on-hiatus electronic-pop side project the Postal Service, called to discuss his life and work, even though he admittedly had fantasy baseball on the brain. You met your marathon goal of finishing in less than four hours, yet you lost to Flea.

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    Tough Questions for TVOTR's Tunde Adebimpe

    After ten years in TV on the Radio, it's not surprising that lead singer Tunde Adebimpe requested time off following a yearlong tour supporting 2008's Dear Science. He just doesn't remember asking for a hiatus. "That was weird," laughs the 36-year-old over a bowl of soup at a Manhattan café. "I didn't realize I'd announced that until I saw it printed somewhere. I was like, really?" He used the time to pursue collaborations and, by his own admission, "chill out." His renewed energy is on full display in Nine Types of Light, TVOTR's typically inventive fourth album. A day before jetting off to L.A. to shoot a video, Adebimpe discussed where his diverse interests might take him next. The first song on the album is actually "Second Song." What gives? I think it's fitting. It just works better that way. Once it's on shuffle, no one will really care. True.

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    Tough Questions for Sam Beam of Iron & Wine

    Every assumption you've ever had about Sam Beam -- the folk singer otherwise known as Iron & Wine -- might go out the window when you learn that the epically bearded 36-year-old is a closet metalhead. "I went to school in Richmond [Virginia], and punk rock and metal is all we saw," he says. "One of the best shows was Eyehategod. I got put in a headlock by a girl in the pit." You won't hear any fiery riffs on Kiss Each Other Clean, Iron & Wine's fourth studio album and first since leaving Sub Pop for Warner Bros. But longtime fans will find nice surprises among its 12 tracks, including hip-hop and synth flourishes absent from 2007's The Shepherd's Dog and its crossover hit "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" (which appeared in the first Twilight movie).

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    Tough Questions for Keith Morris of OFF!

    Few musicians form new bands at the age of 55, let alone extremely loud punk-rock bands channeling classic late-'70s hardcore. Then again, most people aren't Keith Morris, the outspoken original lead singer of Black Flag and longtime Circle Jerks frontman. On their debut album, First Four EPs, his latest outfit, OFF! -- a supergroup of sorts featuring guys from Redd Kross, Burning Brides, and Rocket From the Crypt -- plow through 16 tracks in 18 explosive minutes, roughly four times shorter than our recent phone conversation. This album is over before you know it. Were you guys in a hurry or something?Yeah, if you cough or go to the bathroom, it's gone. I'd think that part of the mentality is that you'd listen to it and go, "Wow, what was that?" and then want to go back to it. Has the lack of material made it difficult to book shows?We don't really pay attention to that.

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    Tough Questions for Liz Phair

    Of all the words spent discussing Liz Phair since her debut nearly two decades ago, none have ever concerned her ability to surf. "I just learned!" chirps the 43-year-old from her home in Southern California. "But ironically, it's been the coldest, grayest summer here in, like, 100 years." Phair should be used to such ups and downs. While she was hailed as a groundbreaker for her 1993 indie debut, Exile in Guyville, a move to Capitol Records was greeted with brickbats. But in July, Phair -- who also has composed music for TV, including the revamp of 90210 -- returned to her indie roots, streaming a comedy rap called "Bollywood" and selling a download of her latest album, Funstyle, on her website (the CD release, on Rocket Science, comes with a bonus disc of her rare Girly Sound tapes).

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