Phoebe Reilly



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    The Inquisition: Panic at the Disco's Ryan Ross

    In 2005, Panic at the Disco's debut, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, arrived overflowing with logorrheic song titles, histrionic hooks, and teenage angst. It earned them a platinum record, but also scores of skeptics -- among them the band's own guitarist/lyricist Ryan Ross (okay, almost). "I can't knock that album too much," says Ross. "For a bunch of 17-year-old kids, we did the best we could with what we knew about music then." Now, after discovering what Ross casually refers to as "the whole British '60s rock'n'roll thing," the Las Vegas quartet have recorded Pretty. Odd., which reveals a surprisingly different sound that might strike fans as...well, you know. What happened to your exclamation point? It was never that big of a deal to us. When we started getting ready to do the new record, we were asked if we wanted to keep it, and we just said no.

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    The Inquisition: Moby

    Not since the early '90s has anyone been as enthusiastic about New York City nightlife as Moby seems to be. Perched on the edge of the couch in his surprisingly small SoHo apartment, the 42-year-old techno-vegan eagerly admits what few other rave veterans would: Last Night, his new album, could very well have been recorded during the Clinton presidency. "I've been going to clubs pretty steadily since 1981, which is potentially depressing, but it still interests me," he says. "I wanted to make a record that would remind me of that period of my life." Are you worried that people will criticize you for making a retro record?No, that was intentional. The idea was to take an eight-hour night out and condense it into 65 minutes.

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    Who's Next '08: Santogold

    Even though singer Santi White mocks New York City scenesters on her single "L.E.S. Artistes," she's the first to admit that she could easily be mistaken for one. Today, for instance, the stylish 32-year-old Brooklynite, who performs as Santogold, is sporting a jaunty fedora and recovering from an all-night party with her producers, indie dance titans Diplo and Spank Rock. But would any Lower East Side "artiste" agree to pen songs for lip-synching teenyboppers? "If it were up to me, that music wouldn't even exist, but there is value in knowing how to write a fucking banger chorus," explains White, who worked with Ashlee Simpson on Simpson's forthcoming album. "What I took from doing it is knowing that I want my songs to be heard by the most people and liked by the most people." Good luck, given that commercial and creative success rarely dovetail. Her solution?

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    Breakout of the Year: Feist

    One of Feist's backup singers, Mary, is crying. Another, Diane, holds an ice pack to her own bruised and swollen hand. At first glance, it would seem as though things backstage at Saturday Night Live's NBC studio have gone horribly wrong for tonight's musical guest, when in fact the opposite is true. Soon, the 31-year-old Canadian singer/songwriter will wind down her second performance of the evening, the trembling rock song "I Feel It All," and a small crowd, which includes several black-clad choir members from the first number ("1234"), has already gathered in the hallway near the studio's entrance to congratulate her. The tears, it turns out, are happy ones, and the hand injury -- well, blame it on some very vigorous backup clapping. Feist -- or Leslie, as she's known to friends -- strides through the double doors to an eruption of applause.

  • The SPIN Interview: Beth Ditto

    "It's perverted!" cries Beth Ditto. The lead singer of the bluesy punk trio the Gossip is at home in Portland, Oregon, flipping through the Fingerhut catalog, a mail-order retailer of such household necessities as bath towels, crucifixes, and gun cabinets. She's feeling nostalgic (the company's nonsensical name was a joke among friends back in her tiny hometown of Searcy, Arkansas), but also appalled. "People who sell rifles are dirty homos who won't come out of the closet," she ventures. This is just one opinion, and the 26-year-old Ditto has many, many more. In the eight years since the Gossip formed, the famously full-figured, outspoken frontwoman has become a sensation in the U.K., where the group's most recent album, 2006's Standing in the Way of Control, went Top 10, while attracting only a cult following in the States.

  • The Spin Interview: Dave Gahan

    Dave Gahan is worried about time. Not just right now, but in general. After working all day on his second solo album, appropriately titled Hourglass, the frontman for synth-pop legends Depeche Mode sits on the edge of a couch and lights the first of several cigarillos. "I have this sense that I want to be somewhere that I'm not yet," he confesses. "I feel like I'm racing against a clock." That the 45-year-old singer is experiencing this urgency now, after nearly three decades with a band that has sold more than 72 million albums worldwide, is not totally surprising, considering how the Englishman (from the London suburb of Basildon) spent much of the '90s: addicted to heroin, estranged from his bandmates, and, much to their dismay, living in Los Angeles. Back then, as Depeche were peaking in popularity, Gahan was essentially willing the clock to stop.

  • Northern State, 'Can I Keep This Pen?' (Ipecac)

    By immediately bragging about their superlative mic skills and overall fly-ness on this third album, the ladies of Northern State prepare us for a hip-hop record similar to their first: goofy, Beastie Boys-style bravado with an erudite twist. Instead, MCs Hesta Prynn, Spero, and Sprout morph into an electro-rock trio on the jump-along "Better Already" -- and they can't, won't, and don't stop. Some halfhearted rhymes linger, but contagiously energetic political jams such as "Cold War" make it easy to forget that it's been three years since anyone heard from Le Tigre. Now Hear This: Northern State - "Better Already" DOWNLOAD MP3 BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Jill Cunniff, 'City Beach' (The Militia Group)

    On her languid solo debut, Jill Cunniff suggests we "start the century again at a slower pace." The former Luscious Jackson frontwoman is obviously nostalgic for a time -- the mid-'90s, to be exact -- when it was somehow possible for a shambling all-girl funk band from New York to have a gold record. This easy-listening mix of Tropicalia-and jazz-inflected pop won't enjoy similar success, but like Coney Island (the rundown Brooklyn beachfront to which the album is dedicated), there's charm in its corniness, notably on "Warm Sound," a pleasant summer ode that could turn a ride on a carousel into a slow-motion reverie. Now Hear This: Jill Cunniff - "Lazy Girls" DOWNLOAD MP3 >> Listen to Jill Cunniff on Napster BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Spray Anything

    The most talented creators of American graffiti paint the townred (and other colors) in Autograf Mostgraffiti artists aren't interested in seeing their efforts preserved incoffee-table books-they just want to finish spray painting before thecops arrive. "Graffiti is a victimless crime that is for the people, bythe people," says the pseudonymous Claw, a 35-year-old fashion designerwho's been tagging New York with her claw emblem since 1989. "I don'twant to seem like I'm baiting the police, but I go to great lengths formy art." She's one of the creative scofflaws immortalized in photographer Peter Sutherland's Autograf: New York City's Graffiti Writers(powerHouse Books), a tribute to the daring men and women who riskfines and even jail time to create their guerrilla art.

  • Forever Young: Alexis Bledel

    By: Phoebe ReillyConfronting teen immortality in Tuck Everlasting,Gilmore Girl Alexis Bledel plays a role she knows all toowell It's a given that actors don't play their ages on television anymore, but 21-year-old Alexis Bledel may be as closeas it gets. As precocious bibliophile Rory Gilmore, the adolescent half of the WB's mother/ daughter drama Gilmore Girls, she's thelatest incarnation of the girl next door--a more confident Felicity, a less surly Angela Chase. It's an alter ego the actress hasn'toutgrown. "I'm not as rebellious [as Rory], but I did a lot that I was never caught for," she says. "I don't think my mom knowseverything, but she knows more than she used to." This month, Bledel works her spirited verge-of-adulthood persona in Tuck Everlasting,Disney's adaptation of the Natalie Babbitt novel.

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