A debauched staycation with a hip-hop bawse. A former Nine Inch Nails guitarist’s downward spiral. The surprising community keeping the cassette tape alive. These are the sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, always incisive features that were our pleasure to write, edit, and publish this year. Once again, we share them here with you.
Mr. Grohl’s Cabinet of Wonder
With the wild-eyed exuberance of a teenaged obsessive, Dave Grohl continues his quest for the ultimate Rock Supergroup, and along the way, tells the remarkably intimate tale of a legendary recording sanctum and its sacred totem — the Neve 8028 console. And, oh yeah, Stevie Nicks stops by to sit a spell.
Trent Reznor’s Upward Spiral
The Nine Inch Nails leader found love, won an Oscar, and walked away from his band and major labels. But with NIN’s Hesitation Marks, the former dark prince of alt-rock (and current family man) returns to the digital universe he helped create.
The SPIN Interview: Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme
After six years, more side projects, and a brush with death, the QOTSA ringleader returns with his band’s sixth album, the tense, intimate …Like Clockwork. SPIN joins Homme to survey the beautiful destruction wrought by three decades of hard living, tough decisions, and scorching rock’n’roll.
Merge Country: How Superchunk’s Label Turned Durham Into a Thriving Indie-Rock Company Town
Band co-founders, label entrepreneurs, and proud North Carolinians Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan are leading a progressive, DIY renaissance in the Research Triangle. SPIN joins them for a punk civics lesson.
Giorgio Moroder: Back to the Future
Armed with studio full of fabulous machines and a superhuman sense of groove, iconic producer Giorgio Moroder created some of dance, pop, and film’s most forward-thinking, influential music — before a cultural sea-change sapped his powers. Now, reveling in Daft Punk’s reflected glow, the 73-year-old wants back in the game.
Captive Audience: The Music Business in America’s Prisons
Until very recently the country’s incarcerated were still living in a world of Walkmans, radios, and cassette tapes. But finally, things are changing. SPIN goes behind bars to investigate how music makes its way inside prisons, who puts it there, and what it means to inmates.
Bill Callahan Rolls on Like a River
The insular, inscrutable singer-songwriter embraces the art of collaboration, an unexpected development that could change his life forever.
Discovery: The Oral History of Daft Punk’s First American Show
In 1996 — before they got lucky with Pharrell, before they were in Kanye’s clique, before the robot helmets — Daft Punk were two Frenchmen playing in a wet Wisconsin field.
Tha Real Mother****ing Doggfather
Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams is a cult hero with a painful history who’s responsible for some of the most unique rock-influenced R&B (and weirdest album covers) ever made. And he also happens to be a pioneering indie mini-mogul. SPIN traveled to Southern California to get down to business with Swamp.
RuPaul Runs the World
On the 20th Anniversary of “Supermodel (You Better Work),” the towering Queen of All Media is both revered and more relevant than ever, presiding over a compulsively watchable drag race to fabulousness. SPIN laughs and cries with the inspiring performer behind the empire.
The Escape Artist: Cass McCombs’ Mercurial Brilliance
With the new double-LP tour-de-force Big Wheel and Others, the man behind “the Cult of Cass” might once again be hailed as one of his generation’s greatest singer-songwriters — even if laying claim to that title goes against everything he believes.
Pissed Jeans: The Curious Case of an Unrequited Hard-On
The upstanding family men and office workers of this noise-punk enterprise rarely play live and keep their musical pursuits mostly private. But could this finally be Pissed Jeans’ turn in the center of the squared circle? SPIN meets the band that has created 2013’s most searing, searching, terrifyingly nuanced hunk of hardcore fury. For adults only. Dessert will be provided.
We Got That Ass! Inside the World of Jersey Club
Rooted in Newark’s Brick City block-party breakbeats and jumping off from the frenetic, much-hyped Baltimore Club scene, Jersey Club has become the most deliriously entertaining dance-floor movement of the moment. SPIN reports on how the sound — “Corny and hot at the same damn time!” — is evolving, and how the scene’s top producers are now speed-dial faves of pop’s elite.
Tim Hecker: Attack of the Drones
One of the most important musicians of our generation induces euphoria without pop earworms, steady beats, or identifiable instruments. During a rare visit to his Montreal studio, we track the unexpected rise — and crippling perfectionism — of an expressionist genius.
Kurt Vile: Lost in the Stars?
As festival season heats up, Kurt Vile reconciles his ascendant career as rock’s most captivating guitarist and singer-songwriter with his life as son and father of a nurturing, close-knit family. SPIN gets acquainted with the extended clan, cruises Vile’s hometown streets, and stays for breakfast.
Miami Vices: A Weekend With Rick Ross and His Maybach Music Group
Lavish pool parties, steak dinners, rappers on the grind, and NSFW tattoos — SPIN tags along with the Teflon Don during a weird and wild promotional weekend in Miami.
Sheezus Talks: A Critical Roundtable
Seven badass female culture critics assess and, well, psychoanalyze Kanye West’s bachelor party.
Mike WiLL Made It Is Our 2013 Artist of the Year
The Atlanta rap/pop/R&B genius ruled the radio as chaos reigned.
L.A. Blues: Aaron North’s Sad Descent From Nine Inch Nails to Nowhere
The infamously defiant guitarist and gadfly earned the admiration of rock stars with the Icarus Line, a giant online audience with Buddyhead, and a touring spot alongside Trent Reznor, all before turning 30. Then he disappeared down a trail of sordid behavior and declining mental health.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs Get Free
Unlike many of their peers who helped summon the innovative and influential New York rock scene of the 2000s, Yeah Yeah Yeahs have viewed every new album as a challenge to break down and rebuild their music afresh. SPIN divines the intense dynamic behind the band’s boldest bug-out to date.