Exclusive Music, Playlists, Merch & More

Monday, March 2, 2015 - 12:46pm
The Smiths

30 years ago today, The Smiths topped the UK Indie Singles chart for the fifth time…and for the fifth time, they managed to do it with a song that wasn’t, at least as of when the single was released, actually available on an album yet.

“Hand in Glove”? Released May 1983. “This Charming Man”? October ’83. “What Difference Does It Make” was the first single actually intended as a teaser for their self-titled debut, but the single came out in January 1984, and The Smiths didn’t hit record store shelves until February ’84. And in May, when most bands would’ve still been busy pimping tracks from the album they’d released a mere three months prior, they were releasing a new, otherwise-unavailable single: “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now,” which probably could’ve been a direct quote from their label, even if it did prove to be the band’s fourth #1 on the Indie Singles chart. If you want more of an idea of just how much emotional trauma was caused to Rough Trade by The Smiths’ desire to keep releasing new, non-album singles, go read Tony Fletcher’s A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of the Smiths, but for now, let’s talk about that fifth #1.

Monday, March 2, 2015 - 12:37pm
Everly Brothers

54 years ago today, brothers Don and Phil Everly ascended to the top of the British charts for the third time in their career, this time with a song written by the buddy of a certain Mr. Holly.

Composed by Sonny Curtis, the longtime friend of Buddy Holly who spent time as a member of The Crickets both before and after Holly’s death, “Walk Right Back” was first presented to Don Everly before it was even finished. In an interview with Jim Liddane of the International Songwriters Association, Curtis explained that he was actually in the midst of a stint in the U.S. Army when he got a three-day pass and down to Hollywood to meet up with up with his fellow Crickets, who were backing the Everlys at the time.

“(Jerry Allison) told me to sing the song for Don – actually, I had only one verse written – and Don called Phil down, and they worked out a gorgeous harmony part,” said Curtis. “So they said, ‘If you write another verse, we’ll record it. Anyway, I went back to base and write a second verse and put it in the mail to them, and the next morning I got a letter from (Allison) to tell me that the Everlys had already recorded the song before they got my letter: they had simply recorded the first verse twice…and that’s the version that was released, and that’s the version that was the hit!”

Friday, February 27, 2015 - 4:14pm

Today is the 34th birthday of Josh Groban, a guy who’s sold more than 25 million albums worldwide. As such, you’re probably pretty sick of listening to his music, right?

No, of course you’re not, which is why we’ve compiled a playlist of 20 songs from his back catalog as a tribute to the birthday boy. Give it a spin, won’t you?

Having said that, however, we also thought we’d use the majority of this space to pay tribute to a side of Groban’s career that doesn’t get nearly as much attention: his work as a comedian.

No, he’s not a stand-up comedian – although his between-song banter at his concerts does often have the audience in stitches – but Josh Groban is a pretty funny guy, and since we suspect that a lot of you may not have known this about him, we’ve put together a collection of clips to spotlight his comedy chops.

Friday, February 27, 2015 - 3:10pm

20 years ago, Jewel Kilcher – the “Kilcher” is silent – released her debut album, Pieces of You, to general indifference.

No, seriously.

Not that it didn’t eventually go platinum 12 times over, of course, but if you look back at Jewel’s chart history, you can see how the Pieces of You story unfolds, and it’s a considerably longer tale than you might’ve realized.

Although the album first landed on record store shelves on February 28, 1995, to say that it was something less than an overnight success is a significant understatement: the first single from the album, “Who Will Save Your Soul,” didn’t even see release until June of the following year. Once that happened, though, the buzz on Jewel began to build. After that song resulted in her first top-20 single (it topped out at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100), she scored an even bigger hit with the follow-up single, “You Were Meant for Me,” which went all the way to #2, and she matched its success with “Foolish Games.”

Friday, February 27, 2015 - 12:34pm
Alt Country

25 fresh tracks including new songs from Shakey Graves, First Aid Kit, Rhiannon Giddens, Ryan Bingham and more.

Friday, February 27, 2015 - 12:29pm
Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World

It was released forty years ago this week and I didn't even know it came out.

I was living in Sandy, Utah and there was only one rock station in Salt Lake and they didn't play the new stuff and I was over Zeppelin anyway.

That's right, I was burned out, couldn't hear "D'yer Mak'er" one more time. They're rewriting history and extolling the virtues of "Houses Of The Holy" but the truth is despite the hits it was a bit of a disappointment, certainly artistically, it was safe whereas everything before it was unexpected with rough edges that pushed the envelope. It was like the band was on a premature victory lap.

And then came "Physical Graffiti."

Thursday, February 26, 2015 - 3:09pm
Rhino Factoids

15 years ago today, The Darkness – yes, the band that once ordered you to get your hands off of their woman, mother***er – performed their first concert.

Hailing from Suffolk, England, The Darkness rose from the ashes of a band called Empire, which Justin Hawkins once summed up with the words, “Great drummer, great guitarist, great bassist, terrible keyboard player.” Both Justin and his brother Dan were in Empire, but – believe it or not – Dan was the singer in that particular outfit, and it’s been said that Justin’s shift into the role of frontman came after he attended a New Year’s Eve bash in 2000 and blew everyone away during a karaoke competition with his performance of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Thursday, February 26, 2015 - 2:59pm
Rhino Factoids

14 years ago today, Coldplay officially became a big deal on the British music scene by taking home the awards for both Best British Group and Best British Album – for Parachutes – at the 2001 BRIT Awards, a ceremony generally described as the UK equivalent of the Grammy Awards.

Now, when we say that they officially became a big deal that night, it’s not to say that Coldplay weren’t well on their way to achieving prominence on the pop charts. Indeed, by that point, they’d already secured two top-10 singles in the UK – “Yellow” (#4) and “Trouble (#10) – and Parachutes had long since proved to be an unqualified success. Still, there’s a whole new level of credibility that comes with being named Best British Group, and there’s little question that Coldplay took their new street cred and ran with it.