CAGE THE ELEPHANT: On Cage The Elephant’s third album, MELOPHOBIA, the rock band was faced with the challenge of finding cohesiveness in the ideas of five different people. After touring for nearly five years straight on their prior releases, 2008’s Cage The Elephant and 2011’s Thank You, Happy Birthday, the musicians took some time off the road, to write as individuals before getting back together in August of 2012 to begin work on MELOPHOBIA as a collective.
“As individuals we all had fairly vague visions for how we wanted the record to turn out,” lead singer Matt Shultz says. “They were pretty polar. It really became a challenge to combine all these polar opposites together in a cohesive way. We first started writing material that was very intimate and had a very kind of close and hushed sound to it, but our hearts missed that energy and swagger and playfulness we love so much. Once that came to light, the record really started taking shape on its own. It was the uniting of several different ideas that were really different from each other.”
GIPSY KINGS: It has been twenty-five years since the Gipsy Kings captured the world’s imagination with their self-titled debut album—a record that became a genuine phenomenon, certified gold and platinum around the globe, introducing millions of listeners to a unique, irresistible blend of traditional flamenco styles with Western pop and Latin rhythms. Since then, the band has toured virtually non-stop, to the farthest-flung corners of the planet, and sold almost twenty million albums, all the while retaining the same line-up of virtuoso musicians.
LOS LOBOS: Since 1974, East L.A.’s Los Lobos have been exploring the artistic and commercial possibilities of American biculturalism, moving back and forth between their Chicano roots and their love of American rock & roll. Although the band first gained fame as part of the early-Eighties roots-rock revival, they didn’t so much strip music down as mix it up, playing norteño, blues, country, Tex-Mex, ballads, folk, and rock. They have been guests on albums by Ry Cooder, Elvis Costello, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Roomful of Blues, and Paul Simon, and their music has been featured in films such as La Bamba and Desperado.
Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano, David Hidalgo, and Louie Perez, four friends from East L.A.’s Garfield High School, formed Los Lobos (Spanish for “the Wolves”) to play weddings and bars in their neighborhood. Although they had previously played in straightforward American rock bands, together they decided to experiment with acoustic folk instruments and explore their Mexican heritage, playing norteño and conjunto music on instruments including the guitarron and bajo sexto. They got their first full-time gig in 1978, playing at a Mexican restaurant in Orange County. That year they also released their debut album, Just Another Band From East L.A.
THE AVETT BROTHERS: If you put your ear to the street, you can hear the rumble of the world in motion; people going to and from work, to school, to the grocery store. You may even hear the whisper of their living rooms, their conversation, their complaints, and if you’re lucky, their laughter. If you’re almost anywhere in America, you’ll hear something different, something special, something you recognize but haven’t heard in a long time. It is the sound of a real celebration.It is not New Year’s, and it is not a political convention. It is neither a prime time game-show, nor a music video countdown, bloated with fame and sponsorship. What you are hearing is the love for a music. It is the unbridled outcry of support for a song that sings to the heart, that dances with the soul. The jubilation is in the theaters, the bars, the music clubs, the festivals. The love is for a band.The songs are honest: just chords with real voices singing real melodies. But, the heart and the energy with which they are sung, is really why people are talking, and why so many sing along.