Kings of Leon: The Last Mile Home

The sons of a traveling Southern preacher, brothers Caleb, Nathan and Jared Followill, and their cousin Matthew, started making music together while still in their teens. Following their debut album in 2003, the Kings of Leon gained increasing renown with every record, eventually opening for U2, Bob Dylan and Pearl Jam. Then, on the strength of 2008’s Only by the Night and its singles “Use Somebody” and “Sex On Fire,” the Kings reached newfound levels of fame and acclaim. Eventually, the rigors of the road took their toll, resulting in some curious stage antics and an eventual hiatus. Alan Light speaks with the band members, who outline the perils of an ongoing creative cycle, explain why they decided to take an extended break and reveal how they returned to form with Mechanical Bull.

Brett Dennen: Not Just Smoke And Mirrors

Brett Dennen burst onto the festival scene seven years ago with an honest folk sound that appealed to both jam and pop fans but remained entirely in a class of its own. In 2011, he plugged in and released Loverboy, an up-tempo departure from his early work, specifically aimed at the live music crowd. Though filled with numerous heartfelt, easily danceable songs, Loverboy received lackluster reviews and failed to help Dennen score the big festival gigs that are so essential to a modern artist. So at the advice of his manager, the 30-something songwriter took an unprecedented break and returned this fall with a new mission statement, Smoke And Mirrors. Benjy Eisen explores where Dennen went during his recent downtime and where he hopes his new album will take him.

The Head and The Heart: In Pursuit of Home and Beauty

After forming four years ago through Seattle’s local music scene, The Head and The Heart quickly jumped from grassroots indie-darlings to seemingly ubiquitous festival stars, with their music appearing in a range of commercials and music videos. Veteran Northwest music writer and new The Head and The Heart fan Kevin Sampsell spent time with the group shortly before the release of their sophomore album Let’s Be Still and offers a personal journey into the head—and the heart—of one of Sub Pop’s most intriguing and infectious bands. As he discovers, though the six-piece ensemble plays rousing, folk-tinged pop, beneath the surface their music still speaks to themes of longing and loss.

North Mississippi Allstars: Boogie Knights

Cody and Luther Dickinson came to their blues roots naturally. The sons of the celebrated producer Jim Dickinson grew up in the North Mississippi Hills, alongside local blues patriarchs R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and Otha Turner. Now nearing their 20th year of performing and recording as the North Mississippi Allstars, the Dickinsons have traveled full circle with their new album, World Boogie Is Coming. They share their journey with Alan Paul and emphasize the impact of Phil Lesh, Butch Trucks and Robert Plant on their latest efforts.

Plus: Keller Williams, Robbie Robertson, Brian Wilson, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, Moistboyz, Humble Pie, Dan Kanter, Our annual holiday gift guide and much more!

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