A still from the video for "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift.
August 20, 2014 Erstwhile country singer Taylor Swift has a new sound and a new goal: to be the world's biggest pop star, with all the attention and provocation that comes with the job.
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A still from the video for "Am I Wrong" by Nico & Vinz.
August 19, 2014 It's striking how little current pop hits reflect the angst and anger that have dominated this summer's news. But critic Ann Powers finds that one of 2014's biggest songs offers unexpected guidance.
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Shovels & Rope's new album, Swimmin' Time, comes out Aug. 26.
Leslie Ryan McKellar/Courtesy of the artist
August 17, 2014 It's easy to feel the romance in the musical relationship between Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, who've become musical embodiments of how loving couples make it work.
Imogen Heap's new album, Sparks, comes out Aug. 19.
Jeremy Cowart/Courtesy of the artist
August 10, 2014 Sparks documents a fruitful time for one of popular music's most curious explorers. But it also captures how, in the 21st century, art, technology and life meld to make whole new narratives.
Sinead O'Connor's new album, I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss, comes out Aug. 12.
Donal Moloney/Courtesy of the artist
August 3, 2014 On her 10th album, O'Connor returns to familiar ground, yet still widens the scope of rock with frank, urgent, compelling songwriting that proves how complicated the idea of the personal can be.
Andrija Tokic in his East Nashville studio, The Bomb Shelter.
Joshua Shoemaker/Courtesy of the artist
July 29, 2014 Four stories of rock and roll musicians making a home — and a scene — in a buzzing neighborhood just across the Cumberland River from the palaces of country music.
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Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye.
July 24, 2014 The video for the teenage duo Maddie & Tae's first single, "Girl In A Country Song," cheerfully turns the tables on the cartoonish macho tendencies of so much recent country music.
Jenny Lewis' new album, The Voyager, comes out July 29.
Autumn de Wilde/Courtesy of the artist
July 20, 2014 The Voyager's clever (but never too-clever) sound builds an open structure within which Lewis can explore her current fascination: the weight of full adulthood, and its paradoxical precariousness.
Morrissey's new album, World Peace Is None Of Your Business, comes out July 15.
Greg Gorman/Courtesy of the artist
July 6, 2014 "The rhythm of life goes round," the singer repeats, summing up a set ranging from politics to gang violence to gender identity. He's in fine voice, belting and going gentle without strain.
Paramore's "Ain't It Fun" was originally released on Paramore in April 2013, but the single hit radio in February and hasn't left since.
Mike Coppola/Getty Images
July 3, 2014 Many of today's biggest radio hits came out months — even years — ago. That extended lifespan can change your relationship with a song, but it's not always a matter of overexposure.
You've Got A Friend: Ed Sheeran's second album, X, released this week, sets out to prove that the "friend zone" doesn't have to be toxic.
Ben Watts/Courtesy of the artist
June 26, 2014 On his new album, X, rising singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran turns the at times troubling idea of the "friend zone" into something safe and sustaining.
Jim Lauderdale's new album, I'm A Song, comes out July 1.
Scott Simontacchi/Courtesy of the artist
June 22, 2014 On his new country album, the roots-music veteran still touches nerves, carefully but firmly. Lauderdale continually shows that the trappings surrounding a song are only as meaningful as its core.
During the CMA Festival in downtown Nashville, Miranda Lambert (left) welcomed Carrie Underwood for a duet on their hit "Somethin' Bad."
June 11, 2014 Five days of organized excitement in Nashville have their origins in a fan event, which makes for a more welcoming atmosphere than most American festivals — and no hierarchy of cool.
Willie Nelson's new album, Band of Brothers, comes out June 17.
David McClister/Courtesy of the artist
June 6, 2014 On Nelson's first album of mostly original material in 18 years, he paints a self-portrait of a long, up-and-down life — specifically the life of an artist.
Miranda Lambert's album, Platinum, comes out on June 3.
Randee St. Nicholas/Courtesy of the artist
June 2, 2014 The chart-topping singer talks about fame, what country means to her and being "married to a man who's married to attention," in the words of "Priscilla," a song from her new album.
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