Video Premiere: Indian-American Singer Zoya's Fusion Folk Was Born in Newport Beach

Zoya Mohan can't wait to bask in the Californian sun ahead of her West Coast tour starting this week. With snow pounding Boston, the Newport Beach native is eager to return home. But the inviting weather isn't the sole reason for excitement. Mohan, a 21-year-old Berklee College of Music graduate, is ready to bring with her a renewed musical purpose. With a dash of Bollywood accentuating her vocals, the singer enticingly offers two worlds within one voice.

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The Five Best Rocket from the Crypt Songs

Greg Jacobs
You know that old saying parents love to use about how impossible it is to pick their favorite child? Well, I don't have kids, but I bet choosing little Marisa over that brat Johnny is much easier than having to choose the five best Rocket from the Crypt songs. Don't believe me? Consider these three facts:

1. Most kids suck, so if one is good it's gotta be pretty easy to figure out your favorite.

2. According to the all-knowing, the San Diego sextet has released seven full-length albums, a live record, three compilations, two EPs and more than 20 7-inches. Them's a lot of songs.

3. Rocket from the Crypt is the greatest band in the world. Similarly, Rocket from the Crypt has been, since its inception in 1990, the greatest band in the world, was the greatest band in the world even when they took a hiatus from 2005-2013 (and when they took a hiatus from their hiatus for 2011's appearance of the children's television program Yo Gabba Gabba!) and will continue to be the greatest band in the world until the day all humans die and robot cockroaches take over.

So picking the five best songs ain't easy. Also not easy is seeing Rocket from the Crypt this weekend as San Diego's finest are playing two sold-out shows as part of Alex's Bar's 15-year anniversary. And even harder is the fact that the band was supposed to play Sunday at the Observatory as part of the Indigo Fest, but that has been canceled.

Here, then, are the five best Rocket from the Crypt songs to get you through if you can't see them this weekend. And, in full disclosure, I love this band so much this list could be
completely different if I wrote it tomorrow.

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Ryan Bingham Went to the Mountains to Write Songs and Find Himself

Anna Axster
When Ryan Bingham got his start performing in rowdy Texas bars at the age of 18, he never imagined that his gritty, soulful vocals would take him all the way to the Oscars. In 2010, he picked up a Best Song statuette in 2010 for co-writing "The Weary Kind" for the film Crazy Heart. Amidst his success, the singer tragically lost his parents and entered a dark period, but according to the singer, he's found a sense of peace that shines through on Fear and Saturday Night. His new album is a thoughtful collection of cowboy country that's arguably his most well rounded effort to date.

Fear and Saturday Night is healthy mix of whiskey-fueled rompers like "Top Shelf Drug" and softer folksy tunes like "Snow Falling in June," all of which expose Bingham's effortless ability to communicate a story. The musician spent several weeks writing the album in an airstream trailer in the mountains off Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles, and shares that the solitude and scenery were key to a more slow-paced songwriting process.

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We Need Sleater-Kinney Now More Than Ever

Categories: Artists We Love

No Cities to Love

Is the music world ready for a riot grrrl revival?

The underground, feminist, post-punk movement saw the return of rock royalty when Sleater-Kinney released their first record in a decade, No Cities to Love. Passion charged vocals, riff-heavy guitar, drum bashing and political lyrics by Corin Tucker (vocals and guitar), Carrie Brownstein (guitar and vocals) and Janet Weiss (drums) gave birth to the group's eighth studio album. The first wave, riot grrrl trio has already managed to release one of the most innovative and authentic rock records of the year.

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DJ Quik Struggles to Not Be Strangled By His Roots

Categories: Artists We Love

In the conventional rap narrative, a star is born in the hood, then overcomes his circumstances to achieve fame and wealth beyond his dreams.

But he's then confronted with a choice: Does he remain of the hood? Sure, he can afford to buy a nice house in the Valley, and he'd be foolish not to. But how often does he come back home? Is he looking out for his former crewmates? Is he still enmeshed in their struggles and drama? Both benefactor and compatriot, he's expected to save them from drowning and simultaneously swim his way to a gold medal.

No one knows this better than DJ Quik.

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Phil Shane Embodies Elvis at Azteca

Ryan Ritchie

Phil Shane
Azteca Mexican Restaurant
Jan. 4, 2015

Last night I finally heard the song "Blurred Lines." Thankfully, it was the Phil Shane version.

The Robin Thicke tune was requested towards the end of the singer's four-hour set at Azteca Mexican Restaurant in Garden Grove by a blonde woman. I know the song was requested by her because I heard her ask for this particular number. And I could hear her because my brother and I (the two youngest people in the capacity-filled room once two young children left halfway through the show) sat on a bench behind the stage because all of the dining tables were occupied by the time we got there at 6:45, which is a long-winded way of saying Phil Shane fans arrive on time, they come in droves and they don't leave early.

I assumed he wouldn't know the song because, hell, I don't know it and I'm 35 years old. But he did because he's Phil Shane and Phil Shane knows everything. And after almost losing him to Nashville back in 2013, we're glad to see him in OC just a few days after his birthday (which is of course, New Year's Day).

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The Dodos Are the Most Underrated Indie Band In the World

Let's call the Dodos the most underrated indie rock band in existence. Since Meric Long and Logan Kroeber started producing their ultra-catchy, intellectual folk songs (all syncopated rhythms and entwining melodies, natch) in 2005, every album they've produced  has been better then the last. The fact that they don't have fans as rabid as Animal Collective's is a mystery. Currently  touring last year's Carrier  and on the verge of dropping their sixth album, Individ (which drops Jan. 27.), the Dodos perform at Alex's Bar on Dec. 14. Consider yourself lucky that you can still catch their intense, high-energy show in an intimate setting; cancel your Sunday night plans and make the show your early Christmas gift to yourself. Singer/songwriter Meric Long talks about how the Dodos ended up making Individ  so soon after Carrier and what it was like having Brigid Dawson (Thee Oh Sees) and Minna Choi (Magik Magik Orchestra) on their latest set.

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The Icarus Line Rise Again With One Hell of An Album

Aric Lorton
The Icarus Line
When we talk about the dividing line between music and art, The Icarus Line's 2013 full-length Slave Vows and this year's follow-up Avowed Slavery are most definitely in the latter category. That said, these records ain't meant to be hoisted on a wall because the songs are present, immediate, primal and important.

And why shouldn't they be? Since 1998, the Los Angeles group has been creating a harmonious cacophony that would make Iggy and Nick Cave proud. You'd think being placed into that sort of rock royalty would render The Icarus Line a household name, but it hasn't. Instead, the band -- led by singer Joe Cardamone and featuring bassist Alvin DeGuzman, drummer Ben Hallett, keyboardist/saxophonist Jeremy Gill and guitarist John Bennett -- have been presumed dead by many since 2004's Penance Soiree, which might explain why Slave Vows sounds like a group with its back to the wall, swinging, not going down without a fight.

Slave Vows is a challenge, an artistic peak for a group uncomfortable with familiarity. You might love it or you might hate it, but you'll definitely have an opinion. And that's what makes for great art.

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John Waters' One Man Show Shits on Christmas, With Love

Categories: Artists We Love

Courtesy of John Waters
To some, the idea of John Waters taking on Christmas is downright confusing, sure to lead to such nightmarish results as when Jack Skellington tried to take over the holiday. What's the "Pope of Trash" got to do with Santa and snowmen and, Heaven forbid, little, innocent baby Jesus? But to many fans, this unholy union is nothing new: In his 1974 film Female Trouble, Dawn Davenport (played by the one and only Divine) yells, "I hate you! Fuck you!" and pushes the family Christmas tree over on her mother before running away from home after her parents don't give her her beloved cha-cha heels for Christmas ("Not on Christmas!"). Waters saves Bart and Homer from ravenous reindeer using a kitschy robot Santa (a.k.a. "Annual Gift Man"--and he lives on the moon!) from Japan in his guest appearance on The Simpsons. Hell, the man even put out a campy Christmas album featuring such yuletide classics as "Santa Claus Is a Black Man."

"I like Christmas, with no irony," Waters explains. "When I was a kid, I always liked Christmas, and it was a good thing. I don't have any traumas, though a Christmas tree did fall on my grandmother one year. But my grandmother thought it was funny--I made that part of my act."

And so Christmas continues to be part of Waters' act. For the better part of a decade, he has donned his gay apparel and entertained audiences who both adore and detest the holiday ("I speak to Grinches, too," he assures me) with his one-man standup show.

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8 Scariest Musical Halloween Costumes

Rob Zombie

Halloween is that awesome time of year where you can be completely creepy and simultaneously showcase your musical obsessions with costumes that turn you into your favorite singers and band members. So forget the sexy nurse and boring pirate costumes. Why not make yourself into one of the guys from GWAR? Or a fuck-all punk rocker who has possibly returned from the dead? Who needs a pimp costume when you can mix it up with old school break dance moves and some Jheri Curl?

Need a guiding light on how to incorporate your favorite musicians into your Halloween alter ego? Read on:

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