Tom Moon

Tom Moon has been writing about pop, rock, jazz, blues, hip-hop and the music of the world since 1983.

He is the author of the New York Times bestseller 1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die (Workman Publishing), and a contributor to other books including The Final Four of Everything.

A saxophonist whose professional credits include stints on cruise ships and several tours with the Maynard Ferguson orchestra, Moon served as music critic at the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1988 until 2004. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, GQ, Blender, Spin, Vibe, Harp and other publications, and has won several awards, including two ASCAP-Deems Taylor Music Journalism awards. He has contributed to NPR's All Things Considered since 1996.

It's true that you can still get by in rock 'n' roll on the strength of a unique voice. But it helps if said voice has something interesting to work with.

On the first three records by Heartless Bastards, that wasn't always the case. The Mountain, from 2008, had some terrific songs about a breakup, and a few that got bogged down in a rut. But on the band's latest release, Arrow, every song has a powerful, almost magnetic melody.

Sometimes I wonder: Do the members of young indie-rock bands know that they're walking stereotypes? There's the scruffy dude who's obsessed with everything vintage and analog, the Pavement-worshiping, whiny-voiced lead singer, the rhythm section that knows its way around every oddity recorded by The Kinks. That's pretty much how I pegged the Philadelphia sextet Dr.

The hip-hop band The Roots might currently be the hardest-working band in show business. Five nights a week, it's the house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and is constantly collaborating with other artists. And this week, the band issued its 10th studio album.

Record producer Jonathan Wilson recorded his new album Gentle Spirit during little slivers of time when the artists he was working with — among them songwriter Jackson Browne and the rock band Dawes — were on break.

Usually, the whispers start after rock groups have been around for a while, as die-hard fans begin to worry about their beloved band getting stale. Despite its incredibly long run, Wilco has escaped that fate and managed to stay fresh since 1994. It just released its eighth studio album in 17 years, and the first issued on Wilco's own dBpm Records label. The Whole Love represents a new peak for the critically acclaimed sextet.

In 2009, four busy jazz musicians — saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Eric Harland — gathered on a rare off day to see what they might cook up together. Out of that came a band they call James Farm, and an album of the same name.

There's a song on My Morning Jacket's sixth studio album, Circuital, that will probably make aging rockers smile. It's called "Outta My System," and in it, songwriter Jim James sings with great Buddha warmth about aging out of the Friday-night indulgences of youth.

Singer Gretchen Parlato is probably best known for her work with the Grammy-winning jazz star Esperanza Spalding. In between recording and touring with Spalding last year, Parlato found time to record her third album.

For a while now, Paul Simon has been shuffling and reshuffling the basic ingredients of his 1986 masterwork Graceland, trying new combinations of exotic, often African rhythms with elements of American blues and roots music. It's a rich area that has led him to some amazing songs, and also some retreads.

During the slow, tortured decline of the English rock group Oasis, there were constant reports of conflict between Noel Gallagher, the band's guitarist and principal songwriter, and his younger brother Liam, who sang lead vocals. Noel watched Liam's drinking jeopardize countless performances; Liam rebelled against his controlling older sibling.

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