She was the latter half of Delaney & Bonnie, whose band was one of the 1960s' original traveling rock caravans, then went on to a successful second act as a singer, songwriter, and actor. Although under the radar for the past decade, Bramlett returns to the soul and blues she helped popularize with her new Beautiful (Rockin' Camel). Produced by Johnny Sandlin (Allman Brothers, Delbert McClinton, Widespread Panic), the album features a cadre of Southern rock luminaries, including Scott Boyer, Randall Bramblett, and Tommy Talton, as well as Muscle Shoals all-stars David Hood and Spooner Oldham.
"We're all old friends," explains Bramlett joyfully. "Johnny Sandlin produced the records I made for Capricorn in the 1970s. When you go make a record, you call your peers. These are my peers. Am I lucky or what?"
The singer confirms that said crew will be her band for SXSW.
"I'm so excited. It'll be hot."
Although Bramlett is known as a songwriter – she co-wrote Carpenters hit (and Sonic Youth gem) "Superstar" – Beautiful features her vocalizing a wide assortment of material, including Waylon Jennings, Gary Nicholson, Dan Penn, Stephen Stills, and her daughter Bekka.
Stills is represented by protest chestnut "For What It's Worth." When asked about the song's relevance today, Bramlett snorts. "You don't think that fits now? Oh, yeah. Look around you, man. Besides that, Stephen Stills is my favorite writer, and I cut one of his songs on my last CD, as well. That was Johnny Sandlin's idea. He felt it fit really well this time.
"I quit trying to cut hit records," she asserts, then pauses for a hearty laugh. "I thought I'd try to cut my record now, and if y'all love it, praise God. If you don't, I'll cut another." – Jim Caligiuri
Despite the title of Peter Bjorn & John's 2007 breakthrough, principal songwriter Peter Morén has never experienced anything even remotely resembling Writer's Block.
"No, absolutely not," he confirms with obvious pride. "If I have, it was so brief that I didn't notice. People seem to think that I'm very prolific in writing, but there's always a long period of time from when you write a song until you actually record it. There's always time to stack up songs and fine-tune them."
On his solo debut, The Last Tycoon, due in April on Quarterstick, the Swedish songsmith empties his suitcase of songs, some like "Missing Link" and "Old Love" dating back as far as 1995. Recorded over two years in bedrooms and rehearsal studios with the Concretes' Daniel Värjö and Tobias Fröberg – the latter joining Morén on tour – the largely acoustic LP has an uncanny intimacy, in stark contrast to PB&J's sophisticated pop. As for Morén's status with Peter Bjorn & John: "It's going well," he assures. "There are no big fights."
Quite the contrary: The trio recently finished recording an instrumental album for release later this year and is currently working on a proper follow-up to Writer's Block.
"We don't always like the same thing, so you have to fight for your ideas, but what comes out in the end is a mixture of three people," says Morén.
"When you do an acoustic show, everyone is up for listening to stories and listening to the lyrics, but if you're doing a rock & roll show, people just want to have a blast. Maybe you still want to tell your stories at the rock & roll show, but nobody wants to listen." – Austin Powell
"I had a solo career prior to his passing, and I'm gonna move on with that."
The death of Pimp C on Dec. 4 shocked the rap world and hit especially hard in Houston, where Pimp and Bun B's UGK pioneered the city's candy-painted drip in 1988. The duo was five months removed from the release of their double LP, Underground Kingz, when Pimp was found dead in his Los Angeles hotel. Picking up the pieces, Bun's not ready to see the spirit of UGK fade away. The Port Arthur rapper's set to release his second solo album, II Trill, in April.
"We're trying to put people onto a great product," he says, "get that vibe that's in the streets, not just what's on the radio."
Made mostly of material recorded before Pimp's death, the album pulls beats from a slew of producers, namely Jazze Pha and Clinton Sparks. Bun's also got plans to release a final UGK album, though he's not sure when that will get off the ground. "We haven't started recording anything yet. We gotta see what we've got before we start putting lyrics down," he says.
Putting together any album takes a significant amount of time, but the process for this project should take even longer without Pimp's hand. "He had stuff that he was working on that I haven't even heard yet," Bun says, explaining that most of Pimp's work is in the hands of his wife. Both know that the best way to honor Pimp is to keep making music.
"I'm not going to try to force myself into anyone else's world," says Bun, though he's been busy on collaboration efforts with Kidz in the Hall (a track they recorded for the Obama campaign) and welcomes a breakout from normal course.
"I like Feist. Not just the music, but the visuals are amazing. I'd love to sit in a room with her and talk about music, see if that could evolve into something." – Chase Hoffberger