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Music

As the lead singer and songwriter in The Hold Steady — and, before that, Lifter PullerCraig Finn filled the air with a frenetic flood of words, singing vividly about antiheroes who seek escape and redemption in the form of drugs, religion, rock 'n' roll and many pursuits in between.

Smokey Hormel's great-grandfather George Hormel started the famous meat company bearing the family name. His grandfather invented Spam. But Hormel — and yes, Smokey is his real given name — says he was never much interested in the family business.

Robbie Robertson is a gifted storyteller who's best known as the guitarist and chief songwriter of The Band. His career started at age 16, when Arkansas R&B and rockabilly roadmaster Ronnie Hawkins drafted the Torontonian into his band, The Hawks.

It was raining in New York on Nov. 9, 2016, and New Yorkers, tired as the rest of the country from a late night after a long election season, walked about in a fog of their own. The sky was still overcast when we met Angel Olsen at the Fordham University Church, an 1845 New York City landmark whose carillon is said to have inspired Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Bells." There, wearing a green raincoat and accompanying herself on electric guitar, she sang "Give It Up," from her excellent 2016 release My Woman.

The brainchild of classically trained songwriter and bandleader Ellis Ludwig-Leone, San Fermin has evolved from an immaculate, studio-bound chamber-pop ensemble to a looser, livelier full-time operation.

The Shins are back with the group's first new album since 2012's Port Of Morrow. Heartworms is set to drop on March 10 on Aural Apothecary/Columbia Records. In making the announcement today, the band shared the joyfully infectious pop cut "Name For You" and a lyric video.

If Buddy Holly is somehow still capable of hearing the sounds emanating from this mortal plane, there's a good chance he's sporting a broad grin upon encountering "Tip My Heart." The title track from the debut album by Sally & George bears a Spartan sparkle not far removed from the kind that marked the late rock 'n' roll pioneer's venerated output.

Half Japanese began in the late '70s as a band of primitive outsiders, breaking musical rules that founding brothers Jad and David Fair never even learned. But it didn't take them long to become influential indie-rock journeymen. Since the mid-'80s, their albums have been consistently solid and often spectacular.

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