Kisses on the Bottom
As he nears the big 7-0 this year, Paul McCartney is finally ready for his Tony Bennett moment. And who can begrudge Sir Paul this collection of standards that he grew up listening to before he became known as the Cute Beatle? Heck, if Rod Stewart could do it-ad nauseam-then he certainly deserves his shot. Thankfully McCartney is better at it than Stewart, bringing an understated charm and a whimsical flair belying his age to Kisses. Clearly the newlywed is in a lovey-dovey mood on lush tunes like Irving Berlin's "Always" that play like a Valentine's Day serenade to his lucky bride. As if cooing in your ear, he creates a sense of intimacy. But McCartney-accompanied throughout by Diana Krall on piano-also connects with the boy inside who first heard this stuff on playful numbers like "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive." Two new originals complete the bouquet, including closer "Only Our Hearts." With echoes of "Till There Was You," the song reunites McCartney with "Ebony and Ivory" cohort Stevie Wonder (on harmonica) for even more nostalgia.
Just as Pop drops a new album, James McCartney is making waves on this side of the pond. The 34-year-old singer-songwriter played at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, last month before making his U.S. TV debut on The Late Show with David Letterman. His Complete EP Collection combines the indie-rock edge of Available Light with the melodicism of Close at Hand. Coproduced by his dad, cuts like "Angel" keep the family legacy intact.
THE BLACK KEYS
Who are your all-time favorite music duos?
PATRICK CARNEY: I love Louis Prima and Keely Smith-they were the perfect duo. And Hall & Oates—I like the beats of songs like "I Can't Go for That."
Speaking of beats, who would win in a dance-off?
PATRICK: We are both really good dancers. Seriously. It'd depend on how it was rated.
DAN AUERBACH: And who was more drunk.
What's the strangest gift a fan has ever given you?
PATRICK We have a song called "Strange Times," and somebody threw a pair of size 100 women's underwear onstage with "For strange times, call this number" on it.
Your new album is called El Camino like the old car. What was your first car?
DAN: We both had the same car: a Ford Tempo. Mine was white, two doors, stick shift.
PATRICK: Mine was gray, four-door.
What's one secret you can tell us about the other?
PATRICK: Well, Dan actually wears Secret deodorant.
DAN: It was on sale.
When you won two Grammys last year, what was the most interesting moment?
PATRICK: We got pushed aside on the red carpet for Kim Kardashian. She got in front of us. Annoying.
Celebrating both Amnesty International and Bob Dylan was apparently an offer that absolutely nobody could refuse. A small nation of more than 75 artists-from Adele, Sugarland and Maroon 5 to Dave Matthews Band, Sting and Lenny Kravitz-have united for Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International, a four-CD benefit set. At more than five hours, it can get exhausting, but there are some nice surprises along the way, like Miley Cyrus on "You Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" and Ke$ha(!) on "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right."
THE MOST ROMANTIC ALBUMS EVER!
SADE, LOVE DELUXE (1992)
Really, almost any Sade album would qualify. But it's hard to beat the quadruple Cupid effect of "No Ordinary Love," "Cherish the Day," "Kiss of Life" and "I Couldn't Love You More." Sigh.
MARVIN GAYE, LET'S GET IT ON (1973)
"We're all sensitive people with so much to give," preaches Brother Marvin on the title tune, one of the sexiest songs ever recorded. Indeed, this has plenty of heart-as well as carnal heat.
NORAH JONES, COME AWAY WITH ME (2002)
It's been 10 years since Jones swept us away with her 10-million-selling debut. But with her smoky voice lighting a fire under timeless torch pop, this still smolders. A candlelight classic.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, TUNNEL OF LOVE
(1987) Yes, it foreshadowed his divorce, but this romantic exploration-burrowing deep into the real stuff with tenderness and toughness-captures the true complexity of love.
MAXWELL, MAXWELL'S URBAN HANG SUITE (1996)
The neo-soul man covers the arc of a love affair with smooth grooves ("Sumthin' Sumthin'") and exquisite balladry ("Whenever Wherever Whatever").
Scars & Stories
The third album from this pop-rock quartet is a solid effort that's easy on the ears. But only a few songs (like the closer "Be Still," a hushed piano ballad) really make you put down your mocha latte and listen.
At 77, the "Hallelujah" god shows that he still has plenty of magic left in his pen on his first studio album since 2004. Highlights include "Crazy to Love You," a country-style ballad that does Johnny Cash proud.
Sure, this indie singer-songwriter is married to Kings of Leon's Nathan Followill, but tunes like "Love Is Wasted on Lovers" and "The Greatest Thing That Never Happened" have a real spark all their own.
On his U.S. debut, this Belgian-born Aussie makes atmospheric pop with a quirky touch on tunes like the single "Somebody That I Used to Know," while "I Feel Better" has a retro bounce sure to boost your mood.