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Khruangbin, from left to right: guitarist Mark Speer, bassist Laura Lee Ochoa, and drummer Donald “DJ” Johnson Jr.

Photo by David Black

On the eclectic instrumental band’s newest, A LA SALA, the bassist pledges to “just play what sounds good and what feels good.”

“Bass playing is like humming to me,” says Khruangbin’s Laura Lee Ochoa. “I hum to myself all the time. It’s very in-your-body. It’s also one note, it can be as melodic as I want it to be, and it’s simple. It was something that just resonated with me.”

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Behold, the organized chaos of PAKT in the flesh. Guitarists Alex Skolnick and Tim Motzer hold down the left and right flanks, respectively, with revered bassist Percy Jones and drummer Kenny Growhowski.

Photo by Avraham Bank

The free-playing supergroup returns with a full-length that explores the outer reaches of composition. Guitarists Tim Motzer and Alex Skolnick mull over the mysteries of their music.

While all of their music is produced spontaneously, PAKT—the all-star outfit that takes its name from the first initials of guitarists Alex Skolnick and Tim Motzer, bassist Percy Jones, and drummer Kenny Grohowski—believes in the late saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter’s maxim that “improvisation is just composition sped up.” The foursome’s collective technical ability, open minds, and desire to simply create all combine to make the group an ensemble without boundaries.

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Dave Pomeroy and a few of his best friends.

Photo by Jim McGuire

Organized labor has shaped the music we love, and Nashville Musicians Association president Dave Pomeroy believes musicians still need a fair deal.

“There’s always something to do in Nashville,” grins Dave Pomeroy. For Pomeroy, this is especially true. He’s the president of the Nashville Musicians Association (NMA), the city’s branch, or “local,” of the American Federation of Musicians (also known as AFM Local 257). The AFM is the largest musicians’ union in North America, representing around 70,000 music workers through more than 240 locals across the continent.

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For their new record, Judas Priest turned back the clock to time warp some of their ’70s prog-metal spirit into 2024.

Photo by Simon Reed

On their new album, Judas Priest brandish an Invincible Shield of righteous heavy metal.

When people talk about Judas Priest, the band’s biggest hits easily spring to mind, and rightfully so. “Breaking the Law,” “Living After Midnight,” “Heading Out to the Highway,” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” were the songs that made the iconic British metal band a household name in the ’80s. But long before such MTV-friendly anthems catapulted them into superstardom, and more recently, earned them a nod from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the Musical Excellence category, Judas Priest cut a more progressive rug.

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Illustration by Kate Koenig

Ready to try cutting guitar tracks as a freelancer on your DAW? You’re joining a rich tradition, and a trio of domestic shredders are here to help you sound your best.

Do-it-yourself recording is a great musical tradition. Machines for capturing sound were available for home use as early as the 1930s. Famously, in the late ’30s and early ’40s, ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, a lover of folklore and American music, followed in the footsteps of his father, John Lomax, and drove a 1935 Plymouth sedan across the United States with some tapes and a recording machine in the trunk. In August 1941, he captured musicians on their front porches and in living rooms across the American South, including one 28-year-old McKinley Morganfield—better known by his stage name, Muddy Waters. When Waters heard himself on tape, he was deeply moved. “He brought his stuff down and recorded me right in my house, and when he played back the first song I sounded just like anybody's records,” Waters told Rolling Stone back in 1978. “Man, you don't know how I felt that Saturday afternoon when I heard that voice and it was my own voice.” Lomax’s field recordings (trunk-recordings, perhaps?) are a significant jewel in the American Folklife Center’s treasury at the Library of Congress.

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