This photo of Yola with her replica of Sister Rosetta’s 1961 SG Custom was taken just hours before she hit the red carpet for the 64th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony on April 3, 2022. Yola was nominated for Best Americana Album (Stand for Myself) and Best American Roots Song (“Diamond Studded Shoes”).

Photo by Joseph Ross Smith

From the Grammy-nominated Stand for Myself to her role in the upcoming Elvis biopic, powerhouse singer-songwriter Yola affirms the mother of rock ’n’ roll’s place in history while claiming her own space, guitar in hand.

“I have this love affair with the ’70s—this gray area of music where one genre talks to another,” proclaims six-time Grammy nominee Yola. “That gave rise to loads of bands we would find hard to place nowadays, like Parliament-Funkadelic, Minnie Riperton, and Rotary Connection. They show how everything has been influenced by something else in the music sphere. It gets us away from this idea of genres, you know? And so that’s something that I consciously want to do. It’s like a mission.”

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Although he’s playing a Fender Mustang bass in this photo, Crumbly’s current main instrument is a well-worn 2012 Fender American Special Precision he got off the wall at Chicago Music Exchange.

Photo by Justin de Nooijer

On his new album ForEver, the songwriter, player, and conceptualist shows he knows no stylistic bounds.

Joshua Crumbly says that a lot of his musical ideas start out reflectively, like a mantra or meditation, often repeated over and over as he develops them. It’s a Zen-like practice that allows him to access a deeper, more intuitive headspace. “All of the songs that made ForEver, they kind of took my mind and heart somewhere as I played them,” he says of his new album. “And there was so much going on in the world during the pandemic, I just feel like the storylines came to fruition.”

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While Monolord has no shortage of the dark and heavy, guitarist and vocalist Thomas V Jäger comes at it from a perspective more common to pop songsmiths.

Photo by Chad Kelco

Melodies, hooks, clean tones, and no guitar solos. Are we sure this Elliott Smith fan fronts a doom-metal band? (We’re sure!)

Legend has it the name Monolord refers to a friend of the band with the same moniker who lost hearing in his left ear, and later said it didn’t matter if the band recorded anything in stereo, because he could not hear it anyway. It’s a funny, though slightly tragic, bit of backstory, but that handle is befitting in yet another, perhaps even more profound, way. Doom and stoner metal are arguably the torch-bearing subgenres for hard rock guitar players, and if any band seems to hold the keys to the castle at this moment, it’s Monolord.

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The core of Midhaven is guitarists Karan Kaul (front) and Aditya Mohanan, plus drummer Aviraj Kumar (rear). The band started in 2011.

The Mumbai metal mavens use heavyweight guitars and tiny amps to mash Western crunch with Eastern tones and tales on Of the Lotus & the Thunderbolt, their second concept album.

The Hindu god Shiva is known as the Auspicious One and the Destroyer—both of which actually seem … kind of auspicious. But in the realm of metal, the history of named-checked deities typically runs more along the lines of Odin, Thor, Mephistopheles, or even Cthulhu. Shiva, despite the impressive appellations, is rarely the subject of songs—with one notable exception.

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