Stephen Kallao

Spinal Tap made its mark as one of England's loudest bands, releasing slightly above average records like Shark Sandwich. Now, Derek Smalls, the band's legendary bassist, is making waves of his on his own with a new reflective solo record in the vain of David Bowie's Blackstar and Leonard Cohen's You Want It Darker.

Welles has the look, the voice, the licks, the hooks and the attitude of a real rock star. His classic rock-meets-grunge debut  Red Trees and White Trashes  alternates between being big, chunky, bombastic and driving and also intimate, sensitive, quiet and reserved. There's no shortage of ballads and barn-burners.

Peter Hook's first bass rig when he was a child was "no good," as he puts it. The low notes sounded terrible, so instead, he worked his way up the fretboard. Few musicians have more of a signature sound, or personality, than Peter Hook. He was one of the founding members of Joy Division, pioneers of the post-punk genre. When the band's lead singer, Ian Curtis, died on the eve of its first American tour, the remaining members didn't mourn.

Rock's not dead. They say this every few years — or months, or days — but really, the state of rock is quite strong.

The first thing you notice about George Ezra, besides his incredible voice, is his demeanor. He's warm, friendly and engaging to talk to. There's a similar charm in his songwriting. Ezra pulls you in as a storyteller. You want to root for him. His 2014 debut LP includes the breakout smashes "Budapest" and "Blame It on Me," which showcase his voice and charm in spades.

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