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Kenneth Partridge

Kenneth Partridge's work has appeared in such publications as USA Today, the Village Voice and the Hartford Courant, as well as online at MTV Hive and HowAboutWe, among other sites. He's helped to edit two encyclopedias -- one on Latin music, the other on reggae -- and penned biographies about Louis Armstrong and the opera singer Marian Anderson. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with his beloved wife and slightly less beloved record collection.
Wake-Island
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Wake Island, ‘Use It As a Weapon’ – Free MP3 Download

Truly an international crew, Montreal foursome Wake Island features musicians from Lebanon, Canada and the United States. It's a brainy band -- one of 'em is studying cell biology -- and that really came through on their 2009 debut, 'Fairytales From the Island,' an attempt to, in their words, "reach a common center" through elaborate, orchestral rock.

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Chainwave, ‘Wrap Me Up’ – Free MP3 Download

Having played together in previous bands, singer-guitarist Ian Jacobs and drummer Michelle Feliciano came to Chainwave with a solid musical understanding. The Brooklyn band has only been around since the fall of 2012, but already, it's got a clear-cut sound -- one that's recognizable, sure, but potent all the same.

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Restorations
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Restorations, ‘Civil Inattention’ – Free MP3 Download

This ain't the first ride on the merry-go-round for the members of Restorations. Having previously played together in the band Jena Berlin, these genre-pushing Philly punks know all about cramming into vans and sleeping on floors, and while they had no intention of throwing themselves back into that lifestyle, here they are, signed to a well-known label (SideOneDummy) and prepping the release of their second album in two years.

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The Teen Age, ‘Second Youth’ – Free MP3 Download

While not the first band to romanticize those momentous years between middle school and college, the Teen Age gaze backwards on their own terms. On 'Second Youth,' these Brooklyn dudes sound positively spooked, delivering sweet, noisy guitar-pop with an unshakable air of dread. If you're turned on by the idea of Joy Division cutting the Foo Fighters' 'Everlong' for Slumberland Records, this one's not just for you -- it's probably about you.

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Mad Season
Sony Legacy
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Mad Season’s Barrett Martin Remembers Layne Staley [Exclusive Video]

Some bands are stable, built to last, destined for long and fruitful careers. Mad Season weren't one of 'em. The alt-rock (or grunge, if you wanna start some arguments) supergroup formed in 1994, when Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready met bassist John Baker Saunders at a Minneapolis rehab facility. The two became friends, and after moving back to Seattle, McCready tapped Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley and Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin to help them get something going.

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Grammy Awards
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images
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2013 Grammy Nominations

The nominations have been announced for the 2013 Grammy Awards, and fun., Florence and the Machine, the Black Keys, Jack White, Mumford and Sons and Frank Ocean -- a nominee in six categories -- are among the Diffuser-friendly artists who will compete for gramophone statuettes at the 55th annual ceremony.

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Funniest Guitar Faces

The guitar face -- the look axemen get when they're too caught up in the majesty of shredding to worry about how ridiculous they look -- is typically associated with metal and classic rock. Fans of these genres have long embraced guitar solos, which tend to produce the funniest guitar faces, but even in alt-rock and indie, where musicianship is less of a factor, and power chords sometimes take the place of complex noodling, musicians have a tendency to close their eyes, wrinkle their brows and make with the hilarious facial expressions.

Below is a sampling of the funniest guitar faces. We've taken the liberty of cropping out the instruments and focusing on the mugs, so that each pained grimace and euphoric O-face can be fully appreciated. Take a look, have a chuckle and then do your best to forget what you've seen -- otherwise, you may never listen to a Clash or Black Keys record quite the same way.

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Category: News
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John Murry, ‘The Ballad of the Pajama Kid’ – Free MP3 Download

Most vagabond-troubadour alt-country types would kill for a backstory like John Murry's. Born in Tupelo, Miss., just like Elvis, he's a distant relative -- second-cousin, according to most accounts -- of literary hero William Faulkner. What's more, he's traveled the world, and amid stints in Oakland, San Francisco (where he overdosed) and England, he's amassed an enviable catalog of crazy-yet-true stories about drugs, love, religion, music, solitude and Mississippi mud.

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