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Best of Rock 2011: Picks From Taylor Swift, Bon Iver, Wiz Khalifa and More

Best of Rock 2011, Taylor Swift, Bon Iver, Wiz Khalifa

Theo Wargo/Getty

Best of Rock 2011: Picks From Taylor Swift, Bon Iver, Wiz Khalifa and More

Photographs by CJ Foeckler (Turner Hall), Jay West/WireImage (Vernon)

Best Concert Promoters by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver

Corporate concert promoters are screwed. Not just because their business model is completely un-sexy or un-creative or un-friendly. But because it will die. The whole thing will die. Why? Because there are people like Matt Beringer and Gary Witt at the Pabst in Milwaukee, WI. These guys have three beautiful venues (Riverside Theatre, Pabst Theatre and Turner Hall), and they ask themselves the kinds of questions that will make their business model successful for the next 200 years. These aren't the kind of questions that are only concerned with profit margins alone, but questions that involve actual human kindness. It's things like this that make you realize capitalism doesn't have to equal raping and pillaging! And the American Dream doesn't have to steal from others to succeed.


Why Bon Iver Had to Relearn Everything He Knows

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Shawn Brackbill

Best Rock Shop by Alison Mosshart of the Kills

My favorite rock & roll designer is Romulus Von Stezelberger, who has a store in Los Angeles called South Paradiso Empire. They sell custom clothing, antiques, rare records, even motorcycles. I never go to L.A. without checking in with Romulus. His leather jackets are to die for. And his cat mask is pretty sick too!


Review: The Kills' Blood Pressures

Tec Petaja (Civil Wars, Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic (Swift)

Best Country Duo by Taylor Swift

I've loved John Paul White and Joy Williams as solo artists for years. The fact that they've combined their powers as a duo in the Civil Wars makes them even more awesome. The song "Poison & Wine," from their album Barton Hollow, is a must-have for anyone who has ever experienced any kind of love at all.


Taylor Swift: A History in Photos

The 30 Best Albums of 2010: Taylor Swift's Speak Now

Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images (Nicks), Kevin Mazur/WireImage(Welch)

Best Hippie-Queen Earth Mother by Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine

The first time I heard Stevie Nicks, I had just fallen in love with a boy in a band. I was on a family holiday in Italy. Fleetwood Mac's Rumours was one of the only CDs at the house where we stayed, and I was like, "Oh, OK. What's this?" I listened to the whole thing nonstop. There's something about Stevie that's really pure. When she sings, she sounds angelic but also wild and free, like she's getting completely lost in the song. Her new album, In Your Dreams, is just classic, classic songwriting. With the big, expansive guitar sounds, it's moving in a more modern direction, but it still sounds like Stevie Nicks. She's very much a storyteller, and she has a fantastic ability to make songs that you feel immediately connected to. Creating that intimacy while also retaining a mystique is something I learned from her. She also definitely influenced me to wear a cape. I love a cape onstage.


The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Stevie Nicks

Jay West/WireImage(Dawes), Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic (Browne)

Best New Roots by Jackson Browne

Dawes are an incredible young band. Their singer, Taylor Goldsmith, is a brilliant songwriter with very hip lyrics. He and his brother Griffin have one of those great familial harmony blends. You can't mention a record these guys haven't listened to. We're about to do some gigs in Spain, and I'm gonna sit in with them. Benji Hughes, from North Carolina, is also an unbelievably good singer-songwriter. He looks like he stepped out of the back cover of an Allman Brothers record in 1975. He's wickedly funny but also utterly romantic. Music is just so alive and kicking under the radar right now.


Video: Dawes Preview New Songs at SXSW

Dawes Debut New Songs, Reveal How They Recorded Second Album

Photograph by Ted Murphy, Brayden Olson

Best Label Meeting Lunch by Das Racist

Himanshu Suri: "We like having soup dumplings for all our music meetings, because they're a humbling food."

Victor Vazquez: "There's a hot thing that can spray into your mouth."


Ashok Kondabolu: "Soup dumplings: the Gushers of Asian cuisine. The secret ingredient is fear." 

Suri: "They even the playing field when you're sitting across the table from some 45-year-old white dude that wants to give you a little bit of money for a whole lot of talent."

Kondabolu: "There's a spot where you can get four dumplings for a dollar – Vanessa's Dumpling House [at 118 Eldridge St. on the Lower East Side]."

Suri: "I guess Joe's Shanghai [at 136-21 37th Avenue in Flushing, 24 W 56 Street in Midtown or 9 Pell Street in Chinatown] is the place to say. But we also fuck with Shanghai Cafe [100 Mott St in  hinatown], and M Shanghai in Brooklyn [292 Grand St] is not too bad."

Vazquez: "It's a little pricey."



Video: Trickster Rappers Das Racist Joke Around Backstage at SXSW

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