Music and audio

10 apps to swap

After the holidays, you may spend Boxing Day exchanging gifts you don't want for ones you do. Consider trading in some mobile apps, too. If you've downloaded an app that left you cold, you can delete it, request a refund (iOS, Android), and find a more suitable option. Here are 10 apps that I decided to exchange.

Photos Camera+ (iOS) → VSCO Cam ( iOS, Android)

Camera+ is an award-winning app with plenty of shooting and editing options to create the crispest of photos. But if you long for more manual controls, an inspiring photo feed from your fellow shutterbugs, … Read more

Star Apps: Michael Franti

Singer and musician Michael Franti's activism is a mainstay. What's changed over his almost 30-year career is his perspective on how best to effect change. "As I've grown, I want to be part of the solution, and I want to be not just pointing the finger at things that are wrong but saying how we can be part of fixing it," he says. I chatted with Franti about his tour, how he creates change at home, how we can be part of the solution, and the app that's become a positive force in his … Read more

Star Apps: SoMo

SoMo, aka Joseph Somers-Morales, became a YouTube sensation covering Chris Brown and Drake. Then he became a chart sensation (No. 1 on iTunes, No. 6 on Billboard) with the release of his self-penned, self-titled debut album. Now he wants to write hits for others. I chatted with SoMo about the baby makers, his dirty thoughts in the studio, and the app that makes him feel close to his writing partners.

When did you discover that you could sing? I knew my whole life. My dad's a musician, so I grew up around it. It wasn't really ever did … Read more

Star Apps: James Iha

Guitarist James Iha has rarely had a free moment since leaving The Smashing Pumpkins in 2000. He has guested on Fountains of Wayne albums, joined A Perfect Circle, released solo material, and produced myriad artists, including Michael Stipe, Cat Power, and St. Lucia. Recently he scored Hulu original series "Deadbeat." James Iha talks about why mobile television is the wave of the future, working with Billy Corgan versus Maynard James Keenan versus Taylor Hanson, and his favorite app for rare moments of boredom.

How would you compare solo work to playing in a band or scoring a TV … Read more

Star Apps: Kenny Loggins

In the late '70s, Kenny Loggins eagerly left popular duo Loggins and Messina for an even more successful solo career with hits like "This Is It," "I'm Alright," "Footloose," and "Danger Zone." He never predicted he'd someday be in another group -- this time a trio, Blue Sky Riders. I chatted with the onetime king of movie soundtracks about Blue Sky Riders, his thoughts on the "Footloose" and "Top Gun" remakes, and his favorite apps.

How would you describe a Blue Sky Riders show? BSR shows … Read more

Star Apps: Jann Klose

As the first musician in a deeply conservative German family, Jann Klose quickly learned that his musical aspirations would not get support. "When I said I wanted to learn an instrument growing up, I was denied that. I had to go out and do it on my own." Today Klose is a multiple Independent Music Awards winner, best known for his "Song to the Siren" cover and original gay anthem "Make It Better." I chatted with Klose about his classic rock obsession, gaining the support of his family and Buckley collaborators, and his US tour.… Read more

Star Apps: Daniel Ash

Daniel Ash (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, Tones on Tail) prefers not to revisit his band years, but that doesn't mean he's no longer in love with much of the material he and his bandmates produced. So much so that for his new album, "Stripped," he reimagines 12 of his favorite classic tracks in a contemporary context. I chatted with Ash about why he prefers disco to goth when DJing, CDs to Serato, and YouTube to Facebook.

How long have you been DJing? I've been doing it for about 20 years. I started off in a … Read more

Star Apps: Yelle

Yelle singer Julie Budet calls the production of the band's third album completely crazy, from changes in musical direction and recording studios to getting to work with producer Dr. Luke (Katy Perry, Robin Thicke, and Britney Spears). There was so much crazy that Yelle decided to title its third album "Complètement Fou." The French-language release is best appreciated with the Yelle Translator app, which toggles between French and English lyrics. I chatted with Julie Budet about the musically diverse album and the tour, working with Dr. Luke, being buried in blue popcorn, whether she'll … Read more

Star Apps: The Madden Brothers

Maryland-born brothers Benji and Joel Madden always dreamed of making it in California. After 14 years of pop-punk success in Good Charlotte and 10 years as California residents, the two are now performing as The Madden Brothers, and they're sending fans a postcard that reads "We made it!" in the form of new album "Greetings From California." I chatted with Benji Madden, who will soon tour with his brother.

You shocked a lot of people recently when you pulled the plug on Good Charlotte. It freaked a lot of people out when we said we … Read more

Star Apps: Women of 'The Wonder Years'

In the late '80s, "The Wonder Years" broke ground as a single-camera comedy with no laugh track, but the show endures because of its warm, human storylines. Fans can now rewatch the series in "The Wonder Years: Complete Series" box set, a metal locker that includes bonus DVD features and a yearbook with behind-the-scenes photos signed by the cast. I chatted with Danica McKellar (Winnie Cooper), Olivia d'Abo (Karen Arnold), and Alley Mills (Norma Arnold) about why the iconic series still instills wonder.

Alley, since the series was set in the '60s, when you were … Read more