Red Hot Chili Peppers

On VH1, drummer Chad Smith said he auditioned for the Peppers and the next day he was on stage with a sock on his dick. The group has grown musically since those freaky days. Its latest, By the Way, is less funky, more layered and has fewer solos, but every tune is a gem.

Listeners will swoon over the Beach Boys-like vocal harmonies led by guitarist John Frusciante, who’s largely responsible for the album’s rich melodies. During the Blood Sugar tour, he quit the band and almost died from an addiction to heroin and cocaine. Frusciante told Guitar World that, while he was high, ghosts contacted him from the spirit realm. This supernatural soliciting may have enhanced his chops, as his patterns here are simple yet haunting.

By the Way shows the Peppers have strong minds, not just strong bodies. Gone are the sex raps. Anthony Kiedis croons somber lyrics like “Can’t stop the spirits when they need you, this life is more than just a read through.”

Right now, the Peppers will be touring only in Australia, Japan and New Zealand. Maybe By the Way is too textured for them to play live. I saw them twice on the Californication tour, and they sounded just like the record.