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Review: Vampire Weekend's new album 'Modern Vampires of the City'
Credit: XL

Review: Vampire Weekend's new album 'Modern Vampires of the City'

Choirs, harpisocord, the Eternal and -- or course -- glorious pop music


After three albums, Vampire Weekend officially have an evolved history. The band burst out the gate with their bounding pop self-titled, followed by the developing limbs of comparatively underwhelming “Contra” from 2010. With “Modern Vampires of the City,” their patterns of pop and full-witted lyricism have segued with orchestras, choirs, more electronic-based rhythms and years worth of new tales of age and spirit.
Gone are the beach bonfires of “Cape Kwassa Kwassa,” or throwback rock of “Kids Don’t Stand a chance.” Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig explains it in part on new song and grand standout “Step”: “Wisdom’s a gift but you trade it for youth / age is an honor, it’s still not the truth.”
The band’s always been lean, with most of their tracks in around 3-minutes, but they’re packing them tighter, and thematically they stick to the point. Rostam Batmanglij and Koenig spends “Modern Vampires” on topics of spirituality, personal ritual and aging (both his own and the era).
"Diane Young" (read: dyin' young) has Koenig’s voice pitch just like Jamie Lidell like it, fronting a weird funk-rock party band from the ‘50s, playing with the genre with both a smirk and a big toothy grin. His voice is used as an instrument on “Finger Back,” taking us to Jerusalem – apparently at the “falafel shop on 103rd and Broadway” – in a bevy of altar organs of the highest order. He also takes us to church in "Ya Hey", which is so keenly and specifically about God/all-gods: it doesn’t fall out of the wheelhouse, but is another way to revel in the exuberance of language in the solemnity of the subject matter. “Worship You” and “Everlasting Arms,” as you can imagine, has similar warped features, as he explores the space between master and servant, class and honor, just here on Earth.
What there is of story here is in New York (“slash San Francisco”), but also in the imagination of producers (band multi-instrumentalist) Batmanglij and Ariel Rechtshaid in the studio. “Worship You” transcends from being a novelty, coke-speed faux-folk-romper into a sophisticated time-traveler through synth frequencies and gurgling samples. The capture the chilly, the doomed romance of “Hannah Hunt,” having Koenig shouting his punny punchline "Though we live on the U.S. dollar / you and me we got our own sense of time”; they follow it with three songs of solid basslines that would have Talking Heads talking.
Every song has something hidden, or amplified and then suppressed underneath Koenig’s verbosity and kiddish range; the band sneaks in the fake baroque of a harpsichord and holy choirs on more than one occasion. There’s fantastical flourishes of tambourine and what sounds like a kick drum on a very sturdy moving box for successful midtempo rocker “Don’t Lie.” An upright piano clamors for attention on "Obvious Bicycle," the repeating verses and slight color changes of harmony-laden “Unbelievers” and a bastard crew of rhythmic noise from “Hudson,” which is equal parts coming-of-age and disenchantment.
This collection puts Vampire Weekend up and over more than three dozen studio song, enough to say when they’re ascending and when they’re maybe losing their edge. Result: “Modern Vampires” is sharp as hell, elegant and lusciously treated to give it a consistent sheen, even on the weirdos. This is a move up, even from their debut offering, even from their most obvious influences and New York landmarks. After an effort this complete and viciously fulfilling, It’s tough to imagine anything they’d wish to revise, leaving it to its listeners: with so much mood, humor, variety, challenges and, of course, glorious pop music, there's little I'd leave off or add on.


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<p>Josh Radnor as Ted Mosby in &quot;How I&nbsp;Met Your Mother.&quot;</p>

Josh Radnor as Ted Mosby in "How I Met Your Mother."

Credit: CBS

Season finale review: 'How I Met Your Mother' - 'Something New'

Ted, Lily and Marshall make travel plans for after Robin and Barney's wedding, and a new player enters the scene

A review of tonight's "How I Met Your Mother" finale coming up just as soon as I'm the crazy speakerphone judge...

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<p>Dierks Bentley</p>

Dierks Bentley

Credit: Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP

Dierks Bentley looks inward for his next album, 'Riser'

Singer records some of seventh set on the road

Riser,” Dierks Bentley’s seventh album, out this fall, will focus on a number of personal topics, including his father’s death last spring.

“Riser” takes its title from a song called “I’m A Riser,” about recommitment. “Life in general has a way of knocking you down,” Bentley said in a statement. “It’s different reasons for different folks – could be personal reasons, could be family reasons, your job, drugs, alcohol. That song really applies to anybody that’s lived. There have always been those moments when we have to get back up and get on our feet.  They are defining moments…breakthrough moments.”

The album, produced by “Tip It On Back” co-writer Ross Copperman, was recorded in a variety of locales, including Bentley’s tour bus and Copperman’s house.  “It was important to get out of the studio and sing in different places, and to do it with other people in the room,” Bentley said. “That way, you have an audience and you get a sense of what’s working, what’s not working, when it’s feeling good, not feeling good. It brings a little more emotion and energy out of your voice.”

Bentley’s last album, “Home,” debuted at No. 1 on the country chart. He is on tour with Miranda Lambert through October.  He is opening a bar, Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, in his native Arizona on July 4.


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<p>Yeah Yeah Yeahs</p>

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Yeah Yeah Yeahs and My Bloody Valentine headline FYF Fest 2013

Deerhunter and Beach House also on bill for Los Angeles event

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, My Bloody Valentine, TV on the Radio, and MGMT are among the acts that will headline the 10th FYF Fest, held Aug. 24-25 at Los Angeles State Historic Park. It will be MBV’s first U.S. show since 2009.

Other artists on the bill include Deerhunter, Beach House, Solange, Yo La Tengo, Devendra Banhart, The Breeders, Death Grips, Roky Erickson, Foxygen, Holy Ghost! and The Melvins.

Weekend passes, which go on sale on Thursday, start at $99. Day passes are $65.

The full lineup for FYF Fest 2013 is:

!!! (Chik Chik Chik)
Beach House
Charles Bradley
Chelsea Wolfe
Dan Deacon
Death Grips
Devendra Banhart
Eleanor Friedberger
Fear of Men
FLAG (Keith, Chuck, Dez, Billy & Stephen playing the songs of Black Flag)
Holy Ghost!
Horse Meat Disco
How to Dress Well
Jonathan Richman
Joyce Manor
Kurt Vile & the Violators
Les Savy Fav
Mac Demarco
Mikal Cronin
My Bloody Valentine
Nosaj Thing
Omar Souleyman
Roky Erickson
The Breeders (Performing Last Splash)
The Melvins
The Orwells
The Underachievers
Thee Oh Sees
Title Fight
Toro y Moi
Touche Amore
TV on the Radio
Ty Segall
Washed Out
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Yo La Tengo

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<p>Robin Wright is front and center as 'Robin Wright' in the new film 'The Congress'</p>

Robin Wright is front and center as 'Robin Wright' in the new film 'The Congress'

Credit: Independent Films

Must Watch: First trailer for 'The Congress' is a mind-bending techno dream for Robin Wright

New animation/live-action hybrid from 'Waltz With Bashir' director looks crazy

I thought "Waltz With Bashir" was a gorgeous film. I didn't think it always hit the same heights dramatically that it did visually, but it was an intriguing way to give a fresh look to what is essentially a talking heads documentary.

Since then, I've been curious to see how filmmaker Ari Folman would follow up that picture. He decided to start with a Stanislaw Lem science-fiction novel, then adapt it loosely and use it to explore the notion of whether or not our essence is something that can be captured by a computer, much less recreated.

For years now, I've heard people in Los Angeles talking about the idea of scanning movie stars into computers, head to toe, as a way of allowing them to freeze themselves at a particular moment in time, using their digital model to appear in films while their physical form continues to age. We're not at that point yet, but it's something that people have been actively considering for a while, and the conversation raises any number of points about technology, ethics, performance, and what it is we respond to when we watch someone.

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Watch Fox's new show trailers

Watch Fox's new show trailers
Fox has released lengthy promos for "Us & Them," Seth MacFarlane's "Dads," Andy Samberg's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," Greg Kinnear's "Rake,"  J.J. Abrams' "Almost Human," plus "Enlisted" and "Sleepy Hollow."

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<p>James Franco in &quot;As I&nbsp;Lay&nbsp;Dying&quot;</p>

James Franco in "As I Lay Dying"

Credit: Millennium Films

James Franco tackles William Faulkner in the trailer for Cannes-bound 'As I Lay Dying'

The film will hit the Croisette next week

One of the most fascinating projects in James Franco's compelling and vast arsenal as of late is an adaptation of William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying." The film is set for the Un Certain Regard section of the upcoming Cannes Film Festival and is the first big screen adaptation of the novel, widely considered one of the greatest ever written.

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<p>James Gandolfini</p>

James Gandolfini

Credit: HBO

James Gandolfini returning to HBO: He'll star in limited series 'Criminal Justice'

James Gandolfini returning to HBO: He'll star in limited series "Criminal Justice"
HBO originally passed on the seven-part series when it was pitched to be more open-ended. "The Sopranos" star will play an "ambulance-chasing New York City attorney" who's in over his head. The project is based on a BBC series. PLUS: Gandolfini says no "Sopranos" movie -- unless David Chase goes broke.

"Breaking Bad's" Spanish-language remake for Univision is a go
"Metástasis" will star Diego Trujillo in the Bryan Cranston role and Roberto Urbina in the Aaron Paul role.

Jay Leno & Jimmy Fallon sing another duet, this time from "Les Miserables"
In a pre-taped bit at the NBC Upfronts, Leno and Fallon sang "One Day More," except their version was called "Eight Months More."

Expect nearly every NBC News star to cameo on "The Michael J. Fox Show"
Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie already can be seen in the promo NBC released this morning.

Barbara Walters' retirement gets the Taiwanese animation treatment
"Bye, Bye Baba Wawa!"

"Bionic Woman's" Michelle Ryan joins "Covert Affairs"
Starting with the season premiere, she'll play an agent with a shadowy past.

Who should replace Seth Meyers on Weekend Update?

What about John Mulaney, the "SNL" writer who's NBC pilot was rejected?

"Survivor: Caramoan" champ: How I won "blows my mind"
Says John Cochran: "No votes cast against me and then every vote at the end — that’s crazy." PLUS: Cochran’s timing was impeccable.

Oxygen orders "Pastors of LA"
The reality show will follow six "mega-pastors" in Southern California.

Howard Stern grills Jimmy Kimmel and his fiancee
"The first time you made love to Jimmy, was it awkward?" the shock jock asked Molly McNearny, who's also co-head-writer of "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

Watch "Hannibal's" bizarre Korean promo
With the main character's head photoshopped on a Korean pop star.

Check out pics from Fox's "Sleepy Hollow"
Plus see photos from Greg Kinnear's "Rake" and Andy Samberg's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."

24 things we know about "How I Met Your Mother"
We keep on seeing the same yellow umbrella.

Who is "Mad Men's" Bob Benson?
Is James Wolk's character a government agent, a spy from another ad agency or a red herring? PLUS: Last night was the 2nd satisfying episode in a row!, "Mad Men" has a Don Draper problem, Draper hit a new low in being mean, creepy and unlikeable, this season Pete's been on fire, the storyline revolving around Don and Sylvia was dull, and did Don become Christian Grey?

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"Welcome to the Family"

 "Welcome to the Family"

Credit: NBC

The first trailer for 'Welcome to the Family' promises babies, hijinks

A dad's plans are derailed by his high school grad daughter

In the first trailer for "Welcome to the Family," we get a lot of information. Whether or not it's funny, well, you be the judge. 

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"Sean Saves the World"

 "Sean Saves the World"

Credit: NBC

Watch: Sean Hayes returns for NBC's 'Sean Saves the World'

"Will & Grace" star Sean Hayes plays a gay divorced dad

"Will & Grace" star Sean Hayes has a new sitcom, this time playing a gay divorced dad with a pushy mom (Linda Lavin) and a typical teenage girl (Sam Isler). Instead of the usual mom-trying-to-juggle storyline, it's Sean who struggles to find work-home balance in this first trailer for the show.

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<p>We may not have shared cocktails, but I&nbsp;had a great time interviewing Jessica Walter for 'Arrested Development' anyway.</p>

We may not have shared cocktails, but I had a great time interviewing Jessica Walter for 'Arrested Development' anyway.

Credit: HitFix

Jessica Walter calls her roles on 'Archer' and 'Arrested Development' a 'gift'

How can someone this nice play the two most insane mothers on TV?

Jessica Walter is all sorts of awesome.

First, she is part of one of my favorite animated shows, and not just of recent vintage, either. I think "Archer" belongs in the pantheon of animated comedy. That show is funny on so many simultaneous levels that it makes me dizzy. I love it as a spy comedy, as a comedy about a stunted manchild and his relationship with his mother, and as a non-stop barrage of some of the dirtiest things that have ever made me laugh.

Second, she's the mother of the Bluth family, and that alone would secure her place in the all-time hall of fame. Her work as Lucille was a major part of what made the show special. Watching her manipulate her children and grapple with the ethical vacuum that is her husband and somehow never spill a drop of any of her martinis… well, that's talent.

Beyond that, I wonder how many younger fans of her work in those shows are familiar with the role that first made her an icon to me, Clint Eastwood's "Play Misty For Me." She is outstanding in that film as a woman who is completely obsessed with a radio disc jockey played by Eastwood. It was his first film as a director, and it's still one of the best roles he's ever given an actress in his work.

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Barbara Walters

 Barbara Walters

Credit: ABC

Watch: Barbara Walters' announces her retirement - and why it matters

Watch her announcement and weigh in

It's the end of an era. Though we'd all heard the rumors weeks ago, Barbara Walters has officially announced she's retiring next year (and savvily saved that information until toda to steal the thunder during TV upfronts). "I'm perfectly healthy, this is my decision, I've been thinking about it for a long time," she said on "The View," before admitting, "There will special occasions and I will come back... I'm not dead yet."

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