Say His Name, Say Her Name: Listen to Janelle Monae's new protest anthem

Say His Name, Say Her Name: Listen to Janelle Monae's new protest anthem

Janelle Monae and her Wondaland Records cohorts have crafted a drum-and-voices protest anthem for these days of racial unrest and #blacklivesmatter protests. Monáe, Jidenna, Roman GianArthur, Deep Cotton, St. Beauty, and George 2.0 all jump in.

"Hell You Talmbout" is posted to Soundcloud as a free download to boot.

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'High By The Beach,' Or Why Do You Not Have Lana Del Rey's Life

'High By The Beach,' Or Why Do You Not Have Lana Del Rey's Life

New music video has it all: highs, beaches, helicopters blowing up

Lana Del Rey's "High By The Beach" music video is almost precisely what you'd think a Lana Del Rey music video about being high by the beach would look like.


The empty beach house is Del Rey's chiffon-draped canvas, as she squints at the ocean, tightens her nighty in a mirror, rolls on a bed, flips through a celebrity magazine and then shoots a helicopter with an anti-aircraft gun as the dude inside of it takes her picture.

There is a message there. There is subdued worry on her face -- it's not all candy and lattes in Del Rey's world.

The message is: Lana's in the danger zone.

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Yup, Tom Hiddleston sure does look like Hank Williams

Yup, Tom Hiddleston sure does look like Hank Williams

The first official picture of Tom Hiddleston as country icon Hank Williams for the forthcoming film "I Saw The Light" has been released, and he looks every bit the part as you'd hope.

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Ice Cube may never retire "Bye Felicia"

Ice Cube may never retire "Bye Felicia"

DJ Yella and Ice Cube reflect on 'Straight Outta Compton' and myth

The phrase "Bye, Felicia" (or Felisha, for purists) has saturated the modern vernacular. It's origins as slang originated with the 1995 film "Friday," but the life and times of N.W.A. may have had a little something to do with it too.

Or so goes the mythmaking of "Straight Outta Compton," the N.W.A. biopic in theaters in Friday.

Whatever "Bye Felicia's" true Ground Zero, the popularity of the phrase still makes Ice Cube rather proud, and he may never retire it.

I caught up with the "Friday" actor and "Straight Outta Compton" producer plus his former N.W.A. cohort DJ Yella to discuss "Compton," to chat about history versus mythmaking... and if there's any truth to those Eminem-joining-an-N.W.A.-reunion rumors.

"Straight Outta Compton" is in theaters on July 14.

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Watch the new trailer for Arcade Fire's arty new 'Reflektor' film

Watch the new trailer for Arcade Fire's arty new 'Reflektor' film

'The Reflektor Tapes' gets a festival debut at TIFF

Fans got a first taste of Arcade Fire's "The Reflektor Tapes" -- the rock band's first feature-length film -- through a teaser trailer last month.

Now, the film has not only confirmed a festival debut at TIFF, but it's theatrical release has been pushed up to start sooner, so Arcade Fire followers can jump right in.

The band dropped a new, fuller, artier trailer today (Aug. 11) with even more footage from concerts, interviews and behind-the-scenes of their "Reflektor" touring stints.

As a release describes the Kahlil Joseph-helmed flick, "It is a film quite unlike any other; an authentic cinematic experience, meeting at the crossroads of documentary, music, art and personal history... each and every screening of this limited release will be part of a unique cinematic event to be shared by audiences around the world."

That must include its worldwide premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 12. The movie also promises a brand-new, previously unreleased Arcade Fire song and 15-minutes of exclusive footage for its theatrical audiences.

"The film recontextualizes the album experience, transporting the viewer into a kaleidoscopic sonic and visual landscape. It charts the band’s creative journey as they lay foundations for the album in Jamaica, commence recording sessions in Montreal and play an impromptu gig at a Haitian hotel on the first night of Carnival, before bringing their breathtaking live show to packed arenas in Los Angeles and London," the post reads.

I'm interested to see how Joseph deals with the group's fantastical, costumed live shows and cutting the film with these shots of Carnival and in Jamaica versus, say, Arcade Fire's Halloween show at the Palladium in L.A., dealing with how cultural ideas influence the group's sonic palate and how much registers with its fans.

"The Reflektor Tapes" heads to theaters starting on Sept. 23. Ticket info and additional details can be found via The Reflektor Tapes website.

Joseph has directed commercials and music videos like FKA Twigs' "Video Girl" and Kendrick Lamar's "mAAd" short film.

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'True Detective's' bar singer Lera Lynn on finale: 'I thought it was really sad'

'True Detective's' bar singer Lera Lynn on finale: 'I thought it was really sad'

Nashville singer-songwriter on being the HBO show's Greek Chorus

Lera Lynn admits finding a new audience for sad, slow songs is a tough feat, but she knows now that performing as the "Greek chorus" of hit HBO show "True Detective" is a real avenue for lovers of the down-and-out.

In an interview today (Aug. 10) -- a day after the Season 2 finale -- Lynn is happy to report that more people are coming to her shows and more doors are being opened after she spent the summer singing in what could be The World's Saddest Venue -- Frank's bar.

Lynn collaborated with famed producer T Bone Burnett and songwriter Roseanne Cash to create the eerie, depressing laments for her "strung out" Siren, on Nic Pizzolatto's show. But don't mistake it: she's more than glad to have gone through it. Read our Q&A below, on what her character really was, what her plans are next, and if Frank's bar is really the worst room ever.


HitFix: So, what’d you think of the finale?

Lera Lynn: Oh my god. I thought it was really sad.

Is that what you expected?

No, not at all. The most heartbreaking part was Ray’s phone not uploading that voice memo to his son at the end.  <Long sigh>

A lot of people are still questioning who and what you are on the show. Are you an apparition?

You’d have to ask Nic. <Laughs> I have no idea!

How have you described your role to friends and fans as the show’s gone on?

The role is almost like a modern day Greek chorus. Those moments in the show are when the audience gets to review what’s happened, and take a break from the action and piece together the story and there’s the music’s in the background.

…I guess. It’s still such a mystery, the whole thing!

Do you feel sad now that it’s over?

I do. I wish it could keep going. It just seemed like there’s a lot of the story that’s still untold. Maybe that was the intention, to let everybody fill in the gaps for themselves.  That’s what music is a lot of the time, too.

How has this experience philosophically or creatively influenced you, going forward?

It’s showing me that there’s a much wider spectrum, emotionally, that is appealing to people as listeners. When you’re an up-and-coming artist, it’s difficult to build a fanbase around sad and slower [music]. It’s definitely something that people crave and appreciate and enjoy. Being part of the show, I’ve been able to connect with so many new fans who express their gratitude for that kind of music. It’s opened a lot of creative doors for me.

I’ve always appreciated and enjoyed making that kind of music, but again its tough to do when you don’t have an audience for it. I think it just broadens my creative perspective.

Did you feel like you were your own character? Was there a great amount of acting on your part to sing these sad songs?

Not really. I think the only “acting” would be just a performance – the live performance or the lack thereof. I was supposed to be pretty strung out, not really connecting with the audience, not really performing for anybody but myself.

Musically, I think the reason T Bone asked me to collaborate with him is he saw that element in my music. I’ve touched on it in recordings, but it’s never been encouraged to the degree that it has with T Bone.

Does your character live at Ray’s bar?

Yeah, maybe, I guess so? She leaves at the end though, right?

Everything about that character is that she seems trapped. And everyone on the show seems trapped. Trapped in this weird limbic state of life where everyone’s trying to get somewhere else that they can’t go.

Talk about the influence of Roseanne Cash and T Bone Burnett’s on your songwriting.

They’re masters of their craft, in how effortlessly they work. Its difficult to find that kind of dynamic within yourself when you’re writing or creating anything of any kind. Effortless acting, singing… being able to tap into your intuition and letting it flow freely. They’re both great at that.

It’s a tough, constant battle to trust yourself, and let it flow. It was inspiring to be around, and obviously really helpful for me just working on the show. It increased my writing output significantly.

Are you going to be writing happy songs from here on out?

<Laughs> A chaser?

I think it’s going to run the full spectrum.

What was your favorite song or performance from the whole season?

I think “My Least Favorite Life” or “The Only Things Worth Fighting For.”

There were songs we wrote that didn’t make the show, too.

What’s the plan with all this music then?

I think the plan is to release the music through Harvest [Records] soon. But I don’t know. Maybe I’ll find out about the plan at the same time and way as the rest of us.

Were there other songs and artists that helped define the mood you were going for on the show?

When we were making this music, I was listening to Timber Timbre a lot. I love that band. The production is dark and groovy at the same time. Mysterious. I could see that music easily fitting in to Season 2.

Had you ever played a bar like Frank’s bar before this experience?

So many. And worse.

What was the worst room you’ve ever played?

Well, not naming names, but there’s been a really disgusting smoking-allowed-indoors type sports bar, or two. Or three. Where everybody’s watching football and don’t give a sh*t that you’re playing music.

That’s the part that hurts -- not that the room’s disgusting, but that people just don’t care.

What’s next for you, and your music?

We’re planning a big tour this fall, from Nashville to Seattle. Taking my whole band. It’ll be a big long adventure.

And we’re trying to get a record done. We’ve done a couple songs, but it’s crunch time, now, right?

Here are Lera Lynn's confirmed tour dates (with more TBA):

Sept. 17 – Nashville, TN – The Mercy (Americana Music Festival)
Sept. 19-20 – Bristol, TN - Bristol Rhythm and Brews Fest
Sept. 23 – Birmingham, AL - WorkPlay
Sept. 24 - Little Rock, AR  -South on Main- Oxford American
Sept. 25 - Dallas, TX - Kessler Theater
Sept. 26 – Austin, TX - The Parish
Sept. 29 – Phoenix, AZ - Musical Instrument Museum
Oct. 1 - Pioneertown, CA - Pappy & Harriet's
Oct. 2 – Los Angeles, CA -The Troubadour
Oct. 6 - Portland, OR - Mississippi Studios
Oct. 7 - Seattle, WA - Triple Door
Oct. 9 - Salt Lake City, UT  - State Room
Oct. 10 – Denver, CO - Daniels Hall
Oct. 12 - Kansas City, MO - Knuckleheads
Oct. 13 - St. Louis, MO - Blueberry Hill
Oct. 14 – Louisville, KY - Headliners Music Hall
Oct. 16 – Knoxville, TN - Square Room
Oct. 17 – Nashville, TN - 3rd & Lindsey

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Paul Thomas Anderson directed Joanna Newsom's new music video: Watch

Paul Thomas Anderson directed Joanna Newsom's new music video: Watch

'Sapokanikan' is the first song to arrive from 'Divers,' rich in sad NYC history

The powers of director Paul Thomas Anderson and actress/songwriter Joanna Newsom combine yet again with the arrival of dramatic new song "Sapokanikan."

The music video -- directed by the "There Will Be Blood" and "The Master" helmer -- follows Newsom through New York, more specifically in Greenwich Village, which yields a history lesson "Sapokanikan."

Sapokanikan is an actual place: it was tiny country town, a Lenape Indian village for trade, it's name meaning "tobacco field." The area was then overtaken by the Dutch -- as much of modern-day Manhattan was -- in the early 1600s. And, obviously since then, the land has changed hands and geography, its past buried underneath the concrete and street lamps by which Newsom traverses during her new tale.

Like a lot of the singer-songwriter's tunes, this new one is a hike of words, a journey of its own, as she refers to "parks where pale colonnades arch in marble in stone," American folk legends, the interment of bodies and the paupers' ditches at Hart Island, a Dutch "master," the hand of God/power/time, New York's "boy mayor" John Purroy Mitchell (who died in World War I). These persons and their personal stories are buried underneath New York's leveled streets, like the name of an unrequited lover beneath layers of paint (hence the reference to Florry Walker in a painting by Australian painter Arthur Streeton).

Newsom opens by saying this poem and tune is about an "Ozymandian" fate; Ozymandias, of course, being the subject of the poem about great monuments of great men whose names are lost to time ("Look and despair," she says in closing). She is crying by the video's end, as she marches past the whirring lights of emergency vehicles.

To me, it's a lamentation: that no matter what excavations and "x-rays" of New York's past you make, "the records they left are cryptic at best / Lost in obsolescence" and death. A "hand" writes history, but a master's hand can also write the wrong version of history, and can kill, bury and idle.

It is, lyrically, a "masterful" song.

"Sapokanikan" is the first track to arrive from Newsom's new album "Divers," out on October 23 via Drag City.

Newsom acted in P.T. Anderson's last film "Inherent Vice," as Earth goddess/narrator and imaginary friend Sortilège.

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Jon Stewart's most endearing 'Daily Show' idiosyncrasies I'll miss the most
Credit: AP Photo

Jon Stewart's most endearing 'Daily Show' idiosyncrasies I'll miss the most

It's the little things

Tonight is Jon Stewart's last night as host of "The Daily Show" after 16 years at the helm.

As the "fake news" and comedy program has become increasingly political, so has Stewart shifted, in how he addresses real news, terrible news, news that affects the country's fringes to its most culturally active.

While Stewart's bits and scripts handily dwelled in cynicism and sarcasm, the entertainer's knack for bringing that plane out of a nosedive -- whether with physical comedy, or with an uplifting guest, or suggesting active solutions for armchair activists -- is nothing short of magic.

I enjoyed reading appreciation pieces like Inkoo Kang's "In Praise of Jon Stewart: The Bro Who Evolved" and Harry Cheadle's "Growing Up With Jon Stewart" because they address Stewart as a performer who progresses, advances, adjusts and grows.

We -- as critics, fans, consumers -- aren't always good with change. Stewart's brand and his jokes have arced throughout his career on the show, sometimes with hostility, silliness, earnestness, nihilism, over-investment, humility, insanity or on the backs of his supporting talent and writers.

When he announced he was departing, Stewart said that his show "doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host, and neither do you.” His hair has greyed. His political charge has become angrier. For years, I've enjoyed laughing at the effort into which he tears and mangles his nightly show's blue cheat sheets, though that particular expression doubles as a wish for containment and frustration. When aching stupidity or the astounding lack of self-awareness exhibited by outspoken members of society from either side of the U.S. political aisle seems to be the only voice the greater public hear, I can understand how Stewart's continuance on the show could become laborious.

So here's to Jon Stewart, for the little things, the unshakeable idiosyncrasies and endearing tics and habits that helped to fill in the formula, to keep the Comedy Central show from turning into a downward spiral on fire. Despite news headlines that feel like we've entered daily into the apocalypse, there's always a flick of a wrist, a stammered sentence or a funny face that felt familiar, and moving.

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Ryan Adams is covering Taylor Swift's '1989'; Taylor Swift is AMPED

Ryan Adams is covering Taylor Swift's '1989'; Taylor Swift is AMPED


Ryan Adams says he is committing to covering all of Taylor Swift's latest album "1989," and Taylor Swift herself is super amped about it.

Adams first posted a photo to Instagram about "Taylor Swift 1989 full album cover night 1," mentioned the performance of the night was in the style of The Smiths.


Taylor Swift 1989 full album cover night 1. As played by the Smiths. W @totally_tod @cstavish @natelotz

A photo posted by Ryan Adams (@misterryanadams) on


The news made Swift exclaim "I WILL PASS OUT."


Adams then kept the exchange going, posting clips of himself and his collaborators performing a very Springsteenian version of "Welcome to New York."



A photo posted by Ryan Adams (@misterryanadams) on

I, like Taylor Swift, wait with held breath.

If unfamiliar with Ryan Adams, I recommend giving "Gimme Something Good" a spin.

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Macklemore became a dad, and now here's his song with Ed Sheeran about it
Credit: AP Photo

Macklemore became a dad, and now here's his song with Ed Sheeran about it

Feelings are hard

Macklemore was a guest star on Fences' "Arrows" single last year, but today marks the first time since the rapper and collaborator Ryan Lewis have released new music since they raked in all those Grammys in 2014.

"Growing Up (Sloane's Song)" is an ode to Macklemore's two-month-old baby daughter Sloane -- but much like the duo's big hit "Same Love," the song is just as much about Macklemore as it is about the "message" he's trying to portray.

And this is generally OK. It's earnest as hell, eventually giving way to a listicle of life lessons like a high school graduation speech. Ed Sheeran's tone-perfect soul croon lifts the weight, along with the moaning and happy horns section.

The subtext here is that Macklemore is trying to "grow up" as he's preparing to help raise his daughter on an unfair planet ("They say girls shouldn't be tough/And moms should raise their kids at home/But baby, I know that that isn't true"), just as he was still grappling with the constrictions and heartache of fame as a rising and yet unsteady star in "Arrows." "Growing Up" is less like Jay-Z's "Glory," and more on par with Common's "Retrospect for Life" (featuring Lauryn Hill, amen) or Royce da 5'9"'s "Life": It's about the reticence of fatherhood, and feeling ill-prepared to raise a child not only because of your own hindrances, but also because of intrinsic racial and gender bias in society.

In short, addressing personal weakness and eliminating overstatement in rap is hard. As Macklemore says in the post below, "I knew I had to change," and he's just working through some feelings, delivering them bluntly over a very catchy melody. The tune could catch fire with a lot of new dads who are trying to find their way, just as Macklemore's lyricism is weaving its way to a more humble (if verily simpler) perspective.

Below is the note Macklemore (real name: Ben Haggerty) posted to accompany the song, which is available for free download:

I wish that I could say that I was in a “better place” when I found out the news. It would make for a far more polished and respectable story. But I think back to that night: praying on the floor at 2am as Tricia went to the bathroom to take the pregnancy test I’d just purchased from Walgreens. I was scared. Scared to start working on new music. Scared of trying again and failing. Scared of the process of staring at myself through a page and seeing someone that I wasn’t proud of. Someone that I didn’t like. Someone that wasn’t ready to be a dad.

I’ve always had some make-believe image in my head of who I would be as a father. I held on to clear expectations of where I wanted be in my career, my age, my level of self-care, and my maturity. I basically assumed that I'd have it all together. But in actuality the hypothetical “dad" version of me looked completely different than the man whose heart was beating out of his chest on the carpet, praying to a god or spirit I hadn’t talked to in months. When Tricia walked out of the bathroom, I knew. And I knew I had to change.

5 months later we were recording in a remote cabin away from the density that is Seattle. I was finally having fun in the studio for the first time in years. Songs were getting made, finally. I was going back to the city once a week to attend a birthing class with Tricia. When I got back to the cabin the next day, Ryan had made a new beat that would eventually become the song you’re listening to. Half of it is advice about growing up. The other half is trying to figure out how to grow up myself.

When you try to escape yourself, life has an interesting way of creating situations that force you to come back. To look at who you are. This is why “Growing up” felt like the right song to re-emerge with. It’s where I’ve been the last year, through all the ups and downs. We didn’t want to do a big campaign or anything over the top with this. We just wanted to put out good music, directly to the people that have been here since the beginning. Thank you for your patience. Hope you enjoy.

And if you’re wondering…

Our daughter, Sloane Ava Simone Haggerty was born 2 months ago on May 29th. There is nothing like the joy and happiness that comes from bringing a baby into this universe. She has filled my heart in ways that I never knew were possible. She is the love of my life. This song is for her.

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