<p>Billy Corgan</p>

Billy Corgan

Watch: Smashing Pumpkins debut two truly bizarre videos

One with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan seems to be lightening up, and seems to be interested in promoting his band again. That's why the group released a promo video and an official music video to "Owata."

The latter is culled from ongoing 44-track online album-thingie "Teargarden By Kaleidyscope." And the clip goes for 12 minutes. On underground female wrestlers. It's almost as tolerable as the song, which you can interpret as you will.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also showed up for a 20-second promo to warn the world of a new album "Oceania" from the Chicago-based rock band, erm, soon.

Does "Owata" get you excited for SP material? Does Kareem?

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<p>The Head and the Heart</p>

The Head and the Heart

Credit: Sub Pop

Interview: The Head and The Heart on Sub Pop, bad band names, Iron & Wine

Could this Seattle band be the next Mumford & Sons?

 

The Head and the Heart’s self-titled album is one of those efforts that require no effort to enjoy. Mixing layers of harmonized vocals, the band eddies cluttered and happy rhythms around solid pop melodies. It’s folky and sometimes rock, it’s sad or memorable, and cohesive.
 
It’s what you get when it’s members all live in one house in Seattle and spend endless hours around each other in tandem: to get signed, get that backing, and hit the road in a methodical manner. The band recently toured opening for Iron & Wine; they’re beloved by iconic indie station KEXP; they were a constant every night at SXSW. It’s not the easiest way to get famous, but it’s an effective way to get people to listen.
 
With a few exceptions Josiah Johnson, Kenny Henley, Chris Zasche, Charity Rose Thielen, Tyler Williams and Jonathan Russell largely bounce around the stage, from instrument to instrument; Jon, Josiah and Charity sing with irregular, eerie similarities, but add heat and cool like it was a recipe. That was the case at the Bonnaroo music festival this year, where I caught up with Williams (and a very quiet Russell) on the sidelines of the heat and dust.
 
What was the process of deciding on a record label, and why Sub Pop?
 
Sub Pop’s  always been on my radar, ever since I was nine, looking at the back of [Nirvana’s] “Bleach.” It’s always been the label that you look to, even the logo’s cool. It shows what they’re about. So even as we were going through submissions, we didn’t even think we d hear from them.
 
But being in Seattle helped. We were talking to a lot of major labels at the time. It took [Sub Pop] a while, but I’m glad we held out for them.
 
What went into making that decision, though, particularly since there are still a few reasons left to sign with a major?
 
Our big thing was trying to maintain a lot of control and a lot of groundwork that went in to making the album, that it all didn’t become useless. We wanted a label to augment what we were already doing.
 
We put the record out ourselves in late June of 2010, started touring a bunch, lost our jobs because were touring a bunch, all living in one house. We did it all ourselves. We just hit Seattle hard. We’d keep adding cities around Seattle and got down to L.A. -- Josiah and Kenny are from L.A., so there were friends down there -- good stuff down there. It just seemed like there was a buzz building because we were making it to these big cities on our own. We were selling handmade denim sleeves with the burned CDs inside of ‘em before we had an actual pressing of it. We just wanted to do it in a way that connected people to it.
 
How’s it playing to bigger and bigger crowds, like at festivals? And I noticed you guys were definitely a sing-along band.
 
The other day, we were playing to 15,000 people at Millennium Park with Iron & Wine. That was the biggest crowd I think we’ve done yet. It’s kinda funny how we only just worry about what were doing on stage. Today felt like a small club.
 
But the sing-along thing is awesome, we’ll never not want that.
 
There’s three of you primarily sharing duties singing. How do you divvy up who sings what?
 
Whoever wrote it sings it.
 
And with everybody changing instruments on stage all the time, do you all want to become good at everything you can, or do you concentrate at being good at just one instrument at a time? I mean, you have such a limited time to yourselves, and on the road.
 
Ha, that’s something I’ve been working on for the last 15 years of my life. Going on tour with a band like the Low Anthem in Europe… they all know how to play everything. EVERYTHING. And that was kind of inspiring. When you get back to reality -- playing shows every night in America -- it’s really hard to sit down to learn a new thing or instrument.
 
Or write a new song.
 
Yeah that’s even harder.
 
Do you guys throw songs together pretty quickly? Does it help that you guys all live together?
 
I think living together… its pretty labored no matter what, it takes a while to get to a point where we feel comfortable ngouth playing ‘em live. John or Josiah will bring parts to the full band, two or three ideas or directions, bringing a little change-up. And then we all
 
How do you decide what you’re going to play on national television? Or do you stick to a script.
 
“Lost in My Mind” is our radio single, so you gotta do it. It’s what we did on “Conan” and didn’t really want to do it “Fallon.” But it just made sense. I got a lot of shit from friends who were like, “Why’d you do the same song?”
 
Now that you’ve hit some big goals, what are your personal goals, or what are your big plans for the next six months to a year?
 
We’re lining up dates for our fall headlining tour… we’re just get out to as many people as possible, and keeping this record fresh. I mean, so many people haven’t ever heard of us, or heard it. It’s more a word-of-mouth kind of thing, it’s the way we wanted it. Hopefully, we’ll have a month at the end of the year, to start writing for recording in the spring next year
 
I was gonna say, you guys have a sort of slow burn, like Mumford & Sons or Josh Ritter. And, y’know, no matter what you feel about those guys, everyone can agree they’ve worked their butts off.
 
 See that goes back to the reason why we signed with sub pop. We wanted that slow growth, and we didn’t want a huge marketing campaign by some major label that was just gonna put us in front of a million people all at once. It just seemed kind of corny, kind of fake. You know?
 
But that’s what majors do, that’s what the album cycle is. It is kind of an artificial system. But word of mouth is it’s own cycle.
 
Yeah, like, “release an album every two years! You do this this this then then then… We weren’t looking for that kind of strict dictation… and it’s working out so far.
 
You guys have played some new songs recently, do you have more in your back pocket?
 
Yeah we played two new ones today, “New Jam” and “Seat Beside Me”… we’re not married to the names, obviously, we just have songs like that don’t get names until we have to name them. “Winter Song” and “Couer d'Alene” didn’t have names until we sent them to get mastered.
 
Did you have the same stress in the moment when you had to name the band?
 
I wasn’t on board quite yet when they finally decided. I think initially we were supposed to be Ladies and Gentlemen. Very neutral. But then John called me, like, We’ve got it!” Josiah came up with it… It’s weird naming a band. You could name a band anything, and as long as the music is good, it’ll shape the words of a name in time.
 
Yeah, like, look at Pearl Jam. Or Radiohead.
 
Yeah, like the worst band. Names. Ever.

 

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<p>Yeah, keep smiling, dork.</p>

Yeah, keep smiling, dork.

Watch: James Franco, Kalup Linzy in 'Rising' music video

Just, wow

My boyfriend James Franco is in a electronic music duo called Kalup & Franco, with partner Kalup Linzy.

They made a song called "Rising" and posted the "music video" in advance of their EP "Turn It Up," due July 12.

It's useless.

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<p>Coldplay</p>

Coldplay

Credit: EMI

Watch: Coldplay's 'Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall' music video

Partly animated clip takes the graffiti theme to a new degree

The fun part of being in Coldplay is the ability to purchase an abandoned residential building in the middle of nowhere and cover it in paint. Or, at least, that's what the British soft rock band got up to for the music video to "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall."

Frontman Chris Martin has said that the band was inspired by '80s graffiti and tagging in New York as they made their new, as-yet-untitled effort. If you check their promo photos, and the single art for "Waterfall," you'll see they may be beating the theme to death, as they did with the French military motif for last "Viva La Vida."

However, the overwhelming smell of drying paint and spraycan fumes won't overtake your viewing experience of the clip, which features some beautiful stop-motion concept work. The sad part is, the band turns to the wrong decade -- the '90s -- for those parts with the blacklight paint. Whatever. Wait for the end as you watch an entire building structure get covered in color, splashes raining down from the windows as the band "rocks out" in a field.

The fun parts remind me of the best moments from "Strawberry Swing" and cutout-happy "Don't Panic."

Coldplay are working on finishing their fifth full-length, and have already premiered two additional new songs this month for the "Teardrop" EP. No word yet if those songs, "Major Minus" and "Moving to Mars," will be on the full studio set. They headlined Glastonbury over the weekend and will be pulling similar duty at Lollapalooza in Chicago in August.

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<p>Tom Petty</p>

Tom Petty

Credit: AP Photo

Tom Petty to Bachmann: 'back down,' plus more music vs. politician fights

Springsteen, Jackson Brown, Foo Fighters: Songs on campaign trails that hit bumps

Tom Petty has penned some pretty iconic songs in the past, but the liberal-leaning artist isn't always keen on letting politicians use his tracks on the campaign trail. In the latest example of artists dissenting to politicians' use of their songs for polling gain, the rocker has told Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann to quit using his song "American Girl" at rallies.

Bachmann reportedly played the track during her stops in Iowa this week. There is no word yet if Petty has served a cease-and-desist letter to prevent its further use.

Petty had a similar problem with former president George W. Bush's use of "Won't Back Down" during his campaign in 2000, and a letter was served then. However, the same song was approved for use from  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Democratic presidential run in 2008. Virginia's Jim Webb and New Jersey's Robert Menendez used the track in their Senate races and Eliot Spitzer had it during his gubernatorial run.

A cease-and-desist letter sometimes stops a song's use dead in its tracks; sometimes there is a disconnect between an artist's personal endorsement and copyright holders' and performance rights groups' allowance for a song's usage. Sometimes politicians continue to use songs without securing license for a song use and risk going to court later. Some have even rewritten tunes under the auspices of "parody," a legal use of a melody. And some candidates an continue

Below is a short history of other somewhat recent stand-offs between politician and musicians. In many cases, the fight is against Republican or right wing-leaning candidates. Can you think of some more?

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<p>Drake at the 2011 BET Awards</p>

Drake at the 2011 BET Awards

Credit: AP Photo

Watch: Drake drop official video for 'Marvin's Room'

Is this the hip-hop version of 'Need You Now?'

What is it with tough guys these days? Yesterday Eminem succumbed to his jealousy and shot himself over a girl in the "Space Bound" video, and today Drake -- ever-suffering from his short-lived fame -- drinks himself stupid and drunk-dials a taken lady he lusts after.

I haven't tried to hide my wariness of Drake, and I still contend dude's acclaim is unearned thus far. I think that this new video and track "Marvin's Room" is another example, why we should just give pretty Young Money a pass, particularly on lyrics.

But the cheap clip is, appropriately, dark, and is "heavy" as the singer and MC contends with the weight of love, lust and power balance between man and woman. How? Drunk dialing. It's the great leveler of playing fields. Lady Antebellum's inebriated yearnings from "Need You Now" earned them awards and fan loyalty, but scratched an itch that so many singles suffer. This emo crap may just fly.

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<p>Ryan Adams</p>

Ryan Adams

Song(s) Of The Day: Ryan Adams drops new song, Alice In Chains cover

Checking on the ex-Lost Highway-man

Last we checked in on Ryan Adams, he was prepping a Cardinals double-album "III/IV," which was ultimately released late last year through his own PaxAm label and he was still hocking his sci-fi metal collection "Orion."

The singer-songwriter has been in tour in Europe most recently, and has released some new music that's kind of a bit of the former and some of the latter. Adams did his own take on heavy rockers Alice In Chains' "Nutshell" and made it real laid-back-like. He also dropped bawler "Empty Room," which is also streaming below in its minor-keyed glory.

Nothing bombastic here to see, but he is still obviously productive and backed by an ensemble as willing to take up as easy a tempo as he. The songs are on an exclusive 7" he's been selling on the road internationally.

No word when and if Adams will be touring the U.S. this year, or what his next recording project will be.

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<p>A costume from Bjork's Manchester International Festival residency, courtesy <a href="http://www.nme.com/news/bjork/57600">NME</a>.com</p>
Credit: Carsten Windhorst/Press

Listen: Bjork previews new album with inaugural 'Crystalline' song

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Are the lyrics a bit too 'nebulous?'

Bjork has begun her crusade to unveil her new iPad-album-interactive-media-thing "Biophelia," and the first song from the set has arrived.

"Crystalline" features all the jittery, time-challenging beats that her previous "Volta" reigned upon, her breathy Icelandic-accented and carefully-chose words floating above. And, as per usual, she plucks out the natural language and imagery, of crystal structures spreading out like fingers, under the rocks. And it sounds like a stoner anthem. Perhaps Bjork's been chasing the dragon?

The five-minute, wide-eyed love-in thrives in its minimal and, um, "nebulous" language, narrative-free, as the druggy rhythm takes over with the help of a toy piano and then climaxes in a sparkling trip-hop summit. It reminded me vaguely of "Hyper-Ballad," though that song crested back when the songwriter seemed still interested in penning A Big Chorus.

This track seems to be an introduction of her celebrations, of these weird "bio"-fueled anomalies in nature and in humans (and in "human nature," perhaps).

And it appears there are many a'remixer who may get their greedy little hands on the tracks. Best Mustache contender Omar Souleyman is giving "Crystalline" a crack apparently, video below. Reduxes like these may just put some meat on the bones of this skeleton.

Each of "Biophelia's" 10 songs/compositions will have "coordinated apps," but no word what the feature will hold for "Crystalline." The track will be available for purchase starting on June 30. Bjork will be performing new music from "Biophelia" -- defined by the singer as “love of life or living systems" -- during her three-week residency at art-centric Manchester International Festival starting Thursday (June 27) to July 16. Click here for all dates.

 

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<p>Eminem</p>

Eminem

Credit: AP Photo

Watch: Eminem's 'Space Bound' features suicide, porn star Sasha Grey

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Graphic, ambiguous clip features Slim Shady suffering girl problems

In a weeks that may feature Jill Scott overtaking Eminem and Royce 5'9"'s Bad Meets Evil set on The Billboard 200, Slim Shady is back with a brand new music video from him "Recovery" album released last year.

"Space Bound" was one of the more pop-leaning tracks from "Recovery" I thought should be turned into a single, and here it is, almost exactly a year after the album release. For the clip, Eminem returns to his rain/fog motif, as he emotes about a break-up and a break from reality. The dream-like scene has him riding shotgun with his love on a quiet dark road, stopping off at a diner, and some sad suspicions derived from evidence on her cellphone. She leaves her table and disappears into a house, he follows her and can't find her.

At points, all along the "road," Em's split personalities stop, seemingly unable to handle it. And whether he calls it quits in the car, in the diner, in the house, the conclusion is the same: his love (or "lust") is too much. He offs himself in a graphic manner.

It probably doesn't help that his "supernova" is porn star Sasha Grey, who gives a, erm, minimal performance.

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<p>Wilco</p>

Wilco

Listen: Wilco release new single 'I Might'

Congrats are in order, with a glockenspiel to boot

Color me interested in Wilco again. As we mentioned before, the band was to bow its first single during its very own Solid Sound festival in Massachusetts this weekend, and the track, "I Might," is a doozy.

There's nothing stadium or over-the-top about it, but the simplicity makes it memorable. Tweedy doesn't go wild with the metaphors or with the dictionary, but pushes the easy melody through the chuh-chuh-chuh of guitars, fuzzy bass, and a cute glockenspiel. Mikael Jorgensen dialed in his inner-Steve Nieve circa 1978 with the keyboards. I could hum this thing.

The limited-edition blue vinyl release was sold at the festival and is up for pre-order via the band's own label dBpm, distributed by Anti-. The B-side is the band's cover of Immaculate Noise fave Nick Lowe's "I Love My Label." I see what you did there. A traditional black vinyl version will be out July 19. No word on if a digital version will become available at retailers same day, but vinyl purchasers will get a complimentary digital download.

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