Today in Christmas news, there's Justin Bieber using "swag," Sarah McLachlan helping her own charity, "Drunk History" with Ryan Goslin and Jim Carrey in funny hats and a supergroup boasting members of the Black Lips and Deer Tick sit down for some Christmas Chinese food.
Just a day after he announced a new forthcoming album, Paul McCartney's already showing some of his cards. Or, rather, his "Valentines."
"My Valentine" is one of two original songs to be released on the forthcoming, as-yet-untitled album, due on Feb. 7. Note to lovers: that's a week before actual Valentine's.
This track features Eric Clapton accompanying the easy ballad on nylon-string guitar. The whole mix is very upfront, with a lot of room noise. It could supposedly reflect what is the breeziness of the record to come.
"It was very spontaneous, kind of organic, which then reminded me of the way we'd work with the Beatles," Macca said in a press release. "We'd bring a song in, kick it around, when we found a way to do it we'd say 'OK, let's do a take now' and by the time everyone kind of had an idea of what they were doing, we'd learnt the song. So that's what we did, we did the take live in the studio."
You wouldn't want to get caught playing a video game at work, right? Particularly considering the graphic violence and potentially distasteful material your boss could see in passing?
Thus, do not watch Swedish House Mafia's "Antidote" video at work.
It looks just like a live-action first-person shooter -- yes, a video game -- of a heist in a Japanese strip club. There are guns, guns shooting people in the face, hand-to-hand combat and naked girls.
Helmed by BB Gun Films, the directors go through the premise with stark matter-of-factness. No dialogue, utter chaos, a terrifying scenario for an unrealizable adolescent fantasy. By showing what it'd be like to play an "actual" shoot-em-up in real life both exposes the bloodlust, while also inspiring it.
And "lust" is right. Punching a hooker in the face in a video game (or, say, blowing away a stripper with a gale-force weapon) has long been a point of contention between a parent and a child who wants to play said game. And strippers/"other" women put into a singular premise of sexual objectivity has long dominated the music video sphere.
BB Gun's other credits include Fabolous' "Toast" (with the indifferent showing of "tits" when the lyric "tits" comes about) with the rapper's interchangeable women flanking him as he shoots an assassin. Christian Rich's "Famous Girl" features the murder of female, symbolically and literally devoured by men in animal masks.
And, again, the marriage of sex and violence in "Antidote," which also happens to be one of Swedish House Mafia's most aggressive and beefy songs yet. In addition to cold violence, there's specific violence toward women, in a house of women-as-sex-objects.
And so starts the week-long stretch to Christmas, with a few more new songs, covers and holiday news from The Kills, Cat Power, Blitzen Trapper, Macy Gray and more.
"The moon makes me want to eat you alive,” sings The Kills' Alison Mosshart. "Sleep if you do wake, dear."
Is that how you really feel, Alison? Don't look for little Baby Jesus in this classic carol re-make of "Silent Night," below. The singer's boozy howl is gorgeous, even if she seems transfixed more on death than she is on new life. Whatever, pass the coke.
Meanwhile, there's new news from Cat Power's camp. Chan Marshall Tweeted on Friday that there will be a new Christmas charity single and accompanying video out on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24); those who wish to download the as-yet-unnamed track will have a list of charities to choose from to put their donated dollars toward.
Due to the overwhelming use of all caps, I shall repeat only one of her Tweets, abridged, this one pertaining to a new studio album, anticipated since 2006's "The Greatest" and 2008's covers album "Jukebox."
"ALMOST DONE WITH ALBUM."
I often find myself looking to veteran music critic Ann Powers, in matters of taste and prose. On the topic of Seattle songwriter Shelby Earl, I'll take a quote straight from her: "Over the years I’ve become friendly with a few musicians... In general, though, I’ve clung to that old idea that critical perspective and personal connection don’t mix. Until now. I’m writing this note to ask you to listen to an album by a friend."
I met Earl through mutual friends years ago, and it's been a thrill to see her successes this year. She released "Burn the Boats" this year through Immaculate Noise favorite Rachel Flotard's Local 638 Records label, the album featuring John Roderick of the Long Winters. The alt-country artist brings the same amount of heart and bits of sentimentality into new holiday track "This Christmas Is For Us."
When I first heard "Born to Lose," I thought, "Oh no, you did NOT just throw some synths in there..."
They didn't. But it does sound dreamier.
The New York rock duo keep up with their reputation of prettyprettypretty prettypretty UGLYUGLYUGLY prettyprettypretty sounds on this single, the first from forthcoming album "Reign of Terror."
If you were wondering what those blood-spattered Keds were all about, that would be the album cover. Pretty ugly!
We are back to that time-honored tradition of compressing more than 300 days of good music into handy lists, this particular chronicle summarizing songs that moves us, make us move, or make us stop. And by us, I mean just me.
I liked that the discovery process this year was aided, in part, by Spotify, in an avoidance of the clunky CPU vampire that is MySpace or taking up bits of hard drive space for full mp3 downloads. My friends were posting what turned them on more and more on Facebook (sometimes unintentionally). Other people's Top 10s were showing up as early as mid-November. I'm not going to pretend I haven't seen some.
Since the delineation between songs and singles is becoming hazier, made squishy by terms like "leak," "preview," "premiere," "teaser," "alternative edits" and other language, I've tried to keep this list equally loose, sometimes going with songs that weren't official radio drops, tracks that arrived in 2010 (but came into their own in 2011) artists that aren't singles artists and songs that I wouldn't even say are representative of the artists that perform them.
They're just songs, folks. I liked them, and I hope there's some you like.
Grinderman have apparently called it quits, but all the better, to free up the hands of Warren Ellis: his other, epic band The Dirty Three are releasing their first album since 2005 next year.
"Toward the Low Sun" is dropping via Drag City on Feb. 21, and in March in the U.K. on Bella Union. The trio -- consisting of Nick Cave/Grinderman mainstay Ellis, one of my top five favorite drummers of all time Jim White and Mick Turner -- last released "Cinder" in 2005 on Touch & Go (may it rest in peace).
And speaking of proper RIPs, Bella Union head Simon Raymond used that exact expression as he wrote about Grinderman, in lieu of the new D3 set. Cave himself called the whole thing off.
Lana Del Rey has released an opulent new music video for single "Born to Die," starring your a**hole ex-boyfriend.
The newly minted Interscope signee furthers her propensity for femme fatality in this chilly clip. Del Rey stars along a tattooed dude who obviously is no good for her, because -- according to the vid, helmed by Del Rey and musician/director Woodkid -- she is royalty and has the tigers to prove it.
Like "Video Games," I dig the production on the track, and its soft edges. She just sounds bored, and bored is boring.
There's been plenty of buzz and anti-buzz around Del Rey, partly due to the unconcealed plastic surgery on her career branding, from singer/songwriter Lizzy Grant to what's still-manifesting today. Interscope has obviously learned some lessons about coloring in a blank (albeit, dark) slate and willing talent, as they did with Lady Gaga. But then there's the attempt to capitalize on the internet echo-chamber, as it failed with Die Antwoord earlier this fall.
Anyway. "Born to Die" debuted earlier this month and will get an official retail drop on Jan. 23 and the album of the same name is out on Jan. 30.
The first trailer for the Hollywood makeover of Broadway musical and '80s metal music driver "Rock of Ages" has arrived. Adam Shankman -- who brought "Hairspray" to the big-screen in 2007 -- is at the helm, and has revealed plot points and actual hairspray in this early glimpse.
Below are five things we've gleaned from the preview of "Rock of Ages," due June 1 next year: