<p>Keegan DeWitt</p>

Keegan DeWitt

Video: Songwriter Keegan DeWitt on his Sundance films, playing 'Fallon' and Wild Cub

Composer behind Oscar-winning 'Inocente' talks making friends and losing your name

PARK CITY, Utah - Keegan DeWitt is having a busy week. He wrote/co-wrote two Sundance film scores, for "Land Ho!" and "Listen Up Philip"; his band Wild Cub released its Mom + Pop Records debut "Youth" today; and they're performing on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" to celebrate. The Nashville-based writer and composer is hitting up spots like the KCRW lounge and the BMI songwriters' roundtable to discuss his work throughout the week in Park City for the Film Festival.

We caught up yesterday (Jan. 20), touching on his transition from performing under his own name to playing as a band project. I liked DeWitt's approach to this idea of stripping songs of a face, of a first and last name and a preconception of "white guys with guitars" that overrun his adoptive home base.

He also went into detail on his new scores, like for "Land Ho!": "... As though it was a late 1980s movie being scored by a top 40 band."

Sundance is a return for DeWitt, who helmed the sounds for last year's selections "Life According to Sam" and "This Is Martin Bonner." He also scored the Oscar Award-winning short documentary “Inocente" (2013). Successful formula he suggests to composers in the field is to go to festivals, see a lot of movies, stay for the Q&A, talk to the filmmakers and "make friends."

Check out our full interview above.

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<p>Parade Of Lights</p>

Parade Of Lights

Credit: Kathryna Hancock

Exclusive Song Of The Day: Parade Of Lights' 'Golden' has Olympic ties

NBC includes the inspiring track in its latest Sochi 2014 promo

"Everybody get golden." The uplifting message is perfect for Parade Of Lights' upbeat dance-rock song, and especially pertinent for, say, the Olympics.

NBC noticed. "Golden" is featured in the networks' newest promo commercial for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, which first aired during the Golden Globes ceremony on Sunday. Gold all around.

"Golden" is now available via iTunes and is the title track from the quartet's EP, due this spring. Its epic lead single “We’re The Kids” is already out: watch the video here or below. Get your pumping fist ready.

Parade Of Lights is touring this winter with stop-offs at the South By Southwest Music Conference in Austin in March.


 
Headlining tour dates:

1/29       Fullerton, CA                      The Slidebar Rock N Roll Kitchen
1/30       Sacramento, CA                Harlow’s
1/3         Bakersfield, CA Elements
2/1         Los Angeles, CA                TBA

On tour with Royal Teeth and Chappo:

2/22       Denver, CO                         Marquis Theater
2/25       Kansas City, MO               Czar
2/26       Minnespolis, MN             Triple Rock
2/27       Milwaukee, WI Mad Planet
2/28       Chicago, IL                           Bottom Lounge - Small Room
3/4         Columbus, OH   Basement
3/5         Cincinnati, OH    21st Century
3/6         St. Louis, MO     Demo

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<p>Feathers</p>

Feathers

Song Of The Day Exclusive: Feathers, 'Wild Love'

New EP due, Depeche Mode tour upcoming

It was less than a year ago we first checked in with Austin-based electronica act Feathers, which was prepped for a full South By Southwest sked including opening for legends Depeche Mode.

Fast forward, and Feathers -- led by songwriter Anastastia Dimou --  is readying for several tour dates with Depeche Mode, overseas, and the release of new EP "Only One." The four-song set features two fresh new tracks -- "Wild Love" and "The Only One" -- along with two remixes of tracks from their 2013 debut full-length "If All Here Now."

In our exclusive stream and premiere of "Wild Love" below, Feathers' thriving contradictions are laid bare: it's tense yet relaxed, high-minded and easily consumed, Dimou's voice restrained and yet indulgent.

The crew will be around again at SXSW in March, and in the meantime, you may catch them as they hit Europe and beyond. Tour dates and "Wild Love" stream below.

Jan 7 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge*
Jan 9 – New York, NY – Glasslands W/Toy
Jan 15 – Barcelona, Spain – Palau St Jordi
Jan 15 & 18 – Madrid, Spain - Palacio de Desportes
Jan 21 – Montpellier, France - Arena
Jan 23 – Lyon, France - Halle Tony Garnier
Jan 25 – Antwerp, Beligum - Sportpaleis
Jan 27 - Birmingham, UK - LG Arena
Jan 29 & 31 Paris, France – Bercy
Feb 1 – London, UK – Birthdays*

*Feathers headlining

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<p>Alexander Ebert</p>

Alexander Ebert

An epic interview with Alex Ebert on 'All Is Lost,' Golden Globes and Edward Sharpe

Frontman/composer on the history of cool, Oscars, Grammys and that Heath Ledger musical

LOS ANGELES - The score to Robert Redford's quiet, isolated film "All Is Lost" is, as one could expect, quiet and isolated. It's very patient output from composer and songwriter Alex Ebert, whose regular gig in the roving roots rock and psych-pop band Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros features him resembling more of a tent revival preacher, a charismatic reveler-leader of a pack 12-strong musicians plus their fervent fans.

So "All Is Lost" is a reflection of alternate abilities, or a weirder, more alienated take on Ebert's knack for headstrong melodies and executions. He's stretched out, too, before in his old project Ima Robot and as a solo act, having released one album, "Alexander," as the latter. But it's this recent film music endeavor that's earned him a Golden Globe Awards nomination, for Best Original Score.

The singer and songwriter and I met in Los Angeles during this hotly contested awards season to talk about the making of the grave "All Is Lost" soundtrack and the evolution of Edward Sharpe, among plenty of other topics like the history of cool, Heath Ledger's creative strengths, derivative works, "selling out," starving art and activism. Below is our abridged Q&A.

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<p>Salaam Remi</p>

Salaam Remi

Interview: Grammy nominee Salaam Remi on 'In the Chamber,' Nas and Jennifer Hudson

Watch the title track music video featuring Akon

Salaam Remi will have a lot to celebrate about 2013 as he rings in the new year. He was recently nominated for four Grammy Awards, including one for his recent solo set “Salaam Remi One: In the Chamber,” for Best Urban Contemporary Album, plus others for his work with Miguel, Hiatus Kaiyote, and Mack Wilds. The producer, songwriter and studio instrumentalist launched his label Louder Than Life, too, for which he can hand-pick his collaborating artists.

Above, you can hear just one of his recently collaborations, with Akon “One in the Chamber” (directed by Robby Starbuck).

For 2014, Remi will be all over the next Jennifer Hudson effort, and will at least be taking phone calls with Nas; “In the Chamber” will also get the deluxe edition makeover for re-release in March 2014.

Below is an abridged interview I had with Remi, on his past – like working with the Fugees, Amy Winehouse, posthumous Michael Jackson material and “Sparkle” – and what it takes to have a successful future as an engineer and label head.

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<p>Danny Brown, Jon Hopkins and Neko Case</p>

Danny Brown, Jon Hopkins and Neko Case

Top 10 Best Albums of 2013

Listen to songs (in one case, an entire album) from My Bloody Valentine, Disclosure, Nick Cave and more.

Within my top 10, there's only one new artist. Inside my top 30, there's about 10.

Electronic music had a huge year with the return of Daft Punk, but also with new artist Disclosure, Jon Hopkins' career masterpiece "Immunity, and efforts from others like Boards of Canada, Juana Molina, Baths and Fuck Buttons.

You don't see a lot of rock in the top tiers of the Grammy nominations for 2014, and as loathe as I am to say it, I gotta say I feel almost (almost) the same way. I've loved the work that MBV, Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, Portugal. The Man, Bill Callahan and left of center acts like Parquet Courts and Fidlar have done. Queens of the Stone Age and Red Fang are the most rock 'n' roll of these. Beyond that, I didn't feel like I heard enough, maybe, or we had brain space only for massive pop acts like Beyonce (loved), Lady Gaga (disliked), Britney Spears (promptly forgot) and Katy Perry (great singles, exhausting album).

I'm seeing a lot of outlets put "Yeezus" in their top spots, and while I agree its an aggressive, intoxicating album, I put it far lower on my list (than, say, my 2010 No. 1, "My Beautiful, Dark Twisted Fantasy) because it's almost challenging me to give extra points for being honest. Jason Isbell takes that prize, with raw and powerful "Southeastern." Nick Cave gets in there with his twisted, sexual sneering. Danny Brown (my 2011 N. 7) got weirder, at No. 4 this year with "Old."

I'm not a Drake girl, though I think that "Nothing Was the Same" was his best-contructed album. So long as we're talking new-era R&B, I could take Blood Orange dancing all night. Good year for the veteran ladies -- for Neko Case, India.Arie, Laura Marling, Tegan & Sara and new spins (for me, at least) out of Sarah Jarosz, Savages, Feathers and more.

Dancing, architecture. Let's listen to music, shall we?

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<p>Evil genius Beyonce</p>

Evil genius Beyonce

Credit: Beyonce.com

11 reasons why Beyonce's new surprise album is genius and insane

Grammys, videos, Jay Z and giving the finger to year-end with 'Beyonce'

At precisely midnight on Friday the 13th (of December 2013), Beyonce dropped her fifth studio album, self-titled, and it was a total surprise. The album is available exclusively through iTunes through Dec. 20, when it will then be available as individual tracks. Beyonce said that CD copies will be available by Christmas.

And that sound of your Twitter feed blowing up is because it's insane. And kind of a genius move. Below are my initial thoughts on why:

1. Beyonce's husband Jay Z imparted unto the world "Magna Carta Holy Grail" amid much hype this summer -- the noise was not because of the strength of the songs (seriously, not in the least), but because of his groundbreaking deal with Samsung, offering the set as a free download to Samsung users who downloaded its app. No doubt, Beyonce's hype cycle is undeniably, erm, shorter, but it's a huge get for Apple who is -- you guessed it -- a competitor to Samsung, in the mobile market. His album featured Beyonce, and hers features Hov. His app downloads couldn't be counted toward the Billboard 200. Hers will. Adorable. Maddening.

2. Sure, Grammy Awards, go ahead and have your enormously slow Friday night to post your nominations last week. Beyonce is using the slow late-night hours, but her name will be dominating headlines all of Friday. You know what else she'll be dominating? The Grammy Awards, come January. Just as Justin Timberlake had no real reason to overtake the 2013 Grammys ceremony except to promote his new set, Beyonce just got herself a ticket (even though we know Beyonce will never be in want for Grammys tickets, ever). Jay Z's "Part II (On the Run)" featuring his wife is also up for an award, maybe she'll drag him up for her performance for once?

3. Sony certainly is having a wild night: not only is Bey's label home drinking champagne on her behalf, but also decided that Thursday night is a good night to push some fresh, new Spider-Man spinoff news to the world. It's like while everyone else in the world is figuring out how to re-gift this summer's blockbusters on DVD, Sony's still playing Santa Claus. Eggnog for everyone.

4. Kanye West spent pre-album promotion talking all about his methodology of not pushing a radio single and still selling enough copies of "Yeezus" for the No. 1 spot. After he topped the Billboard 200, he then he spent the weeks that followed that mulling "Yeezus'" painful second-week slide and -- you guessed it -- pushing a radio single. Depending on the news cycle between now and the New Year, Beyonce's starpower and staying power may be the echo to West's rebel yell. And she may do it better.

5. I'll bet Rihanna's glad she didn't try to rush yet another in-time-for-Christmas album as she's done with the previous four. She'd have been trampled.

6. Yes, "Beyonce" qualifies for the charts. This b-bomb of news will certainly help in the three days left in the sales week, and could help her easily take the top next week since there are no new or old titles that will sell more than, say, 140,000 copies. The added bonus of 17 (17!) videos makes the $16 price tag look like a steal compared to this week's chart-topper, Garth Brooks' Walmart exclusive boxed set priced at $25-$30. Individual songs go up for sale on Dec. 20. Physical will be ready in time for stocking stuffers, but she's pissed off brick & mortar stores (including big boxes like Best Buy and Target) something awful. Beyonce could be looking at least three weeks at the top since One Direction, Britney Spears and various Christmas albums no longer seem like a threat, but she can't expect a big push from other retailers since her love affair is squarely with iTunes.

7. What's insane is that everyone involved kept mum. Literally every outlet I've heard from got one or two hours max heads up time on this release. Drake hasn't posted to Twitter in a couple of days. Beyonce's been on tour and you're like, Yeah, of course you're stone-cold. Nobody's talked to Frank Ocean lately because Frank's not talking. It feels almost like a betrayal. What fun.

8. No countdowns to a music video release, no video teasers, no behind-the-scenes prequels. Beyonce has her career partially on the strength of her videos, and she's released 17 all at once. It's a lot to behold, which may effect each visuals' staying power. But again, Beyonce is trying to challenge the status quo and the listening experience. Who knows if that Terry Richardson joint will get lost in the fray, but his last outing was with Miley Cyrus and we all know how that went. Video is Beyonce's painterly medium, and "Beyonce" is a "Visual Album." Just remember there's a "clean" version download for the faint of heart.

9. Tonight was Queen B's 100th concert on her Mrs. Carter Tour. Every show's special, right?

10. A few other big surprise albums come to mind from 2013: David Bowie's "The Next Day" and My Bloody Valentines' "m b v" were from fairly dormant artists but enjoyed their news and critical cycles. Sleigh Bells and Four Tet are much smaller scale and the surprise didn't seem to benefit them much. Jay Z and Kanye had their surprise announcement but still had some promo time. Radiohead is still the gold standard as far as surprise album drops go, and they're the same headlining, A-list scale as Beyonce -- different genres. Will fans take to it like Radiohead or Bowie fans did to those bands' experiments?

11. I pity the long leads. Many a critic have already made up their top 10 lists, many are posted, many are about to appear in print or other intricate, well-thought-out form of featured gray matter. Beyonce doesn't care about your top 10 list. Beyonce has 14 songs on her list and their all hers.

Bonus: Her rapping on "Drunk in Love" (feat. Jay Z) makes my head herrrt. "Haunted" is dope.

Here's the tracklist for" Beyoncé":

1. Pretty Hurts
2. Haunted
3. Drunk In Love (feat. Jay Z)
4. Blow
5. No Angel
6. Partition
7. Jealous
8. Rocket
9. Mine (feat. Drake)
10. XO
11. Flawless (feat. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche)
12. Superpower (feat. Frank Ocean)
13. Heaven
14. Blue (feat. Blue Ivy)

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<p>Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez</p>

Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez

Credit: Talisman Brolin

Interview: 'Frozen' composers Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez react to Globes nom

'Book of Mormon' and 'Winnie the Pooh' writers on ladies in cinema

Composers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez together composed the music for 2011's "Winnie the Pooh" and the musical adaptation of "Finding Nemo," but just this morning nabbed their first Golden Globe nomination for a different Disney property. "Let It Go" from "Frozen," performed by Idina Menzel, is now up for a 2014 for Best Original Song.

Lopez and Anderson-Lopez have earned acclaim for their work on Broadway and in TV/Film -- in their own right for musicals like "In Transit" and "Book of Mormon" and together on projects like kids' TV show "Wonderpets"

Below, I talk to the couple about their nomination, females in the working music world and their next theater endeavor.

 

Congrats on your nomination. You’ve each earned awards in theater and in film. What does the Golden Globes nomination mean to you?
 
Robert: We’ve been watching the Golden Globes forever. We never imagined being nominated for one. It’s an incredible honor and we’re grateful.
 
Kristen: I’m so excited, for Tina – that is, Tina Fey and Amy Pohler. Totally.
 
There’s different versions of the song out there, and it seems to work for very different reasons. Did you write with that in mind, how’d that work?
 
Robert: When we wrote “Let It Go,” we already had Idina in mind, she was such a great Elsa. And then when Disney came back and said “We want to do a different version” and this time it was with Demi Lovato. We got to work with another producer, tailor a different version, change the bridge. But we love both versions.
 
Why do you think “Frozen” worked as a movie on the whole?
 
Kristen: I think it’s a wonderful message about families, and about how fear can distance us. You can strengthen the bond if you go toward the love, that is, true love will heal everything. It’s a good message for the holidays, or any time. I love the message that sisterhood is just as valid and strong as romantic love.
 
Speaking of women’s representation, you just don’t always see a lot of women composers and writers in the Best Song or Best Score field. Do you feel pressure or have any thoughts about being one of the few recent entries there, Kristen?
 
Kristen: First, I’m just thrilled and grateful to be here and to have a nomination. Statistically there’s something going on there [in the nominations].  Fifty percent of people graduating from these writing schools are women, and they are less and less represented as time goes on. I feel like I have been inspired and learned so much from the amazing female writers that I have in my life. They’re a wonderful group of women that I’m hoping will be a part of changing the playing field.
 
And with “Frozen” and “Catching Fire” leading the way with female protagonists, I’m excited for more doors to be opened to female stories.
 
You guys have written for kids, for families and for adult-only audiences. What does it take to write – lyrics especially – music that’s funny for a variety of audiences?
 
Robert: We look to be a little subversive, no matter what audience. We’re always looking where that line is, try and skate very close to that line. When people are surprised, that’s when they’re likely to be affected by a story.
 
What’s next for you in 2014?
 
Robert: We have a lot of projects lined up. The one we actually can talk about is “Up Here.”
 
The musical with Alex Timbers?
 
Robert: Yeah, it’s about consciousness. It’s reverent about all things romantic comedy and yet looks at cosmic questions and self.
 
Are there more Disney films – or any other films – you’re working on in the future?
 
Robert: We loved working with Disney. We had the best time working with them hope to have another chance to do it again.
 
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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: AP Photo

Taylor Swift, Coldplay, U2, Alex Ebert vying for music Golden Globes

Does Alex Ebert have a chance against Hans Zimmer, John Williams or 'Mandela?'

Taylor Swift is yet again in the running for a motion picture award, as her "Sweeter Than Fiction" joins other big-name acts like U2 and Coldplay in the 2014 Golden Globes category for Best Original Song. The single from the film "One Chance" was co-written by fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff, giving "Sweeter Than Fiction" an extra edge of star power (though Swift can typically hold that down on her own).

The country crossover star was up for a Golden Globe Award last year, too, for "Safe & Sound" with The Civil Wars, though Adele's "Skyfall" took home that music award because she's Adele and she takes home all of the awards.

U2 signaled a bout of action with their "Ordinary Love" for "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," their first new material since 2009's "No Line on the Horizon." The rock crew purportedly contributed at the behest of Harvey Weinstein; they've gone on to hint that a new album may arrive in Q2 of 2014, which is good timing should they make an appearance at the January Globes ceremony.

Music from actual musicals made their way into Best Original Song, as "Inside Llewyn Davis" and "Frozen" both get their nod. Idina Menzel sings on "Let It Go" from the latter film; it was composed by "Winnie the Pooh" collaborators and husband-and-wife duo Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (it is a decidedly safer song than Robert's "Book of Mormon" compositions). When you see "Inside Llewyn Davis" -- no "should" about it -- you may find the "Please Mr. Kennedy" nod particularly comedic, given the context of its novelty. Oscar Isaac has better performances and better tunes out of his titular role, but the Justin Timberlake and Adam Driver support certainly gave this a boost on the ballots.

What you don't see on here? Lana Del Rey's "Young and Beautiful" from "The Great Gatsby" which was, notably, one of the rare "new" movie musics representing on the woefully 2012-based 2014 Grammy nominations list.

The Best Original Score tally is just as competitive as Best Original song, with mainstays like Hans Zimmer ("12 Years a Slave") and John Williams ("The Book Thief") facing off against scores like Alex Ebert's pensive and isolating "All Is Lost." Ebert is perhaps better known as the eccentric frontman of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, making the sound and nomination reminiscent of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' get for "The Social Network.

Alex Heffes' "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" has a decent shot, too, given the eclectic winners over the last five years. Foreign-language and foreign lands featured prominently in recent winners "Life of Pi," "The Artist," and "Slumdog Millionaire." Another Brit, Steven Price, simply went out of this stratosphere for "Gravity" -- that's a story sort of similar to former honoree "Up," right?

Best Original Score
"All Is Lost" - Alex Ebert
"Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" - Alex Heffes
"Gravity" - Steven Price
"The Book Thief" - John Williams
"12 Years A Slave" - Hans Zimmer

Best Original Song
"Atlas," Coldplay ("The Hunger Games: Catching Fire")
"Let It Go," Idina Menzel ("Frozen")
"Ordinary Love," U2 ("Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom")
"Please Mr. Kennedy," Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake and Adam Driver ("Inside Llewyn Davis")
"Sweeter Than Fiction," Taylor Swift ("One Chance")

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<p>Lana Del Rey</p>

Lana Del Rey

Watch Lana Del Rey as a stripper-poet-saint in 'Tropico'

It's not as crazy as it sounds
At last night's premiere of "Tropico," Lana Del Rey announced that the short film is the final project for her 2012 breakthrough album "Born To Die" and that she'll release follow-up record "Ultraviolence" sometime next year. The new album title comes the book-turned-film "A Clockwork Orange," one of few references missing from the symbolism overload of "Tropico." Watch it here or below.
 
"Tropico" opens in the Garden of Eden with Del Rey as Eve and model Shaun Ross as Adam, plus Jesus, John Wayne, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and a unicorn. It quickly turns into a music video for "Body Electric," which fits the original sin theme pretty well. Once Del Rey bites into the apple though, all hell breaks loose and we fast-forward to a dystopian Los Angeles where she's working as a stripper and Ross is a convenient store clerk. 
 
Before "Gods and Monsters" begins, Del Rey rips off some great poets -- including Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsberg -- and whispers their words (and a few of her own) as scenes reveal that she's a lousy pole dancer, Ross is a criminal and they're hanging in the Latino gang crowd. That's about as much of a narrative as we get. 
 
Redemption arrives in the final scene as Del Rey and Ross cruise into a golden field in a sea green Bel Air, with John Wayne reciting a speech about America. Naturally, the song "Bel Air" kicks in and we watch as the couple becomes transformed from black-clothed sinners to white-wearing saints. Wayne serenades them into heaven with the classic "Always on My Mind."
 
Director Anthony Mandler's work is really the star of the film -- especially in the shots of L.A. and the finale -- so if you don't like Del Rey's music, at least watch it on mute.
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