<p>Kirsten Dunst, the anti-"Melancholia"</p>

Kirsten Dunst, the anti-"Melancholia"

Watch Kirsten Dunst do nothing in one of two R.E.M. vids for 'Belong'

Stark videos for 'We All Go Back to Where We Belong'

Dial-A-Poem poet John Giorno has worked with a number of literary and art mainstays over the years, including Andy Warhol. It seems we have Warhol's continuing influence to thank for R.E.M.'s "We All Go Back to Where We Belong" two music videos.

Actress Kirsten Dunst and John Giorno star in two separate videos, during which nothing happens in either. Really. Nothing warms my heart like an old man smiling as Giorno does in his twice. Dunst sits and plays coy.

The clips were shot in black and white, with high contrast, "an effect that Stipe describes as lending 'gravity and beauty' to the proceedings," reads a release.

Read Full Post
<p>Jimmy Cliff, &quot;Sacred Fire EP&quot;</p>

Jimmy Cliff, "Sacred Fire EP"

Listen: Reggae legend Jimmy Cliff releasing first new set in seven years

'Sacred Fire EP' produced by Rancid's Tim Armstrong

On Jimmy Cliff's last album, "Black Magic" in 2004, the legendary performer was inspired by sounds outside of his genre, through dance, electronica and punk. This time, punk comes to him, on his turf.

Late next month, the reggae legend is releasing his first new tracks in seven years, the "Sacred Fire EP," produced by Tim Armstrong. The Rancid frontman is also helming Cliff's next, as-yet-untitled full-length, due in 2012.

The digital version of five-track "Sacred Fire" will by out on Nov. 29, while a six-track 12" vinyl version will be out on Nov. 25, as part of Record Store Day's Black Friday indie retailer promotion.

Preceding the release is a free download (well, for the price of your email address) of leading single "Ship Is Sailing"; the sunny, only slightly frail track is a perfect segue into the year's coldest months, and it bodes well for some exciting covers. These include a take on longtime Cliff admirer Bob Dylan's adopted activist anthem "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" and The Clash's classic "Guns of Brixton," which was heavily influenced by reggae music and continues to be associated with the race riots and police activity in Britain during the early '80s.

It could also serve as a nod to The Clash's Joe Strummer, who collaborated with the Jamaican star on his 2002 set "Fantastic Plastic People." Strummer died later that year. And The Clash has an undeniable influece on Rancid, whose last album was released in 2009. Cliff covers that band's former hit "Ruby Soho" on "Sacred Fire EP," as well. It's a mutual appreciation society, eh?

"I knew vaguely about Tim through working with Joe Strummer and wanted to bring something fresh to the marketplace. Us coming from such different musical poles brought a great energy to the songs. I wanted to create something with a fresh sound - that's why we decided to test the waters," said the 63-year-old activist/singer/actor in a statement.


Sacred Fire EP Special Edition 12-Inch Vinyl - Out 11/25 for Record Store Day
Side 1
1. Guns of Brixton
2. World Upside Down
3. Ruby Soho
Side 2
4. Ship Is Sailing
5. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
6. Brixton Version
Sacred Fire EP CD/Digital - Out 11/29
1.    Guns of Brixton
2.    Ruby Soho
3.    Ship is Sailing
4.    A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
5.    Brixton Version

Read Full Post
<p>GBV's &quot;The Unsinkable Fats Domino&quot; single cover</p>

GBV's "The Unsinkable Fats Domino" single cover

Credit: Matador

Listen: Guided By Voices drop first 'Fats' song from new reunion album

Download 'The Unsinkable Fats Domino' for free

On Nov. 22, Guided By Voices will release their first album from the "classic" lineup in 15 years. The first single from the set "Let's Go Eat the Factory," "The Unsinkable Fats Domino," has arrived, and will be bundled with another track "We Won't Apologize" as a 7" single, to be released same-day.

"The Unsinkable Fats Domino" can be downloaded for free, via the band's label home Matador.

It most certainly sounds like a GBV song.

This blog post lasts about as long as the song does.

Read Full Post
<p>The Black Keys</p>

The Black Keys

Watch: Black Keys feature a 'Lonely Boy' on first single from new album

This 'El Camino' is driven by a lip-syncing superfan

The Black Keys are no strangers to bizarre music videos, and the latest for single "Lonely Boy" is no exception.

This single-shot video features the hot-stepping and lip-sycning of a man who is decidedly not the Black Keys. He, however, exhibits a familiarity of the tune as though he were.

Interestingly, the clip was shot by Jesse Dylan, an acclaimed media executive and the director of films like "Kicking & Screaming." He is also is the son of Bob Dylan. I'm not sure why the big guns were brought in for a video that looks like it was shot on your iPhone.

Read Full Post
Watch: Monica brings death and tears into 'Until It's Gone'

Watch: Monica brings death and tears into 'Until It's Gone'

There goes your Tuesday

Geez, Monica, you had to go there.

It seems that the veteran R&B singer went all the way with her "just you wait until I leave you" theme in "Until It's Gone," the Diane Martel-helmed music video to her latest song from forthcoming "New Life." It's as though she hooked up with the same melodrama machine that pumped out Lil Wayne's soap-operatic "How to Love," complete with cheating men and hospital scenes of mourning.

There's at least this grand PSA: don't forget to buckle your seatbelt.

Read Full Post
<p>Little Big Town</p>

Little Big Town

Credit: AP Photo

Watch: Little Big Town covers 'Moves Like Jagger' to a T

Covers series engages with Maroon 5's mega-hit

I'll admit: I'm sick to death of Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger" featuring Christina Aguilera. This No. 1 was completely unavoidable all summer, and I don't like a shirtless Adam Levine smirking at me. I heard a two-year-old on the subway singing it the other day and I felt a faint urge to kidnap the little guy.

But Little Big Town is making me circle back, or at least has me putting their version on repeat. As part of the Nashville-based country band's "Scattered, Smothered and Covered" series, the group collaborated with their road band for a banjo-happy version. It's... adorable. And it's recorded backstage at a concert in Iowa.

The SSC series is a very smart move on the part of Little Big Town. By covering acts like Adele and the Jackson 5, they're grabbing the attention of folks who might not be aware of the quartet to begin with.

Look for more SSC on the Little Big Town YouTube channel.

LBT last released "The Reason Why" last year.

Read Full Post
<p>Mazzy Star</p>

Mazzy Star

Listen: Mazzy Star to 'Lay Down' new album in lieu of fresh single

Hope Sandoval and David Roback release new music for the first time in a decade

Last year at the U.S. edition of All Tomorrow's Parties, Hope Sandoval sent me straight off to Dreamland, in many good ways. The light-dappled eddies of her butter-smooth voice shot me straight back to 1994, to Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You," just a couple years before the Cowboy Junkies charmed the world with the same sound on their cover of the Velvets' "Sweet Jane." It was a cool period where ladies sounded like women, somewhat of a predecessor to artists like Neko Case, Beach House and Liz Phair, at least to these ears.

Mazzy Star -- the winning combination of Sandoval and David Roback -- hasn't released a new album since 1996. They split that year and then around the turn of the century, they went on a brief reunion tour, during which they played unreleased and new songs. Since then, both have sworn that they'd eventually put something out, including that time in 2009 Sandoval swore a new album was coming, even if the release date was a little bit hazy.

Read Full Post
<p>Trent Reznor</p>

Trent Reznor

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Nine Inch Nails, The Killers, Depeche Mode, more cover U2 for 'Achtung'

How does Trent Reznor sound on his band's take of 'Zoo Station' for 'AHK-toong?'

The U2 covers keep marching in, "Baby." Nine Inch Nails, The Killers, the Fray, Snow Patrol, Depeche Mode and more have now revealed their takes on songs from U2's "Achtung Baby," compiled into Q Magazine's covers tribute "AHK-toong BAY-bi."

Trent Reznor and his midnight merry men get a little squirrely with the end of "Zoo Station" as Brandon Flowers' dramatic voice flares all over the Killers' cover of "Ultraviolet (Light My Way)." Depeche Mode's "So Cruel" is predictably dark.

"AHK-toong BAY-bi" came out today, packaged with Q Magazine latest. The publication also honored U2 for some damn thing last night at its annual awards show.

"Achtung Baby" gets its own schmancy reissue on Oct. 31. I've already fawned.

Last week, we posted U2 covers from Jack White, Damien Rice and Garbage; below, ah hell, I've just posted as much of the covers set as I can. What's your favorite?

Read Full Post
<p>Kelly Clarkson, &quot;Stronger&quot;</p>

Kelly Clarkson, "Stronger"

Credit: RCA

Review: Kelly Clarkson's 'Stronger' is weak on identity

Singles at competition with themselves


On Kelly Clarkson’s new song “You Love Me,” the singer bemoans her own disintegration: “I’m just a sinking ship” she bawls, as though from said ship. “I’m not as strong as you think.”
This after she’s already declared, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” from Jorgen Elofsson-penned “What Doesn’t Kill You.”
Has Clarkson not been “killed” enough? How much longer does she need to stay in pain?
Because pain and disappointment still spill from the liner notes of the original “American Idol’s” newest album “Stronger.” Loudly lamenting the state of her romantic affairs is no new go-to for Clarkson – and it’s honestly what she does best – but the quantitative and qualitative volume at which she delivers is what makes each new song on “Stronger” just sound like its at competition with itself.
Read Full Post
<p>Coldplay, &quot;Mylo Xyloto&quot;</p>

Coldplay, "Mylo Xyloto"

Credit: EMI

Review: Coldplay, 'Mylo Xyloto' is a mixed bag of pain and pleasure

Can a new audience fall in love with Chris Martin falling in love with Rihanna?

It’s a bit of an optical illusion, saying that Coldplay’s new “Mylo Xyloto” runs 14 tracks long. Three of them are instrumental interludes and intros. One of them should have been trimmed. And one doesn’t belong on this album altogether. 

Frontman Chris Martin took visual cues from graffiti and historical inspiration from places like Nazi-occupide Germany to inform his “let’s get out of this town” narrative, as restless boy meets troubled girl and they fly/float into destruction. It, of course, ends with the boy finding solace as he looks toward heaven and hope. Of course.
In this regard, the the British quartet have made a complete and fitting album, this their fifth full-length. “Mylo” comes on the heels of immensely, astronomically successful “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends” (2008), the first marriage of Chris Martin’s familiar melodies and Jonny Buckland’s friendly guitar lines with Brian Eno. The veteran producer helped turn some of the sad-sacking into arena-sized laments (see: “Lost?” vs. “Lost!”) and a four-on-the-floor rocker into one of the best-known singles from that year (the album’s “Viva La Vida”).
Here, Eno’s attributions of size and texture remain the same, though the triumph of each song is limited to Martin’s capability of coming up with a melody that sounds new and trustworthy. And with Martin, that’s always a hazy indefinable: with his strongest songs, I’m left dumbstruck that those melodies haven’t ever been written before, and I’m merely glad they finally made their way out. They’re so familiar, sing-songy, like the children’s stuff of “Princess of China” or the stupid-sticky sweetness of “Paradise. But then there's excellent “Charlie Brown,” which recalls Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m Going Down,” or “Hurts Like Heaven,” played with a body-shaking “Keep the Car Running” thump. (Buckland, on the other hand, owes fantastical royalties to the Edge for "Us Against the World.")
These aren't bad songs, though. And Martin most accomplished on the album’s earliest single, “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall,” the titles and lyrics to which played second fiddle to the bagpipe-like guitar riff and – yes – the return of four-on-the-floor. And perhaps that is the most major downside to Martin’s melodic architecture: it comes at the expense of mediocre lyrics.
Read Full Post