<p>&quot;Watch the Throne&quot;</p>

"Watch the Throne"

Album Review: Jay-Z and Kanye West's 'Watch the Throne'

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Is this shine just shy of gold?

Kanye West shouldn’t have started hyping “Watch the Throne” last year. Undoubtedly, the full-length collaboration with Jay-Z wouldn’t have gone unnoticed all these months, but we could have at least overlooked misstep H.A.M. in January; more would have been made of near-perfect “Otis.”

And expectations could have been curbed and formed more precisely. This album is a capsule and not a grand statement, which one would assume from hip-hop’s royalty and from an album that may as well have been named “Watch This Space.” West and Jay-Z are only seven years apart in age, but a generation apart in the history of hip-hop. Hov’s strengths are in his narrative and sparring, Ye’s in his brand of swagger and navigation around a beat/sample. They can interchange, bump off of each other’s language, and that is “Throne’s” strength.
 
Its divorce is in the potential for a conversation and not just a pair of talking heads. This is a long-form project of almost unprecedented proportions and yet it feels downscaled.
 
That’s not to say it’s a bad album. It’s quite good, one of the best hip-hop albums to come out this year.
 
Take for instance “Made in America.” The theme is men and women of color getting their slice of American Pie, whether as a martyr or a trailblazer or an entertainer. But it feels cheapened with Frank Ocean’s repeated refrain “sweet baby Jesus” and Kanye’s digression on blogging, like the song needed catch-phrases to cut Hov’s verse on rags-to-riches for the American Black Man.
 
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<p>Coldplay's Chris Martin at Lollapalooza on Friday</p>

Coldplay's Chris Martin at Lollapalooza on Friday

Credit: Katie Hasty

What you missed at Lollapalooza 2011: Coldplay, Eminem, Foo Fighters

Bests and worsts, plus photos: Cee Lo, MMJ, A Perfect Circle, Nas

Lollapalooza 2011 ran over this past weekend, starting Friday (Aug. 7) through Sunday (Aug. 9), taking over Chicago’s Grant Park. The previously roving festival celebrated its 20th anniversary.

 
Friday’s headliners:
 
Coldplay paid tribute to Amy Winehouse, and gave some new songs their U.S. debut. Read a full recap here.
 
Muse also played, about which Time Out wrote: “But tonight, as serious and ominously political as a Muse album can be, the band (technically presented as a trio, but featuring a shadowy keyboardist throughout most of the set tonight) also had a way of injecting a looseness in their hour and half plus encore set.” Read more.
 
Saturday’s headliners:
 
Eminem brought out a small parade of guests, including Bruno Mars, Skylar Grey and Royce da 5’9”. Read a full recap here.
 
My Morning Jacket took to the other end of the field, with a crowd Paste called “unjustly small. Those who did opt to see Jim James and company over Eminem, however, were rewarded with a strong set by a band whose live act only seems to be getting better.” Read more here.
 
Sunday’s headliners:
 
The Foo Fighters battled the rain for an epic two-hour soaked set, with fest organizer Perry Farrell taking a bow. Read a full recap here.
 
Deadmau5 put on a very different show, albeit still high-octane. The Chicago Tribune even said the DJ started 20 minutes early. More here.
 
 
Check out Day One photos of Coldplay, A Perfect Circle, Tinie Tempah, Foster the People, Reptar, White Lies and OK Go.
 
Check out Day Two photos of My Morning Jacket, Skylar Grey, Cee Lo Green, Fitz & the Tantrums, Mayer Hawthorne, Death From Above 1979, Deftones, Local Natives and Atmosphere.
 
Check out Day Three photos of Noah and the Whale, Explosions in the Sky, Arctic Monkeys, The Cars, City and Colour, Portugal. The Man, little hurricane, Cold War Kids and Nas.
 
 
Perry Farrell announced that not only was Lollapalooza returning to Chile in 2012, Brazil will be getting its own version of the festival in April as well.
 
 
Interviews to come include Bright Eyes, Deftones, Maps & Atlases, OK Go and more.
 
 
Best in show: Death From Above 1979 made a wreck out of SXSW earlier this year during its reunion go-round, but at Lolla, the band had the whole North end of Grant Park to wile away. The duo frequently played off of tracked samplers, but easily filled in the gaps with crunchy, grungy bass and Sebastien Grainger’s inhuman yowl, as he thudded and pounded each turn of phrase into a statement behind his monstrous drum kit.
 
“I think we scared the rain away,” he said, Saturday’s forecast tentative but obviously contingent on the decibels of rock.
 
I’d still nominate Grainger for “worst haircut/facial hair combination,” but there’s something so cheeky about the whole getup. He digressed at one point into an incredible take on AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” but seemed too self-deprecating to let out the full load on a song he obviously grew up with and perhaps even learned on. Behind them, a backdrop banner declaring the band dead, a tombstone touting “DFA1979, 2001-2006.” He even got the crowd feeling the self-consciousness.
 
“How many of you were at the Metro show on Thursday?” Cheering. “How many of you were at the Empty Bottle six years ago?” Laughter and cheering. “Do you guys know what the Empty Bottle is?”
 
Delta Spirit brought a lot of noise with them, too, affected wild-man Matthew Vasquez burning through choice cuts of latest “History from Below.” I can’t help a Kings of Leon comparison, with the volume and the pacing of their modern rock, but Delta Spirit also heralds Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Seger and even Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and they were capable carriers of such torches. “Just Tear It Up” was especially solid.
 
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<p>Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl</p>

Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl

Credit: AP Photo

Foo Fighters finale brings Lollapalooza to a rain-soaked close

Dave Grohl, Chicago festival celebrates 'alternative' roots in its 20th anniversary closer

CHICAGO – It cannot be helped that the Foo Fighters’ Lollapalooza finale set includes, in part, a weather report.

 The 16-year-old band shined off the three-day festival with less shine and more rain, as the two-hour set featured buckets and sheets of bad weather for 20 minutes, only half an hour in.
 
“You stinky f*ckers finally got a bath,” Foos frontman Dave Grohl laughed. Despite the downpour, there was no interruption in the encore-less hit parade, from opener “Bridges Burning” to final “Everlong.”
 
Grant Park’s southernmost field had already been torn into a muddy stew by 30 minutes of rain and retreating attendees around 6 p.m. That front interrupted Arctic Monkeys’ set, which then pushed the Foos’ thunderous warm-up, Explosions In The Sky (apt, no?), to finish their set in record time. They forced “an hour-and-a-half of rock into 45 minutes,” said one Explosions guitarist, before they wordlessly pummeled through their loud-quite-loud instrumental dreamscapes and nightmares.
 
For Grohl & Co., it was about keeping the show upbeat and moving along with 20 songs total for those fans that stuck it out in the mud and the cooling temperatures. Skies broke in time for “Arlandria,” which the singer and guitarist noted as he riffed on the well-loved “rain, rain” rhyme: “Shame, shame go away / come again some other day.”
 
Grohl was chock-full of lively banter, too, and shared the spotlight on and off with Taylor Hawkins – two adept barrel beaters getting their flop-sweat on.
 
“It’s like Freddie Mercury is my drummer,” Grohl said.
 
Hawkins had his own say too.
 
“In 1988, Jane’s Addiction saved my life,” he said from behind the kit, in thanks to festival founder Perry Farrell. He then took the lead on “Cold Day in the Sun,” from 2005’s “In Your Honor,” Hawkins’ first Foos song to ever take lead vocals. Farrell came out on stage briefly, later in the set, to bow in thanks to the mop-haired masses.
 
Other highlights included intimate “Times Like These” and “These Days” from Grohl, who, earlier, threw himself into the front row of the crowd, guitar in hand, during an extended solo for “Long Road to Ruin.” The band also took on one of their well-loved covers, Mose Allison’s “Young Man Blues,” made popular by the Who.
 
Grohl waxed nostalgic, briefly, on this Lolla 20th anniversary weekend; remembering in the ‘90s when his old band Nirvana played to a 20,000 cap instead of the 90,000 that had tickets for this past weekend. With the Foo Fighters as one of the weekend’s tentpoles, it seems that “alternative” rock is still alive and well, and even a little bit wet.

 

<p>Eminem at Lollapalooza</p>

Eminem at Lollapalooza

Eminem joined by Bruno Mars, Skylar Grey, Royce da 5’9” at Lollapalooza

Recovering addict pulls a prank on party people

CHICAGO - “I couldn’t think of a better motherf*cking place to ‘Relapse,’” Eminem told Lollapalooza attendees after a brief costume change into a thick black hoodie, and invoking the name of his 2009 full-length. “Chicago, can I relapse with you tonight?”

People cheered but then the rapper insisted, “I’m not joking. I’m gonna take a drink for you.” Em’s hype-man Mr. Porter kinda started reeling around his recovering addict and cohort, like, naw man you ain’t gonna do it. Out came a handle of what looked like vodka from the wings. A couple of boos interlaced the noise. Eminem very magnificently put the bottle to his lips, and drank for four seconds.

 And that’s when water comically gushed out of a half-dozen holes poked into the sweatshirt.
 
“I guess I’m not built for that sh*t, am I?” he shrugged, still unsmiling and straight-man as ever. “Now I’m gonna take you back to when I used to get f*cked up.”
 
And he burst into his old-school medley of crazy-eyed “My Name Is,” “The Real Slim Shady” and almost all of “Without Me.”

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<p>Jonny Buckland and Chris Martin</p>

Jonny Buckland and Chris Martin

Credit: Katie Hasty

Coldplay debuts new music, honors Amy Winehouse at Lollapalooza

Several new songs make their American premiere at Chicago festival

CHICAGO – Chris Martin’s signature bounce is adjusting to a whole new setlist, if Coldplay’s show last night is a testament.

The British band made a live concert return to the U.S. headlining Lollapalooza day one (Aug. 5), and brought a graffiti-spattered pocketful of fresh tracks, many of which made their American debut.
 
Leaving their rustic French Revolution “Viva La Vida” days behind, the four-piece band opted instead for a slicker and, at times, more colorful stage show. Frontman Chris Martin acoustic guitar had scratches and characters etched into it’s slate façade, like a blackboard, while guitarist Jonny Buckland’s electric axe was tagged by colorful marker all over the body. The organ and piano were painted up with various geometric designs, a reflection of the multi-colored laser light pattern that shot out from the back of the stage whenever the band performed a new song. Otherwise, it was all basic and bold colors that shone in monochrome on the stage, like a bath of spray paint. The giant, high-flying balloons in the audience still abounded.
 
It’s right in line with what the band has said was the inspiration for their new, forthcoming album, which will likely include the single (and show-closer) “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall.” That track’s music video brandishes one of the biggest nods, to American graffiti and street art. And while this pop-rock band may have little urban influence about it, they nonetheless have made some new tracks that reflect the rainbow.
 
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<p>U2's Bono on the last night of their U2 360 tour</p>

U2's Bono on the last night of their U2 360 tour

Credit: AP Photo

U2's 'Achtung Baby' gets expansive 20th anniversary reissue

Do you like U2? Do you like U2 $630-worth?

Hey, how much do you like U2? A lot? Did you help contribute to their historic 360 touring run? Do you hope and pray to hear "One" and "Mysterious Ways" and "Acrobat" in a big way?

And, perhaps, do you have about $630 to spare?

The Irish rockers are preparing a traditional and expanded reissue on their 1991 album "Achtung Baby" for its 20th anniversary, and by "expanded" I mean death-defyingly excessive.

Or Uber Deluxe, if you're their handlers. This six-CD, four-DVD, five-7" boxed kit may not get you out of the woods when and if you get lost, but it does come with a pair of sunglasses that are guaranteed to make you look like Bono*. "Zooropa," "Achtung's" follow-up, is included, as are some previously unreleased recordings from the album's sessions, a DVD of Toronto Film Festival opener "From the Sky Down," an 84-page hardback book of photos and recounts, etc. etc., all details here.

All in all, there will be five different configurations in which you can buy this reissue, including the single-disc original album and a vinyl boxed set.

I do not have half of a thousand dollars to spare, but this release does mark a special moment in the band's history. Not only did U2 kill the Rolling Stones' previous record for highest gorssing tour in the history of the world, but 20 years on my favorite U2 album is something to celebrate. It was darker, and more sophisticated, than anything they'd ever done before; Bono's lyricism stuck out as more eloquent and centered. And the band was famously fighting all during their Berlin-based Lanois/Eno recording stint.

Twenty years later? Can you name bands that old that still have their lineup intact?

I think I'll spring for the vinyl.

*Yes on sunglasses, but no on making you look like Bono, you're not even close.

<p>Perry Farrell today at the Lollapalooza Grant Park grounds</p>

Perry Farrell today at the Lollapalooza Grant Park grounds

Credit: Katie Hasty

Lollapalooza expands into Brazil, re-ups with Chile festival

Day One at the Chicago festival starts off with expansion announcements

CHICAGO - To celebrate Lollapalooza's 20th anniversary, festival founder Perry Farrell announced today that the event's reach is spreading out further into South America.

On the heels of the first annual Lollapalooza Chile this year, the svelte Jane's Addiction frontman told a crowd of sweaty journos this morning that Sao Paulo will host a two-day fest on April 7-8 in 2012 at the Jockey Club, and that the Santiago-based Lolla will return, to O'Higgins Park on March 31 and April 1.

"If you can imagine the creativity and excitement of Mardi Gras mixed in with Lollapalooza, it may look something like the 2012 Sao Paulo Brazil Lollapalooza," he said, wearing a decided un-Mardi Gras-ish striped button-down and oversized cuffs.

The Chile edition this year boasted performances from Jane's, the Killers and Kanye West

The announcement arrives on Day One of this three-day Windy City mainstay, sold-out again this year and leading with big names like Eminem, Coldplay, Foo Fighters and deadmau5. It was velebrated with champagne, which has set my day off to a funny start.

"This is a very very big year for us," Farrell said. "We have 90,000 weirdos showing up here today in Chicago."

Farrell also introduced a new class of weirdos into the Lolla fold, with a newly formed partnership with Boston's Berklee College of Music. The conjunction will bredd new scholarships for talented students nationwide and provide a new booking element to the festival's lineup.

<p>Rosi Golan</p>

Rosi Golan

EXCLUSIVE Song Of The Day: Rosi Golan says 'I Like You' from new album

Singer-songwrier helps push the summer along

A "Lead Balloon" sounds kinda heavy, but the phrase "I Like You" is certainly light and sweet.

The first is the name of the album that yields the second: it's Rosi Golan's sophomore set, due Aug. 30, and it's easy to see why the singer-songwriter's work has shown up on TV shows like "One Tree Hill" or films like "Dear John." There's an easy, sugary ease to her vocals, a simplicity to her pop and soft-rock melodies that come off clean in time for these hot summer months.

Golan caught my ear a couple of years ago when I was still at Billboard for these very reasons. It'd be one thing to write a song that backs a Pantene commercial or in primetime drama, but every one of her songs seem to have a lasting hook. "Lead Balloon" is a testament to this, but there's also growth in Golan's musicianship and an expansion the arrangements.

The confident track "Seeing Ghosts" has already made its debut, and the Israeli artist is set to take to the road with Jason Reeves starting later this month. She has also announced today a date at New York's Bowery Ballroom on Sept. 6.

Here are Rosi Golan's tour dates:

8/21/11    3rd & Lindsley               Nashville, TN
8/22/11    Old Rock House             St Louis, MO
8/24/11    Slowdown                    Omaha, NE
8/25/11    Augustana College         Rock Island, IL
8/27/11    Shank Hall                    Milwaukee, WI
8/28/11    Space                          Evanston, IL
8/30/11    Fine Line Music Café       Minneapolis, MN
8/31/11    The Mill                        Iowa City, IA
9/1/11      State Historical Bldg       Des Moines, IA
9/2/11      The Bottleneck              Lawrence, KS
9/6/11      Bowery Ballroom         New York, NY

<p>Wayne Coyne</p>

Wayne Coyne

Listen: Flaming Lips and Lightning Bolt combine together for EP

Check out all four, long tracks; inspiration apparently stemming from NASA, drugs

It's hard to keep up with the Flaming Lips these days -- what, with their jaunting around cemeteries and releasing records inside of gummy skulls/fetuses and mobile phone sound experiments whatnot.

The latest surprise is their combination with noise outfit Lightning Bolt for the cleverly titled EP "The Flaming Lips With Lightning Bolt." And bless Warner Bros.' heart, they're the ones putting it out. Exclamation-prone Flaming Lips frontman and Immaculate Noise interviewee Wayne Coyne has been Tweeting pics of the vinyl and some art, but no word yet when physical copies will become available on large-scale.

In the meantime, all four tracks has snorted their way onto YouTube, for your pleasure below; NASA and dropping acid seem to be the recurring theme. Like Lightning Bolt songs, brevity is not their strong suit. And like Flaming Lips songs, the tracks bubble over like movements or acts, rather than behave like one, strong tune.

And like both bands, the result can be simply weird and merciless. Exhibit A: the video to "I Want to Get High But I Don't Want Brain Damage." YOU'RE WELCOME

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<p>Beyonce</p>

Beyonce

Beyonce calls for fans to cast her 'Best Thing I Never Had' video remake

Ladies, put back on your bridal veil: Cheap video made cheaper?

The No. 1 complaint I read about Beyonce's music video for "Best Thing I Never Had" -- my own voice included -- was that the release and result of the clip felt rushed, a half-baked idea to get Beyonce partly naked and in tip-top position to look beautiful beyond any substance.

Now, the singer seems to be taking a tack that makes the bare minimum concept even thriftier, though it may have fans clamoring to further wear emotions on their sleeves.

"Beyoncé is making an alternate fan video for her hit single 'Best Thing I Never Had,' and she wants home videos and photos from her fans joyous wedding day, or from a prom they’d rather forget," reads a release. "Fans can upload their wedding or prom video to YouTube and their wedding or prom photos to Flickr, and tag them with the following tag: #BeyonceBestThing."

In a partnership with Celebuzz and BeyonceOnline, a crowd-sourced fan video will ultimately surface after submissions have been culled and fawned-over by Team Bey.

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