<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.
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<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.
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<p>Joe Henry</p>

Joe Henry

Interview: Joe Henry discusses his open-door policy, 'Reverie'

Songwriter and producer reveals how he's landed with Hugh Laurie, Solomon Burke and more


Joe Henry’s latest solo set had an open-door policy. Literally. The songwriter and producer kept windows and doors open during the recording process, letting what he called “the racket” lead his backing musicians like T Bone Burnett drummer Jay Bellerose and labelmate Tom Waits’ main axe man Marc Ribot.
“It was a deliberate decision to allow those sounds to be heard as music. Songs don’t happen in a vacuum,” Henry told me in an interview this week. “When you’re writing a song, there’s life coming all around you. [Musicians] try to disappear into some hermetically sealed chamber. I resist that. I believe all kinds of racket to be musical. We called it the weather in the room.”
Of course, allowing “the field” into the room may not be a new, novel idea, but it certainly gives a raw sheen and texture to “Reverie,” released via Anti- last week. These groaning blues and abstractly folk capsules are the composite of Henry’s 12th solo release. His writing has meandered admirably around varying genres over the last two decades, almost as much as his production credits have.
Recently, he left his mark on Hugh Laurie’s New Orleans blues album and Irish songwriter (and Immaculate Noise favorite) Lisa Hannigan’s sophomore set “Passenger.” He’s produced for artists like the late, great, Solomon Burke, Americana mark-makers like The Jayhawks and Son Volt, Elvis Costello, Aimee Mann and “my hero since I was 19,” Loudon Wainwright III; he’s worked, too, with his sister-in-law Madonna and composed for major television shows.
His daughter thinks he’s pretty cool too.
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<p>Tom Petty's &quot;Kiss My Amps (Live)&quot;</p>

Tom Petty's "Kiss My Amps (Live)"

Record Store Day hosts Black Friday sale with Tom Petty, Beatles, Kings of Leon

Bob Dylan, Nirvana, The Doors, Phish and more go vinyl for the holidays

Record Store Day no longer comes around just once a year. Independent retailers will be hocking special edition and first-time vinyl and CD releases on Black Friday this year, on Nov. 25.

So far, more than three dozen special edition drops are planned. Some highlights include contributions from the Beatles, Tom Petty, The Doors and Nirvana.

However, organizers are trying to counter that this is not a second Record Store Day. It's more to emphasize the importance of indie shops.

"This is a terrific street date of great releases that can only be found at real live record stores. Yes, these pieces are limited, and indeed, some may sell out, and of course, the stores won’t all stock every piece," reads the website. "Mostly, our goal is to remind folks that locally owned, independent record stores, like those that are listed on the site, are a GREAT place to celebrate the holidays, do a little gift-shopping (for yourself or others), support your community, and maybe pick up something really special. And  really, that applies all year-round."

Check it out: the Beastie Boys' "Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2" will be out in a vinyl deluxe edition with a 60-page book, 5.1 version of the set and videos. John Lennon's "Imagine" gets a 40th anniversary vinyl boxed set makeover. Nirvana's "Nevermind" singles will be packaged as 10"s in a numbered slip case. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' live vinyl LP "Kiss My Amps (Live)" features 7 tracks, from "Mojo" and a B-Side "Sweet William."

See the whole -- and still-improving list -- here.

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Lou Reed and Metallica's 'Lulu' streaming online in whole

Lou Reed and Metallica's 'Lulu' streaming online in whole

I'm so sorry

I don't want you to be alarmed or interrupt anything important you're doing, like shining silverware or alphabetizing the things on your desk, but Metallic and Lou Reed's "Lulu" is streaming in full.

First this week it was just 30-second snippets of all the concept-driven songs. Now you have 95 minutes of hurt.

Here, here you go.

"Lulu" is out on Nov. 1.


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Is B.o.B. back? Check out 'Epic' new video

Meek Mills and Playboy Tre help this tough track

The synth lines and high treble mix of B.o.B.'s "Epic" makes me think of the 1990s, but the rapper's lyrics may expose a newer, meaner side of Bobby Ray.

The rapper tapped Meek Mills and Playboy Tre for this puffy-chested, bravado-bearing fight track, with the official video featured in an actual fighting ring.

B.o.B. made more of a mark in the pop space last year, what with hits like "Airplane" feat. Hayley Williams and his guest spot on Bruno Mars' "Nothin' On You." But he's arrived the fall with a tougher outlook: "Strange Clouds" is the title track from his forthcoming sophomore set, with him trying to go toe-to-toe with Lil Wayne (who is having a softie side of his own). Now with "Epic," it looks like he's ready to shed his lightweight status, which took up about half his debut album "The Adventures of Bobby Ray."

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<p>Jack White</p>

Jack White

Credit: AP Photo

Listen to Jack White cover U2; The Smiths get covers tribute album

Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, The Killers also on U2's 'AHK-toong Covered'

In the same week that its announced Bob Dylan is getting a tribute covers album (with help from Ke$ha, no less...), The Smiths are getting theirs, while U2 covers from Jack White and Damian Rice are unearthed.

As previously reported, U2 is making a big fat deal out of their "Achtung Baby" 20th anniversary reissue, and a covers set is intended to enhance that celebration. Q Magazine will be bowing "AHK-toong BAY-bi Covered" -- really, that's its title -- on Nov. 1, and a full tracklist is now available. Nine Inch Nails (!!!), Depeche Mode, The Killers, Garbage and The Fray join previously announced talent like Jack White, Damian Rice and Patti Smith on the 12-song set. A new mix of "Even Better Than the Real Thing" by Jacques Lu Cont is in the mix, coinciding with the band's effort to launch that song as a "new" single from "Achtung."

"AHK-toong BAY-bi Covered" tracklist is below.

With that, fans can already hear White's creepy and fantastic take on "Love Is Blindness," plus Rice's solemn "One," which will have you sightlessly clamoring for your heart in whatever dark place Rice's tired albatross carted it off to and dropped it.

Meanwhile, The Smiths, too, have a cool combo of characters tackling their tunes in "Please, Please, Please: A Tribute to the Smiths." The 20-track collection will be out on Dec. 13 and features Stars, Sixpence None the Richer, Immaculate Noise favorite William Fitzsimmons, Girl in a Coma, Built to Spill's Doug Martsch and Telekinesis. I do not know who Kitten is, but the name delights me.

Pre-orders for the Moz-lovers is up now at American Laundromat.

Jack White, "Love Is Blindness"

Damien Rice - One by @U2Argentina

Stars, "Asleep"

Here is the tracklist for "AHK-toong BAY-bi Covered":

01. Nine Inch Nails – Zoo Station
02. U2 (Jacques Lu Cont Mix) – Even Better Than The Real Thing
03. Damien Rice – One
04. Patti Smith – Until The End Of The World
05. Garbage – Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
06. Depeche Mode – So Cruel
07. Snow Patrol – Mysterious Ways
08. The Fray – Trying To Throw Your Arms Around The World
08. Gavin Friday – The Fly
10. The Killers – Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
11. Glasvegas – Acrobat
12. Jack White – Love Is Blindness

Here is the tracklist for "Please, Please, Please: A Tribute to The Smiths":

01. Kitten – “Panic”
02. The Rest – “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before”
03. Joy Zipper – “What Difference Does It Make?”
04. Tanya Donelly w/ Dylan in the Movies – “Shoplifters Of The World Unite”
05. William Fitzsimmons – “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want”
06. Sixpence None the Richer – “I Won’t Share You”
07. Sara Lov – “Well I Wonder”
08. Greg Laswell – “Half A Person”
09. Dala – “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me”
10. Chikita Violenta – “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others”
11. Telekinesis – “Sheila Take A Bow”
12. Solvents – “Is It Really So Strange?”
13. The Wedding Present – “Hand In Glove”
14. Mike Viola and The Section Quartet – “How Soon Is Now?”
15. Trespassers William – “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”
16. Girl in a Coma – “Rubber Ring”
17. Elk City – “I Know It’s Over”
18. Katy Goodman (La Sera, Vivian Girls) – “What She Said”
19. Cinerama – “London”
20. Doug Martsch (Built To Spill) – “Reel Around the Fountain”

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<p>Rihanna and her possessor/possessed in &quot;We Found Love&quot;</p>

Rihanna and her possessor/possessed in "We Found Love"

Watch: Rihanna recalls 'Requiem for a Dream' in 'We Found Love' video

Power, possession, Ireland and... Chris Brown?

It's been years past, and yet I -- along with others -- still watch each Rihanna video, and consider: "Is THIS one about Chris Brown?... Is THIS one?"

I will say this: boxer/extremely hot model Dudley O'Shaughnessy stars in the "We Found Love" music video. And he looks suspiciously like Rihanna's ex-Brown. And the two have a nasty fight in a car, alluding to the assault on Grammy night in 2009. Like Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie," this clip, too, illustrates the cyclical and hurtful nature of love and possession.

It nods to Brown. But then, as the lyrics say, I've just "got to let it go."

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<p>The Ting Tings in &quot;Hang It Up&quot;</p>

The Ting Tings in "Hang It Up"

Watch: The Ting Tings tell you to 'Hang It Up' in a skate park

British duo back with sophomore set yet?

"Everybody loves somebody to hate."

It's just too easy.

So I'll say that "Hang It Up" is very much the Ting Tings. Particularly with the squirrelly guitars and rap-singing, this track in particular sounds like Weezer with a cheerleader at the front.

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<p>The Stone Roses</p>

The Stone Roses

Credit: Pennie Smith

Watch: Stone Roses confirm reunion, schedule two shows

Ian Brown and the boys are back together and making new music

The Stone Roses only had two albums, but the quartet are intact and all back together for the first time since 1995, ready to perform those songs plus some new material.

At a press conference in London today, frontman Ian Brown, guitarist John Squire, bassist Mani and drummer Reni confirmed they have gotten back together, and are creating new songs. They have slated just two homecoming shows, for Heaton Park on June 29 and 30 in 2012. Tickets for those go up for sale on Friday (Oct. 21) at 9:30 a.m. GMT.

The British troupe has posted video of the press conference at their newly launched website, thestoneroses.org, which includes the news that the band is plotting a world tour.

Now, the Stone Roses released their mostly perfect self-titled debut album in 1989. "The Second Coming" from 1994 paled in comparison. Fans of Brown's dreamy vocals have endured years of solo albums since then, with just a couple highlights like 2001's "Music of the Spheres" and "Stellify" from 2009's "My Way."

So in conclusion, I'm excited, but not that excited.

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