<p>Amy Winehouse in 2008</p>

Amy Winehouse in 2008

Credit: AP Photo

Remembering Amy Winehouse's first U.S. show, Britney Spears, burdens

'Back to Black' and back

In January 2007, I was at Amy Winehouse's debut live performance in America, hosted at Joe's Pub in New York. It had been a few months since she'd released "Back to Black" in the U.K., and the label was starting in on a formal introduction to the Mercury Prize-nominated singer here in the 'States.

She performed on an elevated stage over dinner tables, her tiny dress proving all the more scandalous. She took the stage with the Dap-Kings, each like props or toys around which she would weave, her knees like a foal's capping over her towering heels. Her body was thin, but that voice rattled out of it with a shambling boom. One hand held the mic as the other held a wine, almost perpetually, as if one were dropped she'd keel over like a tippled scale. When she wasn't holding a glass, she'd fuss with her short hemline, smooth her hand over her stomach or cup her breasts and bodice.

I thought she sounded magnificent. I remember the title track and how she bowed down over the chorus, "I died a hundred times," emphasis on the "hundred," and found it delicious that even after an early evening show, this raw-nerved rambler would be dragging her North London-drawled banter and throwback tunes into a second set, later after ours was done. I didn't know how she'd get there, but she did. ("Back to Black" turned out to be my No. 2 favorite record that year. She released two albums total.)

About a month after that show, Britney Spears was in the news because she shaved her head. It was in the middle of what seemed like an inevitable and heartbreaking descent for the pop star, a breaking point that wasn't altogether expected but also unsurprising. She had divorced only a couple months before, and bounded in and out of rehab treatment centers after. Spears was many, many moons into her fame. She was acting out, or acting up in rebellion, or shutting in, a coping.


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Song Of The Day: M83 returns with new album, first single 'Midnight City'

Will you be dancing in this City's streets?

M83's album "Saturdays=Youth" went hand in hand with Cut Copy's "In Ghost Colours" when they came out in 2008, and both were on common rotation that spring and summer for me in New York.

The latter went ahead and already dropped another '80s, pop and house-influenced set earlier this year, so I'm pleased that the former has a follow-up as well. M83 -- also known as French mastermind Anthony Gonzalez -- will release a new album "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming" on Oct. 18. And how: this fifth studio set will be a double-disc, with 22 tracks total.

The first to arrive is the dreampop and shoegaze-influenced "Midnight City," for stream below and download for free on the M83 site.


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<p>Bjork: What can you say?</p>

Bjork: What can you say?

Listen: Bjork gives 'Biophilia' a release date, art, drops 'Cosmogeny'

Going forward, will the accompanying apps be required or simply extra credit?

Bjork's wiliest album adventure yet now has a release date for "proper" release: "Biophilia" will arrive on Sept. 27 via One Little Indian/Nonesuch, with all it's strings, pulleys, gadgets and bells intact.

Of course, I'm referring to one of its most novel concepts, that each of the 10 tracks will have an accompanying audio-visual application. The "Biophilia" application will be available for free download to all-Apple products -- iPod, iPod Touch and the iPad -- but it's within that gratis application, users are enabled to purchase in-app apps (you follow?) for the songs of their choice.

Today, that central app has been released, as has two songs to date: the previously discussed "Crystalline" and, now, "Cosmogeny."


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<p>TV&nbsp;On The Radio's Tunde Adibempe in &quot;Caffeinated Consciousness&quot;</p>

TV On The Radio's Tunde Adibempe in "Caffeinated Consciousness"

Watch: TV On The Radio on a magic carpet ride in 'Caffeinated Consciousness'

Brooklyn rockers announce iTunes remixes

TV On The Radio want to take you on a magic carpet ride.

In their latest music video, the Brooklyn rockers take at least some advantage of a green screen and the Dancing Guy from your local cable access late-night sked and jumble it up with a bunch of their friends, one of whom is a video editor with a free weekend. "Caffeinate Consciousness" is mostly the former and barely the latter; it plays like an inside joke grafted in the early '90s.

But the dude at 0:37 is pretty much my favorite thing ever.

The track's from "Nine Types of Light," out earlier this year. Two of those tracks have gotten a remix breakdown for iTunes, including the aforementioned spazz fest and "Will Do." Mylo and Das Racist have at 'em, check out samples here.

Meanwhile, TVOTR is currently on tour, and are hitting up Virgin Mobile FreeFest and Austin City Limits.


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Mercury Prize shortlist: Ladies rule including Adele, PJ Harvey, Katy B

Other contenders like Elbow, James Blake in U.K.'s album of the year contest

Just a couple weeks after Canada unveiled its Polaris Music Prize shortlist nominees for album of the year, the U.K. has echoed with its own impressively varied shortlist for the Mercury Prize.

The 12 sets have been chosen from more than 240 entrants from the U.K. and Ireland, according to a release, to highlight "the remarkable possibilities of what can be achieved with music the grand gesture and telling detail, albums that are dramatic, ambitious and artful, emotional and affectionate, funny and profound."

Not to be missed, Adele sits at the alphabetical tippy-top; her sales for "21" have been gangbusters overseas as much as they have here in the U.S. Two former Mercury winners -- recent Immaculate Noise Elbow and PJ Harvey -- are also on the list. Tinie Tempah and James Blake have made at least some headway on these shores.

And, most notably, solo females dominate with one-third of the nominations: that would be Harvey, Adele, dark-rocker-songwriter Anna Calv and pop singer Katy B. The Prize committee has normally done a pretty good job with even nominations toward female-fronted groups and solo artists lately, but this year is especially kind toward the latter.


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<p>&quot;Santigold&quot; in the Beastie Boys' music video for &quot;Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win&quot;</p>

"Santigold" in the Beastie Boys' music video for "Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win"

Watch: Beastie Boys re-team with Spike Jonze for 'Don’t Play No Game'

Santigold, action figures dominate playful Funny Or Die clip

Beastie Boys as action heroes. Action heroes as action figures. It all makes sense now.

This rapping trio of crime-fighters duck fire from assassins in Spike Jonze-directed "Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win," featuring Barbie-dollish Santigold.

The subtitled adventure bowed last night on "Funny Or Die." And expect the B-grade satisaction of seeing actual hands holding the actual action figures. Stick hoist Mike-D mid-air. Model paint practically drips from the faces of action figure zombies.

These badass G.I. Jokers have been in the fingers of Jonze before: the famed director helmed clips for the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" and "Sure Shot" before. Look out for the nods to those music videos on "No Game."

The track is culled from the Beasties' latest "Hot Sauce Committee Part Two"; it's the second or fourth single from the set, depending on how you feel about the album's release ("Too Many Rappers" with Nas and "Lee Majors Come Again" dropped all the way back in 2009).

The famed hip-hoppers have yet to set any tour dates, as Adam "MCA" Yauch continues treatment for cancer.

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<p>Paul McCartney at Yankee Stadium on Friday night</p>

Paul McCartney at Yankee Stadium on Friday night

Credit: AP Photo

Paul McCartney joined by Billy Joel at night two of New York stand

Ryan Gosling spotting, and paying homage to the Beatles and Wings career

NEW YORK – Paul McCartney rocked Yankee Stadium two nights in a row this weekend, but only Saturday night featured a very special guest: Billy Joel.

The rock legends traded verses on the Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There,” the Piano Man’s grin stretching ear to ear. The two bowed at the end of the tune, clearly quashing the hopes that Joel would play more.
But a show that lasted more than two-and-a-half hours, with more than three dozen songs and often hit after hit… the demand for “more” from McCartney is futile.
“Who is this Derek Jeter guy? Somebody said he’s got more hits than me,” the showman beamed out at the 45,000-strong crowd.
The former Beatle and Wings-man was backed by an expert quartet, all of whom could sing, and none of which could even try to outshine McCartney, who is just shy of 70 years old.
And not once did he show his age, with exception to the healthy crags in his famous face lining his mouth and baby blues. For most of the set, Sir Paul donned a crisp white shirt under suspenders and black dress pants, and he didn’t dare to escape from the stage even once, with exceptions going to the two times he flew to the edge for the three encores.
He hit all his bases, with solo, Wings and all periods of Beatles material. He’d back “Let It Be” with “Live and Let Die,” vroomed through “Drive My Car” but slowly and lovingly cruised through “Yesterday.” He’d diverge into “Jet” or “Mrs. Vanderbilt,” and then weave into “Eleanor Rigby” and “Magical Mystery Tour,” "Band on the Run" and “Maybe I’m Amazed,” hopping between piano, his signature bass, ukelele, acoustic and electric.
And throughout, McCartney would drop little historical nuggets into his banter, like how Jimi Hendrix played “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” at his own concert, after only having learned it in two days. Or he’d tip his hat at his deceased friends and longtime cohorts – to John Lennon on meditative “Here Today” and George Harrison on “Something.”
Certainly big tracks like “Helter Skelter,” “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “Hey Jude” had McCartney stretching, but he still delivered those signature yelps and rolling notes. He smiled a lot, would poke his instruments into the sky and do little jigs and dances just because, “I like to show off.” (He was showing off to the right crowd, too: I saw celebrities like recent New York transplant Ryan Gosling and “Crazy Stupid Love” buddy Emma Stone sipping a beer nearby, for instance.)
Considering the girth and relative variety of McCartney’s songs, I can understand why the production didn’t perhaps utilize a live orchestra or even just a string section particulary for the epic epicness of “Sgt. Pepper” tunes. But, I mean, the man has one of the biggest budget shows and largest stadium draws of all time, and sometimes the real thing beats the hell out of a keyboard sampler. Additionally, some of the background video – and there was one for every song – were trite at times, cheap at others (see: burning votive candles during “Here Today,” a static dorky peace sign for “Give Peace a Chance”, Archive.com-like b-roll of Russian dancers for “Back in the U.S.S.R”). But that’s a to-taste thing.
Because what I’ve always thought about Paul, compared to the rest of the Beatles, is that he was never the coolest of them. But he was the most pop, as in popular. He owns it so well, wears it with the highest dignity and acceptance in concert. He knocked it out of the ballpark.
McCartney's On The Run stadium tour continues throughout the summer. Here are the current dates:
July 24       Detroit MI                Comerica Park
July 26       Montreal QE           Bell Center
July 27       Montreal QE           Bell Center
July 31       Chicago IL                Wrigley Field
August 1   Chicago IL                Wrigley Field
August 4  Cincinnati OH       The Great American Ballpark


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<p>Leona Lewis</p>

Leona Lewis

Listen: Leona Lewis 'Collides' with new dance-pop single

Is this song a ripoff?

There's already a fight over who Leona Lewis' "Collide" belongs to, but I'm not sure why it's worth the fuss.

In what is one of the more boring vocal lines to be headed to a top 40 radio station near you, "Collide" features Lewis' best vanilla voice on vanilla lines like “I’ll pick you up when you’re down / Be there when no one’s around." The only way this ear-ingested sleeping pill succeeds is in bucking the cookie-cutter pop recipe of quiet-loud-quiet-loud-bridge-breakdown-loud. She busts out at the end, but I don't feel moved: instead I feel like she shouting that it's the part where I'm supposed to be moved. There's a difference.

For one -- as Idolator also points out -- it's stupid-similar to Alexis Jordan's "Happiness" (probably because it was written by the same person: Autumn Rowe). And Ministry of Sound is claiming that it's also spot-on for Avicii's "Penguin." These are all below. And they are all a testament to larger industry and creative problems. 

Tired now? Me too.

Lewis' third album will drop this November.


Leona Lewis - Collide (BBC Radio 1 Premiere) by josepvinaixa

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<p>The Avett Brothers on CMT.com's &quot;Unplugged&quot;</p>

The Avett Brothers on CMT.com's "Unplugged"

Credit: CMT

Watch: The Avett Brothers debut unplugged new song 'Once and Future'

Life and death and fear and time travel

What would you do with a woman named Purpose? You'd make an extended metaphor, that's what.

Immaculate Noise interviewees The Avett Brothers are all about making life lessons in their new song "The Once and Future Carpenter," which they debuted on CMT.com's "Unplugged" series.

The band took the shape of a quintet and banged out this largely acoustic, somewhat country-tinged track; they've clearly been whacking away at it for some time, and Seth Avett thinks it's representative of where each member's at, in the wake of their recently won fame for Rick Rubin-produced album "I and Love and You."

The track is "who we are and what we are" as opposed to merely "what we've been," which, in the past, has been a bit more wily than this midtempo tune. I'm also a little biased, too, because the guitar just simply sounds off and off-tune, like it was run through the PA of that crappy bar in your neighborhood that you never go to.

Still, it bodes well for progress -- the band sounds like it's in its happy place, they look tight and passionate, and new music could very be on its way.


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<p>Emma Watson at the London premiere of &quot;Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2&quot;</p>

Emma Watson at the London premiere of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"

Credit: AP Photo

'Harry Potter' music watch: Emma Watson's song and dance, Rupert Grint's crush

'Deathly Hallows' co-star Matthew Lewis can't carry a tune, Tom Felton isn't rapping

While the rest of America is in lock-down mode waiting for the closure "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" brings to the franchise, I was saying my goodbyes last weekend during the screening and press conference for the final film.

Daniel Radcliffe wasn't in the house because he promised all creation that he'd never purposefully miss a performance of his current Broadway project "How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying." His "Potter" co-stars like Tom Felton (Draco), Matthew Lewis (Neville) and Rupert Grint (Ron) paid a visit to the musical on Saturday night.

"It was absolutely outstanding," Lewis said of the show during his interview. "I don't know where [Radcliffe] hid that [singing ]voice for a decade. And he threw himself 110 percent into dancing."

And though he's already endeavored to perform in plays, Lewis doesn't see himself taking a similar route into musicals. "Nooo... I can't sing. I love to sing. But i cant sing. And I definitely can't dance either," he laughed.

Emma Watson -- who plays the iconic Hermione -- took a different tack.

"I’d love to do something on Broadway, but I think I need to pluck up some more courage. But I love to sing, yeah," she said. She at least has some background, having already donned a corset and done her best "Rocky Horror Picture Show" impression for her next film "The Perks of Being a Wallflower." She also loves dancing -- of the club sort.


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