<p>...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead's &quot;Tao of the Dead&quot;</p>

...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead's "Tao of the Dead"

Credit: Richter Scale Records/Superballmusic

Album Review: Trail of Dead's 'Tao of the Dead'

Hey Foo Fighters, are you listening?

As much as …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead has garnered a reputation as a neo-prog band, they’ve made one of the most modern-rockiest albums in their career in “Tao of the Dead.”

It’s an album in two sections: an 11-song concept set for A-side and five-song suite for the B-side. The theme is a gander down the valley of the shadow of death, in essence, as Conrad Keely reports what the Other Side may look like through a series of exhilations on death and primal screams that the Foos should fully consider before shining off that new album of theirs.

“Summer of All Dead Souls” – previewed here – has all the elements of a rock radio stomper, but simmers down abruptly to “Cover the Days Like a Tidal Wave” where our narrator asks “Are you lost, again?”. Apropos, as the swell ominously builds with the help of some space-age synths and the skronking urgency of what sounds like 30 guitars.

A quartet of good ideas under three minutes makes a “Dead” processional, including the militaristic “Fall of the Empire” and surprisingly sunny “The Wasteland,” pushing those vocals way, way up front.

Those “Ebb Away” rumbles from the bass and the low strings on electric will bring you back to the mid-‘90s, when Smashing Pumpkins had not yet made “Machina” and Sonic Youth was still on DGC. The band then shines things off to the strains of repeating '70s-psych patterns, a pageant of all their misfit toys giving one last howl with the help of producer Chris “Frenchie” Smith.

Keely sometimes gets tangled up in the fantastical vocabulary that’s the heart of the “Tao” concept, but it’s at the very least entertaining. It teaches and reaches, the story turning on itself like the Dead are the villains and the goodly ghosts.

You can tell the Trail of Dead doesn’t take the whole thing too seriously, by naming its theme “Pure Radio Cosplay” twice on the first set – cosplaying being role-playing, a costume, a “pure radio” wink at the very gall of a concept composition to begin with, all in the key of D.

This, all before the unfortunate incident of “Part II.”

Side Two of this drama, titled “Strange News From Another Planet,” which the band wanted consumed in a 16-minute whole. There’s some chattering samples and the return of a half-hearted “theme” -- it’s not a good idea, especially after we just got off the Side One rollercoaster. “Know Your Honor” has melody to last it at least two minutes, but the lack dynamic doesn’t carry it right into the next shoegazey movement, “Rule By Being Just.” It meanders without punch – surprising, coming from producer Chris Coady (Beach House, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) -- and takes the wholesale aesthetic of “Part I” and spins it without the same ache.

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<p>Cold Cave: cold calling</p>

Cold Cave: cold calling

Credit: Matador

Song Of The Day: Cold Cave's 'The Great Pan Is Dead'

Download for free: Barrelling, electric misery

Everything about Cold Cave just screamed "bah humbug" to me. Their sour grapes promo photo looks like somebody watched too many hours of "The Kardashians." The title of their track "The Great Pan Is Dead" looks like it was pulled from a publishing template of Nostalgic Melancholia. Two artists that Pandora pulled up as a "like" Cold Cave were Xiu Xiu and Suicide.

And yet this song, culled from their forthcoming full-length "Cherish the Light Years," is one of the most mystifyingly electric, intuitive, ballsy demon exorcisms I've heard this year, at least from the synth-rock camp. Wesley Eisold moans about salvation and "crushing fears," as a machine gun of high-frequency keys will ward away any unwanted teenagers from your door stop. It's like literate Faint run through a grossly righteous mix and lush lessons from Spiritualized. I promise, those four minutes fly.

This is the first song on the forthcoming full-length... it existed in some half-finished way in my head for almost two years. It had to be the first song on the album and serve as a declaration of everything I want to assert through Cold Cave," Eisold explains. "It’s a love letter to the path that has led me to where I am now, to loss and love and friends and enemies and the dizzied and blurred ways of the world. This song and record is about magic, preservation, youth and movement... I miss a lot of people. I used to deal with that by assuring myself I’d see them again. I know that can’t be true. This song is dedicated to all of them."

So I was kinda wrong about the frownie-hipster thing, so sorry guys. This track is a real gem. Download it for free at the band's Tumblr.

"Cherish the Light Years" is out on April 5 via Matador.


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<p>Alex Turner</p>

Alex Turner

Credit: AP Photo

UPDATED: Sundance Sountracks Exclusive: Alex Turner's 'Submarine' songs out in March

Artic Monkeys frontman's solo tracks getting a digital release

“Submarine” certainly was a unique movie at Sundance, and with it came a similarly rare soundtrack.

Alex Turner, frontman for the Arctic Monkeys, headed up the charge with a handful of brand new solo tracks, and I can happily reveal when fans outside of film festivals can get a gander. 

“Submarine” soundtrack songs will be released digtally, under Turner’s name, on March 14 in the U.K., and in the U.S. some time during the same month, exact date TBA. It will be a “completely separate release than the new Monkeys album,” a spokesperson for Domino Records told HitFix. That would be the indie Co. behind the Arctic Monkeys’ music, publishing via EMI.

While its still unclear which songs will be on the as-yet-untitled set, Turner and the Weinstein company have a few to choose from: the tracks “Stuck on the Puzzle,” “Hiding Tonight,” “Glass in the Park,” “It’s Hard to Get Around the Wind” and “Piledriver Waltz” all made the cue. I smell EP.

UPDATE: In a release (2/7), Domino has given the effort a March 15 drop date in the U.S. The tracklist will include all six tracks mentioned.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>The Builders and the Butchers: thug lyfe</p>

The Builders and the Butchers: thug lyfe

Credit: Peter Blanchard

Song of the Day: The Builders and the Butcher's 'Lullaby,' plus video

On tour now with equally well-named Murder By Death

I don't know much about The Builders and the Butchers except that they're touring with Murder By Death, some righteous Midwesterners who have one of my favorite band names of all time.

But B&B have turned out a mighty good tune with a great video to match.

"Lullaby" features a little death by murder of its own, combating the serenity of its title with axes, a haunting and beards. Who doesn't like a long shot of slow-mo fire? Not this girl.

The track itself reminds me of the blues/garage heart of Two Gallants and O'Death, and of The Decemberist's Colin Meloy when he isn't hate-f*cking the dictionary. The drum mix took me aback for a moment, but then I'm like, What the hell, it's almost Friday, let that business all hang out; let that bass fritter away in what sounds like a tornado shelter while frontman Ryan Sollee yowls and yowls. It's the freakin' weekend.

The Builders and the Butchers, from Portland, Ore., are releasing their third full-length "Dead Reckoning" on Feb. 22.

Download "Lullaby" for free here, and watch it below:

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<p>Lil Wayne</p>

Lil Wayne

Listen: Lil Wayne's Super Bowl redux of Wiz Khalifa breeds 'Green & Yellow'

Compare the two tracks: If you didn't have a favorite, who's your team now?

Rapper and noted sports nut Lil Wayne is making it no secret which team is his pick to win the Super Bowl this year.

Wiz Khalifa's "Black & Yellow" -- one of my top 30 tracks of 2010 -- has served as the unofficial anthem of the Pittsburgh Steelers' march to the NFL's Big Dance this year. Weezy's co-opted the tune and put his own rhymes to it, now, for "Green & Yellow," to make it a track for the Green Bay Packers.

And he doesn't hold back on your favorite processed foods for his disses (even though "this ain't a diss song").

"I'm a Cheesehead / y'all n*ggas Cheeze Whiz," he raps, playing off of Wiz' good name.

In his newest contribution to the hashtag rap meme: "We gon' toast these n*ggas / Poptarts"

He name checks the Lambeau Leap and makes sure to clarify, "[Though] I'm form New Orleans..." he's a Packers fan. Anyway, Brees had his time in first round of the playoffs.

Listen to "Green & Yellow" here.

Listen to "Black & Yellow" here.

Which team should win, if it were up to these tracks?

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Listen: Lupe Fiasco starts 'Lasers' promo as 'Words I Never Said' goes wide
Credit: Atlantic

Listen: Lupe Fiasco starts 'Lasers' promo as 'Words I Never Said' goes wide

Look out Glenn Beck, look out Obama

Last we heard from Chi rapper Lupe Fiasco, the MC was swearing by a March 8 release for his long-awaited and embattled album "Lasers," and had apparently resolved his issues with Atlantic.

He's staying true to his word, as the pre-sale of the set starts today with promises to those who purchase early to receive extra goodies in the meantime.

This, with the launch of his firey new track "Words I Never Said," out on Tuesday, streaming below.

Despite the title, Fiasco doesn't mince too many words and goes after wars and terrorism, right-wing talking heads and the politics of the president himself.

[Track and more talk after the jump...]

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<p>The White Stripes</p>

The White Stripes

Credit: Warner Bros.

The White Stripes call it quits

Jack and Meg White release a joint statement about the official disband

The White Stripes have officially disbanded.

The announcement comes after a few years of other projects from Jack White and a complete disappearance on Meg White's part.

In a statement posted on the White Stripes website, the duo said that they are "feeling fine and in good health," but for many reasons, they will discontinue in order "to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way."

It's worth noting that Jack's Third Man Records imprint -- which has ties to Warner Bros. distribution -- will continue to release rare material from the blues/rock 'n' roll group.

The White Stripes last released studio set "Icky Thump" in 2007 and a live/concert album "Under Great White Northern Lights" with an accompanying film last year.

Jack has contributed to several other projects like the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather, plus film appearances and production on Third Man sets. Meg took off from touring, on and off, due to acute anxiety issues, some of which were captured in "Northern Lights."

The complete statement from the band is below.

Can't say this entirely surprises me -- it seems that the band was reaching and aching for some new sonic direction in their last two efforts, and strained to grow as a group with Meg's abilities and Jack's increasingly busy and budding schedule. I hope for nothing but the best -- and look forward to a reunion at some gigantic music festival in the future. I mean, that's where this is all headed, isn't it?

Regardless, congratulations to many years of multiple hits, groundbreaking rock and electric live shows. Millions of records sold, you deserve to move on on your own terms.

The White Stripes would like to announce that today, February 2nd, 2011, their band has officially ended and will make no further new recordings or perform live.

The reason is not due to artistic differences or lack of wanting to continue, nor any health issues as both Meg an Jack are feeling fine and in good health.

It is for a myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way.

Meg and Jack want to thank every one of their fans and admirers for the incredible support they have given throughout the 13 plus years of The White Stripes’ intense and incredible career.

Third Man Records will continue to put out unreleased live and studio recordings from The White Stripes in their Vault subscription record club, as well as through regular channels.

Both Meg and Jack hope this decision isn’t met with sorrow by their fans but that it is seen as a positive move done out of respect for the art and music that the band has created. It is also done with the utmost respect to those fans who’ve shared in those creations, with their feelings considered greatly.

With that in mind the band have this to say:

“The White Stripes do not belong to Meg and Jack anymore. The White Stripes belong to you now and you can do with it whatever you want. The beauty of art and music is that it can last forever if people want it to. Thank you for sharing this experience. Your involvement will never be lost on us and we are truly grateful.”

Meg and Jack White
The White Stripes

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<p>Sam Beam of Iron &amp; Wine</p>

Sam Beam of Iron & Wine

Album Review: Iron & Wine's 'Kiss Each Other Clean'

How does Sam Beam's first major label album fare in this I&W 2.0 era?

It’s been seven years since Iron & Wine released “Our Endless Numbered Days,” an artistic eternity since Sam Beam last crafted an album of whispered bedroom tones and four-tracked simplicity. His latest “Kiss Each Other Clean” is no surprise at this point, having two albums and EP to expand that sound to horn and strings sections, vocal modulation and a honing of his heart-halting lyrics of divinity in the mundane.

Like Sufjan Stevens and his “Age of Adz,” I wouldn’t want Beam one-noting his whole career, even if just because he’d become bored as an artist.

But I think “Kiss Each Other Clean” is, still, the sound of a work in progress, still shy of a great album in this era of I&W 2.0.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Andrew Rannells from &quot;The Book of Mormon&quot;</p>

Andrew Rannells from "The Book of Mormon"

Preview: Trey Parker and Matt Stone's 'Mormon' Broadway musical

Where do the 'South Park' creators send their 'Book of Mormon' missionaries?

Matt Stone, Trey Parker and Bobby Lopez are all trying to take a stab at their personal fascinations with Mormonism, the center of their forthcoming Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon.”

“They’re just so damn nice,” Parker says admiringly of Mormons. “They’re like, ‘You made that “Orgasmo” movie? I didn’t like that, but I appreciate that you did it.’ It’s like, Wow, I wanna feel like you dude...”

“It absolutely rekindles your faith to see the miracle that all these people believe in is shit,” Lopez says, laughing.

“It’s hard to find that fault line with them. If you go, ‘Look, I don’t respect what you believe…’ but there’s no fault line…”

Park holds his hand to his shaking head. “They’re just so damn nice.”

Parker, Stone and “Avenue Q” co-writer/composer Lopez were on hand at a rehearsal studio in Times Square last night (Jan. 31), to preview the first few numbers of “The Book of Mormon” for a couple dozen New York journalists.

This won’t be the first foray into musicals for the “South Park” creators – who’ve endeavored similarly with “Cannibal” and the “South Park Musical – The Movie” – but Stone calls this “reverent to the artform” while it tips its hat to stage productions from “Music Man” to the “Lion King.”

 “The Book of Mormon” starts with a brief explanation of the religion’s American founding, to the compulsory missions of its 19-year-old followers, with a tight ensemble opener that puts the “hell” in “hello.” Enter Elder Price and Elder Cunningham (fresh-faced Broadway alum Andrew Rannells and sloppy nerdfest Josh Gad, respectively), an odd couple who have been paired up on their two-year journey to the beautiful budding valleys of… Uganda.

“He has AIDS… she has AIDS…” sings the duo’s overseas caretaker, pointing, in a upbeat African song that loosely resembles “Hakuna Matata” but boasts foreign lyrics that roughly translate into “Fuck You, God.” It’s sung shortly after Cunningham and Price’s suitcases have been stolen by local thugs and a dead donkey is dragged through their path. It ends enthusiastically with a dancing exit and the word “cunt.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Michael Rapaport</p>

Michael Rapaport

Sundance Interview: Michael Rapaport on A Tribe Called Quest, beefs

What does Slash and Paramore's Hayley Williams have to do with 'Beats, Rhymes and Life?'

In less than three years, Michael Rapaport managed to cobble together the beginning, middle and bitter end of – in my opinion – one of the greatest hip-hop groups of all time, A Tribe Called Quest. He got some raw answers from all parties, and all to what seemed like his own backbeat as a director. He parsed through hundreds of hours of MTV and TV interviews, archival music videos and block parties, coming clean out the other side with a solid narrative of late ‘80s hip-hop to rap realities of today.

And yet, most of the time when I explained just who helmed Sundance-selected “Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest,” I’d get a “Michael Rapaport? Really?” in reply.

The 40-year-old New York-native and adherent hip-hop lover first showed up at the Park City film fest with “Zebrahead” and since has pulled his weight in projects from Woody Allen’s “Mighty Aphrodite” to Phoebe’s boyfriend in “Friends” to voicing a video game and launching his own production company.

But he didn’t have a director’s credit until now. Rapaport sat down with me at en empty Thai restaurant in Park City to discuss Tribe’s – and his own – future. He took on the reasons why Q-Tip refused to endorse the film by making the premiere, why making a film on hip-hop is so tough and his future as a actor-slash-director. (No, not Slash.)

What I liked about the film is that it has a musicality about it. it clipped along. It had its own rhythm especially with the animation and the way you cut the jokes and stuff like that. Did you kind of go in with the musicality in mind?

I definitely went into it with the musicality in mind. I talked to my editor about wanting it to feel like a jazz film. And I think a couple of times we accomplished that. I mean, you can’t have a narrative documentary totally like a jazz film but, you know, but there was some scenes and some edits and some sequences that I feel like accomplished that. I was quietly proud and kind of like…I didn’t want to be too jazz nerdy.

How long did it take to start really breaking the ice with the guys because they’ve got a tough story, y'know?

Yeah. You know honestly, the ice got broken very quickly because there was so much going on and so much of a sort of underlying tension between them that it just worked out. The ice got broken quickly. Particularly with Phife and he’s just so open and honest and just so unfiltered that that was really like…he set the tone of it. And then, you know, Q-Tip and the rest of the guys opened up a little slower but eventually just jumped in too, you know? And so I think it was a tribute to them and that they trusted me and we were just able to…we clicked a little bit.

[More after the jump...]

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