<p>The Mountain Goats</p>

The Mountain Goats

Album Review: The Mountain Goats, 'All Eternals Deck'

John Darnielle's apocalyptic outlook
While The Mountain Goats’ last album took us through Bible verses, “All Eternals Deck” takes listeners on a loose mystic journey, John Darnielle boldly mixing his personal relationships up with the mystical beginning, middle and end of Man.
There’s the origins of humankind in “Sourdoire Valley Song”, the Fall from grace with the snakes and Cars guitars of “Birth of Serpents” and, in between, the fighting-off our impending doom. The straight-forward rock of “Beautiful Gas Mask” does the latter best, having us rise from our knees and assuring “someone’s coming to reward us, wait and see.”
But the songwriter isn’t preaching, nor laying it out lightly. The band’s brand of rock with folk storytelling mixes grotesque imagery with the reality of screwed up romances and dissolution with former convictions, of “fat men,” Darnielle’s nasally voice drowning his companion “’til you’re still” and kindly requesting you “lick the sweat from my brow.”
In between, he kills off Judy Garland in “The Autopsy Garland” and name-checks her next-of-kin in “Liza Forever Minnelli,” which includes a good line about Eagles’ “Hotel California” to be repeated for ever and ever, amen. Another famous figure gets his day as Darnielle announces, “This song is called ‘For Charles Bronson’,” a sort of literary mechanism that injects his bespeckled face next to the silver screen great’s.
“Never Quite Free” has some of my favorite lyrics and some of the band’s strongest playing, pinballing between piano and a slide guitar. “Believe in sheltering skies and stable earth beneath / but hear his breath come through his teeth,” he warns, likeably, right before he’s off to war: “Wish me well, where I go / but when you see me / you’ll know.”
Perhaps it’s the same battle he has with the fanged super-enemies of “Damn These Vampires” (what’s up with all these antagonists that bite?), which also rolls toward the mêlée with a sentimental piano chord. “Let them hear your knuckles crack,” he advises. Darnielle’s voice does its own cracking on frantic “Estate Sale Sign” a metal version of folk that sadly concludes everything’s for sale, the stuff on which he used to most rely. Like he sings in “High Hawk Season,” “the heat’s about to break.”
But its also on tracks like “Estate” where his rhyming schemes are cut short to fit the rocking beat, and seem incomplete; on other songs like “Prowls Great Cain,” his verbosity tosses long syllables in like stumbling blocks, yet he pushes through those words as if he had no other choice in writing them. “High Hawk Season” is its own little weird problem, with a mini-male choir that do no favors for Darnielle’s idiosyncratic voice, indulgent in its contrast. Meanwhile, another outlier “Outer Scorpion Squadron” incorporates jazz chords and a light string section. It’s a beautiful break.
Earlier this year, Conor Oberst tried his hand (again) at a similar album, combining coded, mystical language with his own dreary outlook. But where Bright Eyes’ “The People’s Key,” was bogged down with unchecked philosophizing and histrionics, “All Eternals Deck” is powerful, Darnielle’s command of language self-assured and – at times – even funny. Fans are going to really like this album, and non-fans may be driven to flip the rest of the cards over, just to hear more.


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<p>Thom Yorke handing out The Universal Sigh in London today (March 28)</p>

Thom Yorke handing out The Universal Sigh in London today (March 28)

Radiohead hands out free newspaper promoting King Of Limbs

What's inside of The Universal Sigh, and what is it good for?

Radiohead completists, rejoice: there's another damn thing you get to collect.

The band has released the first edition -- its only edition -- of the Universal Sigh newspaper, which is less an actual newspaper than a 'zine in tabloid form with newsprint. It arrived today overseas and will be handed out in select locations and cities tomorrow in the U.S. in promotion of the second-round release of the band's latest "King of Limbs" album.

Universal Sigh is not the "newspaper album" that will apparently come with the deluxe order of "King of Limbs," but is its own entity and website, to which fans can post pictures of themselves holding the thing.

Contained are drawing, pictures, stories and poetry. Rip It Up, based in New Zealand, was among one of the first to get their hands on one of the papers, and has posted a .pdf version of Universal Sigh.

"In addition to a wealth of exclusive artwork by Zachariah Wildwood and Donald Twain, THE UNIVERSAL SIGH features contributions from acclaimed writers Robert MacFarlane (author of the award-winning Mountains of the Mind and The Wild Places, as well as The Old Ways, due out 2012 via Penguin) and Jay Griffiths (winner of the Discover award for best new non-fiction award for Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time, and whose other acclaimed works include Wild: An Elemental Journey, Anarchipelago, and A Love Letter from a Stray Moon)," a release says of the contributions.

But if you really loved Radiohead, you wouldn't be satisfied with just that, hrm, would you?

The select spots -- like at record shops -- that the newspaper will be available are posted on the site (c'mon, guys, its not like Brooklyn's like Staten). Its another way that Radiohead has been able to reach fans at all levels -- the mp3 version of album was available without much waiting a mere six weeks ago, priced just below $10. Tomorrow, there will be vinyl, CD and digital retail versions up. The deluxe drops in May.

This little gesture is an expansion on the band's aesthetic artistic work -- Zachariah Wildwood and Donald Twain appear to be the new alter-ego pen-names of longtime collaborator Stanley Donwood and Thom Yorke -- a completion of vision that's free, and a digression from having to actually listen to a Radiohead album in order to appreciate Radiohead. Yorke may even be literally handing you your copy, too, if he does an encore of his appearance in London today.

I still listen to "King of Limbs," though I still prefer other Radiohead albums over it. But the Universal Sigh handout intrigues me, like something in its pages is the start of a game that will move somewhere into the pit of the internet, or a there's still further codes of "Limbs" in need of cracking.

What do you think of the ploy? Will you be in line for one?

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Listen: B.o.B. responds to Odd Future with short 'No Future' diss track

Tyler the Creator in three, two...

Get it? No future, Odd Future. I see what you did there.

B.o.B has released a one-off last night, "No Future," that seems to be a response to Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All's frontman and main goofball Tyler the Creator's "Yonkers."

That track name-checks Bobby Ray and his "Airplanes" hit, as well as his collaborators Hayley Williams and Bruno Mars. "Wolf Hayley robbin' em / I'll crash that f**kin' airplane that that f*ckin' n*gga B.o.B is in / And stab Bruno Mars in his g*dd*mn esophagus / And won't stop until the cops come in," Tyler rapped.

In response? B.o.B. calls Wolf Gang "beginners" (pot, meet kettle) "clown-ass n*ggas," warning them "If I were you I'd be a little more cautious" (a grand departure from what Snoop Dogg and Far East Movement would do if they were you).

Bobby Ray kindly requests "haters get off my d*ck," he rhymes. "I'm a grown man, don't need no p*ssy" to take care of me," then some analogies about great whites and dolphins, muffins and baking. In conclusion "Keep f*ckin' with me and you ain't have no future."

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Wild Flag</p>

Wild Flag

Credit: Merge

Best of the rest: SXSW features Sallie Ford, Jean Grae, Wild Flag

Check out thoughts on The Head and the Heart, Yellow Ostrich, Theophilus London

I didn't go to bed on Saturday night. The Kanye West/Jay-Z love-in stole my soul at about 11 p.m. that evening and then sent my broken and music-battered body back into the streets around 4 a.m., an hour before an airport shuttle was to whisk me away to a hipster refugee camp, aka the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

The thousands that thronged at that abandoned power plant was a massive contrast to the rest of the shows that weekend (though Spring Break crowds flooded 6th Street and its offshoots with more than 200,000 people according to some reports.)

Among the many BBQs and day-parties juggled, I rarely watched acts for their entire set. But Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside were the exception to this rule, one reason being their, well, sound outside. With free tacos, a cold mid-day beer and the hottest heat yet of the fest, she and her smile-less band performed tightly. Ford has this ultra-quirky voice, a throwback to rockabilly and the odd tensions of Jolie Holland. It's hip-dancing music rather than head-bobbing, with clappy melodies that name-check Jets to Brazil and have you reaching for Wanda Jackson.

They didn't move much on the tiny Barbarella stage, and maybe it was the temperature, but there was something so moderated about Ford's embarrassing amount of raw musical talent, it was slow-burning to see it manifest as it did.

A little later, the nubs that used to be my feet needed a rest indoors, and Dolorean took the stage about this time. I spent a lot of time with their most recent EP "Anticipation Blues," trying to decide if the dolor of their name was too much for me to enjoy them on the whole. From a nice, cool booth, I could see no less than three trucker hats on their stage. But I could hear a lot of noise, a lot. It was a series of kiss-off songs that wanna sign of on romance with a bang and not a whimper.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Lil Wayne</p>

Lil Wayne

Listen: Rick Ross joins Lil Wayne on 'If I Die Today' from 'Tha Carter IV'

Find out where Weezy lives

It's only natural Lil Wayne and Rick Ross collaborate on new "If I Die Today"; it picks up right where the Teflon Don's track "I'm Not a Star" leaves off. Or, rather, it's a direct lift with a twist or two.

The "Tha Carter IV" song is the latest to surface from the much-anticipated album, and promises more collaborations of this caliber, pun intended.

In "Die," it's all heavy sex, guns and blow, Ross and Weezy sharing two verses a piece. The latter revails where he's been living since the clink (his home for a year after gun charges): "AK-47 is my f*cking address." Ross retorts: "The bigger the bullet the more that b*tch gonn' bang/ Red on the wall, Basquiat when I paint." Arty!

[More after the jump...]

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<p>O-M-G shawty's such a freak<br />
<br />
She says she wants to go back to my C-O-N-D-O</p>

O-M-G shawty's such a freak

She says she wants to go back to my C-O-N-D-O

Watch: Snoop Dogg with Far East Movement on 'If I Was You (OMG)'

So that's how you spell 'booty'

Attention: women are no longer mere sex objects. They are paradoxically denominations of money, and also the reason you have no money.

Far East Movement is responsible for "Like a G6." Snoop Dogg posted new music with Wiz Khalifa this week.

[Video after the jump...]

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<p>J.J. Abrams</p>

J.J. Abrams

Credit: AP Photo

J.J. Abrams talks 'Super 8' inspiration, '70s rock and Area 51

The man really, really doesn't like wearing a suit

At the "Super 8" preview in Manhattan last night, J.J. Abrams made it abundantly clear that he's not really a suit-and-tie guy. After a flattering introduction from Paramount mega-brass Brad Grey, the "Star Trek" revitalizer plucked confidently at his black suit collar, shaking his head and the quasi-formality of the "road show"event. That was right before he dropped the f-bomb a half a dozen times.

When I asked Abrams during the reception why the stop-off was scheduled for New York and not L.A., he laughed. "What, did I not dress the part?"

Aside from the wardrobe compunction, the director/writer/producer displayed a sense of ease during the event, and after the extraordinary sneak-peak, there's no reason for him to feel otherwise. With Steven Spielberg on board as producer, "Super 8" has the elements of wide-eye mystery and the promise of intimidating creatures of "Cloverfield" capacity, all through the lens of middle school-aged kids and small-town folk. (Heck, and the "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" looked fun, too.)

Check out my full thoughts on the footage here.

Abrams met Spielberg back when he was but a teen, working with collaborator Matt Reeves on Super 8 films. They in one way or another got roped into restoring the "E.T." director's early 8mm clips "Firelight" and "Escape to Nowhere." Fast-forward a couple dozen years, and Abrams found himself ultimately pitching Spielberg on "Super 8," the coming together of two different ideas.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa</p>

Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa

Listen: Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa's 'Weed Iz Mine' from 'High School' flick

Future stoner film collaboration is smokin'

It was inevitable that Snoop would star in his own stoner comedy. So it will be so. The hip-hop vet has linked with rising Wiz Khalifa, for the flick, dubbed "High School," a title which itself has been puffed and passed around.

Naturally, the two will be releasing a collaboration soundtrack to the effort. No word when an actual drop date is, though efforts are obviously under way.

Below is a stream of "The Weed Iz Mine," which bums it's title off of "The Boy Is Mine" and "The Girl Is Mine." If you're gonna be like that, then nobody gets the weed/boy/girl, OK kids?

Khalifa told Rolling Stone that "High School" is "about pot, of course... But it’s about me and [Snoop's] relationship, spin-off of us being cool in the industry, smoking a lot of weed, and being around a lot of weed. We’re going to try to have fun with it and also try to enlighten people at the same time, not just get everybody high."

Just transcribing that sentence got me high.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>From Rise Against's &quot;Help Is on the Way&quot;</p>

From Rise Against's "Help Is on the Way"

Watch: Rise Against reveals compelling 'Help Is on the Way' music video

Footage from Hurricane Katrina doesn't fail to inspire, remember

This week Rise Against celebrates a No. 2 start of "Endgame" on The Billboard 200, but also remembers with solemnity a fearful part of American history.

The music video to "Help Is on the Way" follows the general lyrical thread of the single, featuring a family struggling with the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina over a day during the disaster.

"Directed by the esteemed Alan Ferguson, our film crew went to New Orleans and filmed what became a dramatic and compelling narrative of Hurricane Katrina through the eyes of a family. As a band, we opted out of being a part of the piece for fear our role might diminish the importance of this video and skew it's reception. What follows is another video we are proud to put our name on," reads a statement on the punk-inspired rock act's website.

The story is simple and simply told, a poor family pushed up through its home as the waters rise, after the levees break. They pray for rescue and flip through their own family history as dead bodies float in the water and other stragglers seek refuge on their roof. Rise Against leave it off with a message to encourage donations.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Rebecca Black: black &quot;Friday&quot; indeed</p>

Rebecca Black: black "Friday" indeed

Rebecca Black's 'Friday' and the spoils of our dumb internet

SXSW couch-surfing and inane cornballing: We did this to ourselves

I've quipped this before, but in the future there will be courses in college devoted to Internet Classics. One man's "Shreds" is another man's "The End of the World," is another man's "Shrimp Running on a Treadmill with the Benny Hill Theme," and only time will tell which intentionally funny clips will remain embedded in our short little attention spans long enough to make it into the canon.

Of the unintentionally hilarious front , we've just added Rebecca Black to the 101 coursework. In less than a month -- and mostly over the past week -- her "Friday" video has logged more than 36 million YouTube view (and good for the top of Melinda Newman's Power Rankings last week).

I don't need to go in much as to why "Friday" is funny, but it's worth talking about why it's sad.

Going beyond the fact that Black's mom paid a bunch of hacks $2,000 to pop out a pop turd and matching video, her family gets to line those pockets with even more padding. Forbes and Billboard have weighed in on the statistics, and it looks like digital sales of "Friday" could fetch $25,000 a week at this rate, moving around 43,000 units on Amazon and iTunes. The millions of YouTube views could be $20,000+.

[More after the jump...]

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