<p>One of Lady Gaga's many hats</p>
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One of Lady Gaga's many hats


Review: Lady Gaga forbids the evils of lip-syncing at NY HBO taping

Her majesty, the jester, Jesus and an a-hole: Just how many hats does Gaga wear?

NEW YORK -- During her Monster Ball set at Madison Square tonight (Feb. 22), Lady Gaga donned a pointy purple crown and a glowing scepter, objects from her "Kingdom of Gaga." But then she declared us all the kings and queens of the future, she, a mere "jester."

She referenced Jesus Christ Superstar in her favorite cloak, cleans her hands at a holy fountain and dons a see-thru plastic outfit with cross pasties and a nun's habit, shortly before she prays and preaches on the Christian God, covered in fake blood and writhing on the ground.

Her hair was its simple yellow weave as she said she fancied herself as Tinkerbell, and cooed like Glenda the Good Witch when a giant angler fish-headed monster wrapped its tentacles around her body and stripped away her skirt (you heard me). Hoods, tiaras, head masks, a retractable fiber optic halo: Lady Gaga wears a lot of hats during her Monster Ball show, newly updated with "Born This Way" tacked onto the end.

And she may refer to herself or her band members (or even the audience) as sluts, assh***s, freaks, tramps and, of course, monsters. But there's definitely one thing she'll never be: a lip-syncer.

I would have said as much, judging by the number of vamps and improvisations the singer pulls off in her show, but Gaga just wanted to drive the point home.

"Never have, never will," she bared during "Teeth." "I won't be the bitch to lip-sync her way through an HBO special."

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz in &quot;Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides&quot;</p>

Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"

Rodrigo y Gabriela team with Hans Zimmer for 'Pirates of the Caribbean 4'

Sweet deal for Mexican guitar duo

Um, talk about "stranger tides."

Walt Disney has formally announced that Hans Zimmer will be scoring the upcoming sequel "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," and he's taking the tack with Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela.

Last we heard from these guys, they were releasing "11:11" via ATO; each of that sets tracks was an homage to their favorite Gods of Rock, performed in styles from samba to flamenco to Mexican folk.

And now Zimmer's added their flare to his Academy Award-winning stylings, heard in a few dozen titles from Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" and "Inception" to the clever score in "Sherlocke Holmes," to TV series "The Pacific" and two other flicks in the "Pirates" franchise.

I talked a little bit about how I enjoyed Zimmer's addition of guitarist Johnny Marr kinda messed with his "La vie en Rose" slow-motion pieces, and thought even more about how differently the soundtrack to "Tron: Legacy" would have turned out if Daft Punk actually did get together with Zimmer for their score. Rodrigo y Gabriela -- as much as they've hit the concert and festival circuit -- have never really hit the big time. But now, maybe they will.

Their style is distinct and churning, nuanced in how both Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero take their turns. And it will certainly take you south of the border. I think after four films in the same vein, the Disney flick will certainly benefit from their energy.

And, hell, a girl can dream: maybe the duo will be able to convince one of the "Pirate" actors and an aforementioned guitar God -- Keith Richards -- to join in the fun.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Radiohead's &quot;The King of Limbs&quot;</p>

Radiohead's "The King of Limbs"

Album Review: Radiohead's 'The King of Limbs'

The British band's excess of atmosphere is surprisingly uncomplicated

I was planning a whole day on Saturday for Radiohead’s “The King of Limbs,” but since it arrived early, it claimed most of my morning. I took a run with it, and because New York isn’t Godless after all, the weather allowed for a walk with it; I headphoned and looped it after lunch.

What I should do next is take a train ride with it: despite the excess of atmospherics and intricate tricks of the studio, the British band’s eighth full-length is surprisingly uncomplicated and a head-clearing brain-eraser, for its listener and, I suspect, for the band.
 
“The King of Limbs” is Radiohead’s first release since 2007’s magnificently moody “In Rainbows,” and in that time, Yorke’s made more strides as a solo artist, Jonny Greenwood has scored some films, “Harry Patch” and “These Are My Twisted Words” were released as standalones, Phil Selway released his first solo set, and so forth.
 
Reconvening after a period of separation clearly demanded some recalibration or unfurling. While Yorke’s coo and ambiguous lyrical codes haven’t seemed to change much, the band on the whole structurally threw a lot out the window; rather, they don’t lack structure, but their structures remain remarkably simple.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>The Cars</p>

The Cars

Watch: The Cars reveal first new song in two decades, 'Blue Tip'

Still waiting for hypercolor to come back into style

Oh man, and I thought I dorked out when Devo dropped their new material.

The surviving members of The Cars have reunited and now the fruits of their recording sessions are finally arriving. The late-'70s/early '80s rock outfit has unleashed "Blue Tip," their first new song in 24 years.

Twenty-four. Years.

I had low expectations, despite the fact that I think Ric Ocasek is one of the most stellar rock frontmen of all time (no, I'm not exaggerating, just buy me a drink and I'll defend my thesis).

"Blue Tip" is solid. My hipster friends would play this at their Four Loko parties (if only it was on vinyl already...). My parents might put it on at their first barbecue this year. And as impossible as the maneuver is, a bunch of Austin pop-rock bands just deleted their MySpace pages to throw in the towel

Thanks to TwentyfourBit; now I'm excited for the full-length, "Move Like This," due May 10. Perhaps a a resurgence in mini-skirts and checkerboard print is next? At least we got the Ray-Bans right.

Watch: Lil' Kim’s Nicki Minaj diss track ‘Black Friday’ gets a video

Watch: Lil' Kim’s Nicki Minaj diss track ‘Black Friday’ gets a video

Thoughts on the female MC infighting

If you haven’t been awake for the last 72 hours, then you may have missed the Great Lil' Kim Uprising.

After much sniping back and forth between Queen Bee and Nicki Minaj for the last nine months, Kim has dropped a mixtape, a diss track proper and a video for said song, “Black Friday.”
 
Today, the clip went up: featured are shots of a yellow Lamborghini and lo-fi line-for-lines on Kim and her crew, all to the clip of Pharaoh Monch’s “Simon Says” and a little Jay-Z nod (P.S., where is Foxy?). It may not surprise you, too, that she invokes the names samples the voices of Biggie and Puff Daddy past.
 
She takes shots at the wigs, the copy-catting of cover art, her own “bad bitch” devices against Minaj’s. She tears at Drake and Lil Wayne and all the “Young Money bastards: “F*ck your whole team, all I see are a bunch of weirdos / You think you’re head bitch / Scarecrow.” She throws in a few other “hashtag” raps – at which Minaj excels; generally, it’s a battle track, a veritable babbling brook of sh*t-talk that would make a Barbie doll blush.
 
[More talk, and the video, after the jump...]
 
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<p>Bright Eyes</p>

Bright Eyes

Album Review: Bright Eyes' swan song 'The People's Key'

Does Conor Oberst's madman metaphors kill or get killed?

An utter prophet at time, and then, at others, a punk-ass kid. It’s difficult, of course, to call a 30-year-old man and esteemed musician a kid, but then again that’s one of Conor Oberst's very projected struggles on “The People’s Key.”

“Stay a while my inner-child / I’d like to learn your trick / To know what makes you tick,” he susses on “Beginner’s Mind.”
 
On “Shell Games”: “Death-obsessed, like a teenager / I sold my tortured youth, piss and vinegar,” he sings. “My private life is an inside joke / and no one will explain it to me.”
 
But it’d be easy to get caught up in untangling the Omaha-native’s knots for him, or rather, decoding what he prefers to stay coded. That’s why there’s interstitials throughout of Denny Brewer, a crazy-talkin’ Texan that Oberst met on the road. Brewer raves about love and alien origins, a breath of string theory and creation.
 
Perhaps Oberst sees himself in Brewer, amid the “psycho-babble.” Maybe he sees his future in this guy. It’s hard to tell if we’re supposed to be making fun of him, in the slim edits of his cosmos theories, as it pokes its weird head in about four times like skits in a rap record.
 
For this critic, at least, it’s a distraction, making chapters out of Oberst's own serious parsing of language. Because there’s an entire hodge-podge of music to examine, and that’s where many of the problems of “The People’s Key” lies.
 
[More after the jump...]
 
This is one of Oberst’s most listenable records to date, for Bright Eyes and his other rock outfits. But its easy, recognizable structures have noise upon ideas upon slick production piled upon Oberst’s zingers, trying to mainline the group’s punky, off-the-cuff core of earlier days into an outfit of three men who are just way too good for that anymore.
 
There’s the psych-out of “Jejune Star” where it bows with a post-rock shred (according to the next track “Approximate Sunlight,” “It's been said we're post-everything”) but then bops into something or other about Oberst’s fear of rain, the symbolic refrain of carrying an umbrella under one’s arm. It cashes with a totally unnecessary breakdown version of the chorus and, with wind fully removed from sails by Brewer’s next diatribe, the band lapses into the aforementioned sick sample-stamped groover, which sounds like it was played in a gigantic coffee can.
 
Oberst tries a big batch of one-liners on exhausting “Haile Selassie.” “I seen the strangest things, man,” he says like his head's swaying, a ‘60s stoner, keyboard flanging behind him. But it’s a chorus line that’s not nearly as catchy out loud as it was in his head. “One for You, One for Me” has some great melodic ideas, but its electronic delivery would have been better left in the “Digital Urn.”
 
After Brewer explains that “creation is rolling,” the band chugs his way into a “Triple Spiral,” which just makes me think that if Conor Oberst wants to write a song that sounds Cheap Trick, he should just do that and not dilute that pop-rock magnificence with a bunch of distortion and feedback for the sake of consistency.
 
He kills it (good) on one of the most honest tracks on the set, “Ladder Song,” a piano ballad; that generosity of feeling and unclean vocal delivery shows up on opener “Firewall,” which boasts a slow-burn of electrics and gnarly drums that lurch around like a curse.
 
Oberst has said that “The People’s Key” is Bright Eyes’ last studio effort, and it’s weird to see him move from the mystic of “Cassedega” (and from stages with his own Mystic Band) to a fever-pitched paranoid, more of an addled Hunter S. Thompson than a wizened philosopher and poet we all know he longs to be. Since this swan song doesn’t appear to musically resolve, I guess we’ll just have to wait for Oberst’s projects in the future to provide some final footnotes.

 

<p>Bonnie &quot;Prince&quot; Billy &amp; The Cairo Gang's &quot;Island Brothers&quot;</p>

Bonnie "Prince" Billy & The Cairo Gang's "Island Brothers"

Credit: Drag City

Song Of The Day: Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's new 'New Wonder' with Cairo Gang

Get mellow, for a good cause

Bonnie "Prince" Billy told us to "Beware" in 2009 and furthermore sent us to "The Wonder Show of the World" with The Cairo Gang last year. He and that latter group have a little more output to project this year, with a new two-song single due on Feb. 22.

"New Wonder" is the flip side of "Island Brothers'; it utilizes Will Oldham's delicate vocal features with the crackling, harmonic folk sounds of the Cairo Gang, led by Emmett Kelly (who has performed on BPB's other records, like heartaching "The Letting Go"). The flickering music video to "New Wonder" is below.

Now, I don't mean to hit you on Hump Day with a funeral, but the sales to "Island Brothers"/"New Wonder" go toward Edge Outreach, which helps provide clean drinking water resources to the people in Haiti, to battle cholera and future struggles of the ailing island.

Bonnie "Prince" Billy has only one show on slate currently, though don't be surprised at the speed at which that will change: he'll be at All Tomorrow's Parties NY (OK, OK, New Jersey), the three-day tickets to which are woefully sold-out and no I'm not done crying about it yet.

[Video after the jump...]

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<p>Cee Lo Green</p>

Cee Lo Green

Watch: Kerry Washington, Janelle Monae star in Cee Lo's 'Bodies' vid

Ladies love shoes, men love shades, love loves murder

If the peacock version of Cee Lo Green at the Grammys this year didn't suit you, try the Lady Killer instead.

The singer and rapper stars in his "Bodies" music video, keenly directed by Mikael Colombu and co-starring Kerry Washington. Cee Lo is literally a killer of ladies (OK, and a doctor, too) in this animated adventure, which features the "Ray" actress seeing red at the heel of her own shoe.

But Green develops a crush on another potential victim, a "Tightrope"-walking circus star (I see what you did there) who has shady homicidal tendencies of her own. Mmmm, pulp fiction.

[More after the jump...]

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Watch: Foo Fighters tap Lemmy for new '80s-loving 'White Limo' clip

Watch: Foo Fighters tap Lemmy for new '80s-loving 'White Limo' clip

Album title and tracklist (and new special guest Bob Mould) announced too

The Foo Fighters' name packs a punch of its own (get it?), but add Lemmy, and you've got a serious assault.

The legendary Motorhead frontman jumps behind the wheel of "White Limo," the fourth song from the Foos' forthcoming album, newly dubbed "Wasting Light."

A VHS camera later, we have the whole band -- Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear -- shoved into the back of the long car and sometimes rocking the hell out in a parking lot. Grohl's wife Jordyn even makes an appearance.

Forget Arcade Fire's "We Used to Wait" clip: this little firecracker is gonna take you back. There's a good reason people don't make hair metal videos like they did in the '80s any more, but "White Limo" certainly is a fun-to-watch reminder. On top of that, the growl of Grohl on this new track will have your fingers flying for those old Damned records (OK, OK, and Kilminster's greatest works).

[Video and more chatter after the jump...]

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<p>PJ Harvey</p>

PJ Harvey

Credit: Seamus Murphy

Album Review: PJ Harvey's 'Let England Shake'

Shaken and stirred: English songwriter soars in the terrors of war

It’s tough to dive entirely into PJ Harvey’s “Let England Shake” without a history lesson, and the richer the story, the deeper you go.

The singer-songwriter has it explained more fully here but open your books to World War I, during the Gallipoli campaign, a battle that magnified the cruelty of Western land and naval wars, an unjust eight months of enormous losses. The Ottoman Empire struck back hard against the Allied forces from England and France (and, notably, from Australia and New Zealand); the latter underestimated their ability to swiftly end the attack, stemming from failures and miscalcuations of its leaders and disasterous weather. The result was hundreds of thousands of casualties.
 
Harvey takes on the voice of those soldiers and sufferers, hungry for home, through emotive artifacts and battle zone observations. It’s a relief, the way she separates the person of Polly Jean and insinuates the not-so-straw-men of history, removing her from a pastor’s pulpit and into the “trenches of burning oil.” “Let it burn” she concludes in “Written on the Forehead,” sampling from Niney and the Observer’s reggae track “Blood and Fire.” The apocalypse of this creepily soaring rocker could easily be a Massive Attack – no pun intended – track that Never Was.
 
[More after the jump...]
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