On M.I.A.’s “Story to Be Told,” the songwriter repeats over and over, “All I ever wanted was my story to be told.
More a journal of sketches than a completed artistic work
Does the female MC deserve to be at the top of the rap chart?
For the first time in eight years, a female MC has topped Billboard’s Rap Songs chart. Nicki Minaj’s “Your Love” picks up where Missy Elliott’s “Work It” left off back in 2002.
[More thoughts on Nicki Minaj after the jump]
The Killers frontman plays victim while Theron plays action hero
In the clip for "Crossfire," shot by stuntman Nash Edgerton ("The Matrix," "Knight and Day"), "The Road" actress defeats ninjas with throwing stars, swords and martial arts in order to save the life of The Killers frontman. He sits bound, helpless, in a handful of scenarios, his face mauled, his shirt stained with dirt and his own blood. He also lip-syncs. It's actually a very funny video, if not sweet and empowering as well.
It brings to mind another recent music video that utilized the fierce beauty of another Hollywood star: remember how Emmy Award-nominated "Mad Men" actress Christina Hendricks got torn apart in Broken Bells' "Ghost?"
"Crossfire" is the first single from Flowers' solo debut, "Flamingo," due Sept. 14. The song rolled out last month; I review it here.
What do you think of this glitchy electro evolution?
I always hold my breath when I hear DJ Shadow's name. "Entroducing" was just the start of his experiments in hip-hop and electronica, but there's been some patchy contributions along the way. His turn with U.N.K.L.E. was brilliant, his 2006 album "The Outsider" was not. His mix "Diminishing Returns" sounded fresh, his collaborations with Cut Chemist inspired, his remix of Keane a snoozer.
So I was a little anxious to hear of a new track out, "Def Surrounds Us." In what Shadow (born Josh Davis) describes as a mix of electro, dub-step and drum 'n' bass, the track swirls around an ominous spoken word sample with a wiry, minimalistically trippy beat and subtle crescendo. The result? Pretty good.
Some Kind of Awesome pointed out the stream, ripped from Zane Lowe's BBC 1 show. It features a few good words with the DJ, who seems laser-focused on shining off his as-yet-untitled solo set and follow-up to "The Outsider." Shadow says he's finished with about 35 or 40 minutes of tracking. Now, instead of anxious, I'm just eager to hear more.
What do you think of "Def Surrounds Us?"
Electronic, jam and hip-hop reigns supreme at Labor Day weekend fest
Lollapalooza and Pitchfork are two major festivals that have thrived in Chicago, so some independent promoters think it best to test if three times is a charm.
The North Coast Music Festival will be held over Labor Day weekend (Sept. 3-5) this year, with an emphasis on jam, electronica and hip-hop to round out its headliners. Chi's own Lupe Fiasco, dance vets Chemical Brothers and the Disco Biscuits are among the headliners to grace Union Park, with a fantastic $75 three-day pass to entice concert-goers.
Other announced artists include Moby, De La Soul, Nas and Damian Marley, Paul Van Dyk, Boyz Noize and Flying Lotus. It makes sense now that JamBase and Relix are partners. Grace Potter, Umphree's McGee (always the bridesmaid, never the bride) and Jakob Dylan are perfectly serviceable rock acts, though not additions that make me go "wow."
Organizers are adding other Third Coast-centric acts like Loyal Divide, Van Ghost and Future Rock to the bill, giving it a modest, hometown sheen as well.
I'm curious to see how this particular festival goes over, consider its eclectic billing, how cheap tickets are, Labor Day competition and the fact that locals may be sick of music festivals by September.
Ninety percent of the acts currently announced are really, really decent choices, though they may not attract -- say -- Lady Gaga, Big Boi or Green Day numbers. On top of that, for music lovers, a few other Labor Day music festival happenings come to mind : Bumbershoot in Seattle (Bob Dylan, Weezer, Drake), Jazz Aspen Snowmass (Wilco, Black Crowes, Sharon Jones) and All Tomorrow's Parties in upstate New York (the indie rock nerd-fest that I will be attending).
What do you think? Does this festival sound enticing?
Should the Chicago-based rock act release their own albums?
Wilco guitarist Nels Cline recently let it slip that the Chicago-based rock act has left Nonesuch and is "striking out on our own."
He told Express Night Out [link via Pitchfork] that the band is brewing a new record label, though he doesn't know the name of it yet. The group has its own Solid Sound music festival coming in August, but after, "I think our main task... is to work on new material and a new album... [frontman] Jeff [Tweedy] was basically not wanting to be on a record label for a while -- he didn't renew his contract with Nonesuch -- so we're striking out on our own, our own label."
The band's publicist told HitFix, "Wilco's deal is up with Nonesuch Records. While it has not yet been determined who will release the next Wilco record, forming their own label and releasing future albums through it is definitely a potential scenario."
Which leaves open the possibility of the band opting to sign a traditional label deal. Or a joint venture. Or starting an entirely independent shop to put out more than just their own material.
It'd obviously be to the band's benefit to release their own and their members' solo material through their own label outfit, as the proceeds would go directly into their own pockets.
But the latter possibility sounds the most intriguing, since Wilco has shown an interest in touting the talents of other artists (hence Solid Sound). Putting out 7" records or even full-length sets from unknowns might benefit them financially and as a good will project to propel their name further into the 2010s. A deal with a distributor like Red or a new artist-centered label like French Kiss could provide the machinery to get fresh efforts to the masses.
Which is why the band made a deal with Nonesuch in the first place. When Reprise sat on "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" back in 2001, it was by the grace of Nonesuch that the record finally got it a release date in 2002. Perhaps a Wilco-founded label could be the blessed home to great releases in the future.
Does one of the year's best rock songs get an equally great clip?
Let's set at least one thing straight: Gaslight Anthem's "American Slang" is one of the best new rock records this year, and its title track one of the best rock songs. Even after my initial review of the track it's grown on me tenfold; it's satisfyingly hyperbolic, anthemic and sets a good pace for running.
That being said... the new music video? Kinda meh.
Shot in black and white, it follows the quartet through Manhattan and Brooklyn, their pretty mugs alternating between looking morose and bored (though there is one darling shot of frontman Brian Fallon cracking up). We see a church steeple, some urban decay, live concert footage and homeless people. There's flitting looks at Wall Street and the Lower East Side's Allen Street. It's a sleepy homage to the city that never sleeps.
It wouldn't be fair to say Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind" did this, only better, because Jay-Z has a gajillion dollars. However, it'd be nice if shooter Kevin Custer allowed the camera to linger on images of intrigue and meaning, rather than, like, "Look at this broken telephone. Then look at it in a second shot. So cool."
Curious that this squarely New Jersey-heralding group set its sites on New York for its first video, but then again, there's nine other tracks to take to New Brunswick.
Solange and Janelle Monae have a 'False Priest' in common
Of Montreal is prepping the release of something like its 12th album "False Priest," and has unleashed at least two tracks for advanced listening.
"Hydra Fancies," the latest of these, will be featured on lit magazine The Believer's song compilation disc as part of its music issue, streaming below. A slightly alterered version will appear on "False Priest," due Sept. 14.
The track is on the less-flouncy side of Kevin Barnes and Co.'s output, though still with the signature synth slurs and doubled vocals.
The first available (free!) single, "Coquet Coquette," has a more jammy, adrenaline rush to it, much more organic in feel than the pop-weirdo-rock band's last album "Skeletal Lamping" on the whole.
"False Priest" will feature contributions from Solange Knowles on intriguingly titled "Sex Karma" and from the unstoppable Janelle Monae, on two tracks "Our Riotous Defects" and "Enemy Gene." In fact, Monae collaborated with Of Montreal on (more or less) her own tune "Make the Bus," a previous Song Of The Day.
One in the win column for Def Jam and collaborators Janelle Monae, B.o.B., T.I., George Clinton, Jamie Foxx
I wonder at what point Jive knew they were wrong.
Quick: Check out this rare interview with His Purple Highness and look inside his mansion
It will take you no more than 10 minutes, so do it: read this very recent and extremely rare interview with Prince, written up by Peter Miller at the U.K.'s Daily Mirror.
This interview marks his first newspaper interview granted in something like a decade. And the weird doesn't stop there.
"The internet's completely over," Prince declared. "I don't see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won't pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can't get it... The internet's like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good... They just fill your head with numbers and that can't be good for you."
This is the man -- the entertainer -- who up until recently extensively micro-managed the dispersal of his music and image on the 'net; who tried selling his music through exclusively through his own website, then subsequently shut the site down. You'll be hard pressed to find a Prince tune on YouTube. Online outlets get regular, direct requests from Prince and Co. to use one particular photo over another in posted articles.
Prince doesn't want "20ten" -- an album being given away for free, abroad -- to be found for free on the internet. For fans, this is your challenge.
Meanwhile, the Mirror writer was given a tour of Prince's Paisley Park compound -- from the recording studio to the 1,000+ capacity personal concert hall, the dance club at which he was told to dance in a circle of five. It's obvious that the "Let's Go Crazy" singer is still heavily influenced by his faith -- he's a Jehovah's Witness -- and is still sober and vegan. Readers are treated to raw veggies and a banana smoothie. Beautiful backing singers and his girlfriend Bria Valente (in an evening gown) make cameos. It sounds like a brief stint in a real-life Barbie playhouse, with Prince its only Ken.
As previously reported, Prince was recently honored with a Lifetime Achievement honor at the BET Awards and wore a shirt that promoted his own album -- an album that isn't even getting a U.S. release.