<p>Fistful of Mercy</p>

Fistful of Mercy

Listen: Ben Harper, Joseph Arthur, George Harrison's son Dhani form Fistful Of Mercy

Check out the newly minted supergroup's self-titled song

Details are scant, but it appears Ben Harper, Joseph Arthur and Dhani Harrison (of the George variety) have combined to form a new singer-songwriter supergroup Fistful of Mercy.

So far, they've gotten around to posting a Twitter account (under the "Men Who Stare At Goats" moniker Lyn Cassady, no less), a MySpace with dummy text for a bio and a Facebook account that reveals they're posted in Venice, Calif.

On top of that, they've revealed their first known song, a self-titled, sadly sweeping rocker. Vocally, there's little trading of vocals on "Fistful of Mercy," though there's a lot going on in that chorus, where it sounds like three wispy, raspy guys who all split into harmonies but in their heart-of-hearts all wish they were singing melody.  I could be a little off, but the chorus seems to say, "Maybe it's soft inside of a fistful of mercy / maybe it counts from where we are / the land of the thirsty / hungry." The track'ss enhanced by violin, a little tonal and slide guitar work and a dramatic cache of drumming.

The beginning of the clip features a sketch of a goat. We see a goat theme developing.

The band has announced its first public performance, to take place at Easy Street Records in Seattle tomorrow night (Aug. 27).

No release dates or label information is available. A rep had not replied to our request for more information by press time.

Harper last released "White Lies for Dark Times" with the Relentless7 in 2009, out on Virgin. Joseph Arthur has been releasing album over the last four years on his own label, Lonely Astronaut, with his last studio full-length out in 2008. Dhani Harrison, son of Beatle George Harrison, first started playing music when he helped complete his dad's last effort, 2002's "Brainwashed." He sings and plays guitar with his band thenewno2, which has completed one album.

What do you think of the song?

Fistful of Mercy from Fistful of Mercy on Vimeo.

 

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<p>Margaret Cho</p>

Margaret Cho

Credit: Lindsey Byrnes

Interview: Margaret Cho is ‘Dependent’ on Andrew Bird, Fiona Apple, Ani DiFranco

Exclusive: Comedienne recording new song 'Stick It In' with The Cliks frontman

Margaret Cho lost her voice over the weekend and is very sweetly describing her new and first comedy music hybrid album “Cho Dependent.” She gushes on the “warmth and love” there was between her and her famous collaborators like Andrew Bird, Fiona Apple, Jon Brion, Tegan and Sara, Ani DiFranco and the New Pornographers’ A.C. Newman, who worked on music to her lyrics. It’s fielding a balance, she said, between being known as a comedian but have great standards for a musical output.

Is it, perhaps, like having two sides to a coin, an alter-ego?

“It’s no ‘Sasha Fierce.’ Though maybe I oughta…” Margaret Cho laughs. “It’s still comedy.”
 
The longtime comedienne’s +1 Records effort is the product of a year and a half of cobbling together songs in a variety of methods, whether laying down recordings live in her rudimentary home studio, or by dubbing over tracks laid down remotely. Considering artists from Ben Lee to Tommy Chong hail from all over the world, it seemed that a complete album materializing, ultimately, was a miracle. Or is just that Cho is the glue that can bring it all together.
 
“I feel like I have a real knack for collaboration. It’s at least one thing I know that I know I’m good at,” she says. She already had pre-existing friendships with artists like Brion, DiFranco and Apple and respected the music of acts like Tegan and Sara. Through those connections, she was able to get in touch with Brendan Benson, Patti Griffin and even got down to shoot a video, “I’m Sorry,” with Bird (below). Check out, too, her clip with Grant Lee Phillips on “Eat Sh*t and Die”; both were shot by Liam Sullivan of “Shoes” fame.
 
“Dependence” was also an opportunity to shine a light on another of Cho’s hidden acumen: alt-country music. The album runs the gamut of cabaret tunes to faux-pop, but there is an extra emphasis on folkier tunes.
 
“I love country. I especially love alt-country,” she says, citing Gillian Welch, Ryan Adams and Dave Rawlings. “If I could have a true, distinctive country voice, it’d be Emmylou [Harris] or Dolly Parton. But I don’t. Maybe could do a good impression, instead.”
 
The Cho Dependence 2010 tour has already kicked off, with a stop in Provincetown, Mass., tonight. Cho says that it’s more of a comedy show than a traditional music tour date, though she’s making sure to throw in a few tunes. She expects that friends like Lee, Brion and Apple may show up intermittently throughout the tour.
 
She also has another song release coming out soon, a combined effort with friend Lucas Silveira of The Cliks on a song dubbed "Stick It In," which will be released as an online exclusive and will also be included on the next music album.
 
Cho also hopes to stop off at more music festivals next year like she did at  Bonnaroo this past summer, for the opportunity to present her show to audiences outside of the comedy circuit. “You can get really experimental and wild and theatrical,” Cho explains, which would explain at least a couple of dramatic characters who she’d also love to collaborate with on the next musical endeavor: Linda Perry and David Bowie.
 
Cho is also currently preparing for the February return of “Drop Dead Diva” on Lifetime.

Below are Margaret Cho's music videos with Andrew Bird and Grant Lee Phillips, in "I'm Sorry" and "Eat Sh*t and Die," respectively.

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<p>Moonmins</p>

Moonmins

Song Of The Day: Watch Bjork's new video for 'Moomins' children's film song

A comet hurdling toward earth, graves and 'dammit': kids these days

A natural disaster makes it way toward land, as its creatures -- living in peace -- hurry away for shelter. "The comet,' Bjork sings, "Oh dammit / the comet comes hurdling down / on our precious plot of earth."

Yup, sounds like a children's film to me.

Click here to watch the video.

The famed Icelandic singer contributed new "The Comet Song" to the stop-motion animated movie "The Moomins and the Comet Chase," a Finnish movie released earlier this month. The felt-animals and footage of the film is comprised of scenes from the Polish TV show "Comet in Moominland" series, which were based on the Swedish "Moonmins" books (written by a Swedish-Finn). Follow?

That all goes to say, Bjork is a fan of the stuff and her odd tune pushes the clip straight into creepy territory, right up there with "The Dark Crystal." But, hey, she's donating proceeds from the sale of "The Comet Song" to UNICEF. It goes up on iTunes tomorrow (Aug. 24).

 

 

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<p>Katy Perry</p>

Katy Perry

Credit: Capitol/EMI

Album Review: Is Katy Perry's 'Teenage Dream' a delight or a nightmare?

'California Gurls' singer returns with follow-up to 'One of the Boys'

In interviews, Katy Perry has said essentially that she wants her new album to be every teenage boys’ wet dream – though it’s teenage girls that will be putting “Teenage Dream” on repeat. The end result is watering down of the teenage experience, oscillating between only two points of perspective: Adorable Mischief and A Broken Heart. The former seems to subsist on nudity, drinking and sex, while the latter is of direct consequence of the former. And, as “Last Friday Night (TGIF)” says, “Do it all again.”

Thus, the teenage dream sounds like a nightmare.
 
Granted, this is only if “Teenage Dream” is digested as a complete work. EMI/Capitol – particularly after  posting its losses from last quarter – needs a series of hits, not a concept album. Perry's previous "One of the Boys" didn't kill it on the Billboard 200, but the singles kept her on the front burner. She doesn’t get the fleshed-out dynamic, capital-A Artist treatment here, maybe in part because her public persona and previous set already fills in some of those blanks.
 
That’s how we get summer jam “California Gurls,” with its sun-loving, “Baby I Want You Back”-checking mindlessness. “Friday Night” creeps a little more into naughty territory, like a cuter but still skanky version of Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok,” plus a saxophone solo a la “Young Americans.” “Peacock” has all the subtly of the bubblegummy lipstick lesbian hit “I Kissed a Girl,” as she chants “Show me your peacock-cock-cock” (and then says something about crying, being unprepared and how “beautiful” “it” is: file under Fail). Between it and “Hummingbird Heartbeat,” these are shameless lyrics that even Fergie would blush singing.
 
On the flip-side, the bandaid get yanked off: “Circle the Drain” alludes to Perry’s ex, Gym Class Heroes/newly minted solo artist Travie McCoy, with vitriol and a black nail-polished edge in content and delivery -- and not just because Perry drops the F-bomb. It has a lot of remix potential with that big ‘80s beat and a growl borrowed straight from a Pink venom-spitter.
 
“Pearl” is about how a man can suppress a woman’s inner-beauty, with Perry ultimately pointing the mirror at herself. She admits “I used to be a shell,” but then delivers the good advice of growing strong (or something) and ultimately resists the urge to rhyme “pearl” with “girl.” In front of the skittering synths a la Justin Timberlake’s “My Love,” Perry falls prey to a pitfall that often vexes Christina Aguilera’s latter-day tracks on “Who Am I Living For”: she sings at a 1 for a little bit and the rest at a full-voiced 10, resulting in more than four minutes of whispering and shouting.
 
And cross-referencing contemporary pop hits and Perry’s peers is no accident. “Teenage Dream” is more an exercise in rehashing the modern popular music formula than it is carving out a new space for Perry to thrive. The songwriting credits for each song usually went to more than one person, with the tracks eventually wrung through usual machinery of hitmaking producers like Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Tricky Stewart and Stargate. The problem is that these songs could’ve been written and performed by anybody, and thus sound like everybody. Behind the caricature of the colored wigs, wink-winking, sexual identity and celebrity, Perry lacks character.
 
Which is a shame, because if anybody’s that’s gonna make Perry’s career distinctive, it’s Perry herself. She’s got a pop to her voice, and I love the way it flips over those high register notes, the low-level growl on those long eees, her coy slurs and an erotic purr that brings authenticity to even the most cheesy-ass lines that litter up “Teenage Dream.” Her music videos are cheeky, her public appearances are warm and everywoman-ish, like the Kewpie-eyed girl next door stripping to her skivvies to help wash cars for the local fundraiser. Personal narrative “The One That Got Away,” the phenomenal title track second single and raw closer “Not Like the Movies” benefit from flourishes of wit and honesty.
 
If teenaged girls and pop radio lovers can ignore awkward clunkers like “E.T.” (Poison? Disease? It must be love!) and take the half-baked metaphors as harmless songs of love, then half of this set will be a hit and the other half can sink as collateral. As an album, a statement and a social artifact, it’s a mess. I guess it depends on your definition of “dream.”

Katy Perry's "American Dream" is out tomorrow (Aug. 24).

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<p>Cee-Lo: Still loves you. Oooh!</p>

Cee-Lo: Still loves you. Oooh!

Song Of The Day: Cee-Lo bids a fond 'F*ck You' in new track

The Gnarls Barkley crooner spells it out in a NSFW video: Is he your X-Box?

Have you considered showing up at your lady love's new midtown apartment, crying, in the middle of the night, drunk on cheap vodka and sporting a boombox, a la John Cusack in "Say Anything," only not blasting Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" but something to tell her and her new beau off instead?

How about something '50s-inspired, profanity-laced and sung by Cee-Lo? "F*ck You" says what it means, and the placeholder music video says what it says what it means.

In several LOL moments, the Gnarls Barkley crooner recounts how "being in love with your @ss ain't cheap" and compares himself to an Atari while the new guy's an X-Box. He also quotes notable prophet and philosopher Mr. T.

I'm not particularly fond of the long-running trend of songs that lament how girlfriends bankrupt men, "b*tches be shoppin'," et cetera, but at least this track has the wisdom of self-effacement and hilarity. It's an insta-earworm, though not one whose words should sung aloud in public places or around small children.

In fact, I doubt it can pass the censors to be a radio single release, though in the case of Eminem et al., radio will always find a way.

A proper music video release is slated for next week; the song is culled from Cee-Lo's "Lady Killer," due in December.

Be warned, again: this song and video is not safe for work (NSFW).

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<p>Sufjan Stevens</p>

Sufjan Stevens

Credit: Marzuki Stevens

On-the-spot review: Sufjan Stevens releases new EP to ‘All Delighted People' today

Listen: Streaming and on sale now, for $5, on Bandcamp: Hooray

When Sufjan Stevens announced his epic theater tour for this fall, we estimated that an album may be on the way.  

That wish has been granted, as the Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter has released a new EP, “All Delighted People” today. As in now.
 
The eight-track set is streaming and for sale now on Bandcamp, which is a fantastic choice for digital retail. I use it constantly -- it’s streamlined, no frills programming, and puts money directly into the pocket of its artists/labels. The set goes up for sale on all other digital stores on Aug. 23 (for those iTunes purists). The Asthmatic Kitty press release says it will be pressed on CD and vinyl for sale later this year -- merry Christmas.
 
"Delighted" is Stevens’ first “song-oriented” album since 2006’s “The Avalanche: Outtakes & Extras from the Illinois Album.”
 
The 11:38 title track is, just, wow. It’s a “dramatic homage to the Apocalypse, existential ennui, and Paul Simon’s ‘Sounds of Silence,’” and borrows a couple lyrics from that latter track. I dare say, Stevens has got soul. He allows for his normally tranquil tenor to stray all over the scale, even crack on a couple notes. "All Delighted People" also gets a “classic rock” redux on track six.
 
His voice gets doubled by an electric on the enchanting “Enchanting Ghost” while “The Mouth of Gabriel” gets cute with what sounds like a series of toy instruments and feet marching place, some back-tracked synths and a flute line that’s straight from a Jonsi song. The sweetly creepy “The Owl and the Tanger” has been a “mainstay” at his live shows, but makes a recorded debut here. It’s nuanced, to say the least, with a muted, simple piano line, a harmony on the third and some emotional outpouring that reminds me of “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” only with more autobiography.
 
As for “Arnika”: if this were a vinyl record, itwould be an excellent first track on a B-side. It’s got a mish-mash of imperfect finger pickings and flitting banjo. “Could I have it all/Could I have you for a night in the warmth of your bed… I’m tired of life.” Then a creak of a chair. What the hell, why not. Then there’s a 17-minute track, “Djohariah.” It’s mostly wordless up until about 11:40. And it’s got wah pedal all over it.
 
So this is what the workshopping was all about.
 
Considering the girth of at least a pair of songs, plus the scale of sound that’s explored in a scant eight tracks, I’d say $5 is a pretty good deal for this “EP.” It’s a sign, too, of the broad brush Stevens will be painting with on his grand theater tour, one of the top stints this fall
 
The composer mostly worked on promoting his “BQE” film-music project last year. Happy to hear he’s back to laying down songs like these.
 
But since the songs are available now, it’s best you get your hands on it and give it your own spin. What do you think of “All Delighted People?” And are you going to pay the $5 for it?
 
Here is the tracklist for “All Delighted People”:

1. All Delighted People (Original Version)
2. Enchanting Ghost
3. Heirloom
4. From the Mouth of Gabriel
5. The Owl and the Tanager
6. All Delighted People (Classic Rock Version)
7. Arnika
8. Djohariah

 

 

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<p>&quot;I love you, Kanye.&quot; &quot;I&nbsp;love you, Justin.&quot;</p>

"I love you, Kanye." "I love you, Justin."

Kanye West, Justin Bieber and Raekwon collaboration really is happening

Blame Twitter

File this one under We'll Believe It When We Hear It, but Kanye West, Justin Bieber and Raekwon are planning to record together, if the Twitterverse has anything to say about it.

The idea sprung from a love-fest between Ye and The Bieb, as Kanye Tweeted that he liked the young pop star's "Runaway Love." Bieber geeked out. Then Kanye was like, Isn't this fun we're both on Twitter and, oh yeah, "“Maybe we can do something together. Me, You and Raekwon.” Because, yeah, whatever, Raekwon. To prove he knows who Raekwon is, Bieb referred to him as the Chef and nerded again.

In summary: "Will you go into the studio with me? Circle YES or NO." The exchange probably would be better fleshed out in notes passed during math class and were not a 140 character limit in effect, but naturally, wouldn't be as publicly attention-gobbling.

Chef Rae then told XXL “It’s definitely gonna happen” in an interview last night. 

“When you got these kinda talents merging together to do something exciting, I think it’s something that’s gonna make the fans check it out. I’m big fans of both of these guys. I think, at the end of the day, shorty is a sensation. And [for him] to acknowledge me it makes me feel good that the young generation is checkin’ me out like that. And at the same time it gives me a position to play a big brother in the game," the Wu-Tang member said. "Yeezy called me and we gon’ make it pop. At the end of the day we’re all doing our thing in the game and for them to even just have a conversation and just put my name in it it feels good…And we gon’ make a hit."

Then, naturally, Raekwon took his Twitter account to announce, "On my way to the airport to nyc to get up wit my legendary @kanyewest! Yall asked for it now we’re gonna deliver!"

I don't know what color Fame's coattails are, but I hope Raekwon's wearing something that matches. The MC is no chopped liver, but this would be a mega high-profile gig that would eclipse most all of his previous opportunities. As a non-Belieber, I appreciate Rae's non-compliment of the 16-year-old, mentioning only that he's a "sensation." But then again, I'm just tired of A-listers from West to D-listers like the Kardashians slobbering all over an adorable walking piggy bank robot with "respect." Even if that 800x slower remix of "U Smile" is pretty neat.

UPDATE (4:46): West Tweeted, "Finishing @JustinBieber Runaway Love remix too... don't know when they gonna drop it but Raekwon's verse is crazy!!!" I'll bet.

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<p>The Ting-Tings</p>

The Ting-Tings

Credit: Columbia

Song Of The Day: The Ting Tings return with two 'Hands'

Does this hold up against 'Shut Up & Let Me Go' or 'That's Not My Name?'

It was kind of sweetly sad when the Ting Tings took the stage of "Saturday Night Live" in January only to perform two hits ("Shut Up & Let Me Go" and "That's Not My Name") from an album they'd released two years earlier -- and at least one of those songs had been around longer than that.

Thankfully, the Columbia-signed duo has a new trick up their sleeves -- or, rather, out of their sleeves. "Hands" is the first new sounds from the band since releasing 2008's "We Started Nothing," and could very well end up on their sophomore set. It was recorded in the winter of 2009, and was mixed by venerable DJ Calvin Harris.

You can hear a stream on the track on the band's Facebook page, for the price of your soul your "Like." A "Low Sunday Indie Fix" remix is also available, though I think you have to surrender your deepest secrets to Sony or something, so I recommend hearing it here instead.

While I thought "Shut Up" is like Blondie at its snottiest best, and "Name" was like The Go! Team (remember them?) attacking "Hey Mickey," "Hands" sounds like the Ting Tings really starting to carve out their own unique niche, in an '80s new wave revival/speak-singing kind of way. It's catchy as hell, though still understated compared to the majority of "We Started Nothing." With somebody like Harris on board, it makes me eager to hear how else each of their two hands got, er, busy.

What do you think? Are they "working too hard" or not hard enough?

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<p>&quot;Coquet Coquette&quot;</p>

"Coquet Coquette"

Watch: of Montreal's 'Coquet Coquette' will tear your heart out

Love sucks, bites, hurts, plus: a very merry cassette release

A coquette is a woman who desires mens' affections without having to surrender any true intentions.

of Montreal's "Coquet Coquette" is a music video that seemingly has nothing to do with coquettes. However, it is a good excuse to feature ritual violence, loincloths and cannibalism. (And,perhaps, a very brief peek of Les Savy Fav's Tim Harrington, but that's probably just my eyes playing tricks on me.)

Frontman Kevin Barnes makes a cameo himself, as a sort of survivor of the slaughter. I'm not sure if this tale is based on a historical incident -- of an island of mostly white people that turn against the Others ("Lost"?), but it's a battle that will surely be recounted by our children, and our children's children, for days upon days.

"Coquet Coquette" is the leading single from of Montreal's forthcoming new album "False Priest," out on the highly popular release date of Sept. 14. It was produced by Barnes and Jon Brion and features guest spots from Janelle Monae and Solange Knowles (!).

And good news for cassette lovers: a limited edition run of 500 copies with a 12-panel booklet of Barnes family art is being run of the album, and it comes with a digital download of the album.

As previously reported, of Montreal's tour with Monae was among our top 10 indie rock tours to see this fall. Three new dates have since been added, with a stop in San Francisco on Oct. 29 and a two-day stint in Atlanta on Nov. 6-7. Have you bought your tickets yet?

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<p>Will Sheff</p>

Will Sheff

Song Of The Day: Okkervil River's Will Sheff debuts 'Lay of the Last Survivor'

Singer-songwriter places heart sturdily on sleeve, plus a very solo acoustic 'Plus Ones'

Will Sheff from Okkervil River stopped off at New York's Living Room last week and, somehow, I didn't know about it.

Thankfully, somebody was there with a camera with a HQ mic to capture some of the singer-songwriter's self-deprecation and a new song.

He performed "Lay as the Last Survivor" solo and acoustic, a taste of what may be on the rock act's first album in a couple of years. The track whirls with Sheff's usual litany of metaphor, with a ballsy, high-pitched revamp at the end. Check out TwentyFourBit for previously recorded bitter pill, "Plus Ones."

The band -- signed to one of my all-time favorites Jagjaguwar -- last released "The Stand Ins" in 2008, what was originally intended to be the second disc of 2007's "The Stage Names." Sheff's other band Shearwater also released a set, "Rook" in 2008 and an ode to nature, "Golden Archipelago," in February.

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