The 53rd Annual Grammy Awards finally has its nominees, and -- as is custom -- there's some real duds, shockers and pleasant surprises on the list. Here's a breakdown of what we found in the popular music categories, from Lady Gaga and Katy Perry to Ray LaMontagne and Esperanza Spalding.
The Album of the Year category should feature an asterisk in its name, considering it’s just letting “Collections of Songs Roughly the Length of an Album” and “EP” waltz right in there. Katy Perry made some unforgettable singles this year, but – as I wrote in my review – Katy Perry doesn’t really make great albums. And perhaps the voting Academy felt bad that “The Fame” didn’t win in 2009, so Lady Gaga's "The Fame Monster" gets a pass before she even puts out a real sophomore set. PATIENCE, voters, you can coddle her all you want after “Born This Way” drops.
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This year for Christmas, I'd like for The Killers to do another track together, even though they're on hiatus.
And I'd like for that single, "Boots," to be about snow globes and cinnamon candles and stuff, nothing that's particularly mean or sarcastic, mostly just Brandon Flowers getting extra sentimental.
I really like "It's a Wonderful Life," so if you could have that as the plot to the music video to "Boots," that would be awesome and my brother may even watch it even though he hates Jimmy Stewart.
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Have a Spoon super-fan you need to shop for this Christmas?
The Austin-bred rock band has pulled together the alternate version and demo songs they've been posting on their website and made the collection into a little "Bonus Songs 2008-2009" compilation.
Don't get 'em wrong: these tracks weren't written in that year span, but posted during 2008-2009. Some songs are demo versions of composition from "Kill the Moonlight," released all the way back in 2002. There's also the inclusion of rarity "The Right Place at the Right Time" (demo), a rehearsal of "You Gotta Feel It" and a "writing exercise" of "Eddie's Ragga."
For the nerds, 'm I right? However, I've always admired Spoon's songwriting process, even if frontman Britt Daniels says he struggles with penning lyrics. Good to hear how a veteran band does it, and maybe it's worth it for under $10 (digital and CD). Get paid.
Here is the tracklist for "Bonus Songs 2008-2009":
1. Was It You Demo
2. Rhythm And Soul Demo
3. Don't Let It Get You Down Demo
4. Cherry Bomb Country Version Demo
5. My Little Japanese Cigarette Case Oceanside Demo
6. Merchants Of Soul Demo
7. Eddie's Ragga Writing Exercise
8. My Mathematical Mind Demo
9. You Gotta Feel It Rehearsal
10. In The Right Place The Right Time Demo
Bright Eyes has announced it's seventh full length album: the Saddle Creek band will release "The People's Key" on Feb. 15 next year, featuring mainstays Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Wolcott.
It's the Omaha, Neb.-based band's first set sin 2007's "Cassadega," which incorporated quite a bit of country and folk elements that helped shape Oberst's two solo efforts with the Mystic Valley Band in 2008 and 2009 and even with Monsters of Folk, his supergroup with Mogis, M. Ward and Jim James.
No particular guests like -- say -- Emmylou Harris or Gillian Welch are slated to help, but instead a veritable reunion of present and former Saddle Creek acts and friends are on board "Key." Andy LeMaster (Now It’s Overhead), Matt Maginn (Cursive), Carla Azar (Autolux), Clark Baechle (The Faint), Shane Aspegren (The Berg Sans Nipple), Laura Burhenn (The Mynabirds) and Denny Brewer (Refried Ice Cream) are credited as additional musicians.
The album was produced by mega-mind Mogis and engineered by Mogis and LeMaster (Steve Albini would appreciate the distinction).
Meanwhile, as fans sit in wait, there's a couple live shows also worth pining for: Bright Eyes has scheduled a March 9 stop at Radio City Music Hall in New York and a June 23 stint at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
I'm personally eager to hear not only what sonic direction Oberst takes with the effort after a couple loose, jammier years with the above mentioned bands, but also what new he has to say about politics, especially after his proactivity protesting Arizona's controversial immigration law this summer and two years of turbulent party oppositions in the country.
Here is the tracklist for "The People's Key":
So the thought and hope here was Kanye West would be making a cameo in the new video for “Hurricane,” or rather, “Hurricane 2.0,” the working single from Thirty Seconds to Mars’ new deluxe version of “This Is War.”
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Iron & Wine released its new album's first single, “Walking Far From Home,” on Black Friday, as part of a vinyl/CD single that went out as part of Record Store Day, Christmas Edition. The song was accompanied by two other new tracks, "Summer in Savannah" and "Biting Your Tail," neither of which are slated to be released on "Kiss Each Other Clean" come January.
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I can't really be bothered to grumble about Kanye West's appearance on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade float (except: that outfit? really"), nor re-print his onstage rant word-for-word from his tiny gig at Bowery last week (here's the cheat sheet: "Thank you, and eat my shorts."). I'm also sick of waiting for his cameo in Thirty Seconds to Mars' "Hurricane" music video, which has been something like two months in wait: 14 "clips" of a clip does not a clip make, guys.
What I do like seeing if forward motion, and there's some of that from West in Mr Hudson's "Anyone But Him" music video.
Mr Hudson, as you'll recall, is signed to Kanye's G.O.O.D. label, in an attempt to make him as big here as he is in his native Britain. Last year, there was "Supernova," a track and clip that I found both mystifyingly trainwreckish and enjoyable. Then Mr Hudson showed up on Jay-Z's "Bluprint 3," as the remaker of Alphaville's "Forever Young" on cleverly titled "Young Forever."
Now he's back, promoting the second single from his June release "Straight No Chaser" (not to be mistaken for the a capella group of the same name), "Anyone But Him." He and Ye are after the same girl, which to the fair maiden seems like the choice between apples and a media-magnet rapper.
The song is catchy, for sure, though the pour-not-dab of auto-tune seems inappropriate, considering the blonde blaster's pipes.
What do you think of the track?
South By Southwest has added a few new names to its expansive lineup, including Alberta Cros, City and Colour, J. Mascis, Morning Teleportation, Noah and the Whale, Devotchka, Jeff and the Brotherhood and Prince Rama. Things kickoff on March 16, unless you have a true lust for life: then count on pre-parties the days before in Austin.
The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys and Primal Scream are heading to Benicassim International Festival in Spain, which runs July 14-17. An early bird sale is running now through Nov. 25.
The Foo Fighters are set to headline one of the dates at now-four-day Sasquatch! in George, Washington.
The Chemical Brothers will be one of the big names confirmed at the Ultra Music Festival, good news after the bickering from last week.
Red Hot Chili Pepers aren't just playing Rock in Rio: They're heading to Japan too, for Summer Sonic Festival.
Tulluride Bluegrass Festival (Colorado) announced its dates: June 16-19.
The Beatles Single Sleeve Die Cast Collectible Taxi - There are four toy car models which each represent one of four singles - "A Hard Day's Night", "Can't Buy Me Love", "For You Blue" and "Yesterday." Each package contains the limited edition single sleeve die-case collectible taxi, an XL T Shirt and a wall plaque featuring the artwork from the 7" single. Each box is valued at $50.
** i.e. you.