"I'm Back" got me excited for T.I.'s return. "Ya Hear Me" has me really, really excited.
The rapper is putting out "King Uncaged" on Aug. 17, and has been dropping a mix of gnarly, tricky, fun and hard-edged tracks, from that initial declaration, to the DJ Drama-enhanced "F*ck a Mixtape," "Yeah Ya Know" and... well, now we know.
The dueling organs of "Ya Hear Me" and the lack-jawed delivery of Tip's rhymes sounds like summer love, even though he's simply hyping his own return (again) and reporting adventures from the clink.
We wish we had this in time for our 2010 jams list, but the July 4 weekend will have to suffice for now. So far, this is my favorite new thing from the M.C.
When I first heard Chromeo, I was previewing music online before seeing artists live during the 2007 Iceland Airwaves festival. I was to write about them for an English-speaking newspaper in Reykjavik. At first glance, Chromeo was cheesy as hell.
After seeing them live, I still thought they were cheesy as hell. But also wildly engaging and owning it, the smooth keyboard-enhanced jams of the late '80s, meeting with sometimes-satirical R&B/hip-hop beats, the lovey-charming-gooey vocals of Dave 1. There's a transcendence of the cheese, post-cheese, particularly live, in their brand of sensuous, celebratory electro-dance-pop. Women swooned. Men called themselves P-Thugg. They named their EP that winter "Bonafied Lovin."
Come Sept. 14, Chromeo will be continuing that trend with the release of "Business Casual," and there's at least two tracks to give a taste in advance.
"Don't Turn the Lights On" (below) is particularly creamy, with a chorus that sticks like suckers. GreenLabelSound.com is offering "Night By Night" and some remixes for free.
In a tour that's destined not to suck this summer, Chromeo is taking out Holy Ghost! and blow-up band Neon Indian on tour starting in late July through late August.
You know when you have a really big crush on someone and you just want them, there, y'know, and when you feel like they're playing games on you, how it's like being thrown through a window, pushed off the top of a building, stabbed with a blade, clotheslined, toilet-dunked, sucker punched, ball-kicked, bitten, burned and left for dead? Y'know?
Adam Levine of Maroon 5 in "Misery" has gone to great measures to explain just what this girl is doing him, making her look psychopathetic and him like a sexual masochist. At least now we know what he's into.
On it's face, "Misery" is lyrically longing, a little generic, rolling those bedroom eyes all over the place. But the clip is so damn distracting, menacing and (for me) disturbing (zero LOL count were the roles to be reversed), it may as well be "The Benny Hill Show" theme song. We get it, Adam: you have a high tolerance for beautiful, outlandish women. It cuts like a knife. But it feels so right.
What I love about Janelle Monae -- who notably has made one of my favorite albums this year -- is that she's damn sexy without having to take off any clothes.
The singer and songwriter holds her own against rhymemasters Lupe Fiasco and B.o.B. in the music video to the Wondamix remix of single "Tightrope," culled originally from "The ArchAndroid." While B.o.B. bounces, Chi's Lupe bolts the, dare I say, funky beat to the floor, and Monae shares the difference, with sly moves and good time being had by all employed.
Shot in all black and white -- much like Monae's clothing colors of choice -- the clip allows her to concede as such, considering there's "no need for other colors." Astute.
And in case you missed it, Ms. Monae covered Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" over the weekend at the BET awards. The Purple One was in the audience, and looked pleased, and while I think the audio was pretty shot, her mad dancing skills would make anyone insane.
When fans of Steel Train buy the rock act’s new set, they’ll get a little something from the ladies.
The New Jersey natives tapped female friends, tour mates and colleagues for a companion album “Terrible Thrills Vol. 1” to their self-titled album, released Tuesday (June 29); a dozen unique voices re-made the set’s 12 songs.
“Especially over the past couple of years, I almost pretty much listened to only female singers. I wish I had a female voice” explained co-founder and singer Jack Antonoff. “When you write or create anything, you carry your influences with you. Particularly on this record, I hear them as a girl singing them.”
Hence the extra disc’s worth of material, from artists like actress/singer Scarlett Johansson, Dresden Dolls’ Amanda Palmer, Tegan and Sara, impressive Brooklynite Holly Miranda, Verve Forecast up-and-comers Elizabeth & The Catapult and the Go Go’s Charlotte Caffey.
Antonoff went to high school with -- well, more specifically, was high school sweethearts with -- Johansson. She has most recently collaborated with Pete Yorn on their collaborative album “Break Up” and with producer Dave Sitek on her Tom Waits covers set “Anywhere I Lay My Head."“I love her voice, and she loves the song [opener ‘Bullet’].” Tegan and Sara tapped Steel Train to open for them on tour over the past year. Palmer liked the idea of recording and posting her cover as a webcast experiment. And so on.
It’s a move that the band had only dreamed of before they shined off their contract with now-defunct Drive Thru. Now under the Terrible Thrills label banner, the band has felt at leisure to “grow up” into their sound.
“Having [Terrible Thrills] is the most exciting thing ever for us. We were with Drive Thru in its last hurrah but because we were still signed to them, there were still these stupid expectations. In a good way, we’re gonna go off the deep end, sonically. We had so many of these kind of ideas for so long,” Antonoff says, bringing up that the band was still in high school when contracts got signed.
“We were part of this whole New Jersey punk scene, and then we turned away from it. What most bands do in their garage, we do on tour and on this record: we’re still kids, but we’re finally finding our sound.”
And “Steel Train” has really graduated the band into a sonic realm that’s moved beyond that Jersey sound; you’ll hear strings and overdriven distortion, choirs and tricky rhythms overtop the quintet’s passionate rock ‘n’ roll. But you’ll also hear strong songs, stronger enough to withstand 12 covers from diverse female artists.
Is the extra material supposed to be a statement, like a Lilith Fair, or commentary on the industry?
“Not initially, not when I first thought of it. But people still are really subconsciously discriminatory toward female artists, like they’re all ‘cute.’ It’s really offensive. I just couldn’t see it more the opposite… [female artists] must feel pressure to present themselves as more than just musical artists. Because of our world, there’s gross emphasis on the way women look. It’s offensive and off subject, like people noting that Fiona apple is some sort of a comic of a crazy girl or overgeneralizing about Tegan and Sara and their audience on tour,” Antonoff continues.
What do you think of “Steel Train” versus the all-female companion “Terrible Thrills Vol. 1”?
Emily Haines gets dirty in "Eclipse (All Yours)" video
Happy "Eclipse" day! This, of course, is the day that "Twilight Saga: Eclipse" heads to theaters across the nation, cancer gets cured, doves fly and Metric releases its music video for "Eclipse (All Yours)."
I'm a fan of the track, and the clip is kind of pandering. I don't say "but it's pandering" because I don't blame the band for making what it's made.
This appeals squarely to the early teenaged girl crowd, much like Paramore was a perfect fit: it features heavily eyelinered Emily Haines scrawling in her journal high school style, laying around in roots and dirt and stuff, crouching helplessly. The rest of the band strolls along the purported Portland seaside and forests. Visions of Kristen Stewart's Bella, Robert Pattinson's Edward and Taylor Lautner's Jacob flicker on a TV. Drummer Joules Scott Key borrows some skins from Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" photo shoot and then promptly hurdles them down a hill.
It will hopefully propel the band into the greater consciousness as we all sit by and wait for Bella and Edward to just get it on, already.
A little more than a year ago, Bjork and the Dirty Projectors came together to collaborated at New York's Housing Works, for charity. The original piece, dubbed "Mount Wittenberg Orca," has since been recorded and, today, released digitally to benefit yet another charity, the National Geographic Society Ocean Initiative.
Why them? Because, DP mastermind David Longstreth wrote the songs "about whales. It was inspired by events on Mt. Wittenberg in California and elaborates on [Longstreth's] obsession with vocal harmony introduced on Dirty Projectors' 2009 album 'Bitte Orca'," according to a release.
It is the vocal-heavy group's first set of original recordings since that set, and Bjork's first new recording since her collaboration with Thom Yorke on "Nattura," another conservation-benefiting project.
I can't say I was present at that tiny bookshop when this original, live project came together; but from what I've heard, and what can be heard below in "All We Are," it truly is a combination effort, not just Bjork with a nice backing band (Nathaniel Baldwin, Amber Coffman, Haley Dekle, Angel Deradoorian, Longstreth and Brian McOmber). It seems like a, erm, natural fit.
As previously reported, Bjork is working on her follow-up solo effort to 2007's "Volta" and is working with frequent arts pal Michel Gondry on a film project. Dirty Projectors covered Bob Dylan for denim.
Interpol made some media rounds before taking the stage at the Creators Project in New York on Saturday, a scene as dark and stylin' as they are.
HitFix got a few words in with drummer Sam Fogarino and singer Paul Banks, the latter of whom made a costume change from Post-College Chic to All Black Everything between press and their 10 p.m. performance.
On the departure of longtime bassist Carlos D., the pair said that their shortlist for a replacement was exactly one name long: their adoption of former Slint player (and, regrettably, Zwan) and singer-songwriter phenom Dave Pajo was a "happy fit."
"I remember listening to Slint's 'Spiderland' in high school," Banks said. Since the band's self-titled album is already finished, ready for a September drop, Banks said Pajo hasn't had time to creatively bring much to the band's recording life. But live, they said, he brings new energy to a new "era" of Interpol.
The Milk Studios event was a mini-introduction to fresh material of "Interpol," with live tries of tracks like single "Lights," "Success" and "Summer Swell" (below). It was a taste of things to come on the band's tour, kicking off in late July.
"We don't look at [the shows] as an experiment," Fogarino, calling them more like a "warm-up." The pair said they'll be playing a mix of all albums during the extensive stretch that takes them international through December.
New York shows, however, are different from the rest. Not only do performances in the Big Apple get a hometown spin, but it's "tough to impress the crowd. There's a lot less clapping," Fogarino says. The band said it was still going to open for U2 when it makes up its canceled dates in 2011 "as far as we know."
The band just released its official music video for "Lights" last week, also below; the buggy clip was directed Charlie White. Considering the Creators Project was a giant mishmash of technology, video and music, was the band shopping for its next video's director there?
"That wouldn't be a bad idea," Banks said.
"Yo Spike," deadpanned Fogarino, referring to Jonze.
Fogarino, the band's "elder statesmen" -- for the record -- is one of the most naturally stylish men I've ever seen.
The launch party for the Intel/VICE joint venture Creators Project at New York's Milk Studios on Saturday marked a lot of firsts for me.
This was one of the first free booze parties in New York -- particularly in the Meatpacking District -- where said free booze didn't run out, even past the midnight mark.
This was also the first solid VICE party that wasn't at all, even remotely, a headachey clusterf*ck. The registration process for free entrants was seamless, 3,500 people came and went all 12 hours, the flow of crowd traffic didn't deaden my soul, stuff started on relatively on time and attendance over the three floors of art and music wasn't oversold. It's set this roving international party on the right path by beautiful execution and curation, sweaty and drunk and pretty.
This was the first time I'd seen Sleigh Bells and Die Antwoord live. And this was my first front row M.I.A. experience. (She was announced as a performer only the day before.)
My only complaint is that Interpol -- new lineup and all -- played a gallery space about the size of my bathroom, unmanageable for even an hearing-only gander.
Speaking of bathrooms, that seems to have been the inspiration for the acoustic engineering of M.I.A.'s sound, which amounted to audio soup in between the bigger better-known hits like "Galang" and "Paper Planes." The high ends tinnily bounced off each other in a set of no stops, the bass muddy and the vocals buried.
Maya Arulpragasam arrived excitedly in a camo jacket, hood up over her Bomb Pop colored hair, donning for half the show what could only be described as hot pink marijuana leaf tinted hologram goggles. (I'd love to see under which subsection on eBay they'd reside.) Beneath, it was a V-tee over a metallic bikini top. Having thrown herself as crowd-surf meat several times, she took off the unnecessaries; she is beyond petite, and ga-ga-gorgeous.
But for all the Grammy and festival footage, the media blitz and the hype drumming for her forthcoming July 13 set "/\/\/\Y/\" ("MAYA"), it was a set that started strong and then faded into a volume seven flatline. She shot out of the canon with new "Born Free" -- with its violent video cast behind her, but from there, the lyrics and pump-up banter was indecipherable, as songs bled into one another. She had two freakishly overstimulated male backup dancers (one of which looked like a mix of Guile from "Street Fighter II" and Chucky). She had two hype men, a rapper and colorful brain-drip animations, but still it all felt samey-same over an hour, no matter how hard the front pit pushed and how many times the rap-talk-sing-singer punched the air. It just wasn't her room.
She should have taken the advice of South Africa's Die Antwoord, who played before her and had the right mind to request to "turn up the f*cking volume." Because it worked.
"We're gonna f*ck this f*cking party in the f*cking face!" exclaimed Ninja, front man of the three-person operation. I still think it's a joke that Interscope signed what is, in essence, a joke hip-hop and obscure subgenre band from overseas, whose internet fame will likely go the way of the OK Go: lots of traffic hits, very little in the way of sales. Still, their Zef mix of outdated music samples and styles, mixed with mindless rhymes, the high-pitched voice of straw-mop-headed Yo-Landi Vi$$er and the merciless harddrive of DJ Hi-Tek sounds like hell on paper and was positively bitchin' live.
Sleigh Bells, in something like half an hour, roared through half their record. A friend rightfully said vocalist Alexis Krauss sound much less shrill live; she performed under a curtain of dark brown hair and skulked and pointed a lot. I love their record and I love this band, but I think it'd actually be a plus to have a live drummer to push those low ends and tricky rhythms more than just Derek E. Miller on guitar.
I spent little time with the art and with Spike Jonze's s "I'm Here" videobooth debut, sadly, but I can tell you Muti Randolph's "Cube" took my breath away and The xx's "A Sculpture of the Album" was a good place to check my voicemails.
Creators Project is now visiting various cities worldwide, "to empower and inspire the next generation of innovators to realize their artistic visions through creative use of technology." Dates and locations are here, on the right, and include stops London, Sao Paulo, Seoul and Beijing.
The promoters behind Lollapalooza -- Austin-based C3 Presents and their partners -- are under investigation by the Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan for anti-trust allegations.
According to Jim DeRogatis, apparently enough Chicago bars, clubs and venues have complained about the radius clauses that C3 includes in Lolla's artist contracts, which stipulates acts can't play within a set amount of time and a certain mile radius from the fest.
These clauses are fairly common in festival and tour contracts, though some reports are indicating, for Lolla the clause is as harsh as six months before and three months after, and a span as big as 300 miles out (which reaches as far as Detroit, Indianapolis, Madison, etc.). This is to protect the organizers' imperative to sell out the festival by keeping its lineup offerings unique.
Central to the complaint is that such extensive stipulations are bad for local businesses, considering it's applied to headliners down to the baby bands on slate, more than 120 acts. However, C3 has contended in other reports that it waives the clause for artists that ask, or at least pursue some compromise.
Sources from C3 confirmed to Billboard that subpoenas had indeed been issued; mega tour agency William Morris Endeavor Entertainment's VP Marc Geiger also confirmed he was among those to be subpoenaed.
There are a few other fun facts at work here.
Three managers each told me that, yes, the clauses are included but, yes, C3 has been lenient in its enforcement and in waiving it altogether.
"In my experience, it basically means 'ask first'," said one, who manages a pair of acts that have and will perform at the festival. "I don't hear a ton of complaining from club owners. The street festivals eat at their business a ton more than Lolla does."
Granted, these were not the managers of Arcade Fire or Soundgarden-sized acts, but even Spoon has apparently gotten a pass, considering they're playing a block party in the Windy City a mere month before their appearance during the festival, which runs Aug. 6-8.
Also, Jim DeRogotis and the Lollapalooza organizers have had a pretty contentious relationship since the previously roving festival put down its roots in Grant Park. The Chi-based crit has been the source of lineup leaks and severe critiques, and obviously C3 wants lineups to be introduced in their own way.
Meanwhile, as DeRogatis points out, the Attorney General is jumping into essentially a 10-year contract made between C3 and the city's reigning politicians.
These don't change the fact that the investigation is under way. There's just a lot more to the issue than meets the eye.
What do you think? Are C3's radius clauses unfair to businesses?