Listen: Lupe Fiasco starts 'Lasers' promo as 'Words I Never Said' goes wide
Credit: Atlantic

Listen: Lupe Fiasco starts 'Lasers' promo as 'Words I Never Said' goes wide

Look out Glenn Beck, look out Obama

Last we heard from Chi rapper Lupe Fiasco, the MC was swearing by a March 8 release for his long-awaited and embattled album "Lasers," and had apparently resolved his issues with Atlantic.

He's staying true to his word, as the pre-sale of the set starts today with promises to those who purchase early to receive extra goodies in the meantime.

This, with the launch of his firey new track "Words I Never Said," out on Tuesday, streaming below.

Despite the title, Fiasco doesn't mince too many words and goes after wars and terrorism, right-wing talking heads and the politics of the president himself.

[Track and more talk after the jump...]

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<p>The White Stripes</p>

The White Stripes

Credit: Warner Bros.

The White Stripes call it quits

Jack and Meg White release a joint statement about the official disband

The White Stripes have officially disbanded.

The announcement comes after a few years of other projects from Jack White and a complete disappearance on Meg White's part.

In a statement posted on the White Stripes website, the duo said that they are "feeling fine and in good health," but for many reasons, they will discontinue in order "to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way."

It's worth noting that Jack's Third Man Records imprint -- which has ties to Warner Bros. distribution -- will continue to release rare material from the blues/rock 'n' roll group.

The White Stripes last released studio set "Icky Thump" in 2007 and a live/concert album "Under Great White Northern Lights" with an accompanying film last year.

Jack has contributed to several other projects like the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather, plus film appearances and production on Third Man sets. Meg took off from touring, on and off, due to acute anxiety issues, some of which were captured in "Northern Lights."

The complete statement from the band is below.

Can't say this entirely surprises me -- it seems that the band was reaching and aching for some new sonic direction in their last two efforts, and strained to grow as a group with Meg's abilities and Jack's increasingly busy and budding schedule. I hope for nothing but the best -- and look forward to a reunion at some gigantic music festival in the future. I mean, that's where this is all headed, isn't it?

Regardless, congratulations to many years of multiple hits, groundbreaking rock and electric live shows. Millions of records sold, you deserve to move on on your own terms.

The White Stripes would like to announce that today, February 2nd, 2011, their band has officially ended and will make no further new recordings or perform live.

The reason is not due to artistic differences or lack of wanting to continue, nor any health issues as both Meg an Jack are feeling fine and in good health.

It is for a myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way.

Meg and Jack want to thank every one of their fans and admirers for the incredible support they have given throughout the 13 plus years of The White Stripes’ intense and incredible career.

Third Man Records will continue to put out unreleased live and studio recordings from The White Stripes in their Vault subscription record club, as well as through regular channels.

Both Meg and Jack hope this decision isn’t met with sorrow by their fans but that it is seen as a positive move done out of respect for the art and music that the band has created. It is also done with the utmost respect to those fans who’ve shared in those creations, with their feelings considered greatly.

With that in mind the band have this to say:

“The White Stripes do not belong to Meg and Jack anymore. The White Stripes belong to you now and you can do with it whatever you want. The beauty of art and music is that it can last forever if people want it to. Thank you for sharing this experience. Your involvement will never be lost on us and we are truly grateful.”

Meg and Jack White
The White Stripes

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<p>Sam Beam of Iron &amp; Wine</p>

Sam Beam of Iron & Wine

Album Review: Iron & Wine's 'Kiss Each Other Clean'

How does Sam Beam's first major label album fare in this I&W 2.0 era?

It’s been seven years since Iron & Wine released “Our Endless Numbered Days,” an artistic eternity since Sam Beam last crafted an album of whispered bedroom tones and four-tracked simplicity. His latest “Kiss Each Other Clean” is no surprise at this point, having two albums and EP to expand that sound to horn and strings sections, vocal modulation and a honing of his heart-halting lyrics of divinity in the mundane.

Like Sufjan Stevens and his “Age of Adz,” I wouldn’t want Beam one-noting his whole career, even if just because he’d become bored as an artist.

But I think “Kiss Each Other Clean” is, still, the sound of a work in progress, still shy of a great album in this era of I&W 2.0.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Andrew Rannells from &quot;The Book of Mormon&quot;</p>

Andrew Rannells from "The Book of Mormon"

Preview: Trey Parker and Matt Stone's 'Mormon' Broadway musical

Where do the 'South Park' creators send their 'Book of Mormon' missionaries?

Matt Stone, Trey Parker and Bobby Lopez are all trying to take a stab at their personal fascinations with Mormonism, the center of their forthcoming Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon.”

“They’re just so damn nice,” Parker says admiringly of Mormons. “They’re like, ‘You made that “Orgasmo” movie? I didn’t like that, but I appreciate that you did it.’ It’s like, Wow, I wanna feel like you dude...”

“It absolutely rekindles your faith to see the miracle that all these people believe in is shit,” Lopez says, laughing.

“It’s hard to find that fault line with them. If you go, ‘Look, I don’t respect what you believe…’ but there’s no fault line…”

Park holds his hand to his shaking head. “They’re just so damn nice.”

Parker, Stone and “Avenue Q” co-writer/composer Lopez were on hand at a rehearsal studio in Times Square last night (Jan. 31), to preview the first few numbers of “The Book of Mormon” for a couple dozen New York journalists.

This won’t be the first foray into musicals for the “South Park” creators – who’ve endeavored similarly with “Cannibal” and the “South Park Musical – The Movie” – but Stone calls this “reverent to the artform” while it tips its hat to stage productions from “Music Man” to the “Lion King.”

 “The Book of Mormon” starts with a brief explanation of the religion’s American founding, to the compulsory missions of its 19-year-old followers, with a tight ensemble opener that puts the “hell” in “hello.” Enter Elder Price and Elder Cunningham (fresh-faced Broadway alum Andrew Rannells and sloppy nerdfest Josh Gad, respectively), an odd couple who have been paired up on their two-year journey to the beautiful budding valleys of… Uganda.

“He has AIDS… she has AIDS…” sings the duo’s overseas caretaker, pointing, in a upbeat African song that loosely resembles “Hakuna Matata” but boasts foreign lyrics that roughly translate into “Fuck You, God.” It’s sung shortly after Cunningham and Price’s suitcases have been stolen by local thugs and a dead donkey is dragged through their path. It ends enthusiastically with a dancing exit and the word “cunt.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Michael Rapaport</p>

Michael Rapaport

Sundance Interview: Michael Rapaport on A Tribe Called Quest, beefs

What does Slash and Paramore's Hayley Williams have to do with 'Beats, Rhymes and Life?'

In less than three years, Michael Rapaport managed to cobble together the beginning, middle and bitter end of – in my opinion – one of the greatest hip-hop groups of all time, A Tribe Called Quest. He got some raw answers from all parties, and all to what seemed like his own backbeat as a director. He parsed through hundreds of hours of MTV and TV interviews, archival music videos and block parties, coming clean out the other side with a solid narrative of late ‘80s hip-hop to rap realities of today.

And yet, most of the time when I explained just who helmed Sundance-selected “Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest,” I’d get a “Michael Rapaport? Really?” in reply.

The 40-year-old New York-native and adherent hip-hop lover first showed up at the Park City film fest with “Zebrahead” and since has pulled his weight in projects from Woody Allen’s “Mighty Aphrodite” to Phoebe’s boyfriend in “Friends” to voicing a video game and launching his own production company.

But he didn’t have a director’s credit until now. Rapaport sat down with me at en empty Thai restaurant in Park City to discuss Tribe’s – and his own – future. He took on the reasons why Q-Tip refused to endorse the film by making the premiere, why making a film on hip-hop is so tough and his future as a actor-slash-director. (No, not Slash.)

What I liked about the film is that it has a musicality about it. it clipped along. It had its own rhythm especially with the animation and the way you cut the jokes and stuff like that. Did you kind of go in with the musicality in mind?

I definitely went into it with the musicality in mind. I talked to my editor about wanting it to feel like a jazz film. And I think a couple of times we accomplished that. I mean, you can’t have a narrative documentary totally like a jazz film but, you know, but there was some scenes and some edits and some sequences that I feel like accomplished that. I was quietly proud and kind of like…I didn’t want to be too jazz nerdy.

How long did it take to start really breaking the ice with the guys because they’ve got a tough story, y'know?

Yeah. You know honestly, the ice got broken very quickly because there was so much going on and so much of a sort of underlying tension between them that it just worked out. The ice got broken quickly. Particularly with Phife and he’s just so open and honest and just so unfiltered that that was really like…he set the tone of it. And then, you know, Q-Tip and the rest of the guys opened up a little slower but eventually just jumped in too, you know? And so I think it was a tribute to them and that they trusted me and we were just able to…we clicked a little bit.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Fleet Foxes</p>

Fleet Foxes

Credit: Sub Pop

Listen: Fleet Foxes releasing new 'Helplessness Blues,' stream title track

Seattle rock act lays out new tour dates, first since 2009

With a little less than a peep for about two years, Seattle rock act Fleet Foxes is returning in 2011 with a new album and the first tour since 2009.

"Helplessness Blues" will drop via Sub Pop/Bella Union on May 3, around the time that the band is hitting the road.

You can stream the title track here, or below...

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<p>Panda Bear's &quot;Tomboy&quot;</p>

Panda Bear's "Tomboy"

Credit: Paw Tracks

Animal Collective's Panda Bear announces new album, reveals cover

Smattering of singles gets one full-length home

Back last summer, Panda Bear announced he'd start releasing individual singles with hopes that one day they'd combine into one full-length.

Those hopes will come to fruition this spring, via the Animal Collective member's own label Paw Tracks.

"Tomboy" will drop on April 12 this year, right in time for the 2011 Record Store Day on April 16 (circle that date with a big red marker with me, nerds). That would be the album cover to the left.

So far, Panda Bear has dropped 7" records via Fat Cat, Domino, Paw Tracks and, soon, Kompakt. Those tracks will get a makeover from producer Sonic Boom for the album, while the album of course will be the source of a few new ones as well.

Panda Bear -- aka Noah Lennox -- last released a full-length in 2007. His band, in the meantime, released breakthrough "Merriweather Post Pavilion" in 2009 and, of course, made their way to the 2010 Sundance Film Festival to premiere "Oddsac," their musical film project with Danny Perez.

Read my interview with the band here.

"Recorded at his studio in Lisbon, 'Tomboy' sees Lennox stepping away from the sample-based parameters of his previous record and incorporating more guitar and synthesizer. Still prevalent, though, is the interest in texture that made Person Pitch such a dense record; crashing waves and cheering crowds bounce against the gurgling arpeggios and give the tracks an immense sense of space," reads a release on the record. Super.

Click the link at the top to get a listen of "Slow Motion," which dropped last July.

Here is the tracklist for "Tomboy":

1 You Can Count on Me
2 Tomboy
3 Slow Motion
4 Surfer's Hymn
5 Last Night at The Jetty
6 Drone
7 Alsatian Darn
8 Scheherezade
9 Friendship Bracelet
10 Afterburner
11 Benfica

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<p>Matt Berninger</p>

Matt Berninger

Credit: 4AD

HitFix Interview: The National pulls double duty at Sundance

Frontman Matt Berninger talks music in 'Win Win' and 'If a Tree Falls'

PARK CITY - What fans may know is that The National contributed a brand new song to the Sundance featured flick "Win Win." What they may not know is that the closing credits track, "Think You Can Wait," also boasts Sharon Van Etten -- and that the rock act could also be heard in an additional film at the film festival.

The National provided instrumentals and the whole track "Cherry Tree" (from their EP of the same name) to "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front."

I caught up with frontman Matt Berninger on my sixth night at the festival, and he explained how "Win Win" director Tom McCarthy was a "huge fan" of the band and had been listening to their music as he crafted his Paul Giamatti-starring film.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>&quot;The Woods&quot;</p>

"The Woods"

Sundance Soundtracks: Dirty Projectors, Hank Williams, 'Life' and 'Die'

Where does 'You Are My Sunshine' fit in?

PARK CITY -- I felt about the characters in "The Woods" the same way I do whenever I see posters promoting MTV's new "Skins" series: In no way do I want to be friends with these people.

Director Matthew Lessner takes a satirical lens to modern, well-meaning hipsters, vaguely aware of international strife and macro-environmentalism, who have thrust themselves into the woods to start their lives all over again. There's pop culture references and products galore -- along with all the riches of American Apparel, Urban Outfitters and the local Goodwill combined.

But the score and soundtrack is less pronounced and more hrrrmed and murmured. Lessner's cast resonates the ideas and long hair of a post-Woodstock America, which is apt for music selections from Sun Araw, Lucky Dragons, personal fave Indian Jewelry and composer Lydia Ainsworth. It's heavy on the '70s psych-rock tip, with plenty of distorted and reverbed electrics. It was like playing trees with e-bows.

It was a joy, too, to hear a contribution from Dirty Projectors, particularly a cut that isn't from well-worn (but -loved) "Bitte Orca"; "D. Henley's Dream" came from David Longstreth and Co.'s 2005 set, and those chorus of harmony voices really sent these lost characters deeper into their self-inflicted wilderness.

Hey, here's a good one if you want a handful of versions of your favorite song, "Lost Highway." One publisher (Sony/ATV) at least cashed in, with some gruffer, some classic, some tender takes on the same track: Hank Williams, of course, the gravel of Stephen Fretwell and one by somebody named Liam Ó Maonlai, who I assume hails from the same land as the film's dear Irish fools. The latter is just a breath-taking kind of pretty.

"Knuckle" itself isn't exactly a classic, but captures a certain rivalry in a certain space and time in Ireland. They compete with each other with in bare-knuckle fist fights and then talk a lot of shit when they get home. It's sort of like the necessity of ego of burgeoning musicians -- very few will arrive safely on the other side with a memorable legacy.

Remind me in the morning: I need to call my mom. Because I saw "How to Die in Oregon." And now I need to call my mom.

The viewer may develop an early resilience upon viewing an aging man bellow "Old Joe Black" as he breathes his last early in this documentary. But by the fourth quarter -- and a family sings "You Are My Sunshine," followed by a hummed Johnny Cash/traditional -- you may reconsider just how cold and dark that heart of yours is. Get sober and see this.

"Life in a Day" -- otherwise known as the YouTube movie -- is a collection of little thrills. Sweeping horns and strings sometimes help that. The tiny toy voice of Ellie Goulding and the African chutzpah of Baaba Maal will do it too.

I was pleased to see Matthew Herbert's name behind the motifs "A Day at a Time" and "A Penny at a Time"; the British songwriter has been chugging away at his compositions in excess of a decade. That well-written score/theme is rivaled in the film only by a traditional Angolan song, sung by three women, grinding flour. As your brain tries to pick out the films subject from off the map in your mind, the music pushes the daylong narrative along at a flash-pace.

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<p>&quot;Beats, Rhymes and Life&quot;</p>

"Beats, Rhymes and Life"

Sundance Review: 'Beats, Rhymes and Life' doc doesn't miss a note

A Tribe Called Quest gets its first feature, with Michael Rapaport at the helm

Michael Rapaport probably wouldn’t have been much of a director if he didn’t love hip-hop so much, but the execution of his directorial debut “Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest” expresses just that.

Tribe – who broke up originally in 1998 but have taken up a handful of reunion shows in recent years – made a bold move in allowing Rapaport to suss out their creation and implosion. This, not just because the director is better known for acting, or that three of the four ATCQ’s members still have active music careers at stake; but because this was a world of wounds easy to re-open. And, in part, that’s what makes the documentary great.

With a large help from animators and the obviously tireless work of editor Lenny Mesina, Rapaport establishes early a unique rhythm and timbre to his film. It's like the film itself is hip-hop, or at least shadows it in style. Like sampling and scratching, he cobbles together 25 years of interpersonal history with verses of animation interstitials, archival photo stills, music breaks, talking heads and live concert footage. And still the story shakes out in one cohesive piece.

The lens largely turns on childhood buddies Q-Tip and Phife Dawg -- back in the day when they were teenagers -- and the time it took them and cohorts Jarobi and Ali Shaheed Muhammad to get serious about their deal with Jive and going mainstream from their realm in Queens. The beginning of the film is like an upbeat mosaic, a celebration of a certain place and time in hip-hop, in the late ‘80s, with insights from those who were there -- like DJ Redlight, De La Soul, Prince Paul. Then onto the supergroup of positive hip-hop thinkers in Native Tongues Posse, where baby-faced video of Queen Latifah and the Jungle Brothers bounced around to celebrate the positive motion of hip-hop.

Fast forward and its dudes like Common or Mos Def or Kanye West jumping up to rap Phife’s parts as Q-Tip delves into his solo career but still enjoys the legacy of his Tribesmen. It’s linear, and it hurts, going from beginning to bitter end (and to somewhat less-bitter end).

The kick in the stomach is when Phife discusses his various medical issues due to childhood onset diabetes, from the offhanded demonstration on measuring out insulin, to the emotional apex when his wife offers up one of her kidneys as his fail. Jarobi – who followed Phife down to Atlanta after the group started descending into its breakup – breaks down into tears discussing his friend’s deterioration.

It’s these moment of vulnerability and fire that Rapaport was thankfully able to cull from these veterans. For example, at one point when Phife is asked what he thinks of today’s hip-hop, he reveals, “I could do with or without it,” giving pause to the modern hip-hop lover. Q-Tip steams as he says the whole group will only take the stage together again if they get inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. In discussing his unraveling friendship with ailing Phife, he calls the emotive situation “faggoty” without restraint. And it feels like crap when he says it. It’s what Phife, after the film screened, called “real.”

But you also see ATCQ as originators and creators, crafting the beat behind “Can I Kick It?” or dumbfounding rhymes like “Let me hit it from the back, girl I won't catch a hernia / Bust off on your couch, now you got Seaman’s Furniture.” They light up and they’re funny as hell, with their one-liners punctuated with a bass drum a beat later, or their laughter cut off like the click of a phone.

The concert footage could’ve had a better handle on sound and the angles. I like the big camera pans on the seas of arms waving in the air, during Rock the Bells in 2008 and in Japan and Australia in 2010, where the love could be felt for a stadium mile. The other original live shots could've used a lot more fine-tuning.

But all in all, Rapaport’s film shows a real joy and passion, for ATCQ’s music and the culture they helped to create. Where some documentaries fail in creating a connection between the viewer and the subjects who used to be “in love” so to speak, this one doesn’t accelerate through all the necessaries to get to the breakup and subsequent heartache of each. The veteran hip-hop act could’ve merely been portrayed as an abstract (pun intended) idea more than they are humans with creative and emotional needs, but “Beats, Rhymes and Life” doesn’t miss a note.

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