<p>Ghostface Killah</p>

Ghostface Killah

Credit: Def Jam

Listen: Ghostface Killah grabs Wu Tang cohorts, Redman for 'Troublemakers'

Hip-hop heavy-hitters help rapper's new Dec. 21 Def Jam album

Raekwon, Method Man, Redman, Ghostface: all on one of the most stellar heavy-hitting collab tracks of 2010. "Troublemakers" is hot off the press of Ghostface Killah's forthcoming "Apollo Kids," arriving late in a stocking near you on Dec. 21.

The Def Jam set has a whole host of eye-popping contributors -- like the Game, Busta, Sheek Louch and Jim Jones -- but also a host of Wu Tang rep, including GZA, U-God, Method Man and a pair of tracks with Raekwon (who won over the heart of 2009 with his "Cuban Linx, Pt. 2).

"Troublemakers" is a treat mostly in that all four rappers deliver solid rhymes, no superfluous frills, and not a soft spot in its glorious four minutes.

Jason Lipshutz gives a solid breakdown of the whole "Apollo Kids" album here.

Listen to "Troublemakers" here.

While Raekwon (and, frankly, Method Man) had a stellar 2009, Redman put out a good record this year ("Reggie"), too -- another solid Def Jam effort.

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<p>Beach House</p>

Beach House

Credit: Sub Pop

Song of the Day: Beach House get in the holiday spirit with 'Winter Sun'

Or, rather, do they not care for it?

Beach House's "Teen Dream" is going to make one particular HitFix crit's list -- *cough* -- so it's a joy to see the Sub Pop duo have even more to share this year.

"I Do Not Care for the Winter Sun" is available for free download on the band's website. Yes, of course there's some jingle-jangle in the song going on, but it largely avoids sounding stickily, well, Christmas-y. Victoria Legrand's voice king of hangs around the same five notes, lazily letting us know it ain't getting any warmer.

Stay tuned for more news on HitFix year-end lists -- and for more noise from the Baltimore band, who are "dreaming" of a fourth full-length. Let's hope Katy Perry doesn't cop the title to their next set.

Stream below.

 

<p>Gwyneth Paltrow</p>

Gwyneth Paltrow

Credit: AP Photo

Listen to Golden Globe nominated songs from 'Burlesque,' 'Tangled'

Christina, Cher, Mandy Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Carrie Underwood: Who may take the prize?

The 2011 Golden Globe nominations are out as of this morning, and with it comes a new crop of songs up for Best Original Song honors.

"Bound to You" and "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" from "Burlesque," "Coming Home" from "Country Strong," "I See the Light" from "Tangled" and "There's a Place for Us" from "Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" all made the cut.

So that's pitting Christina Aguilera, Cher, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi and Carrie Underwood against each other. It's a good mix: a return to a classic Disney musical ("Tangled"), new musical ("Burlesque"), a actress launching into new musical territory and an "American Idol" tacking on a credit's song for a kid's adventuremovie.

Last year, they chose "The Weary Kind" from "Crazy Heart" over the credits songs from "Avatar" (Leona Lewis) and "Brothers" (U2) (and over that silly little number from "Nine"). Bruce Springsteen's world-wearied "The Wrestler" took it over songs from "Cadillac Records," "Bolt," "Gran Torino" and my personal favorite "Wall-E" (which itself had that tacked-on feel, too, sadly) in 2009. It was Eddie Vedder ("Guaranteed" from "Into the Wild") the year before that, and Prince ("Song of the Heart" from "Happy Feet") the year before that. Emmylou Harris, Mick Jagger, Annie Lennox, U2, Sting. That's the whole last decade of Best Original Song winners.

They're all big names, many solo artists, all longtime musical veterans. "Crazy Heart" is a little bit of the exception -- it was co-written by newcomer Ryan Bingham -- but also co-written by esteemed songwriter/producer T Bone Burnett and sung by acting vet Jeff Bridges.

So compare that to this year's crop? It's a bit of a new ballgame.

[Read more and listen after the jump...]

Moore and Paltrow have been acting for quite a while, though Moore's singing career is much more established. Cher just kinda came back. Frankly, I don't care much for the paint-by-numbers composition given to Underwood, whose career is currently on the short side rather than the long.

"Country Strong" has been described as "'Crazy Heart' with a girl," a rep that might taint voters' perceptions. Interesting choice, going with ballad "Coming Home" as opposed to the title track, too. Aguilera is one of the most gifted pop vocalists from the last two decades -- and shared a pop era with Moore, remember? -- but has had a hard year, with poor critical reception for her new album and mixed results for "Burlesque." Cher's track may split the votes between the two, though I think Aguilera's track is a much stronger bet of the two "Burlesque" songs (though Cher's got the Cher name).

I think the tracks from "Burlesque" and "Tangled" were much better executed and produced, but it may just come down to Aguilera and Paltrow's names.

What do you think of this year's selections?

<p>Wanda Jackson's &quot;The Party Ain't Over&quot;</p>

Wanda Jackson's "The Party Ain't Over"

Credit: Nonesuch/Third Man Records

Song Of The Day: Jack White and Wanda Jackson cover Bob Dylan

Third Man Records man performing with rockabilly legend at select shows

As if my fawning, sugar-lovin', gawking, heart-throbbing interview with Wanda Jackson didn't make it clear enough: the woman is a legend. So, yes, it's OK that she covers Bob Dylan and Hank Williams.

She and Jack White -- who produced her forthcoming covers set "The Party Ain't Over" -- have a go at "Thunder on the Mountain." It's motorcycle-movie nasty, particularly for a lady who's 73 who's holding her own against White's guitar w-w-wail. Stream that puppy below.

As she promised, Jackson is working with White in other ways as the "Party" gets promoted. The White Stripes founder will be part of the Third Man House Band on Jan. 21 and Jan. 23, at Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg and L.A.'s El Ray, respectively.

Third Man Record's The Vault record club members get first dibs on tickets starting on Wednesday (Dec. 15), while general public can go crazy on Thursday.

"The Party Ain't Over" will be released on Jan. 25. It features contributions from Jack Lawrence (The Dead Weather/Raconteurs), Carl Broemel (My Morning Jacket), Patrick Keeler (Raconteurs), Ashley Monroe, Jackson Smith and Karen Elson.

Thunder On the Mountain by Cover Me

<p>From Broken Social Scene's &quot;Texico Bitches&quot;</p>

From Broken Social Scene's "Texico Bitches"

Credit: Arts + Crafts

Watch: Broken Social Scene's chocolate-covered 'Texico B*tches' video

Homoeroticism in modern-day warfare, plus: new tour dates for 2011

Make love, not war. That seems to be the theme of Broken Social Scene's "Texico Bitches," culled from the Canadian rockers' 2010 record "Forgiveness Rock Record."

The music video takes us to a field, with a wrestling match-duel, and a promise winner takes all. The face-painted athletic, erm, supporters from both sides are out for blood. Instead of blood, chocolate sauce (which, at first, appears to be motor oil) is poured on the combatants.

The two men face each other, feel grisly-mighty, pull off their shirts and lock into a wrestling hold. Chocolate rain, emotions run high. Yeah, we didn't AT ALL see this turning homoerotic...

It's weird, and it's funny. We're sure there's some other message there from director Thibaut Duverneix, but I'm busy dreaming of falling asleep with a lover in syrup.

Meanwhile, BSS have slated new tour dates for 2011, with at least one great big stop at New York's sound hole Terminal 5.

[Dates and video after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>Kings of Leon will light the way.</p>

Kings of Leon will light the way.

Watch: Kings of Leon play at the world's worst bar in 'Pyro'

Broken glass, broken limbs, broken dreams, etc., etc.

When the whole world's broken, sometimes you just need a little music, y'know?

Welcome to the World's Worst Bar Ever, host to Kings of Leon's music video for "Pyro." It's hardly a locale for royalty, as the quartet plays to sad patrons -- the wheelchair-bound, the domestic abuser, the lonely stripper, the awkward mismatched dates, the bitter bartender.

As I said in my review of KOL's newest "Come Around Sundown," "Pyro" features frontman Caleb Followill pushing some pretty strong religious imagery, admitting "I don't wanna be your cornerstone." Yet it's the band that acts as a guide to heaven/the Light/an afterlife to these characters on the eve of destruction. Just as things are about to turn uglier in this single-shot video, the characters are lifted from the ground and sent skyward. It's very lovely up there, like being in water.

Thematically, it has similar Messianic implications as the rock act's curious clip for "Radioactive," though this one lacking in racial implications and with violence to boot.

<p>Dr. Dre</p>

Dr. Dre

Watch: So Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Akon walk into a bar... for 'Kush'

Plenty of green, just none of the pot variety

It's not new news that Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg like their green. But you won't find much of the pot variety in the music video to leaf-loving "Kush," the first single from Dre's long-awaited "Detox" album.

You will find plenty of green dollar bills floating around. And girls, girls, girls. Cars, booze (including at least one prominent product placement), parties in the parking lot, at the club, in the plane, in the elevator.

The odd thing about "Kush" the clip is that all this happens with no motion, literally no motion, as Dre and Snoop walk through scenes that appear to be on pause. Ah, sweet allegory.

It does also contain the extra-helpful tip, that the fastest way to get girls' clothes off in a bar is to set off the water extinguishers off with a lighter. Because that wouldn't piss them off at all, we just live to serve dance. Get it? Party doesn't start until you light up.

Akon obviously wasn't onsite for the shoot, but he's been busy, too, with that whole Michael Jackson "Hold My Hand" thing, plus Gaga's album coming out next year.

It's a throwback in some way to Dre's lower budget days in the heyday of West Coast rap, where all you needed was the cars and the girls. It's nice to see Doc taking a walk with Snoop.

No word yet on an official drop date of "Detox." March? I still vote "never," as much as I'd like to hear it.

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Song of the Day: Mogwai shows you 'How to Be' a cyclist in short film clip

Song of the Day: Mogwai shows you 'How to Be' a cyclist in short film clip

Track culled from Scottish rockers' forthcoming new album

Mogwai have a new album dropping in February and what better way to promote it than help spotlight the travels of a cyclist how literally biked around the world.

"How to Be a Werewolf" is a pretty light track -- considering it's Mogwai -- and a remix of it appropriately soundtracks a clip of James Bowthorpe, who broke the record for biking 'round-the-world, in Norway during a "white night," a night during which the sun never goes down. Talk about Northern lights.

The video is part of a longer short film, directed by Antony Crook, chronicling the travels. Crook also designed the cover for Mogwai's next album, "Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will." (Which is now, officially, my favorite album title of all time for today.) The set's due Feb. 15 on Sub Pop.

"We found the perfect backdrop to tell this story of somebody who points his bike at the horizon and then doesn't stop pedaling. It's a film about never giving up,” says Crook in a statement. He had been listening to the Mogwai "Hardcore" demos as he filmed.

Now let's talk about Mogwai for a second, because I'm trying to put this somewhat-uplifting song into some context. I saw the Scottish rockers finally for the first time two years ago at All Points West in New Jersey and --  even with My Bloody Valentine shaking equilibrium to their core later that night -- they were still the loudest motherf*ckers in that park, bless their hearts.

But with "Werewolf," there's a lot more identifiable structure, a lot more high end, than I'm used to, and not just comparing their live sets to recordings. I'm curious to hear the rest of "Hardcore," if just for more of that magnificent snare sound.
 

Mogwai "How to Be a Werewolf" (in Thirty Century Man) from Sub Pop Records on Vimeo.

 

<p>Bjork</p>

Bjork

Watch: Bjork pays tribute to Alexander McQueen with new song

'To Lee, With Love, Nick' is as discordant as that Volta getup

The world may have lost world class designer Lee Alexander McQueen earlier this year, but, in tribute, it gains a new tune from Bjork.

The Icelandic songwriter contributed a track to very-short film "To Lee, With Love, Nick," which made its debut in London on Monday at the British Fashion Council Awards. The Nick Knight-directed clip features the fashions of the late, great visionary and Knight's photography.

"But there's so much hope out there/I've been trying so hard/to complete all the possibles/to create a flow," Bjork sings over discordant horns prone to wander, as moth wings and the burrrring of metal on metal intensify the exercise. She breathes when the composition breathes, ferociously. Dresses and bodies capture violent lights as abstract shapes twist in shadows.It's like a really good-looking bad headache.

Bjork -- a fighter for fashion herself -- collaborated frequently with Knight and McQueen. She sang "Gloomy Monday" at the latter's memorial in September.

What do you think of the clip?

<p>James Franco came to win</p>

James Franco came to win

Watch: Matt Damon, Natalie Portman, James Franco get a Pallett makeover

'Fourteen Actors Acting' video portrait project spotlights a killer series of soundtracks

James Franco charms. Natalie Portman collapses in glamor. Matt Damon militaristically dissents. Robert Duvall prepares for something big. Tilda Swinton exhales with dissonance and awe.

These are the visual cues from the New York Times Magazine's "Fourteen Actors Acting" video feature, but they're also the musical themes that accompany, composed by man-about-town Owen Pallett.

It's an exhilarating piece, running in tandem with the mag's Hollywood Issue out this week. The video vignettes run in a minute or less for each actor, each personality interpreting their idea of a "decisive moment," of "classic screen types." But for me, the music makes it.

Pallett has fun with his, well, palette here, utilizing the Czech Symphony Strings to realize 14 different (black and white) visions, with other actors including Javier Bardem, Jesse Eisenberg, Chloe Moretz, Michael Douglas, Jennifer Lawrence, Noomi Rapace, Vincent Cassel, Anthony Mackie and Lesley Manville.

It's a neat little self-contained project and a sweet opportunity for the Canadian songwriter, violinist, composer and collaborator.

Of course I'm particularly taken, too, with the James Franco clip, because oh my.

Watch the whole thing here, it's worth it.

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