<p>Sugarland's Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles</p>

Sugarland's Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles

Credit: AP Photo

Interview: Sugarland's Kristian Bush on No. 1s, evolution and the chorus of 'yes'

'The Incredible Machine' marks a new era for the country duo, in more than one way

Kristian Bush was in a very good mood. Yesterday, one-half of the country duo Sugarland was preparing for the band’s appearance on “Ellen,” where he and Jennifer Nettles would be sharing airtime with the First Lady. It was assumed, too, that Sugarland’s new album “The Incredible Machine” was about to bow at No. 1 on The Billboard 200, which it did this morning. The single “Stuck Like Glue” this week is still rising at country radio after more than a dozen on the charts.

But Bush, on a larger scale, is also happy because “they keep telling us yes.’”
“Jennifer and I… we don’t dream small. We always set out with big dreams. And we keep throwing those ideas out there,” Bush says of Sugarland’s handlers and label, Mercury Nashville. “They haven’t said no.”
There’ve been requests like, Can we tour overseas? Should we tour before the albums out? Can we make the album sound like this? Could we co-produce? Can we play stadiums? “Yes, yes, yes.”
Of course, the chorus of yeses is helped by the fact that this Grammy Award-winning outfit sells literally millions, starting with 2004’s “Twice the Speed of Life,” in an album era where positive expectations are curbed by double-digit drops in sales percentages year to year. The band gambled by making “Incredible Machine” its least capital-C Country-sounding album yet, but admits that the genre is one that thrives on change.
“Pop country, alt-country, folk, Americana, bluegrass… There are more versions of country than anything else I’ve seen,” says the former rock band guitarist. “It’s not about the instrumentation or a country lifestyle, it’s more about, ‘Do you like it? Do country lovers love it?”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Nicki Minaj and will.i.am (x2) in &quot;Check It Out&quot;</p>

Nicki Minaj and will.i.am (x2) in "Check It Out"

Watch: Nicki Minaj and her crazy-eyes highlight 'Check It Out' with will.i.am

'Video Killed the Radio Star' sample the BEP's second to ravage this week

Nicki Minaj busts out 32 flavors of her infamous Crazy Eyes (TM) for her new video and single with will.i.am, "Check It Out."

The track will likely be included on the lady MC's forthcoming debut "Pink Friday," out on Nov. 26, and was previewed by the pair at the MTV VMAs last month. While that live performance was underwhelming, lip-synching issues don't seem to be a pressing matter for Minaj in this (literally) robotic performance. The BEP frontman spends most of his time extolling his own beats as Minaj dots in her Harajuku Barbie style raps and a lightning round verse in front of a stilted, weird Korean audience. They each get three costume makeovers, will.i.am donning the plastic hairpiece at least once more.

It's worth noting that, since the Black Eyed Peas premiered their new, sure-to-be-smash-hit "The Time (the dirty bit)," this marks the second time in a week that will.i.am has ravished a great standard of the '80s: "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" was gutted for BEP while "Check" directly samples The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star."

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Lykke Li</p>

Lykke Li

Song Of The Day: Lykke Li is your prostitute in 'Get Some'

Free download bundled with 'Paris Blue'

Singin' Swede Lykke Li is well on her way to releasing her sophomore set, and has a single to show for it. "Get Some" with B-side "Paris Blue" are available now on her website for free, at the cost of your left arm your email and some vitals.

The as-yet-untitled album is due sometime "early next year" and, judging from these very different tracks, fans can at least expect diversity.

"Get Some" is a little naughty in its lyrics -- which Lykke Li posted proudly to her site -- declaring that she considers herself your prostitute and one ought not pull one's pants before she "goes down." But it's at least all in good fun, as the shimmy of shakers and a buzzing bass make for a primal dance track. Her sultry voice in the lower registry hums while those high notes would work easily for a girl group in the '50s.

"Paris" (pronounced "pah-dey") is considerably slower than 90% of what made the cut on her 2008 debut "Youth Novels." The invisible hand of Peter Yttling's (of Peter Bjorn & John) production shows up more keenly, in the exaggerated reverb and live sound of electric and drums.

Lykke Li has only one, sold-out show scheduled for the U.S., but be on the look-out for dates in the new year.

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<p>Kanye West in &quot;Runaway&quot;</p>

Kanye West in "Runaway"

Watch: Kanye West debuts indulgent 'Runaway' film on Vevo

Review: Hip-hop star challenges boundaries of music videos, loyalty of fans

Kanye West has said that lately, he's inspired by colors. He's also made himself known as a man who loves decadence.

There's plenty of both in the hip-hop superstar's "Runaway" film, a 35-minute clip he directed, written by Hype Williams. Shot in Prague, the film has made its way over to London, Paris, L.A., New York and then, on Saturday, to the whole world via Vevo.

The basic plot features a beautiful Phoenix that looks like a Victoria's Secret model (played by actual Victoria's Secret model Selita Ebanks) who crashes to Earth in an unlikely explosion that likely should have killed Kanye as he's driving in his fancy car. He does not die, but instead takes the ailing bird back to his house and "makes" her his girlfriend. They see some fireworks and a marching band -- which carries a giant bust of Michael Jackson -- and then they go to a dinner. And people at the dinner see the Phoenix and are like, she's so weird. Then Kanye jumps out on a piano and sings the title track as a dozen or so ballerinas in black tutus perform at length. The Phoenix scares everybody off when chicken appears on the menu.

Kanye and bird converse about how "this world" tears the wings off of Phoenixes and that's how statues are made. They simulate sex, Kanye wakes up alone outdoors and goes running to look for her. But it's too late. The Phoenix returns to the flames in the sky. Songs play throughout, including a bonus cameo from British Nicki Minaj at the beginning.

It's indulgent, expensive and kind of a mess.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Black Eyed Peas</p>

Black Eyed Peas

Listen: Is Black Eyed Peas' 'The Time' their new 'I Gotta Feeling?'

Sort of like 'Happiness Is a Warm Gun,' only crappy

Remember how Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" saturated every graduation, wedding, car trip and general celebration you went to last year?

Get ready for Part II.

Frontman will.i.am posted "The Time (the dirty bit)" on the group's DipDive account today, in advance of the Nov. 30 release of "The Beginning." It's the follow-up to last year's "The E.N.D." I see what you did there.

"The Time" borrows its main sample from "Dirty Dancing" 1987 classic "(I've Had) The Time of My Life," with Fergie doing her best Jennifer Warnes. And if Bill Medley was dead, he'd be turning over his grave, to the sound of will's auto-tune.

Like The Beatles' "Happiness Is a Warm Gun," the tune is really just three disparate song ideas collaboratively crammed together in one spot. And thus ends any Beatles comparison with BEP, forever, amen.

A dirty electro-trance beat is followed by an interstitial that sounds like an annoying radio bumper with the awkward, shouted lyrics"I'm / havin' / a good / time / wit'chu." And then there's the sample, cold and empty like shucked oyster, the camp and sentiment of the original whittled down to a false soundbite primed for a Frito Lay commercial or a lazy television NYE montage.

I resent it already -- not because it's catchy, but in that it drips with trying to be catchy, the dummied-down, cliched idea of "catchy." That's will.i.am's bag these days, so I can't cry for too long; so long as Taylor Swift doesn't go dance, this will be the persistent pop jam of the fall and winter. See you next spring, you were a great lab partner, HAGS, KIT, xoxo

<p>Daft Punk</p>

Daft Punk

Watch: Daft Punk joins Phoenix at MSG in a French connection

'Tron' dance duo added an extra step on three tracks

After seeing three relatively mild Phoenix shows over the past year -- and with the wtf-inducing sniff I give Wavves -- I decided to bypass the free CMJ show at Madison Square Garden in New York last night (Oct. 20).

Boy, am I kicking myself this morning.

The French quartet Phoenix was joined by a pair of very special guests and countrymen: twosome Daft Punk.

The robotic dance duo jumped up, surprising the crowd, with "Harder Better Faster Stronger" swelling into "Around the World." They even added some extra crazy to Phoenix's hit "1901."

Could this be indicative of things to come? As in, another Daft Punk tour? With Phoenix, even? The band crafted the score to "Tron: Legacy," out this fall, and they've been active in promoting their role.

Rumor had it at Comic-Con this year that Disney wanted them playing a party, but it'd set them back a cool mil. I'm curious what went into this rare appearance...

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<p>Ari Up</p>

Ari Up

Credit: Angel Cebellos

Ari Up, frontwoman of The Slits, dies at 48

Watch: 'Lazy Slam' music video, released at the late singer's behest

Ari Up, the frontwoman and founder of the '70s and '80s all-girl punk group The Slits, has died at 48 after a bout with an undisclosed illness.

The news was spread by John Lydon of the Sex Pistols, who was married to Up's mother Nora Forster and was the singer's stepfather. Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, had the news posted to his website.

"John and Nora have asked us to let everyone know that Nora's daughter Arianna (aka Ari-Up) died today (Wednesday, October 20th) after a serious illness. She will be sadly missed. Everyone at JohnLydon.com and PiLofficial.Com would like to pass on their heartfelt condolences to John , Nora and family. Rest in Peace."

According to The Slits' MySpace, "[Up's] immediate family has asked for privacy at this time and no public service is planned." She is survived by three sons.

Ari Up, born Arianna Forster, started The Slits in Britain with friend and drummer Palmolive (Paloma Romero) when she was only 14 years old, in 1976. The band was a challenging all-female voice in a burgeoning, predominantly male punk rock scene during that period and opened for the Clash on their first tour outing. Integrating reggae into their bouncing rock noise, their live shows were boisterous and notoriously wild, even after Up reunited with bassist Tessa Pollitt and added new members in 2006. Thus, they laid down the trackwork for other women in punk and the riot grrrl movement in the years to come.

The Slits released two albums in its early years: 1979's "Cut" featured the band topless and caked with mud on its cover while 1981's "Return of the Giant Slits" was darker, quirkier and more experimental. In 2006, the modified band released "Revenge of the Killer Slits" and in 2009 unleashed their last full-length "Trapped Animal."

Ari Up requested that The Slits' music video for "Lazy Slam" be released posthumously, which we've posted below. The song was culled from that latter album.

In a statement from Jeff Jacquin, her manager: "In my 20 years as a manager I have never seen or felt such inspiration and unyielding passion for music and life as I had with my dear friend and client Ari Up. She was truly one of a kind, and there will never be another like her. She influenced generations of women and created some of the most memorable music of our time, but Ari’s true magic was how she affected people on the street, face to face, every day. She ate life up and spit it out. She lived it on her own terms and never gave an inch! The Slits will live on."

For me, personally, I remember a friend putting the Slits' "Typical Girls" on a mix in high school. It was decidedly atypical; I was and have been enthralled with them since. Rest in peace, Ari.

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2010 CMJ Music Marathon: The echo chamber and the dying breed

Discovery or time thievery?

It’s CMJ Music Marathon week: User beware. 

This week, 1,200 artists will be playing at a few dozen New York venues. Over 100,000 music fans – many of them college-aged – will throw a lanyard around their necks and drink all of our alcohol. Many may invest in a good pair of walking shoes after attempting a night out with those cool hoofs and vast majority have a Tumblr primed for use.
Publicity and agency people are checking out potential new clients, maybe a few L.A. label folks already have checked into their hotels or friends’ couches (they all already know the rules on footwear). Indie, metal, hip-hop, folk, twee, electronic, etc. bands have scraped together the money so that all their members could come this weekend to play for pennies.
This would be my eighth Marathon, if I picked up a badge this week, and I know I’m not the only New Yorker proceeding with caution.
For CMJ and South By Southwest, every year, there’s the crop of articles and posts from music journos declaring that these business-consumer destination conferences don’t serve a purpose anymore. This may even be one of them. But I’m parsing particularly why 2010 should be any different for CMJ naysayers, and I think it’s a matter of numbers.
[More after the jump...]
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<p>Kings of Leon &quot;Come Around Sundown&quot;</p>

Kings of Leon "Come Around Sundown"

Album Review: Kings of Leon return with 'Come Around'

Is this an answer to 2008's breakthrough?

While Kings of Leon enjoyed massive success overseas prior to 2008, the rock act only made its dent in America with the release of their last “Only by the Night.” And it was then, by the strength of “Use Somebody” and “Sex on Fire,” that they were propelled to arena and festival headliner status, a macho stomp that took them all the way to the Grammy podium in early 2009. 

Now in 2010, all eyes are on the Kings, and what their answer to their success would be. The result, on “Come Around Sundown” is an audible “thanks” and an inaudible shrug “what?”.
See, before “Only by the Night,” there was 2007’s excellent “Because of the Times,” chock-full of rock experiments, non-solos, Caleb Followill’s sonorous bark sometimes whittled to a delicate deliverer. And way-way before that there was “Youth & Young Manhood,” with its garage rock meeting the South, the result of this family band’s Tennessee upbringing.
“Sundown” has a combination of all those, but it’s not the straight-forward rock record that “Only by the Night” was.
It begins with “The End,” with a forlorn ride cymbal heralding Followill the Singer’s musing, “This could be the end.” Its chorus is shoegaze gone mainstream, a motif that occurs, too, in “Mary,” combining with ‘50s girl group feel and a structure that probably never intended for the song to be as loud as it is.
Addictive first single “Radioactive” is the closest this set gets to the rock radio, though not in the same way “Use Somebody” ever did. Southern and gospel music reiterate where exactly this group “came from,” as emphasized by the band’s curious video. The pilgrimage continues in “Pyro,” with some Christ-like imagery that our lead singer won’t be anyone’s “cornerstone.”
The four-piece tinkers with various sonic devices on “The Immortals” and “Beach Side,” the former coupling Followill’s siren wail with a couple of seventh chords and the latter with the lighter touch of – could it be? – Sea and Cake-y guitar patterns.
They go right back to their general rockers like on “The Face” and “No Money,” lacking a bit in ingenuity and a solid hook or handle. Still, the ears perk up with a dark Southwestern swirl in “Mi Amigo,” surprisingly one of the strongest tracks on the set. In an abundance of otherwise abstract lyrics, Followill attempts to make a linear narrative out of a drunken and stoned night out, his drug of choice acting like his lady love. Hilariously, the band dollops sweet harmonies over crude lyrics like “[She] showers me in boozes / tells me I got a big ol’ d*ck / and she wants my ass home / to sing a song,” heavy-lidded and giggling.
KOL closes the lid by bringing in the ‘90s, which appear in that chunky, guitar-faced bass in “Pickup Truck.” They take a minimalist approach to accompaniment letting the voice crack in a happy accident, restrained until those last choruses in an expected instrumental pile-on, the high hats and snare openening up and a hoarse piano getting the underwater reverb treatment.
As implied by its title, “Sundown” gets dark and hints at getting darker, barely ending the way it started. Recorded in New York but boasting of those serene palms on its cover, the album seems to thrive on the unexpected, which may satisfy some and not others. Its variety is appreciated, consciously thwarting the kind of Big Rock that finally put the band on the albums chart -- not that it can do anything can stop from success now.

"Come Around Sundown" is out today (Oct. 19).

<p>Bryan Ferry's &quot;Olympia&quot;</p>

Bryan Ferry's "Olympia"

Credit: Astralwerks

Song Of The Day: Bryan Ferry taps Jonny Greenwood, David Gilmour for 'Siren' song

From 'Olympia,' out later this month

If Paul Weller was a close-favorite and token vet for the Mercury Prize this year, Bryan Ferry will most certainly be it next.

The former Roxy Music member is promoting his forthcoming solo effort "Olympia," due Oct. 26, and has released a new track, "Song to the Siren."

Stereogum premiered the track, listen to it here.

Just like Slash's album released earlier this year, Ferry obviously pulled out all the stops to feature his friends on this "solo" set. This particular "Siren" song includes contributions from his former bandmates (including Brian Eno), Radiohead noisemaker Jonny Greenwood, Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, Nile Rodgers and frequent Ferry collaborator Colin Good, among others.

That being said, I'd love to be at this year's Christmas party at the Ferry household.

[More after the jump...]

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