<p>Grinderman</p>

Grinderman

Song Of The Day: Watch this insane video from Nick Cave's Grinderman project

John Hillcoat makes a solid Not Safe For Work effort: Nudity, the occult, D-grade special effects and a fart joke

Nick Cave made our headlines last month as rumor spreads he may be re-writing "The Crow" for the big screen.

If this small screen presentation of his band Grinderman's "Heathen Child" is any indication for future cinematic endeavor, then I'm attending drunk.

The track is culled from the act's forthcoming "Grinderman 2" album, due Sept. 13 via Anti-. The rest of the crew is rounded out by some of Cave's Bad Seeds, Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey, and Jim Sclavunos.

The clip is directed by John Hillcoat, who worked with Cave on "The Road" and "The Proposition." In it is featured B-movie effects of lazers being shot from eyes and bare butts; a naked girl in a bathtub squirming near live action portrayals of Jesus, Buddha, Krishna and the Wolfman; the members of Grinderman wearing the leather trappings of Greek gods; the ilk. 

In short, this insane video is horrible, and it is also amazing.

Grinderman just played Lollapalooza and has announced a North American tour, to kick off Nov. 11 and runs through Dec. 1.

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<p>Sam Prekop</p>

Sam Prekop

Credit: Thrill Jockey

Song Of The Day: Sea And Cake's Sam Prekop previews solo set with 'Silhouettes'

Experimental new album produced by Tortoise drummer John McEntire

If the last Sea And Cake album was "Car Alarm" (2008), consider frontman Sam Prekop's forthcoming album to be the commute.

"Old Punch Card" is the songwriter's first solo set in five years, and follows a pretty hypnotic formula: the entire album consists of songs performed on modular synthesizers, with one exception when a guitar was added. The result, if it can be estimated from the first "single," "Silhouette" below, is elemental, a driving high energy and definitely, definitely an odd experiment.

Produced by Sea And Cake/Tortoise drummer and engineer John McEntire, "Old Punch Card" is out Sept. 7 on Thrill Jockey.

The Sea And Cake are "rumored" to be in the studio again, according to a label press release, and are about to set out on tour supporting Broken Social Scene start Sept. 13.

 

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<p>Janelle Monae in &quot;Cold War&quot;</p>

Janelle Monae in "Cold War"

Watch: Janelle Monae gets up close and personal in captivating 'Cold War' vid

Raw emotion lets out in this single (and first) take clip

Listen to the words of fast-beating "Cold War" from Janelle Monae, and hear a fighter.

That doesn't mean the pop/soul/hip-hop artist isn't willing to get vulnerable for the lens.

In the music video below, Monae -- naked from at least the shoulders up -- is shot in one long, single take, inches from her face. It's interesting to see some grimaces and unexpected smiles erupt from her features as she lip-syncs, little tics from the side of her mouth and the close of her eyes.

Around the lyric "I was made to believe there's something wrong with me / And it hurts my heart," at 1:38, she loses it. In a breath at 2:15, the tears start to drop.

"'The 'Cold War' music video was filmed in the black box auditorium at The Palace of the Dogs sanitarium. This is the complete first take. This performance is unaltered and unencumbered, as those of us in attendance on that day experienced it," wrote director Wendy Morgan in a statement released today. In a way, it sounded like a defense of the clip's authenticity and re-emphasizes its worth as a first take. For fans who've had a chance to check it out in the last 24 hours, it's a fascinating little artifact of time, for a worthy artist.

Now, will you go and buy her album "The ArchAndroid" already?

Monae heads out on friends and collaborators Of Montreal on tour starting Sept. 13. She's also set for the star-studded Black Ball in New York on Sept. 30.

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<p>Eminem and Rihanna in &quot;Love the Way You Lie&quot;</p>

Eminem and Rihanna in "Love the Way You Lie"

Credit: Interscope

Watch: Megan Fox, Dominic Monaghan get ugly in Eminem's 'Love the Way You Lie'

Does the expensive clip and Rihanna's snarl bring home the issue of domestic violence?

Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie" featuring Rihanna fought its way to the top of The Hot 100 chart -- ahead of the sunny fun-time of Katy Perry's "California Gurls" -- and "fight" seems to be the operative word.

It's seemed somewhat unfathomable that a minor-keyed downer about a real-life recurring abusive relationship featuring none other than the publicly physically abused Barbadian singer would top the pop tally during these summer months. But Eminem isn't exactly known for good-natured grins, and something had to follow-up "Not Afraid."

So Joseph Kahn -- director of clips like Britney Spears' "Toxic" and U2's "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of" -- helmed this very expensive and emotionally conflicted music video, featuring Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan trapped in a, well, toxic relationship. Monaghan puts back on his "Lost" character Charlie's barbs, and the former "Transformers" actress brings out her claws: both get physically and emotionally violent, insinuating infidelity and regular fights systematically on "repeat."

Eminem says the song was inspired by his out-of-control relationship with double-ex-wife Kim Scott (formerly Mathers), a topic the rapper has long-favored and never put to bed. The track doesn't excuse the desire to put fist to face, but it, and the video, try to explain it. "Ultimately, what I think he's trying to say in the song ... is that he should have walked away a little bit quicker than he did and not let it get as messy as it did," Moneghan told MTV.

Which is why Rihanna's guest spot confuses me a little. Certainly, she was in an unhealthy relationship with her abuser Chris Brown, but interviews and reports don't indicate it was necessarily the same sort of two-way street that "Lie" leads. She stands close to the burning house (in hot pants, no less), but doesn't catch on fire, like Em does. Did she set the fire? Is she going back in the house? Is this any commentary whatsoever on her own relationship with Brown or is she only an voice aiding the story of Eminem's own unhealthy relationship?

"It was believable for us to do a record like that, but it was also something that needed to be done and the way [Eminem] did it was so clever," Rihanna told Access Hollywood. "He pretty much just broke down the cycle of domestic violence and it's something that a lot people don't have a lot of insight on, so this song is a really, really powerful song and it touches a lot of people."

It's not the Rihanna Story yet, but it touches on it, which is illustrated pretty powerfully for both man and woman in the clip.

And, in a nice side note, Fox donated her earnings from starring in "Love the Way You Lie" to Los Angeles women's shelter Sojourn.

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<p>Conor Oberst at the Concert for Equality</p>

Conor Oberst at the Concert for Equality

Song Of The Day: Bright Eyes debuts new protest track 'Coyote Song'

Conor Oberst plays boycott song live during another law protest

Conor Oberst has been one of the most outspoken voices during the Sound Strike, the protest and boycott against Arizona's stalled SB1070 immigration law. He and his older band Bright Eyes and his old-old band the Desaparecidos reunited for the Concert For Equality in his hometown Omaha, Neb., on Saturday (July 31) to raise awareness for that cause and to inform Nebraskans on controversial immigration-based legislation, the Fremont Law. Proceeds went to the ACLU.

Oberst took the opportunity to debut a new Bright Eyes track, "Coyote Song." The track was played on piano and, while the video below may be a hot mess, but the sound quality is, well, quality.

The singer-songwriter said the song was written for the Sound Strike campaign, so we can only imagine any future sales will further that non-profit.

Several other Saddle Creek Records alumni and friends performed at the Concert for Equality, including Cursive, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Lullaby For The Working Class and David Dondero.

On the Fremont Law, Oberst told Nebraska's KETV, “Once the law passed I felt like we had to do something. It’s un-American, it’s unconstitutional, it’s immoral…It’s a human rights issue and it's about people's dignity.”

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<p>Arcade Fire's &quot;The Suburbs&quot;</p>

Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs"

Credit: Merge

Album review: Is Arcade Fire's 'The Suburbs' worth a visit?

Listen to the band's third full-length in it's entirety

It’d be a farce to compare Arcade Fire’s new album “The Suburbs” to its previous couple of efforts – 2007’s “Neon Bible” and 2004 debut “Funeral.” The Montreal-based rock outfit proves itself to be a new band with each new record. What each has, though, is a running theme, and each a march down memory lane. 

For this one, its concept is the title: the term “Suburbs” sparks imagery of safety, samey-samey and family. For frontman Win Butler, the suburbs bring up strong (dis)illusions of his upbringing outside of Houston and his move from there, written in love letters and hate mail.
 
It all begins with the bounding piano-led title track, like an ornate, sunny arch entryway, tricking one into thinking this drive through the ‘burbs is gonna be easy. The arch falls down on its plywood supports as “Ready to Start” proves to be the real mood-setter, with its ominous strings and polarizing lyrics: “All the kids have always known / the emperor wears no clothes / but bow down to him anyway / it’s better than being alone.” In a perfectly paced chorus, he sings “If I was scared, I would / If I was bored, you know I would / If I was yours, but I’m not / Now I’m ready to start” waging an ambiguous battle against the false idols (and straw men) of his idyllic prison.
 
The rest of the album continues this trend, in Christian metaphors, narrative attacks on “the kids” sung with a snarl and a mix of nostalgia and dread, similar to the sentiment in The National’s “Bloodbuzz OH.” It’s a look back for Butler and his coming into the light, or rather, the “Half Light,” a theme in two movements. “Half Light I” is the cool down from the work-out that is the first half of the record, while “Half Light II” is a another warm-up, with a bleating synthesizer, orchestral umph, a gorgeous build and shared vocals between Win and wife Regine Chassagne on lines like “Pray that god won’t live to see / the death of everything that’s wild.”
 
Regine takes full lead on “Empty Room,” a fast-tempo rocker, with a whale-wail on guitar like a My Bloody Valentine cut; she’s also on closer “Sprawl II,” a dance track that Columbia records probably wished that MGMT wrote instead of “Congratulations.”
 
“Rococo” has great sonic dynamic and melodic ideas, but the lyrics really “burn it back down.” It works better as an art experiment – just like “Suburban War,” which just feels like a long, sad nursery rhyme with an ill-fitting chorus, like two songs cut and pasted together.
 
Snotty punk-ish “Month of May” perfectly transitions into a sweaty exhale, “Wasted Hours,” like plopping down into a hammock on a summer day. That song’s sweet, vulnerable refrain is cheapened with the “la la la las,” making it seem like Arcade Fire is making fun of itself for even writing the tune to begin with.
 
Overall, it’s obvious the band took their time recording “The Suburbs”; the melodies fresh the arrangements creative. In much the same way, Butler’s self-conscious lyrics sound like well-edited drafts of a thesis; he says precisely what he means in a wealth of metaphors, sometimes in ways that only he understands, and sometimes in ways that we all can understand (like in “We Use to Wait”:Now our lives are changing fast / Hope that something pure can last”).
 
So many songs on “The Suburbs” are perfect – it’s a shame that the album is too long. At 16 tracks, it makes me think they wrote a good amount of material and had a passionate debate over what to cut – or they wrote exactly 16 and couldn’t bear cutting anything at all. Either way, it leaves this listener exhausted and feeling a little bit down; “The Suburbs” is great, really, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" is out tomorrow. Listen to the album in its entirety here; what do you think?

 

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<p>Jennifer Lopez</p>

Jennifer Lopez

Credit: AP Photo

From the file of bad ideas: Jennifer Lopez judging on 'American Idol'

Can the show help the 'Louboutins' singer? Can she help them?

If it wasn’t obvious before, it is more so now: “American Idol” is making some bad decisions.

I’m speaking specifically in regards to reports indicated that Jennifer Lopez is next in line to fill a chair at the judge’s table.
 
Yesterday, we got news that Ellen DeGeneres is exiting, and today, word is spreading that Kara DioGuardi may not be returning next year either, as her contract has run out and no new deal has been announced. Randy Jackson remains the show’s sole founding judge on the panel
 
The strongest rumors have indicated that Steven Tyler may be judge #3, but today, it seems to be but a press release away that Lopez has signed on.
 
Jennifer Lopez is great to look at, would be recognizable to “AI’s” core audience and could bring a wealth of knowledge to the high-topped table. Could.
 
The singer/dancer/actress’ job for the last handful of years has been managing her celebrity status, at times, even more than her artistry. Her last hit, “Do It Well,” did OK in 2007 (her Latin pop hit that same year did better), and her newest single “Louboutins” is more of a punchline than an indicator of success. She’s at a point in her career when she’s on the defensive to stay relevant and she’s been guarded -- and rightfully so -- in public appearances. And she did a fine but forgettable job mentoring on “AI.”
 
This all doesn’t bode well for a personality who needs to bring new spark and critical necessity back to the show, after a dismal drop in viewership this past season and the loss of a certain cranky British man who guaranteed tearing into mediocrity as much as he did the mush pile. “American Idol” set and nurtured its own archetypes for the first handful of years of the series – the “dawging” Randy, the loose screw in her second act (Paula Abdul) and the spiky Simon Cowell. Ellen was funny, but didn’t have any claws; Kara was savvy but dispensable.
 
At this juncture, I wouldn’t trust Lopez to be the entertaining critic, and she can’t be the sage second act if she hasn’t finished redefining her first. She shows no signs of giving up on making new music, and being on "AI" isn’t going to turn her back into “Jenny from the Block.” Even if she signs the dotted line for her own financial and career uptick, she’d better turn her eyes to what matters. What she needs is a hit, or a great script -- not a judge spot on a reality television show. And what “AI” needs is a marquee entertainer, and not a reserved one in the frantic throes of self-reinvention. It’s hard to tell who’s more desperate.

What do you think? Would J-Lo make a good AI judge?

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<p>Kanye West</p>

Kanye West

Credit: AP Photo

Watch: Kanye West performs at Twitter headquarters

And thus ends our stories of Kanye rapping a cappella at social network corporate offices

The same day that rapper Kanye West joins Twitter, he makes a pit stop at the tech co.'s headquarters.

Yesterday (and the day before), the rapper made our headlines for putting on a little lunch room a capella performance for the folks over at Facebook. Yesterday, in between Tweets via his newly christened account, West went to Twitter's Silicon Valley corporate office.

Sadly, the audio on this puppy can't compete with the videos posted yesterday, but he at least tackled a new tune.

In this case, two make a trend and, unless West shows up to another tech HQ in the buff, we'll just call this a tour kick-off and keep our eyes out for when more solid promotional material from West becomes available. So far, there's just "Power," the prospect of the new set dropping in September and an album title change: as previously reported, the set will no longer be dubbed "Good Ass Job." Which is a good ass move.

Today in Twitter land, West has been extolling the virtues of classical music and Leonard Bernstein. And, no, he's still not following anybody on Twitter. Should he pull a Conan?

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<p>Estelle with Nas</p>

Estelle with Nas

Watch: Nas, John Legend 'Fall in Love' in two different Estelle music videos

A reminder that 'Grey's Anatomy's' Jessie Williams is really pretty

At some point Estelle and her label people decided that two is better than one -- even if one is almost exactly like the other.

That's the case with the British singer's video for "Let's Fall in Love," the lively dance track that could sell a thousand pairs of shoes. She made two different versions of the same love story: Estelle, the girl next door, and the her light-eyed patootie (Jessie Williams from "Grey's Anatomy") next door fall in love. Some adorable mishaps occur, there's some flirting and then a branding placement, a make and model on which I will not linger (as I'm not the one getting paid to do so).

The only difference between the clips is that one features an appearance and verse from John Legend and one from rapper Nas. Legend took time for a second shoot with a big-haired girl. Nas had no such time, but instead reps the Mets and name-checks Donald Trump and Frank Sinatra because now, apparently, Nas is my dad.

I live next door to an auto mechanic shop. I have never seen it overflow in an eruption of club-going beautiful people. The entertainment industry continues to heap disappointment on that which is my life.

Check out both videos below. "Let's Fall in Love," at the end of the day, is disgustingly infectious (wait, I mean in the good way), boding well for her forthcoming "All of Me," due sometime this fall. It comes on the high heels of her Grammy win with Kanye West for last year's "American Boy."

 

 

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<p>Nick Cave</p>

Nick Cave

Credit: AP Photo

Nick Cave penning 'The Crow' reboot: Is this a good idea?

Veteran rocker also behind a pair of screenplays and a number of novels

In a move that may shake some recovering teenagers to their core, "The Crow" is getting a cinematic reboot and Nick Cave is the man behind the script.

According to the Wrap, the ultimate Bad Seed is working over "Blade" director Stephen Norrington's screenplay, which itself was a new take on the comic book . No lead actor has been picked out to fill the cumbersome shoes of the late Brandon Lee, killed on set of the 1994 film.

Cave, while better known for his seriously dark rocking, is a damn fine writer. Of his novels, I've only been savvy to his "The Death of Bunny Munro," which was self-assured, unmuzzled, a little sick and certainly more dramatically cinematic than cinema allows itself to be sometimes. It was complimented by an audiobook version, complete with original soundtrack and sound effects, very artistic.

He also penned two proper Hollywood scripts, though they were years apart: 1988's "Ghosts... of the Civil Dead" and 2005's "The Proposition." He's also apparently on tap for developing project "Death of a Ladies' Man", a title culled from a Leonard Cohen song (coincidentally, Cave played a great part in "I'm Your Man," a documentary on the still-thriving Cohen); the plot of it sounds eerily similar to that of "Bunny Munro."

And then there's the endless music and soundtrack credits, from "The Road" to "Batman Forever" to "The Assissination of Jesse James...".

So is it the right move for Cave? Or, rather, the right movie? Norrington's last directorial project was "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," another comics adaptation, and we all know how that went. The macabre appeal and lore of the first "Crow" has been fading for more than 15 years.

But "The Crow" has always had an intriguing, gothic protagonist that was more an artist than superhero: author James O'Barr was inspired by punk and rock musicians Bauhaus, Joy Division's Ian Curtis, the physical presence of Iggy Pop, the Cure and Jim Carroll Band in creating Eric, "The Crow's" main man.

Which leads to why Cave would be good to give the characters that gift -- of music and historical influence.

I'd be eager to read that script. In an era of constant comic book and reboot films, it's up to casting now to make this into a truly winning formula. Pal Russell Crowe would be better served as a mentor than as Eric... perhaps Cave could give Jack White a call? He at least looks the part.

Cave is releasing another album under the Grinderman moniker this September.

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