<p>The Beatles</p>

The Beatles

New music service Zaptunes claims legal Beatles downloads, EMI responds

Bogus-sounding service deemed bogus

For one hot minute, the collective internet cocked an eyebrow at a claim from Zaptunes, a new music service, and it's claim this week to offer "100% legal" downloads of mp3s for a mere $25 per month for up to 2,500 downloads. And, wouldn't you know it, it's running a promotion now which enables users to try out the site for free. And that includes the free and legal downloads of... The Beatles? Led Zeppelin?

Those two acts have infamously shot down deals to joining popular retail sites like iTunes and tethered music services like Rhapsody over licensing disputes. So it seemed odd that EMI/Apple, for instance, would strike a deal with an unknown upstart for a digital introduction to the Fab Four.

Which then leads us to the fine print: under the Terms of Use, Zaptunes specifies

ZapTunes.com does not provide any downloads from its servers. ZapTunes.com just enables its members to find free or paid music available on the Internet. The Artists/Tracks displayed on the home page and other parts of the website are for promotional purposes only and may not be available for free or paid download.

ZapTunes.com has a database of websites that offer free and legal music downloads. Whenever a registered members looks for a song, ZapTunes searches for that song in the database, and if it finds a website offering a legal download of that song, it is displayed it to the user. If not, then ZapTunes looks for that song on Amazon, iTunes and various other paid to download websites, and displays the user their options.

In other words, users unwise enough to invest $25/mo. in this service would essentially be paying Zaptunes to run a fancy Google query for free mp3s floating around the internet or, perhaps more accurately, send a quick crawl through Last. fm, only to then shoot users to pre-existing digital retailers that everybody already knows doesn't sell the Beatles anyway.

According to HypeBot, Zaptunes claims to have a deal in place with "Sony Music" -- interestingly, they didn't specify Sony/ATV publishing, co-owned by the Michael Jackson family trust -- which controls part of the Lennon/McCartney Beatles catalog. But then a rep said he couldn't go into further detail of the licensing agreement.

And to all this, EMI/Apple -- who owns the Beatles' recordings -- told HitFix, "No comment on speculation." To which, I'm like, yeah, no kidding.

 

<p>Matt &amp; Kim</p>

Matt & Kim

Credit: Fader

Song Of The Day: Matt & Kim pack new album with 'Cameras'

That's some speak-singing right there

Matt & Kim is one of those acts whose lyrics I never really pay attention to, particularly because they tend to use words and verses as just another form of setting the beat. "Cameras," the first single from the band's as-yet-untitled third album, is an example of this, where Matt Johnson could very well be spewing proverbs, or the ingredients from a box of cereal, or nonsensical syllables, and it'd still make for a solid, energy-emanating song.

Because this Brooklyn duo is all and only about rhythms, and they have one nailed here, with blips from what sounds like an old gaming console, to the rattling trombones of a high school marching band and an '80s throwback drumbeat. Johnson's voice just gives rise to the chorus' crescendo and flattens out that sneaky minor, making it feel dynamic and complete. It sounds like a celebration, and, if the track is any indicator of what's to come on the album, there's going to be plenty to celebrate.

The single goes wide on the web tomorrow, but you can stream it on the band's Facebook or, if you don't feel like "liking" them, Seattle station The End got the premiere.

No word yet when the album will be released (on Fader's label), but we bet it's before Christmas and we bet there will be more info soon on Matt & Kim's Twitter.

Being the road warriors they are, the pair are touring extensively this fall, dates below. They're still gaining traction after their video for "Lessons Learned" went viral and won awards at the 2009 MTV VMAs and at the 2009 MTVu Woodie Awards, so look for more packed houses.

Here are Matt & Kim's tour dates:

 

Sept 15th Westcott Theater # Syracuse, NY
16th Beachland Ballroom # Cleveland, OH
17th Newport Music Hall # Columbus, OH
18th Majestic Theater # Detroit, MI
19th Metro # Chicago, IL
21st Majestic Theater # Madison, WI
22nd First Ave # Minneapolis, MN
23rd The Granada Theater # Lawrence, KS
24th Ogden Theater # Denver, CO
25th Virgin Mobile FreeFest Columbia, MD
27th The Rickshaw Theater Vancouver, BC
28th Showbox * Seattle, WA
29th Roseland Theater * Portland, OR
30th The Fillmore * San Francisco, CA
Oct 1st House of Blues * San Diego, CA
2nd Music Box at The Henry Fonda Theater * Los Angeles, CA
3rd Music Box at The Henry Fonda Theater * Los Angeles, CA
6th The Clubhouse * Tempe, AZ
8th House of Blues * Dallas, TX
9th Austin City Limits Austin, TX
11th The Lyric Oxford % Oxford, MS
12th House of Blues % New Orleans, LA
13th Club Downunder % Tallahassee, FL
14th Culture Room ! Fort Lauderdale, FL
15th State Theater ! St. Petersburg, FL
16th Masquerade ! Atlanta, GA
17th Exit In ! Nashville, TN 19th Orange Peel ! Asheville, NC
20th Cats Cradle ! Carrboro, NC
21st The Canal Club ! Richmond, VA
22nd 9:30 Club ! Washington, DC
23rd Rams Head Live! ! Baltimore, MD
24th Starlite Ballroom ! Philadelphia, PA
26th Webster Hall ! New York, NY
27th Webster Hall ! New York, NY
28th Water St. Music Hall ! Rochester, NY
29th Phoenix Theater ! Toronto, ON
30th Le National ! Montreal, QC
31st Northern Lights ! Clifton, NY
Nov 2nd Higher Ground ^ Burlington, VT
3rd Port City Music Hall ^ Portland, ME
4th House of Blues ^ Boston, MA
5th Toad's Place ^ New Haven, CT
6th Pearl Street Nightclub ^ Northampton, MA
# w/ So So Glos
* w/ Fang Island
% w/ Big Freedia
! w/ Donnis
^ w/ Javelin
 

 

<p>Kanye West</p>

Kanye West

So that Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Raekwon 'Runaway Love' remix happened

Yo JB! This sounds just how you think it would!

Take the sample from Wu-Tang Clan's famed "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing Ta F*ck Wit" and buttress it with the chorus from Justin Bieber's lady-sounding "Runaway Love." Give Raekwon a couple sweet verses to rap. Give Kanye West one.

The result is what is being dubbed Kanye West's "Runaway Love" featuring Raekwon and Justin Bieber. This would be a lot more fun if it were a proper mashup, but, on its face, it's not very good. It's just a remix folks, nothing to see here, except for two obnoxious internet phenoms and perhaps Raekwon laughing his head off all the way to the bank.

This track was brought to you by the letter Tweet, a result of the Twitter love-in between the three artists a couple weeks ago.

Kanye West is bound to remain omnipresent as he continues to unleash drips and drabs over the social networking sites and new tracks every Friday in anticipation of his forthcoming, as-yet-unnamed album.

Click here to check out the track.

<p>Win Butler of Arcade Fire</p>

Win Butler of Arcade Fire

Credit: AP Photo

Arcade Fire's interactive music video for 'We Used to Wait' sends you home

These are pop-up windows you won't want to close... Or maybe you will

Like Broken Bells' latest clip, Arcade Fire is pushing the boundaries of what's considered a music video these days.

"We Used to Wait," from the band's latest "The Suburbs," has been cast into a website dubbed "The Wilderness Downtown" with an interactive interface that takes the address of your childhood home and spits out a unique video experience. A number of moving images, in sync with the music, appear in pop-up windows -- some feature a generic shoot of a teen in a hoodie running on wet streets, and some are from Google Earth satellite images of shots compiled from around your old 'hood.

Granted, get "used to waiting" for the experience to work. The video is intended for viewing in Google Chrome (and, sometimes, Safari) and has an excruciating load time. It crashed my browser three times and I've got a machine capable of quantum physics and somersaults. This is likely due to the fact that, now, thousands of fans are trying to operate the site simultaneously. So you may wait until tomorrow to see what a craphole your old house has become.

And that seems to be some of the point. Arcade Fire's album is a reflection on the neighborhoods we grew up in, in the banalities and nostalgia of the 'burbs. Running along with our hooded friend through our own street gives off a sense of exploration as well as escape. But the fact that it's not tailor-made for each user -- that this is, in fact, a generic program on its face -- in itself becomes a false experience on massive scale. Tantalizing!

The Wilderness Downtown site is a product of mastermind Chris Milk, who took us on a first-person camera trip to the airport in Kanye West's "All Falls Down" clip and the head-f*ck that was Gnarls Barkley's cover of "Gone Daddy Gone."

Check out our review of "The Suburbs" here.
Check out another music video to Arcade Fire's "Ready to Start."

What do you think of The Wilderness Downtown / "We Used to Wait?"

 

<p>The Weepies</p>

The Weepies

Credit: Nettwerk

The Weepies, Whole Foods link for album release initiative, and why this matters

What other acts have had strong brand alignment? And which ones should?

Independent twee pop act The Weepies announced a "music initiative partnership" with Whole Foods supermarkets, which will place the band's new album "Be My Thrill" prominently in check-out aisles across the country starting Sept. 7 for two months (general release is on Aug. 31). The CDs will likely sit next to organic breath mints, yoga magazines and discount bottles of white tea.

The chain's blog, Whole Story, will also have exclusive rights to start streaming the whole thing starting on Sept. 3, marking the first time the site's hosted a full album stream. The feature will be wedged between posts on likely topics like grass-fed cattle, chewable vitamin spotlights, seasonal changes in diet and mood or focus on farms.

I'm not being facetious in the distinctions between products: these branding touchstones are items that Whole Food have long sought to propagate, and, no doubt, the decision to align themselves with a brand identity such as Whole Foods' was one long considered by the band and its label Nettwerk.

Because at the end of the day, Nettwerk needs to sell product in order to stay in business, and The Weepies thus far have admirably sold their artistry as product.

To get a tip on what the band has to offer, check out the duo's new song "Please Speak Well of Me" below.

The BostonCambridge-based act has been featured in prominent TV advertisement for JC Penney and Old Navy before, and have been all over the map in licensing to TV shows. They play soft-hearted, harmless adult-leaning music -- a hot commodity in licensing these days -- stuff that a lot of people would like but conceivably would never be discovered if they hadn't pulled the trigger on what was once considered "selling out." They're not hipster blog sweethearts, and even if they were, that hardly means a guarantee of any sort of paycheck.

Starbucks is a comparably brand that came to mind when I read this announcement. While the coffee chain's record label wasn't exactly a bustling success story, Starbucks has been a brand spanked onto many an album artist -- even ones that didn't stock their albums on shop shelves. Andrew Bird, Wilco and, most recently Ray LaMontagne have been "Select" artists there before, alongside James Taylor greatest hits sets or Christmas compilations and easy listening covers collections.

There's media "brand" bands too -- like Grizzly Bear's "Veckatimest" becoming an unofficial NPR darling in 2009, or when The National let the New York Times stream their "High Violet" earlier this year. Then there's tours like Paramore going out for Honda, or Jagermeister covering all its lovers with country act Pat Green or schlocky modern rockers Korn. (As I mentioned earlier this year, music has a long history with beverage brands.) Devo handed over their entire "Something For Everybody" marketing and promotions campaign, appropriately, to an ad agency (which, by the way, would have made an outstanding episode of "Mad Men"). And that doesn't even get into the "branding" of licensing music to certain shows, movies, networks or picture houses.

Where I think that this Weepies announcement strikes an odd chord with new music lovers is the span of the Whole Foods brand. Sure, it's a yuppietopia with a penchant for overpricing, but it's a huge, entire line of products, not just ceramic mugs and coffee gift sets. And it's not the music passivley playing overhead as customers push carts of pineapple and specialty chocolate. It's kind of a big deal, though I'm unsure of how much money was exchanged into whose hands.

This brand identity and opportunity to the Weepies is an expanding of the corporate music mind for labels and music consumers -- since our CD stores have been shut down or cornered into Targets and other big boxes, how else do we get our new music recommendations? Word of mouth, engines like Pandora, terrestrial and satellite radio, shops from Hot Topic to Hallmark, TV programs, movie soundtracks.. and now, the grocery aisle. It isn't that novel, except in maybe scale.

Whole Foods and the Weepies? Sure. In my head, it works. Forget "pure" artistry -- it's not like the album are songs written about gluten-free baby food or Amy's Burritos -- the band found itself a better bedfellow than most.

It got my head spinning about other artists who would make for good branding synergists*. Drake should hook up with Axe -- "Thank Me Later" should be a name of a new body spray. Thievery Corporation could drive Lexus and Vampire Weekend could fly JetBlue. Instead of just keeping with album exclusives and clothing lines, Miley Cyrus should go all the way with her love affair with Walmart while the Ting Tings could add some flare to the rows and the extra-long fitting room line in H&M. And what's to keep them?**

* Not a real word.
** Contracts.
 

The Weepies - Please Speak Well of Me by nettwerkmusicgroup

<p>Fistful of Mercy</p>

Fistful of Mercy

Listen: Ben Harper, Joseph Arthur, George Harrison's son Dhani form Fistful Of Mercy

Check out the newly minted supergroup's self-titled song

Details are scant, but it appears Ben Harper, Joseph Arthur and Dhani Harrison (of the George variety) have combined to form a new singer-songwriter supergroup Fistful of Mercy.

So far, they've gotten around to posting a Twitter account (under the "Men Who Stare At Goats" moniker Lyn Cassady, no less), a MySpace with dummy text for a bio and a Facebook account that reveals they're posted in Venice, Calif.

On top of that, they've revealed their first known song, a self-titled, sadly sweeping rocker. Vocally, there's little trading of vocals on "Fistful of Mercy," though there's a lot going on in that chorus, where it sounds like three wispy, raspy guys who all split into harmonies but in their heart-of-hearts all wish they were singing melody.  I could be a little off, but the chorus seems to say, "Maybe it's soft inside of a fistful of mercy / maybe it counts from where we are / the land of the thirsty / hungry." The track'ss enhanced by violin, a little tonal and slide guitar work and a dramatic cache of drumming.

The beginning of the clip features a sketch of a goat. We see a goat theme developing.

The band has announced its first public performance, to take place at Easy Street Records in Seattle tomorrow night (Aug. 27).

No release dates or label information is available. A rep had not replied to our request for more information by press time.

Harper last released "White Lies for Dark Times" with the Relentless7 in 2009, out on Virgin. Joseph Arthur has been releasing album over the last four years on his own label, Lonely Astronaut, with his last studio full-length out in 2008. Dhani Harrison, son of Beatle George Harrison, first started playing music when he helped complete his dad's last effort, 2002's "Brainwashed." He sings and plays guitar with his band thenewno2, which has completed one album.

What do you think of the song?

Fistful of Mercy from Fistful of Mercy on Vimeo.

 

<p>Margaret Cho</p>

Margaret Cho

Credit: Lindsey Byrnes

Interview: Margaret Cho is ‘Dependent’ on Andrew Bird, Fiona Apple, Ani DiFranco

Exclusive: Comedienne recording new song 'Stick It In' with The Cliks frontman

Margaret Cho lost her voice over the weekend and is very sweetly describing her new and first comedy music hybrid album “Cho Dependent.” She gushes on the “warmth and love” there was between her and her famous collaborators like Andrew Bird, Fiona Apple, Jon Brion, Tegan and Sara, Ani DiFranco and the New Pornographers’ A.C. Newman, who worked on music to her lyrics. It’s fielding a balance, she said, between being known as a comedian but have great standards for a musical output.

Is it, perhaps, like having two sides to a coin, an alter-ego?

“It’s no ‘Sasha Fierce.’ Though maybe I oughta…” Margaret Cho laughs. “It’s still comedy.”
 
The longtime comedienne’s +1 Records effort is the product of a year and a half of cobbling together songs in a variety of methods, whether laying down recordings live in her rudimentary home studio, or by dubbing over tracks laid down remotely. Considering artists from Ben Lee to Tommy Chong hail from all over the world, it seemed that a complete album materializing, ultimately, was a miracle. Or is just that Cho is the glue that can bring it all together.
 
“I feel like I have a real knack for collaboration. It’s at least one thing I know that I know I’m good at,” she says. She already had pre-existing friendships with artists like Brion, DiFranco and Apple and respected the music of acts like Tegan and Sara. Through those connections, she was able to get in touch with Brendan Benson, Patti Griffin and even got down to shoot a video, “I’m Sorry,” with Bird (below). Check out, too, her clip with Grant Lee Phillips on “Eat Sh*t and Die”; both were shot by Liam Sullivan of “Shoes” fame.
 
“Dependence” was also an opportunity to shine a light on another of Cho’s hidden acumen: alt-country music. The album runs the gamut of cabaret tunes to faux-pop, but there is an extra emphasis on folkier tunes.
 
“I love country. I especially love alt-country,” she says, citing Gillian Welch, Ryan Adams and Dave Rawlings. “If I could have a true, distinctive country voice, it’d be Emmylou [Harris] or Dolly Parton. But I don’t. Maybe could do a good impression, instead.”
 
The Cho Dependence 2010 tour has already kicked off, with a stop in Provincetown, Mass., tonight. Cho says that it’s more of a comedy show than a traditional music tour date, though she’s making sure to throw in a few tunes. She expects that friends like Lee, Brion and Apple may show up intermittently throughout the tour.
 
She also has another song release coming out soon, a combined effort with friend Lucas Silveira of The Cliks on a song dubbed "Stick It In," which will be released as an online exclusive and will also be included on the next music album.
 
Cho also hopes to stop off at more music festivals next year like she did at  Bonnaroo this past summer, for the opportunity to present her show to audiences outside of the comedy circuit. “You can get really experimental and wild and theatrical,” Cho explains, which would explain at least a couple of dramatic characters who she’d also love to collaborate with on the next musical endeavor: Linda Perry and David Bowie.
 
Cho is also currently preparing for the February return of “Drop Dead Diva” on Lifetime.

Below are Margaret Cho's music videos with Andrew Bird and Grant Lee Phillips, in "I'm Sorry" and "Eat Sh*t and Die," respectively.

<p>Moonmins</p>

Moonmins

Song Of The Day: Watch Bjork's new video for 'Moomins' children's film song

A comet hurdling toward earth, graves and 'dammit': kids these days

A natural disaster makes it way toward land, as its creatures -- living in peace -- hurry away for shelter. "The comet,' Bjork sings, "Oh dammit / the comet comes hurdling down / on our precious plot of earth."

Yup, sounds like a children's film to me.

Click here to watch the video.

The famed Icelandic singer contributed new "The Comet Song" to the stop-motion animated movie "The Moomins and the Comet Chase," a Finnish movie released earlier this month. The felt-animals and footage of the film is comprised of scenes from the Polish TV show "Comet in Moominland" series, which were based on the Swedish "Moonmins" books (written by a Swedish-Finn). Follow?

That all goes to say, Bjork is a fan of the stuff and her odd tune pushes the clip straight into creepy territory, right up there with "The Dark Crystal." But, hey, she's donating proceeds from the sale of "The Comet Song" to UNICEF. It goes up on iTunes tomorrow (Aug. 24).

 

 

<p>Katy Perry</p>

Katy Perry

Credit: Capitol/EMI

Album Review: Is Katy Perry's 'Teenage Dream' a delight or a nightmare?

'California Gurls' singer returns with follow-up to 'One of the Boys'

In interviews, Katy Perry has said essentially that she wants her new album to be every teenage boys’ wet dream – though it’s teenage girls that will be putting “Teenage Dream” on repeat. The end result is watering down of the teenage experience, oscillating between only two points of perspective: Adorable Mischief and A Broken Heart. The former seems to subsist on nudity, drinking and sex, while the latter is of direct consequence of the former. And, as “Last Friday Night (TGIF)” says, “Do it all again.”

Thus, the teenage dream sounds like a nightmare.
 
Granted, this is only if “Teenage Dream” is digested as a complete work. EMI/Capitol – particularly after  posting its losses from last quarter – needs a series of hits, not a concept album. Perry's previous "One of the Boys" didn't kill it on the Billboard 200, but the singles kept her on the front burner. She doesn’t get the fleshed-out dynamic, capital-A Artist treatment here, maybe in part because her public persona and previous set already fills in some of those blanks.
 
That’s how we get summer jam “California Gurls,” with its sun-loving, “Baby I Want You Back”-checking mindlessness. “Friday Night” creeps a little more into naughty territory, like a cuter but still skanky version of Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok,” plus a saxophone solo a la “Young Americans.” “Peacock” has all the subtly of the bubblegummy lipstick lesbian hit “I Kissed a Girl,” as she chants “Show me your peacock-cock-cock” (and then says something about crying, being unprepared and how “beautiful” “it” is: file under Fail). Between it and “Hummingbird Heartbeat,” these are shameless lyrics that even Fergie would blush singing.
 
On the flip-side, the bandaid get yanked off: “Circle the Drain” alludes to Perry’s ex, Gym Class Heroes/newly minted solo artist Travie McCoy, with vitriol and a black nail-polished edge in content and delivery -- and not just because Perry drops the F-bomb. It has a lot of remix potential with that big ‘80s beat and a growl borrowed straight from a Pink venom-spitter.
 
“Pearl” is about how a man can suppress a woman’s inner-beauty, with Perry ultimately pointing the mirror at herself. She admits “I used to be a shell,” but then delivers the good advice of growing strong (or something) and ultimately resists the urge to rhyme “pearl” with “girl.” In front of the skittering synths a la Justin Timberlake’s “My Love,” Perry falls prey to a pitfall that often vexes Christina Aguilera’s latter-day tracks on “Who Am I Living For”: she sings at a 1 for a little bit and the rest at a full-voiced 10, resulting in more than four minutes of whispering and shouting.
 
And cross-referencing contemporary pop hits and Perry’s peers is no accident. “Teenage Dream” is more an exercise in rehashing the modern popular music formula than it is carving out a new space for Perry to thrive. The songwriting credits for each song usually went to more than one person, with the tracks eventually wrung through usual machinery of hitmaking producers like Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Tricky Stewart and Stargate. The problem is that these songs could’ve been written and performed by anybody, and thus sound like everybody. Behind the caricature of the colored wigs, wink-winking, sexual identity and celebrity, Perry lacks character.
 
Which is a shame, because if anybody’s that’s gonna make Perry’s career distinctive, it’s Perry herself. She’s got a pop to her voice, and I love the way it flips over those high register notes, the low-level growl on those long eees, her coy slurs and an erotic purr that brings authenticity to even the most cheesy-ass lines that litter up “Teenage Dream.” Her music videos are cheeky, her public appearances are warm and everywoman-ish, like the Kewpie-eyed girl next door stripping to her skivvies to help wash cars for the local fundraiser. Personal narrative “The One That Got Away,” the phenomenal title track second single and raw closer “Not Like the Movies” benefit from flourishes of wit and honesty.
 
If teenaged girls and pop radio lovers can ignore awkward clunkers like “E.T.” (Poison? Disease? It must be love!) and take the half-baked metaphors as harmless songs of love, then half of this set will be a hit and the other half can sink as collateral. As an album, a statement and a social artifact, it’s a mess. I guess it depends on your definition of “dream.”

Katy Perry's "American Dream" is out tomorrow (Aug. 24).

<p>Cee-Lo: Still loves you. Oooh!</p>

Cee-Lo: Still loves you. Oooh!

Song Of The Day: Cee-Lo bids a fond 'F*ck You' in new track

The Gnarls Barkley crooner spells it out in a NSFW video: Is he your X-Box?

Have you considered showing up at your lady love's new midtown apartment, crying, in the middle of the night, drunk on cheap vodka and sporting a boombox, a la John Cusack in "Say Anything," only not blasting Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" but something to tell her and her new beau off instead?

How about something '50s-inspired, profanity-laced and sung by Cee-Lo? "F*ck You" says what it means, and the placeholder music video says what it says what it means.

In several LOL moments, the Gnarls Barkley crooner recounts how "being in love with your @ss ain't cheap" and compares himself to an Atari while the new guy's an X-Box. He also quotes notable prophet and philosopher Mr. T.

I'm not particularly fond of the long-running trend of songs that lament how girlfriends bankrupt men, "b*tches be shoppin'," et cetera, but at least this track has the wisdom of self-effacement and hilarity. It's an insta-earworm, though not one whose words should sung aloud in public places or around small children.

In fact, I doubt it can pass the censors to be a radio single release, though in the case of Eminem et al., radio will always find a way.

A proper music video release is slated for next week; the song is culled from Cee-Lo's "Lady Killer," due in December.

Be warned, again: this song and video is not safe for work (NSFW).