Belle & Sebastian walk 'The Party Line' with new song

Belle & Sebastian walk 'The Party Line' with new song

It's the first single from 2015's 'Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance'

Scottish twee veterans Belle & Sebastian have been looking back on their prolific career lately, having recently initiated a series of reissues of their previous albums.

But the group -- led by "God Help the Girl" architect Stuart Murdoch -- aren't content to just relive their glory days; they have a new album called "Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance" slated for January, and have just released the set's first single, "The Party Line."

By the time the new album hits stores, it will have been nearly five years since B&S' last proper album, "Write About Love," was released. If the new tune is any indication, "Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance" will be living up to its title as a party-ready record.

It's a synth-driven, danceable jam which is part of the band's continuing evolution from the more '60s-influenced melancholia of their early work, when even their most upbeat songs were bittersweet affairs. 

Listen to it here.

And here's the typically dramatic and compelling single artwork:

Vin Diesel "Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance" will be released January 20.

Check out their extensive tourdates in Europe, Asia and North America here.

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Nicki Minaj, Drake and Lil Wayne combine for new song 'Only'

Nicki Minaj, Drake and Lil Wayne combine for new song 'Only'

Chris Brown sings, for good measure: Is there any air in this balloon?

I don't know why I find it so hard to believe that this new single "Only" is the first time Drake and Lil Wayne have been on a track together for a Nicki Minaj song. I'm also finding it (slightly less) hard to believe that single isn't all that great.

Devoting about a third of its running time is Nick Minaj asserting she hasn't "f*cked" the Young Money founder and one of its biggest signees; and Drake and Lil Wayne over on their verses going "yeah, uh huh." Of course, the guys need maintain that, given the chance, they'd be the  MC's squeeze, or as Drake delicately puts it, "I never f*cked Nicki cause she got a man / But when that's over then I'm first in line."

I get it. This combo -- which includes a deliberate, meandering hook from Chris Brown -- needs a little loping "hot for Nicki" fanfare, particularly for a track specifically for her "Pinkprint." Wayne's next "Carter" album has been MIA, Drake's apparently just dropping tracks for funsies on the weekend, and Minaj's "Pinkprint" release date just got shoved back by two weeks.

So don't you want something that rocks out the gate? Minaj needs that bluster, a big hit, to light "Pinkprint" on fire, and you just know your single's in trouble when the hottest verse on the track is from Weezy in marble mouth mode. Drake maybe got the giggles on his turn because he knew he could spend half of it talking about that one time he was on that one music video shoot for "Anaconda" (lest ye forget), and tack on an ode to thick girls. Minaj's pun game runneth dry. That slow, ominous beat is even looking around going, "What am I doing here?"

Maybe it was a good way to wink, to show Brown and Drake buried the hatchet (though, 100:1 they weren't in the studio on the same day. Pics or it didn't happen.), or a warning flare shot for Nicki's beau to see. Maybe it's an iteration that Nicki Minaj didn't come to change the game, she's just one of the guys until she's not.

Let's just, please, get a remix and see how we feel in the morning. Also, why is Drake the one in the papal hat? I thought Chris Brown's the one to be like, "Jesus is on my side," wakka wakka.

"Only" is on Nicki Minaj's "The Pinkprint," now due on real and virtual shelves Dec. 15.

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Taylor Swift, '1989': Track-by-track album review

Taylor Swift, '1989': Track-by-track album review

You haven't been waiting for it, it's been waiting for you

Taylor Swift may be one of the last remaining pop artists on the planet to be able to sell a million albums in one week in the United States. The record industry has been hemorrhaging since the early aughts, but Swift has been adaptable, to say the least. She's a hustler, keeping her spirits and sounds current with the room temperature.

She started in 2006 with country-core self-titled set, then worked her ass off through the gazillion-selling "Fearless," the Grammys on "Speak Now," the massive crossover of hits like "I Knew You Were Trouble" and novelty "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" off of "Red."

The 24-year-old is firmly pop now for "1989," which will breed more certifiable radio staples than just "Shake It Off." "Blank Space" is apparently primed to be the official second single and it is an experiment to say the least (read the track-by-track below). "Welcome to New York" has legs because, well, New York City odes; "This Love" needs to make it's way to Adult Top 40, a la Sam Smith's "Stay With Me," and roost.

The common strings that runs through "1989" is Swift's image consciousness; shocks of lush synths; and the blight of the speak-sing. For the latter, there are scads of bridges and pre-choruses on which Swift resorts to little raps or conversational asides, where more literate vocal gymnasts like Ariana Grande, Sia, Jessie J and Beyonce would suss out as prettier fills.

But Swift is deft in other ways. She combined with heavy-hitting (and -handed) songwriters like Max Martin, Ryan Tedder and Jack Antonoff to make her very adult and pop-centered metamorphosis complete. Break-ups and flirtations still dominate the subject matter, but now they're bigger, and take more chances, burning away the memories of Swift as a barefoot-girl-with-guitar.

Below is a closer look at the effort, frame by frame. All those chances she takes? Don't always work. "1989" isn't a great album, but it's a good one, with lots of promise and further proof that Swift and her team figured out how to be the zeitgeist just by closely following it.

"Welcome to New York": Will survive for eternity because of every TV talk show, morning show, awards show, and New York-based sports event. With generalities like how New York is "like any great love, it keeps you guessing," you're like "Whatever Taylor Swift, you've lived in a $22 million loft for all of five minutes." Cloying, grandiose, simple. Grade: B-

"Blank Space": If this song were a human person, you would back away from him/her, slowly, even though you're tempted to ask him/her out. Swift puts on a pouty baby coo that would have Lana Del Rey flipping her hair, a batsh*t minxy, crazy-eyed ticking time bomb that would send Miley into a tongue flicking rampage. Lines like "Boys only want love if it's torture" or "You look like my next mistake" are the kind that will have mommies cringing at their daughters miming it in the car.

Lyrically, this is precisely the kind of song Swift would abhor in her current state of anti-tabloidian Zen, a boiling pot of modern pop starlet pitfalls. So I got to conspiratorially thinking, stick with me here: while "Bad Blood" is rumored to be the Katy Perry subtweet of "1989," I think catty lines like "Nightmare dressed like a daydream," the jealousy, "cherry lips," and the conversion of bad boys to good ones on the weekend align this song as more of a put-down to the "California Gurls" singer. It's a dressed-up barb. A nasty one, if you think about it. Grade: B

"Style": I completely forget that I'm even listening to A Song until that "slick" chorus kicks with a tight little skirt, and then you're doing twirls and big hand motions at yourself in the mirror. This is truly out of 1989. Grade: Mmmm

"Out of the Woods": Is damned near perfect. I moved the furniture so we could dance. Grade: A+

"All You Had to Do Was Stay": This isn't a Taylor Swift song, it's a Max Martin mid-tempo single, a moody kiss-off crammed into adolescent trappings, some cheerleader "heys," tinkling sky-scraped keyboards... make a mold, push this out the door. Grade: B

"Shake It Off": This is the kind of single where you start calling Swift by just her first name. She allows her Honest To Gawd personality into this one, has a lot of fun vocally and lets that charming, catchy choral phrase twirl around some flavorful new elements, like skronking horns, some live drums, the '50s hand-claps. The speak-sing of "this. sick. beat." and a misdiagnosed "hella" tarnishes this otherwise delightful tune. Grade: A-

"I Wish You Would": The tempo's too fast for Swift's performance, too dense for her quips, too '90s, too too. And the "it's-all-good" makes me want to set this whole jumbly problem track on FIRE. D+

"Bad Blood": Leave it to Taylor Swift to turn the word "cut" into three-syllables. Salting the wound, back stabbing, band-aids fixing bullet-holes... METAPHOR. WE GET IT. Mix her uncharacteristically bratty tone with the weakest beat and the softest cliches, this labor clunks to the finish line. Grade: C-

"Wildest Dreams": Taylor Swift's surely extensive dress collection makes another curtsy in this image-conscious rom-com, with lots of production color and bass like a heart beat. It sounds like an Instagram that's been toyed with too much, but the "tangled up with you all night" line? Yum, give this a hard house remix, stat. Grade: B

"How You Get the Girl": I literally listened to the album four times before I even noticed this song was on here. I forget it almost instantly. It sounds like a buffer episode of "Gilmore Girls," in timeliness and tone and activity. Grade: C

"This Love": The doubled vocals really emphasize Swift's little vocal tics, layered over top fluid, sumptuous harmonies and sonic arches galore, raising the hair on your arms. This song makes me want to tenderly place sentimental, rememberancy things inside a velvet-lined jewelry box; or shut the door to rooms filled with furniture covered in sheets; or drink a bottle of fernet and DM garbage to my exes. Grade: A-

"I Know Places": ...Is two different songs. She's barely confident enough for the high notes, especially on the bridge -- it's kind astounding that's the take they went with. Tedder really wanted this one to work. It could have benefited from dropping it down a key, stripping some of the octave doubles. But, God, does Ryan Tedder love a singing round as a finale. And, here, and so do I. This flirts with being "street," which is as street as this set gets.

PSA: The phrase "I know places..." will get you face-mased if you're a dude. Grade: B-

"Clean": John Hughes is that you? Imogen Heap, in songwriter mode, helped tell this tale about addiction, risk, wanting, not having, safety and daring. There's some beautifully intereting textural pings and pops in the rhythm section and a thumbbox dipping beneath some warped bass notes. Grade: B+

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Here are 10 reasons why you never underestimate Taylor Swift

Here are 10 reasons why you never underestimate Taylor Swift

Just look how many albums, how many followers, what age and what feats...

Listen, you don't have to be a fan of Taylor Swift to know that she has a massive impact on the popular music sphere.

You don't even have to like her, but there are definitely some career milestones the now-24-year-old singer and songwriter have achieved that you've just got to respect.

Swift is on the eve of releasing her new album "1989," which industry experts are pinning at selling between 800,000 and 900,000 of in its first week. It will undoubtedly be a No. 1 album... again... and on the lead-up to Christmas, it will likely be No. 1 for a long time.

And Swift literally shut down Hollywood Bouldavard in Los Angeles last night. Seriously. It was a parking lot of bodies.

And yet, the "Shake It Off" singer has long held the reputation for being a artist for the fans. She has been omnipresent during this promotional campaign, but even as she toured or didn't ahve any effort to be pushing, she still reaches out on her social networks, makes time for autographs, is more intimate than most with her Swifties.

Her clean image and "up" personality may have you underestimating her. Don't. Read 10 reasons why Taylor Swift's achievements and biggest moments may blow your hair back, regardless of the music. ("Out of the Woods" is brilliant, though, to be sure.)

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Grammy nominations be revealed Dec. 5 in morning unveiling and Christmas TV special
Credit: AP Photo

Grammy nominations be revealed Dec. 5 in morning unveiling and Christmas TV special

'A Very Grammy Christmas' will showcase Album of the Year nods... on a Friday night

The 2015 Grammy nominees will be revealed in two parts, both on Friday, Dec. 5. Album of the Year nominations will go up during an hour-long "A Very Grammy Christmas" at night, at 9 p.m. on CBS; all other categories will be announced early that morning.

According to Variety, the Recording Academy wanted to shake up their unveiling strategy, after six years of hosting a "Grammy Nominations Concert LIVE!" on Monday nights. The "holiday special" -- a strategy which has been explored by other music organizations like the CMAs -- will keep at least that single category of nominations in a performance show format.

As for the other 82 categories besides Album of the Year? Those nominations are "not expected to be presented in a press conference setting," though many other awards shows like the Golden Globes and Oscars choose to publish their lists on early mornings.

And all at once. The games begin on the same starter block.

Friday nights aren't exactly primetime for televised events. While the Recording Academy undboutedly wants to emphasize the prestige of the Album of the Year category, I think they may be diluting their message by splitting up the announcement and applying tinsel and a red and green sheen. Granted, broadcasting "Grammy Nominations Concert" on Mondays at 8 p.m. haven't garnered the excitement and viewership organizers may desire (even with repeated visits from Taylor Swift), but at least on Tuesday morning everyone wakes up with a full list of contenders in front of them. The full list of nominees, instead, will be complete on a Saturday morning this year.

The first round of voting started on Oct. 16 and are due Nov. 5; an excess of 17,000 recording submitted are eligible. The 2015 Grammy Awards will air on CBS on Feb. 8, from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

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Sia's cover of 'Never Fully Dressed' for 'Annie' is a super-fun and super-trashy

Sia's cover of 'Never Fully Dressed' for 'Annie' is a super-fun and super-trashy

I for one welcome our new Quvenzhané overlord

Sia has contributed a new version of "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile" to the forthcoming film redux of "Annie" and, boy, is it bonkers. It's mastered to the max, it's got new, original fillings (just like your teeth!), it's got Sia still working out whatever accent Sia does, and it's trashy as hell. I kind of love it.

If the film is anything like the accompanying music video to this "Never Fully Dressed," then prepare for divine and obnoxious child actors forcing your mouth into a twisted dumb grin for its duration. A patent corporate smarm will act as a thin layer of wax on the "Annie" of old and transition it into a viral video-binging, non-stop comic, New York-worshipping, anti-cynical pill to swallow.

And maybe it's best this way, because I am going to watch this movie so hard. One reason is because "Annie" was one of a couple of Broadway musicals that got top spin in my family growing up. "Empty belly life / rotten smelly life /'s a hard-knock life" was my refrain when I had to do chores, with a swarthy arm-sweeping motion. (We also loved "A Chorus Line." The 7-year-old version me will remain in hypersleep until a version of "Dance 10, Looks 3" is remixed, and sung by Beyonce, to wake me.)

Sia and Greg Kurstin combined to re-arrange and executive produce the old songs and create new ones including "Opportunity," "Who Am I," and "Moonquake Lake" featuring Beck. Sia collaborated with Stargate for "The City's Yours." All some pretty big names, all creative for Overbrook (Will Smith), Roc Nation (Jay Z), RCA and Sony's Madison Gate.

So far it looks like this "Annie" may be saccharine, and it sounds overexposed, and it will make me drink all of the Coke and eat all of the Junior Mints. Still scratching my head at the Cameron Diaz casting, but at least now she knows we're all looking at her. Quvenzhane Wallis wowed everyone with "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and here she looks like an excited Disney princess, just shy a couple years. I'm so excited. Now, when's the Jay Z cameo?

The "Annie: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" album will be out on Nov. 17, and the movie -- starring Wallis, Jamie Foxx, Diaz, Bobby Cannavale and Rose Byrne -- heads to theaters right before Christmas, on Dec. 19.

Here is the tracklist for "Annie: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack":

1. Overture - Cast
2. Maybe - Quvenzhané Wallis, Zoe Margaret Colletti, Nicolette Pierini, Eden Duncan-Smith and Amanda Troya
3. It's The Hard-Knock Life - Quvenzhané Wallis, Zoe Margaret Colletti, Nicolette Pierini, Eden Duncan-Smith and Amanda Troya
4. Tomorrow - Quvenzhané Wallis
5. I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here (2014 Film Version) - Quvenzhané Wallis, Rose Byrne and Stephanie Kurtzuba
6. You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile (2014 Film Version) - Sia                   
7. Moonquake Lake - Sia and Beck
8. Little Girls (2014 Film Version) - Cameron Diaz
9. The City's Yours - Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhané Wallis
10. Opportunity - Quvenzhané Wallis
11. Easy Street (2014 Film Version) - Cameron Diaz and Bobby Cannavale
12. Who Am I? - Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz and Quvenzhané Wallis
13. I Don't Need Anything But You (2014 Film Version) - Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhané Wallis and Rose Byrne
14. Tomorrow (Reprise) - Cast
15. Opportunity (Sia Version) - Sia [Version does not appear in film]

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Taylor Swift is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in new song 'Welcome to New York'

Taylor Swift is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in new song 'Welcome to New York'

Taylor Swift is the first person on the planet to have ever lived in New York

Taylor Swift is a 24-year-old woman who recently relocated her whole life to New York City.

"Welcome to New York" sounds and feels just like what a 24-year-old girl would have to say about the gritty city after having ripped up her roots from wherever she hails from.

And just like you would with any young 20-something who is telling about the "ever-changing" city of New York after she's lived there for, like, a minute: you can just tune it out. "Out of the Woods" and "Shake It Off" are just so, so much stronger than this.

Stream "Welcome to New York" right here.

Keep your ears open for it during any televised fashion or music event -- or for a wide-eyed teen romantic comedy that will get two-stars on IMDB -- based in the greater New York metro area.

"Welcome to New York" is on Swift's next album "1989," out on Oct. 27.

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Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding go 'Outside' in new song

Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding go 'Outside' in new song

Abolish this synth

Somebody take that one particular synth away from Calvin Harris.

I love Ellie Goulding, and I actually really rather like two of the new cuts from his forthcoming album "Motion": "Slow Acid" is really exactly what you think it is, and John Newman is a good match on DJ Harris' "Blame."

But at around 0:41 on "Outside," the fifth song to be released from "Motion," Harris is selling cars. And entrance to a Six Flags. Its the generic floor bobber that will be instantly forgotten but can be synched a hundred way to Tuesday and rehashed for a thousand televised sports game bumpers.

Previously, he and Goulding worked on similarly minded "I Need Your Love," with that same video gamer feel, but at least vocal line had something to do. Here's, she's wasting away.

"Motion" is out on Nov. 4.

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Just look at this video thing FKA twigs did for Google Glass

Just look at this video thing FKA twigs did for Google Glass

Songs featured on stunning 'LP1'

As I've noted before, it's hard to pinpoint exactly the kind of music FKA twigs makes.

And with this new video, I'm in increasing wonder of what FKA twigs even is.

The British songwriter/producer/model/dance/spirit animal directed this new promotional video "#throughglass" for Google Glass, which is soundtracked by her own songs "Video Girls" and "Glass & Patron."

In it, dancers from searched videos appear IRL. This aren't just any music video girls. These are girls who will bring you shame about any and all of your purported "moves" that you "reserve" for the "dance floor." Twigs brings her own. You wake up on the floor.

"Video Girls" is off of "LP1," one of my favorites this year.

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Gwen Stefani says 'Baby Don't Lie' on new solo single
Credit: Mad Love/Interscope

Gwen Stefani says 'Baby Don't Lie' on new solo single

Musical Frankenstein doesn't yield anything distinctly Stefanian

Gwen Stefani's new solo single "Baby Don't Lie" is out, and it's running all over the place.

At first it threatens to be a gum-chewing M.I.A. hip-hop hybrid. Then it soars straight into Ellie Goulding dance-pop territory, and then mid-tempo love song with a hiccup at the end, plus a OneRepublic counter-melody on the tags after the chorus. Then Iggy Azalea's influence rears its head.

Well, at least the whiff of OneRepublic can be partly to all of the co-songwriters: Ryan Tedder, who worked with Benny Blanco and Noel Zancanella to write this sonic Frankenstein.

Tedder leads OneRepublic and Blanco -- who produced on OneRepublic's latest album "Native" -- could be a solid lead as to why anybody would ape the slack-voweled sounds of Iggy Azalea: he co-wrote pop-laden "Black Widow" for the Aussie rapper. Zancanella also co-wrote and co-produced for OneRepublic, and was behind Ellie Goulding's "Burn," plus a few tunes for acts like Maroon 5, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez.

Start connecting a bunch of those dots and you get a song that doesn't at all seem distinctly Gwen Stefani, except for her willingness to speak-sing without ever actually having to verge on rapping.

The No Doubt frontwoman still has a lot of power behind her voice and can still carry a decent melody when she's given one, namely the chorus here. But it's hardly a reintroduction to the personality behind "Hollaback Girl." This is a generic play for radio, without much fun or heart. I'm more eager to hear how a whole album would fare.

The music video for "Baby Don't Lie" will premiere tomorrow (Oct. 21).

"Baby Don't Lie" is Stefani's first new music as a solo artist since she released "The Sweet Escape" in 2006. No Doubt dropped their newest album in 2012. She is currently a judge on "The Voice."

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