<p>Brandon Flowers</p>

Brandon Flowers

Review: Brandon Flowers’ ‘Flamingo’ doubles down on Las Vegas, new wave

The Killers frontman explores Sin City in religious metaphors and dance-rock

If you’re gonna make an album shaming and praising Las Vegas in a milieu of styles inspired by your favorite new wave, pop and rock artists, then your album should sound like Brandon Flowers’. 

Flamingo,” the Killers singer’s first solo outing, isn’t just a tip of the hat toward U2 or the Cure. It encompasses Flowers’ idiosyncratic lyrics, stuffed with heavy-handed and –eyelidded gambling metaphors and stretched to connect to theology, sex, love and idolatry. It’s appropriate, coming from Vegas’ own son, born-and-raised-and-practicing Mormon, who now has the whole floor to himself to explore his concepts. It’s a continuation, too, of the Killers’ '80s dance-heavy “Day & Age.”
Of course, “Crossfire” has already been pushed out there as the set’s leading single – it’s a contained narrative, shifting between a warm bed to be had now and the bad weather to come later. It lingers on that jogging pace and crescendos without any embarrassment. A choir and Annie Lennox-loving synths create eddies around the redemptive “On the Floor,” Flowers’ closest attempt to a hymn, while opener “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” greets visitors as a mecca of triumphal sounds and sarcasm.
With the Edge as an obvious influencer, “Only the Young” is awash with guitars and muddled divinity and a noteable mix of bells, harmonies, drum machine and puny slide guitar to vamping out at the end, like a lost track on “Pop.” Pete Townshend and, appropriately, Neil Diamond come to mind on “Was It Something I Said?”, a cutesy tune stringing a young lover on through his insecurities with his beloved Valentina.
“Playing with Fire” is histrionic, and with its knowledge of that, proceeds into some fun but sad sonic directions; Flowers let’s that whiney inner-Robert Smith play with fire as a distorted guitar is imperfectly irritated with a pick in the background. I love how Flowers’ voice comfortably dips around the melody on the terribly titled but well-meaning “Swallow It,” further convincing me he should be involved in that Cars reunion rumor that’s been swirling around, just in case Queen doesn’t call. He's a "perfooormer."
He shows his cards on Jenny Lewis-enhanced “Hard Enough” but hides them again behind tracks like “Magdelena,” which just have far too much going on; “Jilted Lovers & Broken Hearts” puts on a real Vegas-style rock show.
Overall, it’s a solid set brimming with personality, even if -- sometimes -- it’s not Flowers’ own. Sin City obviously has an effect on Flowers temperament, his writing and delivery, so it’s not like he can arrive on the other side pure of any other influences anyway.

"Flamingo" flies onto shelves today (Sept. 14).


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<p>Weezer's &quot;Hurley&quot;</p>

Weezer's "Hurley"

Credit: Epitaph

Album Review: Weezer's new 'Hurley' stays the alt-rock course

Despite moving from a major to an indie, Rivers Cuomo and Co. show no signs of changing the formula

Weezer may be releasing their very first independent record with "Hurley," but don't count on the move marking any change in the quartet's sound trajectory.

The Epitaph effort has is dummy rockers, electro rockers, jokey rockers, Serious singles and ballads essentially remade into rockers. The band won't allow itself to drop below a certain midtempo BPM even once, and, as per usual, the mastering pummels every note an inch into your face, desensitizing the listener to any changes in sonic or subject matter.

Not that it matters. "Hurley" doesn't really play like an album, just more like a collection of licenseable songs and a little something for the kids. It's front-loaded with proof that Rivers Cuomo can still write the hell out of hook, like on the unwinking "Trainwrecks" and "Ruling Me," which very well should be the second single after straight-forward "Memories."

"Where's My Sex?" is like a dirty children's tune, akin to "The Cat Came Back" with dorky jokes about procreation. Cuomo extols "Smart Girls" with some awfully lazy rhyming schemes but also with a cute trickle of memorable lines. "Run Away," the band's collaboration with songwriter Ryan Adams, sadly loses steam mid-song, like dialing in a favor.

As Weezer's older fans skim for any inkling that the band has another "Pinkerton" or even a "Maladroit," in them, there may be some joy in "Hang On" and striking, vulnerable "Unspoken" (up until the dam breaks and the grinding guitars return to irritate your skin). Closer "Time Flies" interestingly features the sounds of clipped guitar and vocals, giving it a lo-fi calculated textures.

More songs with gang vocals, more of the 1-6-4-5, more tracks about girls and waxing nostaligic on the days when we were single. It's not weird, or more pop or experimental, revolutionary, sensitive or off-beat. It's just more of what we've come to expect.

"Hurley" is out tomorrow (Sept. 14). Listen to the album in its entirety here.

Click here to check out the band's recent video for "Memories," featuring the crew from "Jackass 3D."

Click here to follow Katie Hasty on Twitter.

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<p>Cee Lo Green</p>

Cee Lo Green

Credit: Atlantic

Interview: Cee Lo speaks on ‘F*ck You,’ Sade, Gnarls Barkley and Goodie Mob

Green is a 'Lady Killer,' superhero and freak -- and he's out to play the field

As he was stitching together his new solo album “The Lady Killer,” Cee Lo Green didn’t have much intention to rope in special guests or featured vocalists. There was one name, though, that he at least tried to get.

“I reached out to Sade. She’d never done a song with anyone else before. That makes her Madame Butterfly,” the singer/rapper told me in our phone interview, noting that the Soldier of Love never managed to give him a reply. “It was a longshot to begin with, but I thought, ‘If she does this, this will truly signify my being a professional or not.’ Not that I feel any less special. I guess I still have a ways to go.”
On the other hand, Cee Lo concludes that “Lady Killer” doesn’t need any “elaborate guest appearances. Just a lady and a nice car,” he says  “It’s varied enough over the course of a whole record. You’ll have your hands full with me.”
The founding Goodie Mob and Gnarls Barkley member is already off to a good start. The runaway viral single “F*ck You” (and it’s radio-friendly edit “Forget You”) is at No. 33 on the Hot 100 and rising and already capped the iTunes top downloads list. Two music video versions are floating around. And one of its principal songwriters, Bruno Mars, has been a hot topic all summer.
Cee Lo said that he and Mars tried to collaborate on a number of tracks, and “F*ck You” was “the one that stuck.” Green said he appreciated the anti-establishment tone to track, and then tangentially mused on the offending term itself.
“You think of the term, the verb, “f*ck” as something that’s fast. Efficient but urgent. It’s like that. This album is urgent for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s impersonal. It’s poetry in motion – poetry in slow motion, you know what I’m saying?” Yes. “Intimacy is always art.”
If it sounds like “The Lady Killer” is an album about feeling good, then you’re on the right track. At 35, Green (born Thomas DeCarlo Callaway) is in a pretty good spot, and he wants “Lady Killer” to be a reflection of that.
“I want people to know that I know what I’m doing. I’ve been written off as a freak before. I consider myself a closet freak, now out of the closet. I'm a freak of nature, a freak accident. Isn’t that how all superheroes start?" he deadpans. “I much rather [my success] be considered a freak accident that it being luck.
The solo set was the natural next step after a run with Danger Mouse in Gnarls Barkley, a duo whose “Crazy” threw Cee Lo further into the limelight. Green says that a third LP will “definitely happen” next year, but only after some time post-“Lady Killer.”
“I just got out a steady relationship with Danger Mouse,” he explains.
“Does that mean you’re playing the field?”
“Not all. I mean, I’m out in right field. I’m not playing the whole field, I’m just out where the girls are.”
He says that he’s had some ideas for songs with Danger, but “we’ve been out of each other’s space… He wanted to move in a different sound direction,” which explains his collaboration with James Mercer in Broken Bells. “He’s a jaded, moody kinda guy. When we met each other, we were married by that mood, because that’s where I was at the time. My seasons changed… We have this love/hate relationship for the things we do outside of each other. I felt shattered listening to [Broken Bells]. I thought, damn, Danger needs a girl.”
Green says he knows the brighter side of Danger Mouse, aka Brian Burton, but he has yet to hear it in sound. “Gnarls is awesome. Sometimes I wish it wasn’t so detached and sad. But, yo, I’m pretty sure adversity will arrive again, and that’s when I will seek out Danger Mouse.”
Cee Lo also seeks to finalize a new album with his Atlanta rap crew Goodie Mob, who has reunited in recent years in concert but not on tape. Green split from the group after 1999’s “World Party,” but says that the new effort -- also due next year -- is “well on its way” to being finished and that the quartet is now juggling deals for release.
“The stuff that we have is remarkable, nothing short of a signature Goodie Mob record. All fans are gonna thoroughly enjoy it.”
All this, and still working toward the Dec. 7 arrival of “The Lady Killer.” Cee Lo says all the elements are just combining to make him into the towering superhero he is. “I’m not being lifted up in my career. As we speak, I’m getting taller. You feelin’ me? I can’t be dropped on my ass. My balloon is not being popped by anyone. I’m just taller, that’s all. And my clothes fit me.”


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<p>Weezer's &quot;Memories&quot;</p>

Weezer's "Memories"

Watch: Weezer revisit 'Memories' with the 'Jackass' dudes in new video

Bam, Steve-O, Johnny Knoxville and others join the Weez in Super-8, ahead of 'Hurley's' release

We told you yesterday that the dudes from "Jackass" were at least one good reason to tune into Sunday's 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. It also happens that Steve-O, Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera and the rest of the stupid stunt crew are also a reason to check out the new music video for Weezer's "Memories."

According to MTV, Rivers Cuomo used to hang out with Knoxville in the early '90s, shooting hoops. The Weez was about to go mainstream, and Knoxville was trying to break into Hollywood. How times have changed.

The clip features mostly shots in Super-8 with the various cast skateboarding in an empty pool. Interstitial clips from forthcoming "Jackass 3D" -- the soundtrack to which "Memories" is included -- plus general shenaniganry are included. There's little kids, a fat guy in a pool, gang vocals, the ilk. It's kind of sweet.

"Memories" is the leading single from "Hurley," Weezer's newest, out on Tuesday (Sept. 14). You can listen to the set in its entirety here.

What do you think of the song and the video?

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<p>Wanda Jackson</p>

Wanda Jackson

Credit: AP Photo

Exclusive: Nonesuch releasing Wanda Jackson’s Jack White-produced ‘Party’ album

Interview: The Queen of Rockabilly chats Americana Awards honor, ‘The Party Ain’t Over,’ shock and awe

There are few people -- let alone women -- on earth who can claim to have toured with Elvis Presley and held their own. Few musicians can enjoy a third or fourth act to their career, let alone a second. Even fewer are rockers, then gospel singers, then punk icons, Rock And Roll Hall of Famers and celebrated Americana artists. 

Honestly, there is no one like Wanda Jackson.
Tomorrow night (Sept. 9), the Americana Music Association is presenting the 72-year-old Queen of Rockabilly with a lifetime achievement award. Jackson admits she’ll be foregoing the fringe, over-the-top dresses and the high heels that made her a fashion idol in the ‘50s and ‘60s (hell, today) as she takes to the stage in Nashville to perform and accept her honor.
“Now I’ll be even shorter,” she sighed during our phone interview.
But she has a reason to at least be sitting a little taller. Her covers album “The Party Ain’t Over,” produced by Jack White, will be out in January, and Nonesuch Records has picked up the release.
It’s what Jackson calls a “showcase” record, with tunes from all decades, from rock ‘n’ roll to country to a gospel standard, a Bob Dylan track and a yodel song. Jackson’s mum on specific titles – aside from the previously released “You Know I’m No Good” / “Shakin’ All Over” single, out earlier this year on White’s Third Man Records – because, “Jack asked very nicely, but strictly, ‘Don’t be talkin’ about the album.’ He loves to surprise. He’s like shock and awe.”
“I just turned the whole project over to him. I want his stamp on it. So much was all his decisions. I want him to pick out the photos, I wanted him to select the title.”
Jackson seemed pleased, too, at the decision to go with Nonesuch which, like Third Man, is distributed by Warner Bros. Though she didn’t seem too concerned.
“I don’t really know much about it,” she said.
Nonesuch is a great label.”
“Oh, that’s good to hear.”
The Americana Awards appears to be the perfect time to begin promoting the set, considering White is on board to present. Jackson says she expects an announcement with more album details to arrive soon after, and that she and White would like to get the word out together somehow.
And it’ll be ripe time. Recording the effort wrapped this past winter. The promo shots have long been selected, the album cover’s ready and the set’s mixed. A single between now and January should satisfy fans in waiting. As Jackson teases, “It’s all sitting right there.”
We’re ready, Ms. Jackson. Let’s have a party.
Check back into HitFix and Immaculate Noise this month for a feature on Jack White and his projects with notable women – from the White Stripes to Loretta Lynn to the newly inked Secret Sisters.


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<p>Kings of Leon's &quot;Radioactive&quot;</p>

Kings of Leon's "Radioactive"

Watch: Kings of Leon debut new single 'Radioactive' and its WTF video

Are you joining the choir or are you skipping the party?

Let me make one thing clear right off the bat: I think Kings of Leon’s new song “Radioactive” is awesome. 

It’s melodramatic, it shows off Caleb Followill’s vocal range and rocker dynamic, it hints at a broader approach to production on the new, forthcoming album. I think the spiritual lyrics are as memorable as the chorus -- and the song itself is just like one long chorus -- which guarantees both will stick into your head until at least Christmas. (I first heard the track when the band introduced it at Bonnaroo in June, and I could still tell you what it sounded like even before this started streaming.) The tempo is stadium-worthy and the gospel choir is idiosyncratic without being annoying. It's no "Sex on Fire," but it's not supposed to be: it's a standalone, feel-good song for the fall.
That being said, I wish it had a different music video.
“Radioactive” was posted today on the band’s website and Vevo, in advance of “Come Around Sundown,” due Oct. 19.
The action takes place at a picnic, in a park with fields and barns and picket fences. Delicious food abounds, a soccer ball bounces around, children are amused by a visiting magician. It’s a grade-A celebration.
Indeed, Kings of Leon are from a small- to middle-sized Southern town in Tennessee and they very well could have stumbled upon this picturesque diorama of Little America one day and considered it representative of where they “came from.” Perhaps the video crew asked that all the town’s children wear their school uniforms for the shoot and to leave their video games at home (the presence of pie was requested, but not required). Maybe what was supposed to be a day-long video shoot turned into lifelong friendships and Lessons Learned, Amen.
What catches my eye is: this is a town of (almost) all African-Americans. And then there’s these beardy white rocker dudes. I half expect a footnote or an introduction to the clip, to give some clarity to context: otherwise, it seems, at best, a well-intended but incomplete statement on racial unity and heritage or, at (very) worst, exploitative.
Perhaps the band is there to crash the party, bearing the gift of rock. And, the town responds by offering the endowment of gospel. Does that, then, make it KoL’s homage to Southern black culture or a metaphor for gospel’s influence on popular music (in a barn)?
Did the band adopt a town? Did the town adopt Kings of Leon? Did the group donate money to a summer camp or have a studio there or something? Is it a trip down memory lane, during which the Family Followill reimagines their youth with their race flipped? Is this what heaven looks like?
I don't know what I'm looking at, but on the other hand, I know what I see: circa 2:33, a band member mugs on his knees in a field, arms open for embrace by two little girls. Caleb lip-syncs as he’s flocked by a skipping group of youths, like so many bounding, folksy accessories. It's like a full-body eye-roll.
Somewhere in the universe, at some point in time, some production coordinator thought, “Authenticity achieved! We are clear for takeoff!” Then the director called “cut” and everyone had some cola.
Anyway, the song sans imagery will be available as a free download to folks who pre-order the album starting Sept. 14.
What do you think of “Radioactive” – the song and the video?

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<p>Romy Croft of The xx</p>

Romy Croft of The xx

Credit: AP Photo

The xx win U.K.'s Mercury Prize over Paul Weller

Watch: The band reacts predictably with few words

It's official: The xx have won the U.K.'s much-esteemed Mercury Prize, taking home the honor over favored short-listed nominee and veteran rocker Paul Weller. The award was issued for their debut self-titled album.

Oliver Sim of the band had this to say in accepting the £20,000 award: "We've had the most incredible year and it has just felt like every day we've just woken up to something incredible we just weren't expecting. It has felt just like a haze. Being here is like a moment of clarity in all that's happening."

Jools Holland presented the award at the ceremony, held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. Other nominees like former winner Dizzee Rascal, Mumford & Sons, Weller, Biffy Clyro and Corinne Bailey Rae were present.

The three-piece, known for its shy nature, had nothing but shock in so many words to express in the video below to BBC. They, naturally, donned black.

It makes me feel a bit bad for Weller, who was also up for the prize 16 years ago and lost then, too. And, as I previously mentioned, I think that Laura Marling -- who was up two years ago -- should've taken it home. Then again, Weller could probably rack that money prize in in a night, and already enjoys the recognition from founding The Jam on top of generally releasing noteworthy albums. And years from now, we'll be naming awards for Marling.

Head judge Simon Frith said that "The xx" was "a record of its time" calling it "a very urban record, it is part of that urban soundscape when no one has any idea what is going to happen next."

This is not the time to dump on The xx or its fans, but there's two ways to read into that former comment, and I know which one I favor. It can be read as "The xx" -- to its lovers -- is the best album, hands down, from 2009. Or it could be a recording representative of just that: a time. The band is not comprised of extraordinary musicians and its songs are not particularly innovative. They combine uncomplicated sonic elements and moods from around this late 2000s period, coming up with a lovely, mellow, small-sounding album that was made "in a converted garage the size of a bathroom," as member Romy Croft said.

It's a good choice, and a safe choice, for the now.

Click here to watch the band accept their award, and for a BBC interview.


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<p>Robyn's &quot;Body Talk Pt. 2&quot;</p>

Robyn's "Body Talk Pt. 2"

Credit: Cherrytree

Win an autographed copy of Robyn's 'Body Talk Pt. 1' and 'Pt. 2'

Immaculate Noise says: 'We Dance to the Beat'

Many people will remember this summer for the heat wave -- two new Robyn records, that is.

I've spent a little time catching up with the Swedish dance-pop artist's "Body Talk Pt. 1," out earlier this year with "None of Dem" and "Dancing on My Own." Then there was "Hang With Me," culled from "Body Talk Pt. 2," released today. Part three of the trilogy will be out later 2010.

HitFix has two autographed copies each of "Pt. 1" and "Pt. 2," and I'm itching to give them away.

To enter the contest, complete the following:

Follow HitFix and Immaculate Noise on Twitter. Then, Tweet a message that contains @HitFix @katieaprincess and #rockinrobyn. Wit is appreciated, but not required.

You must be 18 and old to enter, and be a resident of the United States. Entries will be accepted up through 11:59 p.m. EST on Thursday (Sept. 9).

There will be four winners total, two to receive "Pt. 1," and two to receive "Pt. 2."

Wanna purchase your own digital copy of Robyn's "Body Talk Pt. 2"? Check it at iTunes. Wanna buy a physical copy? Here it is on Amazon.

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Credit: Matador

Album Review: Interpol's self-titled indie release will satisfy fans

But can the New York quartet make any new converts?

"I'm a good guy," sings Paul Banks on the opener "Success" to Interpol's self-titled Matador effort. As the song -- and the rest of the album -- unravels, it turns into a statement of good intentions at its best and utter sarcasm at its worst. Later, Banks laments in splendid "Always Malaise (The Man I Am)," requesting release from his lover: "It pains me to say / And I'll do what I can / because that's the man I am."

There's a lot of that on "Interpol," a dark swirl of earnestness and outright hostility, between bars of the band's signature blend of oscillating, reverbed guitars, now-departed bassist Carlos D's heavy bars and those repeating four or five notes that Banks deadpans throughout.

Produced by rock master Alan Moulder, the 10-song set sounds solid and complete. It sets a mood, it continues a trend, but not much evolution. That's good news for fans.  Expect the jagged pieces and the intermittent launch into dance-rock, like on "Summer Well." The choppy, synched vocals on "Barricade" recall the primitive rock riffs of "Turn Off the Bright Lights." First single "Lights," released months ago, is still one of Interpol's best tracks, as it’s an essence of the band's most recognizable sonic elements.
There's a few new tricks thrown into the usual mix. "Memory Serves" is the band showing its hand, by stripping to vocals and drums by the end, a glimmer of what would be without all the tech and effects. "Try It On" features a descending line played on a piano that sounds like it was copped from a high school choir room, plus a very well-placed shaker – the vocal line, however, doesn’t move much, rendering the song static. The next track "All the Ways" starts as a slow march to the end of the album, lumbering with a lackadaisical rhyming lines and Banks daring to bare that heart on his sleeve, collapsing into the repeating line to his romantic subject, "I know the way you'll make it up for me."
The finale, "The Undoing," is – predictably -- the relationship undone, like an ascent into heaven or descent into sleep. "Damaged" indeed, with those discordant transition notes to turn the stomach and the chant-singing murmuring through what sounds like the stages of grief. Then with the synth horns (really?) and organ, the chugging snap of the snare and a fade-out. It's a dreamy, Muse-like exit.
“Interpol” will do well for Matador, and sate the band’s fanbase, particularly as more eye-catching videos are released and as they hit the road with U2. They are a group whose influences are obvious and that fact will continue to annoy those who it annoys. But for those already on board, ride on.
Read our interview with Interpol here.
"Interpol" is released today and can be heard in its entirety on MySpace. Check out the music video to "Lights" and "Barricade."


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<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.


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