Song Of The Day: Feathers' 'Land of the Innocent'

Song Of The Day: Feathers' 'Land of the Innocent'

Band opened for Depeche Mode

If you were one of the thousands of excited people to see Depeche Mode at South By Southwest this year, then you probably also saw Feathers. The Austin electro-pop band had the honor of opening up for the veteran crew, and don't doubt they had a good time doing it.

Band leader Anastasia Dimou sat down with me before SXSW began, to talk about what's so inspiring about the festival, and what it was like to shoot the video for "Land of the Innocent," featured in the interview above.

Feathers also features Courtney Voss of Missions, keyboardist Kathleen Carmichael and drummer Jordan Johns from Sound Team on top of alternating members Destiny Montague (Shock Cinema/Midnight Masses) and Alex Gehring (Ringo Deathstarr). The group's debut album, "If All Now Here," will be out on April 15. Another video, "Soft," is featured below, should you want more (and you should).

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Listen to two new Postal Service songs

Listen to two new Postal Service songs

'A Tattered Line of String' and 'Turn Around' are included on the deluxe 'Give Up' reissue

If the Funny Or Die sketch didn't whet the appetites of The Postal Service fans, the two new songs from the duo may get folks in a tizzy.

"Turn Around" and "A Tattered Line of String" are both included in the deluxe reissue of Postal Service's sole release "Give Up." Ben Gibbard and DNTEL, who make up Postal Service, announced that they'd be headlining at several festivals this summer and going on tour to support their 10th anniversary, so these are pretty new accessories.

Or maybe one of 'em is. "Line of String" is a little more sophisticated, hitting the spot that the first half of "Give Up" gives up. Both tracks feature Jenny Lewis who, since the beginning of this century has dissolved Rilo Kiley, put out some excellent solo efforts and released an album with her boyfriend Johnathan Rice. She played on tour and on the Postal Service album, so it's only right...

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<p>Thirty Seconds To Mars</p>

Thirty Seconds To Mars

Thirty Seconds To Mars tease 'Up In The Air' music video after releasing single

Jared Leto directed the forthcoming clip

Why hasn't anybody ever thought of a mechanical bull upholstered like a very cute couch? That's what the viewer may be asking themselves after checking out the teaser below to Thirty Seconds To Mars' "Up in the Air" music video.

There's also the clean, cropped array of other beautiful images like a door and a lion, but what the teaser trailer to the short film doesn't have is frontman Jared Leto's lyrics to the single, which was released on Monday.

"I wrap my hands around your neck so tight with love," he sings, which makes me think that the track may be a companion to "Hurricane," or at least its video, which featured a lot of sexual fetishism, bondage and other images of S&M. Erotic asphyxiation isn't entirely out of the rock band's wheelhouse, and while "Up in the Air" has some of the sexual taboo to it, that doesn't mean that's all the song is about.

"It does play on two different levels; there's an obvious sexual connotation to the line. ... But it's also about power, it's about control, and the song is about that," Leto told MTV this week.

"A thousand i tempted fate... a thousand times I have said 'today'" he growls, giving it a carpe diem vibe on second listen.

But let's see how that video turns out. Directed by Leto, under his chosen pseudonym Bartholomew Cubbins, he has a knack for the fantastical, but something tells me that not everyone who hears 30STM will see beyond the sexy shock.

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<p>Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong at SXSW</p>

Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong at SXSW

Credit: AP Photo

Green Day, 'Cuatro,' 'Broadway Idiot': Interviews on growing up and out of the past

What 'post-rehab' means for the veteran pop-rock-punk band

AUSTIN – At one point in “¡Cuatro!” – one of two Green Day films to premiere at South By Southwest -- Billie Joe Armstrong and his band are complaining about fans that request their oldest songs at their surprise, small gigs. These tiny 2012 concerts were arranged to workshop Green Day’s new tunes live, and with the abundance of material written for the recent “¡Uno!,” “¡Dos!” and “¡Tré!” trilogy albums, they wanted to play the new stuff and not the old.

The rock band referred to older tunes like “Basket Case” as “sacred cows.” “I think cows should be eaten,” Armstrong said in the film.
 
Fast-forward to Green Day’s high-profile SXSW show at the ACL theater in Austin, on a busy Friday night, and only eight songs of the 25 on the setlist were new tracks. There they were, jamming through "Dookie" tunes and crowd-pleasing medleys (yes, plural) of well-trod covers like “Highway to Hell” with “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Shout” with “Hey Jude” and “Stand By Me.” On the latter, they were cornballing, shilling, a seemingly cheap move if it didn’t seem like they were having so much fun, and didn’t sound so damn good.
 
Delicious, delicious cows.
 
That’s one of many reasons that makes a film like “¡Cuatro!” so unique: it's a snapshot into the band’s creative process at a given time, when old and covers material has less (or no) bearing on their output to come. When they played “Longview” on the stage at ACL, perhaps those feelings of resentment had dissolved and they again love to play the hits again. Maybe they turned anything negative about "Burnout" and its ilk into positive energy, displacing it onto their audience or industry-heavy attendees. Or some things are just bound to change when you play to an audience of 120 versus 2,000 versus 50,000.
 
Last year, Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan had some strong words about playing his old hits: “If that audience is there only to see the past, get me off the stage… We have to break a spell with our audience, to get out of the idea that the band from 2008-on was going to be an oldies act,” he told me. “Smashing Pumpkins will never, ever, ever be an oldies act, and if that means the end of the business or whatever, tough sh*t for me.”
 
It’s not “tough sh*t” for Green Day, and revitalizing their old material comes easy. For example, they helped reanimate material from “American Idiot” into a stage musical of the same name. In Doug Hamilton’s film “Broadway Idiot” (also at SXSW) Armstrong’s amazement in hearing “American Idiot” songs in this way transformed him from an idle participant member to a performing cast member. You could see something new click from inside of him, and he ultimately played 50 dates on Broadway as St. Jimmy.
 
“Audiences are going to be on Billie’s shoulder as he goes through that process,” Hamilton told me on the red carpet to “Broadway Idiot.” He said that, a day after it was revealed that Armstrong was going to dip into stage musicals again: the singer will be writing new music for the Yale Repertory Theater’s “These Paper Bullets,” an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing, ” for a March 2014 premiere.
 
What audiences won’t see from Armstrong’s shoulder is his public meltdown from the stage of iHeartRadio in 2012, which propelled him to check-in to rehab for prescription drug and alcohol abuse.
 
“¡Cuatro!” was completed and locked long before that descent and there’s no inkling of his detrimental addiction, no foreshadowing of the rehab to come. Instead, there’s a snapshot of the band’s drug-use as a lifestyle, with hazy footage of pills being popped and dancing in trashed hotel rooms. Armstrong recalls the first time he and bandmate Mike Dirnt dropped acid; Tré Cool jokes about listening to a new track on shrooms.
 
Again, the health of a band like Green Day is by no means a permanent. “¡Cuatro!” was truly a record of record-making, a place and time and age of the band during the creative process.
 
“They just wanted to do something fun, spontaneous, true to what was going on… Capture that moment in time,” said director Tim Wheeler during the Q&A after the screening. For the references to drug use, “They really stand by this moment in their career in documenting that. I don’t think it shows it in a bad way.”
 
Despite their awesome live show and these adaptable, wild new albums ,“this” moment will be referred to as “post-rehab Green Day,” for better and for worse. As Armstrong said in “Cuatro,” Green Day wants his audience to “grow with you and grow up with you.” Old hits and waning addiction may be in the past, but it’s still consequently a part of who this band is today. With so much great showmanship and joy as seen on stage and in “Cuatro” and "Broadway Idiot," I hope Green Day growing up is for the best.

 

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Watch: Dave Grohl talks digital vs. analog for next Foo Fighters album
Credit: HitFix

Watch: Dave Grohl talks digital vs. analog for next Foo Fighters album

SXSW red carpet interview for 'Sound City': Will Foos work with Butch Vig again?

AUSTIN -- It appears that Dave Grohl's Sound City Players gig at the South By Southwest music conference may have been its last. The all-star concerts have run concurrently with the promotion of the Foo Fighters frontman's film "Sound City," which has completed its rounds at winter and spring film festivals.

The show at Stubb's late last week was three-and-a-half hours long, with long performances from artists like Stevie Nicks and John Fogerty with the backing of Foos like Taylor Hawkins and Pat Smear and Nirvana member Krist Novoselic. The setlist to the rock show ran from old to new, and for those who have seen "Sound City," a reminder of rock 'n' roll history of laying down tape and getting performances right in the moment of recording, instead of going back and correcting it later with a piece of software.

That was the point, Grohl told me during our interview on the SXSW red carpet for the "Sound City" screener. The California rock studio couldn't survive in a world of accessible digital technology, because of the restrictions of analog.

And it's just that Grohl doesn't mind the restrictions.

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Watch: Jared Leto talks Thirty Seconds to Mars' new 'Up in the Air' and music video

Watch: Jared Leto talks Thirty Seconds to Mars' new 'Up in the Air' and music video

'Artifact' heads to SXSW as the band heads out of the studio

AUSTIN -- Jared Leto was not only busy promoting his 30 Seconds To Mars doc "Artifact" at SXSW, but he was also getting ready to push his rock act's new song.

Leto shot the music video for "Up in the Air," the band's forthcoming new single, and was editing the clip during his visit to Austin for the film fest. In less than a day, the song will be revealed, and overall, "It's very different, it's a complete departure," the actor/musician told me on the red carpet to "Artifact."

The band last released their album "This Is War" in 2009, after warring with their label Virgin; "Artifact" is a making-of chronicle of that set and the industry conflict behind it.

Check out what else Leto had to say about the space-bound track, and what's up with the winter coat in an central Texas spring.

 

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<p>Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker</p>

Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker

Napster's founders talk 'Downloaded' and Spotify at SXSW

Copyrights are artists' big fight

AUSTIN -- If there's anybody who had a front row seat on the dismantling of the traditional music industry model, it's Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker, the two founders of Napster. They put that show on. Peer-to-peer sharing indisputably was part of weakening labels, falling sales and creative disputes between artists and the companies that were supposed to support their artform, and Napster was one of the first companies to do P2P well. In turn, it was the lightning rod to the storm to come.

Fanning and Parker were on hand for the premiere of "Downloaded," a documentary on Napster, at this year's South By Southwest film conference, and further spoke of Napster's influence on today's modern industry landscape during a SXSW interactive panel. They told crowds here first-hand what it was like to be the darlings and the "criminals" of the internet era, and just what the hell they can do about it today, 14 years after Napster was founded.

Watching "Downloaded" at SXSW was like watching my own personal history. I remember scrolling through millions of available songs in the millions of free libraries and it shaped the music listener I am today. I remember Napster's various interfaces, MTVs coverage, Metallica media interviews, even the Senate hearings, but even more so, I remember the high of falling in love with new artists because a free, curated and boundless archive was an obnoxious dial-up modem sound away.

There's also that faint remembrance -- a turn of the stomach, really -- when I realized it wouldn't be this free forever, when the RIAA was suing users, when artists I liked were being hurt because contracts and monetizing systems weren't up to par. Copyrights are still the center issue today as hundreds of companies work to take chips out of iTunes' seller dominance and streaming discovery services try to break through mainstream and make their own money.

Like the hoards of music artists converging on Austin, millions of artists are online and dying to be heard. And so then there's Fanning and Parker, again, front row.

Parker is an investor and board member of Spotify (and he and Fanning are tapping another technology, Airtime, in hopes that it clicks with video consumers).

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<p>Some of &quot;When Angles Sing's&quot; singers</p>

Some of "When Angles Sing's" singers

Credit: When Angels Sing

SXSW: 'When Angels Sing' stuns with soundtrack

Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Kris Kristofferson and Austinites galore

AUSTIN --  The Christmas film "When Angels Sing" boasts Willie Nelson as Santa Claus; Lyle Lovett as a holiday-happy neighbor to Harry Connick, Jr.'s Scrooge, due to his unhappy Christmas past; and Kris Kristofferson as his dad, and his heart if full of the season's joy.

So, of course, the soundtrack is X-mas excellence.

The film -- shot in Austin and premiered at South By Southwest -- is as family-friendly as they come, with Connick's usual charm and easiness oozing from in between the green and red trim. The trademark seems to be Hallmark, though the film has yet to get picked up. The music won't hurt its chances: Family singalongs, a stumble into a church, caroling and a gander through Austin's hot spots (including Salt Lick, nom) provide ample opportunities for originals and Christmas classics.

Lovett has an extended acoustic jam with Kat Edmonson and Nelson gets a solo on "Amazing Grace." Connick refrains from singing in the film until a duet with Nelson on the closing credits. I especially loved the cameos from the Trishas and from Dale Watson, who give this film a particular Austin glaze that could help sell music, if not the film itself.

"Kris and Harry are great," Nelson told me of his co-stars and collaborators before the premiere. "I like good writers, good singers and good people. They don’t get any better than those guys."

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<p>Olivia Wilde</p>

Olivia Wilde

Credit: AP Photo

Olivia Wilde talks about nudity in 'Drinking Buddies': Consent in Hollywood

A short discussion on 'We Saw Your Boobs' and giving actresses credit

AUSTIN – When Olivia Wilde stripped her clothes off in front of Jake Johnson in “Drinking Buddies,” you could hear an audible gasp in the Paramount theater during the film’s premiere at South By Southwest.

Wilde and Johnson play Kate and Luke, friends and coworkers, who in this scene are out on a weekend trip to a cabin. Both have brought their significant others on the vacation, but then the “drinking buddies” find themselves deliciously alone on a beach. As is their wont, they flirt heavily, and late into their night of boozing and teetering on the edge of hooking up, Kate starts taking off her clothes and heads toward the water, urging Luke to skinny dip with her.
 
The fact that the viewing audience reacted as they did in that moment exposed a visceral reaction to the quandary, the acting, and to Wilde’s bare skin. (Notably, Johnson’s Luke doesn’t follow suit.)
 
Many of Joe Swanberg’s films have included nudity – male and female – and writers before have criticized the filmmaker of using nudity as exploitative, or as an easy way to shock audiences into conveying emotional nakedness.
 
In an interview after the premiere, however, Wilde said it’d serve the audience well to trust actors in their decisions for nude and sex scenes because, for example, getting nude for “Drinking Buddies” was all her idea. There was no script for the film, only Swanberg as its captain, and Wilde told her director she wanted to skinny dip because “it felt so incredibly organic to that moment.”
 
“I didn’t feel conflicted. That is the magic moment [Kate’s] been waiting for, where she is offering herself, quite literally, to [Luke]. She’s being so inappropriate, and she knows it,” Wilde told me. “And if Joe had said it’s too inappropriate, like ‘If you’re nude it’d be too jarring,’ I would have fought for it.”
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<p>Yeah Yeah Yeah's Karen O at SXSW</p>

Yeah Yeah Yeah's Karen O at SXSW

Watch: Yeah Yeah Yeahs amaze with new album title track 'Mosquito' at SXSW

Watch the whole show, while you're at it

AUSTIN -- As you'd suspect, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs rolled out some new tunes at the South By Southwest music conference during their concert at Stubb's last night, what with their fresh album due April 16.

So they came out swatting, with the title track to the new effort, "Mosquito." Now, this song had previously made its way online from another live show this month. However, it's important to note how energetic its performance is here, how batty and aggro Karen O gets, like Siouxie and Electric 6 cramming their best ideas together.

Now imagine that going the whole show. Because it did.

The evidence is in the video below, which capturers the 55-minute show. To skip the pre-show banter from the NPR folks, fast-forward to about the 6-minute mark.

But also don't miss the performance of two brand new songs, debuts of "Subway" and "Under the Earth," which make me think that "Mosquito" may not be a slighter or leaner album, but proves the band has an expert touch on their more off-the-hinge moments, feeling more playful around their song structures. "Sacrilege" -- their current single -- features a gospel choir on tape, but that crescendo was tracked at the show, which is too bad. The choir could've been the audience, who seemed fairly well-acquainted with the track already.

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