<p>Godspeed You Black Emperor's &quot;Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!&quot;</p>

Godspeed You Black Emperor's "Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!"

Credit: Constellation

Review: Godspeed You! Black Emperor's 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!'

Listen to the album -- the post-rock band's first in 10 years -- in its entirety

Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s new album “Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!”  -- for fans in waiting for 10 years – succeeds not in its tightness, but where the bolts are loose and their joints feel flung everywhere. Given the space of five minutes or 20, they fill up the moments with large and small matter, for the listener to apply their own context and analysis as the band grinds, heavy-lidded, through the noise-making they love.

For an instrumental group whose lineup is not complete without a film projectionist, they leave their story-telling generously open to interpretation. The new mystery machine begins with an urgent sound sample, of a man’s voice describing a someone “with his arms outstretched,” over and over again as the emergency gets clouded by guitars. First, it sounds of gulls, then washes of bleating, repeating scales, quarter tone gray matter, and then parting of the clouds into a drum march straight from the Occupy movement (car horns and all). And that’s just the first song.
And to looking too deeply for ultimate political or timely thesis is almost contrary to the clamor. The group’s drones of “Their Helicopters Sing” sounds like a Celtic orchestra warming up, the entropy of molecules seeking order, bellowing voices made mechanical, or simply a resting heart-rate exercise to get the to their next 20-minute workout. There isn’t the benefit (or distraction of lyrics), but the element of storytelling is still there in the dozens of electric instruments and their operating conductors. Why would they keep a glockenspiel in the studio anyway, if not to tell the whole story? Or the literal breath exhaling at end of exhaustively titled “Strung Like Lights At Thee Printemps Erable?” The Recording Gods even bless the room noise blaring toward the end of 20-minute highlight “We Drift Like Worried Fire,” perhaps only for the reason that it just sounds good there, allelujah.
It’s good to know there’s intentionality underneath all of that abstraction and chaos. That way, the infinite becomes immediate, even if you don’t know what the hell it all means.
Listen to the whole album below.


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<p>Bon Iver's Justin Vernon</p>

Bon Iver's Justin Vernon

Credit: D.L. Anderson

Watch: Bon Iver's 'Beth/Rest' video, directed and written by Justin Vernon

Heaven is a treehouse

Bon Iver's "Beth/Rest" from last year's self-titled album was songwriter Justin Vernon at his Steve Winwood-iest. The project mastermind has embraced that inner-bygone-era and wrote a treatment that looks just how the song sounds.

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<p>Red Hot Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis at ACL</p>

Red Hot Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis at ACL

Credit: Katie Hasty

What you missed at the 2012 Austin City Limits

Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Black Keys, Jack White and... Ryan Gosling?

Hey, it's OK that you didn't go to the 2012 Austin City Limits music festival. There were only, like, 70,000 people per day anyway, and a third of the artists were webcast through the official YouTube stream. And it's OK if you didn't see those either.

Here is some of what you missed:

+ ACL photos from Friday, of the Black Keys, M83, Florence + the Machine, Esperanza Spalding, Alabama Shakes and AVICII.

+ ACL photos from Saturday, of Jack White, Gotye, The Roots, Big K.R.I.T., Metric, Punch Brothers, Big Gigantic and Lee Fields and the Expressions.

+ ACL photos from Sunday, of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover), the Civil Wars, Die Antwoord, the Avett Brothers, Tennis, Iggy & the Stooges, Willis Earl Beal,

Here are some thoughts I had about Jack White and his schedule opposite of Neil Young, plus his all-female band. In short: sharp show, lashing the backlash, and at least we're getting a band of women in a headliner spot.

Not sure what the festival was all about? Check out the cheat sheet here.

The Black Keys stuck largely to the four-piece blues rock formula that have taken them throughout the summer festival circuit this year. They've started integrating in the jam "She's Long Gone," from "Brothers," in lieu of "I'll Be Your Man," but it's a fluid set no matter how it's cut. The oversized work lamps keep the stage show simple and with the appearance of raw power -- but the REAL "raw power" came during Iggy & the Stooges' set, as per usual.

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<p>Jack White and Ruby Amanfu at ACL&nbsp;on Saturday</p>

Jack White and Ruby Amanfu at ACL on Saturday

Credit: Katie Hasty

Review: Jack White at Austin City Limits, and the lady limit

Watch: ACL's Red, White and Black brothers have a counterweight

"God Bless Neil Young."

Jack White didn't say much during his hour-and-a-half headlining set on Saturday night, but those were his last ones before departing, to probably hop on a golf cart and go watch the rest of Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

White and Young played at opposite ends of Zilker Park during the 2012 Austin City Limits music festival on Saturday night, a truly difficult scheduling quandary during this rock-centered fest. Whereas other major festivals will set up hip-hop versus album rock, or dance stage versus popular reunion, Saturday put rock legend versus growing rock legend up against one another, both starting at the same time, though Crazy Horse played 'til the bitter, bitter (10 p.m.) end of the night.

The Third Man Records man tore through most of his album "Blunderbuss" and cranked out the Raconteurs hit "Steady As She Goes," plus cuts from multiple eras of the White Stripes catalog including "Slowly Turning Into You," "Hotel Yorba," "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" and "We're Going to Be Friends."

It's on the latter two that White's genesis from slapdash guitar genius to nimble Everything, Every Time, Man is apparent, as he switched between electric guitar and organ sometimes in the same phrase, and transformed a simple childlike melody into a full-bodied glammy jam.

White has gotten guff before for this kind of behavior -- this Serious behavior. When White Stripes records sunk into to psych after three albums of workshopped garage echoes, when his band when from a two piece to a three or four, and now that six-piece full backing band and the crew is synchronized, styled and shined.

Furthermore: there have been complaints that the current backing band The Peacocks is all-female, after an apparent 21st-century eye-opening that novelty could infringe on Serious Art. I say it'd be a problem if White hasn't spent half his career championing, embracing and nurturing female artists, combining with them or collaborating so that they could stand alone: Loretta Lynn, the Black Belles, Wanda Jackson, Ruby Amanfu, Alicia Keys, Karen Elson, Norah Jones, The White Stripes...

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<p>Anna Kendrick in &quot;Pitch Perfect&quot;: Wait, how many label executives are women, anyway?</p>

Anna Kendrick in "Pitch Perfect": Wait, how many label executives are women, anyway?

Anna Kendrick's character from 'Pitch Perfect': Where in music should she work?

Breaking down which music industry mainstays benefitted most from the a cappella comedy

In "Pitch Perfect," Anna Kendrick plays Beca, a musically inclined loner who is loath to enter into college per her dad's request, because she would much rather move to L.A. on her own and start working at a major record label.

It should be noted that "Pitch Perfect" is an exaggeration, a fiction in which the world of college a capella is about a dozen times more exciting, day-to-day, than it actually is, one in which adapting, licensing and performing hit songs is not a logistical nightmare but a dream. Furthermore, the stars in Beca's eyes broadly shine on an industry notoriously struggling with making money, turning to synch-licenses like those in "Pitch Perfect" and to product placement and commercial sponsorship after album sales have greatly decreased and digital single sales can only make up one piece of the lost pie.

Thus, Beca's desire is somewhat self-reflexive, if not dangerously outmoded, but I'll play this little game because "Pitch Perfect" is actually kind of funny and otherwise harmlessly entertaining.

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<p>Jack White at Lollapalooza</p>

Jack White at Lollapalooza

Credit: AP Photo

2012 Austin City Limits Cheat Sheet

Who's headlining, what's it about and how does it look?

Welcome to the weekend, those en route to Austin. Or wish they were in Austin. This weekend marks the 11th Austin City Limits music festival, in Zilker Park in the Texas capitol.

Below, I outline ACL, for those on their way and those who missed out.

When does it run?

Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12-14.

Is it sold out?

Big time. All regular weekend and one-day passes are sold out, and have been since May 22. But you can get schmancy VIP passes at $1,050 each and Platinum Passes at $3,600. About 50,000 people go.

What time does it start every day? Is it worth going early?

Around 11:15 a.m. And yes, there's some great acts like Caveman, Asleep at the Wheel, the Deep Dark Woods, Alt-J and the Kopecky Family Band that play super-early in the day?

Wait, the who, who and who? Just tell me who the big acts are.

The headliners are the Black Keys (8:15 on Friday), AVICII (8:15 on Friday), Jack White (8 on Saturday), Neil Young and Crazy Horse (also 8 on Saturday) and Red Hot Chili Peppers (8:15 on Sunday).


What makes ACL different from the other music festivals?

ACL is basically in downtown Austin, a notoriously awesome party town. It is not in the middle of a desert or field somewhere, like Coachella and Bonnaroo are. It's on par with Lollapalooza, the Chicago-based fest that is also run by C3, the fest producers who are actually based here. So, in a way, this is their home territory, which shows in the familiarity with the vendors and the lay of the land.

ACL is also heavily rock-based, as is reflected in its headliners. It skews a little older in its programming, a little safer, but the upshot is early end-times, so that you're not wasted at tired at 1 a.m.. Instead, you're wasted and tired at 10 p.m. They have night programming at local clubs with some of the same bands that you missed during the day so that you, too, can get a lay of the land.

How about the park itself, how's the weather? Texas is hot, I hear.

Yeah, it is hot. It's also gonna rain a little bit this weekend.


It's rained the last couple of years, too. Just be glad, it keeps the temperature down.

What else are the perks?

Man, get this: NO SMOKING. Now, I know you're trying to quit...

It's hard man.

I know buddy. But there's no smoking, so all patrons including kids can breathe your BO safely. It's one of the biggest no-smoking fests in the country.

What about parking?

There's no parking at the fest. Bike, walk or take a shuttle there.


Again, It's really close to downtown. Not gonna say this makes things simpler, but organizers are centered around sustainability, "green" festival-going and recycling and hug the earth stuff.

What are you doing there all weekend?

I'll be taking photos, interviewing artists, reviewing the big shows and pulling out artists-to-watch. Stay tuned.

I can't go. Is there some way I can watch stuff?

About a third of the bands will be webcast through the ACL YouTube live-stream, including the headliners. Read more about that here.

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Watch: CeeLo's 'Run Rudolph Run' video is as classy as you'd think it'd be

Santa's li'l helpers are back

The music video for CeeLo Green's "Run Run Rudolph" features footage likely taken from the same shoot as the video for his "Silent Night." That is, sexy Santa's li'l helpers in their underwear, doing cute things in the street as models are want to do.

This one features a convertible (heaven-bound!) a taco truck (nurturing!) and confetti (starlight!). Santa, in the front seat of his sleigh, needs to deliver his toys (hint: they're in the back seat) to good little boys and presumably girls. All that's left on your Christmas list is a healthy body normative.

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<p>Kanye West</p>

Kanye West

Listen: New Kanye West and Black Keys songs for 'Man with the Iron Fists'

Rapper's new track has the man seeing white

Put your swagger face on: Two new tracks from the soundtrack to RZA's "The Man with the Iron Fists" have a lot of funk and blues sensibility. The Black Keys have unleashed their gnarly movie theme "The Baddest Man Alive" featuring the Wu-Tang mang and Kanye West released his contribution "White Dress."

The former has all the low end expected from the rock band, but has a break beat fit for RZA's hypnotic rhymes, flashing behind a veil of distortion. "I'll snatch food from the mouth of a tiger / Take a gasoline bath then I walk through fire," RZA raps. Killer.

Black Keys and RZA previously combined on a couple of tracks for the former's "Blakroc" album from 2009.

West's "White Dress" has people hearing wedding bells, as Ye odes to his lady love ahead of the presumed dressy refrain. No word when he actually composed his tune, but signs point at current flame Kim Kardashian, his "perfect b*tch," to whom he's directed his nuptial intentions in song before.

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<p>Jack White's &quot;I'm Shakin'&quot; poster</p>

Jack White's "I'm Shakin'" poster

Watch: 'I'm Shakin'' is a Jack White vs. Jack White battle of the bands

You got him noivus

Jack White found a break dancer laying around somewhere and hoisted him into his music video for "I'm Shakin'," the cover clip also featuring White performing in a battle against himself.

This complicated matter ends at that. It features all his new, favorite adoptive colors -- black and blue instead of his previously heralded red and white -- and styled his gifted backing band so that they're ready for a Quentin Tarantino fight scene. The Buzzards vs. the Peacocks, to be precise.

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<p>Pink in &quot;Try&quot;</p>

Pink in "Try"

Watch: Pink and her dance partner toil through complicated 'Try'

Amazing physical performance

Let it be said that "Try" should have been Pink's first single from "The Truth About Love," in lieu of "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)." The latter title has all the bratty, attitudinal connote to be expected from the pop star, but it's "Try" that has heart.

And "Try" got the better video. Pink shows off her showmanship and physical abilities with a partner in this emotional dance piece, set in the desert (oh, goodie, a desert!) and an empty house. They depict the toil a warring couple goes through to get to stasis -- or before they collapse into each other's arms. It seems less to insinuate actual abuse, but the emotional peaks and valleys between lovers. It's very powerful, particularly since both performers hold their own in the give-and-take of command.

Plus the styling is rad and I kinda want to live in a cloud of neon pink. But A- because of flying chairs. What the hell.

It's a challenging, sexually charged and not-always-pleasant piece for Pink.  The singer -- whose pride has been on her rebel-girl, outsider's prom queen moxy -- has me thinking about the year 2000. That is, that same year, she had her first two top 10 hits, sharing the charts with other solo female pop stars Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears ("Oops!... I Did It Again," my gosh), Jennifer Lopez, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Aaliyah and Madonna. (I'll even through Destiny's Child in there, but that's about the time it was Beyonce's show anyway.)

Talent show judge, talent show judge, recovering talent show judge, deceased, talent show judge, semi-retired from music, deceased...

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