<p>Afghan Whigs</p>

Afghan Whigs

Afghan Whigs debut first new song in five years, 'See and Don't See'

Download the track for free: worth waiting for a cover?

"The only way I can get through the day..." is to check out this new song from the reunited Afghan Whigs.

"See and Don't See" is a damned bummer of a cover, but great news for fans of the band -- which hasn't performed together live in 13 years. This track is their first new one in five, after in 2007 they dropped "Unbreakable: A Retrospective 1990-2006" which contained two new tracks recorded when the Greg Dulli-led band reunited temporarily to record "I'm a Soldier" and "Magazine."

The band officially split in 2001 and last released their album "1965" in 1998. Next week, though, they'll take the stage once again on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" on May 22 and will play New York's Bowery Ballroom on May 23. They have 28 dates on slate; stops include Lollapalooza, plus at All Tomorrow's Parties' New Jersey edition, which Dulli is curating for a night.

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<p>Reggie Watts</p>

Reggie Watts

Interview: Reggie Watts talks 'Central Park,' Adele, Jon Hamm and Radiohead

'Comedy Bang! Bang!', touring and... Steel Dan is an ugly band

Reggie Watts kicked off a headlining tour this week, but it wouldn’t be fair to say that the stint is in support of one single thing.

The musician/comedian/musical comedian dropped “Reggie Watts: A Live In Central Park” on CD/DVD on Tuesday, with airings having ramped up the week before on Comedy Central. He’ll be featured in each episode of new IFC show “Comedy Bang! Bang,” which debuts on June 8 (you can get a taste of him collaborating with Jon Hamm on the theme of “Taxi” here). He’s warming up for festival season with stop-offs like Bonnaroo and Electric Forest this summer, and he’s dropped off everywhere from SF Sketchfest to Sasquatch! to Fun Fun Fun. He continues to work with Louis C.K. on his show “Louie,” writing incidental music, and made his own score to Ridley Scott's "Legend."

The Williamsburg, Brooklyn resident opened for Conan O’Brien on his “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour” last year and gained rep online through the word-of-mouth success of “Why Sh*t So Crazy?” from 2010 (featuring “F*ck Sh*t Stack”) and his CollegeHumor “Blowjobs” bit. He also held down a high-profile gig singing with LCD Soundsystem at their last show at Madison Square Garden in 2011, a performance captured in “Shut Up and Play the Hits.”

Watts is mesmerizing to watch, as he blends pre-planned comedy bits and banter with himself in with improvised music composition, beat boxing, experimental motifs and rapping. He looks like a crazy person. He can make himself sound like Chaka Khan and Fred Rogers in the same breath.  

Below, we talk about “Central Park,” Jack White, lazy pop production, All Tomorrow’s Parties and just how ugly Steely Dan are.

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<p>The xx</p>

The xx

Listen: The xx perform new songs live in London

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Mercury Prize winners prepping new effort with first fresh shows

The xx just kicked off a tour in time for festival season, and are bringing new songs with them.

Below, in a surprisingly well-recorded video at Chats Palace in London, a show-goer captured the Mercury Prize-winning band perform a fresh track, title still unknown, earlier this week. The thing only goes for about 2:15, but it's got that chilly guitar riff and big bass thuds that make the kids crazy.

The setlist from their Electrowerkz gig this week indicates that half of the songs played at the gig were actually new.

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<p>Bobby Brown performs with New Edition days after Whitney Houston's death in February</p>

Bobby Brown performs with New Edition days after Whitney Houston's death in February

Credit: AP Photo

Watch: Bobby Brown debuts farewell song to Whitney Houston, 'Don't Let Me Die'

UPDATE: Rep denies song is about Whitney... but still, the timing?

When Whitney Houston died in February, Sony "accidentally" spiked the price of the singer's albums. Celebrities seemingly re-engaged with the media just to be part of the dialogue on her death, to their own benefit. I've seen press releases for tribute groups who are "touring" in order to "celebrate" her legacy, a predictably profitable time in their careers. Cover songs were made in tribute and sold on iTunes.

Whitney's mom Cissy is putting out her first album of gospel songs in a decade and Lifetime is cobbling together a reality series based on the Houston family, which include the participation of Whitney's teenaged daughter Bobbi Kristina. And Houston's ex-husband Bobby Brown is putting out a new set, "Being Bobby Brown," on June 5. It's his first studio full-length since 1997.

Not every artistic expression made in the name of dead entertainers is made in the name of profit. It just comes off as very complicated, especially in the passing's immediate wake.

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<p>Sparta</p>

Sparta

Song Of The Day: Sparta's 'Chemical Feel,' first new music in six years

At the Drive-In keeping half the band busy, but not that busy

Sparta are working on a follow-up to 2006's "Threes," and new track "Chemical Feel" is the first evidence of production.

The sonic space-bound track is tough, and impeccably recorded, with crisp guitar lines funneled through pirstine pedals. Jim Ward sounds uuungggh, in the good way.

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<p>Nicki Minaj in &quot;Right By Your Side&quot;</p>

Nicki Minaj in "Right By Your Side"

Credit: VEVO

Watch: Nicki Minaj, Nas and Chris Brown combine for 'Right By My Side'

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Oh, hello Nas

"Let me see your phone..." Gotta love Nicki Minaj's gall to have a verse about checking her boyfriend's cell phone in a song that features Chris Brown.

The Young Money would-be pop-star and rapper combined with Brown for "Right By My Side," another cut from "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded." In addition to the socially repugnant pop star, Minaj also tapped another super-talent for the track, or at least the video: Nas.

The music video seemingly set up shop in the 1990s era of R&B, with Minaj's slo-mo'ed long blonde locks and wack lounge wear, and the ever-lovely Nas sporting eyeglasses like he's Nate from Boyz II Men (of course he was the cute one). Oh, a new car! Oh, a make-out session on a park bench! Kelis is somewhere, weeping and sharpening a blade.

This clip is thankfully much more cohesive than Nicki's last, neon eyesore "Starships." Where I take issue here, though, is that she spends about 75% of the time doing capital-S Serious acting for the VH1 crowd, and the rest of it goofing off. It's one kind of comedy to watch Brown try to lip-sync to his auto-tuned solo, it's another to perpetually act like its the end of a long day. The tail-end of the vid hints at a "Thriller"-like sequel, but I don't feel like dancing.

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<p>Tom Cruise and friends on the cover of June's W Magazine</p>

Tom Cruise and friends on the cover of June's W Magazine

Credit: Mario Sorrenti/W Magazine

Time's come for 'Rock of Ages': Pour some sugar on Tom Cruise

Listen to the 'Mission Impossible' star pull out some Def Leppard

Nine months ago I was standing on the Sunset Strip. It was in Florida.

That is, the set for the movie make of musical "Rock of Ages" was built in Miami, Fla., note-for-note of the famed rocker row circa the mid '80s. There's choppers and crimped hair on the extras, and it's all very dirty.

So is Tom Cruise, who plays man-child music star Stacee Jaxx in the Adam Shankman-directed flick. His locks are worn long and he's positively brimming tattoos and shabby furs. He'll be centerstage of a ensemble that includes co-leads Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta, plus Paul Giamatti, Alec Baldwin, Mary J. Blige and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Shankman guided me and some other journalists through some Stacee footage last year in a trailer off the strip, of the 49-year-old actor playing an early 30s-something sex god with microphone. I am skeptical of "Rock of Ages," partly because I enjoyed the Broadway show and I'm leery of the scale of this project; I'm also weary of co-opting the music of my youth to force into caricature.

But I will say this: watching tape of Tom Cruise sing in the scene for Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me"? We were all fanning ourselves, more than a little bit.

I'll be publishing more on the visit to Los Angeles-by-way-of-Miami next week about this same time. Meanwhile, Cruise has been showing up on the pages of W and Playboy this week in promoting his image. Below check out a clip of Cruise's Stacee Jaxx sing some "Sugar":

<p>Baby Monster</p>

Baby Monster

Credit: Ashley Haber

Song Of The Day: Baby Monster's 'City of Lovers'

Fills that M83-shaped hole in your heart

I'm sleeping with the windows open. It's about time for some tunes that sound like it.

Baby Monster's dark "City of Lovers" tickles that same part in my heart that M83's "Midnight City" did. Synths, trotting pace, wistful choral lines... what is it with cities after dusk?

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<p>R. Kelly's &quot;Write Me Back&quot;</p>

R. Kelly's "Write Me Back"

Credit: RCA

Watch and listen: New R. Kelly 'Single' song and album release date

So much new R. Kelly is about to be in your face

I continue the exploration of my love and loathing of R. Kelly, that time-traveling horndog of R&B mysterium. Today his label RCA announced a June 26 drop date of his new album "Write Me Back," as well as lifted the veil on another new song from it, "Feelin' Single."

Like "Write's" first song-single "Share My Love," "Feelin' Single" borrows from the same strings-dripping '70s era of soul and disco, this time with Kels fondling playing with the space bars between lonliness and landing the skinny, big-boobed lady of his dreams. It goes up via digital retailers on May 29.

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<p>Rick Ross' &quot;Touch'N You&quot; featuring Usher</p>

Rick Ross' "Touch'N You" featuring Usher

Credit: Def Jam

Listen: Rick Ross and Usher reunite for new single 'Touch'N You'

Explicit jam officially kicks off 'God Forgives, I Don't' promo

It was only a couple weeks ago that Usher unzipped "Lemme See" featuring Rick Ross in promoting his new album "Looking for Myself"; now the pair are back together for another sexy back-and-forth for Rozay's new single "Touch'N You."

Def Jam is touting the track as the first official single from Ross' much-anticipated "God Forgive, I Don't" album, which he'll drop on July 31. A release says that this steamy, explicit, mainstream tune "sets the tone for what will be Ross’ most epic, most ambitious album to date."

If that's so, then look for a lot of steam-windowed R&B combos with Bawse's confident woof, because this mid-tempo bedroom jammer has Usher over-repeating his intentions of "f*ckin' you." Of course, there's a radio version available -- "Touch'N You" -- reminiscent of how Enrique Iglesias, tonight, is "lovin'" you.

Ross' rhymes work, though, and its another gangbusters combination from this team, who could benefit from each others' prowess as they drop their respective new albums. As repetitive as I think "f*ckin' you" gets, it on a meta-level reflects the actual nature of, well, f*ckin'. Good work, lit team, "Touch'N You" sounds like a definite hit.

“So that’s what I did with this project…it’s my best body of work yet. 'God Forgives, I Don’t' is a very dark story…it’s extremely lyrical. The music is next level. I’m expecting nothing but the biggest results. That’s what’s needed, and I’m going to deliver,” Ross says in a statement on his new effort. He announced it -- and new signings and albums from his Maybach Music label -- at a press conference in New York two weeks ago.

Since "Touch'N You" is the official single, that means cuts like "You the Boss" and "I Love My Bitches" were promotional, so await word if they make the final tracklist.

What do you think of the track?