<p>Sara Watkins</p>

Sara Watkins

Interview: Sara Watkins talks 2nd solo album, Fiona Apple, Nickel Creek

Listen to 'Sun Midnight Sun' -- including her duet with Apple -- in its entirety

You can’t talk about Sara Watkins without dropping some big names. The former Nickel Creek member produced her first, self-titled 2009 album with Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones. She’s spent the years between now and then as a touring fiddler and backing singer for the Decemberists, as performer and occasional guest host for “Prairie Home Companion” and continuing the foundations of the Watkins Family Hour at L.A. mainstay Largo with her brother and Nickel Creek cohort Sean.

“I’ve gotten some nice invitations, and I said yes to them,” Watkins said in our recent interview. This time, for her new solo album “Sun Midnight Sun,”she said yes to collaborations with artists like Fiona Apple and Jackson Browne, with Dawes’ Blake Mills at the helm.
 
Each experience in the past few years has helped to inform Watkins, Solo Artist. “Prairie Home” was the opportunity to “pretend I was Dolly Parton… I’d do my thing, then sit on my bench and watch and enjoy.” Decemberists was what it was “to work and be in someone else’s band – I’d ride on the bus, no accounting, no driving. I’d use my energy to rest up and play for an intense couple of years. I learned to be relaxed and I got refreshed… It’s really fun to see how other people put on a show.”
 
Watkins paired up with Apple on cover “You’re the One I Love” for “Sun Midnight Sun,” and she said it was a thrill to put two very different female voices on an Everly Brothers tune. “I love Fiona. She’s a sweet person, lovely to be around and exciting to sing with and work with,” Watkins said. “There’s a particular girl-backed intensity. When we sang it together it was the absolute highlight of my career.”
 
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<p>Animal Collective</p>

Animal Collective

Listen to two new Animal Collective songs

On the heels of Record Store Day 'Gyrus' release

Little by little, Animal Collective is making new noise.

The experimental electronica crew dropped two new tracks today, available for immediate purchase digitally and due on 7” vinyl on June 26. Side 1 is “Honeycomb,” which is the aural equivalent of different-sized bouncy balls going down a flight of stairs. They seem to have reserved all their nuance for side 2, “Gotham." Both would sound great on a nice, warm vinyl slab.
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<p>Passion Pit</p>

Passion Pit

Credit: Columbia

Listen: Passion Pit 'Walk' with first single from new album 'Gossamer'

HitFix
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Readers
A+
An immigrant song?

Passion Pit's return is marked with their own "immigrant song."

The energetic first single "Take a Walk" from new album "Gossamer" is memorable in its jangly, repetitive chorus, but it's more marked after repeat listens for its lyrics. Michael Angelakos reports in on the recession in America, singing from the perspective of a foreigner who has moved to the U.S., tried to make a living for himself, and then a wife, and then a whole family. It addresses what happens when bad investments tank his pensions. It's actually pretty sad.

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<p>From &quot;Lost in the World&quot;</p>

From "Lost in the World"

Watch: Kanye West's Bon Iver collab 'Lost in the World' video finally drops

HitFix
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Readers
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Tortured, fashionable and slick, just like 'Ye himself

Gone are the ballerinas of "Runaway." Kanye West has recruited a different dancer crew for "Lost in the World."

After 18 months on the market, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" has finally yielded another music video. "Lost" -- which features vocals from Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and a sample from the late, great Gil Scott-Heron -- is shot in all black and white, with nary a shot of Ye's full face. We do get an eyeful, however, of tortured and slick mirrors and skylines, with a well-placed dancer depicting the heaven and hell in which the rapper wallows.

This Ruth Hogben-directed clip plays out more like a fashion video, though the only style for the ladies here is an XL beefy tee. That makes sense, though. It's a gorgeous way to sell the song.

West has been in headlines lately for the relaunch of his G.O.O.D. music initiatives, including a new song "Mercy" with his cohorts and a controversial remix of Chief Keef's "I Don't Like."

<p>Adam &quot;MCA&quot; Yauch</p>

Adam "MCA" Yauch

Passing of a Beastie Boy: Remembering Adam 'MCA' Yauch beyond the five boroughs

Five music and video moments I love best

Growing up in suburban Kansas, I didn't know anybody who didn't own a Beastie Boys album.

Today, in consideration of the passing of Adam "MCA" Yauch, a lot of fans are saying the same things, with the same opening statement: "Growing up in..." "Living in..." "Moving to..."

It didn't matter where you lived. The Beastie Boys trailblazed everywhere. They made hip-hop safe for listeners from all walks, and it wasn't just because they were white, or that "Brass Monkey" was mercilessly catchy. They blended punk and hard rock in hip-hop early times, with a name sounded like a joke (and it was a joke). They were funny as hell.

It was unsafe too.

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<p>Tenacious D</p>

Tenacious D

Watch: Tenacious D's low-brow high-budget music video for 'Rize'

So that's what music critics look like...

Tenacious D have unleashed the dragons in their music video for "Rize of the Fenix," and they don't care if you can see their green screens.

The single is from the album of the same name, due May 15.

While their first video in promoting "Fenix" featured a huge crop of A-list celebrities, this one prominently highlights a guitar you wouldn't be able to take through airline security. It also brings to mind: have you ever seen Jack White, Kyle Gass and Tim & Eric in the same room at the same time?

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<p>Tegan and Sara</p>

Tegan and Sara

Credit: Lindsey Byrnes

Interview: New Tegan and Sara album to be ‘more radio-friendly'

Duo works with three different pop producers for new set, tentatively due this fall

Tegan Quin’s mind is on Bruce Springsteen and Katy Perry. 

“We want to reach as many people as possible. We’re always balancing how to take what we do on our own at home and put it out around the world and make it reach people,” said Quin of her duo with her twin sister Sara. “What about Bruce Springsteen, or Arcade Fire? They reach so many people. I spent the whole last year exploring a lot of popular music, and – you know – so many people listen to Katy Perry. There must be something that goes into reaching 20 million people.”
 
Maybe they’re not up to 20 million worldwide concert attendees or album sales, but Tegan and Sara have done pretty good on their own, even without records featuring Snoop Dogg or 40 years of history under their belts. Their 2009 album “Sainthood” made it to No. 21 on The Billboard 200, their best sales and charting period yet. Their strength is, in part, their fiercely loyal fan-base and the reliable nature of word-of-mouth. The other part is their recognizable voices, and their like-minded take on pop music, love songs, breakup anthems and good old-fashioned stage banter.
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<p>Santigold's &quot;Master of My Make-Believe&quot;</p>
<br />

Santigold's "Master of My Make-Believe"


Credit: Atlantic/Downtown

Album review: Santigold 'Master of My Make-Believe'

HitFix
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Readers
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Sophomore set from singer benefits from a variety of producers and masks

Santigold’s second set “Master of My Make-Believe” is varied, entertaining, produced well and feels firm, very final. The artist herself is unfortunately still lumped into this gob of musicians that began making their mark about six years ago, known for their vaguely or overtly “ethnic sounds,” from M.I.A. and her frequent collaborator Diplo, to the African beats of Yeasayer to dub- and Middle Eastern-borrowing Gwen Stefani. 

It’s more than half a decade on, and Santi White has still thwarted any traditional classification. “Make-Believe” moves easily between pop and dance to hip-hop and experimental rock. You can thank her collection of producers like Q-Tip, Diplo or Dave Sitek for the variety, but still the segues between songs indicate very much that its track order and choice deck-helmers were in the plan all along.
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<p>From &quot;The Avengers&quot;</p>

From "The Avengers"

Credit: Marvel/Paramount

Watch: Soundgarden's music video for 'The Avengers' song 'Live to Rise'

Could the track earn the band an Academy Award nomination?

"Academy Award nominated rock group Soundgarden." Is it possible?

The resurrected rock troupe has released the music video for "Live to Rise," their somewhat boring contribution to "The Avengers" soundtrack. The clip features the usual bevy of scenes from the film and Chris Cornell's nice, clean curly locks.

I was able to check out the blockbuster film earlier this week, and the song is the first to play over the end credits, a position that can qualify the band for an Oscar for best original song -- so long as the track is  "original and specifically written for a motion picture. There must be a clearly audible, intelligible, substantive rendition (not necessarily visually presented) of both lyrics and melody."

In an interview with the L.A. Times, frontman Cornell made it clear that this collaboration with the filmmakers was a specific "tie-in," and that it should be regarded as a thing very separate from what a Soundgarden album will sound like.

So maybe the band is already planning their Oscars ceremony "look." I suggest black, or a leather red-white-and-blue superhero suit.

<p>Kanye West</p>

Kanye West

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music remixes Chief Keef's 'I Don't Like'

Original song's producer don't like it

Kanye West, Pusha T, Big Sean and Jadakiss all showed up for a G.O.O.D. Music's remix of Chicago rapper Chief Keef's "I Don't Like," but not everybody likes it.

The 16-year-old's track has additional verses and a new melody line over the beat, which the song's original producer Young Chop takes issue with.

"I’m mad as f*ck, for the simple fact that they did not ask me to change up sh*t in my beat. How the f*ck did they add another melody over the instrumental?" he told radio host DJ Moon Dog this week. "These motherf*ckers is playing me and I don’t give two f*cks, I will sue the shit out of Kanye West… I made a f*cking sound, so you supposed to stay with my f*cking sound. The beat is fucking hard by itself. That shit don’t sound the same, it don’t got the same feel."

So he'd agree with Yeezy's line, ""They steal your whole sound, that's a soundbite"?

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