<p>&quot;Snow White and the Huntsman&quot; soundtrack</p>

"Snow White and the Huntsman" soundtrack

Credit: Universal

Watch: Florence + The Machine's 'Snow White and the Huntsman' drama

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Is Flo the fairest one of all?

Want to see more clips of Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron-starring "Snow White and the Huntsman?" Florence + the Machine lift the curtain on these with their very melodramatic song "Breath of Life."

Bloody tears in slo-mo, Chris Hemsworth in slo-mo and Theron's transmogrifier in action are all featured in this primal tune, as Florence Welch is shot in black-and-white leading James Newton Howard's million-piece scoring orchestra and a choir in a fish tank vocal booth. The thing feels like it goes on forever due to all the blistering, rotting, flaming flames action, but it's really only three minutes long.

Because the VEVO folks are geniuses, a trailer for the film rolls before.

Universal Pictures will do their damndest to make Stewart look fairer than Theron throughout the flick, but in this instance -- with a powerful voice like her -- I deem Welch the fairest of them all.

The sountrack to "Snow White" will be out May 29, while the film is due in theaters on June 1.

<p>Giant Giant Sand</p>

Giant Giant Sand

Interview: Howe Gelb's Giant Giant Sand country rock opera mistake

Check out the EXCLUSIVE first-look at the album and storyboard artwork

A friend suggested I wait to publish anything on Howe Gelb’s latest project until I saw the guy play piano. Last night, the Giant Sand (now Giant Giant Sand) mastermind performed solo at Joe’s Pub in New York. I’d seen Gelb play a handful of other times – mostly when he’s on guitar, mostly with other people.

My friend was right, though. Gelb is a divine piano player, it brought in a new dimension. He has an ease around the keyboard. He likes to lay an object on some of the strings so there’s vibration and a ping when the hammer hits.
 
What I like about his playing – and his singing, and his songs – is that it’s unpretentious with a dash of tension. Gelb has made a lot of records over the last three decades, and now he’s prepared his first “country rock opera,” “Tucson.” It, too, is unpretentious; in spite of the daunting narrative structure that the term “opera” can bring to a traditional singer-songwriter, Gelb thrives in those kinds of constraints.
 
Giant Sand records have been written on the spot, in the studio or on the drive on the way to the studio. He’s played consistently with Denmark musicians Thøger T. Lund, Peter Dombernowski, Anders Pederesen and Nikolaj Heyman over the last ten years, but he’s also mixed in elements like a gospel choir or a horns sections from album to album. Or, y’know, made some sessions into an opera.
 
“Music has always been about handing it over -- music as evolution, it has to keep changing,” he said in our recent interview. He spoke from his longtime home of Tucson, the album’s namesake. “I dared myself to plan a concept, and to strip away the stuff that isn’t ‘it’ or meant for ‘it.’ I took a pretty good gamble that the songs we were gonna write are already inside of us.”
 
Gelb first had the “nagging notion” of making an opera around 1978, but like so many of his projects, he didn’t want to force it. Last year, he played music festival in Berlin, with “this big band which manifested itself by accident or by fate. None of us had gotten together until the moment we were on stage.” The event commissioned artists that represented deserts from around the world, a construct for which Gelb is well-suited. The group – who barely knew each other but tangentially all had connections to Denmark and Tuscon – began jamming on a cumbia, a seed planted that would later become “Caranito” on “Tucson.”
 
“If you’re hittin’ it, it’s gonna have a zing that you can never plan for. It got higher and higher in our set. It was wonderful night, and it was evident that something was in play.”
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<p>A friend sits with R. Kelly in &quot;It's On&quot;</p>
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A friend sits with R. Kelly in "It's On"


Here's another R. Kelly video, for 'It's On'

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Spoiler: it's there's strippers

The premise for R. Kelly's last music video "Share My Love" is essentially: Kels is surrounded by girls with big boobs and small waists in evening dresses and everybody's super impressed. This time, for "It's On" featuring DJ Khaled and Ace Hood, it's about the same, only the girls are strippers.

I know this is challenging stuff. I hope your shoes are tied.

In one of the most boring refrains ever uttered by the otherworldly Kelly, the R&B singer tells us it's "on on on on on on on on on." He then bottles that boredom, and saves it for when a particularly lovely lady's ass is hanging all over his face and he kinda spaces out like, "Oh, her?, it's like whatever." Alcohol music is right.

The best part is when Khaled reminds the listener at the very end that he cooked this beat by poking his silly face into the frame for about 10 milliseconds.

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<p>Kylie Minogue in England last month</p>

Kylie Minogue in England last month

Credit: AP Photo

Kylie Minogue 'Best Of' heading Stateside, Black Sabbath plots another

What's the word on Sabbath's disintegrating reunion?

There's seemingly never a good or bad time to release a "Best Of" compilation -- whether you're mid-career, at the end or done with it -- so here's some news on hits collections from Kylie Minogue and Black Sabbath.

The Australian pop singer is releasing "The Best of Kylie Minogue," a 21-song comp, on June 19 in the U.S. It contains predictable hits and songs from throughout her dozen-album career. Tracklist below.

Minogue celebrated her 25th annivesary in the biz last year by touring, releasing a CD/DVD from that tour and performing off her rarities in Oz.

As for Sabbath, the band may not be in the greatest shape for their reunion gigs in England over these next few weeks, but they aren't letting the opportunity to re-hock their wares get away from them. Their umpteenth greatest hits collection "Iron Man: The Best of Black Sabbath" will be out on June 4 in the U.K., according to NME, though no word yet when and if it will arrive Stateside. Tracklist below.

So what's the deal with that whole "original lineup" thing? Sabbath are scheduled to play the O2 Academy in Birmingham, England on May 19 and at the Download Festival in Donington Park, England over the weekend of June 8-10. Tony Iommi, who is suffering lymphoma, will play those. But he will not be performing the other tour dates over the summer, and those are now dubbed Ozzy & Friends, featuring Geezer Butler, Zakk Wylde and Slash. The only Sabbath show in American skedded is at Lollapalooza, and there's no official statement as to whether or not Iommi will perform there.

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<p>Tom Gabel</p>

Tom Gabel

Against Me! singer is transgender: Five questions I have

Gay marriage, the gender scale and rock 'n' roll

The news that Against Me! lead singer Laura Jane Grace is making the medical transition from being a man to becoming a woman coincidentally coincides with week chock-filled with news on gay marriage.

Formerly known as Tom Gabel, Laura Jane Grace let the public know of her new chose name this week. She is not attracted to men, and will remain married to her wife, with whom she's had a daughter. She's made seven albums with Against Me!, and the public assumed she'd made them as a man.

I bring up gay marriage to highlight a cultural touchstone, that our country still strongly delineates the rights of people with differing sexual orientation. There are a minority of people who believe that people aren't "born" gay, and there certainly are opponents to the idea that gender dysphoria even exists.

Today, I thought about what this means for music. As many have rightfully pointed out, this is not the first transgender musician on the planet. Electronic Walter Carlos became Wendy Carlos in the '70s. Throbbing Gristle fronter and performance artist Genesis P-Orridge became "pandrogynous" with his former wife, his other half and artistic partner Lady Jaye, an opera of a life captured in 2011 documentary in "The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye." Life of Agony singer Keith Caputo became Mina Caputo last year.

Of any, though, Grace's band is easily the most recognized groups of those who are known to yield a transgendered frontman/frontwoman. Against Me! has put a record in the top 50, and a song on the radio -- notably "I Was a Teenage Anarchist," a tune that nods at the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the U.K." title and perhaps some of its spirit. The helped helm Warped Tour in years past.

In movies, actors generally act out a role, and then they finish it and become "who they are" again. In music, fans' expectations are that artists are who they say they are, that their songs and art reflect in some way a life depiction more accurate than mere liner notes. That's why the argument for "authenticity" is still intact, no matter how exaggerated the personality.

Those who were fans or secular listeners of Against Me! were in shock today at the announcement, as evidenced by Twitter, message boards and other media. But none can argue Grace's authenticity, the truth of oneself.

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<p>Keane</p>

Keane

Interview: Keane is 'lucky' in a 'Strangeland'

Watch: Horror-themed 'Disconnected' and single 'Silenced by the Night'

Keane’s recent music video for new track “Disconnected” is a love-letter to horror films, a quick-and-dirty narrative that may compel the viewer to turn all the lights on.

The track itself? Nice and lovely.
 
“Well, the song is a bit about being disconnected from somebody,” said Keane drummer and co-founder Richard Hughes with a laugh. “We’re not feeling all that bad.”
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Listen: O.A.R. and B.o.B collaborative Olympics theme 'Champions'

Listen: O.A.R. and B.o.B collaborative Olympics theme 'Champions'

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A match made in a laboratory

I know what you're thinking. B.o.B. O.A.R. Together at last. And for an Olympic theme song, to boot.

The corporate sponsored-song "Champions" has an accompanying video interspersing sports clips with the two artists in the studio and their entourage nodding in the control room.

O.A.R. is already known for their songs-with-a-message. It's just that so few of those end with a saxophone line, a la Clarence Clemons. Otherwise, this song seems to have been crafted in a lab, so be inspired at least by the science of entertainment. My favorite part is where Bobby Ray puts his fists up in the air like a boxer and ad-libs "yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah."

We've already won.

 

 

<p>From the Magnetic Fields' &quot;Quick!&quot;</p>

From the Magnetic Fields' "Quick!"

Credit: Merge

Watch: The Magnetic Fields' darling 'Quick!' music video

What do trash can people eat?

The Magnetic Fields is a great band for the painfully shy. For all you trash can people out there: "Quick!" is for you.

Check out the music video for the new single from the band's latest "Love at the Bottom of the Sea," out earlier this year.

Does the clip make you wide-eyed?

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<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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