<p>M. Ward's &quot;A Wasteland Companion&quot;</p>

M. Ward's "A Wasteland Companion"

Credit: Merge

Review: M. Ward's 'A Wasteland Companion'

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She & Him collaborator back with a packed tin of old friends

The types of songs that M. Ward performs haven’t changed much particularly over these last three solo efforts, but it’s the airs or atmospheres over each that morph. 

The title “A Wasteland Companion” conjures the images of coarse terrain in even lonelier territory, but his companions on here are abundant, bringing their gifts into his blues-structured thumpers, the AM Pop, power pop, chalky folk, Sunday afternoon ballads and spiritual odes, none of which go over the 4-minute mark. The songwriter’s frequent collaborator and Monsters of Folk cohort Mike Mogis is back, as are characters like early supporter Howe Gelb and touring staple Mike Coykendall. Zooey Deschanel – one half of the She & Him equation – provides harmonies on some of the most pop-oriented tunes (natch), her contributions obviously serving fanbases of both her band and those who have come to love Ward after their inception.
 
While those fatter, cleaner pop songs can be more whimsical, even glamorous (!!), I’m ultimately more interested in the darker environs of Ward’s murkier tunes. This could be summarized, in part, by lyrics from "There's a Key": "I'm conquering the ocean one wave at the time… taking on the deep, deep blue.”
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Watch: tUnE-yArDs raise a mighty kid army in new 'My Country' video

Watch: tUnE-yArDs raise a mighty kid army in new 'My Country' video

Merrill Garbus-led project will soon play California's Coachella Festival

Growing up can be a tough thing to do, so why do it?

tUnE-yArDs (typng that never gets old) -- the brainchild of frontwoman/multi-instrumentalist Merrill Garbus -- have released the video for "My Country," the latest single from the 2011 release "w h o k i l l " (4AD Records).

The video features a group of fierce-looking, warpaint-wearing tots who Garbus leads in a frenzied cacophony of dance, music-making and lip-synching. She's obviously having a blast re-living that seemingly carefree chapter of existence (besides her height, she fits right in to the mob). She also lends them a heart before they go off into the big, bright world. The visuals are fitting for the songs' child-like, sing-songy vocals, but there's always something sonically sinister about most tUnE-yArDs songs. Maybe it's the saxophone. 

Watch the video here:


 
tUnE-yArDs is currently on tour, and will play the upcoming Coachella Festival.


What do you think of the video?

 

<p>Q-Tip in 2011</p>

Q-Tip in 2011

Credit: AP Photo

Q-Tip signs with Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music label

A Tribe Called Quest founding member releasing new album in 2013

Right as kanye-west" class="autolink">Kanye West has signaled new music from his G.O.O.D. Music label, Q-Tip has been added to that Def Jam imprint's roster.

The hip-hop artist plans to drop his next album, tentatively titled "The Last Zulu," in 2013. A source told me that Q-Tip and Kanye West are working in New York on new music this week.

Tip has been working on wildly different projects since his last solo album, 2009's "Kamaal/The Abstract," an experience that undoubtedly left a bad taste in his mouth: his former label Arista had shelved that album until it leaked in the softest of soft releases, under his own label name with its distribution from RED.

Q-Tip obviously would want some stability out of his label home, and he may just have that with G.O.O.D., a label that's on the upswing. It also returns him into the fold of Universal Republic/Island Def Jam head Barry Weiss, who was at Jive when Q-Tip's former group A Tribe Called Quest released music there in the '90s.

"I am thrilled to be working with Q-Tip once again,” said Weiss in a statement. "He is a respected voice in the music community as shown by his acclaimed solo albums and countless contributions to the work of other artists. His creativity continues to surpass all boundaries of hip-hop, R&B, pop, and jazz."

Q-Tip's "creativity" has known few bounds in the last three years, as he's produced and written for artists like Rico Love, Marsha Ambrosius, Kendrick Lamar, Fiona Apple and Esperanza Spalding. He was also on tap for West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," a collaboration that likely helped seal the deal in bringing Tip into the company.

This way, G.O.O.D. Music may continue to grow out as a collective, instead of a label of several disparate solo acts. It seems Q-Tip will be able to work easily with other Def Jam artists in other capacities, regardless of genre.

One of those capacities that ISN'T likely is returning to work in A Tribe Called Quest. The group was highlighted in Michael Rappaport's outstanding 2011 documentary "Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest," which also happened to reiterate why the group broke up to begin with (and, frankly, should have stayed that way, without one-off reunions along the way).

Meanwhile, G.O.O.D. Music released the first single from its eponymous collaboration album: "Mercy" features Big Sean, Pusha T, 2 Chainz and West himself. No word when the next song will arrive, or when the compilation will be released. Perhaps Q-Tip will be showing up on the album?

<p>Fran Kranz as Marty in &quot;Cabin in the Woods&quot;</p>

Fran Kranz as Marty in "Cabin in the Woods"

Credit: Lionsgate

Interview: 'Cabin in the Woods' star Fran Kranz talks endless delays and 3D

'Dollhouse' actor talks reuniting with Joss Whedon: Can the film be spoiled?

PHILADELPHIA -- Like anybody involved in a horror film, “Cabin in the Woods” star Fran Kranz doesn’t want any of his movie’s secrets spoiled before it goes wide to theaters on Friday. In a way, though, it’d be impossible to fully spoil the twists and turns of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s thriller, which is as much a love letter to past cinema as it is a fulfilling way to reinvent it. 

At a HitFix-hosted early fan screening last night in Philly, Kranz was on hand to talk about his “Cabin” character Marty, the endless delays in release and how a film of such abundant in a post-internet, rumor-mongering era can still find success.
 
“I have a lot of faith that the movie can’t be completely ruined. There’s no one twist or one spoiler. Maybe it is important… to make a film like this so full and so dense. Even if I tried, it’d just end up sounding insane,” Kranz said. “We have a lot of layers of defense."
 
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<p>Feist</p>

Feist

Watch: Feist unleashes 'Bittersweet Melodies,' going back to the future

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Plus, Feistodon Record Store Day art revealed

Feist tapped into the photographic work of Argentinian artist Irina Werning for an effective music video for "Bittersweet Melodies."

Old photos of the solo subjects are placed side-by-side with new photos, with the same poses, clothes and setting. And of course there's a dog. Of course. It's entertaining, then funny, then pensive as the viewer him/herself begins to muse what their own photo would look like. Bittersweet.

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<p>Admiral Fallow</p>

Admiral Fallow

Credit: Nettwerk

EXCLUSIVE Song Of The Day Premiere: Admiral Fallow's 'The Paper Trench'

Single from Scottish band's 'Tree Bursts in Snow' will have you singing 'holy Moses'

Prepare for the revival of the phrase "holy Moses." Scottish quintet Admiral Fallow makes regular use of the exclamation in their new single "The Paper Trench," arriving ahead of their Nettwerk debut "Tree Bursts in Snow."

There's a positive charge between lead singer Louis Abbott's wordy brogue and Sarah Hayes' pure, buoyant vocals; half the song is met with a third harmony and powerful rhythmic guitars, banging in time with the fours, Abbott's narratives weaving easily like a thread meeting needle. The single is an accurate taster for "Tree Bursts," which has its darker moments too. Overall, the term "indie-folk" doesn't begin to describe the band's fullness of sound, which allows in punctuation like that of multi-instrumentalist Kevin Brolly's clarinet, or Hayes on flute. They're rounded out by a stacked rhythm section of bassist Joe Rattray and drummer Phil Hague.

It's appropriate that Admiral Fallow produced this set and their initial album "Boots Met My Face" with fellow countryman Paul Savage of the Delgados, a band whose own pop sound whirred with a similar energy and blender of folk-influenced rock sounds. "Tree Bursts in Snow" was also mixed by mastering master Greg Calbi, who's left his signature on albums from The National, Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver.

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<p>Brendan Benson</p>

Brendan Benson

Credit: Jo McCaughey

Interview: Brendan Benson on his new 'World,' his own label and the Raconteurs

EXCLUSIVE: Singer-songwriter helping release Raconteurs 7" on Jack White's Third Man Records

“I’m tired of the underdog mentality. I’m older and I am not cool.“

Hey, Brendan Benson has done his time. He’s been making solo albums for more than a dozen years, and already spent his years drinking too late, touring too hard, handing his royalties over to labels that have dropped him, or folded, or in one-offs deals. He’s married now, has a two-year-old kid and – in a new change of scenery – has his own label. Which is sort of like having a kid, he said.
 
His new album, “What Kind of World” (out April 21), is his first set for Readymade, which is now putting out other artists like The Lost Brothers, Young Hines, Leah Mason and Cory Chisel, all artists Benson has also produced. His Readymade label and publishing partners -- Thirty Tigers, Downtown Music Publishing, Terrorbird, Big Hassle, Hard Boiled Inc., Toolshed, and Music Alternatives -- also seem ready to tangle, themselves “underdogs” on a completely independent mission.
 
This new period in his career feels like the time he made “Lapalco,” from 2002.
 
“I started out thinking I wasn’t sure if I had a label anymore, which proved to be the case halfway through. The other part of it was not even know if I wanted to continue in the music business,” he explained, now further into the bowels of the music business. “People thought I was in a rut, and Virgin kept me on two or three years, telling me, ‘We don’t hear a chorus.’ That was a f*cking hard time in my life… I was left liberated and wandering.”
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<p>Kanye West</p>

Kanye West

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Pusha T and Big Sean's showing 'Mercy'

G.O.O.D. Music kicks off on Good Friday... are you excited for more?

Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Pusha T and Big Sean all showed up for the first-showing of "G.O.O.D. Music," Ye's label collection of original tracks from its artists. "Mercy" is a taking-turns kind of tune, as you'd expect, but of course Kanye made sure to write in a little something special for himself.

Listen to the song at Kanye West's website (re-done for very high resolution screens, apparently).

The straight-forward beat gives way to an Other World dark dance, led by a rip from the "Scarface" score. There's no guns or drugs here, though, with exception to his mention of "Molly," the same substance name-drop that put Madonna in time out, albeit briefly, a couple weeks ago.

After another weird diversion into suicide (which figured prominently into his "Power" single), Yeezy's all sorts of chest-puffery: "I step in the Def Jam building like I'm the sh*t / tell them give me $50 million or I'm going to quit / Most rappers taste level ain't even at my waist level / Turn up the bass level till it's at your face level." Good to know that his ability to divulge his talents has a price tag.

Meanwhile, 2 Chainz ups his profile with a verse that follows in the same vein. But it was Big Sean who opened up the door on this decent track, putting his "swerve" on the sort of rhymes he loves the best: extolling the virtues of strip clubs and their inhabitants.

The song, overall, isn't much of a conversation piece, but a conversation starter. The "G.O.O.D. Music" comp is guaranteed to be bursting with big names, let's just hope they're not all showing up, on every track, all at once.

No word yet if there will be new track every single Friday, but Ye has never been shy about that gimmick.

Yesterday, his track with DJ Khaled, "Theraflu," also broke out. Check out The Beat Goes On's thoughts on that here.

 

<p>From &quot;Sixteen Saltines&quot;</p>

From "Sixteen Saltines"

Watch: Jack White is all tied up in alternate-universe 'Sixteen Saltines'

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The modern-day children of 'Lord of the Flies' plus: a VERY trippy 12" release

Jack White performs as the sole grown-up in the hypnotically disturbing music video for "Sixteen Saltines," but the real stars are the kids. Doing weird kid stuff, like playing hopscotch with their own severed fingers and Robo-tripping.

Leave it to the mind of the former White Stripes evil genius White to make a "Lord of the Rings" gangland of terrible juvenile behavior, because now I have all sorts of ideas having to do with putting liquor in my coffee maker. Dancers fly whimsically into the sky, pre-teens tattoo each other in the dark, slushies are consumed and spat out as part of a bizarre cheerleader mating ritual. And then the solo man of the hour is left to die in the back seat of a car about to be lit on fire, with a choreographed dance of BMXes to close the show.

The story boards must have been entertaining. I would frame them and sell them.

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<p>Beth Ditto from Gossip in &quot;Perfect World&quot;</p>

Beth Ditto from Gossip in "Perfect World"

Credit: VEVO

Watch: Gossip rock a 'Perfect World' in a church

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Beth Ditto, the holy one

There's always been something so delightfully self-aware disco-camp about Gossip, which makes their fashionable videos all the more joyful to watch. The band's 's newest single "Perfect World" goes into deeper, shark-jumpier territory as the trio dons sepia tones in a church, and I'm OK with that.

Frontwoman Beth Ditto has fun with her vocal runs all over the amp-cranking tune. Her styling goes between nun-chic to goth-chick, vampiric baby bangs and stupid-long wigs. It starts dark, but gets a big splash of dorky color by the end.

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