<p>The Shins</p>

The Shins

Credit: Annie Beedy

Watch: The Shins drop 'Simple Song' video, confirmed for 'Saturday Night Live'

Jonah Hill back for seconds on 'SNL,' too

What parent wouldn't want their parting sentiment to their children to be "You'll be sorry when I'm dead?"

James Mercer has that kind of vision for his once and future kin in "Simple Song," which sends his "children" -- played partly by his Shins bandmates -- on an adventure through their old house and memories for a little closure on Mercer's last will and testament. Entertainingly macabre.

The Shins are releasing their next album "Port of Morrow" on March 20, and in promoting it, they've been invited back to "Saturday Night Live" for a second time. They'll be joined by Jonah Hill -- for his second time on the show, too -- on March 10.

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<p>Jamie Hewlett's interpretation of Gorillaz, James Murphy and Andre 3000</p>

Jamie Hewlett's interpretation of Gorillaz, James Murphy and Andre 3000

Listen: Gorillaz, James Murphy and Andre 3000 combine for 'DoYaThing'

LCD Soundsystem's frontman meets the boing-boing of Outkast

The combination of Gorillaz, James Murphy and Andre 3000 sounds exactly like what you'd think it'd sound like: boing-boing, beep beep, bounce bounce.

This funky collaboration was created in the name of Converse, for their Three Artists, One Song series. It bowed on BBC radio today and will be available through the company's website tomorrow.

The track is another good origin of the query: Why isn't Andre 3000 rapping on everything ever in the whole world ever? Murphy might as well have been filing his nails or cleaning the bathroom when he wrote the mindless refrain "You want to do it, but you don't know what you're doing, baby," but that doesn't mean I won't remember it.

And Albarn sounds thankfully better here than he did at the Brits last night with Blur. Haters: hating. Keep your eyes peeled for the music video.

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Credit: Justin Broadbent

Can Metric's new album 'Synthetica' set new records for the band?

Rock band's last 'Fantasies' wrote a new page on independent releases

Metric's last album, 2009's "Fantasies," quietly sold millions of album worldwide, and those profits -- more than any other album in the Canadian band's history -- went largely and directly into their pocket. In fact, they grossed more for themselves from its sale than all their other their other records combined.

That's because the band went the independent route when it came to releasing "Fantasies" outside of their home country; their own label Metric Music International got distribution from indie groups like PIAS. The acclaim they earned for songs like "Help I'm Alive" helped propel them onto film soundtracks and movie works like "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" and "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World." They were also among the bands to prove that an artist without a traditional label deal can make it into the top 20 of U.S. rock radio's spin lists: songs like "Help," "Gimme Sympathy" and "Gold Guns Girls" all made it into regular rotation in 2009 and 2010.

"Fantasies" topped out at No. 76 on the Billboard 200, but also managed to tap into success on the web: right around the time Spotify picked up, the band put "Fantasies" up for $.99 and found new fans and buyers quickly that way. They also utilized TopSpin's innovations to maximum capacities, with all downloads, data and word-of-mouth going straight to the band, and not to their label. They let their pool of fans, then, remix their tracks for a revamped "Fantasies" release, which dropped last year, which gave the album longer legs.

And undoubtedly, Metric will be using all that data and cash to go even wider this year, as they prepare to drop their brand new album "Synthetica" on June 12. This time, the album will go out via MMI in conjunction with Mom + Pop, who (as I previously mentioned) is on freaking fire (Andrew Bird, Sleigh Bells, Ingrid Michaelson). This deal will give them the added benefit of distro indie RED, and, undoubtedly, since the band was doing just fine on their own thankyouverymuch, you can imagine that striking any deal will be on their terms as far as profit share is concerned.

"Synthetica" was produced by Metric's guitarist Jimmy Shaw, partly out of Shaw's Toronto-based Giant Studio (co-owned by gnarly genius Sebastien Grainger of Death From Above 1979) and partly out of the legendary Electric Lady studios in New York. The band started work on "Synthetica" the day after they shined off their Fantasies tour in November 2010.

Frontwoman Emily Haines says that the title was inspired by the "skin jobs" out of "Blade Runner."

"If you imagine a nightmarishly fake version of me as a pop star, that's her," she says.  "And this record was about me saying, I'm going to give more to the music than ever, but there's no way I'm going to turn into someone like that."

Tour dates are to be announced.

<p>Odd Future's Tyler, the Creator (as centaur)</p>

Odd Future's Tyler, the Creator (as centaur)

Credit: YouTube

Odd Future's new 'Rella': This is the vid that the Web hath made

Tracklist for 'OF Tape Vol. 2' revealed; 'Loiter Squad' gets a drop date

At the end of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All's music video for brand new "Rella," Tyler, the Creator mouths the phrase "What the f*ck?" That is a proper response to the whole rest of the music video.

Jizz jokes, humans turning into cats, a hot Asian girl, porn, furries, male-on-female violence, drug-taking voyeurism and a centaur are among the amenities of this clip, seemingly made for and by the Internet. (Perhaps its no coincidence that a OFWGKTA side project is named The Internet.)

The lyrics are about as juvenile -- Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis and Tyler, the Creator all have their boasts of b*tches and "dicks," carving girls up, rhyming "MC Lyte" with "dykes," all the stuff that purposefully agitates the LGBT and feminist groups already miffed at these guys. It's like Nicki Minaj pissing off the Catholic church by performing a piece with the specific aim of pissing off the Catholic church.

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<p>Sleigh Bells' &quot;Reign of Terror&quot;</p>

Sleigh Bells' "Reign of Terror"

Credit: Mom + Pop

Album Review: Sleigh Bells, 'Reign of Terror'

Def Leppard, Atari and Alexis Krauss' cheerleading: A winning team?

Sleigh Bells’ “Reign of Terror” opens with the sound of a roaring crowd, a time-honored trick and tradition of heralding your own hype on the record, for the record. Alexis Krauss barks out to her band’s invisible fans as co-founder Derek Miller begins to peel back layers of break-neck guitar shreds on aptly named opener “True Shred Guitar.” It evaporates into “Born to Lose,” a sour-noted spin on well well-trod titles like “Born to Run,” “Born to Be Wild” and “Born to Fly” (and, not to ignore a recent No. 2-seller, Lana Del Rey’s “Born to Die”). “End of the Line” is like a slow dance sequence from a lost John Hughes teen drama, put to the rhythm of a double kick drum. 

For all the pop-influenced weird rock contemporaries in Sleigh Bells’ league – acts like M.I.A., Liars, Crystal Castles and Bonde do Rolê – the duo owes just as much to Atari 8-bit video games, Def Leppard and Dokken. The ‘80s, metal and ‘80s metal influence is laid bare on the gnarly riff and screams on “Demons,” the guitar harmonies on “Road to Hell” and the chug-chug of “D.O.A.”

Listen to "Reign of Terror" in its entirety here.
Krauss’ voice doesn’t temper the nostalgia, she just updates it. The multi-octave vocal runs are replaced by flinty cheerleader shouts and girly gang vocals, trading places with glinting dream pop sing-songing. Outmoded descriptions of hot girls and fast cars is revised with lyrics on what happens when they crash and burn, just as the title implies. “Leader of the Pack” – another familiar title – even starts off with a bomb’s kaboom, and Krauss asking “Do you remember when / you used to sleep at night…”
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Listen: Santigold's new 'Disparate Youth'; singer opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers

Little Dragon and Sleigh Bells also on tap for RHCP dates

Santigold has a hell of a way of announcing her spring tour. The rhythm-loving singer has been tapped to open for Red Hot Chili Peppers, along with Sleigh Bells and Little Dragon.

To celebrate, she's dropped her second song from forthcoming and tentatively titled "Master Of My Make-Believe," available below. It proceeds her first single from the fresh effort, "Big Mouth."

"Disparate Youth" actually sounds a little more grown up and a little more chilled out. Santigold's voice just flows over a hazy, bassy drive.

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<p>Your author with Ice-T at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival</p>

Your author with Ice-T at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival

Credit: HitFix

Interview: Ice-T talks Lil Wayne, reality TV and making-of 'Something from Nothing'

As 'The Art of Rap' earns a release date, the 'Law & Order' actor goes back to rhyming roots

For a man so well-versed in reality television, Ice-T didn't want his directorial debut to look anything like "what's on MTV." The actor/rapper has co-starred in "Law & Order: SVU" since 2000 as Detective Tutuola; the second season of "Ice Loves Coco," his reality television show with wife Coco on E!, just premiered this week.

And yet documentary "Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap" had no drama, no competitions or current events cut in to the narrative to create arc. In fact, there was no narrative; there's only a couple cinematic structures in place -- of artists talking, artists rapping and then a sweeping aerial view of rappers' hometowns of Los Angeles, Detroit or New York.

That also means there was no archival footage or old music videos, or even much of a hip-hop history lesson -- just some well-loved songs and the hip-hop royalty that made them. Repetition is the hitch of this style of documentary, but it was also a rapper roundup that only somebody like Ice-T could muster. Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Mos Def, Q-Tip, Eminem, Nas, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Caz, Chuck D, KRS-One, Run-DMC, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and more engage in spirited, intimate conversations about the literal art of rapping over a beat, and then each spitting a favorite verse from another rapper.

Because all of the footage was fresh for this film's can, that makes for a lot of rare and singular moments for rappers to tip their hat at one another.

Ice-T and "Something from Nothing" co-director Andy Baybutt wanted to "keep everything unique," the rapper told me during an interview at the Sundance Film Festival this January. The doc made its bow there.

"If I’m making a film, I wanna shoot everything with frames -- no [still] pictures or old film, no nothing. What we did was we shot them cinematically, and then we'd let it breathe, with shots of New York or whatever."
The result, he said, is like a big long list of everybody's legends, with more than 100 artists interviewed, around five dozen making it into the film and even more waiting in the wings to be included.
"All you can say is, 'I didn’t see my favorite artist,' but that'd be impossible to include everybody. When I got the nod for Sundance, I had a three-hour film. I had to cut it to two hours," he said. "Everybody’s doing the movie to be in the movie."
Of course, to see contemporary chart-topping acts like Em and Kanye getting sentimental about their art is a stunning insight. I asked Ice if anybody from the Young Money crew was invited in.
"Wayne was moving around, I was shooting 'Law & Order,' the camera crew was in London... Getting people in the same place at the same time was really, really difficult. We called Wayne and they'd be like 'OK, we can do it at 3,' and then I’d get my camera crew and they go 'Now it's at 9,'" Ice-T explained. "We’re not paying [Wayne], it’s a favor. So then it’d be like, 'Let’s do it tomorrow...' We got what we could."
Rap fans will be able to check out the film large-scale when it bows this summer on June 8, via The Indomina Group.


<p>Bruce Springsteen at the 2012 Grammy Awards</p>

Bruce Springsteen at the 2012 Grammy Awards

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Bruce Springsteen debuting new song a day, starting with 'Easy Money'

'Wrecking Ball' getting a premiere, track by track

Bruce Springsteen will let fans hear his new album in its entirety prior to release, with one new track debuting a day now until March 6, when the "Wrecking Ball" drops.

Today starts this sequenced chain of daily events, with "Easy Money" over on Backstreets.com. Rolling Stone gets dibs on "Shackled and Drawn" tomorrow. An incomplete schedule is below and, lest you forget, album opener "We Take Care of Our Own" has already manifested in stream and music video form.

"Easy Money" is an Americana-tinged stomper, swimming in choral and gang vocals, driven by a stomp-and-clap rhythm section and laced with fiddles. It's actually pretty, well, easy.

Here are the Boss' current tour dates, starting on March 18.

    •    Today: "Easy Money" on Backstreets.com
    •    Tuesday, Feb. 21: "Shackled and Drawn" at Rollingstone.com
    •    Wednesday, Feb 22: "Jack of All Trades"
    •    Thursday, Feb. 23: "Death to My Hometown"
    •    Friday, Feb. 24: "This Depression"
    •    Monday, Feb. 27: "Wrecking Ball"
    •    Tuesday, Feb. 28: "You've Got It"
    •    Wednesday, Feb. 29: "Rocky Ground"
    •    Thursday, March 1: "Land of Hope and Dreams"
    •    Friday, March 2: "We Are Alive"



Listen: Blur performs new song 'Under the West Way' live

More news that another album's on the way: We told you so

Blur made a charity concert appearance this weekend, but ended up giving even more to fans all over the world.

In a video clip posted from the War Child benefit show at Shepherd's Bush Empire in London, Graham Coxon and Damon Albarn are seen performing a brand new song, titled "Under the West Way," with the former on acoustic guitar and the latter on piano. The slow-burner is a little theatric though instrumentally understated. And it is very, very Blur.

And do your best to ignore the show-goer who is practicing his whistle: wrong time, dude.

The band may play "West Way" or maybe even more new material tomorrow night (Feb. 21) during the Brit Awards. The last recording they dropped was in 2010, for Record Store Day, but their last album was 2003's "Think Tank." And, as previously reported, Coxon said that there is definitely another Blur album in the works, on the heels of their 2009 live reunion.

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<p>Jason Mraz in &quot;I Won't Give Up&quot;</p>

Jason Mraz in "I Won't Give Up"

Today in New Music Videos: Jason Mraz, Lil Jon, Nas, Atmosphere

Red solo cups. Everywhere. Plus: Tyga, The Drums, K'Naan and more

Solo cups, the Toronto thug life, wolves and a tear-jerker: Here is a sampling of music videos floating around today, from Jason Mraz, The Drums, Lil Jon, Tyga and Atmosphere.

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