Bjork bringing 'Biophelia' brainchild to Big Apple

Songwriter's cross-platform concept album gets 10 dates of a New York premiere

For the first time since launching her album concept, Bjork is bringing her "Biophelia" concert presentation to the United States.

The Icelandic singer-songwriter will be performing "Biophelia" to its "original specifications" for six nights at the New York Hall of Science, then for four nights at New York's Beacon Theater. The Hall of Science allows for the vision of "audio-visual shows in an intimate setting with no audience member more than a few yards from the stage," though all 10 concerts will be performed in the round, in conjunction with The Creator's Project.

As previously reported, the ten songs on "Biophelia" featured 10 corresponding apps for iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch, thus the A/V components that will be used during the shows. Too, the live performances boast the bonkers musical instrumentation that helped in making "Biophelia," including "four 10-foot pendulum-harps" and "a MIDI-controlled pipe organ celeste re-fitted with bronze gamelan bars." Personally, I'm just happy to see Bjork with free space to roam.

What I'm also eager to see is its execution. The fact that you had to "experience" the album with an electronic device that I simply don't own is prohibitive, though many of the video elements were posted online after release. The cost of a ticket to a Bjork show may cost just as much as an iPad, true, but this at least amps more on that original idea, so that all may partake.

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<p>Kanye West</p>

Kanye West

Credit: AP Photo

10 things we learned from Kanye West's latest Twitter rant

What the heck is 'DONDA?' What about 'The Jetsons?' Will he and Spike Jonze start a school?

The all-caps may be gone, but Kanye West's propensity to over-share has been revealed again in the hip-hop star's latest Twitter rant.

The first missives from the younger half of Watch the Throne were launched into orbit yesterday afternoon, with the intended result to "clarify a few things." Further into the evening, he sent his thoughts through a stream of consciousness by starting with Leonardo di Vinci quote, and ending with words from George Bernard Shaw. Clarity became somewhat opaque during the voyage. Or, as he wrote: "This is just a train of thought .. but figure it's better to read than trained thoughts." Perhaps West is still working out the kinks of a few of his own philosophical quoatations.

Below is the best interpretation of the top 10 "things" that West informed his friends and fans on Twitter:

1.  He is starting a new venture called DONDA, named after his late mother. "DONDA is a design company which will galvanize amazing thinkers and put them in a creative space to bounce there dreams and ideas... DONDA will be comprised of over 22 divisions with a goal to make products and experiences that people want and can afford..."

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<p>From &quot;July&quot;</p>

From "July"

Watch: Youth Lagoon tackles suburban decay with 'July' video

And you thought Arcade Fire's bummed you out

Bundle up. It may be "July" in Youth Lagoon's world, but wherever you are tonight, i just got a little colder.

Youth Lagoon mastermind Trevor Powers' 2011 album "The Year of Hibernation" wasn't named for nothing. It hypnotizes on the whole as it warmly mellowed and "July's" no exception. Where it gets messed up is the pristine pacing as bodies seize with the ambiguous (and literal?) hurt of our least-favorite memories of the suburbs.

"For my whole life I've dealt with extreme anxiety," said Powers in a release, on "Hibernation." "I sometimes feel like I'm literally being eaten up inside. So I started writing these songs. Not just songs about my anxiety, but about my past and my present. Songs about memories, and all those feelings that those bring. I know that if I can be honest about what is inside my mind, there will be others that will be able to relate to it."

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<p>The Weeknd, &quot;Echoes of Silence&quot;</p>

The Weeknd, "Echoes of Silence"

Today in mixtapes: Raekwon, The Weeknd, Meek Mill, Rick Ross, T.I.

Das Racist's Kool A.D. offers you a drink of palm wine

Hip-hop didn't take this week -- the week after New Year's -- off. Raekwon, The Weeknd, Meek Mill, Rick Ross, T.I. and Das Racist's Kool A.D. all have new material from mixtapes to offer this week, some of which comes in advance of full-length studio sets.

Das Racist had some heads bobbing and others being scratched in 2011 with their set "Relax" which, retrospectively, was not all that relaxing. Kool A.D. (Victor Vasquez), one-third of DR, has palm wine on the mind for his solo 'tape. "The Palm Wine Drinkard" takes its name and general ideas from an African novel; it involves 1) drinking and 2) adventures with a wizard while drinking. The titles "Titties Out," "Fun" and "Flying Thru the Air inna Airplane" should give you some funky ideas.

Download Kool A.D.'s "The Palm Wine Drinkard" here.

All three of Das Racist's members are plotting solo sets for 2012.

Wu-Tang's Raekwon, as expected, has something "Unexpected" for you, with features and help from 9th Wonder, Mobb Deep, Styles P and more.

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<p>Bon Iver</p>

Bon Iver

Credit: D.L. Anderson

Listen: Bon Iver releasing new single, 'Towers,' with John Prine cover

Justin Vernon recently completed production work on Kathleen Edwards' new album

After year of a sophomore set release, first-time Grammy nominations, being propelled up outlets' year-end lists and a video-laden re-release, Bon Iver is already making a few plans for 2012. The Jagjaguwar group -- headed by Justin Vernon -- will be releasing a new single "Towers" b/w "Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)."

That B-side, a John Prine cover, was originally released in June last year; you can stream it below. "Towers" is available on "Bon Iver," and will likely remain the same recording on the single release.

"Towers" will be available as a 12" in the U.S. on March 6. Last I checked, that's a little early for Record Store Day, and a little late to cash in on the Grammy Awards show (Feb. 12), so it just seems to want to live as an entity on its own.

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<p>Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt restock their saccharine combustion engine</p>

Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt restock their saccharine combustion engine

Credit: Aaron Light

Cute overload: Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt sing 'New Year's'

Also: Zach Braff and Donald Faison croon to 'Baby, It's Cold Outside'

Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are actors that play music when they're not in front of the lens -- and, sometimes, when they ARE in front of the lens. Their cover of "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" is an example of the latter.

The "500 Days of Summer" co-stars have posted a darling video duet on YouTube of their live-performing the classic tune, with Deschanel on wee ukelele and Gordon-Levitt on a travel guitar. The She half of She & Him dons a tiara. Of course.

"When we did '500 Days of Summer'... we spent every lunch hour dancing to Marvin Gaye in the hair and make up trailer; we had loads of fun," Deschanel mugs on HelloGiggles.com (!!), the site she co-founded. Cute! "I hope to do a thousand more movies with him because he’s simply the best." Cuter!

Once you're done picking the sugar from your teeth, note that he's "Joe" Gordon-Levitt, and don't you forget it. Because it's the cutest. Cue gooey eyes, aw.

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<p>PJ Harvey</p>

PJ Harvey

Immaculate Noise's Top 25 Albums of the Year

PJ Harvey, Mastodon, Tom Waits, Battles, The Weeknd, Bon Iver, Colin Stetson...

I didn't listen to as many albums as I wanted to this year. I say this every year.

Part of it is the singles artform itself, but I didn't hear many hip-hop albums that felt complete and completely likeable as I wanted. That's not to say they're not there. Same goes for dance albums and R&B.

What astounded me was the devotion to song-craft by lighter artists, some of which have been around for years. These past few months, I noticed a lot of think-pieces on "soft rock," floating around on the blogs, sometimes in revolt of NPR-rock, dad-rock, whatever you want to call it. Among those offenders, I have several on my year-end list -- like Bon Iver, Feist and Laura Marling. But even among the growing indie establishment, I found records from St. Vincent, Panda Bear and The Weeknd to give off much the same result, that is, soothing, smart, song-centered mini-theater, start to end.

Check out the excellent first-time efforts from Washed Out, Shabazz Palaces, the Head and the Heart (yes, yes, TWO Sub Pop albums), Korallreven, tUnE-yArDs and Sallie Ford. Josh T. Pearson, let's you and me have a drink with Tom Waits, it'll make you feel better. It would be an honor for Fucked Up to f*ck up my apartment. And in news from the self-awareness camp, half of the artists on my Top 40 Songs of the Year were from artists of color; on this list, just over 10%. In 2012, I'll spend more time considering diversity: is there remedy, and is it remedy?

Beyond that, here's the hodge-podge. Listen to tracks from all of these albums (with exception to Danny Brown and The Weeknd) via my Spotify playlist.

  1. PJ Harvey, "Let England Shake"
  2. Mastodon, "The Hunter"
  3. Tom Waits, "Bad As Me"
  4. Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside, "Dirty Radio"
  5. Feist, "Metals"
  6. Washed Out, "Within & Without"
  7. Danny Brown, "XXX"
  8. Laura Marling, "A Creature I Don't Know"
  9. Cut Copy, "Zonoscope"
  10. Liturgy, "Aesthethica"
  11. Fucked Up, "David Comes to Life"
  12. St. Vincent, "Strange Mercy"
  13. Peggy Sue, "Acrobats"
  14. Korallreven, "An Album By Korallreven"
  15. Bon Iver, "Bon Iver"
  16. Colin Stetson, "New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges"
  17. tUnE-yArDs, "w h o k i l l"
  18. Shabazz Palaces, "Black Up"
  19. Battles, "Gloss Drop"
  20. Anna Calvi, "Anna Calvi"
  22. The Head and the Heart, "The Head and the Heart"
  23. The Weeknd, "House of Balloons"
  24. Josh T. Pearson, "Last Of The Country Gentlemen"
  25. Panda Bear, "Tomboy"
<p>Lady Gaga</p>

Lady Gaga

Songs you missed on Christmas: Lady Gaga, Frank Ocean, Cat Power

Lady Gaga wrote and sang a song on a bus for you

Welcome to the last working week of 2011, where we realize at least a few stars were working for the holiday. Frank Ocean, Lady Gaga and Cat Power were all on the move.

First, as the Odd Future singer explained: "I don't cry at all... but when the sun sets just right, I might shed a tear." Ocean, who is readying his Def Jam album for 2012, posted a little track to his tumblr called "4 Tears." In it, he eplains how he spends his quota, doing a little algebra (a la Beyonce).

"[I] just listened to this a few times for myself. [F]igured maybe some else needed to hear it," he posted. 

It's not lyrical calculus, but quick and pretty.

Meanwhile, Chan Marshall is a little more confrontational on "King Rides By," her charity single. The song -- originally much shorter on her 1996 album "What Would the Community Think" -- is fully fleshed out courtesy Manny Pacquiao, past the 7-minute mark.

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<p>Lana Del Rey</p>

Lana Del Rey

Watch: Lana Del Rey premieres 'Off to the Races' and heads to 'SNL'

Then three songs became four songs

Lana Del Rey has a full-length album due in a month, granted, but it seemed a little absurd when, this week, it was announced she'd be joining "Saturday Night Live" (Jan. 14) as a musical guest, two weeks before "Born to Die" drops on Jan. 31. She's released only three songs.

OK, well, make that four, if one were to include pop parody. Because that's what "Off to the Races" is, or sounds like.

Taking a nod to from Rihanna, the singer adds a little dub cadence to her vocals for the verse, before taking on karaoke campiness and ending the refrain with a squeak toy. This is a wordy word track, some narrative and some nonsense tumbling out into found footage of girls-and-guns. And, again with the blood, the religious imagery and guys with tattoos making kissy. I see some themes, but not much substance here.

So just add me to the hater pile-on. The late-'90s power dark-dance groove doesn't do much for me, not compared to the impeccable produced "Video Games." Vocally, Del Rey is still carving out her character.

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Watch: Rihanna gets touchy in 'You Da One' music video

How many looks does the pop star rock?

In her latest music video, pop star Rihanna has her way... with herself.

In an ode to her lover, the Def Jam singer made clear her erm positions on several key cultural uh touchstones. She also sports her newly minted bottom-teeth grill and gives an instructional guide on smoking sexily in four different looks, which I will call: "Clockwork Orange," full-body fishnet, glamor-puss and "nothing at all."

It's easy to see why "You Da One" was chosen as the second single from Ri-Ri's latest "Talk That Talk": while "We Found Love" takes listeners to Ibiza, it's safe to drag them back to the beginning -- the beginning of the album -- in Dr. Luke style with a shock of Caribbean flavor. The video matches the sounds simply. There's some lyrics, there's some sex and some Rihanna self-referentials. Pretty. Standard.

What do you think of the video?