<p>The Avett Brothers, &quot;The Carpenter&quot;</p>

The Avett Brothers, "The Carpenter"

Credit: American

Album Review: The Avett Brothers build well-crafted songs on 'The Carpenter'

Death and all his friends loom large on new Rick Rubin-produced set

“If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die,” sing the Avett Brothers in the banjo ballad, “The Once And Future Carpenter.” The track opens “The Carpenter,” the new album from Scott Avett, Seth Avett and bassist Bob Crawford, out today.

Coming from less talented hands, the words may sound like an empty platitude, but over the course of their career, the Avett Bros, who are joined on the album  (and in concert) by cellist Joe Kwon and drummer Jacob Edwards, have shown a knack for spinning simple truths out of complicated concepts.

On 2009’s “I And Love And You,” the album that brought the Avetts into the mainstream, producer Rick Rubin provided some needed spit and polish on the band’s material and streamlined the sound found on their earlier indie releases.

On “The Carpenter,”  the Brothers Avett, take the lessons they learned from Rubin, who produces again here, and retain what they liked and discard the rest. The result is an album that has a shine but is never overly glossy. Guests like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ keyboardist Benmont Tench and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith are there to add a certain texture, not for bragging rights.

Like contemporaries Mumford & Sons,  the Avett Bros. have found a new way to make acoustic instruments rock and roll with passion and intensity, while keeping the instruments’ authenticity. They also aren’t afraid to get noisy, loudly building their songs with a confidence that brims through on “Pretty Girl From Michigan,”  and the irrepressibly jangly “Geraldine,” as well as the shape-shifting, psychedelic “Paul Newman Vs. The Demons.” Melodically, they are deeply rooted in folk and country, but access rock,  grunge and pop with ease. They owe as much to Kurt Cobain as to Levon Helm.

Despite the often light melodies and glorious harmonies, there’s a certain gravitas to much of “The Carpenter,” as the band explores death and all his friends in its many different guises.  “Through My Prayers” is a tender tearjerker that anyone who has lost someone with words left unspoken will understand all too well.

If it’s not physical death, there’s also the death that comes from heartache, as poignantly expressed in the stark “Winter In My Heart.”  As the months tear off the calendar, the protagonist stays in a perpetual winter, unable to move on from a romantic loss.  The music on “I Never Knew You” may be bright and sparkly, but the lyrics detail a disenchanted, heartbroken lover, who  goes out “Friday night and talk(s) to anyone I can.” As he looks back on his past relationship, he realizes that his former paramour was a stranger even though he believed he was deeply in love.

It’s not all darkness on “The Carpenter.” On “A Father’s First Spring,” Scott Avett sweetly  details the first blushes of fatherhood and how painful it is leave his newborn daughter. On “Paul Newman Vs. The Demons,” the group salutes the legendary actor for the exemplary way he lived his life: “Oh to be like him and walk a path/To lend a hand, do something worth a damn.”  As much as the song is a paean to Newman, it’s also an exhortation to find a way to give up one’s demons. It’s the biggest stretch on the album, and its adventurous rambling doesn’t always work.

“The Carpenter” isn’t as bright as “I And Love And You,” but it has a depth of feeling that surpasses its predecessor and an understanding of life’s vicissitudes that anyone who has experienced them will appreciate for its honesty and, ultimately, hope.

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<p>Missy Elliott</p>

Missy Elliott

Listen: Missy Elliott's at bat in this 'Ninth Inning' snippet

She's coming back to finish what she started

Don’t count Missy Elliott out. She may have been absent lately, but it’s the top of the ninth and she’s coming back. In this 85-second snippet from “Ninth Inning,” the female rapper declares, over an ominous horn droning that gives way to a bright, classical-sounding  piano melody, “Now i’m in the ninth inning/thought I fell off/I ain’t finished.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Neil Young</p>

Neil Young

Credit: AP Photo

Neil Young & Crazy Horse unleash 'Psychedelic Pill' in October

Two-month tour starts in Windsor

Four months after releasing “Americana,” a ragged collection of American folk songs,  Neil Young & Crazy Horse will unleash “Psychedelic Pill,” a 2-CD set, on Oct. 30.

Produced by Young, with John Hanlon and Mark Humphreys, “Psychedelic Pill” contains  giant rambles of songs: “Driftin’ Back” spans more than 27 minutes, “Walk Like A Giant” stretches beyond the 16-minute mark. As with “Americana,” full-length videos or each song will be made.

Crazy Horse previewed a number of the tracks during some live dates in August; a full tour will kick off Oct. 3 in Windsor, Ontario.

As Hitfix previously reported, Neil Young & Crazy Horse will perform at Young’s annual Bridge School benefit Oct. 20-21, alongside The Flaming Lips, Jack White, Guns N’ Roses and more.

The track-listing for Psychedelic Pill: 
Disc One:
1 Driftin' Back (27:36)
2 Psychedelic Pill (3:26)
3 Ramada Inn (16:49)
4 Born In Ontario (3:49)
Disc Two:
1 Twisted Road (3:28)
2 She's Always Dancing (8:33)
3 For The Love Of Man (4:13)
4 Walk Like A Giant (16:27)
Bonus Track:
5 Psychedelic Pill (Alternate Mix)
Neil Young & Crazy Horse's  tour dates:  

Oct 3    Windsor, ONT               WFCU Centre 
Oct 5    Kingston, ONT              K ROCK Centre
Oct 6    London, ONT                John Labatt Centre 
Oct 8    Cleveland, OH               Wolstein Center 
Oct 9    Pittsburgh, PA              Petersen Events Center 
Oct 11  Chicago, IL                   United Center 
Oct 13  Austin, TX                     Zilker Park / Austin City Limits Fest.
Oct 14  Tulsa, OK                      Tulsa Convention Center Arena
Oct 17  Los Angeles, CA           Hollywood Bowl 
Oct 20-21 Mountain View, CA     Shoreline Amphitheater
Oct 25  Tuscaloosa, AL             Tuscaloosa Amphitheater
Oct 26  New Orleans, LA           Voodoo Fest
Nov 10  Seattle, WA                   Key Arena 
Nov 11  Vancouver, BC              Rogers Arena 
Nov 13  Calgary, AB                  Scotiabank Saddledome 
Nov 14  Saskatoon, SK              Credit Union Centre 
Nov 16  Winnipeg, MB               MTS Centre 
Nov 19  Toronto, ON                  Air Canada Centre  
Nov 20  Kitchener, ON               Memorial Auditorium 
Nov 23  Montreal, QC                 Bell Centre 
Nov 24  Ottawa, ON                   Scotiabank Place
Nov 26  Boston, MA                  TD Garden
Nov 27  New York, NY               Madison Square Garden
Nov 29  Philadelphia, PA            Wells Fargo Center
Nov 30  Fairfax, VA                   Patriot Center 
Dec 3   Brooklyn, NY                Barclays Center
Dec 4   Bridgeport, CT              Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard  


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<p>Bruce Springsteen</p>

Bruce Springsteen

Credit: AP Photo

Watch: Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder joins Bruce Springsteen for 'Atlantic City' in Chicago

Tom Morello shows up too

Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Rage Against the Machine’s have long had sweet, younger brother-type relationships with Bruce Springsteen.

Both joined Springsteen this past weekend when The Boss played two shows at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. Below is the clip of Springsteen and Vedder’s impassioned take on “Atlantic City” (which now has a bit of a celtic flavor to the guitar passages).

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Carly Rae Jepsen's &quot;This Kiss&quot;</p>

Carly Rae Jepsen's "This Kiss"


Listen: Is Carly Rae Jepsen's new song 'This Kiss' maybe a hit?

Can it top 'Call Me Maybe's' success?

At the end of the video for “Call Me Maybe,” it became all too clear that the object of Carly Rae Jepsen’s affections was not going to be returning her feelings any time soon.

On new single, “This Kiss,” she has another issue: the boy she’s “taking it way too far” with is not available for another reason: he’s got a girlfriend.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Mumford &amp; Sons in &quot;I Will Wait&quot;</p>

Mumford & Sons in "I Will Wait"


Watch: Mumford & Sons rock Red Rocks in 'I Will Wait' video

Performance clip sets up 'Babel's' Sept. 25 release

On the small off chance that you have forgotten how wildly popular Mumford & Sons are during the brief absence, the video for “I Will Wait” will surely remind you.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Flo Rida</p>

Flo Rida

Credit: AP Photo

Flo Rida's 'Whistle' blows Taylor Swift out of the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100

Who score the lone new entry into the Top 10?

Flo Rida’s “Whistle” blows its way back into the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100 this week, displacing Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” which falls to No. 2.

“Whistle” topped the Billboard Hot 100 three weeks ago before “Never” surged to No. 1. Don’t feel too sorry for Swift: in just three weeks, “Never” has sold more than 1 million downloads, and the song continues to build in airplay, according to Billboard.

Maroon 5’s “One More Night,” the follow-up to “Payphone” continues its ascent, as it rises 4-3; it switches places with Ellie Goulding’s “Lights,” which drops to No. 4. Fun.’s “Some Nights” remains at No. 5

Neon Trees’ “Everybody Talks” leaps 11-6 to earn the only new entry into the Top 10 this week. Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake” stays at No. 7. Carly Rae Jepsen continues to lodge two songs in the Top 10:  “Good Time,” her duet with Owl City, rises 9-8, while “Call Me Maybe, which spent nine weeks at No. 1, falls 6-10. Justin Bieber’s “As Long As You Love Me” inches up one spot to No. 9.

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: Big Machine

Five things we learned from today's CMA Awards nominations

Eric Church, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift lead the nominees

Eric Church garnered the most nods this morning as nominations for the 46th annual Country Music Association Awards were announced by Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan (who subbed for Lady Antebellum, who could not get there because of weather delays). The gruff, rowdy singer received 5 nominations, including single and song of the year for “Springsteen.”

Married couple Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton have four nominations each, including a shared one for co-writing Song of the Year nominee “Over You.”  Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift and Little Big Town collected three nominations apiece.

The CMAs will air Nov. 1 on ABC live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood will host for the fifth time.

As always, there were some surprises among the nominations. Below are six things we learned from the nominations. 

For a complete list of nominees, go here.

Boys Club: Taylor Swift, who has won the award the past two years, is the lone female in the group of solo male artists. Where’s Lady Antebellum, who served as country goodwill ambassadors this past year with a sold-out worldwide tour? Or Miranda Lambert, who, no offense to Blake Shelton, deserves the award more than her husband this year.

Odd Bedfellows:
Snoop Dogg (or Snoop Lion as he’s referred to as now), is nominated for a CMA Award. It’s in the Musical Event of the Year category, which is usually where you’ll find interlopers (both Robert Plant and Jimmy Buffett are past winners), but it would be a blast to see Snoop on the show performing his nominated song, Willie Nelson’s “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.” In addition to Snoop Dogg, the song also features Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson.

Duo shortage: Country music has a shortage of strong pairs. For years, Brooks and Dunn dominated the Vocal Duo of the year category, and then Sugarland, after they kicked out Kristen Hall, took over the mantle. This year’s slate is stronger than it has been in the past, when acts whose singles had bombed were nominated just to pad out the category, but it remains one of the weakest categories.

Female Troubles: If we’re going to come down on the Academy for a poor slate for Vocal Duo of the year, then we can’t let the fact that Kelly Clarkson is nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year slide. Yes, she dabbles in country music and has even won a CMA Award for “Don’t You Wanna Stay” with Jason Aldean and duetted with Reba McEntire, but come on. It’s too bad Faith Hill’s single flopped and that left her pretty much ineligible, but fellow “American Idol” finalist Lauren Alaina should have gotten the nod before Clarkson.

Turn a Blind Eye: Lionel Richie’s “Tuskegee” is the highest selling country album released in 2012 (or will be until Taylor Swift’s “Red” comes out). However, the CMAs totally ignored the collection, which featured Richie performing his classic hits with country stars, other than in the Musical Event of the Year category, where “Stuck On You,” his duet with Darius Rucker, received a nod. The CMAs helped Richie debut the album last year with a long performance segment so voters must have figured they’d done their part in supporting the blockbuster set. Speaking of, the CMA voters really did not like Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away.” Neither the album nor any singles received nods, although Underwood was nominated for Female Vocalist.


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<p>Single artwork for &quot;Clique&quot;</p>

Single artwork for "Clique"

Listen: Kanye West raps about Kim Kardashian's sex tape on new track, 'Clique'

Track also features Jay Z and Big Sean

Kanye West can’t stop rapping about his lady love, Kim Kardashian. On this newly-released snippet from “Clique,” which first surfaced on TMZ,  he boasts about her past, including her infamous sex tape with Ray-J. Yeah, you heard that right. As you recall, he also declared his love for her months ago on “Theraflu” (later retitled “Cold”). He's also paid ode to her in a track called "Perfect Bitch."

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Hal David</p>

Hal David

Credit: AP Photo

What made lyricist Hal David so special?

Plus, his 10 best lyrics

Hal David, one of the best lyricists of the 20th century, died on Sept. 1. Other than John Lennon and Paul McCartney, David and his songwriting partner Burt Bacharach were the preeminent purveyors of pop song craft in the ‘60s.

Bacharach’s melodies were often complicated, but David’s lyrics never were and therein rests their beauty. His words were simple, but never obvious: The line “one less egg to fry” in “One Less Bell To Answer” spoke volumes about despair and loneliness. He expressed vulnerabilities that would have sounded hyperbolic coming from a less-skilled pen, but from him, sounded like truths:  When Herb Alpert sang, “Say you’re in  love, in love with this guy, If not, I’ll just die,” in “This Guy’s In Love With You,” who didn’t believe that he would perish into thin air without her love?

There was also a specificity to David’s lyrics. They were spare and direct. Think about “I Say A Little Prayer,” one of his best from start to finish (which is why I left it out of the selections below): The protagonist very deliberately is putting on her make-up, combing her hair, running for the bus... the actions are mundane and serve as a contrast to the drama of the thought of not being together with her beloved forever and ever.  In “A House Is Not A Home,” he doesn’t just yearn for her to return, he needs for her to still be in love with him as well.  He knew heartbreak didn’t need a lot of explanation, it needed precision.

Even the lyrics that seem dated now, like “Wishin’ & Hopin’s” “Wash your hair just for him,” capture a moment and thought in time. Though there are hundreds to choose from, below are what I consider to be 10 of David’s finest lyrics.

"Foolish pride, that's all that I have left/So let me hide the tears and the sadness you gave me/When you said goodbye"— “Walk On By”

"One less bell to answer/One less egg to fry/One less man to pick up after/I should be happy/But all I do is cry" —”One Less Bell To Answer”

"I need your love/I want your love/Say you're in love, in love/With this guy/If not I'll just die" —-”This Guy’s in Love With You”

"The moment I wake up/Before I put on my makeup/I say a little prayer for you” — “I Say A Little Prayer”

"Anyone who had a heart would take me in his arms and love me too/Why won’t you?”—”Anyone Who Had a Heart”

“Darling, have a heart/Don’t let one mistake keep us apart/I’m not meant to live along/Turn this house into a home/When I climb the stair and turn the key/Oh, please be there still in love with me.” —”A House Is Not A Home”

"What the world needs now is love, sweet love/It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of"— “What the World Needs Now”

"On the day that you were born the angels got together/And decided to create a dream come true" —”Close To You”

“And if the way I hold you/Can’t compare to his caress/No words of consolation/Will make me miss you less”— “Make It Easy On Yourself”

"What do you get when you fall in love? You only get lies and pain and sorry/ So for at least until tomorrow/I’ll never fall in love again" —”I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.”

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