<p>The legendary Selena</p>

The legendary Selena

Selena, Celia Cruz and Carmen Miranda immortalized in postage stamps

Stamps will be unveiled March 16 at SXSW

Legendary Latin artists Selena, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente and Carmen Miranda will be immortalized by the U.S. Postal Service in its new Latin Music Legends (Forever) stamp series.

The stamps, painted by San Diego-based artist Rafael Lopez, will be unveiled March 16 at the South X Southwest Music Conference. Members of the artists' families will be in attendance. Grupo Fantasma will perform.

"The United States Postal Service has a long-standing tradition of honoring and depicting the events and people who have influenced American culture and history and have helped to define our nation," said Marie Therese Dominguez, vice president of Government Relations and Public Policy for the U.S. Postal Service in a statement.  "In the spirit of this rich tradition, we issue these new Forever stamps to celebrate Latin music legends and the distinctive musical genres and styles they each represented."
 

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<p>Casey Abrams from the new season of &quot;American Idol&quot;</p>

Casey Abrams from the new season of "American Idol"

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

'American Idol' compilation album goes on sale immediately after show

Get studio versions of the 13 finalists' performances

Taking a page from the “Glee” playbook, immediately following tonight’s (March 9) show “American Idol” will offer a bundled album of the studio versions of the songs performed by the 13 finalists exclusively on iTunes.  Individual songs will continue to be available for sale.

The contestants recorded the studio versions under the tutelage of “AI” mentor Jimmy Iovine and his go-to team of producers, including Rock Mafia, Rodney Jerkins Don Was, Jim Jonsin, Ron Fair and “Tricky” Stewart. The compilation album will sell for $7.99 and is the first release under the new 19/Interscope deal.  The “American Idol” recordings switched from Sony Music to Interscope parent  Universal Music Group starting with season 10.

 

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<p>Dave Matthews</p>

Dave Matthews

Dave Matthews Band starts its own Caravan music festival series

Flaming Lips, O.A.R., Ray LaMontagne join June 24-26 Atlantic City event

Dave Matthews Band will host four Dave Matthews Band Caravans this year. The first of the four three-day, multi-artist festivals will take place June 24-26 at Bader Field in Atlantic City.

The line-up for the first Caravan includes David Gray, Ray LaMontagne, The Flaming Lips, O.A.R., Damian Marley, Bassnectar, Dr. Dog, Amos Lee, Thievery Corporation, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Warren Haynes Band, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Guster, Lotus, Rebelution, Fitz and the Tantrums, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Lisa Hannigan, Punch Brothers, From Good Homes, Delta Spirit, Big Gigantic, Alberta Cross, Mariachi El Bronx, TR3, Vusi Mahlasela, The Budos Band and Bobby Long.

Dave Matthews Band will perform a full set each night. Additionally, Matthews will play an acoustic set with DMB guitarist Tim Reynolds. Three-day passes  for the Atlantic City festival will be $195 each. Single-day tickets are not available.

The next three festivals will be announced shortly. These will be DMB’s only appearances in 2011.  For more information, go to www.dmbcaravan.com.

 

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<p>Gwyneth Paltrow performs during the 83rd Academy Awards last month.</p>

Gwyneth Paltrow performs during the 83rd Academy Awards last month.

Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Why giving Gwyneth Paltrow a record deal isn't a good idea

Hitfix confirms the Oscar winner had talks with Atlantic Records

Following her starring role as a fading country star in “Country Strong,” her appearance on “Glee” and her performances on the Country Music Assn. Awards, the Grammys and the Academy Awards, Gwyneth Paltrow is now contemplating cutting a full album as herself.

The New York Post originally broke the news and sources confirm to Hitfix  that Paltrow has had initial talks with Atlantic Records, but no deal has been inked. Atlantic declined to comment.

So is this a good or bad idea? At this point, Paltrow could package her songs from “Country Strong” and “Glee” and she’d have a complete EP, so she’s already half-way there.  (Her three songs from tonight’s episode of “Glee” are on “Glee, Vol. 5,” which came out today, March 8).

The past is littered with movie and TV stars who have capitalized on their fame to release records and join the ranks of one-hit wonders, like David Soul (“Don’t Give Up On Us Baby”) or Jack Wagner (“All I Need”).

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Avril Lavigne's &quot;Goodbye Lullaby&quot;</p>

Avril Lavigne's "Goodbye Lullaby"

Avril Lavigne, 'Glee,' and R.E.M. lead March 8 album releases

Raekwon and Lupe Fiasco release strong sets

Adele's reign at No. 1 may come to a halt next week as March 8 brings new releases from a number of potential spoilers, including Avril Lavigne's "Goodbye Lullaby," R.E.M's "Collapse Into Now" and the fifth volume of tunes from "Glee."  There are other strong new releases from Lupe Fiasco, Raekwon and Exene Cervenka.

Exene Cervenka, “The Excitement of Maybe” (Bloodshot): X frontwoman’s new solo album includes first single, the horn-laden (!?!?!)  “Already in Love.” Not very punk, you say? We say Cervenka has earned the right to do whatever she wants. Catch her at SXSW if you can.

Bruce Cockburn, “Small Source of Comfort” (True North):
Canadian singer/songwriter/truthteller releases his first studio album in six years. It’s a welcome return.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>R.E.M.</p>

R.E.M.

Album Review: R.E.M.'s 'Collapse Into Now'

The band gets a little help from friends like Patti Smith, Eddie Vedder and Peaches

I’ve been a longtime fan of R.E.M., but somewhere after “Out of Time” and “Automatic for the People,” I lost the thread. Part of that could have been the mind-numbing omnipresence of “Losing My Religion” or I just had enough R.E.M. in my musical canon. Maybe once I could actually understand what Michael Stipe was saying after he mumbled all those years, the mystery was gone--not that I have any clue what he’s singing about even when I can understand him.

“Collapse Into Now,” the band’s 15th studio album out March 8,  has demanded that I listen to it. For one thing, the set-up campaign is one of the best R.E.M.’s label, Warner Bros., has coordinated in years for the band, but, more importantly, the music is among the strongest Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck and bassist Mike Mills (I still miss drummer Bill Berry) has made in more than a decade.

The new album, supposedly R.E.M.’s last for WB, is wonderfully retro in that it contains all the elements that drew me to R.E.M. so long ago, including mandolins, sparse harmonies, and beautiful backing vocals from Mills, whose singing contributions to R.E.M. have always been underrated  in my mind. But it doesn’t sound in the least as if R.E.M. had run out of ideas so they decided to imitate old songs in order to re-capture past glory. Instead, it sounds like whatever musical shackles seemed to be holding them down over the last several years, have come unbound. They seem interested in what they have so say again, and so am I.

Many of the songs, like opening shot, “Discoverer,” are instant earworms, while others, like the gorgeous “Uberlin” sneakily grow more appealing upon repeated listenings. 

“It’s just like me to overstay my welcome,” Stipe sings in “All the Best,” a high speed,tune that sounds like early “Radio Free Europe” era R.E.M. crossed with Patti Smith, but “Collapse” feels more like a much desired return.

“It Happened Today” starts off spare and folky and builds, until it explodes into gorgeous vocalizations from Stipe and Mills. It’s Beach Boys-by-way-of-Athens, Ga. Plus, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder shows up to support his longtime friends.  That homage to Brian Wilson continues on “Every Day Is Yours To Win,” an often sweet, lovely ballad held together by a twinkly melodic riff and cascading harmonies at the very end.

“Mine Smell like Honey,” opens with the ferocity of “Rockville” then goes into a tune so driving yet melodic that it’s impossible not to sing along, especially as Mills subtly harmonizes in the background. The drumming  is the strongest on the album. For fans of R.E.M.’s long-ago patented jangly rock, this is the standout.

The title alone makes “Alligator Aviator Autopilot” worth the effort, but for us long timers, there’s something wonderfully stream-of-consciousness about the song that brings a smile to your face. None of it makes any sense, but the punk sensibility, sheer adrenalin, and Peaches’ participation (both in singing along to the chorus and a spoken refrain) will have you jumping up and down as you listen and saying to strangers: “Hey, hey alligator, you’ve got a lot to learn.” It could be a new catchphrase. I plan to use it at least once a day.

Producer Jacknife Lee keeps the trains running on time here: the album is punchy and precise with very little fat: bright, spritely “That Someone Is You” clocks in at 1.44 and that feels just right.

There are a few missteps, nothing horrible, but tracks that I found myself wanting to skip over, including “Oh My Heart,” about going back to New Orleans and the anguish the protagonist feels, although the city’s resilience is clear. While undoubtedly heartfelt, it seems out of sync with the  rest of album.  Same with the gentle “Walk It Back,” which felt mundane in comparison to the other tunes.

“Blue,” the album ender, is a near six-minute, largely spoken-word manifesto of sorts from Stipe (which also contains the album’s title), that, quite honestly, if he weren’t a rock star, someone could think were maniacal ramblings. Instead, it’s an interesting, sometimes hypnotic, piece of art-rock with Smith,  one of Stipe’s musical heroes, added for extra dimension.

The song ends with a reprise of “Discoverer” to bring the whole project full circle. Who knows where R.E.M. goes from here. Oddly, they’ve announced that they have no plans to tour behind this album, which is a shame since several of the songs here practically stand up on their back haunches and beg to be played live. Plus, the band is making mini-movies, directed by the likes of James Franco, for each track. In the meantime, as R.E.M. figures out its next move, the band has delivered a wonderful reminder of what made us fall in love with them in the first place.

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<p>Adele</p>

Adele

Credit: Jeff Christensen/AP

Can Adele make it two weeks in a row on the Billboard 200?

Justin Bieber and Mumford & Sons continue to sell well

It looks like two in a row for Adele as “21” is on target to top the Billboard 200 album chart next week with sales of up to 160,000. That’s more than a 50% drop from this week’s 350,000, but is still the second highest tally of the year.

Ex-Floetry singer Marsha Ambrosius’s solo debut, “Late Nights and Early Mornings,” will come in at No. 2, one of three new titles in the top 10, shifting close to 90,000 copies. Dropkick Murphys’ “Going Out In Style” comes in in style at No. 6 with sales of up to 40,000. Staind lead singer Aaron Lewis looks strong to come in at No. 8 with his country debut, “Town Line.”

The rest of the top 10 is filled with now familiar faces, as Mumford & Sons’ “Sigh No More” continue to enjoy a post-Grammy sales bump with sales of up to 60,000 copies for a No. 3 slot. Former No. 1 title, Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never” slips to No. 4, while “Now 37” rounds out the top 5.

Bruno Mars’ “Doo-Wops & Hooligans” remains strong at No. 7, while Bieber’s second top 10 entry, “My World 2.0” will likely be at No. 8. The latest from leading ladies Nicki Minaj and Rihanna land at No. 9 and No. 10.

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<p>Paul Simon performs at the 25th Anniversary Rock n'Roll Hall of Fame concert in 2009.</p>

Paul Simon performs at the 25th Anniversary Rock n'Roll Hall of Fame concert in 2009.

Credit: AP Photo/Henry Abrams

Paul Simon sets tour in support of first new album in five years

'So Beautiful or So What' comes out April 12

Paul Simon will hit the road April 15 in support of “So Beautiful or So What,” his first new album in five years. The tour opens in Seattle at the WAMU Theater and wraps six weeks late on June 1 at Boston’s Wang Theatre.

The set list will feature a number of tracks from the new album, produced by Simon and Phil Ramone (with liner notes written by Elvis Costello), as well as plenty of hits, and, as the announcement suggests, “several songs that haven’t been performed live in many years.”

Simon’s tour mates include Cameroonian guitarist Vincent Nguini, drummer Jim Oblon, pianist Mick Rossi, saxophonist/keyboardist Andrew Snitzer, bassist Bakithi Kumalo, guitarist Mark Stewart, master percussionist Jamey Haddad and multi-instrumentalist Tony Cedras.

"So Beautiful or So What" comes out April 12 on Concord.
 

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<p>Jennifer Lopez at the &quot;American Idol&quot; top 13 finalists party on Thursday night in Los Angeles.</p>

Jennifer Lopez at the "American Idol" top 13 finalists party on Thursday night in Los Angeles.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Music Power Rankings: Adele, Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga are this week's top ladies

'American Idol' and Trent Reznor also make the list

I tried so hard to figure out a way to fit Charlie Sheen into this edition of Music Power Brokers since he dominated the headlines this week, but I couldn’t figure out any musical connection. So instead, we shine the light on someone much more deserving: British singer/songwriter Adele, whose sophomore album, “21,” sells a staggering 352,000 this week, the highest first week tally of 2011. Not only is the album a commercial success, but a critical one as well, destined to make many “best of 2011” lists.

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<p>Lady Gaga in the video for &quot;Born This Way.&quot;</p>

Lady Gaga in the video for "Born This Way."

Credit: Interscope

Lady Gaga makes it 3 weeks in a row atop the Billboard Hot 100, but J-Lo's gaining

'American Idol' judge scores best opening frame of her career

Lady Gaga may be spending her third week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Born This Way,” but she better move over for a returning diva: Jennifer Lopez is proving to be the true “American Idol” as “On the Floor,” featuring Pitbull debuts at No. 9 on Billboard’s Hot 100 this week. It’s not only the highest bow of the week, it’s the highest starting point for any song in Lopez’s chart life.

“On the Floor,” whose video premiered on Thursday night’s “American Idol,” is Lopez’s 10th top 10, and her first return to the Top 10 since 2006, when she was featured on LL Cool J’s “Control Myself.” Last week, Lopez's label, Island Def Jam, didn't have a release date for her new album, "Love?," but Billboard now reports it will be April 19.

Like “Born This Way,”  Cee Lo Green’s “F**k You,” and Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” hold their spots, No 2 and No. 3 respectively, from last week.  Pink’s “F**kin’ Perfect” climbs 4-6 in what has to be the first time two songs with the F-word in the title have simultaneously been in the top 5.  Then toss in Rihanna’s “S&M,” which rises 7-5 and you have probably the least family friendly Top 5 ever.

[More after the jump...]

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