Album review: Pet Shop Boys' 'Electric' sparks with intensity
Credit: x2

Album review: Pet Shop Boys' 'Electric' sparks with intensity

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What are they doing covering Bruce Springsteen?


After last year’s  introspective “Elysium,” Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant return with “Electric,” an aggressively dance-oriented album of eight originals and one very interesting cover. This is an album to thump, not think, your way through.

The album marks the first time PSB have worked on a studio album with producer Stuart Price, best known for his work with Madonna and The Killers. Price has talked about combining “Old school synth and drum machine programming and new school computer mangling” for the album. That intent is clear from the the album’s opener, "Axis." An instrumental with a relentless rat-a-tat that looks back (think Herbie Hancock’s “Rocket”) and to the future at the same time.

“You don’t know you could own me,”  Tennant repeats over and over as “Bolshy” builds and builds to the breaking point. “Where you lead, my heart will go.”  The romance, or lack of, continues with the third cut.  Could anyone but the two intellectual dance boys from the U.K. get away with a pretentious title like “Love Is A Bourgeois Construct” and still have you dancing? The track combines the best of vintage PSB with a playfulness that’s irresistible. Awash in synths and ringing bells, Tennant declares he’s giving up on love. “It’s a blatant fallacy,” he opines over a persistent clang and and a rock bed that actually recalls Asia at times.

The whole exercise is by turns breathless and hypnotic (“Flourescent”) and melodically intoxicating (“Thursday” featuring Element). Remarkably, for a duo in its fourth decade, the sense of freshness the pair brings to the project is its greatest asset. Even when the subject matter isn’t sunny, there’s an inviting bounciness on every track.

And about that cover: Tennant and Lowe take on Bruce Springsteen’s anti-war song, “The Last To Die” and, against all odds, it works. Go figure.The bed of beats only adds to the urgency of the lyrics about both a traditional war and a domestic one.

This is the Pet Shop Boys' first album after coming out of a long relationship with Parlephone and they chose to release it on their own label, x2. Maybe the joyous noise is the sense of freedom, but however it was created, it's welcome.

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<p>Lil Wayne in &quot;God Bless Amerika&quot;</p>

Lil Wayne in "God Bless Amerika"

Watch: Lil Wayne's searing, powerful 'God Bless Amerika' video

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This isn't the New Orleans tourists are going to

Lil Wayne delivers his most politically-charged video with “God Bless Amerika,” a look at Hollygrove, the devastated New Orleans neighborhood where he grew up.

[More after the jump...]

 

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David Bowie's a scary monster in new video for 'Valentine's Day'

David Bowie's a scary monster in new video for 'Valentine's Day'

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His intensity dominates clip about school shooter

David Bowie’s eyes star in the video for the spare, yet artsy video for “Valentine’s Day,” from his current album, “The Next Day.”

As all Bowie devotees know, it looks like he has two different colored eyes— one blue and one brown— when actually, both are blue, but his pupil on his left eyes stays dilated because of a childhood fight. Those eyes are the key to Bowie’s eerily-possessed soul in the clip, directed by Indrani and Markus Klinko.

Close ups of his non-smiling face as he sings about a school shooter-- either of arrows or bullets, your interpretation--add to the intensity of the video.

Bowie appears in an abandoned column-filled building, perhaps the ghost of the school. The only other images are of an ethereal, blurry Bowie roaming the grounds and shadows of Bowie.  Forget about fearing Valentine, Bowie’s the scary monster here.

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<p>Stone Temple Pilots, sans Scott Weiland</p>

Stone Temple Pilots, sans Scott Weiland

Stone Temple Pilots and Chester Bennington plot tour and EP

Wait for Scott Weiland's reaction in 3, 2, 1...

We know one person who’s probably not too happy about this: Stone Temple Pilots and the group’s new lead singer, Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, will release an EP this fall  and embark on a North American tour in September.

After parting ways with original lead singer, Scott Weiland, earlier this year, STP members Dean DeLeo, Robert DeLeo and Eric Kretz recruited Bennington to perform with them at the KROQ Los Angeles’ multi-artist Weenie Roast in May.

STP then filed suit against Weiland demanding that he stop using the STP name and that he stop singing STP songs. Weiland countersued.

But in the meantime, Bennington, who remains in Linkin Park, has been in the studio with the three STP members to record the EP, which will include their first single together and current active rock hit “Out Of Time.”

STP will release the EP this fall on its own label.

The tour, with Filter as the opening act,  kicks off Sept. 4 at the Sands Bethlehem (Pa.) Events Center and runs through Nov. 1 in Biloxi, Miss. The group will play new material, as well as STP’s hits.

STP tour dates

Sept 4 Bethlehem, PA @ Sands Bethlehem Events Center

Sept 6 Sayreville @  Starland Ballroom

Sept 7 Atlantic City, NJ @ House of Blues

Sept 9 Boston, MA @ House of Blues

Sept 10 Huntington, NY @ Paramount

Sept 13 Oklahoma City, OK @ Downtown Airpark (w/ Motley Crue)

Sept 14 Newkirk, OK @ First Council Casino*

Sept 17 Sunrise, FL @ BB & T Center (FLA Panthers Event)

Sept 18 Orlando, FL @ House of Blues

Sept 20 Columbia, SC @ Township Auditorium

Sept 21 Ft Myers, FL Shockwave Festival – Jet Blue Park

Sept 24 Midland, TX @ La Hacienda Event Center

Sept 26 Tempe, AZ @ Marquee

Sept 27 Las Vegas, NV @ Freemont Street Experience*

Nov 1 Biloxi, MS @ Hard Rock Live*

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The Civil Wars civilly discuss their split and new album
Credit: Columbia Records

The Civil Wars civilly discuss their split and new album

You can cut the tension with a knife

“Great art is birthed from great tension. That’s very much where we are,” says The Civil Wars’ Joy Williams in this behind-the-scenes footage from the making of the duo’s self-titled album, coming out Aug. 6.

[More after the jump...]

 

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Watch: Justin Timberlake joins Jay-Z for 'Holy Grail' live in the U.K.
Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

Watch: Justin Timberlake joins Jay-Z for 'Holy Grail' live in the U.K.

Here's what you can expect when the North American tour starts Wednesday

Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake’s Legends of the Summer tour kicks off in North American on Wednesday in Toronto. The two superstars gave fans a little taste of what to expect as they played two dates during Yahoo’s Wireless Festival in the U.K. over the weekend. For Timberlake’s July 12 solo set, Jay-Z joined him for “Suit & Tie,” then on Saturday night, Timberlake returned the favor by coming out for “Holy Grail.” 

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<p>Jay-Z</p>

Jay-Z

Credit: Evan Agostini/AP

Music Power Rankings: Lady Gaga and Jay-Z top the list

Daft Punk, Pearl Jam and Psy also make the list

1. Lady Gaga: "ArtPop" is coming, "ArtPop" is coming! We’ll get Momma Monster’s new album, Nov. 11., but first we’ll get a new single in September. Paws up!!

2. Jay-Z: Yes, it was messy, but his Samsung partnership led the way for a new distribution model AND he still will sell more than half a million albums through traditional retail this week.

3. Daft Punk: In a deal that’s too perfect, the French pair inks a deal with Trojan for “Get Lucky” condoms  Plus, the band plans to work with “Random Access Memories” producer Nile Rodgers on some unfinished Chic material.

4. Pearl JamExpect to get hit with a “Lightning Bolt” in October.

5. Rap Music: The genre pulls off a hat trick for the first time. Thanks to Kanye West, Wale, J. Cole and Mac Miller, rap music had the top 3 spots on the Billboard 200 for three weeks running.

6. Psy: He’s only really known in the U.S. for two hits, “Gangnam Style” and “Gentleman,” but the South Korean rapper has joined Rihanna and Justin Bieber as the only three artists to surpass 3 billion views on YouTube. And, as far as we know, he hasn’t urinated in a janitor’s bucket or posted pictures of himself scantily-clad, rolling a joint.

7. Steve Grand: Gay unsigned, pop/country artist’s sweet song/video about unrequited love goes viral, passing the 1 million views mark  on YouTube.

8. “Cups”:
Almost a year after the movie came out and more than six months after the song first debuted on the chart, Anna Kendrick’s “Cups,” from “Pitch Perfect” hits the Top 10. Please do not let this be a trend.

9. Justin Bieber: Footage of the teen star urinating in a janitor’s bucket and cursing out a picture of President Clinton surfaces.  Someone needs to start telling his friends to stop filming his every move. Or here’s an idea: Stop acting like a twerp.

10. Randy Travis: The country music legend remains in the hospital following a heart virus and subsequent stroke. Wishing him a speedy recovery.

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<p>The cover of Jay-Z's &quot;Magna Carta Holy Grail&quot;</p>

The cover of Jay-Z's "Magna Carta Holy Grail"

Jay-Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail' reigns on next week's Billboard 200

Two other artists enter the top 10 as well

Jay-Z’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail” will top the Billboard 200 by a wide margin next week. Released July 4 to Samsung owners, but only to traditional retailer on July 9, Hova’s latest album will move up to 520,000 units, according to Hits Daily Double. And that’s above and beyond the one million copies distributed through Jay-Z’s one-way deal with Samsung.

He’s one of three artists with new albums debuting within the top 10. After a long absence, Ciara returns with “Body Party,” which looks good for No. 2 with up to 60,000 copies. Skylar Grey, best known for co-writing “Love The Way You Lie” for Eminem and Rihanna, will likely bow at No. 9 with “Don’t Look Down.”

This week’s No. 1 title, J Cole’s “Born Sinner,” drops to No. 3, while Kanye West’s “Yeezus” slides to No. 4. Imagine Dragons’ “Night Vision” is at No. 5. Wale’s former No 1, “The Gifted,” is at No. 6.

Florida Georgia Line’s “Here To The Good Times” is No. 7. Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” is No. 8, and Macklemore &  Ryan Lewis’ “The Heist” will likely be at No. 10.

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<p>Arcade Fire</p>

Arcade Fire

Credit: Arcadefire.com

Arcade Fire announces new album release date via Twitter

Apparently, they were just waiting for someone to say something nice

One of Arcade Fire’s twitter followers was definitely in the right place at the right time. Yesterday, one of the co-ed Canadian band’s fans simply tweeted, “@arcadefire you’re my favorite.”  And the band responded with way more than a simple “thanks” (though, being Canadian and, therefore, very polite, they did thank him).

The Montreal-based band spilled the release date for its new album as Oct. 29, and included two photos of a sphere and of the band that are almost suitable for framing or could be part of the album artwork. No word on the title yet.

The album will the the group’s first since 2010’s “The Suburbs,” which snagged album of the year at the 2011 Grammy Awards.
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Arcade Fire had been previewing material over the last year, including a tune called “Crucified Again,” last November.  LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy is producing the new set.

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Justin Timberlake's new song, 'Take Back The Night' in full: Listen
Credit: AP Photo

Justin Timberlake's new song, 'Take Back The Night' in full: Listen

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Plus, all the details on 'The 20/20 Experience - 2 of 2'

After teasing a snippet of new single, “Take Back The Night,” Justin Timberlake unleashed the full 6-minute song today on YouTube.

The disco tune is the first single from “The 20/20 Experience- 2 of 2,” the sequel to “The 20/20 Experience,” which comes out Sept. 30.

[More after the jump...]

 

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