Right now, our busiest comments section is a heated debate over whether a white lady is racist for dancing with black men in her music video and then being defensive about it. That is how indie rock, and every other form of media, works in 2014. You get used to it, I guess. Here’s what might be getting lost in that conversation: Sky Ferreira made a very fun and ridiculous video for a great song. That video is below, as are four other good ones.
When Prince was one of the world’s biggest and greatest stars, he released all his music on Warner Bros. But in the early ’90s, Prince and the label fell out. For a while there, Prince was posing in photo shoots with the world “slave” written on his cheek, and as soon as he could, he left to start his own label. But now, Prince and Warner have a new deal that somehow works for both parties. Prince now owns all the masters for the songs he recorded back in the day, and he’s planning a deluxe, remastered 30th-anniversary reissue of Purple Rain. He’s also got a new album on the way, as well as “other planned projects.”var chartbeat_zone = "misc";
Outside Love, the last album from Black Mountain frontman Stephen McBean’s Pink Mountaintops side project, was one of 2009′s best and most underrated rock albums, an endlessly warm and welcoming set of stoned, fuzzy campfire singalongs. Since that one dropped, McBean has relocated to Los Angeles, and that move might explain why the new Pink Mountaintops album Get Back is so different. The new one is heedless, flopsweat-drenched, cocaine-hangover California party-rock, with some truly appalling rap verses in there. It’s a weird album. We’ve heard the early tracks “North Hollywood Microwaves,” “Ambulance City,” and “The Second Summer Of Love,” and now the whole thing is streaming at Pitchfork.
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12 years ago, Omaha synth-punkers the Faint played one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen, so it warms my heart that they’re still whipping out supercharged new wave. The band just released the new album Doom Abuse, and we’ve posted their “Help In The Head” video, as well as their new tracks “Salt My Doom” and “Dress Code.” Director Nik Fackler’s new video for their “Evil Voices” is an intense, hyperactive, violent affair: The band plays in a room somewhere, some guy slowly gets his face peeled off, a lady smashes something over another lady’s head. But it’s all edited into such a digitally-distorted blur that it’s hard to tell what’s happening at any given moment. Check it out below.
The summer and fall of 2001 were tremendously exciting times to be a young rap nerd. Jay-Z and Nas were throwing lyrical haymakers at each other, scrambling for the upper hand, using every possible weapon at their disposal to wreck each other. Rap had had plenty of storied rivalries, of course, but we’d never heard two commercial, artistic titans going for blood like that, getting unrelentingly personal with every line. Nas talked about Jay’s “dick sucking lips” and “whiskers like a rat.” Jay made explicit reference to fucking Nas’s ex in Nas’s car. Only one thing was off-limits, and that one thing was Illmatic. That’s the one hot album in Jay’s “one hot album every ten year average” line from “The Takeover,” and you can even hear a bit of awe creep into his voice when he pronounces the album’s title. Talking about the Nas sample on his own “Dead Presidents,” Jay famously says, “You made it a hot line, I made it a hot song,” but at least he acknowledges that it was a hot line, you know? In fact, Illmatic sits there underneath everything Jay says on “The Takeover.” He couldn’t just say you’re garbage. He had to say look at all this enormous power and potential you had when you started; isn’t it too bad that you’re garbage now? Because what could Jay possibly say about Illmatic? It was, and is, untouchable — as perfect a piece of deep-in-its-own-head New York rap as we’re ever likely to hear. Some perspective here: Illmatic was only seven years old when Jay and Nas were having their back-and-forth. Seven years is nothing. Can you imagine someone coming at Kanye West’s head now but acknowledging, along the way, that at least Graduation was amazing? It would never happen. But Illmatic was canonized, justly, basically the instant it arrived. It’s an albatross for Nas, and for rap, and for everyone who likes thinking about rap. Because if an album like that was once possible, why can’t anyone make it now?
Broken Bells are in California and between Coachella weekends, and amazingly enough, Danger Mouse is not using the moment to produce another kinda-flat album for another arena-rock band. Instead, he and James Mercer appeared on last night’s episode of Conan, performing “Control,” an icy early-’80s-style rocker from their new album After The Disco. Their stage setup, with all those circular platforms, is a pretty cool piece of design, though I’m not sure it makes up for the glaring lack of stage presence. Check out the performance below.
The celebratory and sentimental Future/Kanye collab “I Won” now has a video to go along with it. The video’s a subdued, mostly black-and-white affair featuring some of the sexiest dancing on a beach since Beyoncé danced on a beach for her “Drunk In Love” video. In case you missed it, Future also shared his André 3000 collab earlier today and you can stream most of Honest right now. Watch the Hype Williams-directed video below.
FKA Twigs played a packed show at Glasslands in Brooklyn last night and debuted new music. A recording of a new one seemingly titled “Give Up” is now available and shows that Twigs sounds just as otherworldly live as she does in the studio. Check out the bewitching new song below.
“She looks so perfect standing there/ In my American Apparel underwear” is the new “I like girls who wear Abercrombie & Fitch.” Fifteen years ago, at the height of boy-band mania, America was bombarded by LFO’s “Summer Girls,” in which bros with magnificently sculpted haircuts and bodacious bods sing-rapped clumsy couplets between harmonious refrains about the reigning prep attire of the day. These days it’s marvelously coifed Aussie mall punks 5 Seconds Of Summer serving up choruses about lovely ladies wearing name-brand garments — or, in the case of breakthrough single “She Looks So Perfect,” undergarments. 5 Seconds Of Summer presents as a rock band, but they register as a boy band. They are teen idols no different from the NKOTBs and 98 Degrees of yesteryear but for a Stratocaster in hand and their logo emblazoned on a kick drum.
To celebrate the kickoff of their tour together the Hold Steady and Deer Tick have covered each other’s music. The Hold Steady took on “Easy” the lead song off their tour-mates’ album Born On Flag Day while Deer Tick covered “Constructive Summer,” the first song on Stay Positive. Listen to both below.
You might expect Belle & Sebastian to cover the Kinks or Nick Drake or 10cc. You might not expect them to cover the most-covered Journey song ever. But it’s impossible to say no to sick kids, and during a recent visit to Children’s Healthcare Of Atlanta for the Songs For Kids Foundation nonprofit, the Scottish indie-pop long-timers tried out a sloppy cover of the song that ended The Sopranos. Watch a short video of it below.
Before she joined Dirty Projectors during the days of Swing Lo Magellan, Olga Bell was a Band To Watch. Now she’s taken some time to work on solo material again. Her upcoming album, Krai, is sung entirely in Russian and judging from the new single “Stavropol Krai” her intricate vocal-centered performances are as strong as ever and backed by even fuller arrangements. Listen below.
Soul legend Aretha Franklin has got herself into a bit of an embarrassing mess. Franklin is suing satirical news site the News Nerd for $10 million because of a story they ran about a fictional brawl between Franklin and fellow soul songstress Patti LaBelle.
Honest, the much-anticipated new album from Future, started streaming online a couple of days ago, but that stream had a couple of big omissions. “Never Satisfied,” Future’s Drake collab, is on the stream, but it’s only an abridged version of the song. And more frustratingly, “Benz Friends (Watchuola),” Future’s track with the mercurial OutKast enigma André 3000, was not on the stream at all. Future did perform it with OutKast at Coachella last weekend, so we knew for sure that it existed. And today, the track finally made its way to the internet, and on first listen, it sounds awesome. Check it out below.
This week we heard Lykke Li’s new single, “Gunshot,” which, as Tom pointed out, is a hell of a power ballad. Now you can hear the Swedish singer perform it in an entirely different way. H&M has produced a video featuring an acoustic version of the song. All the grand instrumentation of the original is retained, though, so it makes for a pretty thrilling video. Watch below.
As a rap crew, the Wu-Tang Clan has always been a notoriously chaotic and fractured entity, and no Wu-Tang member has been quicker to criticize crew mastermind RZA than Raekwon. When Wu-Tang released their last studio effort, 2007′s deeply underrated and commercially disappointing 8 Diagrams, Rae was the first person in the group to call out RZA’s psych-rap weirdo decision-making. In the meantime, RZA has gone public with how difficult it’s been to put together the new group album A Better Tomorrow, singling out Rae for being unwilling to contribute. And now Rae says that he’s going “on strike” from the group.
Vivian Girls breathed their last breath earlier this year, and now former Vivs bassist/vocalist Katy Goodman, once known to the world as Kickball Katy, is soldiering on with her La Sera solo project and getting ready to release the new album Hour Of The Dawn. We’ve already shared first single “Losing To The Dark,” and now Goodman has given us another one, the sprightly and welcoming “Running Wild.” It’s a fun song, and you can download it below.
Kieran Hebden aka Four Tet aka no-really-he’s-not-Burial just blessed us with two new tracks under his Percussions alias yesterday, and now he’s given us a third. Just over an hour ago Hebden tweeted a link to “Sext,” maybe the finest of the three excursions into experimental four-on-the-floor thump. I could actually imagine provocative SMS messages sounding like this while traveling through circuits, getting ready to digitally titillate whoever’s on the other end. Listen below and be titillated yourself.
Each year, music festival Hopscotch has grown bigger and better. Spread out across various dive bars, elegant theaters, and art spaces in Raleigh, NC, you can find whatever you want among the well-curated blend of hip-hop, rock, metal, and experimental music. They’ve just announced the lineup for the 2014 festival, which will be held from 9/4 – 9/6. This year’s biggest acts are Spoon, Mastodon, St. Vincent, and Sun Kil Moon, but look a little lower on the bill and there’s just as exciting stuff.
Pharrell is still having a moment. And while his mug (and his hat) seems to be everywhere these days, in Major Lazer’s new video for “Aerosol Can” we hear Pharrell, but instead of seeing his age-defying face, we get to watch graffiti and tattoo legend Mike Giant tag up a white room with Pharrell’s lyrics.