This spring, Lily Alen returns with the cheekily titled Sheezus, her first album in five years. And after sharing the videos for her singles “Hard Out Here” and “Air Balloon,” she’s finally letting us know the salient details about the album, including the frankly badass cover art you see above. (Allen’s cover of Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know,” a Christmastime UK #1 for her, will serve as a bonus track.) She’s also shared the video for “Our Time,” the new album’s party song. The clip starts out as an ode to London at night, but it turns into a bit of a drunken bacchanal, with Allen playing multiple characters. Watch the video and check out the Sheezus tracklist below.
In a nod to Minneapolis, where they played the second night of their U.S. tour earlier tonight, Arcade Fire kicked off their encore with a cover of Prince’s “Controversy.” The song was actually on the setlist for the tour opener in Louisville Thursday night, but they ended up playing the Stones’ “The Last Time” instead. The show was broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio and @ArcadeFireTube got a recording of the cover, which features Will Butler and Richard Reed Parry on vocals. Win Butler wore a box on his head that displayed Prince’s face, then Michele Bachmann’s. Listen and see a photo of that below.
The National made their SNL debut tonight in an episode hosted by Lena Dunham. The show featured cameos from Liam Neeson, Jon Hamm, and Fred Armisen and parodies of Scandal and Girls (in a trailer for an HBO-style narrative about Adam and Eve). Watch the National perform “Graceless” and “I Need My Girl” along with some show highlights below.
Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden celebrate two big anniversaries today as both The Downward Spiral and Superunknown turn 20 years old (which resulted in some animosity between the two bands back in the day). Now Antiquiet has compiled evidence that points to the bands going on a co-headlining tour this summer. First Live Nation leaked a listing for an August show in Dallas with both NIN and Soundgarden. Then fans found an auction that offered a Chris Cornell meet-and-greet at a NIN/Soundgarden show in LA. Yesterday, both bands seemingly teased the news with similar promotional Instagram videos. Thanks to the diligent work by fan forum Echoing The Sound in identifying the series of venues flashed in the Soundgarden clip, we have a tentative list of places the tour will be hitting this year. Check those out along with the videos below.
A$AP Ferg takes on Trap Lord as a superhero alter ego and makes his own live-action video game in the clip for “Let It Go.” He catches some over-the-top enemies in his crosshairs including “The Evil Twins” and “The Ninja Villains” and saves a damsel in distress. If you ever wanted to see Ferg shoot missiles out of his sleeves, here’s your chance. Watch below.
Hudson Mohawke and Zomby got into a fight last night after Zomby played a show at London’s XOYO. The pair took to Twitter shortly after to exchange some words. Zomby tweeted that HudMo “got the shit slapped out of him” and “caught 3 in the face,” accompanied by a picture of his bloody knuckle which was later taken down. Details about the why are still unclear, but both artists mentioned their fashion choices for the night. Zomby said, “My sweater worth more than your life but let’s not go into that u don’t know givenchy unless i wore it first” and HudMo retaliated with, “Poor @ZombyMusic thought i should apologise in his face after wearing socks worth more than his entire outfit.” A lot of the tweets have been deleted, but Consequence Of Sound compiled a transcript of the whole altercation which you can read below.
When Fred Armisen was announced as bandleader and “curator” of Late Night With Seth Meyers’ 8G band, it implied the lineup might change from time to time. And last night the Portlandia star put his curatorial skills to good use by inviting his good friend, indie guitar hero Marnie Stern, to sit in. You can watch the entire episode below. Stern’s intro comes at 7m30s.
Remember when Fiona Apple covered Willy Wonka’s “Pure Imagination” for Chipotle? Well, that was supposed to be Frank Ocean’s job, but he allegedly backed out for an absurd reason, and now the organic-minded Mexican fast food chain is suing him. Last year Apple told Pitchfork how she became Ocean’s replacement: “Chipotle was in a big rush and they initially wanted Frank Ocean, but he screwed up his voice.” Not true according to the lawsuit. TMZ reports that Ocean agreed to sing the song for $425,000, but balked when he saw a Chipotle logo at the end of the accompanying short film, which promoted an app about the dangers of factory farming. From TMZ:
This week we watched Beck on SNL and Ezra Koenig (Ella Kzing?) on the Oscars. We got some album updates from tUnE-yArDs, Morrissey, Julian Casablancas, and Fucked Up. We reviewed new albums from Migos, Real Estate, Aloe Blacc, the Men, and Rick Ross. We ranked Iron Maiden’s albums worst to best. We spoke to Heems, Martin Courtney, and for the expansive profile that’s our latest cover story, the War On Drugs. (Eleven days until Lost In The Dream, you guys!) Soundgarden’s Superunknown and Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral both turn 20 years old tomorrow. Don’t forget to ruminate on that and ponder your mortality. But first…
Every time a new Animal Collective-related release gets announced, the fan forum Collected Animals becomes one of the most fevered areas to find even the faintest sliver of news. Now that there are new solo albums coming from both Avey Tare and Panda Bear (and maybe Deakin … what ever happened with that?) today they helped bring to the public a live Noah Lennox cut fans are currently calling “(Marijuana) Makes My Day.” It’s apparently from a mixtape compiled by Sonic Boom (who is in a full-on producer role for the tentatively titled Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper, as opposed to just mixing as he did for Tomboy) for an upcoming festival they’ll both be playing. Though the live recording has been mixed there’s no word if this is a primordial track that will appear on the album. Animal Collective’s members have always made a habit of working out new material before recording so it’s likely that whatever might be going into the new album will be previewed when Panda Bear performs 5/18 in Brooklyn for Red Bull Music Academy and at festival dates this summer. Listen to the murky, but nonetheless beautiful recording, which sounds like it samples Ladysmith Black Mambazo, below.
All signs point to the New York dance-punks the Rapture quietly breaking up. As Consequence Of Sound points out, a press release for an upcoming Red Bull Music Academy event in New York lists guitarist and passionate hyena-yawper Luke Jenner as “formerly of the Rapture.” When self-titled sought clarification, Jonathan Galkin of DFA Records responded mysteriously: “I kept thinking it might blow over, but that might not be the case. Feel free to go to press with this headline: ’Did the Rapture Break Up and Not Tell Anyone?’” That’s not exactly explicit confirmation, but it’s close enough to pour one out tonight for one of the greatest bands of the dance-punk revival.
Austin’s Pure X will release their third album (and Fat Possum debut) next month. “Heaven” builds off of what we heard on “Starlight,” embracing the sun-drenched, serene vibe that they’ve spent their last two records refining. Their new album was recorded to tape over a five-day period in a century-old Texas dance hall. You can listen below.
This was one of those weeks where the best music-related video wasn’t a music video. It was Future Islands performing on Letterman and just fucking going for it. Letterman has already introduced frontman Samuel T. Herring’s dancing as a recurring joke on the show, and I sincerely hope it’s because he realizes that dancing was awesome, not because it was weird or whatever. (We’ll never know; it’s always impossible to tell with Letterman.) This was intense, everything-on-the-line performance, and it was maybe, hopefully, the rare late-night TV performance that actually makes a serious difference in a band’s career. I have this vague idea that Future Islands could be the Odd Future-style Band You Have To See at SXSW next week, and if that happens, that performance will be a huge part of the reason. But I still haven’t started including things like late-night performances in this column, so go ahead and enjoy a column that, for whatever reason, is absolutely packed with punk-identified guitar bands this week.
“I can’t recall the last time I took advice from anyone,” is the way SZA begins her entrancing new single “Babylon.” Her last words? “Crucify me.” In between, she gracefully emits breathy sighs that suggest she doesn’t need anybody’s advice over a gurgling, ominous beat from DJ Dahi, who’s done work for her TDE brethren Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q as well as Drake’s “Worst Behavior.” (Apparently Mac Miller helped too.) SZA co-directed the clothes-removing, water-submerging video with APLUSFILMZ. Immerse yourself in it below.
Later this month, the L.A. rapper YG, whose hardscrabble West Coast party rap was recently dubbed “an exciting sign that the system still works” by our own Tom Breihan, will release his major-label debut My Krazy Life. We already saw videos for his all-star “My Nigga (Remix)” and “Left Right.” Now comes a clip for the DJ Mustard-produced Drake collab “Who Do You Love.” Director Benny Boom sets these guys at a house party that makes this song feel even more fun than it did before. Watch it.
Here’s something cute to start your weekend off right. Perhaps you recall that Beyoncé and Jay Z opened the Grammys telecast with a performance of “Drunk In Love.” A video of Beyoncé’s rehearsal (with a Jay Z body double, incidentally) has surfaced that’s entertaining for reasons other than Bey’s breathtaking performance. Not that she charges through this rehearsal with anything less than authority — it’s just that in the final seconds, her baby daughter absolutely melts away her showbiz poise. During the song’s outro, Blue Ivy gets ahold of a microphone and repeats “Surfboard,” then “Hi mommy,” causing the superstar diva to crack a humongous smile. You’ll grin too when you watch it below.
Psych-pop quartet TEEN, who will release The Way And Colour this spring, have shared a new video for “Not For Long.” Roland von Tessin’s video takes frontwoman Kristina Lieberson and recreates her as a disembodied head with an insect-like headdress. In some of the shots, like the one above, the symmetry and severity of the design seem oddly reminiscent of Fuck Buttons’ iconic album covers. Watch it below.
We named celestial R&B songstress Doe Paoro a Band To Watch two years ago upon the release of her sparse, haunting Slow To Love. She’s back with Ink On The Walls an EP she recorded over the winter at Justin Vernon’s Wisconsin studio with his Bon Iver bud S. Carey and Volcano Choir engineer BJ Burton behind the boards. Vernon features on the EP too, and although he’s not on lead single “Walking Backwards,” its grandiose emotional swell carries traces of his influence. Still, this thing is pure Doe, a New Amerykan torch song delivered with theatrical flair from within a futuristic orchestral sheen. Listen below.
Next Tuesday marks the official start of SXSW’s music conference — which runs through next Sunday — meaning a good percentage of the industry will be in Austin for the whole week. To account for this, the industry was on overdrive this week, flooding Soundcloud and YouTube and the inboxes of music bloggers with new songs, rushing to capitalize on the final moments before everyone and everything goes south. Not surprisingly, then, this week’s 5 Best Songs is pretty well loaded (the same thing occurred last week, too). Expect next week’s pickings to be considerably slimmer. But that’s no reason not to revel in the bounty while it’s before you.