Music

Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights

Jesse Schulz

Good news for good news lovers

Those musicians and their surprise album releases. Indie-rock duo The Raveonettes just released a new record (Pe'ahi), and though I'm sure some knew it was coming, it's still a lovely surprise. Cause new music is new music, no? Have a listen to the album's opening track below, and look for the record … well … everywhere!

The Raveonettes - “Endless Sleeper”

It's a good day, y'all. 'Member how I mentioned The Unicorns had sort of reformed to play some live shows (even though they insinuated no plans to record new material)? Well, not that it's exactly new material, but the band has decided to reissue their phenomenal 2003 record Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?. The reissue will be available digitally (July 29) and via CD (Aug. 26) and vinyl (Oct. 7). So depending on your format, mark them dates on your calendars. Among the few unreleased tracks available on the reissue is the Daniel Johnston cover “Rocketship,” which you can tune into below.

Damn that Mr. Jack White and his prolific prowess as a singer/songwriter/producer/record label owner/ and now book publisher. In keeping with the theme of hard work and tangible results, Mr. White has launched a book publishing company through his record label, under the guise Third Man Books, and he's gearing up to release a book of art, poetry and prose, titled Language Lessons: Vol. 1. Contributors to the text include Dale Ray Phillips, Richard Hell and Tav Falco. To read more 'bout the book, which hits stores and online markets on Aug. 5, head over to Pitchfork.

I know tons of people are excited to see a new release from rock band Weezer. Hell, even I'm excited, and I'm not even that big of a fan. Their new record (Everything Will Be Alright in the End) hits stores on Sept. 30, but the band has made album track “Back to the Shack” available for aural consumption. Here's where you thank them. Have a listen below.

Weezer - “Back to the Shack”

All I know of Blake Mills seems to carry a connection to Fiona Apple. I first found out about him from reading that they were doing a tour together last year. Then came the video of Apple and Mills performing my favorite Apple track “I Know.” Now Apple is appearing on Mills' ditty “Don't Tell Our Friends About Me,” off his upcoming record Heigh Ho. The song also features Jon Brion (who produced Apple's fantastic When The Pawn …). See all those connecting dots? See 'em? You can hear the track below, and look for Mills' record on Sept. 16.

Dream of the stream

We know you love streaming new albums. And why shouldn't you? It's a nice way to preview an entire album before deciding whether or not you want to spend your heard-earned pennies. We get you. We understand you. And so does Tom Petty, which is why you can stream the new Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers album (Hypnotic Eye) over at NPR. And while you're there, why not check out Jenny Lewis' The Voyager as well. Happy listenin'! Editor’s Note: The streams are only available for a short period of time, so apologies in advance if they’re no longer online.

Music/Film

What would a superhero movie be without a theme song? A superhero movie without a theme song. Regardless, it makes sense that if you're gong to have some dudes (or in this case, turtles) fighting crime, a slick tune is required to kick some ass and take some nombres. So Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J and Ty Dolla $ign have banded together to make “Shell Shocked,” a track from the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (out Aug. 8). Let's not talk about Megan Fox being cast as April O'Neil. It's just upsetting. But who knows? The film could be friggin sweet. Have a listen to the tune below.

Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign - “Shell Shocked” featuring Kill the Noise & Madsonik

Those musicians and their film scores … First we have Jenny Lewis scoring Naomi Foner's Very Good Girls, and now we got James Murphy (formerly of LCD Soundsystem) scoring Noah Baumbach's upcoming film While We're Young. This is essentially exciting because not only do I consider Baumbach to be one of the greatest living directors around (see Margot at the Wedding, Squid & the Whale or his last film Frances Ha), but Murphy is a perfectly reputable guy to get for scoring duties. Oh, and he also scored Baumbach's Greenberg, so this should be somewhat of a kind reunion. PS: Ad-Rock (of Beastie Boys) is also set to star in the film. To read more 'bout it, head to Stereogum.

An undercover cover

In case I haven't mentioned it before (though I'm sure I have), A.V. Club does a series called A.V. Undercover where they put out a list of famous songs, and bands come in and choose a song to cover at the publication's headquarters. After a song is covered, it gets crossed off the list, so no bands can do one that's already been done. Their latest is The Coathangers covering The Go-Go's “We Got the Beat.” Though their version is “We Got the Weed.” You know … cause weed makes things better. You can view that below, and don't miss out on The Coathangers, who are playing at Sister on Wednesday, July 30. Your trusty Alibi writer August March wrote a little somethin' 'bout 'em in the latest issue. Enjoy!

The Coathangers covering The Go-Go’s

On the horizon ...

I'm sure some people have wondered what Eric Clapton's been up to. Though I'm sure those in the know have gathered that Clapton doesn't really ever stop. Sure, you can search the old record bins for his work in The Yardbirds, or you can listen to his new record: The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale. The album includes 16 tracks and numerous collaborations with such musicians as Tom Petty, Willie Nelson and John Mayer. In fact, you can hear Clapton's “Don't Wait,” featuring the aforementioned Mayer over at Billboard. The album itself hits the music-sphere on July 29, so keep your ears out for that one.

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Blues, Booze and Boobs: Bob brings the party to Low Spirits

Bob Log III
Driving across the North American continent with only a box of guitars, drum parts and the blues—and prolly the directions to dozens of roadhouses, dimly lit bars and rustic concert venues as companions—Bob Log III makes an appearance on Tuesday night at Low Spirits (2823 Second Street NW). He may or may not have his dinghy on board, but this mysterious and damn talented master of the six-string promises a jam party complete with dancing, boob-stirred drinks and lap sitting as part of the experience. Log wears a human cannonball outfit and microphone-equipped helmet during his performances. He recently chatted with the Alibi on his drive out west. The guitarist now calls Melbourne, Australia home, and stopped in the western desert to talk.

AM: So this is your big summer tour, eh?

BLIII: I get to come back home to America at least once a year, and I love it. I have a blast. I’ll play anywhere there’s a room full of people drinking beer, and that’s pretty much a lot of places.

AM: How’s it shaping up?

BLIII: This one’s pretty big, man. At one point, I’m going to be doing 37 shows in a row; it’s gonna get real interesting, but I’m also gonna get real good. I’ve been practicing 17 years for this show coming up in Albuquerque. But I keep it interesting. I change it up. I don’t do set lists. I just get up there and kinda see what happens.

Bob Log III

AM: Are you touring as a solo act this time around?

BLIII: It’s just me and the car. My plan is to kidnap people. I do have an opening band for the stretch from Nashville to New Hampshire.

AM: You’re playing that legendary Silvertone guitar for this tour, aren’t you?

BLIII: I am, but I also have some Airline guitars right now too. I get acoustic guitars and put a Silvertone pickup on them, and I put a piezo-accoustic pickup on them. There are two outs, so I get a distorted sound and an acoustic sound at the same time; that way I cover every frequency a guitar can possibly make.

AM: Don’t you also play the drums at the same time?

BLIII: When I play drums, I try to sound like a tight drummer and a drunk drummer at the same time. So time becomes like a rubber band, and I can move it or change it or shape it anyway I want. All day, time rules your day … but for an hour and a half each night I get to be the master of time. For the drunk drummer, I have a kick drum and a cymbal. For the tight drummer, I use a drum machine. My two drummers kinda hate each other. I get to finger-pick on top of the fighting.

AM: That sounds kinda tense.What do you think about that kind of tension in music?

BLIII: It's really a kind of release. The first time people started banging on rocks, it was some kind of celebration. The first music—people banging on the stuff around them—probably would have been really fucking fun. I’m trying to keep music fun. That’s my job. I don’t know anything else.

AM: Besides being fun to listen and party to, some have said your act is deeply transgressive. What are your thoughts on that?

BLIII: I’m a guitar player, and I've played since I was 11. I take that seriously, but I try to turn that into a party, a guitar party. I’m trying to get people to dance, and to dance wrong. If they drop a drink and the glass breaks, I’m doing my job. People can come on stage anytime and get crazy, and I encourage that. They come up and sit on me and I bounce them around while I play. I couldn’t actually do that in normal time, but when I play guitar I get energy I don’t normally have.

AM: What about the boob references: boobs as accompanying instruments or boob-stirred scotch?

BLIII: It’s about making fun of people who use boobs to try and sell you something. I’m saying boobs are ridiculous; let’s take out the sexy, the commercial power. Let’s do something folks would never do with their boobs. I dare anyone in the audience to do it and not smile. As for the song itself, instead of writing a song about what made my day bad, I wrote a song about what made my day good. That day, a woman saw me drinking, said give me that drink and just put her boob in it. I took a sip, and that made me feel fucking better.

AM: How does that work within your music?

BLIII: It’s the blues turned into a party. It’s like Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. The songs aren’t about being sad anymore … Rock and roll came around, and then I decided to put on a funny suit and throw a party. It’s hilarious, and it’s the coolest guitar you’ve ever heard.

Bob Log III performs his one-of-a-kind take on the blues at Low Spirits (2823 Second Street NW) on Tuesday, July 22, at 9pm. Doors are at 8pm, and the cover is just 8 clams.

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Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights

Jesse Schulz

We say goodbye ...

Last week, we said goodbye to the last surviving founding member of The Ramones: drummer Tommy Ramone. He was 65 and had been battling cancer. If you know anything about The Ramones, there really is nothing left to say, other than we'll always have the music. RIP Tommy and a safe journey to the worlds beyond. EDITOR'S NOTE: As of press time, it was also announced that legendary blues guitarist Johnny Winter passed away at the age of 70. We bid you a kind farewell, sir. Rest in peace.

The Ramones - “Beat on the Brat”

Dream of the stream

It's finally here, y'all. Well, not here exactly, but you can now stream La Roux' new record Trouble in Paradise. Though the record doesn't come out till next week, this'll at least give you an opportunity to decide whether you wanna drop some coin for it. Happy listening! And since we're on the topic of album streamage, why not check out White Fence's The Recently Found Innocent over at NPR. Assuming you can't wait for it to drop on the 22nd.

Audio/Visual

If there's a fun video out there right now, Jenny Lewis' visual for “Just One of the Guys” takes the cake. The single comes off her latest solo record (The Voyager), which hits stores on July 29. What makes the video so good are probably the dude-bro performances by such notable actresses as Kristen Stewart (Panic Room), Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) and Brie Larson (Short Term 12 (!)). Donning men's tracksuits and mustaches, it's pretty laughable and great. Have a looksie below.

Jenny Lewis - “Just One of the Guys”

Stuart Murdoch's long-in-the-works film (God Help the Girl) is finally getting its release date. Oh, and the official motion picture soundtrack too. The film hits movie theaters in the US on Sept. 5, and the soundtrack will be available in stores on Sept. 2, which isn't too far off. The Belle and Sebastian singer-songwriter wrote and directed the movie after some hefty crowd-funding and whatnot. Most of us already know that he's a great musician, but what of his prowess as a filmmaker? We'll soon find out. You can listen to a cut from the soundtrack below. PS: The film also stars Emily Browning (of Sucker Punch and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events), who sings the aforementioned track.

What is a world without “Weird Al” Yankovic parodying the obsessions of his modern compatriots. If it wasn't Nirvana, it was Lady Gaga; nothing really seems to be off limits for Mr. Al. Now he's decided to take on Robin Thicke's “Blurred Lines” with a song called “Word Crimes,” which aims to teach people how to use proper grammar. The song comes off his latest record (Mandatory Fun), which is out now. But have a listen of the track below. You can also head here to see his parody of Pharrell's “Happy” or here to see his parody of Lorde's “Royals.”

Good news for good news lovers

Since you can't really find music shows on MTV anymore (unless you have weird cable channels that give you MTV 2, 3, 4, 5 …), there's little in the way of seeing interactions between various musicians on cable television. To remedy that, VH1 has come out with a new series (“SoundClash”) that puts various artists on stage together to give it more of a music festival feel. The first episode airs on July 23 and has performances from Fall Out Boy, T.I. and London Grammar. You can head to Stereogum to view those performances now. How's that for a special preview?

I first heard of Vashti Bunyan from interviews with Devendra Banhart, in which he listed her as a major influence. That was during my “freak folk” phase. Singer-songwriter Bunyan released her first album in 1970 and waited 35 years to come out with her second offering. And now, the third album approaches. Titled Heartleap, that will see the light of day in October, but you can take a listen to the record's opening track (“Across the Water”) below. Enjoy!

Talk about coming together: Over 700 independent record labels have gathered to form the “Fair Digital Deals Declaration,” which seeks to make a more cohesive and transparent policy in regards to how they deal with their artists. There are five stipulations, one of which is to support artists who oppose unauthorized uses of their music. Another stipulation is to clearly explain downloading and streaming revenues to musicians. Some labels who are taking part are Domino, Drag City, Sub-Pop, Epitaph and Saddle Creek. Head over to Billboard to read more about that.

'Member how I told yous guys that Jordan Knight (of New Kids on the Block) and Nick Carter (of Backstreet Boys) were becoming a dynamic duo (Nick & Knight)? That's still true. In fact, they've put out their debut single “One More Time.” Their self-titled album doesn't hit stores until Sept. 2, but I'm sure they wanted their single to gain traction, what with it being somewhat of a summer jam and all. Listen to the ditty below.

Nick & Knight - “One More Time”

Attention: The first official Beatle's film in 44 years is about to commence! Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard (you know ... from “Happy Days”) is gonna direct a documentary about the band's touring years from 1960 to 1966. The surviving members and spouses of the late members have all signed off on it, so you know it's going to be fairly legit. The filmmakers are also looking for live footage of The Beatles, so who knows? Your footage could make it into the film. Head to Consequence of Sound to read more 'bout it.

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Now Hear This, Vol. III

Consumers of my dancing-about-architecture reportage are probably aware of my frequent use of the adjectival "blackety-black." It's really just an overly precious synonym for: atramentous, ebony, jet, obsidian, onyx, pitch, slate, sloe and the like. But thanks to British scientists at Surrey NanoSystems, there's now an honest-to-goodness blackety-black. It's called Vantablack (or super black), and it's record-breaking darkness absorbs all but .035 percent of light. It's so damn black that the human eye has difficulty discerning its dimensions. Like a freaking black hole. Its primary intended applications are terrestrial, space and air-borne optical instrumentation. But now hear this: The Little Black Dress will never be the same.

Blouse - "Into Black"

The Daily Mail reports that it's created using carbon nanotubes—"which are 10,000 thinner than human hair and so miniscule that light cannot get in but can pass into the gaps in between"—and if that isn't enough, it's 10 times stronger than steel and conducts heat seven-and-a-half times more effectively than copper. Yeah. Owing to my obsessive-compulsive nature, themes prove irresistably attractive, so here are my favorite songs that pay tribute to blackety-black, er, Vantablack. Share your favorite black-centric tracks in the comments, fellow darklings.

Dead Can Dance - "Black Sun"

Beat Happening - "Black Candy"

Cosmetics - "Black Leather Gloves"

Nick Drake - "Black Eyed Dog"

Nina Simone - "Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair"

Pictureplane - "Black Nails"

The Sandwitches - "Black Rider"

Timber Timbre - "Black Water"

The Velvet Underground & Nico - "Black Angel's Death Song"

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Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights

Good news for good news lovers

King Tuff's Was Dead album was one of my favorites of 2013. Though it came out years ago, fan fervor over the original recordings made him reissue it last year, and rightfully so. It's a fantastic record. Now Tuff is gearing up to release another LP (Black Moon Spell), and he's giving a taste of what it'll entail with the album track “Eyes of the Muse.” That should tide you over 'til Sept. 23, but I'm sure he'll release more previews between then and now. Here's hoping.

King Tuff - “Eyes of the Muse”

I've always liked Usher ... well, mostly. I've lost touch with a lot of his recent work, but “Confessions Part II,” “Nice and Slow” and “Yeah” are some good songs to dance, reflect or get in the mood to. Whatever your preference, the man knows what he's doing. Now Usher has made a track available that was produced by Pharrell and features Nicki Minaj. The slick, club-happy number will definitely be a crowdpleaser. Head to Hip-Hop Wired to hear it.

Coldplay and Cat Power? I'm sure some could have predicted it … probably not. Cat Power is ... well ... Cat Power. And Coldplay used to be good. Regardless, it's an interesting combination any way you squeeze it, and the song they've concocted together (written by Coldplay's Chris Martin, sung by Chan Marshall) is a contemplative little number. The track “Wish I Was Here” was written and recorded for Zach Braff's upcoming film of the same name. How that'll go is an entirely different thing. But check out the song below.

Coldplay & Cat Power - “Wish I Was Here”

There's always dissension when a legendary rock group announces they've recorded new material. Some say it's going to be awful. Some say it's a new era, a new sound. Whatever your views, that still doesn't stop it from happening. Take Pink Floyd for instance. The group is coming out with a new record (The Endless River) in October, and according to the band's website, it's “an album of mainly ambient and instrumental music based on the 1993/4 Division Bell sessions which feature David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright.” So keep an eye out for that one … or don't … I mean I might not even remember … I probably will though.

I mentioned a few weeks back that Christopher Owens (former frontman from Girls) was coming out with his second solo album. Well, that's still happening. The record (A New Testament) hits the music-sphere on Sept. 30. And Owens shared a snippet in the form of “Nothing More Than Everything to Me,” which you can view below.

Christopher Owens - “Nothing More Than Everything to Me”

It's happening. Beck is going to release a new album titled Song Reader. I know, I know, he already came out with a record called Song Reader (though it was a release of sheet music, made to be interpreted by skilled musicians). But Beck is going to release actual recordings of those songs, and each track is going to be done by a different artist. Among them are Laura Marling, Jack Black, Jarvis Cocker, Jack White and much more. Head to Pitchfork to get more deets on that. Oh, and it drops on July 29, which is hella soon!

Audio/Visual

Like most, I became familiar with The Vines at the turn of the millennium when they graced us with “Get Free.” Anyone else remember the Hives vs. Vines battle during MTV's Music Awards? Them's were the days. The band has been steadily releasing albums over the past decade, though none have found their way on my radar. Now, they're coming out with a new double LP (Wicked Nature). They're self-releasing it via PledgeMusic where fans donate funds and get free downloads of some of the album's tracks. So there ya go. Not sure when the record is coming out, but you can watch the video for their new song “Metal Zone” below.

The Vines - “Metal Zone”

Out the left hangar

Taylor Swift is a writer? Well, duh, I know she writes her own songs, but an editorial? And for the Wall Street Journal? The country-pop sensation wrote a piece on the future of the music industry, speculating on where music will be in 30 or 40 years. Swift describes herself at the beginning of the piece as an “enthusiastic optimist.” (Go figure.) She does say some insightful things here and there, and whether you agree with her assertions, it's not as if she's the be-all-end-all authority on music entirely. But if you want her perspective, it's not a terrible read. See what she has to say here.

Fans of Death Proof are no strangers to Mary Elizabeth Winstead (you know, the one who was dressed like a cheerleader in the second half). 'Member the scene where she sits in the car and sings a lovely cover of Smith's “Baby It's You”? Good times. Well Winstead and Dan “The Automator” Nakamura have a music project together (Got A Girl), and they're getting ready to release a record on July 22. To give people a preview, they've made the track “There's a Revolution” available. Listen to the retro pop ditty below.

There are still moments when I get tears in my eyes at the thought that I will never see The White Stripes live in person. I think back to moments when I could have seen them had I driven 3 1/2 hours, changed highways, snacked on goodies, all while playing all six of their fantastic albums in chronological order. That is slightly remedied with the release of a live White Stripes album (Live Under the Lights of the Rising Sun). No release date on it yet, but the record will have 31 tracks, and it's taken from their first tour in Japan in 2000. So it'll probably have some good early stuff. Head to NME to read more 'bout it.

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Now Hear This, Vol. II

Samantha Anne Carrillo

Are you properly caring for your inner goth? My years of rockin' an all-black wardrobe, a Wite-Out complexion and panda eyes may be over, but I take care to nourish my blackety-black heart and sonic sensibility. If you're feeling the urge to chainsmoke clove cigs, brood and write bad poetry, I recommend channeling that energy into a celebration of Dark Entries Records' fifth anniversary.

Stream a mix Cheon brewed up for Dark Entries' fifth anniversary above.

DJ Josh Cheon founded the label in July 2009 with the intention of releasing out-of-print and unreleased underground '80s treasures. Named for the first 7-inch released by goth icon Bauhaus, Dark Entries' focus is curation, preserving sound quality and respecting its artists' aural aesthetic . And, yes, the label's output is strictly vinyl.

Preview Dark Entries' reissue of '80s Italo disco group Helen's early maxi singles as a four-song EP.

Dark Entries' lifeblood is the excavation, quality reproduction and distribution of largely unknown pleasures, but it also showcases contemporary acts whose sound harkens back to the heyday of minimal synth, coldwave, dark wave, electro, Italo disco and post-punk. Highlights of the Dark Entries catalog include work by Dark Day, Jeff and Jane Hudson, Starter, Linea Aspera, Kitchen & the Plastic Spoons, Algebra Suicide, Los Microwaves, Patrick Cowley, Victrola, Lè Travo, Crash Course in Science, Lassigue Bendthaus, Cute Heels and Helen.

Sample the debut LP by Cute Heels, the solo project of Belgian artist and Black Leather Records manager Victor Lenis.

"If only for the old times," reminisce and peer into the future by exposing your dark side to Dark Entries.

Stream "Nightcrawler" from Dark Entries' 2xLP Patrick Cowley retrospective, School Daze.

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Now Hear This, Vol. I

Zola Jesus' new track "Dangerous Days" is a modern-sounding electro-pop banger.

Welcome to the first installment of "Now Hear This," a column to chronicle my obsessive-compulsive sonic studies, archaelogical and futurist alike. And while here with me, expect everything from old and alt.country to rocanrol to dark wave to Italo disco to queercore to punk to riot grrrl to noise to minimal synth and everywhere in between ... Except smooth jazz, (most) contemporary country and reggae. They just don't do it for me. As they say—who are they, anyway?—there's no accounting for taste.

The other day Mark asked what my favorite Steely Dan song is. It's "Your Gold Teeth." Steely Dan's Jamalot tour hits Legends Theater on Wednesday, July 16, y'all. Check out i28 for all the deets.

I embrace that motto and am wholly dependent on my musical addiction to transcend the banality of everyday life. Don't get me wrong. I really dig my life. Getting to collaborate with and work alongside an uber-talented editorial staff and freelancers every day is, like, the dream. But sometimes you simply have to hear something new or unfamiliar that excites and challenges you. This column will serve as complement to my colleague Mark Lopez' wide-ranging Rooster Roundabout series.

Mike put Iris Dement's "Let the Mystery Be" on a mixtape, and it was love at first listen.

My soundscape and its population, past and present, have benefited from the hive mind of many wonderful humans, ranging from my vinyl historian pal Mike Harper in Huntsville, Tex., who first exposed me to the music nerd bug;

I might never have heard Starter's "Victim" if not for Frankie. And that, my friends, would be a tragedy.

to synth/post-punk/ industrial maven and Systems of Romance curator Frankie Teardrop, also of cold wave/post-punk band The Harrow;

On one of the first Caterwaul radio shows I heard, I was comforted to recognize a fellow Culturcide fan.

to Dirt City denizen Derek Caterwaul, notably of KUNM Radio and Low Life at Blackbird Buvette, who remains one of my favorite DJs after more than a decade of listening to his Music to Soothe the Savage Beast and Overnight Freeform shows;

Listen to TAHNZZ' "Her Strange Dwellings" above.

to Burqueña Tahnee Udero aka DJ Tahnee, whose massive knowledge base is supplanted by exquisite taste, and her solo project TAHNZZ garnered serious listmas praise in 2013;

Stream DJ Mello's "Sprinkles," a nonpareil mix of funk, jazz, R&B and soul, above.

to Mello Sanchez aka DJ Mello, an uber-talented DJ and pastry chef and one of my best friends;

I will not return your records #252 by I Will Not Return Your Records on Mixcloud

Stream I Will Not Return Your Records #252, feat. tracks by Bardo Pond, Circuit des Yeux, Love, Low and Swans, above.

to northerly neighbor Lorrie Edmonds, curator of I Will Not Return Your Records, which I can safely say is one of the best radio shows on the planet.

Stream or download Pictureplane's second Check Yo' Ponytail mix above.

So this is a shout-out to all y'all strange, kindred music nerds, both the ones I know and the ones I haven't met yet.

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Acoustic Performer John Gorka Graces Duke City

John Gorka
John Gorka

Singer/songwriter John Gorka delivered two highly spirited sets at the Summer Nights series at the BioPark (903 10th Street SW) on Thursday, June 19. The Minnesota-based veteran touring artist wowed longtime fans and won over countless Albuquerque music lovers who were new to his signature mix of deep and clever vocals, guitar and comedic storytelling.

Gorka opened with originals from his latest release, The Bright Side of Down, and continued to sample the collection to great effect throughout the evening. Gorka is nothing if not precise, personal and universal, sometimes all in the same lyric. This ability combined with masterful musicianship across genres including folk, blues, pop, rock, bluegrass and rockabilly makes him a worthy companion for an evening ... or a lifetime. This reviewer has seen him in concert over 20 times. Many of those performances have been in festival settings, as Gorka is a highly sought-after act on the vital, enduring national folk fest circuit. At the BioPark concert, he joked about visiting Scandinavia, a hotbed of singer/songwriter and folk fandom.

Gorka's catalog is extensive, and he plumbed its depths in concert. Selections included chestnuts like “I Saw a Stranger with Your Hair,” “I’m From New Jersey,” “Branching Out” and “Love is Our Cross to Bear.” The modern-day Renaissance man wove requests and selective orchestrated sing-alongs to engage the receptive crowd on the lawn that beautiful night. Many in the audience were obviously longtime followers. And they, along with the newcomers, were rewarded with a varied and holistic representation of the showman’s talent.

In stark contrast to the awkward egotism displayed by Marc Cohn the week prior at Zoo Music, Gorka paid our fair city a compliment during the second set. He praised the enthusiastic audience, noting that he wished all his shows could be like this, in “this corner of paradise.” The key to delivering such a line lies in simplicity and sincerity, and Gorka radiated both.

John Gorka is a deft master of the folk trifecta: penetrating lyrics, unparalleled musicianship and compelling storytelling. When he opened and finished his tunes at the BioPark, he wasn't greeted with mere applause: We’re talking yelps, yoo-hoo's, squeals of joy and all-around exuberant acknowledgment of this well-traveled troubadour.

Dear John, please come back soon and stay longer.

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Pick of the Litter: Blackbird hosts The Manxx

According to lore of The Manxx, singer and guitarist Sara Belle threw academic aspirations out the window to make rock and roll her one and only vocation. She made the right choice. Since then, The Manxx has held fast to its lo-fi trash sound while ripping through a bottomless well of increasingly well-crafted songs about “love and partying.” It's not easy to put polish on punk without losing some of the music's energy. But the band's latest release, Take Away Your Brain, proves the Denver denizens' rock and roll studies haven't been sidelined by all that love and partying. Instead, The Manxx has managed to shine up an apple that remains deliciously rotten to the core. Tonight The Manxx rocks Blackbird Buvette (509 Central NW), and the trio's first Albuquerque gig is guaranteed to be a high-energy showcase of danceable garage punk. Aside from the out-of-town awesomeness, other reasons to show up are local hero Marty Crandall (Sad Baby Wolf, ex-The Shins) brand-new power-chord band Award Tour and local surf-rock/punk trio Pool Party. This 21-plus concert kicks off at 10pm, and there's no cover. Blackbird Buvette • Sat Jun 28 • 10pm • FREE • 21+

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Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights

Good news for good news lovers

Man, them Swedish folks sure know how to craft a nice pop tune. This song may have some bubblegum-ness to it, but damn if it ain't catchy. Oh, I'm talking about Icona Pop's new song. In case you're unfamiliar with the Swedish pop duo, they hit it pretty big with their track “I Love It,” and now they've come out with a new tune that might not have the same edge of the aforementioned ditty, but it's for sure gonna snare them some new fans, if not keep the old ones steady until a full-length manifests. Have a listen to “Get Lost” below.

Icona Pop - “Get Lost”

I'm sure there has been talk of this, but I wasn't aware. Aretha Franklin is recording a divas covers album. Ms. Franklin took the time to speak with Billboard about working with Andre 3000 (who is a co-producer on the record), the status of the album (she's “on it”) and named a few songs she's covering. Among them are Adele's “Rollin in the Deep,” Donna Summer's “Last Dance” and Tina Turner's “What's Love Got to Do With It.” Head to Billboard to read what one of the best vocalists ever had to say about what she's working on.

Some electronica-lovin' folks are 'bout to get super-duper excited. Grimes has come out with a new track (apparently her first in two years), and it was originally written to be performed by Rihanna ... who turned it down. So what was Grimes to do? Why, record it herself! The song (titled “Go”) is a lovely, atmospheric tune that's got a banging beat, background yelps and some smooth, slick production, and it also features Blood Diamonds. Have a listen below.

For fans of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, including myself, it's time to get excited: Karen O is coming out with her first solo effort (Crush Songs). Granted, she already recorded solo material with Native Korean Rock & the Fishnets, but that project only released rough demos, which you can still find on YouTube. But this is an actual full-length endeavor, y'all. That drops on Sept. 9, which isn't too far off, so keep scanning those headlines for more info in the coming months.

While I didn't listen to Robert Plant's last solo record (Band of Joy), I was a huge fan of his collaborative LP with Alison Krauss (Raising Sand). That record was phenomenal; all you have to do is listen and hear how their voices meld together to form a sound that can't be replicated, a sound that is pure magic. See “Stick With Me Baby.” Regardless, Plant is coming out with another solo effort, titled lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar. That'll hit stores on Sept. 9, and you can have a listen to album track “Rainbow” below.

Robert Plant - “Rainbow”

It's here people! Well, the announcement is here. Julian Casablancas + the Voidz have officially announced their debut record (or Casablancas' second solo record). The album (Tyranny) hits stores and online markets on Sept. 23 and will be sold through Casablancas' Cult Records, where it's on preorder now for the mere cost of $3.87. You read that right. Head over to Rolling Stone to read more about the album.

Get ready for the blasphemy because I'm gonna say it: I've never really listened to Radiohead. And it's not because of any disrespect, but mostly because they just haven't crossed my path as much as most. Wait ... does "Creep" count? Okay, back to the point. Radiohead drummer Philip Selway is coming out with a new solo record. There isn't too much info on the release, other than it's called Weatherhouse and comes out on Oct. 7. So keep an ear out for that.

Radiohead - “Creep”

Oh snap! Prince is back! Well, he never really went away, but you know what I mean. The pop diva (erm ... divo? What's the male term?) has announced another album is on the way (on top of his 3rdEyeGirl record, which still hasn't seen a proper release). Good news? Hell, you're getting two for the price of one, or maybe not the price of one, but you catch my drift, right? As for the album, there's no title or release date, but Prince did name a few tracks: “The Gold Standard” and “This Could Be Us.” Head to Pitchfork to read more ‘bout it.

Audio/Visual

If you've read this column, I'm sure you're tired of witnessing my excitement concerning Veruca Salt's reunion. But hey, it didn't end there, and it won’t end here. The band has now come out with a video to the b-side of their first single, “The Museum of Broken Relationships,” aka “It's Holy.” The video features band footage along with fans listening to the record in the comfort of their own homes. Scroll down a little further to view the little gem.

Veruca Salt - “It’s Holy”

As Rolling Stone notes, Robin Thicke's new video for the song “Get Her Back” is kind of “awkward.” While I don't indulge in gossip, the track is supposedly a plea to his estranged wife, begging for her to come back. The awkward (and so 2014) parts of the video are the text messages that flash across the screen. I'm not sure if they're real, but either way, it's pretty uncomfortable. But I'll let you decide for yourself. Also, you can pick up the album (titled Paula, yes, after his wife) next week. Enjoy! Or don't.

Robin Thicke - “Get Her Back”

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"Count Me In"

311 kicks off summer tour in Albuquerque

Get ready for a night to remember: The multi-platinum rock band 311 comes to Albuquerque tonight. In fact, this will be their first stop for a seven-week North America summer tour. With influences from hip-hop to funk to ska, there’s plenty to take away from their show.

Stereolithic, their most recent album, has debuted in the top 10 on Billboard's Top 200 Album Chart and features 15 new songs. It originally dropped on March 11—get it, 3/11?—making it 311 Day, which consisted of the band playing a 66-song, 5-hour set in New Orleans. Definitely a tough show, but by all reports, they held their own.

After more than 25 years, the band has been able to keep and grow its fan base. According to a 2012 interview with 311 vocalist and DJ SA Martinez, "There’s always a younger generation that may not be privy to a lot of musical styles, but I find our audiences constantly changing. ... When we came out in the ’90s, we had a different sound and radio wasn’t initially ready for us."

With that being said, “Count me in” for 311’s Goodwill benefit concert tonight at the Sandia Resort and Casino Amphitheater (30 Rainbow Rd.). Doors open at 7pm and the show kicks off at 8. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com or at the Sandia Casino and Resort box office or by calling (800) 745-3000.

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Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights

Audio/Visual

A friend of mine recently introduced me to the band Ought. Normally I don't take advice from people that vouch heavily for Phoenix, but I gave them a listen. And I liked their dissociative, manic sense of how rock is played. It caught my attention quickly. Now, the band has come out with a video for their song “Today More Than Any Other Day,” off their record More Than Any Other Day. The band is also touring, but sadly, no stop in the Duke City. Either way, have a looksie at the vid below.

'Member how I mentioned a while back that Kelly Rowland and Beyoncé were featured on a track (“Say Yes”) on Michelle Williams' upcoming gospel record, making for a pseudo Destiny's Child reunion? Well, fans of Williams and the group can bask in the visual accompaniment of the song in Williams' new video. Go ahead and view that below.

Michelle Williams feat. Beyoncé & Kelly Rowland - “Say Yes”

What would Lana Del Rey's videos look like if not seen through an Instagram-filtered scope? Well, they probably wouldn't exist. I know I've written about Del Rey quite a bit in the past couple months, but since her third LP (Ultraviolence) is now out and about, this one will focus on the video for album track “Shades of Cool,” which is one of the better tracks she's put out in anticipation for the record. Watch the colorful proceedings below.

Lana Del Rey - “Shades of Cool”

Another artist that's come out with a visual representation of a lofty ditty is the band Arctic Monkeys. The song in question: “Snap Out of It” off their latest LP AM. Is there really anything else to say? Other than you should watch it? I think not.

Arctic Monkeys - “Snap Out of It”

Good news for good news lovers

I don't know about you, but I'm always up for a good competition. In this case, Mac Demarco, fresh off the release of his latest LP Salad Days, is issuing a “Draw Me” contest. Participants are asked to submit a 7X7 drawing of Demarco to Captured Tracks. And if it wins, it'll be the cover of one of his upcoming 7” series records. The submission deadline is June 27, which is a short time away, so get drawing! You can head to Stereogum for more info and guidelines. Let the games begin!

'Member how I mentioned that a tribute LP to Duran Duran was coming out soon? It's fine if you don't. I talk about a lot of stuff. Regardless, the record (Making Patterns Rhyme: A Tribute to Duran Duran) is ready to hit stores and online markets on July 15, with proceeds benefiting Amnesty International. And to give fans of the band a taste of what the album will sound like (or at least this one track), the song “The Chauffer,” interpreted by Warpaint, is available for listening. Enjoy!

Aphex Twin was another one of those artists that slipped through my fingers. I couldn't even name one song, though I'm sure if you played one, my mind would recall the rhythms, the cadences, the whatnots. But a long-lost album (Caustic Window) from 1994 is finally available for mass consumption, thanks to the efforts of a Kickstarter campaign that provided fans with digital copies of the record. And now it's online, so everyone can partake in the sonic celebration. Head to Pitchfork to give that a listen and to read more 'bout it.

So I mentioned a couple times that a Kickstarted documentary about Elliott Smith was in the works. Heaven Adores You, directed by Nickolas Rossi, debuted last month, but fans now have the opportunity to see the first few minutes—you know, to tide you over 'til the film becomes available in your area. Take a gander at the video below.

Heaven Adores You: The First Few Minutes

Aaliyah's death hit pretty hard. I still remember attending my cousin's quinceanera and seeing coverage on the television set after the party had died down. My jaw dropped. The woman who had sung several of my favorites like “Are You That Somebody” and “Try Again” had passed away in an airplane accident. But lucky for people like me—people that will jump at the opportunity for an homage or a biopic—Lifetime is coming out with a film about the late R&B singer. The film, Aaliyah: Princess of R&B, will show some time in the fall, and it stars Zendaya. She's apparently famous from the Disney Channel, so that's probably why I've never heard of her. You can read more about it over at A.V. Club.

Now, we say goodbye.

If you ask most music historians about songwriting, you'll most likely hear them reference the duo that was Goffin & King, or Gerry Goffin and Carole King—the once-married duo who penned fantastic songs like the Everly Brothers' “Crying in the Rain,” the great “Loco-Motion” and The Drifters' “Some Kind of Wonderful,” among others. So it's a sad announcement that Goffin has passed on. He was 75 years old. I'm not sure what the cause of death was, but it's sad nonetheless. So, Goffin, this one's for you ...

The Everly Brothers - “Crying in the Rain”

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Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights

Please release me

Here's the thing about Ty Segall. The dude is absolutely relentless. If he's not touring, he's constantly writing and recording. Segall is nothing, if not prolific. Adding to his already expanded catalogue of material, the garage-psych-fuzz wunderkind is gearing up to release a new record this year (Manipulator). And starting in August (well, he's doing one show in June), he's going to tour the shit out of that LP 'til the end of the year. The album drops on Aug. 26, but you can head over to NME for tour dates, tracklisting and whatnot. Also, you can view an album teaser below. Enjoy ...

Ty Segall Manipulator Album Teaser

Even though I don't consider myself a fan of The New Pornographers, I did have the privilege to interview band member A.C. Newman for my college paper. He proved to be kind and thoroughly interesting, which is basically all you want out of an interview. So it's nice to see the band still going strong. At least strong enough that they're coming out with a new record (Brill Bruisers) Aug. 26, and to give people a taste of what that LP will entail, they've made an album track available. So to hear that, and to read more info on said record, head over to Billboard.

Spoon was one of those rock bands that completely went over my head. But living in Austin, Texas, it was hard not to hear about them. Upon getting the chance to see them at ACL a few years back, I opted to see Gnarls Barkley instead, and I've never regretted it. Now the Texan group are releasing a new record (They Want My Soul), and they've shared a snippet in the form of the song “Rent I Pay,” which you can hear below via an unofficial video. Don't know if officiality is a priority to you, but there you have it. As for the release date: Buy it on Aug. 5.

Spoon - “Rent I Pay”

Like most people, my only tidbit of knowledge surrounding Kimbra was her guest vox on the hit track “Somebody That I Used to Know,” as made famous by the probably-über-rich Gotye. But Kimbra has her own solo career, her own songs, her own identity, y'all. And if you haven't listened to her yet, her upcoming record (The Golden Echo) might be a good place to start. Some guest musicians include Van Dyke Parks (!), Omar Rodríguez López (from now-defunct Mars Volta) and John Legend, among others. That drops Aug. 19, but for more deets, head over to Pitchfork.

Here's another new album to look forward to, folks: It's Weezer's upcoming record Everything Will be Alright in the End. Produced by the Cars' Ric Ocasek, no release date has been announced. But what does that matter? You should just get excited that the group is coming out with some new material. View an album teaser below.

=w= 9

Former Burqueño Willis Earl Beal has decided to leave XL Recordings. In an interview with Under the Radar, Beal basically said the direction he's going and the direction of the label were like two separate roads, one road wandering toward a more “trendy” atmosphere, while he wants his music to walk the road less traveled, to be its own entity. Mind you, those are my interpretations, not actual pieces of the interview. But he's coming out with a new record (Experiments in Time) on Aug. 8, and that will be released independently. Read more about it here.

Good news for good news lovers

A friend of mine introduced me to the song “Ferris Wheel” by Possessed By Paul James years ago. And that's really the only thing I've heard, and the only thing I've ever cared about when his name is brought up. It's beautiful. It's heartbreaking. It's songwriting at its finest. And Konrad Wert, the man behind the moniker, is playing Low Spirits on Wednesday, June 25. And why am I so jazzed about this? Because I'll get to hear this song from the man himself. From his own lips. Listen to that below, and see why it's essential for me to attend this concert.

Possessed By Paul James - “Ferris Wheel”

It's no secret that punk bands haven't exactly been chart-toppers. I mean, isn't that one of the requirements of being a successful punk band … no success? So it's a nice fact that the Ramones first record, their classic self-titled opus that carried a soaring energy, a gritty, yet upbeat mentality and a fun dynamic, has been certified gold after 38 years. That's right, they're officially über-famous. Not just famous. Congratulations dudes.

It's happening, motherfuckers! There'd been some talk about The Unicorns reforming, but that's all it was: talk. Now the band has confirmed that they are, in fact, reuniting, and not just that: They're also going to open for Arcade Fire for a few shows. The band has no touring or recording plans yet, but I’m sure new material will probably trickle out within the next year or so. One can only hope. Listen to my favorite Unicorns track below.

The Unicorns - “Sea Ghost”

For all of you nostalgic folks who are still in the know (or would like to be) about Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys ... it looks like he's working on some new material. And some folks that might get featured on the record include Lana Del Rey, Frank Ocean and Zooey Deschanel. A lot of this is speculation, so fingers crossed that these assumptions bear fruit. Ya dig? Head over to Stereogum to read more about it.

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Windy Good Times at the ABQ Folk Festival

“A Little a’ This ‘n’ That”

Photo by Nicole Chapman

As lovers of folk music and a novice musicians, it was a treat to finally attend this year's ABQ Folk Festival. Though it's been a Duke City summer staple for well over a decade, this year's festival was particularly special, as the event featured a tribute to the late, great Pete Seeger, one of the most notable American folk singers; he passed away earlier this year. The festival kicked off with the AFF Benefit Concert featuring Claire Lynch with opening band, Holy Water and Whiskey.

The event, which took place at the Balloon Fiesta Park, was well-organized with the help of volunteers. Free parking and camping gave the event a community feel, as did the music and dance workshops, art, food, petting zoo, etc. In addition to a variety of different local and national folk acts, the Band Scramble Competition offered the opportunity for musicians from different groups to play together for the first time. Temporary groups formed through a lottery system with just 50 minutes to prepare for a six-minute performance in front of a panel of judges.

Square dance lessons, storytelling, and poetry gave the festival a quality of authenticity that would have made Pete proud and, after prizes were handed out for the Scramble, the tribute to Seeger was quickly in full swing. “For Pete’s Sake” consisted of fervent musicians and fans belting out a myriad of Pete's tunes on and off stage in the spirit of true unity; a proper send-off, indeed.

As we concluded the tribute with our rendition of “Blowing in the Wind,” nature took us a little too literally. Tent pegs were no match for the dusty New Mexico gusts that sent the canvas sailing. The Fire Marshall quickly hammered out danger by moving the festivities indoors. As festival goers continued dancing inside the Balloon Fiesta Museum and the sun was setting, it seemed that the legendary Ramblin' Jack Elliott would not be closing the night. Much to our surprise, not only did he make an appearance, he was cordial and kind, warming us with stories of travel and inspiration. Strangers became friends and friends became family and, as Ramblin' Jack departed for Austin, we were reminded that to every thing, there is a season, and that we would all be eagerly awaiting next year’s Folk Festival. Thank you Albuquerque, thank you Pete, and thank you, Ramblin' Jack!

Music

Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights

Finally, a snippet of what Jenny Lewis has been up to for the past few years. You see, I mentioned a week or two ago that her new record (The Voyager) is set to hit the music-sphere on July 29. Little did I know that Lewis was getting ready to release a lyric video of an album track a short time later. Fate or not, I'm glad for it. The song is called “Just One of the Guys,” and it's produced by none other than Beck himself. If we're judging Lewis' sound off this one track, it definitely lacks the grit of Acid Tongue, but hey: evolution, right? Listen to that below.

Jenny Lewis - “Just One of the Guys” [Official Lyric Video]

Talk about cute: Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy has formed a group with his 18-year-old son. They're simply called Tweedy, and their debut record (Sukierae) hits stores on Sept. 16 (aka my birthday). The duo have made a song from said record available on the interwebz. Have a listen to “I'll Sing It” below, and look out for more news about the record in the coming months. Cheers!

I was one of those people that listened to Interpol's first LP (Turn On the Bright Lights), obsessed over it and never paid much attention to what they came out with afterwards. It wasn't necessarily from lack of interest ... or maybe that's exactly what it was. Regardless, they've been steadily releasing records over the years, and they're preparing the release of their fifth studio album El Pintor. That record drops on Sept. 9. Head over to Pitchfork for album details and whatnot.

Though there's been leaked videos galore all over the internet (all of them having shitty quality, I might add), the official video of Nirvana's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has now appeared online. The ceremony aired on HBO on May 31 and included other inductees like Peter Gabriel, Hall & Oates, Linda Ronstadt and Cat Stevens. However, since the late Kurt Cobain obviously wasn't in attendance, there was a lot of speculation over who would perform as lead singer. In short, Joan Jett (who provided an underwhelming version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”), Kim Gordon, Annie Clark (of St. Vincent) and Lorde performed vocals. The best performance was definitely Lorde singing “All Apologies.” You can view the performances, induction speeches and more below.

Nirvana 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame HD Full Induction & Performances

I first found out about Common after seeing him on HBO's “Def Poets.” By the way, they need to bring that back. Now, Common is set to release his upcoming record Nobody's Smiling on July 22. And like most artists trying to build some buzz over a forthcoming LP, he's made album track “Kingdom,” which features Vince Staples, available online for listeners and the like. So get to listening.

Unless you've been following her career, which I haven't, you probably know Sinead O'Connor mostly from “Nothing Compares 2U” or her tearing up a photo of Pope John Paul II. Regardless, she's preparing to release her 10th full-length effort, which recently got retitled as I'm not Bossy, I'm the Boss, after Sheryl Sandberg's “Ban Bossy” campaign. The album is set to hit stores on Aug. 12. For more info on that, head over to Billboard.

It's no secret that people are seriously itching for the release of Lana Del Rey's third full-length effort (Ultraviolence), seeing as how every week a new song becomes available. It's almost as if the countdown to the Mother Ship docking into the Atlantic will coincide with the record's release. And judging from the title track, it's clear that Del Rey has honed her skills to make sultry, noir-pop that aims for some semblance of controversy (ie. “he hit me, and it felt like a kiss”). I can already see headlines asserting she's glorifying abuse. But whatevs, it's one of the better tracks she's put out in a hot minute. Take a listen below, and look for the album on July 17.

Lana Del Rey - “Ultraviolence”

I can't remember how I first heard of indie-pop duo Tennis. I want to say it was one of those momentary lapse of Pandora-predicted listens that brought me to them. While I wasn't wowed, I thought their cutesy vibe was enough to sustain a few more songs from their repertoire. And now the band is coming out with a new record titled Ritual in Repeat. To give fans a taste of the LP's vibe, they've shared the song “Never Work for Free.” The album doesn't hit stores 'til Sept. 9, so that gives you some time to reacquaint yourselves to the sound of balls ... uh, I mean Tennis. Head to Stereogum to listen to that little number.

Hey there, album streamers. We've got what some good ones for ya. First is Jack White's Lazaretto. If you're too impatient to wait 'til Tuesday to pick up a physical copy, iTunes Radio has you covered. But since I lack the hardware, have Pitchfork guide you to the land of free music ... or rather, free music streaming. PS: You can watch the video to “Lazaretto” below. And while you're at it, why don't you stream First Aid Kit's latest LP (Stay Gold), which also comes out on Tuesday. That one's over at NPR.

Jack White - “Lazaretto”

Fresh off her last release (The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You), Neko Case has come out with a new track that also features Kelly Hogan. The song (“These Aren't the Droids”) comes off a compilation titled 2776: A Millennium of American Asskickery. The release is a “comedy-musical benefit compilation” that hits stores on July 4, and proceeds from purchases will go to OneKid OneWorld. Other folks appearing on that record are Patton Oswalt, Andrew W.K., Aimee Mann, Reggie Watts and much more. Head to Pitchfork to give that a listen.

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