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Music

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.

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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.

Play Youtube Video
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.

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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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Music

Rooster Roundabout: Best albums of 2013

Well ... according to me

Now that Christmas is over and the New Year is upon us, many music outlets are looking back at one more year in music and the many bands that inhabited that particular point in time. 2013 was a big year. We had releases from Kanye West, Arcade Fire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and much more. But I’ve never been one to look at year-end lists because I mostly don’t agree with the writers, or I get bored with them. So if you get bored reading this one, I completely understand and won’t fault you. Now, the idea of a year-end list is to boast the work created that year. I’m not going to do that. Instead I’m going to list the top five albums I listened to this year.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean these albums were made this year. Hell, a couple of them were made decades ago. But, in my humble perspective, I always urge people to delve into music of the past. My argument is that you can’t completely focus on the music of today without understanding how past music shaped that sound. IE: I recently heard an interview with Lorde (who is on this list) where she said that if the Beatles hadn’t done what they did, she wouldn’t have done what she did. You get the idea. So ... here’s my list! Enjoy or don’t enjoy. And remember ... there’s always next year.

Lorde - Pure Heroine

This album completely came out of nowhere. I remember hearing “Royals” on the radio and wondering who this pop princess was. Turns out she wasn’t a “princess” per se, but more of a weird little goth chick who made sparse electronic ditties. What won me over was the fact that she wrote her own songs, helped produce the album and she was only 16 when the album was finished. If that’s not an accomplishment, I don’t know what is. Oh, and the album is actually good. Songs like “400 Lux,” “Buzzcut Season,” and “White Teeth Teens” show her range and vivacity.

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Lorde - “400 Lux”

Hank Williams - Wait For the Light to Shine

While I do believe in God, I’m not especially religious. So church hymns, gospel and good ol’ fashioned odes to Jesus via country music rhythms and rhymes always strike a music fancy to my eardrums. And Williams’ homage to the Lord is no exception. Tracks like “Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine” and the title track show Williams crooning over typical country ditties, but his voice presents a magic wash over the scratchy record I got at Charley’s for $1.99. My hands-down favorite track on the record is “Devil’s Train.” It’s the most scratchy, and maybe that’s why I like it.

Play Youtube Video
Hank Williams - “Devil’s Train”

King Tuff - Was Dead

Apparently the original pressing of this record is impossible to find, but due to an overwhelming number of people attempting to get a copy in their sweaty hands, Burger Records reissued the album, making it available for people like me (who find out about bands very late in the game). This LP never left my record player for a good month. Whether I was cleaning, eating or pooping, it was always on in the background. Album opener “Dancing On You” immediately grabs you, and Tuff’s trippy (sometimes whiny) vocals just take over. My personal favorite is “Sun Medallion,” but “Freak When I’m Dead” and “Just Strut” are great songs as well. Actually, just listen to the whole thing. It’s a keeper.

Play Youtube Video
King Tuff - “Sun Medallion”

Patti Smith - Horses

This record dominated 2013 for me. While I’m an artist, I had gone through a slump, so I started becoming more diligent by painting again. So one day while painting, I played Smith’s most famous album. I’d already been a fan of it, but for some reason, while blending colors and etching out pieces of cardboard with a needle, it just hit me. It’s brilliant. From her opening rendition of “Gloria” to “Land,” the album is genius. If you haven’t listened to it, there’s still time. So from then on, any time I sat down to paint, draw, sketch or take photographs of weird ornaments, it was always on in the background ... and still is. It’s the perfect “art” record.

Play Youtube Video
Patti Smith - “Land”

Savages - Silence Yourself

I can’t remember the last time I got this excited about a band. While every music blog was riding the wave of salivating over this “post-punk” prodigy, I just couldn’t get over their stark single “I Am Here.” It was my obsession with that song that prompted me to buy the album (at Urban Outfitters no less). While it has a dark, menacing tone, the musicality at work is of the upmost cohesive. Each song blends into the next, but each track is a stand-alone gem. “Husbands” is quick and painful. “City’s Full” is fantastically dreadful. And album closer “Marshal Dear” ties it all together with some horns and piano. It’s a masterpiece, and it makes me brim with anticipation for what they’ll put out next.

Play Youtube Video
Savages - “Husbands”

Those were my top five albums of the year. What were yours? Feel free to comment.

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