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V.23 No.4 | 1/23/2014

Music

Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights

Damon Albarn, of Blur and Gorillaz fame, has announced that he's coming out with a solo LP, titled Everyday Robots. The album comes out on April 29, which is still a little down the road, so that gives you time to save some pennies. But Albarn has made the title track and video available, so you can check that out below.

Amnesty International is putting together a Human Rights Concert (well, putting it back on, so to speak), and they've gotten some good names to provide the tunes, like Flaming Lips, Lauryn Hill, Cold War Kids, etc. But most importantly, they're gonna have Pussy Riot at the festivities … or at least the two members who were formerly imprisoned, but released about a month ago. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina will make an appearance on Feb. 5 at the Bringing Human Rights Home concert at Brooklyn's Barclay's Center. So pack those bags and get to steppin'!

I've probably said this before, but I don't mind saying it again. I hate Kanye West. No. Hate is a strong word. I severely dislike Kanye West. Is the man talented? Yes. Does he need to shut his mouth if he's not spitting fierce rhymes over intricate beats? Yes. But he doesn't. That's the problem. Regardless, when Kanye isn't on a soap-box, he's actually an extremely talented individual. So I guess it's fitting that Interview Magazine paired him with innovative filmmaker Steve McQueen (Shame, 12 Years a Slave) for a print interview. You can read that here.

When you see a music project simply called Miserable, you have to take a listen. So it was a leap that I took when Stereogum highlighted a new track by Miserable, or Kristina Esfandiari (formerly of Whirr). Granted, I've never listened to her former band; this dark, brooding track immediately drew me in. The wall of sound existing within the short expanse of time it takes to get through it is immediately apparent, the thundering drums that quietly linger in the background before becoming a full force all their own. It's a nice treat. The track (titled “Bell Jar”) comes off her Halloween Dreams 7-inch, which hits the streets on Feb. 18. But you can hear the track below.

According to NME, in 1992 Columbia Records threw a special 30th anniversary concert for Bob Dylan at Madison Square Garden, which featured performances by numerous legends, from Johnny Cash to George Harrison, from Tracy Chapman to Lou Reed. And now that special concert is going to be released on CD and DVD on March 4. You can click here to get a full tracklisting of the CD and see a trailer for the DVD release.

I'm a huge Beck fan, just in case that's not already been made painfully obvious. Whether I'm listening to the gutter-soaked ramblings of a “loser” on Mellow Gold, or the electronic intonations of a veteran on The Information, the man just doesn't stop. And now Beck has released the audio of a track (“Blue Moon”) off his upcoming record Morning Phase. The album comes out on Feb. 25, which is right around the corner, so just bear with me while I try to contain my excitement. You can hear the track below.

Nicki Minaj and Drake have proven to be ubiquitous entities in the music-sphere. Good for them. It's a hard business, ain't it? So then it must be time to celebrate. I guess that's why their label is releasing Young Money: Rise of an Empire, which features tracks from Lil Wayne, the aforementioned Drake and Minaj, Birdman, Tyga and others. You can hear the Lil Wayne's track (“We Alright”) with Birdman and Euro, and read more about the compilation here.

Doesn't retiring from the music business mean not releasing any more albums? Or does it just mean releasing music but not making a public statement over it? In Tina Turner's case, it's the latter. The 74-year-old rock and soul icon has announced an album of love songs, titled Love Songs, to be released on Feb. 4. According to Billboard, the album will have some Turner classics like “What's Love Got to Do With It?” and “Private Dancer,” and some unreleased tracks. So get ready for that one.

I've only sporadically heard songs from Gary Clark Jr., but the amount of praise that's been thrown his way has been hefty. I remember reading a glowing story about the blues musician in Texas Monthly, and that made me curious about him. Of course, I forgot his name and never looked back. That won't happen twice. Now Gary Clark Jr. is coming out with Blak and Blu: The Mixtape, which features unreleased tracks and remixes featuring such names as Big K.R.I.T., Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli and more. You can hear the Big K.R.I.T. Remix of “Blak and Blu” over at Consequence of Sound. Apparently the mixtape doesn't have a release date yet. So keep your eyes and ears open.

Bet you never thought Patti Smith would cover a Rihanna track. Well, she did. A video recently surfaced of a concert performance from December that features Smith singing the somber ballad “Stay.” You can view that below.

Drag City, a record label hosting such contemporaries as Joanna Newsom (one of my all-time favorites), Bill Callahan and Ty Segall, has teamed up with Fred Armisen to release a series of 7” records of … wait for it … “Saturday Night Live” songs from Armisen's time on the show. You can head over to Stereogum to read more about that.

Uh-oh, someone's trying to bring the roof down in a big way. English electro duo Disclosure released their debut LP (Settle) last year. Now they've redone their track “F For You,” but they've added Mary J. Blige to the mix. This version of the bombastic club jam will definitely hit some turntables in the coming months (if it hasn't already). You can see the video for the track below.

V.22 No.51 | 12/19/2013

I'm sure a lot of people were sad after LCD Soundsystem decided to call it quits, especially after releasing the stellar This Is Happening in 2010. But all good things … Anyways, front man James Murphy recently told Rolling Stone that he's working on the live album for their final show at Madison Square Garden (the subject of the rock doc Shut Up and Play the Hits). You can read more of interview here.

Spotify wins out again (as if taking over the world's streaming sinuses weren't enough). Led Zeppelin's entire catalogue will now be available for free listening on the service. So if you're one of those who's too lazy to get out to a record store (or even purchase the physical albums online), then your wish has come true. So head over to your Spotify page, and climb that “stairway to heaven.”

Don't you love it when innovative and interesting musicians become such restless artists that they keep releasing innovative and interesting music over and over? Well, this is from judging one song. But St. Vincent, aka Annie Clark, has announced a self-titled album that's set to hit music markets on Feb. 25. Clark has made the track “Birth in Reverse” available online. You can hear that below.

Don't you just love love songs? No? What's wrong with you? Having already spilled my guts by ruminating over the “myth of the love song,” I've just come to accept that it's a notion that never dies. Maybe that's why artists like Beck, Fiona Apple, Blake Mills, Jim James and more have taken to covering famous love songs for the Sweetheart 2014 compilation. You can hear Jim James' cover of Bob Marley's “Turn Your Lights Down Low” below, and head over to Pitchfork to get a full tracklist.

I feel as if Black Lips are one of those bands that you can only really appreciate if you were into them from the beginning. Granted, I've only heard their album Good Bad Not Evil (which was a good album), but after seeing them live at Emo's in Austin, Texas, the underwhelming concert wasn't enough to make me a faithful listener. Oh well … now the band has announced a new record (Underneath the Rainbow), and it was partially produced by the overrated Black Keys' drummer Patrick Carney. Let's just say I probably won't get to this one.

The bossy lady herself, Kelis, has announced that she's coming out with a new album. The album, supposedly titled Food, is being produced by Dave Sitek (of TV on the Radio) and is slated to come out on April 28. Kelis' last album took listeners on a techno-club journey, whereas her previous efforts had a more pop-friendly rap/R&B vibe to them, so who knows what this new record holds? Either way, I'm intrigued.

Mark March 25 on your calendars. It will be a golden day indeed. Because that's the day that a “lost” Johnny Cash album (titled Out Among the Stars) is scheduled to be released. According to Pitchfork, the album was recorded in 1981, and John Carter Cash (Cash's son, duh) took the helm in restoring the recordings, which contain duets with June Carter Cash and Waylon Jennings. This is good news, folks. Good news.

You mean to tell me that kid from Home Alone is in a “pizza-themed Velvet Underground cover band”? Seriously? You're not joking? Come on … And there's a demo??? And a video of their first concert???

Movie soundtracks: Those fuckers can be a hefty bore or a good time … depending on how you look at it. David O. Russell's new film American Hustle is getting the soundtrack treatment that will be available in stores on Dec. 24. But the reason this soundtrack is extra special is because it has a new track by Jeff Lynne … yes, the front man, songwriter, composer, singer, the list goes on and on, of E.L.O. The track is titled “Stream of Stars,” and you can give it a listen below.

Wow … I must have been half-asleep if I didn't even know The Sounds had released a new album (titled Weekend) in October. Oops. But now they've premiered a video for their track “Hurt the Ones I Love.” This is my first introduction to their newer stuff, which seems to follow more closely to their work on Crossing the Rubicon. But I've always been more partial to the dance-pop-punk craze that dominated Living in America. You can view their new video below.

I could get better with rap. OK, I need to get better with rap. While my musical palate is rudimentary at best when it comes to rap and hip-hop, I always appreciate a good beat, some slick rhymes and good production. And that's what's happening on Busta Rhymes & Q-Tip's track, “Butch & Sundance,” off their mixtape The Abstract & The Dragon, which became available this week for streaming and downloading. You can hear the track below.