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June 2010

June 30, 2010

Dinner Jazz: Saxophone (Napster Playlist)

Ah, the versatile saxophone, staple of jazz, pop, and rock. It can wail or it can whisper, and in the hands of a master it can tell you things you never thought you'd hear. The saxophone edition of Napster's "Dinner Jazz" playlist series focuses on the softer side of the instrument, bringing you a romantic mix of balladry performed by a host of jazz greats—everyone from Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, and Sonny Rollins through John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter, and even Grover Washington, Jr., Michael Brecker, Dave Koz, and Kenny G. If the actual conversation wanes during your meal, it's only because these cats have so much to say.

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The-Dream, Love King

Grammy-winning singer-songwriter-producer Terius Nash's latest, Love King, already boasts a number of singles fans are buzzing about: The title track has already had its run on the Billboard R&B chart, while new singles "Make Up Bag" (featuring T.I.) and "Turnt Out" are each beginning to show similar strength. The very naughty track "Panties to the Side" even has a titillating promo video which is sure to raise temperatures (and a few clicks on the "replay" button). Considering all of his major past success with other artists such as Rihanna, Beyoncé, and Mariah Carey, so far Nash seems immune to the vicissitudes of being a pop star by relying on his many musical talents as writer, singer, and producer. And he shows no signs of slowing down, and why should he? He's living "The-Dream."

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New Helmet Album Due This August

Post-hardcore outfit Helmet have seen many lineup changes since their inception in 1989. In fact, singer/guitarist Page Hamilton is the only original member left, but despite the shuffle, the music has remained strong. In 2006 the band released Monochrome to positive reviews while touring with Guns N' Roses. Now, with another new lineup secured, the band will release a new album this August via Work Song entitled Seeing Eye Dog. And having heard several of the new tracks, I can honestly say it's something for all of us to look forward to. For the new set, Hamilton has pushed himself and his bandmates with multi-track experimentation and atmospheric interludes, while keeping the heavy drone onslaught fans have appreciated from day one. Until Dog's release, Interscope's compilation Unsung: The Best of Helmet 1991-1997 (pictured) is a good way to get your classic Helmet on.

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Young Jeezy, BEP, Sergio Mendes, and More: “Chicago Fire Soccer Team Favorites” (Napster Playlist)

As you may have noticed from the number of related posts, many of us here at Napster have World Cup fever. And even though there are no more games until the quarter-finals begin on Friday, we do have something exciting that is both music- and soccer-related to share with you this week: The players from the Chicago Fire, the Best Buy-sponsored MLS team, have each shared some of their favorite songs and music that inspires them both on and off the field, and we've put it all together in the Napster playlist "Chicago Fire Soccer Team Favorites." Featuring diverse artists such as Lupe Fiasco, Everything but the Girl, Usher, Guns N' Roses, and Bob Marley (just to name a few), the team's playlist has something for everyone. For fans (or if you're just curious), here's a cross section of who chose what:

CJ Brown: Sergio Mendes, "Magalenha"
Calen Carr: Lupe Fiasco, "I'm Beamin"
Kwame Watson-Siriboe: Gucci Mane, "Beat It Up"
Baggio Husidic: Bob Marley, "Three Little Birds"
John Thorrington: Scandal, "The Warrior"
Stefan Dimitrov: Everything But The Girl, "Missing"
Logan Pause: Vampire Weekend, "White Sky"
Deris Umanzor: Guns N' Roses, "Knockin' On Heaven's Door"
Patrick Nyarko: Jamie Foxx, "Winner"
Collins John: Young Jeezy, "Lose My Mind"
Marco Pappa: Tony Dize, "El Doctorado"
Mike Banner: Snoop Dogg, "I Wanna Rock"
Corben Bone: Jay-Z, "So Ambitious"
Brian McBride: Black Eyed Peas, "Let's Get It Started"
Justin Mapp: Jason Aldean, "The Truth"
Wilman Conde: Grupo Niche, "Un Alto En El Camino"
Krzysztof Krol: Eminem, "Not Afraid"
Sean Johnson: Usher, "OMG"
Steven Kinney: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, "The Waiting"
Peter Lowry: Train, "Hey, Soul Sister"
Dasan Robinson: DJ Khaled, "All I Do Is Win"
Andrew Dykstra: Drowning Pool, "Bodies"

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June 29, 2010

New Music Tuesday: The-Dream, 3OH!3, Twilight: Eclipse, Indigo Girls

Most new music comes out on Tuesdays (it's a U.S. record business tradition), and each week we cull through the mountain of new releases to bring you four of the best from across different genres. Click below, or find them in Napster's New Releases section.

The-Dream, Love King (R&B, pop): The latest effort by the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter-producer Terius Nash, his third studio release, already boasts three different singles fans are already buzzing about: The title track has already had its run on the Billboard R&B chart, while the new singles "Make Up Bag" and "Turnt Out" are each beginning to show similar strength.

3OH!3, Streets of Gold (pop, electronica, alternative): Fresh off the success of their previous album Want and an appearance on Ke$ha's single "Blah Blah Blah," the Colorado duo are back with Streets of Gold. Ke$ha returns the favor here, appearing on current single "My First Kiss." Other singles include "Touchin' on My" and "Déjà Vu."

Howard Shore, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse [Soundtrack, Score] (Soundtracks): Fans of the popular vampire series can now enjoy the score from the latest installment. A seasoned film composer with movies such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Se7en and Gangs of New York (to name a few) to his credit, Howard Shore brings the emotion to the drama.

Indigo Girls, Staring Down the Brilliant Dream (rock, Americana): Already known for passionate, spontaneous live shows, Amy Ray and Emilie Saliers have compiled an album of hand-picked performances from around the country, recorded from '06 through '09. Unlike many artists, the Indigo Girls allow audiences to record their shows, but this probably sounds much better.

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The Best of The Laurie Berkner Band

It might seem that the Children's Music world is made entirely of teenage television stars (Camp Rock, Hannah Montana), creatures (Yo Gabba Gabba!, Alvin & The Chipmunks), cartoons (SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer), and troops of singing children (Kidz Bop Kids, The Hit Crew Kids), but there are also popular everyday musicians making fun, enjoyable music for all ages as well. One of these is the critically acclaimed Laurie Berkner Band; Laurie leads a group of musicians who have been making good music for the younger generation for well over 10 years now. Their latest release, The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band, is the perfect introduction for new listeners and a great reminder for her loyal fans that sometimes crazy costumes and elaborate makeup aren't needed to entertain kids today.

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Ozzy Osbourne, Scream

In 1980 the world was introduced to The Blizzard of Oz, the name of Ozzy Osbourne's first album apart from Black Sabbath. Two solid follow-ups (Diary of a Madman and Bark at the Moon), a bitten bat, a hit TV show, a successful tour, a comeback album, and his latest, Scream, takes us forward 30 years to the present. What's changed? Well, not a whole lot, which is good news for die-hard fans of the "Prince of Darkness." The new album was originally titled Soul Sucka, but was changed due to negative response by fans (good call guys, but where were you for Gene Simmons?), and it features the single "Let Me Hear You Scream," which probably inspired the new title. Longtime guitarist Zakk Wylde is absent this time around, with new slinger Gus G stepping in. Co-written and -produced with Kevin Churko, it's pretty much what you'd expect, with a handful of standout songs. The opener, "Let it Die," shows off some speedy riffs alongside ominous doctrine from Ozzy. "Life Won't Wait" is a decent melodic power ballad brimming with nostalgia, like that of previous successes "Mama, I'm Coming Home" or "See You on the Other Side." "Time" features a gnarly guitar solo that might even make Slash bat an eye. And closer "I Love You All" finds Ozzy teary eyed, professing his love to those who have stood by him all these years. Aw, shucks, Ozzy!

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The Punch Brothers, Antifogmatic

In the wake of Nickel Creek's 2007 dissolution, Chris Thile and his ever-restless mandolin forged The Punch Brothers, a loose association of bad-ass, adventurous, prog-grass eggheads that aims to turn traditional notions of bluegrass upside-down, sideways, and backwards. Antifogmatic is the second record from the group. Boomeranging among dramatic classical influences, densely gnarled jazz dissonance, rock power, and yes, even a bit of genuine bluegrass, Thile and bandmates (including former members of The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon and others) weave a record of endless complexity that delights as much as it baffles. Produced by quirky popmeister Jon Brion, Antifogmatic cleverly twists and turns with a surprise waiting around every corner. Seat belts required.

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June 28, 2010

The Chemical Brothers, Further

As far back as 1996, when they released the live mix CD Live at the Social Volume 1, it was clear that the Chemical Brothers' gift for assembling an array of styles into a single coherent musical statement was one of their greatest strengths. Hip-hop, rock, house, soul—all of it was in play, as long as it kept the dance floor moving. On Further, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons' seventh album of original material, the duo ditch the guest vocal cameo formula and return to the concept of album as DJ mix. The eight tracks average close to six minutes each and flow together in a wash of vintage synths, guitar feedback, blissed-out vocals and arms-in-the-air crescendos to create an extended listening experience not unlike a live performance. When it's done, you'll want to restart and let the Brothers work it out for you one more time.

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Easy Movie Themes: Napster Playlist

A good movie theme or song will linger in your mind for days or even weeks after you first hear it, and if it's a really popular one, it will likely be etched on your memory for all of your days, even if buried by more pressing concerns. How nice then to unearth some of these familiar tunes in unobtrusive yet lovely orchestral pop versions, where the combination of familiarity and easygoing arrangements can make for a truly relaxing listening experience. Napster's "Easy Movie Themes" playlist brings together music from films of the '60s and '70s such as Love Story, Doctor Zhivago, Chinatown, and Lawrence of Arabia with orchestral pop masters including Mantovani, Ray Conniff, Jack Nitzsche, and Hugo Montenegro.

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