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July 2010

July 30, 2010

DJ Nobody, One for All Without Hesitation

DJ Nobody, One for All Without HesitationT-Pain and Kanye paved the way, and Jay-Z attempted a roadblock, but Auto-Tune, the studio vocal tool that will one day signify this decade in much the same way that gated drums, parachute pants, and headbands signified the '80s, just keeps getting up like a sad robot zombie after being knocked flat. DJ Nobody, the L.A.-based producer and member of the extended Low End Theory family, uses it throughout his new album, One for All Without Hesitation, and winds up answering the question, "what would it sound like if Zapp jammed with Black Moth Super Rainbow on '60s pop-psych cover tunes at a revered underground hot spot?" You may not have pondered that possibility up until now, but sometimes odd combinations can produce tasty results.

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Kanye West joins Twitter

Kanye West, Power Beware world, Kanye West now has a Twitter account. Entertainment Weekly already calls his digital outbursts the "funniest Twitter feed of all time" with the rapper/producer spouting off about anything and everything from lavish household items to the title of his new album, which is no longer Good Ass Job, as previously reported. Since joining the microblogging service a few days ago, West has already amassed over 300,000 followers. To quote one of his latest, "No one man should have all that power." You can follow him at http://twitter.com/kanyewest, and while you're at it, check us out at http://twitter.com/napster.

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Bettye LaVette, Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook

Interpretations The British Rock SongbookIt takes supreme confidence to attempt, let alone accomplish, what Bettye LaVette has done with Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook. Every one of the tracks on this album is a well-known song made famous by touchstone after touchstone of '60s and '70s U.K. rock. Songs from The Beatles, Traffic, Pink Floyd, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, The Moody Blues, The Who, The Rolling Stones and more are all extensively and impressively reworked by LaVette and an amazing band into her trademark R&B and blues-based sound.

Obviously, covering such iconic material is a treacherous road—the original versions of the tracks are so ingrained in in the ears of the average music listener that covering them is inviting disaster. But LaVette does an expert job at re-imagining and re-imaging the tracks and has created an incredible tribute not only to the artists she is covering, but to herself as well. The entire album is a gem, but "Love Reign o'er Me" is not to be missed. 

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July 29, 2010

Lady GaGa Used as Cover in Theft of Military Documents

Lady Gaga, TelephoneIt's been reported that Pfc. Bradley Manning apparently used Lady GaGa's music as a cover for his clandestine download of over 150,000 classified military files over a six-month period. Manning allegedly hid blank data CDs in legitimate music CD cases by recognizable artists—among them Lady Gaga—then copied the information while lip-synching to her music in order to distract attention from what he was doing. It's a plan so stupidly brilliant, it could easily fit into the plot of a Will Ferrell movie.

Of course, much has been written about illegally downloading music files over networks—trust us, we know all about it. But using music to illegally download secret government files over a network? Now that's a twist. But you have to wonder: Is this the first time anyone has tried this use-music-as-a-cover-to-steal-secrets ploy? Were the Watergate thieves humming Elton John songs while attempting to illegally intercept, or "download," telephone communications in the DNC's office? Was Julius Rosenberg whistling Glenn Miller tunes while allegedly passing information about the A-bomb to the Soviets? Was the Greek god Prometheus tapping his toes to a jaunty piece on the lyra when he stole fire from Zeus and gave it to the mortals? The world may never know.

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Danzig, Deth Red Sabaoth

Danzig, Deth Red Sabaoth Glenn Danzig is a busy man. When he's not lost in his book collection, catching up on his favorite comics between performances, going all out with martial arts training, or serenading Shakira, he finds time to record. His latest studio album, Deth Red Sabaoth, is the band's first in six years, and a return to the blood, sweat, and tear-stained core values that have sustained him for more than 30 years of gothic riffage, from The Misfits and Samhain right on up to the current Danzig line-up. Given a choice, Glenn probably finds reading backstage more productive than arguing, but hey, whatever it takes to get pumped for the gig.

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Big News from Rascal Flatts and Big Machine Records

Rascal Flatts Big news out of Nashville today. Big Machine Records, home of Taylor Swift, Steel Magnolia, Jack Ingram and others, announced the signing of country mega-group Rascal Flatts. Rascal Flatts' label affiliation became uncertain earlier this year in the wake of Disney Music Group's dissolution of Lyric Street Records, the record label the band had been on from the beginning. Rascal Flatts' next record is finished and is expected to be released in November by Big Machine. Woo-hooo!! To date, RF has sold nearly 20 million records and will clearly be the biggest act on Big Machine, a young label that has rocketed to prominence since its 2005 launch by veteran industry figure Scott Borchetta, in a short-lived partnership with Toby Keith, who bailed in 2006.

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July 28, 2010

Little Big Town, The Reason Why Coming August 24

Little Big Town, Little White Church Little Big Town has a new album coming out in just under a month now, and we're here to tell you: It's a knockout. We've had the chance to listen (repeatedly) to The Reason Why top to bottom, and we pretty much can't stop. It has a bunch of great songs on it, a big, open sound, and more of those great harmony vocals we've been loving since Little Big Town. Kimberly says of the new album, "We wanted to change things up and make sure it was fresh...we pushed ourselves harder than we ever have to do things a little bit differently but to keep the Little Big Town sound," and we think she, Karen, Jimi, Phillip, and producer/writing partner Wayne Kirkpatrick have outdone themselves. If you're digging the hit single "Little White Church" (pictured above), like "Boondocks" Heartfrom The Road to Here, or "Good Lord Willing" from the expanded edition of A Place to Land, you'll be one happy camper. It hits hard where it needs to, grooves like crazy, and is just beautifully put together. Seriously, at the risk of sounding all hypey, this is a pretty exciting new record, so be sure to check it out on Napster on Aug. 24. In the meantime, we just have one question: Is Little Big Town the Heart of contemporary country? Just asking.

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Slum Village, Villa Manifesto

Slum Village - Villa Manifesto Following rumors of the group breaking up last month and an immediate denial of same from the group's manager, Detroit's Slum Village have released their latest (and possibly final?) album, Villa Manifesto. The late Baatin and J-Dilla are featured on the album, as are Elzhi, T3 and Illa-J (Dilla's younger brother), marking the first time that all past and present members have made it onto the same album. Manifesto's hip-hop switches styles from the hard-driving "2000 Beyond" (feat. J-Dilla) to the rap/R&B/pop fusion of "Faster" (feat. Colin Munroe) to the underground Detroit dance/funk vibe of "Dance" (feat. AB). Interestingly, none of the songs from the Villa Manifesto EP released earlier this year are on the full-length. Cool, more songs for us. Guests on this batch include Little Brother ("Where Do We Go From Here"), Dwele ("Don't Fight the Feeling") and DJ Babu ("Bare Witness"). If this is really turns out to be the group's last effort, then Slum Village are going out with a serious bang.

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Q&A with Dean & Britta

Dean & Britta Dean & Britta are an experimental post-shoegaze duo made up of Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips, who are also known for their work in dream-pop band Luna (following Wareham's stint with Galaxie 500). They've just released an interesting project, 13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol's Screen Tests, and Wareham was kind enough to entertain a few of our questions:

Tell us a little about your latest project—any discoveries along the way?
Britta and I were commissioned by the Andy Warhol Museum and Pittsburgh Cultural Trust to write and perform songs and a score for 13 of Warhol’s "Screen Tests," these short, silent, black-and-white film portraits, each roughly 4 minutes long, that Warhol made between 1964 and 1966. He made close to 500 of these films; they comprise a virtual who’s-who of the art scene in New York in those years.

Ben Harrison, Associate Curator for Performance at the museum, suggested that we pick 13 Screen Tests; the choice of subjects would be ours. Thirteen, because Warhol had sometimes screened his films around the number13 Most Beautiful Girls and 13 Most Beautiful Boys, for example. What we learned along the way was a lot about Warhol in the ‘60s and all the characters who hung around the Factory, names we had heard but didn’t know much about, like Billy Name, Paul America, Ingrid Superstarfascinating people all.

What proved most challenging?
Coming up with music for Dennis Hopper’s screen test was difficult; he looks like he’s going through something very serious and distressing on camera, but then starts giggling toward the end, as if someone said something to him off-camera. Anyway, he was a serious art collector and a photographer himself, and an early supporter of Warhol. He was the first person to buy a soup can painting, though the sale was canceled when the dealer decided to keep all 32 soup can paintings together.

Aside from Warhol’s shorts, what films and visual art have had an impact on you musically?
Visual art usually affects me in other ways, not directly inspiring musical ideas. Though there are certainly films where I walk out and need to buy the soundtrack, like Contempt by Jean-Luc Godard with music by George Delerue. Or Badlands—I searched for years for the music, "Gassenhauer" by Carl Orff, used in that film. There never was a soundtrack album, and it was hard to get that kind of information before the Internet age.

Do you think 13 Most Beautiful will inspire any related projects or film scoring in the near future?
I hope so, though it’s hard to conceive of another project as perfect as this: short, silent films, each about the length of a song. Anyway, Britta and I do like scoring film, especially when it’s a good film. The other one we’re particularly proud of having scored is The Squid and the Whale.

What is your favorite invention of all time?
The Flowbee hair cutting system, which attaches to your vacuum cleaner and gives perfect cuts every time. It saves a lot of money, and you can also use it on pets.

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Kids Sing the Hits: Country (Napster Playlist)

Kids Sing the Hits: Country (Napster Playlist) Yup kids, it's time for another sing-along! Now that the youngsters have had a chance to enjoy Napster's "Kids Sing the Hits: Dance-Pop" playlist, we have the next one in the series: "Kids Sing the Hits: Country." For fans of country music, a wide variety of styles are represented, with music made famous by stars from Carrie Underwood and Faith Hill to Alan Jackson and Johnny Cash. Featuring both classic songs such as "I Walk the Line," "Always On My Mind," and "Coal Miner's Daughter" alongside newer hits such as "Teardrops on My Guitar" and "Southern Voice," each sung by kid groups like the Kidz Bop Kids and the Countdown Kids, "Kids Sing the Hits: Country" is sure to hit a bullseye with all the little cowboys and cowgirls out there.

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