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September 2010

September 30, 2010

Brian Eno's New Album Due Soon

Brian Eno Five years after his last solo album, Another Day on Earth, Brian Eno, the celebrated producer responsible for groundbreaking albums from David Bowie, Talking Heads, Devo, U2, and Coldplay, is set to release his latest on revered UK electronic label, Warp. Small Craft on a Milk Sea will hit the streets on Nov. 2, and judging from the first track released today, the association with Warp has reinvigorated Eno for his 25th full-length release under his own name. The man credited with popularizing ambient music has a career stretching from glam to his current status as legendary elder statesman. What's your favorite Eno musical project?

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Mary J. Blige Headlines The Music Saved My Life Tour

Mary J. Blige Queen of Hip-Hop Soul Mary J. Blige is covering all her bases as she embarks on the Music Saved My Life tour this fall.  For one, she will performing material from her latest release Stronger with Each Tear, along with hits from albums like What’s the 411?, My Life, and The Breakthrough (just to name of few). She'll also be bringing a bevy of R&B acts on the road with her, ranging from diva in-training Jazmine Sullivan, newcomer Miguel, and old-school crooner El DeBarge. This is what's making this tour all the more exciting; that Blige, a standalone act in her own right, is sharing the stage with R&B acts that currently have action of their own. Sullivan is currently generating buzz from her new single “Holding You Down (Goin’ in Circles)” and is gearing up for the release of her sophomore album, Love Me Back. Miguel is currently riding high with debut single “All I Want Is You,” featuring J.Cole. And El DeBarge is being crowned the “comeback king” after a slew of high-profile performances of songs recorded with his group DeBarge, and new single “Second Chance.” I don’t know about you, but with a line-up like this, I'm gonna be front and center at this concert!

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Lil Wayne, I Am Not a Human Being

Lil Wayne, I Am Not a Human Being The album (not the artist) sees an early release via digital music services, with the physical CD slated for release next month. Word is Lil Wayne wanted the digital version to coincide with his birthday, so what's a record label to do when one of their big moneymakers makes such a request? The physical CD will have two or three more tracks not found on the early digital release, but for now, the current incarnation of I Am Not a Human Being features the singles "Right Above It" (featuring Drake) and "I'm Single," (a version without Drake). However, for all you Drake fans, the Canadian superstar is featured prominently on a few other songs, including the monster opener "Gonorrhea," as are fellow Young Money/Cash Money artists Nicki Minaj, and Jay Sean. With 10 tracks total (so far), I Am Not a Human Being should hold Weezy fans over until the next chapter of Tha Carter comes out.

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September 29, 2010

Sara Bareilles Live at the Orpheum

Sara Bareilles Orpheum marquee It must be fun to be Sara Bareilles right about now. It's still very early in her tour to support her number-one album, Kaleidoscope Heart (what was this, the third or fourth date?), but from the way her sold-out hometown show went at the Orpheum Theatre in L.A.'s revitalized downtown district last night, the good times are already rolling steady. Of course, we must acknowledge all the hard work that has gone into it all, from writing and recording to rehearsing, and we've all heard how stressful life on the road can be, but this show just felt like a celebration from start to finish. First, the venue, a recently and immaculately restored 1920s vaudeville house, is just gorgeous, and the relaxed staff and ample creature comforts went a long way to creating a genuine party vibe. Second, what was that sensation, vaguely electric, that seemed to be traveling from one person to the next? Was it...joy? Everyone in the place just seemed thrilled to be there. Third, Ms. Bareilles and band put on one hell of a show. She was so effortlessly personable with the crowd, animated yet intimate, and everyone in the audience seemed to feel right at home because she did, which is no small feat. And her singing, which also sounds effortless, is a wonder of simultaneous control and unleashed emotion that mates beautifully with her thoughtful, witty writing. Just the kind of pop that allows for optimism even in dark days. The band is focused but loose enough to really groove, and the results from the stage translated into plenty of smiles in the hall. Opener Greg Laswell brought a darker aesthetic (he described one song as being about the moment before you realize you've been hurt, like when you cut yourself), but his version of Cindy Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" as a downtempo rumination went over great. In sum: Class act, class venue, good times. As SB herself tweeted this afternoon: "Still reeling from last night's show at the Orpheum. The crowd was phenomenal and my head hurts from smiling. And by smiling I mean whiskey."

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Take home Justin Bieber for Christmas

Bieber dolls boxes Yes, you read that right, but it's not what you think. You will be able to take home pop sensation and teen heartthrob Justin Bieber this Christmas, but in a much smaller, more plastic-y form. Yes, our world will now be complete come December when we can buy our very own Bieber Fever dolls. The only question is, now that Justin has started his acting career with an appearance on CSI, will he star in his own commercials for the dolls? And will they be as fabulous as the commercials for the New Kids on the Block dolls were? We admit it's a tough act to follow, but Justin seems to be the likely successor to Jordan, Jonathan, Joe, Donnie, and Danny.

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Billie Joe Armstrong on Broadway

Billie Joe Armstrong Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong's days of watching the Broadway production of American Idiot from the seats are over—he's temporarily joined the cast to cover for regular Tony Vincent, who had to step out due to a personal family matter. And with recent rocky ticket sales (even with the announcement of Armstrong's inclusion, the St. James Theatre was not at full capacity), it's a move that certainly can't hurt. The musical, based on Green Day's 2004 smash album of the same name, debuted on March 24. Armstrong, playing the part of punk "St. Jimmy," made his first Broadway apperance last night and will continue through Oct. 3 before leaving to begin Green Day's South American tour on Oct. 8. There hasn't been much in the way of a critique for Armstrong's performance in the blogosphere yet, possibly indicating the rock-star-turned-actor has been albe to adequately pull the whole thing off.

Like The Who with Tommy and Quadrophenia (the latter of which was recently performed for the last time) and U2 members with their upcoming "Spiderman" musical Turn Off the Dark, Armstrong's passion for rock musical theater is an interesting venture and one that we may see more and more of. In any case, Armstrong and band's rise from Gilman to Broadway makes for quite a story, proving if you want to rock bad enough, the world is your stage.

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September 28, 2010

Kenny Chesney, Hemingway's Whiskey

Kenny Chesney, Hemingways Whiskey Hemingway's Whiskey is Kenny Chesney's prettiest record to date. Whether his fans are looking for "pretty" or not is an open question at this point, but as an artist, Chesney has been increasingly interested in making certain that every note on his albums has a carefully lacquered gloss. Even the tracks on Hemingway's Whiskey that are kind of on the revved-up sidewell, there are really only two: "Live A Little" and "Reality" are about it for the semi-rocking stuffare so tunefully oriented around the hooky sing-along choruses that it requires real effort to raise any kind of hell at all while listening to the album. But that's just nit-picking, really. Whiskey is a commanding and masterfully produced record that should have no trouble generating a new flurry of Chesney hits. Good call on inviting George Jones and Grace Potter in for guest vocal spots, too.

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Bad Religion, Soundgarden, Klaxons and More: Alternative New Releases

Klaxons, Surfing the Void While we have already told you about a handful of exciting new releases this week, there are many more releases for alternative and indie rock fans that you might want to check out. First up, there are new albums from old favorites, such as Bad Religion's The Dissent of Man, featuring the hit single "The Devil In Stitches"; grunge stars Soundgarden are back with Telephantasm; and New Wave icons Omd have a brand-new album, History of Modern. You can also experience the sophomore efforts from both indie-dance mavericks Klaxons, Surfing the Void, which has the best album art of the bunch (pictured), and Mark Ronson (& The Business Intl), whose Record Collection features a bevy of guest artists. Or what about new music from lesser-known names such as Deerhunter's Halcyon Digest or Electric Six's Zodiac? Or the expanded edition of Bitte Orca from Dirty Projectors? How about a 'Best Of' collection with Athlete's Singles 01-10? Or the brand new single "Na Na Na [Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na]" from emo-rockers My Chemical Romance? Phew! With all the new music available on Napster, maybe it's time to stop reading and start listening. Or go ahead and do both—multitasking is so oh-ten.

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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2011 Nominees Announced

Voting Let the grumbling begin! The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame  just announced its nominees for 2011 induction, and it's a somewhat provocative and wide-ranging list of artists, as usual. Included are rock, pop, R&B, and hip-hop icons Alice Cooper, Beastie Boys, Bon Jovi, Chic, Neil Diamond, Donovan, Dr. John, J. Geils Band, LL Cool J, Darlene Love, Laura Nyro, Donna Summer, Joe Tex, Tom Waits, and Chuck Willis. According to the Hall of Fame's site, in order to be eligible, an artist needs to have released an album at least 25 years prior to the nomination and have demonstrated "unquestionable musical excellence." Most will agree with the nods for artists like Diamond and Cooper, but where are Kiss, Rush, T. Rex, and Joan Jett? Sigh, maybe next year...

 

 

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New Music Tuesday: Jimmy Eat World, Donell Jones, Kenny Chesney, Lil Wayne, Neil Young, Gucci Mane

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 some of the best from across different genres. Click below, or find them in Napster's New Releases section.

Jimmy Eat World, Invented Jimmy Eat World, Invented (alternative, rock, pop): Fueled by hit single "My Best Theory," Napster's version of the alt-rock vet's latest includes four bonus tracks: a cover of Wilco's "You and I", an acoustic version of "Coffee and Cigarettes," a cover of Superchunk's "Precision Auto," and a demo of "Anais."

 
Donell Jones, LyricsDonell Jones, Lyrics (R&B): When not writing hits for artists like Usher and Brownstone, Donnell Jones takes care of business under his own name, too. In addition to single "Love Like This," check Napster's version for three exclusive bonus tracks: "Menage à Trois," "Don't Trip," and an acoustic mix of "All About the Sex."

 
Kenny Chesney, Hemingway's Whiskey Kenny Chesney, Hemingway's Whiskey (country): After a busy summer releasing his big 3D concert movie and working on the ESPN football documentary The Boys of Fall, Chesney's latest is named after a Guy Clark song included on the album. Chesney says the country legend was his main inspiration for this set.

 
Lil Wayne, I Am Not a Human Being Lil Wayne, I Am Not a Human Being (hip-hop/rap): The album (not the artist) sees an early release via digital music services, with the physical CD slated for release next month. Featuring the singles "Right Above It" and "I'm Single," Weezy's latest also features Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Jay Sean.

 
Neil Young, Le Noise Neil Young, Le Noise (rock): The legendary singer-songwriter teamed with legendary producer Daniel Lanois (Brian Eno, U2, Bob Dylan) for this one, and the result is blowing minds. Young plays an experimental Lanois guitar with added effects, and the sound is not unlike his work on the 1996 movie Dead Man.

 
Gucci Mane, The Appeal Gucci Mane, The Appeal: Georgia's Most Wanted (hip-hop/rap): Promising to do better after serving time for a parole violation, the Georgia rapper keeps his word by releasing his finest work to date. Includes "Gucci Time" (featuring Swizz Beatz) and also features Pharrell, Bun B, Wyclef Jean and Nicki Minaj.

 

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