Music: Alternative

March 15, 2011

New Music Tuesday: Exclusive Pearl Jam, American Idol, Rise Against, Britney Spears, Travis Barker, Steve Martin

Most new music comes out on Tuesdays, and each week we cull through the mountain of new releases to bring you some of the best from different genres. Click below, or find them in Napster’s New Releases/Featured Music section.

Pearl Jam, Vs./Vitalogy (Deluxe Edition) Pearl Jam, Vs./Vitalogy (Deluxe Edition) (Alternative, Rock): As seen in this week's Best Buy circular, Napster has four exclusive bonus tracks available for streaming as a preview of the combined reissue of Vs. and Vitalogy coming March 29, including new live versions of "Even Flow" and "Daughter."


Various Artists, American Idol 10th Anniversary Various Artists, American Idol: 10th AnniversaryThe Hits, Volume 1 (Pop, Rock, R&B): This compilation of favorites from the most popular Idol competitors includes music from Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken and Fantasia as well as David Cook, Kris Allen, Adam Lambert and Lee DeWyze.


Rise Against, Endgame Rise Against, Endgame (Rock, Alternative): For their latest set, the Chicago punk rockers continue to develop the approach they took with their last album, Appeal to Reason. Topics like world politics and current events take shape over accessible melodies and riffs, resulting in rockers like first single "Help Is on the Way."


Britney Spears, Till the World Ends Britney Spears, "Till the World Ends" (Pop, Electronica): The second single from Spears' upcoming album, Femme Fatale, was co-written by Ke$ha along with hitmakers Dr. Luke and Max Martin and comes hot on the heels of first single "Hold It Against Me." And like that track, it's another energetic dancefloor filler.


Travis Barker, Give the Drummer Some Travis Barker, Give the Drummer Some (Rock, Hip-Hop): The blink-182 drummer recruited some of the biggest names in hip-hop, rock, and dance music for his "solo" debut — everyone from the RZA to Slash to Steve Aoki. The first single alone ("Can a Drummer Get Some") features Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Swizz Beatz & Game.


Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, Rare Bird Alert Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, Rare Bird Alert (Americana):  For his second banjo album, Martin chose to record with the excellent band he took on the road with him to support The CrowAs a bonus, Sir Paul McCartney and the Dixie Chicks each provide lead vocals on a tune apiece.


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March 14, 2011

Jonny Greenwood, Norwegian Wood Soundtrack

Jonny Greenwood, Norwegian Wood Soundtrack Last December, novelist Haruki Murakami's dramatic work about a couple's grieving for a lost friend and their sentimental connection to a folksy Beatles ballad was brought to the big screen as Norwegian Wood, directed by Anh Hung Tran. Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood scored the picture, and the music, released last week, is pure Greenwood in its emotional content, yet it represents a distinct departure from his previous score work. Greenwood's adventurous electronic score for Bodysong (2003) and his mesmerizing breakthrough work for There Will Be Blood (2007) each make use of classical elements here and there, but on Norwegian Wood he goes much further: The score album's first track, "Mou Sukoshi Jibun no Koto, Kichinto Shitaino," sounds like the opening of an epic symphony (hint hint, Jonny), and other pieces throughout take advantage of more conventional orchestral arrangements than he has employed in the past (though tracks like "Naoko ga Shinda" sound anything but conventional). He also puts his love for the guitar on display with simple, somber, retro-gleaming tracks like "Toki no Senrei wo Uketeinai mono wo Yomuna" and "Iiko Dakara Damatette" (both of which sound like they could have been recorded in the mid- to late-'60s). Taken as a whole, this soundtrack is a thoroughly heavy and intense listen, lightened only slightly by a few eerie gems from premiere krautrock band Can. But there's beauty in the heaviness, and there are currently few musicians working today who can pull this off the way Greenwood does.

If you like Greenwood's score to Norwegian Wood, check out these other beautiful-yet-bleak works: Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, The Road (2009); Michael Nyman, Drowning by Numbers (1991); Alexander Balanescu, Il Partigiano Johnny (2000). 

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March 10, 2011

Sheryl Crow, Alicia Keys, Madonna, Missy Elliott, More: Napster Playlists Featuring Women

As we continue our celebration of Women's History Month, we thought it would be nice to highlight some of the many Napster playlists focused on music made by women. These are from all different genres and styles, so have a look, click on whatever sounds good to you, and let's hear it from the ladies!

American Women American Women Popular roots music and country hits from some of the top female artists in America. Includes songs from June Carter Cash, Loretta Lynn, and Sheryl Crow.

Hot R&B Female Vocalists Hot R&B: Female Vocalists: Some of the hottest tracks and biggest hits from major stars, including songs from Keyshia Cole, Fantasia, Alicia Keys, and Beyoncé.

Essential Lite Female Vocalists Essential Lite: Female Vocalists: Great soft pop and ballads from many eras, featuring artists such as Peggy Lee, Blossom Dearie, and Roberta Flack.

Women of Comedy Women of Comedy: Hilarious bits from the funniest females in stand-up comedy, including Ellen Degeneres, Sarah Silverman, Sandra Bernhard, and Lisa Lampanelli.

Legendary Ladies of Country Legendary Ladies of Country: Unforgettable female stars of the '60s and '70s who paved the way for today's generations. Includes Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, and Loretta Lynn.

Grrrl Power Grrrl Power: Celebrate the women of alternative rock with a slew of classic tracks from such mainstays as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Hole, PJ Harvey, and more.

Pioneering Women of the Blues Pioneering Women of the Blues: Though blues artists tend to be men, a surprising number of women have made a crucial impact, including Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, and Ida Cox.

Pop Divas The '80s Pop Divas: The '80s: A platinum setting of hits from some of the decade's most glittering solo female superstars, including Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Debbie Gibson, and more.

Female Jazz Vocalists of Today Female Jazz Vocalists of Today: Music from stellar comtemporary vocalists informed by both traditional and modern jazz. Features Dianne Reeves, Cassandra Wilson, and Diana Krall.

Composing Women Composing Women: Works from female composers working in what was once a male-dominated field. Includes Barbara Strozzi, Fanny Mendelssohn, and Meredith Monk.

Women of Contemporary Christian Music Women of Contemporary Christian Music: The most uplifting tracks from female artists leading the way in CCM, featuring Francesca Battistelli, Bethany Dillon, and Heather Hedley.

Ladies First Female MCs Ladies First: Female MCs: Get in touch with the first ladies of hip-hop. But don't expect them to go easy on you—these MCs, including Missy Elliott, Salt-N-Pepa, Queen Latifah, are fierce.

Femmes Fatales Femmes Fatales: Devastatingly seductive sounds from the dark side of alternative music, including music by Björk, PJ Harvey, Portishead, Morcheeba, and more.

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March 08, 2011

Women Who Rock: Joan Jett, Patti Smith, Cyndi Lauper, and More

Joan Jett, I Love Rock N' Roll Patti Smith, Horses Cyndi Lauper, She's So Unusual Today, March 8, is International Women's Day, so why not take a moment to listen to some women who rock? To list all of the essential female artists who have contributed to the vast array of rock music would take a very long time because there are so many, but let's at least consider a few here: There's the softer side, represented by Karen Carpenter (who certainly rocked on the drums), folk-rock icon Joni Mitchell, and genius songwriter Carole King; the classic, gritty rock sounds of the legendary Joan Jett, the revered poet Patti Smith, and arena rockers Pat Benatar and Ann & Nancy Wilson (who might surprise you with their earlier sound), and '80s icon Cyndi Lauper (who recently threw one of the most interesting performances ever); the alt-rock righteousness of Kim Gordon, the angelic voice of Elizabeth Fraser, the dark electronic edge of Beth Gibbons, and the ethereal indie plane of Karen O.; and then there's the heavy hitting epicness of Cristina Scabbia, Lacey Sturm, and Juliette Lewis (who once upon a time actually spoke to us). What would the world of rock be without these amazing artistic forces, as well as the countless others not mentioned? Give some of these ladies a listen, and then let us know which women you think rock the most!

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Beth Ditto, Patrick Stump, Beady Eye: New Alternative Music

Beth Ditto This week we have three new alternative releases from frontmen/women either going solo or starting new projects: At the top of our list is a new EP (pictured) from Gossip frontwoman, fashion icon, and activist Beth Ditto. Taking a break from her band's power-punk aesthetic, Beth's solo EP is a collaboration with Simian Mobile Disco, and the resulting four tracks are all shimmery electropop. It's a nice change of style for the outspoken star. Second up is former Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump, who also takes a different approach with his new solo material. Whereas Beth's EP is merely a side project, Fall Out Boy officially broke up last year, so we've been waiting to see what new music would emerge from the former bandmates for quite some time. Fans of FOB's emo-pop will still enjoy Patrick's Truant Wave EP but should expect a diverse range of musical styles on the six tracks of what he calls "soul punk." And last but certainly not least, we have Beady Eye, led by former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher. Liam and his brother Noel, the duo who formed Oasis, were infamous for fighting with each other, so it was only a matter of time before the band imploded. Liam and three of his former bandmates quickly formed a new band, and their new debut album, Different Gear, Still Speeding, has a familiar sound and will surely be welcomed by Britpop fans. While it's the least musically adventurous of these three releases, let's just say it's Liam who most needed the break among these three singers.

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New Music Tuesday: Exclusive Pearl Jam, Glee Cast, Lupe Fiasco, Sara Evans, R.E.M, Avril Lavigne

Most new music comes out on Tuesdays, and each week we cull through the mountain of new releases to bring you some of the best from different genres. Click below, or find them in Napster’s New Releases/Featured Music section.

Pearl Jam, Vs./Vitalogy (Deluxe Edition) Pearl Jam, Vs./Vitalogy (Deluxe Edition) (Alternative, Rock): Napster has four exclusive bonus tracks available for streaming as a preview of the upcoming combined reissue of Vs. and Vitalogy on March 29. The exclusive tracks include previously unreleased live versions of "Even Flow," "Once," and "Daughter."


Glee Cast, Glee, The Music, Volume 5 Glee Cast, Glee: The Music, Volume 5 (Pop, Soundtracks): The latest volume from the series about everyone's favorite glee club includes the "Thriller/Heads Will Roll" mash-up, The Human League's "Don't You Want Me," "Kiss" and "Landslide" featuring Gwyneth Paltrow, and two original songs, a first for the series.


Lupe Fiasco, LASERS Lupe Fiasco, LASERS (Hip-Hop/Rap): Originally titled LupE.N.D., since it was to be the Chicago rapper's last album, this set was tied up in label limbo until fans demanded its release. LASERS expands to Love Always Shines Everytime, Remember 2 Smile, and features "Words I Never Said" and "The Show Must Go On."


Sara Evans, Stronger Sara Evans, Stronger (Country): After a six-year hiatus, the country superstar releases a new album of material. With personal issues behind her, she's now ready for a major comeback, starting with the album's lead single "A Little Bit Stronger," which was also featured in the movie Country Strong.


R.E.M, Collapse Into Now R.E.M, Collapse into Now (Rock): Not many groups can boast 15 studio albums under their belts, but R.E.M. isn't just any group. For their latest, they go for a more expansive sound, enlisting guests including Patti Smith, Eddie Vedder, and Peaches. Their first single is "Mine Smell Like Honey."


Avril Lavigne, Goodbye Lullaby Avril Lavigne, Goodbye Lullaby (Pop, Rock): After several setbacks and delays, the Canadian pop star's latest album finally sees the light of day after two-and-a-half years in the making. Lavigne's writing can be found on all of the album's tracks, including the current single "What the Hell."
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March 07, 2011

Miley Cyrus and The Strokes on SNL

Miley Cyrus (as Justin Bieber) Whether you're a fan or not, you have to hand it to Miley Cyrus for being a good sport and having a laugh on this past weekend's Saturday Night Live. As host, she was cast in skits and did some singing (including one where she played Fergie from The Black Eyed Peas) and gently mocked her fellow teen singer/actors. She impersonated Linday Lohan, performed on the "Miley Cyrus Show" not as herself but as Justin Bieber (check her out in the picture), and starred in a send-up of her Hannah Montana days with a "Disney Channel Acting School" skit. Meanwhile, in the actual "musical guest" slot were The Strokes, who performed "Under Cover of Darkness" (the first single from their upcoming album Angels) and new song "Life Is Simple in the Moonlight." The combination of host and band made for a nicely music-heavy SNL this week, which always makes it more entertaining for us.

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March 03, 2011

Exclusive Pearl Jam: Preview Four New Tracks March 8

Pearl Jam At this point in Pearl Jam's career, their extensive catalog almost seems like its own encyclopedia of grunge rock, including seminal studio albums, live cuts, interviews, greaest hits comps, and rarities. Well, two years ago we were thrilled to learn about the band's campaign to release definitive reissues of their iconic albums, starting with their legendary debut, Ten. Now the time has come for us to be treated to the second installment, due for release March 29. It's a combined reissue of the band's subsequent two albums, Vs. and Vitalogy. The new package will include remastered tracks, plus a ton of bonus material. And here's the best part: Next Tuesday we'll have four exclusive bonus tracks available for you to stream as a preview of the upcoming full release. They'll be waiting for you on Napster on March 8, so be sure to check them out and celebrate Pearl Jam's 20th anniversary in truly rocking fashion.

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Neon Trees, Panic at the Disco, Cake: Alternative Hits: Winter 2011 (Napster Playlist)

Alternative Hits: Winter 2011 If you're in the mood for a little something different than what everyone else is listening to, Napster's "Alternative Hits: Winter 2011" playlist is what you need. Witn no Gaga or Britney in sight, this list features an array of hits from the modern rock scene, including songs from Neon Trees, Rise Against, Cage the Elephant, Cake, Panic at the Disco, The Sounds, and many more. And if even those artists are a little too popular for you, you'll enjoy tracks from lesser-known alt-rockers such as Foster the People, Young the Giant, Middle Class Rut and Atomic Tom. So give it a click and check out some of the best modern rock of the season.

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March 01, 2011

Trent Reznor: From Pretty Hate Machine to the Oscars

Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine Was I the only one who saw this strangely normal looking man in a suit accepting the Oscar for Best Score this past Sunday and had trouble equating him to the man who exploded onto the alternative music scene with Pretty Hate Machine back in 1989? Trent Reznor, as the man behind industrial/electronica/alt rockers Nine Inch Nails, probably never expected this outcome all those years ago when his debut album was just starting to bubble up in underground alternative circles. Before the days of blogs and Twitter, I can remember being happily surprised to find fellow NIN fans as the album slowly gained a cult following. And I can't be the only one who found an instant emotional connection to an industrial/electronica album in a time when we were told that dance music had no soul or depth; "Terrible Lie," "Sin," "That's What I Get," and "Something I Can Never Have" all ended up on at least one of my teenage heartbreak and/or revenge mixtapes. Luckily, Pretty Hate Machine stands the test of time and still sounds as powerful today as it did all those years ago. And though I have managed to get over the ex-boyfriends in question, I do admit to now having a "heartbreak" playlist in my Napster collection. Excuse me as I go add "Something I Can Never Have" to it now.

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