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FALL 2010 MUSIC PREVIEW: Mark Ronson, Robbie Williams, Liza Minnelli, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, Vincent Minor, Antony & The Johnsons, OMD, Yaz, George Michael, Hurts; plus eight free mp3s


6a00d8341c730253ef0134864b9b2f970c-piMODERN TONIC

Modern Tonic — a daily email that delivers gay-approved pop culture gems (before they've been co-opted by everyone else) — presents a weekly music update here on Towleroad.


Unlike the business-as-usual that happens right after Labor Day — back to school, back to work — this fall is full of welcome returns, from old-school influences like Yaz and OMD to that crazy Cee-Lo Green and Liza with a Z. Plenty of fresh upstarts have us excited as well. For the full audio/visual experience, we have twelve new tracks for you to stream or download just below. Here's to a season of kick-ass music!

Towleroad - Fall 2010 Music Preview by Road


Markronsoncover Mark Ronson & the Business Intl — Record Collection
(September 28): The man who brought Amy Winehouse to the masses returns with Record Collection, an album that curbs his retro soul proclivities for a trek through the ‘80s and ‘90s on 14 original songs. The busy DJ-producer (pictured above) gets help from Boy George (vocals on "Somebody to Love Me"), D’Angelo ("Glass Mountain Trust"), the London Gay Men’s Chorus ("Introducing the Business") and debuts his own vocal chops for the first time, singing on two songs, including the title track (backed by Nick Rhodes on keyboards and Simon Le Bon!).

Photo_BrandonFl_300RGB-1 Brandon Flowers — Flamingo (September 14): The Killers’ flamboyant frontman drops his first solo release, Flamingo. He’s still in thrall to the cinematic sweep of Bruce Springsteen on the single "Crossfire," with a sprinkling of New Wave influence, as on "Only the Young." Still, it’s more Sam’s Town than Hot Fuss, with songs about his biggest inspirations, namely, his Mormon faith ("Playing with Fire") and his hometown of Las Vegas ("Hard Enough," a duet with Jenny Lewis).
Cee-Lo Green — The Lady Killer (December 7): For anyone predetermined to dislike The Lady Killer — the Gnarls Barkley singer’s first solo album in six years —  Cee-Lo Green has two words to say:  "F**k You." That song’s received about five million hits so far on YouTube. (A clean version, "Forget You," went to radio.) It’s the peppiest kiss-off we’ve heard in ages and could become as ubiquitous as Gnarls Barkley’s unstoppable "Crazy." He’s got our attention and now we can’t wait to find out if the rest of the album’s as much nasty fun.

RW-hits-520x520 Robbie Williams — In and Out of Consciousness: The Greatest Hits 1990-2010 (October 12): Right, he’s still not a star here and the Brokeback Mountain video for his latest single "Shame," featuring his old Take That mate Gary Barlow, isn’t going to change his fortunes. But it’s a gorgeously earthy mid-tempo ballad that fits alongside what’s now an impressive collection of songs from over 20 years. On two discs, the neophyte can hear such gems as "Rock DJ," the Pet Shops Boys-assisted "No Regrets" and, of course, "Angels" (so popular in the U.K. it’s practically a national anthem). For Robbie fanatics, two other configurations, available as imports, include a third CD of B-sides and rarities (Deluxe Edition) and three DVDs of live performances and videos (Ultimate Edition).

Also: Chromeo — Business Casual (September 14); Maroon 5 — Hands All Over (September 21); Seal — 6: Commitment (September 28); Neil Young — Le Noise (September 28); Tricky — Mixed Race (October 5); Ursula 1000 — Fuzz EP (October 5 digital/October 19 physical); Simian Mobile Disco — Is Fixed (October 12); Styrofoam — Disco Synthesizers & Daily Tranquilizers (October 12); Elton John/Leon Russell — The Union (October 19); William Orbit — Pieces in a Modern Style 2 (October 26); Bryan Ferry — Olympia (October 26); Jamiroquai — Rock Dust Light Star (November TBA); Lee Dewyze — title TBD (November 16)

RoadSingle Ladies (Put a Ring On It):

Liza CD cover - photo credit Ruven Afanador Liza Minnelli — Confessions (September 28): The 14 tracks of Liza’s twelfth studio album are a piano bar lover’s wet dream. Accompanied by her long-time pianist Billy Stritch, Liza — yes, we’re on a first name basis — offers straight up, elegant takes on some songbook classics ("At Last," "All the Way") with a few esoteric choices. Our favorite? It’s a toss-up between the Billie Holiday chestnut "I Must Have That Man" and Sonny Burke’s "He’s a Tramp." Meet us downtown at the Duplex and we’ll decide it in a sing-off.

Mariah Carey — Merry Christmas II You (November 2): While the blogosphere has been focused on Mariah Carey's yet-to-be-confirmed pregnancy, Mimi herself has been hard at work on yet another holiday record. This time, rumor has it, she's written and recorded two songs with Hairspray composer Marc Shaiman, "Christmas Time Is in the Air Again" and "One Child." Perhaps it's redundant that Our Lady of the Octaves is going all Christmas on us again, but since her 1994 release Merry Christmas was a contemporary holiday classic, we're all ears.

Photo_NickiMina_300RGB Nicki Minaj — Pink Friday (November 23): The Trinidad-born American rapper/collaboration queen will release her long-awaited debut in time for Thanksgiving. It looks to be a cornucopia of fresh rhymes and beats, with some smart sample choices; single "Your Love" — which features a vocal sample of Annie Lennox’s "No More 'I Love You's'" — is a salty slow burn, the grime-y "Massive Attack," with rapper/producer Sean Garrett is bottom-heavy hip-hop reggae. She’s also released some fantastic one-offs: her turn with on "Check It Out" quotes The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star" on its way to AutoTune’d glory, she added spice to Mariah Carey’s "Up Out My Face" and her "mixtapes" are genius (be sure to seek out the super-filthy "Ice Cream Man"). This is one artist to watch.

Also: Olivia Newton-John — Grace and Gratitude Renewed (September 14); Michelle Branch — Everything Comes and Goes (September 14); Zayra — Baby Likes to Bang EP (September 14); Paula Cole — Ithaca (September 21); Jane Monheit — Home (September 21); Shontelle — No Gravity (September 21); Nellie McKay — Home Sweet Mobile Home (September 28); KT Tunstall — Tiger Suit (October 5); Ciara — Basic Instinct (October 5); Shelby Lynne — Merry Christmas (October 12); Juliette Commagere — The Procession (October 26); Rihanna — Loud (November 16); Keri Hilson — No Boys Allowed (November TBA); Norah Jones — …Featuring (November 2); Annie Lennox — A Christmas Cornucopia (November 22)

RoadJohnny, Are You Queer?

Vincentminor3 Vincent Minor — Vincent Minor (September 21): Has Rufus Wainwright made the world safe for opulent gay singer-songwriters? We think so. L.A.-based Michael Mangia — who records as Vincent Minor — is a maverick in much the manner of Wainwright, able to compress a century of compositional genres at will. The result? A stunning debut as at home with a momentous music-hall whimsy ("Late Night Show") as it is with twisted psychedelic balladry (the Harry Nilsson-meets-George Gershwin of "So F**ked Up"). His is a fresh, innovative voice, and anything but minor.
Antony and the Johnsons — Swanlights (October 12): It’s nearly impossible to describe the otherworldly contours of Antony Hegarty’s astonishing voice. Whether he’s elegizing the destruction of the planet (as he did on last year’s The Crying Light) or plumbing new depths in a cover of Beyoncé’s "Crazy in Love," his vibrato-drenched phrasing is a sucker-punch to the gut. What new surprises and depths of feeling are in store for us with Swanlights? If recent R&B-tinged song "Thank You for Your Love" is any indication, we can expect simpler arrangements but the same expressive directness, plus cameo-weirdness from Bjőrk on duet "Flétta."

Diamond Rings Face Close Up Diamond Rings — Special Affections (October 26): John O’Regan — the gangly Canadian with an affinity for Bowie-esque eye shadow who records as Diamond Rings — traffics in a hyper-melodic strain of New Wave revisionism on his debut Special Affections. He meshes the icy grandeur of OMD with the romantic swoon of the Magnetic Fields on "On Our Own," and sounds like The National in love with New Order on "Wait & See." We miss the house-jumping rhythms of his single "Show Me Your Stuff" — not included here — but there’s plenty to love without it.

Dark Dark Dark — Wild Go (October 5): If Regina Spektor fronted world-music aficionados Beirut, they might sound something like the Minneapolis group Dark Dark Dark. Songwriters Nona Marie Invie and Marshall LaCount’s sophomore album Wild Go is a gorgeous indie hybrid. On the single "Daydreaming," Invie speculates about "all the unspeakable things" with all the intensity of Fiona Apple thrashing half-naked on a floor. And LaCount’s reedy tenor anchors Invies’ haunting countermelody on the eerie waltz "Heavy Heart."

Also: La Cage Aux Folles: New Broadway Cast Recording (September 28)

RoadPop Muzik:

OMD2 Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark — History of Modern (September 28): Though we love the bands we like to call "retro electro" (La Roux, Kids of 88, etc.), we still enjoy getting our kicks at the source. OMD’s eleventh release, History of Modern, stands tall as a follow-up to their classics Architecture & Morality, Junk Culture and Crush. Opener "New Babies: New Toys" is sleek New Wave goodness. The single "If You Want It" updates the yearning openness of "If You Leave." And — wait — is that Aretha Franklin’s sampled vocals on the robotically funky "Save Me?" Why, yes it is. Damn!

Yaz — Reconnected Live (September 28):  Whether you call them Yazoo or Yaz, the New Wave duo’s 2009 reunion concerts were special, and here’s proof — a double-disc of euphoria featuring the hits "Nobody’s Diary," "Don’t Go" and "Situation" (not about the Jersey Shore himbo). Alison Moyet’s never been in finer voice — that husky soul croon’s like a warm blanket of memories — and knob-twiddler Vince Clarke’s better here than he ever was with Depeche Mode or Erasure.

Faith George Michael — Faith (Remastered/Special Edition) (October 5): When he isn’t trying to cop a feel from the Beverly Hills police or driving under the influence of Class C narcotics, George Michael — you might remember — is a pop star. If you want to jog your memory, along comes this Special Edition of his bestselling Faith, with two CDs featuring the remastered album, 12-inches and B-sides, and a special edition with a DVD of interviews and music videos.
RoadNew Moon On Monday:

PastedGraphic-4 For those always on the lookout for fresh meat (and you know we’re talking to you), this autumn check out Deluka (pictured) and Shit Robot. The U.K.’s Deluka offers stomping retro electro on You Are the Night (September 28 digital; October 26 CD). Front-woman Ellie Innocenti is not so innocent on tracks like the glitchy opener "OMFG" and power popping single "Cascade." DFA artist and DJ Marcus Lambkin — who records as Shit Robot — drops (the brilliantly titled) From the Cradle to the Rave (September 21), nine club-friendly tracks like the Barry White send-up of "I Found Love" and the sweet modern disco of "Losing My Patience," with vocals from Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor.

Also: Hope — Hope (October TBA)


Hurts1 Out yesterday in the U.K. (no U.S. release date set yet), Hurts’ much-anticipated debut Happiness is synth-duo drama at its most heightened. The Manchester pair of Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson channel Tears for Fears on single "Wonderful Life" and invite Kylie Minogue along for a menacing ride on "Devotion."

California's Sara Bareilles follows up her smash Little Voice and its number one hit "Love Song" with Kaleidoscope Heart, 13 easy-rocking tunes that will wind down your summer and warm your heart.

Robyn_Body-Talk-Pt-2_500x500 Disco pixie Robyn keeps cranking 'em out this year. Body Talk Pt. 2 consists of eight tunes of streamlined dance highlighted by a full-band version of the previously acoustic "Hang With Me" and "U Should Know Better," a raging slab of electroclash with Snoop Dogg.

The gloomy New York quartet Interpol bid farewell to bassist Carlos D on their self-titled fourth, 10 sinuous tracks of dark indie tunes. Mr. D. goes out in style on the bass-heavy "Summer Well" and the prickly single "Barricade."

Also: Jerry Lee Lewis — Mean Old Man; The Thermals — Personal Life; Venetian Snares — My So-Called Life; Ludo — Prepare the Preparations; Brendan James — Brendan James; Helmet — Seeing Eye Dog

MUSIC NEWS: Sarah Blasko, Eli 'Paperboy' Reed, new dance mixes from Kylie Minogue and Katy Perry, Antony and the Johnsons, Sara Bareilles


GuestbloggerMODERN TONIC

Modern Tonic — a free email delivering gay-approved pop-culture gems (before they've been co-opted by everyone else) — presents a weekly music update here on Towleroad.


SarahblaskoBoy, has Australian native Sarah Blasko got it bad. She opens her third album, As Day Follows Night, with "Down On Love," a ruminative track that combines the melody of Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah” with the lyrics "Lately you’ve been down on love…" After 45 minutes of bad romances, unfaithful lovers and just plain despair, you feel as if you’ve spent a long, dark night in Blasko’s soul. 
Speaking of long nights, Blasko went to Sweden to team with producer Björn Yttling (of Peter, Björn and John fame) and wrestle with her metaphorical ghosts. The single "All I Want" is as lonesome and windswept as the Ennio Morricone-esque arrangement that drives it forward. And her plaintive, hazy vocal style is vulnerability personified. The music-hall happy "Hold On My Heart" offers a way out — an uptempo ramble that’s as breezy and relieving as the first break of dawn. After making it through the delicious drama of this Night, daylight has never looked more vivid.

ElireedAfter two independent releases that made him a star in Europe, Massachusetts blue-eyed soulja Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed releases his first major label record Come and Get It! today. Not much has changed since his fantastic sophomore album Roll with You. His retro soul and genuine love of 70’s groove on uptempo stompers like "Name Calling" and the title tune keep him on track to become the male Amy Winehouse. If he’s not yet as deep or as damaged as that tortured diva, pay no mind; he’s honing his gut-wrenching craft and reaching new depths of soul-searching sincerity. Witness "Just Like Me," in which baby-faced Reed lets loose a scream as earthy as James Brown. And he goes out on a pavement-shredding rave-up called "Explosion," a sneaky, unexpected special delivery from a man whose star has only begun to rise.

GOMWcover Here’s a real treat: smokin' hot new remixes from two of summer 2010's ubiquitous divas — Kylie Minogue and Katy Perry. The Paul Harris remix of Kylie’s "Get Outta My Way" (the follow-up single to Aphrodite's "All The Lovers") stretches the original to the breaking point, only to rebound on the dance floor under sparkling lights and Kylie’s happy-go-lucky vocals. Katy Perry’s "Peacock" from her forthcoming Teenage Dream AutoTunes the femme-bussing babe who’s now very interested in a bird of a different stripe indeed.  “I wanna see your peacock-cock-cock” she sings amidst the Hector Fonseca Club Mix, with extra synthetic bongos and cha-cha rhythms. Can we get a whoop whoop?



RoadKaty Perry on her career right now: "You have to bust your ass at this, which is why you don't find me getting shitfaced in bars that much...God, how many times do you see people slump on their sophomore record? Nine out of 10. But I'm still working, like, 13-hour days, five, six days a week and singing on top of it. And knowing that there's someone right behind me, ready to go, ready to push me down the stairs, just like in Showgirls."

ThankYou_Coverthmb RoadAntony and the Johnsons release "Thank You For Your Love," an EP of five new songs, on August 24, ahead of the October 12 release of their new album, Swanlights. The packaging (cover at right) will feature photographs taken by Antony when he arrived in NYC in the early '90s. Get the title track for free here in exchange for your email address.

Road Reese Witherspoon in talks to play Peggy Lee in a biopic written by Nora Ephron.

Road Sara Bareilles erases the unpleasant memories of Liza Minnelli's cover of "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)" with her fantastic acoustic interpretation.

4529 RoadThe first of what will be a steady stream of solo projects from Glee cast members has arrived. Mark Salling (Puck) debuted his new single "Higher Power" on Ryan Seacrest's show this morning. Listen to it, and the interview, here. In other Glee news, Ryan Murphy confirmed today that Britney Spears will, as rumored, actually be appearing on the forthcoming all-Britney episode.

RoadMark Ronson's third album, Record Collection, out September 28, will include the producer's vocal debut on two tracks, one of which, the title track, also features Duran Duran singer Simon LeBon and keyboardist Nick Rhodes.

RoadFlorence and the Machine, whose video for "Dog Days Are Over" has four MTV VMA nominations, will perform at the awards show September 12.
JudygarlandMike Posner — 31 Minutes to Takeoff; Judy Garland — Lost Tracks 1929-1959; Scott Pilgrim vs. the WorldOriginal Motion Picture Soundtrack; Lost in the Trees — All Alone in an Empty House; Stornoway — Beachcomber’s Windowsill; RPA & the United Nations of Sound — The United Nations of Sound


Chromeo — "Don’t Turn the Lights On"
Freaky electrofunk Canadians lay down a sly groove while the lights go out and some big eyes, bright teeth and pink mouths fill the screen. From their forthcoming Business Casual.

The Weepies — "Be My Thrill"
In two and a half minutes, the Topanga Canyon couple from the Weepies encapsulate the thrill of lifelong love in an animated clip of lovers — including a same-sex couple — adrift on billowy clouds of joyful emotion.

Holy Ghost! — "I Know, I Hear"
From their Static on the Wire EP, these dance-crazy Brooklynites invite Caroline Polachek from Chairlift for heavenly backing vocals on a Rapture-style funk jam shot in stark and artsy black-and-white.

The Count & Sinden ftrg. Mystery Jets — "After Dark"

This house duo from London host U.K. alt-rockers on an Afro-groove in a clip that’s like every cheesy British variety shows rolled into one. From their forthcoming Mega Mega Mega.

Music News: Take That Have 'Attitude' Covered, Plus U2, Kelly Clarkson, Real McCoy, The Saturdays, Antony And The Johnsons


GuestbloggerRobbie Daw presents a weekly pop music update here on Towleroad. Robbie runs his own site called Chart Rigger, which is celebrating its fourth anniversary this week! Congrats!

The members of Take That—Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Jason Orange and Mark Owen—appear on four different covers of U.K. gay mag Attitude's February issue.

Says Attitude: "Riding off the success of their number one album The Circus, we shot four covers with Gary, Jason, Howard and Mark. In one of their most revealing and intimate interviews, Attitude Assistant Editor Colin Crummy spent an unprecedented amount of time with the band and got the scoop on rumours, Robbie [Williams] and their ongoing relationship with their gay audience."

The Circus recently spent five weeks at the top of the British album chart, and has sold 1.5 million copies in their home country since its release last month.

In early December, Universal Music U.K. chief David Joseph told Billboard, "We have a lot of interest in the music from our American partners."

He also added that a decision on a U.S. release will be made "in the next few months."

It was announced this week that Take That have been nominated for a 2009 Brit Award in the category of Best British Group, along with Coldplay, Girls Aloud, Elbow and Radiohead.



U2: Their new single, "Get On Your Boots," from its world debut on Ireland's RTE FM2 morning show on Monday. What do you all think of this one? A bit too "Vertigo" maybe?

THE SATURDAYS: The radio edit done by Erasure's Vince Clarke for the U.K.-based girl group's current single "Issues."

LILY ALLEN: Her cover of the Clash's "Straight To Hell" for upcoming compilation Heroes benefiting the multi-national War Child charity. The album will also feature Rufus Wainwright, Franz Ferdinand, Hot Chip and Duffy.

REAL MCCOY: The unreleased U.S. video for the German act's 1995 hit "Run Away," which surfaced online this week. The 1984 theme was apparently deemed "too dark" by Arista at the time.


Kelly_clarkson_2Kelly Clarkson's new single "My Life Would Suck Without You," currently #1 on iTunes. Produced by Max Martin and Dr. Luke, the song pretty much picks up where "Since U Been Gone" left off. Curiously—but perhaps appropriately?—iTunes stars out the "U" and the "C" whithin the word "suck" at the online store. That kinda sucks.

Antony And The Johnsons' third LP, The Crying Light, which contains a 1977 photo of butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno on the cover.

Merriweather Post Pavillion, the eighth album from experimental Baltimore-based indie act, Animal Collective.

The self-titled debut from Fiction Family, a duo consisting of Nickel Creek's Sean Watkins and Switchfoot's Jon Foreman.

A compilation of reheated Mariah Carey leftovers from her former label Sony. It's called—brace yourselves—The Ballads.

Antony and the Johnsons to Release The Crying Light

Antony and the Johnsons, who won the 2005 Mercury Music Prize for their 2005 album I am a Bird Now, are back with a new album this month called The Crying Light, which New York magazine describes as "a lushly orchestrated evocation of an almost mythic personal loneliness." Antony Hegarty is profiled in this week's issue:

Antony"Antony describes The Crying Light this way: 'The focus of the album is on my relationship to the environment and the elements. The natural world.' The song 'Another World' is the embodiment of this intention, and in a way it brings him back to where he started. 'I wanted to write a song about the changing ecology,' he says. It reminds him of when he came to New York and saw another ecosystem in decline. 'This avant-garde queer underground, I got invested in it in a militant way because it was vanishing.' He stops and thinks about this. 'I have to write an essay on that one day: How the impact of AIDS on underground culture is like the impact, today, of humans on the world.'"

Listen to the first single off the album, "Another World", AFTER THE JUMP...

You Gotta Give Them Hope [ny mag]

Continue reading "Antony and the Johnsons to Release The Crying Light" »


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