Coachella's 2012 line-up was announced on its Facebook page today. Radiohead, The Black Keys, and Dr. Dre & Snoop dogg will headline the festival, which takes place over the weekends of April 13-15 and a repeat on April 20-22.
Coachella is known for its reunions, and this year's festival will coax a number of acts out of hiding: it will feature an appearance by Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeff Mangum, marking the first Southland appearance of the previously hermetic indie musician's current tour, as well as punk icons Refused and At the Drive-In, which announced its reformation on Twitter earlier on Monday. '90s alt-rockers Mazzy Star, who surprised fans with new recordings late last year, will perform on the festival's first day -- as will the resurgent Jarvis Cocker-led British act Pulp.
My favorite Coachella time-lapse tilt-shift video from 2010, AFTER THE JUMP...
It's not every day that a major artist releases a 37-track, three-disc set of remixes comprising the last thirty years of their career — which is likely because I don't think it's ever happened before. In that sense, Remixes 2: 81–11 is breaking some sort of ground that even the 36-track Remixes: 81–04 couldn't touch: This is a collection that not only bolsters the band's unwavering relevance as songwriters and synthpop pioneers, but makes a distinct connection to their enduring influence on modern club music. Admittedly, 37 tracks is a lot for even the most stalwart of fans to digest, so I went ahead and pulled five of the highlights — and lowlights! — for this very special Depeche Mode Remix Redux:
Produced by one-half of Layo & Bushwacka!, the first song on this collection is, for all intents and purposes, the kind of thing you'd hear at 10:30 P.M. in the club — a stark, tech-house beat that most DJs would call "tracky" under a vocal that only serves to set the hypnotic pace. It is not, by far, the most commercial track on this collection, and because of that, it's also a genius choice: Clubgoers will appreciate the deep house warm-up, while dudes who really loved Mike Koglin's weird trance version of "Enjoy The Silence" in 1998 will feel rightfully duped.
2009's "Peace," from Sounds of the Universe, fell somewhat flat in its original incarnation as a downtempo, low-slung bass-driven single; there was something to the lyric and the vocal that the music failed to express. The answer, as SixToes saw it, was a human element. Strings, tabla, and even banjo transform the original into something not even Martin Gore could conceive: a neo-Americana Depeche Mode.
If you lived in New York at a certain time, and you know something about the mid-'90s Save The Robots afterhours parties, and you've seen what that place looked like at six in the morning, and you actually feel nostalgic for it, then boy, have I got a remix for you.
The ultra-distorted electro style of Justice and Digitalism seems like a good idea in context, but when you try to remix a song whose major asset is its melody by featuring a dysmorphic synth that borders on atonal, it's just not going to be good. And that's being generous.
Two ex-members of Depeche Mode — both respected and accomplished in their own right — provided remixes for this collection, and thirty years down the road, that's a pretty fantastic feat. But if you have to compare them (and you don't, but I decided to!), there's something about Clarke's track that slightly edges out Wilder's take on "In Chains." It could be that Wilder seemed intent on making a proper Depeche Mode song — or that his trusted playbook provided a missed opportunity to recreate what we think we know about the band. But ultimately, it was something less hypothetical than that: Clarke's revision suggests that only one ex-member of Depeche Mode has been keeping up with underground techno since Songs of Faith and Devotion.
In the face of immediate cries of plagiarism following the premiere of their new single "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall," Coldplay clarify: The song was simply "inspired" by the 1990 single "Ritmo de la Noche" by Mystic, which was in turn based on another song called "I Go to Rio," which was written by Peter Allen and Adrienne Anderson and later sung by everyone from Peggy Lee to the Muppets, among others. Says a Coldplay spokesperson, "Allen and Anderson are credited as writers" in the album's liner notes.
Björk's new album, Biophilia, is shaping up to be an experiment in technology and mobile apps: The record will be released as an "app album" for the iPad, featuring ten mini-apps to go with each song. A preview of the first song, "Crystalline," hit the web this week.
Blondie are prepping the release of Panic of Girls — their first new album in seven years — with a physical release slated for July. UK fans, however, got an early taste of the album through Amazon's digital download store this week, and the preview is promising: Retromodern and yet actually modern, the album also features young Brooklyn songwriter Zach Condon — who adds trumpet to "Wipe Off My Sweat" and whose band, Beirut, originally wrote and recorded "A Sunday Smile."
If you're looking for some new DJ mixes to stream, BUTT magazine is hoping to fill the void with a new exclusive series of mixtapes available from their specially designed BUTT audio-player. The first mix is up now, featuring Berlin DJs Discodromo and Boris — the latter of whom is a Paradise Garage vet and former heyday resident at Berlin's legendary Panorama Bar.
This week's bizarre confession: Take That's Robbie Williams undergoes weekly testosterone treatment. "Went to see a Hollywood doctor, had my blood tests," he explained. "He said, 'You've got the testosterone of a 100-year-old man.' And then everything made sense. It was kind of an epiphany."
Nomi Ruiz came to light as the breakout star of the debut self-titled Hercules & Love Affair album; her contributions to "You Belong" and "Hercules Theme" set a tone that producer Andy Butler had trouble recreating on album number-two. This week, Ruiz returns with her own group, Jessica 6, and a debut album that belies their new-band status. Equal parts disco, proto-house, and coquettish R&B, See The Lightplays with a lot of the ideas that Ruiz explored with Hercules, but shoots less for homage and more for total embodiment. While "Prisoner Of Love" will get much of the press for its Chicago-styled piano house and Antony Hegarty guest spot, tracks like "Champagne Bubbles/Remember When" invoke an anachronistic Mary J. Blige nestled into a late night Quiet Storm slot on 1980s R&B radio. This is, in case you're wondering, a pretty awesome thing.
He reinvented himself on Broadway with work on the Tony Award-winning Spring Awakening, meaning that Duncan Sheik has outlived most of the singer-songwriters that came up alongside him in the mid-'90s. (Ubiquitous hits like "Barely Breathing" tend to add to one's shelf-life considerably, if not subsidize the lesser-selling albums destined to follow.) Off Broadway, Sheik's more recent albums have mellowed even further with age, and Covers '80s takes this slow-motion weathering to its next logical step: A collection of twelve totally inoffensive, and even occasionally endearing interpretations of hits by Depeche Mode, The Smiths, Talk Talk, and, umm, The Thompson Twins won't set the world on fire, but they will remind you how old you are in a gentle, toe-tapping kind of way.
Having lost lead singer Tyondai Braxton to the dreaded solo project just last summer, Battles wasted no time in regrouping as a three-piece and putting together Gloss Drop — which, when all is said and done, barely registers any sort of recognizable absence from being one man down. The largely instrumental album draws firmly on cultural rhythmic traditions ("Dominican Fade"), post-rock detritus ("Futura"), and traditionally electronic dance music-gone-analog ("Sweetie & Shag"), but tracks like "Ice Cream" — featuring Kompakt techno stalwart Matias Aguayo on vocals — remind us that Battles still know how to put together a memorable, if not challenging hook. Braxton may have been the voice, but he didn't own the vision.
If I wanted to make some sort of official pick-hit of the week, "Belongings" would earn the title, hands down. Clock Opera's latest single draws most obviously from Steve Reich, Peter Gabriel, and Elbow, and yet somehow manages to come out a gorgeously reticent pop song that makes every other record that came out this week feel a little less adventurous — and nowhere as emotionally resonant. It's stunning.
Take That — "Love Love"
The latest single from the revamped electropop Take That sounds more like Gary Numan fronting The Killers than it does the band responsible for "Greatest Day," but the group's recent musical reinvention is one of many reasons why they're so damn relevant. "Love Love" is the lead single for X-Men: First Class.
The Grates — "Turn Me On"
After two well-received albums, Australian indie-pop duo The Grates decided they needed to live a little — so they moved to Brooklyn and pledged to stay until a third album was in the can. That record, Secret Rituals, is likely the one they needed to make: "Turn Me On" makes good on the title of their 2008 album Teeth Lost, Hearts Won; it's wrought with fear, not paralyzed by it.
Ford & Lopatin — "World Of Regret"
The debut album by Ford & Lopatin is called Channel Pressure, and it comes out today along with this video for "World of Regret," a hyper-animated clip that's probably more acid trip than acid house. Fans of carnival posters with dolphins on them — or airbrushed wolf sweatshirts, for that matter — will revel in its ironic artistic merit.
"We're working on it -- we're really excited and it's something I've been wanting to do for a long time. I'm so thrilled that it's something that can happen because of "Glee," and like the Warblers album I hope I can do it justice and make it something that people can really enjoy."
The debut album by 23-year-old James Blake comes with some baggage attached to it: Having already broken the UK Top 40 with a ghostly rendition of Feist's "Limit To Your Love" in November, Blake unwittingly became the great commercial hope for dubstep — a somewhat challenging strand of experimental electronic music better known for its sub-bass than its hit singles. To be fair, this is not that kind of record. But it's not exactly a purist's dubstep record either: While Blake dabbles in the genre's dark minimalism, he rarely ends up being swallowed by it, and much of this can be attributed to the surprisingly soulful depth of his singing voice — which appears unaccompanied throughout, as on the heavily vocoded "Lindisfarne I" or the seemingly Antony–inspired "I Never Learnt To Share." So while it's tempting to cite James Blake as a record that takes the commercialization of dubstep further than ever, the reality is that Blake has essentially sidestepped the genre altogether. For one, it could be argued that the album's lead single, "The Wilhelm Scream," is technically a D'Angelo song in a Burial disguise — and there probably isn't a wall for that at your local record shop.
Cut CopyZonoscope (Modular)
Any club DJ worth his salt will tell you: It's not about beating your audience over the head with peaks and valleys, but seducing them with the tension of a hypnotic rhythm. This is, apparently, one of the lessons that Melbourne's Cut Copy has learned since releasing 2008's In Ghost Colours — an exercise in uptempo, jagged dance-rock, if ever there was one. So where Ghost Colours bobbed and weaved, Zonoscope simply stays the course with great success: Album opener "Need You Now" is somewhat of a modern cousin to Lil Louis's "French Kiss" with its pulsing, uninterrupted flow, while "Take Me Over" reimagines Men At Work's "Down Under" as an outtake from Slave to the Rhythm. But it's the epic "Sun God" that ultimately reveals the full extent of Cut Copy's transformation into a full-on dance outfit — because, as any clubber worth his salt might tell you, the only way to get lost inside of a 15-minute track is to commit to the kick drum.
Did Microsoft really just rip off Arcade Fire for a television commercial? The evidence is pretty compelling. Relatedly, the sampling rogues over at The Hood Internet pointed out another compelling similarity this week: You're not the only one who thought Arcade Fire's "Sprawl II" sounded a lot like Blondie's "Heart of Glass." The mash-up — of course! — is available for free download HERE.
Fact Magazine roped Hercules & Love Affair mainman Andy Butler into compiling a mix of classic house inspirations for their forthcoming sophomore album, Blue Songs, which is available for a limited time as a free download HERE. The official tracklist ends with Hercules & Love Affair's new single, "My House," but stick it out for the real finale: Butler slips in his unofficial acid house mix of Madonna's "Into The Groove."
Ellie Goulding's phenomenal UK #1 album Lights is set for release in America on March 8, and this week, the singer announced her first U.S. tour, which begins in Austin for South by Southwest and culminates with a must-see performance at this year's Coachella festival.
Featuring one-half of the much-loved Promise Ring, Milwaukee's Maritime have announced a new label (Dangerbird), a new album (the forthcoming Human Hearts, due out April 5), and a comeback single called "Paraphernalia" — which shows the band going uptempo for a Cure-like dose of indie pop. An e-mail address gets you a free download HERE.
Being the son of famous folk-rock singers — in this case, Richard and Linda Thompson — is hard! Which is probably why they tend to stick together: Teddy Thompson has provided additional vocals on all but two of Rufus Wainwright's albums. For his fifth studio album, Bella, Thompson works with a blended approach of alt-country and classic pop that recalls the golden era of Crowded House at its best.
The debut album by Chapel Club had all the momentum to become a huge hit last year on the back of lead single "Surfacing," but contested issues of copyright tossed the record into a legal limbo. (Note to new bands: You'll probably want to clear the use of lyrics from "Dream a Little Dream of Me" before you send the song to radio!) Palace finally comes out this week, and it's certainly not any worse for the wear: Tracks like "Blind" and "White Knight Position" invoke all the songwriting savvy of Echo & The Bunnymen without the '80s pomp and circumstance.
Ellie Goulding — "This Love (Will Be Your Downfall)"
This song has been my own personal obsession for the last few weeks, but it's never been an official single. Fortunately, some fans picked up the slack and reappropriated someone else's music video about a kidnapping to create this narrative about a failed relationship.
The Good Natured — "Your Body is a Machine"
Considering how young they are — singer-songwriter Sarah McIntosh just turned 20! — "Your Body is a Machine" is the almost impossibly mature lead single from The Good Natured's forthcoming Be My Animal EP.
The New Pornographers — "Moves"
This is what happens when you hand over a music video to a group of comedians: You get Superchunk's Jon Wurster rocking a red wig, while practically the entire supporting cast of The Daily Show go on to make fun of your band for as long as time will allow. Also seen: Ted Leo, John Hodgman, and Community's Donald Glover. It's kind of genius.
PJ Harvey — "The Words That Maketh Murder"
In an interview with the Guardian last week, Patti Smith called the first single from PJ Harvey's forthcoming eighth album "a great song," adding, "It just makes me happy to exist. Whenever anyone does something of worth, including myself, it just makes me happy to be alive." That just about sums it up.
The Go! Team Rolling Blackouts (Memphis Industries)
The Go! Team are somewhat impossible to describe in any sort of meaningfully categorical way. In fact, it's not an exaggeration to say that the last time I heard an album that drew equal influence from Fatboy Slim, the Beach Boys, Run-DMC, and the soundtrack to Shaft, it took Girl Talk something like 373 samples to construct it. Which is probably why Rolling Blackouts, the third album by the Brighton, England–based sextet, is something like a balance of skill and miracle: Album opener "T.O.R.N.A.D.O." does as its name suggests — coming off like an old school Boogie Down Productions record in the middle of a James Bond car chase — while the comparatively demure "Secretary Song" offers a sugary nod to '60s pop psychedelia featuring Deerhoof's Satomi Matsuzaki. But it's lead single "Buy Nothing Day" — with Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino on vocals — that provides the album's emotional center and lends the necessary third dimension to pull off this kind of stylistic free-for-all. For a band that prides itself on making self-proclaimed "schizo music," it's like a glimpse of The Go! Team on meds.
The Joy Formidable Big Roar (Warner Bros.)
They only have three members, but you'll never hear The Joy Formidable being accused of minimalism. On their debut album, Big Roar, the London-based group revel in the kind of epic reverb-drenched big room anthems that bands like the Arcade Fire need twice as many members to execute. It's not for the weak of heart, mind you — the hyper-cranked decibel levels of My Bloody Valentine is an obvious reference point — but the payoff is, quite simply, remarkable. Singer/guitarist Ritzy Bryan is already 2011's most compelling frontwoman, and it's a title she earns with the pathos-ridden "I Don't Want To See You Like This" and the inimitable Siouxsie-on-steroids delivery of "A Heavy Abacus." They've been incessantly linked to the '90s shoegaze movement by the British press, but Big Roar is far more complex than the analogy will allow. Because underneath the digitally-processed wall of sound, there are actually real songs here.
Following the success of his debut solo album, The Boxer, Kele Okereke — the openly gay frontman of Bloc Party — has announced his plan to move to New York in order to write a "sexually-charged" memoir. "We can expect some naming names and shaming of celebrities," he claims. "It's gonna be hot."
TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek took time out from his current auxiliary duties as a member of Jane's Addiction to remix "I Follow Rivers," the second single from Lykke Li's forthcoming sophomore album. You can grab the free download HERE.
London's National Theatre has announced a line-up of its forthcoming productions and at least one name on the playbill is going to surprise you: A new musical written by Tori Amos is scheduled to open in April 2012.
Having just taken home a National Book Award for Just Kids — a memoir detailing her relationship with the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe — Patti Smith is already working on the follow-up. But hang on! It's a detective novel inspired by Sherlock Holmes.
Azure Ray's Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink reunited after six years to release last year's truly elegant Drawing Down The Moon, but the first song they wrote together following the separation never made it onto the album. "Silverlake," which features the late Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, was released earlier this week on iTunes, but Saddle Creek Records will send you the link to a free download in exchange for an e-mail address. It's worth it.
Ricky Martin's first album since coming out is, umm, coming out today. All but two of the songs on Musica + Alma + Sexo are sung in Spanish — which will be a challenge outside the Latin market! — and while a surprising number of them take a turn towards tribal and progressive house, you're not likely to mistake this for a club album: With Desmond Child producing, classic power ballads like "Basta Ya" and "Te Busco Y Te Alcazo" still hold it down for the old school lighter-waving set.
Le Tigre's JD Samson returns this week with MEN, an electro-pop project also featuring members of New York indie favorites Ladybug Transistor and The Ballet. Talk About Body is as much a visceral collection of punk-disco as it is an authentic demonstration of art-as-activism — as you might expect. But it's also the most fun you'll ever have listening to expositions of wartime economy and critical gender theory.
As a member of Antony & the Johnsons and a frequent collaborator with Rufus Wainwright and Scissor Sisters, Joan Wasser has certainly merited her favor with the gay community. But on The Deep Field — her third album under the Joan as Police Woman moniker — Wasser goes at it solo and turns up an unpredictably soulful result.
If you picked up the second installment of Robyn's Body Talk trilogy, then you've already heard the work of Swedish production duo Savage Skulls on "Love Kills." Here, Robyn returns the favor on this Chicago-flavored house track for Diplo's Mad Decent label.
The Thermals — "I Don't Believe You"
As the star of IFC's sketch comedy show Portlandia, a freelance music critic for NPR, and singer for the all-star indie band Wild Flag, it seems like Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein is everywhere these days. Which makes this video — in which she destroys her house trying to escape from The Thermals — just a little bit ironic.
R.E.M. — "Oh My Heart" (Live in Studio)
R.E.M.'s upcoming fifteenth studio album, Collapse Into Now, isn't set for release until March 7, but the band's latest self-imposed leak comes in the form of this gorgeous live performance.
Joan as Police Woman — "The Magic"
It might be that Joan Wasser put out a casting call on BigMuscle.com for the first video from her new album, The Deep Field. Otherwise, really, I'm not sure I have a good explanation for this!