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Towleroad Guide to the Tube #1271

KEANU AND DREW: A song from the 1986 classic Babes in Toyland.

TERRIBLE: Presenting part one of what is universally regarded as the worst movie ever made, Santa Claus Conquers The Martians.

'THAT'S A CHRISTMAS PRESENT': Better Off Dead translates strange American customs.

TWO SIMPLE WORDS: May your holiday be less stressful than John McClane's.

For recent Guides to the Tube, click HERE.


News: Ft. Bragg, Indiana Gay Nup Ban, CIA, Iowa Question

1NewsIcon The European Court of Human Rights unanimously ruled that the CIA tortured, shackled, beat and sodomized detainee Khaled el-Masri, a German national they claimed had ties to terror groups.

Metcalfe1NewsIcon Pennsylvania GOP state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe is going to introduce a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage there. "It is important that we support traditional marriage and have constitutional amendments to protect it at the state level. Marriage is a common good, not a special interest. Special interests should not have the right to redefine marriage for all of us," he said.

1NewsIcon Conservatives in Texas are looking for new ways to prohibit abortion, while liberals and concerned doctors in Wisconsin and North Carolina are fighting back against other right-wing attacks on a woman's right to choose.

1NewsIcon The new The Knife album is coming soon. Get excited here.

1NewsIcon The new poster for The Wolverine movie moves!

1NewsIcon Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo look beefy on the set of Foxcatcher.

1NewsIcon Drew Barrymore debuts new baby Olive on People cover.

1NewsIcon Matt Bomer does some pre-holiday shopping.

1NewsIcon On marriage equality and affirmative action at the Supreme Court: "Justice Anthony Kennedy is likely to be the swing vote in these cases, and many are predicting he will side with conservatives to limit racial preferences and with liberals to support gay marriage. Paradoxically, the very reasoning that could guide Kennedy to support marriage equality may bolster his decision to curtail race-based affirmative action, spurring colleges to adopt new approaches."

CCTV1NewsIcon The UK Network Rail Service turned CCTV footage of three ladies' embarrassing escalator moments into a PSA.

1NewsIcon Expect to see a lot of nude Matt Damon for his turn as Liberace's long-term lover Scott Thorson in the biopic Behind the Candelabra: "I had to come out of the pool, go over to Michael Douglas, straddle him on a chaise lounge and start kissing him... It's not like I kiss him just once. We drew it up like a football plan."

1NewsIcon Congratulations to new married couple Larry Duncan And Randell Shepherd, the Washington couple who became famous after a picture of them getting a marriage license went viral. Even though neither is particularly religious, they still married Sunday in a church. Said Duncan, "Enough people have told me, 'God hates fags. I want someone in a church to say, 'God loves fags,' to have that stamp on it."

1NewsIcon The University of Iowa is now asking applicants if they identify as LGBT, making it the first public university and only the second school in the nation to do so. "This is a question whose time had come. We think this will cause them to look more closely at the university because we value that part of who they are. We want students to feel we are receptive to and sensitive to their lifestyle and their description of themselves," said admissions director Michael Barron.

1NewsIcon Stephen Saland, one of the four GOP New York Senators to support marriage equality, has conceded defeat in his November election against Democrat Terry Gipson.

Deepwaterfootage1NewsIcon Fresh Deepwater leak? "CBS News has learned that BP is set to embark Thursday on the fifth day of a little-known subsea mission under Coast Guard supervision to look for any new oil leaking from the Deepwater Horizon disaster."

1NewsIcon Equality and cents: "Gov. Mitch Daniels said Wednesday he has been hearing from companies that fear that a measure that would put Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage into the state constitution might also prevent firms from offering benefits to gay couples"

1NewsIcon Ashley Broadway believes she is being excluded from the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses in North Carolina, because she is a lesbian. "The facts here are simple: there is no legal need or justification for any spouse to be excluded from a group like this, which exists to provide support to the spouses and families of our military men and women and the communities they serve," said Outserve-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson.

1NewsIcon Are One Direction band members truly fascinating?


Towleroad Guide To The Tube #1262

REUNITED: John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John sing "I Think Might Like It."

WHOA: This device, made in 1890, sounds just like a bird.

'ABHORS': Supreme Court Justice Scalia does not approve of the decision in the landmark free speech case New York Times v. Sullivan.

MAMA DREW: Drew Barrymore talks motherhood with Ellen.

For recent Guides to the Tube, click HERE.


MUSIC NEWS: Active Child, Ladytron, James Yuill, Leona Lewis, Daft Punk, Poly Styrene, Beirut, Best Coast, Hunx & His Punx

Activechild_beach

BY NORMAN BRANNON

Guestblogger RDIO_GENERIC_120X60 Norman Brannon is a pop critic, musician, and author based in New York City. He presents a weekly music update here on Towleroad and writes regularly at Nervous Acid.  

Follow Norman on Twitter at @nervousacid.

EXTENDED PLAY: FREE DOWNLOAD EDITION

Aside from Watch the Throne, the anticipated collaborative effort from Kanye West and Jay-Z, the summer release drought continues this week. But that doesn't mean there isn't new music to be heard: This time around, I've assembled a handful of free and legal downloads to give away — including a track that's somewhat personal to say the least.

Active-child-you-are-all-i-see WHO: Active Child

DOWNLOAD: "Playing House" / "Hanging On"

WHY: Los Angeles singer-songwriter Pat Grossi literally began his career as a choirboy, so it's no wonder that last year's Curtis Lane EP introduced a voice that was as angelic as it was ghostly. For his forthcoming debut album, You Are All I See, Grossi reins in his new wave tendencies and breaks new ground with an almost textural R&B — as if Jonsí from Sígur Ros decided to sing the D'Angelo back catalog. This is, trust me, an incredible thing.

WHEN: You Are All I See is released August 23 via Vagrant.

WHO: Ladytron

DOWNLOAD: "White Elephant"

WHY: Longevity is a rare beast in the music industry, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out how it's done: Liverpool electropop vets Ladytron are entering their second decade as a band because they've always been intent on expanding and redefining the boundaries of what it is that they do. With "White Elephant," the band goes back to basics, composing a classic pop standard through a modern pop lexicon. If that's tension that you hear, they're doing it right.

WHEN: Gravity the Seducer is released September 13 via Nettwerk.

WHO: James Yuill

DOWNLOAD: "Crying for Hollywood" (The Zodiac Social Chelsea Vocal Mix)

WHY: I don't generally merge my two career paths in any way, but it's free download week and I'm in the giving spirit. While the majority of you might only know me for my work here, I'm actually far better known as a musician, having played in a number of bands and worked as a songwriter for others over the last twenty years. Last month, I was commissioned to do a remix for one of the best working artists right now — London singer-songwriter James Yuill — and the resulting track turned out to be one of my favorite things I've ever worked on. If it gives you a more multidimensional image of who I am, then I suppose that's a good thing, right? Enjoy!

WHEN: James Yuill's excellent Movement in a Storm, featuring the original version of "Crying for Hollywood," is out now.

THE DISPATCH:

Leona-lewis-j231 Road Yesterday, an English high court heard testimony from Swedish club producer Avicci alleging that Simon Cowell and Leona Lewis are responsible for plagiarizing his forthcoming single, "Fade Into Darkness," on Lewis's current single "Collide." Avicci is hoping to prevent the commercial release of "Collide," which is currently scheduled for September 4 in the UK, and the producer has a case: Cowell's label approached Avicii's management to use the song for Lewis, but they declined, having already secured a fall release with Ministry Of Sound. Sad to say, I'm not sure "Collide" is a song worth fighting for.

Road Influential UK tech-house label Soma celebrates their 20th anniversary this year with a 3-CD retrospective of the label's history. No small footnote to that history, the collection opens with "Drive" — a previously unreleased Daft Punk demo from 1994. The track was originally meant to be included on Daft Punk's first 12-inch EP for the label, but was left off in favor of future classic "Da Funk."

Polystyrene Road Poly Styrene may have passed away before its release, but her final album, Generation Indigo, still breathes life: "Ghoulish" is being released as a new single this week, and the song is backed with a haunting remix by Hercules & Love Affair that volleys between hypnotic Italo-disco and classic Detroit techno.

Road It was announced this week that Amy Winehouse's North London home will become headquarters for the Amy Winehouse Foundation — an organization established to help young people with substance abuse problems. Meanwhile, Tony Bennett promised to donate 100-percent of the royalties from "Body & Soul" — his recent duet with Winehouse — to the foundation.

Road Former Mojo Magazine editor and David Bowie biographer Paul Trynka talks about his latest book, David Bowie: Starman, and gives his best educated guess for the singer's future based on all he's learned: "My heart says he'll come back, but my head says he's not likely to."

Beirut Road World music-slash-indie hybrid Beirut return from their recent cross-pollinations with Blondie for a new record called The Rip Tide, due out on August 30. The entire album is streaming at Soundcloud now. Also worth checking out: German techno favorites Modeselektor are offering teaser streams from their forthcoming album Monkeytown, including the much anticipated "Shipwreck" and "This" — both of which feature Radiohead's Thom Yorke on vocals.

Road Notable indie director and queer film icon Gregg Araki recently spoke with the Guardian at length about his love for the British shoegaze movement and its recent revival: "The sad thing is, today a band like Slowdive wouldn't be able to have a career. They hardly dealt in huge figures, but they sold enough to get a career out of it," he says. "There's no money for such things at the present, no incentive for record companies to repackage their music."

THE PLAYLIST:

This week's Rdio playlist was inspired by the recent announcement of nominations for this year's MTV Video Music Awards. I decided to dig into the archives in order to figure out who some of the best losing nominees were, and I was actually quite surprised by what I found. (For example, Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" lost its Video of the Year nod to Van Halen's "Right Now." True story!) But as I continued to dig, I was more surprised to see artists like Jeff Buckley or Roni Size/Reprazent in the nominee pool at all; there seemed to be as much of a story in the artists that got shut out of the VMAs as there was in the winner's circle. So this playlist celebrates the videos that should have won (the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' clip for "Maps" was insanely moving), the videos whose nominations were surprising (Belly's Star is one of the better lost albums from the '90s), and the videos whose artists became next-big-things that didn't quite make it (although Amerie's "1 Thing" still stands as an essentially flawless R&B track). Losers of 2011, take note! You're in excellent company.

RDIO_GENERIC_465X60

SOUND & VISION:

Best Coast — "Our Deal"

It sounds more like a movie than a music video, but the latest single from Best Coast is totally getting the cinematic treatment: Directed by Drew Barrymore, this Warriors–like romantic tragedy stars Community's Donald Glover, Kick-Ass star Chloë Moretz, and, umm, iCarly's Miranda Cosgrove, among others.

Hunx & His Punx — "Lover's Lane"

Having already transcended the queer-punk label with their across-the-board well-received Too Young to Be in Love album, Hunx & His Punx rewrite your prom night with this campy but crucial video for "Lover's Lane" — as if the girl-group era had been merely a foil for gay love this whole time.

Wild Beasts — "Bed Of Nails"

If Smother wasn't one of the best records released so far in 2011, it was certainly one of the most unique. Wild Beasts singer Hayden Thorpe has the kind of highly literate, androgynous voice that endeared us to artists like Marc Almond and Antony Hegarty; on "Bed of Nails," he utilizes that falsetto to raise the anthemic potential on the best hypnotic Krautrock rhythm since "Running Up That Hill."

Toro Y Moi — "How I Know"

As far as indie pop goes, the latest from chillwave's most prominent defector Toro Y Moi is way more sunny than scary. But that doesn't stop the single from getting a satirical, and often hilarious horror treatment: It's a place where ghosts aren't afraid to bust out vintage American Bandstand choreography and bubblegum can literally kill you.



MUSIC NEWS: Take That, Nerina Pallot, John Tejada, Thursday, Joss Stone, Kathleen Hanna, Patrick Wolf, Matt & Kim, Stars, Rye Rye

Take That

NORMAN BRANNON

Guestblogger Norman Brannon is a pop critic, musician, and author based in New York City. He presents a weekly music update here on Towleroad and writes regularly at Nervous Acid.  

Follow Norman on Twitter at @nervousacid.

EXTENDED PLAY:

Take That Progressed (Polydor UK) Progressed

First of all, let's not be delusional about it. When Take That became a Beatles–sized phenomenon in the U.K. in the early to mid-'90s, they were both one notch above New Kids on the Block and one notch below: One notch above, perhaps, because band member Gary Barlow was actually a co-songwriter on all of their material since the beginning, and one notch below because taking off your shirt was a non-negotiable part of the audition process. (Needless to say, their pecs and abs were in fine order.) But something happened along the way, and it's a story that remains unprecedented in the last 30 years of boy band history: In the ten years that it took for Take That to break up and get back together, all five members somehow managed to become accomplished songwriters in their own right, and the resulting comeback records — 2006's Beautiful World and 2008's The Circus — were pleasurably sophisticated self-written albums that objectively validated this development. Last year's Progress was the first Take That album to feature Robbie Williams since 1996, and it was, by all accounts, the band's second reinvention. Progressed, an 8-song EP out today, is an extension of that sound — a retromodern synth-based pop produced by Stuart Price, whose work with the Killers and Keane are good reference points here — but it's also their first attempt to integrate the current direction with the anthemic orchestral pop that defined their first comeback: Album opener "When We Were Young" merges acoustic and electronic elements with Williams and Barlow's wistful back-and-forth and "The Day The Work Is Done" suggests that Mark Owen — whose solo albums veered more towards British indie rock — is Take That's most under-appreciated talent. If Progressed makes a wrong turn anywhere, it's arguably when the band falls too far back into the mid-'90s schmaltz and pomp of overwrought ballads like "Don't Say Goodbye." Because, as the album's title implies, Take That have always seemed to fare better when they're moving forward.

THE DISPATCH:

ThursdayRoad Currently out on a co-headlining tour with Taking Back Sunday, Thursday's Lukas Previn composed an interesting tweet on Saturday in which he revealed that the band had been tipped off to a potential protest of their Seattle concert by the Westboro Baptist Church. In response to the Westboro rhetoric, and in solidarity with the gay community, Previn tweeted, "We all are wearing pride flag t-shirts and Geoff and I just got called sodomites." A photo of the band wearing these rainbow flag t-shirts on before the show surfaced on the Internet, but Westboro were, at last tweet, a no-show.

Road This week's most bizarre story: Two men were arrested in an alleged plot to murder British singer Joss Stone. The men were arrested outside of her home carrying swords, rope, and a body bag. For her part, Stone is not unhinged: "I'm all good," she said. "People are crazy, but that's OK. I'm carrying on, I'm painting my bathroom. I'm baking cakes."

Kathleen_Hanna Road Were it not for Bikini Kill and Le Tigre frontwoman Kathleen Hanna, the space in rock music that occupies radical feminist activism and queer empowerment would be a whole lot emptier. This week it was announced that her latest project, The Julie Ruin — which also features Bikini Kill's Kathi Wilcox and Kiki and Herb's Kenny Mellman — are currently recording an album slated for release in January.

Road The electronic dancehall of Switch and Diplo's Major Lazer project gets put to good use on this remix of Beastie Boys' "Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win," which also features Santigold on the hook.

Road In addition to his forthcoming "techno album" with Depeche Mode's Martin Gore, this week Vince Clarke announced the return of Erasure. The duo will be touring in America this summer, while the new album — called Tomorrow's World and produced with Frankmusik — gets its release in the fall.

Road In case you missed it, Patti Smith inexplicably appeared on this weekend's Law & Order: Criminal Intent to play "Columbia University mythology professor Cleo Alexander." You can watch the clip now.

Pwolf2011 Road One more week until Patrick Wolf's Lupercalia makes its way to the States as an import, but until then, enjoy this top-of-his-game cover of Kate Bush's iconic "Army Dreamers."

Road Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino revealed that the video for their forthcoming single "Our Deal" will be directed by Drew Barrymore, and features appearances by iCarly's Miranda Cosgrove, Community's Donald Glover, and that awesome kick-ass girl with the purple hair from, umm, Kick-Ass. In other words, they can't go wrong.

COMING OUT:

Nerina Pallot Year of the Wolf Nerina Pallot's fourth album begins with "Put Your Hands Up" — the song she originally wrote for Kylie Minogue with husband Andy Chatterley, who makes progressive house records under the aliases of Skylark and The Buick Project. In Pallot's hands, it's not an Aphrodite-styled pop number nor a club track, but a vintage, bluesy, guitar-based song — and by the end of its first chorus, it's obvious that hers is the definitive version. Year Of The Wolf is like that: It's a pop album in the sense that the song is the thing, and Pallot's songcraft paired with an unlikely, but necessary production by Suede's Bernard Butler surprisingly positions Wolf for a potential breakthrough of Adele-like proportions. Tracks like "All Bets Are Off" or "I Do Not Want What I Do Not Have" (co-written by Linda Perry) are vintage, but not throwback; they hark to a golden era of pop music but resist the urge to wax nostalgic. In other words, timeless.

Johntejada To the world outside of underground techno, John Tejada is probably best known as a technical advisor to The Postal Service's Jimmy Tamborello, who enlisted the producer for help on his James Figurine solo album in addition to working on The Postal Service remix of Feist's "Mushaboom." But in the clubs, Tejada is a respected producer and DJ whose work spans over fifteen years and literally hundreds of tracks. Parabolas is his first album for Kompakt, and with it, Tejada offers a refined sense of musicality and an expanded palette of subdued tricknology. The minimal breakbeat of "Subdivided" or the elegant melodic techno of "The Honest Man" tend to insinuate that Tejada is classically trained, which he is. But they are also cleverly designed to make you forget it.

Also out today: Bon Iver — Bon Iver (Jagjaguwar), Jill Scott — The Light of the Sun (Blues Babe), OK GO — 180/365 (Paracadute), Nico Muhly — Seeing is Believing (Decca), Liam Finn — Fomo (Yep Roc), When Saints Go Machine — Konkylie (!K7), The Get Up Kids — Simple Science EP (Quality Hill), Metronomy — English Riviera (WEA International)

SOUND & VISION:

Matt & Kim — "Block After Block"

The irrepressible Matt & Kim return with the second single from their sleeper third album Sidewalks, and here's the thing: Every time Matt & Kim make a new video, I'm convinced — if only for three-and-a-half minutes — that they're the best band in the world. Or that they should be my best friends. Because you can't not be happy watching this.

Rye Rye — "New Thing" 

It's only been a week since Rye Rye released a video for her collaboration with Robyn; this week, the Baltimore rapper teams up with  fashion designer Prabul Gurung for the second video from her long-awaited debut album. "New Thing" was directed by fashion photographer Kenneth Cappello and showcases Gurung's latest resort collection — which also serves as inspiration for the clip's set and lighting design.

Stars — "We Don't Want Your Body"

Seeing as gay men are often targeted for our alleged obsessions with body image, it's a relief to see Stars shine a light on the straights: Honestly, the men and women who star in "We Don't Want Your Body" make most of the guys on BigMuscle look kind of scrawny.

Belle & Sebastian — "I Didn't See It Coming" (Richard X Remix)

It wasn't until I first heard this track that I realized how overdue Belle & Sebastian were for a remix. Richard X, who has written and produced singles for Kelis and Sugababes in the past, almost effortlessly transforms this indie folk song into a Kylie–styled melodic club track, which — in some sort of alternate universe, anyway — actually has the muscle to put Belle & Sebastian on a modern pop chart.



Watch: E.T., the Sequel

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E.T. phoned home. Now Drew Barrymore and Henry Thomas are back to hang up the call, AFTER THE JUMP...

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