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MUSIC NEWS: Frankmusik, Nirvana, Erasure, Arthur Russell, Portishead, Kele, Sneaky Sound System, Death Cab For Cutie

Frankmusik

BY 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:

Frankmusik-do-it-in-the-am Frankmusik Do It In The AM (Cherrytree/Interscope)

Frankmusik launched his second album firmly on the defense. "It's got bit of an American twang to it because, f*ck it, I'm in America," he said in an interview this past April. "So when people are gonna say it isn't me, 'Frankmusik sold out,' I'll just say, 'No, Frankmusik got more concise,' and they can suck a d*ck." Well, OK then!

Historically, of course, great records have rarely been initiated with the self-awareness that there may be something disingenuous about them, and in the case of Do It In The AM, that self-conscious decision-making is nearly audible on songs like "No I.D." — the spiritual cousin to Rebecca Black's "Friday" and Murray Head's "One Night In Bangkok," if you can imagine that — and the commercial-radio-by-the-numbers title track which, as Frankmusik attests, sounds painstakingly American. Like he was trying. Fortunately, once you get past these ill-fated attempts at having the next Pitbull-assisted radio hit (sans Pitbull, thankfully), there is an album: Opener "We Collide" flirts with the kind of pleasurable, but edgy electropop that Stuart Price pioneered with recent albums for Take That and The Killers, while "Wrecking Ball" sounds like it could have emerged from Frankmusik's successful album sessions with Ellie Goulding. In fact, by the time you get to Track 10 — the simply brilliant "Struck by Lightning" — it becomes increasingly hard to believe that the lows on Do It In The AM are so damn low. Because the highs are simply transcendent.

The point Frankmusik seems to have missed in his preemptive strike is that this has less to do with "selling out" as it does with knowing what makes you unique and developing that to its greatest potential. When he speaks in his own voice, Do It In The AM is delightful. But the detours are disastrous.

Also out today: Nirvana — Nevermind: 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Geffen), Wilco — The Whole Love (Anti-), Blink-182 — Neighborhoods (DGC), Plaid — Scintilli (Warp), Twin Sister — In Heaven (Domino), Spank Rock — Everything is Boring and Everyone is a F*cking Liar (Bad Blood), Apparat — Devil's Walk (Mute)

THE DISPATCH:

Nirvana with rupaul Road For the 20th Anniversary of the release of Nirvana's Nevermind, I put together a list of ten albums also released in 1991 that less noticeably changed the world. They sold about 29 million copies less than Nevermind — at least — but all of them altered the course of music in the last twenty years.

Road Frankmusik's new album may be touch and go, but I've got high hopes for his work with Erasure: A complete stream of Tomorrow's World and track-by-track commentary by the band is online now.

Road Experimental pop and disco pioneer — and queer icon — Arthur Russell changed the face of the dancefloor with "Let's Go Swimming." This week, Audika Records reissues the single with a dub mix from disco legend Walter Gibbons and a previously unreleased version of "Make 1, 2 (Gem Spa Dub)" that clocks in at eleven minutes long.

Road Influential trip-hop trio Portishead are threatening to go back into the studio for the first time since 2008's Third. "I'm going to start in January," says Geoff Barrow. "Historically that could mean f*cking ten years."

Jake-Shears Road Scissor Sisters mainman Jake Shears isn't penning your average collaborator dream-list: At the top of the heap is Queens of the Stone Age singer Josh Homme. "I really, really want to sing on the next QOTSA album," says Shears. "I think that he's a genius, a genuine rock hero living among us."

Road New music you'll want to stream: Beni's forthcoming House of Beni promises to do for runway house what Frankie Knuckles did for whistles. "Someone Just Like You" is the latest track to surface and features The Rapture's Mattie Safer on vocals. Also, MGMT have curated the latest edition of the Late Night Tales series, out next week, and the band covers Bauhaus' "All We Ever Wanted Was Everything" for the occasion. Neo-psychadelic goth, then? It actually works.

Bjork-2011_610 Road Björk talks with New Scientist about the technological and scientific inspirations and intersections on her forthcoming album, Biophilia: "If you write a song with acoustic guitar, is there [automatically] soul in it? I've heard tons of guitar songs with no soul at all. If music created with electronics or a computer has no soul, it's because nobody put it there."

Road R.E.M. announced their break-up after thirty-plus years as a band, but they won't go out quietly: Their final release is called Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982–2011, and it will be a two-disc, 40-song retrospective of the band's inimitable career — also featuring three new tracks.

SOUND & VISION:

Kele — "What Did I Do?" (featuring Lucy Taylor)

Bloc Party's out frontman is kind of worried that he's been kicked out of his band, but not enough to halt the release of his upcoming The Hunter EP on October 31. "What Did I Do?" is the lead single, and introduces a bunch of firsts: Guest singer Lucy Taylor, a new dubstep-tinged direction, and a newly muscled and shirtless physique he wasn't exactly touting on the Silent Alarm tour.

Washington — "Holy Moses"

I know very little about Washington outside of this video, and sometimes, that's the best way to evaluate something: The costuming might recall Lady Gaga and Tori Amos, but the song itself is one of those effortlessly ebullient tracks that are basically impossible to contrive. Washington's vocal, meanwhile, is strong, seductive, and best of all, perceptibly sincere.

Sneaky Sound System — "Big"

I'm starting to really look forward to the third album from Sydney–based Sneaky Sound System. Due out on October 7, From Here To Anywhere has already spawned a pretty fantastic lead single in "We Love," but single number-two connects the band with a more emotional tenor: "Big" comes from the Robyn school of slightly-melancholy-but-ultimately-uplifting arpeggiated pop. This is much harder to pull off than you'd think.

Death Cab For Cutie — "Stay Young, Go Dancing"

The latest by Death Cab is something like The Notebook of indie rock videos: You're kind of expecting Ryan Gosling to jump out and win someone's heart. But it's actually more sweet — and realistic — than that. "Stay Young, Go Dancing" is an anthem of aging in love.


 


Towleroad Guide to the Tube #962

ERASURE: New montage video for upcoming single "When I Start To (Break It All Down)".

THE WINNER BY A NOSE: Russians compete for Neti Pot title.

VACUUM CLEANER: Vs. fire.

OUTSPOKEN: MetroWeekly's Ebone Bell goes in search of the ultimate Beyoncé fan.

For recent Guides to the Tube, click HERE.


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: Erasure Gives 'A Little Respect' to LGBT Youth in New Video

Bell

(Apologies - posted this without the video earlier)

Via Joe comes this uplifting re-do of Erasure's "A Little Respect" from Andy Bell and LGBT youth at the Hetrick Martin Institute, along with some other cameos.

"Proceeds from the track will be donated to The Hetrick-Martin Institute, the home of the Harvey Milk High School, in New York, and the True Colors Fund. The Hetrick-Martin Institute, the nation's oldest and largest LGBTQ youth service organization, provides a safe and supportive environment to all young people -- regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity so that they can achieve their full potential. The HMI Redux features a youth chorus from the Hetrick-Martin Institute who also appear in the music video, directed by filmmaker Jason Stein."

Love, love, love.

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

The track is available on iTunes.

Bell2

Continue reading "Watch: Erasure Gives 'A Little Respect' to LGBT Youth in New Video" »


Erasure and Andy Bell to Re-Record 'A Little Respect' with Gay and Lesbian Youth Chorus, Anti-Bullying Doc

Bell

Erasure's Andy Bell has announced that Erasure will record a new version of their hit single "A Little Respect":

Alittlerespect Originally released as a single in 1988 from the Erasure album 'The Innocents', 'A Little Respect' reached #2 on the Billboard Dance Charts and became a signature tune for the synthpop duo Erasure, as well as becoming an anthem for the gay rights movement.

The new recording of 'A Little Respect' will now include a youth chorus from The Hetrick-Martin Institute and it will be released as a download by Mute Records. A new documentary-style video, conceived by filmmaker Jason Stein of Laundry Service Media, will accompany the new recording. Both the single and video - which is intended to include cameos from high-profile supportive friends in the gay-straight community - are scheduled for release in mid-December with proceeds from the download of the music single earmarked to benefit The Hetrick-Martin Institute and the True Colors Fund.

In the wake of the tragic gay bullying incidents and related suicides across the country, Andy Bell was motivated to take action. As one of popular music's first openly-gay celebrities Bell felt compelled to get involved. "I am honored and moved beyond words to serve as an Ambassador to the The Hetrick-Martin Institute. Every opportunity we have to spread tolerance and compassion must be seized and I will take special pride in doing so on HMI's behalf."

Proceeds from the single will benefit The Hetrick-Martin Institute, home of the Harvey Milk High School, and Cyndi Lauper's charity the True Colors Fund.

Watch the video for "A Little Respect", AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Erasure and Andy Bell to Re-Record 'A Little Respect' with Gay and Lesbian Youth Chorus, Anti-Bullying Doc" »


Music News: La Roux Hits The U.S., Plus Antigone, Little Boots, Kurt Cobain, iTunes, Calvin Harris

Laroux

GuestbloggerROBBIE DAW 

Robbie Daw presents a weekly pop music update here on Towleroad. Robbie runs his own site called Chart Rigger.

This spring has seen somewhat of an electro-pop revolution coming out of England, and leading the charge, so to speak, is London-based duo La Roux (aka, Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid).

Lroux  The pair's single "In For The Kill" cracked the Top 10 of the U.K. chart this week, and a remix of the tune is being included on the "Quicksand" EP that's to be released here in the States via Cherrytree/Interscope this coming Tuesday. In the meantime, you can download "Quicksand" in its original form, as well as several remixes, in an indie EP already up on U.S. iTunes.

La Roux have been doing several North American gigs this week. Tomorrow they perform at San Francisco's Popscene, while Saturday they'll be doing the Wyndham Palm Springs Hotel's Saturday Pool Party during White Party weekend. They wrap things up in the States at L.A.'s Roxy on Sunday night.

Below are some recent synth-heavy clips from across the pond:

LA ROUX: Their video for "In For The Kill."

ANTIGONE: The Aussie-born, London-based singer's "More Man Than Man." Her new single "Promiscuity" was added to iTunes this week, and her album AntigoneLand will be available on April 20.

CALVIN HARRIS: The 25-year-old Scottish songwriter/producer's new single "I'm Not Alone."

LITTLE BOOTS: A live clip of her upcoming late-May release "New In Town." Little Boots played South By Southwest in Austin last month.

road.jpg   It's hard to believe, but today marks 15 years since Kurt Cobain was found dead. Technically, his suicide is said to have taken place on April 5. Whether you're a fan of Nirvana's music or not, it certainly was a moment of cultural significance, and, as cliched as it sounds, the end of an era. Do you remember where you were when the news broke? (I'd just finished classes that Friday afternoon during my sophomore college year, and walked into the library where a bunch of students were talking about it.)

road.jpg   The entire Beatles catalog to be remastered and re-released on CD with extras this September. However, still no resolution in getting the songs onto iTunes.

road.jpg   Boom Boom Pow: The Black Eyed Peas land their first number one hit.

road.jpg   Notice some songs jumped in price from 99 cents to $1.29 on iTunes this week, while others dropped to 69 cents? Best get used to it.

road.jpg   There's a whole lot of smoke-jumpin' surrounding Chris Brown's felony case.

road.jpg   Has Katy Perry enlisted Calvin Harris—who swazzed up Kylie Minogue's "In My Arms"—to produce her next album

road.jpg   THE WEEK'S NEW RELEASES:

Erasure Two Suns, the second album from Bat For Lashes (aka Natasha Khan).

Erasure's career-spanning hits set Total Pop!—40 Hits. Also available in a 3-CD/DVD version is Total Pop!—Deluxe Box. Andy Bell will be signing copies of the collection at L.A.'s Amoeba Records tomorrow after doing an in-store DJ set.

Manchester band Doves' fourth LP, Kingdom Of Rust.

English rapper Lady Sovereign's second album Jigsaw, featuring production from Dr. Luke and Benny Blanco.

Death Cab For Cutie's Open Door EP.

New singles from Antony And The Johnson's ("Epilepsy Is Dancing"), Marilyn Manson ("We're From America") and Teena Marie ("Can't Last A Day").


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