Katy B's 2010 single "Katy On A Mission" was one of dubstep's first real commercial success stories, but it was also a curious testament to the idea that the right chorus could turn even the most minimal of low-slung sub-bass-and-drum machine tracks into a Top 10 hit. For her debut album, On A Mission, Katy B stays loyal to the dubstep production team that introduced her — namely Geeneus, DJ Zinc, and Magnetic Man's Benga — but expands the sonic palette to include confident forays into funky house ("Movement"), UK garage ("Lights On") and big-room breakstep ("Witches Brew") while somehow maintaining a forceful underground aesthetic. The result is a diverse, albeit cohesive dance record befitting of Katy's London pirate radio beginnings — sans the hyperexclusivity. Which is to say that On A Mission is innovative, but not obscure; accessible, but with the door half-open.
Pet Shop Boys release their latest single today: "Together" is backed by new versions of the Dave Clark Five's "Glad All Over" and "I Cried For Us" — a song originally performed by Kate & Anna McGarrigle. Remixes by Grum and Ultrabeat round out the single's digital package, in addition to this remix of "Together" by Pepptalk — available for streaming below.
Back in March, Imogen Heap announced that her forthcoming fourth solo album would be a wide-scale collaborative effort with her fans: Using the SoundCloud platform, contributors sent in almost 800 samples and other source materials; the first result of which was released this week. "Lifeline" features the sonic contributions of 36 fans, and is available now as a free download. A paid digital bundle featuring artwork, instrumentals, and a video is also available from her site.
Mr. Cee is a certifiable hip-hop legend — the DJ for lyrical pioneer Big Daddy Kane, an executive producer and mentor to the Notorious B.I.G. So after last week, when Cee was arrested on public lewdness and indecent exposure charges with another man, the hip-hop community has been forced to deal with the homophobia among its ranks in an unprecedented way: "As Power 105's Charlamagne Tha God noted when he wasn't making light of the situation and turning it into grist for the ratings mill: 'The hip-hop community … is homophobic for no good reason; and this wouldn't even be an issue if he could be who he was, comfortably, without people judging him.'"
Feminist punk icon and X-Ray Spex founder Poly Styrene may be in the hospital fighting breast cancer, but she is determined to promote her first new album since 2004's Flower Aeroplane: "It keeps me going," she told the Guardian in a recent interview. Generation Indigo is out on April 26, but its first taste, "Thrash City," is streaming now.
Partners in life (and former Björk collaborators) Matmos have announced a new collaborative effort with new media artists Christopher Willits and Nate Boyce. The resulting group, called Boyce + Matmos + Willits will release a four-song EP on April 26 called Subconscious Attraction Strategies.
Lykke Li appeared on this week's episode of MTV Unplugged to perform stripped-down versions of a number of tracks from her new album, Wounded Rhymes, as well as a somewhat surprising cover of "Velvet" — the 2009 single by The Big Pink. "I felt there was a power ballad somewhere in there," she explained, "so I decided to bring it out." The entire show is streaming online now.
SOUND & VISION:
Death Cab for Cutie — "You Are A Tourist"
Death Cab for Cutie broke new ground this week when they announced that they'd be filming the video for the lead single to their new album in the form of a live broadcast on UStream. The final product — however it turned out — would be a permanent one, and lucky for them, it's absolutely stunning.
Shine 2009 feat. Paula Abdul — "So Free"
Here's one for the book of bizarre collaborations: Pop star and former American Idol judge Paula Abdul contributes a vocal to this retro-synth single by Finnish duo Shine 2009 and it actually kind of works! Unfortunately, Abdul sits out for the video, which — having been recorded to VHS cassette — boasts total nostalgic authenticity.
Owen Pallett — "The Great Elsewhere"
The latest single from Owen Pallett's third full-length album, Heartland, juxtaposes smartly orchestrated pop with lush, but minimal electronic soundscapes — the result as filmic as its panoramic video will attest. It's no wonder, then, that the Canadian songwriter/arranger will perform the entire album at the London Barbican with the Britten Sinfonia on May 8.
Hunx & His Punx — "Bad Boy"
The first video from their proper debut album, Too Young To Be In Love, is everything you could have hoped for in a Hunx & His Punx video: One-part late night cable access show, one-part episode of Sha Na Na, and one-part bonus scene from a John Waters movie — a zeitgeist trifecta if I've ever heard one.
WATCH: Britney Spears launches presidential campaign on Letterman.
Gay Iraqi tells Guardian about attack by militia: "Four men came into the shop. They pulled out guns. They were the Mahdi army. The
place they took me to was very close to a mosque or actually in the
courtyard – I could hear the call to prayer very clearly. When they
hauled me out of the car, they beat me unconscious. Late the
next day, they came to me and said, 'We know you are gay.' They pulled
out a list of names and started reading them ... I knew four who were
still alive. One they had already killed. They interrogated me
for three hours that night. They demanded I give them names of other
gays. At night they got a broomstick. They used it to rape me."
Kylie Minogue talks to Instincta month before her first-ever North American tour: "There is still a certain amount of disbelief because it’s really
happening. I’ve spoken about this for so long and I was sure the fans
in the States had given up, hadn’t you?"
European Committee of Social Rights: Croatia's sex-ed curriculum is discriminatory. "The committee said parts of the curriculum 'stigmatize homosexuals and
are based upon negative, distorted, reprehensible and degrading
Andy Warhol Michael Jackson portrait sells:
"The auction, which closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday, was conducted online,
by phone and at the gallery. The seller is a private collector. Gallery
co-owner Janet Lehr would not disclose the final bid price, but did say
it was more than a million dollars."
E. Lynn Harris' aunt Jesse Phillips talks about the late author: "Every time he wrote a book I'd go and
buy 10 to 12 of them to support him I knew that he was gay before he
told me because I could tell by his mannerisms but it didn't make me
love him any less. When he was about 14 or 15, he confided in me that
he was gay and it was just between the two of us. I kept his secret. I
don't think he ever sat down with my sister and told her the way he did
with me, but she accepted him just the same. He told me, 'I thought I
could pray everything away even my sexuality but I can't.' Then he said
that he knew I didn't' like the idea of him being gay but the fact was
if he never had sex again in his life, he'd still be gay."