Patrick Wolf Hub




MUSIC NEWS: Sigur Rós, R.E.M., Kele, Tegan and Sara, Kylie Minogue, Little Boots, Duran Duran, Patrick Wolf, Feist, Ellie Goulding

Sigur-Rós

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:

It's not every day that you look at the new release schedule for a given week and find out that at least four new albums being issued this week arrive courtesy of artistically venerable — and commercially successful! — artists who are, almost incidentally, openly gay. But what's really interesting is the diversity we find in those four artists: a 50-year-old iconic elder statesman from Georgia, a young man from London born to Nigerian parents, a pair of Canadian identical twins, and a thirty-something-year-old vegan from Reykjavík, Iceland, who sings predominantly in a language he made up. That they're all gay, one might argue, is the least interesting thing about them. That they're all approaching their art with honesty and a certain level of transparency, however, is more significant. It's not that we're "post-gay" — as some might prematurely suggest — but that, perhaps, there is a growing appreciation for the valuable perspective that is unique to the openly gay artist. Being out only adds to this cultural resonance, and it seemed important to point that out.

R.E.M.-Part-Lies-Part-Heart-Part-Truth-Part-Garbage-1982-2011R.E.M. Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982–2011 (Warner Bros.)

WHO'S OUT: Michael Stipe

ON THE INSIDE: A career-spanning retrospective that leaves few stones unturned, the final R.E.M. collection features 40 tracks — including three new songs — and, if you're over 30 years old, it might surprise you: This band soundtracked your life more than you ever thought possible. To deny the sheer range of influence that R.E.M. has had on American rock music is impossible.

Kele HunterKele The Hunter EP (Witchita)

WHO'S OUT: Kele Okereke

ON THE INSIDE: The follow up to 2010's The Boxer, Kele's latest EP without Bloc Party is more succinct and a whole lot more confident. "What Did I Do?" — the London dubstep-tinged lead single that introduces us to guest vocalist Lucy Taylor — is a good place to start, while his cover of Q Lazzarus's classic "Goodbye Horses" almost rewrites ownership of the song. Also impossible to ignore: Somebody's been hitting the gym lately.

SigurRos InniSigur Rós Inni (XL)

WHO'S OUT: Singer Jonsí Birgisson

ON THE INSIDE: A double-live album is, in almost all but the rarest of circumstances, a contract-filler or an ego boost. But in the case of Sigur Rós, it's an opportunity: The entire album (and full-length DVD movie) is performed as a four-piece, which brings an almost ascetic quality to the majesty of the original recordings — an equally as satisfying, but differentiated listening experience that reveals how layered these songs really are.

Get-AlongTegan & Sara Get Along (Warner Bros.)

WHO'S OUT: Tegan and Sara Quin

ON THE INSIDE: After six full-length albums, Tegan and Sara's eponymous band release a full-length concert CD/DVD — including a pair of short documentary films — that span the duo's twelve-year career. It's as earnest as you'd imagine. The live set is something like an episode of VH1 Storytellers, and if you've ever been to a Tegan and Sara show, you know: There quite possibly isn't a better format to see them.

THE DISPATCH:

KylieRoad In addition to releasing Aphrodite Les Folies: Live In London on CD and DVD on November 29th — in which she covers the Eurythmics! — the indefatigable Kylie Minogue has also announced a new album on deck for 2012. The singer is currently in the studio to rework a number of her classic songs for a 25th anniversary compilation to celebrate the release of her debut single, "Locomotion."

Road Ellie Goulding is finally gaining traction on American radio with "Lights," but she's clearly trying to keep the songs fresh: The singer will release a new EP, Live at Amoeba, in honor of Record Store Day on November 25. The four-song set was recorded in April at San Francisco's famed Amoeba Records on Haight Street.

Courtney-loveRoad Courtney Love's new version of Hole eggs on Brazilian crowd to chant "Foo Fighters are gay," clearly forgets Kurt Cobain's explicit denouncement of homophobia and high-school-jock-speech. Love later claims, "I'm allowed to use the word 'fag' because I'm a gay icon," clearly forgets that no, she isn't.

Road A live collaboration between Feist and out Grizzly Bear vocalist Ed Droste — singing "Cicadas & Gulls" from the former's new album Metals — appeared this week, as did the first new Feist remix I've heard this year: London's Clock Opera, who many of you will recognize as That Band I've Been Raving About All Year, transformed "How Come You Never Go There?" into a vintage house cut with electro sensibilities and Salsoul horns.

Black-cardsRoad Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz has been playing it low-key with his new band, Black Cards, but this week, the lyricist gets into the studio chair for a big-room remix of Rihanna's latest single "We Found Love." The result? Sounds like he's been listening to Deadmau5 and Wolfgang Gartner lately.

Road Bright Light Bright Light keeps hustling along until a tentative February 20th worldwide release date for his long-awaited debut album. This week, he offers up some free downloads of '90s-based mash-ups that he constructed for Another Night, his own monthly party in London: Check out TLC vs. Snap's "Rhythm is a Scrub" and Tori Amos vs. Madonna's "Professional Vogue."

Road UK electropop favorite Little Boots returns this week with the lead single to her forthcoming as-yet-untitled second album, and it's not your typical three-minute pop song: "Shake" is a six-minute floor-filler produced by Simian Mobile Disco's James Ford, geared more for the club than for the radio, but conceivably viable for either. If you're in the neighborhood, Little Boots comes to America for DJ appearances in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco this time next week.

SOUND & VISION:

Timo Maas — "College '84" (feat. Brian Molko)

This one, I must admit, was a grower: Timo Maas is a long-time German techno and progressive house producer who came of age in the Global Underground era of clubland, while Brian Molko has spent the last sixteen years as the androgynous, openly bisexual lead singer of Brit-glam stalwarts Placebo. The video for "College '84" is not what it seems at first, but by the end, you'll see why this collaboration is all about techno-sex.

Duran Duran — "Girl Panic!"

Jonas Akerlund is behind Duran Duran's epic nine-minute clip for "Girl Panic!" — in which all of your favorite legendary supermodels of the world assume the roles of the band and the members of the band play everything from journalists to bellboys. Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Helena Christenson, Yasmin Le Bon, and Eva Herzigova star, while everyone else takes notes.

Miguel Migs — "Everybody" (feat. Evelyn "Champagne" King)

San Francisco deep house legend Miguel Migs released his latest album, Outside the Skyline, earlier this year, and there was really no getting around it: Of all the guest collaborators on the record — including Bebel Gilberto and Meshell Ndegeocello, among others — the return of disco legend Evelyn "Champagne" King was truly something special. This week, "Everybody" gets the buoyant retro-club video it demands.

Patrick Wolf — "The Falcons"

Lupercalia, the long-awaited fifth album from Patrick Wolf, certainly deserves to find itself across any number of Best of 2011 lists, but "The Falcons" is a pretty awesome string around your finger: Directed by Japanese visual artist Noriko Okaku, Wolf's latest video embodies Lupercalia's joyful energy and airborne tenor. It's the visual equivalent of a weight being lifted.



MUSIC NEWS: Florence and the Machine, Jay Brannan, Amy Winehouse, Rufus Wainwright, Westlife, Modeselektor, Jessica 6

Florence-and-the-machine

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:

Florence+TheMachine_CeremonialsFlorence and The Machine Ceremonials (Island)

The second album by Florence and the Machine is anything but a retreat: On Ceremonials, Florence Welch sacks subtlety for the kind of epic grandeur we normally associate with prog-rock or '70s AOR — the most significant difference being its sheer lack of pretentiousness and Welch's uncanny ability to transcend her own creation. In other words, despite the larger-than-life instrumentation and broad musical strokes, this album is clearly the vehicle of a vocalist. It's all an incredible balancing act, of course, and Adele producer Paul Epworth does his best to reign it in and keep it focused. Sometimes, the tension is almost inconceivable — "Never Let Me Go" is like the nonexistent lost collaboration between Sarah McLachlan and Siouxsie and the Banshees, while "What the Water Gave Me" sounds like Trentemøller got his hands on a PJ Harvey song — but when the elements come together for songs like "Shake It Out," you're almost shaken out of the experience of listening to an album and actually drawn inside of it. Ceremonials is more than simply expansive; it's inclusive.

Also out today: Darren Hayes — Secret Codes and Battleships (EMI Import), The Decemberists — Long Live the King (Capitol), Radio Slave — Works + Selected Remixes 2006-2010 (Rekids), Susan Boyle — Someone to Watch Over Me (Columbia)

THE DISPATCH:

JaybrannanRoad The long-awaited sophomore album from Jay Brannan has been given an early 2012 release date, and our first taste of the record is a song called "Greatest Hits" — which is streaming on Soundcloud and available on iTunes now. The as-yet-untitled follow-up to 2008's Goddamned features production by David Kahne, who has worked on records by Paul McCartney, The Strokes, k.d lang, and Kelly Clarkson to name a few.

Road The first posthumous album by Amy Winehouse is set to be released on December 5. Lioness: Hidden Treasures will feature 12 tracks including unreleased music, alternate versions, two new songs, and covers of material by Leon Russell and the Shirelles.

WainwrightsRoad The McGarrigle-Wainwright annual family Christmas show went on a two-year hiatus when Rufus Wainwright's mother, Kate McGarrigle, became ill and eventually succumbed to cancer in 2010, but the show is coming back for two nights in December. Also on Rufus Wainwright's docket: a new album with Mark Ronson producing and the Dap-Kings as his backing band. "I'm making an actual pop record," he says. "It's been a while since I've done that."

Road R.E.M.'s Mike Mills on the future of Michael Stipe: "I don't think that [music] is where his passion lies. I think he wants to be in the visual arts. I imagine Michael will do a lot of sculpture and photography. I think those are his big interests now."

Road Patrick Wolf recently recorded a live set for SHOWStudio's Café Concert Series in London. High-quality video from the concert is streaming online now.

The-goodnaturedRoad If you have yet to familiarize yourself with The Good Natured, do yourself a favor: The band — featuring 20-year-old singer/songwriter (and charismatic ingénue) Sarah McIntosh — releases the Skeleton EP this week and set out on their first American tour early next year. The new record is streaming on Soundcloud now, and features the irrepressible "Wolves" — produced by current Charli XCX producer and "Dancing On My Own" co-writer Patrik Berger.

Road Adele has been forced to cancel all of her remaining scheduled appearances in 2011 due to a vocal cord hemorrhage that has driven doctors to recommend throat surgery. "I have absolutely no choice but to recuperate properly and fully," the singer says, "or I risk damaging my voice forever."

SOUND & VISION:

Westlife — "Lighthouse"

Despite selling 44 million albums over their 14-year career, Westlife have always been somewhat of an easy mark in the English boy-band canon, but I've always liked them — and the fact that Mark Feehily has spent the last six years in the group as an openly gay singer in a female-dominated market speaks to their indifference to the capitalist boy-band stereotype. The group's forthcoming Greatest Hits collection will be Westlife's final album, and "Lighthouse" — written by Take That's Gary Barlow — is its lead single.

Modeselektor — "Shipwreck" (feat. Thom Yorke)

No one is making tuneful abstract techno like Modeselektor these days, and on their newest album, Monkeytown, the German duo has once again commanded the attention of Radiohead's Thom Yorke, who already provided vocals for their 2007 single "The White Flash." With "Shipwreck," the band invokes classic Aphex Twin while Yorke weaves his trademark falsetto in and out of the dense rhythm. It's not easy listening, but it sits right up there with anything from The King of Limbs.

Martin Solveig & Dragonette — "Big in Japan"

He's been confirmed as one of a handful of producers working on Madonna's new album, but until we get to hear those results, there's this: Martin Solveig teams up with Canadian trio Dragonette for the fourth single from his latest album, Smash, and another brazen round of broad-gestured, big-room French house.

Jessica 6 — "Prisoner of Love" (feat. Antony)

Former Hercules & Love Affair singer Nomi Ruiz formed Jessica 6 in 2008, but the band truly arrived earlier this year with the release of See The Light — an album whose flirtations with disco, R&B, and classic house reveal a sophisticated relationship with genre that leaves plenty of room for charismatic singularity. Antony Hegarty's guest turn on "Prisoner of Love" is only meant to remind you that even disco sings the blues.



MUSIC NEWS: Das Racist, Kaskade, Coldplay, Patrick Wolf, Barbra Streisand, Beth Ditto, Diamond Rings, Battles, Crazy P

Das racist

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:

Das Racist Relax (Greedhead Music) Das-racist-relax1

The first time I saw Das Racist was an accident — and even as far as accidents go, it was especially unexpected. They were set up on a makeshift stage on the first floor of New York's Whitney Museum, at one point bringing a young child on stage to help sing the only real hook to their best-known song: "I'm at the Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell!" On some level, this was a perfect introduction: Since 2008, the Brooklyn-based hip hop trio have been merging high and low art with a postmodernist's determination, and on their first official album, Relax, Das Racist refine this ideocultural pastiche to include their closest approximation to commercial hip-hop. In that sense, "Girl" is probably the album's most startling revelation — an Iberian new wave track with a purely pop chorus is actually subversive for these guys — but even more conventional tracks like lead single "Michael Jackson" or "Selena" take rap's historic sense of wordplay to its least obvious conclusion: the first merges Spanish lyrics with Lion King jungle-speak before, apropos of nothing, announcing, "Yeah, I'm f**king great at raaaapppppping!"; the second replaces an entire verse with a series of nonsensical syllables. Of course, it's an acute sense of self-awareness that separates Das Racist from, say, Jay-Z and Kanye West — who most recently released an entire album boasting of their riches during the country's worst economic climate since the Depression — and on "The Trick," a track produced by Vampire Weekend's out keyboard player Rostam Batmanglij, you get the sense that when Heems thanks his fans for "coming to our shows and clapping again and again," it might be the only transparent lyric on the entire album. It's a suggestion that would, in fact, go completely unchallenged if he didn't follow it up by saying, "I'm wack / Yo, I never tell the truth."

Also out today: Ladytron — Gravity The Seducer (Nettwerk), Blondie — Panic of Girls: U.S. Edition (Noble), Melanie C — The Sea (AIS), St. Vincent — Strange Mercy (4AD), John Barrowman — Tonight's The Night: The Very Best (Sony UK), Wild Flag — Wild Flag (Merge), Melissa Ferrick — Still Right Here (Mpress), Toro Y Moi — Freaking Out EP (Carpark), Mates Of State — Mountaintops (Barsuk)

THE DISPATCH:

Kaskade Road It's been a hell of a week for electrohouse producer Kaskade: On the bright side, Ryan Raddon — as he's known to his mother — picked up a new accolade this week when the readers of DJ Times voted him America's Best DJ. On the other hand, earlier this week a fan pulled his shoulder out of his socket. "Lucky for me," he says, "one of my backstage crew knew what to do and popped it right back in."

Road Unearthed video of Barbra Streisand emerges: "I feel like a faggot," she says.

Chrisrihanna Road More details are surfacing about Mylo Xyloto, the forthcoming new album by Coldplay, including this interesting tidbit: The 14-song album will also feature "Princess of China" — a duet between Chris Martin and Rihanna.

Road Patrick Wolf is finally coming to America to support his excellent new album Lupercalia — whose lead single features a very American video. "I confused the whole of the United Kingdom with that," says Wolf. "But I was really on a Chet Baker tip and a Bruce Weber tip and thinking about Brian Wilson. That's a big part of the music I've grown up listening to."

Bethditto Road Beth Ditto came to New York City last week for Fashion's Night Out, where she showed up at the MAC Cosmetics store in Soho for a solo performance with a rainbow-colored dress and a pair of voguing male backup dancers in tow. She played two originals and two covers, including Dolly Parton's "Jolene" and — naturally! — Madonna's "Vogue."

Road Also covering Madonna this week: Vanessa Carlton feels "Like a Virgin."

Road Morgan Spurlock, director of Super Size Me and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, premiered a new documentary series for Hulu called A Day In The Life, and his latest subject is copyright rebel and mashup master artist Girl Talk.

Road Michael Stipe has a Tumblr.

Road If you're curious about the upcoming feature-length Sigur Rós film, Inni, you're not gonna get a straight answer from them: This week the band released a new teaser video featuring an extremely ambient backing track and film of people cutting fabric. Because, like, that explains everything.

THE DOWNLOAD:



DOWNLOAD: Crazy P — "Open For Service"

The first of this week's free downloads comes from the long-running UK disco-house duo Crazy P. Formerly — and perhaps better — known as Crazy Penis, the Nottingham-based crew helped establish the legendary Manchester house label Paper Recordings in the '90s and made an extended splash on 2008's Stop Space Return for 20/20 Vision. "Open For Service" is the opening track from When We On — their first full-length for OM Records, due out on September 27. The single is out now.

DOWNLOAD: Sneaky Sound System — "We Love" (Bart B More Remix)

The Sydney-based Sneaky Sound System are set to release their third album, From Here To Anywhere, on October 7 via Modular Recordings — the label most recently responsible for Cut Copy, among others. Lead single "We Love" was already a classy club-tinged electropop single before Dutch producer Bart B More got his hands on it, but on the remix, the synths get filthy, cutting the difference between mid-'90s house and a house party at Diplo's.

SOUND & VISION:

Diamond Rings — "You & Me"

Toronto's John O, better known as Diamond Rings, returns with a video that speaks to the likely childhood of an androgynous synthpop artist — a world in which kids paint themselves up in make up, mace their bullies, and then fly away in a homemade spaceship. It's a dream come true for most of us.

Battles — "My Machines"

Let's just immediately put this one up for an Awesome Video Award: Brooklyn's Battles team up with '80s new wave legend Gary Numan at a suburban galleria mall while a young man wages a futile battle with the escalator that even the emergency stop button can't end. Unbelievably, it was all shot in one take.

Eli Escobar — "Desire" (featuring Nomi Ruiz)

New York DJ Eli Escobar teams up with the former voice of Hercules & Love Affair and current Jessica 6 principal Nomi Ruiz for "Desire" — a quintessential freestyle house track that unapologetically fuses Frankie Knuckles with Jellybean Benitez. Which, if you're unsure, is a good thing.

Fanfarlo — "Replicate"

They've been called London's Arcade Fire — which is really just a lazy way of saying they have permanent mandolin and glockenspiel players in their band — but Fanfarlo have forged a more unique path for themselves, generally by hewing closer to the conventionally pop aspects of their avant-pop identity and leaving the marching bands at home. "Replicate" is the first single from their as-yet untitled second album.



MUSIC NEWS: Beyoncé, Patrick Wolf, Taking Back Sunday, Missy Elliott, Hunx & His Punx, Oh Land, CocknBullKid, Darren Hayes

Beyonce-fashion-cover-04-h

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:

Beyonce-4-cover Beyoncé 4 (Columbia/Sony)

The early word on 4 indicated that Beyoncé was moving into some uncharted territory: Reports surfaced of a recorded collaboration with Diplo and the Brooklyn noise-rock duo Sleigh Bells. The underperforming lead single "Run the World (Girls)" seemed to confirm a forward-thinking direction of some sort, sampling Major Lazer's "Pon de Floor" and pairing fidget-house pioneer Switch with R&B stalwart The-Dream on coproduction duties. And Odd Future's Frank Ocean got the call to write and produce. In the end, some of those things made it onto the album, but "forward-thinking" is not quite the right word for the outcome — in fact, just the opposite. Beyoncé's fourth album is, by and large, a record guided by the rearview, and the bulk of its material — downtempo, occasionally sullen, grasping for timelessness — ends up in some sort of mid-'80s R&B limbo. When they're there, the hits are forceful and definitive: "I Still Care" boasts an incredible urgent vocal delivery over a beat-driven, ambient soul track and "Countdown" is a midtempo open-letter-to-the-ladies empowerment song as good as any Beyoncé's ever given us. Unfortunately, the misses are just as pronounced — whether it's the Bruce Hornsby '80s rock-lite of "Best Thing I Never Had" or the grossly anachronistic "Love On Top," time-stamped by Shalamar in 1982 — and by album's end, the difference between 4 and its predecessors is a psychic one. Beyoncé says that she became "focused on [these] songs being classics, songs that would last," but in doing so, she tempted a well-known artistic truism: Longevity is achieved with time, not intent.

THE DISPATCH:

Ed Road Stereogum compiled a list of reactions to last week's passage of the Marriage Equality bill in New York, including notes from LGBT artists like Kaki King, Justin Bond, Tegan & Sara, JD Samson, and Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij, as well as allies like Ted Leo, The Decemberists' Colin Meloy, Best Coast, and Passion Pit. But the most personal reaction came from Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste: "As a gay man in a 7-year relationship getting married later this year, I can't tell you how thrilled I am about NY marriage equality!"

Road Missy Elliott has been largely out of the public eye since The Cookbook was released in 2005, and recent revelations might explain the gap. This week, Elliott revealed to People magazine that she's been suffering from Graves' disease — an autoimmune disorder better known as hyperthyroidism. "I couldn't write because my nervous system was so bad," she said. "I couldn't even use a pen."

Hunxpunx Road Hunx & His Punx recently stopped by the KEXP studios in Seattle to share their brand of queer retro-rock. A full performance stream is available for listening now.

Road A profile in the Guardian this weekend revealed two little-known facts about the ongoing rise of Nanna Øland Fabricius — or Oh Land to you and me: For one, the Brooklyn-via-Copenhagen singer had been originally tapped to open for Shakira at Madison Square Garden. (She declined.) But more perplexing, a random meeting in a London studio led Rihanna to request that Fabricius write a song for her. That never happened, she said, because "I got so intimidated that I didn't give a proper response."

Bombay-bicycle-club Road This week's premiere listens are plentiful: Björk's "Crystalline" is our first full taste of her forthcoming Biophilia, Wilco's "I Might" is the lead single from The Whole Love, Gold Panda released a new and unreleased track for download called "MPB" in advance of his forthcoming U.S. and European tours, and my personal favorite track of the week goes to Bombay Bicycle Club, whose upcoming third album A Different Kind Of Fix promises to be a rhythmically-oriented follow-up to last year's largely acoustic Flaws. The first single is called "Shuffle."

Santigold Road Following up on a cameo for the new Beastie Boys album, Brooklyn's Santigold is hard at work prepping her second full-length album with help from friends like Karen O and Nick Zinner from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV On The Radio and Jane's Addiction member Dave Sitek, and even Jay-Z — who called the album so far "epic" and "important." You can also expect to see Santi in an upcoming movie starring opposite Community's Donald Glover.

Road In support of his just-published memoir, Bob Mould sat in with The Roots on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon this week — and tackled a kind of awkward version of Sugar's "If I Can't Change Your Mind" in the process.

Road Arcade Fire will be releasing a deluxe edition version of The Suburbs on August 2, which will also feature Scenes from the Suburbs — a Spike Jonze-directed short film inspired by the album. The movie is currently available to watch, free of charge and in its entirety, from the indie film site Mubi.

COMING OUT:

Lupercalia Patrick Wolf's long-awaited Lupercalia is an album about love, and on "Bermondsey Street," he makes it clear that this is a love that dares speak its name. He sings: "Love knows no boundaries / Sees beyond sexuality / And holds the sun in the palm of its hand / And laughs down on the cynical man." On some level, Wolf is singing from an autocritical standpoint: His fifth album is a kiss-off to cynicism and a love note to the idea that romanticism and realism are not as far apart as many might suggest. To that end, there are countless images of space ("The City," "House") and time ("The Future," "Time of My Life," "Slow Motion"), but none more vivid than the 51-second long ode to his fiancé, also named "William," in which Wolf counts his blessings, and asks, "Oh William, will you be my conqueror?" It's a far cry from the title track to his last album, The Bachelor, where he swears "I'll never marry at all," but it's also a much better look: Whereas Morrissey seems intent on staying miserable forever, Patrick Wolf is finally ready for joy. It really does get better.

Taking-Back-Sunday-self-titled-album-art-work Taking Back Sunday have had more ex-members than they've had records, so the line-up for their self-titled fifth album seemed like kind of a big deal: For the first time in almost ten years, the original members behind their breakthrough debut Tell All Your Friends were reuniting for an all-new set. Of course, recreating the past is more boring than inventing a new future, and on Taking Back Sunday, the band does a little bit of both. Lead single "Faith (When I Let You Down)" is an all-grown-up version of the band that filters a clever lyrical conceit through church organs and a choir-like middle-eight, while "Sad Savior" mines the past with an unflattering tribute to Weezer's Blue Album and an outro heavily lifted from Braid's "Never Will Come For Us." But if Adam Lazarra has any one gift, it's the one that allows him to sing simple things like "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, come back" with a sympathetic pathos that easily forgives its own lack of profundity.

Also out today: The Feeling — Together We Were Made (Island UK), Gillian Welch — The Harrow & The Harvest (Acony), The Chemical Brothers — Hanna: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Sony UK), John Digweed — Structures Two (Bedrock), Dolly Parton — Better Day (Dolly)

SOUND & VISION:

CocknBullKid — "Yellow" 

The fourth UK single from CocknBullKid gets a video this week and gives new evidence to establish Anita Blay's unique position in the pop music canon: The bells and whistles and glittery outfits worked fine for Beyoncé at Glastonbury, but the first thing Blay does in the video for "Yellow" is take the bells and whistles off — choosing instead to rely on simple sets, an exultant everyman cast, and the best song Sugababes never wrote.

Darren Hayes — "Talk Talk Talk"

After four years away, Darren Hayes returns with the lead single from his upcoming Secret Codes and Battleships. A collaboration with Swedish producer Carl Falk, who is currently riding high after a UK #1 single for Nicole Scherzinger, "Talk Talk Talk" pits Hayes' pensive delivery against a silvery club track — and, so far in 2011, I'm hard-pressed to recall a more confident comeback.

Anna Calvi — "Desire"

She's got the co-sign from Brian Eno and the producer of PJ Harvey behind her, and that right there says a lot about what to expect from Anna Calvi. "Desire" is at once widescreen and soft-focus, with Calvi's unmistakable voice as its deep and expansive anchor. Like Harvey, you get the idea that we're really only scratching the surface of her depth. 

Wynter Gordon — "Til Death"

Honesty time! When I first got the link for "Til Death" a few weeks ago, I passed on it. A club track about partying "til death" and a tautological video of people at a party gave me the impression that, somewhere along the line, somebody ran out of ideas. But this weekend, while I was clearing out some of the promos on my desk, I threw on Wynter Gordon's With The Music I Die EP for a second-chance listen, and — maybe I was under the influence of this week's Pride festival — but this damn song really grew on me! I'm not one to believe in guilty pleasures, but OK: I might feel a little bit guilty 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.



MUSIC NEWS: Junior Boys, Bob Mould, Patrick Wolf, Beyoncé, Active Child, Tom Stephan, Bright Light Bright Light, Nicola Roberts

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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:

Juniorboys_itsalltrue Junior Boys It's All True (Domino)

Junior Boys have always lived in the divide between soft, glitchy microhouse and dancefloor-friendly synthpop — a chasm which, on some level, didn't seem as wide on 2009's Begone Dull Care. But for It's All True, the Canadian duo reintroduce themselves with a newfound sense of integration and genre-f*cking bravery. Album opener "Itchy Fingers" sets the pace by drawing from 21st-century R&B, British mod guitar, and hi-speed arpeggiated disco before finally settling on a half-time pop hook that announces this album's arrival with intrepid idiosyncrasy, but the song turns out to be something of a red herring: Its pastiche feature goes unrepeated, and as a result, you get the idea that this album's first five minutes are more of a defamiliarization technique than a creative statement. Somehow, it still works. Yet while songs like the contemplative (and deceptively titled) "Playtime" are comfortably nestled between impeccable nu-disco detours ("You'll Improve Me") and other new wave innuendo ("A Truly Happy Ending"), the suggestion that Junior Boys may be preparing a proper techno album in the future persists until the very end. Indeed, by the time we get to the album's final triptych of songs — a collection that wouldn't seem out of place on a label like, say, Kompakt — Jeremy Greenspan's pensive tread is transformed; the lovable pessimist gives way to a Pollyanna.

Also out today: Madeleine Peyroux — Standing on the Rooftop (Decca), Joy Division & New Order — Total (Rhino/Warner Bros.), Marissa Nadler — Marissa Nadler (Box of Cedar), Florrie — The Experiments EP (iTunes), Owl City — All Things Bright and Beautiful (Universal Republic)

THE DISPATCH:

Bobmould3550 Road As a member of Hüsker Dü and Sugar, Bob Mould became a pioneer in the genres of punk and melodic indie rock; more recently, as one-half of the BLOWOFF DJ team with Rich Morel, he's left an indelible mark on gay male nightlife. This week, the songwriter and musician will issue his first book: See A Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody, an autobiography co-written with respected music writer Michael Azerrad, is out this Wednesday, to be followed by a book tour featuring readings and solo acoustic performances of songs from Mould's vast back catalog.

Road Fluxblog's Matthew Perpetua does a track-by-track rundown of the recently leaked new Beyoncé album for Rolling Stone, and reveals that despite the out-the-gate aggression of its first single, 4 is "a more relaxed, personal set that emphasizes ballads over bangers." The album will be released on June 28.

Wolf460 Road Patrick Wolf's long-awaited fifth studio album, Lupercalia, drops on June 20 — and it's available for streaming now! — but ahead of that he's released the first of five "video portraits" directed by the album's art director John Lindquist and accompanied by music from the record. Says Wolf, "Now with most people buying albums mainly online I didn't want a generation to lose the joy of experiencing artwork. So I wanted to make moving artwork … for the iPad and laptop generation."

Road Only a week after the release of Depeche Mode's latest remix set — featuring a revision by former member Vince Clarke — it has been announced that the reunion is going deeper than that: Clarke, who is also renown for his work in Yazoo and Erasure, will be teaming up with Martin Gore for as an as-yet untitled side project that is being described as "a techno album." They've been at work on it for the past six months.

RoadActivechildpat_grossi1 If you haven't heard Active Child yet, the Los Angeles–based artist is preparing to release his debut album this summer and "Playing House" is our first taste of its direction. Following an EP that somehow married classical harp with vintage new wave, it's definitely a new sound: If you've ever wondered what modern R&B might sound like under ice, this may be your answer.

Road Morrissey still has pull: In exchange for performing at the Belgian Lokerse Festival, organizers have agreed to ban the sale and preparation of meat products from its catering and food stalls for a 24-hour period. They call it "a welcome catering challenge."

Road Kid Creole & The Coconuts will be releasing their latest album, I Wake Up Screaming, this September, and the record will feature a collaboration with Hercules & Love Affair producer Andy Butler. Lead single "I Do Believe" is out in July, with remixes from Faze Action and Brennan Green, among others.

FREE DOWNLOADS:

MP3 | Beyoncé — "Run The World (Girls)" (Tom Stephan Remix)

London producer Tom Stephan is a New York expat, a Neil Tennant ex-boyfriend, and a house producer nonpareil as Superchumbo. Earlier this week, he uploaded his own take on the much-contested lead single from Beyoncé's latest album, and if the original song fell flat for you, this one might pick up the slack: It's big-room Sound Factory business with a nuanced groove — which is a democratic way of saying that the Switch version is a bit too lawless even for my tastes.

MP3 | James Yuill — "Crying For Hollywood" (Bright Light Bright Light's Red Carpet Mix)

James Yuill's Movement In A Storm was one of the best albums released all last year, and like many great records, it went criminally unrecognized. Here, his longtime friend — and retromodern songwriter of the moment — Bright Light Bright Light hands in a new version of "Crying For Hollywood" that gives it an epic shine and some '80s dancefloor movement. If Yuill's original was something of a Sunday morning lament, this excellent remix hangs on to a bout of Friday night fearlessness.

SOUND & VISION:

Nicola Roberts — "Beat Of My Drum"

As the third member of UK supergroup Girls Aloud to go solo, Nicola Roberts has a lot riding on this: One wrong move and it's the difference between the multiplatinum debut by Geri Halliwell and the 53,000-copy–selling debut by Scary Spice. The early critical response is heartening for Roberts, however, and "Beat Of My Drum" — produced by Diplo — has the kind of infectious, rhythmic celebration that summer anthems are made of.

Bright Eyes — "Jejune Stars"

After eight proper studio albums and a handful of compilations and live records, Bright Eyes have certainly deserved the right to blow things up. Somewhat predictably then, on the video for their latest single, "Jejune Stars," Conor Oberst takes a literary turn: Setting words to fireworks is, to some extent, what he's been doing for years.

Memory Tapes — "Yes I Know"

2009's Seek Magic put Memory Tapes mainman Dayve Hawk at the forefront of another one of those accidental musical movements — which worked out because, lucky for him, "chillwave" sounds a lot more substantive than "emo" or something. Much like Toro Y Moi — who also rode the chillwave — Hawk's second album Player Piano, due out next month, seems to be making a case for songcraft over reverbed electro-loops: "Yes I Know" bears a seductive, wistful vocal and an unmistakably old school gait; the most interesting thing Hawk seems to be saying here about future music is that some things don't need to be reinvented.

Broken Social Scene — "Sweetest Kill"

Toronto's musical collective Broken Social Scene have done their fair share of soundtracking messed-up movies; the songs they contributed to Half Nelson, for one, pretty much always make me think of smoking crack now. Great! So just think of how we'll listen to "Sweetest Kill" in the future, after watching this mini-movie about a young lady who kills and dismembers her ostensible love interest in all its graphic glory. So yeah: This clip is probably NSFW, unless you work for Rob Zombie.



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