The Pet Shop Boys feature the London Rollergirls and "Dirty Diana", a trans member of the team, in their new uplifting video for their single "Winner", which dropped today and comes off their forthcoming album Elysium.
The London Rollergirls is an all-women roller derby league that promote charity, teamwork and confidence in women by embracing all women regardless of body shape, occupations, sexual orientation, race or nationality.
Viewers get to meet some of the rollergirls including Dirty Diana. She is a transgender London Rollergirl who is still new to the derby but finds her way around the track with the support of her fellow skaters. Dirty Diana's roller wife Sharon Scott describes it best when she comments in the video, "I want to help her grow into herself a little more while she's playing roller derby and help her to gain more confidence so she can develop into the woman she's meant to me," she explains.
Pet Shop Boys' forthcoming album Elysium doesn't hit shelves until this September, but the gents decided to do us a summer solid by releasing a single, "Winner." I've included the track AFTER THE JUMP.
Fitting right in with Britain's Olympic spirit, "Winner" is wonderfully joyful tune that perfectly showcases Pet Shop Boys' refreshed state of mind. Whether you're competing, in love or simply trying to make it through another day, the song carries a universal meaning and conveys that everyone who perseveres against the odds, loves and lives in the moment is a true winner. And even when life is getting you down, Neil Tennant comforts and reminds listeners that "in desperation you get inspiration," which captures the overarching sentiment of the song.
"Winner" will be available for download tomorrow. Give it a listen AFTER THE JUMP. I've just started it and am already pretty into it. Hopefully you will be too, you winner, you.
In September Pet Shop Boys will release a new album, entitled "Elysium", on Parlophone. The album was produced in Los Angeles by Andrew Dawson and Pet Shop Boys. To give an idea of the album’s sound, a short film for the album track “Invisible” can be viewed online. The film was made by renowned Los Angeles artist/film-maker Brian Bress. Like several tracks on “Elysium”, “Invisible” features backing vocals by singer/songwriter James Fauntleroy and veteran singers Oren, Maxine and Julie Waters whose long singing career spans sessions with The Jackson Five to Adele.
As always, they take things in a new direction but it's classic PSB at the same time.
It's hard to chart when Death Cab For Cutie went from being a contextually successful indie group to a consistently gold-selling alternative rock band, but it was definitely somewhere between being name-dropped on The O.C. and the unexpected breakout success of Ben Gibbard's side project The Postal Service — a pair of unwitting bookends that somehow circumvented the necessity for a hit single or an act of marketing genius. This inadvertent, but taken-advantage-of freedom is, in part, what allows (or even propels) the linear thrust of Codes and Keys. Of its eleven tracks, the majority are dictated by rhythm over melody, delivering on the band's initial promise that this would be "a much less guitar-centric album than we've ever made before." But that's not to say that this isn't a pop record at heart, and Gibbard's propensity for earnest literary statements still pulls the strings. (Even the cold, steady beat of a Krautrock song can't keep "Doors Unlocked and Open" from the heart-tugging anthem it inevitably becomes.) Still, the sentiment that most highly resonates by the album's end is an unlikely one: On "St. Peter's Cathedral," Gibbard contrasts the detailed physical architecture of a church against the possibility that "there's nothing past this," and it turns out that the most despondent moment on Codes and Keys is also a metaphysical one. The warm-blooded tension of failed romance from previous albums has finally given way to a more contemplative, existential folk.
No sooner did Mitch Winehouse tell a journalist that his daughter was "doing better now" than new reports surface that Amy Winehouse has checked into rehab once again — at the behest of her father, no less. According to one report, "In true Amy style, she stopped off for one last hurrah and bought a mini bottle of Smirnoff."
Austra have been riding on a wave of critical acclaim since the release of Feel It Break earlier this month, and this week, they've been given the remix treatment by fellow Toronto synthpop stalwart — and eccentric androgyne — Diamond Rings. Austra's out lead singer Katie Stelmanis is, he says, somewhat responsible for his career: "She not only helped me find a musical community here in the city but also gave me the confidence to learn how to make electronic music by myself." The Diamond Rings remix of "Lose It" is available as a free download.
A trailer for David Fincher's forthcoming movie adaptation for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo — also known as That Book That Everyone In The New York City Subway System Is Reading — was released this week, and music fans quickly recognized its soundtrack: A cover of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" was recorded expressly for the film by Trent Reznor and features the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O on vocals.
With LCD Soundsystem properly out of the way, James Murphy promised a return to his DFA label, and this week, it was announced that dance-punk upstarts The Rapture — who were one of DFA's first breakout artists before signing with Universal — will return to the label. In The Grace of Your Love was produced by Philippe Zdar from Cassius and is set to be released on September 6.
French electro producer SebastiAn has been smartly rolling out samples from his long-awaited debut album for a little over a month now — the irresistible video for lead single "Embody" quickly comes to mind — but he never really showed his hand. Over the course of 22 tracks and interludes, Total makes a strong case for this leisurely release schedule: "Love in Motion," featuring Mayer Hawthorne on vocals, stands out for its dirty nu-disco revision, while "Kindercut" grinds the French filter-house sound pioneered by Thomas Bangalter and gives it a harsher, modern Parisian electro aesthetic. Even down to the album art — which depicts SebastiAn making out with himself — there is very little about Total that lacks restraint. You'd think that would be a liability here, but surprisingly, it's an asset.
It took some time to realize it, but Kate Bush was always a lot more avant-garde than her substantial record sales indicated. I mean, seriously, have you listened to "Wuthering Heights" lately? That she was able to cross over the way she did, much less influence scores of artists along the way, is a testament to her expertise as a songwriter and performer, and Director's Cut— which revisits music from 1989's TheSensual World and 1993's The Red Shoes — says something about that legacy. While "This Woman's Work" and "Moments of Pleasure" certainly provide an emotionally resonant apex for the album, they're more emblematic than that: Demonstrating the persistent relevance of a great song is, gratefully, the least avant-garde idea Kate Bush has ever had.
From his beginnings as a suburban Maryland house producer to his current status as an international progressive house icon, BT's career has been anything but typical. Earlier this year, the producer received his first Grammy nomination for 2010's excellent These Hopeful Machines, and this week, he capitalizes on that notoriety with These Re-Imagined Machines — a 2-disc remixed version of last year's album. As with most compilations, it's an uneven one. But the peaks are high: Marcus Schössow's glitchy techno mix of "The Emergency" is a refreshingly stripped-down take on a largely over-the-top album, but for good measure, few do over-the-top better than Sultan & Ned Shepard.
As the out lead singer for Voxtrot, Ramesh Srivastava caught the harsh end of the indie backlash machine, prompting him to describe the experience as "one of long, simmering build, explosion, and almost instantaneous decay." Having taken some time to reflect, however, Ramesh returns to the scene with a new EP and his debut solo video for "Romeo (Void)" — a stunning example of minimalist pop that broods without exactly brooding. His optimism is obscured by the tone, but undeniably present.
Swedish House Mafia — "Save The World"
They've got a regrettable band name, I know. But Swedish House Mafia basically hits gold with this video for "Save The World," which is definitely the cutest clip about mugging, carjacking, violent robbery, and superhero puppies you will ever see.
Florrie — "Begging Me"
As the in-house drummer for Xenomania — a British songwriting and production team responsible for singles and albums by Girls Aloud, Sugababes, Kylie Minogue, and Pet Shop Boys — Florrie has already played on dozens of hit records, but with "Begging Me," she steps into the forefront and proves that her musicality matters. In 2011, there's nothing more refreshing than a gimmick-less performance video for a classy radio pop single.
Making Friendz — "Situation"
Following a pair of albums for Mr. Lady Records and her current stint as the bass player for MEN, Tami Hart is set to release a new album for her band Making Friendz. "Situation," which is the lead single for Social Life, is a blown-out nod to vintage R&B — sort of like Phil Spector with a fuzzbox. But its video? That's more of an ode to Super Sloppy Double Dare.
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.
Anti-gay vandal targets cars in northwest Washington D.C.: "A resident of the block said a homophobic epithet was scrawled on cars with a marking pen. It had apparently been done late Saturday or early Sunday, and at least six cars were involved, he said."
"AIDS-like" disease spreading in China? "Several Chinese media have recently reported that the Department of Health of Guangdong Province has confirmed that people in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong have fallen ill after being infected with an unknown virus. The patients think they have AIDS, but they test negative for HIV."
UK foreign office releases human rights report: "The report more extensively covers LGBT rights internationally than the previous year's, which was marked by a focus on Europe, but still shows major gaps. "
Scottish lesbian police officer wins discrimination case: "PC Tracey West was regularly taunted by Sergeant Michael Service who claimed gay officers were 'p**fs and freaks'. Sgt Service also made a jibe that her sexuality was an 'illness' and spoke about her civil partnership, asking who would 'wear the trousers' in the relationship."
"Porno Pete" LaBarbera's Truth Academy fails again: "There were 17 vehicles in the parking lot when I arrived on Friday as registration was set to open, and only a few more came in before we left at 3:00. On Saturday, I counted 25 vehicles before the Truth* Academy lunch break, so let’s fix the number of vehicles at 25 on both days. At least two of those were the vehicles of police officers.
Gay baiting by Molly Phelan against James Cappleman in Chicago City Council race? "Daniel Layman, a writer who lives in the ward, said he was contacted by a pollster who was engaged in push-polling, a political campaign technique in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting an impartial poll. 'Knowing that [ Cappleman's ] only crime agenda is to plant flowers and hang out on Halsted Street, would you vote for him or [ Phelan ],' the pollster asked Layman."