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Willow Smith Meets Radiohead on 'Sugar and Spice': AUDIO

Smith

A startlingly different sound from Will Smith's daughter Willow, best known for whipping her hair back and forth. The track she's singing over is Radiohead's "Codex".

Listen, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Willow Smith Meets Radiohead on 'Sugar and Spice': AUDIO" »


Frank Ocean Covers Radiohead: VIDEO

Frank_ocean

Frank Ocean's performance at last week's Spotify press event at Cedar Lake Studios in New York included this sublime cover of Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Trees" backed unfortunately by an audience that couldn't stop chattering.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Frank Ocean Covers Radiohead: VIDEO" »


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: Penguin Prison, Massive Attack & Burial, Robyn, Major Lazer, Big Freedia, Lykke Li, Radiohead, Death Cab For Cutie, M83

Chris Glover

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:

Penguin PrisonPenguin Prison Penguin Prison (Downtown)

On the same day that Penguin Prison releases his debut album, former Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump will introduce a higher-profile debut called Soul Punk — an album that is inexplicably drawing comparisons to Michael Jackson and Kanye West. In reality, Stump took his predictable falsetto and imposed it over a handful of tested R&B tropes. But it's "soulful" largely because he told you it was.

Aside from appearing in a handful of high school plays with his performing arts school classmate Alicia Keys, Chris Glover doesn't have many names to drop or superstar cards to pull, but that's no matter. Penguin Prison succeeds in ways that Stump hasn't quite figured out yet: It's referential without replication. It channels the same '80s R&B that drives Soul Punk without being consumed by it. It tells us more about Glover than what his favorite Prince album is. Outside of the occasional nod to Quincy Jones, we also know this a New York album — equal parts Arthur Russell and early Madonna — and gratefully, it's much harder to cite the references where Glover strays. So while it's possible that he loves Blancmange or that first Badly Drawn Boy album, you'll never put your finger on it.

Which is kind of the point: That Penguin Prison is slippery like that is one of the reasons why tracks like "Don't F*ck With My Money" and "Fair Warning" work in the same way that most great pop singles do. To be faithful without being uncomfortably familiar is the mark of a real soul punk.

Also out today: M83 — Hurry Up, We're Dreaming (Mute), Lalah Hathaway — Where It All Begins (Stax), Body Language — Social Studies (OM), Real Estate — Days (Domino), Westlife — Greatest Hits (RCA UK), My Brightest Diamond — All Things Will Unwind (Asthmatic Kitty)

THE DISPATCH:

MassiveattackRoad Before there was dubstep, there was just plain dub. But somewhere in between there was Massive Attack — a UK collective that brilliantly merged dub characteristics with hip-hop breakbeats and sample-heavy house fundamentals. This week, a two-song collaboration between Massive Attack and dubstep pioneer Burial emerged: "Four Walls" is a dark ambient soundscape that demands patience and rewards accordingly, while "Paradise Circus" is an ethereally reworked version of the track from Massive Attack's recent Heligoland LP. A limited edition 12" of the songs is already sold out.

Road Robyn isn't quite done with Body Talk just yet: The singer will appear as a musical guest for the Ellen Degeneres Show on October 20, where she'll perform "Call Your Girlfriend."

Big-freediaRoad Sissy bounce ambassador (and undisputed queen) Big Freedia is teaming up with Spank Rock for the Check Yo Ponytail tour, which begins on October 20 in Los Angeles and runs cross-country through November. Also just released: a Flinch remix of Freedia's "Excuse" that somehow manages to add even more bass.

Road This week's crucial streaming: Lykke Li resurfaces with this haunting new version of the Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody." Diplo and Switch have not abandoned their Major Lazer project, and they're leaking demos for their new album to prove it: "Original Don" is one of the tracks up for consideration. And the Cure's Robert Smith makes an appearance on "Come To Me," a new song from UK post-rockers 65DaysOfStatic. Smith's vocal is more filtered and fractured than pushed up front, but the result is sublime.

Cut CopyRoad Death Cab For Cutie have announced the new Keys and Codes: Remix EP — a companion piece to their excellent Codes and Keys album released earlier this year. They're revealing the tracks in succession over at this mini-site, where you can listen to remixes by Cut Copy and The 2 Bears now.

Road Radiohead are seemingly everywhere these days, but here's a new way to listen to them: Thom Yorke recently stopped by London's Boiling Room for a 30-minute DJ set, and it's available for download now.

SOUND & VISION:

Tayisha Busay — "Nothing's Happening"

Focus/Virus, the debut album by Tayisha Busay out on Amazon and iTunes today, brings the Brooklyn trio out of the queer-pop underground and into a new light: The new record is sophisticated and insanely hooky, while the aesthetic evokes everything from Kylie Minogue to Kraftwerk — without the fragmented quality of a band that's trying too hard. Not that they've lost their sense of humor: "Nothing's Happening" employs Girl Talk visual artist and video director Thu Tran for an unabashedly campy dose of neon graffiti.

M83 — "Midnight City"

One of this week's must-hear new releases, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming — the latest album from M83 — is the kind of 21-song double-album that words like "epic" were created to describe. Lead single "Midnight City" is indicative of the record's grand gestures, and the video is no less absorbing. Because it's always a good idea to let loose a bunch of kids with psychokinetic powers in an abandoned factory with a camera crew.

The Saturdays — "My Heart Takes Over"

You can't fault them for trying, and with "My Heart Takes Over" — the latest from their forthcoming third album On Your Radar — The Saturdays get that much closer to snatching Sugababes' UK girl-pop crown. It's the third single, so, you know, this is the one where they show you they're all sensitive and stuff. But surprisingly, it works.

Fanfarlo — "Deconstruction"

It's only been a couple of weeks since Fanfarlo released the video for "Replicate" — the lead single from their as-yet-untitled second album. In some ways, the follow-up clip, "Deconstruction," is that video's opposite: It's more of an uptempo indie pop song filtered through a tongue-in-cheek highbrow concept — as if Derrida showed up to direct a Joe Jackson video.



MUSIC NEWS: The Best of 2011 (So Far). Also: Charli XCX, Phoenix, Rufus Wainwright, Bright Light Bright Light, The Good Natured

Cocknbullkid  
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: THE BEST OF 2011 (SO FAR)

We are six months into 2011 which means it's as good a time as any to reflect on the year in music so far. Also, I started writing this column near the beginning of the new year, which makes this an excellent time to review some of those first impressions as well, and more interestingly, to see which new records actually stood the test of time — or at least, the test of as much time as six months allows. It all culminates into this ten-song playlist, which we're calling The Best of 2011 (So Far).

But first: "Best-of" lists of any kind are highly contentious. I know! It's the virtual minefield every music writer must step into, and of course, the shrapnel does fly. So in order to better understand this playlist, I thought I'd uncover some of the process behind putting it together.

For one, I wanted this playlist to be somewhat skewed in favor of subjectivity. There were a lot of great records that, from an objective standpoint, probably deserve kudos — and I'll probably hand those out at the end of the year. But in the midterm, I thought it would be more interesting to focus on records you may not be hearing on the radio or covered by the cast of Glee. In other words, Adele and Lady Gaga actually broke some interesting ground this year, but I'm pretty sure you're familiar with their work by now.

Next, I wanted to focus on songs here, and not full-length albums. This is mostly a practical consideration: I'm making a playlist of songs, so the song should be the thing. But it's also a matter of giving a full-length album more time to mature before ushering anyone into any halls of fame. In the Internet age, we tend to demand instant opinions about works of music that probably deserve greater contemplation — and if you ask me, something is being lost in the process. So instead of adding to that noise, I made a conscious decision to use the individual song as the signal.

Finally, there are two very important songs that didn't make this playlist because of licensing issues, so I will quickly add them here as an addendum to the mix:

CocknBullKid — "CocknBullKid"

CocknBullKid's Adulthood is, for me, the biggest surprise of 2011 so far: Unlike the majority of pop albums I've heard this year, Anita Blay manages to stay on an even, and insanely pleasurable course for its duration — from '60s girl-group soul to modern dancepop and an inkling of indie spirit. (It's fair to say that Kylie Minogue will never drop nonsequitur shout-outs to LCD Soundsystem and Fiery Furnaces.) An opinion that seems to be only strengthening over time, it's my favorite album this year from front-to-back.

Charli XCX — "Stay Away"

Interestingly enough, my favorite single of 2011 (so far) doesn't even have an album or a video attached to it. Frustratingly enough, I can't even find a link for the single on iTunes or Amazon, and the best I can do is send you to the record label — who seem to be selling it on 12" vinyl. But amazingly enough, this song has stayed in the upper reaches of my radar for several months without ever wearing thin or even hinting that, in the future, it will do just that. Charli XCX, a young British teenager born several years after the T'Pau song that "Stay Away" may remind you of, has created a dark and brooding single unlike anything we've heard on the radio since Siouxsie and the Banshees, an independent-woman song free from clichés about paying your own bills and getting some good advice from your mother. If it ever gets a proper release, Charli XCX might finally break Beyoncé's grip on the topic once and for all. A welcome respite, indeed.

Enjoy the mix everyone, and be sure to post your own year-end picks in the comments. We'd love to hear them!

Coming out today: Radiohead — "Little By Little (Caribou Remix)" b/w "Lotus Flower (Jacques Greene Remix)" (XL/Ticket Tape), Brian Eno — Drums Between the Bells (Warp), Coldplay — "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" (Single) (EMI), Memory Tapes — Player Piano (Carpark), Digitalism — I Love You Dude (Downtown), Teddybears — Devil's Music (Big Beat/WEA)

THE DISPATCH:

Phoenix Road Phoenix are currently working on the much-anticipated follow-up to 2009's excellent Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Very little is known about the project so far, but the band have allowed renown designer and photographer Hedi Slimane into their New York recording studios to document the process for a series of gorgeous black-and-white portraits.

Road Annie Lennox, Will.i.am, and Liza Minelli are among the list of stars that needed to be evacuated from a burning hotel in London last week. The hotel played host to the Silver Clef Awards, an annual event which recognizes outstanding contributions to UK music. There were no reported fire-related injuries from the incident.

Modeselektor_Eden Road Berlin abstract techno heroes Modeselektor have announced a new album for release in October. Monkeytown will feature two guest appearances from Radiohead's Thom Yorke, who previously worked with the group in 2007 for a terrific single called "The White Flash."

Road The options as we know them: Last week, Amy Winehouse's website was either a.) taken over by a group of gay black hackers who love Lil B and aim "to take back the Internet from the white devil," b.) taken over by a prankster pretending to be a group of gay black hackers, or c.) taken over by members of the infamous anti-Scientology crew Anonymous in order to create a fake beef between two crews. A reasonable assessment of the screenshot: Someone, most likely straight, thought "Gay Black Hackers" would make a good Internet meme.

Odd Future Road There has been much debate and criticism over the cultural acceptance of Los Angeles-based rap collective Odd Future since their inexplicable surge in popularity last year; the group's shock-lyrics — soaked in violent misogyny and homophobic tropes — have inspired endless arguments about the relationship between art, politics, and free speech. But at this year's Pitchfork Festival, a group called Between Friends — a longstanding nonprofit group "dedicated to breaking the cycle of domestic violence" — are taking the discussion off the web and into the streets: Along with the YWCA, Rape Victims Advocates, and several LGBT groups, the agency will be staging a protest at the festival. Says a spokesperson, "While we don't agree with this, it is their art, and we'd like to offer a counterpoint and continue to help people that are being affected by the violence they describe."

Road Well worth watching: Rufus Wainwright teams up with his father — the esteemed Loudon Wainwright — for an effectively soulful rendition of Richard Thompson's "Down Where The Drunkards Roll," while Rufus offers more details about his forthcoming 19-disc career box set.

SOUND & VISION:

Bright Light Bright Light — "Disco Moment"

I'll be the first to admit that when Rod Thomas reinvented himself from acoustic-pop troubador to arpeggiated pop heartthrob, I was a little skeptical. But with "Disco Moment," Thomas perfects the transition with an enviable attention to songcraft that most young men with synthesizers will never achieve. If we needed a male counterpart to Robyn, we may now have one.

The Good Natured — "Skeleton"

Speaking of bright young songwriters, few are more impressive than the Good Natured's Sarah McIntosh, who at only 20, seems to have figured out how to tease out some of the more effective techniques of the trade — prompting the Guardian to dub her a "techno Dido." (I think they were trying to be flattering, but yeah, Ladytron is probably a better reference.) "Skeleton" is the title track from the band's latest EP, out today.

DJ Shadow — "I Gotta Rokk"

The lead single for DJ Shadow's forthcoming The Less You Know, The Better is certainly innovative in its reappropriation of vintage heavy metal samples, but its video is memory lane gold. Seeing '80s guitar hack Michael Angelo with his four-necked guitar again kind of choked me up!

The Sound of Arrows — "M.A.G.I.C."

Sweden's Sound of Arrows originally released "M.A.G.I.C." as a single in 2009, but there's nothing like an incredible new video to warrant a re-release. More of a mini-movie than a music video, the narrative invokes everything from Land of the Lost and Pan's Labyrinth to Where The Wild Things Are and H.R. Pufnstuf. It's not every day that you'll finish watching a promo clip feeling like you just saw a critically-acclaimed foreign film.



MUSIC NEWS: Blancmange, Oh Land, Thom Yorke, Pet Shop Boys, Junior Boys, Robyn, Keo Nozari, New York Dolls, Patrick Wolf

Blancmange

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.

ESSENTIAL NEW MUSIC:

Blancmange_blanc_burn Blancmange Blanc Burn (Proper)

The comeback has never been a particularly surefire proposition: Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark may have made it look easy, but the Human League — who are probably one of the most significant bands of the last 30 years — have been releasing new albums for a decade without so much as an NME blurb. (On playing the nostalgia circuit, Susan Sully recently admitted, "I'm miserable all day doing them. But we need the money and everyone has something they don't want to do.") It should stand to reason, then, that Blancmange — having never seen the chart success of their peers — would suffer a similar fate. But with Blanc Burn, the English duo's first album in 26 years, they quite easily dodge the bullet of irrelevance by simply leaving the past behind. "Ultraviolent," for one, mines a contemporary glitch-pop sound not unlike Lali Puna and "Don't Let These Days" owes somewhat of a debt to Underworld, while "Drive Me" and "Probably Nothing" hark back to the '80s only to pick up the group's penchant for Indian percussion — which, let's face it, nobody was really doing back then anyway. In fact, there's nothing on Blanc Burn to suggest that Blancmange are trying to relive anything, and at its core, this may just be the secret to their comeback code: Whereas many of their peers are vainly chasing ghosts, Blancmange are unobstructed by their own history.

OhLand Oh Land Oh Land (Epic/Sony)

Nanna Øland Fabricius's 2008 debut, Fauna, was an ambitious but ultimately uneven record that hinted at a splintered future: Oh Land would either find herself inside of a Björk–like space of accessible eccentricity or she'd make a move towards frustrating experimentalism — like a Scandinavian Coco Rosie armed with a sequencer. It turns out she's neither. For her second record, the self-titled Oh Land, Fabricius strikes an enviable balance between the two: Album-opener "Perfection" emulates some of the more heart-wrenching and harp-drenching moments on Vespertine but pays attention to rhythm with an almost hip-hop–like devotion, while "We Turn It Up" finds itself somewhere between "Hollaback Girl" and the Belle Stars for what might be the most outright celebratory song in ages. But where Oh Land most effectively shines is where she demonstrates a capacity to be none of these things. Songs like "White Nights" and "Sun of a Gun" suggest that — underneath the storybook imagery of sirens and wolves — is a heartfelt realist.

THE DISPATCH:

Thomyorke Road Now that he's found the turntables, you're not likely to see Thom Yorke with a guitar strapped on any time soon: The Radiohead singer showed up to The Airliner club in Los Angeles for a surprise DJ set this past week, spinning everything from Kraftwerk and Fun Boy Three to more underground techno and dubstep tracks by Modeselektor, Squarepusher, and Burial.

Road Canadian techno pop duo Junior Boys have announced the release date for their third album, It's All True, which is due on June 14 for Domino. The first taste of this record — a swirling, arpeggiated synthpop run called "ep" — is available as a free MP3 download HERE.

Road Adele is "selling a crapload of records": Her sophomore album, 21, notches two weeks at #1 in America — and becomes this year's first gold-certified album after only two weeks — while her reign at #1 in the UK continues for a staggering seventh week.

Road Fleet Foxes' Robin Pecknold quietly released a free three-song solo EP this week, available for download HERE. It's worth it alone for "I'm Losing Myself" — an elegantly understated acoustic duet with Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste.

Road Logo's fourth annual NewNowNext Awards have announced its headlining musical performers, and they're clearly banking on a big year for Scandinavian pop: Robyn and Oh Land will anchor the show, scheduled to air on April 11.

PSB Road Having already conquered pop music, musical theater, and film scores, the Pet Shop Boys are now producing for pirouettes: The Most Incredible Thing — a ballet set to one of Hans Christian Anderson's lesser-known works — premieres in London this week, while its score, composed by Pet Shop Boys, is out today. "Our pop is dance music, but you should be able to go into contemporary dance too," says Neil Tennant. "We've never been afraid to explore areas not normally covered by pop."

Road TV on the Radio bassist Gerard Smith has been diagnosed with lung cancer. In an official statement released this week, the band seems optimistic: "Gerard is fortunate enough to have health insurance and is receiving excellent medical care." TV on the Radio's upcoming fifth album, Nine Types of Light, is due for release on April 12.

Road Shoegazers (and Jesus & Mary Chain fans) among you will no doubt be interested in hearing Belong — the sophomore album by Brooklyn's The Pains of Being Pure At Heart. If it sounds more epic than their somewhat timid debut, it's with good reason: Belong was produced by Flood and mixed by Alan Moulder —the team behind Smashing Pumpkins' monstrous Melon Collie & The Infinite Sadness, as well as iconic albums by Depeche Mode, The Killers, and Nine Inch Nails. March 29 is the official release date, but the record is currently streaming in its entirety

COMING OUT:

KeoNozari_LoveBoutique Keo Nozari had Billboard calling him a "young George Michael" a couple of years back, and that's still not too far off from where he stands stylistically. But while Love Boutique — his sophomore album out today — certainly owes something to Michael's sensual delivery, it's Nozari's experience as a DJ in the New York City club scene that informs his most original moments: Look to "Acceptable 2 U" for a compelling rock/dance hybrid that stands to be the authentic counterpart to "Born This Way" in the gay anthem continuum.

The Chemical Brothers try their hand at film scoring this week with the release of the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to Hanna — the latest cinematic vehicle for Cate Blanchett. As far as Chemicals records go, this one caters more to the psychedelic reel than to block rockin' beats — which, in this case, proves to be a boon for the British production duo: Tagged with restraint, the Chemical Brothers make a strong case for themselves as proper songwriters.

New-York-Dolls--Dancing-Backwards-in-High-Heels_event_main It's kind of impossible to ignore that almost everything we love about glam, androgyny, and American new wave couldn't have happened without the existence of the New York Dolls, who almost unbelievably first disbanded in 1976. (If you don't believe me, ask Morrissey about their enduring influence.) Over 30 years later, David Johansen and company return this week for their fifth album — the wonderfully queerly-titled Dancing Backward In High Heels — and they certainly haven't mellowed with age: Johansen is one of a few remaining rock singers still allowed to sing songs called "I'm So Fabulous" and really mean it.

Also out today: The Good Natured — Be My Animal EP (Astralwerks), The Joy Formidable — Big Roar: Domestic Edition (Atlantic), The Naked and Famous — Passive Me Aggressive You (Republic), Does It Offend You, Yeah? Don't Say We Didn't Warn You (Cooking Vinyl), Elbow — Build A Rocket Boys! (Fiction/Polydor), Noah & the Whale — Last Night On Earth (Island), Cornershop — The Double-O Groove of Cornershop (Ample Play)

SOUND & VISION:

Patrick Wolf — "The City"

Now that he's engaged to be married — to a man who works for BBC Radio, no less! — it seems as if Patrick Wolf is also finally ready to embrace a more ebullient kind of pop music in which happy endings are not simply faith, but fact. Unsurprisingly then, the lead single for Wolf's forthcoming Lupercalia is as joyous as this beach-based, wet-clothed, summertime bliss-out of a video.

Living Sisters — "How Are You Doing?"

As far as twee indie-folk goes, the Living Sisters are a supergroup of sorts; its lineup consists of solo star Eleni Mandell, the Bird and the Bee's Inara George, and Lavender Diamond's Becky Stark. But for their debut video, the trio take somewhat of a creative backseat to acclaimed director Michel Gondry, whose idiosyncratic visual fingerprint is truly all over this increasingly tender narrative.

The National — "Conversation 16"

Far be it from me to deny that I'd be shamelessly into any video that stars Mad Men's John Slattery. I mean, it's not that "Conversation 16" isn't an incredible standout moment for The National's romantically morose High Violet — because it is! It's just that, well, I can't be the only one who appreciates a good silver fox. Also worth noting: Matt Berninger totally beat Nicki Minaj in the race to release 2010's first song about eating brains.

Pete & The Pirates — "Come To The City"

Almost three years after their debut, Little Death, Pete & The Pirates trade in their scrappier British indie rock for this moody, but remarkably effective exercise in New Romanticism. "Come To The City" is being released as a digital single today from Stolen Recordings.



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