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MUSIC NEWS: Coldplay, Kelly Clarkson, Adam Levine, Everything But The Girl, Lady Gaga, Robbie Williams, Justin Timberlake, Stars



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.


This week is a bit of double feature, in which two high profile releases vie for your attention and everyone's publicity department is on overdrive trying to steer the conversation. Here's an attempt to separate the signal from the noise:

Coldplay — Mylo Xyloto (EMI) MyloXyloto_lores

THEIR PUBLICIST SAYS: "Just as the album art was inspired by the work of New York graffiti artists of the 1970s, Mylo Xyloto takes its cue from the sense of freedom those artists embodied."

THE OBJECTIVE TAKE: That's a stretch considering that '70s graffiti artists in New York were largely poor and disenfranchised people expressing themselves using an untraditional canvas and Coldplay are, like, the biggest (and one of the richest) rock bands in the world using guitars and keyboards. So, OK! Hyperbole aside, the band does take some risks here — a duet with Rihanna actually sounds conventional next to the new-wave-Bruce-Springsteen vibe of "Hurts Like Heaven" — and Mylo Xyloto is unlikely to kick them off their rock star perch this time around: It's a textured, satisfying, and melodically able album, and despite the attempts of adult contemporary songwriters everywhere, no one does Coldplay quite like Coldplay.

START WITH: "Hurts Like Heaven" / "Charlie Brown"

Kelly_Clarkson_-_StrongerKelly ClarksonStronger (19/RCA)

HER PUBLICIST SAYS: "The album is filled with candid, emotionally raw tunes like … 'You Love Me' (in which Clarkson witheringly tells an ex 'you’re not good enough'), 'Einstein' (the cad in question is dismissed with 'Here’s your keys, your bags, your clothes, and now get out of my place'), and the title track, which finds Clarkson putting a fresh spin on Nietzsche’s adage that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger."

THE OBJECTIVE TAKE: Saying that "Stronger" is a "fresh spin" on Nietzsche is kind of hilarious — as if she were the first to appropriate that quote! — but otherwise, it's true: Stronger is an album of kiss-off songs to antagonist boys in the vein of some of her greatest hits. The problem with that? It depends on whether or not you believe that Kelly Clarkson's lyrics are becoming too predictable or, perhaps worse than that, too simplistic in her notions of empowerment. The songs themselves are instantly pleasurable, and some of her best yet. But there's a point in every breakup conversation where one friend must tell the other that he or she needs to move on already.

START WITH: "Dark Side" / "I Forgive You"

Also out today: Matt Cardle — Letters (Sony UK), Justice — Audio Video Disco (Elektra/WEA), Björk & The Dirty Projectors — Mount Wittenberg Orca (Domino), Dntel — Life is Full Of Possibilities: Deluxe Reissue (Sub Pop)


Adam-levine1Road Maroon 5's Adam Levine to Fox News: "Don't play our music on your evil f*cking channel ever again." Fox News responds: "Dear Adam Levine, don't make crappy f*cking music ever again." It's just a battle where everyone loses, apparently.

Road From a Mess to the Masses, the new documentary film about Phoenix that aired on European television last week, is currently streaming online.

BrightlightRoad While Bright Light Bright Light is still prepping for the release of his debut album, he's still supporting his impeccable new single, "Disco Moment," and taking the time out to play an acoustic set for Gaydar Radio that reveals the depth of his synthpop songwriting. Check out these stripped down versions of "Love Pt. 2" or the aforementioned "Disco Moment" and discover why Rod Thomas might be a one-man Pet Shop Boys.

Road This week's essential streams and downloads? There are a lot of them: Tracy Thorn reunited with Everything But The Girl partner Ben Watt for this cover of "Night Time" — originally recorded by the xx and set to appear on an upcoming EP of the same name. The iconic R.E.M. revealed their final single ever, "We All Go Back to Where We Belong," which is set to appear on their upcoming retrospective Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982-2011. Toronto's Diamond Rings offer up an excellent cover of Teenage Fanclub's "Mellow Doubt" for a new European single. And finally, Charli XCX — a 19-year-old London upstart whose debut single, "Stay Away," is quite likely my favorite song of 2011 so far — releases a long-awaited follow-up: "Nuclear Seasons" suggests that this girl is gunning for album of the year while she's at it.

Robbie+Williams+Gary+Barlow+Radio+1+Interview+iP_t-lXuSPblRoad Ever the cagey one, Robbie Williams has quit Take That (again) and has announced a new record deal with Universal and a new album for 2012. The departure, which went down earlier this year, was perfectly amiable as evidenced by Williams' new songwriting partner in the venture: Take That's Gary Barlow.

Road Lady Gaga isn't finished with Born This Way yet. This week, it was announced that the album will be issued in two new versions next month: Born This Way: The Remix will host studio work from Goldfrapp, Wild Beasts, Foster the People, Michael Woods, Two Door Cinema Club, Hurts, and more, while Born This Way: The Collection features the original and remix albums as well her Monster Ball at Madison Square Garden DVD.

MobyRoad According to a post on his blog, Moby will be showing up on the Craig Ferguson show with a "halloween supergroup" comprised of Magnetic Fields mainman Stephin Merritt, former Dresden Dolls singer Amanda Palmer, author Neil Gaiman, and Moby himself. I'm as confused as you are.

Road David LaChappelle's plagiarism lawsuit over Rihanna's "S&M" video has been settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. The lawsuit, LaChappelle says, was "not personal, it's strictly business. Musicians commonly pay to sample music or use someone's beats and there should be no difference when sampling an artist's visuals."


FreeSol — "Role Model" (feat. Justin Timberlake)

He's still taking a break from being a pop star, but on the new album by hip-hop/rock group FreeSol, Justin Timberlake steps into the producer's chair — and takes a stab at rapping while he's at it. The result? It's somewhere between good and Saturday Night Live rap-skit — and hashtag rap is so Drake's first album! — but the band behind him is solid.

Active Child — "Playing House" (feat. How To Dress Well)

"Playing House" actually premiered last month, but it got swept up in all the fall new release business around here. So I'm righting that wrong now: Active Child's debut album, You Are All I See, is one of this year's more gorgeous records, and "Playing House" is one of its more plaintive moments — a sullen synthpop song dressed up like a heartbroken R&B opera. It's like they invented something new here, and really, I don't get to say that too often.

Stars — "Dead Hearts"

The Five Ghosts is as haunting as its title suggests, so the idea of shooting a clip for "Dead Hearts" at a funeral is an appropriate one. The trick, then, is transmitting loss without veering into literal maudlin tropes or devolving into total darkness. So it's no small feat that Stars made the most optimistic video about death you can imagine.

Olly Murs — "Dance With Me Tonight"

He lost the 2009 UK X Factor competition to Joe McElderry, but these days, Olly Murs is making #1 singles and trafficking in the kind of feel-good vintage pop-soul that Will Young used to make before he went electro. (After releasing a debut album to disappointing numbers, McElderry is, inexplicably, singing opera now.) "Dance With Me Tonight" is the ebullient second single to come from Murs' upcoming second album, In Case You Didn't Know.

Chris Martin Reveals What Made Him Think He Might Be Gay as a Teen


At last night's ceremony for the Q Awards, Coldplay's Chris Martin says that in the 90's UK boyband Take That made him wonder if he way gay:

MartinThe Coldplay front man joked that Take That made him question his sexuality when he was growing up. Chris told the celebrity-packed audience at The Q Awards yesterday that he had two favourite bands when he was a kid, “U2 and five handsome, strapping men from Stoke and Manchester. I'm not afraid to admit it, they made me ask the question 'Am I gay?'"

Chris was at the event to not only pick up a gong for Coldplay’s Best Act In The World Today win, but to also present Gary Barlow with his award for Classic Songwriter, and the Take That star was shocked to receive his little golden Q trophy.

Watch Barlow (above, right) in an interview at last night's awards, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Chris Martin Reveals What Made Him Think He Might Be Gay as a Teen" »

MUSIC NEWS: Bombay Bicycle Club, Madonna, James Blake, Emeli Sandé, Midnight Music, The Saturdays, Tayisha Busay



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.


Bombay Bicycle Club A Different Kind Of Fix (Universal)  A-different-kind-of-fix

After the release of 2009's I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose, Bombay Bicycle Club were routinely dismissed for being a competent, if not somewhat gifted band in the London indie-punk canon — as part of a new wave that was already in its waning state and quite possibly years short of another revival. Their story should have ended in 2010, when the band beat out the XX, Mumford & Sons, and La Roux for NME's Best New Artist award, except that it didn't: Bombay Bicycle Club's surprise all-acoustic follow-up album, Flaws, forced a reevaluation of their music — and more specifically, of lead singer-songwriter Jack Steadman — that all but erased their scrappy debut from collective memory, and swapped accolades from the music weeklies with nominations for Ivor Novello Songwriting Awards. For A Different Kind Of Fix, BBC return to the full-band format and bravely justify three disparate albums with a cohesive collection of songs that is at once endearingly innocent and patently mature. "How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep?" opens the album with the kind of dreamy, hypnotic rhythm generally reserved for electronic dance music — the emotion in its ebbs and flows — while lead single "Shuffle" transforms a neo-vaudevillian piano riff into a summery disco-not-disco track befitting the Speaking In Tongues–era Talking Heads. The album's ongoing dialectic between the ethereal and the rhythmic could be partially chalked up to the hand of Animal Collective producer Ben Allen, but the reality is potentially deeper: If Steadman is positioning BBC as a post-genre songwriting vehicle, it may be because he no longer cares to write music that relies on genre as a crutch — if he ever did.

Also out today: Grace Jones — Hurricane: U.S. Edition (PIAS), The Rapture — In the Grace of Your Love (DFA), Samiam — Trips (Hopeless), Mista Majah P — Tolerance (IDC)


Madonna Road Madonna's latest directorial attempt, the forthcoming W.E., had moviegoers at the Venice Film Festival "rolling in the aisles" — and it's not even a comedy! — but details of her twelfth album will provide a more sobering, if not celebratory effect: A lead single is due in February or March 2012, with a new full-length to follow next spring. Ray Of Light producer William Orbit is back in the studio captain's chair, as are Martin Solveig and relative newcomer Jean-Baptiste Kouame — who co-wrote much of Kelis' excellent Flesh Tone.

Road Fresh from his collaboration with Bon Iver, James Blake announces a new EP: The six-track Enough Thunder will be released on October 10, and will feature "Fall Creek Boys Choir" as well as his Internet-favorite cover of Joni Mitchell's "Case Of You."

Road Superstar producer Dr. Luke — of Katy Perry, Ke$ha, and Britney Spears fame — has perfected his strategy against the cadre of litigious songwriters claiming he stole their work: Sue them for defamation until they submit

Emeli-sande Road Exciting new singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé gets a write-up in the Guardian this week for a piece about "female artists turning commercial pop somber with songs of pain and despair." More exciting: It was revealed that Sandé is a featured writer on the forthcoming third album by Leona Lewis.

Road Formed by ex-members of Hercules & Love Affair, the New York-based Midnight Music have essentially taken the "nu" out of nu-disco, faithfully adhering instead to the live disco blueprint of bands like the Salsoul Orchestra and Heatwave. Scion/AV recently released the band's debut digital EP, What The Eyes Can't See, which you can currently stream from Soundcloud or download for free. The band leaves on tour with Cut Copy and Washed Out this month.

Royksopp Road This week's essential streaming: Toro Y Moi introduced "All Alone," a teaser from his upcoming Freaking Out EP — and compared to his chillier chillwave fare, this new song is, in fact, somewhat of a freakout. Justice have premiered the surprisingly distortion-free title track from Audio, Video, Disco, which is due out on September 19. Röyksopp posted two free new songs to their website this week: a remix of the Irrepressibles' "In This Shirt" and, more stunningly, a 14-minute atmospheric house cut called "Shores of Easy." And finally, Tokyo Police Club have made their ambitious "10 Days, 10 Covers, 10 Years" live project available for streaming on Soundcloud. Check out their take on tracks by Kelly Clarkson, Moby, Miley Cyrus, Jimmy Eat World, Phoenix, and more.

NewOrder Road New Order are back — without Peter Hook.

Road England's Trophy Wife are set to release a new EP called Bruxism on October 17, and have most notably chosen a different producer for each of its five tracks: Abstract techno pioneers Plaid, Tracey Thorn producer Ewan Pearson, post-rock band Foals, and electro-folk troubadour James Yuill are among the collaborators. Opener "Canopy Shade" is streaming on Soundcloud now.


When Saints Go Machine — "Kelly"

Konkylie, the recent album by Copenhagen's When Saints Go Machine, has the kind of depth rarely seen from a debut — a feat largely accomplished by the band's versatile musicianship and singer Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild's delicate, yet deliberate falsetto. Third single "Kelly" is a testament to that balancing act — brooding, but not maudlin; dark, yet allowing light in through the cracks.

Matt Cardle — "Run For Your Life"

Last year's winner of the UK X Factor, Matt Cardle is the latest artist in Simon Cowell's world domination plan. But there's a hitch: Cardle's extreme likability — which endeared him, unsurprisingly, to many an English gay man — is rooted in his aw-shucks, unsuspecting, everyman tendencies. Unfortunately, the video for his debut album's lead single plays up some sort of bizarre Harlequin romance angle that feels contrived, and by the look on Cardle's face, uncomfortably forced. Not even Take That's Gary Barlow, who wrote the song, can save it.

The Saturdays — "All Fired Up"

With Girls Aloud on a vaguely indefinite hiatus and none of the original members of Sugababes actually in the group anymore, The Saturdays must see "All Fired Up" as an opportunity of sorts — and in the world of Euro dance-pop, you could do far worse than picking up one of the more memorable recent tracks from uber-reliable UK production/songwriting house Xenomania. The people seem to agree: This weekend, "All Fired Up" hit #1 on the UK iTunes chart as soon as it was released.

Tayisha Busay — "Focus"

Brooklyn-based queer electro trio Tayisha Busay are prepping the release of their debut album, Focus/Virus, and lead single "Focus" is already shaping up to be the band's most realized work so far — a grim, New York version of Kraftwerk's "The Robots" with a generous dose of pop sensibility and human intervention. The clip's a little edgy, but its meditation on the reversals of power is hardly esoteric.

MUSIC NEWS: Basement Jaxx, Keith Mina Caputo, Rilo Kiley, New Order, Austra, Magnetic Fields, Big Freedia, Take That



Guestblogger RDIO_GENERIC_120X60 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.


Basement Jaxx vs. Metropole Orkest 1 Basement Jaxx Basement Jaxx vs. Metropole Orkest (Atlantic Jaxx)

Basement Jaxx aren't the first electronic artists to go the orchestral route, but they may very well be the first of their kind. While it's true that Carl Craig performed with the Les Siecles Orchestra in 2008, and that the classical imprint Deutsche Grammophon continues to commission artists like Matthew Herbert, Moritz von Oswald, and Ricardo Villalobos to remix original pieces by Dvorák and Ravel, among others, the perception of these artists' strand of electronic music is one that arbitrarily links them to a grand tradition of European music. In fact, Detroit and Berlin's techno scenes have yielded a kind of critical response that surreptitiously implies some sort of heightened artistic merit, and when bands like Radiohead or Depeche Mode align themselves with the style as they often do, credence is added to the notion that techno is "serious music." London's Basement Jaxx — who draw their influences from disco, R&B, and '90s Chicago underground and acid house — have not enjoyed such allusions in their career, but it's not for a lack of depth: Far from the MPC & 303 style of house that inspired them, Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe have produced countless club-sized epics with complex arrangements that demand a minimum ten-piece band for their live shows, and on Basement Jaxx vs. Metropole Orkest, the duo take it one step further, carving out a career retrospective with the help of a 60-piece orchestra and 20-person choir. Metropole Orkest arranger Jules Buckley, who has worked with everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Antony & the Johnsons, speaks to the compositional value of Basement Jaxx's discography by doing little to alter the original arrangements for developed works like "Good Luck" and "Raindrops" — thereby strengthening the suggestion that this duo's musicality was orchestra-ready from the start. But it's what happens to classic club tracks like "Red Alert" and "Bingo Bango" that reveals an otherwise hidden, or at least sadly under-appreciated truism about Chicago house music: Just because it sounds simple doesn't make it so.

START WITH: "Red Alert" / "Raindrops" / "Good Luck"

Also out today: Antony & The Johnsons — Swanlights EP (Secretly Canadian), Chus & Ceballos — Back on Tracks Vol. 2 (Nervous), Lali Puna — Move On / After All Stop EP (Morr Music), DJ Harvey — Locussolus (International Feel), Sven Väth — The Sound of the Eleventh Season (Cocoon), First Choice — The Best of First Choice (PID)


Keith Mina Caputo Road After 20 years as the lead singer for the internationally renown heavy metal act Life Of Agony, Keith Caputo has confirmed that she is currently transitioning and living life as a woman. "I'm a completely different human being," she explained on a recent heavy metal Internet radio program. "I have a very different path in life. I'm not living life as a man anymore." Having recently updated her Twitter handle to "Keith Mina Caputo," the announcement follows a solo album in 2008 that featured images of androgyny, as well as a music video released in December that ostensibly tackles some of the feelings that preceded the transition. Make sure to watch it below.

Road Following years of speculation, both Rilo Kiley and New Order have made their splits official. Neither one is particularly amicable: According to guitarist Blake Sennett, Rilo Kiley succumbed to "deception, disloyalty, greed, and things I don't really want to submit myself to," while Peter Hook called New Order "a bunch of fat old men arguing." Bernard Sumner, meanwhile, lays the blame on Hook: "We've spent all our life as an outfit with principles and ideals and what Peter has done goes against everything we've stood for."

Austra Road Austra's Katie Stelmanis is quickly becoming one of the most talked-about out musicians working today: Her band recently performed live in the studio for the Guardian, while new reworks of Austra's music have surfaced from MNDR and Kool Thing. Austra's latest remix collection, Sparkle — which also features work by Mark Pistel, Planningtorock, and Steffi — is released next week.

Road Adele's 21 has become the biggest selling digital album in U.S. history.

Stephinmerritt Road After a stint on the Warner-owned Nonesuch, Stephin Merritt's Magnetic Fields are returning to Merge Records for a new album slated to be released in 2012. In the meantime, Merge will issue a rarities collection called Obscurities in August. A free download of "Forever and a Day" is available from the label now.

Road Punk pioneer and musclebear DJ hero Bob Mould put together a playlist of recent rock and electronic picks for SPIN this week. Among them: Toro Y Moi side project Les Sins, the lo-fi retro pop of Dum Dum Girls, and synthpop revivalist Fear of Tigers.

Road Here's something disconcerting: In a recent interview, when asked about her future, Lykke Li went suspiciously vague: "Life is different phases, and it's always evolving, so I'll definitely reach another stage in my life and that can bring me to other territories," she said. "Maybe I won't be making the same music, or maybe I won't be making music at all."


This week's Rdio playlist was inspired by Basement Jaxx, and more specifically, by the musical style they both drew from and influenced. It's not a geographical thing — there are artists from Chicago, London, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle here — but more of an aesthetic honed in on by DJs like Derrick Carter and Sneak, both of whom, not coincidentally, make cameos on Basement Jaxx's debut album Remedy. I'd call it a Chicago–influenced house mix, but Derrick Carter might call it "boompty" — a piece of tautological coinage he uses to describe the particular swing of the beat and its unmitigated focus on the bass. I like that word, too.

These tracks span from the last 15 years, with a few coming out of the same time as Basement Jaxx's debut single in the mid-'90s. A few other interesting notes: Solid Groove, who opens the mix, is the proper house pseudonym for future M.I.A. and Beyoncé collaborator Switch. Soul Mekanik are actually acid house vets Danny Spencer and Kelvin Andrews, who were also known as Sure is Pure in the early '90s and went on to write and produce for Robbie Williams. And Derrick Carter himself appears with a much-loved remix of a tweaked out Berlin techno track that became a Chicago house classic under his guidance. The playlist's finale is one of my own personal favorites, and a track I used to play consistently in my past life as a DJ in Chicago and San Francisco: Oil's "The Future" still stands up eleven years after it was first released.



Keith Caputo — "Got Monsters"

After her coming out as transgender, it seemed only right that we take a belated look at Keith Mina Caputo's "Got Monsters" — an 11-minute clip that examines the internal experience of a conflicted gender identity, and one that we likely didn't realize was so personal when it premiered late last year. In light of Mina's recent announcement, its added resonance is truly powerful.

Teddybears — "Cho-Cha" (feat. Cee-Lo & The B-52s)

Teddybears is the longtime rock project of Swedish producer and songwriter Klas Åhlund, who's work with Robyn, Kylie Minogue, and Ke$ha you are most likely familiar with. On the latest single from Devil's Music, the band teams up with Cee-Lo Green and the B-52s for this summer's stalker anthem — and Fred Schneider never sounded more deliciously sinister.

Big Freedia — "Excuse"

New Orleans bounce queen Big Freedia returns with the second clip from her Scion A/V Presents Big Freedia EP and a super charming video concept that couldn't be more perfect. Basically, it's the best workout ever

Take That — "When We Were Young"

The synth-based club aesthetic of last year's Progress takes a backseat to the pleasurable return of pop-rock balladry on Take That's latest single, and it could be a sketch for what's to come: Having cleared out the vaults with this month's Progressed EP, the band have already begun writing for a new album. As for "When We Were Young," it's hard to invoke pathos for a group of guys that became one of the world's biggest bands by slathering jelly all over each other's bodies as teenagers, but this song might do the trick.

MUSIC NEWS: Take That, Nerina Pallot, John Tejada, Thursday, Joss Stone, Kathleen Hanna, Patrick Wolf, Matt & Kim, Stars, Rye Rye

Take That


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.


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.


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.


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)


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: Depeche Mode, Jessica 6, Coldplay, Björk, Blondie, Battles, Clock Opera, Take That, Ford & Lopatin



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.


Remixes 2 81-11 (Official Album Cover) Out June 7 Depeche Mode Remixes 2: 81–11 (Reprise)

It's not every day that a major artist releases a 37-track, three-disc set of remixes comprising the last thirty years of their career — which is likely because I don't think it's ever happened before. In that sense, Remixes 2: 81–11 is breaking some sort of ground that even the 36-track Remixes: 81–04 couldn't touch: This is a collection that not only bolsters the band's unwavering relevance as songwriters and synthpop pioneers, but makes a distinct connection to their enduring influence on modern club music. Admittedly, 37 tracks is a lot for even the most stalwart of fans to digest, so I went ahead and pulled five of the highlights — and lowlights! — for this very special Depeche Mode Remix Redux:

BEST CHOICE OF OPENER: "Dream On" (Bushwacka! Tough Guy Mix)

Produced by one-half of Layo & Bushwacka!, the first song on this collection is, for all intents and purposes, the kind of thing you'd hear at 10:30 P.M. in the club — a stark, tech-house beat that most DJs would call "tracky" under a vocal that only serves to set the hypnotic pace. It is not, by far, the most commercial track on this collection, and because of that, it's also a genius choice: Clubgoers will appreciate the deep house warm-up, while dudes who really loved Mike Koglin's weird trance version of "Enjoy The Silence" in 1998 will feel rightfully duped.


2009's "Peace," from Sounds of the Universe, fell somewhat flat in its original incarnation as a downtempo, low-slung bass-driven single; there was something to the lyric and the vocal that the music failed to express. The answer, as SixToes saw it, was a human element. Strings, tabla, and even banjo transform the original into something not even Martin Gore could conceive: a neo-Americana Depeche Mode.

BEST REMIX FOR BEING IN A K-HOLE: "When the Body Speaks" (Karlsson & Winnberg Remix)

If you lived in New York at a certain time, and you know something about the mid-'90s Save The Robots afterhours parties, and you've seen what that place looked like at six in the morning, and you actually feel nostalgic for it, then boy, have I got a remix for you. 

FAILED ATTEMPT AWARD: "Never Let Me Down Again" (Digitalism Remix)

The ultra-distorted electro style of Justice and Digitalism seems like a good idea in context, but when you try to remix a song whose major asset is its melody by featuring a dysmorphic synth that borders on atonal, it's just not going to be good. And that's being generous.

THE VINCE CLARKE VS. ALAN WILDER SHOWDOWN: "Behind the Wheel" (Vince Clarke Remix)

Two ex-members of Depeche Mode — both respected and accomplished in their own right — provided remixes for this collection, and thirty years down the road, that's a pretty fantastic feat. But if you have to compare them (and you don't, but I decided to!), there's something about Clarke's track that slightly edges out Wilder's take on "In Chains." It could be that Wilder seemed intent on making a proper Depeche Mode song — or that his trusted playbook provided a missed opportunity to recreate what we think we know about the band. But ultimately, it was something less hypothetical than that: Clarke's revision suggests that only one ex-member of Depeche Mode has been keeping up with underground techno since Songs of Faith and Devotion.


Coldplay-2011-pic-med Road In the face of immediate cries of plagiarism following the premiere of their new single "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall," Coldplay clarify: The song was simply "inspired" by the 1990 single "Ritmo de la Noche" by Mystic, which was in turn based on another song called "I Go to Rio," which was written by Peter Allen and Adrienne Anderson and later sung by everyone from Peggy Lee to the Muppets, among others. Says a Coldplay spokesperson, "Allen and Anderson are credited as writers" in the album's liner notes.

Road The 2012 Coachella festival is going double or nothing: Organizers have announced that the event will take place over two weekends — with each weekend being ostensibly, but not likely identical. 

RoadBjork Björk's new album, Biophilia, is shaping up to be an experiment in technology and mobile apps: The record will be released as an "app album" for the iPad, featuring ten mini-apps to go with each song. A preview of the first song, "Crystalline," hit the web this week

Road Legendary hip-hop DJ Mister Cee — who, if you recall, was arrested in March after allegedly engaging in a sexual act in public with a young man — pled guilty to loitering for the purpose of engaging in a prostitution offense. Cee has yet to explicitly comment on the incident, or for that matter, on the implications about his sexuality, but took to Twitter instead: "SO WHAT!" he wrote. "Some people have such depressing lives they get joy from other's mistakes."

Blondie-2011-colour Road Blondie are prepping the release of Panic of Girls — their first new album in seven years — with a physical release slated for July. UK fans, however, got an early taste of the album through Amazon's digital download store this week, and the preview is promising: Retromodern and yet actually modern, the album also features young Brooklyn songwriter Zach Condon — who adds trumpet to "Wipe Off My Sweat" and whose band, Beirut, originally wrote and recorded  "A Sunday Smile."

L1RNcx2rjnixescurzKZQCIOo1_400 Road If you're looking for some new DJ mixes to stream, BUTT magazine is hoping to fill the void with a new exclusive series of mixtapes available from their specially designed BUTT audio-player. The first mix is up now, featuring Berlin DJs Discodromo and Boris — the latter of whom is a Paradise Garage vet and former heyday resident at Berlin's legendary Panorama Bar.

Road Adele has canceled the remaining nine dates on her North American tour after coming down with laryngitis. "There is absolutely nothing I can do but take the doctor's advice and rest some more," she said.

Road This week's bizarre confession: Take That's Robbie Williams undergoes weekly testosterone treatment. "Went to see a Hollywood doctor, had my blood tests," he explained. "He said, 'You've got the testosterone of a 100-year-old man.' And then everything made sense. It was kind of an epiphany."


Jessica6 Nomi Ruiz came to light as the breakout star of the debut self-titled Hercules & Love Affair album; her contributions to "You Belong" and "Hercules Theme" set a tone that producer Andy Butler had trouble recreating on album number-two. This week, Ruiz returns with her own group, Jessica 6, and a debut album that belies their new-band status. Equal parts disco, proto-house, and coquettish R&B, See The Light plays with a lot of the ideas that Ruiz explored with Hercules, but shoots less for homage and more for total embodiment. While "Prisoner Of Love" will get much of the press for its Chicago-styled piano house and Antony Hegarty guest spot, tracks like "Champagne Bubbles/Remember When" invoke an anachronistic Mary J. Blige nestled into a late night Quiet Storm slot on 1980s R&B radio. This is, in case you're wondering, a pretty awesome thing.

Duncanshiek_covers80s He reinvented himself on Broadway with work on the Tony Award-winning Spring Awakening, meaning that Duncan Sheik has outlived most of the singer-songwriters that came up alongside him in the mid-'90s. (Ubiquitous hits like "Barely Breathing" tend to add to one's shelf-life considerably, if not subsidize the lesser-selling albums destined to follow.) Off Broadway, Sheik's more recent albums have mellowed even further with age, and Covers '80s takes this slow-motion weathering to its next logical step: A collection of twelve totally inoffensive, and even occasionally endearing interpretations of hits by Depeche Mode, The Smiths, Talk Talk, and, umm, The Thompson Twins won't set the world on fire, but they will remind you how old you are in a gentle, toe-tapping kind of way.

Battles_GlossDrop Having lost lead singer Tyondai Braxton to the dreaded solo project just last summer, Battles wasted no time in regrouping as a three-piece and putting together Gloss Drop — which, when all is said and done, barely registers any sort of recognizable absence from being one man down. The largely instrumental album draws firmly on cultural rhythmic traditions ("Dominican Fade"), post-rock detritus ("Futura"), and traditionally electronic dance music-gone-analog ("Sweetie & Shag"), but tracks like "Ice Cream" — featuring Kompakt techno stalwart Matias Aguayo on vocals — remind us that Battles still know how to put together a memorable, if not challenging hook. Braxton may have been the voice, but he didn't own the vision.

Also out today: Peter Murphy — Ninth (Nettwerk), Cults — Cults (Columbia), Sondre Lerche — Sondre Lerche (Redeye), Trentemøller — Late Night Tales (LNT), Candi Staton — Evidence: The Complete Fame Records Masters (Kent), Sophie Ellis-Bextor — Make A Scene (EBGB's), The Ladybug Transistor — Clutching Stems (Merge)


Clock Opera — "Belongings"

If I wanted to make some sort of official pick-hit of the week, "Belongings" would earn the title, hands down. Clock Opera's latest single draws most obviously from Steve Reich, Peter Gabriel, and Elbow, and yet somehow manages to come out a gorgeously reticent pop song that makes every other record that came out this week feel a little less adventurous — and nowhere as emotionally resonant. It's stunning.

Take That — "Love Love"

The latest single from the revamped electropop Take That sounds more like Gary Numan fronting The Killers than it does the band responsible for "Greatest Day," but the group's recent musical reinvention is one of many reasons why they're so damn relevant. "Love Love" is the lead single for X-Men: First Class.

The Grates — "Turn Me On"

After two well-received albums, Australian indie-pop duo The Grates decided they needed to live a little — so they moved to Brooklyn and pledged to stay until a third album was in the can. That record, Secret Rituals, is likely the one they needed to make: "Turn Me On" makes good on the title of their 2008 album Teeth Lost, Hearts Won; it's wrought with fear, not paralyzed by it.

Ford & Lopatin — "World Of Regret"

The debut album by Ford & Lopatin is called Channel Pressure, and it comes out today along with this video for "World of Regret," a hyper-animated clip that's probably more acid trip than acid house. Fans of carnival posters with dolphins on them — or airbrushed wolf sweatshirts, for that matter — will revel in its ironic artistic merit.


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