The Killers Hub

MUSIC NEWS: Wild Beasts, Elliott Smith, Arthur Russell, Arcade Fire, Cyndi Lauper, Derrick Carter, Magnetic Man, Jessica 6



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.


Wild-Beasts-Smother Wild BeastsSmother (Domino)

Introducing your new record by citing later–era Talk Talk as an influence — like Wild Beasts did earlier this year— is a somewhat tenuous set-up: Albums like Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock were nonpareil for their time; it can be safe to assert that Talk Talk was the only band from the 1980s to follow up three well-received synthpop records with two albums of free-jazz inspired orchestral ambient music — and artistically succeed. The parallels in this case, then, are more psychic than anything: Smother is an album that revels in creating environments and moods, and — like Talk Talk — singers Hayden Thorpe and Tom Fleming find meaning in the space between the notes, their androgynous falsettos becoming as much a part of the tapestry as the band's deliberately sparse and uneasy arrangements. But while Wild Beasts are certainly easy on the ears, Smother is not quite easy listening — and in that sense, the band has adopted the most crucial ethos that ultimately validates the preemptive comparison: Beauty teems from this elegant tension, and you are unlikely to hear anything else like it this year.

START WITH: "Bed Of Nails" / "Loop The Loop" / "Albatross"


Elliott-smith340 Road The first documentary film about the life of the late Elliott Smith screened in Los Angeles over the weekend, and its coup is the participation of Smith's last girlfriend, Jennifer Chiba, who is speaking about him for the first time since 2003, when the singer-songwriter died of a self-inflicted knife wound. Despite the cries of conspiracists who believe Chiba actually killed Smith — and the objections to her participation by Elliott's family — director Gil Reyes insists her contribution is crucial to the film: "Here you can actually look in her eyes and determine for yourself if she's telling the truth or not."

Road Following a month where we lost Poly Styrene and TV on the Radio's Gerard Smith to cancer, it has been announced that Decemberists keyboard player Jenny Conlee has been diagnosed with breast cancer. "There are still a few unknowns out there concerning my cancer," she writes in a message posted to the band's site, "but I am thinking positive and hope to be back on the road soon."

Road Adele: "If Rihanna wanted me, I'd do it with her. She's hot."

AV Road Before he was Vin Diesel, he was Mark Sinclair — an aspiring rapper and breakdancer in New York City. In itself, that's not too bizarre! But this week, the story got stranger: In 1986, Captain Beefheart collaborator Gary Lucas discovered the young Sinclair rapping on a West Village street and teamed him up with legendary disco and experimental rock musician Arthur Russell for an aborted recording session bankrolled by Rough Trade Records. Now, thanks to Lucas, there is MP3 evidence.

Road Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci has signed to Epitaph Records for his forthcoming debut solo album under the Big Talk pseudonym. Lead single "Getaways," gets a digital release today.

Image Road After 25 years of performing and producing, legendary Chicago house DJ Derrick Carter finally gets his due in the gay press. The Advocate ran a feature interview with Carter this week, where the artist explained his under-the-radar status: "[These days], a lot of gay audiences want to hear pop remixes. That's fine if they want to hear that, but that's not what I do."

Road Nomi Ruiz made her mark as a featured vocalist with Hercules & Love Affair; today, she is prepping her debut album with Jessica 6 for the esteemed Peacefrog label. Our first taste of See The Light is "Prisoner of Love" — a nu-disco, proto-house duet between Ruiz and Antony Hegarty. The track is currently available as a free download HERE.

Getty) Road Arcade Fire reprised their cover of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" at this weekend's New Orleans Jazz Fest, but this time, Lauper came out to own it. She also stuck around to add vocals and lapsteel for a gorgeous version of Arcade Fire's "Sprawl II."

Road Robyn is keeping busy this week: In addition to releasing the first remix from her upcoming single package for "Call Your Girlfriend" — a hyper dubstep interpretation by former drum-n-bass producer Feed Me — the singer also appears on the latest single by M.I.A. protege Rye Rye for Diplo's Mad Decent label. "Never Will Be Mine" features an extended rerecorded chorus from Robyn's 2005 single "Be Mine."


The-Lonely-Island-Turtleneck-And-Chain-608x608-530x530 In an interview with the New York Times over the weekend The Lonely Island described themselves as "Real Beats, Fake MCs," but that's only half-true — an album like Turtlenecks & Chains simply would not work if these guys couldn't actually rap.  The "real beats" help, too: "Shy Ronnie 2: Ronnie & Clyde," for example, could have been a legitimate radio single if Rihanna wasn't singing about "boner alerts." Unfortunately, the album lands on a flat note with "No Homo" — a well-intentioned skewering of the ridiculous hip-hop disclaimer that devolves into I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry territory. It's not that such a song couldn't be funny; it's more that it just isn't.

Magnetic_Man_album The production trio of Magnetic Man — Benga, Skream, and Artwork — are probably best known at this point for introducing Katy B to the world, but their self-titled full-length artist album tells a more varied story: Dubstep may take its centerstage, but notes of drum-n-bass, UK garage, and even commercial pop add a more complex sense of dimension to the record. There's also a payoff at the end: Hearing John Legend's vibrato over a near–industrial dubstep track is more than vaguely pleasurable.

If there's anything disconcerting about Move Like This — the first new studio album from the Cars since 1987 — it's just how short these songs makes the last 24 years feel. Hearing "Keep On Knocking" for the first time is like taking "My Best Friend's Girl" out of cryogenics; "Free" does something similar for "Just What I Needed." Whether or not this reads as a good thing or a regressive misstep probably depends on how hard you've clutched onto your copy of Candy-O all these years.

Also out today: Gang Gang Dance — Eye Contact (4AD), Okkervil River — I Am Very Far (Jagjaguwar), Joan Of Arc — Life Like (Polyvinyl), Gus Gus — Arabian Horse (Kompakt), The Sea & Cake — The Moonlight Butterfly (Thrill Jockey)


Gold Panda — "Marriage" (Star Slinger Remix)

I originally planned to include Star Slinger in last week's unsigned artists rundown, but I'm glad I held off: Check out the UK producer's euphoric take on Gold Panda's "Marriage" — from last year's excellent Lucky Shiner — and then download more of his hip-hop inspired laptop techno, some of it free, from the official Star Slinger Bandcamp page.

Lykke Li — "Sadness is a Blessing"

The third official single from Lykke Li's Wounded Rhymes finally gets the suitably upsetting video that a song with lyrics like "Sadness is my boyfriend / Oh, sadness I'm your girl" totally deserves! In addition to playing the foil for Li's unbearable sadness in this clip, Stellan Skarsgård is also currently starring in Thor. Which makes very little sense as I write it.

Cold Cave — "Villains of the Moon"

Earlier this year, New York's Cold Cave released Cherish the Light Years, their second album for Matador, to critical acclaim. Lead single "Villains of the Moon" — which gets a video this week — moves further away from the experimental leanings of the band's debut and shifts into a tense, gothic pop that would make a "Cuts You Up"–era Peter Murphy super proud.

Austra — "Lose It" 

Immediate comparisons have been made to Florence + the Machine, and I'm not gonna lie: Austra's Katie Stelmanis shares some of Florence's eccentric art-pop tendencies. But stick it out with "Lose It" and you'll find something increasingly unique about the way Stelmanis' opera-trained vocal affectations elegantly float over this track's icy new wave exterior. It's a bona fide grower.

News: The Gloved One, Mrs. Slocombe, Big Brother, The Cubs


Neil Patrick Harris to host the Emmys?



Glove for sale.


NO! Mrs. Slocombe and her pussy died!


Also, choreographer Pina Bausch. And Karl Malden.


Same-sex marriage stalls in Rhode Island: "None of the bills legalizing same-sex marriage in Rhode Island advanced to a floor vote this session, continuing a trend begun in 1997."


Chaz Bono plays with the paparazzi.


Michael Jackson's will. No public viewing at Neverland. Funeral to be held at L.A.'s Staples Center.


Pennsylvania's Allegheny County passes law forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.


Stampp Corbin on the Obama Pride reception: "There will be some who even will gather in the Capitol in October to protest your administration’s lack of attention to equal protection for LGBT Americans. You want pressure? We’ll give it to you in spades."


Hollywood gives up on ideas.



Meet Kevin, the gay Big Brother houseguest.


Beau Breedlove has sour grapes over his affair with Portland Mayor Sam Adams. Adams was cleared of wrongdoing last week. Now, because the Oregon AG said he no longer had credibility after posing nude for Unzipped magazine and getting paid for it, Breedlove seems to want revenge: "It really upsets me. It’s just lie after lie after lie until we’re at the end of the bowl and the last person to be burned from the situation is me."


Snippet: The Killers do "Hotel California".


DJ Earworm: My life would suck without you in my place.


Manhattan apartment prices plummet to just $760,000 to $849,000 in the median range.


Wentworth Miller broke out of prison, now he's going to Law & Order: SVU.



Homophobia alive and well among Chicago baseball fans.


Labor big Stuart Appelbaum outs himself.


Dallas Million Gay March to move out of gay ghetto into "more mainstream area" next year.


Gay resort opens near Tampa: "While open to anyone, the hotel caters almost exclusively to gay men. Photos of butt-baring hot guys adorn the walls — and are available for $169 apiece. The second-floor club has a darkened maze room and other "intimacy zones.'' The courtyard boasts a kumquat tree and a 50-man hot tub, possibly the largest in Tampa. If it sounds like a bathhouse, don't describe it that way to the owners. Technically, and according to the city, the Ybor Resort & Spa is a hotel and a men's health studio. Sex and nudity in public areas is not allowed."

Watch: The Killers' 'Dustland Fairytale'


Here's the new video for The Killers' "A Dustland Fairytale".

The song is said to be a metaphorical tale about Brandon Flowers' father's battle with alcoholism and his ultimate success in defeating it (the story has a happy ending).

A really beautiful track and video, imho, and if you missed the group performing it with full orchestra on Letterman, that's a must see if you're a fan.

Watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Watch: The Killers' 'Dustland Fairytale'" »

Killers Perform 'Dustland Fairytale' with Full Orchestra


Last night The Killers performed "A Dustland Fairytale" on Letterman with a full orchestra. Probably one of my favorite tracks off "Day & Age".

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Killers Perform 'Dustland Fairytale' with Full Orchestra" »

Music News: Coachella, Pet Shop Boys, Kelly Clarkson, Franz Ferdinand


GuestbloggerROBBIE DAW

Robbie Daw presents a weekly pop music update here on Towleroad. Robbie runs his own site called Chart Rigger.

Billboard reports today that Paul McCartney, the Killers and the Cure will headline this April's 10th Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Field in Indio, California. The trio of acts will join confirmed are My Bloody Valentine, Amy Winehouse, Morrissey, Leonard Cohen and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Said McCartney in a statement: "I have heard that Coachella is one of the greatest festivals in the world. I'm really excited to get out there and rock!"

The event takes place over the weekend of April 17 through April 19, with McCartney headling Friday night, the Killers Saturday and the Cure on Sunday. Tickets are on sale this morning via Ticketmaster.

The full lineup for this year's Coachella festival can be viewed AFTER THE JUMP...

Psbsroad.jpg Madonna's not quite ready to hang up her Sticky & Sweet tour just yet.

road.jpg The Pet Shop Boys have unveiled the cover of their upcoming March album, Yes. Says the duo's official site: "The artwork for the new Pet Shop Boys' album, Yes, has been designed by long-standing PSB collaborators, Farrow. Eleven squares of colour—one square for each track—form an affirmative tick on the front cover."

road.jpg Lady GaGa's next single "Eh Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)" to be remixed by Pet Shop Boys and Frankmusik.

road.jpg French act M83, currently opening for the Killers on tour, will perform a co-headlinging concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic on Saturday, March 7, at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Julian Kuerti, Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducts.

Rihannaroad.jpg This week Island released Rihanna's Good Girl Gone Bad—The Remixes. This is not to be confused with last year's Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded, essentially a re-release of 2007's Good Girl Gone Bad with three extra songs tacked on. Don't good leftovers eventually go bad, as well?

road.jpg David Archuleta is taking his show on the road.

road.jpg The worst groups recognized by the NME Shockwave Awards 2009: "It's the battle of the shittest in the Worst Band category as the Jonas Brothers take on Tokio Hotel (eugh), Scouting For Girls (eek), Fall Out Boy (bleurgh) - and Oasis."

road.jpg Robbie Williams doing one more major label album, working with Mark Ronson.

road.jpg Below is the video for Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You," which made a record jump from #97 to #1 on this week's Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, subsequently ending the three-week reign of Lady GaGa's "Just Dance."


BatbFranz Ferdinand's third album, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, which finds the band moving in a more dance-oriented direction with producer Dan Carey (Kylie Minogue, Hot Chip, CSS).

Bruce Springsteen's 16th studio set, Working On A Dream. Bruce will perform at this Sunday's Super Bowl XLIII halftime show, as well as the upcoming Academy Awards.

Boombox, a collection of Kylie Minogue remixes from the past nine years' worth of singles.

Whisper House, Duncan Sheik's sixth studio album and first since winning a Tony for Broadway's Spring Awakening.

The Bird And The Bee's Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future, featuring vocals by Inara George and production by Greg Kurstin (Kylie, Lily Allen).

Coachella line-up, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Music News: Coachella, Pet Shop Boys, Kelly Clarkson, Franz Ferdinand" »

Brandon Flowers Probed by Aliens with a Thing for Camp


A hetero Mormon who has spoken out for gay rights, Brandon Flowers of The Killers has always seemed nothing but gay to me, and he doesn't stray from that distinction in the new clip for their energetic new track "Spaceman," donning modified football shoulder pad drag with the same feathered epaulets he wore for "Human" along with tights and a utility belt/codpiece. "Spaceman" meditates on alien abduction.

Flowers' tendency to look back at the 80's and 90's for his inspirations appears to be in full force here. Robbie at Chart Rigger notes a campy familiarity to Andy Bell's 1985 clip for "Heavenly Action."

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Brandon Flowers Probed by Aliens with a Thing for Camp" »


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