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Jack White ventures into publishing

Third-Man-Books

Jack White’s Third Man Records has made its name on compellingly ambiguous projects that exist in a sort of quantum superposition of established formats: a record store that’s also a recording studio, a box set that’s also a piece of furniture. The company has just announced that it’s moving into the publishing world with the first release from its Third Man Books imprint, and as should be expected, the “book” that it’s putting out isn’t just a book.

Language Lessons: Volume I has its bookish aspects—in particular, a 321-page hardbound anthology of prose and poetry co-edited by poet/musician Chet Weise and Third Man co-founder Ben Swank that includes award-winning writers like Dale Ray Phillips, C.D. Wright, and Adrian Matejka. It also includes five prints of poems illustrated by underground comics artist Jim Blanchard and Tim Kerr, the former guitarist for Texan hardcore pioneers Big Boys. And to take the project to the level of complexity that Third Man is famous for, the “book” also includes a compilation album that includes contributions from such diverse artists as trash-rockers Destruction Unit and legendary avant-jazz saxophonist Ken Vandermark.

The set, which retails for $50, arrives on shelves August 5 and is available for pre-order now.

Q&A: Neneh Cherry is 'never really worried about being trendy'

Twenty-six years ago, Neneh Cherry turned the pop world on its ear with her single “Buffalo Stance,” which whipped pop, R&B, punk, and two genres—hip-hop and dance music—that at the time had just started to emerge as distinct musical movements into an addictively danceable froth. The song made it almost all the way to No. 1 on the Hot 100, thanks to its infinitely catchy chorus—a sneak diss at a materialistic ex—but mainstream listeners didn’t know exactly what to do with Cherry’s experimental ways and protean identity. She followed up her debut, Raw Like Sushi (which “Buffalo Stance” made into an unlikely hit) with an album where she collaborated with both Michael Stipe and the Notorious B.I.G., and a confused public quickly bailed.

Cherry maintained an underground following, though, and they stuck around while she spent over a decade in semi-retirement. In 2012, she re-emerged with an energetic collaboration with the Scandinavian free jazz combo The Thing, and earlier this year she released Blank Project, recorded alongside the British electronic duo RocketNumberNine and dance music experimentalist Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet), that felt like a quieter, more mature continuation of the work she did at the beginning of her career. At the same time, that early work has become more influential than ever as a generation of young artists have rediscovered Raw‘s brilliant genre-blindness and made it their own.

Over the weekend, Cherry performed at the Pitchfork Music Festival, and afterward EW sat down with her to talk about her legacy, her comeback, and the process that drives it all.

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Chippy Nonstop unveils her dirty-cute single 'Peeka'

Rapper and burgeoning pop star Chippy Nonstop resides in Los Angeles, but it might be more accurate to say she lives on the Internet, where she’s amassed an army of fans on Twitter and other social networking platforms through virally popular singles like “Money Dance” and “Kicked Out Da Club.” The latter single perfectly sums up both her sound (club rap with an emphasis on regional styles like Bay Area hyphy) and her philosophy (which is YOLO to the extreme).

Her latest single is called “Peeka,” which pairs a buzzy, bass-heavy beat with pitch-shifted vocals that use the name of the most popular Pokemon character as a euphemism for a very non-G-rated act. She says that it was recorded in just one day, and that, “I want my fans to have this song for the summer time to dance outside their homes in the sprinklers in.” As I write this, those fans are feverishly posting memes in anticipation of its release, so without further ado, here it is.

White Arrows get electro-psychedelic with 'We Can't Ever Die'

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Los Angeles quintet White Arrows are indie rockers with big pop ambitions and a whole bunch of synthesizers. This combination has earned them spots on tours with taste-making bands like Cults and White Denim and slots at big festivals like Coachella and Sasquatch. After several years of touring behind their debut album, Dry Land Is Not A Myth, they’ve finally followed it up with In Bardo, out Sept. 16 on Votiv. On the lead single, “We Can’t Ever Die,” funky, disco-inflected verses segue smoothly into arena-worthy hooks that sound like a modern, not-annoying reincarnation of U2, with the whole thing decorated with burbling 8-bit-style synths. They’re on tour with the Neighbourhood and Danny Brown through the end of the month.

Hear Claude VonStroke's acid-drenched banger 'CaliFuture'

Claude VonStroke has spent the decade pushing dance music’s boundaries while maintaining a strong link to the style’s roots, something a lot of bigger EDM acts just don’t have. On his latest, “CaliFuture,” he fuses the gnarly, squelching synths of vintage Chicago acid house with a funky vocal line that sounds like it could have been lifted right off some super-rare ’80s electro 12-inch.

“I moved to California over 17 years ago with big dreams just like everyone else,” VonStroke says of the song’s lyrical theme. “Originally I thought I would be a filmmaker but I was always better at music. I worked every job from fake perfume salesman to tour guide at Paramount. I got screamed at for many years by Ari Gold-type movie producers but always with a blind belief that someday something good would happen. That’s what this song is about: the underlying belief that no matter how bad it is, you can be plucked out of oblivion and make it big in California.”

"CaliFuture" is available now on Beatport.

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Diplo's new remix turns the lights on Lorde's 'Tennis Court'

Globetrotting DJ/super-producer Diplo was one of the first big artists to give Lorde a co-sign, and judging by their social media presences, the two have remained buddies throughout her rapid ascent into pop’s A-list. Today the two took their friendship to the next level with the release of “Diplo’s Andre Agassi Reebok Pump Mix” of “Tennis Court,” the opening track from Lorde’s breakthrough album Pure Heroine.

The original (currently at No. 78 on the Billboard Hot 100) juxtaposes huge vocal hooks, a gothy minimalist synthesizer arrangement, and some precociously over-it lyrics. Diplo being Diplo, his remix splashes neon light over Lorde’s brooding pop with pitch-bending keyboard arpeggios that candy ravers will go cuckoo over.













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Pitchfork Music Festival was more than just indie rock

The online music magazine Pitchfork is synonymous with indie rock, but as it’s grown in reputation and influence it has also branched out stylistically to give nearly equal space to rap, metal, dance music, and other genres that aren’t based on fuzzy, jangly guitars. (Full disclosure: I was a regular contributor there until recently.) This year’s installment of its annual music festival was a reflection of that diversity, and of the expanding listening habits of the contemporary counterculture.

One of the first performers to take the stage on Friday night was Neneh Cherry, whose 1989 Raw Like Sushi was an unprecedented collision of pop, punk, R&B, rap, and dance music, and whose “Buffalo Stance” remains one of the best singles of the ’80s. Since she came out of retirement in 2012 she’s traded the brashness of her early years for a subtler approach, particularly on her most recent album, Blank Project, where she traded the hard-edged beats she built her career from for an emphasis on texture. Her performance, backed by the group RocketNumberNine, used the same approach, peaking with a rendition of “Buffalo Stance” that was considerably softer and smoother than the original, but still delivered the same crowd-moving energy.

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Image Credit: Barry Brecheisen/AP

While Cherry may have moved on from her ’80s template, there were a number of performers over the weekend who are working from the style-crossing template she created. Kelela is an R&B artist who songs over propulsive beats by dance music producers who occupy some of the genre’s darker corners. While her collaborators still reside in the underground, the massive crowd at her side-stage performance indicates that she’s on her way to a much larger audience. FKA Twigs also brought a big crowd to the smaller stage for a set of heady electronic R&B that pulls from a variety of sources–from Houston rap to the post-dubstep UK dance scene–and ends up sounding like a batch of Aaliyah songs drifting psychedelically through outer space.

R&B is a recent addition to the festival. Hip-hop, on the other hand, has been a part of it nearly from the start, but never to the extent that it was this year. Danny Brown and Pusha T both delivered performances from one of the big stages on Saturday that overflowed with sing-along hooks and swagger. Brown has spent most of his time since 2011′s XXX blew up on the road, and onstage he delivers energy as tightly focused as his raps.

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Image Credit: Barry Brecheisen / AP

Rap dominated Sunday, with performances by up and comer Isaiah Rashad, Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt, and Schoolboy Q in quick succession, the latter two back to back on the big stage, which hasn’t happened before at the Pitchfork Festival. Kendrick Lamar closed out the festival on Sunday night, which was another first. Backed by a full band and some gorgeous cinematic visuals he blasted through a set of already-classics from his 2013 Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City to a crowd several times the size of the one he played to from the side stage at the 2012 Pitchfork Festival. In scale, ambition, and crowd response it was the biggest set of the festival, its one true rock-star moment.

Dance music still isn’t Pitchfork’s strong suit, and lackluster sets by Jon Hopkins and Hudson Mohawke never quite ignited. But the genre did provide the most moving moment of the weekend, during a Sunday afternoon performance by Chicago producer DJ Spinn, whose creative partner DJ Rashad died in April. Spinn and Rashad are to of the most important figures in a style called footwork, and Spinn brought out a stage full of footwork dancers—whose speed and acrobatic dexterity can seem almost superhuman—to accompany him. It felt something like a wake, and a celebration not only of the music that he devoted his life to but the very power of music to make us move, sometimes in extraordinary ways.

Video: Cats make synthesizer jams for Self's 'Runaway'

Matt Mahaffey has been making synth-heavy pop music under the name Self for nearly 20 years while also freelancing for a diverse range of artists including Pink, Lupe Fiasco, and Beck. Next week he’ll release Super Fake Nice, his first new album since his 2005′s album Porno, Mint, & Grime. Since then the Internet has grown considerably, and so has its role in promoting new music.

Mahaffey’s obviously been paying attention. “I’ve always fancied myself a person who’s ahead of the curve,” he says, “and with this video, I really think that making videos of cats is going to catch fire on the internets. I wasn’t available to be at my own video shoot and I refuse to allow my band to have a moment in the sun without me so we hired this rad cat band that I’ve been a fan of for a while.” Who knows? Maybe this crazy idea of putting cute cat videos online will catch on.

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Video: Jack White covers Jay Z's '99 Problems' live

In the middle of launching his latest run of North American tour dates at Louisville’s Forecastle Festival Saturday night, Jack White  pulled a cover of Jay Z’s “99 Problems” out of a transition from The White Stripes “Icky Thump.”

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Video: Robyn and Royksopp join the revolution in 'Do It Again'

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When you think of frequent Scandinavian collaborators Robyn and Röyksopp, you probably imagine thumping club beats, or maybe even lighter, more ballad-like fare. Point is, you might not expect the Swedish and Norwegian team to score the music of a revolution.

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