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Zeus gives '70s soft rock a fuzzed-out twist on '27 Is the New 17'

With the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack recently winning both the top spot on the Billboard 200 album chart and a place in the hearts of the movie’s surprisingly enthusiastic legion of fans, ’70s soft rock is once again back in vogue. That’s good news for Toronto band Zeus, whose upcoming third album, boldly entitled Classic Zeus (out Sept. 2 on Arts and Crafts), draws from a wide range of influences but leans particularly hard on a similar strain of AM gold.

Classic Zeus offers a look inside the minds of a group that has matured greatly over the past few years, and particularly so during a bumpy period of time after their last album that brought them to the verge of breaking up. It’s weighty material, but for their latest single, “27 is the New 17,” they lighten things up with a presentation that resembles a fuzzy, indie-fied take on ELO’s brand of effervescent psychedelic pop.

Hear Chilean singer-songwriter Yael Meyer's 'Human Divine'

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When Chilean singer-songwriter Yael Meyer began working on the song “Human Divine,” it was “much more mellow and acoustic track than it is on the record,” she writes. “I wrote it late and night and recorded a very rough demo of it and you could hear the keyboard making this really cool clicking sound that kind of made it sound like there was a beat underneath the song. So even though it was very mellow song, the implied beat made gave me the feeling that maybe this could be a dance song.”

The end result is bouncy, ebullient electropop that should appeal to the considerable number of people who are still waiting for Grimes to write another “Oblivion.” It also contains a timely, uplifting lyrical message: “You always hear in the news about the worst possible things happening in the world,” Meyer writes, “because that’s what sells, and that generates a fear-based society built on the idea that everything that happens is horrible. But I believe that there is a balance between good and evil. Yes, there is a lot of bad stuff happening, but there are also a lot of people doing good and it makes me believe that really good is leading the way after all.”

Meyer’s Warrior Heart drops Sept. 16 on KLI Records.

Arcade Fire -- and an Obama impersonator -- cover Fugazi

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Canadian indie arena rockers the Arcade Fire have been making headlines during their Reflektor tour by busting out a new cover song at each stop, usually performed with at least some of the people on stage wearing giant papier mâché heads. So far they’ve done songs by everyone from Neil Young to Huey Lewis, and last night they added hardcore legends Fugazi to the list. During a performance in Washington, D.C., the group gave a fairly straightforward reading to the 1988 anthem “Waiting Room” and adding an enormously bobbleheaded Obama impersonator to the on-stage roster that already included a skeleton, a TV-headed man, and singer Win Butler wearing a Win Butler mask.

The Killers cover Iggy Azalea's 'Fancy'

The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers turned Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” into a Killers song—complete with interpretative dance by drummer Ronnie Vannucci, Jr.—at the band’s Saturday V Festival performance in England.
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HBO debuts trailer for Beyonce and Jay Z concert doc

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If “Bang Bang” isn’t the song of the summer, it’s at least the chosen song title of the summer: There’s Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, and Jessie J’s “Bang Bang,” Macy Gray’s “Bang Bang,” and now, Beyoncé’s cover of “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” by Cher and previously covered by Nancy Sinatra.

The singer serenades husband Jay Z with the cover in a new trailer for HBO’s upcoming special about the pair’s “On the Run” tour. She shoots finger guns at the rapper as she sings; he responds by dramatically blowing cigar smoke into the air. The scene is filmed in black and white, and then suddenly, we’re transported from that world into the real world of Bey and Jay: Specifically, their energetic, colorful sold-out arena shows.
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Meet Profound Lore Records founder Chris Bruni, the face of modern metal

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Next week sees the release of Foundations of Burden, the second album by Arkansas-bred doom metal band Pallbearer. Their first album, 2012’s Sorrow and Extinction, was a critically-beloved collection of heavy tunes that not only announced the arrival of a great act but also cemented Pallbearer’s label, Profound Lore Records, as the best source of new material for headbangers everywhere.

The 10-year-old label, based out of Kitchener, Ontario, has put out a staggeringly excellent series of releases by some of the best groups currently working in the extremely fertile metal underground. Just this year, Profound Lore has released stellar collections from Lord Mantis, the Atlas Moth, Alraune, Dead Congregation, and the Must List-approved Agalloch. Pallbearer comes out next week, with a new album by Witch Mountain not far behind. These bands dig deep into metal subgenres, conjuring up remarkable darkness via black metal, death metal, prog, hardcore, folk, and whatever else is available to get the turned-to-11 point across.

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Skrillex's label OWSLA releases 20-song bundle on BitTorrent

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OWSLA, the record label founded by Sonny Moore (a.k.a. Skrillex) and business partners Tim Smith (Skrillex’s manager / owner of management company Blood Company), Kathryn Frazier (owner of publicity firm Biz 3), and Clayton Blaha (Biz 3), is turning three.

Since throwing a rave, having an all-night warehouse party, or putting on a sold-out show might be too much like any other day, the label is celebrating by partnering with BitTorrent to release a bundle of 20 of the label’s most notable and new releases with music from Skrillex, Zedd, Dillon Francis, Jack Beats, Kill The Noise, Alex Metric and many more (full list below). It also includes Kill Paris, Hundred Waters, and KOAN Sound videos and a selection of artwork, along with some shopping discount codes, giveaways, and a free one-month subscription to OWSLA’s Drip.FM service.

Stream the mix below or download here—highlights include Snails + Antiserum “Wild” (track no. 8), Jack Beats “Beatbox” (track no. 11), and What So Not “Jaguar” (track no. 12).


Skrillex will tour this fall with a wide roster of performers including (but not limited to!) A$AP Ferg, DJ Snake, Big Gigantic, DJ Mustard, GTA, Tchami, Nadastrom, Kaytranada, Tokimonsta, along with OWSLA labelmates David Heartbreak, Valentino Khan, and Alesia.

Skrillex and Diplo will perform under their Jack U moniker at Electric Zoo over Labor Day Weekend.

Full Track List:

01. Zedd: “Shotgun”

02. Dillon Francis: “Falling Up”

03. Birdy Nam Nam: “Going In’ / Skrillex Goin’ Hard Remix”

04. Support OWSLA

05. Yogi: “Burial,” ft. Pusha T

06. Valentino Khan: “Make Some Noise”

07. Moody Good: “Hotplate,” ft. Knytro

08. Snails + Antiserum: “Wild”

09. David Heartbreak: “Rebel / Trollphace Remix”

10. Alex Metric: “Rave Weapon”

11. Jack Beats: “Beatbox”

12. What So Not: “Jaguar”

13. Henry Fong: “Stand Up / Milo & Otis Remix”

14. Hundred Waters: “Xtalk”

15. Seven Lions: “Days to Come,” ft. Fiora

16. KOAN Sound: “Introvert”

17. The M Machine: “Ghosts In The Machine”

18. Alesia: “Andrea”

19. Kill The Noise: “Saturn / GTA Remix”

20. TC: “Get Down Low / Silverback Remix”

21. Phonat: “Identity Theft”

Watch the latest video from Meshell Ngedeocello, 'Shopping for Jazz'

Meshell Ndegeocello has had a remarkably long and successful career in the music industry for someone who’s steadfastly refused to fit in one of the easily recognizable categories that that usually entails. Since the late ’80s, she’s dabbled in pretty much every genre imaginable, from roots rock to techno. (Trivia tidbit: She got her start in the funk-heavy D.C. go-go scene.)

Her latest single, “Shopping for Jazz,” dabbles in several distinctly disparate styles at once, combining a bossa nova foundation with a country slide guitar and slinky soul vocals. It’s the first video from her new album, Comet, Come to Me, which features contributions from a fittingly broad range of guests including Amp Fiddler, Doyle Bramhall, and My Brightest Diamond.

Ndegeocello will start touring behind Comet in September. You can find her itinerary here.

J. Cole releases Michael Brown tribute 'Be Free'

Rapper J. Cole is best known for writing songs about lightweight subjects like girls and how tough it is to be a popular and successful rapper, but he’s also proven himself capable of handling heavier topics. On Friday, he became the first major artist to release a song in response to the Michael Brown shooting. “Be Free,” which he posted to SoundCloud early this morning, is a solemn meditation on violence directed at young black men, driven by a looping electric piano figure and a compellingly raw vocal performance that weaves between melodic rapping and straight-up singing.

“Tired of seeing black boys killed,” he wrote in an email to his publicist that she included in her own email about the song. “Tired of seeing black men killed. No more being numb to it. Made this yesterday. Not gonna wait for the album to put it out. It’s now. peace[.]“


This week in Diplo: Banning Kandi, new Jack U and the Mad Decent Block Party rolls on

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Before we get to the wheres and the hows, let’s answer the age-old question: What is a Diplo?

Diplo is a DJ (playing upwards of 300 shows per year), producer (working with Usher, Snoop Lion, Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne, No Doubt, Beyonce, Madonna, Pharrell, plus more), rapper, songwriter, one half of Jack U (the other half being Skrillex), previously one half (the other half having been Switch) but now one-third of Major Lazer (the other two-thirds being DJs Jillionaire and Walshy Fire), spokesman (Blackberry), Mad Decent label founder (artists include Dillon Francis, Flosstradamus, Baauer, plus many more), the inspiration behind an Adult Swim cartoon on Cartoon Network (well, alright, it’s a Major Lazer cartoon), entrepreneur, and sometimes model (hello, Alexander Wang campaign). And the list goes on. It has, most likely, expanded since I began typing this.

(Almost two years ago in a GQ interview Diplo, born Thomas Wesley Pentz, called himself “a cultural distributor.” I could have stuck with that.)

To keep track of it all, each week, we’re going to amuse ourselves recounting his various cultural distributions.

Heading into last weekend, Diplo banned kandi from his Mad Decent Block Party tour. (His most recent statement can be found here.) Some people got pretty mad, but Diplo apologized:

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He then pointed out an alternative to those most upset and got on with playing four kandi-free and completely sold-out sets in three days.

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He spent Friday with his favorite Philadelphia ravers,

Saturday with a few of his nearest and dearest New Yorkers out on Coney Island,

and Saturday 2.0 at the MDBP after-party at Webster Hall. Katy Perry was there.

Sunday, the MDBP crew rolled over to Boston, where the venue was less than ideal but the party pressed on.

On the non-live music front: BBC1 Radio broadcast a recent set from Diplo’s residency at XS Nightclub at the Wynn Hotel, Las Vegas, and what did listeners hear at the 29:50 mark? A new Jack U track. He’d discussed the duo’s new mix-tape during a recent Reddit session, and if this tune is any indication of what’s in store, we’re all in for a seriously  good time.

Somehow, he also found time to get to the studio with this group…

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and this one…

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And then curated a SoundCloud “Random White Dude Be On Kiis FM” mix (it’s awesome) in his free time. Feel free to start your weekend early, stream it here.

The Mad Decent Block Party continues this weekend with stops in Toronto, Detroit and Las Vegas. A full list of tour dates and locations can be found here.

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