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Listen: Jamie xx's new soul-expanding solo track 'Sleep Sound'

When it comes to atmospheric electronic music, there can be precious little difference between songs that seem crafted for the lobby of a W hotel or an expensive pair of headphones, or for grazing your very soul.

When Jamie xx, the drummer for the xx and a Grammy-winning producer and remixer for  artists ranging from Alicia Keys to Radiohead, makes his own music—an all to rare occurrence; he’s only released two solo songs, and did that way back in 2011—they very much get all up in your inner being. Just bare your psyche to “Sleep Sound,” one half of his “double A-side” single due in May:

If this song were a massage, it would start off reiki, progress to Swedish, and finally dig right into your pressure points, Thai-style. Allow it alleviate your stress over not being able to get into The xx’s life-changing, sold-out Armory shows happening now in New York.

Lena Dunham directs new Bleachers video for 'I Wanna Get Better' -- watch it here

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The Bleachers video for “I Wanna Get Better” feels a lot like an episode of Girls: emotional discord and screwed-up relationships set against a backdrop of real-world apartments and therapists’ offices — and of course, random celebrity cameos.

The clip opens with lead singer Jack Antonoff (also the bassist of fun., and the real-life boyfriend of Ms. Dunham) chasing after his girlfriend as she storms out of the house, leaving him for good. “This is crazy; we’re, like, not even awake yet,” he whines. “Come back inside and I’ll make you an espresso.” But she’s not going to be placated, and his day is downhill from there.

Antonoff arrives at his psychiatric practice with coffee on his crotch and a bevy of disgruntled clients to see — played by actors like Retta from Parks & Rec and Mary Kay Place from Big Love. Everyone’s screaming “I Wanna Get Better,” (which should definitely be the theme song for GIRLS):

Anyway, watch the clip here:

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Wu-Tang Clan to release one copy of new album, sell it for millions

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When Wu-Tang Clan does something, they do it all the way. Case in point: The group’s crazy secret new album strategy that the world learned about yesterday in an extensive Forbes story.

As the product’s official website indicates, the legendary rap team’s stealthy new record is called The Wu – Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. There’ll only be one copy of the album… like, ever. It’ll be grandly “presented in a hand carved nickel-silver box designed by the British Moroccan artist Yahya,” and yes, it looks as fancy as it sounds. Before that one copy is sold, though, civilians can listen to the album when it embarks on an ambitious tour of museums, galleries, festivals, and other such happenings around the world. Then after that, the item will go up for sale, with an expected price range somewhere in the multi-millions.

Deep breath, guys:

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Fleetwood Mac return with Christine McVie for the first time in nearly 15 years

For years, the members of Fleetwood Mac have been touring as Fleetwood Mac, but hardcore fans have been missing one thing: Keyboardist Christine McVie, who hasn’t been with the group since 1998.

But now she’s back, and the classic Mac lineup—McVie, Stevie Nicks, Lindsay Buckingham, John McVie, and Mick Fleetwood—has new music and is headed out on the road again. Dates are still coming together, but the first show will be September 29 in Minneapolis.

McVie and Buckingham are working on new songs for an album, which would be the first recording with the classic Fleetwood Mac lineup since Tango In The Night, which came out all the way back in 1987.

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What would Kurt Cobain's music sound like today?

In the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, I ruminate over the anniversary of the death of one of the last great rock stars with a simple question: Had he not died in April 1994, what might Kurt Cobain’s music have sounded like now?

In order to find some possible answers, I talked to Cobain’s friends and collaborators about his potential musical directions; the master playlist craftspeople at Beats Audio took those cues and built a batch of songs that help extrapolate what Cobain might have sounded like had he lived.

“Cobain always seemed like an old soul and I agree that he would have continued to explore more acoustic music, as opposed to electric,” says Beats’ Scott Plagenhoef. “He wrote personal lyrics but they were opaque and non-linear and he never wrote narratives. There is also a temptation to assume major creative forces like Cobain would remain progressive into their older age but the fact of the matter is that was never a quality that he displayed even during his lifetime. There is no indication he would have embraced electronic music, for example.”

The playlist includes a handful of tracks that seem like inevitable Cobain compositions (Elliott Smith’s “Waltz No. 2 (XO),” Wilco’s “How To Fight Loneliness,” The White Stripes’ “We’re Going To Be Friends”), as well as some reasonable stretches (EMA’s “California,” Cat Power’s “He War,” Lambchop’s “My Face Your Ass”). Spin the whole thing here while you consider what might have been.

What do you think Kurt Cobain would have sounded like in 2014? Let us know in the comments.

Summerfest in Milwaukee: Joan Jett, New Order and more join Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, OutKast in lineup

Milwaukee’s Summerfest has announced their full line-up for the 2014 festival, taking place over two weeks from June 25 to July 6. They have previously announced that the headliners would be Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Brad Paisley, OutKast with Gary Clark Jr., Dave Matthews Band, Zac Brown Band, MÖTLEY CRÜE with Alice Cooper and Fall Out Boy and Paramore.

Now to the list they’ve added Joan Jett, Nas, New Order, Rise Against, Neon Trees, Tegan and Sara, Kool & the Gang, Cheap Trick, Bleachers, Bonnie Raitt, and dozens more.

It’s basically everybody– literally; DJ Pauly D is there — in the pool; click here to see the full lineup.

 

Puff Daddy returns with 'Big Homie': Hear it here!

Hot off the heels of re-christening himself Puff Daddy, the man born Sean Combs (also known as Diddy, P. Diddy, Puffy, Shiny Suit Man, One of Dave Chappelle’s Best Impressions, and that guy who is always on top of the Forbes Richest Musicians List despite not making very much music) has a new single called “Big Homie.” It was supposed to drop on Monday, but the streets couldn’t wait, as they say.

“Big Homie” features French Montana and Rick Ross, and the latter is clearly the biggest influence on Puff’s current sound: It’s big, it’s badass-sounding, and it leans into that signature monster plod. But while Ross’ penchant for rapping just behind the beat always sounds like a conscious decision (not even the power of rhythm can move the Bawse), Puff just sounds slightly inept (which is a pretty accurate description of his career-long rhyme style). Everybody is going hard, but by surrounding himself with high-impact blasters in Montana and Ross, Puff highlights the oomph his rapping has always lacked.

Still, “Big Homie” is a reasonable enough return to form for Puff Daddy that it should spark plenty of curiosity for his upcoming album MMM. And props to him for that line “The only one that’s topping Forbes/I’m getting lonely.” Listen to “Big Homie” below.

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'This Is A Trent Reznor Song' now has a Nine Inch Nails-biting video

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A few weeks ago, a dude named Frederick Scott tickled Nine Inch Nails fans with “This Is A Trent Reznor Song,” a loving tribute to the NIN frontman’s songwriting and performance tics. It was awesome, and one of the better musical parodies on the entirety of the Internet.

Now comes the next stage: Scott’s video for “This Is A Trent Reznor Song,” which borrows elements from the clips for Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” and “The Hand That Feeds.” Once again Scott nails it, with the same kind of video effects from “The Hand That Feeds” and the commitment to spooky photography and weird lighting from the classic “Closer.”

It’s a little more outwardly funny than the song itself—the reaction shot Scott gives to the bottle of milk is particularly fantastic—but it still retains the same kind of reverence for Reznor’s work as the track.

Check out the video below. And while you’re at it, check out some of the clips from Nine Inch Nails’ Tension tour, one of the better live music experiences from last year.

 

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West Coast rap rises again: YG, Sage the Gemini, Schoolboy Q, and more

Twenty years ago this spring, Warren G released Regulate…G Funk Era, a triple-platinum album that helped enshrine the louche, laid-back sound of West Coast  hip-hop—“funked out with a gangsta twist,” as his homey Nate Dogg put it. But that era soon fizzled, and after Tupac was killed in ’96, the California scene met with a different funk: years-long commercial doldrums. Only the Game, a  Dr. Dre protégé whose three No. 1 albums are thick with early-to-mid-’90s nostalgia, broke through in the meantime. But the gin-and-juice hangover finally seems to be lifting, as gritty California rappers sidestep or reinvent G-funk and barge back into the mainstream.

Earlier this month, South Central L.A. rapper Schoolboy Q went to No. 1 with his shadowy, ferocious third album, Oxymoron. As the resident gangsta in the Black Hippy collective led by Kendrick Lamar—last year’s most obsessed-over rapper—Q brings a sharp new ambivalence to Tupac’s idea of the thug life. He raps not only about dealing Oxycontin  but also about becoming addicted to Xanax, Percocet, and Valium. On the harrowing “Prescription/Oxymoron,” he even splices in a recording of his young daughter trying to wake him from a drug stupor.

If the dazzling shape-shifter Kendrick is on L.A.’s frontier, the gruff, brutally honest Schoolboy Q represents the West Coast’s uncompromising core. “Real Crippy since I hopped off the swing” is how he sums up his early gang links on “The Purge,” which deliberately teams him with ’90s California notable Kurupt and Odd Future’s Tyler, the Creator (whose crew remains more underground, breakout R&B star Frank Ocean aside). Still, Q doesn’t take himself too seriously: On “Studio,” Oxymoron’s wry love song, he skips the sex “metaphors” and explicitly mimics what else he can do with his tongue.

When YG (pictured)—a Compton upstart with a rugged major-label debut, My Krazy Life, and a long simmering top 20 single, “My Hitta”—reveals his romantic side, he’s no less blunt or amusing. “Do It to Ya” borrows its pillow talk from the playground, and its convivial groove from “Let’s Play House” by Tha Dogg Pound. YG’s less evolved than Schoolboy Q, who guests on Krazy along with Kendrick and big names including Drake and Jeezy, his mentor. But he’s a vivid, unflappable MC, bolstered by key L.A. producer DJ Mustard, the buoyant minimalist who also worked up Tyga’s 2011 smash “Rack City.” If there’s a Compton sound right now, this is it.

The Bay Area’s just as crucial to West Coast hip-hop, of course. 100s, a permed pimp-rap revivalist from Berkeley, pays tribute to Too $hort on the silky, slightly ridiculous mixtape Ivry. But the region’s latest star is the 21-year-old rapper-producer Sage the Gemini. Remember Me, his club-tailored major-label bow, shores up his two radio smashes, the stripped-down twerk anthems “Red Nose” and “Gas Pedal,” with a stream of pulsing beats and drowsy vocals. “I’m trying to keep this here alive,” he raps, calling himself “the Bay’s respirator” on the (actually pretty great) Justin Bieber remix of “Gas Pedal.” But  this isn’t thug life support. The California rap contingent has birthed a whole new era.

Chris Martin and Cat Power pair up for song in Zach Braff's new movie -- EXCLUSIVE

Zach Braff has another song that will change your life. He swears.

Braff filled Garden State, his 2004 directorial debut, with infectious tunes from the Shins, Simon & Garfunkel, and Coldplay. Wish I Was Here, his directorial followup — which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and hits theaters across the country this summer — is similarly packed with cool music, including original songs from the Shins and Bon Iver.

But Sundance audiences weren’t privy to the final piece to Braff’s eclectic soundtrack. “We also have an original song sung by Cat Power, written by Chris Martin,” Braff says. “It wasn’t ready yet for [Sundance]. It’s the title song of the movie. It’s one of the most amazing songs ever.”

Wish I Was Here debuts in New York and Los Angeles July 18. The film opens in additional cities July 25.

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