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Casey Jack's 'Cool Kids' video delivers punk attitude and chill vibes

Casey Jack is a singer-songwriter from Springfield, Missouri with Phil Spector-esque ambitions and an affinity for the raw, blown-out energy of punk and garage rock. Fusing these two very different impulses—plus spending a winter in Chicago writing—has resulted in a self-titled LP (out Aug. 26 on Rough Beast Records) that’s full of sharp, clever hooks and lots of ragged guitar fuzz.

The album’s lead single is called “Cool Kids.” With its rollicking power-pop arrangement and sneering lyrics about hipster conformity, it sounds something like a punk band with a down-low weakness for Oasis, while its Andy Wolff-directed video—where Jack and some friends hang out, smoke smokes, crush beers, and hang around a backwoods oasis—delivers some hazily chill Dazed and Confused vibes.

CHVRCHES bring 'Mother We Share' to Guitar Center Sessions

The eighth season of the DirectTV-based concert series Guitar Center Sessions has leaned heavily on ’90s acts like Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Damon Albarn, and Snoop Dogg, but for its penultimate episode they’ve brought in a group that’s only just started to bloom. This Sunday, Aug. 10, the show will feature Scottish trio CHVRCHES, whose debut LP, The Bones of What You Believe, has been steadily accumulating fans since it was released last fall, making them one of the more popular acts in the electropop revolution that’s leapt up from the indie underground and started taking over the pop charts.

Here’s a first look at their performance of “Mother We Share,” one of the standout songs from a catalog that’s full of exceptional pop hooks and delicious electronic production.

The Roots energize New York's Best Buy Theater

The Roots have been playing together for over 20 years—rapper Black Thought and drummer Questlove formed the group in 1992. But when they hit the stage, it’s like they just discovered how cool performing for a live audience is. They smile giddily, they giggle to each other, they jump up and down with instruments in hand. They’re doing what they want to do—and, lucky for audiences, what they want to do is wildly entertaining.

The band took the stage at New York’s Best Buy Theater Thursday to celebrate Guitar Center’s 50th anniversary, kicking off their set with a rousing performance of “Table Of Contents (Parts 1 & 2)” off their 1999 album Things Fall Apart. Sousaphonist Tuba Gooding Jr. kicked up his knees and marches across the stage as he played, often looking like he’d been transported from a 4th of July parade, and Black Thought bounced around as he rapped, addressing the audience but also sneaking glances at his bandmates every so often—ah, to be serenaded by Black Thought on a nightly basis.

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Dance-floor queen Kiesza goes acoustic to cover Nirvana

One of the most delightful singles of this summer is Kiesza’s “Hideaway,” which has been steadily climbing the charts off the strength of its very accurate emulation of the kind of club-pop that ruled radio in the early ’90s. It’s a great sound, and a great point in the retro revival cycle to specialize in it, but the Calgary-born singer appears to have more range than the average dance-floor diva.

For her installment of British music mag NME‘s Basement Sessions video series, Kiesza covers Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box,” an unexpected choice made even more surprising by the sparse arrangement of bluesy vocals and flamenco-inflected fingerpicked guitar that she brings to it.

'Billboard' Hot 100 recap: Internet rap freshens up the chart

At long last, the Hot 100, which has been jammed with just a handful of artists all summer—especially at the top—has started to break up. Like a breath of fresh air, a clutch of new songs debuted on the chart this week, including three that have benefitted greatly from the attention of obsessive internet rap fans.

The big news this week is the appearance of “Bang Bang” by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj at number 6, the second-highest Hot 100 debut of the year. It’s not surprising that the single opened strongly—Grande’s Iggy Azalea-featuring “Problem” currently sits at number 5, while her track with EDM producer Zedd, “Break Free,” rose to number 18 (from 21) this week, and Minaj’s “Pills N Potions” climbed to number 41 (from 48). While Grande and Azalea have been sort of cooperatively battling to be the biggest star of the summer, Minaj has spent the past few months waging an internet-based viral campaign. While it incorporates official singles like “Pills N Potions” and her upcoming Sir Mix-a-Lot-sampling “Anaconda, she’s been generating more buzz–especially among her more rap-leaning base–with unofficial releases alongside rappers like Soulja Boy and Lil Herb, who qualify as stars in certain corners of the hip-hop world despite the fact that the mainstream doesn’t know (or in Soulja Boy’s case, has forgotten) that they exist.

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Lorde's old band's recordings surface

It may have seemed like Lorde appeared out of nowhere as a fully formed artist when she first dropped “Royals,” but even chart-dominating pop phenoms have to get their start somewhere. You can now add And They Were Masked to the list of groups like The Quarrymen to Fecal Matter who launched the careers of major stars while remaining totally obscure themselves.

Pitchfork reports that the Auckland, New Zealand band—the recording project of two friends, Morgan Allen and Toby Arrow—released an album in 2012 that features a pre-stage-name Ella Yelich O’Connor on vocals on two songs. The group cites The Mars Volta, Fugazi, and art-rock outfit Battles as influences on their Facebook page, and Characters, the album she appears on, is fittingly a proggy affair with lots of fractured arrangements and electronic flourishes. “Piece of Mind,” the one song that she provides lead vocals on, has a slanted drum part, a growling bass line, and a tense guitar figure that sound a world away from the lean, tightly focused, hip hop-inspired pop that would make her a star just over a year later, but it should work for anyone inhabiting the overlapping segment of a Venn diagram of Lorde fans and post-hardcore prog rockers.

Hustle and Drone live out their hoop dreams in 'The Glow' video

Ryan Neighbors played keyboards for the proggy rock band Portugal. The Man until 2012, when he left to form the synth-heavy power trio Hustle and Drone. After a spending the past couple years woodshedding in Portland, the group is preparing to release their first LP, HOLYLAND, September 2 on Red Bull Sound Select.

The album’s lead single, “The Glow,” has the fist-pumping energy of an arena-rock anthem, so it makes sense that the group shot its video in the Moda Center, home to the Portland Trail Blazers, fulfilling what Neighbors calls “a childhood dream.” The clip features high-flying, slam-dunking luchadores and a whole lot of fake blood, not to mention enough synthesizers to stock a Guitar Center keyboard section.

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Beyonce will perform at the VMAs and receive its Video Vanguard Award

Continuing her utter dominance of the pop zeitgeist, Beyoncé, Queen of Earth, will both perform at the upcoming MTV Video Music Awards and receive its highest honor, the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. Previous winners include Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Guns N’ Roses, U2, and Michael Jackson himself. Beyoncé has won a total of 11 Video Music Awards, both as a solo artist and as a member of Destiny’s Child, although she’s proven herself capable of making pop-cultural history even when she loses.

The VMAs will air live on MTV on August 24 at 9 p.m. Usher, Ariana Grande, 5 Seconds of Summer and Maroon 5 will also perform.

Hasidic female band Bulletproof Stockings to play women-only show

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Hasidic Judaism prohibits men from listening to women sing, but that’s not stopping Hasidic female rock band Bulletproof Stockings from putting on concerts—they just have to make sure men don’t come.

Bulletproof Stockings are playing a show Thursday night in New York at Arlene’s Grocery, a 150-person venue, but are closing the venue’s doors to men. “We were hesitant, because of their limited experience in the NYC live scene, and the fact that we would have to turn men away from the band room during their set,” Arlene’s Grocery’s general manager Julia Darling told the Wall Street Journal.

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Petition for Weird Al to play the Super Bowl reaches 50k signatures

Weird Al Yankovic could be this year’s Super Bowl halftime performer, if some determined fans have their way.

Ed Ball created a petition on change.org to have Yankovic play the Super Bowl, and as of Thursday morning, the petition has gotten over 50,000 signatures. “The theatrics alone would be hilarious and a welcoming change,” Ball wrote, “and draw a wider audience of fans that typically would not tune into the championship game or half-time show.”

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