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Synthpop surrealists Baathhaus unveil the video for 'Ascension'

 Chicago quartet Baathhaus combines the transgressive glam surrealism of Lady Gaga with a synthpop sound redolent of vintage Erasure, New Order, and other popular acts at retro night at your local gay dance club. Over the past couple of years, they’ve started to accumulate the kind of cult following that an over-the-top theatrical pop band whose multimedia identity feels equally indebted to David Bowie and John Waters deserves, and as their audience has grown, their production values have increased to match.

Last week the group unveiled a new single, “Ascension,” on their SoundCloud, and now they’re ready to unveil the accompanying video. Unlike most Baathhaus productions, “Ascension” features no explosions of fake blood or glitter, but the band’s portrayal of a bourgeois suburban family and its teen daughter’s prom date is fraught with psychological tension. Member Dan Foley says, “The music video turns the lens on an everyday situation and shows us the dense and complex layers that can live inside of one simple moment. Longing, lust, anxiety, and the thrill of anticipation fill the quiet rooms of a suburban home and provide the perfect backdrop for the lush and shimmering pop of ‘Ascension.’”

Watch the exclusive video below.

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Beck: On the scene at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom

A few months back, I had the distinct pleasure of receiving a phone call from Beck. The connection wasn’t great, though I chalked that up to the fact that he was calling me from a parallel universe—one that was not wholly unlike the one I exist in, but both slightly more contemplative and way more funky.

We discussed the artists, albums, and songs that have informed his life, and more than once he brought up British death metal band Carcass (whose Surgical Steel was one of my favorite albums of 2013). He seemed mostly charmed by their insane-sounding song titles (“Cadaveric Incubator of Endoparasites” was a favorite), but based on Beck’s show at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom on Monday night, he also digs Carcass because, when given the chance, he likes to shred. READ FULL STORY

Rapper-turned-popster Kitty unveils new video for 'Marijuana'

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The Florida-born, NYC-based musician Kitty used to go by the name Kitty Pryde, and she used to be a rapper. Her 2012 song “Okay Cupid” was a pretty massive viral hit (its official video has nearly a million and a half views on YouTube) that brought her a decent amount of acclaim amidst an epic amount of hate from people who saw a young female rapper who didn’t seem interested in rapping about things that grouchy hip-hop fans are necessarily into as a sign of the impending apocalypse (or something).

Kitty still raps, but she’s broadened her overall approach and started moving toward straight-up pop, which considering the sing-songy flow she’s been showing off since “Okay Cupid” isn’t too drastic a leap. Last month she released an EP called Impatiens, which she quickly followed up with a new track, “Marijuana,” that now has a video. It’s her most successful stab at a pop song yet, with a bubbly, laid-back beat that fits the title well, plus a vocal part that ups the melodic quotient while still retaining just enough hip-hop inflection to make the track snap. The end result is a special kind of summer jam that forgoes the celebratory grooves that typify the genre in favor of an effortless chill that can act as mental air conditioning during ridiculously hot and humid days, which should come in handy very soon.

Check it out after the jump. READ FULL STORY

Robyn and Royksopp turn the Hollywood Bowl into a Swedish dance party

At the Hollywood Bowl on Sunday night, Robyn performed like one of her pop symphonies come to life. She never stopped moving, just like her songs that build up to a manic beat, and she poured emotion into every word, just like the poignant lyrics that belie her music’s mainstream sound. And she had the perfect partners in crime for her musical mission: Robyn is touring with fellow Scandinavians Royksopp to support their mini-album Do It Again, the first joint project from the frequent collaborators. READ FULL STORY

Busta Rhymes and Eminem drop 'Calm Down'

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Earlier today, Busta Rhymes dropped a new single, “Calm Down,” which finds the head-banging hip-hop iconoclast facing off against fellow veteran MC Eminem over the span of nearly six minutes atop a clangorous beat by Scoop DeVille that’s based around a sample of Bob & Earl’s “Harlem Shuffle,” better known as the horn part from House of Pain’s “Jump Around.” As you might expect from two of the most verbose rappers in the game, the song is a relentlessly dense torrent of lyric-spitting that reaffirms some of the classic battle-rap values that have fallen out of fashion in recent years while avoiding getting bogged down in any “get off my lawn” old-man attitude.

Busa Bus talked to EW today in an exclusive interview about “Calm Down.” Below, hear the track and read what he has to say about the song and about the first time he heard Eminem rap.

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Hear electropop duo Vow's ethereal new single 'Planks' -- Exclusive

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Vow is an L.A.-based duo, consisting of multi-instrumentalist Andrew Thomas and vocalist Julia Blake, who are giving a contemporary update to the gothy ambience and gauzy textures of ’80s and ’90s dream-pop (which is currently in the midst of a fairly serious comeback). On August 12, they’ll release their second EP, Make Me Yours, on the buzzy Native Sound label, the follow-up to last summer’s Make Me Young. The lead single, “Planks,” boasts a propulsive electro foundation topped with reverb-drenched piano and washes of ambient guitar noise, as well as a swoony vocal performance by Blake that should appeal to fans of the Cocteau Twins and Lana Del Rey.

Blake says of the track, “Andrew approached me with the instrumental for this song when I was learning I was in love with someone who was addicted to unnecessary suffering. ‘Planks’ is about caring for someone when they are at their lowest and wanting all their pain to go away, but in the end, love just sometimes isn’t enough.”

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Soul legend Bobby Womack dies at age 70

Soul star Bobby Womack died at age 70 on Friday, his label XL Recordings announced.

Famed for songs including “Across 110th Street,” “If You Think You’re Lonely Now,” “Lookin’ for a Love,” and “Woman’s Gotta Have It” — he also penned the Rolling Stones’ first no. 1 hit, “It’s All Over Now” — he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.

While the cause of his death is still unknown, he had battled colon cancer and was diagnosed with early-stage Alzeheimer’s last year. READ FULL STORY

The Breakdown: Ed Sheeran's 'x' influences, by the numbers

This week’s biggest new release is British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran’s x. Sheeran’s songwriting work for Taylor Swift and One Direction and acoustic pop style have earned him a fan base that’s heavy on younger listeners, but x (which is apparently meant to be pronounced “multiply”) deals with more mature themes, like the alienation that comes with fame and life on the road, as well as the ways sexual and chemical diversions can get away from you. People seem to be digging his new grown-up persona–our Melissa Maerz gave the album a B.

For this installment of the Breakdown we’ll take x apart and figure out what it’s made of. READ FULL STORY

Video: Enter the virtual reality of Groundislava and Rare Times' 'Feel the Heat'

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Groundislava is an LA-based electronic musician who’s part of the rapidly up-and-coming Wedidit Collective. Rare Times is an L.A.-based band that makes retro-minded pop that sounds like a bunch of George Michael remix B-sides that never actually existed. Sus Boy is a visual artist who’s gaining cult notoriety for making bizarro websites for the likes of Skrillex. Put them all together and you end up with the video to “Feel the Heat” from Groundislava’s brand new EP of the same name, which mashes up ’90s-style trip-hop with ’90s-style virtual reality and a heaping dose of very modern techno-paranoia. Keep your eye on all three parties involved–they’re bound to blow up soon.

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Astrolith and Cakes Da Killa get trippy with "Give It To Me" -- Exclusive

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Earlier this week, Brooklyn producer Astrolith dropped his Muscle Memories EP, a collection of five tracks that offer a compellingly skewed take on a wide range of styles spanning techno, jazz funk, and the kind of throbbing, old-school electro music you normally find on old VHS horror movies. For the lead single, “Give It To Me,” he teams up with infamous NYC party starter Cakes Da Killa (whose “Goodies” was one of the most criminally underappreciated jams of last year) to make a heavy-duty slab of weirdo future rap that deserves to go on heavy rotation all summer. Directors Mark Lovato and Gella Zefira have provided a video that matches the song’s eccentric sci-fi flavor, and we’re happy to have the exclusive premiere after the jump.

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