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Chris Walla quits Death Cab for Cutie

Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla has left the group after 17 years. Yesterday the Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger published a brief statement from Walla breaking the news of his departure and providing a brief explanation. “I think I long for the unknown,” he writes. “It might be that simple.”

The band recently wrapped the recording of their eighth album, the first that Walla didn’t produce. He’s also produced albums for Tegan and Sara, the Decemberists, and the Thermals, among others. He released a solo album, Field Manual, in 2008.

“Moving forward,” Walla writes, “my plans are simply to continue making music, producing records, and erring on the side of benevolence and beauty whenever possible. Darkness may find me, but I shall never choose it.”

In their own statement posted to the Death Cab website the band writes, “We’ve had an incredible 17 years of making music with Chris. We are very proud of what we’ve accomplished together, including our 8th studio album which we have just put the finishing touches on. We will miss Chris and wish him all the best in the next chapter of his career. We are excited about sharing new music, and seeing all of you very soon.”

Walla will play his final show with the group Sept. 13 at the Rifflandia Festival in Victoria, British Columbia.

Hear the Afghan Whigs cover 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic'

Over the years the Afghan Whigs have applied their trademark dark and caustic soul-rock sound to a variety of cover songs, from Jesus Christ Superstar‘s “The Temple” to Frank Ocean’s “Lovecrimes.” During the recording of their latest LP, Do to the Beast, they messed around with the Police’s “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” but it didn’t make the final cut. “We sort of made a demo of the song and forgot about it,” says frontman Greg Dulli. “And then when I was mixing the album the engineer said, ‘Hey what is this “Every Little Thing” on here?’ He played it for me and I was like, ‘Oh yeah!’ He was like, ‘Did you want to keep that vocal? You could probably sing that vocal better.’ So I re-sang it in December and then forgot about it again.”

“I’m definitely a fan of [that song],” Dulli says, “and I’m a fan of that album in particular. I remember I was driving in the desert with Mark McGuire, who’s a guitar player friend of mind. He’s a young guy and I mentioned something about the Police and he was like, ‘I’ve never heard the Police.’ So I played him Ghost in the Machine and he loved it. I think that probably was the moment, because I played ‘Every Little Thing’ several times, as I’ll do if I’m in the car and have control of the music. I think it’s just a really well-written song that’s always had this kind of spooky melancholic undercurrent to it that I’m a fan of.”

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'Guardians of the Galaxy' soundtrack tops Billboard 200

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Star-Lord would be proud: Guardians of the Galaxy’s soundtrack is currently the No. 1 album on the Billboard 200.

In Guardians of the Galaxy, Peter “Star-Lord” Quill’s most prized possession is a mixtape titled Awesome Mix Vol. 1featuring previously recorded songs by the Jackson 5, David Bowie, and the Runaways. This alone makes the soundtrack’s spot on the top of the charts notable—all previous No. 1 soundtracks have featured at least some music recorded just for that film, but all of the Guardians’ tracks were recorded in the ’70s.

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Watch Amoureux's gorgeously choreographed 'Lost the Plot' video

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The ability to make and distribute music videos used to be limited to a relatively elite level of performers, but with cheap technology and free digital distribution, anyone with at least a song and a smartphone can make one. Consequently, there’s been a biblical-level deluge of them, forcing creators to take increasingly contrived routes to getting noticed—hence the numbing amount of NSFW clips trying desperately to shock viewers, or elaborate, Rube Golbergian ones like nearly all of OK Go’s videography, where the gimmick far overshadows the music itself.

Compared to its stunt-dependent competition, the video for indie-pop duo Amoureaux’s “Lost the Plot” is an elegantly understated breath of fresh air. It stars dancers Reshma Gajjar and Hunter Hamilton (who in the past have done work for Madonna and Sia), choreographed by Kitty McNamee and directed by Miles Crawford, with little to distract from their performance. Amoureux bassist Holiday J and drummer Nicole Turley are both former dancers, and the collaboration with McNamee and Crawford highlights how much they’re still focused on rhtyhm.

“I fell in love with the rawness of this song,” writes McNamee in an email. “It swept me in. I think it triggered a very personal response to the music.”

“I was intrigued by the idea of stalemate,” Crawford adds. “All the moves have been tried, and yet we aren’t ready to give up the game. In the repetition we lose our way, our purpose. We go at it again and again, finding the same result, until finally there is nothing, but to let it go. That, and I wanted to play with flour.”

Michael Cera releases a surprise album

Michael Cera, an actor many know as Scott Pilgrim or George Michael Bluth or that nerdy guy who impregnated Juno, makes music. He makes music that his buddy Jonah Hill calls “great” and that we can all listen to now thanks to an album he posted on Bandcamp.

Cera’s album true that includes songs titled “Sexy Danger” and “uhohtrouble”—two phrases you inevitably say to yourself whenever you think “Michael Cera.” The tracks are soft, folk-tinged, sound like they were recorded in Cera’s childhood bedroom, and could be classified as “bedtime music.” In other words, this album is not Sex Bob-Omb.

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Celine Dion postpones Vegas show, cancels Asia tour

Céline Dion has announced plans to cease performing for the time being, postponing her Las Vegas show and canceling her planned tour of Asia.

According to People, Dion has decided to postpone all of her show-business engagements indefinitely in order to spend more time with her family. (Dion’s husband, René Angélil, had a tumor removed from his throat last December.) In a statement, Dion told People, “I want to devote every ounce of my strength and energy to my husband’s healing, and to do so, it’s important for me to dedicate this time to him and to our children. I also want to apologize to all my fans everywhere, for inconveniencing them, and I thank them so much for their love and support.”

Iggy Azalea, Rita Ora break out katanas and jumpsuits for 'Black Widow'

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Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora’s song “Black Widow” raises a lot of questions—like what does it mean that Rita Ora wants to love somebody until they hate her and also like a black widow? And what is up with Iggy’s tautologically fraught line, “If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be stuck singing this song?” And has someone, possibly a close friend or family member, talked to them about the fact that getting into “Fatal Attraction s–t” isn’t something they should be so proud of, and maybe they should consider a course of intensive therapy?

The video for the track only keeps the questions coming. Why is Iggy Azalea working in a greasy spoon with a poster in the kitchen that clearly has a drawing of her on it? What kind of high-intensity boob tape are she and Rita Ora using in those jumpsuits? And did anyone think that there were people out there who were begging to see Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora try their hand at comedic acting?

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Get hooked on Kero Kero Bonito's 'Sick Beat'

There’s a thriving electronic music scene, concentrated in London but extending around the world via the Internet, that’s defined not so much by a particular sound but by the way the artists involved combine sounds. They mix and match across genre lines in a hyperactively curatorial way that resembles a sonic equivalent of what Tumblr power users do with images and video. One excellent example of this micro-movement—which thankfully hasn’t yet been cursed with a corny name like “chillwave” or “PBR&B”—is “Sick Beat” by London trio Kero Kero Bonito. The song throws bits and pieces of dancehall, hip-hop, J-pop, and ’90s club music into the air like confetti and what comes down is similarly colorful, lightweight, and fun for fun’s sake.

The fashion-forward electronic label Double Denim will be reissuing Kero Kero Bonito’s Intro Bonito on Aug. 25. Until then, you can just keep “Sick Beat” playing on a loop, which is what’s been going on at the EW office all day.


Robyn and Royksopp float through space in 'Monument' video

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Forget yoga retreats in the mountains—judging from Robyn and Röyksopp’s video for “Monument,” space is the place to go for all your meditating needs.

Robyn and the members of Norwegian duo Röyksopp float on a white circle through space, occasionally getting up to dance in slow motion and stare at each other in wonder. The dazed video reflects the dreaminess of “Monument,” a track more ethereal than the dance-pop Robyn’s known for.

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Ariana Grande brings intergalactic excitement to 'Break Free' video

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If you’ve ever wanted to watch a combination of Britney Spears’ “Oops!… I Did It Again,” Star Wars, Gravity, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Transformers, Ariana Grande just made your wish come true: Her music video for “Break Free” is all that and more, with the “more” being missiles jetting out of her boobs.
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