Stephen Colbert

Over the Weekend (Oct. 26 Edition)

News, new videos, and other fun stuff to help you get through the week…

The biggest news of the weekend was the announcement that David Bowie will be releasing a new album next year.  There should be high hopes for Blackstar when it comes out on January 8, since Bowie’s last record (The Next Day) was pretty damn good. In other words, this is not merely the case of fans expressing nostalgia for the golden years of a legendary artist, but legitimate excitement for a new album–especially if it is as “completely bonkers”as one “insider” suggested.

Run The Jewels 2 was released a year ago today, and to celebrate the occasion, Run The Jewels has released a music video for “Angel Duster”, which features footage of the duo performing all around the country.

EL VY has released another lyric video from their upcoming album Return to the Moon, which will be released this Friday.  This time the duo of Matt Berninger (The National) and Brent Knopf (Menomena, Ramona Falls) have a video for the bouncy “Need a Friend”.

You may want to make sure you catch the The Late Show with Stephen Colbert tonight, because Chance the Rapper is set to release a new song with Stephen himself on the show.

In case you did not get your fix of write-ups on Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Consequence of Sound has a ranking of all 28 tracks.  Quibbles: the title track and “Here Is No Why” are underrated, “Galapagos” and “Porcelina of the Vast Oceans” are overrated.  But at least the top track is correct.

That is not the only list CoS prepared last week–they have one that documents “25 Essential Performances” from Pearl Jam to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the band’s first show.

And finally, this list serves as a bit of homework for our readers, as Stereogum lists the 50 Best New Bands of 2015.  We will definitely be consulting this list for the next few days, and it is probably a good idea if our readers do the same as well.

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Over the Weekend (Sept. 21 Edition)

News, new music, videos, and other fun stuff to help you get through the week…

After months of waiting, Run The Jewels finally released their highly-anticipated Meow The Jewels, a joke-remix album for charity that had several producers and musicians recreating the brilliant record Run The Jewels 2 using only cat noises.  If you want to take a listen, a free download is available through the RTJ website, and yes, it is about as ridiculous as you would expect.  As you enjoy such great remixes as “Paw Due Respect”, be sure to read El-P’s interview with Deadspin discussing the project.

Of course, if you want to listen to a more traditional version of Run The Jewels, we highly recommend that you check out their electrifying performance with TV on the Radio for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, if you have not done so already.  Speaking of Mr. Colbert, he had a busy week last week, with the highlight probably being his vocal assistance on Pearl Jam’s cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World” to close out one of his shows.

The team-up between Colbert and Pearl Jam was part of a promotion for Saturday’s Global Citizen Festival, with Stephen helping to host and Pearl Jam closing out the festivities.  One of the highlights of Pearl Jam’s set had to have been Eddie Vedder’s performance with the one and only Beyonce of Bob Marley’s classic song “Redemption Song”, though you may have to search for the video yourself as different versions keep getting deleted.

In other news, The Strokes informed announced to the crowd at their recent D.C. show that the band will soon be recording a new album, which we personally hope will be better than Comedown Machine.

Broken Bells premiered a new concert film over the weekend entitled Live at the Orpheum, and the group shared a new track to help promote the movie, an upbeat track with a jittery disco beat called “It’s That Talk Again”.

Don Cheadle has a new film about Miles Davis coming out next month, and Vulture has a brief primer on the legendary musician for those who would appreciate some background before seeing the movie.

And finally, be sure to set your DVRs or plan your schedules accordingly, because Austin City Limits announced that they will be taping shows with Kendrick Lamar as well as D’Angelo and the Vanguard in the next few weeks.  Both of those should be memorable performances.

Over the Weekend (Sept. 14 Edition)

New music, videos, and other news to help you kick off the week…

This week we have quite a few videos to share, and not much else, so it should be pretty easy for our readers to have fun while expending a minimum of effort.  First, we recommend that fans of The Black Keys take a look at The Arcs, the latest side-project from Dan Auerbach.  The new group recently released their album Yours, Dreamily… and last week put out a psychedelic video for their song “Outta My Mind”, which recalls the recent work of Dan’s main gig, if a little more playful in tone.

Speaking of side-projects, Matt Berninger (frontman of The National) and Brent Knopf (Ramona Falls, formerly of Menomena) have joined forces to record as EL VY, and the results they have shared so far are interesting to say the least.  Their album Return to the Moon is not set to be released until October 30, but for now enjoy Matt having some fun in SoCal with the slinky “I’m The Man To Be”.

Albert Hammond, Jr. of The Strokes is promoting his third solo album, Momentary Masters, and for the video of “Caught By My Shadow” he pays a bit of homage to The Seventh Seal with his chess battle with death.  However, viewers are unlikely to confuse it with the Bergman classic, considering Hammond’s version involves way more special effects.

If you are still in the mood for something strange, be sure to watch Viet Cong’s latest video from their self-titled debut, “Bunker Buster”, which features some bizarre visuals and a sci-fi storyline.

The premiere of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert was the biggest news in entertainment last week, and among the memorable moments from the show’s first week was this amazing performance by Kendrick Lamar of a medley of songs from To Pimp a Butterfly.  Be sure also to tune in on Tuesday night, when Run the Jewels are set to perform with TV on the Radio.

Apparently The Decemberists were even more productive during their hiatus, as in addition to this year’s What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World, the band is set to release the EP Florasongs on October 9.  The band gives a taste of what to expect with the song “Why Would I Now?”

And finally, if you are looking for something to satisfy your desire for lists, you might check SPIN’s look back to 1995 with their list of “The 95 Best Alternative Rock Songs of 1995”.

Over the Weekend (Aug. 31 Edition)

News, new music, and new videos to help you start the week…

When the Eagles of Death Metal first debuted in 2004 with Peace, Love, Death Metal, it would have been hard to believe that the side project of Josh Homme fronted by Jesse “The Devil” Hughes would still be around over a decade later.  But sure enough, the guys are set to return this fall with the cleverly-named Zipper Down, and last week they released a video for the track “Complexity”.  It is the perfect match of ultra-serious post-punk black-and-white aesthetics and ultra-goofy scuzz rock.

The craziest news of the weekend was an Instagram post that showed a member of the Wu-Tang Clan in the studio with a legendary film composer, as GZA shared a picture of him working with Vangelis.  This unique collaboration is sure to produce some memorable results.

Television audiences will get the chance to see another exceptional team-up in a couple of weeks, as Run the Jewels is scheduled to perform with TV on the Radio on Stephen Colbert’s version of the Late Show on September 16.

There are hundreds of other sites that you could visit to get a rundown of what happened at last night’s MTV Video Music Awards, including Kanye’s acceptance of the “Video Vanguard” award, but we would like to share with you a bit of news about Mr. West that probably was not discussed at the VMA’s.  Kanye is set to do a special show at the Hollywood Bowl to perform his album 808s & Heartbreak in full, marking the first time that he would produce a live show from the unique record infamous for its heavy use of autotune.

Lou Barlow has been an integral part of several significant groups that helped shape the alternative music for decades now (Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Folk Implosion), so it is always worth checking out whatever it is that he records.  NPR has the stream for his newest solo albumBrace the Wave, available for streaming this week in advance of its September 4th release.

Finally, have some fun with this short video of Damon Albarn performing the song “Mr Tembo” in front of its namesake, an adorable baby elephant.  Contrary to the reports of the Stereogum reporter, it seems rather obvious that Mr Tembo appreciates the performance.

Catching Up On The Week (Dec. 19 Edition)

Some #longreads for your weekend as you mourn the end of the greatest television show of all-time

The music world is still buzzing about the surprise release of D’Angelo’s Black Messiah, with critics greeting it with universal acclaim.  We’re certain that you can find a multitude of thinkpieces on the album from everyone and their cousin on the web, but this analysis from Complex is probably the best you’ll find.

Just how big was that surprise release from D’Angelo?  Big enough that it pushed aside the news that Modest Mouse will finally release a follow-up to We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank as their new album Strangers to Ourselves is set to be released on March 3 of next year.  Meanwhile, keep their new single “Lampshades on Fire” playing on repeat, at least through this weekend.

This article was originally published in January, but we didn’t come across it until this week, so it’s new for us: Buzzfeed explains how the punk band Crass fooled MI6 and other intelligence agencies into thinking there was a Soviet disinformation campaign, all with a crappily-produced prank tape.

It’s the weekend–do you need any other excuse to read an analysis of Billy Joel’s ridiculous hit “We Didn’t Start the Fire”?

And finally, we like millions of others are mourning the end of The Colbert Report, though we’re hopeful that Stephen Colbert will do a terrific job of taking over The Late Show.  Like many, we were impressed by the turnout of former guests that appeared for the final sing-along, but we also were delighted to hear that as the credits rolled for a final time that Colbert had selected our personal pick for greatest song of all-time, Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Holland, 1945”, to be the musical accompaniment.  It turns out that Stephen’s selection of the song was not just a result of his good taste, but the result of a personal connection to the song that is quite touching.  Just don’t ruin the moment by clicking through the links to see what the rest of Slate had to think about music this past year.

Catching Up On The Week (Aug. 1 Edition)

Everyone else seems to have settled into the August doldrums, so we’re keeping it short and sweet this week.

Jason Heller wrote an appreciation of Steve Albini for Pitchfork, highlighting some of his greatest moments as a musician.  It’s a nice change of pace for music fans of today that know only of his legendary work as a producer (or as an “engineer”, as he preferred to be called), and should help provide an intriguing playlist for your weekend.

That is, if you need a playlist for your weekend–Lollapalooza is happening right now in Chicago, and you can catch a stream here, courtesy of Pitchfork.

The Colbert Report had a couple of excellent musical guests this week, with Beck stopping by the studio to play from both Morning Phase and his Song Reader project, which just saw its official release this week.  “Heart is a Drum”, the song that was played on the broadcast, also had its official music video released this week, and it’s embedded above.  The next night, Colbert had Jon Batiste and his Stay Human group, and they proceeded to blow the roof off the studio with a memorable performance of “Express Yourself” that you need to watch now.

The AV Club reminds you that it’s a good idea to listen to Suicide, and also inform you that The Killers wrote apparently the weirdest lyric ever (personally, I think “I Am The Walrus” is weirder, and that’s not even getting into the fact that the list is just pop music and it’s easier to find “weirdness” when you go further beyond the boundaries of Top-40/Classic Rock).

With the news that TV on the Radio will be releasing a new album this fall, Stereogum took the opportunity to list their 10 Best Songs.  Not a bad list if you ask me (though “Staring at the Sun” is underrated), and I’m glad they didn’t decide to be pricks and avoid the obvious choice for number 1.

And finally, here’s what looks like an interesting piece in SPIN that talks about a composer who “after coaxing Kevin Shields and Mark Hollis out of hiding” is finally releasing an album, satisfying our longread requirement.

Catching Up On The Week (Apr. 11 Edition)

I would hope that we provided you with enough #longreads for the weekend with our recent series of Neutral Milk Hotel essays, but just in case, we have a few more links to check out.

The big story this weekend is the first weekend of Coachella.  Because you’re all smart enough to avoid the huge crowds and the awful heat, you’ll do what I do and watch the festivities courtesy of their own YouTube channel.  That said, I wouldn’t mind if I was one of those people that were deemed important enough that companies would pay just so I could attend a music festival.

As for earlier this week, the biggest news was probably Stephen Colbert being tapped to replace David Letterman as host of the Late Show.  SPIN sets you straight if you think this has little do with music.

Oh, you might have thought that last night’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony was the big story.  It was pretty huge, if only for the inclusion of Nirvana.  I’d direct you over to the Everybody Loves Our Town Tumblr for all your necessary links, though I’ll specifically link to this interview with grunge experts analyzing the “irony” of Nirvana’s induction, as an anti-establishment force that is now formally a part of the establishment, and this piece that discusses the brilliance of an all-female lineup heading the reunited Nirvana.  It’s probably not a good idea to take a look at this setlist at the secret aftershow party that included J Mascis showing up to do classics like “Drain You”, because you’ll be pissed at the fact you weren’t there and are only hearing about this now.  But I will link to this video of Kim Gordon performing “Aneurysm”.

And in a nice coincidence with all the Nirvana news this week, we’re about to see one of their major inspirations release their first new album in over two decades soon.  Guitarist Joey Santiago of the Pixies did an in-depth interview with MusicRadar talking about his guitar-playing style and gear, and drops some insight into the recording process behind Indie Cindy and the current dynamics of the band..

Last week we were less than pleased with an AV Club article, but they’ve redeemed themselves with a close look at the brilliant Weezer track “Only In Dreams”.  I’m only disappointed because I had hoped to do a Feats of Strength on one of my favorite Weezer songs, but they did a pretty bang-up job themselves.  I’d only add that part of the brilliance of the guitar solo is that the show-stopping run up the neck is reminiscent of the big solo in “Marquee Moon” and does a great job of creating tension by dancing around the traditional sweet spots on the scale, and that the whole sequence is a perfect parallel to the lyrics and title of the song.  But good work.

And finally, I’m going to be sure to spend a little time this weekend reading this Pitchfork interview with a biographer of Big Star’s Alex Chilton, because Big Star was amazing and that’s all you should need to know before doing the same.

The Curious Case of the Happy Birthday Copyright

Last week, Stephen Colbert did a hilarious segment about the copyright of the song “Happy Birthday”, noting the litigiousness of Warner Music and the way they hound any potential violators.  Stephen’s substitute, an arrangement of “The Star-Spangled Banner” with alternate lyrics, is a particularly genius suggestion, and the bit becomes part of a long comedic tradition of attempts to avoid the wrath of Warner.  By using a song in the public domain like the National Anthem, Stephen is safe, even in his public performance–though imagine if one had to clear each use of the National Anthem or pay a license for every time it was played; that would probably bankrupt most kickball leagues.

Somebody messed with the copyright.

Somebody messed with the copyright.

(Side Note: The technical difficulties graphic that Stephen uses cracks me up every time, though it should be stated that The Critic was the master of that particular gag.  Also, the birthday hat for the silent lawyer was a great touch.  Comedy’s forged in the subtleties, folks.)

So it’s not exactly news to most people that somebody owns the copyright to a song that is familiar to just about everyone, and gets sung thousands of times everyday.  Not only that, it’s also well-known that the public performance of that song has several issues (as I mentioned, there have been numerous comedic bits built on that fact).  But did you know that in the past year that the copyright was challenged?  It shouldn’t be a surprise that a fairly simple song from the early 20th century would have some disputed origins; however it is surprising that somehow despite those dubious origins, the copyright holder has been able to maintain an iron grip on the use and performance of the song.  Right now, the lawsuit is still working its way through the courts, due to the various technical complexities that are bound to arise when law meets art: various state claims are being separated from the federal claims, and arguments over whether the federal statutes preempt any state claims are being heard.  As for the disputed facts of the case, the hook for you and me is that plaintiffs are offering up some interesting evidence that the song was in circulation prior to the registration of the copyright in 1935, using both the original music of “Good Morning To You” (from 1893) with the lyrics we all know, all the way back in 1911.  This would pretty much destroy any claim of originality, a necessary requirement for copyright protection.

The thing to remember is that, “Happy Birthday” notwithstanding, the concept of “copyright” is good.  We want to protect the works of artists, and allow them the ability to be fairly compensated for their work and protect against unauthorized distribution.  Now, whether or not that means that the protection should extend 90 years (or whatever arbitrary number Congress decides when Disney lobbies again to protect the image of Mickey Mouse), or protect works that even giving the benefit of the doubt as “original”, that’s a different story.  Maybe Colbert can do a bit on that.

Catching Up On The Week (Jan. 31 Edition)

A few quick links you may have missed this week and worthy of your time this weekend

Complex had a great article this week in which a member of the Recording Academy provided a first-hand account of the Grammy Award voting process.  It’s a quick read, and it gives you a clue as to how you end up with some of the more ridiculous options over the years.  Of course, if you’re not inclined to read a behind-the-scenes look because the Grammys are not an award worthy of your time, that’s perfectly fine.  Fiction has its merits as well, for the record.

Cloud Nothings debuted a new song this week on SoundCloud, and you can listen to it here.  I’ve been a fan for a few years now, and appreciated how their new-found love of The Wipers shaped their previous album Attack On Memory (without “Youth of America”, there would be no “Wasted Days”, and Dylan Baldi would probably be the first to point that out).  After listening to the new track, I’m glad to hear that this love of The Wipers was not just a passing phase and continues to be an influence.  Hopefully the rest of the new album lives up to this song (we’ll find it for sure on April 1).

And finally, the music world (and the world itself) lost a giant when Pete Seeger died earlier this week.  It’s been great reading tributes to him from all over, and seeing different friends post his performances.  There was one that I caught last night that I wanted to share, and that was his performance of his classic “If I Had A Hammer” with Stephen Colbert.