David Cross “Bigger and Blackerer”

Sub Pop recently announced that David Cross, who you may or may not recognize as “Ian” from last year’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, will be releasing both a new CD and DVD under the name Bigger and Blackerer this coming May 25. Recorded during back-to-back shows on the same night at Boston’s Wilbur Theatre, the pair of releases are set to explore “Cross’ unique relationship with the deaf community,” “his canny insights into the editorial machinations behind the Bible,” and various “gastro-intestinal misadventures with his dog Ollie Red Sox.” In the off-chance that none of this excites you the DVD also promises to showcase “how well a bald, middle-aged white guy can fill out a pair of jeans.” Hook, line and sinker. (via Sub Pop)

Late last year Cross was cast in The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret with Will Arnett, a one-off show that was produced for Channel 4’s Comedy Showcase in the UK. The show was greenlit by the IFC and will debut in the States this fall. By this preview alone Todd Margaret looks to be very, very promising.

Meth, Ghost & Rae “Wu-Massacre” Review

In the world of hip hop Method Man, Ghostface Killah & Raekwon’s Wu-Massacreis an anomaly. As each year passes we’re left with more and more filler on records, augmented by bloated mixtapes packed with songs that fail to ever see a formal release. Even when considering each of these three Wu-Tang members’ most recent solo records—Method Man’s 4:21… The Day After (20 tracks, 60+ minutes), Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II (22 tracks, 70+ minutes) & Ghostface Killah’s Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City (14 tracks 55+ minutes)—each still had plenty of filler; with Ghost’s being mostly filler, actually. With such precedent set though, Wu-Massacre comes in at about half an hour in length with only 12 tracks (a pair of which are skits)… So yeah, it’s a bit of a change of pace.

The album immediately opens with the bang of “Criminology 2.5” and “Mef vs. Chef 2,” both of which are relentless in their turnstile revolution between the emcees. “Criminology,” originally written for Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II, shows the album’s unique flair for brevity; the final version of the track being an edit that has it reduced down to a mere two minutes. And even after the Mathematics-produced “Mef vs. Chef 2” Wu-Massacre only consumes about four minutes total; but even at its compact length the record never sounds like it should be anything but what it is. The first wasted moment comes with the rehashed “Ya Moms” skit, though at 30-some seconds it’s hardly much to complain about.

Following Solomon Childs and Streetlife’s inclusion on “Smooth Sailing” the album flows directly into Wu-Massacre’s first single, the RZA-produced “Our Dreams.” Sampling Michael Jackson’s 1975 single “We’re Almost There,” “Dreams” rips through a verse by Ghost and Meth before Raekwon finishes out the track. Not only is it the smoothest song on the record—thanks Michael—but it’s also a reminder of how great RZA can be; hopefully we hear more songs like this on the next full-length Wu-album. From there Inspectah Deck and Sun God join in on the harder banging “Gunshowers,” the trio lay down the soulful “Dangerous,” and Ghostface does his solo thing on “Pimpin’ Chipp.”

Tracy Morgan joins in for another breezy skit that neither hits a seriously funny note nor gets in the way of the music; again, it’s just another minor disruption. The funky bounce of “Miranda” follows, and the album rounds things out with pair of Scram Jones-produced tracks: “Youngstown Heist” and “It’s That Wu Shit,” which intermittently bounces a “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”-sounding chorus.

While not every song (and certainly not the skits) on Wu-Massacre flow in motion with one another, the ability to produce nearly half an hour of solid material is something that very few can do; a fact that many try to cover up by pushing quantity over quality. Even if you’re only of the belief that half of the album’s tracks are actually worth a damn—I tend to think most are, though the last two definitely mark Massacre‘s low-point—that’s still eight solid songs by three of hip hop’s most revered emcees. Call it an album, call it an EP, call it whatever you will, but Wu-Massacre is something more emcees should consider aiming for next time they step into the studio.

Deftones “Diamond Eyes” Review

It has been roughly three and a half years since the Deftones last released an album, 2006′s Saturday Night Wrist. And while the band is known for such spans of time between recordings, the space between Wrist and Diamond Eyes wasn’t entirely by choice. In November of 2008 bassist Chi Cheng was involved in a devastating car accident where he sustained serious brain trauma which left him in a coma. At the time the band was near completion of the album Eros, a record which was later put on the back burner as the rest of the band made the decision that they would not go ahead with its release. In the meantime the remaining Deftones continued their work in the studio, calling upon Sergio Vega (Quicksand) who had briefly taken over for Cheng once in 1999. It was the resulting album created from those late-2009 sessions that would become Diamond Eyes.

Part of the band’s reasoning behind shelving Eros, in favor of recording new material, was because it no longer represented who the band was, explained vocalist Chino Moreno.

"The songs recorded for Eros are very special to us as they are the latest with Chi (and we certainly hope not the last); they have history and significant meaning to us. However, as we neared completion on Eros, we realized that this record doesn’t best encompass and represent who we are currently as people and as musicians. And although those songs will see the light of day at some point, we collectively made the decision that we needed to take a new approach, and with Chi’s condition heavy on our minds while doing so. We needed to return to the studio to do what we felt was right artistically. Our inspiration and unity as a band is stronger than it has ever been before and we needed to channel that energy into our music, and deliver to our fans what you rightly deserve: the best Deftones record that we can make."

With those heavy thoughts in mind the band produced an album that embodies the burden or a fallen comrade and expresses the aggressiveness that has boiled below the surface for the past few years: Diamond Eyes.

Opening with the crushing density of the album’s title track, “Diamond Eyes” retains a solid balance as it trades blows between Stephen Carpenter’s heavy, crunchy guitar and Moreno’s soulful chorus, “Time will see us realign/Diamonds reign across the sky I will lead us to the same realm”. “Royal” follows, lending a sound that resonates as far more distanced, though not any less powerful.

“CMND/CTRL” continues the powerful trend on the album, though it’s Carpenter who stands out on the track. Quickly employing a thick bounce he commands immediate attention despite Moreno’s blazing vocals which rival the sharpness of the guitarist’s sound. “You’ve Seen The Butcher” offers the first aural break in the record, a 30 second introduction, which gives way to a boiling riff that is later accompanied by Moreno’s piercing howl.

“Beauty School” ventures to slow the record down, albeit just slightly, as it relies on Abe Cunningham’s beat to keep an active backdrop to Moreno’s soothing, drawn-out wail. “Prince,” while opening to a calm pace, picks up momentum as the track progresses. By the end of its three and a half minutes it becomes a showcase for Moreno’s paint-peeling bellows and the band’s snowballing rhythm, one which eventually washes the song away.

The album’s fiercest riff opens “Rocket Skates,” giving the listener zero time to recuperate from the swell of energy that has been rumbling throughout Diamond Eyes. While the album’s lead single may not be its best track, “Rocket Skates” is certainly one of the most memorable, offering a glance back into the aggressiveness that has weaved its way throughout the band’s history.

“Sextape“, the ebb to “Rocket Skates”‘s flow, harnesses a sentimental tone and wraps itself around Moreno’s equally comforting imagery, “The sun and the waves collide tonight”. “Risk”, “976-EVIL”, and “This Place Is Death” serve as the album’s final three tracks, each relatively similar in their moderate pace, which is interesting when considering both the aggressive nature of Diamond Eyes and its flair for contrast.

When Moreno explained that Diamond Eyes is the “the best Deftones record that we can make,” it makes you wonder about what Eros is and how different it may be compared to the new record. While we might not know—at least for a while—what Eros sounds like, the allure of the band’s latest material comes in both its urgency and its familiarity. Given the situation that the band was in following Cheng’s accident, the Deftones were presented with a fight or flight scenario: They could refrain from recording new material—go on a hiatus, even—or they could push forward through the trials presented to them. They chose the latter, and in returning to that fight mechanism that was dislodged in each of them, the band has created one of its best albums to date.

MGMT “Congratulations” Review

Imagine yourself in the place of MGMT‘s Ben Goldwasser. Following the amazing success of your band’s Oracular Spectacular, which has now sold over one million copies worldwide, you finalize production on your new album, and in preparation for its release you (the royal “you”) make a song available to fans as a free download. But rather than it being lavished in praise, as many were likely expecting, “Flash Delirium” is almost universally snubbed. Do you: a) Go on about your business, b) Take the feedback into consideration, ultimately dismissing it as it goes against your “artistic vision,” or c) Apologize? Regardless of what you might do, Goldwasser went with the latter, explaining the band’s new direction in a recent interview, and concluding with an apology. But is an apology really necessary? There’s no disputing the generation-defining grandiose of “Time To Pretend,” the unforgettable simplicity of “Kids,” or the stylish fluidity of “Electric Feel,” but that’s not exactly what MGMT are “going for” with Congratulations. Sure, the new release is a huge stylistic departure, but an “I’m Sorry”? Really?

As Goldwasser would go on to explain to Spinner, Congratulations is something of a reactionary statement dismissing the rapid rise to fame that the band has experienced. “We’re trying to come to grips with that world. It’s not our world. We don’t feel comfortable in it. But we didn’t want to make that typical second album either, about fame. So we’re definitely observing it, as opposed to revelling in it.” And in discussing the release with NME, Goldwasser explained how the band views the release in contrast to their past successes, “There definitely isn’t a ‘Time To Pretend’ or a ‘Kids’ on the album.” He continued, “We’d rather people hear the whole album as an album and see what tracks jump out rather than the ones that get played on the radio—if anything gets played on the radio!” So rather than coasting off of what now seems destined to be MGMT’s most commercially successful record the band is following a different direction and making music that feels true to the moment. Again, can it really be so bad that an apology is in order?

It’s Working” leads off Congratulations as a fairly lighthearted track with a understated post-punk bass line. “Song For Dan Treacy” follows as a mod-rock throwback infused with an electric organ and a series of effects. “Someone’s Missing” quietly introduces itself through Andrew Van Wyngarden’s echo-heavy vocals, but just as soon as it begins to pick up speed a gentle funk fades the track out. The ire-raising “Flash Delirium” and “I Found A Whistle” round out the first half of Congratulations, though each honestly fails at revealing much more than par-for-the-course psych-rock.

If any song were to polarize listeners it’s likely to be “Siberian Breaks,” a multi-part ballad that sweeps up pseudo-flower power, a curious spoken word transition, and spacey keys into a convenient 12 minute package. Its kaleidoscope effect does little to offer a contrast to the rest of the record but it could very well be the straw that breaks the MGMT fan’s back; the 12 minute, oddly erratic straw. Rounding out the record is the garage rock-revival sounding “Brian Eno,” “Lady Dada’s Nightmare”—which could have more suitably accompanied the terribly uncomfortable “Kids” video—and the slow freak-folk of Congratulations‘ title track.

While I strongly doubt that the “sorry” was as much of an “I’m sorry” as it was an “I’m sorry it doesn’t work for you”, there is little to dispute in terms of the vast differences between the band’s past material and Congratulations. Still, the record is hardly as unlistenable ahttp://www.culturebully.com/mgmt-flash-delirium-music-videos some have made it out to seem; the album retains a continuous flow and offers a variety of different sounds within the larger umbrella of modern psychedelic rock. Tracks such as “Congratulations,” the epic “Siberian Breaks,” and even “Flash Delirium” enforce a feeling of freshness throughout the record that keeps it from feeling stagnant.

Walt Disney once suggested that it’s best to “Always leave them wanting more,” and with Oracular Spectacular MGMT did just that. And while it’s still a good album, Congratulations isn’t nearly as enjoyable as its predecessor. Then again, it’s an album that has seemingly been created for the right reasons. To quote one of the tracks that fans are likely to immediately compare the new album to, “Time To Pretend,” “This is our decision, to live fast and die young. We’ve got the vision, now let’s have some fun.” And at the end of the day, who’s to argue with that?

The Dillinger Escape Plan “Option Paralysis” Review

“Option paralysis” is a bit of a double-edged sword. While having a vast selection of choices is nice there are now near-limitless options in every aspect of our lives—what to listen to, who you can communicate with, what to buy, what to eat—but with that comes a general dulling of the senses and a far-from-subtle process takes over which slowly reshapes our culture. In terms of the Dillinger Escape Plan, while the band weaves a myriad of sounds and genres into the its fourth full-length studio album, it’s difficult not to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of diverse sounds that are contained within. Option paralysis, indeed.

Within seconds of unwrapping the album it violently kicks in with the record’s first single, “Farewell, Mona Lisa.” Through a rapid-fire wave of slices and chops, guitarists Ben Weinman and Jeff Tuttle weave together a crushing sound that is only made more devastating with the ferocious beat laid down by the band’s most recent addition, drummer Billy Rymer. Vocalist Greg Puciato adds generously to the package, switching back and forth between his rigged howl and relatively mild wails as the band continues its hot/cold transitions throughout the song.

Though it constantly diverts back to an oddly traditional sounding “rock chorus”, “Gold Teeth on a Bum” stands out on the record due to being reminiscent of the typical pace and guitar tone of the Jesus Lizard. “Crystal Morning” and “Endless Endings” continue the album’s aggressive approach before the oddity—both in sound and as the album’s longest song—”Widower” kicks in. Opening with long-time David Bowie keyboardist Mike Garson’s mellow key arrangement, Puciato wades into the song, changing his delivery a variety of times through the album’s six and a half minutes; the result being something almost Mastodon-like.

Piano is again introduced later in the album’s second to last track, “I Wouldn’t If You Didn’t,” which follows two of Option Paralysis‘ most brutal pieces, “Room Full of Eyes” and “Chinese Whispers.” At times there is so much distance between the sounds conveyed throughout the record, and there is none more distant than the album-closer “Parasitic Twins.” The track has a gentle feel to it—though maybe just gentle when compared to the rest of the album—which uncharacteristically leans on vocal harmonies and a slow, stomping beat before adding a dense wave of guitar. It’s quite the trip.

Over the course of the record’s 10 tracks there are countless shifts in direction, sound, and technique which lend Option Paralysis a significant weight. But with so many choices within the span of 40 minutes it becomes difficult not be distracted by the diversity. For fans of the Dillinger Escape Plan, this is nothing new, but new listeners might find that there is too much to take in that at some point the record becomes a bit of a blur (their loss), further exposing the polarizing nature of the band. For those ready to welcome the music, so too much you be ready to explore an abnormally diverse range of options. For those who aren’t, option paralysis is exactly what you’re likely to experience.

Against Me! “White Crosses” Review

Not only was New Wave Against Me!’s major label debut (Sire), but it stands as both the most commercially and critically successful album in the band’s career. The 10 song set was produced by Butch Vig (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day), debuted at the #57 spot on the Billboard 200, and would eventually be named the best album of 2007 by Spin Magazine. Refusing to break the mold with the band’s full-length follow-up, White Crosses, Against Me! once again enlisted Vig to man the boards for the release. Actually, the only considerable change in the recording—again to be released via Sire, again running 10 songs deep—is the absence of drummer Warren Oakes, who was replaced by George Rebelo (Hot Water Music) following his departure from the band last June. With that exception White Crosses does little to disrupt both the sound and the direction that the band took with New Wave; that being polished folk-punk, just as primed and ready for mainstream rock radio as it is the next generation of angry, distraught youth.

The album’s title track kicks things off with a plodding rhythm that courses over Tom Gabel’s passionate lyrics. Touching on a common theme which runs throughout White Crosses, Gabel repeats “White crosses on the church lawn, I want to smash them all” during the song’s chorus, a refrain which embodies a lot of the anger and confusion that is revealed over the following nine tracks. “I Was a Teenage Anarchist” continues with the feeling of “Crosses” as it lyrically sets forth the symptoms of becoming increasingly jaded and detached as the illusion of one’s beliefs becomes shattered through age.

“Because of the Shame” recalls a story of a broken relationship, set over a rolling piano line that deeply accentuates the rumbling guitar which drifts above it. The lost love theme is renewed later in “We’re Breaking Up”; both songs resigned to the idea that once there is love, neither death nor a torn relationship can completely erase it.

Perhaps it’s neither the irate nor the heartbreaking, but rather something found in between that is the most representative song of the album however. Musically “Spanish Moss” finds a happy medium amongst the songs on White Crosses as it is neither dull nor does it overwhelm sonically. It might be White Crosses‘ most accessible track, in terms of its mainstream rock sound, but the real hook lies within Gabel’s lyrics. “Let your mind conjure up old ghosts. Ride you bike through lost Florida streets. Everything we’ve said and done, can be so easily forgotten. You can always change who you are.” Here he projects a sense of hope that is woven throughout the entire record—though it’s not showcased as bluntly as it is here—while refusing to release a firm grip on the understanding of the darkness that reality often exudes.

While it’s quite clear that this was never the intent, just as with “Spanish Moss” White Crosses is far from groundbreaking. It doesn’t push boundaries musically or lyrically, and at 35 minutes it’s almost over before it’s had time to soak in. And if you’ve heard Against Me! before you shouldn’t be surprised by anything anything on the record—that’s not to say that it’s a weak release, however. Far from it, in fact. As with the band’s past efforts, White Crosses is as grounded in a strong sense of the blue-collar rock patriarchs of days gone by as it is in an honest lyrical reflection of the realities of every day life. Touching on love, death, and religion, thematically White Crosses is ultimately about learning to live each day without losing faith in yourself or those around you. Accompanying the heartfelt stories is a soundtrack perfect for approaching such a struggle.

Vitalic "Second Lives" Video

The Daily Swarm points out the reference in Vitalic’s new video for “Second Lives” to a photographic Toilet Cam series which sprang from the ever-so-creepy Asian-turned-global fetish. If nothing else, I’m thinking that this could make for a hell of an interesting party idea next time things are starting to get out a little rowdy. Here’s a great example of what we’re talking about here, equal parts creepy & adventurous:

And for those not strictly interested in the video due to a fascination with “watching”, the Bloody Beetroots produced a remix of the track that pounds to no end. Enjoy.

Beastie Boys & Battlestar Galactica “Sabotage” video mashup

Released as a fan-vid just four days ago, “Galactica: Sabotage” is already approaching 165k views on YouTube alone. And with good reason as the shot-for-shot recreation of the Beastie Boys‘ classic “Sabotage” video is ripe with brilliantly contrasted shots taken from the least likeliest of places: Battlestar Galactica. The video itself is great, but when contrasting the two, side by side, it becomes even better. Watch out for the scenes introducing Sir Stewart Wallace, Cochese, Bobby “The Rookie,” “The Chief” & Bunny. I defy you not to laugh at the absurdity of it all. (It may take a second of tinkering to line up the audio on the two videos, but it’s well worth the time!)

Burzum’s “Belus” and the Separation of Art and Artist

How does one separate an artist from their art? Or can it even be done? Some might perceive the art to be a piece indicative of a moment in time, while the artist continues to grow and evolve into a different person as each new day arrives. Such a question, or conflict, arises when approaching the case of Varg Vikernes‘ new Burzum album, Belus: Should the artist and their history impact the perception of their current creative output, or should it be separated from their work entirely?

The notorious story of Varg Vikernes began as he transitioned away from a socialist skinhead faction in favor of the blossiming black metal community in Norway in the late 1980s. He would then release four highly influential albums under the Burzum moniker before befriending Øystein Aarseth (Euronymous) of the legendary band Mayhem. Joining the group in 1992, Vikernes later became associated with a movement (unjustly billed as Satanic in the media) which was highly critical of Western religions and responsible for the burning of several historic churches which dated back as far as the 12th century. Though the stories surrounding the events which followed vary, the result was concrete. Whether it stemmed from a struggle for control in the black metal community or was a measure of self-defense as Vikernes claims, he brutally murdered Aarseth in August of 1993. Convicted the following year, he was sentenced to 21 years in prison, although he failed to serve his entire sentence as he was released in May of 2009 after a judge granted his freedom following a parole hearing. All in all, that’s a lot to chew on.

To reiterate, can one even approach a piece of art — in this case a recording — with the ability to separate it from the artist’s violent history? Or should the separation even exist? Should the man be judged in the present for his past transgressions? Should his art? This brings us to Belus, the seventh full-length Burzum album, which was released earlier this month by Byelobog Productions.

While the theme which runs through his new record most definitely falls within the realm of personal beliefs and ideology, Belus looks to a different source for inspiration than Vikernes did in his younger years.

“Belus is not a religious album or an anti-religious album, nor is it a political one, but an attempt to explore the myths about Belus [an 'ancient European solar deity of light and innocence'] and unveil the oldest roots of our cultural heritage” reads a description on Vikernes’ website. The attempt with the record is to tell the story of “The death of Belus, his sombre journey through the realm of death and his magnificent return.” And through the journey, one track stands out in particular: “Glemselens Elv.”

The title loosely translates to “River of Forgetfulness,” alluding to the Lethe which was one of the five rivers of Hades in Greek mythology — supposedly if you drank from the Lethe you would experience some hardcore amnesia, pretty much forgetting everything. What initially captures the listener with the song isn’t the story however — though a Norwegian speaking audience might be more drawn to the lyrics — but rather the distinct contrast between the sounds in “Glemselens Elv” and the rest of Belus.

The song is stinging wth its rapid wave of guitar, though the initial draw is in its dull, blunt bass line which accents each note as the music transitions throughout the track. At nearly 12 minutes in length, Vikernes’ sheer ability to avoid becoming tedious despite the repetitive nature of the song only goes to further exhibit his impressive artistry.

A crude translation of the lyrics — which are found on Vikernes’ site in Norwegian, German, French, and Italian — offers a tale of a voyage below the surface to Hades where both a feast (which I’m presuming is a temptatious one leading the traveler to drink from the Lethe) and death await. (Maybe my Norwegian friends can shed a little more light on this.) It’s simple mythology — nothing to get too worked up about — but it creates an interesting example which relates to the question at the heart of the matter.

There are many variables when considering the man and his music, but the reality of the situation suggests that Vikernes is not the same person who he was at the time of his infamous imprisonment. In some cases it’s absolutely impossible to separate the two — here being the musician and his music — primarily in those situations where the output directly reflects upon the person who created it. If Vikernes had crafted a piece praising the ideals of neo-Natzism there would be no way to clearly identify a line between the ideals of the person and the song: They are one and the same. Here, Vikernes has created something based on a distant belief, but a belief nonetheless, which is ultimately no different than the Nazi example, or if he had expounded on the beauty of war, or the evils of the Western world. It all follows “belief” which is no different than the path he’s taken throughout his entire career as a musician. It is impossible to create that separation when the art is a direct expression of who the person is who created it. To honestly look at someone or something with open eyes is to see who they are and what they stand for at this exact moment. That doesn’t mean that who they are now doesn’t still reflect who they were, but simply that any judgement should be made within the consideration of their actions or output at this moment.

There’s no way for me to justify what Vikernes has done in the past: he was a brutal human with ideals detrimental to those around him. But the person he seems to have become is different, albeit no less vocal about his beliefs. Then again, he just released an album that would fit in lyrically within the bulk of Led Zeppelin’s mythos-based early material, so his beliefs might still be a little bit out there. Varg Vikernes is his music, and his music continues to be a reflection of who he is, but he at least for now he appears to be a different man than used to be, and like others, should be given the chance to be viewed as such.

[Also, subsequent to all of this, a recent press release states that all proceeds from Belus will go to "benefit Haitian earthquake victims." Although the support is honorable, the whole thing does seem a bit odd to me.]

Lady Gaga feat. Beyoncé “Telephone” Video

Long-playing music videos are something that few acts can actually pull off. Those such as Metallica’s “All Nightmare Long” get lost within their own plots while classics such as Michael Jackson’s 14 minute “Thriller” are untouchable in their cohesiveness; somewhere in the middle lands this new nine and a half minute offering from Lady Gaga and Beyoncé.

The first line of dialog in the Tarantino-esque voyage is muttered between a pair of security guards as they finish stripping Gaga down while throwing her in a cell of an all female prison, “I told you she didn’t have a dick.” Regardless of whether she may or may not be of some strange mixed gender, Gaga’s still confusing and very difficult to watch at times.

Take for instance the cigarette-covered pair of sunglasses she wears in the prison yard, there’s definitely a line between being fashionably ahead of the curve and just wearing some straight-up stupid shit—it’s almost absurd how much of the latter Gaga ends up wearing in “Telephone.” Oscar Wilde once said “A fashion is merely a form of ugliness so unbearable that we are compelled to alter it every six months.” Gaga’s fashion is apparently so unbearable that it needs to be changed every 30 seconds or so. That alone should speak volumes.

Aside from the hideous costumes, the lack of Beyoncé’s presence in the first half of the video, multiple awkward group dance sequences, and about as many Virgin Mobile product placements as there are bare midriffs, the video is actually quite good. As is the song, but even if you’re not a fan of the music, “Telephone” stands as a tremendous undertaking which ultimately lands far closer to “Thriller” than it does the lowly “All Nightmare Long.”

Yeasayer “O.N.E.” Video

Late last year Yeasayer released a music video for “Ambling Alp,” the first single from the band’s Secretly Canadian debut Odd Blood, and it ended up being one of the most essential videos of 2009. But after watching the video for “O.N.E.” I’m starting to think that a new category needs to be created, especially if Yeasayer is going to produce any more visual aids to accompany one of this year’s best releases: most absurd videos of 2010. I’m not even sure where to start in terms of the video’s plot, but to call it unusual would definitely be an understatement.

RJD2 “Small Plans” Video

I’m not sure what’s worse: the idea of being held captive by a group of odd cult-like figures or repeatedly being let down by RJD2‘s albums. Since I’ve only heard The Colossus, and have yet to find myself locked in a bamboo cage while being fed 40oz. beers, I’ll have to stick with the latter…

In response to the video The Daily Swarm explained “Small Plans” as visualizing a scene where, “The tables are turned on both lion taming and the national past time of watching reality TV in one fell swoop.” I’m just glad the soundtrack for the theatrics is one of the few enjoyable songs on the album.

Conan O’Brien to hit the road with Team Coco

After being unceremoniously “let go” from The Tonight Show, Conan O’Brien is taking his act on the road for a tour that is sure to bring smiles to the faces of Coco-nites across North America.

“The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour” will kick off roughly a month from now at the Hult Center For The Performing Arts in Eugene, Oregon, and land its only Alberta date at the River Cree Resort & Casino near Edmonton (which presently has a huge banner of Jay Leno‘s schmucky face on its “venue” page… the humor isn’t lost on me). From there, Coco and his sure-to-be-wildly-entertaining crew of non-NBC-trademarked characters will wind their way across North America before concluding the tour in Atlanta in June. If nothing else, O’Brien promises “A night of music, comedy, hugging, and the occaional awkward silence,” which sounds to absolutely nothing like The Tonight Show in it’s current state; which is most definitely a good thing in my books.

She & Him “In The Sun” Video

The only reason that I can imagine music fans cutting Zooey Deschanel a bit more slack than Scarlett Johansson in terms of their ability to carry a tune is the musical partners they’re associated with: Deschanel M. Ward, and Johansson Pete Yorn. Or maybe it’s just the general vibe of lavishness that accompanies Yorn & Johansson, regardless of what their music sounds like. That said, I’ve never been able to appreciate Deschanel any more than Johansson because when listening to each, they’re both a bit throaty at times, both a bit flat at times, and both ultimately backed by talented musicians (though my personal taste leans away from Yorn’s brand of pop-inspired crooning). That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy each of them for their distinct sound, but just that they’re equally enjoyable in terms of what it is their music actually sounds like… And if nothing else, they’re both abnormally gorgeous, so even if this music-thing doesn’t work out for them, I’m sure they won’t have a hard time finding something to fall back on.