Pop & Hiss
The L.A. Times music blog
Throwbacks: Reissues from Cocteau Twins, Punk Rockers, more

In a never-ending quest to honor the holy day of nostalgia known as "Throwback Thursday," below are a few reissues of note that have recently arrived on the market. 

Cocteau Twins, Blue Bell Knoll (LP & MP3 combo). The Cocteau Twins' swan song was released just as a new generation of shoe-gazers buzzing on Robin Guthrie's blissful sheets of guitars was harnessing his ideas to travel deeper and louder. This new vinyl reissue has received positive reviews, and has just been repressed in a much better version than the 1988 original. It offers an MP3 download as well. The band's longtime label 4AD has also just repressed "Heaven or Las Vegas," the band's 1990 follow-up. 

Los Punk Rockers, "Los Exitos de los Sex Pistols" (Munster). Here's a

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Watch: Katy Perry does it like that in video for 'This Is How We Do'

Truth in advertising in action, Katy Perry's "This Is How We Do" finds the pop star laying out some of the things she does: sipping on rosé, checking out hotties, day-drinking at a Santa Barbara bar that probably put a Katy Perry cocktail on the menu as soon as "Prism" came out last year.

Now there's a video for the song, and it's no less cheerfully literal.

Posted Thursday on YouTube, the video backs away from the elaborate setups the singer devised for her recent videos for "Roar" and "Dark Horse"; here, she and a couple of pals simply act out the activities detailed in the tune.

They play ping-pong, they grab tacos, they hop into a deconstructed version of a Maserati. It's no big deal.

Twitter: @mikaelwood


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La Bestia: Pop meets propaganda courtesy of U.S. border agency

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency may be extraordinarily busy these days, but apparently it found time to dabble in the art of making records.

The Central American radio hit “La Bestia” (or “The Beast,” in English) is a cautionary tale about immigrants who take a perilous ride atop a freight train through Mexico in hopes of crossing over into the United States.

Sung by the N.Y.-based vocalist Eddie Ganz, the ballad is one of the more requested songs at more than 20 radio stations throughout El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

But unlike other hit tunes about love and tragedy that dominate radio in the region, the Caribbean-tinged  “La Bestia” was commissioned by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, according to a recent story in the Daily Beast.

“Hanging on the railcars,” Ganz sings in Spanish.
“Of this iron beast
Migrants go as cattle
To the slaughterhouse
Taking hell’s route
Within a cloud of pain.”

“La Bestia” was released as part of CBP’s recently launched, multimillion...

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Man accused of rape at Keith Urban concert

An 18-year-old man was accused of raping a teen during a Keith Urban concert in Massachusetts on July 26.

During Urban's show at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, 18-year-old Sean Murphy allegedly assaulted the 17-year-old victim on a lawn in the crowd, surrounded by other concertgoers. Many worried fans reportedly took photos and videotaped the incident, which they later showed to police.

The alleged assault ended after a female concertgoer shoved Murphy off the victim. Murphy fled, only to be arrested a short time later, police say. Murphy pleaded not guilty to sexual assault charges and was released on bond of $10,000.

In a statement to CNN, Murphy's lawyer said, "Put simply, this was a consensual act, not a sexual assault. There are no allegations of force or violence against him. This was a private act that regrettably occurred in a public place. Mr. Murphy deeply regrets this incident and I am sure the young woman does as well. The young woman was neither intoxicated nor overcome...

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Lorde to curate soundtrack, pen single for 'Hunger Games' sequel

The singer-songwriter Lorde will have a major hand in the soundtrack for the forthcoming "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1."

The voice behind "Royals" will pen a new lead single for the latest installment of the popular film franchise. Her blend of minor-key electronic pop, regal vocals and tales of disaffected teenagers could be a natural fit for the series.

In addition, the singer will also oversee the selections for the soundtrack album for the film, where her single will appear.

Lorde became a major star last year, with "Royals" going quadruple-platinum and her album "Pure Heroine" selling over a million copies. She won awards for Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance for "Royals" at this year's Grammys.

In April, she played one of the most high-profile sets at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. In 2013, she signed a $2.5-million publishing deal with Songs Publishing, and this soundtrack will be a high-profile addition to that catalog.

"I sat down with...

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5 Seconds of Summer storms to No. 1 with year's third-largest debut

Last week 5 Seconds of Summer made it rain.

Scoring the year's third-largest chart debut, the Australian boy band entered the Billboard 200 on Wednesday at No. 1, reflecting sales of 259,000 copies of its self-titled debut during the week that ended July 27, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Only Coldplay and the country singer Eric Church have started on the album chart with bigger numbers in 2014.

The news accompanied 5 Seconds of Summer's announcement Wednesday of a North American tour -- known as the Rock Out with Your Socks Out Tour -- set to launch a full year from now, in July 2015.

Before that, though, the group will spend the next couple of months opening stadium shows for the British boy band One Direction, with which it shares a management firm. That tour is to hit the Rose Bowl for three shows Sept. 11-13.

And if that's not enough -- surely that's not enough? -- 5 Seconds of Summer will return to Los Angeles in November for a pair of shows at the refurbished Forum.


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Diplo reveals mixtape, single plans for Skrillex collaboration Jack U

Omnipresent DJ Diplo revealed that the duo Jack U, which he’s a part of alongside Skrillex, have a mixtape and single in the works.

On a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" thread, Diplo fielded questions about the collaboration’s progression, revealing that the first single, “Take You There”, features Canadian singer-songwriter Kiesza.

“[I] wanna try and get a stream of it out this week,” Diplo mentioned. A fan recently captured a video of Diplo performing the track at a recent Paris show.

Diplo previously confirmed on Twitter that a track featuring the rapper Riff Raff has been saved for the album as well.

On the Reddit thread, the Mad Decent record label founder went on to chronicle his partnership with Skrillex, and detailed the stocked song arsenal that will partly comprise the album.

“[I] have about 45 songs in the pool for the new record so I'm not sure whats gonna make it,” Diplo wrote. “[W]e just make the songs really randomly in DTLA or random places in hotel rooms very quickly.”

Jack U...

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Ariel Pink says he was 'Maced by a feminist' on a bad date

The experimental singer-songwriter Ariel Pink has never shied away from awkward topics (here's a song about his cat getting neutered). But he may be regretting telling a tale of a date gone wrong on his recent visit to Alexi Wasser's popular YouTube talk show "Alexi in Bed" (which first circulated on Stereogum)

"I got Maced by a feminist," he said, staring straight at the camera. Thus begins a weirdly men's-rights-inspired yarn about a night last year he jokingly deemed a "#hatecrime." 

Pink, a fixture on L.A.'s arty pop scene who came into some mainstream acclaim, is a volatile figure known for playing Coachella with his back to the crowd while smoking cigarettes, so this could all be a retrograde-gender-politics performance art prank.

But at face value, the pairing sounded tense -- she called him a "saggy Kurt Cobain," he got bored when she "talked about her dad all night...I listened, whatever...if I don't do it with them, they talk about their daddy."

They went home together, but...

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Jenny Lewis croons through 'Just One of the Guys' on Fallon

Glossed in the same rainbow attire that adorns her album cover, Jenny Lewis and her ensemble performed her new song "Just One of the Guys” Monday on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." Masked by breezing riffs and a light-hearted presentation, the track is a contemplative musing on grown-up, female-centric concerns. 

"I’m just another lady without a baby," Lewis sang, as effortlessly as ever, on one of the song's most biting lines.

With just under a minute left in the song a crew of female dancers -- clad in jumpsuits, baseball caps and fake mustaches -- breakdanced to the stage’s forefront. This is a nod the song’s official video, above, in which actresses Anne Hathaway, Brie Larson and Kristen Stewart don similar apparel.

The song is from Lewis' new album "Voyager," released Tuesday. The effort is her first solo record since "Acid Tongue" in 2008 and contains songs she recorded with Beck (who produced "Just One of the Guys") and Ryan Adams.

Lewis is set to appear at the Wiltern...

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Watch: Hilary Duff heads to the beach in 'Chasing the Sun' video

Solid workplace advice: Don't hire Hilary Duff for a job in your office.

Set in a grim-looking cubicle farm, Duff's new music video for her song "Chasing the Sun" depicts the singer-actor failing at any number of work-related activities -- including pouring coffee and not walking into walls -- while she daydreams about a better life on the beach.

It's very goofy -- and also a squeaky-clean suggestion that this Disney Channel veteran has little Miley Cyrus-style provocation in mind for her return to music.

The former star of Disney's "Lizzie McGuire," Duff announced this month that she'd signed to Cyrus's label, RCA Records, and would release a studio album in the fall, her first since "Dignity" in 2007.

The breezy "Chasing the Sun" was co-written by Colbie Caillat, Jason Reeves and Toby Gad, who also produced the song. In a statement, Duff said she hopes it "helps people to feel a little more carefree."

La-da-di-da-di, she likes to party (in a nice way).

Twitter: @mikaelwood

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Babymetal shreds heavy-metal's seriousness at the Fonda

The most subversive, rage-inducing act in heavy metal played the Fonda on Sunday night. The group is fronted by three Japanese teenage girls in pigtails who make heart-shaped hand gestures onstage and sing about how much they love chocolate

Babymetal is a Japanese concept group, and they're the most divisive thing in heavy music right now. The trio -- singers Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal, producer Kobametal and a backing band of corpse-painted virtuosos -- came from the "Idol" format of manufactured pop groups in Asia, but their songs are arranged with the thrashing guitars and blast-beat drums from every variant of heavy metal.

The conceit seems like a trollish genre joke, but the group has become a major touring act, a cult favorite of classic bands such as Slayer and Anthrax, Lady Gaga tourmates and the centerpiece of a whole new music debate.

In a genre in which bands are on a quest to find the most offensive, putrescent sounds and imagery, can that loathsomeness be directed...

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Eric Clapton honors J.J. Cale with low-key style on 'The Breeze'

Eric Clapton calls his new album of J.J. Cale songs an appreciation rather than a tribute, and that word choice gets at the appealingly modest vibe of this record.

In spite of cameos by heavy-hitting guitar guys like Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler and John Mayer, “The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale” -- which honors the roots-music cult hero who died a year ago this month -- dispenses with the grandstanding that bogs down most tribute albums (and indeed many Clapton albums); it sounds more like the product of an impromptu jam session.

That approach suits the low-key Cale, whose songs “Cocaine” and “After Midnight” became rock-radio staples after Clapton covered them in the 1970s.

Born in Oklahoma but based for much of his life in Southern California, Cale built his sound from deadpan vocals layered over a propulsive yet unhurried groove. And though it never made Cale a star, the style consistently attracted A-list admirers. It proved hugely durable too: Cale’s final studio record, 2009’s...

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