Pop & Hiss
The L.A. Times music blog
Jack White attends Cubs game; Seven nation army can't hold tweets down
Beyoncé and Jay Z's 'On the Run' HBO special to air Sept. 20

Beyoncé and Jay Z’s HBO concert special will debut Sept. 20. HBO previously announced it would tape a pair of shows from the superstar couple’s On the Run summer stadium tour. The special will be taped during their shows in Paris on Sept. 12 and 13 at Stade de France  -- the only international shows they’ve booked for the tour-- and will feature more than 40 songs. “This is a major musical event that belongs on HBO,” Michael Lombardo, president of HBO programming, said in an earlier statement. “It’s going to be a night to remember.” Despite a number of joint hits documenting their love over the last dozen or so years -- “Crazy in Love,” “ '03 Bonnie & Clyde” and “Drunk in Love,” to name a few -- and countless performances together, the pair had yet to tour together. Last summer, Jay Z used HBO to debut "Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film" built around his hit album "Magna Carta Holy Grail." Mr. Carter’s pop diva wife is currently the focus of “Beyoncé: X10,” a 10-episode miniseries...

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Flying Lotus announces new album 'You're Dead!' for October

The Los Angeles artist Flying Lotus announced that his next album -- “You’re Dead!” -- will be released on Oct. 7, his birthday. He tweeted Tuesday morning: “Finally!So much went into this one. Lots of talented artists helped realize this vision. Looking fwd to sharing details and music soon.” The Warp Records album will serve as a follow-up to his 2012 LP “Until The Quiet Comes.” Since the last release, FlyLo (his real name is Steven Ellison) has detailed bits over social media about the record’s potential art, aesthetics and included artists. He revealed in December that his rapping alter ego, Captain Murphy, “is all over it.” He went on to agree that the album will have a jazz feel to it, and that he believes “it will b kind of jarring at first.” He admitted that he predominately used the music sequencing software Ableton in production. (Although Herbie Hancock’s involvement has not been announced, Flying Lotus posted a Vine of himself in the studio alongside the jazz legend as well...

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Billy Joel to receive Gershwin Prize from Library of Congress

The piano man. The entertainer. The stranger. Billy Joel has called himself a lot of things over the course of his long career; now he can add "the winner" to the list. The Library of Congress on Tuesday announced that Joel will receive the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, an award meant to honor "living musical artists whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with George and Ira Gershwin," according to a statement from the library. "Billy Joel is a storyteller of the highest order," said James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress, in the statement. "There is an intimacy to his songwriting that bridges the gap between the listener and the worlds he shares through his music. When you listen to a Billy Joel song, you know about the people and the place and what happened there." Joel, who recently performed three sold-out concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, will receive the prize in Washington, D.C., in November. In the...

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Beyonce, Juicy J show the right and wrong way to score a film

Whether you were one of millions glued to the trio of uber-bestselling steamy erotica or a fan of the crime-fighting turtles that ruled ‘80s pop culture, the film adaptation of "Fifty Shades of Grey" and the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” reboot were already marked as can’t-miss events. And now Beyoncé and Juicy J are helping get fans excited for both films. Beyoncé, who used her self-titled album to explore her sexuality in ways her fans hadn’t heard (or seen), quietly posted a teaser for the trailer of the upcoming "Fifty Shades of Grey” adaptation over the weekend. The 15-second clip – which she put on her official Instagram account – is brief, but it showcases a snippet of a reworked version of her breakout smash, “Crazy in Love,” that turns the tune’s ubiquitous “uh-oh” hook into a breathy, slowed-down moan. Calling the remix sexy is an understatement here. Beyoncé’s post has ignited talks of her potential involvement with racy film’s soundtrack. Chatter began when new album cut...

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George Harrison Memorial Tree killed ... by beetles; replanting due

In the truth is stranger than fiction department, Los Angeles Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose district includes Griffith Park, told Pop & Hiss over the weekend that the pine tree planted in 2004 near Griffith Observatory in memory of George Harrison will be replanted shortly because the original tree died as the result of an insect infestation. Yes, the George Harrison Tree was killed by beetles. Except for the loss of tree life, Harrison likely would have been amused at the irony. He once said his biggest break in life was getting into the Beatles; his second biggest was getting out. The sapling went in, unobtrusively, near the observatory with a small plaque at the base to commemorate the former Beatle, who died in 2001, because he spent his final days in Los Angeles and because he was an avid gardener for much of his adult life. He famously bought a rundown mansion in England that once belonged to a British lord named Sir Frankie Crisp --the name showed up in the title of Harrison’s...

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Kanye West to release new album this fall; details new single

With his most recent album and firstborn daughter both over a year old, Kanye West revealed the arrival of another creation. The rapper noted in a recent interview with GQ magazine that the follow up to the cutthroat “Yeezus” is planned for a fall release. “But I think most likely September. I go back and forth. Like, should it be September or should it be October? Should it be November?” West said. Aside from uncertainly about a release date, West admitted that the new album’s direction can still be altered as well. “One new thing could change everything,” West said. “I had an idea of the way I wanted to do the album. And then I got a new song that's so good that the album has to be balanced against it.” West also announced a new tune titled “All Day,” which has the tone of a Jay Z piece, and includes bits from the 2011 track, “... in Paris.” Although the single’s release date was not mentioned, West did take the time to grade a past track, “New Slaves.” The rapper argued that the...

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Basement Jaxx's 'Never Say Never' clip debuts 'Twerk-Bot' technology

The striking new video from British production team Basement Jaxx should serve as both a wake-up call and a reassurance for those worried about the endangered practice of dancing. A ridiculously funky, bawdy and funny sendup of a promotional film for a robotics company, the clip for “Never Say Never” depicts engineers working to resurrect the lost art of body-movin’. As depicted by director Saman Kesh, Jaxx’s clip boasts of “bringing dance back to mankind” through its innovative “Twerk-Bot 1.0.” The video opens with some shocking (and fictional) statistics: Seventy-two percent have stopped partaking in the art of dancing; in 15 years, that number will increase to 98%. The solution: Through 1,400 days, 118 employees and 17.5 billion yen, “Jaxx Industries” has produced “an achievement that will stimulate the world to dance again.” Ladies and gentlemen, Jaxx Industries presents the twerking robot. Featuring “triple-jointed pneumatics,” patented Jaxx buttocks (“self-lubricating, machine...

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Conor Oberst drops libel suit over retracted rape claims

Singer-songwriter Conor Oberst has ended his libel suit over retracted accusations that he raped a woman more than a decade ago, according to various sources. Oberst had filed a $1-million lawsuit against Joan Elizabeth Harris (a.k.a. Joanie Faircloth), a North Carolina woman who claimed in several online postings that Oberst had sexually assaulted her after a 2003 concert. Harris later publicly retracted the claims, saying in a notarized statement that, "The statements I made and repeated online and elsewhere over the past six months accusing Conor Oberst of raping me are 100% false... I publicly retract my statements about Conor Oberst, and sincerely apologize to him, his family, and his fans for writing such awful things about him." Oberst later issued a statement on the retraction, saying, "I have accepted Joanie Faircloth’s apology and retraction to clear my name. This has been extremely difficult and stressful for me personally and for those I love. I’m appreciative of the family...

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Listen: Weezer rocks out 'like it's '94' in 'Back to the Shack'

Fairweather fans of Weezer have been clamoring for years for the band to return to the crunching guitar pop of its first few albums. Now Rivers Cuomo appears to be obliging them. "Take me back, back to the shack / Back to the Strat with the lightning strap," the frontman sings in a brand-new single, "Kick in the door, more hardcore / Rocking out like it's '94." Posted Monday on YouTube, "Back to the Shack" is the initial sampling from "Everything Will Be Alright in the End," due out Sept. 30. It's Weezer's first studio disc since "Hurley" in 2010 and reunites the veteran L.A. band with Ric Ocasek of the Cars, who produced the group's hit 1994 debut. The album also marks Weezer's return to a major label, in this case Republic Records, which may or may not have something to do with its planned appearance at next month's high-profile Made in America festival at Grand Park in downtown L.A. In a statement, the band's representative said "Everything Will Be Alright in the End" contains tunes...

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Chop & Quench brings Fela Kuti's 'The '69 L.A. Sessions' to life

It was proclaimed more than once over the evening at California Plaza that history was being made in downtown Los Angeles on Friday night as part of the Grand Performances series. For the first time, a choice selection of the iconic Nigerian bandleader Fela Kuti's music, created during a flash of inspiration while living in L.A., was performed live in the city of its birth.  The band responsible, the Afrobeat unit Chop & Quench, replicated the recordings that comprise "The '69 Los Angeles Sessions," about a storied period in Pan-African music history.  Performing the funky, wildly syncopated compositions that the late musician-activist recorded while living here for much of 1969, the dozen players -- horns, percussion, guitar, bass, keyboards, dancers and singers -- celebrated the evolution of Kuti's music, when his mission turned overtly political and his sound expanded. -------------------- FOR THE RECORD: Fela Kuti: In the July 21 Calendar section, a review of Chop & Quench's performance of Fela Kuti's...

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Pursued by youngsters, Jason Mraz is mellower than ever on 'Yes!'

Ed Sheeran was only 11 years old when Jason Mraz released his major-label debut in 2002. But over the last few years the young British singer has risen quickly to challenge Mraz’s once-secure position as music’s go-to acoustic folk-pop guy. This month Sheeran’s “x” entered the Billboard album chart at No. 1 with sales of 210,000 copies – more than twice as many as Mraz’s last record sold in its first week in stores in 2012. Given that competition – not to mention the extra heel-nipping from Hunter Hayes -- it’s easy to hear 37-year-old Mraz’s new one as a kind of strategic move: Where the expansive “x” and Hayes’ jittery “Storyline” both emphasize those acts’ youthful intensity, “Yes!” comes on far more softly than any of Mraz’s earlier work, with words about growing up set against chilled-out arrangements devised in part by the L.A. group Raining Jane. “Every time I hear music they’ve added more stuff to it,” he sings in “Quiet,” an excitable whippersnapper turned elder bro, “Things...

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