2008-03-30

Music Podcast of the Week: KCRW's Top Tune

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Want to be a music tastemaker? Want to have your friends envious of you because you're able to pick the up and coming bands months before they hit the big time? Well, you need to be listening to the right source for free music.

The right source is KCRW. They are the exclusive owners of the crystal ball that rotates CDs when you look into it. Either that or they've kidnapped a number of radio executives and are torturing them to play the songs of their choosing. And now they have a song-of-the-day podcast featuring some of the best music o' the future.

The podcast is brand new, so it will take some time to get a good selection of music, but I daresay it will be awesome.

Grab KCRW's Top Tune Podcast.

2008-03-29

Beat It Cover by Fall Out Boy and...John Mayer?

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Wow. When I woke up this morning, I certainly didn't expect to end up listening to a "Beat It" cover by Fall Out Boy. And then to discover that John Mayer was the one shredding the guitar during the course of the song? I'm so freaked out, I'm seriously considering going back to bed.

There's no video yet, thank Thor. I have serious doubts that Pete Wentz can moonwalk. And I know for a certainty that John Mayer will think that he can moonwalk, but his attempt will be an epic fail.

Check out "Beat It" on iTunes.

Free iTunes TV: Green River Killer, Green Power Documentaries

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Many of the past week's free TV episodes are still available. But you want to hear about the new ones, right?

1. Capture of the Green River Killer (10:03)
Get a preview of this upcoming Lifetime miniseries, based on the true story of Washington's Green River Killer, and his eventual capture. James Marsters (who played "Spike" on Buffy) is in it. Which makes it totally worth watching.

2. Big Ideas for a Small Planet (25:38)
I'm super into the environment lately. Shrinking my carbon footprint and everything. I've been drawing inspiration from a number of green blogs, and am participating in Earth Hour tonight.
So this award-winning documentary that covers developments in alternative energy that may help us avert the climate crisis is timely, and definitely worth a watch.

2008-03-26

More from Heidi Montag

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I don't understand.

Does Heidi Montag have an actual album coming out? Or is she just going to keep drizzling out singles and homemade videos because Spencer hasn't been able to figure out how to work the CD burner?

Regardless, Miss Heidi has another single out titled "No More". This is one case where you can be glad for vocal effects as it transforms the song into something vaguely listenable. I've got 10 bucks on another bikini video magically surfacing for this one. We can only hope.

Download Heidi Montag's "No More".

2008-03-25

Free iTunes Tuesday: Lady Antebellum, Hayes Carll, Chana

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Country fans: this is your week for free iTunes music. Let's dig in:

1. Love Don't Live Here - Lady Antebellum
I'm not sure what to say about this one. It's a nice country song, full of twang and harmonies and break-up angst. I guess I could point out that the singer Charles Kelly is the brother of Josh Kelley, who is married to Katharine Heigl. That's kind of interesting, I guess.

2. She Left Me For Jesus - Hayes Carll
Wildly clever country song. All I need to do to sell you on this one is post the lyrics of the chorus:
"She left me for Jesus, and that just ain't fair.
She said that He's perfect, how could i compare?
She says that I should find him, and I'll know peace at last.
If I ever find Jesus, I'm kickin' His ass."

Love it.

3. La Duda - Chana
I was hoping to report that "La Duda" translated to "The Dude" because that would be an awesome name for a song. But it translates to "The Doubt", which is still pretty cool.

La Chana is Rosanna Tavarez, a vocalist and songwriter of Dominican heritage who grew up in New York and Miami. This track is kind of awesome: dance rock meets power pop. It reminds me a lot of CSS. Highly recommended.

2008-03-24

Death Cab for Cutie is back! And they will possess your heart. Tho' not in a demonic way.

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Ben Gibbard's Death Cab for Cutie found mainstream success with their last album, "Plans". Many of their cult fanbase accused them of selling out, and certainly the album was a bit less thoughtful than the quirky work of their past.

It will be interesting then, to see how Death Cab bridges art and mainstream with their upcoming album "Narrow Stairs".

If their first single, "I Will Possess Your Heart" is any indication, they are embracing their art sides all the way. Over eight minutes long, the song has a four minute instrumental introduction. That's right. Four minutes with no vocals. After all, the band is full of master instrumentalists, why not show off what they can do?

It's likely the radio version will cut out those four minutes and get straight to Ben's lovely singing voice and DC's harmonies. But check out the newly released single and see whether you like the new Death Cab.

Pick up Death Cab for Cutie's new single: I Will Possess Your Heart

2008-03-23

New Danity Kane album features exorbitant hair extensions, Missy Elliot, and robots.

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I won't own up to it. I never watched the P.Diddy "Making the Band" reality show that put Danity Kane together. "Show Stopper" was never a huge guilty pleasure for me. And Aundrea is certainly not my favorite of the group.

Which is why I'm completely neutral and qualified to comment on Danity Kane's new album: "Welcome to the Dollhouse". Pluses here: the album is really well done. The arrangements are complex and interesting. The songs are all danceable and catchy. The first single "Damaged" was voted on by the fans as their favorite new song off the album and features a couple of great hooks. Missy Elliot makes an appearance on "Bad Girl".

Still, part of me mourns every time I hear a Danity Kane song. If you watch the show (which I don't), you know that these girls have legitimately great voices. They are extremely talented. But the way that their vocals are produced, layering on *heavily* the AutoTuner and the digital effects, means that all of the individuality is washed out of their sound. They could be any five hot girls off the street. Or Fembots, for all we know. Is it too much to ask for one song that turns off the vocal effects and lets us hear them raw and real?

Still, I'm digging it. Secretly. Shhh. Don't tell. And pick up Damaged.

2008-03-22

Free iTunes TV: Greek, Life of Ryan

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Pretty uninteresting free tv this week, I'm afraid. A few more episodes of things we've seen before, and a bunch of repeats from past weeks.

1. Greek - Pilot (52:22); Black, White, and Read All Over (45:58)
An ABC Family show about being greek in college? I'm sure there will be lots of squeaky-clean drama fun for the whole family. Still, you get two entire free episodes to hook you.

Greek also has about seven 30 minute videos on their casting for each episode, if you want to check that stuff out. The same link above will take you there.

2. America's Prom Queen - Casting Episode (11:10)
Yeah. This is still there, plus a free episode called "Prom Princesses". I'm not really sure why America needs a prom queen, since prom queens are mostly a high school popularity contest. Without standing on the backs of your teenage peers, how vital is a prom queen title anyway? Well, Jai Rodriguez, one of the Queer Eye guys is a judge, so maybe it's worth a peek.

3. Life of Ryan - Flashback (20:58)
A full episode of that Life of Ryan show with the angsty skateboarding kid. I think this is a Season Two clip show with some deleted scenes and stuff.

Sorry it's so sparse. Hopefully next week will be better!

2008-03-21

Heroes Soundtrack is made of awesome, new songs from good bands.

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When I clicked on the newly released Heroes Soundtrack, I was pretty surprised what I found there. After all, the show isn't like "Grey's Anatomy", renowned for its music. It has a pretty decent original score, but only a few of those tracks are featured on this album.

Instead, what's on there are a bunch of unique, new songs from some of my favorite bands. Imogen Heap's "Not Now, But Soon" is a highlight. Death Cab for Cutie, The New Pornographers, My Morning Jacket, Nada Surf, Panic at the Disco, and Wilco have new tracks on here as well.

Mix that up with a few great tracks from David Bowie, Bob Dylan, and the Chemical Brothers and it's like listening to the greatest "Heroes"-inspired mix tape that was ever created.

Many iTuners will be annoyed that you can't pick up the singles individually, but IMO that's not as much of an issue when the whole album is this good.

Download the Heroes Soundtrack.

2008-03-20

Jason Mraz is "Yours", Adorable.

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I've been a huge Jason Mraz fan ever since I saw him perform live. He is just such a dynamic performer with such a huge, pure voice. It's impossible to listen to his music without being lifted up by some karmic, happy boost.

He is prepping for a new album coming up, and has released an 4 song EP called "We Sing" in anticipation of it. The lead single, "I'm Yours" is unspeakably adorable. Pick it up - it will immediately brighten your day.

2008-03-19

All American Idol Albums on Sale!!

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Always wanted to pick up that Kelly Clarkson or Daughtry album, but didn't want to shell out the full $9.99 for it?

Well this week, all American Idol albums are on sale for $7.99. Everyone you can think of is here from the currently-hot Jordin Sparks, to the gorgeous Carrie Underwood, Fantasia and Clay, and my personal favorite William Hung. Hung got an entire album? That guy is amazing!

Some of the lesser-knowns are also present. Did you know that creepy Constantine did an album? I didn't either. I don't even remember who Jim Verraros is. I do remember Bucky Covington, and what I remember frightens and confuses me.

Rounding out there group are eating disorder subjects Katharine McPhee and Kellie Pickler, the bouncy Blake Lewis, marine Josh Gracin, Elliot Yamin and his newly fixed teeth, scarily cheerful Taylor Hicks, two efforts from Kimberly Locke, the forgetable Diana DeGarmo, and Ms. Clarkson's most beautiful disaster: Justin Guarini (::shudder::).

Personally, I'm going to grab the Daughtry album and considering Katharine McPhee's, which was pretty well reviewed.

2008-03-18

Free iTunes Tuesday: Walk Like an Egyptian, R.E.M., and The Kills

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Very esoteric week for free iTunes music this week.

1. The Kills - Cheap and Cheerful
My understanding of the Kills is that they are two people who used to be nice, normal, and in unsuccessful bands. So they swore some sort of oath to the devil or something and started over. Their new strategy involved chain smoking and vomiting on stage, never giving press interviews, condemning corporate America, and making some pretty awesome music. Good track. Sounds a bit like Garbage. Grab it.

2. The Puppini Sisters - Walk Like an Egyptian
A 40's jazz-version of the Bangles' 80's hit? ::shrugs:: Why not?

3. R.E.M. - Living Well is the Best Revenge [Video]

R.E.M.'s latest release is getting stunning reviews. I've heard a few tracks and have been floored at how gorgeously angry they are. This video features R.E.M. crammed in a van, driving along a dark highway, playing their instruments acoustically, drumming on the steering wheel, and joyously making harmonies. It's the way that music should be experienced, and it's a joy to watch a band so candidly enjoying each other. I strongly recommend you download this.

4. Karyme Lozano - Ay Ay Ay

This was totally throwaway for me. If you're really into Latin music, grab it. Else, pick up the rest of this week's tracks.

2008-03-17

Free TV on iTunes: Pilots for New Amsterdam, Canterbury's Law, and more

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Lots of free TV popped up on iTunes this week. Let's have a look:

1. New Amsterdam - Pilot (43:56)
I watched this pilot on TV a couple of weeks ago. The show has gotten great reviews as kind of a Highlander meets CSI. John Amsterdam, the main character, was given a curse by some indian tribe in the 1700's where he can't die until he meets "the one". So he's lived hundreds of years, had multiple wives, sired dozens of kids, and had a gazillion occupations, but he hasn't met her yet.

Then, while chasing a suspect through the subway, he has a heart attack, falls down unconscious, and wakes up in a morgue. Was the "one" somewhere on the subway deck? Unfortunately, we're going to have to survive dozens detective mystery episodes with flashbacks to his early life to find out...

2. Canterbury's Law - Pilot (44:41)
I did not watch this show when it debuted on tv, but I know a few things about it. One, it stars Julianna Marguilles who I always adored on ER. Two, she places a lawyer who is mean to everybody but really good at what she does. Sort of a lawyer equivalent of House, and the polar opposite of Eli Stone. I have a hard time picturing Julianna as a Bia-tch, which is probably why I'll eventually tune in.

3. Greek - Pilot (52:22); Black, White, and Read All Over (45:58)
An ABC Family show about being greek in college? I'm sure there will be lots of squeaky-clean drama fun for the whole family. Still, you get two entire free episodes to hook you.

4. MLB 2008 Season Preview (1 hr); MLB 2008 Fantasy Season Preview (44:10)
MLB.com brings two significant season previews for the upcoming season. Great way to get psyched up for the upcoming season. (Go Indians!)

5. AxMen - Man vs. Mountain (44:12)
Another meaty full episode from the History Channel's series on loggers. I was watching this last night. Men really are men, and many limbs have been lost. It's kind of sad, actually.

2008-03-15

Free Jack Johnson videos in Podcast form

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I'm not entirely sure whether this is within copyright laws, but there is an awesome podcast on iTunes this week that offers many of the videos from Jack Johnson's new album: "Sleeping through the Static". If you download it, you can watch all of the videos for free. Pretty sweet deal!

The podcast itself is in French, but that doesn't really matter. Free videos! Check it out quickly.

2008-03-14

Leona Lewis: the newer, less crazy Whitney Houston

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Leona Lewis won an American-Idol like show in the UK called "The X Factor". With her stunning looks and a voice capable of both belting remarkably high notes and shimmering soft ones, she's gotten a number of well-deserved comparisons to Whitney Houston.

Her first US single is Bleeding Love, and I strongly encourage you to check it out on iTunes. It's incredibly catchy and pleasing to the ears. A good guilty pleasure.

2008-03-13

Free TV: Medical Mysteries, America's Prom Queen, and more

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1. Mystery Diagnosis - Survivors 2006 (40:55)
A baby boy is stricken with nonstop vomiting. A woman drinks three gallons of water night and day. A man who doesn't sweat. This Discovery Channel show looks into some very cool medical mysteries.
2. America's Prom Queen - Casting Episode (11:10)
I'm not really sure why America needs a prom queen, since prom queens are mostly a high school popularity contest. Without standing on the backs of your teenage peers, how vital is a prom queen title anyway? Well, Jai Rodriguez, one of the Queer Eye guys is a judge, so maybe it's worth a peek.
3. Unhitched - Behind the Scenes (9:20)
If you liked Karen from the Office, this is her new series. Did you know that she's apparently dating the guy that plays Jim in real life? In this series, she helps a group of defunct guys get divorces and start to repair their love lives. I think.

2008-03-12

Usher asks if we'll make love in the club. World responds: "Yes!"

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Usher is getting ready to drop his new album, and the racy first single has already raced to the top of the charts.

Love In This Club features Usher trying to convince his young lady friend that they should risk imprisonment, shed their clothes, and start getting it on in the middle of the dance floor.

I'm not sure why they can't wait until they get home. I guess she's that irresistible...

Still, the track is almost as hot as Usher himself. Pick it up on iTunes today.

2008-03-11

Free iTunes Tuesday: Duffy, Madita, and Los Mono

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1. Duffy - Mercy
iTunes loves giving us female UK-imports resembling Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse, so why not do another one? Mercy has 50's-retro appeal. Duffy's voice is lighter than Winehouse and scratchier than Lily's, but has an appealing quality all of it's own. Definitely one of the best free singles in a while.

2. Madita - Better Brother
If you've liked the Feist and Yael Naim tracks that iTunes has skyrocketed to popularity, chances are you'll also like Madita. Her album swings from ethereal, Portishead-like tracks to Sara Bareilles-like jazz/pop. Very promising new find. It's another must-download.

3. Los Mono - Promesas
Very groovy latin-electro-funk track. To me, it sounds a bit like LCD Soundsystem with latin lyrics. Had me dancing, and didn't once get boring.

2008-03-09

Jason Castro breaths new life into Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujiah"

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I was shocked when I opened the iTunes store this week and saw that one of my favorite songs, "Hallelujiah" had shot to the top of the charts. Jason Castro, the dopey looking guy with dreadlocks, did a passable version of it on American Idol, which has reminded everybody how awesome the song was in the first place.



"Hallelujiah" was originally written by infamous songwriter Leonard Cohen, and then was covered by everyone in existence. My favorite two covers are Jeff Buckley's (who died after putting out an achingly beautiful album), and Brandi Carlile (singer of "The Story").

But there are so many good covers out there to choose from. Have a listen to the diverse set of people singing this amazing song:

2008-03-05

Free iTunes Tuesday: Ana Laan, Eric Durrance

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A bit of a quieter iTunes Tuesday this week. We've just got two free tracks, both a little on the chill side.

1. Ana Laan - Paradise
The startling, romantic voice of singer Ana Laan was born in Madrid and matured in Stockholm, Sweden. The daughter of a Spanish professor of literature and an American mother, Ana was raised in a home where learning was revered and multi-culturalism was the norm.

The song sounds a bit like if Lily Allen or Kate Nash did a Latin track. Very cute.

2. Eric Durrance - Wait Till I Get There
Country track. Eric Durrance is embarking on his solo career and coming out with a new record in a couple of weeks. The man is hot, and has a melting voice.

The song itself is pretty sad - the lyrics tell the tale of him rushing home to say goodbye to his grandpa before he dies. The song will probably make you tear up a bit.