By Bryan Hood | After officially premiering his latest song, “New Slaves,” on walls in ten cities across the globe on Friday night, Kanye West gave us our first non-cellphone-captured taste of new music on last night’s “Saturday Night Live” season finale. The always controversial rapper debuted the Marilyn Manson-sampling “Black Skinhead,” before performing “New Slaves.” Both tracks show off a decidedly bleak and angry version Kanye, one that feels closer to his “808s and the Heartbreaks” vintage than any other version of the self-proclaimed “God.” Kanye’s sixth album, “Yeezus” (via Pitchfork), will be released on June 18, and while there’s no confirmation that these two songs will make the final tracklist, it wouldn’t exactly be shocking if they were included. One thing that’s clear, though, is that Kanye’s getting weird with these songs, and if you ask us, that’s him at his best.
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By Bryan Hood | TUNE: “Madonna’s Kids,” in which an airy and tumbling piano sample is looped, and topped with some clever and wondrously nonsensical (“operating at a fast pace like a squirrel”) rhyming. An all-around charming way to wind down the work week.
BY: Queens-based Bengali rapper Big Baby Gandhi, who despite loads of talent, recently walked away from the hip-hop game in order to go back to pharmacy school.
CURRENTLY: This is one of five tracks off the MC’s latest EP, the Yuri Beats collaboration, “America Eats Its Babies,” one of a number of releases you can expect from Gandhi in 2013, while he empties out his unreleased works. It can be downloaded here for free.
1. Emily Blunt is in talks to join Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep for “Into the Woods,” the Stephen Sondheim adaptation directed by Rob Marshall (“Chicago”). It’s being reported that, “Blunt would play the film’s female lead, a baker’s wife.” No start date for production has been set. A couple of days ago, it was rumored that Chris Pine and Jake Gyllenhaal were circling roles in the film, though their participation is not confirmed. [Variety]
By Bryan Hood | TUNE: “Disappear,” the kind of tossed off “demo,” that doesn’t remotely feel like one, but is also packed with the kind of emotional intensity that so many artist seem unable to capture in their finished work.
BY: Shreeveport, Lousiana native Mikky Ekko, who through time, effort, and a spot on Rihanna’s hit single, “Stay,” has turned himself into one of the music’s more promising singer-songwriters.
CURRENTLY: As stated earlier, this is a “demo,” so it could be for anything. Whatever it is, if it’s going to sound like this, then sign us up.
By Craig Hubert | Because Kanye’s thing now is showing up at places out of nowhere and doing weird things (wait, that’s always been his thing), the self proclaimed “God” made an appearance at the Adult Swim upfront at Roseland Ballroom in New York City, reports Pitchfork. But of course, he didn’t just make an appearance — West showed up inside a giant, translucent pyramid, sort of like the giant stage prop Daft Punk used to perform inside but more foggy and weird looking, and debuted a few new songs. The internet flipped out, because that is the natural reaction anytime West does anything. Lots of people took shaky cell phone shots and Vines, because taking Vines is a thing now. It’s hard to tell what’s happening inside the pyramid, although it looks like West is wearing a onesie and doesn’t appear to have donned a kilt or furry costume this time around, which is a bummer. Watch below:
In Five: Cate Blanchett Joins David Mamet’s JFK Drama, James Franco Loves “Gatsby,” and More Culture News
1. Cate Blanchett is set to star in “Blackbird,” a “present-day Hitchcockian nailbiter turning on a secret explanation for the 1963 assassination of U.S. president John F. Kennedy,” from director David Mamet. The actress will play “Janet, who travels to Los Angeles for the funeral of her grandfather, a Hollywood visual effects artist who moonlighted for U.S. special ops agencies. Her grandfather’s well-kept secrets become a threat to her, forcing Janet to discover the truth about a man who dedicated his life to making illusion reality.” None of the other cast members have been announced. Mamet will write and direct the film, which is being produced by Said Ben Said’s Paris-based SBS Productions. [Variety]
By Bryan Hood | TUNE: “Confidence,” a song that feels exactly like one with its title should, a mixture of everything the band’s put out before, but so much more assured and muscular, without losing what made them so unique in the first place.
BY: San Francisco-based folk rockers The Dodos, who briefly became a trio last year, before the tragic death of former guitarist Christopher Reimer caused them return to being a duo.
CURRENTLY: This is the first single off the band’s upcoming album, “Carrier,” the follow-up to 2011’s underappreciated “No Color.” The record will be released by the band’s new label, Polyvinyl, this August.
By Craig Hubert | It’s impossible to escape Daft Punk right now — the mysterious robot helmet wearing duo have a new album, “Random Access Memories,” coming out next week, which means they are appearing everywhere. This doesn’t mean that you will learn anything new about the group, though; Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter perform with helmets on for a reason. Frankly, we’ve stopped reading the deluge of profiles and think pieces about the group, which is why we missed this small tidbit, buried in Ryan Dombal’s profile of the two dance-music pioneers published by Pitchfork: “at one point, Bangalter let it slip that he and de Homem-Christo recently had a meeting with [Brian] De Palma to ‘discuss some things,’ though he declined to divulge any specifics.” Now, the obvious connection here is via De Palma’s “Phantom of the Paradise,” the director’s 1974 musical that features the unique pop stylings of “Rainbow Connection” songwriter Paul Williams. If you’ve checked out “Random Access Memories,” currently streaming at iTunes, or read anything about the album, you probably know that the group are big fans of the film and Williams is featured on the album’s gorgeous centerpiece “Touch.” So could Daft Punk now be reaching out to De Palma for some kind of video accompaniment to the track? Are we about to see a “Phantom of the Paradise” reunion?
In Five: Al Pacino Plays Another Eccentric, Scarlet Johansson Joins Food Truck Rom-Com, and More Culture News
1. Al Pacino has signed on to play A.J. Manglehorn, “an aging, ordinary guy in a small town who’s more than meets the eye,” in “Menglehorn,” a new film from David Gordon Green. Paul Logan wrote the screenplay, based on an original story by Green and Logan. The film tells “the story of an eccentric man who tries to come to terms with a past crime that cost him the love of his life.” Al Pacino has never been more ready to play an eccentric man. Production is expected to begin this fall in Los Angeles. [Deadline]
1. Bill Hader is leaving the cast of “Saturday Night Live” after nine seasons, it’s being reported. His final regular appearance will be on this week’s season finale. “It was a hard decision, but it has to happen at some point,” Hader said in an interview with the New York Times. “It got to a point where I said, ‘Maybe it’s just time to go.’” [Deadline] (more…)