On the same day that Interscope apparently dropped Chief Keef, Mac Miller announced that he’s signed to Warner Bros., for a deal that’s reportedly worth $10 million. You will not find a better indication of the way the major-label system has moved away from hard, unpredictable street-rappers and toward the more malleable and middle-class weedhead rappers beloved on college campuses. I’d say rap is missing something important without hungry-young-wolf voices being given prominent chances, but that’s not really Miller’s fault. He’s grown a huge audience by himself, on mixtapes and the independent label Rostrum. And he’s a lot better of rapper than he was just a couple of years ago. Faces the mixtape Miller released in May, is probably his best-ever work. And to celebrate his new deal, Miller has released a new track, a two-minute word-drunk bender with the vaguely adorable title “Just Some Raps, Nothing To See Here, Move Along.” Listen below.
Weezer’s Everything Will Be Alright In The End has been received as a return to form here and elsewhere. But the album didn’t exactly set the charts on fire, debuting at #5 with 34,000 in first-week sales, and lead single “Back To The Shack,” despite charting at #4 on the Rock Airplay chart and #5 on Mainstream Rock Songs chart, isn’t quite a world-beating smash. So I guess it’s not that crazy that the band posted a survey on Facebook today asking fans to help them choose their next single. Three options are presented: “Ain’t Got Nobody,” “Da Vinci,” and the Bethany Cosentino duet “Go Away.” Humorously, the question originally read, “How much do you think each of these 3 songs would help Weezer’s career if released as the next single?” It has since been altered to read, “How much do you think each of these 3 songs would help Weezer long-term, if released as the next single?” Participate in the survey here.
Prague’s Cult Of Fire were responsible for one of 2013′s best metal albums, मृत्यु का तापसी अनुध्यान (gonna have to check the pronunciation on that one): a swirling, immersive black metal record that looked to India for its inspiration, both musical and lyrical. The band is back this year with a two-song EP, Čtvrtá Symfonie Ohně (translated: “The Fourth Symphony Of Fire”), which returns them to their own roots: The record is dedicated to Czech composer Bedřich Smetana, as well as the Czech river Vltava and the Slovak river Váh. “Vltava” is the title of the new EP’s A-side, and while the Indian elements have been replaced by Central European motifs — and the vocals are altogether absent — it showcases the same fierce musicianship, vitality, and commitment as found on the band’s last LP. Once again, it’s a bizarre and intoxicating experience. Listen.
Sufjan Stevens has presumably been dreaming of playing a show with 50 Cent ever since he picked out that outfit for Sisyphus’ “Booty Call” video. Later this year, he’ll get his chance. It’s for a good cause, too. Both Sufjan and 50 are on the bill at Cyndi Lauper’s Home For The Holidays benefit, which goes down 12/6 at New York’s Beacon Theatre and which raises awareness of LGBT youth homelessness. The diverse-to-the-point-of-insanity lineup also features Salt-N-Pepa, the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines, Patty Griffin, Emily West, STRFKR, Liv Warfield, and The Today Show’s Hoda Kotb. Rosie O’Donnell and Laverne Cox will co-host. You will find all relevant info here.
All of the songs we’ve heard so far from Mitski’s forthcoming full-length have been killer: There’s the wistful dream-pop of “First Love/Late Spring,” the crunchy pummel of “Townie,” and what’s perhaps my favorite song of the year so far, the guttural and vulnerable “I Don’t Smoke.” Our next taste of Bury Me At Makeout Creek is “I Will” and it’s a testament to Mitski’s vast talent as a songwriter that it sounds nothing like the tracks that came before it, yet still retains her individuality and unique perspective. Mitski lays her emotions on the table, satisfied but still wanting — “stay with me, hold my hand/there’s no need to be brave,” she sings as the music bellows behind her. It’s another stunner, and you can listen below.
Chief Keef says he has been dropped by Interscope. The embattled Chicago rapper confirmed his departure from the label in a series of tweets today. “100% of everything goes to me now,” he wrote. “Jimmy [Iovine] it was cool splitting it with U But u gave yo spot up!”
The L.A. producer Jerome LOL is half of the techno duo DJ Dodger Stadium, and their swooping, gorgeously produced Friend Of Mine is probably my favorite dance album of the year. Jerome also makes music on his own, though, and he’s contributed a new track called “All That I Am” to Five Years Of Friends Of Friends, an new double-CD compilation that celebrates the anniversary of the L.A. label Friends Of Friends. Shlohmo, Tomas Barfod, and Daedelus also have tracks on the comp, and people like Nicolas Jaar, Ryan Hemsworth, and Star Slinger contribute remixes. “All That I Am” is a swelling, melodic techno track with a great diva vocal from Jerome’s frequent collaborator Sara Z. Listen to it below.
Berkeley punk rock lifers Rancid, my favorite band of all time, haven’t released an album since the slept-on Let The Dominoes Fall in 2008. That changes next Tuesday. The band has a new one called Honor Is All We Know loaded up and ready to go, and we’ve posted its songs “Face Up” and “Already Dead,” as well as a video of them playing three of the album’s tracks. On first listen, the new LP isn’t quite as frenzied and anthemic as the stuff they were making two decades ago, but that only seems biologically sensible. And they’re still doing an amazing job packing giddy, beyond-catchy hooks into fast, assaultive punk rock pummels. They still sound happy to be alive, and they are incapable of making a bad album. Right now, you can stream the whole thing at iTunes Radio.
Honor Is All We Know is out 10/17 on Epitaph.