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Author: "Kate B"

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Rabble Rousin’

Jules Larson

Jules Larson used to be front-woman for the LA band Overnight Lows before striking it out on her own a few years ago. And so far, singledom’s been good to Larson. Her songs have made their way onto Kellogg’s commercials, shows like Army Wives, One Tree Hill and Grey’s Anatomy. There’s something about her soulful pop that works just as well on the army base as it does in the emergency room. “My Little Drum” is an easy and lithe melody reminiscent of the music of Brett Dennan or Jack Johnson. But don’t let the sunshine fool you, Larson is a bit of a hellcat. In the slinky, soulful “Raise A Little Hell,” she purrs, “You’ve gotta raise a little hell to get to heaven. And on “I Want It All” she does just that, conjuring up a ‘60s rock-soul revival with reverb drenched guitars, tambourines and bleating sax. Raising hell never sounded so heavenly.



Found Gems

Bella Ruse

Take Carol Channing, Joanna Newsom and some old wire recordings from the 1940s and you’ll be able to somewhat approximate the antique indie pop of Bella Ruse. Led by the whimsical warble of singer Kay Gillette, the Minneapolis band makes strange bedfellows out of their instrumentation, mixing glockenspiel with piano, guitar, kazoo and typewriter. The music that emerges is jaunty, teasing and a little magical. “Gumption & Guts” bounces along with kazoo chasing piano, as Gillette declares, “This hell I’m living is no worse than knowing / That I just never had the gumption or the guts to try.” Romantic satisfaction continues to evade the songstress on “Complicated Rhythm,” a quirky hodgepodge of tambourine, guitar, piano, trumpet and (again) typewriter that punctuates each lovelorn sentiment with a cheerful ding. There’s a lot to love about Bella Ruse, if you’ve got the gumption and the guts to try them out.



Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Michael Bublé Christmas duets on SNL

There’s no better way to introduce this SNL Christmas skit starring Michael Bublé other than quoting Jay Pharoah’s Kanye West: “You ride a donkey, I ride a Mercedes. Jesus, I’m so much better than you.” Enjoy.

Senior citizens flash mob to Glee’s “Last Christmas”

Sure, they move a little bit slower than your average flash mob, but these senior citizens are carrying tanks of oxygen, people. Enjoy this performance of Glee’s version of “Last Christmas” in all its geriatric glory.

The Bad

Jon Bon Jovi rumored to be dead

If hearing that Jon Bon Jovi died this week felt like a shot through the heart and you were livin’ on a prayer that the rumors were untrue, then you can breathe easy. Turns out it was just a random death hoax. If you don’t believe us, here’s proof.

Rihanna slams Dutch magazine over “disrespectful” story

After Dutch fashion magazine Jackie dubbed Rihanna the ultimate, ahem, “n**gabitch,” the pop star took to Twitter to read the editor the riot act. “I hope you can read English, because your magazine is a poor representation of the evolution of human rights,” she wrote. The editor, Eva Hoeke, apologized on Rihanna’s Facebook page, and then resigned. Read all about it here.

The Ugly

Nicki Minaj disses Lil Kim with “Stupid Hoe”

The war between Lil Kim and Nicki Minaj just got taken to a new level. Kim’s violent cover for her mixtape, Black Friday, was the first blow. Now, Nicki has parried with her new tune “Stupid Hoe.” Sample lyrics: “I’m Angelina, you Jennifer, come on bitch, you see where Brad [Pitt] at.” Come on ladies, leave Jennifer Aniston out of it.

Miley Cyrus goes off on fans

Miley Cyrus stopped to sign a couple autographs while on vacation, and when her boyfriend, Liam Hemsworth, tried to help steer her away, the natives got restless. Watch the showdown below.


The Wizard of Oz

Lee Coulter

Who says that practitioners of Americana have to be American? Lee Coulter hails from the land down under, not the one between sea and shining sea. Nonetheless, his self-described brand of “funkacana” feels as American as apple pie. The Australian singer-songwriter blends acoustic rock, folk and funk into breezy, wheezy little melodies. “Like They Used To” is a simple, stringy strut that could have been plucked from any era. On the laid-back “Photograph,” Coulter continues the feel-goodiness, singing, “Music is just a photograph of the way you feel.” If so, then the singer is feeling frisky on “Booty Voodoo.” Perhaps you’re wondering what funkacana is, well, here’s your first taste. The rhythmic, almost Latino dance track is quicksilver and grit, kinetic and cheeky as hell. Coulter will fit right in here. We Americans like our songs about female posteriors, don’t we, Sir-Mix-A-Lot?




Get Back Loretta

Attention, those trying to define the music of Get Back Loretta: Cease and desist. Give it up. Save yourself the trouble. The San Diego band defies categorization at every turn, deftly weaving elements of ‘60s garage rock, ‘70s soul and ‘90s Britpop into their songs. Your incredible journey begins with “Break Down”—a garage rock-soul revival with big, beautiful harmonies. Think Franz Ferdinand, if they were rubbed in the dirt a little. “Grown So Cold” is a jaunty, gypsy-inspired dance in the pale moonlight, while “Gotta Believe” is driving, adrenaline-fueled piano rock. And, though its name might lead you to believe it to be anesthetic, “Ketamine” swaggers with bluesy, almost theatrical, panache, while singer Steven Bradford delivers the punch with his killer croon. That’s the thing with this band—no song sounds like the next, but all of them are total knock-outs.



Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Jason Segel performs “Man or Muppet”

Jason Segel didn’t have to stretch too far to portray his puppet-loving character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Turns out the actor is a bit of a Muppet enthusiast. In this video from the new Muppets movie, Segel tackles the existential quandary, “Am I a Muppet or a man?” Enjoy.

Katy Perry stars in SNL digital short “Best Friends”

Two best friends who love Cornish hens. What could go wrong? Throw in a meth-addled bum, a mad scientist, a time machine and a game of Russian roulette. Ladies and gentleman, Katy Perry and Andy Samberg in the SNL digital short, “Best Friends.”

The Bad

R Kelly sets sail on a concert cruise

R Kelly’s book may not be coming out until next year, but the R&B singer isn’t resting on his laurels. Kelly will be performing on the “Love Letter Cruise,” a six-day cruise of the Caribbean offered by Concert Cruises next October. Ain’t nothing wrong with a little bump and grind on the high seas y’all. Read more about this floating fiasco here.


Barry Manilow goes under the knife

Barry Manilow underwent surgery for bursitis of the hip and torn leg muscles this week. The sixty-eight-year-old singer blamed his bum appendages on jumping around to Copacabana for thirty years.

The Ugly

Woman gets Drake forehead tattoo

Probably the only thing funnier than the thought of someone walking around with a Drake tattoo on her forehead for the rest of her life is the interview that Vice did with the woman’s tattoo artist, Kevin Campbell. “The funny thing is, I didn’t know who Drake was, I figured it was her hood or some sh**, not some goofnugget R&B dude.” That’s only one of many gems Campbell drops. Read the whole treasure trove here.

Deadmau5 not dead

There always seems to be a rumor going around that Deadmau5, a.k.a. Joel Zimmerman, is dead. This time a prankster altered the DJ’s Wikipedia page to say Deadmau5 died as a result of alcohol poisoning on December 11th. The death rumor didn’t piss Zimmerman off so much as the uncreative method of his demise. The artist wrote on his Facebook page, “I thought we had all agreed on acid spitting koalas skydiving and volcano.” Oh well, maybe next time.


Chasing Fireflies

Marie Hines

Marie Hines is a purveyor of rosy piano melodies, a feminine counterpoint to songwriter Adam Young of Owl City. Both write songs steeped in hope and whimsy, viewing the world around them with a mix of wide-eyed wonder and sensitivity. Hines, however, steers her songs into chamber pop territory, mixing piano with violin, cello, guitar and drums. “Worth The Fight” is an orchestra of optimism, where Hines promises the listener that there are “Bigger pictures to paint / More horizons to chase.” In “Wrapped Up In Love” she switches gears for a sweet shuffle somewhere between Sara Bareilles and Natasha Bedingfield. Like Young, Hines also has a song called “Fireflies.” Hers blends the high twinkle of piano with the low croon of cello for a swooning, moonlit melody. Hines has plenty of horizons left to chase, and they’re sure to be just as lovely. Stick around for the joy ride.


Hurt So Good


Jesi Kettering

It’s not every artist who asks for your shoe size along with your name and email on his/her mailing list sign up form. But Nashville’s Jesi Kettering is just a smidgen more fanciful than most. Her songs are infused with whimsy, wrapped in quiet, breathless melodies. “Full Circle” is a dreamy echo chamber of ambient beats, guitar reverb and Kettering’s honeyed vocals. All of her songs are delivered softly and sweetly. “Oh No,” even as it bemoans the act of falling for someone, is a quiet little love song made up of acoustic guitars and brushed drums. In “I Fell In Love,” she tackles the same sore subject, this time with guitar, piano and violin. “Call me a fool if I sound masochistic / If this counts as pain I want more,” she sings. Ditto that.



Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Sailors perform “All I Want For Christmas Is You”

It’s that time of year when stockings are hung, halls are decked, and sailors gather together to sing a little Mariah Carey. Enjoy the men of HMS Ocean lip synching to Mimi on the high seas.

Michael Bublé and Justin Bieber have bad bromance

“I love you man.”
“God, I love you, dude.”
“It’s like you’re my brother from another mother.”
“Totally! It’s totally like that!”

This is what you get when you mix Bieber with Bublé. (We’re still trying to decide between “Bieblé” and “Bubler” for this new couple.) Justin Bieber joined Michael Bublé on his Christmas special, and the two took their mutual adoration to an embarrassing place. And then Bieber sang a song called “Mistletoe.” So bromantic.

The Bad

Gene Simmons dubs Madonna “inappropriate” for Super Bowl

For whatever reason, TMZ decided to ask Gene Simmons to weigh in on Madonna’s upcoming performance at the Super Bowl this year. The KISS bassist was only too happy to offer his opinion, calling Madonna “inappropriate” for the halftime show. Remember, this is the guy who claims to have slept with 4,600 women. Pot, kettle, black?

Roy Orbison’s widow dies on the anniversary of his death

In a sad coincidence, Roy Orbison’s widow and former manager, Barbara Orbison, died on the 23rd anniversary of her husband’s death. Orbison had managed her late husband’s estate since the 1980s before falling ill with pancreatic cancer. She was 60 years old. R.I.P.

The Ugly

Nickelback and Peter Moylan battle it out on Twitter

After taking a lot of flack from Detroit fans for their halftime show during the Lions/Packers game on Thanksgiving, Nickelback wasn’t about to let anyone else throw shade. Enter Atlanta Braves pitcher Peter Moylan, who tweeted that Nickelback should take some cues from Foo Fighters. Then Nickelback asked Moylan how he liked warming the bench, and then the two made up. Another day of drama in the Twitterverse.

The Avalanches think Bon Iver sold out

A while back, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon dissed the GRAMMYS, saying that most of the people in the room during the ceremony had compromised their art in some way. So the fact that Vernon recently allowed his music to be used in a whiskey ad rubbed artists like The Avalanches the wrong way. So they made like Moylan and griped about it on Twitter.


The College Knockout

Bethany And The Guitar

Some brothers and sisters fight like cats and dogs, others make beautiful music together. Bethany and Kurtis Parks of Bethany and the Guitar clearly belong to the second camp. Though their songs were recorded in guest bedrooms and freshman dorms, they’re pitch perfect, patchwork melodies that blend strings, found percussion and other organic ephemera. “As Long As I’ve Got You” is sun-kissed folk-pop a la Colbie Caillat. More ambitious terrain can be found in “Careful With Me,” a layer cake of keys, violin, tambourines, handclaps and the female Parks’ sweet coo. “Sparrow,” with its analog crackles, warbling keys and softly strummed strings is lovely, as is “In Need,” where a Fender Rhodes tiptoes through the melancholia. Bethany and the Guitar’s music is full of dusty romance, a far nicer kind than you typically find in college dorm rooms.

“Sparrow” – Bethany and the Guitar




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