Marc Hogan



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    Best Coast Drummer Ali Koehler Forced Out of Band

    Best Coast have been working on a follow-up to debut album Crazy for You, one of our top albums of 2010, but they'll be doing so without their regular touring drummer. As Pitchfork points out, Ali Koehler has confirmed she's out of the band. Koehler's departure was apparently involuntary and unexplained, per this string of apologetic tweets: "Not my choice, sorry if you're disappointed," "I'm sorry, I'm equally disappointed," and "your guess is as good as mine." UPDATE: Bethany Cosentino has posted a statement to Best Coast's Facebook addressing the lineup change. "Best Coast has and always will be Bobb [Bruno] and I. No matter who has joined the band on tour, whatever lineup ensues, the band is simply the two of us.

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    Young Jeezy's 'Gangsta Shit' Is (Slightly) Better Than Its Title

    "I came in who I was, and I'm gonna remain that person," Young Jeezy told us a few years ago. Atlanta's hip-hop motivational speaker has spent a career trying to balance pop success and street credibility, on one hand delivering mainstream blockbusters like 2008's The Recession or a guest verse on Usher's hit "Love in This Club," and on the other putting out gritty but often less compelling material with his group USDA. The latest Jeezy track making the rounds online falls into the latter camp — hear it here. Set to appear on USDA's just-leaked sophomore album The After Party, "Gangsta Shit" finds Jeezy, Boo Rossini, Slick Pulla, and 211 trading casual talk about, um, gangsta shit. "It's something to ride to," Jeezy barks at the outset.

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    See Nas Recount the First Time He Met Amy Winehouse

    Amy Winehouse became a vividly familiar character through her music and, unfortunately, the tabloid circus that accompanied her offstage exploits. By the time of her death this summer at age 27, the British soulster wasn't just a singer but a star, with all the ridiculous baggage that entails in the TMZ age. Nas knew Winehouse before she was famous, however, and in a new video promoting the release of posthumous Lioness: Hidden Treasures, he sheds a little light on the Winehouse the rest of us might not have known. Nas met Winehouse through a mutual producer, Salaam Remi, who would often chat with the singer via Skype. But what struck the rapper first about Winehouse sounds a lot like what struck many others: "Instantly, the voice just caught me," Nas says of the first time Remi played him her music.

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    In Praise of Leona Lewis' Cover of Nine Inch Nails' 'Hurt'

    Leona Lewis, the former X Factor winner and "Bleeding Love" hitmaker, has covered "Hurt," the majestically self-lacerating finale from Nine Inch Nails' 1994 smash The Downward Spiral. Yeah, that's right: the song about feeling dead inside that Johnny Cash transformed into a harrowing contemplation of his own mortality on one of his late-career albums with Rick Rubin. For all the inevitable wisecracks about how the Mariah Carey-eque British singer is "hurting" listeners, or music, or whatever, this actually isn't such a bad thing. As Cash's cover showed in the first place, "Hurt" is a song with remarkably broad appeal, and its lyrics can take on whatever meaning a listener — or a singer — wants to invest in them.

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    See the National Play With Bon Iver, Hear Two New Songs

    The National are putting 2010's High Violet to bed in high style. Beginning December 12, Brooklyn's reigning kings of moody, baritone-sung rock anthems will wrap up their current tour with a sold-out, six-night stand at New York's Beacon Theatre. But first, they stopped by the CBC's Q radio show, where they performed with Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and premiered two previously unreleased songs. Check them out below. The National's collaboration with ambivalent Grammy nominee and soon-to-be personal fitness guru Vernon came on High Violet swan song "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks," which our reviewer called a "vaguely optimistic slow dance." Vernon adds his trademark Antony-in-flannel falsetto to this keening acoustic version, emblazoned with bittersweet horns. "We were fighting over hip-hop and Irish whiskey," the band reveals ahead of the performance.

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    Zooey Deschanel Writing New She & Him Material

    You can't keep the New Girl down. When not starring in a new TV sitcom, putting out a Christmas album as the non-M. Ward half of folk-pop duo She & Him, or rounding out an awful year for famous indie-rock couples, the singer-actress has been getting started on the next She & Him album. "I've been writing a lot," Deschanel recently told, "so hopefully we'll be in the studio pretty soon." Elsewhere, she's quoted as saying her FOX sitcom will take a break in the spring and summer, "so that's when I can do other projects." Whether and to what extent said projects will be "adorkable" remains to be seen. But the potential for breakup weepers on this new effort is great.

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    Janelle Monae's 'Soul Clock' Schedules Two 2012 LPs

    Every sci-fi funkateer starts somewhere, and for Janelle Monáe Robinson, that place is Kansas City, Kansas. Though the well-coiffed R&B eccentric decamped for Atlanta well before with last year's extraordinary The Archandroid, she came back home last week, where she revealed plans to release not one, but two proper albums in 2012. Monáe reportedly unveiled her intentions in an interview with the blog Back to Rockville (via ONTD) before appearing at a mayoral Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Friday night. "I am happy to be here and see my family, and I am eager to get back to the studio and work on finishing my album," she's quoted as saying. "I stopped touring so I could finish the album.

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    Knives Out: See Major Lazer's Dangerous 'Original Don' Video

    A key component of Major Lazer's insanely entertaining live shows is a violent humping-based dance move called "daggering," which the futuristic dancehall duo of DJ/producers Diplo and Switch posted a how-to about last year. The pair explore a different kind of dangerous dance — a sword dance — in the brand new video for Major Lazer's track with Dutch DJ duo the Partysquad, "Original Don." Watch below, via Pitchfork. Diplo himself makes an appearance in the clip, sitting on a couch and politely reading a book (there's no sign of Switch). Meanwhile, a couple of younger people in T-shirts and jeans dance around with medieval-style weaponry, joined by a dog, a puppy, and an elderly woman in gigantic shades that sadly don't appear to be BluBlockers. "Original Don" is out now as a a digital EP with Don Draper-inspired artwork —be still, Grandma's heart.

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    Blur Win Brit Award for Lifetime Achievement

    Woohoo! Blur will receive an Outstanding Contribution to Music award at the Brit Awards in February, event organizers have revealed. The honor has previously gone to U2, Oasis, Paul McCartney, and other acts of similar renown. Probably best known in the U.S. for the two-minute grunge goof "Song 2," from 1997's self-titled album, Blur achieved massive stardom in the group's native Britain, with an eclectic and commanding discography. Frontman Damon Albarn has since gone on to greater global commercial success with animated hip-hop group Gorillaz, as well as performing in the band Good, the Band, and the Queen and releasing various projects involving music from far-flung locales. The Brit Awards will take place on February 21 at London's O2 Arena. Last year's ceremony included performances by Mumford & Sons, Rihanna, Arcade Fire, Adele, Cee Lo Green, and Tinie Tempah.

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    Watch Amy Winehouse's 2006 Performance in a Rural Irish Church

    In December 2006, Amy Winehouse's breakthrough album Black in Black was two months old. The retro-soul singer, who died tragically this summer due to what officials have ruled as excessive alcohol consumption, was only 23. That's when, almost exactly five years ago, she stopped by a 200-year-old church in Dingle, a small town on western Ireland's remote and craggy peninsula. Irish TV program Other Voices has put together a documentary, to be broadcast on BBC2 in early 2012, that includes an interview with the young Winehouse, who was then on the cusp of fame. The documentary also shows footage of the "Rehab" singer giving an intimate performance at St. James's Church, built in 1807 in this town with a population of fewer than 2,000 people.

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