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    Kanye West & Jay-Z Close Out SXSW

    The fact that Kanye West was gracing Austin with his presence was no surprise. Even the fact that he'd brought Jay-Z with him wasn't a total surprise, given the spontaneous "Ho-va! Ho-va!" chant an hour into West's festival-capping set at a converted power plant downtown, sponsored by Vevo. (I bet that locale sounded a lot more enticing and exotic a week or so ago.) The marching band, though -- that was a surprise. Kanye is no stranger to SXSW -- he played here two years ago and clearly relishes the notion of going up against the greatest possible number of other artists and still being able to command the spotlight. Not that this is a solely selfish motive -- as in 2009, the event was actually a showcase for his label G.O.O.D.

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    TVOTR, Kills, OFF!, Vaccines Play SPIN's Party

    If TV on the Radio wanted to reintroduce themselves to their audience and get people excited about April's Nine Types of Light, they couldn't have done much better for themselves than their headlining set to a densely packed, sun-baked throng at SPIN's annual party at Stubb's BBQ in Austin. The absence of bassist Gerard Smith, who is being treated for lung cancer, necessitated some shuffling, as drummer Jaleel Bunton switched to bass and Death Set drummer Jahphet Landis sat behind the kit, although this arrangement may change as the band continues to play out.

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    A View to The Kills

    In the three years since their last album together, Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince have been making sweet music with other, bolder names.Now, with their most accessible album yet, they're ready for their close-up. [Magazine Excerpt] Since the mesozoic year of 2002, when they intro-duced themselves as, respectively, VV and Hotel to a chorus of are they or aren't they? whispers and White Stripes comparisons, Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince have been all too happy to cultivate a little mystery.

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    Bright Eyes Earns Radio City Music Hall Spotlight

    There's something about watching any band play Radio City Music Hall that inherently feels like a coronation, a moment to savor and take stock -- must be the vaulted ceilings and the faint musk of old Rockettes.

  • Telekinesis, '12 Desperate Straight Lines' (Merge)

    Telekinesis, '12 Desperate Straight Lines' (Merge)

    Darker, more propulsive, and flexing weightier production than his ruddy-cheeked 2009 debut, the second full-length from Seattle's Michael Benjamin Lerner owes the extra power in its pop, perhaps antithetically, to heartbreak. "50 Ways" is an affirmation of Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," trading the latter's playfulness for a sinister thwack, while "Please Ask for Help" uses the Cure's Disintegration as its frowny touchstone. Upbeat sentiment is scarce, yet there's barely a downcast moment -- no insignificant trick -- and somewhere Alex Chilton nods his approval.

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    Grammys: The Best and Worst Moments

    Has there been a major female pop star in the past 20 years who dances worse than Katy Perry? Does she exist solely to make Lady Gaga look like Motown: 25-era Michael Jackson? Not even talking about her songs or her singing, the latter of which was much stronger than awards performances past (and as for the former, we are "Firework" apologists). But Perry is no dummy, and came up with the perfect way to compensate: "How about I just project videos from my celebrity wedding onto myself during the number? Will that make everyone forget that I'm basically just inert for the next five minutes?" Done.

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    Next Big Things 2011: Hayes Carll

    Home sweet home: Austin, TexasExpect: Silver-tongue-in-cheek country iconoclastMust hear: KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories) (Lost Highway), out now Hayes Carll is a throwback. He plays 250 shows a year. He writes wry, politically barbed story-songs like his hero Townes Van Zandt that reject the pop sheen and lockstep jingoism of his contemporaries. He's an experienced door-to-door vacuum-cleaner salesman. "You go door to door in 100-degree heat telling people they've won a free rug cleaning and pour a bag of fucking flour on the floor," explains the droll 35-year-old Houston native, recalling his lean postcollegiate years in Austin. He'd then attempt to hoover up the mess with the occupant's inferior vacuum before busting out one with the transmission of a Porsche.

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    Get It Now: Strokes First Single!

    It's here. Finally. The first taste of the Strokes' long-awaited (and, at times, in doubt) fourth album, Angles, out March 22. The song is called "Under Cover of Darkness" and it's available as a free download for the next 48 hours via the band's official website. Sure, Julian Casablancas recorded his vocals separately from the rest of the band. And maybe New York City's modelizingest aren't besties anymore now that they've matured. But none of that really matters as long as the feverishly anticipated Strokes comeback actually sounds like the Strokes we all know and love and tried, unsuccessfully, to dress like. And, judging from "Under Cover of Darkness" -- it does! From the opening guitar squeals, shuffling backbeat, and familiarly muffled vocals to the sing-along chorus, the song is unmistakably from the gents who gave us Is This It? a decade ago.

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    White Stripes Are Dead, Long Live White Stripes

    Here's the main reason you shouldn't spend too much time mourning the demise of the White Stripes: They were already gone. If last week's official announcement was jarring for any reason, it wasn't because the news itself was surprising, like some sort of bottom had just dropped out, but because we hadn't heard the name or really thought much about the White Stripes in years.This is hardly a reflection on the band's legacy -- if anything, the graceful early exit cements their greatness.

  • Artist of the Year: LCD Soundsystem

    Artist of the Year: LCD Soundsystem

    How do you follow up the most successful, rewarding year of your career? If you're James Murphy, and his "band of substitute teachers," you don't. [Magazine Excerpt] "Dance Yrself Clean," the nine-minute slow-burn that opens LCD Soundsystem's third album, This Is Happening, features the line, "It's the end of an era, it's true." Which is a fair tone to set for an album that James Murphy touted on its release in May as being the last he would make in this incarnation. Not that he was retiring from music, not that the name LCD Soundsystem would never again appear on a record, not that his band would never grace a stage again, just that this, this thing that is only starting to reach the level of popular and critical adulation that bands work their entire lives to achieve, would soon no longer be happening. But it's still happening right now.

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