- The ever-prolific Ryan Adams has taken a break from writing his own songs to cover Vampire Weekend‘s tune “Mansard Roof,” and he’s posted a video of the performance on his Facebook page. “I do it no justice but I love it,” he writes. “I sung it imagining being on a dark beach made of diamonds with a darkened night sky full of twinkling sand.” Head over to his Facebook Page to watch his stripped-back, acoustic rendition.
- Karen O will debut an opera at Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s Warehouse in October, as part of Vice and Intel’s multimedia Creators Project. Described as a “psycho-opera” and “an assault on the tragic joys of youth” in a press release, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer teamed up with director Adam Rapp and produced the opera in the Creators Project’s “multi-million dollar global studio.” Head here for more info.
- Elbow, Adele, James Blake, Tinie Tempah, Katy B, and PJ Harvey lead the shortlist for the 2011 Mercury Prize, which recognizes the best album by a British artist. Lesser-known acts like songwriter Anna Calvi, rock group Everything Everything, jazz and classical composer Gwilym Simcock have also been nominated. Head here to see the full list. The winner will be announced on September 6.
- Guess he wasn’t “Always On Time” after all. On July 18, rapper Ja Rule was sentenced in a New Jersey court to 28 months in prison for failing to pay tax returns over a five-year period. Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, is presently serving time for a gun possession conviction, and the judge ruled that he could serve both terms concurrently. [New York Times]
- Royce da 5’9″ has teamed up with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker for a new track “Legendary,” which will be included on Royce’s August 9 release. Head over to Some Kind of Awesome to stream it.
- Washed Out — the bedroom electro-pop act from Ernest Greene — has released a stunning video for his single “Eyes Be Closed,” off the excellent new album Within and Without. Check it out below.
- The Decemberists will release an iTunes Session on August 2, which features Colin Meloy and Co. tackling tunes by Leonard Cohen and the Fruit Bats, plus guest spots from Nickel Creek‘s Sara Watkins. Pre-order the download at iTunes.