Caught in the Net - Making an impressive mess

Around about 2008, Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer and MGMT all hit the ground running with a sound that occupied a relatively similar sphere (give or take some different quirks here and there). The first two bands have kicked off 2010 with well-received new records and now it's getting to time for MGMT to re-enter the fray. Thus far, I can't say I've been fully convinced by the Brooklyn duo's brand of Dayglo, hipster-based wide-eyed psych-pop-rock – someone has probably come up with a more succinct label for their sound, but I'm going to ignore it. Perhaps their upcoming new album 'Congratulations' can sway me and other naysayers, when it lands in April. The first song to emerge from it is available as a free download from the band's website, whoismgmt.com. It's called "Flash Delirium", and is a promising opening salvo, full of the aforementioned elements but with more craziness added: shouty vocals, soft rock harmonies, flutes, swirling electronics, horns... Pretty much everything is thrown in there and it's an impressive mess.

High and mighty

Following 2007's 'Boxer', The National return on 11 May with a follow-up album, 'High Violet'. The website highviolet.com, resembles an online scrapbook for the record. Last week on Jimmy Fallon's US chat show, they premiered a new song from the album called "Terrible Love", watch it at bit.ly/b26xEE. It builds on their template of slow-burning moody alt-rock, with plenty of chiming and churning guitars, some brass and Matt Berringer's baritone. In the stirring performance they double down and go for an even bigger sound – sometimes I find that can be bad sign for band's new material but this song is pretty good so I'm hopeful for the rest of the LP.

B.I.G. still looms large

This month marks the 13th anniversary of the death of Notorious B.I.G., whose achievements still loom large over the rap world. Last year, he was memorialised with what was generally considered to be a fairly forgettable biopic. It's probably better to remember him with the music. To that end, hip-hop DJ and former B.I.G associate Mister Cee put together a 22 track Notorious B.I.G best-of mixtape which is available from the On Smash site at bit.ly/cqLD77.

Can the next band pick a number, please?

Pop-culture site AVClub.com has launched a nice new video series called "Undercover". For it they picked 25 songs, from Hall & Oates' "One on One" to MIA's "Paper Planes"; next they asked 25 bands to participate – the first chooses from the 25 songs, the following band gets a choice of the remaining 24, and on down until the final band covers whatever song is left. Finally, they film the bands performing their song in the AVClub's Chicago office space.

Testing their metal

Look out: Ryan Adams has gone metal. This week on his website, ryanada.ms, he posted a new song and the message: "We're going to begin pressing ORION – my most legit METAL record – on vinyl next week. Have a listen to the song below and let us at PAXAM know if you'd be interested in purchasing one." Indeed, it has some churning metal guitars and a few growling death metal vocals, though it goes a bit more poppy at other stages – the heavier rockers among us might be a touch underwhelmed. Whether or not it is a joke, remains to be seen: the song is called "Electrosnake", which seems like parody and he has previous experience of the mock metal genre, but Mr Adams is an unpredictable fellow, so who knows?

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