Last year's collaboration with Scarlett Johansson was probably more aesthetically pleasing, but music fans will likely be more excited by Pete Yorn's latest hook-up with Frank Black, aka Black Francis.
The Pixies front man (below) has produced the LA singer-songwriter's new self-titled album, which will be released on 28 September. The first track from it has emerged. Called "Precious Stone", it's something of a rousing alt-rock number – seems a bit sub-Springsteen, but it will still be interesting to hear what the pair come up with for the rest of the record. You can get a free download of the song if you go to peteyorn.com/freesong and tweet about the track.
Time to look on the bright side
The Irish duo Solar Bears make dreamy electro soundscapes with cinematic flourishes. They also bear a debt to the early ambient works of Aphex Twin, though I think one track I heard veers perilously close to Zero 7, but don't let that put you off. The pair, John Kowalski and Rian Trench, have been picked up by Planet Mu, who will release their album She Was Coloured In on 20 September. Snippets of the whole record are streaming on planet.mu. Listen to two full tracks, including the beautiful and quietly soaring synth and guitar epic "Neon Colony", at independent.co.uk/lryan.
When words and musicians collide
The latest edition of Hamish Hamilton's free online/PDF literary journal is out – get it at fivedials.com/fivedials. Themed around the idea of a wide-ranging music festival, the issue features numerous figures from the music world (and beyond): James Murphy writes about his seminal song "Losing My Edge; there's also a short story by Kele Okereke, a poem by Ryan Adams, and contributions from Mike Watt and Dean Wareham, among others.
Amusing details to digest
The entertaining arrival of Kanye West on Twitter ( @kanyewest) has been getting a lot of attention recently (see also Kanye's tweets reimagined as old New Yorker cartoons at ind.pn/amBp0o . But arguably the best new music-based addition to Twitter has been @discographies, a feed offering "a definitive guide to an artist's body of work (studio albums only) in 140 characters" (it's not clear who is behind it). That is pretty much what they do: succinct, humorous and impressively accurate rundowns of music careers, all in the space of a single Twitter dispatch. Pointless? Yes. But also weirdly addictive. Here is their brilliant summation of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' recorded output: "1-4 Seinfeld theme prototypes; 5 why somebody had to invent Auto-Tune; 6 'sorry, Dave'; 7-9 somebody invented Auto-Tune".
The word on... Arcade Fire, 'The Suburbs'
"After opening up so well in the centre, 'The Suburbs' retreats back into mawkish territory for 'We Used to Wait', and the even more lifeless 'Sprawl (Flatland)', which threatens to kill the energy of the album altogether." popmatters.com
"On 'The Suburbs', their third album, Arcade Fire sound more like a band than ever before — at times bucolic, at others epic on the verge of overwrought, rarely crossing the line (as they have in the past) between masterful, grandiose composition and exaggerated stadium rock." tinymixtapes.com
"Their most thrillingly engrossing chapter yet; a complex, captivating work that, several cycles down the line, retains the magic and mystery of that first tentative encounter. You could call it their 'OK Computer'. But it's arguably better than that." bbc.co.uk/music