People have been frothing over Erykah Badu's recently leaked track "Jump Up in the Air Stay There", featuring Lil Wayne and Bilal.
It's a brilliant combination of arthouse r&b and neo-soul with nods to hip hop and electronica. The song is a web-only bonus to the singer's boldly titled new album, 'New Amerykah Part II: Return of the Ankh'. If Badu (left) can afford to throw out a song as strong as this as a mere bonus, the signs are good for the rest of the record. The singer has also made a video for the song which is playing at erykahbadu.com. It's one to mess with your head. Billed as "a story by Erykah Badu", it begins with archive footage – including snippets of Hitler, Jackie O, a giraffe, Bill O'Reilly and Barack Obama – followed by hand puppets. It then takes a turn for the psychedelic as the screen goes purple and a kaleidoscope emerges, using images of Badu's head and hands pulsing in and out of each other. Shortly thereafter, four Lil Wayne heads appear in another kaleidoscope. It's all quite dizzying, but a fine complement to a wonderfully strange song.
Nine years after The Strokes' debut album set the agenda for endless indie guitar bands and four years after their largely forgettable third LP, the band have been working on a fourth record, tentatively set for a September release. Recently the band posted an official, behind-the-scenes video from their latest recording sessions in Manhattan. Shot in a faux-documentary style, the film doesn't give many clues as to what the music will sound like but it does show the band larking around, suggesting they are enjoying being back together after a lengthy break. Frontman Julian Casablancas, however, is conspicuous by his absence. Watch it at bit.ly/adCdLN.
The Very Best is good enough for Alp
Yeasayer's new album, 'Odd Blood', has been quite well received, and the lead-off single 'Ambling Alp', which has been circulating for a while, is a stand out. Now Afro-European collective The Very Best have produced a cover-remix of the song. Retaining much of the original's sound, they have replaced Yeasayer's vocals with those of The Very Best's Malawian frontman, Esau Mwamwaya – and it's great. Download for free from Green Owl at bit.ly/9dDJpg.
Is Lady Gaga behind the mystery?
Mysterious short videos have been appearing on music websites by someone called "iamamiwhoami" (bit.ly/5D7IQx). All are well shot and soundtracked with low-key electro music. On music blogs and on Twitter people have been debating where they have come from – speculation ranges from The Knife and Goldfrapp, to Christina Aguilera and Lady Gaga and beyond. Whoever is behind them, it looks like a clever viral-marketing campaign.
Dublin quartet The Immediate released a well-regarded debut LP, 'In Towers and Clouds', in 2006. However, a year later they split up citing "existential differences". One of the band's lead vocalists (they had three) Conor J O'Brien then set up Villagers. It's basically O'Brien working solo with occasional help from friends. For Villagers he has stripped away the slinky guitars of The Immediate and gone for a folk feel, a la Bright Eyes and Bon Iver. He has signed with Domino who plan to release an album shortly. There are three songs on Villagers' MySpace (bit.ly/HOmh), including the beautiful demo of "Becoming a Jackal", while Domino are giving away another song, "On a Sunlit Stage", at wearevillagers.com.