As a member of Animal Collective, Noah Lennox, better known as Panda Bear, had a big 2009. But he's not using that as an excuse to take a load off, it seems; he has already returned to his solo work this year. A follow up to his incredible 2007 LP 'Person Pitch!' is expected soon and in an interview with pedestrian.tv (tinyurl.com/yl3pr7d) he described the new music as "a lot darker and it sounds sort of dramatic or romantic to me." Recently on a brief European tour he played large swathes of new material. One blogger recorded his entire set from a show in Berlin – download it at ramin-ton.net. The quality of the recording isn't great but it might give an idea of what to expect – to me it sounds less busy than 'Person Pitch'; slower and sparse, and, as he suggested, more downbeat. There are a lot of nice sounds in there, though, so my expectations remain high. Another fan recorded 10 minutes of Panda Bear's gig in Belgium and put it on YouTube (tinyurl.com/ yab4qve) – the sound quality is a little cleaner. I particularly like his guitar playing after the six-minute mark.
Name that group
The Wu-Tang Clan trio Raekwon, Ghostface Killah and Method Man are working on a new album together. Before it's released Def Jam is holding a contest to decide what name should be used for their new group – see more details at tinyurl.com/yejjg9o. You can tweet a suggestion using the hash tag, #methraeghost, so presumably "Methraeghost" is out of the running (unless that's a double bluff). Their first song has been leaked on harpito.com. Called "Our Dreams" it features some soul samples, high- pitched vocals and a nice rolling guitar riff. It doesn't reinvent the hip-hop wheel, but there's no need when they're all on fine form. Listen to it at tinyurl.com/ydzmem7.
Franz Ferdinand eye up Cotillard
The Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard has provided vocals for a song written and performed by Franz Ferdinand. Called "Eyes of Mars", the song is for the "Lady Rouge" ad campaign Cotillard is fronting for Dior. Basically it's all in aid of an expensive handbag. The track won't change your life, but it's ok – worth a listen anyway, working best when it speeds up and the band kicks in. Hear the track and see Annie Leibovitz photos for the ads at ladydior.com.
Nice, clean and easy to use...
YouTube has long since become the best way to watch music videos you actually want to see (give or take the occasional copyright spat). Now they have set up a new music, video-based feature: YouTube Music Discovery Project and Playlist Creation Tool. Here they collect all the videos of an artist, which you have chosen, and allow you to create playlists of selected music videos. Nice, clean and easy to use – youtube.com/disco.
Life after Blur
Last year's Blur reunion and the current documentary were never going to be enough to keep Damon Albarn occupied. The next instalment of his Gorillaz project follows with the 'Plastic Beach' album on 9 March. "Stylo", the first single, has emerged and is streaming on gorillaz.com. It features the heady mix of a belting vocal by Bobby Womack, combined with a distant sounding rap from Mos Def and some suitably hazy lines sung by Albarn, all over bassy buzzing synths and electro sounds. Albarn is also one of many vocalists on the forthcoming Massive Attack record 'Heligoland'. His offering, the doom laden "Saturday Come Slow", is rather good and can be heard at tinyurl.com/yexzm64.