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Listen: Sufjan Stevens drops new tracks with s/s/s and Rosie Thomas

Listen: Sufjan Stevens drops new tracks with s/s/s and Rosie Thomas

Indie singer continues fixation with autotune

Always up for a bit of experimentation, indie godhead Sufjan Stevens has two new tracks out today that are superficially very different but both end up sounding roughly the same. Both are underwhelming.

First up is the debut song from his new collaborative group s/s/s, featuring Anticon label mates Serengeti and Son Lux. "Museum Day" is the first single off the "Beak & Claw' EP," which will be available March 20, and includes guests Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond and adventurous Anticon rapper Doseone.

"Museum Day" is much too long at six minutes, featuring an extended opening that highlights Stevens' recent enthusiasm for autotune (is T-Pain somehow the most influential vocalist of the last decade?). Rapper Serengeti dominates much of the rest of the track with slow flows offering typically cryptic Anticon references and rhymes. Here it here:

Meanwhile, Stevens is also keeping it real on the traditional singer-songwriter side, releasing a split 7" with indie chanteuse Rosie Thomas. It won't be released until Record Store Day on April 21, but you can hear the first track ("Where Were You?") here:

Simultaneously low-key and anthemic, the overlong song also relies too much on the recent trend of artful autotune in indie rock (see: Bon Iver, Poliça), but fits in with the electronic leanings of Stevens' last studio album "The Age of Adz." Seriously though, Stevens has an amazing natural voice and, while autotune can be fun here and there, it just isn't something he needs to spend so much time using. 

The single's B-side has Stevens responding with "Here I Am." Cute. The single's cover is also cute:


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<p>Peyman Moaadi and Leila Hatami in Asghar Farhadi's &quot;A Separation.&quot;</p>

Peyman Moaadi and Leila Hatami in Asghar Farhadi's "A Separation."

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Peyman Moaadi's love letter to ‘A Separation’

The film’s star writes, publicly, to director Asghar Farhadi

“A Separation” holds a place of significance in Iran. It represents the nation’s first Best Foreign Language Film Oscar win and greatest box office success (over $10 million in international sales). It nearly failed to see the light of day and has been subject to multiple politically motivated interpretations.

The Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance placed a ban on “A Separation” while it was still in production following director Asghar Farhadi’s comments at the 2010 Iran Cinema Celebration criticizing the Iranian cultural policy for singling out and censuring some of the country’s most prominent filmmakers. The film's production license was eventually reinstated, however, allowing Farhadi to complete his film.

“A Separation” was originally interpreted as a protest against the current regime and yet has since been co-opted by said regime as a jewel in Iran’s geopolitical crown. According to Payvand Iran News, Fars news agency, which is referred to as “False News” by some and is reportedly connected to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), misquoted Farhadi’s Oscar speech in an article that linked the director to the current nuclear crisis.

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<p>Fiona Apple</p>

Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple's new album title is really, really long

'When the Pawn' flashback, plus: almost all her shows are sold out

Here is the 23-word title to Fiona Apple's new album: "The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do."

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<p>&nbsp;Scotty McCreery</p>

 Scotty McCreery

Credit: AP Photo

Scotty McCreery records exit song for 'American Idol'

'Please Remember Me' will seranade contestants off

American Idol”  Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery will serenade the losers off of this season.

McCreery, who has not known the feeling of getting played off, will record a version of the Tim McGraw hit, “Please Remember Me” (written by Rodney Crowell).

The song will make its debut on this Thursday’s edition of “American Idol.”

There’s, of course, a precedent for past “Idol’s” doing the exit songs: Chris Daughtry’s “It’s Not Over”  was used for season six. Last season, season 7 winner David Cook recorded a version of Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me).”

McCreery will perform the song live on "American Idol" later this season.

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Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg

Credit: AP Photo

Mark Wahlberg to get on board with Teamsters-themed TV show for A&E

The unscripted series will focus on the Teamsters Local 25 in Boston

Mark Wahlberg is getting involved with teamsters. More specifically,  he's joining forces with fellow executive producers Stephen Levinson, Kevin Harrison and Bill Thompson to create an unscripted pilot focused on the Teamsters Local 25 in Boston for A&E. The working title of the show? "Teamsters,"  of course.

Set in the real-life world of films like "The Fighter" and "The Departed," "Teamsters" promises to give viewers a first hand glimpse of the union in the most territorial city in America: Boston. Here, the Teamsters Local 25 battle for the rights of their 11,000 members.

"A&E strives to remain ahead of the curve while delivering first class auspices to our audience,” said Bob DeBitetto, President of A&E and BIO. "We’re so proud to collaborate with this group of producers and offer an authentic point of view from the unique characters this world provides."

"We believe A&E is the perfect venue to create a cutting-edge show that promises to be like nothing else on television," said Levinson.


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<p>Bruce Greenwood as Dr. Emmet Cole on &quot;The River.&quot;</p>

Bruce Greenwood as Dr. Emmet Cole on "The River."

Credit: ABC

'The River' - 'Dr. Emmet Cole': Man vs. wild

Bruce Greenwood takes center stage in a very strong hour

A review of last night's "The River" — the strongest installment of the series so far — coming up just as soon as I deflect your schoolgirl crush...

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<p>I can't find a photo that shows all the greatest characters from 'Game Of Thrones' at the same time, so I'll have to settle for one great big slab of Dinklage.</p>

I can't find a photo that shows all the greatest characters from 'Game Of Thrones' at the same time, so I'll have to settle for one great big slab of Dinklage.

Credit: HBO Home Video

One Thing I Love Today: 'Game Of Thrones' arrives on Blu-ray in spectacular fashion

We catch up with season one of HBO's amazing high fantasy hit

I've read the first book in George R.R. Martin's epic "A Song Of Ice and Fire" series, and I'm a fan of that book.  I have heard a wide range of opinions about the rest of the series, and I've done my best to avoid spoilers, since I have the books here in the house and will read them at some point.  I did not watch the HBO adaptation of the first book when it aired, so I've waited patiently for the Blu-ray release.  I have a preference for powering through a full season of TV when I can, and I can't think of a show better suited for that sort of marathon viewing than this one.

When HBO decides to gamble on a show, they go big, and I respect that.  "Game Of Thrones" is gorgeous, and it looks and sounds tremendous on Blu-ray.  What makes the Blu-ray the ultimate edition, though, is the way they've taken full advantage of the interactive nature of the format to help viewers if they want help keeping track of the show's complex family politics.  I think the show does a great job of explaining it all for you, but I understand that it's a dense bit of text overall, and the extra features here are outstanding.  You can turn on a program guide that will work during the episodes, giving you facts and history and interconnections at moments you might need the prompt.

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"Cougar Town"

"Cougar Town"

Credit: ABC

Watch: Courteney Cox and Josh Hopkins really, really want you to watch 'Cougar Town'

The stars promise more wine and more romance ahead

Courteney Cox is worried you aren't watching her show. Since "Cougar Town" was unceremoniously bumped from the schedule, only to make a welcome recent return (the show now airs on Tues. at 8:30 p.m. on ABC), Cox and her co-stars fear that fans of the show don't necessarily know where to find them. The good news? The show is not only back, but according to our own Alan Sepinwall, it's cooking with gas. I spoke with Cox and her co-star Josh Hopkins briefly about the latest episode (which Cox directed), what's coming up for the show (expect the relationship between Cox's character Jules and Hopkins' Grayson to develop further -- and a baby may be on the horizon) and why wine is a great after-breakfast beverage. No, really.

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<p>Venom, as originally drawn by Todd McFarlane, is one of the most visually recognizable Marvel villains, which may be why Sony still insists they're making a standalone film for him.</p>

Venom, as originally drawn by Todd McFarlane, is one of the most visually recognizable Marvel villains, which may be why Sony still insists they're making a standalone film for him.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Director of 'Chronicle' reported to be in negotiations to make 'Venom' movie

Without Spider-Man, why make a Venom film at all?

I have never understood this idea.

New Line was the first studio to option the rights to "Venom," and it's always confused me deeply to imagine a film in which you only have the Venom character without Spider-Man.  Sony had to eventually buy the rights to the character so they could incorporate him into their "Spider-Man" series, and I would argue that their intense desire to force the fan-favorite character into the third film despite Sam Raimi's misgivings is one of the reasons that film does not work. 

Raimi had no real desire to do anything with Venom, and I understand why.  Venom is the sort of character that serves as a dividing line for comic book fans.  I find that it's basically all about how old you were when they started publishing Venom stories.  I was getting out of comic collecting right around the time the age of Todd McFarlane began, and I didn't really care for where the comic industry was heading at that time.  I don't feel superior to fans who grew up with Venom as a cornerstone of what they loved about Spider-Man, though.  I just don't agree with them.

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<p>Quarles (Neal McDonough)&nbsp;uses a gun other than his familiar Derringer on &quot;Justified.&quot;</p>

Quarles (Neal McDonough) uses a gun other than his familiar Derringer on "Justified."

Credit: FX

'Justified' - 'Watching the Detectives': Three frames for the price of one

Quarles sends waves of trouble at Raylan in another standout episode

A review of tonight's "Justified" — which FX renewed earlier today — coming up just as soon as I accuse you of being a fake blonde...

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<p>Nick (Jake Johnson)&nbsp;goes to the doctor on &quot;New Girl.&quot;</p>

Nick (Jake Johnson) goes to the doctor on "New Girl."

Credit: FOX

'New Girl' - 'Injured': Long night's journey into day

A medical crisis for Nick brings the gang together

A review of tonight's "New Girl" coming up just as soon as I Fredo kiss you again...

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Listen: 'American Idol's' Kris Allen has a 'Vision of Love'
Credit: RCA

Listen: 'American Idol's' Kris Allen has a 'Vision of Love'

His first new material in more than two years has a universal message

It’s been more than a hot minute since we’ve heard from “American Idol” season eight winner Kris Allen, but he’s back with an uplifting, let’s-all-join-together track, “The Vision of Love.”

Not to be confused with Mariah Carey’s “Vision of Love,” Allen is focused on universal love and harmony on his tune. It’s the message of no one wins unless everyone wins.

[More after the jump...]

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