VIDEO: David Bowie “Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)”

David Bowie is one of those rare artists who’s practically impervious to criticism. When you’ve achieved as much as he has throughout a four-decade-plus spanning career you can pretty much do whatever the hell you want without worrying about sullying your legacy. With another retrospective collection to promote (Nothing Has Changed), Bowie has just released a jazz-noir new single replete with a Raymond Chandler-esque lyric video. It’s Bowie in full croon mode, but he keeps it interesting with creepy imagery: “Sue, I pushed you down beneath the weeds/Endless faith in hopeless deeds.”

REUNION: Babes in Toyland Announce First Show in 18 Years

In other bizarre, unexpected reunion news, Minneapolis’ Babes in Toyland have announced its first shows in 18 years. I first saw BIT when I was in high school at a tiny club in Nashville, and it scared the ever-living shit out of me. Ket Bjelland’s manic stage presence is not for the faint of heart. And it turns out her demons were/are real, which makes it all even crazier. A trio of Google employees are footing the bill for the reunion, which is as surprising as it is cool. The fact that this band ever made it to a major label is quite a coup and just reiterates the power of Nirvana’s impact on the music business in the early 1990’s. Hit singles were not in the cards for this band, but by God they rocked.

Always Pay Your Sound Guy: Courtney Love Edition

Unless you have God-given perfect pitch, singing live is no easy feat. So many variables with which to contend. If you can’t hear yourself, you’re totally effed. So, I feel slightly bad about posting this, but at the same time I love these isolated tracks when they show up on YouTube because, you know, trainwrecks and all that … can’t avert your eyes or ears in this case. Speaking of train wrecks, it’s Courtney Love. And, man, there’s not enough pitch shifting software in the world to fix this catastrophe. And then there’s the isolated guitar playing. Good God. This was posted out of spite by a sound man who was commissioned to record this particular show, but no one wanted to pay the invoice. So, he shared his recording. [via Buddyhead]

VIDEO: Iceage “Against the Moon”

I can’t be sure how deliberate it was, but Iceage‘s new sound is the smartest career move I’ve seen from a band in a long time. What makes it so utterly genius is the fact that it sounds so natural and uncontrived. Iceage could have easily fallen into the “bands that could have been” heap after two better than great post-punk records and no small amount of fanfare, but any more of the same would have pinned Iceage against either critical backlash or just general apathy (ask Interpol how that works). Plowing the Field of Love is the band’s best record, which I realize is a bold statement, but it allows Iceage room to breathe both musically and in its career development. Punk bands don’t normally think in terms of careers. It’s a burn out and die mentality. But this third record is the birth of a new band- one that understands what made it great to begin with and what makes it even even better now. Yes, there’s a drunken swagger that reeks of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, but it’s so brilliantly filtered through a (post) post-punk lens that it sounds completely new. This record will go down as one of the greats- not just of the year but of a career and possibly an era.

VIDEO: Hamilton Leithauser “Alexandra”

Hamilton Leithauser may (or may not?) have played his final show with The Walkmen, but his first solo record, Black Hours, is definitely coming out this May via Ribbon Music. This first single is an uncharacteristically upbeat affair. It’s odd hearing Leithauser’s voice in such a self-confident and cheerful setting, but when you can sing like that you can get away with just about anything. I dare you not to like this.

VIDEO: The Notwist “Kong”

I’m so glad I pre-ordered this album before hearing a single note. You earn that type of loyalty when you put out a mind blower like 2002’s Neon Golden. Both tracks I’ve heard off the forthcoming Sub Pop release, Close to the Glass, have exceeded expectations. “Kong” harkens back to the band’s poppier, Dinosaur Jr. period explored on 12 and Shrink, respectively. While very few bands could swing two albums on the level of Neon Golden in one career, The Notwist is never a band to underestimate.