About a half hour into Brett Morgen’s new documentary Montage of Heck, the camera lingers on a note written in the slanted, scratchy handwriting of a teenage Kurt Cobain. It’s intended for his first girlfriend, Tracy Marander, with whom he lived for a little while in Olympia, Washington, while he was first putting together a band he briefly thought of calling Man Bug or Fecal Matter before finally settling on Nirvana. “Don’t read my diary when I’m gone,” the note says. Then, just below it, in the same script: “When you wake up, please read my diary. Look through my things, and figure me out.” What are we to make of this contradiction? What is its tone? Sarcastic? Playful? Needy? Marander hints that it might be all of the above, but the only person who can really tell us for sure has been gone now for 21 years.
Human spirit animal Steve Higgins, the dapper announcer on Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show, does a pretty stellar Shaggy impression — to the point where he almost makes Shaggy look like a poser. Okay, not really, but he can roll his Rs really well and is great at rat-tailing the air with the Jamaican flag.
It's been five years since the last full-scale release from Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, the English duo behind the electronic outfit Chemical Brothers, but the wait is over. Born in the Echoes is due in July, and its first single, "Sometimes I Feel So Deserted," is laced with so many heavy beat-drops and seamless techno progressions that it's damn near impossible to listen to without busting some serious dance moves. Joining the Chemical Bros. on the new LP are heavy-hitting contemporaries including Beck and Q-Tip, as well as relative newcomers like St. Vincent and Cat Le Bon. The Chemical Brothers will be hitting the festival circuit this summer, though Simons won't be a part of it, citing conflicts with his "academic pursuits." Stream the new song below.
Chet Faker, the hirsute Australian electronic musician whose silky, soulful single “Gold” was recently used in an ad for the new Apple laptop, didn’t know that his first release, a minimalist, unexpectedly charming cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” back in 2011, would lead him to so much success. The throwback '90s R&B jam, included on his debut EP Thinking in Textures, has become a staple during live shows, including, recently, a packed house at Manhattan’s Terminal 5, where the mostly white, mostly 20-something crowd went nuts for it during the set. “That song was taken with a sense of irony [that] seemed obvious to me,” he says. “But irony gets lost, especially in the public eye.”
Sia's new music video "Fire and Gasoline" is weird, but not the kind of weird we've come to love about Sia. Instead, we have Heidi Klum and
Oberyn Martell Pedro Pascal in what is part-lingerie-ad, part-murder-mystery, part-how-to-guide for collecting insurance on the house. There are lots of sexy, romantic poses (sell the garment!) and some bewildering narrative that maybe involves murder and definitely involves arson. We have no idea what's going on, but what we do know is that we miss Sia's pirouetting stand-in Maddie Ziegler.*
Midway through lunch at a divey Williamsburg Mexican joint, Shamir Bailey turned into a puppet. Well, on the internet, anyway — at some moment between the chips and guac and the lengua chimichangas, the video for his bouncy new “Call It Off” premiered online, kicking up a flurry of faves, reblogs, and a few WTFs. The clip features the charismatic 20-year-old singer undergoing a transformation from man to puppet; as he leans over the table to show me a few pictures, he brags, “I know I look good in felt.”
Tidal has seen better days — well, that's not true ... but maybe it's about to see better days? DJ Skee's beautiful hearsay from last year has an update, courtesy of none other than DJ Skee and his "sources." When discussing the seemingly elitist streaming service on his show, Skee casually said that his sources claim Bey and Jay's joint album is nearing completion and will be released exclusively on Tidal. (Exclusively on Tidal. This is like Halo for Xbox all over again, SOS.) The producer known as Detail coyly confirmed the album's existence for Billboard earlier this year, and Bey and Jay have already dropped some exclusives on Tidal, so it's not totally far-fetched. But if it's true, there will totally be riots. Or, as Skee says, it'll just leak everywhere but Tidal. Here's hoping this rumored risk pays off.
Tidal is awful. Tidal is a flop. Tidal launched with the weirdest press conference in history. Tidal is for out-of-touch pop stars who, in spite of their unfathomable wealth, want more money from us. There’s no shortage of criticism and vitriol being lobbed at the Jay Z–fronted nascent streaming service, and if you believe the reports, the whole thing is already dead in the water. It’s easy to make that assessment; after three weeks, no one is downloading the app.
With Brett Morgen’s documentary Montage of Heck playing at the Tribeca Film Festival and on HBO on May 4, the intimate details of Kurt Cobain’s life are getting a fresh look. And now fans of the late musician have a new, even more intense way to experience the Nirvana icon's life: the Los Angeles apartment he shared with Courtney Love from 1991 to 1992 is currently an Airbnb rental.
Ahead of its weekend release, Age of Adaline is giving us a double whammy: a new trailer and a preview of a new Lana Del Rey song. Nary a frame in this trailer is actually new, compared to the much longer one released last year; the biggest differences are the narrator has been replaced by Rey's ethereal voice, and the movie's vignettes have been chopped up in a much more surreal fashion. You'll be able to hear more of the song, titled "Life Is Beautiful," on Friday, when the film's released. For what it's worth, Rey has called the movie "magical" and "beautiful" — both of which, as it turns out, are fitting words for her latest track.
Every week, members of the Vulture staff highlight the best new music of 2015. We do not discriminate; as long as the song is worthy of your ears and attention, you will find it here. Read our picks below, share yours in the comments, and subscribe to the Vulture 2015 Playlist for a comprehensive guide to the year's best new tunes.
Ryan Adams, “Oh Sweet Carolina” (live from Carnegie Hall)
I practically cried when I heard that Ryan Adams was planning to release a 42-track album of his two performances at New York’s Carnegie Hall. This is because I know that the best Ryan Adams is the one onstage, all vulnerable, bantering about beating the final level in Angry Birds and then segueing right into “My Sweet Carolina.” Go pick him up. (Just making that reference caused tears.) —Lindsey Weber (@LindseyWeber)
When you're Rihanna, 4/20 is every day. So it's possible she just lost track of time — ransacking a Duane Reade for snacks when you have the munchies is time-consuming — and forgot to drop her new weed-themed song on the actual national day of ganja. Whatever the reason, it's here today, and while it's merely a brief mellowed-out, R&B-flavored interlude called "James Joint" from her upcoming album, it'll have to do until we finally get our hands on R8. We'd rather be smoking weed with you, too, RiRi.
When Courtney Love gave director Brett Morgen, who was known for his sharply focused documentaries like The Kid Stays in the Picture, access to a storage room full of Kurt Cobain memorabilia to use as raw source material for his new documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, she told him he could do whatever he wanted with what he found; she didn't want to micromanage and hadn't been through the material herself. "I trusted him," she told a crowd after a recent screening during the Tribeca Film Festival. To Morgen's delight, tucked away in the storage facility was a box of unheard cassette tapes recorded by Cobain, including the 1988 sound collage he titled Montage of Heck. Morgen's one instruction from Love and executive producer Frances Bean Cobain was to humanize the son, brother, husband, and father who unwittingly became the voice of a generation. As one of the most mythologized figures in rock and roll, he says, it was not easy. Morgen set about his work by using the wealth of original art, diaries, home movies, cassette tapes, and other materials found in the storage facility as guide posts for what he describes as a "family origin story." It starts with Cobain's childhood in Aberdeen, Washington, and ends abruptly on the eve of his suicide in 1994.
Morgen has been working on Montage (at the Tribeca Film Festival this week, in theaters April 24, and coming to HBO May 4) since 2007. During that time, a protracted legal battle between Love and her daughter kept the film in limbo. "There was a tsunami of shit in between," said Love. "I caused most of it, but it's all smooth now." After he screened the film for the two of them for the first time, Morgen says he went into a bathroom and wept for 25 minutes. "It had to do with the fact that from that moment on, I was going to be drifting away from Kurt," he confesses. "That for years, he was the central focus of my work, and I felt like I spent more time with him than anyone outside of my immediate family." Vulture spoke with Morgen while he was in Amsterdam during the final night of a European promotional tour and on his way back to New York for the film's U.S. release, about making the documentary, developing an intimate relationship with Kurt, and the film's reception.
Remember a few years ago, when Nirvana fans were up in arms over Paul McCartney "replacing" Kurt Cobain for a few shows with the band's surviving members? Much of their ire was over the fact that beforehand, McCartney admitted he didn't really know who Nirvana were, as well as the long-standing myth that Cobain hated McCartney (based off a slightly misinterpreted quote). That drama aside, there's no questioning whether or not Cobain was a Beatles fan — they're even included on his mixtape! — and now we have the cover to finally hush the doubters. Brett Morgen's upcoming Cobain doc, Montage of Heck, which is playing at the Tribeca Film Festival this week, unearths a number of Cobain rarities, and one is a cover of "And I Love Her." The audio isn't perfect, but it's still really interesting to hear what Cobain does with the song. Only he could make a whimsical love song sound so steeped in vitriol. Kudos, Kurt.
You can't listen to J. Cole's latest confessional, "Wet Dreamz," and not do a double-take. Is this man really telling us the embarrassing story of his first time having sex? Yep, that's what happening here. A visual interpretation of the song could, of course, go very wrong. Thankfully, Cole had the right idea: Rather than force us to watch him awkwardly sweet-talk some video girl into bed, he's gifted us with puppies. Puppies! Here they are re-creating Cole's first time, Lady and the Tramp style. Pretty sure watching these two pups wink at each other is the cutest thing you'll see all day.
This year's ceremony for the much-maligned Rock and Roll Hall of Fame happened in Cleveland this weekend. Inductees included Ringo Starr, Bill Withers, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Green Day, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and the "5" Royales, a North Carolina doo-wop band during the 1950s; mostly men, so more or less your usual fare. Anyway, the event will broadcast on HBO on May 30, but in the meantime, here’s a quick snapshot of some of the things you missed.
This Leaked Old Rihanna and Chris Brown Duet Is Even Grosser Than You’d Expect, and You’re Probably Expecting It’s Real GrossBy Dee Lockett
Gross and disappointing as it'll always be to hear Chris Brown and Rihanna reunited on a track — and in life — their collaboration "Nobody's Business" was one of the best things about RiRi's last album. Now another duet of theirs has surfaced, called "Put It Up." It's presumably a leftover from Brown's last album (he'd previously teased the song in an interview), and it's rumored Rihanna wouldn't let him release it when they broke up again. And if their brief reconciliation already made you want to vomit, we can pretty much guarantee hearing them talk dirty to each other, whispering sweet nothings like, "Treat me like I'm your property," won't be kind on your gag reflex.
Three singles from Blur’s comeback LP The Magic Whip have already dropped, and they're all pretty great. Collectively, “Lonesome Street,” “There Are Too Many of Us,” and “Go Out” channel the infectious yet wounded post-Brit-pop punch of Blur’s later, American-influenced albums. But the moody new single “My Terracotta Heart” has a decidedly darker sound. Continuing the slinky-sad sound Damon Albarn first experimented with on Gorillaz’s 2005 modern classic Demon Days (it even has the electronic blips and droning percussion), “My Terracotta Heart” sounds like the album art looks: a nocturnal, neon-steeped ice cream cone, as cool as it is chilly. The Magic Whip comes out April 27.