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Review: The Whistles and the Bells' 2nd album is a winner

This is the sound of freedom.

The Whistles and the Bells is Bryan Simpson, former mandolinist in the bluegrass band Cadillac Sky — a nice gig, but one with creative constraints.

"Modern Plagues" is Simpson's second solo album, and he's bursting with ideas beyond the confines of an acoustic combo. The elimination of genre limitations allows him to explore every color of the musical rainbow, with exhilarating results.

Simpson's enormous toolbox includes tuba and harp, big drums and a flute solo, hip-hop, klezmer, topical lyrics and wordless "la-la-la's." An EDM groove propels "Zombie Heartz," while a fat bass steers "Year of the Freak Out" toward classic R&B. A synthesizer echoes Simpson's vocal on "Good Drugs," and "Small Time Criminals" connects the French Quarter with Appalachia.

These aren't just random whistles and bells. Hooks abound, tying the cornucopia of noise together, and Simpson's social commentary provides further glue. "In Google we trust," he notes on "Zombie Heartz," adding: "We keep sawing off the limb we're sitting on."

Among those assisting are former Cadillac Sky bandmate Matt Menefee and the Raconteurs' Brendan Benson, who shares composing credit with Simpson on three of the 11 songs.

The whole thing runs a snappy 36 minutes. "You're not even listening," Simpson sings in the first verse, but that's doubtful. His la-la-la land makes for an album to turn up, not tune out.

Talking Heads, Neil Young Filmmaker Jonathan Demme Dead at 73

Jonathan Demme, an Oscar winner for 'Silence of the Lambs' and 'Philadelphia,' had been battling cancer since 2010. Continue reading…

Listen to Blondie's Epic New Song 'Fragments'

Blondie have premiered "Fragments," the third pre-release track from their upcoming 'Pollinator' LP. Continue reading…

Rock Hall induction ceremony returns to Cleveland next April

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame says next year's induction ceremony is scheduled for April 14 at the Public Auditorium in Cleveland.

The Rock Hall is located in Cleveland, but the city hasn't hosted the induction ceremony since 2015. The event instead has been held in New York. The hall said last year that it would have the ceremony in Cleveland every two years starting in 2018.

The Rock Hall announced the date of that ceremony on Wednesday. It says a series of events leading up to the induction will include a community celebration with free admission to the facility.

This year's ceremony was held April 7 in Brooklyn. The inductees were Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur, Joan Baez, Electric Light Orchestra, Journey and Yes.

Prince Covers (Then Annoys) Radiohead at Coachella: 365 Prince Songs in a Year

Prince surprised a Coachella crowd by performing Radiohead's "Creep." Then he spent seven years preventing people from seeing it. Continue reading…

Ella Fitzgerald mural comes to singer's Virginia hometown

A Virginia town plans to unveil a mobile mural of its native daughter, singer Ella Fitzgerald.

News outlets report the 13-foot (3.96-meter)-tall, 12-foot (3.66-meter)-wide mural is scheduled to be installed Thursday in Newport News at Jefferson Brookville Apartments.

A small rendering of the mural was unveiled in a ceremony at city hall Tuesday. Officials say the mural is intended to travel to various outdoor and indoor locations every two to four weeks.

The mural is part of a city initiative to celebrate 100 years of the singer's life and educate people about her Newport News roots. Fitzgerald, who died in 1996 at the age of 79, would have celebrated her 100th birthday Tuesday.

Shelly Ezanno, superintendent of special events and promotions, says the Economic Development Authority provided about $15,000 to fund the project.

35 Years Ago: The Clash Forced to Postpone Tour When Joe Strummer Disappears

In April 1982, the Clash's frontman pulled a fast one on the band and hid out in Paris for a few weeks, belting pints and running marathons.

Continue reading…

Damon Albarn and Noel Gallagher Trade Insults About Liam Gallagher

While discussing the new Gorillaz track that features Noel Gallagher, the former rivals bonded by taking shots at Noel's brother.

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Watch Thom Yorke of Radiohead 'Sing' Yankee Daddy's 'Gasolina'

Someone has doctored a video that mashes up Radiohead in concert with Daddy Yankee's reggaeton hit.

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Madonna expresses her displeasure about planned biopic

Madonna isn't happy with a new biopic planned on her pre-fame life.

The Hollywood Reporter reported Monday that Universal had acquired the rights to "Blond Ambition," a script about the singer. Brett Ratner is expected to produce the film, which centers on her struggles in New York while making her first album.

On Tuesday, Madonna expressed her displeasure via an Instagram post. She said that only she was qualified to tell her story and "anyone else who tries is a charlatan and a fool."

She likened it to "instant gratification" without doing the work and called it a disease of our society.

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