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2011 SXSW Guide: Fitz & The Tantrums Pick Their Fave Acts

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Fitz And The Tantrums are a seven-piece pop machine that sound like a combination of Motown and Kick-era INXS, minus guitar. Fronted by the charismatic Michael Fitzpatrick, who rightly shares a big chunk of the spotlight with singer Noelle Scaggs, you may have recently caught the band making the rounds of late-night talk shows (Jimmy Kimmel, Conan) to support its new album, Pickin’ Up the Pieces. We haven’t seen the band live (The Foo Fighters hijacked their SXSW stage last night), but we hear they put on an amazing show. Here’s the video for “MoneyGrabber,” Fitz’ new single:

After the jump, Fitz himself gives his SXSW picks.

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Foo Fighters Documentary Premiere Followed By Surprise Show

Foo Fighters: Back and Forth premieres on VH1 April 8.
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Foo Fighters: Back and Forth, which premiered to a cheering audience last night at SXSW in Austin, opens with Dave Grohl looking back at his time as Nirvana’s drummer. He says the trio knew something was “weird” when jocks started showing up for shows, but “we never thought we’d sell a million albums.” Of course, this was before Nevermind sold more than 26 million copies and permanently altered rock’s DNA. The most enjoyable aspect of this rock doc, directed by Oscar-winner James Moll, is watching the very likable Grohl strike rock gold twice — no small feat for a teen who grew up touring under miserly conditions in the ’80s hardcore scene.  In this clip, Dave, one of rock’s greatest drummers, explains how he came to create the Foos in the wake of Kurt Cobain‘s suicide:

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2011 SXSW Guide: Rain Phoenix Picks Her Fave Acts

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Papercranes, a rock/folk act fronted by Rain Phoenix (yes, Joaquin‘s sis), features a rotating crew of periodic collaborators and guests including Rain’s sisters Summer and Liberty, Vic Chesnutt and Flea. Papercranes opened for R.E.M. at SXSW in 2008, and return this year with Let’s Make Babies In the Woods, a sophomore album that shifts in tone from dark and angry to bittersweet. It was created in the wake of Rain’s divorce.

After the jump, Rain’s picks.

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2011 SXSW Guide: Crystal Bowersox Picks Her Fave Acts

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Crystal Bowersox has joined Jennifer Hudson and Adam Lambert as American Idol alumns who failed to take the show’s top spot but ended up faring at least as well as its winners in becoming artists with independent careers and identities. Thanks to Idol, Crystal’s identity is more than a little familiar to most: Scrappy folk/roots singer and songwriter with golden dreads and, more importantly, a knockout voice. Below is the video for “Farmer’s Daughter,” the autobiographical single from her debut album of the same name.

After the jump, Crystal’s picks.

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2011 SXSW Guide: Pains’ Peggy Wang Picks Her Fave Acts

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The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are no strangers to SXSW. In 2009, they were one of the most buzzed-about bands in the lineup, thanks in part to a debut album that generated a home run in the press. The indie-pop act, including keyboardist/singer Peggy Wang, is releasing their sophomore album, Belong, on March 29. Early word on the street: It’s as catchy as the debut. Here’s the video for Belong‘s first single, “Say No To Love.”

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart "Say No To Love" from Mixtape Club on Vimeo.

The Pains are performing several SXSW shows. After the jump, Peggy’s picks:

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by (@unclegrambo)

Video Premiere: Foo Fighters, “Rope”

After we whet your appetite this morning with a special 30-second sneak preview of the new Foo Fighters single, “Rope,” now it’s time to feast your eyes on the whole video. Don’t adjust your tracking, either; the video’s jumpy and primary color laced visual aesthetic is all part of director Dave Grohl’s master plan to pay homage to the VHS era of his youth*.

Not only is this song another in a long line of propulsive and catchy rock tracks from the Foos, this video represents a reunion on a few different levels. In addition to Grohl, drummer Taylor Hawkins, guitarist Chris Shiflett and bassist Nate Mendel, you old school Foo Fighters fans will also recognize that guitarist Pat Smear is back in the mix these days. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, it’s also worth noting that Grohl and Smear’s Nirvana bandmate, Krist Novoselic, makes an appearance on the Foos’ forthcoming LP, Wasted Light (although he’s not in this video). Grohl also reunited with producer Butch Vig while recording this album, the man who was responsible for turning Nirvana from local Seattle heroes into international grunge gods with his flawless production work on their seminal LP, Nevermind.

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2011 SXSW Guide: Neon Hitch Picks Her Fave Acts

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Like Lady Gaga, SXSW artist Neon Hitch is an eccentric-looking singer and songwriter who makes danceable pop. Unlike Lady Gaga, she has a legitimately eccentric background. Neon Hitch (real name, not made up by a producer) grew up traveling in a Gypsy caravan with hippie British parents and performed as a trapeze artist in circuses and freak shows. At 16 she ran away to India without ever having gone to school, but not before her dad gave her CDs by Michael Jackson, Madonna and the Spice Girls — three of her biggest influences. How Neon went from circus act to co-writing Ke$ha‘s “Blah Blah Blah” to signing with a major label for a solo debut (no release date yet) is beyond us. But it’s a good thing she’s excelling as a pop star. Her resume would be a mess without it.

After the jump, Neon’s SXSW picks.

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by (@unclegrambo)

Special Sneak Preview: Foo Fighters, “Rope”

Hot off the presses! We’ve got the video premiere of “Rope” by the Foo Fighters coming your way tonight at 7:54 p.m. — not 7:53 or 7:55, mind you, but 7:54! — but this 30-second sneak just landed in our lap and couldn’t resist giving you a look at it.

If the video seems like it’s got an early ’80s vibe to it, that’s because it was totally meant to. Lead Foo Dave Grohl directed the video and told our friends over at MTV that “I directed it and I really wanted it to have that old VHS look to it. Because VHS tape does weird things to color and definition, and it just looks … like VHS. And so, the ['Rope' video] is on VHS too [and] it definitely has a vibe. Just the look of the tape.” Well Dave, you certainly achieved your goal! We’re just glad you didn’t use Betamax.

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by (@unclegrambo)

R.I.P. Mike Starr (1966-2011)

Terrible news to pass along. TMZ is reporting that Mike Starr, former Alice in Chains bassist and cast member on Celebrity Rehab 3 and Sober House 2, has passed away at the age of 44. His cause of death is currently unknown, but it’s worth noting that Starr was arrested in Salt Lake City last month for possession of a controlled substance.

As we saw during the third season of Celebrity Rehab, Starr continued to harbor enormous feelings of guilt and regret over the death of his friend and Alice in Chains bandmate, Layne Staley, up until the time of his passing.

We’ll continue to share more information with you as soon as it comes in.

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Video Premiere: Lil Wayne, “6′ 7′”

Get ready for a new type of InceptionLil Wayne‘s just dropped the video for “6′ 7′” and it’s a flashy tribute to the Christopher Nolan blockbuster. Granted, there doesn’t seem to be much going on in Wayne’s mind except a steady stream of gorgeous women in tight, shiny dresses, but remember: the dreamer should find his environment familiar or he’ll get suspicious.

Wayne spills his trademark wordplay (“black and white diamonds, f— the segregation”) all over Bangladesh‘s insistent beat in the Hype Williams-directed clip, which features some striking images of Wayne boxing, chasing after his brain and smiling as his head falls off his body. And while it’s clearly Wayne’s (dream)world, he’s happy to hand the last minute or so over to Young Money’s Cory Gunz, son of Peter “Uptown Baby” Gunz fame. Once Cory hits light speed, all Wayne can do is just watch and nod with approval. If this first single is a sign of what’s to be found on The Carter IV, this is one action franchise that won’t disappoint. Just one question: where can we buy a box of Huh-Nee Knut?