“Mandatory Fun” Scores Weird Al Yankovic His First No. 1 Album

-Weird_Al-_Yankovic(PCM) Hilarious artist Weird Al Yankovic has been delighting fans for the past weeks, releasing 8 parody videos in promotion of his new album, Mandatory Fun, and it looks like all the marketing has paid off!

Mandatory Fun, Weird Al’s fourteenth studio album, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 making it the first number one record of artist’s 38-year long career.

Mandatory Fun sold over 104,000 units in its first week according to Nielsen SoundScan, doubling the sales of Weird Al’s previous studio album, Alpocalypse, during its first week.

Weird Al celebrated by tweeting the announcement to his 3.32 million twitter followers:

The album is also the first comedy album since 1963 to reach number 1 on the Billboard 200; Alan Sherman was the last comedian/parody artist to hold the title with his album My Son, the Nut.

Mandatory Fun includes tracks that parody recent hits by artists Robin Thicke, Imagine Dragons, Lorde, Iggy Azalea, and Pharrell as well as a few original tracks in the stylings of Cat Stevens, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Pixies, and Foo Fighters.

The album, along with great sales, has received positive critical responses; the Los Angeles Times praised the album as “a stone cold masterpiece…parodying hit songs to create gut-busting laughter.”

Watch the video for “Word Crimes,” one of the videos released in the 8 days leading up to Mandatory Fun’s release that already has over 10 million views on YouTube, below and check out Weird Al’s official site here.

Also, PCM’s Danger Man, Lars Hindsley, interviewed the designer/animator for the Word Crimes video – Jarrett Heather, Check it out here.

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SBTRKT Announces New Album, Drops New Single “New Dorp, New York”

(PCM) UK producer SBTRKT (pronounced “subtract” for the uninitiated) delighted the music world when he announced his new album Wonder Where We Land and dropped the single “New Dorp, New York” on Tuesday.

“New Dorp, New York” is an ode to the Big Apple, featuring New York native Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend.

 

Wonder Where We Land follows SBTRKT’s self titled debut album from 2011 which received generally positive reviews, earning the 42nd spot on Pitchfork’s “Top 50 Albums of 2011.”

SBTRKT’s announcement follows the release of Transitions, a three part series of instrumental 12-inches released on Young Turks back in March.

SBTRKT also recently released the track “Temporary View” featuring singer Sampha just last month.

Watch the teaser trailer for Wonder Where We Land, being released on September 23, 2014 on Young Turks, below!

 

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The Story Behind the Weird Al Word Crimes Video with Designer & Animator Jarrett Heather

Weird Al Yankovic's Word Crimes Designed and Animated by Jarrett Heather

Weird Al Yankovic’s Word Crimes Designed and Animated by Jarrett Heather

(PCM) Jarrett Heather has been a dedicated lifelong “Weird Al” Yankovic fan, but when Al contacted Jarrett in November of 2014, the only back-story Al had on Jarrett was his own admiration of Jarrett’s work.

Jarrett had previously produced a music video in 2010 called Shop-Vac using a form of design called kinetic typography. Al had his own vision for a music video and believed Jarrett was a fit.

Over the course of almost a year the two then collaborated on that music video exclusively for “Weird Al” to be a part of his new album Mandatory Fun.

Unless you’ve been living under a virtual rock, you should be one of the ten million viewers (and still climbing) that has watched Word Crimes, a parody music video of 2013′s summer hit Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke.

This interview with Jarrett reveals some great trivia related to the Word Crimes video and of course Jarrett’s experience with “Weird Al”.

(Lars) How did you meet “Weird Al”?

(Jarrett) Al contacted me by email last November (2013). I was just minding my own business, and then “New message from Al Yankovic” was on my screen.

(Lars) Did you doubt it was him at first?

(Jarrett) No, I wasn’t skeptical at all.

(Lars) What was going through your mind? Did you ask him why he sought you out?

(Jarrett) I was very excited. I’ve been a huge fan of Al’s work since I was seven.

(Lars) Did Al approach you because you were a fan of his music or did he know of your artistic background?

Easter Egg - Jarrett throws in a shout out to local Twitter user

Easter Egg – Jarrett throws in a shout out to local Twitter user

(Jarrett) Al had seen a cartoon I made in 2010 called “Shop Vac”. After seeing that music video he decided I was “the best person in the world” at animating typography.

(Lars) What inspired the concept of the video?

(Jarrett) Al’s lyrics were the primary inspiration for the concept. I wanted the art in the video to show a contrast between new media and old media, with the textbooks and encyclopedias representing the “word police”, and the outmoded computer interfaces representing the “word criminals”.

After settling on that concept, I looked very, very closely at the video for Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines. Although that video’s Spartan production didn’t give me a lot to latch onto for parody, I still wanted to get a feel for the movement and the energy of the video–the length of the cuts, the staging, and the color grading. The look and feel of Blurred Lines informed a lot of design decisions on Word Crimes.

(Lars) You have a strong understanding of visual media. Where did you learn so much?
(Jarrett) I have no formal training in design or animation, but I’ve been doing graphic design professional (mostly for software interfaces) for over fifteen years. My background is in web publishing and software development.

(Lars) Tell me a little about your first planning session with “Weird Al”?

Easter Egg - Ethan age 7 - Jarrett's Son

Easter Egg – Ethan age 7 – Jarrett’s Son

(Jarrett) Al and I corresponded mostly by email. He brought a lot of specific ideas for visual gags, but he left the design of the movie in my hands.

(Lars) Do any of his gags stand out in the video? Which do you like most?

(Jarrett) The “doing good/well diagram” was Al’s idea. I like that one a lot because it’s a good visual representation of the grammar rule, and it’s a subtle reference to the television show 30 Rock.

(Lars) Are you one of those people that points out grammatical mistakes, lazy numerical shortcuts (i.e. sk8 instead of skate) and others outlined in the video Word Crimes to friends on Facebook or in tweets?

(Jarrett) Although I believe it’s important to express oneself clearly, I’m the last person who will belittle others for making little language mistakes. In fact, I look at the song as more of a send-up of “Grammar Nazis” than an admonishment of sloppy writing. The “Bachelor of Writing Good” visual gag is sort of a clue that this video is meant to amuse more than inform.

(Lars) I think a lot of people will be surprised to read that. Wouldn’t you say the song’s narrative implies shame?

(Jarrett) I’m not the songwriter, so thankfully it’s not for me to say. But as a fan of Al’s previous work, I suspect one should be cautious about assuming he’s planted his feet on one “side” of the joke. Is “Sports Song” an earnest anthem of athletic fandom, or is it making fun of sports fans? That depends entirely on whether the listener likes sports. I look at “Word Crimes” the same way.

(Lars) How many of your life experiences made it into Word Crimes?

(Jarrett) You’ll find a few specific personal references here and there, but I focused on telling the Word Crimes story, which was written by Al.

Weird Al, Jarrett Heather and Son Ethan

Weird Al, Jarrett Heather and Son Ethan

(Lars) How much did the initial plan to final product change during production?

(Jarrett) Surprisingly little, actually. When I look at the animatic, which was designed very, very quickly at the start of the project, I see that 95 percent of the big decisions made it through production. But animation is a very iterative process, so a few of the shots did evolve.

(Lars) Did Al storyboard it and present it to you or did you both work on that too?

(Jarrett) His initial suggestions were just written out. The movie has very few storyboards of any kind, in fact. I found it quicker to just compose shots directly in After Effects.

(Lars) Were you and Weird Al together when he first saw the final product?

(Jarrett) Sadly, no.

(Lars) It must have been an exciting moment for you to unveil that hard work. What was his reaction? Can you give people an idea?

(Jarrett) He has thanked me so many times in so many ways over the last six months; I can hardly recount them all. To say Al has been gracious toward me would be an understatement in the extreme. He has been an absolutely pleasure to work with from the start of the project through the launch of the record.

(Lars) What was the first “Weird Al” song you ever heard?

(Jarrett) I have clear memories of hearing Eat It for the first time at the age of seven. I was a very picky eater myself, so the song had a big impact on me.

(Lars) Al is known to have certain modesty about him. How assertive is he in getting what he wants from a concept?

(Jarrett) No detail of the movie was too small for discussion, and there was certainly some back-and-forth on a few ideas. We both had the same goal: To make the funniest video possible, so we never had much difficulty seeing eye to eye.

(Lars) Would you work with him again? If so, what would you like to try?

(Jarrett) I’d agree to another project in a heartbeat. I’d leave the subject matter up to him. Coming up with funny and interesting ideas for songs is very difficult.

(Lars) How long did it take you to complete the visual?

(Jarrett) I spent 500 hours, working nights and weekends over the course of three months.

(Lars) 500 hours is a long time. How does that compare to real world projects at work?

(Jarrett) In the time it takes to design, compose, animate and render a single shot for Word Crimes I can design and program and launch a complete, working website. This is sort of why I have so few animation projects to show off. The opportunity cost of a music video, from my perspective, is about 60 or 70 website projects.

(Lars) Any points of frustration? Was there a deadline?

(Jarrett) Yes, my contract with RCA/Sony specified a deadline of April 1st. I’m proud that I delivered the final animation on that date, but the audio soundtrack didn’t get mixed until the middle of May. Al tells me it’s the first time a vendor had completed his video before the song was recorded, so I suppose the deadline might have had some flexibility.

(Lars) At what point did you share it with Al?

(Jarrett) When Al first sent me the “demo” recording and timing master track, I told him I’d show him the initial designs within a week or so. After one day of work I’d already had 20 or 30 seconds of the animatic designed, so I sent him a rough render for feedback. We ended up corresponding nearly daily throughout the three-week design process.

Once I shifted gears into final production, I could only produce 10 or 20 seconds of footage a week, so we’d exchange email less often. But Al was intimately involved at every stage of production. I’m thankful for that. The video would not be nearly as good without all his input.

(Lars) You’ve gained a lot of notoriety with this video. Did you have any idea of the amount of views it would get on YouTube before it went up?

Weird Al Word Crimes animator Jarrett Heather leaves and Easter Egg with is own personal Emoticon Icon

Weird Al Word Crimes animator Jarrett Heather leaves and Easter Egg with is own personal Emoticon Icon

(Jarrett) Based on the subject matter I suspected it would spread in a viral way. The performance so far has been in on the higher end of my expectations.

(Lars) Have you had a lot of media contact you in response to the video?

(Jarrett) Yes. Radio, print, television, bloggers, podcasters, you name it. I don’t have a lot of interest in promoting myself, so I’m kind of just rolling with it.

(Lars) What’s that like?

(Jarrett) It’s a little stressful. I’m a shy person and I didn’t take this job because I was looking for a spotlight.

(Lars) This experience obviously benefited you on a number of levels from showcasing your talent to getting to know Al personally. What’s the biggest take-away in this project for you?

(Jarrett) My biggest take-away so far is not to underestimate myself. When you start a project like this, and you’re just looking at a blank canvas that stretches on for two hundred twenty-two seconds… it can be pretty daunting. Success was not guaranteed, and the prospect of disappointing one of my childhood heroes loomed over me in a very real way. Now that I can look back on it all and see just how much I was able to produce in a relatively short time, I’ll probably wield my powers with a little more confidence in the future.

(Lars) Jarrett, thanks for giving people some insight on this video. Will people see more from you? Do you have a YouTube channel or site you’d like to promote?

(Jarrett) Follow @spaceparanoids to get notified about future projects, but don’t expect a steady stream of animation from me.

(Lars) You’re employed already, but if another notable person needed your work, who would be top on your list?

(Jarrett) I’d love to combine more typography with musical comedy. If Tenacious D asked me to direct a video that would probably be a fun time. (Call me, Jack!)

Writers Note: I’ve known Jarrett Heather for 15 years. When I first met Jarrett, he had the rug pulled out from him by an unscrupulous employer but I knew inside a few minutes nothing could keep Jarrett down. We soon after worked together until Jarrett perused greater dreams in design across country in California.

Jarrett has a knack for understanding all things visual. Lessons he left me with were from simple to advanced such as the sixty percent white space rule, to the larger your company the smaller your logo.

Jarrett will never hurt for love in his trade, but should you ever have the opportunity to work with him, you will learn a lot. When he moved from Delaware to California I lost not only a mentor, but also a friend. If you are a creator, follow him on any social media.

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Kimbra Drops New Single “Miracle”

KimbraGoldenEcho(PCM) In anticipation of her new album The Golden Echo, out on Warner Bros. Records August 19th in the U.S., New Zealand pop songstress Kimbra dropped her latest single “Miracle” yesterday.

The Grammy-Award winning musician has already given fans a preview of her upcoming album through tracks “90s Music,” “Love in High Places,” and “Nobody But You,” the last of which features R&B crooner John Legend.

U.S. fans might be familiar with Kimbra from her huge hit from the summer of 2011 with Goyte, “Somebody That I Used to Know.”

The Golden Echo continues to showcase Kimbra’s fun and unique blend of music, straying somewhat from the poppiness of 2011′s Vows and delving into funk, disco, soul, hip hop, and everything in between.

The album, produced by Rich Costey (Fiona Apple, Interpol, The Shins), features 12 tracks with guest artists including Matt Belamy of Muse, Mark Foster of Foster the People, Dave Longstreth of Dirty Projectors, and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of The Mars Volta.

Kimbra also announced her upcoming Fall U.S. tour, starting off in San Francisco on October 20th and wrapping up on November 9th in Massachusetts.

Listen to “Miracle” below, visit Kimbra’s official website, and pre-order The Golden Echo today!

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Catching Up With Wild Cub At Firefly Music Festival

Wild-Cub

(PCM) We recently caught up with Nashville-based band Wild Cub while out at the recent Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE last month.

After their amazing performance at Firefly, Wild Cub embarked on their own headlining tour throughout the U.S. that will wrap up on August 7th in San Francisco, CA.

Wild Cub are currently out on the road in support of their debut album “Youth” and their recently released iTunes exclusive EP “Letters Home From Far Away: Cover, Outtakes and Live Recordings”.  The band’s awesome cover of Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love” can be found on the new EP and well as hit tracks such as “Wishing Well” and “Thunder Clatter”.

You can watch our interview below:

 

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Weezer Releases First New Single in Four Years: “Back to the Shack”

Weezer(PCM) Everyone’s favorite nerdy rock band has graced the world with their first single in four years, “Back to the Shack.”

Weezer dropped the song today giving fans another preview of their upcoming ninth LP Everything Will Be Alright in the End, being released on September 30th on Republic Records.

The band debuted the single on national radio and through their official YouTube account on Monday morning and music lovers and fans alike have rejoiced in the new music.

In the months leading to the release of Everything Will Be Alright in the End Weezer has released teasers of the album songs, giving fans a taste of what’s to come with samples of “Return to Ithaca,” “Ain’t Got Nobody,” and “The Wasteland.

Weezer has been releasing these snippets as part of their #WeezerWednesdays YouTube series, keeping their over 60,000 fans on their toes in the hopes of more new music.

Weezer also made Everything Will Be Alright in the End available for pre-order today on their website and will be giving “Back to the Shack” its TV debut on The Late Night Show with Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday, July 23.

Everything Will Be Alright in the End was produced by Ric Ocasek, frontman of the Cars, who previously worked with the band on 1994′s Blue Album and 2001′s Green Album.

Listen to the “Back to the Shack” below!

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Matt Lalonde Releases Debut Album Medicinal

Matt_Lalonde_Photo_1(PCM) Matt Lalonde is a 25 year old musician/song writer from Milton, Ontario whose love for music began from an early age. He began playing piano and guitar at 6 years of age. However, his affinity and obsession with the craft of writing music didn’t start to take off until he moved to Windsor at the age of 17. He began playing with the band MicLordz and Sauce funky- a Windsor based funk/ rock band comparable to Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rage Against the Machine. Throughout the 7 years that Lalonde played with MLSF the band gained much attention and a large fan following upwards to 80,000 people proud to call themselves the MLSF Army.

The band was fortunate to gain the opportunity of partaking in a nationwide tour of the USA and Canada. During this time the quintet opened for many notable artists such as K-OS, Cypress Hill, My Darkest Days, Finger Eleven, D-12, Big Wreck, as well as many others. While serving as lead guitarist and backup vocalist Lalonde also played an integral part in the song/music writing aspect of the hard hitting band. MLSF’s two popular albums Sunset Ammunition and Good Luck were a collaboration of creativity between all five members and gained much popularity and generous sales on iTunes.

Still residing in Windsor, Matt Lalonde, now a solo artist, has released his debut album titled Medicinal- a fusion of alternative rock and blues. Written, produced, and recorded solely by Lalonde he has also created 4 music videos to support the album’s release with the help of his videographer, and editor Momcilo Dragicevic. Currently, Lalonde is focusing on planning a Canadian tour in support of the album with his live band Dogtone.

For more information about Matt Lalonde, please visit:

http://www.Universalanimalent.com

http://www.facebook.com/MattLalondeMusic

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/artist/matt-lalonde/id688863198

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Interview with JOHNNYSWIM At Firefly Music Festival 2014

Johnnyswim1

(PCM) We were able to catch up with amazing husband and wife duo JOHNNYSWIM while out at the Firefly Music Festival, which took place at the Woodlands in Dover, DE last month.

The group have been making a ton of festival appearances this summer, just recently appearing at the Forcastle Festival in Louisville, KY and will also be performing at Lollapalooza this August in Chicago, IL.

The duo were also featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and made a recent appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman.

JOHNNYSWIM are currently touring behind their debut full-length album “Diamonds” which was produced by JOHNNYSWIM’s own Abner Ramirez in Nashville, TN.

We absolutely adored the group while out at Firefly and they are without a doubt a band that needs to be on your radar right now!

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Catching Up With The Tontons At Firefly Festival 2014

the-tontons

(PCM) One band that was generating a huge amount of buzz at this year’s Firefly Music Festival was The Tontons.

The band were one of the choices to play the Red Bull Sound Select Stages at this year’s festival and are currently touring behind their latest album release “Make Out King And Other Stories”.

We were able to catch up with the band while hanging out in the Red Bull Artist Lounge backstage…check it out below:

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Weird Al Yankovic Wants You to Learn Your Grammar in “Word Crimes”

(PCM) The king of song parodies has struck again with his latest single “Word Crimes,” a parody of Robin Thicke’s 2013 summer anthem “Blurred Lines.”

Weird Al debuted “Word Crimes” yesterday as the second of eight videos that he is releasing over eight days in promotion for his newly released album Mandatory Fun, the musician’s fourteenth studio album.

“Word Crimes” parodies Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” song and video, which you’re probably already very familiar with if you were alive and conscious during the summer of 2013.

“Blurred Lines” was inescapable; the song was on every radio station and music video channel, leading it to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and on to become the longest running number one single of 2013 and the 2010′s, remaining on the top of the Hot 100 for 12 weeks.

“Blurred Lines” also drew a lot of negative attention for its misogynistic stance and “rapey” lyrics.

As of today, “Blurred Lines” has over 327 million views on YouTube.

Taking the incredibly fun and catchy beat and laying down lessons in grammar, Weird Al has succeeded in making the song his own and catching people’s attention: after just one day on YouTube, “Word Crimes” has already gained over 2 million views.

Weird Al revealed on The View on Tuesday that he was inspired to write the song due to the prevalence of text-slang and improper grammar and lack of education in today’s society.

Watch Weird Al’s “Word Crimes” below and check out his website here, where you can also purchase his new album Mandatory Fun.

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