While you were away, the U.S. deployed a secret, t-shirted weapon in Middle East diplomacy. 90s alt-legends slipped into that good night while 00s alt-heroes prepped a return. R. Kelly's life's work continued, as wigs were worn, secrets revealed, heads shaken. Fuzzy Italo-disco continued to exist. Details follow...
1. Andrew WK was named "Cultural Ambassador to the Middle East" by the U.S. State Department
In a move perfectly timed to soothe a region ready to explode, shatter into a million pieces, New York City gadfly, Brony spokesman, and perpetual party enthusiast Andrew W.K. has been named an official cultural representative of the U.S. State Department, soon to be deployed to the schools and concert venues of Bahrain in a mission to promote "partying and world peace." Though partying as an abstract concept is surely something that people of any belief system can rally around, odds that warring factions will be able to jointly commit to a playlist order or dip variety are slim. (If nothing else is accomplished, we would welcome any footage of W.K. and Hillary Clinton firing AK-47s into the air.)
Update! It's off! The State Department has cancelled W.K.'s mission! It turns out Bahrain has a terrible human rights record, and a party-centric cultural exchange isn't appropriate. We don't know how to feel about this. Fair enough?
2. Pulp Won't Record Anything New, Fade Out of Triumphant Reunion
This April's two-night stand at Radio City Music Hall was so so so great that Pulp would have been spared my usual non-plussed-ed-ness at an old favorite band heading into the studio, years after the heighth of their relevance, had they wanted to record some new jams. But they will not. Talking to glossy British music mag Q (how are all these British print mags staying afloat, I wonder?), he reflected on the purity of just sticking to the old stuff: ''It also means you aren't trying to flog anything to anyone - then you have to do interviews and convince people they have to go and but this new record as well! It was kinda nice not to have to do that.'' Nice for everyone. Godspeed, Jarvis.
3. There Will Be a New Yeah Yeah Yeahs Record in Spring 2013
Yeah! News of a newly finished Yeah Yeah Yeahs record actually trickled out last week, when we were too preoccupied to notice. Though it had been rumored that James Murphy might produce, that turns out to be another in a long line of comically tantalizing post-LCD Soundsystem teases. It will have been four years since the Brooklyn-born band released It's Blitz! , a soft and synthy record that holds up quite nicely. In a post-Sleigh Bells landscape he certainly influenced, though, we really need Nick Zinner to SHRED on this one.
4. R. Kelly Continues to Make Trapped in the Closet Segments, Will Never Stop
Resembling nothing at this point so much as a sitcom several years past its pop cultural peak, R. Kelly's ridiculous R&B soap opera continues to exist. Ten new chapters of it debuted this Friday on the IFC Channel, and at viewing parties in otherwise reasonable seeming cultural hotspots all over the country, including one at Williamsburg's new Videology screening room. The continuing "story" (in which the actual narrative details don't matter in the most emphatic way possible) involves sex-twists that make no sense, harmonies that are better than they have to be, and wigs that were worse than they should be. The full block of new episodes, 23-33, appear to be posted online in full. You can watch them here, though that seems shady and it'll likely get taken down quickly. It's also pretty dumb and kind of a waste of time. But, you know, we're not the boss of you.
5. After Dark 2 Is Coming (Sleepy Italo Disco: Not Napping in 2012)
Chromatics, whose magnum opus disco soundtrack Kill For Love dropped earlier this year, released the video for a new song "Cherry" this Sunday. You are forgiven for thinking it might be a Trapped in the Closet-esque film serial, but no, all of their videos just have that signature "taking Instagram pictures after a pill overdose" look. The song is the first advance sample of a new After Dark compilation from the Italians Do It Better label. The first collection was one of the best records of 2007, so, interest runs high, even if the energy level is stuck at "Just Took a Valium After Turkey Seconds."