William Fitzsimmons Releases Free Sampler

Since 2005, William Fitzsimmons has created three full-length albums, each thoroughly themed and embossed with matters of family history, intimate disclosure and bold confession, yielding rich folk music. Fitzsimmons’ music ranges from the stark and acoustic to the voluminous and electronic, all the while, reflecting Fitzsimmons’ commitment to addressing what is always pressing and yet all too often ignored. Fitzsimmons’ critically acclaimed fourth album, Gold In the Shadow, has been released as a Deluxe version, which includes 14 bonus tracks featuring 3 previously unavailable recordings, including a new acoustic version of “Let You Break.”

He is releasing his new free sampler courtesy of NoiseTrade.

Florence + the Machine Announce Tour

Following a run of TV appearances including Austin City Limits and MTV Unplugged, Florence + the Machine will kick off its 15-city tour on April 14 in Santa Barbara. The tour, presented by MSN, includes stops at Coachella, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and Radio City Music Hall. The shows wrap on May 12 in Atlantic City.

Tickets go on sale this Friday (Jan. 27) at 10 a.m. on Ticketmaster, with tickets for the Jazz & Heritage Fest currently available at nojazzfest.com. Coachella is already sold out.

Full list of tour dates:
April 14: Santa Babara, Calif. (Santa Babara Bowl)
April 15: Indio, Calif. (Coachella Festival)
April 17: Reno, Nev. (Grand Sierra Resort)
April 18: Davis, Calif. (Mondavi Center: UC Davis)
April 20: Phoenix, Ariz. (Comerica Theatre)
April 21: Las Vegas, Nev. (The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas)
April 22: Indio, Calif. (Coachella Festival)
April 27: Minneapolis, Minn. (Hennepin Theatre)
April 28: Milwaukee, Wis. (Eagles Ballroom)
April 29: St. Louis, Mo. (Peabody Opera House)
May 1: Dallas, Texas (Palladium Ballroom)
May 2: Houston, Texas (Verizon Wireless Theatre)
May 3: New Orleans, La. (New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival)
May 8: New York, N.Y. (Radio City Music Hall)
May 11: Uncasville, Conn. (Mohegan Sun Arena)
May 12: Atlantic City, N.J. (Borgata Spa & Resort Event Center)

DOWNLOAD: New Single from Yellow Ostrich ("Marathon Runner")

Less than a year following the release of their sophomore album, The Mistress, New York indie rock outfit Yellow Ostrich will release yet another full-length LP via Barsuk Records on March 6. Titled Strange Land, it was self-produced with engineer Beau Sorenson (Death Cab for Cutie, Sparklehorse). The band has been gaining much momentum in the last year and it seems they are preparing for bigger things in 2012.

Check out the first listen in “Marathon Runner,” the track released by the band this week for streaming and download.

Adele Ties 'Titanic' Soundtrack, Crowder Debuts at No. 2

Adele’s 21 has now tied the Titanic soundtrack’s 16-week run at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart. The 1997 movie’s score by James Horner (complete with Celine Dion’s chart-topping hit “My Heart Will Go On”) was the last LP to rack up as many weeks atop the main album chart.

21 sold another 104,000 copies last week as it approaches the one-year anniversary since it was released on January 24, 2011 in Europe. Give Us Rest, the final album by Texas Christian rock act David Crowder*Band, makes its debut at No. 2 (50,000 copies sold), while Irish rockers Snow Patrol enter at No. 5 with Fallen Empires (33,000).

The Top 10 Of Billboard’s Top 200 Chart
1. Adele, 21
2. David Crowder*Band, Give Us Rest (NEW)
3. The Black Keys, El Camino
4. Drake, Take Care
5. Snow Patrol, Fallen Empires (NEW)
6. Young Jeezy, TM 103: Hustlerz Ambition
7. Rihanna, Talk That Talk
8. Coldplay, Mylo Xyloto
9. Nickelback, Here And Now
10. Various Artists, NOW 40

Lessons from a PR Pro: Shelby Meade (Q&A)

Upon joining the publicity ranks in New York City, Shelby Meade worked with Moby, Foo Fighters, Beastie Boys, Luscious Jackson and Radiohead. In 2001, Meade took her skills to sunny Los Angeles and started her own PR company, Fresh and Clean Media--now a well-known and well-respected publicity and marketing firm specializing in music, action sports, fashion, film, festivals and other related fields. Some of their clients include Cold War Kids, Jack Johnson, Matthew Mayfield, Bassnectar, Lollapalooza and the Austin City Limts Music Festival. Meade recently sat down with VARIANCE to discuss public relations and the music industry.

A lot of PR firms tend to specialize in something. Diversity has been important to you since you started your company. Why is that?

MEADE: I think I got that mindset from one of my early boss- es. I started in the music business working in a branch office firm—learning how everything works, from retail to radio and all that good groovy stuff before getting moved to a national office, which is where more of the marketing and publicity took place. Kind of the second tier of things, but I grew up around music and sports. So I would be reading Creem Magazine, surfing magazines, and skate magazines. To me it made sense in my mind that everything tied together. Your hangout spots are about music and culture and lifestyle. Then I moved to New York and I was working mainly with hip-hop music. That was an exciting time for me, being up at the Apollo with Busta Rhymes and doing photo shoots with those guys. So after working at MCA Records and getting my job at Elektra [Records], my boss at the time said, “you can’t just work hip-hop music. We don’t break down bands according to genre. You work everything.” At first I was like, “but I just want to do hip-hop.” And she told me, “you’re not going to do much if that’s the case.” That’s how it’s been for me ever since. For my team now, the surf and skate world works with the Ben Harpers. It’s great.

You’ve kind of evolved with the industry. Where do you see things going?

MEADE: To me, public relations has never been just about what’s in the magazine. It’s about what you’re creating around it. It’s building a lifestyle. You can’t just go to a magazine or media outlet and say, “write about my band or feature my athlete.” You have to read the magazine and know their culture and know how your client fits into it. Not a lot of publicists do that anymore. It’s not fair to the client. Press is getting on the phone with an editor, having conversations, emailing them to discuss their edit calendars and seeing what makes sense for everyone. You can’t just jam things through. I don’t believe in doing things that way. It’s not good business. Artists and entertainers have to realize that good public relations is about the long-term.

What happens when a client wants the short-term fix?

MEADE: I don’t work with them if they do...When I chose to leave Elektra, I opted to work independently and I’ve held that standard since then. Sometimes it’s not a lot of fun when the clients aren’t coming in but you kind of have to hold your ground and know that good things are going to come if you just do the right thing. We actually have a client base that gets along. They all like each other and they work together. So I think it pays off.

Read the entire discussion on in the new issue of VARIANCE, page 56.

Rare Video: Kanye West Performing in 1996

Having had an incredible year with the release of his album with Jay-Z, Watch the Throne, and on the brink of what will likely be another great year for Kanye West, it's difficult to imagine him as anything less than the star he is today. But thanks to footage that was recently unearthed, we can see West rapping with then-partner Phenom in 1996 at Chicago's Double Door. The video has reportedly been on YouTube since 2010.

ALSO: Frank Ocean, Jay Electronica to Appear on Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music Spring 2012 Album

(Note: Obviously, there is profanity in the video. Click here to watch)

Brian Williams: Lana Del Rey One of Worst in SNL History

People sure love to hate Lana Del Rey. After sustaining repeated attacks on her appearance, her questionable past, and her flimsy current identity, the retro-glamour singer and "gangsta Nancy Sinatra" was torn apart once again for her less-than-impressive performance on "Saturday Night Live" this past weekend. NBC news anchor Brian Williams called her "one of the worst [performers] in 'SNL' history," while the episode's host, Daniel Radcliffe, came to her defense. So, did "SNL" producers make a big mistake by booking Del Rey, who has yet to release her debut album, for such a high-profile appearance so early--or by booking her at all?

Lana Del Rey's brief career has actually been controversial and troubled from the start. After getting signed to Interscope last October, gracing the covers of magazines like Billboard and Interview Russia, and getting signed to Next Model Management, a backlash among skeptics was inevitable.

Read the full article here.

Skylar Grey Releasing Stripped Down Versions of Her Songs

Five-time GRAMMY-nominated singer songwriter Skylar Grey will release The Buried Sessions of Skylar Grey to all digital retailers on January 17, 2012, it was announced today. The special release will include stripped down versions of the smash hits “Love The Way You Lie,” “Coming Home” and “Words I Never Said,” written and self-produced by Grey.

Grey is gearing up to release her debut album INVINSIBLE, which is due out early this year from KIDinaKORNER/Interscope. A singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Grey made a name for herself co-writing some of the most memorable songs to light up the Billboard Hot 100 and iTunes sales charts in recent memory, totaling more than 15 million singles globally. Grey co-wrote the biggest selling single of 2010: Eminem’s “Love The Way You Lie,” which earned her two GRAMMY Award nominations for Best Song and Best Rap Song of the Year; co-wrote Dr. Dre’s “I Need A Doctor,” which she performed alongside Dre and Eminem on the 2011 GRAMMY Awards telecast and for which she is currently nominated for two GRAMMY Awards; as well as the Diddy Dirty Money hit “Coming Home,” and Lupe Fiasco’s “Words I Never Said.”

For more information, go to www.skylargreymusic.com.

The Flaming Lips to Release Album with Bon Iver in April

Wayne Coyne tells Rolling Stone that the Flaming Lips are putting the finishing touches on a collaborative album that finds them working with a wildly diverse roster of artists, from Bon Iver to Nick Cave and Edward Sharpe to Yoko Ono. The album doesn't have an official release date yet, but Coyne hopes it will see the light of day in April. "All these things happen within a couple of days," Coyne says of the album's remotely managed, oftentimes logistically tricky recording sessions. "You set up these [collaborations] in your mind and immediately get to work."

The album's wide-ranging guest list of collaborators are a direct reflection of Coyne and the Lips' diverse musical palette. Some collaborations have already been recorded (Nick Cave, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Plastic Ono Band, Neon Indian), while others are still coming together (Bon Iver). And then there are the artists (Ke$ha, Lykke Li, Erykah Badu) whom Coyne is still trying to convince to jump onboard. "Sometimes it just takes a matter of connecting," he says of potential roadblocks in roping artists along for the ride.

Yes, Ke$ha.

Read the full Rolling Stone feature here.

PREVIEW: Ingrid Michaelson's New Album "Human Again"

Ingrid Michaelson--whose new album, Human Again, releases on January 24--is offering a preview of every song from the upcoming release.

Starting today, fans can interact with a special image to reveal the lyrics and a "preview clip of every song from my record," the songstress announced via Twitter.

A new song will be available for preview each day leading up to the release. (The first clip is for the opening track, "Fire.") Tour dates for a select group of "pop-up" shows are also set to be announced on Friday, January 13.

Michaelson is featured in the January issue of Variance. She discusses the changes fans can expect in her latest work and her plans as she continues to move forward as an independent artist.

Click here to view the full-size interactive image and experience all of the features.

Zooey Deschanel and Karmin on SNL in February

Zooey Deschanel will make her Saturday Night Live hosting debut on Feb. 11, NBC announced Wednesday.

The Golden Globe-nominated New Girl star will be joined by musical guest Karmin — best known for their unique covers of hit songs like Chris Brown's "Look At Me Now" and Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass." (If you've never heard of them, we highly recommend checking this out).

Karmin was featured in the October 2011 issue of Variance and Deschanel's New Girl co-star Jake Johnson is in the current issue.

Channing Tatum hosts the previous week (Feb. 4) of SNL with musical guest Bon Iver. (Someone at NBC deserves a raise, with these recent good decisions!)

PREVIEW: Arcade Fire Perform "We Used to Wait" on ACL

This Saturday, January 14, Arcade Fire will perform on the PBS live music show Austin City Limits. Below, watch a preview in which they perform "We Used to Wait", from their 2010 LP The Suburbs, via USA Today. According to USA Today, their set also features "Keep the Car Running," "Rebellion (Lies)," "Wake Up" and "Haiti."

The January 21 episode of "Austin City Limits" features Fleet Foxes and Joanna Newsom, while January 28 stars Lykke Li and Florence + the Machine, and February 4 features Wilco.

Get the Latest in Your Inbox