Friday, March 28, 2014

FC Bayern München Wins the Bundesliga, for the 23rd Time

USA Today:
They just won the league title in March, clinching it with a 3-1 win over Hertha BSC on Tuesday. This is a big deal because the season ends in the middle of May.

How did they clinch the league with almost a quarter of the season left to play? Well, for starters, they didn’t lose. Not once. Bayern won 25 of their first 27 games this season, and tied the other two. In those 27 games they scored 79 goals and allowed 13. They didn’t just win; they won easily.

For starters, take about every major member of the Germany team that’s a favorite in Brazil this summer, sprinkle in Brazil’s best central defender, add a dash of the best Polish striker probably ever, and match them with Pep Guardiola, a brilliant soccer mind who managed Barcelona to incredible success before taking some time off. He’s back now, with Bayern, and they can’t stop winning.

It’s not like winning the Bundesliga is new to Bayern, either. They’ve done this before. A lot. Bayern Munich has won its 23rd Bundesliga title, and no other club has more than five.

After winning the league title last year, they then added Mario Gotze, one of the best players from their main rival, Borussia Dortmund. Not content that Gotze was enough, however, they then went back and got Robert Lewandowski, the Polish striker who also played for Dortmund, who is one of the best goalscorers in the world.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Swetshop Boys - "Benny Lava"

Directed by Prashant Bhargava and Tanuj Chopra
Produced by Ryan Hemsworth

Himanshu Suri — a.k.a. Heems, best known from the sadly defunct New York rap upsetters (and former SPIN cover stars) Das Racist — has returned, and our introduction to his new duo Swetshop Boys. After Heems laconically rages against stop-and-frisk and celebrates his South Asian roots, fellow Swetshop Boys half Riz MC — a.k.a. London actor/rapper Riz Ahmed — actually raises the pace, coolly punching at the National Security Agency's data collection program and invoking Michael Jackson's always-welcome-to-be-invoked "Man in the Mirror."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spotlight: Chance The Rapper

He's from Chicago — the notorious South Side, to be exact — rather than the traditional spitter center of New York City, and he is, along with a number of other youthful word nerds (and long-gestating veterans), pulling "lyricism" out of the codified pit of "real hip-hop" cliché and throwing it across every nook and cranny of the rap landscape.

Acid Rap (no. 2 on our 50 Best Albums of 2013 list) is an impressive, arresting display of furious styles, but it's also a well-observed and deeply empathetic album about growing up and trying to be decent — a good kid in a mad Midwestern city — whose songs inhabit a series of lost and half-found characters: wounded addicts, lusted-over high-school lab-mates, feckless dealers, a sweetheart dad, and young couples in love. It's got an open-eared palette of sub-regional sounds, crooned hooks, and vivid storytelling — one of those sprawling masterpieces you can't ignore. But a key element to its success is unquestionably old-fashioned, pen-and-pad writing and verbal acrobatics.

Acid Rap was also nominated for Best Mixtape at the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards. On Datpiff it has been certified platinum after being downloaded over 250,000 times.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Avicii vs. Nicky Romero - "I Could Be the One" (2012)

"I Could Be the One" is a song by Swedish DJ Avicii and Dutch DJ Nicky Romero (stylized as Avicii vs. Nicky Romero), which features uncredited vocals from Swedish singer Noonie Bao. The track was released as a digital download in Sweden on 31 December 2012 and the United Kingdom (where it topped the charts) on 31 December 2012.

The music video was directed by Peter Huang and won first prize for non-European music video at the Young Director Award 2013 in Cannes.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

DJ Snake & Lil Jon - "Turn Down For What"

"Turn Down for What" is a single by DJ Snake and Lil Jon. It was released at the end of 2013 and became an international hit song and was popularized by Vine.

"Turn Down for What" entered the top 10 on Billboard's Dance/Electronic chart during the last week of December. In January 2014, the single entered the top 5 on the Dance/Electronic chart and debuted at No. 38 on Billboard's Hot 100. It has risen to its current peak of 29 and was certified gold in February 2014. The song has also charted in New Zealand, debuting and peaking at number 27.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

"Odds of a Perfect NCAA Basketball Bracket"

You had to be in it to win it -- but by late Friday, none of the 8.7 million entrants were still in the running to win Warren Buffett's $1 billion NCAA basketball challenge. Two days in, Mercer's win over Duke Friday was a big upset that shattered the chances of many participants in Warren Buffett’s NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge vying for the grand prize.

As ABC News previously reported, the odds of guessing a perfect bracket were estimated by one mathematician to be 1 in 128 billion (and that’s if you know something about basketball). In the same YouTube video, DePaul University's Jeff Bergen explained that there were more than 9 quintillion ways to fill in a bracket."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lykke Li - "No Rest for the Wicked"

Live, her performances were as startling as they were riveting: armed with a pared down drum kit, a necklace made out of percussive instruments, a guitar, a bass and a microphone, many were confounded by how much energy, emotion and heart came out of one very simple set-up. Youth Novels skyrocketed to the top of many of 2008’s Best Of lists and saw Lykke Li sell out tours across the globe, including lauded sets at massive festivals such as Glastonbury Festival, Coachella Festival, Lollapalooza

After her debut album, Lykke was tagged as a "pop princess". But she disagreed that "in this day and age, suddenly pop music has this negative, fake and disgusting image." She cited Neil Young, The Shangri-Las, This Mortal Coil, The Beatles, and Rolling Stones as influences and said "they aren’t pop anymore by today’s standards, but they were."

Her third LP, titled I Never Learn, is set for a release through Atlantic Records on May 5.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Miami Heat is Flop-tastic!

In the playoffs, there are no warnings for flopping; the first offense results in a $5,000 fine. By the end of the 2013 conference finals, the league had called out four players for flopping: Tony Allen, Derek Fisher, Jeff Pendergraph and J.R. Smith. Each was fined $5,000. Pacers coach Frank Vogel, who was fined $15,000 last spring for calling the Heat "the biggest flopping team in the league," was reluctant to jump into the debate again.

Mario Chalmers

Shane Battier

Chris Bosh

Dwayne Wade

Lebron James

Monday, March 17, 2014

Thursday, March 13, 2014

True Detective

Rolling Stone:
Next to Matthew McConaughey, the one name most associated with True Detective is Nic Pizzolatto, a novelist and occasional TV writer (The Killing) who acts as the series showrunner. He's the true auteur of the show — but you can't discount the contributions of the man behind the camera for every one of the first season's episodes. Thanks to his Sundance-coronated 2009 feature debut Sin Nombre, filmmaker Cary Fukanaga demonstrated a knack for complementing immersive-journalistic storytelling with impressive chops. His sophomore film, an adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre (2011), then proved he was no one-trick indie-cinema pony.

More information:
» Paste Magazine's Review of Season Finale "Form and Void"
» Ask a Philospher: What’s Up With True Detective’s Rust Cohle?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Drake - "Hold On, We're Going Home" (2013)

Drake ~ Hold On We're Going Home from OctobersVeryOwn on Vimeo.
"Hold On, We're Going Home" is the second single from his third studio album, Nothing Was the Same, and was released for digital download on August 7, 2013. The song was produced by OVO Sound's Majid Jordan, Nineteen85, and Noah "40" Shebib. The song peaked at number four on the US Billboard Hot 100, and was named the best song of 2013 by Pitchfork Media.

The video for the track sees Drake attempting to rescue his kidnapped girlfriend in a lavish Miami Vice themed video, directed by Bill Pope, cinematographer on The Matrix films. It also features A$AP Rocky, Majid Jordan, MC Fredo Santana and actor Steven Bauer, who plays Manny Ribera in the 1983 film Scarface.

Dev Hynes, Arctic Monkeys, and Rick Ross have already covered Drake's "Hold On, We're Going Home". Now, Holy Ghost! have entered the fray.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Evgeny Kuznetsov Is Finally On U.S. Soil

"If you good hockey player it doesn't matter where you play, big ice, small ice," Kuznetsov said, adding that he has experience playing all three forward positions. "I'm ready to play hard hockey. I'm not scared."
With much fanfare and after, what, four years of waiting, Evgeny Kuznetsov is finally on U.S. soil and both ready and willing to play for the Washington Capitals for these critical last 17 games of the season. During that time, the Caps will try to make up the point that holds them out of the playoffs and hope like hell the teams ahead of them don't pick up any extra points with their games in hand.

The thing is, there would be reason to suspect the Caps wouldn't be able to make the playoffs even if they currently occupied a position which would enable them to do so. However, they do not. They are, in fact, 10th in the East. And while it's dumb to play the “What if the shootout didn't exist?” game — as the shootout does unfortunately continue to exist — the Caps have picked up eight of their 30 wins in this gimmick competition, second in the league behind only the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are likewise not very good.

This at least tells us a lot about where the team actually stands in legitimate NHL games: Not highly.

But the problem with this notion that Kuznetsov, by all accounts a premium prospect who's very capable already of contributing at the NHL level, is going to fix what's wrong with the Caps really only lends credence to the nonsense logic behind George McPhee's trade deadline transactions.

For starters, this is a team that isn't very good in possession, coming in 23rd out of 30 in corsi with the score close (48.6 percent). This is lower than other notably bad teams like the Hurricanes, Predators, Jets, and Islanders. One could suggest that adding Kuznetsov, a good offensive player, helps in this regard, as does tacking on Dustin Penner, whose corsi share (albeit on a much better team than the Capitals) is north of 50 percent, but only barely. The problem, though, is that the Caps aren't exactly wanting for offense; they're 14th in the league in shot attempts (1,733) which isn't great but it's something, and they're not exactly shooting poorly, at 7.4 percent, tied for 17th. Much of that, though, is down to the season enjoyed by Alex Ovechkin, as one might expect, and so any additional goals those two might provide couldn't, by definition, hurt.

But it's also not the Caps' area of greatest need. Seemingly to that end, McPhee went out and acquired — for the price of Rostislav Klesla and Michal Neuvirth — a pretty decent goalie in Jaroslav Halak who could, in a reasonable scenario, platoon with Braden Holtby for the rest of the season. Except that Neuvirth had a .914 save percentage with the Capitals this season, slightly better than league average, and Halak brings a .917 from a much better team, so you'd say perhaps that the difference is negligible.

So the team's real problem then, and obviously, is the fact that it bleeds possession because it cannot defend. They are, in fact, 22nd in the league in shot attempts against at 1,830, and the addition of two forwards and a goaltender does nothing to address this issue; John Carlson and Karl Alzner are indisputably their two best defensemen, but at the same time they're being devoured by the top-quality players they face. Mike Green and Dmitry Orlov have both been serviceable but play favorable zone starts and soft competition, beyond that, the D is a hodgepodge of guys you've never heard of and guys you wouldn't want to use on your NHL team. Andrew MacDonald, for instance, might have been something of an upgrade.

The issue, though, is that this isn't like the Penguins trying to get Ryan Kesler and ultimately failing; this is George McPhee not seeing his team's defense as a problem. Upon acquiring Halak and 86ing Neuvirth, he said this to the media: "We play a system where teams get probably more shots the way we play but most of them are from the outside, we’ll allow those. In some ways that might be better for this particular goaltender." The problem, of course, is that this isn't the case. There's really not all that much from the “outside” in this heat map of the shots Holtby has faced this season. Besides, this is an argument about shot quality, which is problematic, because good teams don't have to make it.

As a general rule, too, teams that say they're playing well despite the fact that they're not even .500 without the shootout, and that being outshot pretty much every night doesn't matter, have a lot more credibility when they're in a playoff spot (and when their PDO is about at equilibrium). You shouldn't expect to see the Capitals there any time soon, either.

More information:
» NHL: After Four-Year Wait, Kuznetsov Joins Capitals

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tame Impala - "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards" (2012)

Kendrick Lamar teamed up with the Australian psych-rock band for a reworked take on their track for the Divergent soundtrack, which will also include tracks by Ellie Goulding, Skrillex and M83. The dystopian teen film will be released in March 2014 and is based on the novel of the same name by author Veronica Roth.

'Beauty and the Beast – Slowed Down Sessions Ch. 1' was originally due to be released in 2013 but will now come out at some point later this year.

In December last year, Kevin Parker revealed that he is currently working on Tame Impala's next album. Commenting on its progress, he said: "The way I do it is there's never recording 'sessions.' One finishes, the next one starts. It's just continuous. I write songs everyday, but I don't necessarily get to record them. I just record whenever I can, whenever I'm home, whenever I have access to something that can make music."

Tame Impala are set to play this summer's Latitude festival.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Epic Fake Hoverboard Troll
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Monday, March 3, 2014

Beyoncé - "XO" (2013)

"XO" was co-written by Beyoncé herself, Terius "The-Dream" Nash and OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder, while the production was handled by Nash, Tedder, Beyoncé, with additional production from Hit-Boy and HazeBanga. In its fifth week on the Billboard Hot 100, the song peaked at number 45.

Beyoncé was included on many year-end best-of lists. It was ranked the best album of the year by Billboard, Houston Chronicle and Los Angeles Times, while Spin ranked it the best R&B album of the year. The album ranked within the top 10 on lists by Associated Press, HitFix and MTV News, which placed it at number five.

The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, with three-day sales of 617,213 digital copies. This gave Beyoncé her fifth consecutive number-one album, making her the first female artist to have her first five studio albums debut atop the chart. It also became the largest debut sales week for a female artist in 2013, and the highest debut sales week of Beyoncé's solo career.

On December 16, Apple announced that Beyoncé was the fastest selling album in the history of the iTunes Store, both in the US and worldwide. It sold 828,773 digital copies worldwide in just three days, and reached number one on iTunes Store charts in 104 countries. Six days after release, the album had sold one million digital copies worldwide on the iTunes Store.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Real Estate Plays New Album Atlas Live on NPR

Real Estate’s third studio album, Atlas, drops next week.