Hearsay bits: Matt Morris Enterainment Weekly interview, new music from Mike Marchant and Chain Gang of 1974, Xiren imagines John Lennon and U2 as one.

Matt Morris's star continues to rise. While appearances on Letterman and Ellen certainly gave him some great exposure, his duet with Justin Timberlake on last weekend's Hope for Haiti Telethon did wonders for him in terms of introducing him to the wider mainstream audience.

Morris and Timberlake's version of "Hallelujah" was stirring enough enough to top the iTunes singles chart in the days following, and caught the attention of Entertainment Weekly, who name checked him in the latest issue and ran a Q&A with him earlier this week on its Music Mix blog.

Understandably, we suppose, the interview focuses a great deal on Timberlake and Morris's relationship with him, even quizzing him about when the former will return to making music, and doesn't really offer much in the way of background on Morris. Even so, the exposure is enviable for an unheralded artist. It will be interesting to see if any of this exposure actually helps elevate Morris's career.

Mike Marchant has set a release date for his new EP. On Friday, February 19, Marchant will unveil a brand new batch of tunes at the Meadowlark. The as-yet-titled release comprises a half-dozen songs that he's been playing out in the past few months, tunes such as "Mexico," which we're assuming recounts the tale of him being erroneous detained in a Mexican jail, "Like a Shaken Crow," "Canon City," and "an untitled ode to Bar Bar," as he puts it. A few of the tracks have already been posted on MySpace, and a few tunes will be posted for free download as soon as they're mastered.

Hearsay bits: Matt Morris Enterainment Weekly interview, new music from Mike Marchant and Chain Gang of 1974, Xiren imagines John Lennon and U2 as one.
Luca Venter

Speaking of new tunes, the Chain Gang of 1974 -- due tonight at the Bluebird Theater with Pictureplane and The Pirate Signal -- has posted five new tracks on MySpace and is streaming Fantastic Nostalgic: The Early Recordings in its entirety right now on TuneCore (listen below). The new songs sound more focused and mature than previous efforts and represent a notable shift in direction from the frenetic, dance-floor-destroying send ups Chain Gang built its name on. On a related note, "DANCEKISSLOVEMOVE," from White Guts, due out in March, is featured in the independent film The Snake.

Finally, while clearly not of the same stature as Morris and Timberlake's version of "Hallelujah," earlier this week we came across a track that Xiren recorded with the people of Haiti in mind, in which he mates "Imagine" by John Lennon and "One" by U2. Quite stirring in its own right. Give it a listen below.

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