Arab Strap break up! Bolivian Benoit Balls now best band named after a sex device

The site message was polite and optimistic: "Yes, it's the end for Arab Strap. After 10 years, six studio albums, three live albums, and all manner of everything else, we've decided the story should come to a close. There's no animosity, no drama, we simply feel we've run our course and The Last Romance seems to us the most obvious and logical final act of the Arab Strap studio adventure. Everybody likes a happy ending!... It is midnight on the 8th of September 2006 and I have just opened a beer. Cheers."

Well it's 7:03 am on September 10, 2006 as I start to write this, and I have just opened a beer too, but it's not making me feel any better about the break-up of Arab Strap. It's true that everybody likes a happy ending, but everybody loves more tales of sexual conquest, crises, and confusion, bitter ass-ends of relationships, quick cummers and two-stroke wonders, nights of binge drugging and drinking, and "blood on the johnnie" too, don't they?

Malcolm Middleton (mostly music) and Aidan Moffat (mostly lyrics) started Arab Strap in the central Scottish town of Falkirk in 1995 and quickly gained a reputation as dour, snarky cynics. C'mon...you start singing stuff like "They've seen me in the shower with shit down my legs" and "Smelling my fingers on the way back home" and next thing you know you are pigeonholed into that commonest of labels, the miserable/drunk/pervert band (FYI... rumored to be the next new Grammy Award category). Fortunately, the band was more known and revered for its dramatic musical originality and lyrical nous, a heady concoction that few bands — especially two-piece-based ones at that — could ever equal. To rub salt in others' wounds, the 'Strap also pulled off getting a song in a commercial for a product that is actually cool. The classic debut single "The First Big Weekend" was snagged by stout giant (?) Guinness for one of their popular UK ads.

So now it's 9:34 am (yes, it took me that long to write the nonsense you just read), and I'm considering draining the maraschino cherries and vanilla extract from the cupboard for a quick brain buzz while I reminisce about embarrassing fumbles with ex-loves and lost plastered weekends, but mostly about a band that wrote about such things with much more thought and dauntless honesty than I ever could.

Not surprisingly, Moffat and Middleton will go out with a celebratory bang, not a confectionary-assisted whimper, by issuing a career-spanning compilation entitled Ten Years of Tears and touring the UK in November and December. The album is expected on October 23 in the UK through on-and-off-and-on-again label Chemikal Underground (early 2007 in North America) and will feature a good representation of the band's back catalogue of lusty smut: early demos, unreleased and live tracks, B-sides and sessions, plus all the "hits." Speaking to the NME, Middleton explained the track choices thusly: "Sometimes the albums were a bit stifled because we were worrying too much about making a good album. I think that live versions of songs and b-sides etc show a truer, more relaxed side to the band. Ten Years of Tears can serve both as an introduction to Arab Strap and also a fitting finale to those people who have followed us along the way."

The tracks of their Ten Years of Tears:

1 Preface: Set the Scene
2 Islands (original 1995 demo)
3 The First Big Weekend
4 Gilded (live from first ever show)
5 I Saw You (first John Peel session)
6 The Clearing (single version)
7 Packs of Three (acoustic, live in studio 2006)
8 (Afternoon) Soaps
9 Rocket, Take Your Turn (Fukd ID 12")
10 To All a Good Night
11 Turbulence (Bis remix, radio edit)
12 The Shy Retirer
13 Blood (live 2004)
14 If There's No Hope For Us (rogue version)
15 Where We've Left Our Love
16 The Girl I Loved Before I Fucked (full band version)
17 Oxytocin (first ever recording)
18 There Is No Ending (7" edit)

The compilation will be preceded by a 7-inch single featuring the edit of "There Is No Ending" and backed with a remix of "The First Big Weekend" by Four Tet. The good news is that after the break-up, the remaining pieces will carry on their respective solo activities. Middleton is recording the follow-up to the superb Into the Woods album with ubiquitous studio helmsman Tony Dougan, and Moffat will continue to pen his personal poemsongs and record his ongoing Lucky/L. Pierre project (a new album, Dip, is due in early 2007). The farewell tour is being planned now and includes at least the 11 dates listed below. Even if Arab Strap always rubbed you against the grain, how could you not raise a pint (and a hug) to a band who were once "disowned" by their hometown of Falkirk after branding it as boring, run-down, and full of violent druggies and alcoholics?

The last live romance:

11.01.06 - Nottingham, England - Rescue Rooms
11.03.06 - Norwich, England - Arts Centre
11.05.06 - Portsmouth, England - Wedgewood Rooms
11.06.06 - Liverpool, England - Liverpool Theatre
11.07.06 - Bristol, England - Thekla
11.08.06 - London, England - Scala
11.29.06 - Manchester, England - Academy 3
12.01.06 - Edinburgh, Scotland - Cabaret Voltaire
12.02.06 - Aberdeen, Scotland - Tunnels
12.03.06 - Glasgow, Scotland - King Tut's Wah Wah Hut
12.04.06 - Glasgow, Scotland - King Tut's Wah Wah Hut

The Astounding Juana Molina Set To Astound Across The Country

Early reports indicate that especially talented singer/songwriter Juana Molina may easily capture the coveted best-album-of-the-year award once the lists start rolling in just a few months from now; some even start as early as next month compiling, editing, listing, re-editing. It's big fun and even better trying to figure out which well-known websites and/or taste-makers will put what where and why. Molina's Son [TMT Review] is an astounding grab bag of a record, with something for every taste, all covered and smothered in Molina's sometimes soothing sometimes crooning seasoned vocal exercises.

Molina is even better in a live setting (even in pits, like smoky, funky Midwest bars) and will prove it beginning next month with a healthy set of shows spread out across the country with even a few stops up north. The tour will see support from UK folkie Adem, who released Love And Other Planets (Domino) this past April.

Juana and friends are set to begin October 8 in Arlington, VA.

Juana Juana Juana:

10.08.06 - Arlington, VA IOTA*
10.10.06 - New York, NY Bowery Ballroom*
10.11.06 - Montreal, QC La Sala Rossa*
10.12.06 - Toronto, ON Supermarket*
10.13.06 - Cleveland, OH Grog Shop*
10.14.06 - Chicago, IL Lakeshore Theater*
10.15.06 - Madison, WI Cafe Montmarte*
10.17.06 - Denver, CO Walnut Room*
10.18.06 - Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge*
10.20.06 - Seattle, WA Crocodile Cafe*
10.21.06 - Portland, OR Doug Fir Lounge*
10.23.06 - San Francisco, CA Great American Music Hall*
10.24.06 - Los Angeles, CA Echo*
10.25.06 - San Diego, CA Casbah*
10.26.06 - Austin, TX Parish*

* w/ Adem

Be Your Own PET Drummer Quits to Be His Own PARENT

In a rash and unsubstantiated move, Be Your Own PET drummer Jamin Orrall has given up the stable life of a touring musician to join the dangerous and reckless world of college students. Sure, there may be beer-pong and girls, but there is also a Big Brother-esque facebook team watching you! Along with classes and all that jazz. Don't look at me, I went to tech school for comedy news writing. Did you know you can double major in indie rock news and refrigerator repair? We live in a wonderful world.

Orrall, who has yet to disclose his list of dream schools and safeties, will spend his time focusing on his own record label Infinity Cat and his band Jeff, formed with his brother Jake. It has not been confirmed whether Ecstatic Peace head honcho and general man-about-town Thurston Moore is going to replace Orrall on drums, but time will tell. Given the success of his daughter Coco Gordon Moore's band The Lightbulb, Moore might be tempted to pick up the drumsticks. It would be Moore's first foray into live music.

Banksy and Danger Mouse Punk Hilton

Awww man, this is one of those news pieces so joyful to relate that I just can't help but sit here writing with a big fat smile all over my angular, beautiful, yet somehow equine features.

Most of you will have heard of Paris Hilton. And an equally large number of you, I hope, will have heard of Banksy, the legendary British "guerrilla artist" famed for his idiosyncratic and deeply socially aware works of graffiti. His work can often be seen around London and other UK cities, but he is also well-known for having the sheer guts and audacity to paint on the Israel-built security wall at the West Bank in Palestine. In short, the man's work is vital, and even before his latest stunt, many people regarded him as a probable genius.

However, he's recently expanded his subversive output, this time preferring to take on one of the symbols, the icons, the bastions of popular culture — one of the people that epitomises all that glisters in Western society. Hilton's new CD was released recently in the UK, and Banksy saw his opportunity. 500 jacked CDs were planted in 42 stores across the country, replacing Hilton's music with Danger Mouse's wry remixes, and the cover art was doctored by Banksy to include track titles "Why am I Famous?," "What Have I Done?," and "What Am I For?," as well as statements such as "90% of success is just showing up," "Every CD you buy puts me more out of your league," and "Life wasn't meant to be fair." Here's the YouTube, linked from Banksy's site.

Now, we at TMT are used to writing our news in a 'ludicrous fashion' — just check our Wikipedia if you're not sure — but I feel that this news is sufficiently enjoyable without my attempts at snarkiness. So I'm going to go and see if HMV are stocking the new Paris record.

On USA, UK Go Beirut Sign In Tour To & 4AD

Beirut are currently experiencing a lot of activity. They are on the cusp of the new retro-style trend in music, in which bands name themselves after a geographic location. America, Kansas, & Chicago begat Beirut, Canada, & America, again (because they're coming back with a new album featuring the likes of Ryan Adams, James Iha & Adam what'shisface from Fountains Of Wayne). They (Beirut, not America, don't get confused) also recently signed to 4AD in Europe, giving the legendary label the right to release the band's Gulag Orkestar on that continent in an expanded form. Said expansion will consist of the original album plus a new EP, entitled Lon Gisland (misspelled on purpose, smarty). The EP also will come out in the U.S. this fall as a limited-edition, one-sided 12-inch.

If that weren't enough, and, let's face it, in this fast-paced world of 60-hour workweeks and dwindling paychecks, it sure as hell isn't, the band also have a couple tours lined up. Late September will find the group in a cross-country jaunt, which, after about a month, will be interrupted by a six-date trek with Calexico, which has the band visiting various United Kingdom cities. Then it's right back to the home of liberalism in America, (the country, not the band, please don't get confused) the East Coast, for a few shows on the way back to their home base of Brooklyn. Who knew the rocket ship to the top of the musical heap would be influenced by Eastern Europe (I have no idea what this means. I guess I will leave it up to you, dear reader, to come to your own conclusion)?

Lon Gisland EP:

1. Elephant Gun
2. My Family's Role In the World Revolution
3. Scenic World
4. (Interlude)
5. Carousels

Tourdates:

09.22.06 - Durham, NC - Duke Coffeehouse
09.23.06 - Greensboro, NC - Flying Anvil
09.24.06 - Atlanta, GA - Variety
09.29.06 - Swarthmore, PA - Swarthmore Campus
10.04.06 - Toronto, ON - Horseshoe
10.05.06 - Ottawa, QC - Zaphod Beezlebrox
10.07.06 - Montreal, QC - Le National
10.12.06 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
10.14.06 - Minneapolis, MN - Triple Rock
10.17.06 - Seattle, WA - Crocodile
10.18.06 - Portland, OR - Holocene
10.20.06 - San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall
10.21.06 - Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour
10.24.06 - Santa Fe, NM - Santa Fe Brewing Company
10.26.06 - Albuquerque, MN - Launchpad
10.28.06 - Austin, TX - Emo‘s
10.31.06 - Gateshead, UK - Sage #
11.01.06 - Glasgow, UK - ABC 1 #
11.02.06 - Dublin, UK - Olympia #
11.03.06 - Liverpool, UK - Academy #
11.04.06 - Sheffield, UK - Octago #
11.05.06 - London, UK - Camden Roundhouse
11.16.06 - Providence, RI - Leung Gallery
11.18.06 - Bennington, VT - Bennington Campus
11.21.06 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
11.22.06 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom

# w/ Calexico

Maritime Tours, Many People Check Blogs To See If It Is Okay To Be Excited

Hey all you hipsters out there. Why can't you figure out whether something is good or not on its own merits? You decry hype, yet without it, you would never know what to like. You have no taste, just interweb access and the ability to read. You love Martime's well-reviewed second LP, We, The Vehicles [TMT Review], yet you could care less about their first album, Glass Floor (Desoto). LP 2 is barely differeny from LP 1. And while you may have enjoyed a few D-Plan hits (DP bassist, Eric Axelson, was in Martime until recently) back in the day, you surely never gave the Promise Ring (current vocalist/gutiarist Davy von Bohlen and drummer Dan Didier were in tPR) any respect. In fact, if you are of a certain age, you probably remember the sick joy you got from hearing that the PR crashed their van back in the late '90s.

But nowadays, as I alluded to above, you can't get enough of Davey and Co., so I am sure you will want to see them live. They're starting a tour of the American Midwest and West Coast on Friday/Today. More East Coast and Southeast dates are promised for December, in case you are bummed by the routing this time around. They may play a song or two from the first album at these shows — you know, the LP that most people, both on and off the internet, either pooped on or just plain ignored. But, I doubt you will care anyway, since you will probably be talking on you cell phone or practicing your txt skills while the band is giving it their all up on stage. U mk me sk. Keep reading TMT though, cuz we have (collectively) more cool then Sufjan Stevens and more beauty then Neko Case.

Tourdates:

09.08.06 - Madison, WI - Terrace &
09.09.06 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
09.13.06 - Ames, IA - Maintenance Shop
09.14.06 - Lincoln, NE - Knickerbockers
09.15.06 - Denver, CO - Marquis Theater
09.16.06 - Salt Lake City - Kilby Court
09.18.06 - Portland, OR - Towne Lounge
09.19.06 - Seattle, WA - The Paradox
09.21.06 - San Francisco, CA - Café Du Nord
09.22.06 - Sacramento, CA - The Library
09.23.06 - Los Angeles, CA - Spaceland
09.24.06 - Goleta, CA - Hard To Find Showspace (ha!)
09.25.06 - San Diego, CA - Cashbah
09.26.06 - Phoenix, AZ - Rhythm Room
09.28.06 - Austin, TX - Emo's Jr

09.29,06 - Dallas, TX - The Cavern
09.30.06 - Springfield, MO - Randy Bacon Studio & Gallery
10.19.06 - Chicago, IL - Subterranean *
10.20.06 - Dayton, OH - The Night Owl *
10.21.06 - New York, NY - The Mercury Lounge *
10.22.06 - Cambridge, MA - The Middle East (upstars) *
10.23.06 - Cleveland, OH - The Grog Shop *

& w/ Mark Mallman
* w/ Bound Stems

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