Calvin Johnson’s Crazy California Crapscapade

If, like me, the bulk of your knowledge about California consists of Escape from L.A. quotes, those ‘Welcome to California’ ads, and a vivid mental image of cartoon ‘49ers dancing around a pick axe, there’ll be no better time to check out The Golden State than on Calvin Johnson’s upcoming tour. Earlier this year, the K Records founder released the fantastic LP Calvin Johnson & The Sons of the Soil (TMT Review), featuring, among others, the spectacular track "Booty Run." You may want to check that out first.

And if you like to smoke mad weed, much like the man currently sitting next to me in the park, I hear California’s a great place for that. While waiting for Calvo to stop by your town, go rent/buy the 1977 weightlifting documentary Pumping Iron, which closes on an especially poignant note – the victorious now-Governor of California wearing an ‘Arnold is Numero Uno’ shirt and smoking a phatty. Apparently wildfires aren’t the only thing that’s been blazing in California. God bless America.


Paste Magazine Pulls a Radiohead (And a Saul Williams, Jane Siberry, etc.), Lets You Pay What You Want – But How Much Is It Worth?

If you haven't already read all about it, you've probably seen the banner ads on your favorite IndieClick-ing blog. But here at TMT -- the most trusted name in news -- we're here to assure you that Paste Magazine's "pay what you want" experiment is indeed legit. Paste is joining the likes of Jane Siberry, Saul Williams, and most notably, Radiohead, all of whom have offered their fans a chance to decide just how much their product/service/format is worth. Regrettably, according to a recent report, the tribe has spoken with regards to Radiohead's In Rainbows (TMT Review), with 62% of downloaders paying a grand total of $0.00. Ouch.

But Paste, the Miss Cleos that they are, could foresee this problem and instead are offering an 11-issue, one-year subscription for a minimum of $1, with the option of going up to the original $19.95 price and beyond (if you've got a fat wad burning a hole in your pocket). And not only do you get the rag, but each issue comes complete with a promotional sampler CD featuring handfuls of artists guaranteed to make you look fly when you unleash a little bit of name-dropping. But with only days remaining on this not-so-groundbreaking, still kind of sweet deal, I'm here to play consumer advocate, walking you through the October issue of Paste and offering some estimates of its worth. As I flip the pages, I'll note the highlights and the lowlights, assigning a value to each:

-- $1.00 - Iron & Wine cover; just the sight of Sam Beam makes me sleepy.

+ $0.25 - Neko Case ad; she's looking foxy by the pool.

--$0.50 - Photo of Beirut's Zach Condon; too pale - a zombie Elijah Wood, even.

-- $0.50 - Lyle Lovett article; seriously.

+ $1.00 - The Paste Sampler 36; features Beirut, Nellie McKay, and Marissa Nadler!

+ $0.15 - Arrested Development sidebar; that Michael Cera's so hot right now.

-- $0.75 - Blurb on former President Jimmy Carter's book tour; Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

+ $2.00 - A tribute to Antonioni & Bergman; R.I.P.

You get the idea. Ignoring a four-star review of the new Foo Fighters album, that brings the issue's worth to around $0.65. But I know what you're thinking. Who am I to decide how much anything is worth? And that, my friends, is the beauty of these promotions: If it sounds like a steal to you, pick up your subscription here. Power to the people.

New NPR Music Site Could Keep You Busy

This week, National Public Radio launched a new site, called NPR Music. I haven't relied on NPR for music since I was scraping the bottom of a hitter box and fumbling to get a tape in my boom box before "The Grateful Dead Hour" started. Since ditching the station, and radio in general, for other forms of musical discovery, I have come to appreciate NPR for news, features, and quirky audio documentaries. Going into NPR Music, I figured that, even though my local NPR station did not impress me musically, the organization as a whole just might have it together in genres other than jazz and classical.

I tend to tire of websites quickly, so I decided to put NPR Music on the clock and see how long NPR's new music site could keep me in one place.

8:07 PM - Welcome to NPR: Music Home. It's not that stuffy in here. No one's playing croquet anyway.
8:10 PM - I clicked on a featured studio session of Animal Collective from member station KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle. The intro stated: "Listening to the Animal Collective CD made me a little nervous about an in-studio session." Included was a link to listen to an interview with the band and watch the studio session, or so I thought. Hmm... Bose In-Ear headphones mandatory commercial. Those look expensive. I thought this was going to be a video of them in the studio and had a joke all queued up about how they keep Monster Cable in business. It's only audio, which is probably for the best. At least you didn't have to read that horrible Monster Cable joke. I listened to three minutes of "Fireworks."
8:18 PM - NPR Music: Discover Songs - Guest DJ Jens Lekman has three of his own songs on his six-song playlist. A bit vain? Listened to his pick of "Kim Ki O" by Dogru. He also chose a tune by The Tough Alliance, a band that I've been enjoying lately.
8:23 PM - Checked out All Songs Considered featuring David Byrne, Beirut, and Dirty Projectors. Listened to "The Sound of Business" off David Byrne's 1985 reissue, Knee Plays. Byrne is in "Seen and Not Seen"-weird-storytelling mode backed by a brass band.
8:28 PM - Listened "St. Apollonia" from the new Beirut album. I still haven't gotten around to checking this out. Sounded like a Latvian wedding reception, which I guess is the point. Kind of interesting.
8:32 PM - This could be a quality time-waster. The NPR 100 is a list of the 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century. I thought it was just going to be the songs, but clicking on the title of each lets you listen to a short documentary on the artist and the work's creation. I started with an eight-minute Fats Domino tutorial. I had no idea he was a recluse. NPR picked "Ain't That a Shame." The list isn't very contemporary. It looks like "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is the youngest inclusion by far, but there are still some great bite-sized history lessons here. No Bowie?
8:45 PM - I'll be back to that NPR 100. Let's see what else we got. 2007 SXSW sessions. Listened to a hunk of Okkervil River's 30-minute performance. You can download a few of these sessions as MP3s, which is nice.
8:52 PM - Fujiya & Miyagi's SXSW set sounds good. These clips load really quick on NPR's own player, which keeps a playlist of everything you've listened to for quick reference. The NPR 100 mini documentaries play on RealPlayer.
8:57 PM - In the "Urban" section, I listened to a story on a proposed Dallas ordinance against sagging. "The No. 1 mission is very simple: pulling up your pants. That's all we want," said Deputy Mayor Dwaine Caraway. That's good stuff. Just like at Sam Goody, at NPR, urban means black, not rap. The section included stories about Prince and Chaka Khan. I was looking for something about the new Wu-Tang album.
9:05 PM - Back to Discover Songs. There are quite a few "best albums of 2006" lists, staff picks of the week, and video sessions. I checked out some lists. That Lily Allen song is pretty catchy. I didn't say good, but I may have listened to it twice. She was on a list for best debut albums of 2006. I think I have to get that Black Angels album. They were on the same list.
9:14 PM - Every story includes audio clips, most often full songs. You could get lost in here. Now, even if your local NPR station only carries "This American Life" and "Car Talk," you can still tap into the station's vast musical knowledge and lit-major sensibility.
9:18 PM - Notice, as I just did, that I steered clear of the site's vast "world" and classical sections. That's not my job.
9:21 PM - After realizing that, I thought I'd better take a quick peek. I'll finish typing this up while listening to a Toots and the Maytals concert, which is in the "world" section. They open up with Otis Redding's "Pain in My Heart."

This is a great site.

Tim Harrington Checks “Les Savy Fav Tour” Off To-Do List

When he isn't out swimming, making ceviche, or hamming it up in a PSA for malaria, Tim Harrington sings for Brooklyn rock outfit Les Savy Fav. The acclaimed foursome recently released Let's Stay Friends (TMT Review), their first album of new material in
six years, to crazy amounts of praise. According to the band's MySpace, the record is "about Les Savy Fav's unwillingness to give up." So, with such determination, what's a band to do? Well, play a handful of live gigs apparently. The band will embark on a very brief tour in a brief amount of time. And on the tour, Tim Harrington will most likely be wearing briefs and not much else.

You better go to one of shows or poor Tim will have to do this:

^ The Dodos

The Blood Brothers Offically Break Up, Have Been Unofficially Broken Up for Quite Some Time

After months and months of speculation, looks like it's 100% official now. The Blood Brothers have broken up, which, you know, somewhat betrays the essence of their name. According to a press release and a post on the group's official website and one on their MySpace:

After 10 years of making music as The Blood Brothers, we have made the collective decision that our time together has come to an end. We feel extremely fortunate to have spent such a deeply memorable and amazing part of our lives with each other. At this point, however, we feel it's best that our futures move forward on separate paths. We'd like to express our sincerest thanks and gratitude to all the bands we've played with, individuals who have helped us make our records, and fans who have come to our shows and picked up our music throughout the years. Your friendship, support and love hold such a profoundly special place in each of our hearts. We hope that the memories you attach to our music are as fond as those you have given us. Thank you and take care, we'll miss all of you.

Not to be a jerk -- I am a Blood Brothers fan, after all -- but as "personal" as that letter might have seemed, it's probably the most generic breakup letter I've ever read. Seriously. It reads like a breakup letter template. Just replace "10" and "The Blood Brothers" with any year and any band and you have an instant announcement at your disposal. In fact, please forward this template letter to the following bands: The Hives, Black Kids (the band), and LCD Soundsystem.

Now, that was to be a jerk.

What is it in Brazil that makes everyone so damn cute? Yeah, that's right -- Bonde Do Role are cute. They don't scare me; in fact, their quirky vocals and metal + Brazilian funk/dance beats have helped me to overcome my clinical depression. And you know what? The enormous attention given to Bonde Do Role or CSS doesn't even faze me. I've been riding this baile funk train for quite some time, starting way back when I lived as an aspiring photographer in the hoods of São Paulo. Hell, I predicted this baile funk explosion back in ‘95.

Bonde Do Role have already had their "party year" since the release of With Lasers (which features cover art of Our Lord and Savior as a statue with laser beams shooting out of his eyes), but the party apparently continues on December 4, when the group releases the Marina Gasolina EP in the U.S. on Domino Records. The EP will feature unreleased material, as well as a new version of "Marina Gasolina." There will also be several remixes by underground artists that no one has ever heard of. Not even Jay-Z. It'll make a great Christmas present for your faux-DJ friend who suspiciously imitates Girl Talk. (Expect an exiting New Year's Eve mash-up party with a little bit of Bonde Do Role's "Miami Beach" chopped with R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion.")

So, now that you know what Bonde Do Role is up to, let's get back to what's important: ME! First off, I apologize to my (only) two fans in Jersey, Mick and Vic. You guys probably expected me to write a hilarious and comprehensible news piece. But, I'm not much for excuses, so here it goes: I made tons of jokes today and in every situation I was completely "on" -- I was so funny all morning that I just had no steam left in me by noon. I couldn't even think of anything funny to say while walking with my boss outside, when she said, "We didn't get any dingleberries this year. They usually fall from the trees and stink real bad." I couldn't contain my laughter. She later came by my desk and said, "I meant ginkgo berries, earlier. Ginkgo berries."

Marina Gasolina EP tracklisting: