Decemberists frontman turns it up a notch with release of new children’s book; is it whimsical in here, or is it just me?

Decemberists frontman turns it up a notch with release of new children's book; is it whimsical in here, or is it just me? http://www.tinymixtapes.com/sites/default/files/news-11-07-decemberists.jpg

A Decemberist walks into a publishing house.

I started this news story with that famous first line of old man jokes everywhere, because I wanted to start it with a joke about how Wildwood, Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy’s first-ever children’s book features a plot along the lines of “Wicked, drunk grizzly bear takes children on magical, olde tyme-y journey to a whimsical carnival in the Appalachian mountains, where he teaches them lessons about life and friendship… and then just eats the S#%$ out of them.” It writes itself, really. But then I read the synopsis, and well, it’s a children’s book by the guy from The Decemberists, so OF COURSE it’s about a brave little lady who goes on a whimsical/dangerous quest to save her brother from a bunch of badass crows… and probably learns lessons about life and friendship along the way.

Sure, Meloy’s stories of yesteryear are easy to caricature, but that’s because dude’s style is so distinctive and unabashed. And all jokes aside, I kind of want to crawl inside this book, into its Decemberists-website-described “world full of warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions.” (This is much like what I imagine goes on inside the product art for Celestial Seasonings.) The book’s illustrations were drawn by Meloy’s wife, Carson Ellis, and they’re every bit as charming as I hope this book will be. Throw a benevolent fox into this story and I’m even more sold.

Wildwood is available to literary-minded adventurers come August 30. If you can’t wait that long, you can like the book on Facebook and get a sneak peak at the first four chapters. The Decemberists haven’t released any original songs to accompany the book, but Meloy has posted a playlist that jives with Wildwood’s feel on the book’s website. So, you can introduce your kids (or the kid in you, I guess) to the joy of reading, and to the music of Karen Dalton and Esben and the Witch at the same time.

• The Decemberists: http://decemberists.com
Wildwood Chronicles: http://www.wildwoodchronicles.com

So nice it happens twice: Primavera Club 2011 features Fleet Foxes, The Pop Group, and Superchunk

The good people over at Spain’s San Miguel Primavera Club festival have released the first acts taking part in their fall lineup into the blogosphere, where they are currently swirling about like an early Windows screensaver, all psychedelic colored lines representing hopes, dreams, and the sweet, sweet harmonies of Fleet Foxes. Because, yes — Fleet Foxes have been confirmed. As have the much-loved Superchunk and the venerated post-punk outfit The Pop Group. Together, their voices shall ring out in the city streets of Barcelona and Madrid, where lucky, lucky, lucky European music fans are able to attend the festival in venues scattered across both cities.

Now, these Fleet Foxes will be performing twice in Madrid and once, two days later, in Barcelona. (So despite the fact that the festival is held simultaneously in two cities, no time traveling will be required to see bands. At least not yet.) Admission to bathe in the haunting folk melodies of the vulpine-named ones, however, comes at a little bit extra, so please, if you plan on attending, check out San Miguel Primavera Club’s festival ticket pricing options. But lest ye think that paying an additional fee for this musical event in addition to your Primavera Club admission is, like, totally whack, check out the other acts included in the festival pass. I see your Fleet Foxes, and I’ll raise you an UNKLE, in the form of something called “James Lavelle presents: UNKLE-SOUNDS.” (Sounds like dinner theatre. Maybe it’s dinner theatre.)

Also: they got an Olivia Tremor Control, a Handsome Furs, a Com Truise, a JEFF the Brotherhood, some Shabazz Palaces, a fabled R. Stevie Moore, one John Maus, a Factory Floor, a Puro Instinct, some American Girls (not the dolls, we hope), some fine Finns in the form of Uusi Fantasia, and just for kicks, a showcase put together by Thrill Jockey and the agency Iron Booking, which will include Thank You, Barn Owl, and High Places. With a lineup like this, maybe time travel WILL be necessary. You know, so you can see everything twice.

11.23-27.11 - Barcelona & Madrid, Spain - Primavera Club Festival

• Primavera Club: http://www.primaverasound.com

Trent Reznor warns fans not to buy newest reissue of Pretty Hate Machine, tweets about “record company bullshit”

Sometimes, musicians are true to their word when they say it’s not about money. Trent Reznor, now the Oscar/Golden Globe-winning man behind Nine Inch Nails, isn’t the first person that comes to mind when I think of people sincerely doin’ it for the music, man, but maybe I’ve misjudged him. In a recent Twitter post that’s now blowing up across the internet, Reznor entreated fans not to buy the most recently reissued version of Pretty Hate Machine.

On July 14, trent_reznor tweeted:
“NIN fans, don’t waste your money on this version of PHM that was just released. … a record label bullshit move repackaging the old version. Ignore please.”

This latest reissue (not remastered, we might add), is not to be mistaken with Pretty Hate Machine: 2010 Remaster, which came out last November. The latter includes a bonus track — a cover of “Get Down, Make Love” by Queen — and is a “greatly improved sonic experience,” Reznor said. But hey, if you don’t already have four copies of the CD and you don’t like quality sound or Queen, then sure, go for the newer reissue, which is reportedly very much like the original version released on TVT in 1989. It’s not like it sounded bad then, after all.

• Nine Inch Nails: http://www.nin.com

Class action lawsuit against major labels for digital music price fixing to keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’

Perhaps you’ve wondered, in times of mental clarity, why it is that a digital album tends to cost an amount comparable to a CD when the cost of distributing digital music is more or less $0. Adults and children alike have pondered this idea for years, but one group has never spent a single second thinking about it and in fact believes it to be a silly non-issue that should probably be ushered away into an oxygen-free chamber: the major labels. Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Capitol Records, Bertelsmann, EMI Group North America, Capitol-EMI Music, Virgin Records America, Time Warner, UMG Recordings, and Warner Music Group all have no idea how this relates to them and their controlling 80% of digital music sales in the US, and besides, they’d need some time to collect their thoughts before they made a statement one way or the other so if you’d please step into this limousine with tinted windows and let them give you a complimentary ride home they’d be much obliged and thank you so much for your concern.

Unfortunately you get no breaks when you’re at the top (don’t I know it), so the question has lingered in the air, and now all the labels mentioned above are going to have their mouths pried open, because U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska has allowed a consolidated class action lawsuit against them to move forward. The suit claims that the major labels collectively made distribution agreements with two joint-venture entities, MusicNet and Pressplay, for the purpose of fixing prices, terms of sale, and restrictions on digital music. Hidden from the public in each agreement was a most favored nation clause that allowed a price floor of $0.70 per song to be set across the board. Online retailers like eMusic were initially shut out of doing business with the major labels until they agreed to start selling their music for higher prices, and the suit further claims that less-than-loved DRM was included to make digital music less attractive than good ol’ shiny, higher-priced CDs.

It remains to be seen how far the lawsuit will go and what consequences the major labels might reap for their alleged shenanigans, but I think we can all at least agree that it’s fun to watch music industry fat cats get their collars all greasy with flop sweat. Turn up the heat, Judge Preska!

RIP: Amy Winehouse

From The New York Times:

Police in London said Saturday night that Amy Winehouse, the troubled diva who had struggled with drug and alcohol abuse, has been found dead at her home.

Police confirmed that a 27-year-old female was pronounced dead at the home in Camden Square in northern London.

They said they were treating the death as unexplained. A spokesman for the singer could not immediately confirm she had died, The A.P. said.

• Amy Winehouse: http://www.amywinehouse.com

Turntable.fm gets ASCAP and BMI licences, so now you can use it guilt-free — except you’ve already been using it guilt-free because you lack moral fiber

If you’re like us and spend most of your time online, by this point you’ve probably heard about Turntable.fm and have maybe even spun a few tracks under a hokey name and a bobbling avatar. The invite-only site, which allows anyone — with a Facebook account, at the very least — to become a DJ and throw out a few songs in a 90s-style chatroom environment (Coordinated rooms joining friends across the country! Dozens of “2011 Indie Pop” rooms filled with strangers!), has become immensely popular with music and internet nerds alike. And now, Turntable.fm has secured licenses with both ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.), two of the three US performing rights organizations, removing itself from semi-shady sharing territory and into a fully legal position.

You can imagine the potential problems with copyright issues. To play songs, DJs can either search Turntable.fm’s massive database (which includes everything from Wiz Khalifa to Dvořák recordings) or upload tracks from his/her personal collection. This always seemed a bit sketchy, despite the CEO’s claims that as a “non-interactive” site (as in, a streaming service, since users have almost no power over what other DJs play), it was protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. But with the ASCAP and BMI licenses, it’s ensured that “songwriters, composers and publishers will be paid fairly if the site succeeds,” sending Turntable.fm on its way to being a legit music service. (For more details on ASCAP’s involvement and what it means, go here.)

In short, you’re not ripping any artists off by uploading an MP3 to impress the experimental nuts in the “We Love Nurse With Wound” room. And hey, you’re at a site where such a room can exist alongside ones blasting James Blake — how sweet is that?

• Turntable.fm: http://turntable.fm

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