Decemberists’ Jenny Conlee’s breast cancer in remission

Decemberists' Jenny Conlee's breast cancer in remission

Here at the TMT/Bob’s Pickle Pops offices (they sublet our basement in exchange for providing free lunch for all the staff here), we keep an old, 1860s-model telegraph fully operational in case someone ever needs to contact us on it. Tech’ing it drives our IT guy nuts. His argument is a reasonable one: “No one ever contacts the music press via telegraph, you hillbillies!” Well, no one, that is, except for The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy.

But as it happens, today was a good day to have a working telegraph on hand. See, Colin took some time out from churning his family’s winter supply of butter to wire us some fantastic news (coincidentally corroborated three days earlier by SPIN) regarding the status of his band’s keyboard player Jenny Conlee in her ongoing battle with cancer. If you remember, Colin and Jenny took to The Decemberists’ website this past spring to deliver the unfortunate news that Jenny had been diagnosed with breast cancer and would have to sit out during all of The Decemberists’ spring and summer tourdates in support of The King Is Dead. But after noting that she had luckily caught the cancer early on, Conlee stated that she was “thinking positive and hope to be back on the road soon.”

Well, after five months of treatment, it now looks like that wish has been granted, as Meloy painstakingly tapped us the following morse-coded message: “For those of you wondering, saw Jenny this week; our girl’s officially in remission! #teamjenny #beyondchemodome.” Turns out he had posted that same message on his Twitter earlier, but still: suck it, IT guy. And according to a recent news item on the band’s site, Conlee may be back in the fold as early as next month: “John, Chris, Jenny, and Nate will be joining forces with Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey to form the King Charles Trio, the backing band for John Wesley Harding‘s upcoming November tour.” Their site lists those shows as starting on Guy Fawkes Day (November 5). So… congrats Jenny! Now if you’ll excuse me, news this great calls for a delicious, chilled pickle pop.

• The Decemberists:
• Capitol:

[Photo: Amanda M Hatfield]

Raekwon to release Just 4 Laughs Pt.2 mixtape on Black Friday, presumably as a goof

Top-tier Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon loves a good goof. But there is a goof, and then there is murder. And then there is a mixtape. The Shaolin warriors at Prefix report that Rae is putting out Just 4 Laughs Pt.2, a free mixtape, on November 25.

For those who work retail/don’t hate going out into the physical world to purchase presents, that very date is known as Black Friday. Presumably, the Chef intends for the world’s holiday shoppers to soundtrack their mall trips with a sequel to 2010’s Just 4 Laughs tape, replete with tales of coke cooking and Wu braggadocio. Or, at least, to give those cowering in the dankest corners of their houses, expressly for the purpose of hiding from the mobs of actual humans, something to listen to. Personally, I was planning for some Scott Walker, but I’ll give this a shot, too. The mixtape’s title track is up on YouTube, but there’s no actual confirmation that the track will actually be on the mixtape. Logic be damned; you know how those things are.

• Raekwon:

Zomby to release Nothing on 4AD, though technically he’s already released something

I had the rather unique opportunity of catching Zomby perform at Decibel Festival in Seattle this past September, which was somewhat of a surprise in and of itself, considering the British dubstep producer has a history of just not showing up for scheduled live events. But he showed up for this one, and boy was it… something. After a fairly enthusiastic first half of gamut-running electronic music, the mysterious man in the Guy Fawkes mask seemed to lose energy in a manner similar to a cigarette-smoking Solid Snake. Only those weren’t fags Zomby was smoking. Possibly discouraged by the obvious technical issues that seemed to increase as time went on, he spent the latter portion of his set toking up, sitting backstage, and occasionally returning to touch his laptop once or twice. He ended the show with possibly the most I-don’t-give-a-shit V sign I’ve ever seen.

I dare say Zomby’s general attitude toward life may be the inspiration for the title of his upcoming EP Nothing, to be released November 28 in the UK and December 6 in the US. Details are scant, but when a release is only 22 minutes in length, I’m not sure how much detail you really need. The EP, according to a press release, is being billed as, “both a companion piece and ‘something of a bridge’” between it and the slightly longer LP Dedication (TMT Review), which was released in July, also via 4AD. If this is what an indifferent Zomby sounds like, I’d love to see what an energetic and aspirational Zomby could accomplish.

Nothing tracklisting:

01. Labyrinth
02. Digital Fractal
03. Equinox
04. Sens
05. It Was All a Dream
06. Trapdoor
07. Ecstasy Versions

• Zomby:
• 4AD:

Ceremony tour family-friendly destinations in November and December; pack the kids up!

Looking for a way to keep your young family happy while still nurturing your love of hardcore shows? Just because you’re getting up in years and don’t see your old friends as much as you used to because you fall asleep at 9 PM every night, long before they’re even getting ready to go out, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to still take in a good up-tempo scream fest every once in a while — and here’s how you do it.

You’ve already got that vacation planned to Disneyland/World because Madison and Quinn wouldn’t stop talking about it, right? Well, now there’s a bright spot in your itinerary because Ceremony will be taking off to Southern California and Central and Southern Florida (your family vacation destinations extraordinaire) in November and December, and if you play your cards right, the stars might align and you’ll be able to sneak away from the family after a long day of meals with people in furry costumes to see a good and proper punk show.

Just make sure and take a nap and set the clock on your phone, because if you miss it on account of the rides and the pool and those damn kids wearing you out, you will never live it down. And don’t go in the pit. You’ll hurt yourself.


11.06.11 - Austin, TX - Fun Fun Fun Festival
11.10.11 - Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour
11.11.11 - Santa Cruz, CA - Pioneer
11.12.11 - San Francisco, CA - Submission Gallery
11.13.11 - Ventura, CA - Zoey’s Cafe
12.08.11 - Orlando, FL - Will’s Pub
12.09.11 - Miami, FL - Churchill’s Pub
12.10.11 - Tampa, FL - Tansitions Art Gallery

• Ceremony:
• Matador:

RIP: Paul Leka, “Na Na, Hey Hey” songwriter

From The New York Times:

Paul Leka, a songwriter and producer who worked with many recording stars but who was best known for writing the chanting chorus of “Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye),” a No. 1 hit in 1969 that was reborn in the 1970s as a sports arena anthem, died on Oct. 12 in a hospice near his home in Sharon, Conn. He was 68.

The cause was lung cancer, said his brother, George.

Mr. Leka made his name in the Tin Pan Alley tradition, writing or arranging songs for other people. He wrote and produced “Green Tambourine,” a No. 1 hit in 1967 for the psychedelic soft-rock band the Lemon Pipers; signed REO Speedwagon to its first record contract; and produced four of Harry Chapin’s albums, including 1974’s “Verities & Balderdash” containing the song that was Chapin’s lone No. 1 hit, “Cat’s in the Cradle.”

In 1969, Mr. Leka was helping a longtime friend from Bridgeport, Conn., Gary DeCarlo, fill the B-side of a single he was recording for Buddah. With Mr. Leka on keyboards, they started with a song they had written years before, a bluesy shuffle called “Kiss Him Goodbye.” But it filled only two minutes of playing time, and to make sure disc jockeys would not play it — instead of Mr. DeCarlo’s A-side — they decided to add a chorus to stretch it to four minutes, beyond the time limit of most radio formats.

“I started writing while I was sitting at the piano, going ‘na na na na, na na na na …’ ” Mr. Leka told Fred Bronson, the author of “The Billboard Book of Number One Hits.” “Everything was ‘na-na’ when you didn’t have a lyric.” Mr. DeCarlo added the “hey hey.” They chanted the chorus at the beginning and end of the original song, and as an added poison pill left the dummy lyrics in.

The record company decided to release it nonetheless as the A-side of a 45 by Steam, a fictitious group name the two men invented for the record. The song reached No. 1 in late 1969 and enjoyed a happy radio life span. Then it came back.

In 1977 the organist for the Chicago White Sox, Nancy Faust, began using the song to stoke the crowd into taunting an opposing team when, say, a visiting player struck out or a visiting pitcher was removed or the team was about to lose.

It is unclear how it spread, but within a few years the chant was heard at sports events everywhere, more ubiquitous than “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” since fans sing it at football and soccer games, too.

• Paul Leka:

Byetone to release yet another exercise in glitch profundity, Symeta, on Raster-Noton

Where would we be without Raster-Noton and artists like Byetone (Olaf Bender), who consistently remind us that there’s more to music than fanciful melodies and obvious displays of emotion? In 2008, Byetone released the acclaimed Death of a Typographer, an album whose title indirectly references Bender’s professional preoccupation with graphic design, whose driving bass lines and noise-shrouded frequency oscillations represent the perfect complement to fist-fighting robots or traversing the densely-populated core of some futuristic city. On October 31, Byetone will release Symeta, his second LP for Raster-Noton and his third LP overall.

All signs point to Symeta being more grandiose of an undertaking than even Death of a Typographer, while at the same time expanding upon some of that album’s themes. From a press release, the word “symeta” “…arouses associations with symmetry, synthesis or (meta-)structures. It doesn’t stand for a definite object, there isn’t any solution, and that is the reason why the title has been chosen. Byetone’s music tries to create such associations without really fulfilling these expectations.” Similarly, “The tracks are quite long and deal with repetition, layers of sounds, density and energy, more than melodic and engineering finesse.” With a style that appears to place an emphasis on both complexity and subtlety, and a title whose meaning implies ambiguity and indirection, the focus of this album is clearly on the mystery of it all and the (likely) multiple auditory journeys required to comprehend it.

So while Byetone’s music may not be oozing emotion through the use of cheesy R&B-style female vocals or pretentious synth buildups, it most definitely isn’t shallow. Also, if you’re lucky enough to catch him on his current tour, then obviously I’m extremely jealous and harbor deleterious thoughts about you.

Remaining dates:

10.25.11 - Prague, Czech Republic - Meet Factory
10.26.11 - Madrid, Spain - Red Bull Music Academy
11.04.11 - Berlin, Germany - Bergain
11.04.11 - Torino, Italy - Club to Club Festival

• Byetone:
• Raster-Noton:


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