By Dan Smart on Nov 21 2007
When Alterna-rock godfather and all-around masochistic pacifist Kurt D. Cobain coined the phrase "I think I'm dumb" back in 1993, he apparently had NOOOOOOO idea just how right he would come to be once this ruthless 21st century got its money-grubbing hands on him.
We're only in the year 2007, for god's sake, and the poor guy has already had his private journals published, his back-catalog pillaged for some pretty piss-poor best-ofs and box sets, his publishing rights sliced up and passed around like delicious prime rib, and his angst-ridden music reduced to kindergarten sing-a-longs by the likes of The Polyphonic Spree. Why, it seems like only yesterday that we here at TMT reported that the Nirvana song "Breed" had been egregiously licensed for a telecom ad, an upcoming action movie, and the videogame Major League Baseball 2K7 (TMT News).
And NOW, as if his legacy hadn't been turned into ENOUGH of a joke, Primary Wave (the music publishing company that first heard the lyrics "I don't even care/ We don't have to breed" and saw dollar signs) has apparently decided to create a monument to their own indecency by issuing one of the most cartoonishly outlandish bits of Nirvana miscellanea ever created: the solid wood "Heart Shaped Box-set" music box.
Did you hear him rolling over in that grave yet again? This is getting old, isn’t it?
Yes, you heard right, folks. Apparently, these Primary Wave dudes must have played hooky on the day their junior high English classes learned about metaphor, cuz this thing is an honest-to-goodness piece of wood that has been hand-treated and shaped like a heart symbol (as opposed to the actual organ) and contains not four chambers, but a set of five CDs of classic Cobainality. Believe it or not, 500 of these musical monstrosities were legitimately created by degree-holding business-men as a giveaway for the kinds of high-rolling music supervisors and ring-wearing advertising execs who may actually have the power and budget to license one of Cobain's rarified tracks. You know, like Frankie Sharp from Wayne’s World or something.
But wait! You haven’t even heard the most ludicrous parts yet: The hard-wood cover has the Nirvana logo burned onto its top, and the whole caboodle comes packaged in a white cake-box with the Nirvana smiley-face printed on it. Aaaaaaaaaand of course, there’s the pièce de résistance: when you open this little beauty, a small speaker proceeds to serenade you with none other than the classic HSB itself! Right now you’re probably asking yourself, “So wait, the whole thing also functions like some sort of giant, grotesque music box?” The answer is yes.
As for the more practical side (if there is one) of this whole affair, the music encased inside this literal heart-shaped box includes three discs of 50 songs performed by Nirvana, plus another two discs of cover songs, including stirring renditions of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Paul Anka, Scala, Tori Amos, Patti Smith, and Desmond Williams; tracks by Charlie Hunter Trio, Steve Earle, Herbie Hancock, Sinead O'Connor, and Stereophonics; and multi-song sets of Nirvana songs done as lullabies (!) and orchestral scores. Can you say “Volkswagen ad?”
So, what's an item like this worth, considering that it’s EXTREMELY rare, and yet EXTREMELY unpalatable to most legitimate Nirvana fans at the same time? Well, I guess we’ll find out together, dear readers. The market will soon set its price, as one lucky recipient in Detroit (Ford Motor Company, perhaps?) recently put #64/500 up on eBay. Unfortunately, the bidding seems to have ended for this particular item, so only time will tell how much the world’s wealthiest and most uninformed Nirvana fans are willing to shell-out in order to compensate for not being able to play music themselves. I don’t know about you, but if I were Kurt Cobain's ghost, I’d be screaming “Hey, wait, I’ve got a new complaint” right about now.
Politicians Actually Not Buying FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s Attempt to “Save” Newspapers By Pushing for More Media Consolidation
By Heidi Vanderslice on Nov 20 2007
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin announced last week his plan for saving the print newspaper.
Hang on. Back up.
See, there's this thing called the internet... you might even be using it RIGHT NOW. And newspapers, interestingly enough, have discovered this internet thingy and use it for video, audio, breaking news, and... what? You can do that on TV and on the radio too? What's that? You can do it all in one place if you use the internet? Gee!
But you know, FCC Chairman Martin is magic. So he's going to do this: lift the ban on media cross-ownership by a newspaper and allow them to own one radio station and one television station. Ha! Take that, internet! Read as he pulls on the heartstrings of The New York Times' Op-Ed section: "If we don’t act to improve the health of the newspaper industry, we will see newspapers wither and die. Without newspapers, we would be less informed about our communities and have fewer outlets for the expression of independent thinking and a diversity of viewpoints. The challenge is to restore the viability of newspapers while preserving the core values of a diversity of voices and a commitment to localism in the media marketplace."
Localism. You mean, back when radio stations didn't have syndicated DJs who can't even tell you the weather in the town in which you're listening? Wack. How did that happen? Oh, right. The Telecommunications Act of 1996.
Understandably, politicians are confused and just a li'l anxious about this decision. Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) wrote a letter to the FCC saying: "Amending media ownership regulations, including a rule that has been on the books for more than three decades, is a grave matter that deserves the Commission's full and fair consideration." Hey, overturning 60-year-old precedents didn't hurt us a bit in 1996! Dude's trippin'. Silly Democrats.
And wouldn't know you it: my man Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) also thinks this is all a little too Mother Teresa, saying Martin's actions are "relying on an assumption that newspapers are doomed and that cross-ownership is necessary to save them."
Me? I'll just be here hanging out on NYTimes.com for a little while. Soaking up some daily news from a website that has nothing to do with a newspaper. Nope. Those poor little newspapers. Someone should really do something about them.
One Day The Roots Will Release A New Album, Curate 2008 POPPED! Music Fest; One Day I Will Get Married, Have Children, Retire, Probably Die
By Joseph Coscarelli on Nov 20 2007
"Well, the new album is finished, and it's coming out in 10 days," wrote Jonny Greenwood about his band's ubiquitous new album In Rainbows. And now, filling the role of the anti-Radiohead, The Roots have announced the release of their next album in... 162 days?!
The Roots will drop their tenth career album, the hotly anticipated follow-up to 2006's Game Theory, April 29. "I want to be the first rap artist to actually make a good 10th record," the group's drummer Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson told MTV News in August 2006. Unfortunately, we won't know if the group succeeded for another half a year.
"Pretty much five or six songs are done, and four of them are synth-heavy," Thompson told Billboard of the album's progress. And while only a portion of the album has actually been completed, it does have a title. Based on William T. Vollmann's Rising Up and Rising Down: Some Thoughts on Violence, Freedom and Urgent Means, The Roots have dubbed the record Rising Down.
In other news, just in case the band weren't looking far enough in advance, the hometown heroes will curate the first night of Philadelphia's Drexel University 2008 POPPED! Music Festival, which runs from June 20-22 next year. The seminal rap group will perform their classic album Things Fall Apart in its entirety, according to the organization, who encourage everyone to stay tuned for the announcement of the rest of the weekend's acts. No rush, guys. Seriously.
The Weakerthans Jump On The Bandwagon of Bands Stupid Enough To Tour Europe In The Winter
By Annapocalypse on Nov 20 2007
You would think that when temperatures were in the negative numbers and the wind-chill factor was kicking in, most bands would huddle inside their houses and hibernate for the winter. Apparently, that’s not the case for The Weakerthans (or The Good Life) or Pelican or Los Campesinos!), as they have decided to be productive this winter and grace Europeans with their live presence.
If The Weakerthans manage to survive the frigid Euro air, they’ll be celebrating December 22 with a homecoming show in Winnipeg. Not that the Canadian winter is any less brutal, but I’m sure these Canucks can stand it.
The Weakerthans are touring in support of their awesome and critically ignored latest album, Reunion Tour.
Virtue The Cat Explains Her Frostbite:
* House and Parish
Unwed Sailor Prep LP 5, Tour Relentlessly (Okay, Not Really Relentlessly)
By Paulb on Nov 20 2007
Seattle, WA quartet Unwed Sailor have finished recording their fifth LP, Little Wars, which contains songs they've been rocking effortlessly on tour all year. The LP is set for a March 18 release and will feature all four members of the band, as well as Phillip Blackwell of Questions In Dialect and band pals Matt Depper, Matt Putman and Nic Tse.
The LP was apparently constructed around and in honor of lead single "Copper Islands," which you can listen to repeatedly at your little heart's content at Unwed Sailor's MySpace. The band describes the new LP as, "energetic and highly melodic, but gently colored and focused by layered keyboards and percussion with a delicate ambiance," which makes it sound more like the music you'd hear pushing your cart through Whole Foods, but we'll give them the benefit of the doubt.
Little Wars' March release forces the band to make an early attempt at recouping a portion of the money spent recording. How? By touring un-relentlessly beginning November 30 in the Windy City.
The Return To Open Arms:
* This Will Destroy You