Drag City Gets Sucked Into Playing Hardball With the Big Boys, It Seems, Most Likely

Drag City did not win Best Label of the Year Award at this past year's Plug Awards, the independent music award show similar to the Grammys or to the Billboard Awards, but independent, so with a much better list of nominees, winners, and performers. Sub Pop won, and good for them, but what I'm taking issue with is the fact that Drag City didn't even garner a nomination.

Let's see. What did Drag City do in 2006? Well, they released Ys by Joanna Newsom, The Letting Go by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, The Black Swan by Bert Jansch, II by Espers, The Sun Awakens by Six Organs of Admittance, Dat Rosa Mel Apibus by White Magic, and Introduction by The Red Krayola, not to mention The World's Funnyman DVD by Neil Hamburger. There was more, but you get the idea: a slew of quality releases, most of which saw the light of day on vinyl. That's the sort of thing one expects from Drag City. So, no nomination from the Plug Awards? Bad form. Tisk, tisk.

But maybe there's something to it. What many labels have done (or are in the process of doing) is "go digital," making songs, albums, etc. downloadable for a fee, so the technophile elite amongst us — those with laptops and cell phones, instead of CD and record players — can listen to, correction, hear music as well.

Drag City, it seems, has recently alluded to the possibility of going digital, turning the smooth, round, accurate sine waves of an analog source into rough, spiky, one-and-zero approximations. According to a news posting on their website, "Drag City has got her opposable toe in the water for sure — and variety still being the spice of life as it was back in the stone age (of the 60s), she'll continue to offer alternative formats as they come along. First it was 8-tracks, then came cassettes, then the CD revolution... now it's mp3s. Whatever it is you want, we'll see what we can do — though reel-to-reel format might be a problem."

So, there you have it; my technophile neighbor will be hearing the new Meg Baird album Dear Companion on her cell phone earpiece in no time. How comforting.

Blitzen Trapper Holds Steady Long Enough to Brave Tour; Duels Bear at Dusk

It was a blustery February night when I first encountered Blitzen Trapper. I’d been navigating a log raft down the Columbia River for over a month, not-so-hot on the trail of the Pacific Northwest’s most hirsute resident, Bigfoot. Last seen crossing state lines with armfuls of booze, speculation around the basin suggested that he was close, but, low on supplies, my raft was near ruin.

The party was a mess: Bryan was sick with dysentery, other Bryan succumbed to diphtheria just a week ago (strangely he requested his tombstone read ‘peperony and chease’), and noisemakers and tin-foil tiaras littered the floor of the craft. Myself? Well, the squirrel fur on my ushanka had nearly frozen to the curls in my heavily waxed moustache -- in short, I figured it was time to find some rest.

I anchored the vessel in a kindly looking hamlet, where the glow from the gas lamplights shone on falling salt shaker snow enveloping the browns and blacks of the steeply pitched roofs in a halo of light. We had apparently taken a wrong turn somewhere because the blizzard-charred peak of Mt. Hood loomed heavy over the village.

“Is this place on the map?” asked Bryan, breath visible in the night air.

The vacant, narrow streets wound around the wooden houses as we spotted an inn, door obscured by snow, along the incline. Once inside, the short, round innkeeper led us past a raucous beer hall, music flowing up the stairway, to a room upstairs.

Downstairs, the rafters of the beer hall rang with anthems of Oregonian frontiersmanship. And in a dark corner of the ale house, nursing a goblet Scotchguard, was Blitzen Trapper -– mammoth marauder of the unseen Oregon forest, said to have scaled Mt. Hood on the back of a grizzly (and later befriend that grizzly, convincing him to become partners in a joint business venture before skipping town with the cash advance and critically damaging said grizzly’s credit rating). I sat down across from the flannel-clad beardsman, as the fellows at the bar launched into another song.

“The El Dorado of Northwest,” he mumbled. “We tried to telegram the news out... but in those days the lines could only take so many dots and dashes... only thing we got was more snow... and rain... and a volcanic eruption.”

“Is that why everything here’s so dusty?” I asked, dusting some ash off my cup. “Say, have you heard any news about Bigfoot?”

“Huh? Oh, hello. Are you interested in joining the Wild Mountain Nation?” said Blitzen, ignoring my question. “I have some reasonably priced CDs coming in around June 12 . Top-of-the-line, three easy payments.”

“Is that some kind of album you’re self-releasing?”

“Yes, and if you find yourself in Portland on July 5, we’ll be throwing a belated CD release party for it. I also have some reasonably priced watches.”

“Oh yeah? Sounds like fun. I have a raft, and we’re... [Blitzen Trapper falls asleep] ...hello? ...WHERE’S MY BEAR MONEY?”

[Blitzen Trapper jumps awake]

“What? Oh, it’s you. Stream music from the new record online, but beware -- there be album outtakes. You know we’re actually already on tour,” continued the newly cogent Mr. Trapper. “We’ve been busy playing shows while you’ve been putting off this news story.”

“Oh, right. Sorry.”

Join me as I ditch the raft a take a dogsled across the taiga of Oregon to see Blitzen Trapper duel the grizzly at dusk:

*The Hold Steady

EU Approves of Universal/BMG Music Publishing Merger

The music industry is always a-changin'. Least that's what my grandpappy used to say. Actually, he never said that, but I'm sure if he wrote for Tiny Mix Tapes in his time, he would've stuck something like that in a news story. In fact, let's watch me do the rest of this story like my grandpa would:

As you may see, by that there title of this story, Universal has acquired BMG Music Publishing for two point nineteen billion smackaroonies, and the EU has givin' it the old go ahead! Hot chili cheese dog! Could you imagine what I could buy with two point nineteen billion? I could buy that '79 Chevy! Oh, how I've had my baby blues set on that beautiful machine. I'll tell ya today, they just don't make cars like they used to; that was before the god damn unions went corrupt and people started sleepin' on the job. Forgetin' the nuts and bolts. I'd like to give 'em a piece of grandaddy's nu-- Oh right. I was talkin' about music. Well they just don't make music like they used to either! All of it today is just horse manure! Ain't a damn bit of any good.

Oh snap crackle pop! Yer grandmother's callin' for me, so I'll make this short. On May 22, 2007, Universal Music Group, known for such pop idols as Bono of U2, decided to aq-- U2? Bono? I'm the original Bono, so listen to yer grandaddy because way before Bono, I was sportin' better sunglasses than him and a gave a damn about charity because my family would donate a hog to the annual hog roast. Now that's what I call charitable. Oh sorry, lost track of myself, anyway -- Hold on, woman! Okay! Hold yer horses! Okay sorry again, yer grandma is gettin' old, so sometimes we gotta deal with her yappin'. Universal Music Group has decided to adopt BMG Music Publishing permanently, so they're surely goin' ta make loads of money. But let me tell ya right now; it's goin' ta smell like roadkill. Well, I better go help out yer grandmother in the kitchen; we're preparin' the hog for the annual hog roast. You scurry on home to yer ma and pa now, and I'll tell ya youngsters one thing and ya better damn well heed my advice; the music industry is always a-changin'.

Sprint to Market Indie Hip-Hop (Misleading Headline – Finish Article Before Sending Hate Mail to El-P)

Being a Tiny Mix Tape reader, you might think that the following article applies to you. It seems to have all of the components necessary for an appropriate TMT piece: a cred-boosting genre, a name check in the headline, and a corporate target to fire righteous indignation at for running the sanctity of said genre... I mean, I was there. I was already five-paragraphs deep into an e-mail to Aesop Rock calling him a broken-winged jabberwocky with a toothache staring into a bilingual cannon (Aesopian for sellout). However, I actually took the time to look at the source and found that the following news is about independent hip-hop (and reggaeton) in the most literal sense of the phrase and thus has no bearing on any reader... so feel free to skip to the end of the article to see spoilers about season 1 of The Sopranos.

Really? Okay fine, but I really do promise you that this article is irrelevant at this point.

Last chance. I assure you this article has nothing to do with any of the artists you listen to.

Okay, I hope this is as painful for you to read as it is for me to write, but seriously there are no jukies or anticonies mentioned from this point on. Sprint Nextel has partnered with Nexxt (3dGy AMIRITE?) Mobile to promote Nexxt Mobile artists on their broadband network by making ringtones and wallpapers available to users. The Nexxt Mobile artists are unsigned (get it? literally "independent rap") MCs including such heavy hitters as Ms. B’Havin (source of fame: featured on a Young Joc joint), The All Stars (WHO?), Conrizzle (?), and Miky Bad Boy (...) Enthralling. While Sprint will most likely be texting you about this important information, you can also check your local bootlegger, as Nexxt Mobile is concurrently releasing a set of mixtapes to promote this endeavor. This service is also available on U.S. carriers Cingular, Amp’d Mobile, Verizon, Boost Mobile, and Altell.

If you’re looking to send a basket of flowers (do flowers come in baskets? That does NOT sound correct) to the brains behind this, you could address it to the geniuses at The Nickels Group who, in addition to inundating your cell phone with horrible rap that isn’t even top 40, owns Rintones.com. However, if you really want to thank them for allowing all your friends to hear the new Miky Bad Boy jam on your cell, you could stop by their website and pick up some “Sexy Babe Backgrounds” (SFW) or Chamillionaire and Fort Minor polyphonic tones.

Okay, you back? Jimmy Altieri is the rat. I know, I did NOT see that coming either.

Boris to Tour Europe; Planet Desperately Clings to Faint Hope of Survival

There’s some relatively scary shit going on in the world-at-large, my beloved readers. Now, I fully understand that most of you are far too busy -- e.g., chasing after your desired lovers or fretting yourselves stupid over your grotesque acne or concerning yourself with whatever filth youngsters participate in nowadays -- to even consider having the time to worry about these shit things. Well, it’s about time someone set you straight, at least on one issue; namely, your impending death.

If you live on the East Coast of the U.S., you’re royally fucked. First of all, there’s one kick-ass mountain volcano in the Canary Islands, which you can call Mister Cumber Vieja. And that shitlet is going to BLOW. And when it blows, the hunk of the mountain left after the eruption is going to fall into the sea. And that lump will be bigger than the biggest stonk-on you or any of your loser friends ever got. When it crashes into the Atlantic, it will unleash a force of such righteous fury that Florida and probably some other Easty bits of the beloved homeland will be submerged in a tidal wave so gigantic that only those with ludicrously advanced stilt-walking skills will survive.

However, Dr. Steven Day, who wrote a report in 2001 about all this stuff, says the likelihood of it happening on a year-to-year basis is “low” and that it could take between decades and hundreds of years before the hammer falls. Fucking killjoy.

Trouble is still afoot, though, and this concerns you all. Reason being is that Japanese crush-rock masters Boris are playing in Europe. And their first gig is in Slovenia, which I’m pretty sure is in Eastern Europe somewhere.

I'm going on record predicting that when Boris hit their first chord -- or, at least, by the time the drummer hits his big fuck-off gong -- in Ljubljana, the resulting intensity of vibrations will not just lead to the collapse of mountains, but will cause the entire western bit of Europe (which has been fatally weakened by their leaders’ refusal to engage in the War On Terror) to fall into the sea. This will cause an unstoppable tsunami propagated solely by the power of heavy rock. And, naturally, the onrushing torrent will lead to the entire population of the planet running to the hills to save their pathetic lives. There are only two words that can be used to describe such an event as this; those words are ‘heavy’ and ‘metal.’

However, on a more sombre note, this event will likely also lead to the cancellation of the rest of the tour. As such, I’d recommend you get tickets to the Cvetlicarna Mediapark. And wear a raincoat.

The dates (if you even want to bother looking past the first one is your choice, I suppose; your time may be better spent in building a rudimentary boat):

* with Isis and Oxbow

# with Pelican

Six Degrees of Colin Meloy! Shoot, Fire, Damn the Torpedoes!

First up, famed author Larry McMurtry. Why McMurtry? Because his book is sitting right next to me, and I am in control here.

1. Larry McMurtry wrote The Last Picture Show
2. Ellen Burstyn was in the movie version of The Last Picture Show
3. Rachel Weisz was in The Fountain with Ellen Burstyn
4. The Daily Show featured Rachel Weisz
5. Stephen Colbert, originally from The Daily Show, battled Chris Funk
6. Chris Funk is a member of The Decemberists with Colin Meloy

Hell yeah, man! Give me five up top! Who’s next? Mike Piazza? Puhleaaze. I’ll lick that in three degrees. Who do you think I am? I’m second on these boards only to Emcee Greg.

1. Mike Piazza was featured in a song by Belle and Sebastian
2. Belle and Sebastian ranks right in front of The Decemberists on my iTunes play count
3. Colin Meloy is a member of The Decemberists.

Not even a challenge. Let’s poll the audience now. Give me something hard, kids. Ivan Basso? No thanks. Carnival Cruise? Hell yeah!

1. A commercial for Carnival Cruise features the song Lust for Life by Iggy Pop
2. Iggy Pop starred in Dead Man alongside Crispin Glover
3. Crispin Glover was in The Year of the Rat
4. Aaron Stewart-Ahn worked on The Year of the Rat and also directed the video for "Sixteen Military Wives"
5. "Sixteen Military Wives" is a song by The Decemberists
6. Colin Meloy is a member of The Decemberists

I’m on a roll; let’s try Ivan Basso.

1. Ivan Basso is an Italian bicyclist
2. Italy is one of the countries The Decemberists are not going to on their extended tour
3. Colin Meloy is, yet again, a member of The Decemberists.
4. The extended tour:

$ orchestra show

  

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