Four Big Hands and Two Hearts Pumping Blood: John Darnielle & John Vanderslice Take On the World

We are in tumultuous times. Our economy’s in the toilet; we’re in the middle of two awful wars; and we’ve just inaugurated a new president who hopefully will do something about both these things. Thankfully, yesterday, a shining beacon of hope emerged, indicating that the world is slowly being restored to order, that we will emerge from this darkness, that it will be paradise when we see the light:

JOHN DARNIELLE AND JOHN VANDERSLICE ARE TOURING TOGETHER!

I can’t really do justice to how goddamn excited I am about this, and I also can’t announce the tour in a way superior to the words John Darnielle used to announce it on The Mountain Goats’ website:

We are going to light out for the Territories in a van with two acoustic guitars, some notebooks, our soundman Brandon and a pouch full of charms against ill omen. We are going to get elemental. We are going to stomp our feet and hammer at the strings until we get what we want from them. We, a couple of guys named John, are going to tour, is what we're going to do.

Amen to that. This does nothing to disprove my theory that John Darnielle is actually God in (a very thin) disguise.

John Squared:
03.18.09 - Asheville, NC - the Grey Eagle
03.20.09 - Norfolk, VA - the Atticus Theatre
03.21.09 - Washington, DC - Sixth and I Synagogue
03.24.09 - Northampton, MA - Pearl Street
03.25.09 - Somerville, MA - the Sommerville Theatre
03.27.09 - New York, NY - Society for Ethical Culture (Wordless Music series)
03.29.09 - Gambier, OH - Kenyon College
03.30.09 - Oberlin, OH - Oberlin College
04.01.09 - Chicago, IL - Epiphany Episcopal
04.02.09 - Champaign, IL - Courtyard Café at University of Illinois
04.03.09 - Iowa City, IA - the Mill (Mission Creek Music Festival)
04.04.09 - Richmond, IN - Earlham College
04.06.09 - Bloomington IN - Buskirk-Chumley Theater

[Photo: Mark Van S.]

Sony Finally Realizes That No One Is Buying Music Anymore, Begins Layoffs

According to several reports, Sony Music Entertainment began layoffs last week, cutting at least 30 people from its two distribution companies: Red and Sony Global Digital Business And U.S. Sales. Although the recession has been going on for quite some time now, apparently the folks at Sony still thought that someone out there was spending money on CDs. Haven’t you been paying attention, Sony? Even Best Buy is selling vinyl now (TMT News).

Sony’s Columbia Records has also hopped aboard the layoff train, cutting people like urban marketing executive Al Branch and the president of urban music, Kyambo “Hip Hop” Joshua. Damn, his nickname is really “Hip Hop,” and he worked in urban music? Originality at its finest.

Akron/Family Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free On New Album And Tour

How Akron/Family plan to live up to the name of their new album, Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free, on their upcoming tour:

Setting It Wild:

- The tour will be a series of intimate residencies in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, with multiple nights at smaller venues than Akron/Family would normally play.
- On their tour last fall, Akron/Family created “cacophonous onstage jams” with openers Megafaun and The Dodos; and at their Emo’s show last year, they led the audience and 20 additional musicians in a shirtless sing-a-long parade throughout the streets of Austin. I don’t know about you, but those facts alone are getting me pumped for this tour.

Setting It Free:

- Can you say “hand-picked openers”? Each night of the tour will feature guest musicians joining Akron/Family on stage, creating a unique experience for the audience each night.
- The new album will be Akron/Family’s first record since Ryan Vanderhoof departed last fall, making it their official debut as a trio.

Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free is due out on Dead Oceans on May 5.
03.06.09 - San Francisco, CA - Hemlock Tavern
03.07.09 - San Francisco, CA - Hemlock Tavern @
03.08.09 - San Francisco, CA - Hemlock Tavern
03.10.09 - Los Angeles, CA - Steve Allen Theatre
03.11.09 - Los Angeles, CA - Steve Allen Theatre
03.12.09 - Los Angeles, CA - Steve Allen Theatre
03.17.09 - Denver, CO - Oriental Theatre
03.18.09 - Austin,TX - SXSW
03.22.09 - Hamilton, ON - The Casbah
03.23.09 - Toronto, ON - Sneaky Dees &
03.24.09 - Toronto, ON - Sneaky Dees &
03.25.09 - Montreal, QC - Il Motore &
03.26.09 - Montreal, QC - Il Motore &
03.27.09 - New York City, NY - The New Museum
03.28.09 - Brooklyn, NY - Union Pool
03.29.09 - Brooklyn, NY - Union Pool

& Born Ruffians

@ Citay

[Photo: Sebastian Mlynarski]

Mango Starr’s Tour Roundup: Deerhunter, Emeralds/Pain Jerk, Max Tundra

Who says I can't copy Mario Speedwagon's "Under the Radar News Roundup"?

- I'm going to start this tour roundup with a tour cancellation: Deerhunter, whose 2008 album Microcastle/Weird Era Cont. (TMT Review) landed at our not-so-coveted #1 spot on our Favorite Albums of 2008 list, have canceled their upcoming European tour. Originally slated to begin in Prague February 11 and last until mid-March, the tour was canceled due to "unspecified health reasons." Deerhunter are still scheduled to play the ATP Fest May 15-17 and plan to reschedule the European dates shortly, so don't you cry-ee-eye t'night.

- And how about some more European tour news?? Drone trio Emeralds and Japanese noise legend Paink Jerk are touring Europe as you read this. They've brought with them a limited-to-500-edition CD, inappropriately titled European Tour 2009, which features one track from each act. You can also get it from Second Layer Records. Meanwhile, Emeralds have a new album, What Happened, coming out on No Fun Productions, which follows their Hanson release from last year, Solar Bridge (TMT Review).

- Last week, Max Tundra played his first two New York shows EVER (review forthcoming). This week -- actually, today -- he kicks off a UK/Ireland tour in support of last year's Parallax Error Beheads You (TMT Review). I think Tippex put it best: "All the teenage girls of the country should have a poster of him in their bedrooms."

Virgin Megastore in Times Square To Close Because of No Good Illegal Music Downloading Scum Like You – Wait, Actually It’s Not Our Fault This Time, Their Landlord/Parent Company Is Just an Asshole

I’ve never been to New York City, but I have unfortunately watched a lot of TRL. Apart from Carson Daly’s just-do-it-for-the-paycheck insight or every guest’s just-do-it-for-the-publicity pandering, my most vivid mental image of the show is that colossal gleaming red tampon of a Virgin Megastore. Always the backdrop for freak-out heavy hordes of Fred Durstites or Christina Aguileriacs shouting their lungs out on the neon streets of Time Square, I can’t imagine how anybody in the studio could look down on that swelling crowd of shit-losing scream-sacks in front of America’s most garishly insipid music Mecca without launching into some treatment-bound tirade that no commercial break or flippant Daly-esque remark could ever segue out of memory. But those bad times are over. The hatred is no more, and calm reigns in its place. Tranquility rushes over me like a waterfall of Eskimo kisses, because not only has TRL vanished into the cold, fetid air of unpleasant recollection, so too shall the Virgin Megastore in April.

I’m probably so contented with Virgin’s closing because I know that neither you, me, nor any other human being with a BitTorrent client caused the highest-volume music store in the United States to shut its doors for good. Instead, the haft of the executioner’s axe lies in the hands of two real estate companies, Related Cos. and Vornado, who took over the Virgin Entertainment Group of North America in August 2007. According to a Vornado executive, Virgin only pays $54 per square foot in rent while the market rent in the area is $700 per square foot. Despite the store’s $55 million in annual sales, which amounts to $6 million in annual profit, tapping into a potential real estate goldmine is apparently too sweet to pass up. Yep, great idea guys, close down one of the few profitable record stores in the country so you can pool all your resources in the most reliable, risk-free business venture possible: real estate.

Well, at least we weren’t responsible for this one, ye proud illegal downloaders of the world. Although it can be kind of fun to pseudo-anarchically claim responsibility for dismantling a significant piece of a major corporate entity, it is nice for once not to be blamed for the music industry’s swirling voyage down the capitalist toilet.

2009 Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Announced!!!?!

Hey, there. Long time no see. Have you really been waiting here for that long? Wow. I can’t believe that you’d actually sit here and wait for four months just to see who got inducted into the Hall of Fame. I mean, I know that the reporting we did on the announcement of the nominees was top notch (TMT News), but... four months? Again, wow. Well, good thing we have an interview with James Hetfield of Metallica or you might be disappointed. Let’s get on with it!

Last week, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the 2009 inductees into, yep, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Those to be inducted, on April 4, include Metallica, Run-D.M.C., Bobby Womack, Little Anthony and the Imperials, and Jeff Beck. Meanwhile, Wanda Jackson will be inducted into the “Early Influence Category,” and DJ Fontana, Bill Black, and Spooner Oldham will enter the hallowed hall of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's “Sidemen” category. That sounds great!

The organization had this to say:

In addition to being honored at the April ceremony, each inducted artist is commemorated at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland Ohio, which serves as a monument to rock and roll’s impact on our culture. These inductees will be honored – along with previous year’s inductees and hundreds of other artists – with an exhibit and film that serve to tell the story of modern music. Then I’ll eat them.

If you go, make sure you don't get eaten too. And what about that interview with James Hetfield? Fuck that.