L.A. Indie Stores Close Down in Double-Double Animal Style

Two of Los Angeles’ biggest indie record stores -- Sea Level, lodged in the Echo Park neighborhood, and Santa Monica’s ancient second-hand emporium House of Records -- have both closed their doors for the last time. But guess what, avid industry watchers? Neither of the closures, apparently, have got anything to do with you evil download-doers and your thieving ways. And there’s no connection to the arrival in LA in 2001 of the ultra-indie Amoeba.

Indeed, contrary to what you might expect, Sea Level has actually seen an increase in its sales the past couple of years. The problem with Sea Level, at least, seems to be that boss-man Todd Clifford has gone all old and nasty on your pimply and pert little indie asses. Time was he would show MUCH love to all those who would come in and buy Zwan vinyl.. then, I dunno, it sounds like something just snapped -- now things have changed somewhat. “Now, when customers come in, I'm like, 'Just buy it and leave,'" he says. "This isn't a job where I should wake up and say, 'I don't want to go to work.' "

So, Todd decided that he wasn’t going to bother going to work anymore, and the shop recently closed. You can understand where the dude is coming from, right? Owning a successful indie store in one of the most interesting LA neighborhoods would drive me to self-mutilation at an absolute minimum. Better off for all concerned to get as far away from that shit as you can, Toddy.

House of Records has a similar sort of story; shop seems to have been doing good enough money-wise, but owner Philip Smith sounds like he’s simply had enough of running the store he’s owned since 1991. He reckons the second-hand music business is best left to those who excel at “being a hustler.” Somewhat more sinisterly, he opines that “...the business isn't going to walk in the door anymore. It has to be pursued." This sort of makes me imagine being furiously chased down the street by a gigantic, animatronic version of the face off the front of R.E.M.’s Monster CD should I even dare to pass by the store without at least popping in. I can totally understand Mr Smith’s wish to not be involved in that sort of thing a moment longer. It is evil.

The Cure For What Ails Ya: Ted Leo + The Pharmacists Tour America

[Setting: A sterile medical clinic examining room. There sits a half-naked emo kid. A single tear streams down his face. Enter Doctor]

Doctor: So Mr. Heartlong, what can I do for you today?

Emo Kid: [sobs] Well , Sir, um... I've got this... um... burning sensation when I, you know... urinate. And, um... discharge.

D: I see. Well how long have you noticed this?

EK: About 2 weeks.

D: I am sorry to inform you, but it sounds like you may have an STI. Drop your pants and let me take a look.

EK: [continues to sob profusely]

D: [leans forward, examining problem area, gives one of those hmmmm sounds, and stands up] Well again I'm sorry, but it looks like you have a case of gonorrhea.

EK: [really starts to break down, lips quivering] B-b-b-but I've never had sex before.

D: Well I have heard of one other method of contraction. What have you been doing for the last month, approximately?

EK: Nothing sex-wise, I've been sitting in my room, trying to get as many random people on my Facebook friends list as possible to look super cool and listening to the new Fall Out Boy album. But no sex.

D: Ahhh, we've been seeing a lot of this recently.

EK: [uncontrollably crying] What is it, Doc!? How'd this happen!?

D: You see the combination of skin-tight jeans, angular haircuts, and the modulation in Patrick Stump's voice have been causing an epidemic of gonorrhea to spread across the continent.

EK: Is there anything I can do?

D: Well, there is one thing that may be able to help...

EK: What is it? I'll do anything... anything [makes a move on the doctor]

D: [shoving Emo Kid away] God! Get off me, ughh. You have gonorrhea, that's fuckin' sick!

EK: I'm sorry Doc; just make it go away.

D: Okay, but you have to follow my instruction. First of all, we're going to have to amputate that haircut.

EK: [looks like he got kicked in the balls] No Doc, no! There must be some other way. I'm nothing without my hair. How will I show my angst?!?

D: I'm sorry; it's part of the quarantine process.

EK: Is that all? You're not going to have to amputate anything else are you?

D: No. But you need to take this prescription and go to Ted's Pharmacy, and talk to the head pharmacist, Leo. It's a traveling pharmacy though, so you'll have to catch him at one of these locations:

EK: Thanks Doc. [sniff] But what are you prescribing me?

D: Some taste, now get the hell out of my office! And kid... you're going to be okay.

A Schizophrenic Fantasy of a Wannabe MTV Show Host Wishing He Could Host A Super Sweet 18th Birthday Bash Show With A Flaming Lips Theme

Ohhhhhh gurrrl, I'm gonna give you some pointers on how to have a ridiculous birthday party with a theme featuring those amazingly talented sex kittens, The Flaming Lips! First off, we have to focus on the premiere feature of the party besides the theme -- you! You're totally going to get a brand new wardrobe. On second thought, let's go on and give you a brand new name as well! For all intents and purposes, we're going to name you Katrina! Exotic, isn't it? Exactly. Okay Katrina; we're going to first focus on that fine ass of yours, so let's cover it in some sexy gold fabric from American Apparel. Oh my gawd, that spandex hugs your ass so well! Feelin' snug? Good. Now, do you want to be a Santa Claus or an alien? Obviously since we're leaning toward the golden American Apparel pants, we should go with the alien look. Though, I totally dare you to name the unfashionable fool who said that aliens couldn't be sexy, too!

Mmmm, lookin' fly girl. Now let's complete the look with one of those sexy gold headbands from American Apparel. Oh! Are they sold out of them? Hold on, I'll call Dov Charney, who just so happens to be the CEO of AA and one of my good alum friends from fashion school. [Riiing, riiing, riiing!] "Dov? It's Scout, how are you, honey? I'm fantastic! Listen, I'm throwing a super sweet 18th birthday bash with a Flaming Lips theme for my gurrl, Katrina. I was wondering if you have any way to, like, totally expedite me one of those delicious golden headbands of yours? A whole box? Are you kidding me? Oh Dov, you're a doll!" [Click!]

'Kay! Now we have the gold headbands for absolutely everyone that comes to your party; talk about superb party favors! Oh, now I know what we need next: a dozen metallic standees of Wayne Coyne and Micheal Ivins! Oh Wayne is so hott, let's make it two dozen! And let's go ahead and get six Steven Drozd standees and, like, three Kliph Scurlock standees 'cause he's only in the live band. We're also going to need an absolutely huge gargantuan plasma TV, because I just obtained a copy of the unreleased Flaming Lips motion picture, Christmas On Mars, as well as a promo version of U.F.O.s at the Zoo, the live DVD due July 24! We'll just mute 'em both and loop the DVDs the whole time. Oh my god, your party could be private screenings before all other private screenings! The one private screening to rule them all! Oh I love Lord of the Rings, especially that Legolas guy; he's so dreamy when he takes down those Oliphants!

You know what your party is missing? Balloons and giant hamster balls! No! How I could forget, the balloons and giant hamster balls have to be filled with confetti. So much confetti that we'll have a recycling party after your party. Oh, hold on! I'm receiving another call. [Riiing!] "Hello? Oh hello Flaming Lips PR Agent! I'm doing great. Good, good. What? You want us to do want after the party? Oh now, we couldn't! We couldn't! Groupies? Well, if you insist. Do we get to oil up Wayne Coyne before each show? Really? Okay we're in!" [Click!]

Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god! We get to be groupies on these dates:
09.07.07 - Chicago, IL - Aragon Theater
09.09.07 - Minneapolis, MN - The Myth
09.12.07 - Kansas City, MO - Uptown Theater
09.14.07 - Morrison, CO - Red Rocks Amphitheater (Monolith Festival)
09.15.07 - Morrison, CO - Red Rocks Amphitheater (Monolith Festival)
09.18.07 - Vancouver, BC - Orpheum Theater
09.19.07 - Portland, OR - Roseland Theater
09.20.07 - Seattle, WA - Paramount Theater

All dates with Black Moth Super Rainbow

Yeah, Boy! Public Enemy Use a Digital Distributor for New Album; Flava Flav Spreads Digital STD

In the early '90s, I pumped my fist and shouted, "Fight the power!" Now, many years later, my fist is done pumping and spreading messages. My fist is now an adult that realizes you cannot fight the power; you must join the power. My fist was disgusted by the amount of skank on Flava Flav's VH1 show, and now my fist is fairly apathetic to the new digital download of the forthcoming Public Enemy album, How Do You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul.

The group is giving into "The Man" by agreeing to distribute its new album through digital distributor, TuneCore, known as the anti-iTunes. "The Man" is Jeff Price, founder and chief executive of TuneCore, and co-owner of an independent label. Price operates TuneCore just like any distributor to get music into online stores, but unlike most distributors, Price does not take a percentage of the record sales. This seems awfully suspicious for someone with the last name "Price" (and if bad action movies have taught me anything, it's that if someone has a name like Dr. Kill, I probably shouldn't trust them), but I'll go out on a limb and trust the guy.

So, just how does he get away with being so nice? Well, TuneCore charges a flat fee of .99 cents for each song as an uploading and processing fee, another .99 cents for each store the acts choose, and $19.98 a year for each album stored. Mr. Price sees himself as providing a service, like a futuristic online Federal Express. The only difference is that, in reality, Federal Express sucks the big one. Price has said, "I wanted to get out of the exploitation business and into the service business." Congratu-fucking-lations! Now where the hell is my Public Enemy album?

But if Chuck D. is all for TuneCore, then I suppose I have no other choice than to abide. "I knew I had a fan base (Emceegreg) and I wanted to go directly to them," said Chuck D. "What good is a label? All they do is give you money. And in the area of digital distribution, they can't do anything better or faster than anyone else." Yeah, who the hell wants money?

Now to further explain TuneCore in the most boring and technical way I can, TuneCore does not work as "aggregators," which distribute music to iTunes and other online stores in exchange for a percentage of sales. This is usually done by making deals with small labels instead of directly with the musicians. Mr. Price doesn't believe such services are worth the price tag, and he said several TuneCore bands had received placement on iTunes without any middlemen.

My fist is now unraveling in a sympathetic open palm of love and friendship. I shake dirty hands with you, Mr. Flav, and I applaud your balls. I remember jammin' alone in my room to "Shut Em Down," and finally the dream is a reality. Along with my even more ignored friend, Terminator X, I see a bright future where artists will no longer have to deal with greedy, white, seedy capitalists. I say, fight the power. Let's feed the needy. (Emceegreg crosses arms and half-nods at YOU, TMT reader.)

Warner Music Group CEO, acclaimed ‘Just For Men’ facial hair model and much sought-after business wunderkind Edgar Bronfman Jr. has, once again, managed to find himself in the middle of a pretty little shitstorm. Two French magistrates tugged him in by the scruff of his pristinely manicured little beard for no less than ten hours of hot ’n’ horny questioning over allegations of fraud and share manipulation during his tenure as board director with Vivendi.

The investigation centers around an incident where Efer dumped a large quantity of his shares in the organization back in early 2002. Thing is, Vivendi were just about to announce a large-scale share buyback program; this was widely expected to result in a significant drop in the share price. Those inquisitive Gauls seemed to think this all sounded just a little bit too much like insider trading for their liking; consequently, the cosy tête-à-tête with EBJ.

One of Bronfman’s lawyers, Thierry Marembert, made a statement after details of the meeting were made public last Friday. In it, he said that “Mr Bronfman's transactions have at all times been proper and at no time did he contravene any French laws.” And, of course, I have absolutely no doubt this is indeed the case, and that all this’ll blow over double-quick.

Then Edgar will be able to get back to the most important things in life; namely, continuing to provide a vital moral compass to his kiddiewinkles, waving his arms furiously and shaking his head dumbly over the continuing meltdown of the WMG share price, and -- of course -- continuing his implacably brave fight against the modern-day slavery he and his artists are being forced to endure through the evils of file-sharing.

Sonic Youth and Dntel Figuratively Scoff at Commercial Radio, Support Free Yr Radio, Free Yr Radio Sponsors To Provide Lavish Gifts: Free Cars, All-Over Print Hoodies, Bling, Bands Not To Scoff If It Means Their CD Has a Spot at the Checkout Counter Next to the New Modest Mouse And is Rung Up By an Anorexic Sales Girl With Chunky Bangs

OH MY GOD IT’S LIKE TOTALLY BETTER THAN A WICKED CLEVER TEE-SHIRT!!!

Closing a tour for Free Yr Radio, Sonic Youth will headline the last of a series of free promotional concerts Saturday, July 21 at 7 PM at the Urban Outfitters on Santa Monica's 3rd Street Promenade. Free Yr Radio is an independent music campaign developed by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., and Urban Outfitters in support of non-commercial radio.

Get yo’ freak on, kidz! At the July 21 show, one (...lucky…?) Urban Outfitters-lurking, MUZIK-lovvvvvin,’ KXLU listener will win a Toyota Yaris.

Get a move on, a contrived tee-shirt, and get your free tix for the Santa Monica show here. The 13-city tour kicked off in mid-April in Chicago with Klaxons, and has since include The Ponys, Voxtrot, The Long Winters, The Rapture, Rogue Wave, Tapes ‘N Tapes, Dinosaur Jr., and Annuals.

What’s more -- El-P will actually set foot in an Urban Outfitters:

Grizzly Bear is scheduled to perform July 12 in Cleveland, and El-P (…!!!!!) is slotted for July 14 in NYC.

BECAUSE WE ARE LIKE SO IN LOVE, READER, HERE’S TWO WAY-EXISTENTIAL EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS:

Sonic Youth are (collectively) psyched to save the world with sweet jamz, drop a reissue of Daydream Nation, and headline the concert for KXLU 88.9 FM. While (collectively) stroking the smooth cotton fabric of a “Frankie Says Relax” tee-shirt, they shot the shit:

Mr. Ranaldo: What happens if the manager won't give you the Toyota Yaris, hipstahhh sneakers, shitty “indie” CDs, and platform jelly sandals?

Mr. Moore: When you're dealing with a store like this, they're insured up the ass. They're not supposed to give you any resistance whatsoever. If you get a customer, or an employee, who thinks he's Charles Bronson, take the butt of your gun and smash their nose in. Everybody jumps. He falls down screaming, blood squirts out of his nose, nobody says fucking shit after that. You might get some bitch-talk shit to you, but give her a look like you're gonna smash her in the face next, watch her shut the fuck up. Now if it's a manager, that's a different story. Managers know better than to fuck around, so if you get one that's giving you static, he probably thinks he's a real cowboy, so you gotta break that son of a bitch in two. If you wanna know something and he won't tell you, cut off one of his fingers. The little one. Then tell him his thumb's next. After that he'll tell you if he wears ladies underwear. I'm hungry. Let's get a taco.

Dntel is equally… pumped…

Jimmy Tamborello, a KXLU alum, took time to get prophetic after spinning da’ jamz to open for Sonic Youth, and in a moment of reflection next to the rack of “More Cowbell” tee-shirts, he discussed Free Yr Radio:

“It’s like this Bible passage I always come back to, Ezekial 25:17: The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you. Now I’ve been saying that shit for years, but I saw some Converse sneakers, hoodies, and kitschy t-shirts in Urban Outfitters that made me think twice. Now I'm thinkin': it could mean commercial radio’s the evil man. And I'm the righteous man. And my music here, it's the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could be non-commercial radio is the righteous man, and I'm the shepherd, and it's the world that's evil and selfish. I'd like that. But that shit ain't the truth. The truth is college radio is the weak. And commercial radio the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be a shepherd.”*

*Sorry, Samuel L. Jackson. XOXO, Love you.