Madonna Fights Nuclear Waste and Vows, “Restless Leg Syndrome, You’re Next!”

When not pissing off parishes and perfecting her phony English accent (yeah, we know you live in the UK now but you're starting to act like some of the arseholes I know who emigrated from across the ocean as fetuses and still won't cut the cord on their faux-Brit patois), it seems Madonna has been thinking a lot about the earth's future and others of late.

It may be somewhat old news, but reports, well, everywhere (it is Madonna after all) claim that she and husband Guy Ritchie hounded the offices of British Prime Minister Blair, the UK Department of Trade and Industry, and British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) with a plan to battle nuclear waste with a mystical Kabbalah-developed liquid. The two believe the solution has already been successful in neutralizing radiation in Ukraine, and Ritchie (apparently a "talking pictures" director of some renown... what will they think of next?!) sent a number of letters along with scientific papers that support the healing powers of the mystical fluid. This is all a bit at odds with the unsubstantiated rumor that the couple were heard quarrelling, as Madonna scolded hubby with, "It's nuclear god dammit, Guy! Not nuculer!"

The old gal can still stir up bad feelings and stomach bile in the most seemingly patient of peeps. Last week, a Dutch priest admitted to calling in a fake bomb threat in an attempt to stop a recent concert in Amsterdam on Madonna's current "Confessions" tour. In Moscow on Monday, the show went on but was opposed by many religiosos, including Orthodox church spokesman Father Vsevolod Chaplin, who, speaking to Pravda online, said, "This lady has been glorifying human passions with the help of religious symbols for years... she now thinks it is time for her to crucify herself in public. It means the singer is in need of spiritual help." No offence Father, but we're guessing the spiritual well-being of Me-donna is where it's always been, behind the megalomanical driving force. Could she be changing her ways?

"I can write the greatest songs (wha?) and make the most fabulous films (WHAT???) and be a fashion icon and conquer the world, but if there isn't a world to conquer, what's the point?" she said according to The Sunday Times. "I've just come to a place in my life where I'm trying to really see what the big picture is and where my energy is better spent, and that's one area I'm really concerned about."

We'll ignore the laughable possibility of Maddy ever actually writing her own songs or making even passably enjoyable films... the concept of Madonna thinking of others is as likely as someone successfully using a stingray for a boogie-board (too soon for Crocodile Hunter jokes?). With experts claiming Madonna's nuclear waste eradication scheme as pure hokum, at least hucksters can have a field day with the notion of magical Kabbalah water. It's only a matter of time until we hear the following at every traveling show and county fair:

"Gather 'round ever'one! Welcome to ye ole' medicine show. All sicknesses cured, plus possibly any nuclear ailments you may have. Get rid of yer liniments and snake oil, rosehips and riboflavin, Carter's Little Liver Pills, mugwump specific, swamp root, Kikapoo Indian Sagwa, 'joy juice', vegetable compound, Doan's Pills, Dr. Williams' Pink Pills for Pale People, milk from a witch's tit... Mystical Madonna has all you need by the bottleful ($1.75 for a half-liter, $3.00 per liter). A couple of swigs and y'all w'all be 'I gots ta get me some o' that kwazy kabbally potion!!!' Sick made well, weak made strong. Scarlet fever, cooties, and "female problems" gone. Chewing and cigarette habits cured. Say 'goodbye' to flatulence!..."

Unfortunately the one societal affliction Kabbalah liquid will never do away with is Madonna's incessant spotlight-grabbing and media-whoring.

STOP PRESS: Capitol embraces the avant-garde

This just in: Capitol Records has decided to make a substantial move into the indie and left-field areas of the music industry. In addition to their recent signing/perversion of Interpol, the well-known experimental quasi-Joy Division tribute band, they've also added The Decemberists (aka 'no more than 3 minutes of prog per album') to their roster. They're also apparently seeking to 'develop' the UK's own Lily Allen, who is so avant-garde that her first single went STRAIGHT to NUMBER ONE!

Capitol has already had success with these avant-garde acts, of course. Who can forget the bizarre act known as The Magic Numbers, with their penchant for facial hair and corpulence balanced by their use of mystical instruments such as spoons, a zither, and even an accordion on occasion. LCD Soundsystem have been another big success for the label, with their tap-dancing rhythm section a constant source of interest amongst listeners hitherto only exposed to the Top 40.

It's great to see a major record label finally accepting some of the weirdest acts around. Next month, Capitol is lining up moves for one of Britain's finest exponents of experimental electronica, Robbie Williams, and word is that they're also planning to sign legendary American beat-boxer Justin Timberlake. Finally, on their list of future conquests, they're also sniffing around a Liverpool-based beat combo known as The Beatles, who are shrouded in mystery and eclecticism.

Charalambides Cacophony of Sonancy Peregrinates Assorted U.S. Principalities

Lately, I have been noticing more and more a disturbing trend amongst artists I listen to on a regular basis: I can't fucking pronounce any of their names. Honestly, how can I name-drop Paavoharju in front of some co-workers when I can't get past the first syllable? And what about Fennesz? Shivers went down my spine merely reading it. And am I supposed to pronounce it "Sunn" or "Sunn O"? Ugh! Maddening. Yes, I realize that some of those names are in languages other than English, and that perhaps in their native countries their names are quite simple. For the most part, I choose to remain ignorant to that fact and long for simpler times. What's so wrong with good ol' American names like "The Who" or "The Smiths"?

All good things must come to an end, I suppose. I have more or less accepted that the glory days of band names that just roll off the tongue are over. The world is growing up. I have even ended my long-time boycott against bands with over a dozen consecutive letters in their names, and for this moral defeat, I hold Charalambides personally responsible. Upcoming tour? 40+ albums and CD-Rs? One of which, titled A Vintage Burden and released in 2006, has a conveniently placed TMT review link right here [TMT Review]? How could I resist? Not to worry: my boycott of movies with subtitles, the five-string bass, "icicle" Christmas lights, fruits without seeds, cup-holders, and any movie playing system other than Laserdisc are all stronger than ever.

Look for a 15-passenger van with "Charal-" painted on one side and "ambides" on the other in your town soon.

11.03.06 - Northampton, MA - Elevens
11.04.06 - Portland, ME - Strange Maine
11.05.06 - Somerville, MA - PA's Lounge
11.06.06 - Providence, RI - AS 220
11.08.06 - New York, NY - Knitting Factory Tap Bar
11.09.06 - Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church Chapel Room
11.10.06 - Asheville, NC - TBA
11.11.06 - Atlanta, GA - Eyedrum
11.12.06 - Nashville, TN - Ruby Green
11.14.06 - Houston, TX - Rudyard's
11.15.06 - Austin, TX - Emo's
11.16.06 - Oklahoma City, OK - Conservatory
11.17.06 - Kansas City, MO - TBA
11.18.06 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
11.19.06 - Iowa City, IA - Hall Mall
11.20.06 - Oberlin, OH - Dionysus Disco
11.21.06 - Washington, DC - 611 Florida

TMT Fills the Whole Front Page with the Catchiest Words We Can Find: “New Pornographers Tour”

When I lived in Baltimore, I eventually made my peace with the fact that I'd have to go to DC in order to see about 80% of the bands I liked. And you know what? Call Baltimore all the names you want (believe me, I have), but DC sucks more. DC is like Baltimore with a few fancy neighborhoods, some government buildings, a subway that shuts down at midnight, and rents almost as inflated as New York. At least Baltimore is cheap and gave us John Waters.

So anyway, here I am, writing an article on The New Pornographers' fall mini-tour, when I come across this thing called the "V Fest" and learn that it's in Baltimore, of all places. At first, I'm impressed. New Pornos: yay! Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: *hand clap*/yeah! The Flaming Lips: wahoo! Wolfmother: hells yes! Scissor Sisters: shut up, I like them. Then I'm disappointed: Red Hot Chili Peppers? The Killers? Gnarls Barkley? The Raconteurs? John Digweed? That guy is still around? Finally, I'm just confused: The Who? Really???? Only when I realize that the whole thing is sponsored by Virgin Mobile does the utter randomness begin to make sense. And then I understand why it's taking place in Baltimore, the randomness capital of the world. Take that, DC!

I guess it doesn't make any difference to me. I'll be seeing them in New York, where it looks like they'll be interviewing the author of that bestseller The Wisdom of Crowds at The New Yorker Festival. I haven't read the book, but, hey, at least I don't have to look at Dave Navarro if I also wanna look at A.C. Newman. And we all know who the real hottie is there.

Jackie dressed in tourdates:

09.14.06 - Mexico City, MEXICO - Salon 21
09.17.06 - Austin, TX - Austin City Limits
09.23.06 - Baltimore, MD - V Fest
10.07.06 - New York, NY - New Yorker Festival
10.14.06 - Winnipeg, MB - Garrick Centre at the Marlborough*
10.16.06 - Saskatoon, SK - Odeon Event Center*
10.17.06 - Edmonton, AB - Red's*
10.18.06 - Calgary, AB - MacEwan Hall Ballroom*

* with Noverillo Immaculate Machine

ICE Fest Kicks Off Tonight!

Tonight, the International Contemporary Ensemble begins its annual weeklong concert series in Chicago at the Hot House. I could make some kind of lame joke about the initials of this well-known avant-garde chamber group and its relation to a "hot" house, but I feel that would undermine the seriousness of this article (it is classical music, after all). So instead, how about some background? ICE was founded in 2001 for the express purpose of promoting new music and young composers while bringing this music to audiences not necessarily associated with modern classical music. Since then, they've performed in Alice Tully Hall in New York and the Miller Theatre at Columbia University. Their debut there was hailed by the New York Times as a "Top Ten Musical Moment of the Year" for 2003. Now, I think a listing of some concerts is due:

09.12.06 – Chicago, IL – HotHouse

Tonight will feature "classic ICE repertoire," including work by John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, Louis Andriessen, "up and coming" Du Yun, and the night closes with Steve Reich's seminal piece "Different Trains."

09.13.06 – Chicago, IL – Elastic

Featuring the seldom-used duo of clarinet and percussion, this night will feature works by Donatoni, Stockhausen, Lobera, and Manoury, as well as new works by young composers.

09.14.06 – Chicago, IL – The Velvet Lounge

This night's performance centers around ICE and Chicago Symphony Orchestra member Katinka Kleijn and several of her musically inclined friends. There will be works by Alvin Lucier, Bruno Maderna, Dai Fujikura, Alexandra Hermentin, and Frederic Rzewski, and a world premiere by Greg Ward written specifically for this performance.

09.15.06 – Chicago, IL – Pressure Billiards and Café

ICE guitarist will be playing both nylon and steel strings tonight for pieces by Mario Davidovsky, Julia Wolfe, Elliot Carter, Toru Takemitsu, and Peter Gilbert. As an encore, he's preparing a new piece by Yngwie Malmsteen called "Dungeons of HELL!!!"

09.17.06 – Chicago, IL – Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
09.17.06 – Chicago, IL – The Hungry Brain

Thankfully enough, modern music fans will not have to make the tough choice of whether they want to see the balls-out craziness of eight piano hands performing pieces by Ligeti, Kurtag, Messiaen, Schoenberg, Brunswick, Bartok, Tsai-Yun Huang, and three (count 'em, three!) world premieres OR some of the more interesting improvised music in America. Your day's plan should look something along the lines of going to the Green Mill at two to see 40 fingers flying, then heading directly over to The Hungry Brain for the 10 P.M. improvised show (you'll need that much time to get there due to Cubs-related IQ-deprived activity... ugh).

09.18.06 – Chicago, IL – Katerina's

And for you classical lovers out there, the final night of the festival will feature works written before 1940 – outside ICE's usual scope. However, these pieces will be subjected to some interesting arrangements and will feature some very special guests from the Lyric Opera Company and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Among the advertised "four + hours of nonstop classical" will be Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto No. 5" as well as other popular favorites. Sorry, no karaoke.

Robert Pollard Signs Up for Lamaze Classes, Expecting Once Again

Robert Pollard, the coolest "older uncle" if not "father figure" of indie rock. He continuously kicks out the jams, ignoring the strains in his body. He's also pregnant with a new album: Normal Happiness, due October 10. Gentlemen, prepare to break out the cigars.

This is his second album out this year, following From a Compound Eye [TMT Review]. Pollard encourages the album to be bought at independent record shops, adding a bonus live CD of Pollard and the Ascended Masters to all copies sent to independent shops. Take that, condescending security jerk.

Normal Happiness was produced in one month in Pollard's basement. Out of the 47 songs created, 16 made it to the album. Congratulations tracks 1 to 16! Here are the lucky winners:

1. Accidental Texas Who
2. Whispering Whip
3. Supernatural Car Lover
4. Boxing About
5. Serious Bird Woman (You Turn Me On)
6. Get A Faceful
7. Towers and Landslides
8. I Feel Gone Again
9. Gasoline Ragtime
10. Rhoda Rhoda
11. Give Up The Grape
12. Pegasus Glue Factory
13. Top Of My Game
14. Tomorrow Will Be Another Day
15. Join The Eagles
16. Full Sun (Dig The Slowness)

Let's all help him pay his mortgage! Why, isn't that what fans are for? Otherwise, he might have to resort to selling personal items on eBay again. That's okay, too.

11.09.06 - Bloomingtin, IL- Bluebird #
11.10.06 - Chicago, IL- The Abbey Pub #
11.11.06 - Dayton, OH- The Foundry ()
11.13.06 - New York, NY- Bowery Ballroom *
11.14.06 - Philadelphia, PA- World Cafe Live *
11.15.06 - Baltimore, MD- Sonar +
11.17.06 - Boston, MA- Paradise Rock Club*
11.18.06 - Northampton, MA- Pearl St./

# w/ Nassau
( w/ Mitch Mitchell's Terrifying Experience
) w/ Murder Your Darlings
* w/ Starling Electric
+ w/ Portatastic
/ w/ Richard Davies