Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt Documentary Coming This Spring, Brooding Pop Enthusiasts Rejoice

Maybe we were a little too quick to crown Morrissey as the Master of Melancholy, cause I’ll be damned if Stephin Merritt doesn’t come in as a VERY close second. The Magnetic Fields are just one of many mopey, dark projects Merritt has been involved with (including the 6ths, the Future Bible Heroes, and the Gothic Archies, to name a few others). But Merritt’s role as the arranger, songwriter, and producer in the Magnetic Fields may represent the best of his talent as a pop musician and overall Sad Sack. Merritt has long been known to expertly punch out moody, confused and jubilant pop song after pop song, but few journalists and/or filmmakers have ever gained access to Merritt’s personal life (though god knows they’d like to).

Well, all that’s about to change. This spring, directors Kerthy Fix and Gail O’Hara plan to release a documentary that chronicles the last 10 years of Merritt’s career and personal life. The film will reportedly gloss over Merritt’s beginnings as a naive copy editor for Spin Magazine and go on to cover his growth as a musician and as a prolific writer for Time Out New York. The film, due sometime in the next few months, will be screened as a part of San Francisco’s SF360 Film+Club series, and will then go on to make the necessary festival rounds. You’ll have to sit tight for the doc’s title though, because that’s not ready yet.

If you’re too ants in the pants to wait for the film’s release, you may satiate yourself in the meantime by checking out the new Magnetic Fields’ release Realism, out on Nonsuch next Tuesday (January 26). That’s in four days!!! And if you can’t wait till THEN, well I feel rather sorry for you—but no really, you can check out all of Realism streaming on the Fields’ MySpace page. Check out a video for “We Are Having a Hootenanny” over at the Chocolate Grinder.

• Magnetic Fields: http://www.houseoftomorrow.com
• Nonesuch: http://www.nonesuch.com

Best Buy Wants $250 to Stock Your Band’s CD

For those who have been struggling to get their CD heard—even though it is going to totally revolutionize music, man, because it’s totally like if Pavement and Radiohead got together—there is both good and bad news. The good news is that your local Best Buy will be willing to stock that CD. The bad news is that it requires a $250 non-refundable upfront fee. Oh, and your band will have to use Best Buy’s preferred vendor, J Distribution’s RegionalCD.net.

The hits keep coming, too. Every additional release requires another $100 fee, and to set the CD up for iTunes requires an additional $50 per release. But there is pay! An amazing $5.15 per CD sold! Unless it’s an EP, in which case it’s $3.65 per CD sold. So, for the first LP, a band will need to sell 49 CDs to make a profit, and an additional 20 for each CD after that. EPs will require 69 sales for the initial payback and 28 for each subsequent release.

So, if getting into Best Buy is the only thing between your band and greatness, fork over the cash and hope that the record industry isn’t as dead as Brian Eno thinks it is.

Massive Attack Has a New Album and Loves Guest Spots

I’m gonna be honest with you people: I am totally hungover. Not the head-splitting, vom-inducing sorta deal, just a straight-up lack of brain cells. I just sat and stared outside at a house — nothing interesting or extraordinary, just a plain old house — for like an entire minute before I realized, “Oh yeah… I’m writing a story.” So what I’m trying to say here is, don’t expect a lot from me. Fortunately, this isn’t about ME, it’s about Massive Attack and their upcoming album, Heligoland, out February 9 on Virgin Records. It’s the follow-up to their recent Splitting the Atom EP, and it has more guest stars than a crappy holiday special. Except it won’t be crappy at all, because it’s got Horace Andy, Daddy G, and 3D working together again, and guest vocals from Damon Albarn, Hope Sandoval, Martina Topley-Bird, Guy Garvey, and Tunde Adebimpe (TV On The Radio). Plus, Portishead’s Adrian Utley and his guitar show up on “Saturday Come Slow,” Damon contributes keyboards on “Splitting the Atom” and bass on “Flat of the Blade,” and even DFA’s Tim Goldsworthy gets involved on several tracks. There’s also “Rush Minute,” Robert del Naja’s affectionate tribute to the Canadian prog band Rush, in which he culls all his favorite moments from 1975’s Caress of Steel album into a 60-second primer of the band.*

In other news, Massive Attack has several U.K. shows in the works, as well as (yay!) a U.S. tour later this year.

Tracklisting:

01. Pray for Rain
02. Babel
03. Splitting the Atom
04. Girl I Love You
05. Psyche
06. Flat of the Blade
07. Paradise Circus
08. Rush Minute
09. Saturday Come Slow
10. Atlas Air

* I totally made this up.

Laws to Tackle Online Piracy Could Raise the Cost of Accessing the Internet by Nearly $50 per Year per Subscriber

TalkTalk Group, one of the biggest ISPs in the UK, believe that laws currently being debated in the UK to tackle online piracy could cost an extra £30 ($48.80) per subscriber. Charles Dunstone, CEO of the ISP, wrote that “this could make Internet access unaffordable for 600,000 hard-pressed families.”

The UK’s Digital Economy Bill would ensure that ISPs had to take action against people suspected of copyright infringement. This has led to concern amongst ISPs of the extra costs that would result in these rules being implemented. Inevitably these would be passed onto consumers. BT, another ISP, reckon the laws could increase prices by £25 ($41) per subscriber.

However, the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI, and Satan’s little brother) believes that the true cost is actually much lower. A report they commissioned from Sweet Consulting showed that “introducing measures to identify and notify copyright infringers would cost £13.85 million ($22.5 million) in the first year, £9 million ($14.6 million) in the second, and £3.45 million ($5.6 million) in the third.” This would result in only a 24 pence (39 cents) rise per subscriber in the third year.

As a small-town Republican smarting over Scott Brown’s orgasmic result, I don’t know what to think. I hate government regulation, but then I hate poor people too. If only George Bush was still President…

Death Cab For Cutie More or Less Guarantee a New Record in 2010, Strategically Avoid Making Any Guarantees That It Won’t Be Just Awful

For a band that you’d think would have driven off their entire fan base by now with all of the editorialization-provoking garbage they’ve been dumping on the world for the better part of this past decade, Death Cab For Cutie sure have had an incredibly busy 2009. They pushed that big single from the New Moon soundtrack, shot a ludicrous video for the song in Toronto, and got married (yes, all four of them, I think) to “actress” and “musician” Zooey Deschanel.

But that 2009 trash was just a couple of hamburgers in the recycling bin compared to what’s coming down the garbage chute in 2010, because it seems as though the boyz are gearing up to half-ass another full-length studio record of spikethorny deepability and melan-jammy what-have-youness. And to hear them tell it, phoning-it-in all the time is apparently much harder work that you’d realize:

“We’re really just starting to crack it open, like kind of getting into the demos for the first time, bouncing some ideas back and forth,” guitarist/producer/failed solo artist Chris Walla said in between yawns and big spoonfuls of peanut butter. “So we haven’t dived in and hit the ‘record’ button yet. We’re trying to figure out when to dive in and hit the ‘record’ button. That’s sort of where we’re at.” Hey man, cool; that’s sorta where my band is at right now too.

“We’ve definitely cleared space [in our schedule]. It’s the project this year for us,” drummer Jason McGerr chimed in, “but we don’t know where we’re going yet.” So there you have it, folks. You don’t have to have any idea what’s going on around you in order to be in this band. But I guess maybe that’s why they all (again, all four of them) got married to Zooey Willfarrel or whoever.

So, I guess more details on the new Death Cab album coming, you know, whenever.

Gang Gang Dance Sign to 4AD

New York’s Gang Gang Dance have signed to 4AD for their fifth album, the as-yet untitled follow-up to Saint Dymphna (TMT Review). Details on the new album are scant, but it’s expected for release this year. Not excited? Check out these quotes from the press!

“Yes, yes, I’ll take me some more of them Gang Gang Dance trax!” -Village Voice

“Seriously, they’re really fucking good, man. No, seriously.” -The Guardian

“Amazing. ‘Nuff said.” -Pitchfork

“Oh my GOSH — this is game-changing music.” -Tiny Mix Tapes

The group has booked four dates for late March, hugging their performance at this year’s Big Ears Festival.

03.25.10 - Baltimore, MD - Ottobar
03.26.10 - Morgantown, WV - 123 Pleasant St.
03.27.10 - Knoxville, TN - Big Ears Festival
03.29.10 - Charlottesville, VA - Southern

• Gang Gang Dance: http://www.myspace.com/ganggangdance
• 4AD: http://www.4ad.com