Mario Speedwagon’s Under The Radar News Roundup: Wierd Records, Mark Kozelek, Napster, TorrentValley.com, and Thrill Jockey

This week we have anniversary parties, websites shutin’ it down, old dudes releasing solo records, Thrill Jockey signing another band who met in art school, and more!

- Wierd Records in New York is turning five years old. To celebrate, it's having an anniversary shindig at the Music Hall of Williamsburg November 21, 2008, featuring Blacklist, Xeno & Oaklander (I kind of wish it was Xenu, like that Scientologist bullshit,) and Led Er Est. Doors are at 8:30, jams start at 9:30, and it's $10.

- Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon and the Red House Painters is dropping his latest LP, The Finally LP, December 9, 2008 on Caldo Verde Records. Party.

- So, I totally forgot Napster existed, let alone that people still use it (same as Friendster... really?) Anyway, Miram Hall Patel -- the chick who ruled that peer-to-peer music sharing services “knowingly encorage[ed] and assist[ed]” the swapping of copyrighted music, therefore “destroying” the music industry -- decided we need to reform the policies of copyright licensing, royalties, and other shit by forming some music-industry-cheese-dick administration comprised of people with “competing interest” to set up new rules. Napster, really?

- TorrentValley.com has been “raided and shut down,” as reported by TorrentFreak. Oh well.

- Thrill Jockey continues to tear it up by signing Mountains. Mountains is a duo from Brooklyn-by-way-of-Chicago Art School and has been compared to “Brian Eno and Fennesz” (cool!) The group is preparing its third LP for a Thrill Jockey release of February 17, 2009.

Alright, I’m out, bitches.

Coming To A Grocery Store Near You: Barack Obama’s Martian Origins Exposed; What Your Man Really Wants In Bed; and… Bob Dylan In Conveniently-Sized Gift Card Form?

Think about this: when did In Rainbows come out? You wanna say “It was like six months ago,” right? Because all anyone still talks about is how the distribution method was supposedly fucking genius, right? Or maybe you never got sucked into the cesspool of exalting Thom Yorke for remembering that the internet exists, and you knew right after I asked that the album came out in 2007. Either way, we can all agree that everyone needs to get over the fact that technology affords us a shit-ton of ways to get music.

Apparently, however, Sony BMG isn’t on board with us. It basically goes like this: one day, one of those gift cards at a Safeway checkout stand got really fucked up and, feeling overconfident, managed to pick up a sexy iPod with inexplicably low self-esteem. Nine months later, she called him and said he was going to be a daddy. Their child’s name: Platinum MusicPass. Cute, huh? Unfortunately neither of them could afford a kid and decided to sell it to Sony BMG, which cloned it and is now distributing lots of Sony MusicPasses all over the Southeastern U.S. in Winn-Dixie supermarkets. $12.99 gets you a pass for a full-album download of high-quality MP3s (but are they FLAC rips?) plus bonus material in some instances. Highlights include Korn, Avril Lavigne, the previously mentioned Mr. Zimmerman, and a selection of decades-themed compilations.

Great job, Sony-BMG, you’re definitely not adding an unnecessary intermediary step between MP3 and consumer. And I’m pretty sure people are going to care about this one more than they did about Radiohead!

Bonnie “Prince” Billy to Release Beware, His “Most Ambitious” LP to Date

Hey, girls, you can stop making food in the kitchen and washing clothes now -- boys, stop playing with your nuts: Bonnie "Prince" Billy is back on the attack! On March 17, Drag City will release a brand new album, Beware, which is being described as his "most ambitious" by his publicist. In fact, the press release is all kinds of colorful:

- "It blooms in low light and cold but thrives in the sun as well, showing enticing spots and eating small creatures as they wander into its jaws."
- "Where fiddle and steel contribute their rustic timbre alongside guitars and voices, a thickening thud of low tone rolls beneath, giving the record a bottom that’s fun to watch bounce in new clothes."
- "Song titles suggest half of a heated dialogue, perhaps just one side of a super-apocalypto phone call."
- "Sometimes all you want to do is f**k."

How come press releases are so well-written nowadays? Can't we go back to when they were like, "This album will blow you out of the water!!" and "This is sure to be a classic album!"?

Anyway, Beware sees The Old Ham playing with his regular band (Josh Abrams, Jennifer Hutt, Emmett Kelly and Michael Zerang) along with special guests ranging from Leroy Bach to Rob Mazurek. A tour is expected around the time of its release. But it's not like you care, you fucking loser! Go back to your own country, jerkoff!

Beware tracklisting:

11.21.08 - Lexington, KY - Old Tarr Distillery (Save Kentucky's Hemlocks)
11.27.08 - Sao Paulo, Brazil - Studio SP
11.28.08 - Salvador, Brazil - Boomerangue
11.30.08 - Porto Alegre, Brazil - Centro Cultural Santander

It’s hard to tell exactly what El Guincho (a.k.a. Pablo Díaz-Reixa) has up his sleeves for his tour this month, but after writing him countless letters expressing my sadness over his canceled dates this past summer (one of which I was planning on attending!), the man has finally written me back:

Dear Anna,

Thank you for your genuine concern for my well=being. I can assure you that I will not cancel any more dates, especially since those threats you made against me sound pretty painful. Please know that I’ve hired of Montreal’s costume and set designer for my November tour and plan on using his ideas to my full advantage.

See you at the show,

Pablo

In other less life-threatening news, El Guincho’s newest album, Alegranza!, finally received a worldwide release last month via Young Turks/XL Recordings.

Musician and Drum-Maker Dies After Contracting Anthrax from Animal Skins

File under bizarre and tragic: a Hackney, England drum-maker man has died following the inhalation of anthrax spores after handling animal skins. Fernando Gomez, a 35-year-old Spanish folk musician, died in Homerton University Hospital November 2, surrounded by his wife and family.

While this story is a rare one, it is not the first instance of a drum-maker dying of anthrax spore inhalation. In 2006, Christopher Norris, an artist and drum-maker from Scotland, died after inhaling anthrax from touching West African animal skins at a drumming workshop. Since 1974, there have been only four known cases worldwide of drum-makers dying from anthrax apart from Gomez and Norris. While many drum skins are created using man-made materials, other traditional drums like djembes and bodhrans will always use the skin of cows, goat, and deer. Some drum-makers prefer the more exotic skins of bison, yak, and llamas.

Anthrax cannot be passed between persons, and Health Protection Agency (HPA) officers have sealed Gomez’ apartment and workshop for testing and cleansing. Eight other people who had been in the room where the spores were inhaled have been given precautionary antibiotics, but are not thought to be in danger of contracting anthrax, nor are the nearby neighbors of Gomez’ east London flat. Professor Nigel Lightfoot, chief advisor to the HPA, said in a statement, “We have stressed to all residents throughout this incident that there is no risk to their health as a result of the case of anthrax, or the testing.”

Lightfoot added, and in turn, eased the high-strung nature of skin-thumpers throughout our world, “It is important to stress that it is the making of the animal skin drums that is the risk from coming into contact with anthrax rather than playing or handling drums.”

An inquest has been opened to determine the source of the spores and the HPA began carrying out tests in Gomez’ apartment this week. Gomez taught music to local children on the Morningside Estate in Hackney and was a member of an alternative folk group called alasVALS.

Ohmygod You Guys! Cutie Chad VanGaalen Just Announced Tourdates!

Seriously, guys, how cute is Chad VanGaalen?! He's like Zac Efron mixed with the older Jonas Brother, plus sort of like Penn Badgley from Gossip Girl! And hey, did you know he’s touring this fall!? It’s in Europe, but maybe if you ask your parents for an early Christmas present, and I ask my parents for an early present too, we can both get plane tickets and go! I’ve been listening to his newest album, Soft Airplane (TMT Review), soooo much that the other day my little brother walked by my room and was like “Ew, you’re still listening to Chad VanGAYlen?!” And I was like “SHUT THE FUCK UP, I LOVE HIM! Re-open Proposition 8 for California!” For realz.

Typing like a teenage girl is exhausting: