McSweeney’s Internet Pregnancy Throws A Fly In The Financial Ointment

I have always had mixed feelings about Dave Eggers' McSweeney's and its umbrella of publications. Style is as important as substance, and that bothers me. There is a great essay on Design Observer on the saturation of books and publishing, and it does a particularly excellent job of describing exactly the look and feel of independent publishing houses:

"These publications have a very particular voice and visual appearance both of which derive from the dustier corners of book publishing’s history: the heavily footnoted meanderings of science textbooks, earnest political treatises and tracts, hobby manuals and the like. For many, the ultimate goal is to channel the essence of an out-of-print illustrated pamphlet on the preferred techniques for the propagation of indoor ivy plants. The best-known touchstones of this meticulously arcane tone can be found in the satirical output of the McSweeney’s empire."

And yet, for all the criticism -- which McSweeney's tends to gather like a lightning rod, for all this reduction of the creativity that is The Internet Tendency and The Believer and Wholphin and everything else they do, we would be less than whole without it. McSweeney's combines media in the way NPR airs audio stories on sculpture, but doing so in a tongue-in-cheek fashion and in a unique package. I love, love picking up the three books held in a binder by magnets, and I don't even know why. This is new forms and history with clever writing, and we need it. The internet, most of all, needs it. Unfortunately, we may not have it much longer, because McSweeney's in the midst of a financial hardship.

According to The Trip Wire, "on December 29 their distributor filed for bankruptcy and McSweeney's lost about $130,000. As a result they now are holding a special sale and auction on eBay to help raise funds. Some of the items up for grabs include a personal tour of The Daily Show, original artwork from Chris Ware, Marcel Dzama, David Byrne, and Tony Millionaire; a limited-edition music mix from Nick Hornby; rare early issues of the quarterly, direct from Sean Wilsey's closet; and more. Rumor has it there is even a Dave Eggers's painting of George W. Bush as a double amputee, from the cover of Issue 14."

If there is oversaturation of anything, it is creative work on the internet. McSweeney's is a bastion of quality, and whether its online or in a magazine, we need Eggers' "empire." Although I may be on the fence with it sometimes, McSweeney's is respectable, clever, and fun. Criticize it, but read it and save it, as I will.

Click here for the special sales and auctions.

Rhino Records To Release “British Box”; Deny Association With Posh Spice’s Vagina

You know that one part of the record store with all of the box sets? Does anyone buy those things? Yeah, the ones with 73 previously unreleased Velvet Underground or Bruce Springsteen B-sides, demos, and live cuts that absolutely no one needs. Don't even try to justify a 2-track demo of "I'm On Fire" or paying $74.99 for a warped full-length demo of "Sweet Jane." And yes, 100,000,000 Bon Jovi fans can be wrong. Regardless, Rhino Records is joining the box set party (again), which should appeal to the richest (and show-offy-est) obsessives and/or yuppie bankers who'd like to impress that bitchin' alternative chick from Whole Foods with their knowledge of '70s Lou Reed. Their anthology, however, sounds fairly enticing and is titled The Brit Box: U.K. Indie, Shoegaze and Brit-pop Gems of the Last Millennium.

I can just hear the infomercial now -- and God knows I'm holding out for Moz to host it. If he can't sell a $65, 4CD set in the shape of an English phone box complete with an 80-page book of essays and interviews, then I don't know who can. The set is pieced together in chronological order as follows: Disc 1 (1984-1990), Disc 2 (1991-1993), Disc 3 (1994-1995), and Disc 4 (1996-1998). It features acts such as Cocteau Twins, The Stone Roses, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, Suede, The Divine Comedy, and many more. For 17 easy payments of $3.82, The Brit Box can be yours! But wait! Call within the next 15 minutes and we'll throw in a second set of steak knives at no additional cost! And if you aren't completely satisfied...

The Brit Box: U.K. Indie, Shoegaze and Brit-pop Gems of the Last Millennium tracklist:

Disc 1:

1. The Smiths - "How Soon Is Now?"
2. Cocteau Twins - "Lorelei"
3. Felt - "Primitive Painters"
4. Shop Assistants - "Somewhere in China"
5. The Mighty Lemon Drops - "My Biggest Thrill"
6. The Cure - "Just Like Heaven"
7. Echo & The Bunnymen - "Lips Like Sugar"
8. The Jesus and Mary Chain - "April Skies"
9. Spacemen 3 - "Walkin' With Jesus (Sound of Confusion)"
10. The Primitives - "Crash"
11. The Wonder Stuff - "Unbearable"
12. The Stone Roses - "She Bangs the Drums"
13. The Charlatans UK - "The Only One I Know"
14. Happy Mondays - "Step On"
15. Primal Scream - "Loaded" [single version]
16. Inspiral Carpets - "This Is How It Feels"
17. The Trash Can Sinatras - "Obscurity Knocks"
18. The La's - "There She Goes"
19. The Sundays - "Here's Where the Story Ends"

Disc 2:

1. Ride - "Vapour Trail"
2. Pale Saints - "Sight of You"
3. My Bloody Valentine - "Only Shallow"
4. Lush - "For Love"
5. The Telescopes - "Flying"
6. Chapterhouse - "Pearl"
7. Catherine Wheel - "I Want To Touch You"
8. Bleach - "Trip & Slide"
9. Curve - "Coast Is Clear"
10. Five Thirty - "You"
11. Moose - "This River Will Never Run Dry"
12. The Family Cat - "(Thought I'd Died) And Gone To Heaven"
13. The Dylans - "(Don't Cut Me Down) Mary Quant in Blue"
14. Thousand Yard Stare - "0-0 A.E.T. (No Score After Extra Time)"
15. Ned's Atomic Dustbin - "Grey Cell Green"
16. Birdland - "Shoot You Down"
17. Manic Street Preachers - "Stay Beautiful"
18. Teenage Fanclub - "Star Sign"

Disc 3:

1. Suede - "Metal Mickey"
2. Swervedriver - "Duel" [radio edit]
3. Eugenius - "Breakfast"
4. Superstar - "Barfly"
5. New Order - "Regret"
6. James - "Laid"
7. Nick Heyward - "Kite"
8. The Boo Radleys - "Lazarus"
9. Saint Etienne - "You're in a Bad Way"
10. Stereolab - "Wow & Flutter"
11. Blur - "Tracy Jacks"
12. Oasis - "Live Forever"
13. Pulp - "Common People"
14. These Animal Men - "Speed King"
15. Mega City Four - "Wallflower"
16. Echobelly - "Insomniac"
17. Gene - "Sleep Well Tonight"
18. Menswe@r - "Sleeping In"
19. Supergrass - "Alright"
20. Cast - "Alright"
21. Elastica - "Stutter"

Disc 4:

1. Dodgy - "In a Room"
2. Ash - "Girl From Mars"
3. Sleeper - "Sale of the Century"
4. Marion - "Sleep"
5. Kula Shaker - "Tattva"
6. Ocean Colour Scene - "The Riverboat Song"
7. Babybird - "You're Gorgeous"
8. The Bluetones - "Slight Return"
9. Super Furry Animals - "Something 4 the Weekend"
10. The Divine Comedy - "Something for the Weekend"
11. Cornershop - "Brimful of Asha"
12. Silver Sun - "Service"
13. Spiritualized - "Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space"
14. Mansun - "Wide Open Space"
15. Hurricane #1 - "Step Into My World"
16. The Verve - "Lucky Man"
17. Rialto - "Untouchable"
18. Catatonia - "Mulder and Scully"
19. Placebo - "You Don't Care About Us"
20. Gay Dad - "Oh Jim"

musicFIRST Coalition Tries to NAB Royalties; John Legend Flip-Flops in the Shower

Tonight’s main event: a rumble to end all rumbling, a match to end all matching... (it’s not that exciting but I’m gonna keep going)...

In the red trunks, weighing in at an even two-hunnie pounds... the musicFIRST coalition, best known for its mean right hook aimed at getting legislation passed to force U.S. radio stations to pay performer royalties (on top of the current songwriter royalties) for AM and FM bands! Supported by friendly musicians like Christina Aguilera, Jimmy Buffett, Celine Dion, Don Henley, Wyclef Jean, John Legend, and Jennifer Lopez, as well as philanthropic organizations like the RIAA and Sound Exchange, it’s hard to see what’s not to love about musicFIRST!

In the other corner, the challenger sporting the blue trunks, weighing in at a lean 195, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is set to “aggressively fight RIAA's proposed performance tax on local radio stations”! With NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton saying things like “Congress has long recognized that radio airplay of music generates millions of dollars in revenue for record labels and artists” and “were it not for radio's free promotional airplay of music on stations all over America, most successful recording artists would still be playing in a garage,” it looks to be a heated and protracted affair.

Looks like the musicFIRST website isn’t pulling any punches, repeatedly referring to radio as “Corporate Radio” (with Capital Letters) and posting a mysteriously dead link citing a January 2007 study by the University of Texas at Dallas claiming “radio play does not have the positive impact on record sales normally attributed to it. Instead it appears to have an economically important negative impact, implying that overall radio listening is more of a substitute for the purchase of sound recordings that it is a complement.” Meanwhile, the NAB points out that purported musicFIRST supporter John Legend has voiced a radio PSA thanking radio stations for their role in promoting his music. So what now University of Texas at Dallas? And John Legend, what the fuck side are you on? Billy Bragg wants to know, the NAB wants to know, I want to know, Marvel Comics wants to know, and YACHT wants to know too.

Little Tony is taking side bets over by the slot machines, but the fact that musicFIRST addresses Corporate Radio and NAB reference local stations makes me wonder if these guys are really even in the same arena (I'm broadcasting from abroad). Anyway, I hope they do such a great job at getting legislation passed we get another royalty collection company so they can kill terrestrial radio just like they want to with internet radio.

So, which side are you on?

No, not you. I still want to know about John Legend. He’s standing behind you.

Man Man to Tour, Every Word In This Article To Be Written Twice, You To Deal With It

How how long long do do you you think think it it will will take take this this to to get get annoying annoying? It it happened happened already already? Fine Fine, I’m I’m going going to to go go meet meet Sergei Sergei Sogay Sogay and and Honus Honus Honus Honus for for cous cous cous cous.

Ah, fuck it.

Man Man is a Philadelphia six-piecer that TMT has covered extensively. What is missing from this coverage is the notion that, even if you aren’t thrilled with Man Man’s recorded music, you might, by attending a Man Man concert, become thrilled. Man Man have been known to dress in all-white clothing and war paint, shake with no remorse, and even play instruments while standing up. I myself got into Man Man by attending their concert on a whim. And if you’re anything like me, you should do the same, and you probably also like Speed Racer a lot.

Man Man have been compared over and over again to the same three artists. I won’t tell you who, but you can check out Pitchfork or Wikipedia if you care. It’s time to usher in a new era of Man Man criticism and analysis. From now on, Man Man will be thought of as a “playfully existential Viking-vaudeville punk-wop rock-and-soul collective,” at least according to TMT and Wikipedia, which I soon will have edited.

Watch Man Man playing live on video here and here, or in real life here:

* Elf Power

** Illinois and Dengue Fever

*** Vampire Weekend and special guests Deerhunter and O'Death

**** Maritime, Centro-Matic and special guest TBA

[Photo: Mike Persico]

Jana Hunter and The Castanets Gear Stolen In Tuscon, AZ

Apparently, when everybody's working for the weekend in Tuscon, it's as cold-blooded thieves, robbing independent musicians blind. After a gig at Solar Culture on Friday, Jana Hunter and The Castanets damaged the door of their tour van, hindering the ability to close the door securely (and putting the musicians out another $2,000 to the vehicle rental company). Sensing potential trouble, Ray of The Castanets (after losing "nose goes") slept in the van to keep an eye on the valuable equipment. Word on the streets now is that the dude sleeps like a log. During his slumber, someone opened the door with cat-like stealth and took everything they could carry.

According to a post on her MySpace page, Hunter is asking for donations. "A lot of kind folks have written to Ray and I asking with very kind words of sympathy and offers of help. Given that we don't expect to see our gear returned to us and therefore really could use the help, we've decided to set up a PayPal account and ask that whomoever is so inclined make a small donation to help alleviate the costs of replacing our equipment." You can read more here.

This is what was stolen.

Jana Hunter:
- Fender classical guitar (serial # 9505151116)
- Boss rc-20 loopstation (serial # 0860399ev16879)
- Boss reverb/delay pedal
- original Digitech whammy pedal
- original B K Butler tubedriver overdrive pedal
- Peavey 6 mixer (serial # k0344300)
- Shure beta 98/s (serial # 4421303325)
- custom flashlight circuit-bended thing
- briefcase with "Houston deserves to be a better place to live" sticker (full of Jana Hunter CDs, T-shirts, and stickers)

The Castanets:
- late '60s blue Fender music master guitar
- Line 6 delay pedal
- Boss tremolo
- Mutron volume/wah pedal
- Boss tuner pedal
- Digitech metal master
- Ebow
- slides/cables

Jana Hunter and The Castanets are hoping store owners and eBay users will keep an eye peeled for the stolen goods. Anyone with any information regarding the stolen goods should contact Jana Hunter, and everyone should check out her latest album, There's No Home (TMT Review). And just remember: when you steal gear, you're pretty much in al-Qaeda*.

Remaining dates:

* The United States Government has now raised the threat level to Severe, or Toasted Almond Brown on the color chart, for all touring bands originating in acid folk.

RIAA: Spies in My Window, Hoes In My Room

The RIAA, fresh off its last lawsuit against the Lost Boys of Sudan, is finally tossing in the do-rag for Atlantic v. Andersen, the case against a disabled single mother from Oregon who lives with her nine-year-old daughter. Originally sued in 2005, Tanya Andersen was accused of downloading and sharing terminally phat beats through Kazaa, including Ludacris' anthem for all single mothers, "Hoes in My Room." Though Andersen denied the claim and further investigation dredged up no evidence, the RIAA charged forward for the next few years.

In October 2005, Andersen filed a countersuit, accusing the RIAA of fraud, racketeering, deception, and generally lambasting every other aspect of their pants-dropping agenda. An expert in forensics was called in by the RIAA to run tests on her lies, but the expert failed to find "any evidence whatsoever" that Andersen had even used file-sharing software, let alone sold her nine-year-old through Soulseek for a couple Quaaludes.

The case had been slowly coagulating until earlier this month, when both parties decided to dismiss it. The nice part of this story is that they dismissed the case with prejudice, which not only means that they both dislike Filipinos, but also that Andersen can now attempt to recover attorney fees. The RIAA's usual card-up-the-sleeve for a messy lawsuit is the ol' dismissal sans prejudice, which drops everything neatly, leaving the non-pirate destitute loaded with bills from the made-up lawsuit. With a dash of prejudice in the mix, Andersen could potentially win the attorneys' fee award, which is way better than getting into your high school's National Honor Society. She also plans on maintaining her counterclaim, buying chocolate milk at the store for her daughter and catching up on the last couple seasons of The Sopranos.

Holla to Andrew S for the tip!