Microsoft reportedly discontinues the Zune; in music devices as in life, all your squirts were in vain

Microsoft reportedly discontinues the Zune; in music devices as in life, all your squirts were in vain

Poor Bill Gates. It’s looking like not even a confusing commercial starring Jerry Seinfeld is going to save North America’s fourth-favorite portable music device. According to an unnamed source speaking with Bloomberg, Microsoft will not be introducing any future versions of the Zune due to ‘tepid demand,’ or as I wish they had put it, ‘flaccid enthusiasm.’ Instead, the company will focus on integrating Zune software into compatible mobile phones, such as Windows Phone 7. That thing’s flying off the shelves, right?

Let us take a moment, allowing Mr. Gates the privacy to sob into his Smart Pillow as the lights dim, the wallpaper turns blue, and another Everly Brothers tune emanates from the fireplace, to look back on some moments in “TMT News History” that just wouldn’t have been possible without that rascally Zune:

— September, 2006: Gumshoe reports from deep within Microsoft HQ on a brand-new music/squirting device in the works, penning the longest news item ever published on this site (this may have had something to do with Microsoft flying Gumshoe to Seattle and putting him up in a hotel).

— May, 2007: Much time has passed. The Zune has been released, and the gloves are off. Joseph Coscarelli reports on Microsoft telling Apple they smell, and Apple telling Microsoft they’re probably smelling themselves.

— July, 2007: Joseph Coscarelli reports again on a HOT new Zune-sponsored concert series featuring performances from Common, David Banner, E-40, and Large Professor. These concerts serve as the main inspiration for Gucci Mane’s left eardrum tattoo of the Zune logo.

— April, 2008: Nobodaddy reports on Microsoft’s decision to release a limited-edition Zune sporting the Unknown Pleasures album artwork. Everyone starts to feel bad for Microsoft, but no one buys a Zune.

— September, 2008: Two years have passed since Microsoft bought Gumshoe a hotel room. Mango Starr reports on McDonald’s offering free wi-fi to Zune users. Two weeks later, Mango is arrested in a St. Louis McDonald’s for public nudity, tarnishing TMT’s reputation.

— May, 2009: Nobodaddy reports again on Microsoft’s decision to release a commercial starring a “Certified Financial Planner” who cycles through bar graphs and shouts at viewers that they’re somehow spending $30,000 on an iPod. Literally no one even reads Nobodaddy’s story.

— March, 2011: Hey guys. We’re back in the present. RIP Zune.

• Zune:

[Photo: ZDNet]

Death Cab for Cutie announce “intimate venue” tour; Ben Gibbard and the word “intimate” really do not go together

In order to promote their new album Codes and Keys, due out May 31 via Atlantic, Death Cab for Cutie have announced tourdates for something they’re calling the “Underplay Tour,” which will find the band playing at intimate venues all over the US. I don’t know if it’s his out of control sideburns, shaggy dog-esque hair cut, or general ridiculousness, but Ben Gibbard is really the last person that I’d want to see in an “intimate” setting. I don’t know how you do it, Zooey. Let’s just hope he doesn’t insist on wearing the sailor hat around the house.

Death Cabbin’ on the road:

05.18.11 - Toronto, ON - Phoenix Concert Theatre &
05.20.11 - Chicago, IL - Metro &
05.21.11 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue &
05.24.11 - Edmonton, AB - Shaw Conference Centre %
05.25.11 - Calgary, AB - Stampede Corral %
05.27.11 - Bend, OR - Les Schwab Amphitheatre %
05.28.11 - George, WA - Sasquatch! Music Festival &
06.01.11 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom &
06.03.11 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club &
06.04.11 - Philadelphia, PA - Trocadero &
06.05.11 - Boston, MA - The Paradise &
06.07.11 - Los Angeles, CA - El Rey Theatre &
06.09.11 - San Francisco, CA - Fillmore &

& The Lonely Forest
% Bright Eyes

Codes and Keys tracklisting:

01. Home Is a Fire
02. Codes and Keys
03. Some Boys
04. Doors Unlocked and Open
05. You Are a Tourist
06. Unobstructed Views
07. Monday Morning
08. Portable Television
09. Underneath the Sycamore
10. St. Peter’s Cathedral
11. Stay Young, Go Dancing

• Death Cab for Cutie:
• Atlantic:

[Photo: Katelyn Eichwald]

Want a new record from Sleepingdog? Well, if you ever do, they have one coming out!

Ignoring a common idiom, Chantal Acda and Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie will not let Sleepingdog lie and instead have announced that, after three years, they will return to their Sleepingdog project and will both release a new album and head out on a tour of Europe.

The album, titled With Our Heads in the Clouds and Our Hearts in the Fields, will see release through Gizeh Records on April 25. The album — the third for the group — is “press-released” as being “the sound of glacial moving, dark cough syrup pop music… some beautifully crafted melancholic orchestration that reminds us all that we exist in a world of strangers, drifting only two feet apart.” Or closer, if you’re Kid Midnight. The new album will be available on CD, digital download, and LP (with the first 500 records appearing on limited clear vinyl).

Sleepingdog have also been picked as Low’s opening band on select dates of the band’s tour of Western Europe, after which they’ll surely disappear to avoid public scrutiny for another handful of years before releasing any new music.

With Our Heads in the Clouds and Our Hearts in the Fields tracklist:

01. Untitled Ballad of You and Me
02. It Leaves Us Silent
03. Polish Love Song
04. Kitten Plays the Harmony Rocket
05. He Loved to See the World Through His Camera
06. From where It Was
07. Horse Lullaby
08. Scary Movie


05.16.11 - Sheffield, UK - Queens Social Club
05.17.11 - Glasgow, UK - Classic Grand
05.18.11 - Gateshead, UK - The Sage
05.19.11 - Manchester, UK - Club Academy
05.20.11 - Bristol, UK- Trinity
05.21.11 - Brussels, Belgium - Nuits de Botanique
05.23.11 - Nijmegen, Netherlands - Doornroosje
05.24.11 - Eindhoven, Netherlands - Catharina Church

• Sleepingdog:
• Gizeh:

The Sea and Cake, adorable as ever, announce cute lil’ mini-album The Moonlight Butterfly

Is there no Chicago indie rock institution more adorable than The Sea and Cake? No, there is none. Nothing’s more cuddly and wonderful than The Sea and Cake’s sweet, smooth melodies. That buttery Sam Prekop voice could melt even the coldest robot’s heart (because robots have hearts and they are cold). Sadly, though, their hearts haven’t been thawed since 2008, when The Sea and Cake put out Car Alarm (TMT Review). But fear not! The Sea and Cake are ending their drought with The Moonlight Butterfly, their ninth album, out on May 10.

That said, if The Sea and Cake are ending their drought, they’re ending it with more of a sprinkle than a flood — turns out The Moonlight Butterfly is technically an adorable little mini-album, boasting six songs in roughly 33 minutes. D’aww! Evidently, the group is using this release as a chance to break free from the typical Sea and Cake game plan, finding them “exploring new textures, extended structures, and different instrumentation.” Somehow, I doubt it’ll be the same degree of left-turn as Prekop’s Old Punch Card (TMT Review) solo record from last year, but, still, good to see The Sea and Cake messing with their own formula. What a lovable bunch.

While the band have been laying low the last few years, the release of Butterfly seemingly marks the beginning of a high-productivity period for The Sea and Cake. At the moment, the group is working on another new album, which they hope to have out late this year or early the next. And they shall remain adorable all the time.

The Moonlight Butterfly tracklist:

01. Covers
02. Lyric
03. The Moonlight Butterfly
04. Up on the North Shore
05. Inn Keeping
06. Monday

• The Sea and Cake:
• Thrill Jockey:

John Zorn hosts benefit concerts for earthquake relief, “always felt a strong personal connection to Japan”

Disasters tend to bring out the best in people, and — in terms of musicians — collaborations, compilations, and shows both interesting and inspiring (while sometimes maybe not the most cohesive works). John Zorn, for one, has stepped up to offer support to Japan by organizing an outstanding concert to benefit relief efforts in the wake of the earthquake earlier this month. On Sunday, March 27, experimental greats will gather to perform at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, from Yoko Ono and Sonic Youth to Cibo Matto and John Zorn’s own Aleph Trio. All of the proceeds go to Japan Society’s Earthquake Relief Fund — and tickets are already sold out!

Don’t worry though, the Japan Society recently announced additional concerts for Japan on April 8 and 9, also organized by Zorn. The former includes performances from Thurston Moore and Norah Jones, and the latter — lasting a whopping 12 hours — features Philip Glass, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, and Ryuichi Sakamoto! Zorn is behind a total of five anticipated concerts in NYC, all benefiting Japan 100%.

Go here for information on the concert at Miller Theatre, or here for the April dates now finalized. Finally, to really warm your heart, check out this interview with Zorn about the events over at The Awl.

Too bad you never moved to Brooklyn, huh?

Official lineup (Miller Theatre, March 27):

Sonic Youth
Yoko Ono
Mike Patton
Sean Lennon
Cibo Matto
Marc Ribot
Uri Caine
Aleph Trio
John Zorn, host

• John Zorn:
• Japan Society:

RIP: Loleatta Holloway, soul and disco singer

From Spinner:

Soul and disco singer Loleatta Holloway has died at the age of 64.

The singer passed away on Monday evening, March 21, after a brief illness, her manager Ron Richardson announced (via Spinning Soul).

Holloway’s biggest hit ‘Love Sensation’ came in 1980 and proved a major inspiration to a variety of dance acts that followed. Her vocal from the track was most notably sampled on Black Box’s 1989 UK No. 1 ‘Ride on Time’, although at the time the Italian house trio employed a French model to mime along to Holloway’s powerful vocal.


• Loleatta Holloway: