“New Tour Dates” Starring The Walkmen

This year, The Walkmen saw Bruce Springsteen's Seeger Sessions and raised him a Pussy Cats, a complete cover album originally recorded by John Lennon (during his "No Yoko" phase) and Harry Nilsson in 1974. I found out how bad I am at Texas Hold'Em last week, but I can still be trusted on this call. Some people say they should've come up with some higher quality o.g. material for their latest album, A Hundred Miles Off, but I say I've never heard a better album to drink in your favorite old man bar to than Pussy Cats. I am indeed a lady and not an old man, but like I said, trust me on this one.

You can have your own lost weekend at one of these joints:

The Books Continue Code of Silence on What Could be a Triple-Disc Multimedia DVD Project for All We Know; Tour

It's been nearly 16 years since the release of The Books' debut full-length, Ten. Now on its way to selling 10 million records in the U.S. alone, Ten has become one of the true defining characteristics of Generation X, a landmark album that has managed to transcend all criticism, an album that inadvertently mapped the existential terrain of the alienated youth of the early '90s. With singles like "Evenflow" and "Jeremy," it'd be ridiculous not to at least consider Ten as a contender for the greatest album of all-time.

It's now 2007, and we are still awaiting the follow-up to Ten. Some of us are growing impatient, some of us have even lost all hope -- but I'm not one of them. I still believe in The Books, and I know they'll make a return once they're ready. Hell, if their MTV Unplugged performance taught me anything, it's that a strong, resonating statement can be made with something as mundane as a marker. In this sense, the block of silence is a truly beautiful statement. But I think I speak for us all when I say that I hope the silence doesn't last forever...

Alright, time for a morning jerk!

Photo: Greg Whitmore

Put on Your Happy Hats: Arab Strap to Release Swan Song Compilation Alongside Releases by L Pierre and Malcolm Middleton

With only two options currently available for consumers interested in satellite radio, the possibility of a merger between XM and Sirius is leaving many hardworking radio lovers quivering in their unlaced booties. Although FCC Chairman Kevin Martin (my BOY!) ensured reporters at a recent press conference that current FCC regulations would prohibit said merging, loopholes may exist. The Wall Street Journal has mentioned that XM and Sirius could try to convince the FCC that they're not only competing against each other, but also against normal radio stations, internet radio, and podcasts. An alternate method of coercion could be sending an unrated version of Beerfest to Martin's home address.

The prospect of a satellite radio duopoly turning into a monopoly has sent a group of law students from George Washington University into an epileptic fit. After regaining consciousness, these students formed the Consumer Coalition for Competition in Satellite Radio, or C3SR. I'm torn between steering this acronym toward a joke about Julius Caesar or Star Wars, so instead I'll merely mention that the name is just one 'C' away from being a seriously explosive coalition. Phew.

The initial goal of C3SR is to increase awareness of the pitfalls of the potential merger. Chris Reale, one of its founding members, said, "When I subscribed to XM back in 2005, I had a choice. Now it looks like some of my favorite channels may disappear and/or the subscriptions fees will go up if this merger happens." The secondary goal of C3SR is to provide every American with a free motorized leather chair, though Reale admits that this will have to be dealt with in due time.

There are always killjoys at every Christmas party ruining the fun for merrymakers by moaning on and on about how we should remember that this time of year is a joyous time for many, but is a depressing bundle of nerves and gloom for others. Like I really need to hear that Christmas is the worst time of the year to buy pets for loved ones and that suicide rates skyrocket in December when I'm trying to make nice with the new office co-worker who has yet to figure out what a creep I am! Take that shit away from me, Tim Burton! As for the pet buying, it's true -- so think about it before you buy your little critters (just doing my part for the neglected animal world...). But in regard to the suicide rates, I have my suspicions, despite many empirical statements to the contrary. My evidence simply says otherwise. The winter chill of January/February is a bitch on the fragile psyche, and these three facts alone should make it clear that this time of year bears witness to much more mental anguish than sunny December:

- an increase in people getting left-breast tattoos of Anne Rice's misty profile floating over a somber piece of Dante's poetry

- all-time high "serious" levels among Nazi Low Riders (many are finding it difficult to even muster up the energy to spray jizz on the face of a passed-out member!)

- not one, not two, but three new album releases related to a legendary tormented Scottish duo

Of course, all Goth vaulties and nouveau Nazi fucks are complete poseurs in the downcast game when compared to über-misers Malcolm Middleton and Aidan Moffat, a.k.a. the band formerly known as Arab Strap. Or so they would have you believe. As we posted some months ago, the beloved Glaswegians have split, but that does not mean the show is over. Despite being associated with the dark stuff of life, both Moffat and Middleton have so far managed to surprise us with the upbeat feel of their solo projects while keeping their lyrics personal and conflict-ridden. So turn those frowns into straighter lines or even, gasp, smirks, and put on your happy hats, because here we go!

Malcolm Middleton releases his third album,A Brighter Beat, on February 26 on Full Time Hobby. The full-length is the follow-up to his outstanding 2005 album, Into the Woods, and will be preceded by single "A Brighter Beat" (b/w "Point of Light") January 22 on limited-edition 7-inch vinyl concreteness and downloadable digital abstractness. So much for me going out on a limb and declaring 2007 "the return of the cassingle." Sadly, there is no North American release on the horizon, which is a shame because these songs, by the look of their titles alone, are screaming for a wider audience:

1. We're All Going to Die
2. Fight Like the Night
3. A Brighter Beat
4. Death Love Depression Love Death
5. Fuck It, I Love You
6. Stay Close Sit Tight
7. Four Cigarettes
8. Somebody Loves You
9. Up Late at Night Again
10. Superhero Songwriters

Middleton will be touring in support of A Brighter Beat, with dates opening for Sophia in Germany and Badly Drawn Boy in the U.K. before hitting the road for a brief English and Scottish headliner.

Middleton comes alive!

You Can’t Pay the Rent With an MV&EE North American Tour

Matt Valentine and Erika Elder (along with mystical miscreants The Bummer Road) will soon find themselves embarking on a nationwide tour in support of their latest LP, entitled Green Blues, which sees official release Tuesday on Ecstatic Peace. As for the tour... There will be music during this tour, yes, but as any true fan knows, you don't go to an MV&EE show just for the jams. As is his custom, Valentine will invite audience members to spend the rest of the evening inside his great beard upon conclusion of the formal show. Ecstatic Peace is keeping hush-hush on the details, but we can surmise from past visits to the beard that there will be nothing less than:

- Free Pizza
- A carousel
- An Olympic-sized swimming pool
- An Internet cafe
- Street performers
- A 24-Screen movie megaplex
- A manmade rock-climbing Wall
- A "theme" wedding chapel
- A Three-story arcade
- A Sushi bar
- Lazer tag
- A Zoo

Some of my fondest memories have been spent inside that magical mass of hair, and I hope you'll stick around after the shows to experience it for yourself.

Little known fact: the MV&EE album title Mother of Thousands is actually a reference to Matt's beard, it being a microcosm of lush plant and animal life:

President Bush Allows The Octopus Project to Tour This February in Order to Compensate Sending 20,000 Additional Troops to Iraq

Yes, I have caught on to what is going on around me. Gas prices have been riding a sexy escalator beneath the terrible two-dollars-a-gallon and a bag of chips, and American Idol is back on the pooper -- so why wouldn't Americans be happy?

This just doesn't add up for me. Sorry Charlie! You can't expect me to just act like all is well in freaking la la land, because the shit has hit the fan harder than James Brown hit the crack pipe. Oh, so The Octopus Project are going on a small tour in February? Well, that doesn't make everything better, but it is a start!

Did you notice what I just did? It's called a transition, and it was off the ch... ch... ch... chains. I'll admit that I'm in cahoots with The Octopus Project. Their collaboration with Pittsburgh's Black Moth Super Rainbow, appropriately titled The House Of Apples & Eyeballs, was mos def one of the top unacknowledged albums of 2006. You can be the judge of that by streaming the album yourself. The Octupuses or Octupi (both are acceptable and incredibly stupid) will gyrate into a hip Seattle studio to record with producer Ryan Hadlock (The Gossip, The Black Heart Procession, Stephen Malkmus, Blonde Redhead) as soon as you're done gawking at them.

Dance your cares away with these tourdates: