Pet Shop Boys Release Album, Write Ballet, Tour, Lose True Love to the Undead

Pet Shop Boys -- my favorite drolly cynical synthpop duo and America's fourth (they're behind Madonna, Donna Summer, and Janet Jackson on the Billboard dance charts all time list) -- are back with a new studio album that came out this week on Astralwerks. Entitled Yes, it features production by Xenomania (who has worked with Saint Etienne, Girls Aloud, Sugababes, Cher, and Kylie Minogue), orchestral arrangements by Owen Pallett (Last Shadow Puppets, Final Fantasy), and guitar work from Johnny Marr of The Smiths fame. Previously, the London duo of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have worked with heavy hitters like Dusty Springfield, David Bowie, Liza Minnelli, Madonna, Robbie Williams, Electronic, and The Killers, and this year they've remixed a track for Lady GaGa, co-written Girls Aloud's popular U.K. single "The Loving Kind," and produced a #1 U.K. dance hit for Kompakt artist Sam Taylor-Wood. Recently, they were given an Outstanding Contribution to Music award at the Brit Awards and, ya know, they're also working on a ballet. Here's to hoping it's a more fleshed-out version of the video for "Heart," in which Sir Ian McKellen portrays a vampire who steals Tennant's wife.

The ever ironic witticists describe the process -- or what they think might've been the process -- for selecting their 10th album's title: "We can't seem to remember how we came up with the title Yes," says Tennant. "Our official story is that we may have taken it from the famous Yoko Ono exhibition in 1967 where you had to climb up a step ladder -- as John Lennon famously did -- pick up a magnifying glass, look at a tiny word written on the ceiling, and the word was 'yes.' I think it partly came from that."

"We thought No was a bit negative," Lowe adds.

Tracklisting:

1. Love, etc.
2. All Over the World
3. Beautiful People
4. Did You See Me Coming?
5. Vulnerable
6. More Than a Dream
7. Building a Wall
8. King of Rome
9. Pandemonium
10. The Way It Used to Be
11. Legacy

Tourdates:
06.10.09 - St. Petersburg, Russia - Ice Palace
06.11.09 - Moscow, Russia - Luzhniki Palace of Sports
06.13.09 - Luxembourg, Luxembourg - Rockhal
06.14.09 - Stuttgart, Germany - Theaterhaus
06.15.09 - Zurich, Switzerland - Maag Event Hall
06.18.09 - Manchester, United Kingdom - Apollo Manchester
06.19.09 - London, United Kingdom - The O2 - London
06.22.09 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - Heineken Music Hall
06.24.09 - Cologne, Germany - Palladium
06.25.09 - Berlin, Germany - Tempodrom GmbH
06.26.09 - Leipzig, Germany - Parkbuhne
06.28.09 - Stockholm, Sweden - Cirkus
07.02.09 - Helsinki, Finland - Ice Hall
07.04.09 - Roskilde, Denmark - Festival Grounds (Roskilde Festival)
07.07.09 - Barcelona, Spain - Pueblo Espanol
07.08.09 - Madrid, Spain - Palacio Vistalegre
07.11.09 - Naas, Ireland - Punchestown Racecourse (Oxegen)
07.12.09 - Kinross, United Kingdom - Balado (T In The Park)
07.13.09 - Liverpool, United Kingdom - Liverpool Echo Arena (Liverpool Summer Pops)
07.17.09 - Suffolk, United Kingdom - Henham Park (Latitude Festival)
07.18.09 - Dour, BelgiumFestival Grounds (Dour Festival)

SPOONX3 Fest: Carrying Austin in the Afternoon, Go and See Spoon, They’ll Be There Soon

April 24, 2009

From: Mike McHugh

To: Austin, TX

Re: Just catchin’ up + the staggering amount of good bands that play in your city.

Hey, Austin. How’re things? Good? Shit, that’s great, dude. I’m so glad to hear things are kicking so much ass for you… So hey, how’ve you been since SXSW? Oh, shit’s been fantastic? Damn man, that’s great, I’m happy that you’re so happy, and– wait, shit is really going that well? Things have been so kickass in fact that Spoon is coming back to their native Austin in July to play three shows at Stubbs in the inaugural SPOONX3 festival?! That’s insane, son! I mean, the highlight of my live-show life this year was when I broke my glasses at a Lee Ving show last month but… shit, this… this… um, it’s real cool, man! Spoon is a great band. Good for you! You’re so special, dude! I’m sure things will keep ruling Charlemagne style, and I’ll just catch you later and — wait, what? Atlas Sound is playing, too? AND Low? AANNDD Trail of Dead? On separate nights? In the same city? Well dog-shitting Christ in an Elvis diaper, Austin, that action is too goddamn much to keep this player from being polite about it. I have to fucking speak out on the behalf of the rest of Middle America. Excuse me.
07.09.09 – Austin, TX – Stubb’s (Trail of Dead)
07.10.09 – Austin, TX – Stubb’s (Low)
07.11.09 – Austin, TX – Stubb’s (Atlas Sound)

----

April 24, 2009

From: Mike McHugh

To: Middle America (Mainly Eastern Missouri)

CC: Good Bands

Re: BOOK GOOD BANDS, YOU FUCKS

Dear Middle America/Good Bands,

Hello. We are the Midwest, besides Detroit, of course. And Chicago. And Kansas City. Okay, basically we are just St. Louis, MO, and we want you to play here. And by “we,” I mean only me, but still, I am certain reasonable humans within the St. Louis City/Country metro area and myself would love it if you (the few, the proud, the good bands of America) would come to our fair city. Or even Columbia, MO, or O’Fallon, or Wright City, or anywhere within a two-hour radius so I could actually see you! I love Austin, but I don’t want to waste 200 clams on a steel bird or 20 hours + silly-ass gasoline every time I want to see a good show, goddammit! I got things to do, bills to pay, and people to smile at and want things from! So just point your rusty-ass doody van towards the Arch and go go go until you reach my stinky town. We desperately need quality entertainment. Do you know how many Jimmy Buffett cover bands I’ve seen in the last five years? At least half a dozen, and we ain’t even 50 miles away from any decent beaches. And Sammy Hagar-itude has become so prevalent in Gateway culture that he even has his own restaurant in one of the city’s classier casinos! So save us, dammit! Please, good bands like Spoon, come back to our city, too. We really need your patronage. PLEASE.

Bob Barker Says Spay or Neuter Your Pet or Risk Having New Tour and LP from Deer Tick on Your Hands

One of the many unnoticed, unread, unloved 2009 SXSW reports that I posted a month ago (TMT Review) had a small write-up on a show by one John Joseph McCauley III, solo showboat and leader of the Deer Tick group. Sitting side-stage on a stool in front of a chain-link fence, McCauley delivered an impressive, impassioned (but too short) set honest as the day is long (and that day was loooooong). Deer Tick will be playing in its quartet guise starting June 8 in Philadelphia, with McCauley joined by Christopher Dale Ryan, Dennis Michael Ryan, and Andrew Grant Tobiassen.

The shows are important for a couple of reasons: most of them are supporting lovely songbird Jenny Lewis and, more importantly, the dates will undoubtedly highlight many of the tracks found on the forthcoming Deer Tick album Born on Flag Day, which is as good a day to be born as any. The second full-length Deer Tick record will be released officially June 23 through Partisan Records and will certainly be one of the most talked about records of 2009.

Prior to the June tour, Deer Tick will play in Boston April 23 and in Providence April 24 with the hot Elvis Perkins. McCauley will also perform solo-ly in Baltimore on May 8 but without the chain fence and this drunken ogling TMT writer nearby.

Born on Flag Day tracklisting:

1. Easy
2. Little White Lies
3. Smith Hill
4. Song About a Man
5. Houston, TX
6. Straight Into a Storm
7. Friday XIII
8. The Ghost
9. Hell on Earth
10. Stung

Catch them live in the headlights:
04.23.09 - Boston, MA - Harpers Ferry
04.24.09 - Providence, RI - Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel #
05.08.09 - Baltimore, MD - Golden West *
06.08.09 - Philadelphia, PA - Trocadero $
06.09.09 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg $
06.10.09 - Boston, MA - House of Blues $
06.11.09 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club $
06.12.09 - Carrboro, NC - Cat’s Cradle $
06.14.09 - St. Louis, MO - The Pageant $
06.15.09 - Lawrence, KS - Granada $
06.17.09 - Omaha, NE - Slowdown $

* Caleb Stine (John McCauley solo show)

# Elvis Perkins in Dearland

$ Jenny Lewis

Dude from Unicorns and Dude from Arcade Fire form Clues, Give Everyone a Hankering to Accuse Ms. Scarlet with a Wrench in the Library

The word's been around since last fall, but now it's official in a press release kind of way: Ex-Unicorn Alden Penner, ex-Arcade Fire guy Brendan Reed, and some Montreal pals have formed a band and will release a self-titled debut album as Clues, due May 19 on Canadian label Constellation Records. Reed also recently started VillaVillaNola, a digital music store that has some scant info on the collaboration.

Here are some audio files to “tide you over” until then.

Clues tracklisting:

1. Haarp
2. Remember Severed Head
3. Approach the Throne
4. In the Dream
5. You Have My Eyes Now
6. Perfect Fit
7. Elope
8. Cave Mouth
9. Crows
10. Ledmonton
11. Let's Get Strong

The tour:
05.16.09 - Montreal, QC - Ukranian Federation Hall *
05.21.09 - Toronto, ON - Sneaky Dee's
05.22.09 - Chicago, IL - Schubas
05.23.09 - Minneapolis, MN - Triple Rock Social Club
05.25.09 - Winnipeg, MB - Pyramid Cabaret
05.26.09 - Saskatoon, SK - Amigos
05.27.09 - Calgary, AB - Marquee
05.28.09 - Edmonton AB - Brixx
05.30.09 - Vancouver, BC - Biltmore Cabaret
05.31.09 - Victoria, BC - Lucky Bar
06.01.09 - Seattle, WA - Neumos
06.02.09 - Portland, OR - Backspace
06.04.09 - San Francisco, CA - Rickshaw Shop
06.05.09 - Los Angeles, CA - Echo
06.06.09 - Costa Mesa, CA - Detroit
06.09.09 - Dallas, TX - The Loft
06.10.09 - Austin, TX - The Independent
06.11.09 - New Orleans, LA - One-Eyed Jacks
06.12.09 - Atlanta, GA - Drunken Unicorn
06.15.09 - Washington, DC - Rock N Roll Hotel
06.16.09 - Philadelphia, PA - The Barbary
06.17.09 - New York, NY - Santos Playhouse
06.18.09 - Montreal, QC - La Sala Rossa #

* Elfin Saddle

# The Dead Science

Steve Reich Wins Pulitzer Prize for Music, Nobodaddy Writes Pulitzer-worthy News Article in Affirmating Solidarityness

There’s never been any question: New York-based composer and minimalist pioneer Steve Reich is cooler than all of us. Always has been, always will be. I mean, think about it: who among us could get away with wearing that beat-up baseball cap around throughout the entirety of our professional lives and have it be attributed not to our unwillingness to cooperate with workplace standards, but rather to some eccentric outward symbol of our staggering/precocious/whimsical (at times) inward genius? Yeah, exactly. No one. (Face it, not even Ashton Kutcher is doing a good job wearing hats for a living anymore!)

But now, just in case there was any lingering doubt whatsoever, he’s gone and won the Pulitzer Prize for music this week, for his 2008 piece Double Sextet. A good deal (though not necessarily entirely) less sexual than it sounds, the work calls for two identical sextets of instruments -- each made up of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, vibraphone, and piano -- and can be performed in one of two ways: with 12 musicians, or, as in the case of its world premiere last May with the Eighth Blackbird ensemble, with six musicians playing against a recording of themselves. Mixing live music with recordings (or, heck, “sampling” in general) is nothing new to Reich though, who has spent his life plumbing the depths of the beauty that can be created with tape machines, loops, phasing, texture, and polyrhythms (sound familiar, Animal Collective fans?)

"It's the idea of writing basically unison canons," a much-smarter-than-you-and-me Reich says of Double Sextet. "The same timbre playing against itself, so that when they intertwine, you don't hear the individual voice; you hear the composite. Now, if you have several composites going on at the same time, you really get to an interesting situation, and that's what's going on in Double Sextet... I'm very glad that this particular piece got it, because I do think it's one of the better pieces I've done in the past few years." Notice the “in the past few years” part. Yeah, ol' boy could have won a dozen or so Pulitzers for a myriad of earlier badass and highly influential works, such as Music for 18 Musicians, Electric Counterpoint, Different Trains, Violin Phase, Clapping Music, and of course the loop-phase-masterworks It’s Gonna Rain and Come Out. Not familiar with these pieces yet? Well you’d best check them out before you go around issuing any declarations about how “groundbreaking” Merriweather Post Pavillion is.

Regina Spektor’s New Album Set for Summer Release; Your Mom Is So Fucking Stoked Right Now

There was a brief period of time before she climbed all over the Billboard charts and let Grey’s Anatomy use her songs when Regina Spektor was actually an undiscovered artist. But those days are long gone now and about to be even further away, as Spektor is set to release her new album, Far, June 23 on Sire Records. Far is the follow-up to Spektor’s hugely successful major-label debut, Begin to Hope, which is currently wedged between Feist and Tracy Chapman in your mom’s CD collection. FAR was produced by Jeff Lynne (ELO, The Traveling Wilburys), Mike Elizondo (Dr. Dre, Eminem), David Kahne (Paul McCartney, The Strokes), and Garret “Jacknife” Lee (Weezer, REM).*

Spektor will also tour the world beginning in June. Stay tuned for dates.

* Yes, Mom, Dr. Dre is the gentleman responsible for songs such as this and this. Um, holla?

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