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!

Who Needs Opie & Anthony When You Can Have Belle & Sebastian? FCC Mulls “Indie Play” Proposal

The FCC... you know, that body that's supposed to regulate radio & television? Well, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the FCC is considering a proposal that would require airtime on the radio for independently produced music. This rumored requirement would be part of a settlement in the payola scandal that has tarnished the radio industry's reputation of late.

"There are two components," a source told the Reporter. "There's an education component for people in the industry, where it is spelled out that you can do this and not do that, and there is a code of conduct. Then there is the airtime component."

"WTF?! NOT SO FAST," says Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. He urges the FCC to not allow an industry which has already been shown to have violated payola rules to police themselves.

FMQB.com outlined an open letter that the Senator wrote to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. It contained the following recommendations:

- ensure future compliance with the law and reassure consumers they will have access to small, independent and local labels and artists via the public airwaves
- require radio stations to allow meaningful access to the airwaves for independent labels and local artists
- a weekly airtime commitment for indie labels and artists
- regulations that would prevent radio companies from meeting their obligation only in certain cites, formats, or during low-listener time-slots
- full disclosure of any and all payola-related reports and documents, possibly as part of a company's quarterly or annual fiscal reports
- allow Senator Feingold to host his own show, where women will ride the sybian and he can play hour blocks of Cowboy Junkies

The Pirate Bay says “Arrrrrr Mateys… We Be Buying Islands To Keep Those Scurvy Knaves Away!”

Yes, it's true. Those rascally pirates of Swedish website [?The Pirate Bay] are looking to protect their precious illegal activities by purchasing their very own island. Again, this is a true story, not some crazy TMT commentary on boners (though I'm sure there could be a lot said about boners in such a piece).

The site, which had previously relocated to the Netherlands to keep their pirate boat afloat, is currently attempting to raise money to purchase a 'micronation' called The Principality of Sealand. More than simply a catchy name, this island would apparently shelter them, as it is outside of the jurisdiction of any other country. Anyone who has donated to the landlubber-fighting cause would be granted citizenship to this mighty nation (ahem, man-made structure). Unfortunately for the mighty pirates and their noble cause, the micronation is not recognized by many true-blue nations as being a legitimate sovereign entity. That said, good luck, Pirate Bay! May this not take the wind from your mighty sails!

Ratatat Sets It And Forgets It, Tours

Get your credit cards ready, because the two-man banana-rama Ratatat are launching their unparalleled, perpendicular whirlwind tour starting January 27, sweeping Europe by storm with what promises to be the experience of a lifetime at an affordable price. And, if you act now, we'll throw in a show in London, a show in Germany, and a show in Sweden.

What is that? Will the Ratatat tour bend or even break?

Fear not, the Ratatat tour sports exciting new technology that was originally designed for NASA. The sound was engineered in a clean room by actual German scientists, bringing you the finest, crispest tones this side of the Danube. The outer shell was subjected to a barrage of stress tests and impact analyses in a recent major university double-blind study, so you can trust Ratatat. And if that doesn't convince you, just watch. I can drop it on the floor and step on it. Folks, that German engineering really holds, and that's saying something!

Surely you must be thinking that an amazing deal such as this would cost upwards of $10,000. But Ratatat, swirling electric guitar whizzes and licensed chiropractors, has issued its personal guarantee that YOU can own a piece of this tour for the low, low price of: A plane ticket to Europe.

But that's not all! If you call within the next 10 minutes, Ratatat will give you the show in London, the show in Germany, the show in Sweden, AND a certificate of authenticity with YOUR name on it, AND we'll even give you a show in Turkey as our gift to you. All this can be yours in three easy installments of: A plane ticket to Europe. All you have to do is call now; Ratatat is standing by.

Sorry, no CODs:

Courtney Love Talks Cobain Movie, Still Never Killed Him

How many times have you heard Courtney Love's name mentioned when someone suddenly feels the need to blurt out, "SHE KILLED HIM!!!" Let's get one thing straight: While it appears she has seriously cashed in on Kurt Cobain's death, she didn't kill him. She may be slightly amoral and self-serving to a fault, but bitch didn't murder her husband. I know it's tempting, lo these 13 years later, to soothe your aching heart with a fabricated story about the poor, sad, pure-hearted hero and his homicidal, ball-breaking wife, but let's all get a life, shall we?

Besides, if hating Courtney Love for Kurt-related reasons is your thing, I've got a new tidbit for you to chew on. Apparently, Ms. Love is in talks with several studios about a film version of Charles Cross' Cobain biography, Heavier Than Heaven, to which she owns the rights. The movie hasn't been written and doesn't have a director attached to it yet, but C-Love assures us that it will be "A list and high end [sic]." I guess that means Jerry Bruckheimer's producing, Michael Bay is directing, and we'll see Brad Pitt as you-know-who?

Listen, I kind of wanted to make more jokes about this, but half of me is creeped out about poking fun at the dead (especially when said deceased played such an integral role in my pre-teen life) and the other half thinks that anything I could say would be a cheap shot. So are you happy, news? You've finally shut me up! But you haven't seen the last of me...

Danielson Has His Very Own Film! But Sufjan Stevens Steals His Thunder Anyway

In response to the Bush administration's covert wiretapping activities, lovable crackpot Ralph Nader has formed an organization that will secretly record phone conversations between randomly-selected Christians throughout the nation. The watchdog group, called Ears for Justice (EJ), performed its inaugural phone tap late last week. Unfortunately, since everyone who would ever work for Nader is a social pariah with no appreciation for the finer things in life (kidding guys), no one at EJ realized that the two parties on the line were none other than critical darling Sufjan Stevens and his mentor, Daniel Smith of Danielson Famile/Brother Danielson/just plain Danielson fame. We at TMT discovered this egregious oversight and now bring you the exclusive transcript of their conversation.

SMITH: Hey, Sufjan?

SUFJAN: Uh, who is this?

SMITH: It's me, Soof. You know, Daniel Smith? Your spiritual father and musical inspiration?

SUFJAN: Oh, wow, Daniel! It's been so long!

SMITH: You're telling me! I've been trying to contact you for weeks, but I had to go through about three different label executives and publicists to get your new number!

SUFJAN: Well, you know how that is, man. I'm sure you have an army of handlers and stuff, too.

(silence)

SUFJAN: So anyway, to what do I owe the pleasure of your call?

SMITH: I called to let you know that my documentary, Danielson: A Family Movie, is showing in a few theaters and, thanks to the good folks at IMAGE Entertainment, will be out on DVD on April 10!

SUFJAN: Hey, that's great, Daniel. But, uh, what movie is this again?

SMITH: Come on, Sufjan, you were in it for a few minutes toward the end! The documentary by JL Aronson about the family and me! It features appearances by Steve Albini, Daniel Johnston, and Rick Moody! It was, you know, before those state albums and sold-out tours. You actually didn't do too much in the movie, but you're all anyone can talk about in reviews. That and how weird my voice is.

SUFJAN: Oh, hmm, interesting.... Listen, I'm in the middle of recording a song about Wichita for my new Kansas album, so I'm gonna have to get off the phone now...

Don't let some stiff do Daniel Smith this way. See the film and experience Brother Danielson's nine-fruit tree costume for yourself, and then send that dude some hate mail.

Screenings:

  

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