Rentals Re-Return; Late Fees Accrue, Lost Fee Waived, Summer All The Time

In 1996, it was decreed by the space overlords that Weezer, who at the time just released the fab-tastic album Pinkerton, must henceforth smell of offal and chocolates, forgo irony, and their records have to suck. The easiest solution, it turned out, was to excise bassist Matt Sharp, forcing him to focus on his own band, The Rentals, who went on to great success -- though I do believe the space overlords let Weezer still sell some records, but just barely.

So, The Rentals made some albums. Long story short: afterward, they went for a ride with the space overlords that actually turned into a big ordeal, as it caused this whole global warming phenomenon. But that’s all water under the proverbial space bridge to the moon; I’m just glad they’re back, recording a new album and playing Saturdays in July at LA’s Spaceland, where it’s sunny all the time and only drugs addicts and the unemployed are ever sad.

New material, titled The Last Little Life EP, is scheduled for release August 14, with a new full-length promised late 2007 or early 2008. And thanks to their intergalactic efforts, we can all enjoy their return in some sun. The band also promises to turn all of our Chevy Corsicas into convertibles. Rising sea levels? It’s just more beach, baby.

Tracklisting for The Last Little Life EP:

* with Goldenboy

# with Copeland & Goldenboy

Birkenstock Luncheon: The Shortest Semi-Fictional Account of Ani DiFranco You’ll Ever Read; DiFranco to Release Canon This September

CHAPTER ONE: “RIGHTEOUS” PEOPLE

There are two types of people in this world:

(1) People that say “righteous” and do so without even a hint of bombast; and

(2) The ivory tower elite who (rightfully so) point scrutinizing fingers at that previously mentioned group while they bask in their lack of affect and dead phraseology.

While you were busy rolling your eyes at my empty attempts to engage you, reader, I went ahead and signed you up with Group 2.

CHAPTER TWO: THE LUNCHEON

So, suppose Group 1, you, me and the rest of Group 2 are at a luncheon type gathering. Origins of this luncheon are vague, beyond what is initially deduced: Group 2 obviously sent out invites to the RIGHTEOUS! Group 1, in order to achieve the roundabout gratification that comes from overhearing them (who all, not so coincidentally, wear Birkenstocks), drop the “RIGHTEOUS”-bomb amid “chill” conversations about the Phish farewell tour.

And in walks Ani DiFranco. Since as a member of Group 2 I'm not wearing Birkenstocks, I’m unsure whether she’s an extended guest of a Group 1-er (possible) or perhaps the musical act of said luncheon type gathering.

So, Ms. DiFranco, or, Queen, Mother, Founder of... Righteous Babe Records, has something to say at this luncheon. Something, er, righteous?

CHAPTER THREE: ANI’S ANNOUNCEMENT

While simultaneously protesting, fingerpicking, freeing women from shaving their armpits and signing artists to her label, she announces at this luncheon-type gathering that September 11 will mark the release of Canon, a 35-track retrospective (apparently) of re-recorded material, including a re-vamped “Napoleon,” “Shameless,” “Your Next Bold Move,” “Both Hands” and “Overlap.” Tracks from her most recent release, Reprieve (2006), will also be included.

CHAPTER FOUR: ALL YOU ACTUALLY NEEDED TO READ, PART I

The track listing for DiFranco’s two-disc Canon is:

Negative Press for The Mooney Suzuki Still Better Than No Press for The Mooney Suzuki; Tour, New Album, and Apologies All Around

The first and only time I saw The Mooney Suzuki was in 2003 for the Nokia/CMJ/MTV2-sponsored Advance Warning Tour. The Raveonettes were the headliner with White Light Motorcade, Longwave, and The Mooney Suzuki opening. I remember the evening vividly because my soon-to-be roommate Paul and I assisted in booking the event on our university campus.

But we did the event one better. We also volunteered to help staff the event. Generally, that would consist of ensuring the venue space didn't exceed capacity, but for reasons beyond Paul and I, we found ourselves as roadies for a day, doing cigarette runs and loading in gear for The Mooney Suzuki. The Raveonettes, Longwave, and White Light Motorcade weren't as demanding, and/or had others to do such work, and/or were capable, and/or content in doing the work themselves.

Paul and I obliged perhaps because we were foolish college sophomores or perhaps because we felt star-struck. Probably a bit of both.

I fancied myself as a burgeoning music journalist and viewed our exploitation/volunteerism as an opportunity. Shit, after loading the band's gear onto the third floor and fetching the bastards a pack of Camel Lights, the least they could do was agree to a brief interview — I had the questions already written; I stayed up late the night before researching what little press I could dig up.

Much to their credit, they did oblige to a brief interview, but they gave snide remarks for the few questions I could get in. Who was I, after all, to be asking THE MOONEY SUZUKI questions such as their favorite albums or their favorite movies? And perhaps to my detriment, I didn't take very good interview notes. The only thing I remember is Debbie Does Dallas being their favorite tour bus movie. They were huge assholes otherwise.

The show was free, but come to think of it, the barrage of Nokia, CMJ, and MTV2 advertisements was taxing on the brain. Nothing's free, I guess -- except the labor of Paul and I. Despite not selling any tickets, The Mooney Suzuki certainly had the attitude of The Rolling Stones. And their set sucked just as much.

Our attitudes were in the right place, though, and we watched their show from the back of the room, standing on chairs, pumping our fists sarcastically, sipping on our first beers in public as under-agers.

From the start -- as the third band to play that evening -- we were wishing we had more concert-going experience under our respective white and black belts. A few years more experience would have dictated we arrive only in time to see The Raveonettes. Nonetheless, we appreciated the advance warning: all of these bands were dismissible, nothing but a few cash cows beating the dead horse that was The Strokes' debut album.

Fast forward a few years, add a major-label deal with Columbia, tack on a crap album with a Santana rip-off cover, and you're pretty much up-to-date. And I'm left thinking, has it really been four years?

And I have every reason to believe that The Mooney Suzuki are still huge assholes. But is that all I can leverage against a few opportunistic, cool-at-the-moment, denim-clad, circle jerking, Coors-advertising cocksuckers? Am I only playing into their coy media ploy?

Probably. Their new album on Elixia titled Have Mercy is scheduled for a June 19 release. They're also going to tour behind that album. Apologies to The Photo Atlas and The Dark Romantics who will open. But I rescind my apology, for apparently ‘The’ bands still exist aplenty.

The Mooney Suzuki's name, by the way (as I've had plenty time to do my research this time), is an amalgamation of the two Can vocalists Malcolm Mooney and Damo Suzuki. The Mooney Suzuki sum to less than what fits into Damo's paper bag; is it a dose of vitamin-C?

Paul and I aren't really friends anymore:

* The Photo Atlas opening

# The Dark Romantics opening

Never Mind the Mukluks!* Built to Spill Are Built For Summer

We don't keep Grandad Mix Tape around the office just because we enjoy changing his diaper, cutting the kernels off his corn cob and mashing them into a salacious slosh (that's not supposed to sound as bawdy as it looks), and sponge bathing the old coot. Despite forgetting that the toilet contains a seat and that he should lift it when doing his bi-weekly monthly business, he sometimes wows us with vivid recollections from the days of yore. He was there 40 years ago today when Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play; he was there, not to deliver but to perform the bris on the mystery baby born at Woodstock, and he was there many moons ago when infectious noise-makers Built to Spill decided to kick-start their musical pursuit and subsequently put Boise, ID on the map as the next great music city (hey, legacies take a loooong time to build, okay?).

Alright, Built to Spill are not that old -- I have pustules that are much older -- but they have playing and perfecting their aggressive pop sound for so long it wouldn't surprise me to hear that they were the house band aboard The Mayflower. In fact, Doug Martsch and co. make sounds so moving and profound and that many of the world's top health, research, and intelligence agencies -- the Surgeon General's office, Mossad, the Miami Sound Machine, The Bathroom Reader Institute -- have deemed them a little too good for your health. Whatever.... Built to Spill fans are definitely made of tougher stock so they will be out in droves this summer when the band embarks on a North American tour starting June 30 in Minneapolis, playing classics from their latest hit album, You In Reverse and from their stellar back catalog.

In record-related Built to Spill news, not one, not two, but THREE reissues are on their way from Warner Bros. The beloved band's albums Perfect From Now On, Keep It Like a Secret, and the aforementioned You In Reverse will be re-released in 2,000 limited, regular-weight, double-vinyl doses June 19 with a couple of curios included. Keep It Like a Secret will add on a bonus B-side track "Forget Remember When," while Perfect From Now On tacks on the unreleased "Easy Way." You In Reverse will be available in a gatefold sleeve with artwork by the troika of Mike Scheer, Tamara Shores, and Karena Youtz (but, as far as we can tell, it doesn't contain any tasty bonus material).

Built to thrill... always!
06.30.07 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
07.01.07 - Milwaukee, WI - Summerfest, WLUM Stage
07.02.07 - Cleveland Heights, OH - Grog Shop
07.03.07 - Lancaster, PA - The Chameleon Club
07.05.07 - Boston, MA - Avalon Ballroom
07.06.07 - Philadelphia, PA - Electric Factory
07.07.07 - Brooklyn, NY - McCarren Park Pool
07.08.07 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
07.10.07 - Toronto, Ontario - Lee's Palace
07.12.07 - Montréal, Quebec - Le National
07.13.07 - Ottawa, Ontario - Ottawa Bluesfest, River Stage
07.14.07 - South Burlington, VT - Higher Ground
07.16.07 - Detroit, MI - St. Andrew's Hall
07.17.07 - Chicago, IL - Vic Theatre
07.18.07 - Omaha, NE - Slowdown
07.20.07 - Denver, CO - Ogden Theatre
07.21.07 - Salt Lake City, UT - The Depot

* P.S. Mukluks are cold-weather boots that are favored by our northern Inuit friends in Arctic climes. If you don't know what they look like, you can picture the fashionable slimmed-down Ugg version that the nicest people from Hollywood like Gwyneth Paltrow wear. Isn't Gwyneth the greatest?!?! Chimo!

DRM-Free iTunes Plus Launched; No Need to Cheer too Loudly

The wait is FINALLY over! Yes, yet another glorious day of innovation has come to pass in the scintillatingly exciting world of online music sales. Last week, Apple’s iTunes shop began offering higher quality files unencumbered by nasty DRM nonsense -- as we reported a little while back. Of course, the files are nearly a third more expensive than the regular, low-quality shit you can get from iTunes, and out of all your favorite caring, cuddly major labels, only EMI (at least for now)is making its catalog available in the new format. But still, great news, eh?

Not really. Apparently, the whole business of Joe Schmoe from Idaho actually getting his calloused hands on high-quality versions of the entire Norah Jones catalog and other gems from the EMI vaults is sort of fiddly and crap. First of all, you have to update your iTunes to the latest version, then opt-in to the iTunes Plus service from a separate area of the site that’s not particularly easy to find -- it’s not set as the default in the iTunes store. Switching back to normal iTunes means further grubbing about with Apple’s (beautifully presented) digital entrails.

Furthermore, and more importantly, the DRM-free banner that Apple and EMI have pinned above their king-sized conjugal bed is looking a little tatty tonight. An interesting little tidbit I just found out is that every track that’s downloaded from iTunes has your full name and e-mail address embedded in the file. And the new DRM-free stuff does as well. Sort of puts you off sharing that precious $1.29 worth of file with your chums, eh? And what about all the information that’s kept on your iTunes account, like your credit card number and where you fucking LIVE? If your file ends up on some torrent site and a brave RIAA freedom fighter picks up your e-mail address and name from an iTunes file -- is he then in a position to grab all that other info prior to chasing your ass down the street?

Oh well, whatever. It’s not as if anyone who does upload a torrent to the web gets the files from iTunes anyway. Fact remains that the attempts of the record industry to curtail file-sharing have all been pretty much a total bust for the last five years, and you can be certain that this latest attempt to scare you into compliance is bound to fail miserably too. And for that, I guess we can all continue quietly rejoicing.

Casiotone Not Just For The Painfully Alone Anymore; See Their Tour With Friends and Family, If You Dare

A surprising number of people seem to be attending Casiotone For The Painfully Alone shows with significant others, friends, and family. Rumor has it some of these people have been observed smiling and even dancing at shows. This may seem like a moot point, but if you're planning on going to any CFTPA shows, there are a few things you should know.

Security at the recent Over the Top Festival performance in Toronto were reportedly seen turning away anyone with a mere grin on their face at the door; they even had one couple, who were spotted embracing, forcefully removed from the premises. Now I'm all for vigilantism, but there reaches a point where you may be overstepping your boundaries.

Representatives from Tomlab records furiously deny any such goings on; however, eye-witness accounts suggest Casiotone's Owen Ashworthy was seen confronting security at the venue once he heard what was happening, explaining "It's only a fucking name; don't be a douchebag."

In addition to the latest stream of 7-inches on Tomlab, Oedipus Recordings is now taking pre-orders for the soon to be released split 7-inch with Foot Foot. And continuing on the seemingly endless string of releases, there are plans to release another 7-inch for a song with David Horvitz, the man behind the Xiu Xiu photobook.

You can see Casiotone for the Painfully Alone on these dates at these places:

  

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