RIP: Billy Strange, singer/songwriter, collaborated with Elvis and The Beach Boys

RIP: Billy Strange, singer/songwriter, collaborated with Elvis and The Beach Boys

From the NME:

The songwriter and guitarist Billy Strange has died aged 81.

The musician co-wrote several songs for Elvis Presley with Mac Davis, including ‘A Little Less Conversation’, which, while only a minor success on release in 1968, became a worldwide hit after it was heard in 2001 film ‘Ocean’s 11’ thanks to Junkie XL’s remix.

As well as his work with ‘The King’, Strange also played guitar on records by, among others, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Wanda Jackson and The Beach Boys - including several tracks on their seminal ‘Pet Sounds’ - while perhaps his most-famous performance came on Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang’.

Strange and Nancy Sinatra had a long and fruitful relationship. He arranged most of the singer’s Lee Hazlewood-produced recordings in the 1960s, including ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’, also working with her on the non-soundtrack version of James Bond theme ‘You Only Live Twice’ and her duet with her father ‘Something Stupid’.

Sinatra announced the news of Strange’s death on her Twitter page, saying her “heart was shattered” by the news.

• Billy Strange:

Billy Bragg and Wilco to release Mermaid Avenue Volume III (possibly containing all of Guthrie’s secret pro-fascism songs?)

This summer, following several long and torturous years of eating nothing but rumor, excitement, red herring, conjecture, and hype sandwiches, the long wait for millions upon rabid millions of hungry fans around the globe will finally be over when the third and final installment in a beloved series finally hit the streets to wrap up the myriad of intriguing loose ends and unanswered philosophical questions. The product is ready; the marketing machine is on standby; and the entire media is practically slobbering with juicy rhetoric-saliva. There will be billboards. Searchlights. Helicopters. But… hey wait a second. What does all this have to do with anti-folk stalwart Billy Bragg and those robust, trendy, contemporary, cogent, gutsy, compelling, youthful, chic, dynamic, vital, modern, commanding, vigorous, fresh, keen, virile, energetic, vibrant, burgeoning young up-starts in Wilco? Oh, fuck, I don’t know. I was talking about the new Batman movie that’s coming out.

But actually, by a complete coincidence, Beats Per Minute has it that Nonesuch will be rolling out a new four-disc edition of his and Wilco’s late 90s Mermaid Avenue project (in which they set new music to a bunch of newly recovered Woody Guthrie lyrics) to commemorate Guthrie’s 100th birthday on July 14, the third disc of which will comprise the previously-unreleased Mermaid Avenue Volume III, which contains 17 new tracks from the same original sessions! How’s that for some spooky symmetry, huh? The whole box is titled Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions, and discs one and two will offer up the first two volumes of the series, while disc four is a short documentary about the Mermaid Avenue recoding sessions (titled Man in the Sand).

There’s no release date set in stone yet, nor has it been indicated whether Volume III will receive its own a-la-carte release at any point. But Nonesuch seems to just love pressing stuff to CDs still, so the odds on that are probably decent. Bragg has also indicated that he’ll play some shows to support the release. As to whether or not it’ll rival the popularity of the new Batman movie at the box office this summer, you know, probably not.

• Billy Bragg:
• Wilco:
• Nonesuch:

Spanish Prisoners don’t need to sell cookies and kitten calendars anymore — they have a van AND more tourdates

Remember Spanish Prisoners, those dream pop charmers from Brooklyn who were trying their damnedest to raise enough money to buy a tour van? Well, after weeks of going door-to-door selling homemade sweaters and singing Hall & Oates songs on street corners, they’ve finally reached their $5000 goal — enough to buy the coolest fucking tour van you’ll ever see. They might even paint it with kittens and sea creatures. They’ve announced their tourdates too — see if you can catch those whippersnappers breezing through your town.

When they weren’t knitting or crafting or painting, Spanish Prisoners found time to toss together “Downtown Chicagoland,” the third single from their album Gold Fools. It includes two rad alternate versions of the album’s last track, and you can download it for free via Bandcamp. And don’t forget the new video for “Know No Violence” below, a little something for fans of snowy forests and geometric sweaters.


02.24.12 - Brooklyn, NY- Knitting Factory
03.06.12 - Brooklyn, NY - Death By Audio
03.07.12 - Philadelphia, PA - Kungfu Necktie
03.08.12 - Washington, DC - TBA
03.09.12 - Baltimore, MD - Soft House
03.10.12 - Savannah, GA - Savannah Stopover Festival
03.11.12 - Jacksonville, FL - Burro Bar
03.12.12 - New Orleans, LA - Allways Lounge
03.13-17.12 - Austin, TX - SXSW
03.18.12 - Little Rock, AR - Stickyz
03.19.12 - Conway, AR - Ford Theatre
03.20.12 - Memphis, TN - TBA
03.21.12 - Nashville, TN - the Zombie Shop
03.22.12 - Cincinnati, OH - Mt Carmel Brewing Company
03.23.12 - La Salle, IL - 9th Street Pub
03.24.12 - Chicago, IL - Pancho’s
03.25.12 - Columbus, OH - TBA
03.27.12 - Rochester, NY - The Bug Jar
03.28.12 - Northampton, MA - TBA
03.29.12 - Boston, MA - Middle East @
03.30.12 - Providence, RI - AS220
03.31.12 - New York, NY - TBA

@ Youth Lagoon

• Spanish Prisoners:

Peaking Lights to tour the UK in June; Peking Lights content with remaining obscure in China

It’s time for some blunt commentary on the relative enjoyability of nature’s seasons. Naturally (no pun intended), this will depend almost entirely on where you’re located in the world, but for a good portion of us, I don’t think it would be an exercise in hyperbole to say that spring is nothing more than Mother Nature flaunting her cleavage, but ultimately denying us the goods until a later date. Does anybody have any idea when spring begins and ends? Smart-asses: pretend that you don’t for a second; there’s barely anything distinguishable about the season. Flowers suck. Many of us are just twiddling our thumbs until summer gets here.

All of this gives me an excuse to temporarily overlook any important events happening in the next few months and report on the fact that Wisconsin psychedelic duo Peaking Lights will be touring the UK and making one stop over in Ireland in June. By that time, it will have been roughly a year and four months since the release of 936 (TMT Review; #14 on our year-end list), so all you European island-dwellers can reasonably expect either a smidgen or a healthy dosage of unreleased/new material, in addition to all those dubby tunes featured on their most recent album. It’s all quite fitting; have you ever tried to discuss “irie riddims” while wearing a winter coat? Talk about awkward…


06.02.12 - London, UK - Victoria Park, Field Day Festival
06.03.12 - Dublin, Ireland - Forbidden Fruit Festival
06.05.12 - Leeds, UK - Brudenell
06.06.12 - London, UK - XOYO
06.17.12 - North Yorkshire, UK - Beacons Festival
06.18.12 - Brecon Beacons, UK - Green Man Festival
06.19.12 - Brecon Beacons, UK - Green Man Festival

• Peaking Lights:
• Not Not Fun:

Mount Eerie follows through on promise to "make it rain on them hoes" by announcing TWO new full-lengths

Oh you KNOW we poppin’ bottles early at the office right now: Phil Elverum just made it worth dusting off those champagne flutes in the back by dropping word that his ever-evolving Mount Eerie project will be releasing two new albums in 2012 to follow up 2009’s Wind’s Poem (TMT Review), both presumably via P.W. Elverum & Sun. “Sure, bands announce vague tidbits like this all the time,” you might be thinking, “but it doesn’t really mean anything in the here and now. For example, Austin Powers 4 has a 2013 release date, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to be camping outside AMC any earlier than October.” Well, get this: the first album’s already done, is called Clear Moon, and will be out May 22. Boom. Get it? That’s why we drinkin’ wiiiiine, son.

“Okay,” you might now be thinking, “drinking wine at this hour is par for the course for sloppy guys like you, I mean you were doing this a little while ago because ‘Wilco put out an iTunes session.’ This isn’t that surprising. But there has to be something more that’s making you act really creepy around my friends, when you’re supposed to be professional.” Okay, you got me… it’s not just that Mount Eerie is putting out these albums (the second will be called Ocean Roar btw), but that they apparently are inspired by both Popul Vuh and Nadja. That’s why I can’t stop sweating and loosening my tie right now. This is so big. I mean seriously, Phil recorded both albums in a de-sanctified church called “The Unknown.” I’m going to be sick. I want it now. I need to lay down. MOVE blurhghghhh

Clear Moon tracklisting:

01. Through the Trees pt. 2
02. the Place Lives
03. the Place I Live
04. (something)
05. Lone Bell
06. House Shape
07. Over Dark Water
08. (something)
09. Clear Moon
10. Yawning Sky
11. (synthesizer)

Tourdates (all dates with Earth and Ô PAON):

03.03.12 - Bristol, England - Arnofini Gallery
03.05.12 - Dublin, Ireland - Button Factory
03.07.12 - Manchester, England - Ruby Lounge
03.08.12 - Edinburgh, Scotland - The Caves
03.09.12 - Leeds, England - Brudenell Social Club
03.10.12 - Minehead, England - Butlins Holiday Centre (All Tomorrow’s Parties)
03.11.12 - London, England - Union Chapel
03.12.12 - Brighton, England - The Haunt
03.13.12 - Haarlem, Netherlands - Patronaat
03.14.12 - Leuven, Belgium - Het Depot
03.15.12 - Paris, France - La Maroquinerie
03.16.12 - Bordeaux, France - Iboat
03.17.12 - Bilbao, Spain - Askena
03.18.12 - Madrid, Spain - El Sol
03.19.12 - Barcelona, Spain - Musichall
03.21.12 - Lyon, France - Epicerie Moderne
03.22.12 - Torino, Italy - Spazio 211
03.23.12 - Firenze, Italy - The Box
03.24.12 - Parma, Italy - Auditorium Del Carmine
03.25.12 - Lausanne, Switzerland - Le Romandie
03.26.12 - Wiesbaden, Germany - Schlachthof
03.28.12 - Vienna, Austria - Arena
03.29.12 - Leipzig, Germany - UT Connewitz
03.30.12 - Prague, Czech Republic - Dobeska Theatre
03.31.12 - Berlin, Germany - Festsaal Kreuzberg
04.02.12 - Copenhagen, Denmark - Loppen
04.03.12 - Gothenburg, Sweden - Truckstop Alaska
04.04.12 - Oslo, Norway - Inferno Festival
04.05.12 - Stockholm, Sweden - Strand
04.06.12 - Helsinki, Finland - Nosturi

• Mount Eerie:

Blackout Beach drops new instrumental album on Bandcamp! Fuck Fuck Death, this is that new ish!

Been yearning for some Blackout Beach? Well, today’s your day, then! Carey Mercer and company have released a pay-what-you-want digital album called 11 Pink Helicopters in the Coral Sky on Bandcamp that you can go and download RIGHT NOW! For fans of Frog Eyes and Blackout Beach, this unexpected morsel of guitar noodling and muffled reverb should come as a welcome surprise. To those out there that are downright frightened of Mercer’s intense vocal style, you should also check this out, as the record features none of Mercer’s trademark yelps or shrieks (though they’ve still attributed the tag “boar dying in a tar pit” to the this release, for some reason…). Instead, the album sounds like a collection of (very nice sounding) outtakes, with tracks stopping suddenly before they really form themselves into proper songs, each one trying out something slightly different, all still within Mercer’s general sonic wheelhouse.

This collection is significantly quieter than Blackout Beach’s great album from last year, Fuck Death (TMT Review), but it makes for an enjoyable and brief listen, with tracks averaging just under the two-minute mark. Check out the stream or fire up the ol’ PayPal account and get to payin’ what you will.

• Blackout Beach: