RIP: Faustino Oramas (Buena Vista Social Club)

According to the Cuban state radio, Buena Vista Social Club member Faustino Oramas passed away yesterday in a hospital in Holguin, his hometown, after an extended battle with liver cancer. Reports state his age as being 95, though some claim that he was older. The former troubadour joins the ranks of outstanding Social Club members who are now no longer with us.

The singer spent much of his career known as "El Guayabero," named after a town where he got in trouble for flirting with a married woman. His love of erotic themes penetrated much of his work. He was also a master of the 'son,' a particular flavor of Cuban music, known for its structures and rhythmic properties, which is celebrated throughout the Buena Vista Social Club album. His sense of fun and irony will be missed.

So make sure you add "Candela" to your next mixtape in honor of him, okay, fellow music fans?

Phillip Glass and Talib Kweli Mashup for Article; Tour Separately

In my mind, there are two different groups of people: fans of American composer Phillip Glass and fans of politically minded, American rapper Talib Kweli. Perfect harmony would occur if these two separate entities were to tour the world and spread peace. However, the best we can do is to include the two in an article, in this writer's attempt to bring us all a little bit closer.

In a dark alley in NYC, a gang of thugs rise from the far right end of the thick fog, swinging chains and snapping their fingers in cadence with their boot stomping. Another gang of hoodlums appear on the opposite side. Their shadows creep from the shadows to dance over a fire near the center of the alley.

Glass Gang: Yo! You're in Philip Glass territory, fools!

Kweli Gang: Hey, this was Talib Kweli territory first. We owned this territory before Black Star with Mos Def.

Glass Gang: Bullshit! Two words: Candyman soundtrack! Suck it!!

Kweli Gang: You ain't serious. What about Einstein on the Beach and Metamorphosis?

Glass Gang: You've obviously never seen the cinematic masterpiece that is Candyman. You fools know nothing about Talib Kweli either. What about his bleak, but defining first solo record Quality, not to mention his powerful work with Madlib and Hi-Tek?

Kweli Gang: Wait! You really do like Talib Kweli! And remember earlier we mentioned Einstein on the Beach and Metamorphosis?

Glass Gang: Oh yeah, you guys must really understand the minimalism of Phillip Glass!

Before the orgy, the gangs made good times at Taco Bell and had ice cream afterwards. They hung out at a Glass gang member's flat (this gang member had a red bandana) and watched DVDs of Freaks & Geeks. It was during this time that the Glass gang mentioned Glass' newest opera Appomattox and his upcoming tour. The Kweli gang chimed in and added that Kweli's new album Ear Drum drops June 19 and that he's touring as well. The two gangs shook hands and agreed to make it to at least five shows of each. Then they had that aforementioned orgy with ex-American Gladiators Nitro, Steel, Elektra, Tower, Tank, Turbo, Lace, and Zap.

Talib Kweli tourdates:

Sony BMG Regulatory Review Put Through A Boss Delay Pedal

Those of you waiting for the hotly anticipated verdict in the Sony BMG merger reexamination will have to keep waiting: European regulators recently hit the pause button on the shitty Aiwa stereo system that is the Sony BMG merger investigation. Why? Perhaps too busy selling one million ringtones (called a Mastertone) of Waylon Jenning's "Theme from The Dukes of Hazzard (Good Ol' Boys)," Sony BMG apparently failed to provide requested information on time.

"Please note that the commission sent an Article 11 decision to the parties involved in the Sony BMG merger for failure to provide requested information," said the Commission in an official statement. "This means that the clock has stopped on this case until such time as the information is received."

Inside sources told TMT that the information requested was a response to the following question: "Do you think you guys should still stay merged or should we break you apart?"

The deadline of July 2 will now most likely be delayed, but that doesn't automatically mean you'll experience hair loss. In fact, hair loss is also common among women as they age. But consult your doctor if you experience severe vomiting or diarrhea.

Vladimir Propp was a Russian de-structuralist who worked diligently in the early 1900s to analyze folk tales in order to break them down into distinct units, which he called "narratemes." Through his dissection of reoccurring plot functions, Propp was able to compile a list of 31 of these narrative themes that were present in all fairy/folk tale construction. Among these identifiable and ever-present elements were "A member of a family leaves home (the hero is identified, #1)" or "Victim taken in by deception, unwittingly helping the enemy (#7)" or "Hero is given a new appearance (is made whole, handsome, new garments, etc., #29)." Much of it has merit (print off the list sometime and keep it under your beer can to check out the next time you are watching any adaptation of a folk tale or sci-fi production that begins with the word "Star" and ends in "Trek" or "Wars"). But, however interesting his theory is at face value, Propp did not account for some crucial things that make folk and fairy tales what they are, namely, that these stories rely heavily on the oral storytelling tradition to differentiate them from one another and to best augment mood, character, and tone. Where is the love Propp? Where's the passion?

When breaking down TMT album news stories, it is easy to distinguish certain generic elements too. Chief among these are the mentioning of the band and their members, details of the upcoming album and its tracks, the most recently released album or recorded activity, and perhaps a few scattered tourdates and planned single releases. We could easily come up with a system for reoccurring posted "newsalbumatemes" and follow them to the letter so that we could pump out more and more news without any regard to tone or humor. Many of our blind and bland competitors' news reads exactly like this blueprint already.

But... balls to you V. Propp! We're Tiny Mix Tapes and we ain't gonna take it! We're not gonna take it... anymore! Most of the albums we write about 'round these parts deserve a less clinical announcement than the unbending, unflinching, cold-hearted, dead-bastard, folk tale buzzkiller would have tried if still alive. And albums featuring one of the most important figures on the post-punk-shamble-rock scene paired with an esteemed techno-house-kitchen-sink act deserves nothing less than that warm feeling you get when you have been sufficiently dry-humped through your computer.

Domino Records will release the full-length album by Von Südenfed, which is a brand-name collaboration between Mark E. Smith of The Fall and Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner, aka Mouse on Mars. Tromatic Reflexxions will be out May 21 and will be preceded by its lead-off track, "Fledermaus Can't Get Enough," as a single on May 7. This isn't the first time the Mancunian menace has teamed up with the German duo of Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner. In 2004, MES provided vocals to a 12-inch mix of their synth stomper "Wipe That Sound." Seeds were planted, fruits started blossoming, and less than three years later we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of bouncing baby Von Südenfed!

Did someone say tracklist?

1. Fledermaus Can't Get Enough
2. The Rhinohead
3. Flooded
4. Family Fued
5. Serious Brainskin
6. Speech Contamination/German Fear of Osterreich
7. The Young The Faceless and the Codes
8. Duckrog
9. Chicken Yiamas
10. That Sound Wiped
11. Jback Lois Lane
12. Dearest Friends

Despite celebrating the tuff-life boogie for 50 years now, MES is heading into his second half-century, a man possessed with 10 times the vim and vigor of Blanche from The Golden Girls. First, Reformation! Post-TLC, the latest Fall album, is out in the U.S. TODAY on Narnack Records. We won't bother with a tracklist, but if you are kurious, oranj, you should really go buy the album. It features the original 14 songs on the U.K. album version released in February, but it is an enhanced CD that hosts four additional video clips. The videos included are "Hungry Freaks Daddy," "My Door Is Never," "Scenario," and "Theme From Sparta F.C." and were recorded live in New York City on November 5, 2006.

Second, Sanctuary will be releasing the title track from Reformation! as a single in the U.K. on April 9. Third, Universal is reissuing expanded versions of early 1990s albums Shift-Work, Code: Selfish, and Extricate in May. Fourth, The Fall are playing live in Britain right now. Check their site for details. Finally, the official (maybe partially ghost-written) autobiography of Mark E. Smith Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith (or Renegade: The Gospel According to Mark E. Smith) is due on June 28 through Viking. Now, isn't all that better than the "Here's the cold hard facts, you shitbums" approach?

CD Sales Go Down Faster Than _______ in a ___________

Let's take a trip in the DeLorean all the way back to the summer of 2004. Big things were happening in the world: Olympic games were held in Athens, the U.S. had a presidential election coming up, and Ken Jennings (a personal hero) was kicking ass on Jeopardy! for over 70 episodes. Yet, for the movie industry, things were looking rather glum. Much ado was made about falling ticket sales in movie theaters, and industry execs scrambled to pinpoint the cause. There was a substantial amount of pontification on the part of analysts to find the reason for the slide, and one scapegoat quickly emerged more worthy than all the rest: peer-to-peer networks. Here was a direct cause for the effect, an all-but-proven reason for lag in the system.

Sounds reasonable enough... but, just out of curiosity, let's take a quick look at a few of the movies released that summer: There were the comedies, such as Without a Paddle, The Big Bounce, Envy, Eurotrip, Garfield: the Movie, Chasing Liberty, Around the World in 80 Days, White Chicks, The Girl Next Door, Mr. 3000, Connie and Carla, Welcome to Mooseport, and Jersey Girl; action films such as Torque, Catwoman, The Day After Tomorrow, Walking Tall, Flight of the Phoenix, The Perfect Score, The Chronicles of Riddick, and The Alamo; a host of sequels like Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, Barbershop 2, Agent Cody Banks 2, Scooby Doo 2, The Whole Ten Yards, The Princess Diaries 2, Spiderman 2, Exorcist: the Beginning, Superbabies 2, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Seed of Chucky, Ocean's Twelve, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason; and of course, Anacondas: Hunt for the Blood Orchid. One alternative theory to the reason for the film industry's falling profits, though, never seriously considered by execs themselves, was the... errmm... poor quality of the movies in question. Rather, the prevailing theory seemed to be that the number of tickets sold should always be proportionate to the number of films released in a given time period, regardless of quality or content.

Now let's step back into the DeLorean to three Nickelback Grammy nominations, a Lil Eazy-E album, and a massive payola scandal later -- it appears that not much has changed, only this time the music industry is the industry in question. CD sales have declined by 20%, compared to the same time last year, a loss that couldn't even be nullified by a 54% increase in digital music sales over the same time period. An overall look at music sales taking into account all formats, including formats such as ringtones, still shows a sharp 9% decrease. CD prices have dropped in many markets, likely a response to price drops led by companies such as Best Buy and Wal-Mart. Russ Crupnick of NPD Group, a firm who recently released a report stating that P2P downloads still outweigh the number of paid downloads in the overall market, was quick to attribute the sales drop to the factors shown in the group's study: "Unfortunately for the music labels, the volume of music files purchased legally is swamped by the sheer volume of files being traded illegally... Five billion files downloaded illegally clearly affect prospects for both CD sales and sales of digital song tracks online."

The legitimacy of such criticism is, of course, based on the assumption that everyone who downloads a track would have likely otherwise bought it in stores or online (and that no consumers both download and buy the album or that P2P actually increases the overall popularity of music consumption), but regardless, it'd be difficult to argue that downloads haven't affected CD sales, at least in some small way. They have, just as public libraries affect overall sales of books, because artistic content has been made more easily available to the public in a way that no one directly or illicitly profits from. Yet when I think back to the unforgettable trip we just took back to the year 2004, I can't help but compare the movies being pushed by the big studios at that time to the albums being pushed today by major studios.

Of all the music downloaders I know, not a single one of them is unwilling to pay market value for an album they really enjoy. But have consumers been given enough reason to do this? A major criticism of the music industry for decades has been their tendency to promote albums through one good single, which when listened to later, after being bought on a CD, turns out to be the only decent song on the album. I don't want to stereotype anyone's musical taste or accuse all major label albums of having one good song a piece, but I do believe the industry is having troubles finding consumers who are jumping at the opportunity to spend the equivalent of three work hours at minimum wage on an album that may or may not have more than one good song; it's not without two generations of prior conditioning.

Whatever the conclusions, questions will linger: Has the drop in sales affected the music? Is the weak first quarter releases a reason for the significant drop? Is the shift to digital music making the CD or full-length album a dying medium? Or a niche medium? Has the growing awareness of how little money the artists receive from CD sales played a role in the drop? Most importantly, why hasn't anyone commissioned my boy Ken Jennings to do a full report on this issue? I'm afraid only time will be able to answer these questions for us, especially that last one. In the meantime, you and I can eagerly await the next quarterly report, while the major labels sit around and merge or whatever it is that they do for entertainment these days.

STNNNG GVE TH FNGR T VWLS, My Cousin gets Sarienistics

When my cousin first told me about STNNNG, I laughed. My usually eloquent relative had seemingly devolved before my eyes to spit out the word "stunning" like a kid with sarienistic syndrome. I asked him if it was necessary to say the band name that quickly, and he just replied with “STNNNG!” like a cheap rip-off of Timmy from South Park. I had a dinner that night with his side of the family and made up my mind to tell my aunt about my discovery. At first, like any parent completely devoted to her only child, she denied any existence of sarienistic disease. So I called on Rich, my cousin, and held a quick interview in front of my aunt to get my point across.

Me: Rich, what is your favorite band these days?


Me: Are you going to see them May fourth?

Rich: TRF CLB!

Me: Are they touring to support an album, Rich?

Rich: FKE FKE!

After that last question, my aunt yelled for us to stop, and I could see her eyes were beginning to water. I took her in my arms and began to sing and gently rock her back and forth. She asked me how this could happen, in addition to millions of other questions that were best left for the doctor. I kissed her on the cheek and then found my way to her lips. We fooled around a bit in the living room while Rich played Guitar Hero. He occasionally yelled out one-syllable nothings, but I think my aunt had finally come to terms with his condition and didn’t let it bother her too much.

Me: Whom do we have to thank for this discovery, Rich?


03.31.07 - Eau Claire, WI - House of Rock w/ Drunk Drivers, Belles of Skin City
04.04.07 - St. Paul, MN - Turf Club w/ NOXAGT, Ghostdad, Neglected Receptors
04.14.07 - Minneapolis, MN - Triple Rock Social Club w/ comedian Doug Stanhope
04.20.07 - Lawrence, KS - Replay Lounge w/ You'll Be a Torso
04.21.07 - Norman, OK - The Deli w/ The Purple Cow Story
04.22.07 - Houston, TX - The Mink w/ The Kimonos
04.23.07 - Denton, TX - Secret Headquarters
04.24.07 - San Antonio, TX - Rock Bottom Tattoo Bar
04.25.07 - Austin, TX - Emo's w/ Oh, Beast! and Red X Red M
04.26.07 - Memphis, TN - Gibson Lounge (not confirmed)
04.27.07 - Nashville, TN - Springwater w/ To Live and Shave in L.A., Apollo Up!
04.28.07 - Belleville, IL - Ground Floor w/ The Conformists
04.29.07 - Dubuque, IA - Busted Lift w/ The Blind Shake