RIP: Jimmy Ellis, frontman of the Trammps

RIP: Jimmy Ellis, frontman of the Trammps

From Rolling Stone:

Jimmy Ellis, frontman of the Trammps, has died at the age of 74. He passed away yesterday in Rock Hill, South Carolina from complications of Alzheimer’s disease.

Ellis was best known as the singer of the band’s 1976 song “Disco Inferno,” which became a smash hit in the United States in 1978 after it was included on the soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever. The Trammps also scored hits on the R&B charts with their cover of Judy Garland’s signature tune “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart,” “Hold Back the Night” and “The Night the Lights Went Out,” which was inspired by the New York City blackout of 1977.

• The Trammps:

Scott Walker to get poked, prodded, and dissected this May… also available as an ebook!

It’s hard to imagine it’s taken this long for someone to write well about someone like Scott Walker. There’s been a handful of critical biographies here and there — fellow musician Anthony Reynolds published The Impossible Dream a few years ago and Scott’s brother John published a tell-all (that Scott didn’t participate in) — but it’s strange to think a Scott Walker solo LP has yet to be the subject of a 33 1/3 series entry. It’s infinitely stranger that Walker’s splendid, troubled solo oeuvre has yet to be raked over the critical coals by the likes of Griel Marcus, Richard Meltzer, or Nick Tosches. Stephen Kijack’s 2008 film Scott Walker: 30th Century Man was a stimulating distraction (and not a shitty flick by any means) but Orion Books and The Wire have finally decided to give Walker his long overdue spot on the critical shelf.

May 17 brings us No Regrets: Writings on Scott Walker (Amazon claims a US edition is due August 15), the first critical compendium of collected writings on Scott Walker, from young heartthrob to “serious” solo musician. The new book (also available as an ebook for those who’ve given up on “physical” books because they’re so last century) will include two older pieces from The Wire archives, an interview transcript from 2006, and a feature from 1995, and will be edited by The Wire regular Rob Young. The book will also feature essays from 30th Century Man director Kijak as well as Damon Krukowksi, Nina Power, David Stubbs, David Toop, Anthony Reynolds, Ian Penman, and Wire contributors Biba Kopf and Derek Walmsley. Walker is rumored to currently be working on a new LP for 4AD as well as an opera score, so stay tuned to this channel kiddies!

• Scott Walker:
The Wire:
• Orion Books:

Google smooshes a bunch of storefronts together to create Google Play, makes iPhone users yawn

Ever find yourself getting lost in the vast Android Marketplace trying to find that new Kreayshawn single, only to find a sea of seemingly useless applications? Been on a crowded bus trying to download the newest Fast and Furious movie to play out loud, fellow passengers be damned, with nary a video to be had in this so-called Marketplace? Well, as of this past Tuesday, you can go worry free, as Google has unveiled a new service which means no more accessing different storefronts to find what your heart truly desires (and must have RIGHT NOW)!

Google’s newest service, Google Play, rolls a number of existing services into a single platform. Play’s aim is to integrate the Android Marketplace, Google Music, and the Google eBookstore into one storefront à la iTunes to offer users simplified access to apps, songs, books, and downloadable movies. All content previously downloaded through any of the separate entities will be converted to the new service and made available through the new Google Play interface.

Content downloaded through Play will be stored in Google’s cloud and made available to customers on their Android devices or any web-enabled PC. Users can preview content prior to purchase and share their media consuming activities on their Google+ page! Seamless integration with email and text is also a feature, though there’s no connectivity to Facebook or Twitter yet (but I mean, who uses those?).

This announcement will obviously make hundreds of thousands of Apple nerds drop their iPhones and head for the Android hills. I can hear them in the distance heading this way now…

• Google Play:

Woodsist Fest announces initial lineup for two days of festival magic on the Left Coast

According to an old family legend passed down to me from my bohemian grandfather, a former racehorse jockey, pot smuggler, and all-around-California gadabout,* a traveler once knocked on the door of author Henry Miller’s Big Sur residence, searching for the “cult of sex and anarchy.” The unfortunate vagabond wandered away unsatisfied, never to quench his saucy fire. Perhaps that man is still out there somewhere, wandering the hills like a sexy Rip Van Winkle, searching for the cure. Perhaps he slumbered all the way through the storied Big Sur Festivals of 1964-1971 — when luminaries like Joan Baez, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and Joni Mitchell lighting up the stage — and is just now preparing to emerge from his slumber. AND THEN HOLY SHIT THAT DUDE’S GONNA WAKE UP ON AUGUST 4-5, 2012 AND STUMBLE UPON WOODSIST FEST AND BE LIKE, “WHOOOOOA IT TOOK A FEW DECADES BUT I FOUND IT MAAAAAAN.” And then he’ll disintegrate into a pile of tie-dyed fedora rags, or whatever people wore back then.

But at least he’ll have experienced the wonder and joy that is Woodsist Fest. Taking place at Big Sur’s Henry Miller Library during one very special weekend in August, (((folkYEAH!))) and Warwick, NY-based Woodsist Records are throwing another shindig featuring label artists and friends. The initial lineup includes Real Estate, Pierced Arrows, Woods, White Fence, and The Mantles on Saturday and Thee Oh Sees, Fresh and Onlys, Michael Hurley, Peaking Lights, and Ducktails on Sunday, with more to be announced. Recommended lodging options include the evocatively-named (all) Fernwood Resort, Bottchers Gap Campground, Andrew Molera State Park, and Kirk Creek Campground. Tickets go on sale March 9 at 12 PM PST via (((folkYEAH!))). Sex not included. (((folkYEAH!))) provides no guarantee that Anarchy will ensue, although Awesome Tunes/Times are factored into the ticket price.

* Actually I got it from Wikipedia, America’s Most Reliable News Source. Yep, Grandpa Wikipedia.

• Woodsist:
• (((folkYEAH!))):

Brian Miller of Foot Village goes solo as True Neutral, scores audiobook and high-fives

Books on tape need soundtracks. If more audiobooks had featured marvelous, moving scores, then Kindles would never have started outselling walkmans. Brian Miller (Foot Village, Back to the Future The Ride) gets my drift. His latest solo project, True Neutral, finds Miller in more song-y territory and scoring a new audiobook to be released via his own Deathbomb Arc Records. The audiobook is for the latest novel by absurdist writer Patrick Wensink, entitled Broken Piano for President, which is out now from bizarro publisher Lazy Fascist Press. The story involves a “noise band that gets caught up in a conspiracy involving fast food moguls, international space programs, and, of course, their music.”

Miller’s soundtrack is accompanied with contributions from Brian Chippendale (Lightning Bolt/Black Pus) on drums, Ezra Buchla (ex-Gowns/EMA contributor) on viola, and Christina Gubala on voice.

You can also get a feel for True Neutral’s new sound on the track “Call on the Herd,” available to stream here. Preorder the audiobook now!

• True Neutral:
• Patrick Wensink:
• Deathbomb Arc:

Audiogalaxy announces Mixes, may have found the sweet spot between exciting illegal file sharing and boring old Spotify

Remember Audiogalaxy, the P2P service that lurked in Napster’s shadow back in the day and eventually suffered a demise similar to the robocat-icon’d behemoth? Well, they’ve been back in the picture (as has Napster) in a millennial-approved format for a while now, offering a free cloud-based service that allows you to upload your music collection and access it anywhere, keeping themselves in business by selling mobile application upgrades and plug-ins.

Bringing something different to the table, though, the service just announced a new feature called Mixes that allows users to create intuitive playlists that draw from Audiogalaxy’s larger pool of music. You add the ‘ingredients’ (time, place, key artists) and select from a few variables, like how ‘popular’ the selections should be, and Audiogalaxy scans its vast collection to create a playlist. The more you use the service, the better Mixes is supposed to become at creating playlists that you’ll enjoy.

What is unique about Mixes is that Audiogalaxy, instead of trying to broker deals with the actual rights holders of the majority of the music in its system (a.k.a. Major Labels), has instead partnered with the organizations that are responsible for collecting and paying out royalties to rights holders (SoundExchange, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC). Because Mixes is an online radio-like feature (it just uses its customers’ music as a catalog), it uses a model similar to radio stations to determine what royalties are owed. Mixes also presents the user with the opportunity to purchase any given track that they don’t already own and have in their cloud from Amazon, thus providing the rights holders an additional opportunity to get paid directly.

While no one would be surprised if the lawsuits start lining up to take this new feature down, one would hope that the major labels would see the benefit in allowing users to access a service that intuitively introduces them to new artists they might like, while at the same time ensuring royalties are paid. Reason isn’t their forte, so we’ll just have to wait and see…

• Audiogalaxy: