RIP: John Walker, founder of The Walker Brothers

RIP: John Walker, founder of The Walker Brothers

From The Guardian:

John Walker, one of the founders of the Walker Brothers, has died at the age of 67.

The songwriter, vocalist and guitarist, who played a pivotal role in the band, which scored huge commercial success in the 1960s and 1970s with songs such as Make It Easy On Yourself and The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Any More), passed away at his Los Angeles home. He had liver cancer.

Born John Maus, he and the other two unrelated members of the group, Scott Engel and Gary Leeds, adopted the Walker Brothers name after their formation in 1964.

His spokeswoman said: “Sadly John passed away yesterday morning Californian time, after a six-month battle with liver cancer.”

• The Walker Brothers:

The Flaming Lips to collaborate with Panda Bear… OH MY GAWD!!!

The Flaming Lips are definitely getting the hang of this here internet contraption in 2011, with Wayne Coyne and his Merry Plush Pranksters flooding the datastream in recent months with shock-and-awe announcements that make Radiohead look like amateurs. So far they’ve got a retrospective vinyl box set and a Neon Indian collaboration in the bag, a Zaireeka-esque iPhone experiment, an edible gummy skull with new songs lodged in its brain, a planned collaboration with Lightning Bolt, and a Soft Bulletin live album in the works that will be housed in another gummy skull, this one “marijuana-flavored.” (By the way: how the hell is a “marijuana-flavored” anything appealing? Marijuana tastes like dirt and sticks and worms.)

Pretty good string of announcements so far, but what many music fans have been asking is: how does this relate to either Odd Future or Animal Collective? No response yet on the former, but according to an interview with Coyne in Esquire yesterday, Panda Bear is the latest to be tapped for a Flaming Lips collab. “We’re gonna do something with Panda Bear, too,” Coyne whispered out of the side of his mouth, setting the world ablaze.

Unfortunately, no other details are available since they presumably haven’t even met up yet, so let the speculation begin. Will this group of songs also be released in a gummy skull? Will the skull be larger or smaller than previous gummy skulls? Will the gummy skull taste like marijuana, or will the collaboration just be called something like Vaporizers Have Feelings Too? Will the gummy skull fit into a pair of Keep shoes, or is that unsanitary? Keep your browser’s homepage set to Tiny Mix Tapes and all will be revealed soon enough.

• The Flaming Lips:
• Panda Bear:

Calvin Johnson (America’s sweetheart) gathers up Hive Dwellers pals, makes sure no inch of Washington state remains un-toured upon

Calvin Johnson, the man behind Beat Happening and K Records, is America’s #1 great guy. And before you go around thinking this is my opinion, it’s not my opinion. This is solid fact, as solid as anything has ever been. When America thinks Calvin Johnson, they think a well-dressed man saving kittens from trees and throwing backyard BBQs where everyone’s invited.

What America wants to know is, what’s with The Hive Dwellers? America hears Calvin Johnson, already established to be the #1 great guy, talking about these Hive Dwellers that he’s been hanging out with and everybody gets a bit uneasy. Like, we all love Calvin so much, but we also hate nearly everything that dwells in a hive. Nothing good has ever come from a hive! But, you know, we’ve gotta trust Calvin on this one. The Hive Dwellers are his new band and, you know what, I bet they’re great.

But I’m not a betting man. When it comes down to it, I’ll place my money on my eyes and not on the chips on the poker wheel. (I… don’t really… know a lot about… gambling….) We can all decide for ourselves how these Hive Dwellers truly fare when they go on tour later this month. And by ‘all,’ I mean exclusively those in Washington state. Because that’s as far as this tour is going. Johnson also has some solo dates (a godsend for those who just can’t get over this whole hive thing) planned for the coming months. Those dates break free from the confines of Washington and spread all the way to… Portland, Oregon.

The Hive Dwellers dates:

05.20.11 - Kennewick, WA - Kennewick Coffee
05.21.11 - Yakima, WA - North Town Coffeehouse
05.22.11 - Seattle, WA - The Bread Factory
05.23.11 - Olympia, WA - Northern
05.28.11 - Seattle, WA - Northwest Folklife Festival
06.30.11 - Olympia, WA - Northern

Calvin Johnson solo dates:

05.11.11 - Seattle, WA - Funny Button
06.22.11 - Portland, OR - Cherry Sprout Produce

• The Hive Dwellers:

Neon Marshmallow Fest sells fundraising tape feat. Dylan Ettinger, Lucky Dragons, Bill Orcutt, and probably some intentional tape hiss

Let me ask you a few questions.

1. Do you like noise/experimental/electronic music? Of course you do. Go to #2.

2. Do you live in Chicago? If yes, go to #3. If no, go to #4.

3. Do you have $70 for a weekend pass to the Neon Marshmallow Festival in June, featuring Bill Orcutt, Lucky Dragons, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Dylan Ettinger? If no, go to #4. If yes, go to #4 anyway.

4. Now that we’ve established the fact that you would go to Chicago’s Neon Marshmallow Festival if you could, would you like to buy a fundraiser tape to support the festival that you can/can’t afford, will/will not attend? Yes? Okay, go to #5.

5. The Neon Marshmallow Festival has just offered a special cassette with unreleased tracks from artists playing the festival. For six bucks, you can support live music and get a professional-quality tape of some incredible performers (or for $25, you can buy tickets to individual nights if you’re in or near Chicagoland — highly recommended).

Here’s the contents of the tape:

Beau Wanzer, “Rhythm Track #46”
C V L T S, “White Cluster”
Dylan Ettinger, “Being Boiled”
Leslie Keffer, “Luna Loblolly”
Lucky Dragons, “Up and Down
Mike Shiflet, “They Sold Us Everything And We Begged Them For More”
Outer Space, “Draw a Door and Knock Twice (‘86 mix edit)”
Pulse Emitter, “Pool”
Rene Hell, “Automated Drowning Tank”
Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe (Lichens), “Bulles”
The Rita, “Women Killed in the Sea”
Sick Llama, “Leave Earth”
Sickness, “The Human Condition”
Spiral Joy Band, “Seven Horses”
Telecult Powers, “A Tale From the New Crow Hill Gnostic Lodge”
Tiger Hatchery, “Blue Aiwass”
White Rainbow, “TDK SUPA HIGH”
Zac Davis, “Live 8/7/08”

What are you waiting for, CDs to come back in style? Oh, and here’s the updated lineup for each day of the fest:

Friday, June 10:
Lucky Dragons
White Rainbow
Rene Hell
James Plotkin
Michael Zerang | Michael Colligan | Jim Baker Trio
Spiral Joy Band
film: Experimental 1/2 Hour

Saturday, June 11:
Oneohtrix Point Never
Bill Orcutt
Outer Space
Sword Heaven
Dylan Ettinger
Leslie Keffer
film: Selected animated works of Alice Cohen

Sunday, June 12:
Morton Subotnick
The Rita
Pulse Emitter
Telecult Powers
Mike Shiflet
Sick Llama
Beau Wanzer
Tiger Hatchery
film: Selected works of Amy Ruhl

• Neon Marshmallow Festival:

Warner Music Group bought by Russian billionaire for $3.3 billion at the insistence of his Paramore-loving granddaughter

After waving its fanny in the air for a number of months, Warner Music Group has finally found a mate in Russian billionaire Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, who purchased the entire firm today for $3.3 billion — in cash! The Financial Times had estimated that WMG was getting bids between $1.4 and $2 billion, but that was before Blavatnik busted open the boardroom doors and gave CEO Edgar Bronfman five minutes in the Access Industries money machine. As the firm was bought in full, WMG will now become a private company with no shares listed on the NYSE.

Bronfman, wiping away tears of joy with unsold Built to Spill picture discs, had this to say about their new owners in a companywide memo: “Access is deeply committed to helping us achieve our fullest potential in the years to come. They value our rich history and understand that success relies on a relentless commitment to artist development and A&R. They know that our people are the best in the business. And they recognize the excellence in—” got it, buddy. Bronfman’s enthusiasm likely stems from the fact that he’ll probably get to keep his position in the company; Blavatnik has had a long positive relationship with the CEO, serving on Warner’s board in the past and regularly complimenting Bronfman on his neatly kept beard.

As for Blavatnik, this is one of the more risky investments he’s made, having built his fortune on oil and aluminum giants, neither of which have to worry about how they’re going to market another Goo Goo Dolls album. But if there’s anybody who can twist the public’s arm and get them to buy a lousy CD, it’s probably the guy who organized a hostile takeover of a tractor factory in post-Soviet Russia. Blavatnik is also rumored to be planning a similar purchase of EMI in the coming months (currently owned by Citigroup), which makes sense since EMI and Warner have been trying to merge for years, and also because the guy’s got oodles of green to spare, even after dropping billions today. Hmmm….

Dear Mr. Blavatnik,

As an employee of Tiny Mix Tapes LLC, I keep my finger on the pulse of current and future WMG clients on a daily basis. My news articles on WMG artists reach a wide swathe of young professionals all over the world, thanks to the social networking solutions I employ, combined with my ‘can-do’ attitude. Given the opportunity, I would stop at nothing to achieve excellence and develop winning strategies for today’s hottest WMG artists and entertainers. I’ve read about your hostile takeover of a tractor factory, and I found that your ability to seize an opportunity mirrors my own strengths and ambitions. I hope to hear from you soon regarding this exciting and fruitful partnership.

Warm regards,

• Warner Music Group:

Robert Pollard is the Third Revelation, he is the Lord of the Birdcage — or at least he’s coming out with Lord of the Birdcage in June

Lately we’ve been highlighting Thee Oh Sees for their assiduous work ethic and a resulting output that’s so consistent you could time trains to it. It seems like every time John Dwyer sneezes, an album comes out (to say nothing of the quality of the records — we’re big fans here). The original king of pop prolificacy, however, is Guided By Voices’ Robert Pollard, and true to form, Bob’s announced another solo album, out June 7 from his own GBV label. There’s still time for Dwyer to learn from the master, after all.

For those expecting more of the same, Lord of the Birdcage isn’t really your standard Pollard record, or an extension of Space City Kicks, Pollard’s latest from this past January. The dozen tracks were first written as poems, and then converted into ballads and waltzes. If that seems a little too Lord Byron to you, don’t worry; Bob’s still playing “Tractor Rape Chain” with Guided By Voices at festivals throughout the summer. And hey, if you don’t like it, there’s plenty of other albums to fall back on.

Lord of the Birdcage tracklisting:

01. Smashed Middle Finger
02. Aspersion
03. Dunce Codex
04. Garden Smarm
05. You Can’t Challenge Forward Progress
06. In A Circle
07. You Sold Me Quickly
08. The Focus (Burning)
09. Ribbon Of Fat
10. Silence Before Violence
11. Holy Fire
12. Ash Ript Telecopter

• Robert Pollard:
• Guided By Voices: