RIP: Mickey Baker of Mickey & Sylvia

RIP: Mickey Baker of Mickey & Sylvia

From The New York Times:

Mickey Baker, whose prickly, piercing guitar riffs were featured on dozens if not hundreds of recordings and helped propel the evolution of rhythm and blues into rock ’n’ roll, died on Tuesday at his home in Montastruc-la-Conseillère, near Toulouse in southwestern France. He was 87.

The cause was heart and kidney failure, his wife, Marie, said.

Mr. Baker is probably best known for a single song, “Love Is Strange,” a sexy pop tune that he and Sylvia Vanderpool Robinson recorded in 1956 as Mickey & Sylvia. It sold more than a million copies and reached No. 1 on Billboard’s rhythm-and-blues chart and No. 11 on the pop chart.

• Mickey Baker:

Awesome Tapes from Africa reissues 1987 cassette release from Mogadishu’s finest, Dur-Dur Band

What does Mogadishu sound like? Well, before it sounded like strife and civil war, Somalia’s coastal capital had a bangin’ music scene, and the people at Awesome Tapes from Africa wanna share a little piece of that magic with you, in the form of a reissue of Dur-Dur Band’s 1987 Volume 5 cassette.

Dur-Dur Band were one of the leaders of Mogadishu’s musical community, fusing elements of traditional Somali music with Western jazz and pop vibes and adding in a dash of Middle Eastern flava. Established in the early 1980s, Dur-Dur Band pack a lotta punch into their lineup, with four featured vocalists — including the celebrated Sahra Dawo — as well as backing vocalists, plus trumpet, sax, keyboard, congas, drums, bass, and guitars. The reissue of Volume 5 is a moving tribute to the vibrancy of Mogadishu arts and culture before the bad stuff happened. Awesome Tapes from Africa is bringing Dur-Dur Band back on CD, LP, digital download, and limited-edition cassette on February 5.

• Awesome Tapes from Africa:

Cheatahs’ debut album claws its way into North America on February 5

London’s Cheatahs are a throwback to an alternate-dream-90s where Dinosaur Jr. mated with fuzzed-out country rock and made beautiful English children. Who were born with guitars strapped to their infant chests. And where no one ever wore cargo pants. And where the ABC family sitcom Dinosaurs was, in retrospect, actually funny. Yes, Cheatahs have been winning grungy hearts across the pond with the two EPs they released earlier in the year, Coared and SANS, and now Wichita Recordings has compiled those two releases into one eight-track LP called Extended Plays. The irony! Those English! Isn’t the English version of The Office so much better than the American one blah blah blah droll humour Downton Abbey?

Anyway, Extended Plays hits US shores on February 5, and there’s a nifty new video for the lead track, “The Swan,” that you can check out below. Coinciding with said album release, Cheatahs will be voyaging to North America for a quick March 2013 East Coast tour with similarly-buzzed-about bands Veronica Falls and Cold Showers. The tour kicks off at Washington, DC’s famed Black Cat and wraps at Toronto’s The Garrison.

Extended Plays tracklisting:

01. The Swan
02. SANS
03. Fountain Park
04. Flake
05. Coared
06. Ripper
07. Jacobi
08. Froshed


03.06.13 - Washington DC - Black Cat
03.07.13 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda’s
03.08.13 - New York City, NY - Bowery Ballroom
03.09.13 - Boston, MA - Great Scott
03.10.13 - Montreal, QC - la divan orange
03.12.13 - Toronto, ON - The Garrison

• Cheatahs:
• Wichita:

[Photo: Robin Christian]

ahnnu proclaims “ahnnu whatchu want,” begins West Coast tour

Call me a stickler for nuance, but I sometimes wish artists were required (by some musical Big Brother) to document every creative and technical decision that they make in their crafting of an album. That way, listeners would be able to get an immediate and detailed sense of just how much (or how little) work and talent was put in, and adjust their opinions accordingly.

Listening to ahnnu’s remarkably smooth 29-minute sample-fest pro habitat (TMT Review), the question of whether or not work or talent was involved hardly merits a response; obviously, indisputably, the answer is yes, but now we’re concerned with degrees. It’s apparent that he worked his ass off, but just how much of his ass did he work… off? Are the two cheeks still mostly recognizable? I might just have to do some serious/borderline creepy investigative reporting and invite myself into his studio to watch the man at work if I want to obtain a clear and complete answer to this.

Or I (and you) could just catch him on his West Coast tour, which begins today in Pasadena, CA. To be sure, live performances aren’t quite as thorough a method of obtaining information about recording processes as being obnoxiously insistent, but fun-having remains a distinct characteristic of the former. Have fun and witness a burgeoning talent in the abstract/instrumental hip-hop scene at one of the dates below.

Dates (all w/ Ages, Mndsgn, and DTCPU):

11.30.12 - Pasadena, CA - Poo-Bah Record Label and Store
12.01.12 - San Francisco, CA - Icon Lounge
12.04.12 - Seattle, WA - The Lo-Fi Gallery
12.05.12 - Portland, OR - Groove Suite
12.07.12 - Oakland, CA - The Fox Theater
12.08.12 - Arcata, CA - Ocean Grove Lodge
12.14.12 - Los Angeles, CA - Space 15 Twenty

• ahnnu:

The Thermals gas up their Dodge van for new album in 2013

I think The Thermals put it best when they said, “Yeah, everything Thermals!” In my personal list of lyrics about The Thermals, it is in the Top 3. Thing is, life hasn’t been “everything Thermals” in some time. The Portland-based pop-punk trio haven’t put out any records since 2010’s Personal Life (TMT Review). For people who love The Thermals (note: I am one of these people), this is far too long to go without a new record.

As you might have expected from that lead-in, there’s going to be a new Thermals record in 2013. Sound the trumpets! The new record is called… something. The band hasn’t given the record a name yet. But it will come out through… someone. If there’s a label attached to the record at the moment, The Thermals aren’t telling. Their last two records came out through Kill Rock Stars, so that’s not a terrible guess. Anyway, the nameless, label-less record is coming out… sometime. Okay, so there’s not a release date either, but the band is aiming for spring 2013.

While the usual basics aren’t yet available for this record, there is some other information available. The album was recorded with John Agnello (producer behind Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, Kurt Vile, and many others) at Water Music in Hoboken, New Jersey. Mixing was completed on October 28, mere hours before Hurricane Sandy hit. The band describes the record as a cross between their two best-loved records, More Parts Per Million and The Body, The Blood, The Machine. While this description is exciting, I am perturbed that most Thermals records do not recognize Now We Can See as the best Thermals record. You other Thermals fans need to get it together.

No dates have been announced for the band, though they do plan on playing many dates at SXSW in March. If we’re in the business of speculating, expect The Thermals to play Red 7, The Mohawk, The Parish, Emo’s, a taco truck on East Sixth Street, Beauty Ballroom, Wendy’s, a dog park, my living room, and, somehow, a casino in Louisiana. That is a lot of (speculative) SXSW dates!

• The Thermals:

[Photo: Thomas Oliver]

Bradford Cox to play Jared Leto’s lover in new Matthew McConaughey movie. Can a Deerhunter tour with 30 Seconds to Mars and McConaughey doing stand-up comedy be far behind???

Man. Just when Lockett Pundt finally got a little bit of name recognition…

The Hollywood Reporter has gone and Hollywood-reported that Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox will play a Hollywood role in a new Hollywood movie directed by Hollywood director Jean-Marc Valleé and starring Hollywood-based Hollywood actor Matthew McConaughey. In the film, Matthew McConaughey plays main character Rod Woodroof, “a Texas electrician diagnosed with AIDS who took it upon himself to find alternative medicine in order to treat himself.” Man, that’s good writing! This is gonna be great!

Anyway, the movie also stars Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, and Griffin Dunne; and Cox was cast as Leto’s love interest, “a cross-dresser dying of AIDS” (I assume an album of Reagan-era rock duets will follow this film’s release). On choosing Cox for the roll, Valleé remarked “I just loved it when he played that song ‘My Sharona’ for an hour that one time. That was brilliant. That was his audition.” I’m just kidding. Valleé never said any of that that. But, like, maybe he thought it, though? Either way! The film is currently still shooting in New Orleans, will be out eventually-ish, will probably really knock ‘em dead at the box office, blah blah blah. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go take it upon myself to feed myself!

• Deerhunter:
• Hollywood: