The Secret Machines Loses Founding Member Benjamin Curtis

Founding member Benjamin Curtis has officially left The Secret Machines. Curtis played guitar and sang for the group since the beginning, so it's quite the shock to see him skedaddle just before the recording of the group's third album. His brother and now former bandmate Brandon Curtis made an announcement on The Secret Machine's official message board:

I am writing to make a couple of announcements. First of all I want to let everybody know that The Secret Machines have begun work on our third album. We expect to begin recording sometime in the beginning of May. Unfortunately, I also must share that after 7 and 1/2 years of playing music together Benjamin has decided to no longer be a part of the band. It is a sad day but also an exciting one as he prepares to focus full time on his new creative venture, School of Seven Bells. He has told me that he expects to be finished with a new record very soon as well as there being plans in the works to play some shows here in New York debuting the band. Of course Josh and I wish him all the best.

He doesn't spoil the surprise in the post, but TMT is happy to announce the exclusive info that he will now be the sixth member of Radiohead. Congrats, you're moving on up! In other news, I have a dentist appointment on April 24 and Radiohead will be headlining.

McDonald’s Adds Shellac’s New LP and Euro Tour to Dollar Menu

How does one place value on music, and what factors might contribute to our current valuation of music? Supply and demand? Entertainment value? Best Buy? Major labels? Independents? P2P networks? iTunes? Shit, actual material cost?? Who knows, man. Who knows. And who knows what influenced the mind of eBay user alexraraavis a couple weeks ago when the dude bought Shellac's famously rare, ultra-limited The Futurist for a whopping $1,118! DasalottaMcRibs!! Commodity fetishist or good investor? I don't know. What I do know is that if I didn't have to invest the TMT ad money in a new luxury car full of PORN, I would've outbidded Mr. alexraraavis.

Now, let me ask you a serious question: do you like The Stooges? In mid-April, Shellac will be playing a show with The Stooges at Chicago's Congress, which is why I asked if you like The Stooges. You should probably consider going if you like The Stooges, because if you like both Shellac and The Stooges, boy are you in for a treat, because liking both Shellac and The Stooges will truly make it a special night!! (Because you like both of Shellac and The Stooges.) Oh, and rumor has it that earlier in the same week, Touch and Go will finally release Shellac's fourth full-length, Excellent Italian Greyhound, which means you can sing/scream along to every word coming out of Albini's beautiful, slightly chapped lips if you pick it up before the show. (Word on the street is that this rumor is going to stay a rumor, so you're pretty much screwed.)

So, fuck dude, do you like The Stooges or what?

Photo: Calbee Booth

Wilco Unveils Sky Blue Sky By Flying the Friendly Skies

I remember when I first laid hands on A.M., and what a marvelous experience it was. As a teenager, I was *gasp* a member of BMG, or was it Columbia House? Anyway, that's not important. What is important is the hours I would spend not doing homework, choosing to weed through wafer-thin catalog after wafer-thin catalog looking to discover something different, which I suppose is hard since I was after all a member of a generic clearing house. However, one glorious day, the cover of Wilco's A.M. rose above the rest of the CDs, and a new fan was born. Subsequent Wilco releases were always met with much anticipation and eager money-dropping on release days. Oh, what splendid Tuesdays those were.

Imagine my glee (and that of a far greater, more diehard crop of fans who scare me a bit) to find out Wilco is blessing us with Sky Blue Sky, the band's first studio album since A Ghost is Born three years past. And while the band's message board fanatics warred about which songs would make the final cut and which ones were unworthy by citing recent live performances and bootlegs, Wilco pushed ahead, persevered, and have now delivered a bona fide tracklist.

It seems as if that's old news -- as if I'm missing something. Ah, Wilco previewed Sky Blue Sky Saturday night to an eager internet audience streaming the album in its entirety. If you missed your chance to hear the album or just didn't give a damn, you can make up for it if you fly to Australia and Europe with the band as they prepare to unleash the new batch of songs on an unsuspecting foreign audience. That is, after all, what this news bit is about. I'm here to do a little dance, make a little love, stall a bit, and then give you the info in such a rush that I will probably forget to even comple

Sky Blue Sky tracklist:

Warner Fakes Right, Darts Left, Lobs it Up… REJECTED!

Well, you can't fault WMG's determination. Late last week, EMI announced that it is yet again rejecting a takeover bid from Warner Music Group. Worth roughly $4.1 billion, the proposal was deemed "inadequte" and could lead to "prolonged regulatory uncertainty and unacceptable operational risk at a critical time for the company," said EMI in a statement.

What started off as a seemingly romantic novel between two star-crossed lovers has slowly revealed itself to be a comedy, as this latest rejection closes another hilarious chapter between WMG and EMI. Here's a preview of what to expect in the coming year:

"EMI remains focused on maximizing the performance of the business, including implementation of the restructuring program [read: layoffs] announced on January 12, 2007."

See, it just keeps getting funnier! C'mon, laugh with me! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! HAHA! SOB SOB!! BOOHOO!! SOB SOB!! Aww.... what's the matter, sweetie? NOTHING!! Haha, I'm just kidding! HAHA! What!? JERK! I thought you were for serious! Nope! Haha, well, I guess that is kinda funny! HAHA! HAHA! Now put some stank on me!! Mmmm, mmm, smooch smooch, oh yeah, this is nice.. ooooh, mmmm, yes, yes... oh yeah... Whoa, WHAT WAS THAT? Huh? I didn't hear anything... C'mon, come back here... Well, okay, but I thought I heard something... Just kiss me fool... mmmm, mmmm... oh yeah, baby, smooch smooch, oh yeah... WAIT! Shhhhh... What? I heard something again... C'mon, it's nothing! Probably just an antelope. Now, c'mon, you're ruining the mood... No, really, I heard something this time. Oh jeez... now I'm not in the mood. Sorry... but I swear there's something out there. Whatever. No, really, I think there's something out there. Whatever. Well, sorry. You know, maybe I should just take you home. Really? Right now? Yeah... I'm tired anyway, and I should get back. Okay. You still want to hang out tomorrow though? Well, we'll see. I really need to get my apartment cleaned. Oh, well, I could help if you want. Naw, that's okay. I'll try to get it done early. I'll call you though once I get it finished. Okay, cool. Alright, I'll take you home now. Hey. Yeah? Are you mad at me? No. Promise? Yeah, no worries.

The Zincs To Bring Back Those Old Ventilation Blues Again

I knew a guy at a university who was heavily into "math rock." He also loved Bob Marley. I think he took Humanities or Communication or some other uselessness. He would get stoned and sit for hours on his couch watching TV or checking out something on his Fender Strat electronic specification printout on the wall. His nickname was "Daze" (I swear I couldn't make this shit up if I tried). On the other wall (his place only had two walls), there was a Periodic Table of the Elements. He took some pride in knowing a bit about the atomic numbers and weights on the table and asked you to quiz him on these every now and then. He was basically a knob who, in addition to offering Grade-A pot by the barrel, would spout what he thought were need-to-know facts about our friends on his Periodic poster. This quick learning session would invariably be followed by a scheme to use said element to get high. One of his favorites was about zinc. The brief conversation always went something like this:

Daze: Hey man [of course], did you know zinc isn't generally poisonous, but if you inhale ZnO you can get 'the oxide shakes' or 'zinc chills?'

Me: Oh?

Daze: Hey man, do you wanna maybe see if I can get my hands on some zinc…

At which point I would normally stand up and politely say, "Thanks for the times. I forgot I have somewhere to be…"

I'm not such a weak-kneed uni student anymore. When I'm jonesin' for zinc shakes, I get the purest form possible: The Zincs. Always go to source, that's what I say. The Zincs will be pushing Black Pompadour, their third album of handsome tunes with dark tongue, through the always reliable middle-man Thrill Jockey on March 20. Keep your windows closed while playing for optimum results, man.

RIAA Creates Website for College Kids to Pay Directly, One Step Away from RIAA Direct DepositTM

Slightly dismayed by negative reactions to their last college campus-focused anti-piracy campaign (though notably unashamed), the RIAA has decided to shift its message from warm legal reminders to passive-aggressive, sugar-coated death threats. While last time they swooped down on campuses with fun and colorful DVDs to throw away, this time they've created an ominous website where individuals facing lawsuits over file-sharing can skip past pesky arguments and send money to them directly, almost like PayPal if PayPal sustained itself solely on the sound of weeping and gnashing of teeth. If these individuals choose to settle their suits through the RIAA's website within 20 days of being marked for slaughter, they can pay "at a discounted rate." Wow! I almost feel like getting sued myself, just so I can benefit from their generous savings.

RIAA President Cary Sherman said, "Because we know that some audiences -- particularly campus music downloaders -- can sometimes be impervious to even the most compelling educational messages or legal alternatives, these new efforts aim to help students recognize that the consequences for illegal downloading are more real than ever before." And he means real! You know how he was talking about copyright laws before, and it really sounded like he wasn't joking? He had that poker-face and was looking you directly in the eye and even sort of trembled like his own children had been affected, and you couldn't help but believe him? Remember that? Well forget it!! It's even realer than that! That was like 50% real, 50% imaginary, but now it's totally palpable, like maybe only 5% of it is still bullshit!

Along with the website, the RIAA also sent out 400 pre-litigation letters to 13 universities on Wednesday, so if you go to Arizona State University, Marshall University, North Carolina State University, North Dakota State University, Northern Illinois University, Ohio University, Syracuse University, the University of Massachusetts -- Amherst, the University of Nebraska -- Lincoln, the University of South Florida, the University of Southern California, the University of Tennessee -- Knoxville, or the University of Texas -- Austin, please remain seated and re-check your e-mails. If you go to all these universities, leave a note for Mom and just run out the front door, following the North star.

Mitch Bainwol, RIAA CEO, said, "We understand that no deterrence or education program will 'solve' piracy. Our job is to provide sufficient oxygen for the legal marketplace to show its true promise." Those around Bainwol at the time had no idea what he meant in his second sentence, but wrote it down and reported it anyway because they appreciate sentences that end with a "true promise."