Shapes and Sizes Are Movin’ On Up… To the East-Side (of Canada)

It may be hard to believe, but there was a time when the mere mention of "Montréal" immediately prompted wistful thoughts of this [Shapes and Sizes look to be the latest act to receive the golden touch of luck that residency in Montréal brings].

Wait, I know what you're thinking: "Hey dicklick! Shapes and Sizes are from Vancouver, not Montréal!" Well, the Victoria-born and Vancouver-based group are now Montréal-bound, as the band have decided to pack up their gear and try their luck in "la belle province." Whether a change in home camp will result in success on the scale of century-long hockey glory or 1.5 month-long indie rock message-board talk is anyone's guess, but the quartet is having a plum year nevertheless.

Before setting up permanent headquarters, the band will head out on vacation, albeit a working one. Like so many Canadian "snowbirds," Shapes and Sizes will spend the cold month of December in the mostly agreeable U.S., touring in continued support of their summer smash debut album on Asthmatic Kitty, Shapes and Sizes. There should be plenty of new songs to hear as well, because they recently recorded their second album (tentatively due in the spring of 2007).

Before the sophomore effort hits both concrete and virtual stores, Asthmatic Kitty will be releasing a new single by the band, with a twist. The label will be launching its "Unusual Animals Series" on January 23 with the release of the first in a series of split 7-inch singles. As the title suggests, the goal is to pair seemingly unsimilar acts and perhaps highlight the more "experimental" side of the record co. Volume 1 has "Jinker/That Fat Hand" by, you guessed it, Shapes and Sizes paired with The Weird Weeds' "Hold in the Light." Future singles include Half-Handed Cloud splitting sides with Ariel Pink and a Castanets/Dirty Projectors disc. Each will be sleeved in designs by kinky illustrator and animator Jared Chapman. If you are allergic to vinyl or don't own a turntable, the songs in this series will be available for streaming on the Asthmatic Kitty website. The following shows will not, so you'll have to get out of your bedrooms and away from your computers to see 'em.

12.01.05 - Missoula, MT - The Loft
12.02.06 - Billings, MT - Venture Theatre
12.04.06 - Fargo, ND - Aquarium
12.05.06 - Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry
12.06.06 - Madison, WI - Café Montmarte
12.07.06 - Chicago, IL - Beat Kitchen
12.08.06 - Urbana, IL - Courtyard Café *
12.09.06 - Columbus, OH - Andyman's Treehouse
12.10.06 - Covington, KY - Southgate House
12.11.06 - Muncie, IN - Village Green Records #
12.12.06 - Bloomington, IN - TBA
12.14.06 - Austin, TX - Emo's $
12.15.06 - Dallas, TX - The Roadhouse
12.16.06 - Odessa, TX - The Cavern
12.17.06 - Phoenix, AZ - Modified Arts %
12.19.06 - San Diego, CA - Che Café ^
12.20.06 - Los Angeles, CA - Spaceland
12.21.06 - San Francisco, CA - Botton of the Hill

* w/Headlights
# w/Arrah and The Ferns, This Story
$ w/The Weird Weeds
% w/Dressy Bessy
^ w/Bunky, Rafter and Friends

Live Nation Finishes Buying Out House of Blues; Still In Negotiations with White House, Greenhouse Effect, Satan

Michael Rapino, CEO of the charming cash succubus that is Live Nation, has a heartwarming message for all music lovers: "We are excited about continuing to build the great House of Blues brand throughout the world. It will provide Live Nation with a great mid-size music business to compliment our music venue portfolio." Set your fears aside, people. The world's largest promoter and venue operator is getting bigger... and they're excited about it! Yes, the $350 million acquisition of the House of Blues franchise is finally finishing up after recently being cleared by the Department of Justice. Rapino plans on keeping the HOB brand name intact out of respect for the franchise's legacy, and in no way to dampen the public awareness that Live Nation controls every building in your hometown, including your own grandmother's garage. Next time you decide to visit, remember to bring enough lemonade for her and each member of Mudhoney.

Currently, there are only a small number of Blues Houses in select American cities, but Rapino's future plans are to aggressively force the Blues into every nook and cranny of the world. Live Nation's aim is to open its arms wide enough to encompass a rainbow monopoly over both stadium-size venues and alcohol-caked alleyways. Questions about antitrust issues come to mind, but these concerns are failing to make Rapino tremble: "We think there are still lots of opportunities for bands and the consumers to see bands in venues everywhere." Well. If his dizzyingly nuanced way with words is any indication of this merger's future, we all have a lot to look forward to next time we go to a show. Like, for example, guitar solos sponsored by Applebee's.

The Constantines Trek To Live Show Dates To Play A Rock Tour Jaunt

All these bands — well, at least The Killers and The Hold Steady — lately — well, more like the last 20 years, but whatever — seem to — these asides aren't bothering you, are they? — be becoming more musically enamored and influenced with the Garden State's most famous gift to the world (if you said The Shins or Braff, you are sad), Bruce Springsteen. But, it is easy to forget that The Constantines have a couple years on all these Brucey-come-latelys. In this fast-paced, rat-race world, where a day seems like a year, a year probably seems like at least a couple years, maybe even three, it may seem like longer, but it was about one year ago that those Canadian-uniters of punk, rock and Bruce put out their latest LP, Tournament of Hearts, on Sub Pop rock city.

Now you can relive those heady days by attending a show during a short tour by those scruffy and loveable brothers in arms, who formed the band back in Guelph, Ontario in 1999. Why so much talk of Canada? Surely not because it has been hyped-to-death as a country with an astonishing amount of amazing bands. Incidentally, Canada, I think Sweden is nipping at your heels, so watch your back and cover your ass. Canada, while it is old news in the independent rock world, is important to all this talk of The Constantines, mostly because their upcoming shows are almost all taking place in Canuck country. So grab your passport, prepare to be hassled by overzealous border security, and (legally) get super drunk — you crazy 19-year-old — while checking out the boys who have brought the Boss back into relevance (something he can't seem to do himself). Fellow Springsteen acolytes The Hold Steady, as well as the band with possibly the most ironic band name ever, The Tragically Hip, and the general good band The Creeping Nobodies will be playing alongside The Constantines during what essentially amounts to three different jaunts:

11.21.06 - Philadelphia, PA - The North Bar *
11.22.06 - Brooklyn, NY - Warsaw *
11.29.06 - Waterloo, ON - Starlight Social Club #
11.30.06 - London, ON - Call the Office #
12.01.06 - Toronto, ON - Lees Palace #
12.02.06 - Toronto, ON - Lees Palace (matinee - CARE Canada benefit) @
12.02.06 - Hamilton, ON - The Underground (evening show) #
12.08.06 - Sudbury, ON - Townehouse Tavern ^
12.09.06 - Brantford, ON - Ford Plant ^
01.29.07 - Peterborough, ON - Peterborough Memorial Centre $
01.31.07 - Oshawa, ON - General Motors Centre $
02.02.07 - Ottawa, ON - Scotiabank Place $

* w/ The Hold Steady
# w/ Lullabye Arkestra
@ w/ Jason Collet
^ w/ The Creeping Nobodies
$ w/ The Tragically Hip

Caroliner Celebrate 23rd Birthday with Huge Exhibit and Live Performance; Michael Jordan Conspicuously Absent, and Jordan Made All of the Other Birthdays

I asked a friend of mine why he decided to steal a kayak and paddle to a lighthouse while on LSD. He told me he saw a spaceman while running up a hill in an attempt to dodge the policemen who raided a hotel crack party. The spaceman told him to walk to the beach, which is two miles from the hill, and make his way to Faulkner’s Island. While at the beach, he met the other three people who took acid with him that night. Apparently, they received the same message. The story left me with one of those WTF looks on my face. It was one of the most bizarre things I ever heard.

Shortly thereafter, I discovered the music of Caroliner, a deranged band of miscreants from the Bay Area in California, who claimed to play covers of songs originally sung by a magical singing bull in 1833. (I'm not making this up). The bull's owner killed and ate it. As a tribute to the magical singing bull, the band adorns themselves in flamboyant day-glo costumes (think Green Jelly meets the Merry Pranksters by way of Nautical Almanac and crust punks) and play wildly noisy, dissonant folk music. Their record sleeves are handmade and each packaged with a set of hand-typed lyrics. The sound quality on each record brings to mind 78 rpm blues and folk records, only accentuated with fuzzy montages, high-pitched vocals, and Henry Flynt-like Fluxus guitar lines. None other than Alex Ross called them "some lost American Baroque, retrieved at rummage sales" in a 1993 article from The New York Times.

On December 13, PLAySPACE in San Francisco, a division of California College of the Arts, celebrates 23 years of these American underworld icons with an extensive exhibit. The exhibit features a collection of Caroliner's costumes, props, instruments, records, and flyers from concerts. A live concert from the legends themselves at California College of the Arts Graduate Center in San Francisco will mark the closing ceremony on January 13.
23 Years of Caroliner is curated by Sarrita Hunn, Marcella Faustini, and Museum of Viral Memory. It runs December 13, 2006 through January 19th, 2007 at PLAySPACE California College of the Arts, 1111 8th Street (at 16th and Wisconsin), San Francisco. Regular gallery hours are Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 12-3 PM or by appointment.

The closing reception will be held on Saturday, January 13 from 6-8 PM, with a live performance by Caroliner at 8 PM. It's their first live performance in a year-and-a-half. Don't drink the milk, kiddies.

Far fucking out.

Beirut (aka Zach Condon) Cancels Tour Due to Extreme Exhaustion

You remember The Decemberists, right? We just don't seem to give them enough attention around here. I mean, we give their records consistently low scores, we hardly ever report their tours on time, and we basically just think they're on the cusp of writing a Coke jingle. Doubtless they'll go downhill from here, now that we've made this statement of discontent with their progress.

Hot on the heels of their first album released on a major, The Crane Wife [TMT Review] — which barely registered on the TMT radar — The Decemberists have announced their latest scheme to garner publicity. They've decided to auction themselves off to hopeful fans in a sordid series of so-called "romantic encounters." Bizarrely, for a band comprising only five members, they intend to run 2007 dates on consecutive nights. I've never been on that many in my life! If you do the math, that's just over 400 dates for each band member. Colin Meloy is going to be sore at the end of this, no question about that.

What this means for the Decemberists' tour plans as yet remains unknown, but if you would like a chance at getting to know Jenny Conlee a little bit better, maybe lasciviously watching her play the keyboard lick from "The Island: Come and See/The Landlord’s Daughter/You’ll Not Feel the Drowning," then you might want to turn up at the following venues:

02.02.07 - Sheffield, England - Leadmill
02.03.07 - Dublin, Ireland - Village
02.04.07 - Glasgow, Scotland - ABC
02.05.07 - Manchester, England - Academy 2
02.07.07 - Nottingham, England - Trent University
02.08.07 - London, England - Shepherds Bush Empire
02.09.07 - Southampton, England - University
02.10.07 - Brussels, Belgium - Botanique
02.12.07 - Cologne, Germany - Prime Club
02.13.07 - Hamburg, Germany - Knust
02.14.07 - Berlin, Germany - Postbahnhof
02.16.07 - Fribourg, Switzerland - Fri-son
02.17.07 - Bologna, Italy - Estragon
02.18.07 - Munich, Germany - Ampere
02.19.07 - Vienna, Austria - Flex Club
02.21.07 - Amsterdam, the Netherlands
02.22.07 - Paris, France - La Maroquinerie

Oh, and don't forget: The Decemberists have released a digital-only EP, EXCLUSIVE to Sony. WOW! Here are some songs: "O! Valencia," "The Perfect Crime #2," "The Crane Wife 1 & 2," and a cover of "Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)." Double wow!

Beirut (aka Zach Condon) Cancels Tour Due to Extreme Exhaustion

According to Pitchfork, Beirut's Zach Condon was briefly hospitalized in Paris last Saturday due to "extreme exhaustion." Apparently, the "stress of organizing and traveling with a full-blown, 12-person orkestar took its toll," according to a representative from Beirut's U.S. label, Ba Da Bing!. Condon is now out of the hospital recovering, thankfully, but the remaining four dates of his U.S. tour are cancelled. We'll let you know if/when we hear anything about some new dates. BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT WE DO.

Oh, by the way, have you read this wonderful PopMatters article yet on Beirut? Yes, it may seem like quite the diatribe, but it's good (and important) reading for those of you interested in Beirut and perhaps Balkan and/or "World Music." Ever since I heard Beirut's Gulag Orkestar, I have been as highly suspicious as PopMatters (especially since everyone seems to be strokin'/rubbin' to the music without thinking twice about it). Now, I'm not one to say whether this is GOOD or BAD music (well, I am one to say, but I don't want to cuz it doesn't matter). All I know is that the topics discussed in the article ("authenticity," value, disconnection, tradition, culture, postmodern irony, aka Olskooly/P Funk/Mr P stuff) are things that need to be discussed on a wider scale. So read the article and at least THINK about SOMETHING when you listen to Beirut again.

11.16.06 - Providence, RI - Leung Gallery
11.18.06 - Bennington, VT - Bennington College
11.21.06 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
11.22.06 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom