The Shins Lose Two Members, Write 30 New Songs, Prep New Album, Tour, Have Major Label Dreams

The Shins, who are currently on tour throughout the U.S. of A. (remaining dates listed below!), have made a couple changes and been hard at work over the last year, even though they “claim” to have been on a break. Apparently, the Albuquerque natives are not ones to just kick back and relax.

First off, the sad news: keyboardist Marty Crandall and drummer Jesse Sandoval have, according to frontman James Mercer, left the band albeit on good terms. They will be replaced in the band by Fruit Bats’ ivory-tickling Ron Lewis and Joe Plummer, who plays for both Black Heart Procession and Modest Mouse, bringing his total band count to three.

Beyond the loss of comrades and the welcoming of new members, James Mercer assures us (well, assures Rolling Stone) that a giant litter of new songs have sprung forth from his, and the band’s, collective head. Dispatching this writer’s hope of a Shins double album, Mercer says he plans on working the new tunes down to a more manageable, single album’s worth of tracks. “[The album] is pretty much there,” says Mercer. “I’m just waiting to sort out the lyrics as usual. That’s like homework.”

To add to the already busy world of a tour, new album, and new band members, The Shins might also be switching record labels, as we previously reported (TMT News). The three-album deal the band had with Sub Pop has obviously been completed. Mercer says that the next album will be released on his Aural Apothecary imprint with help from a label to distribute and market the finished product. But Mercer had this to say: “We could negotiate a new contract with them or we can negotiate with another company. I know some people are [sic] Warner Bros. that I really like. Maybe they’ll give me a nudge, like, ‘Hey, when’s the next thing coming out? You’ve got to let us hear it.’ It’s nothing formal, though.”

Finally, beyond all of his work with The Shins, Mercer is writing the soundtrack to Chris Malloy’s new movie 180 Degrees South with some dude named Isaac Brock. “Isaac’s got a crazy collection of exotic instruments and stuff, so we messed around with those little thumb pianos,” says Mercer, adding that they also used a squeezebox and string arrangements for some of the songs. “I guess they sound like pastoral acoustic things. They’re actually more like pop songs than they ought to be. So there’s two of those songs that I think I’ll keep [for The Shins].”
05.09.09 - Oakland, CA - Fox Theatre
05.10.09 - Los Angeles, CA - Hollywood Palladium
05.11.09 - San Diego, CA - SOMA
05.13.09 - Richmond, VA - The National
05.14.09 - Washington, DC - 930 Club
05.15.09 - Baltimore, MD - Ram’s Head Live
05.16.09 - Philadelphia, PA - Electric Factory
05.17.09 - Montclair, NJ - Wellmont Theatre
05.18.09 - New York City, NY - Terminal Five

The Fiery Furnaces Want YOU to Help Write a New Album Based on the Album That They’ve Just Finished; They Also Want to Make You Say “HUH?” as Often as Possible

Okay, so, yes, we’re usually pretty funny and clever (viz.: wry, dry, droll, ironic, sardonic, satirical, smart, sharp, thesauric, encyclopedic, and downright dictionarical) here at Tiny Mix Tapes. That’s just what keeps us in business (aside from all of these here flashy ad banners), as well as part of what keeps those heaps of awards, requests, and fan mail rolling into our office at the steady clip of... of... well, a clipper ship or something, I guess -- I don’t know. But truth is, folks, that we’re not such oddball innovators and brainy geniuses after all. Nope. The truth is that all of our content, with all of its left turns and good ideas, is really brainstormed in private by Matt and Eleanor Friedberger of The Fiery Furnaces! Sad but true. They come up with wacky story ideas, and we just write ’em up. But I mean, you gotta give us a break, here. You can hardly blame us for using them. No one is as clever as these two are! If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the latest whacky scheme they’ve posted on their MySpace page this week.

First, on Monday, the band posted a MySpace blog post titled "DESCRIBE THE NEW FIERY FURNACES' ALBUM--WITHOUT HAVING HEARD IT!" asking, "Wouldn't it be interesting to see how Fiery Furnaces' fans would describe the new Fiery Furnaces' album--without having heard it?" The precocious siblings then prompted fans to email them at thefieryfurnacesemail@gmail.com with their thoughts and descriptions of what THEY (they = the fans; stay with me here) think that the new Furnaces record, I'm Going Away (due July 21 on Thrill Jockey) sounds like, based on nothing more than the title, tracklist, and said fans’ own rabid opinions about that the “new sound” of the Matt and Eleanor should be. They dubbed these almost-certainly fanatical musings "Deaf Descriptions."

Then, on Tuesday, another MySpace blog done-got-dropped, thickening the plot like so much AP flour and okra and explaining (and/or confounding) that The Fiery Furnaces intend to record "a ‘complete’ fan-made, word-only, entirely-unrelated, alternate version of I'm Going Away" based solely (solely means ‘entirely,’ now kids) on these “Deaf Descriptions.” This democratically-spirited monstrosity, which is, mind you, totally and completely SEPARATE from the actual I'm Going Away record, despite the fact that it’s 100% based on it, "could be called Exclusively-Acolyte, Altered-Otherwise, Hypo-Audio, I'm Going Away,” and will (and here’s the big finish, now)... also be released July 21 on Thrill Jockey!

So, that’s not one, but two different “versions” of I’m Going Away that are now being promised by the band, and they want you to email them at their plain ol’ Gmail account with your thoughts on what you think the new Fiery Furnaces album is going to sound like ASAP (cuz the freakin’ thing is DUE in like two months!). Thus, you (viz.: yourself, not me, not them, not some producer or tourmate or roadie, not Billy Corgan) will, in the process, be writing an EVEN NEWER Fiery Furnaces album that will, I guess, be released on the same day as the “old” one... which is also new???

See. I told you them siblings was clever buggers. We’d all just be whistling “Dixie” and tossing puke-hats around Golden Corral parking lots if t’weren’t for them. Dig?

Tourdates:
06.10.09 - Philadelphia, PA - Kung Fu Necktie
06.11.09 - New York, NY - Le Poisson Rouge
08.06.09 - Pittsburgh, PA - Brillobox
08.07.09 - Cincinnati, OH - Fountain Square
08.08.09 - Washington, DC - The Black Cat

Photo: [Waddie]

Amazon Hates Torrents So Much They’d Rather Lose Business Than Give Legitimacy to Those Pesky Pirates

I’m amazed how some companies are completely resistant to any kind of change or new practices in their field. Innovation never seems to come naturally to those executives, especially those in the music business who are intent on bludgeoning their way to victory in the war against filesharing.

Here we have an example of a fairly innocuous torrent indexer, Coda.fm, offering users the option of buying an album from Amazon after they’ve downloaded it for free. However, the bigwigs at Amazon seem to have decided that this would hurt their precious image amongst the almighty record labels and asked Coda.fm to remove the links from the site. As the Coda.fm founder says, “I can’t overstate enough the idiocy of said request: they’re actually telling us to stop helping them selling [sic] albums.”

Coda.fm reckon several hundred albums have been sold through their site, clearly showing that pirates are willing to pay for music. But of course the executives can’t possibly give any ground in the tireless war on music downloads.

Guaranteed to Make Ya Sweat till You Bleed: De La Soul Release First Album in Five Years via NIKE

So you've got your NIKE running shoes on, your iPod loaded up with the most Jazzercise-inducing numbers you own, and you're ready to burn some calories!!!! But wait -- something's missing. With all the product placement you've just completed, what could you possibly be forgetting? Oh yes. Of course. De La Soul. You're missing De La Soul.

De La Soul, as you can see, are the latest artists to participate in the NIKE+ campaign, which sounds like something you'd pick up on a trip to Foot Locker but is actually not. The idea of the series is that musicians -- previous participants have included LCD Soundsystem, Aesop Rock, and A-Trak -- create an album or mix that's hypothetically geared to make you wanna WORK IT GIRLFRIEND!!!!

De La Soul's contribution is a 45-minute series of songs mixed together by Flosstradamus. It's all co-sponsored by Apple and approved by a series of NIKE staff runners. Seriously, they have staff runners. Well, why shouldn't they, hmm? The De La Soul edition is already out, but if you're not into the whole NIKE business, the group has a new album in the works. Also on the docket are plans for Australian, European, and UK tours to celebrate the twentieth birthday of their debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising. Damn hippies.

RIP: Ean Evans, Bassist for Lynyrd Skynyrd

From E! Online:

Fate has struck another cruel blow to Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Ean Evans, who took over on bass in 2001 following the death of founding member Leon Wilkeson, has himself died following a short battle with cancer.

After joining the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers' lineup, the Mississippi resident toured extensively with Skynyrd through last year, when he was diagnosed with the disease, prompting frontman Johnny Van Zant to ask fans to keep Evans in their prayers.

Evans' death follows the January passing of keyboardist Billy Powell of an apparent heart attack.

Skynyrd, of course, is no stranger to tragedy, having lost three key members in a horrific plane crash, including lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant. But the band has soldiered on and is expected to do so again for this summer's tour with Kid Rock.

- Ean Evans official website
- Ean Evans Wikipedia entry
- Lynyrd Skynyrd History Official Website
- Lynyrd Skynyrd Fan Club

Amadou and Mariam Embark on U.S. Tour of Corporate-Sponsored Stadiums / Amphitheaters / Centers. Not That There’s Anything Wrong with That. (Don’t Shut Off My Service, Verizon!)

As music enthusiasists, you and I both know there is nothing more vibrant, more peaceful than listening to the sweet sounds of afropop jams drifting through the night air, wafting through the stale smell of spilled beer, above the sweaty heads of fellow concert-goers, and away into the ethereal bliss of stadium seating. Nothing could be more magical. Unless... unless you are experiencing Amadou and Mariam at one of the by-now-ubiquitous Product Placement Stadiums. And from the looks of the list below, you'll have plenty of chances to check out the legendary blind husband-and-wife team from Mali while contemplating any number of sponsors who made your seat up in the nosebleed section possible. Just think: 10 years ago, you could've been watching Amadou and Mariam at, say, the St. Louis Amphitheater. Now you can see them at this hypothetical amphitheater, but with the added bonus of being able to support AND ponder the superb products made by, say, ShamWow. That's right, you could see Amadou and Mariam at the St. Louis ShamWow Amphitheatre. Truly a dynamic musical experience for the whole family -- and that nasty spill that paper towels just won't pick up.

In real news, Amadou and Mariam's 2008 album Welcome to Mali was a hit on many year-end "best of" lists, and the duo are rumored to be opening for, um, Coldplay in July.

Tourdates:
06.02.09 - Chicago, IL - Park West
06.06.09 - Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club
06.08.09 - New York, NY - Webster Hall
06.10.09 - Alexandra, VA - Birchmere
07.11.09 - George, Washington - The Gorge Amphitheatre
07.13.09 - San Francisco, CA - The Shoreline Amphitheatre
07.16.09 - San Diego, CA - Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre
07.18.09 - Carson, CA - Home Depot Center
07.21.09 - Dallas, TX - Superpages.com Center
07.22.09 - Houston, TX - Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
07.24.09 - Maryland Heights, MO - Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

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