Shortlist Finalist List Listed

This year's shortlist for the, um, Shortlist Music Prize has been announced, and oh Nelly, you won't be surprised, enthused, or even amused by the nominations. Reaching deep into the upper crust of alternative music and scanning P4K's front news page for a week-and-a-half, the esteemed Shortlist Organization has chosen the following Wunderkinds (and Tom Waits) for recognition:

Band of Horses, Beirut, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Cat Power, Girl Talk, Hot Chip, Joanna Newsom, Regina Spektor, Spank Rock, and yes, Tom Waits.

How, you may ask, did an organization esteemed as the Shortlist Organization come up with such a veritable paté of a final list? It wasn't easy: First, a longlist of 60 albums were nominated by a grab bag (possibly ill-advised) panel of judges, all of them musicians themselves. And it's clear that most musicians, outside of their own contributions, are very, very insulated. Notable panelists, for better or worse, are Franz Ferdinand, Wayne Coyne, Snow Patrol, KT Tunstall, Panic! at the Disco, and last year's Shortlist winner, Sufjan Stevens. To his credit, Sufjan picked albums including my personal fave, Matmos' The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast.

The winner of this year's list (mark your calendar, Ronnie Vannucci!) will be announced sometime in May, so until then, we have the soothing sounds of Greg Spotts, co-founder of the Shortlist: "This is the year of the storyteller. More than half of our ten finalists are wordsmiths who create unique characters and narratives, interpreting our complex world in new ways." SPANK ROCK!!

Ghosts and Cats and Pigs and Bats With Brooms and Bats and Wings and Rats: Caroline Distribution Release Schedule to Include Humans

Owned by EMI, Caroline Distribution is the "indie" distro that packs your favorite chain stores, sub-distributors, and mass merchandisers with artists such as Animal Collective, El-P, !!!, Panda Bear, Air, Grizzly Bear, and Femi Kuti. Next Tuesday (May 8), Caroline will be even more prominent in the indie world when it floods stores with Spiderman of the Rings, the much-anticipated, much-hyped album by Dan Deacon.

But music ain't the only thing on its release schedule. According to Billboard, Caroline has penciled in June 1 as the day it will "release" its entire regional sales force, which aligns nicely with EMI's "Cut the Fat Cuz the Fat Ain't Cuttin' It" plan. With regional sales passed off to major label distro EMM (EMI Music Marketing), Caroline will now act as a national sales force out of New York.

"We now have to pitch to Caroline sales people who then have to pitch to EMM sales people who then have to pitch to the retail buyers," a label head told Billboard. "Everything is going to filter through EMM, and that means more competition for their attention."

Wal-Mart Considers Reducing Shelf Space for CDs

With physical music sales on a downward slope, Wal-Mart is considering reducing its CD shelf space for more lucrative products like DVDs and video games. Needless to say, the prospect of this event would be highly damaging to the music industry. Along with other "big-box" stores like Best Buy and Target, Wal-Mart accounts for roughly 65% of total CD sales, according to a report in Wall Street Journal.

"Recently, Wal-Mart has quietly circulated word to major-label distribution executives that it will reduce the space devoted to music, perhaps by as much twenty percent, in hundreds of its stores," said the report. "Some record label executives say they have heard similar warnings in the past that have not materialized."

What would this mean for independent music? With the demise of Tower last year, a company that supported the medium-to-bigger-sized indie labels, the effects on independent music were financially damaging. Wal-Mart, however, isn't known for its staunch support of independent music. Sure, the big boys of indies will likely lose space on the shelves, but this move would be much more devastating to the future of major label domination.

On the digital front, Wal-Mart intends to increase focus on its 88-cent digital downloads. But with a teeny independent music selection and downloads that only play on portable devices that support protected WMA files (Mac is not supported!), Wal-Mart will continue to remain virtually insignificant to independent music supporters. Major labels, on the other hand, better hope Wal-Mart's shitty digital service improves, or they will have to search elsewhere to pick up the slack.

Califone Touring (Again); Reno Odds-Makers Place Likelihood of a Second Show at 53:1

I once worked at an elementary school. There were many perks: free cafeteria fish sticks, bucket loads of finger paint, and as many Cold War-era history and geography textbooks as I could carry. On my daily rummaging through the boiler room, I came upon a dusty suit case-style record player labeled Califone. I plugged in the 58 lb. audio monstrosity and played the paper-thin National Geographic vinyl Whale Calls of the North Atlantic that must have been sitting inside the case since the Carter administration. Years of neglect, a warbly belt, and a cheap tube amp later, and what to my wondering ears should appear but the greatest post-rock album I'd ever heard. Needless to say, I'm glad I didn't pick up the mosquito surrounded brown paper bag with Red Red Meat scrawled across it in magic marker.

I like to pretend that Tim Rutili and Tim Hurley had the same kind of experience before crafting Califone's 1998 self-titled debut, but I should probably come to terms with the fact that they didn't. Well, with a 23-stop 2006 tour under their belts, Thrill Jockey's beautifully subtle roots rock soundscapers will be setting out on a May/June cross country excursion to promote their understated masterpiece, Roots & Crowns.

Check out their video for "3-Legged Animals" here. It warms my heart and freaks me out like those hot summer day trips to Coney Island with my crazy aunt.

Here are the days and places:

Long Live the White and Green! White Stripes and Greenhornes Members Continue to Downplay Hideous Faces by Recording Another Raconteurs Album, Involutarily Supporting Saudi Arabia

Well America, love him or hate him, that incorrigible Jack White continues to offset (or is it "contribute to"?) his absolutely ghastly appearance by ferociously ping-ponging between so many different projects that we can't get a good look at him.

According to a recent report from Billboard, the pallid White and his somewhat less monochromatic cohorts (a.k.a. Brenden Benson, Jack Lawrence, and Patrick Keeler of The Greenhornes) have been holed-up in Nashville's Blackbird Studio (sorry, but I'm all out of color jokes) working on the follow-up to their 2006 debut, Broken Boy Soldiers (TMT Review).

The band has been at work for almost two weeks and currently has 12 songs written, White told Billloard. His (pale-ass) lips are pretty sealed about the sound of the group's sophomore effort though, describing the songs only as "very different" and adding, "it's coming out great, man."

I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.

Anyway, the plan is apparently to get as much of the album done as possible before Jack's other no-name band gears-up for its June tour in support of Icky Thump, due June 19 on Third Man/Warner Bros. "We don't know if were going to finish, but we wanted to get everything down before we got busy," White said of the three-week session. "We have a lot bigger ideas about certain things, so we will see how far we get."

Steady as she goes, you might say...

The production for The Raconteurs album is being handled by none other than White himself, as per last time. Engineering is still proving to be the hardest button to button for White though, as those duties were apparently once again handled by Joe Chiccarelli (Beck, The Shins, Frank Zappa), who also also twiddled knobs on Icky Thump.

The Raconteurs, while currently signed to White's own Third Man Records, lack a marketing and distribution partner in the wake of V2 Records' implosion back in January. But they hope to have all of that noise sorted out and have their new album hitting Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Target stores everywhere by 2008. Sadly, the album is as-of-yet untitled, but not to worry... I've got some suggestions of my own to keep us all occupied in the mean time. How about these, Jack:

- The Raconteurs: Broken Boy Soldiers II: Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen
- The Raconteurs: I Heard Jack White's from 8Mile...
- The Raconteurs: A Dash of Competence and a Pinch of Not-Meg
- The Raconteurs: We are Jack's Raging Bile Duct
- The Raconteurs: New White Stripes Album In Stores June 19!

In other Raconteurs-snubbing, Jack White-lauding news, millions of music news magazines, newspapers, and blogs have recently reported that Jack's former band The Hentchmen will be reissuing a handful of limited-edition 7-inch singles as a "new," full-length album entitled Hentch-Forth.Five on Italy Records. The album is due this summer, as the band hits the road for some U.S. dates... you know, without Jack White...

I Am Jack's Smirking tracklist:

Enjoy your Summer of Jack, everyone. I know I will.

RIAA Chairman Delivers Pro-DRM, Pro-Litigation Message: “Now See Here

Mitch Bainwol, RIAA chairman and former drummer for Young Marble Giants, gave a keynote speech on Tuesday at the Digital Summit in Nashville. His message was notably juicy for the way it defended the use of digital protection in the music industry -- in spite of record low sales for the major labels, Bainwol remains optimistic and committed to making no changes and listening to no other alternatives. "Excuse me?" he asked in response to a question regarding EMI's decision to go DRM-free. "You're going to have to speak up; I simply can't hear you from all the way back there. Does... does anyone else have a question? Good."

Earlier this year, the RIAA started a more aggressive push toward litigation, specifically targeting college campuses. Their strategy was to offer discounts and copies of Mew albums to any suckers willing to fork their dough over to the RIAA directly. Bainwol offered up a real brain-twisting quote at the time ("Our job is to provide sufficient oxygen for the legal marketplace to show its true promise"), and when asked for an update on this strategy's progress, he secluded himself in a room with a dictionary and a pack of Big League Chew for two months before emerging to declare that the strategy is, indeed, "changing the risk calculus."

  

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