South By Southwest is Fast, Easy, and most of all, fun; If WE Can Do It, YOU Can Do It…

South By Southwest is far, far more than just another music festival. It is its own self-contained planet, a virtual warzone of cred-wanting music journalists, cred-wanting publicists, cred-wanting industry knobs, cred-wanting band managers, and cred-wanting doormen who won't even fart in your general direction unless you have a fabled badge. Oh, and there are bands, too. Quite a few, in fact, if you can manage to get to every venue five hours early, lest you get shut out of the Ratatat/M.I.A. show like I did a few years back. But seeing as SXSW changed my life, I owe it an infomercial-style endorsement:

My South By Southwest Testimonial: I was a neurotic, insecure twenty-something. I was 112 pounds overweight, obsessed with Get Smart, and I washed my dishes in the bathtub. Then I went to SXSW and everything changed for me. I lost weight, re-connected with God, and became the svelt, well-to-do bloke you see here today. Now I run a highly successful internet business, own my own boat (wanna see it?), and hob-knob with only the biggest celebrities (as opposed to Tucker Max). I managed to make these changes in my life thanks to South By Southwest's five-day music program.

And it's so simple! A light band for breakfast, two bands for lunch, then for dinner I watch as many bands as I want! I was shocked by how fast the weight melted off my naturally slight frame. I was, in fact, so excited I didn't have time to take in all the sights and sounds. For example, I left a Wrens show to catch Hella down the street. I ran-ran-ran as fast as I could and before I knew what was happening I passed David Fricke -- no shit! But I was so intent on seeing Hella I just yelled "David Fricke!" and kept running! He turned around and smiled and went on his way, but I'm pretty sure he could feel the force flowing through me. Deep-down he knew that once I'd built up my strength for another decade or so we'd meet again, matching pens for a Reviewer's Battle to the Death, the winner taking the spoils: A promo copy of Neil Young's Are You Passionate? and ownership of Under Byen's soul.

But that's another story/novel/five-part TV miniseries. We're talking South By Southwest! Now that I've imparted what the festival means to me I'll get into the details. For one, the music portion of the fest takes place from March 14-18 in downtown Austin, Texas. The band list? Not yet. Don't forget that there's a huge Film portion of the event as well. (band list?) NO! And there's also the Trade Show Exhibition and an endless string of panel discussions, mentor sessions, interviews, band lists and... erp, damn. Ahh fuck it, time for the band list! As usual, it's a nickel-plated doozy, oozing with name-drop goodness you couldn't find if you poked a pudgy blogger's bum with a p4k. Below is a short-list of bands slated to perform (including world-renouned superstar Kenna). And by ‘short list' I mean the Longest List Known to Man, Ever:

Aesop Rock, Against Me!, Akimbo, Allison, An Albatross, The Apples in Stereo, Aqualung, Architecture in Helsinki, Austin TV, The Automatic, Kevin Ayers, Badly Drawn Boy, Balkan Beat Box, Bayside, Beach House, Beirut, The Besnard Lakes, Andrew Bird, The Bird and the Bee, Martina Topley, Birdmonster, Black Lips, Bloc Party, Blonde Redhead, The Blood Arm, Bonde do, The Bravery, Vashti Bunyan, Tracy Byrd, Charalambides, Child Abuse, Chingo Bling, Chingon, The Cinematics, Citay, Jill Cunniff, DATAROCK, Deerhunter, Delorentos, Dengue Fever, Errors, The Faint, Ferraby Lionheart, Field Music, The Fratellis, Fujiya & Miyagi, Galactic, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Ghostland Observatory (Austin TX), Girl Talk, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton, Albert Hammond, Jr, Kate Havnevik, The High Dials, The Holloways, Hoodoo Gurus, The Horrors, Hot Club De Paris, Benji Hughes, iLiKETRAiNS, IV Thieves, Jack O and The Tearjerkers, Jack's, Georgie James, Jamie T, Jandek, Joan as Police Woman, Daniel Johnston and the Nightmares, Junior Senior, KENNA, Keith Killgo Jazz, Kings of Leon, Kinski, K'NAAN, Tracy Lawrence, Les Claypool/Electric Apricot, Les Savy Fav, Lethal Bizzle, Lily Allen, Little Barrie, Little Man Tate, The Little Ones, LoneLady, Lonely China Day, The Long Winters, Charlie Louvin, Barbara Lynn, Magik Markers, Malajube, Mando Diao, Maneja Beto, Jo Mango, Maps & Atlases, Willy Mason, Mastodon, Matt & Kim, Nellie McKay, Meat Puppets, Metro Riots, Mexican Institute of Sound, Mika, Mogwai, Money Mark, Money Waters, Thurston Moore, James Morrison, The Mountain Goats, Muck and the Mires, Alexi Murdoch, MuteMath, MV/EE and The Bummer Road, Johnette Napolitano, The 1900s, Paolo Nutini, The Octopus Project, Okkervil River, 120 Days, Oppenheimer, Ozomatli, The Panda Band, Graham Parker, Peaches, Pelican, Elvis Perkins, Peter and the Wolf, The Pipettes, The Polyphonic Spree, The Ponys, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Priestess, Prisonshake, Psychedelic Horseshit, Quetzal, Qui w/ David Yow, Ra Ra Riot, Razorlight, Jay Reatard, Reigning Sound, Gruff Rhys, Rickie Lee Jones, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Sam the Sham, Satellite Party, Secondhand Serenade, Ron Sexsmith, Shout Out Out Out Out, The Shys, Sloan, Alice Smith, Soweto, SSM, The Stooges, The Sunshine Underground, Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hearafter, Tally Hall, This Moment In Black History, Pam Tillis, Times New Viking, Tiny Masters of Today, Tokyo Police Club, The Tragically Hip, Turbonegro, TURZI, Under, Valient Thorr, Chad VanGaalen, The View, Viva Voce, The Walkmen, The Watson, Mary Weiss, Willowz, Amy Winehouse, WinterKids, The WOMBATS, Wooden Shjips, The Young Knives, Young Love, and Youth Group. This list is subject to change.

For a more complete list of life-changing (and waist-cinching!) acts, check out SXSW's official website.

RIAA Faces Major Setbacks Because It Is Ridiculous

Last week, a wittle wittle baby, accused of copyright infringement, filed a claim accusing the RIAA of "violating antitrust laws, conspiring to defraud the courts, and making extortionate threats," according to the AP (and Michael Ocean!). Robert Santangelo, now 16, was originally 11 when the "piracy" supposedly happened, but he denies ever having shared the files (shit, at 11, the boy couldn't even spell "piracy," let alone hate Eric Clapton as much as I do). Santangelo sound familiar? If you hop in the DeLorean with me, you might recall the PR disaster that was the RIAA vs. Patti Santangelo, the 42-year-old mom who famously refused to settle with the RIAA. (Yes, Robert's her son -- good work detective!)

As if that lawsuit wasn't enough, the RIAA faced another major setback this week. Another mom, Deborah Foster, recently won a case against the RIAA, in which the trade group has been ordered to pay the case's legal fees. Deborah was originally the target of litigation until the case was dropped, because it was her daughter who committed the actual infringing. Like the Santangelo case, the RIAA proceeded to sue Foster's daughter, which is significant because it clearly discerns who specifically is in trouble if there's file-sharing in a household (the person who downloaded the tracks, not the person who pays the bills). Furthermore, previous cases concerning legal fees were decided in the RIAA's favor, so this victory can be seen as a warning to the RIAA and its bullying tactics.

Or not. The RIAA recently filed a fresh copyright infringement lawsuit against some 23-year-old dude from Maine for sharing FIVE songs. Each song priced at $750. Again, he shared FIVE songs. With all this talk about everything as culturally relative and how there are no universal truths, I guess it's oddly comforting to know that the RIAA's shittiness is a constant.

Police possibly reunite for first tour since 8-to-the-Sixle; Sting changes his name back to Gordon,

As comedian Dana Carvey once said, you have to have balls the size of Earth to change your name from G-G-Gordon to Sting. How the hell did he pull that off? If a friend of mine tried to tell me to call him ‘Dew-Drop' instead of ‘Jeremy' I'd probably drop a MEAN elbow right down on his head just to show him Americans don't put up with that SHIT. Because I'm tough, I could probably get away with it.

Pretentious names aside, we all know a Police reunion would/will be a HUGE deal, if only because we would be saved the agony of more awful Gordon (aka Sting, Dew-Drop) solo music. We also all know that rumors have been swirling like a carton of 'nilla-fudge ice cream. First, G-G-Gordon said the group is planning to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the release of Roxanne, a laff-tastic movie starring Steve Martin. They must really like that movie! The trio are also apparently preparing to Bust the world at the Grammys on February 11. I don't know why-the-flip they'd choose the clown-shoe'd Grammys as their point of entry though... why not something classy, like the Ace Awards, or maybe they could co-host the Emmys with Kelsey Grammar and the latest stripper he's dating? Or the Simpsons-curated Princie Awards? That would be nails. I predict right here and now that Skinner sweeps 'em...

Other rumors have The Police dew-dropping on Bonaroo Festival, which has gone from ‘ewwww, hippie smell-jam' to ‘ooooh, hippie smell-jam!' in a few short years, and embarking on a full-scale world tour, which would be announced the day after the Grammys performance. Of course, that's just what we'll be expecting them to do, so expect a bevy of twists and turns worthy of a '50s mystery thriller. In addition, Goooordon still has to complete his February-through-March Pied Piper tour in support of his solo lute album, so until then we'll just have to HURRY-UP-AND-WAIT for official announcements. [double-take] A fucking solo lute album? I wish I were making this up; really. But one thing is for sure: If The Police reunite before Chinese Democracy comes out, I will have won a lifetime supply of mini-reubens from a close friend (we made a bet in '95 see, and signed in our own blood... I'd like to see Goooordon make such a gutsy bet).

New York Senator Proposes Bill Banning Both iPods From Crosswalks And Children From His Front Lawn

Carl "Crotchety Ol' Codger" Kruger, who lives in that mysterious house down by the water retention pond and lets the grass grow tall enough to cover his solid-steel front door, is known around town for a variety of reasons. Not only for the time he called the cops on trick-or-treaters three years in a row, nor merely for the time he is rumored to have stood completely naked in his garage, alternately weeping and growling until the neighbors clothed him and coaxed him to his bedroom. He is also esteemed among acquaintances for his key role in American politics as an influential New York state senator.

Senator Kruger deals with masses of people on a daily basis from all walks of life, trying to internalize the myriad needs of his community while staying true to his personal moral compass. That is why Kruger has decided to propose a bill that would ban the use of iPods and cellphones while crossing traffic. The fine would be a tidy amount of $100, which, in relevant cases, would be in addition to fines for jaywalking. Perhaps you thought jaywalking fines were a myth, but you would be wrong. The deadly kind of wrong.

"We're talking about people walking sort of tuned in and in the process of being tuned in, tuned out," Kruger told WCBS-TV in a Joycean spew of language brought to its final breath. "Tuned out to the world around them. They're walking into speeding cars. They're walking into buses. They're walking into one another," he went on, WCBS reporters horrified and looking desperately at one other. "Tuned in to the music, tuned out to the real world, know what I'm saying Janet? I'm talking about a group of slithery snakes just slithering their way along the roads and into the roads, of the roads, looking for a quick fix, see what I'm saying here, I'm saying a little something about a quick fix, that's the sort of thing I'm talking around, up, down, sideways, and ass-backwards is the kind of world we live in today people, do I hear a stir, I said do I hear a stir in the heavens, going once going twice, sold to the highest bidder, oh take me home Lord God on high." Kruger then thanked the reporters for their time, found a nickel behind his own ear, and baptized the man holding the boom mic.

If passed, the fine will apply only to Buffalo and New York City, because the people getting hit by buses in Albany, frankly, deserve it.

Chin Up Chin Up & Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin Tour To Bring Positivity Back to North America

Oh man, I cannot believe that Chicagoans Chin Up Chin Up & Springfieldians (thanks griffinkay!) Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin are going to tour together beginning February 15! This is going to be so great for everyone involved! These are two of the best bands! Have you never read a blog? Yes? Well, okay then, you know that this is so great. Both CUCU and SSLYBY put out records last year, and they were both great! Chin Up had This Harness Can't Ride Anything (TMT Review) and Someone Still put out Broom (Polyvinyl). Oh my stars, what a great time to be alive! Now these two bands, these two great big piles of amazing, are going to be sharing a stage for awhile. Now I know there is a God! Just kidding, I never doubted that the world is under the control of a giant man in the sky who gives you $0.25 for a baby tooth. Oops, wrong invisible, benevolent force. That aside, this is so great! Finally, some good news! No offense to the rest of the TMT stories, but man, this is exactly what the world needs now. Crap, I forgot that North America is not the world. It is all the world I will ever need, who else has things like CUCU & SSLYBY? Japan? Australia? England? Brazil? Egypt? Iran? Nope. Enjoy, North America!

Hot on the heels of an apparent collaboration on Björk's collaboration-crazy upcoming record, Konono N°1, the artists behind 2004's excessively brilliant afro-pop record Congotronics (TMT Review), are out on the road, circulating the U.S. for a smattering of concert appearances. And if that wasn't a long enough and difficult sentence for you, then get a load of this adjective-laced ridiculousness called a sentence that doesn't have any purpose whatsoever!

The group, who hail from Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (that's in Africa, geography fans), have been making music with their salvaged instruments (constructed mostly from materials found in junkyards) since at least 1978. Their track "Mungua-Muanga" was recorded back in 1978 and appeared on a compilation called Zaire: Musiques Urbaines a Kinshasa in 1987. The afrobeat collective most recently played their masikilu music on the Congotronics 2 compilation.

It should also be noted they are playing the Coachella festival on the same day as Björk, as well as playing the Reykjavik Arts Festival (at which Björk has appeared in the past.) Does this mean that we will get to see a live collaboration, perhaps?