Stars Announce New Album; TMT Still Hung Up On The Last One

In May 2007, Stars released Do You Trust Your Friends?, an album of guest remixes by a number of the band’s favorite musicians. Some critics loved it, some critics hated it. We didn’t review it, but I still thought it was pretty good. So, in that ‘do you trust your friends’ spirit, I present the following text written by my friend Meg:

He loves me, he loves me not. He loves me, he loves me not. So, if you are a preteen ogling over the boy who tripped you at the planetarium on last week’s fieldtrip, all you get out of this is a few dead daisies and an inconclusive probability. If you are the Canadian Arts & Crafts band Stars, however, you’ve got the basis for every superstructure song-to-be that’s ever graced one of your album’s track lists. The exciting part is, this perpetually lovelorn foursome are getting ready to release a whole new bouquet for our enjoyment coming up on September 25th of this year. So what’s to expect? The album, entitled In Our Bedroom After the War, invites the conclusion that this release (note track titles) will continue to spin narratives worthy of Updike-esque romantic proportions; rife with hesitation and excitement, thrill and lust, and, of course, awkward entrapment with ex-lovers in tiny enclosed spaces. For a band that has consistently captured the charts and minds of the indie music scene, its release is nothing less than highly anticipated. My prediction? Get ready to sigh, stare off in memory’s dramatic rapture, and unbury the ex’s old t-shirt to wear as pajamas along with the rest of the alternative listening community as we immerse ourselves in what will prove to be another beautiful entanglement of precious melodics and lyrical he-said she-said excellence. Until then? Uncover the recently remixed versions of Stars’ songs on their highly unlocatable project Do You Trust Your Friends? And as for my predictions? Well…you can ask yourself the same question.

Tracklist:

Tourdates:
09.06.07 – Grand Rapids, MI – Calvin College Fine Arts Center
09.08.07 –Montreal, QC – Osheaga Festival
09.09.07 – Toronto, ON – Virgin Festival

Ween Release Friends EP, Plan LP, Wash Balls ‘Til Smooth Like Silk

In an unprecedentedly trashy business move, Interscope Geffen A&M (Time Warner BMG Nabisco CIA) announced this week that it will team up with Drinks Americas Holdings to produce a line of drinks branded with the name of a hot new Interscope artist. Together, the two unfortunately-named companies will develop concepts and marketing approaches -- though based on my suggestions in the headline, they could really cut their work in half by hiring me.

Drinks Americas Holdings already has a long and storied history in the field of novelty beverages: Donald Trump Super Premium Vodka and Willie Nelson's Old Whiskey River Bourbon didn't just appear in your pantry from nowhere, you see. According to the company (which is always a good place to go for any cold, hard facts), the liquified essence of Trump will have sold 100,000 cases by the end of its first year.

The lucky Interscope artists have not yet been revealed, but a number of possibilities have been hinted at and given the "wink wink" when asked about. Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent (try, try again!), Busta Rhymes, G-Unit, Daddy Yankee, Sheryl Crow, Enrique Iglesias, Chris Cornell, and Gwen Stefani are all viable possibilities, and it is a testament to both companies that they've chosen a list of artists that could have been developed (and would have made more sense) nearly five years ago. The fate of Sheryl Crow's "Strong Enough" Rum seems very uncertain and shaky. Nearly as shaky as the person who downs a whole bottle of it by themself and tears into a double-time rendition of "If It Makes You Happy."

J. Patrick Kenny, CEO of Drinks Americas, said, "There is a large opportunity here for both companies to generate substantial incremental revenue and profits and create valuable assets." Golly, that sounds delicious! Just make sure these drinks bear no similarities to the Powerpuff Girls-themed bottle of "Belly Washers" I tried once and later heaved back out into the sink. Pay a little bit closer attention to the ingredients this time... please?

Ween Release Friends EP, Plan LP, Wash Balls ‘Til Smooth Like Silk

At a certain point in a band’s career, if they stick it out long enough, if they deal with the bullshit critics and the fickle kids, they’ll get a free license to be mediocre, lazy, or just plain suck every once and a while. It’s like being a good-band emeritus, a kind of get-out-of-jail-free card. Like Buddy Cianci -- we know you never stopped caring about Providence, so what’s a little assault between friends. For example, let’s consider all those albums in-between SMiLE (’66) and SMiLE (’04) taken care of. Idlewho? I’m already over it. And all those bad ’80s albums by legendary rockers. I know you couldn’t resist when the engineer said all the cool cats made their drums sound like that, so we’ll let it slide.

Then there’s these guys. Ween can afford to be bad. Why? Let’s look at the evidence.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

That said, I’ve got no opinion one way or the other on their new Friends EP. I’m just saying they’ve earned a little slack. Ween say this fall they’ll release a full-length album on a “real” label, which will be a distilled version of the “well over 50 or 60 songs” they recently laid out at their 24-track, 2-inch tape-equipped farmhouse. This one’s on Chocodog:

Guitar Center Inc. Goes Private, Tools of Musical Rebellion Now to be Sold Exclusively by The Man, Bob Dylan Outraged, Jakob Dylan a Hack

Know how you HATE going into Guitar Center because you can’t pick up a goddamned thing without the ponytailed, tatted-up floor-rep who’s “only doing this as a day-job while his band looks for a new drummer so they can finish their demo in their other guitarist’s friend’s dad’s home-studio and send it to their bassist’s dad’s cousin’s boss because he works in A&R?” locking onto you like a fuckin’ heat-seeker (a rather carbuncular heat-seeker, mind you) and trying like Rocky Balboa to stick you with the biggest, most expensive sale that he possibly can??

Welp, Private Equity Firm Bain Capital Partners LLC must have made one scraggly salesman into the happiest Metallica fan since The Black Album when it waltzed into the mammoth maze of Marshal Amps and announced, amid the din of choppy, awkward “Brainstew” and “Come as You Are” riffs, that they’d take... EVERYTHING!

Yes, much to the surprise of... well... I don’t know who... business nerds who actually keep track of this kind of shit, I guess... anyway, much to the surprise of SOMEONE SOMEWHERE, the private firm purchased the entire musical instrument empire, known professionally as Guitar Center Inc., for roughly $1.9 billion plus assumed debt earlier last week (that debt presumably refers to all of those financed Flying V’s, China Cymbals, and Line 6 Amplifiers that haven’t been paid off yet). The total value of the transaction, expected to close in the fourth quarter, is approximately $2.1 billion, which the company will promptly put on its dad and step-mom’s MasterCard as soon as they provide Guitar Center with a phone number and zip code.

Under the terms of this deal (don’t worry; they have deals EVERY weekend), Guitar Center stockholders will receive $63 in cash per share, marking a 26% premium over its closing price this past Tuesday. Guitar Center shares were up 18.8% or $9.44 at $59.50 on the NASDAQ after hitting a high of $60.35 earlier in the session...

...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

HUH? WHA? Uh... oh yeah, and according to Billboard.com, as of March 31, the company had 30.17 million diluted shares outstanding, as reported in its first-quarter earnings report. In May, there was some talk ‘round the financial schoolyard that Guitar Center was exploring a possible sale. Once they realized they couldn’t sell to themselves because of the shitty deal they’d probably get on the trade-in, they hired an investment bank to explore strategic alternatives.

Credit Suisse Analyst Gary Balter said the company "seems like the perfect LBO." (Shhh! No dude, I don’t know what that means either. Just act cool...) "They have a dominant retail position in a high service business yet significantly under-earn other high service oriented retail segments," Balter wrote in a research note following Guitar Center's announcement.

Balter also added he would not be surprised if the company's Music & Arts division, specializing in band instruments for teachers, band directors, and students, is sold after the current deal is closed. But then again, one wonders if a man whose job is “Credit Suisse Analyst” is ever really surprised by anything.

But enough talk, kids. What does this all mean for YOU, the Guitar Center Consumer/St. Anger Enthusiast? Well, don’t worry, you’ll still hear all of those sweet radio ads, and you’ll still be able to get hustled into purchasing all of the kick-dick gear you need to get that gig opening for Finger 11. Sure, the music store might be privately owned by “The Man” now, but Rock ‘n’ Roll can NEVER DIE.

Hey, Hey. My, my.

Okkervil River to Release New LP, To Come To Your Town; Night To Fall To the Ground

Texas' best sextet Okkervil River are back and going on tour this September in support of their fourth full-length release, The Stage Names, due August 7 on Jagjaguwar. The album was recorded in Austin with co-producer Brian Beattie, mixed by Jim Eno of Spoon at his studio Public Hi-Fi, and will be the first we've heard of Okkervil River since 2005's Black Sheep Boy.

The band will be turning 10 next year, and you're all invited to their birthday party. <3

The Stage Names tracklisting:

1. Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe
2. Unless It's Kicks
3. A Hand to Take Hold of the Scene
4. Savannah Smiles
5. Plus Ones
6. A Girl in Port
7. You Can't Hold the Hand of a Rock and Roll Man
8. Title Track
9. John Allyn Smith Sails

Tour!:
07.14.07 - Concord, NH - Capitol Center for the Arts *
09.03.07 - Casbah, San Diego, CA
09.04.07 - Troubadour, Los Angeles, LA
09.05.07 - Independent, San Francisco, CA
09.08.07 - Berbati's Pan (MusicFest NW), Portland, OR
09.09.07 - Richard's on Richards, Vancouver, British Columbia
09.10.07 - Neumos, Seattle, WA
09.13.07 - Marquee Theater, Denver, CO
09.14.07 - Waiting Room, Omaha, NE
09.15.07 - Picador, Iowa City, IA
09.18.07 - Logan Square Auditorium, Chicago, IL
09.19.07 - The Canopy Club (Pygmalion Festival), Urbana, IL
09.24.07 - Higher Ground, Burlington, VT
09.25.07 - Middle East, Boston, MA
09.26.07 - Iron Horse, Northampton, MA
09.28.07 - Webster Hall, New York, NY
09.29.07 - Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA
09.30.07 - Rock and Roll Hotel, Washington, DC
10.02.07 - Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, NC
10.03.07 - 40 Watt, Athens, GA
10.06.07 - Walter's on Washington, Houston, TX

* Lando + Ron Noyes

All other dates with Damien Jurado

Pet Shop Boyz Party Like Rockstars On Their New DVD

English electro-pop duo Pet Shop Boys have finally crossed over into Stateside success and have charted at number 2 on the Hot 100 chart, riding the wave of their smash hit "Party Like a Rockstar." After 25 years of international acclaim but almost universal snubbing in the red, white, and blue spotlight, the seminal disco-dance group have struck gold with their raucous chorus and deadpan lyrics, "Party like a rockstar! (t-t-t-totally dude!)," accompanying somewhat of a musical paradigm shift. "Me and my band, man, on the yacht with Marilyn Manson. Gettin' a tan man," sings Neil Tennant in a cadence we've yet to hear on any of the band's nearly 30 albums.

...Wait, what? "Party Like A Rockstar" is the Shop Boyz?! Goddamn it!! Does a "z" really create a loophole in copyright law?

Anyway...

So, turns out U.S. audiences still don't give a shit, but the aged synth masters are still releasing a new DVD through Rhino entitled Pet Shop Boys: Cubism In Concert. I'm not quite sure what that means, but the disc takes concert footage from a November 14, 2006 show, live from Mexico City's Auditorio Nacional. If only for "West End Girls," the DVD is a must-have for all PSB completists, even if the band didn't get to open last week's BET Awards Live from the red carpet like their moniker-misappropriating counterparts. The DVD also contains commentary, interviews, and behind-the-scenes footage. Don't they all?

"Trippin' with the Osbournes / I seen the show with Travis Barker":

Pet Shop Boys: Cubism In Concert: