TMT Fills the Whole Front Page with the Catchiest Words We Can Find: “New Pornographers Tour”

When I lived in Baltimore, I eventually made my peace with the fact that I'd have to go to DC in order to see about 80% of the bands I liked. And you know what? Call Baltimore all the names you want (believe me, I have), but DC sucks more. DC is like Baltimore with a few fancy neighborhoods, some government buildings, a subway that shuts down at midnight, and rents almost as inflated as New York. At least Baltimore is cheap and gave us John Waters.

So anyway, here I am, writing an article on The New Pornographers' fall mini-tour, when I come across this thing called the "V Fest" and learn that it's in Baltimore, of all places. At first, I'm impressed. New Pornos: yay! Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: *hand clap*/yeah! The Flaming Lips: wahoo! Wolfmother: hells yes! Scissor Sisters: shut up, I like them. Then I'm disappointed: Red Hot Chili Peppers? The Killers? Gnarls Barkley? The Raconteurs? John Digweed? That guy is still around? Finally, I'm just confused: The Who? Really???? Only when I realize that the whole thing is sponsored by Virgin Mobile does the utter randomness begin to make sense. And then I understand why it's taking place in Baltimore, the randomness capital of the world. Take that, DC!

I guess it doesn't make any difference to me. I'll be seeing them in New York, where it looks like they'll be interviewing the author of that bestseller The Wisdom of Crowds at The New Yorker Festival. I haven't read the book, but, hey, at least I don't have to look at Dave Navarro if I also wanna look at A.C. Newman. And we all know who the real hottie is there.

Jackie dressed in tourdates:

09.14.06 - Mexico City, MEXICO - Salon 21
09.17.06 - Austin, TX - Austin City Limits
09.23.06 - Baltimore, MD - V Fest
10.07.06 - New York, NY - New Yorker Festival
10.14.06 - Winnipeg, MB - Garrick Centre at the Marlborough*
10.16.06 - Saskatoon, SK - Odeon Event Center*
10.17.06 - Edmonton, AB - Red's*
10.18.06 - Calgary, AB - MacEwan Hall Ballroom*

* with Noverillo Immaculate Machine

ICE Fest Kicks Off Tonight!

Tonight, the International Contemporary Ensemble begins its annual weeklong concert series in Chicago at the Hot House. I could make some kind of lame joke about the initials of this well-known avant-garde chamber group and its relation to a "hot" house, but I feel that would undermine the seriousness of this article (it is classical music, after all). So instead, how about some background? ICE was founded in 2001 for the express purpose of promoting new music and young composers while bringing this music to audiences not necessarily associated with modern classical music. Since then, they've performed in Alice Tully Hall in New York and the Miller Theatre at Columbia University. Their debut there was hailed by the New York Times as a "Top Ten Musical Moment of the Year" for 2003. Now, I think a listing of some concerts is due:

09.12.06 – Chicago, IL – HotHouse

Tonight will feature "classic ICE repertoire," including work by John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, Louis Andriessen, "up and coming" Du Yun, and the night closes with Steve Reich's seminal piece "Different Trains."

09.13.06 – Chicago, IL – Elastic

Featuring the seldom-used duo of clarinet and percussion, this night will feature works by Donatoni, Stockhausen, Lobera, and Manoury, as well as new works by young composers.

09.14.06 – Chicago, IL – The Velvet Lounge

This night's performance centers around ICE and Chicago Symphony Orchestra member Katinka Kleijn and several of her musically inclined friends. There will be works by Alvin Lucier, Bruno Maderna, Dai Fujikura, Alexandra Hermentin, and Frederic Rzewski, and a world premiere by Greg Ward written specifically for this performance.

09.15.06 – Chicago, IL – Pressure Billiards and Café

ICE guitarist will be playing both nylon and steel strings tonight for pieces by Mario Davidovsky, Julia Wolfe, Elliot Carter, Toru Takemitsu, and Peter Gilbert. As an encore, he's preparing a new piece by Yngwie Malmsteen called "Dungeons of HELL!!!"

09.17.06 – Chicago, IL – Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
09.17.06 – Chicago, IL – The Hungry Brain

Thankfully enough, modern music fans will not have to make the tough choice of whether they want to see the balls-out craziness of eight piano hands performing pieces by Ligeti, Kurtag, Messiaen, Schoenberg, Brunswick, Bartok, Tsai-Yun Huang, and three (count 'em, three!) world premieres OR some of the more interesting improvised music in America. Your day's plan should look something along the lines of going to the Green Mill at two to see 40 fingers flying, then heading directly over to The Hungry Brain for the 10 P.M. improvised show (you'll need that much time to get there due to Cubs-related IQ-deprived activity... ugh).

09.18.06 – Chicago, IL – Katerina's

And for you classical lovers out there, the final night of the festival will feature works written before 1940 – outside ICE's usual scope. However, these pieces will be subjected to some interesting arrangements and will feature some very special guests from the Lyric Opera Company and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Among the advertised "four + hours of nonstop classical" will be Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto No. 5" as well as other popular favorites. Sorry, no karaoke.

Robert Pollard Signs Up for Lamaze Classes, Expecting Once Again

Robert Pollard, the coolest "older uncle" if not "father figure" of indie rock. He continuously kicks out the jams, ignoring the strains in his body. He's also pregnant with a new album: Normal Happiness, due October 10. Gentlemen, prepare to break out the cigars.

This is his second album out this year, following From a Compound Eye [TMT Review]. Pollard encourages the album to be bought at independent record shops, adding a bonus live CD of Pollard and the Ascended Masters to all copies sent to independent shops. Take that, condescending security jerk.

Normal Happiness was produced in one month in Pollard's basement. Out of the 47 songs created, 16 made it to the album. Congratulations tracks 1 to 16! Here are the lucky winners:

1. Accidental Texas Who
2. Whispering Whip
3. Supernatural Car Lover
4. Boxing About
5. Serious Bird Woman (You Turn Me On)
6. Get A Faceful
7. Towers and Landslides
8. I Feel Gone Again
9. Gasoline Ragtime
10. Rhoda Rhoda
11. Give Up The Grape
12. Pegasus Glue Factory
13. Top Of My Game
14. Tomorrow Will Be Another Day
15. Join The Eagles
16. Full Sun (Dig The Slowness)

Let's all help him pay his mortgage! Why, isn't that what fans are for? Otherwise, he might have to resort to selling personal items on eBay again. That's okay, too.

11.09.06 - Bloomingtin, IL- Bluebird #
11.10.06 - Chicago, IL- The Abbey Pub #
11.11.06 - Dayton, OH- The Foundry ()
11.13.06 - New York, NY- Bowery Ballroom *
11.14.06 - Philadelphia, PA- World Cafe Live *
11.15.06 - Baltimore, MD- Sonar +
11.17.06 - Boston, MA- Paradise Rock Club*
11.18.06 - Northampton, MA- Pearl St./

# w/ Nassau
( w/ Mitch Mitchell's Terrifying Experience
) w/ Murder Your Darlings
* w/ Starling Electric
+ w/ Portatastic
/ w/ Richard Davies

Village Person Given Suspended Sentence After Drugs Bust; Newswriter Attempts To Shoehorn “Go West” Joke Into Article; Fails

Dude! Fucking... DUDE! Get over here! Check this shit out! You know the dude from The Village People? Victor Willis? The black dude?

Yeah, he got busted, man. Ha! Can you imagine that! The police chief would be all like "arrest that dude from The Village People," and the police would be like "which one??," and he'd be like "The one that looks like a cop," and then shit would get all Benny Hill as they all try and arrest each other. Or maybe the chaps would give it away, I don't know.

But, yeah. Dude got arrested for drugs and weapon possession, proving that even if you've turned yourself into pretty much the go-to guy for lame humorists looking for a gay joke, it doesn't mean you can't party like a rockstar!

Willis was arrested back in March (NEWSFLASH TMT SCOOP MUST CREDIT TMT) but was given an eight-month suspended sentence this Wednesday. He also... Oh.

Er, he also has to attend a 30-day programme at the Betty Ford Center for treatment for, uh, drug addiction. Shit. This, er... This isn't very funny any more. Er, I feel kinda guilty now.

Willis released a statement in June, at the start of his trial, saying "The nightmare of drug abuse is being lifted from my life... Now that the haze of drugs are gone, I'm thinking and seeing clearer now than I have in years... I'm looking forward to living the second part of my life drug free."

Good for you, dude. Good for you. I'm, uh, going to go and sit somewhere quiet and think about what I've done.

European Indie Labels to Vivendi’s Universal Music: Put It Back in Your Pants; TMT to American Indie Labels: Take a Hint, Already

Well, at least the Europeans give a shit. You see, Vivendi's subsidiary, our good friends Universal Music, have announced plans to acquire an itty bitty company known colloquially to a few industry insiders as BMG Music Publishing. Now, before you shoot yourself in the head (in this case colloquially known to teenagers everywhere as "dying for the sake of art"), take some solace in the fact that a group of European indie labels are making their dissent known.

Impala Independent Music Companies Association, which includes such heavy hitters as Beggars Group and V2, has launched a formal complaint against the merger. Martin Mills (pictured), Chairman of both Impala and Beggars Group, commented, "The strength of Universal in recording music would make this merger bad news for artists and music. It will also be particularly difficult for the regulators." By way of a response, BMG financial director Thomas Rabe basically said, "Up yours." I mean, he didn't actually say it, but we all know that's what he was thinking.

Now, unlike the dear old US of A, where challenging a corporate quasi-monopoly is functionally equivalent to telling the President to steal a few million dollars out of his own pocket, Impala actually has European precedent working in its favor. Last year, the group's protest against the Sony-BMG merger influenced a European court to overturn the European Commission's original ruling in favor of the conglomeration. Way back in 2000, they were able to block a merger between EMI and Warner Music Group.

Moral of the story? Sometimes David does beat Goliath. Just, um, not in this country. And Merge, Sub Pop, if you're listening out there, maybe it's time to prove me wrong.

Arab Strap break up! Bolivian Benoit Balls now best band named after a sex device

The site message was polite and optimistic: "Yes, it's the end for Arab Strap. After 10 years, six studio albums, three live albums, and all manner of everything else, we've decided the story should come to a close. There's no animosity, no drama, we simply feel we've run our course and The Last Romance seems to us the most obvious and logical final act of the Arab Strap studio adventure. Everybody likes a happy ending!... It is midnight on the 8th of September 2006 and I have just opened a beer. Cheers."

Well it's 7:03 am on September 10, 2006 as I start to write this, and I have just opened a beer too, but it's not making me feel any better about the break-up of Arab Strap. It's true that everybody likes a happy ending, but everybody loves more tales of sexual conquest, crises, and confusion, bitter ass-ends of relationships, quick cummers and two-stroke wonders, nights of binge drugging and drinking, and "blood on the johnnie" too, don't they?

Malcolm Middleton (mostly music) and Aidan Moffat (mostly lyrics) started Arab Strap in the central Scottish town of Falkirk in 1995 and quickly gained a reputation as dour, snarky cynics. C'mon...you start singing stuff like "They've seen me in the shower with shit down my legs" and "Smelling my fingers on the way back home" and next thing you know you are pigeonholed into that commonest of labels, the miserable/drunk/pervert band (FYI... rumored to be the next new Grammy Award category). Fortunately, the band was more known and revered for its dramatic musical originality and lyrical nous, a heady concoction that few bands — especially two-piece-based ones at that — could ever equal. To rub salt in others' wounds, the 'Strap also pulled off getting a song in a commercial for a product that is actually cool. The classic debut single "The First Big Weekend" was snagged by stout giant (?) Guinness for one of their popular UK ads.

So now it's 9:34 am (yes, it took me that long to write the nonsense you just read), and I'm considering draining the maraschino cherries and vanilla extract from the cupboard for a quick brain buzz while I reminisce about embarrassing fumbles with ex-loves and lost plastered weekends, but mostly about a band that wrote about such things with much more thought and dauntless honesty than I ever could.

Not surprisingly, Moffat and Middleton will go out with a celebratory bang, not a confectionary-assisted whimper, by issuing a career-spanning compilation entitled Ten Years of Tears and touring the UK in November and December. The album is expected on October 23 in the UK through on-and-off-and-on-again label Chemikal Underground (early 2007 in North America) and will feature a good representation of the band's back catalogue of lusty smut: early demos, unreleased and live tracks, B-sides and sessions, plus all the "hits." Speaking to the NME, Middleton explained the track choices thusly: "Sometimes the albums were a bit stifled because we were worrying too much about making a good album. I think that live versions of songs and b-sides etc show a truer, more relaxed side to the band. Ten Years of Tears can serve both as an introduction to Arab Strap and also a fitting finale to those people who have followed us along the way."

The tracks of their Ten Years of Tears:

1 Preface: Set the Scene
2 Islands (original 1995 demo)
3 The First Big Weekend
4 Gilded (live from first ever show)
5 I Saw You (first John Peel session)
6 The Clearing (single version)
7 Packs of Three (acoustic, live in studio 2006)
8 (Afternoon) Soaps
9 Rocket, Take Your Turn (Fukd ID 12")
10 To All a Good Night
11 Turbulence (Bis remix, radio edit)
12 The Shy Retirer
13 Blood (live 2004)
14 If There's No Hope For Us (rogue version)
15 Where We've Left Our Love
16 The Girl I Loved Before I Fucked (full band version)
17 Oxytocin (first ever recording)
18 There Is No Ending (7" edit)

The compilation will be preceded by a 7-inch single featuring the edit of "There Is No Ending" and backed with a remix of "The First Big Weekend" by Four Tet. The good news is that after the break-up, the remaining pieces will carry on their respective solo activities. Middleton is recording the follow-up to the superb Into the Woods album with ubiquitous studio helmsman Tony Dougan, and Moffat will continue to pen his personal poemsongs and record his ongoing Lucky/L. Pierre project (a new album, Dip, is due in early 2007). The farewell tour is being planned now and includes at least the 11 dates listed below. Even if Arab Strap always rubbed you against the grain, how could you not raise a pint (and a hug) to a band who were once "disowned" by their hometown of Falkirk after branding it as boring, run-down, and full of violent druggies and alcoholics?

The last live romance:

11.01.06 - Nottingham, England - Rescue Rooms
11.03.06 - Norwich, England - Arts Centre
11.05.06 - Portsmouth, England - Wedgewood Rooms
11.06.06 - Liverpool, England - Liverpool Theatre
11.07.06 - Bristol, England - Thekla
11.08.06 - London, England - Scala
11.29.06 - Manchester, England - Academy 3
12.01.06 - Edinburgh, Scotland - Cabaret Voltaire
12.02.06 - Aberdeen, Scotland - Tunnels
12.03.06 - Glasgow, Scotland - King Tut's Wah Wah Hut
12.04.06 - Glasgow, Scotland - King Tut's Wah Wah Hut