Todd Haynes to film a My Morning Jacket performance, brought to you by American Express and unadulterated corporate exploitation

Todd Haynes to film a My Morning Jacket performance, brought to you by American Express and unadulterated corporate exploitation

Dear Corporate America,

Hello and good day. We would like to applaud you for your unmatched ability to fund and exploit emerging cultural or social movements that could eventually prove to be broadly palatable to the tastes of white America. In doing this, you have achieved two primary goals: The first achievement involves relating to youth culture and therefore gaining a broader consumer base, either by means of collaborating with popular social media (American Express) or producing a marginalized medium (Scion). Your second main achievement is the creation and/or destruction of an artist or musical group. Your support of a close-to-mainstream indie act, à la Arcade Fire or The National, will more than likely boost them to some sort of upper pedestal within the realms of musical popularity, more than likely utterly obliterating whatever musical credibility they once maintained. We don’t blame you for this, Corporate America, we know it’s about the profits and there’s no shame in that. Honestly, the Scion 7-inch series has produced some killer shit and has proven itself to have a tasteful penchant for the split 45. American Express, props on the Duran Duran/David Lynch collab. Not bad, and now you’ve brought us something almost equally interesting.

Thank you for your time, and God bless.

This brings us to “Unstaged: An Original Series from American Express,” which involves the pairing of a reputable film director with an equally reputable musical act with a huge corporate entity. Director Todd Haynes will be shooting a live performance of My Morning Jacket at Louisville’s Palace Theater. This performance will stream live via YouTube at 9 PM on Tuesday, May 31. Yeah, you remember that scene in I’m Not There where Jim James sings with the dudes from Calexico backing him up… go figure. Hopefully this performance will end like most of Haynes’ films, with the character(s) broken and utterly betrayed by human nature and alienated by the world that surrounds them.

• My Morning Jacket:

TV on the Radio announce summer tourdates because they know that post-apocalyptic love-making is always sexier when it’s hot out

According to TV on the Radio, there are nine types of light out there (frankly, I only count seven, but either way!) Of all these different varieties, everyone knows that the best kind of light is that hot-ass, dancin’-in-the-sprinklers, heavy-as-a-mofo, doin’-it-up-against-a-brick-wall summer party kind of light!

TV on the Radio knows that too, and they’re not about to waste it. This July, August, and September, they’ll be spreading their good-times message (which, I’m pretty sure distills down to something along the lines of “fuck me in a bunker!”) around select North American Cities like free ecstasy at an End of Days Dance Party. Although, all I see on the agenda are a few club stops and some major festival appearances; nothing too apocalyptic, really. Maybe they’re announcing the tour of abandoned munitions warehouses and condemned sanitariums this fall?


07.17.11 - Chicago, IL - Union Park (Pitchfork Music Festival)
07.20.11 - Vancouver, BC - Commodore Ballroom
07.21.11 - Vancouver, BC - Commodore Ballroom
07.22.11 - Portland, OR - Edgefield
07.23.11 - Seattle, WA - The Capitol Hill Block Party
08.27.11 - Kansas City, MO - The Crossroads
08.28.11 - St. Louis, MO - Central Field @ Forest Park (LouFest)
09.08.11 - New York, NY - Williamsburg Waterfront **
09.17.11 - Austin, TX - Zilker Park (Austin City Limits Fest)

• TV on the Radio:
• Interscope:

Jad Fair tours Europe as Half Japanese, then a solo fraction of Half Japanese; releases personal ‘best of’ set on Fire Records

One way or the other, to hear Jad Fair and Half Japanese is to have an opinion about Jad Fair and Half Japanese. If you love him, then you should be happy to hear that he’s going on a short tour in Europe, appearing in all the festivals you dream about attending if you lived abroad. If you’re an American who thinks that Half Japanese is just off-key vocals and spitting saxophone, then you will be relieved to know that none of your friends will try to enlist you to go to his show. (“It’s Half Japanese!! How can you not want to go?”)

Fair is scheduled to play most of the dates as Half Japanese, while another handful will be billed as “Jad Fair and Gilles Rieder” (who has been a Half Japanese member in the past, but whatever…). Now, we discussed the two options for Half Japanese fandom, but if in the event that you’ve managed to ignore the Fair brothers and all of Jad’s subsequent activity (alone or with Yo La Tengo, Teenage Fanclub, Daniel Johnston, Moe Tucker, etc.), then this is news for you: in February, Jad released a ‘best of’ compilation in the UK, grandiosely entitled Beautiful Songs (The Best of Jad Fair). There have been greatest hits compilations before — namely one from Safehouse in 1995, a couple years after the release of the fawning documentary Half Japanese: The Band That Would Be King (directed by Jeff Feuerzeig, who went on to put together The Devil and Daniel Johnston). The tracks on Beautiful Songs, however, were hand-picked by Jad Fair as his personal favorites (there are over 100, so he didn’t feel too modest). Such self-revelry might come off as narcissistic from anyone else, but I think we can excuse the man who sings “I’m Going to the Zoo” and “U.S. Teens Are Spoiled Bums.”

The tourdates that follow don’t include Half Japanese’s spot in the lineup at All Tomorrow’s Parties this December, curated by Jeff Mangum and including two-thirds of The Minutemen playing Minutemen songs, Young Marble Giants, and The Raincoats performing The Raincoats (TMT News). Fleet Foxes, The Olivia Tremor Control, Superchunk, and Scratch Acid are also on the bill — can it get much better? (Yes: read about the full lineup here.)

Half Japanese tourdates:

05.27.11 - Barcelona, Spain - Primavera Festival
05.28.11 - Paris, France - Festival Villette Sonique
05.31.11 - London, UK - Scala *
06.01.11 - Lyon, France - Festival Nuits Sonores

Jad Fair & Gilles Rieder tourdates:

05.30.11 - Glasgow, UK - Stereo ^
06.03.11 - Nice, France - Le Volume @
12.04.11 - Geneva, Switzerland - Face Z Festival

* The Lovely Eggs, Let’s Wrestle
^ Phat Trophies
@ Hifi Klub

• Jad Fair:
• Fire:

The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt preps rarities album, giving music writers everywhere license to blab a little more about 69 Love Songs

Thanks to Google, it’s easy to find out that Stephen Hawking is British, that Stephen Colbert “rules,” that Stephen King was the 2003 recipient of The National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, that Stephen Dedalus, you know, won’t serve, and that Steve Albini has some sort of grouse-y, smart-ass food blog. But you gotta dig a little deeper if you want to find out about the only man I can think of who spells Stephen with an ‘i’ at the end, even if he doeshappen to be one of the most critically acclaimed American singer/songwriters in the history of the universe. Luckily, here I am to keep you up to speed with my skillful optimizations of such pesky search engine criteria as spelling.

Stephin Merritt, and mastermind behind The Magnetic Fields, The 6ths, The Gothic Archies, and everyone’s favorite Volvo ad, is releasing a rarities collection on August 23 via his old home base, Merge Records. In keeping with Merritt’s fine tradition for saying/singing things that are ‘funny, but not really,’ the collection is titled Obscurities, and it includes 14 of Merritt’s most, you know, rare and obscure recordings from his mid-90s Merge days and beyond, five of which are previously unreleased and predate 69 Love Songs (before the release of which I’m pretty sure most of us just assumed he worked at a toll booth). What’s that you say? Still not ‘obscure’ enough for you? Well, what if I were to tell you that three of those five unreleased tracks were culled from The Song from Venus, an unfinished science fiction musical that was co-written by Merritt and that Lemony Snickett guy? A-ha! And what if I further told you that Lemony Snickett is really James Murphy?!!?!? Well, then I’d be lying to you.

Either way, the collection also includes five tracks taken from some old Magnetic Fields Merge 7-inches, one from from his 6ths project, one from a Coraline audio book (I guess), one from a Merge comp, and even an oldie from a K Records casette! In addition, you can check out one of the songs from that failed-musical, “Forever and a Day,” by clicking here or maybe by visiting the Chocolate Grinder if they ever GET THEIR ACT TOGETHER and post it there. Fuck, I hate working here so much.

Obscurities tracklisting:

01. Forever and a Day
02. Rats in the Garbage of the Western World
03. I Don’t Believe You
04. Plant White Roses
05. Rot in the Sun
06. The Sun and the Sea and the Sky
07. Yet Another Girl
08. Scream (‘Till You Make the Scene)
09. The Song From Venus
10. Beach-a-Boop-Boop
11. When I’m Not Looking, You’re Not There
12. Take Ecstasy With Me
13. When You’re Young and in Love
14. You Are Not My Mother and I Want to Go Home

• Stephin Merritt:
• Merge:

Black Lips are too turned on by the road to quit, extend current tour

The Black Lips have, over the years, become acclimated with ‘road life;’ they’re addicted to gas station food, they prefer sleeping on the floors of friends’ apartments, and the only love they know is the fleeting kind found in one night stands. So it’s no surprise that the Atlanta-based rockers have announced that they are extending their current tour. The band hopes to build up anticipation amongst their fans as they all prepare for the summer behemoth of Lollapalooza Rex.

The Blackened Lips are also expecting the added dates to help them reach a wider swath of people across the country so that that said wider swath will be more inclined to pick up the band’s forthcoming album, Arabia Mountain (set for consumption on June 7 via Vice Records and featuring production from Mark Ronson), which is already making ironically-mustachioed hipsters lick their lips with desire.

Check out the new single “New Direction” here, the new dates after the tracklist, and the WHOLE ALBUM courtesy of Groovershark here.

Arabia Mountain tracklist:

01. Family Tree
02. Modern Art
03. Spidey’s Curse
04. Mad Dog
05. Mr. Driver
06. Bicentennial Man
07. Go Out and Get It
08. Raw Meat
09. Bone Marro
10. The Lie
11. Time
12. Dumpster Dive
13. New Direction
14. Noc-a-Homa
15. Don’t Mess Up My Baby
16. You Keep on Running


07.27.11 - Charlotte, NC - Neighborhood Theatre
07.28.11 - Baltimore, MD - Ottobar .
07.29.11 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
07.30.11 - Hoboken, NJ - Maxwell’s .
08.01.11 - Pittsburgh, PA - Mr. Small’s Theatre
08.02.11 - Lexington, KY - Buster’s Billiards &Backroom
08.04.11 - St. Louis, MO - The Firebird
08.05.11 - Chicago, IL - Lollapalooza
09.08.11 - Raleigh, NC - Hopscotch Festival

• The Black Lips:
• Vice:

Touch offering Sohrab fundraising single to prevent his impending arrest in Iran

Ambient music is always getting flak from casual listeners for its seeming distance, coldness, and apoliticism, but quite often the musicians involved come from backgrounds of deep political awareness and engagement, and for many, their surroundings are inextricable from their work. Sohrab — a recent signee to the venerable UK label Touch — is one such ambient musician, and he’s found himself in a very real situation that deserves the attention of anyone who appreciates the impact of music on culture.

At the start of the ongoing wave of protests in the Middle East and North Africa, Sohrab was able to leave his home in Tehran and seek political asylum in Germany. Unfortunately, due to the massive numbers of refugees flooding out of the areas of upheaval, Sohrab’s request was denied like many others, and if his subsequent appeal fails, it’s likely that he’ll be forced to return to Iran and face arrest at Tehran Airport.

To raise funds for Sohrab’s lawyer, Touch (who put out his debut album A Hidden Place last year) is now offering a benefit download of a new nine-minute piece by Sohrab (mastered by BJNilsen) called “Shouting at Dictators (Faryad bar Dictator)” that uses recordings of the protests in Iran following the dubious results of their presidential elections in June 2009. Listen to a sample on this page to hear the beginnings of an incredibly affecting piece of sound; what The Wire said about A Hidden Place could apply here too: “context is everything and nothing.” The download costs £4 (~$6.50) with 100% of that money going to lawyer fees for Sohrab. Buy a copy for yourself and another for that friend who said ambient music is just gazing at your navel.

• Sohrab:
• Touch: