Van Dyke Parks (yes, the one who hasn’t released any new music in over 15 years) launches 7-inch series

Van Dyke Parks (yes, the one who hasn't released any new music in over 15 years) launches 7-inch series

Van Dyke Parks is like one of those lovable a-holes who goes to a party with the goal of sneaking himself into the background of every single picture taken there. Actually, due to his adorable-grandpappy-with-mustache-and-bowtie look these days, he might just be twice as lovable as even the most lovable of lovable a-holes… either way! Back to my simile: the reason it’s like he’s in every cool picture taken at a great party is that he seems to have popped up in the credits of almost every kick-ass album of the last half-century. He’s kicked it with Brian Wilson, Randy Newman, Ry Cooder; hell, even Joanna Newsom’s sprawling 2006 epic, Ys. As a composer and arranger, the dude is basically unparalleled, but he hasn’t released any new studio music of his own in over 15 years. Though I’m pretty sure even his mustache has at least three Grammys.

Happily, not only is Parks back in action, but he’s taking a pretty classy and 21st century-approved approach to releasing his new tracks. Namely, he’s announced that he will be releasing a series of 7-inch vinyl singles on his own label, Bananastan (to be distributed by City Hall/Runt worldwide). How cool is that? The singles, which will be released one at a time starting this August, will each be illustrated by a different (rather-famous) American contemporary artist and will be available at record stores, online, and at his live shows. Man, even Panda Bear didn’t think of that one.

Featured artists include Frank Holmes (who created the sleeve art for the lost Smile album back in the day), Charles Ray, Art Spiegelman, Ed Ruscha, Billy Edd Wheeler, and Sally Parks. The first two singles slated for release are the Ed Ruscha-illustrated “Dreaming of Paris” / “Wedding in Madagascar” and the Art Spiegelman-illustrated “Wall Street” / “Money Is King.” “They are from highly different genres, each of them,” Parks said while caressing that fantastic mustache of his. “They don’t cohere. They belong somewhere. But the emphasis on the visual art is a big, big deal. These are the pre-eminent American artists of our time. We’re calling it ‘Nouveau Niche.’” Are you kidding me?? VAN DYKE PARKS, CAN WE PLEASE HANG OUT SOME TIME AND PRETEND LIKE WE’RE GRANDPA and GRANDSON?!?

(Oh, P.S., Parks will also release a compilation album of some of his greatest arrangements on September 20. Titled Arrangements by Van Dyke Parks, the set will contain 15 songs by a bunch of no-name, no-talent singers/acts such as Arlo Guthrie, Ry Cooder, Little Feat, Sal Valentino, Mojo Men, Bonnie Raitt, Dino Martin, Lowell George, and Van Dyke Parks himself. That’s my grandpa!)

Upcoming VDP shows:

05.15.11 - Dublin, Ireland - Button Factory
05.16.11 - London, UK - Union Chapel

• Van Dyke Parks:
• Bananastan:

Bruise Cruise announces 2012 lineup, including Thee Oh Sees, The Dirtbombs, and Quintron & Miss Pussycat — in the Bahamas!

This past February saw the maiden voyage of the Bruise Cruise, the weekend-long festival on a boat that sails from Miami to the Bahamas and back. There’s typical cruise fare: the food, the pools, the drinks. But then there’s that extra something you just can’t get on a Royal Caribbean cruise with your parents: good, old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. There was none of that hokey disco shit that gets repeated week after week throughout the cruise season, no Beatlemania bands or Elvis impersonators. Last year, the boat was packed with solid acts like Thee Oh Sees, The Black Lips, Vivian Girls, and Ty Segall (who, yes, did facilitate a marriage proposal onboard). Apparently, the festival was a blast and the voyage was deemed successful enough to announce a second cruise in 2012, sailing February 10-13!

Indeed, cheesy family-friendly (lame) fun is gone from this boat; Neil Hamburger’s got the comedy sector under control for the Bruise Cruise’s second go, and Miss Pussycat promises a “puppetry breakfast hour” the likes of which kids have never seen on Sesame Street. Thee Oh Sees and Quintron are on the bill again, along with King Khan & The Shrines, The Soft Pack, The Dirtbombs, and DJ Jonathan Toubin. Like I said, it’s still a cruise ship, so there’s a casino, open-bar hours, lectures, and the kind of expensive pampering (/drinking) that you see in commercials — as if partying with King Khan weren’t enough. Only 500 guests are admitted, so if you like the Bahamas and “rock the boat” puns, buy a ticket here.

• Bruise Cruise Festival:

Helsing Junction Sleepover lineup announced, the three-day fest where you eat, sleep, swim, and sweat with K Records

Get those sleeping bags out of the attic and start airing out the tent! K Records has announced the dates for this year’s Helsing Junction Sleepover, K’s annual hippie fest that is exactly like it sounds. From August 19 to 21, you can camp out at Helsing Junction, an organic farm just outside Olympia, Washington, and eat, listen to music, not shower, and feel the grass beneath your feet (but most importantly, see and hear music). The summer camp vibe comes out clear and strong from pictures, but most overtly in an old article by Parenthetical Girls’ Zac Pennington back in 2005 (think: Calvin Johnson, Camp Counselor).

Many of the bands playing this year are return campers, like LAKE, Arrington De Dionysio Malakit Dan Singa, and Gary May. Considering how tight K Records are, they probably wrote to each other throughout the year — did you do that with your camp friends way back when?

Full lineup:

Alan Alexander’s Real Time Band
Angelo Spencer
Arrington De Dionysio Malakit Dan Singa
Danny Kelly
Jared Snyder
Joey Casio
Knot Pine Box
Tender Forever
The Curious Mystery
The Hive Dwellers
The Maxines
The Pine Hill Haints
Lovers Without Borders
Kendl Winter
Joe Cappocia
Gary May

More details to be announced in the coming months. Check out Helsing’s website for more practical information about sustainable farming in Thurston County!

Camping list:

Tent, sleeping bag, pillow
Plate/bowl/silverware (reusable, obviously)
Organic insect repellent
Water bottle
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap

• K:

Swans get their hands on some US dates, kiss their American skin, ask where the hell they’ve been

Sound the apocalypse bell! Swans cometh! And when Swans cometh, mere press releases and news stories and their ilk hardly seem appropriate. What we need is some made-up mystical nonsense, something like an ‘apocalypse bell.’ Because if I ever find myself face-to-face with head Swan Michael Gira and he looks me in the eye and asks “What have you done for me,” I don’t want to find myself answering, “Well, um, sir, I wrote a news story about you once.” That hardly seems like enough. Instead, I’ll strike the made-up apocalypse bell and announce this to the world: Swans will tour the US in September!

As you have already heard, Swans are not only touring Europe this summer but are also working on a follow-up to their much lauded 2010 release, My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky (TMT Review). Once they return from that overseas sojourn, they will rest for roughly 40 days. When they emerge from their period of recovery, the group will head onto the roads of America for a month of dates. Joining them on this journey will be Sir Richard Bishop of Sun City Girls, who will fit in just fine, as he may or may not be a sorcerer.

Swans dates:

09.08.11 - Baltimore, MD - Sonar *
09.09.11 - Raleigh, NC - Fletcher Opera Theater (Hopscotch Festival)
09.10.11 - Asheville, NC - Orange Peel *
09.11.11 - Charlotte, NC - Tremont Music Hall *
09.14.11 - West Palm Beach, FL - Respectable Street *
09.15.11 - Tallahassee, FL - Engine Room *
09.16.11 - Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse *
09.17.11 - Nashville, TN - Mercy Lounge *
09.20.11 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue *
09.21.11 - Milwaukee, WI - Turner Hall *
09.22.11 - Chicago, IL - Bottom Lounge *
09.23.11 - Cleveland, OH - Beachland Ballroom *
09.24.11 - Lexington, KY - Buster’s Backroom *
09.27.11 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg *
09.29.11 - Boston, MA - Royale Nightclub *
10.01.11 - Asbury Park, NJ - ATP Festival at Convention Centre

* Sir Richard Bishop

• Swans:
• Sir Richard Bishop:

Andrew Bird brings whimsy/whistling to fans across America this summer/fall

Professional violinist/whistler extraordinaire Andrew Bird will spend the summer wandering through the backroads of America, bringing his unique brand of folky Americana to the good people of California and several Northern states. The tour starts with a stop at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Bandshell, where he will play a free show to a crowd of men dressed like barbershop quartet members and women who say things like ‘the bee’s knees.’ (That’s how I envision it, at least.)

The merry songster will continue his reign of mirth in the fall, as, accompanied by the turning leaves and a lingering sense of nostalgia, the seasons change and Mr. Bird departs Rochester, NY to journey through the original colonies. He’ll be playing similarly olde tyme-sounding venues, amongst them opera houses galore, with a music hall thrown in for good measure. Bird’s most recent recording was 2010’s live album Fingerlings 4. He also appeared on The Preservation Hall Jazz Society’s 2010 benefit album Preservation: An Album to Benefit Preservation Hall & The Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program.


06.10.11 - Brooklyn, NY - Prospect Park Bandshell (Celebrate Brooklyn)
06.18.11 - Ann Arbor, MI - Ann Arbor Summer Festival
06.24.11 - Bondville, VT - Wanderlust Vermont
08.05.11 - Regina, CA - Regina Folk Festival
08.09.11 - Arvada, CO - Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanities
08.10.11 - Boulder, CO - Chautauqua Auditorium
10.12.11 - Rochester, NY - Harro East Ballroom
10.13.11 - Troy, NY - Troy Savings Bank Music Hall
10.14.11 - Concord, NH - Chubb Theatre
10.15.11 - Skowhegan, ME - Skowhegan Opera House
10.17.11 - Poughkeepsie, NY - Bardavon 1869 Opera House
10.18.11 - Binghamton, NY - Osterhout Concert Theater
10.20.11 - Northampton, MA - Calvin Theatre
10.21.11 - Tarrytown, NY - Tarrytown Music Hall
10.22.11 - Wilmington, DE - Grand Opera House

• Andrew Bird:

[Photo: gussifer]

Joker announces new single on 4AD, likely because he misses his ol’ buddy Zomby

4AD: it’s not just for wraith-like dream pop anymore! And it hasn’t been for a long time! I mean, c’mon, they’ve put out like five different Mountain Goats records. Take that, my own stated presumptions about 4AD! Still, it’s never seemed like the go-to home for dubstep guys. That’s slowly changing, what with their signing of Zomby and now, the announcement that Bristol-based Joker will be putting out a single via the label.

On May 16, 4AD will release a Joker 12-inch by the name of “The Vision.” The record’s A-side is a version of the song called “The Vision (Breathe In),” which differentiates itself from the instrumental B-side by featuring vocals from London-based singer Jessie Ware. Whether this is a one-off release or a longer relationship (as the Zomby signing seems to be) is unknown. Nobody knows it, not even Joker himself! Actually, Joker might know it.

“The Vision” tracklisting:

A. The Vision (Breathe In) (feat. Jessie Ware)
B. The Vision (Breathe In) (instrumental)

• Joker:
• 4AD: