RIP: Jimmy Ruffin, Motown singer

From USA Today:

Jimmy Ruffin, the Motown singer whose hits include What Becomes of the Brokenhearted and Hold on to My Love, died Monday in a Las Vegas hospital. He was 78.

Philicia Ruffin and Jimmy Lee Ruffin Jr., the late singer’s children, confirmed Wednesday that Ruffin had died. There were no details about the cause of death.

Ruffin was the older brother of Temptations lead singer David Ruffin, who died in 1991 at age 50.

Jimmy Lee Ruffin was born on May 7, 1936, in Collinsville, Miss. He was signed to Berry Gordy’s Motown Records and had a string of hits in the 1960s, including What Becomes of the Brokenhearted, which was a Top 10 pop hit. He had his second Top 10 hit, Hold on to My Love, in 1980.

• Jimmy Ruffin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Ruffin

Matana Roberts (nickname, “The Skipper”) announces COIN COIN Chapter Three: river run thee

Why haven’t policy-makers and socioeconomic experts thought of this before? Instead of vigorously studying the issue of poverty from an academic standpoint, they should be following the activities of bonafide New Yawk musician Matana Roberts, who has expressed (and seems to be following through with) her desire to rain change down on us like we’re human versions of these arcade machines. A promised 12 chapters in her COIN COIN series has already yielded two stellar albums, and now, though she alluded to the possibility of multiple chapters on a single date, COIN COIN Chapter Three: river run thee will come unaccompanied on February 3 of next year, via Constellation.

Keen on the sonic extremities of Mississippi Moonchile? river run thee will apparently feature plenty of that, plus the presumed saxophone, plus the presumed both sung and spoken vocals that have separated her albums from your average, if enjoyable, LP of avant-garde jazz. Not sure what tales Roberts has in store for us this time, but what’s alluded to by her astronomer friends is at least “first and foremost a vocal work.” A narrative aspect basically goes without saying:

Matana’s currently blogging aboard a houseboat in Brooklyn. Here’s the link.

COIN COIN Chapter Three: river run thee tracklisting:

01. all is written
02. the good book says
03. clothed to the land, worn by the sea
04. dreamer of dreams
05. always say your name
06. nema, nema, nema
07. a single man o’war
08. as years roll by
09. this land is yours
10. come away
11. with me seek
12. j.p.

• Matana Roberts: http://www.matanaroberts.com
• Constellation: http://cstrecords.com

Physical Therapy releases Scraps: Vol. 1; news writer gets boner at the gym

Recently, I went to the gym for the first time in a long time. After telling the world I was at the gym by tweeting, writing a Facebook status, posting an Instagram, and checking in on Foursquare (remember Foursquare?) I started an electronic pump-up mix of Physical Therapy’s new album, Scraps: Vol. 1, available for download from the Berlin-based producer’s website. I built up a sick sweat on the elliptical thanks to tracks like the relentless “Dope for Me (Hard Dub).”

With my Beats by Dru on (Dre knockoffs designed by Dru Hill), I continued listening to Physical Therapy as I used the recumbent exercise bike. The album is a collection of edits and “other scraps” from music created for his own imprint Allergy Season. The music and my workout started to get so intense that the rubbing of my leg against my male part caused what some moms might call a “public erection.” I rushed to the shower to massage AXE body wash all over my evil stick since my best friend Dunny said “rubbing one out” is the only way to deflate a skin balloon. The music finished as soon as I did, and then I went home to write this article.

Scraps: Vol. 1 tracklist:

01. Chillwitthetoms
02. Dope for Me (Hard Dub)
03. Lurve Ya
04. Dance Naked
05. Chase Da Booty
06. Music Heavy Cheez

• Physical Therapy: http://sheneedstherapy.net
• Allergy Season: http://www.allergy-season.net

Marilyn Manson returning to release new album, terrify new generation of naive pre-teens

The first time I ever heard of Marilyn Manson was when I was 11 years old. At a sleepover, a friend of mine asked me, “Eric, if you could kill anyone, who would you kill?” I said I didn’t know, but he said that he’d kill this musician named Marilyn Manson, because Marilyn Manson worshiped Satan and, at his shows, forced the audience to kill puppies before he would play. Obviously, that’s the least true thing that anyone has ever related (well, the puppy part, it’s pretty easy and harmless to worship Satan), but 11-year-old me bought it and was henceforth terrified of Marilyn Manson. Ironically, asking someone who they would kill if they could kill any person is definitely how a teenage Marilyn Manson fan would make small talk.

Anyway, Marilyn Manson has a new album called The Pale Emperor coming out January 20. In order to drum up some business for Mr. Manson, I have concocted the following rumors. Marilyn Manson starts every show by punching a nun in the face. Marilyn Manson was the actor who played Charlie in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and has engaged in tremendous amounts of surgery to wipe away all resemblance to that child. Marilyn Manson and Tim Burton kissed once in 1989. Marilyn Manson set his genitals on fire in order to simulate having sex with the devil. Marilyn Manson, the real Marilyn Manson, quit the music business in 1998, retreating to a domestic life as a bank teller in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where he lives with his wife and three daughters. The Marilyn Manson that has existed in the public eye after 1998 was a drifter who, through a lengthy series of electroshock therapies, has been convinced that he has always been Marilyn Manson.

The Pale Emperor tracklist:

01. Killing Strangers
02. Deep Six
03. Third Day of a Seven Day Binge
04. The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles
05. Warship My Wreck
06. Slave Only Dreams to Be King
07. The Devil Beneath My Feet
08. Birds of Hell Awaiting
09. Cupid Carries a Gun
10. Odds of Even

• Marilyn Manson: http://www.marilynmanson.com

Screaming Females announce new LP Rose Mountain, celebrate 10th anniversary with modest cake

Happy 10th birthday, Screaming Females. Granted, we’re not quite there yet, but it’s never too early to start celebrating a decade of fine punk rock from New Brunswick’s finest. In fact, I’m reporting live from the Screamales’ 10-year birthday blowout. They made me agree not to photograph the event, but I sneaked this one shot for the superfans out there. Wish y’all could be here! Great news, though, you’ll soon be able to celebrate the life and times of Screaming Females with the group’s sixth album, Rose Mountain, out February 24 through Don Giovanni.

Listen to first single “Ripe” below. EDITORIALIZING COMING AT YOU: it’s awesome. Rose Mountain was produced by Matt Bayles, so hit the road (engineer of Screaming Females’ 2012 album Ugly) Steve Albini! And, um, I guess also hit the road Screaming Females themselves, who self-produced all of their other albums. Notable is the fact that that Bayles was the producer behind albums by Mastodon and The Sword, so Rose Mountain will likely feature a song about fighting a dragon or some sort of weird cyclops. I predict it is track 7, “Hopeless,” due to the difficulty of defeating dragons and other mythical beasts.

Rose Mountain tracklist:

01. Empty Head
02. Ripe
03. Wishing Well
04. Burning Car
05. Broken Neck
06. Rose Mountain
07. Hopeless
08. Triumph
09. It’s Not Fair
10. Criminal Image

• Screaming Females: http://screamingfemales.com
• Don Giovanni: http://dongiovannirecords.com

Bandcamp talks about how this one time… they unveiled a subscription service

Amid all the probably justifiable hubbub about whether the money earned by streaming services like Spotify is actually making its way to the artists, let’s give due respect to one website that I personally see fit to label a regular Jesus of Nazareth of the digital music world. Of course our Lord and Savior needs to earn a little dough (approximately 15%) for himself in order to sustain his humble lifestyle, but otherwise, he’s indiscriminately handing out loaves and happily turning people into jovial winos whenever the opportunity arises. Bandcamp’s such a loving entity. CEO Ethan Diamond is a saint.

And on that note, pertinent to listeners and participants alike, Bandcamp has just announced a new subscription service. It’s sort of like what Drip.fm has been doing, except minus the focus on independent labels, the artists themselves can offer their own subscriptions for a price entirely of their choosing. They also decide what bonuses subscribers get when they sign up, as well as what material (musical or otherwise) will be available to subscribers exclusively, going forward. In short, and in keeping with the spirit of the site, artists wield control.

Likewise, Diamond had the following to say on the theory behind Bandcamp subscriptions: “The whole motivation here is that when you get to a point that you love an artist - when you go from liking them to being a real true fan of theirs - at some point you just want everything they make. You just want to support everything they do.”

Consider it one elegant step short of stalking and passionately stuffing bills in their pockets.

• Bandcamp: http://bandcamp.com

YouTube launches streaming music service called Music Key, strikes deal with indie labels

Google’s favorite adopted son YouTube has finally struck a deal with indie record labels! I’m not sure if this is a great day for music fans, but at least the hundreds of indies are getting theirs, so it’s probably a good day for the industry. Represented by an organization called Merlin (ooh, magic), the “other” labels have been in a protracted negotiation with YouTube over proper compensation for licensing their catalogs. Finally, the two parties reached an unspecified deal, and the labels’ music will now be included in YouTube’s forthcoming service Music Key.

So how is this different from the free website? Well, it’s a paid platform that gives you access to the entire Google Play and YouTube library, both offline and ad-free, for $9.99 a month. Then there’s an app that allows you to download music and videos to your phone, similar to Spotify but all within YouTube’s ecosystem. On the free end of things, the website has also added a Music tab, which currently allows for endless playlists à la Pandora. The Music Key announcement finally capitalizes on the estimated 2.28 billion hours that people listen to music via YouTube, but it also immediately makes the website a target. Right now, there are countless unofficial uploads on the site; those labels who didn’t sign a licensing deal are getting pissed, and some are threatening to take all of their artists’ music down. We’ll see how this plays out in the coming months. Music Key starts an invite-only beta on November 17 in the US, UK, Ireland, Italy, Finland, Spain, and Portugal.

• YouTube Music Key: https://www.youtube.com/musickey

CD Baby offers a succulent pacifier: 1-cent shipping for Cyber Monday and beyond

Oregonians just love boasting about their lack of extraneous fees, don’t they? First they all but force me to travel hundreds of miles to the state in order to satisfy my desire for tax-free rubber bands, and now the Portland-based CD Baby — an unintentional term of endearment for the musicians they’ve treated so well, “baby” — is offering an astounding deal to holiday consumers looking to catch a financial break in their admirably sustained purchase of CDs (contrary to vinyl or digital downloads). Online purchases sure are convenient, but it’d be great not to be blindsided by dickish shipping costs after my brain’s already grown accustomed to the subtotal.

One motherfucking cent! That’s how much the distributor of both music and royalties is charging for shipping on all CDs ordered between Cyber Monday (December 1) and Wednesday, December 3. Nationally or internationally. One CD or CD Baby’s entire goddamn warehouse; the shipping costs will be one cent per order.

It’s a pretty sweet deal, and CD Baby promises that the reduction in shipping costs will “not affect how much artists make from CD sales or the pricing they have set.” Instead, assuming there’s an increase in sales during the indicated period, artists will make a bit more cash, and the company in question will get to clear out some of their inventory of a dying medium. Does anybody lose in this scenario?

• CD Baby: http://www.cdbaby.com

Love is love, Tony’s back: new Ghostface Killah album due out in December

Ghostface Killah, prolific soldier of the clan of Wu, has a new joint in the works. Word has just come in that the mystery man known as Tony Starks will be dropping his 11th (!) studio album on December 9 through Salvation/Tommy Boy. 36 Seasons follows up 2013’s 12 Reasons to Die. It is one of many Ghostface projects we have to look forward to over the winter months, including the new Wu-Tang Clan disc on December 2 and a full-length collaboration with jazz band BADBADNOTGOOD on January 17.

According to the press release, 36 Seasons finds Ghostface in full-on concept album mode, performing in character as a “Staten Island vigilante inspired by a quest for personal retribution and bent on saving his community from the grips of crooked authority and urban decay.” Starks is joined by plenty of friends on his latest ride, including Pharoahe Monch, Kool G Rap, The Revelations, AZ, and others. The deluxe edition of the album also comes bundled with a 24-page graphic novel, which you can pre-order here.

Check out some previews below:

36 Seasons tracklisting:

01. The Battlefield (feat. Kool G Rap, AZ, Tre Williams)
02. Love Don’t Live Here No More (feat. Kandace Springs)
03. Here I Go Again (feat. AZ, Rell)
04. Loyalty (feat. Kool G Rap, Nems)
05. It’s a Thin Line Between Love and Hate (feat. The Revelations)
06. The Dog’s of War (feat. Shawn Wigs, Kool G Rap)
07. Emergency Procedure (feat. Pharoahe Monch)
08. Double Cross (feat. AZ)
09. Bamboo’s Lament (feat. Kandace Springs)
10. Pieces of the Puzzle (feat. AZ)
11. Homicide (feat. Nems, Shawn Wigs)
12. Blood in the Streets (feat. AZ)
13. Call My Name
14. I Love You For All Seasons (feat. The Revelations)

• Ghostface Killah: https://www.facebook.com/GhostfaceKillahOfficial
• Tommy Boy: https://www.facebook.com/TommyBoyEntertainment

Zola Jesus announces winter tour, provides live video to silence the skeptics

Of all the conspiracy theories, few are more aggravating and less sensible than those of the Zola truther movement. “Zola Jesus has never, ever played a live show,” they say. Despite the hundreds of shows Zola Jesus has played over the past half-decade or so as a national touring artist. Despite there being nothing to gain from her faking her live performance history. “Look, you can see the strings,” the skeptics cry.

Zola Jesus is going on a lengthy North American tour this coming January. Okay, before the peanut gallery revs up their e-mail client to send me a series of 20-minute YouTube videos “proving” that these dates are part of a ongoing scheme, pause a minute. Here is a video of a live rendition of her new single “Go (Blank Sea)” performed at New York City’s Webster Hall. It was directed by Mark Zemel, shot by Zemel and Nathan Lynch, and edited by Jorge Duran:

Can we please put these accusations to bed now?

Earlier this year, Zola Jesus put out Taiga through Mute. Even more recently, she put out the Go (Blank Sea) EP, also through Mute, featuring the titular single and two remixes by Diplo and Skin Town. All these things are real. Please don’t leave a flaming bag of dog turd with “ZOLA LIED” scrawled across it on my doorstep.

Zola Jesus dates:

11.18.14 - London, UK - KOKO
01.08.15 - Seattle, WA - Neptune
01.09.15 - Portland, OR - Mississippi Studios
01.10.15 - Vancouver, BC - VENUE
01.12.15 - Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge
01.13.15 - Minneapolis, MN - Cedar Cultural Center
01.14.15 - Lawrence, KS - The Granada Theater
01.15.15 - Minneapolis, MN - Cedar Cultural Center
01.16.15 - Chicago, IL - Tomorrow Never Knows Festival (Atheneum)
01.17.15 - St. Louis, MO - The Ready Room
01.19.15 - Ferndale, MI - The Loving Touch
01.20.15 - Columbus, OH - Skully’s
01.22.15 - Toronto, ON - The Drake
01.23.15 - Montreal, QC - Phi Centre
01.24.15 - Providence, RI - Fete Ballroom
01.27.15 - Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer
01.28.15 - Baltimore, MD - Ottobar
01.29.15 - Washington, DC - Black Cat
01.30.15 - Durham, NC - Motorco Music Hall
01.31.15 - Atlanta, GA - Terminal West
02.02.15 - Houston, TX - Fitzgerald’s
02.03.15 - Austin, TX - The Mohawk
02.04.15 - Dallas, TX - The Loft
02.06.15 - Phoenix, AZ - Crescent Ballroom

• Zola Jesus: http://www.zolajesus.com
• Mute: http://mute.com