Michael Gira to tour (and possibly ruin the sunny vibe of) Australia

As America and the Northern Hemisphere head into another long winter, the mere thought of Australia heading into another one of its summers spent on golden sand beaches is enough to make anyone who isn’t in Australia more than just a little irritated, right?

Well, suffer no more, non-citizens of Australia, because the dark master himself, Michael Gira of Swans and Angels of Light will be importing his dreary worldview down under in a bid to blow away those damn Australians’ sunny dispositions.

It’s a whistlestop tour down the East Coast at the behest of Lawrence English and the Room40 crew, but there’s nothing that Gira does that doesn’t pack a punch, even when he’s in solo mode armed with nothing but an acoustic guitar, a song book of the blackest-ever lyrics, and a snarl.

Schadenfreude will ensue. Brace yourself, Australia. He’s coming March 2016.

Don’t forget that Gira will then unleash the Swans beast for one final onslaught in its current lineup.

Tour Dates

03.05.16 - Brisbane, Gallery of Modern Art
03.08.16 - Melbourne, Melbourne Recital Hall
03.09.16 - Sydney, Carriageworks

Napster relaunches in Canada, definitely the most important thing to happen in Canada lately

Not all of you are old enough to remember how it felt to search for and then download individual songs for the first time ever back in 1999, but I’m here to testify on behalf of the “it was fucking sweet” side, as the shackles imposed on us by the RIAA and physical mediums were uniformly removed with the advent of a seemingly new P2P technology. Then the RIAA and a few others collectively peed their pants until punitive measures were taken, and the service lovingly remembered as Napster turned into a less-than-revolutionary paid service in 2003, owned by Roxio. Then Rhapsody bought Napster from Best Buy in 2011, and it was at that point that the zombie music service that nobody really used actually ceased to be a thing; Rhapsody just absorbed it all alien-like.

But Rhapsody knows when to give in to the unspoken demands of their loyal Canadian users, and last week they announced the immediate relaunching of Napster exclusively within the country, for reasons that undoubtedly have something to do with things that aren’t entirely clear — probably financial. The Canadian Napster boasts a catalog of 35 million songs (about on par with Spotify’s numbers), and monthly subscriptions — excluding their limited-time offer of C$1 for three months – are a measly C$9.99, which is certainly a competitive price point.

I’m not seeing much else in terms of noteworthy features, but I suppose the cost and song selection are what matter most. Here’s your chance to be ironically cool, Canucks!

Islam Chipsy & EEK to excite the UK this December

Move over Andrew W.K., and if there’s an individual among reader cliques who sulks at amusement parks and sits in the corner drinking skim milk at objectively non-douchey house parties, tell him or her to ride, fly, or swim in order to catch EEK (Islam Chipsy, alongside drummers Islam Ta’ta and Khaled Mondo) at one of their just-announced shows in the UK next month. The trio has a reputation for getting wedding attendees in its native Egypt to not just hit, but also bludgeon the dance floor, and you certainly appreciate the reaction if 2014’s Live At the High Cairo Cinema Institute found its way through your speakers, courtesy of Nashazphone and verbally bolstered by Alan Bishop. Consider this year’s studio-recorded Kahraba and it’s clear that the Chipsy style has an uncanny knack for replacing jugs of Monster. Caffeine’s kind of bad for you, anyway.

His and their music is unabashedly relentless! The duration of the tour is decidedly less so, unfortunately, but there’s little point in criticizing when this is seemingly their first time taking the party to more than a one-off beyond their home region. And they’re traveling to some pretty solid venues, too. Bristolians not attending the Arnolfini show (also) featuring Richard Dawson should feel bad at least until the new year.

Dates after the title track from Kahraba:

12.09.15 - Bradford, UK - FUSE
12.10.15 - Glasgow, UK - Glue Factory
12.11.15 - Colchester, UK - Arts Centre
12.12.15 - Bristol, UK - Arnolfini (w/ Richard Dawson)
12.13.15 - Sheffield, UK - DINA
12.15.15 - Norwich, UK - Arts Centre
12.16.15 - London, UK - London Contemporary Music Festival

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart release Hell EP

Perhaps we can’t always relate because our hearts aren’t pure enough to connect to the regular jangly goodness of The Pains of Being Pure of Heart, but the band’s latest single (you remember those right) is so downright catchy and angular in a Morrissey-before-he-was-Morrissey way that “Hell” is like a colonic cleanser for the soul.

Recorded as a pre-emptor to a forthcoming tour of Asia and set to be released everywhere on November 13 via Painbow, the Hell EP sees The Pains of Being Pure of Heart step up the swagger and clean away the reverb wash, and I defy anyone to listen to it below and not feel compelled to dance like Elaine from Seinfeld.


The B-sides to Hell are some pretty tidy covers. One cover of Felt’s “The Battle of the Band,” the other of James’ classic belter “Laid” which features Jen Goma of A Sunny Day in Glasgow on vocals.

Tour Dates:

11.11.15 - Osaka - Club Quattro
11.28.15 - Hong Kong - Cockenflap Festival
11.29.15 - Singapore - Neon Lights Festival

Hell tracklist:

01. Hell
02. Ballad of The Band (Felt Cover)
03. Laid (James Cover)

[Photo: Sophie Barloc]

New Heidecker & Wood album comin’ like MY HUGE BONER IS!

Okay, let’s recap! Once, a long time ago, and a very very good time ago, I told you guys that Tim Heidecker and the Tim & Eric music-guy Davin Wood were releasing an album into the world. For a minute, Tim got kinda internet-mad at me for trying to be as funny as he is… but then Mr. H and TMT buried that hatchet with the swift aplomb of a couple-a badass hatchet buriers and TMT proceeded to rain-down the coverage for that album as well as the one that followed two years later. Everyone got paid. Some of us got stroked. All was right with the world.

So now, here we are, two MORE years AFTER THAT, and you’ll never guess what? There’s TOTALLY GONNA BE A NEW HEIDECKER AND WOOD RECORD of “unwanted songs,” and it’s coming out this Thanksgiving (er, that’s November 26, for all you non-Americans and terrible-Americans)! So you’d better believe me when I tell you that we’re fixing to cover the BALLS out of this release. In fact, here I am, doing that right now. Look at me go, Tim (via YouTube):

COMING 11/26
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Oh yes, dudes and dudettes, your pot-laced, post-holiday-gorge-fest supercoma now has the ultimate easy-listening soundtrack. (Here’s the announcement in video form down below, since I assume many of you terrible-Americans were far too lazy to read all this deplorable content bullshit).

ATP announces new festival curated by Drive Like Jehu

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to an off-season British family resort, ATP rears its head once more as… ATP 2.0. Seriously, this is like when Jay Z quit rap for like four months. But whatever: ATP, we’re happy you’re not gone. (Remember when ATP was all “end of an era” and shit? That was scary and sad and lonely.) And following announcements of the ATP Iceland edition and events curated by Stewart Lee and Jake and Dinos Chapman, we’re even happier that Drive Like Jehu is curating your spring installment, held April 22-24 at Pontins in Prestatyn, North Wales.

This is the legendary San Diego band’s first performance in UK since 1994, which is cool because if you have a Cool Mom, you can totally go with her. Just imagine, you and your Cool Mom frolicking on some quality bonding time as she tells you about the early-90s post-hardcore scene while you collect seashells on the lovely Welsh beaches. Full lineup to come. CHILL, Mom.

Björk calls on world to protect Icelandic wilderness

While releasing one of Tiny Mix Tapes’ most beloved albums this year and an acoustic strings and vocals reworking of that album would normally prompt well-earned laurel-resting, Björk has lent her name and voice to another project, this time the decidedly weighty issue of the environment of her native Iceland.

As this YouTube clip from Björk rather succinctly points out, the central wilderness of Iceland is under threat from the ever-encroaching threat of the energy sector.

Björk and Icelandic writer Andri Snær Magnason have thrown their support behind a recently established organization called Gætum Garðsins, who are petitioning to have the Icelandic Highlands — apparently some of the most pristine in Europe and a serious source of tourist interest (ergo revenue) for the country — classified as a national park. We could pretend to be right across the politics and science of all this or simply tip you in the direction of the organization, where you can sign the same petition that Björk signed (and therefore fulfill your lifelong dream of collaborating with Björk).

We’ll leave you with this pithy quote that Andri Snær Magnason whipped out in response to UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s plan to run a huge cable from Iceland to Britain to tap into some of the northern island’s apparently endless source of energy:

The concept of Iceland’s infinite energy of Iceland is on par with other myths from Iceland like elves and trolls. You cannot simply plug into a volcano. Iceland has already harnessed its nature for energy production close to the maximum and the only way this proposal could work would be to build more power plants. While energy for the cable does not seem available, about five factories are being discussed or planned - making it almost impossible to imagine where all the energy can come from without damaging something incredibly wild and fragile.”

Myth. Busted.

[Photo: Timothée Lambrecq]

Driver who killed 4 in SXSW car crash sentenced to life in prison

During SXSW 2014, Rashad Owens crashed his car into a group of people waiting outside the Mohawk. Twenty people were injured and four people were killed, including Sandy Le, the roommate of longtime TMT writer E. Nagurney. Now, The Austin-American Statesman has announced that he has been found guilty of capital murder and will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The street where the incident occurred, 9th and Red River, had been closed to traffic for the festival. The jury agreed with the prosecutor’s claim that Owens had been aware of the actions he was taking as he drove through the barricades and into the crowds after attempting to evade a traffic stop. “There is no other answer than that the defendant knew what he was doing — and he didn’t care,” prosecutor Amy Meredith said. “He didn’t care who was in his way. He was not going to be stopped. He was not going to go to jail.”

Arguing that Owens was unfamiliar with the city of Austin and hadn’t intended to kill anyone, defense lawyer Rick Jones said, “We don’t know at what point Mr. Owens perceived what was in front of him. We don’t know what time he had to react.”

May those who died that night rest in peace. <3

Matmos announce Ultimate Care II, an album of washing machine sounds

So I rolled up to the break room in this very cool office at this very cool job I work at. I hear two co-workers chitter chattering, and one of ‘em says, “Yeah, and you know they made the whole album using sounds from a washing machine?” So, with that, I casually busted in and was all like, “Are you guys playing six degrees of worn out Sunn O))) jokes or are you talking about some new Matmos album?” and they nodded “yeah.” “Did you read the press release, too, Taylor?” I just grinned and said, “Nah, I haven’t read a press release in three years. That just sounds like a new Matmos album to me,” and all of us just laughed and laughed, because we’re cool and work in a cool office and get jokes about electronic and experimental music.

About that new album, though: it’s called Ultimate Care II, and it’s named for the Whirlpool Ultimate Care II model washing machine that served as the source of the album’s litany of “rhythmic chugs, spin cycle drones, rinse cycle splashes, metallic clanks, and electronic beeps.” That’s cool, but also pretty much just par for the Matmos course, who in the past have structured albums around Ganzfield experiments, the sounds of surgery, and “the concept of Americana.” Matmos’ Drew Daniel and M.C. Schmidt are joined on the album by collaborators such as Dan Deacon, Max Eilbacher and Sam Haberman of Horse Lords, Jason Willett of Half Japanese, and Duncan Moore of Needle Gun, several of whom actually do laundry with the machine in question.

Ultimate Care II is out February 19 on Thrill Jockey. Check out an excerpt from the album below, and pre-order it here (it’s even available in “very dirty laundry”-colored vinyl if you’re feeling saucy).

Ultimate Care II tracklist:

01. Ultimate Care II

Kompakt’s Pop Ambient 2016 out next week, streaming via NPR

The reliability of the sun’s movement and other astronomical processes is only rivaled by the permanence of Donald Trump’s follicular waves. Culturally, we might also bring into the fray Kompakt’s annual Pop Ambient series, which was started by the Cologne-based label in 2001 and which has worked as a calendrical substitute for the onset of winter (close to) every year since, even if most people are too busy clenching fists and smiling over the prospect of genuine studio albums to get equally hyped. But rest assured, even if you are preoccupied with the new Grimes or what-have-you, a new label kompilation is coming, waiting in a German alley behind a trashcan, on the verge of trouncing you with the pleasant sounds that fit squarely within the genres specified!

Pop Ambient 2016 is set for release a week from now, on November 13, and NPR is serving the role of initial alley dweller by offering a preliminary free stream of the album, playable in full below. This edition in particular features tracks from Mikkel Metal and reinvigorated influencers The Orb, and there’s also a “Megamix” of Wolfgang Voigt’s “Rückverzauberung” served up by Thore Pfeiffer, who released his debut album on Kompakt’s Pop Ambient imprint earlier this year. It all sounds about how’d you’d expect, which shouldn’t be taken as discouragement on my part.

I’m feeling quite encouraged to float:

Pop Ambient 2016 tracklisting:

01. Stephan Mathieu - April Im Oktober
02. The Orb - Alpine Dawn
03. Anton Kubikov - April
04. Max Würden - Unterwasser
05. Sicker Man & Gregor Schwellenbach - Turns
06. Würden & Pfeiffer - Feinherb
07. Mikkel Metal - Titan
08. Dave DK - Veira (Leandro Fresco Mix)
09. Wolfgang Voigt - Rückverzauberung (Thore Pfeiffer Megamix)
10. Jens-Uwe Beyer - The Bremen
11. Leandro Fresco - Configuración De Ataque
12. Thore Pfeiffer - Idyll