Saint Pepsi will now be known as Skylar Spence for exactly the reason you think

Saint Pepsi’s star shone so brightly in 2014 that it was bound to catch the Sauron’s eye of a certain soft drink organization in the process. Indeed, with the legal hammer about to come down on his previous persona, the disco maestro announced today that he shall henceforth be known as Skylar Spence. You fans of mid-90s Woody Allen musical comedies will recognize the new moniker as a nod to Drew Barrymore’s character from Everyone Says I Love You, while others will know it as the title to a 2013 Saint Pepsi track off Hit Vibes. If you don’t know all that much about the former, Skylar Spence (a.k.a. Ryan DeRobertis a.k.a. The Artist Formerly Known as Saint Pepsi) has provided plenty of dreamy visuals from the film in the YouTube announcement embedded below. While the track remains conspicuously unnamed, it’s just a sampling from his forthcoming LP for Carpark Records. Along with a record release, 2015 will also see Skylar Spence hold down some DJ gigs as well as some live performances featuring a full band! In fact, the man says that’s the only way he’ll be playing live from now on, so get ready to get with the gettin’ down, y’all.

Skylar Spence dates:

01.19.15 - Brooklyn, NY - Silent Barn (DJ Set) #
05.15.15-17 - Gulf Shores, AL - Hangout Fest

# Phantom Posse

• Skylar Spence/Saint Pepsi: https://soundcloud.com/saintpepsi
• Carpark: http://carparkrecords.com

Mike Simonetti (Troubleman Unlimited, Italians Do It Better) launches 2MR with Captured Tracks founder Mike Sniper

Back in 2005, a decision was made to create a record label based on love for electronic pop and European disco; thus, Italians Do It Better was born. Home to many projects like Chromatics, Glass Candy, Symmetry, et al., the label grew into a synthpop/Italo disco revival powerhouse. Last December, Mike Simonetti from the label announced he was leaving and has now confirmed his next step. He’ll be co-directing a new label with Mike Sniper, Captured Tracks founder: 2MR, short for 2 Mikes Records.

Ostensibly a dance music branch for Captured Tracks, 2MR will debut with a release by Simonetti’s new band, Pale Blue, out April 14. The group’s first single, the titular “The Past We Leave Behind,” is not dissimilar to Simonetti’s Thief-like contribution to The Guest’s soundtrack (previously heard in 2013’s Italians Do It Better showcase After Dark 2); the track possesses a grand-scale pop finesse that nevertheless avoids relinquishing the populist beats. So, yeah, Mike Simonetti had to leave Italians Do It Better in order to find a Chromatics of his own. You can stream the track below.

Simonetti, who will also take care of A&R duties for 2MR, is no newbie to the label-running game. Over a decade-and-a-half ago, he was the man behind the iconic noise rock outlet Troubleman Unlimited (Black Dice, Wolf Eyes, Harvey Milk, Boris, Unwound). Actually, though it sounds nothing like the label’s flagship acts, Pale Blue is somewhat of a throwback to those years for Simonetti. Mike Sniper’s band Blank Dogs put an album out with Troubleman Unlimited a few years ago. Similarly, former collaborator Jana Hunter, whose 2005 split with Devendra Banhart came out via Troubleman Unlimited, will appear in Pale Blue’s debut as a guest vocalist. Silver Hand’s Elizabeth Wight will handle Pale Blue’s vocals throughout the record.

The Past We Leave Behind tracklist:

01. The Past We Leave Behind
02. The Scars
03. Distance to the Waves
04. Mia
05. Tougher
06. Myself
07. The Scars (Reprise)
08. Dusk in Parts
09. The Math
10. Rain
11. The Eye
12. Embrace
13. One Last Thing

• Pale Blue: https://www.facebook.com/PaleBlueOfficial
• Captured Tracks: http://www.capturedtracks.com

Belle and Sebastian announce US dates supporting Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, though touring is war and war is hell

They say war is hell. For some, touring is war. Ergo, touring is hell. Soon to enter hell: Belle and Sebastian. To support their upcoming record Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, out January 20 on Matador, the longstanding Scottish indie-pop act are heading back into the war zone that is America. Their campaign will find them hitting major battlefields like Coachella, as well as bouncing all over North America for a few handfuls of shows.

Supporting Belle and Sebastian on certain dates of this heroic venture will be the war-scarred likes of Perfume Genius and Real Estate. Some theorize that Real Estate’s smooth songs are simply a means to block out the horrors of war. Similarly, the crack in the voice of Perfume Genius’s Mike Hadras is caused by the memory of the terror of the battlefield. If only, like the aforementioned girls, they could find the peacetime dancing they so long for. If only.

Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance is currently streaming through NPR. Listen before you, too, are consumed by hell. Which, as previously discussed, is touring. So I guess listen before you go on tour. By the way, you’re going on tour? Cool!

Belle and Sebastian dates:

03.30.14 - Boston, MA - House of Blues
04.01.14 - Toronto, ON - Massey Hall
04.02.14 - Royal Oak, MI - Royal Oak Music Theatre
04.03.14 - Chicago, IL - Riviera
04.04.14 - Madison, WI - Overture Hall
04.07.14 - Seattle, WA - Paramount Ballroom *
04.08.14 - Vancouver, BC - Vogue Theatre *
04.09.14 - Portland, OR - Roseland *
04.11.14 - Indio, CA - Coachella
04.12.14 - Berkely, CA - Greek Theatre &
04.14.14 - Davis, CA - Mondavi Center *
04.17.14 - San Diego, CA - The North Park Theatre
04.18.14 - Indio, CA - Coachella
06.09.14 - Upper Darby, PA - Tower Theatre
06.10.14 - New York, NY - Radio City Music Hall &
06.11.14 - Washington, DC - Echostage
06.14.14 - Columbus, OH - LC Pavilion
06.17.14 - Morrison, CO - Red Rocks Amphitheatre
06.18.14 - Kansas City, MO - Uptown Theatre

* Perfume Genius
& Real Estate

• Belle and Sebastian: http://www.belleandsebastian.com
• Matador: http://www.matadorrecords.com

Björk announces new album Vulnicura

Björk, who everyone used to call an “Icelandic pixie,” has JUST announced the follow-up to 2011’s Biophilia in a letter obtained un-exclusively by TMT. The album’s titled Vulnicura, and it features nine tracks that we assume to be pretty great, especially since Björk has tapped Arca and The Haxan Cloak to help out, and we LOVE them around these parts! Björk, too!

Vulnicura is set for release in March.

Here’s the letter:

Here’s the production info:

6 songs written by björk, 2 songs co-written with arca, 1 with john flynn
string arrangements by björk
6 songs produced by björk & arca, 1 by björk & arca & the haxan cloak, 2 by björk
mixed by the haxan cloak except 2 songs mixed by the haxan cloak and chris elms
mastered by mandy parnell

And here’s the appropriate first response to the FB post:

OH MY FUCKING GOD

• Björk: http://bjork.com

Guys you know you better watch out: Lauryn Hill announces an East Coast “acoustic performance series”

Hello loyal TMT readership. Thanks for clicking through! Here’s the latest exciting entertainment industry news flash, delivered with the same kind of wit, style, grace, and aplomb that you’ve come to expect from our online music magazine: Lauryn Hill — whom Wikipedia tells me is "an American singer-songwriter, rapper, producer, and actress [...] best known for being a member of the Fugees and for her solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” has just announced something called “Small Axe: Acoustic Performance Series,” which is just like what it says it is; six intimate shows around Washington, DC and New York next month. Interested? Then follow your instincts and read on.

According to her press release, the rooms to which Hill will be singing span from 250-500 in their capacities (which is a small capacity when you’re Lauryn Hill; whom, again, Wikipedia defines as an American singer-songwriter, rapper, producer, and actress […] best known for being a member of the Fugees and for her solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill) and are “mostly seated to created [sic] a uniquely intimate experience with the 8 time Grammy Award winner.” Classy, right? But wait. There’s more.

And here it is in this new paragraph: fans of Ms. Lauryn Hill who act fast can also “upgrade their experience to “a VIP Meet & Greet that includes a limited edition 24” x 36” art poster designed by Ms. Hill, souvenir tour laminate and an individual meet and greet (includes photo and autograph) after the show.” For tickets and more info on VIP upgrades go to Hill’s unofficial website. Oops. I mean, Hill’s real unofficial website.

Small Axe: Acoustic Performance Series (a.k.a. places to hear “Doo-Wop” live):

02.13.15 - Washington, DC - Howard Theatre
02.14.15 - Washington, DC - Howard Theatre
02.17.15 - Brooklyn, NY - Rough Trade
02.20.15 - New York, NY - Highline
02.23.15 - New York, NY - Highline
02.25.15 - New York, NY - Blue Note (early and late show)

• Lauryn Hill: http://www.lauryn-hill.com

Rap Genius trumps The New Yorker by poaching music critic Sasha Frere-Jones

In what looks an awful lot like some sort of watershed moment in the ongoing saga between print and digital, Complex has pointed out that Sasha Frere-Jones, who had been a very popular music critic with print mainstay The New Yorker, has jumped ship to take on the role of executive editor of the website Genius (f.k.a. Rap Genius).

Genius began back in 2009 as a crowd-sourced platform where users could annotate rap lyrics, kind of like footnoting essays at a university, only you get to footnote “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj instead of some boring thesis on the cultural relativity of Brendan Fraser post-Encino Man.

In 2013, the site came under fire for alleged copyright breach by republishing lyrics without permission. This minor hiccup saw Google pretending the website didn’t exist for a while. The site rebranded as simply “Genius” mid-2014 and now allows users to annotate more than just rap lyrics, with sections dedicate to rock, country, pop, and lesser-known subgenres like legal decisions, literature, and tech. The website has apparently raised over $55 million in venture capital of late.

Frere-Jones, who championed bands such as Shabazz Palaces, William Basinski, Run the Jewels, and Oren Ambarchi within the pages of the highfalutin New Yorker, said the move was partly motivated by the fact that he saw Genius’ annotations draw out the nuances of music. An in-depth explanation of his reasoning can be found here.

Given Frere-Jones’ taste in music, as evidenced by his list of favorite albums in 2014, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility to soon see a subsite dedicated to annotating the song titles of Haino/Ambarchi/O’Rourke jams.

• Genius: http://genius.com
• Sasha Frere-Jones: https://twitter.com/sfj

Sufjan Stevens announces new folk-oriented album, but only because the 808s he borrowed from Kanye finally stopped working

Let’s face it. Unless your David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust, five years is kind of a long time. And that’s about how long it’s been since we last heard a major formal work from formerly-folky-but-more-recently-just-wonky musical upstart Sufjan Stevens. Sure, dude’s kept busy enough giving away Christmas albums, working on some ballet and film scores, and starting hopelessly indulgent side projects and all that stuff; but I mean, come on. At the end of the day? That’s just some razzle-dazzle art school Christian bullshit, right? Where’s the SERIOUS NEW SUFJAN LP? Am I right?

Well, ask and we shall receive. Stevens has just announced that his new album, which is entitled Carrie & Lowell, will be out March 31 via the good ol’ Athsmatic Kitty label.

Details other than that remain a little scant at the moment, but his press release has anyone who’s ever seen The Beatles’ Get Back documentary resting nervously assured that this album sees him harkening back to his “folk roots” and that the title is in honor of his mother and stepfather. Themes tackled on the album’s 11 tracks apparently span the emotional gamut of “life and death, love and loss, and the artist’s struggle to make sense of the beauty and ugliness of love.” Hmm, just like Ziggy Stardust! Oh, and I guess, according to Pitchfork, Stevens’ collaborators on the album include Casey Foubert, Laura Veirs, Nedelle Torrisi, Sean Carey, Ben Lester, and Thomas Bartlett.” I have no idea who those people are, but maybe you do!

But truly, that’s definitely all I can find. Well, you know, except one of those album trailer thingies featuring misty mountains and arpeggiated acoustic instruments. Sniff… sniff… smells like indie-folk to me!

Carrie & Lowell tracklisting:

01. Death With Dignity
02. Should Have Known Better
03. All of Me Wants All of You
04. Drawn to the Blood
05. Fourth of July
06. The Only Thing
07. Carrie & Lowell
08. Eugene
09. John My Beloved
10. No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross
11. Blue Bucket of Gold

• Sufjan Stevens: http://sufjan.com
• Asthmatic Kitty: http://asthmatickitty.com

Sarah Davachi announces debut full-length Barons Court after utilizing her hangar full of instruments

Don’t call it a comeback!

No, seriously, don’t, because I have the minor suspicion that LL Cool J might have the phrase trademarked, and that we’re better off using the extended “don’t refer to it as the return of my much anticipated presence,” just to avoid any tedious litigious processes.

AND… the Vancouver-based Sarah Davachi probably wouldn’t approve. Her synth expertise is well-documented, but with the help of Students of Decay, she’s just now allowing her electroacoustic proclivities to be fully enjoyed by the supremely tasteful masses. Her debut full-length Barons Court is set for release February 12, and it’s more or less the inevitable consequence of being more educated than you on the subject.

An MFA in Electronic Music from Mills College in Oakland might’ve been the precursor: Barons Court reportedly features a range of “vintage and legendary” synthesizers, including Sequential Circuits’ Prophet 5, which was used by all kinds of influential acts during the decade(s) of neon and misshapen furniture. Actual wind and string instruments join in on the album as well, creating some pretty intricate drones, some of which you can hear for yourself below. The Éliane Radigue comparisons are apt, if I may say so:

Barons Court tracklisting:

01. Heliotrope
02. Guildford
03. Tiergarten
04. Wood Green
05. Ruislip

• Sarah Davachi: http://www.sarahdavachi.com
• Students of Decay: http://studentsofdecay.com

Northern Spy kicks off anniversary year with free NYC shows from Marc Ribot and Sun Ra’s Arkestra

The good and true folks at Northern Spy have been main damies with us TMT chucklebutts for so long that it’s difficult to remember a time without them. But one need only look back to the dark days before 2010 to witness a bleaker era devoid of landmark releases from the likes of ZS and Seaven Teares, legendary SXSW showcases featuring A-list goddamn talent, and last but certainly not least, guest mixes of monocle-popping quality.

To celebrate those fruitful first five years, the Brooklyn label will be raging all through 2015 with shows and events that’ll be as lysergic as they are affordable! The craziness kicks off in NYC on January 24 with an afternoon guitar workshop with the one and only Marc Ribot, followed in the evening by a performance from his band Ceramic Dog with openers Loren Connors’ Haunted House. Admission to both events is absolutely free. The same applies for January 31’s show and workshop with the Sun Ra Arkestra, fronted by longtime member and free jazz hero Marshall Allen. What’s more, DJs from the esteemed AdHoc will be providing atmosphere for both shows in the South Street Seaport’s inflatable venue SUGARCUBE. Go here for further particulars, and be on the lookout for more shows and workshops like these from Northern Spy throughout the year. Long may it reign!

• Northern Spy: http://northernspyrecords.com
• Marc Ribot: http://marcribot.com
• Sun Ra’s Arkestra: http://www.sunraarkestra.com

Silver Jews reform and record new material… or not?

Here’s a little mystery for you to unpack.

On January 7, 2015, one Bob Nastanovich (Silver Jews, Pavement) posted on his Facebook page a photo depicting himself sitting on a couch with reclusive Silver Jews mastermind David Berman and Silver Jews drummer Brian Kotzur. He captioned it thusly: “After Jews practice tonight!!!”.

The next day, Nastanovich went into print with Wondering Sound confirming that Silver Jews had reunited and had already recorded two new songs called “The Veranda over the Toy Shoppe” and “Wacky Package Eyes.”

Seems legit right? Legit enough for Pitchfork to get on board and send the indienet into a flutter. Multiple rainbows filled the sky for the news was good and visions of joyous Silver Jews sounds filling ear holes again were upon us.

Next comes the collective crushing of thousands of indie hearts when Nashville Cream tapped Berman himself to confirm the news.

Instead, Berman explained that “Bob [Nastanovich] pulled a prank… [he] tried to scotch my J.D Salinger setup!”

So who are we to believe? It’s a real mystery. Is Nastanovich a liar or is Berman simply putting the media hounds off his scent as he hones his next masterpiece? Or both? Or neither?

Anyway, while you stew on this pithy little conundrum, fill your ears with the only recorded output of Berman since he disbanded Silver Jews in 2009, which is a spoken word accompaniment to the equally evasive Avalanches who have been noncommittal about their own recordings for over a decade now.

• Silver Jews: http://www.dragcity.com/artists/silver-jews
• David Berman: http://mentholmountains.blogspot.com.au