RIP: Johnny Winter

From Johnny Winter’s representatives:

Texas blues icon Johnny Winter has passed away on July 16, 2014 in his hotel room in Zurich, Switzerland.

His wife, family and bandmates are all saddened by the loss of one of the world’s finest guitarists.

An official statement with more details shall be issued at the appropriate time.

[Photo: Yolanda]

• Johnny Winter:

Oren Ambarchi releasing new album on Editions Mego in September, is somehow not tired

Oh, Oren Ambarchi. You’ve had a really stellar year. How stellar? Let me count the ways:

In the beginning, there was your solo tour, including a performance of the masterful “Knots” at ISSUE Project Room.

There was the Nazoranai tour. You hit the road with Keiji Haino and Stephen O’Malley and made everyone’s ears blister with your pounding drums and large gong (…).

Then came the release of Shade Themes from Kairos, where you replaced O’Malley with Randall Dunn (but kept Keiji Haino along for the ride, because, you know, he’s Keiji Haino).

Around the same time, your collaboration with Richard Pinhas was released, showing off your multi-instrumentalist talents by switching off between drums and guitar, followed by a demonstration of your talents covering ZZ Top.

And then (and then!) you announced another album with Jim O’Rourke and Haino, fresh off of 2013’s collaboration Now While It’s Still Warm Let Us Pour in All the Mystery. A TWO-PART album, Oren, a full-length recording of one of your live performances. You remember that set, don’t you, Oren? It was in Japan, in the late winter/early spring, and it was lovely.

Are you not exhausted, Oren? Does it not get tiring to work on so many cool projects all the time? Wouldn’t you like a break?

What’s that, you say? You have a new release in the works, a 47-minute-long continuous piece that finds you collaborating with Jim O’Rourke, Thomas Brinkmann, Cyrs Cole, and more? You traveled across the world, to Iceland, to London, to Tokyo, to L.A. to record it? It’s called Quixotism, and it will be released on Editions Mego in just a few short months, on the fateful day of September 29?

Alright, then. Carry on.

• Oren Ambarchi:
• Editions Mego:

Ex Hex to release debut album called Rips, bodybuilding supplement merchandise range TBC

What would you do if you were one of two lead singers in an awesome supergroup and the other lead singer of your band became a super-famous comedian on a worldwide-syndicated sketch comedy show?

Mary Timony is probably the only person in the world who can answer that question. She was the co-front woman of Wild Flag along with Carrie Brownstein (who you probably know by now is kind of a big deal). Timony’s answer is to form a new, equally kick-ass rock band, call it Ex Hex, and keep the good vibes rolling.

If the lead single “Don’t Wanna Lose” is any guide (stream below), Ex Hex aren’t really setting out to break any molds with their brand of punchy, short and sharp rock. You’ll have to wait till October 7, when their debut full-length Rips drops via Merge, to see if there are any 15-minute epic jams in their repertoire, but I’m not holding my breath (nor would I be complaining).

If you bemoan Brownstein’s hipster-bashing brand of comedy and long for some all-girl axe wielding in the vein of Sleater-Kinney or Wild Flag, look no further than Ex Hex, coming to a city near you:

07.17.14 - New York, NY - Museum of Modern Art
07.18.14 - Toronto, ON - The Garrison
07.19.14 - Chicago, IL - Bottom Lounge (Pitchfork Festival after-party) ^
07.20.14 - Bloomington, IN - The Bishop
07.23.14 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda’s *
07.24.14 - Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel *
07.26.14 - Carrboro, NC - Cat’s Cradle (Merge 25)
07.27.14 - Charlottesville, VA - The Southern *
09.27.14 - Cincinnati, OH - MidPoint Music Festival
09.28.14 - Champaign-Urbana, IL - Pygmalion Festival
10.05.14 - Washington, DC - Black Cat #
10.07.14 - Louisville, KY - Zanzabar #
10.09.14 - Denver, CO - Hi-Dive #
10.10.14 - Albuquerque, NM - Sister #
10.11.14 - Phoenix, AZ - Yucca Tap Room #
10.12.14 - Los Angeles, CA - The Echo #
10.14.14 - San Francisco, CA - Rickshaw Stop
10.16.14 - Portland, OR - Mississippi Studios #
10.17.14 - Vancouver, BC - Electric Owl #
10.18.14 - Seattle, WA - Barboza #
10.23.14 - Fargo, ND - The Aquarium #
10.24.14 - Minneapolis, MN - 7th St Entry #
10.26.14 - Detroit, MI - PJ’s Lager House #
10.28.14 - Montreal, QC - Il Motore #
10.29.14 - Burlington, VT - Monkey House #
10.30.14 - Boston, MA - Great Scott #
10.31.14 - Hamden, CT - The Space
11.01.14 - Brooklyn, NY - Glasslands #
11.02.14 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge #
11.05.14 - Baltimore, MD - Ottobar #
11.06.14 - Richmond, VA - Strange Matter #

* Hospitality
# Speedy Ortiz
^ Dum Dum Girls, Speedy Ortiz

• Ex Hex:
• Merge:

Christopher Willits announces new LP, the latest in a series of ultra-chill releases on the Ghostly label

San Francisco-based artist Christopher Willits first came onto my radar with his video tutorials on Ableton Live — thanks Chris, those were super helpful. From those clips, it was obvious that Willits had a serious passion for music, technology, and video. So it’s not surprising that his latest LP for Ghostly, OPENING, combines those loves into an “immersive audio-visual project.”

Using seven ambient tracks, seven scenes of visuals shot around the world, and seven photographic prints, OPENING follows Willits’ recent production help on Tycho’s Awake (another mega-chill producer on the Ghostly roster) with his own multimedia experience. “There are no actors or dialogue in this film,” explains Willits. “The audience and their perception is the main character, and everyone’s imagination is going to create some meaning that’s relevant to their own experience.” Like stoner TV favorite Planet Earth or the most incredible screensaver you’ve ever dreamed of, OPENING looks to be a meditative trip through the dreamiest moments of Willits’ recent life. His travels, his music, and his cinematic visuals are pretty damn relaxing.

In addition, exclusive content will slowly be released through Willits’ page; more details about the new member-based platform can be found here. Until OPENING drops on September 2, the trailer for the project and “CLEAR” (the second scene/track) can both be watched below. That water looks pretty glassy, dudes.

• Christopher Willits:
• Ghostly:

Independent labels join forces against unfair digital streaming practices with Fair Digital Deal Declaration

An incredibly large number of independent record labels have signed the Worldwide Independent Network’s “Fair Digital Deals Declaration,” a document that outlines “simple, fair, and transparent guidelines for labels dealing with third party digital partners.

More than 750 signatories have attached their names to the declaration, including big names like 4AD, Domino, Merge, Drag City, and Sub Pop.

The five tenets of the declaration are as follows:

1. Ensure that artists’ share of download and streaming revenues is clearly explained in recording agreements and royalty statements in reasonable summary form.
2. Account to artists a good-faith pro-rata share of any revenues and other compensation from digital services that stem from the monetization of recordings but are not attributed to specific recordings or performances.
3. Encourage better standards of information from digital services on the usage and monetization of music.
4. Support artists who choose to oppose, including publicly, unauthorized uses of their music.
5. Support the collective position of the global independent record company sector.

WIN has also drawn up a “Global Independent Manifesto,” which declares that independent labels deserve “equal market access and parity of terms with Universal, Sony, and Warner,” and outlines support for independent labels who treat artists fairly.

The declaration follows in the wake of YouTube’s announcement last month that it will roll out a new subscription service that requires labels to sign contracts or else have their videos blacked out.

Alison Wenham, WIN’s CEO, called the new initiative a “template for best practice” within the music industry.

“We invite companies […] to put a stop to the practice of diverting revenues from the artists without whom we would not have a business,” Wenham said.

The full text of the Fair Digital Deals Pledge can be viewed here.

• Worldwide Independent Network:

Roses (ex-Abe Vigoda) announce debut EP Dreamlover, I wrote some poetry to celebrate

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Roses are also a band,
Featuring a dude from Abe Vigoda too.
Their very first single
Was called “Florence Girls.”
If I were a lazy writer,
I’d say “these guitars swirl.”
They’ve got an EP,
It’s titled Dreamlover,
Click this link here,
Check out that sick cover.
Via Group Tightener,
It’s out August 5.
Our writers are awesome,
And so full of pith.
Roses have a new song,
This one’s called “It’s Over.”
They can thank us later
For this great blog exposure.
The band is on tour
With A Sunny Day in Glasgow,
I don’t know where to go from here,
Because I was never sure if it was pronounced “GlasgOW” or “GlasgOH” and I’m not that great at this whole poetry thing.
But for convenience sake,
We’ll go with the long “O.”
Make sure you stream
The new single below.


07.16.14 - Los Angeles, CA - Bootleg Theatre *
07.19.14 - Pomona, CA - The Glasshouse
07.22.14 - Los Angeles, CA - The Echo
08.01.14 - New York, NY - Death By Audio
08.02.14 - New York, NY - Cakeshop
08.03.14 - New York, NY - Silent Barn

* A Sunny Day in Glasgow

• Roses:
• Group Tightener:

Actress releases surprise new limited EP Xoul; R.I.P its availability in 24 hours

Actress has taken the next shock-and-awe step in erasing his obituary from listeners’ memory, following up the divisive but still much-loved Ghettoville triple LP (and almost certainly a Trilogy Tapes 12-inch under a different moniker) with a surprise 12-inch EP, Xoul, out in just a few days. And it’s a beauty — look at that thing up there, black and featureless as the night, with a barcode sticker whiter than God’s eyelids. Much like the surprise Grey Over Blue 12-inch from last year, this EP is limited to 500 copies and comes on 180 gram vinyl. No word yet on whether this plays at 45 or 33 RPM, though that tends to be a bit subjective.

Here’s a link to get it from Ninja Tune. Here’s a link to get it from Bleep. Here’s a link to get it from Phonica. Here’s a link to get it from Boomkat. Whichever link you choose, we’ll use that data to optimize your experience on future Actress stories.

Listen to “Birdcage” off Ghettoville while you order:

Xoul EP tracklist:

01. Xoul
02. Xoul Dark Chamber
03. Xoul Particles
04. Pharoah Moon Rising

• Actress/Werkdiscs:

Pallbearer to tour North America, quickly bring doom and gloom to Fun Fun Fun Fest

Pallbearer, the three-piece band that has the distinction of being one of NPR’s favorite metal bands (take that, World Cafe!), will tour Canada and the United States extensively throughout October and November, concluding with some Texas dates that includes Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Fest on November 7. As they say, it doesn’t get more fun fun fun than listening to music that makes you contemplate your own mortality with a distinct funereal sound.

The doom metal outfit, who also (possibly) have the distinction of being one of Little Rock, Arkansas’ favorite bands (take that, Johnny Cash??), has a new album coming out on August 19 via Profound Lore Records. They’ll hit Europe in September and early October with YOB, and then cross the pond for their North American dates with Tombs and Vattnet Viskar. Get your tote bags ready and get thee to a Pallbearer show, NPR listeners!


10.17.14 - Nashville, TN - Exit/In *
10.18.14 - Lexington, KY - Cosmic Charlie’s *
10.19.14 - Champaign, IL - High Dive *
10.20.14 - Madison, WI - The Frequency *
10.21.14 - Detroit, MI - Magic Stick *
10.23.14 - Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop *
10.24.14 - Toronto, ON - Lee’s Palace *
10.25.14 - Montreal, QC - Il Motore *
10.26.14 - Boston, MA - Great Scott *
10.27.14 - Brooklyn, NY - Saint Vitus *
10.29.14 - Philadelphia, PA - Black Box *
10.30.14 - Baltimore, MD - Metro Gallery *
10.31.14 - Chapel Hill, NC - Local 506
11.01.14 - Atlanta, GA - The Earl *
11.02.14 - Tampa, FL - The Orpheum *
11.05.14 - Houston, TX - Fitzgerald’s Downstairs *
11.07.14 - Austin, TX - Fun Fun Fun Fest
11.09.14 - Dallas, TX - Three Link *

* Tombs and Vattnet Viskar

• Pallbearer:
• Profound Lore:

Kayo Dot discuss cemetery overpopulation, announce crazy new solution/album Coffins on Io

I suppose I could really delve into the lyrics of multifaceted, vaguely progressive metal band Kayo Dot, but given that I’m utterly lacking in the requisite qualifications of a goddamn PhD in philosophy, as well as an insight more comprehensive than just the cultural ramifications of people who disobey the unspoken sidewalk rules (on the right! this is America), I’ll try and limit things somewhat: they’re conceptual. They’re deep. They’re occasionally being yelled at us. The 2013 album Hubardo is almost, musically-speaking, so absurdly complex that it makes you wonder if the words being sent our way have any chance of reaching cohesion. To be honest, I’m sort of afraid to check for fear of diving into inescapable meaning.

But those who are totally into frontman Toby Driver’s perpetually interesting take on music, from the soft to the startlingly intense moments, will be excited to learn about coffins — more specifically, not the fad that was co-opted by humans from the vampire Leslie Nielsen, but Coffins on Io, Kayo Dot’s next studio album, set for release October 16. A word from the D/driver of Kayo himself: “Basically, the vibe we’re going for here is inspired by 80s retro-future noir — Blade Runner. I wanted to make a good record to put on while you drive across the desert at night under a toxic, post-apocalyptic atmosphere… There’s a weird underlying theme of murder, shame, and death.”

In the context of the band’s oeuvre, does anyone have any idea what this entails!? So unpredictable. In other words, so exciting.

Coffins on Io tracklisting:

01. The Mortality of Doves
02. Offramp Cycle, Pattern 22
03. Longtime Disturbance on the Miracle Mile
04. Library Subterranean
05. The Assassination of Adam
06. Spirit Photography

• Kayo Dot:
• The Flenser:

Important Records imprint Cassauna vies for equal importance, releases tapes by Ashley Paul and Juan Carlos Vasquez

Cassauna has stayed hidden too long in the ever-paramount shadows of Important Records. The cassette imprint was started by Important in 2011 and has already released an incredibly prime roster of recordings by the likes of Maurizio Bianchi, Pauline Oliveros, and Arnold Dreyblatt. Why should the parent take all the credit? I mean, with their gorgeous silk-screened packaging and incredibly limited quantity, it seems like Cassauna has a fighting chance in the race to significance.

Now there are two more arguments for Cassauna’s critical standing. The first comes from London-based sound artist Juan Carlos Vasquez. His Collages take an unlikely approach to electroacoustic performance and recording — each piece is a digital re-imagining of original performances of famous works by the likes of Bach, Mussorgsky, and Chopin. Vasquez is so damn important that some folks down at Resonance FM decided to make a documentary about him: check that out July 25.

Second up is White Night from Brooklyn-based composer Ashley Paul, a follow-up to last year’s Line the Clouds LP. Paul made these recordings over the course of a year in Boston, Brooklyn, Orlando, and London. Adding to its already overflowing importance, White Night features performances from Eli Keszler and Greg Kelley.

Both tapes are still available and are essentially, crucially, and critically important.

Revisit Ashley Paul’s delirious “Line the Clouds” below:

Collages tracklist:

01. Collage 1 (After M. Mussorgsky)
02. Collage 2 (After L.v. Beethoven)
03. Collage 3 (After E. Ysaye)
04. Collage 4 “Landscape”
05. Collage 5 “The Acrobat” (After E. Satie)
06. Collage 6 (After J.S. Bach)
07. Collage 7 (After F. Chopin)
08. Collage 8 (After J.S. Bach)
09. Collage 9 (After J.L. Borges)

White Night tracklist:

01. dragon
02. i’m finding you
03. august 10
04. white night
05. goodbyes
06. run the wall

• Juan Carlos Vasquez:
• Ashley Paul:
• Cassauna:



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