RIP: Ann Spencer Gates, Radio Show Host, Matador Publicist

From a post by Gerard Cosloy on Matador's blog:

Though mentally manipulating Spin editors and pursuing TV bookings wasn’t previously Spencer’s forte —- we’d first encountered her via her awesome job co-hosting the Mystery Girls show on Cambridge’s WMBR many years earlier — to say she took to the gig like she’d been doing it all her life was an understatement. The insight, humor and attitude she brought to the office every day not only made her the perfect person for the job, it sometimes felt like we’d all been doing it together forever. And I mean that in a good way.

Spencer played an absolutely pivotal role in the success of Pavement, Liz Phair, JSBX,Bettie Serveert, Pizzicato Five, Guided By Voices, Railroad Jerk and many others you know and love. She was a tremendous friend to the label’s artists and it would not be an exaggeration to say there’s a period in the label’s history that might’ve turned out very differently were it not for her.

Spencer passed away on Sunday, July 6. Our thoughts are with her friends and family.

Mission of Burma's Clint Conley:

Spencer was such a gas -- so funny, and sassy and tuned in. I was a dedicated listener of her show in the 80s -- total irreverence, anarchic fun, such a psych hearing them getting all jacked up over the music they'd be checking out that weekend. Thinking of Spencer, I am more convinced than ever that the most inspired part of any cool music scene usually has less to do with the musicians than the musicians would like to think.

- Matador Records
- Cambridge’s WMBR
- Obituary in Wicked Local
- Memorial service details

Best Buy to Try Vinyl Sales Again, Asks Self: “Didn’t We Used To Sell This?”

Well, folks, prepare to purchase your vinyl without an old coat of dust and poor independent record store lighting -- your baby’s returning to the big time. Vinyl, the long-thought dead and "outdated" form of musical storage and presentation, is getting a test tryout at select Best Buy stores. Could this be the first tiny step for mainstream vinyl reemergence? Will this be the crossing of the Rubicon for the endless and non-profitable war between CDs and LPs? Will I have to start buying my records at Best Buy once they inevitably overtake the market and control all distribution chains with their massive bulk-quantity discount-buying? Am I over-exaggerating?

However surprising this may seem, it isn’t really unexpected: vinyl has been quietly (and with a fuller sound!) resurging back into the populace (TMT News). According to Jackie Crosby of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, vinyl makes up only 0.2% of total sales compared to 90% of CDs, amounting to nearly one million units sold. This may seem small for an entire format, but that “nearly one million” is a 15%(!) increase and the highest level in three years, according to Nielsen Sound Scan.

Crosby goes on to further explain that Best Buy’s willingness to give this old war horse another shot is due to the growing demand and sales figures from local Minneapolis record stores. She also illustrates that, contrary to popular belief, vinyl music cannot be directly copied to a digital format (except for the many models of record players built for that specific purpose, obviously) and points to the growing amount of hip, young artists who are simultaneously releasing their work on CD, LP, and digital formats.

Best Buy states that this “test” will take place “at an undisclosed amount of locations... to avoid artificially tipping the scales.”

RIP: Natasha Shneider, ex-Queens of the Stone Age, Eleven

From a post by Joshua Homme on the official website of Queens of the Stone Age:

On July 2nd, at 11:11 AM, Natasha Shneider passed away. She ended her time in this Life with the style and poetry that she lived all the days previous, crossing over while held in the arms of her closest and dearest. No words can encapsulate the unwaivering strength she provided, adversities she overcome, the talents she possessed & nutured, the sharpness of her wit nor the beautiful complexity of her intellect. We are so thankful for her influence & the gift of her friendship.

A celebration of Natasha Shneider will be held in Hollywood at the Henry Fonda Theatre on Saturday, Aug 16th. Further details will be released shortly. All proceeds of the benefit and donations made will go to the relieve the burden of Natasha's fight against cancer. To donate, go to NatashaShneider.org

Now is all we have. May you all make the most of it.

- Natasha Shneider Memorial Fund
- Queens of the Stone Age
- Wikipedia entry
- IMDB entry

Q: How Can I Ween My 15-Month-Old Baby Off Breastfeeding?

A: However you choose to Ween, you should do so gradually, for both of your sakes. Try eliminating one feeding for a few days, then another, replacing it with random Ween albums, like White Pepper or last year's La Cucaracha, released on Rounder Records. Which feeding should you eliminate? Look for the one that your baby has the least interest in. For most, this is the middle of the day when there is much going on to serve as distractions. Remember, you can still nurse in the mornings and evenings, even if you work full-time, so if you eliminate the midday feedings first, it will be the least invasive on your routines.

Ween slowly and gradually. And, like, if you want someone to watch you Ween your baby, I can come over tonight.

Read All About Ponytail’s Upcoming Tour Here, Because Their MySpace Page Will Make You Barf

It doesn’t get any better at Ponytail's official site. I am so dizzy; everything looks so... Baltimore (I get to say that because I’m from there.) I don’t know what to click. There are GIFs of soccer balls, pictures of palm trees, and a desktop screen capture (although the partial view of the iTunes library suggests someone was rockin’ out to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. I can get behind that.)

Ponytail are hitting the road with Joan of Arc in July, Don Caballero for most of August, and spending September bouncing from show to festival in Europe. Not too shabby. Their publicist has also hinted at “soon-to-be-revealed tours planned for ’09 with two Best New Music bands...” I hope it’s Weezy.

Ponytail’s newest release Ice Cream Spiritual (TMT Review) is out on WE*ARE*FREE now.

U.S. tourdates:

Memorial Stone of Joy Division Frontman Ian Curtis Stolen

Top three reasons why it is a bad idea to rip off Ian Curtis' memorial stone from the Macclesfield Cemetery:

1. Stealing stuff from deceased persons is wrong, and they may have ghost buddies who will haunt you.
2. There is no way that attempting to sell it on eBay does not violate the website's terms and conditions.
3. It is really mean.

In spring 1980, Mr. Curtis, the frontman for seminal Manchester band Joy Division, hanged himself at the age of 23. The past few years have seen a resurgence in all things Joy Division-related, inspired in part by album reissues, the release of the Anton Corbijn's acclaimed biopic Control (TMT Review), and a documentary released earlier this year, simply titled Joy Division.

According to the BBC, the missing stone -- inscribed with the words "Ian Curtis 18 - 5 - 80" and the song title "Love Will Tear Us Apart" -- was stolen between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning last week. Police are asking anyone with information related to the theft to contact them.

Tony Barker, spokesperson for Macclesfield Borough Council, asked for the return of the memorial stone, saying that "it would usually have flowers behind it and mementoes to Ian Curtis's life. [...] Someone's gone to a great deal of trouble to remove the memorial stone, and I hope our appeal will help return it as soon as possible."

Memorial Stone of Joy Division Frontman Ian Curtis Stolen

Top three reasons why it is a bad idea to rip off Ian Curtis' memorial stone from the Macclesfield Cemetery:

1. Stealing stuff from deceased persons is wrong, and they may have ghost buddies who will haunt you.
2. There is no way that attempting to sell it on eBay does not violate the website's terms and conditions.
3. It is really mean.

In spring 1980, Mr. Curtis, the frontman for seminal Manchester band Joy Division, hanged himself at the age of 23. The past few years have seen a resurgence in all things Joy Division-related, inspired in part by album reissues, the release of the Anton Corbijn's acclaimed biopic Control (TMT Review), and a documentary released earlier this year, simply titled Joy Division.

According to the BBC, the missing stone -- inscribed with the words "Ian Curtis 18 - 5 - 80" and the song title "Love Will Tear Us Apart" -- was stolen between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning last week. Police are asking anyone with information related to the theft to contact them.

Tony Barker, spokesperson for Macclesfield Borough Council, asked for the return of the memorial stone, saying that "it would usually have flowers behind it and mementoes to Ian Curtis's life. [...] Someone's gone to a great deal of trouble to remove the memorial stone, and I hope our appeal will help return it as soon as possible."

Sub Pop to Relaunch Singles Club; Dr. Phil Cites 7-inches A Healthy Cure for Loneliness

Two decades ago, a label called Sub Pop burst out of Seattle’s moist vagina, bearing frankincense, myrrh, and a chalice full of gravely throated rockers making tunes fresh for the pressing. Young Sub Pop put out many choice cuts by Nirvana, Mudhoney, Sonic Youth, and others as part of its monthly Singles Club. This veritable Club Cool satisfied the wanton urges of nerdy nose-breathing record collectors for five years, until it dropped off the charts in ’93 as mysteriously as the Beaumont Children. In 1995, the Singles Club came back to life and back to reality with new releases from The Jesus & Mary Chain, Modest Mouse, and other fab Northwest Sounders, but met what seemed to be its permanent demise in 2002.

Never you fear, Luddites with disposable income; just like Fawkes the phoenix, this antiquated technology shall rise again. Sub Pop’s calling a temporary end to the club’s lengthy sabbatical and releasing salacious singles on the monthly for an entire calendar year. The goodies are tempting; subscribers can expect 7-inches featuring Unnatural Helpers, Tyvek, Black Mountain, Black Lips, Arthur & Yu, Mika Miko, Blues Control, Notwist, and more. It all kicks off August 15 with twin tracks from Om, but only 1,500 copies will be pressed per mensem. So quick like a bunny, point your clicker here to secure a spot.

And in case you’ve been too busy Swiffering your mint copy of “Big Cheese” to check out the world around you, the Singles Club isn’t the only self-indulgent gimmick Sub Pop’s tossing around to celebrate its emergence from the terrible teens. SP20 Festival, the label’s big b-day bash, features comedy acts, Sub Pop stable performances, and specially brewed Loser Pale Ale, made with love by Elysian Brewery just for the lucky celebrants/ ticket holders. Get more info here.

SP20 Festival:

I Release that Kevin Barnes Has Released Information About the New of Montreal LP

After somehow sleeping on this announcement for almost a month, I am prepared to spill the beans: Kevin Barnes has posted information about the new of Montreal album on his MySpace blog. He’s titled the album Skeletal Lamping and claims it will be released in October.

In his post, Barnes goes into detail about how the new album will be “unpredictable and, at times, startling, yet always hummable and catchy.” Given the sound of his last couple of records, I sincerely can’t tell whether or not that means Barnes has been rocking his stylistic boat. In any case, come October (or probably earlier when it inevitably leaks) the record-listening public can look forward to something that is “in turns enraging, joyous, discomforting, playful, lovely, unpleasant, freaky, mesmeric... something that came close to capturing the labyrinthine complexity of this human consciousness.” I didn’t know “mesmeric” was a word until just now. Thank you, Kevin Barnes.

RIP: Noel Sayre, The Black Swans Violinist

UPDATE (07/08): The memorial and donation information can be found here.

An excerpt from an announcement by Jerry DeCicca of The Black Swans:

I have some very sad news to share.

Noel Sayre, my friend and bandmate for 13 years, died early in the morning of July 3rd due to a swimming accident in Portsmouth, Ohio on Tuesday July 1st.

He entered the hospital in a coma and never came out of it, his heart eventually slowing down. In the I.C.U., we listened to Rachmaninoff and Clive Palmer, two of Noel's favorites. He spent his time in the hospital with his close friends and girlfriend, Kristy, who played a big part in his happiness during the last year.

- Official website
- MySpace
- Jerry DeCicca's full announcement
- "Violinist Noel Sayre dies at 37" (The Columbus Dispatch)