South Korea’s Answer to Failing Banks, Collapsing Economies and Legions of Unemployed: A Government Bailout for Korean Popstars!

It’s been tough for the superstars of South Korean pop music recently. Thanks to declining CD sales, online piracy, and a global recession, these poor souls have had to cut back on their luxury houses, fancy parties, and bribing television producers for guaranteed TV appearances. Fortunately, the South Korean government has taken the vital step of awarding their music industry $91 million to secure the next generation of Gods (Groove OverDose), Wonder Girls, and Shinhwas.

Amongst the plans are to create a Korean version of the U.S. Billboard charts and a Grammy-style ceremony to increase the profile of “K-pop.” Not only will this create essential jobs for hard-working, downtrodden music journalists and television presenters, but the proposals will encourage greater spending on pop-related products, such as hair-gel and luxury clothes, in these modest times.

Two new concert venues will be built in Seoul with 4,000 seats total, and a K-pop culture center with a 3,000-capacity concert hall is also planned for construction in Goyang City. While Obama intends to get Americans working on infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, and green technologies, the South Koreans realize the only way you’re going to get people out of bed in the morning is to get them assembling places of worship for their future idols.

Politicians should be ashamed of themselves for failing to give cash to the likes of American Idol, Billboard magazine, and the Grammys. The future prosperity of the Justin Timberlakes and Kelly Clarksons of this world are fundamental to securing our economic future.

Cursive Reveal New Album Details to Attract More Attention

When a band has been around for almost 15 years, it’s usually time to start evaluating ways to get noticed again. In Cursive’s case, they have unveiled a three-fold plan to capture their fans attention again:

1. Release a new album. Bonus points to Tim Kasher and Co. for naming their album, Mama, I’m Swollen, which is provocative enough to get indie eyes turning. Look for it on Saddle Creek March 10.
2. Tour, tour, and tour again! And play those new songs live, too. (See Cursive’s upcoming tourdates below.)
3. Be happy that your longtime drummer Clint Schnase decided to quit so you could replace him with Engine Down’s drummer, Cornbread Compton. I shit you not; the dude’s name is Cornbread. If that doesn’t garner Cursive some more attention, then all hope is truly lost.

Mama, I’m Swollen tracklisting:

1. In The Now
2. From The Hips
3. I Couldn't Love You
4. Donkeys
5. Caveman
6. We're Going To Hell
7. Mama, I'm Satan
8. Let Me Up
9. Mama, I'm Swollen
10. What Have I Done?

Mama, I’m Touring:
03.09.09 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg
03.10.09 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
03.13.09 - Los Angeles, CA - The Troubadour
03.14.09 - San Diego, CA - The Casbah
03.15.09 - Phoenix, AZ - Rhythm Room
03.16.09 - Albuquerque, NM - The Launchpad

James Toth to Issue Two Wooden Wand LPs, One with Track-by-Track Commentary!

Miss Wooden Wand? Well, perhaps James Jackson Toth does, too, because he's apparently releasing two albums from back in that nostalgic era, before he got backing vocals and fancy guitars and before he ditched the Wooden Wand moniker.

So first, March 31 marks the release of Born Bad, an edition of 500 hand-pressed, hand-screened, signed-on-request, vinyl-only albums. He promises that this album is the reason he was kicked out of the major leagues. The album is co-released on Olympia's People in a Position to Know label and Toth's own label, Mad Monk. It's available for $15.

Then, Ecstatic Peace is releasing a record of his demos on May 21, titled Hard Knox or ‘Are You Sure Hank Jr Done It This Way?’: Home Recordings 1999-2007. And here's the kicker: It has song-by-song commentary by Toth. I shit you not. I'm excited, and I hope he's drunk.

Put Down Your Bong And Pay Attention: The Bonnaroo Lineup Is Here!

I know reading things on the internet is always more fun if you’re high, but all of you stoners out there may want to pay close attention to this news story. Not only am I about to reveal the lineup to the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival below, but if you read it carefully, you may see a subliminal message or two pop out at you:

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Phish (2 Shows), Beastie Boys, Nine Inch Nails, David Byrne, Wilco, Al Green, Snoop Dogg, Elvis Costello (Solo), Erykah Badu, Paul Oakenfold, Ben Harper and Relentless 7, The Mars Volta, TV on the Radio, TICKETS Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Gov't Mule, Andrew Bird, Band of Horses, Merle Haggard, MGMT, moe., GO The Decemberists, Girl Talk, Bon Iver, Béla Fleck & Toumani Diabate, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Galactic, The Del McCoury Band, of Montreal, ON Allen Toussaint, Coheed and Cambria, Booker T & the DBTs, David Grisman Quintet, Lucinda Williams, Animal Collective, Gomez, Neko Case, Down, Jenny Lewis, Santogold, Robert Earl Keen, Citizen Cope, Femi Kuti and the Positive Force, The Ting Tings, SALE Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Kaki King, Grizzly Bear, King Sunny Adé, Okkervil River, St. Vincent, Zac Brown Band, Raphael Saadiq, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Crystal Castles, Tift Merritt, Brett Dennen, Mike Farris and the Roseland Rhythm Revue, Toubab Krewe, People Under the Stairs, FEBRUARY 7 AT 12PM EST. Alejandro Escovedo, Vieux Farka Touré, Elvis Perkins In Dearland, Cherryholmes, Yeasayer, Todd Snider, Chairlift, Portugal. The Man., The SteelDrivers, Midnite, The Knux, The Low Anthem, Delta Spirit, A.A. Bondy, The Lovell Sisters, Alberta Cross.

Catch that? Well, if you missed it, tickets go on sale Saturday, February 7 at 12 PM EST at Bonnaroo’s website. Taking place June 11-14, the festival is also being held on the same 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee, 60 miles south of Nashville. More bands and comedians are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Too poor to attend? I feel your pain, and so do fest organizers apparently, as they’re offering a new payment plan this year in which tickets will be available for five payments of $50 (plus fees). That’s $250 total for anyone out there who has stopped paying attention. Not too shabby for lip-syncing Springsteen’s only North American festival performance this year and Phish’s only festival appearance.

Fan Dies of Heart Failure at Slipknot Show

In a shocking bit of news coming out of Council Bluffs, Iowa, 29-year-old Corey Nickels died of heart failure at a Slipknot show on January 25. According to The Daily Nonpareil, Nickels collapsed after Sunday’s show at the Mid-America Center and was pronounced dead later that night at a local hospital. According to the venue EMS director, Rick Benson, Nickels was not feeling well after the show and while receiving aid his heart began to fail. Despite repeated attempts to revive Nickels with CPR, he was then rushed to a local hospital for further treatment that, like the CPR, proved fruitless.

An autopsy is being planned to determine the full nature of Nickels’ death, but according to friends, Nickels’ family has a history of heart problems. Surprisingly, Council Bluffs police are still looking to find exactly where Nickels was from. No I.D.?

Venue officials stated that around 30 people were treated for “moshing related” injuries in addition to Nickels’ death. The venue also has a history of Slipknot-related violence. In 2005, two fans were arrested after a crowd rushed the building’s main floor, used tables as battering rams on the front doors, and then assaulted police officers attempting to quell the angry mob.

Performance Rights Act To Be Reintroduced, Recession Over!

Ladies and gentlemen, The Performance Rights Act is back on the air! (Don’t tell me you don’t remember the Performance Rights Act? You know, the law that would require radio stations in the United States to pay royalties to artists and labels for songs they broadcast over the air, and not just to the songwriters? Remember?) Well, anyway, the Act will be reintroduced into the new 111th Congress this week, according to a letter signed by members of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

What, what’s the matter? You still need more explanation?? Fine: See, songwriters currently receive “royalties” when their songs are broadcast on terrestrial radio, satellite radio, cable, internet, etc. This means that, whenever you hear Rob Thomas warbling on over the speakers in the dentist office about the “women” that he lusts after, the, uh, young man carbuncular or whoever over there in Hollywood Hills who actually came up with the idea gets paid something for it. But the new legislation is aimed at ending the exemption that radio -- terrestrial radio, at least -- need not pay royalties to artists, musicians, and copyright owners. And with all of those deadbeat studio musicians and sleazy music publishers getting paid, we can definitely just kiss this economic downturn goodbye.

Webcasters, satellite radio, cable radio services, and all other non-terrestrial broadcasters already pay both performance and songwriting royalties, as do terrestrial radio stations in every one of the 30 countries that comprise the Organization of Economic Cooperation & Development, except for the stubborn, inch-measuring, pound-weighing United States. The planned legislation, which will be submitted by the chairman of the Judiciary Committee John Conyers; Rep. Howard L. Berman; Rep. Darrell Issa; Rep. Marsha W. Blackburn; and Rep. Paul W. Hodes, was previously introduced in the prior 110th congressional session as H.R. 4789 and in the Senate as S. 2500 on Dec. 18, 2007; but, well, it didn’t pass. By the way, how are all these numbers and abbreviations looking? Do they seem official? Okay, cool, cool. We’re all good, then...

Anyway, artists and labels have been lobbying for artist performance royalties from radio stations for years (duh), while the National Association of Broadcasters has long opposed paying such royalties because it claims that radio play serves as promotion that drives music sales (which in turn, pays those folks anyway). Yo, NAB! Music sales? What music sales???

RIP: Lux Interior, founder and singer of The Cramps

From YouTube:

From a press release (via The Daily Swarm):

Lux Interior, lead singer of The Cramps, passed away this morning due to an existing heart condition at Glendale Memorial Hospital in Glendale, California at 4:30 AM PST today. Lux has been an inspiration and influence to millions of artists and fans around the world. He and wife Poison Ivy’s contributions with The Cramps have had an immeasurable impact on modern music.

The Cramps emerged from the original New York punk scene of CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, with a singular sound and iconography. Their distinct take on rockabilly and surf along with their midnight movie imagery reminded us all just how exciting, dangerous, vital and sexy rock and roll should be and has spawned entire subcultures. Lux was a fearless frontman who transformed every stage he stepped on into a place of passion, abandon, and true freedom. He is a rare icon who will be missed dearly.

The family requests that you respect their privacy during this difficult time.

- The Cramps official website
- The Cramps Wikipedia entry
- Lux Interior Wikipedia entry

Mango Starr’s Tour Roundup: The Helio Sequence, The Handsome Furs, P.O.S.

- The Helio Sequence will begin a mini-tour on February 12 in Eugene, OR. The 7-date tour will begin on February 12 in Eugene, OR. A full U.S. tour and international festival dates are TBA, but first: a small tour that begins February 12 in Eugene, OR! This tour will actually coincide with the band's tiny tour of the U.S., which begins February 12 in Eugene, OR.

- The Handsome Furs are set to bring their GROUNDBREAKING music to Europe February 9 for a bunch of shows. Then they'll return to North America in March. Then they'll return to Europe in April. It's, like, make up your mind!

- P.O.S., who society defines by his hip-hop-edness, has released his new album, Never Better, yesterday on Rhymesayers, producing more than half of the album's beats. His tour starts tomorrow in MISSOULA, MONTANAAAAAA!!! [Smashes Maddy's head into picture frame]

Black Moth Super Rainbow To Release New Album Eating Us; BMSR FYI: Massive Amounts Of Cannibalism Can Lead To Bad Digestion

After taking a year off to vacation on Mars, Black Moth Super Rainbow are coming back to Earth to release Eating Us May 26 via Graveface Records. Since 2007’s Dandelion Gum (TMT Review), it seems the band has left its happy-go-lucky snacks at the door for a much more sinister morsel: us!

Eating Us is considered the first fully hi-fi record by BSMR, now a proper six-piece band. Dave Fridmann, who has worked with pretty much everyone, produced the album. Can't wait to see how Mr. Fridmann dealt with this batch of synths and vocoders (probably pretty well).

The deluxe version of the new album will come with a 16-page art book and "hairy summer" (what?!?) jewel case jacket. The rest of the specifics are shrouded in mystery. Though, one extra thing has been confirmed: this album is NOT about witches and woods -- so there's that...

Eating Us tracklisting:

1. Born On A Day The Sun Didn't Rise
2. Dark Bubbles
3. Twin Of Myself
4. Gold Splatter
5. Iron Lemonade
6. Tooth Decay
7. Fields Are Breathing
8. Smile The Day After Today
9. The Sticky
10. Bubblegum Animals
11. American Face Dust

John Vanderslice Signs to Dead Oceans, Where the Dead Float Face Down in the Ocean with a Knife in Their Back And Their Brains Blown Out, Turning the Ocean Blood Red

John Vanderslice, Heidi Vanderslice's long-lost father/lover/muse/brother, has recently said goodbye to Barsuk and hello to Dead Oceans for his follow-up to 2007's Emerald City (TMT Review). Titled Romanian Names, the new set of tunes is scheduled for release May 19. According to Vanderslice:

In the fall of 2007 I played shows with Bishop Allen and Bowerbirds. I was already in love with both bands. By the end of the tour I had fallen hard for their label, Dead Oceans. I had known Phil for a few years and I deeply respected his taste in music. When he joined the Secretly Canadian / Jagjaguwar family, I started to pay close attention. I am honored to be in the game with these people! They are passionate, aware, loyal and SERIOUS.

As we reported last week (TMT News), John Vanderslice is heading out on tour with John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats, which is sure to be the most lovable tour EVER. C'mon, who doesn't love these guys? They're so adorable I could just chew off their faces.

John Vanderslice & John Darnielle tourdates:
03.18.09 - Asheville, NC - the Grey Eagle
03.20.09 - Norfolk, VA - the Atticus Theatre
03.21.09 - Washington, DC - Sixth and I Synagogue
03.24.09 - Northampton, MA - Pearl Street
03.25.09 - Somerville, MA - the Sommerville Theatre
03.27.09 - New York, NY - Society for Ethical Culture (Wordless Music series)
03.29.09 - Gambier, OH - Kenyon College
03.30.09 - Oberlin, OH - Oberlin College
04.01.09 - Chicago, IL - Epiphany Episcopal
04.02.09 - Champaign, IL - Courtyard Café at University of Illinois
04.03.09 - Iowa City, IA - the Mill (Mission Creek Music Festival)
04.04.09 - Richmond, IN - Earlham College
04.06.09 - Bloomington IN - Buskirk-Chumley Theater