Beck Launches Latest Covert Scientologist Mind-Control Plot Through Fun Little Online Cover-Albums Project; Lord Xenu Shakes Fist in Rage, Beats Hasty Retreat Across Galaxy

So are body thetans a good or bad thing? Do they corrupt my soul and prevent me from achieving self-actualization, or are they a cleansing agent meant to purge the eons of intergalactic suffering from my bodily essence? Sorry, I’m not really up on my Scientologist lore, and unfortunately my access to Wikipedia has been cut off ever since “the incident.”

Anyway, Beck. He’s blonde, he’s boisterous, he’s been an anti-Xenuite since birth, but perhaps most of all he’s a man who owes an enormous debt to his own idiosyncratic influences. While certainly all musicians are beholden to those inspirational artists who preceded them, few stars have been able to enjoy tremendous mainstream success with such a curious cadre of influences as Beck. But as deep in the pockets of past weirdos as Beck is, the man is no ingrate. He’s done his fair share of hat-tipping to those off-kilter trailblazers who came before him. He’s even committed many of his praises to wax, ranging from subtle name-checks in hit singles (e.g. the Gary Wilson shout-out here) to shameless imitation (e.g. some major Gainsbourg coppage here).

With Beck’s new Record Club venture, though, he’s going to be doing a combination of the two. The idea is that Beck and a whole sack-full of his buddies will pick a classic album to cover and then hold court in a studio where they’ll record the entire LP in a single day with no previous rehearsals or arrangement. The songs will then be posted one per week on Beck’s website. The first record on the chopping block is The Velvet Underground and Nico, the sophomore effort of Merseyside legends Gerry and the Pacemakers. The album’s first track, “Sunday Morning,” is already available on Beck’s website, with contributions on this go-round coming from the likes of Nigel Godrich, Thorunn Magnusdottir of Fields, a couple of Beck’s longtime band members, Chris Holmes of Smashing Pumpkins fame (not to be confused with this asshole), actor Giovanni Ribisi (May death fall upon/praise be to body thetans!), and otherz.

So gentleman, start your Twitters! Get ready for a summer you’ll never forget!

Boredoms to Soundtrack Solar Eclipse From Cruise Ship… Duh.

I know, right? Who would have thought that they haven’t done this already? It all seems so simple!

- Step one: Organizers of Tokara The Sun & Moon Festival book themselves a boat. Check.
- Step two: they google the internet to find the most sun worshippin’-est band on the planet. Double check!
- Step three: Boredoms (along with New York’s Gang Gang Dance and Japan’s Goma) show up at their doorstep with a dozen or so drum kits in tow to play a show on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean during the next Saros 136 eclipse, which, according to all the Boredoms fans at NASA, will take place July 22. The whole ludicrous spectacle is titled “The Lucy in the Sky With Diamond Ring Tour,” and yes, it's guaranteed to be the trippiest fucking thing you’ve ever seen.

But why all the hubbub in the first place? Well, this July’s eclipse will be extraordinarily long — the totality of the eclipse, the point at which the moon is fully obscuring the sun, will reach a whopping (and eerie!) 6 minutes, 39 seconds. According to those NASA sunworshipers, the umbra of the eclipse will cut a path straight across China and the South Pacific, with the best viewpoint off the southern coast of Japan, at 24.2 degrees N, 144.1 degrees E, when the sun is 86 degrees overhead. In other words, shit’s gonna get really wild

But don’t pack your bags just yet. Tickets for this whole “happening” cost a whopping 168,000 yen (about $1,700). And if you read this website daily AND are a giant fan of noise rock, chances are you’re hanging out in a demographic that just doesn’t have that kind of scratch just sitting around. Though, to be fair, for that money, you DO get a heck of a lot: a concert, three DJ sets, organic food, a bed to sleep in, and an area for your kids to keep themselves entertained -- not to mention that whole three-day party on a boat during a total solar eclipse thing. So, in that case: goodbye fall tuition payments -- hello Boredoms!

And speaking of those rascals, don’t forget that Boadrum 9 will be happening at Terminal 5 in New York City September 9 (I’m sure you recall their 77Boadrum show in Brooklyn on 07/07/2007 that brought together 77 drummers for a spectacular outdoor concert, as well as the repeat performance on 08/08/2008 with 88 drummers in New York and California). And while it’s pretty doubtful that 99 drummers will be able to squeeze into the venue, you just never know with these guys. After all, these are the same band that are soundtracking a solar eclipse party from a cruise ship, remember? Tickets for Boadrum 9 are available here.

Vampire Weekend and Ra Ra Riot Members Discover How to Generate More Cash: Side-Project Discovery to Release Debut Album This Summer

If you’re a member of one of the freshest-sounding indie-pop bands out there today, what else is there left for you to do besides start a side-project? Not so surprisingly, that is exactly what Vampire Weekend keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij and Ra Ra Riot singer Wes Miles did with Discovery, the duo’s latest endeavor. Discovery’s debut album, LP, is due out July 7 on XL. Of course, no debut album would be complete without a bunch of guest appearances! LP features Vampire Weekend singer Ezra Koenig on the song “Carby,” and Dirty Projectors singer Angel Deradoorian on “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.” LP also has a cover of The Jackson 5 song “I Want You Back,” which is intriguing enough on its own.

Hot New Tracklisting:

1. Orange Shirt
2. Osaka Loop Line
3. Can You Discover?
4. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
5. So Insane
6. Swing Tree
7. Carby
8. I Want You Back
9. It's Not My Fault (It's My Fault)
10. Slang Tang

Let’s Face It: No One Reads Books Anymore! Oh Wait, Spoon and Arcade Fire Fans Still Love Reading Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five Every Other Week, Don’t They? Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records Gets Release Date

I guess some people do still read books, especially when there isn't a movie adaptation. And since there isn't yet a movie documenting Merge, one of the greatest indie labels today, it'll be in the best interest of you and your community to go seek out Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, the Indie Label that Got Big and Stayed Small.

John Cook, the author of Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, first saw Superchunk back in 1994 and has since followed members Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance and their famed Merge label. The book tells the story of Mac and Laura's evolution from being 20 year olds putting out records in their rented home in Durham, NC to now having 13 employees, an office, and putting out records by some of indie music's top names.

The book includes "photographs of] the life and times of the label and its bands, as well as concert memorabilia, record label art, and a link to a streaming Internet soundtrack for the book." So, if you can put down [Slaughterhouse Five for a few days, go out and buy Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records on September 15. Then you'll be able to spout all sorts of information about the early days of Arcade Fire and impress your friends at the lunch table! Yay!

Reminder: Stephen Merritt-Related Musical Playing in New York; 69ing on Stage Not Permitted

Earlier this month (June 1 to be exact), a new musical interpretation of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, featuring new songs by Stephen Merritt, made its debut. The show took its first bow at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in lower Manhattan, and here I am, reminding you that the show is scheduled to run through July 5 just in case you forgot about it.

Coraline, already widely digested as both novella and film, made the switch to musical theatre, and playwright David Greenspan couldn’t be more satisfied with his musical collaborator, stating that Merrit is “a wonderful story-teller. He is able, in song, to not only develop character and advance plot, but to create moments of emotional expansion.” Coraline, a story about a young girl who discovers an alternate reality, contains all the usual gloominess that Gaiman laces the majority of his work with; accordingly, Merritt attempts to heighten the tone of the story by including a score that consists mainly of minimal, atmospheric piano and voice combinations. Merritt’s overall musical presentation is further described as “stripped-down,” “simplistic,” and possessing “creepy ambiance.” Sounds spooky!

Merritt, who is no stranger to composing and adapting musical material from other mediums, retains many of the musical stylings that he is known for with his primary musical project, The Magnetic Fields. His songs, and more specifically his lyrics, “retain the wittiness that has lined his work in the rock worlds, but also add a new dimension to the play.”

Sadly, no plans have been announced to release any recorded material from the musical, although samples of Merritt’s work can be heard at the MCC Theatre website.

RIP: Clark Sabine, from Statehood (featuring ex-Dismemberment Plan members)

From Statehood's MySpace:

We are deeply saddened to tell you that Clark passed away on Tuesday evening at a hospice in Arlington, VA. He was first diagnosed with melanoma in February of 2008, and after a series of surgeries and treatments, we thought he was in the clear. In the fall the cancer returned and spread to other parts of his body. Experimental treatments were in the works, but we needed chemotherapy to shrink some of the tumors before beginning this treatment. In May, we found out that the chemo was not working and that the condition was terminal. Clark was 33 years old.

As a band, we had 10 songs in line for a second Statehood record, and we'll talk about where we go with that in weeks to come. While Clark was in hospice care, he did some additional tracking with our friends Nikhil and Jason, and we listened to newer recordings to sort out details in the songs. Music was insanely important to Clark, and it gave him comfort to keep working on songwriting until the end.

Playing in a band with Clark was extraordinary and something to look forward to week in and week out. Often at practice we'd be laughing until we couldn't breathe from Clark's wild sense of humor and adventure. Anyone who knew him, even in passing, knows exactly what we mean. To say that he will be missed is an absurd understatement.

Thank you to everyone who gave Clark and the band support through these trying times. We will come back with more information as soon as we have it.

- Statehood official website
- Statehood MySpace
- Stitches and Staples MySpace

Castanets Bring Their “Old, Weird, Kinda Creepy America” to New Album, Summer Tour

I first saw Castanets several years ago, in a preternaturally quiet little room on the opening afternoon of SXSW. Frontman Raymond Raposa effortlessly held sway over the audience, his voice rising above the steady whir of the cooling system, the backing band emitting unsettling country chords and creeping noise. It was spellbinding — and not just because my friend and I had driven 20 or so straight hours from Minneapolis to Austin and were barely managing to fight off collapse through an unholy combination of Sparks (the now sadly illegal caffeinated malt beverage), vodka, and enchiladas (although this did possibly play a very magical part in it.)

Over the years, Raposa and co. have continued to make some of the eeriest Americana this side of a noise band fronted by Faulkner, and they've done a darn good job of it. So it is with great excitement that I announce to you the upcoming release of Castanets’ latest, Texas Rose, the Thaw, and the Beasts, coming September 22 on Asthmatic Kitty. The band has some very special guests this time, rounded out by the likes of David J (Bauhaus), Jason Crane (Rocket from the Crypt), Pall Jenkins (Black Heart Procession), Andy Robillard (Gogogo Airheart), new Asthmatic Kitty artist DM Stith, Gabriel Sundy, Chris Cory, and frequent contributors Henry Nagle and Suzanna Waiche. Word is that the latest material has the expected experimental angle, alongside a little something known in pop music circles as “catchiness.”

Castanets are heading out on tour this summer, so you’ll be able to judge for yourself.

Texas Rose, the Thaw, and the Beasts tracklisting:

1. Rose
2. On Beginning
3. My Heart
4. Worn From The Fight (With Fireworks)
5. No Trouble
6. Thaw And The Beasts
7. We Kept Our Kitchen Clean And Our Dreaming Quiet
8. Down The Line, Love
9. Lucky Old Moon
10. Ignorance is Blues
11. Dance, Dance

06.30.09 - New York, NY - Central Park Summerstage*
07.03.09 - Chicago, IL - Schuba's **
07.04.09 - Detroit, MI - Garden Bowl**
07.05.09 - Bloomington, IN -Russian Recording**
07.06.09 - Cleveland, OH - Skylab/The Shelf**
07.07.09 - Buffalo, NY - Soundlab**
07.08.09 - Boston, MA - Middle East**
07.10.09 - New York, NY - Cake Shop**
07.11.09 - New York, NY - Silent Barn**
07.13.09 - Baltimore, MD - Talking Head**
07.14.09 - Charlottesville, VA - Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar**
07.15.09 - Chapel Hill, NC - Nightlight**
07.16.09 - Charlotte, NC - Mileston**
07.17.09 - Knoxville, TN - Pilot Light**
07.19.09 - Nashville, TN - The Basement**
07.20.09 - Birmingham, AL - The Bottletree**
07.23.09 - Houston, TX - Rudyards**
07.24.09 - Austin, TX - The Mohawk**
07.25.09 - Lubbock, TX - Bash Riprock**
07.27.09 - Phoenix, AZ - Modified Arts**
07.29.09 - San Diego, CA - Casbah**
07.30.09 - Los Angeles, CA - Spaceland**
07.31.09 - San Francisco, CA - Hemlock Tavern**
08.01.09 - Santa Cruz, CA - Crepe Place**
08.03.09 - Portland, OR - Worksound**

* Explosions in the Sky, Constantines

** M.A. Turner

RIP: Charlie Mariano, jazz saxophonist

From Jazzwise (via The Daily Swarm):

The innovative saxophonist and reeds player Charlie Mariano passed away yesterday aged 85 in the German city of Cologne.

Born in Boston, he earned his stripes playing in groups led by Stan Kenton, Shelly Manne, and later with Charles Mingus – performing on the classic album, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady.

In the 1960s he travelled extensively around India and the Far East where he studied local musics and learned to play the oboe-like nagaswaram, which featured heavily in his work from the mid-1960s onwards. During the 70s Mariano became a founding member of the United Jazz and Rock Ensemble and also played with German bassist Eberhard Weber in his group Colours – performing on the acclaimed album Yellow Fields in 1975. Some of Mariano’s other key recordings include Boston All Stars in 1953, and Savannah Samurai in 1998 – showing the impressive multi-decade span of his career.

Mariano was for many years a highly respected educator at Berklee College of Music in Boston and also led his own successful ensembles, experimenting with east-meets-west fusion, of which he was a leading pioneer, and recording for the ECM label among others

- Charlie Mariano official website
- Charlie Mariano Wikipedia entry]

Dead Body Found During Bonnaroo Festival Cleanup

Among the items found during the massive cleanup after Bonnaroo were:

- 1,647 cell phones.
- 1,210 single shoes. 3 pair.
- 314 tins of Skoal (159 empty; 155 containing negligible amounts of pot).
- The Holy Grail. And the much-less-known Jesus-attributed relic Crown of Ragweed.
- Their dignity.
- The last remaining members of the lost mud tribe of Pleasedontpublishthatphotomyparentswillkillme.
- Hasselhoff!
- Gogol Bordello (they live here year round in a gypsy caravan on blocks).
- Cave wall drawings.

- 1 body. White. Male. Mid-20s.

Workers cleaning up after this year's Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, held last weekend in Manchester, TN, discovered a body of a white male in his 20s in a single tent at approximately noon yesterday. According to Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves, there is no reason to suspect any foul play involved with the death of the still-unidentified man, who was alive at 3 PM on Monday afternoon. No missing persons reports have surfaced to aid with identification yet, but more should be revealed soon, as the body was moved to the medical examiner’s office in Nashville for an autopsy Tuesday afternoon.

Bonnaroo, like just about any mammoth festival, has a history of attendee deaths, but not a long one. In 2004 a 22-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman died while attending the festival and a year later a 32-year-old Huntsville, AB man died of an apparent methadone-related incident. Details are sketchy about the body found yesterday on the Planet Roo site, but all involved hope to have some answers regarding the man’s identity and cause of death sometime today.