The last time I saw Ted Leo (solo, at a benefit for Callum Robbins), the hollers from the crowd, usually something hilarious like "FREEBIRD!," took on a different nature. This time it was a little less American band and a little more American Idol. Mr. Leo, who once covered the inaugural Idol Kelly Clarkson's smash-hit "Since U Been Gone," received numerous pleas from an overzealous crowd all calling for a cover of the pop gem. But like any self-respecting connoisseur of pop culture, Ted knew that the shelf-life of cover-song irony is comparable to a carton of milk (that is to say, in this case, expired). Preferring to stick to his more timeless repertoire of Wire and Springsteen, Leo politely ignored the persistent heckles and concurred when an audience member asked, "Don't you wish you never covered that song?" That's exactly why I've come up with this list of potential cover songs for Ted that just never get old:
"Higher" by Creed -- Come on, Teddy; you can't be so punk all the time. Get in touch with your Jesus side!
"It's All Coming Back to Me" by Celine Dion -- Because he has trouble booking shows, I heard he was looking for a residency at Caesars Palace.
"I'm A Flirt" by R. Kelly -- If only to hear Ted Leo say "I'ma chick mag-a-net/ And anything fine I'm bag-gin it."
"Sorry 2004" by Ruben Studdard -- We already know he can do the A-Idol thing; give Big Rube some love.
Taking requests all through the summer:
Smashing Pumpkins frontman and renowned bald-headed, pale-faced, trench coat-backed, egomaniac Billy Corgan has at least looked crazy for about seven years now. Now, with his long-on-hiatus Chicago rock outfit once again rising out of the pumpkin patch to fly through the air with copies of their new studio album Zeitgeist, due July 10 via Martha's Music/Reprise, to give to good little girls and boys all over the world, the infamously stubborn, scratchy-voiced singer is finally getting locked-up.
Well, sort of, anyway.
Apparently, despite all of his rage, Corgan and Co. are scheduled to cage themselves into clubs in both Asheville, North Carolina and San Francisco, California for several week-long “residencies” this summer, during which they will be performing a different setlist from the band’s infinitely sad career each night. Billy and the newest patch of pumpkins will smash themselves into The Orange Peel in Asheville, NC for a series of shows in June and July before they roll out West for a second residency at San Francisco’s Fillmore set for later July and a date in August. Tickets for these events are, of course, sold out.
And in a new twist, the Great Pumpkin is apparently asking any and all fans of the band (well, such as they still exist) to record shows throughout the residencies on their own audio and visual equipment. Logically, one would suspect that the reason for this ill-advised encouragement of piracy might be to later put together some kind of fans-eye retrospective... but no such reason has been given by the pumpkins’ spokesperson yet, save for to say that the band will be digging “deep into their back catalog” and playing material from their new album, as well as “songs written on the day of the show.” In other words, you might want to tape Corgan being full of himself now, before he breaks up this incarnation of the band, too.
Speaking of which, it still has yet to be announced who will be joining Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin on stage for all these shows, but bassist Ginger Reyes, guitarist Jeff Schroeder, and keyboardist Lisa Harriton were the stoolpigeons last night in Paris for the Pumpkins' first show in seven years. Hopefully this time around the beginning doesn’t prove to be the end is the beginning is the... aw fuck... nevermind. Click here for tourdates.
Here's the setlist from last night:
Hardly Art, the new affiliate label of Sub Pop, has officially signed its second band. According to the Bible, this is glorious news as stated in Leviticus 6:12, "An independent label is nothing until it has at least has two signed bands." This so-called messiah is a seven-piece tyrant aptly known as Le Loup, which in French translates to ‘The Wolf.’ Though this may be another wolf band in French ‘wordery,’ there is more to offer than wolf-band comparisons. They are currently finishing up their debut album, The Throne of the Heaven of the Third Nations' Millennium General Assembly, which will be released in the fall. Historically, the ambitious title dates back to a piece of folk art of the same title, by James Hampton in the 1950s. You can learn (yes, learn) about the story behind the folk art here.
If you can't wait until the release, you can rush to be in-the-know before everyone is like, "Have you heard that new band Le Loup?" Simply visit their MySpace or website (yes, bands still have "official websites"). A year from now, you will be all like, "Beotch, I knew about Le Loup a long time ago. Way before your mom birthed you. I had sex with your mom. And I am your father. And I knew about Le Loup before all of this." You will be saying convoluted shit like that all the time in the future, and you'll even possibly be wearing a Tiny Mix Tapes shirt (we won't have those then).
Hardly Art's first-signed band Arthur & Yu will debut their album on June 19. So you might want to get a move on with that as well. You have a lot of work to do Mr. and Mrs. TMT reader! Get to it, or I will tell Mr P on you! Remember the book of P, "Thou shall take everything literally and do as TMT says, unless otherwise informed by the Lord (a.k.a. Billy Joel)."
What the Heck Fest Going Down: Everybody in the Pacific Northwest Gettin’ Tipsy, Ghostride the Pacific Northwest, Make it Rain on the Pacific Northwest, Etc.
So there are some dudes, right? And they’re doing this thing from July 19 to July 22. This’ll be the sixth time they do it. They do it in Anacortes, Washington. It’s some pretty interesting stuff, but I’m warning you in advance: You might miss a few television shows and/or internet memes if you check it out. So what’s your incentive?
Like 40 indie pop bands, stupid! Cripes! It’s called What the Heck Fest! Calvin Johnson is playing! Mount Eerie! YACHT! Adrian Orange! Mecca Normal! The Blow! Laura Veirs! Little Wings! A whole mess of other artists! Full passes for the entire fest can be purchased from the fest’s site for a mere $50 apiece. The $50 also will net you a full meal at the “dinner” show, which the site refers to as the “thematic center of the entire event.”
If the price seems like a lot, the site even has a neat, little manifesto deal that, in between parts that are kind of confusing, spouts wisdom such as “production values increase as the artist’s respect for the audience’s imagination decreases.” On top of being musically and thematically consistent, What the Heck Fest is probably the most articulate music and arts festival of the entire summer. If you choose to take your shoes off, make some cutoffs and attend, the hilarious cat pictures will probably still be on the ‘web’ when you get back.
Scene: A bunch of white-belt, indie-rock-oriented kids sitting cross-legged (formerly, ‘Indian-style’) in a large circle.
Duck... Duck... Duck... Duck... Duck... Goose! (slapping the head of Brian DeGraw)
(Brian chases me around the circle; I dive down into Brian's former seat. Brian is now the goose.)
Duck... Duck... Duck... Duck... Duck... Duck... Duck... Duck... Duck... Duck... Goose! (gently tapping the head of Tim DeWitt)
(Tim jumps up and chases Brian around the circle. Brian barely makes it into Tim's former seat. Tim is now the goose.)
(This process repeats itself until all members of Gang Gang Dance have been the goose. As a collective geese, Gang Gang Dance tour the collective United States, playing sympathetic venues in support of their new CD-and-DVD combo scheduled for release May 22 (today!) and titled Retina Riddim.
All dates on the tour have Ocrilim (which is Mick Barr of Orthrelm, Crom-Tech, Quix*o*tic, Octis, that collab with Zach Hill, etc.) opening, except the Los Angeles show with Ariel Pink and Architecture In Helsinki opening instead:
* Ariel Pink
# Ariel Pink and Architecture In Helsinki
The Mullins Prophecy: Major Labels Release Prompts Wicked Heavy White Stripes Make-Out Sesh; or, Absurdly Appropriate Lie to Promote Icky Thump For Release June 19
I told her I ain't so sure about this place,
It's hard to play a gig in this town, and keep a straight face,
And it seems like everybody’s got a plan,
It's kinda like Nashville with a tan
-Shawn Mullins, “Lullaby”
Most likely, you’re too painfully hip for a reference to the aforementioned ‘boy meets girl who is rich, but seeks to challenge her emotionally and thinks she is prettier when she smiles’ music to ring true. Allow me to enlighten you, oh hip ones.
I’m discussing a sub-genre of top-40 hits, typically but not exclusively based on the struggle of 25- to 30-year-old men working to save affluent, non-smiling women with poor home lives from the confines of the upper class. Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” was the prototype of said genre. A more recent example is Shawn Mullins’ “Lullaby”; i.e., that song that repeats “Everything’s gonna be alright. Rock-a-bye.”
It seems like everyone’s got a plan, it’s kinda like Nashville with a tan, sings this mysterious Mullins.
And, he’s making me nervous for Meg and Jack White, given that Icky Thump, The White Stripes’ sixth album, scheduled for release June 19, was apparently recorded at Blackbird Studio. You guessed it -- Blackbird Studio is in Nashville. Additionally, this is the first modern studio the Stripes have ever recorded in. Changes in Nashville.
On “Lullaby,” Mullins’ vague damning of Nashville should be unsettling for the Stripes and Icky Thump for two reasons:
(1) Nashville is referenced in this ever-unremarkable “Lullaby,” potentially cursing any future musical association to the city (damn you, Mullins).
(2) What if Mullins is right about Nashville? What if it's a no-good city of ulterior motives, a place where it is impossible to play a gig and keep a straight face, a place similar to an unnamed, tanner counterpart? This reality could be something even beloved Jack and Meg can't... sibling their way out of.
Perhaps most appropriate, though, is the third option, which would be a shameless, appeal to both the Mullins-induced curse (option 1) and Mullins' own prophecy (option 2):
(3) Jack and Meg making out to "Lullaby" in the saucy-hot, Nashville air after watching a similarly saucy-hot Nashville sunrise and jamming out to... saucy-hot... jams. Like their first title track ever, "Icky Thump."
Or "Uptown Girl."
The maybe, maybe-not siblings’ stint with a major label, Icky Thump, will be released June 19 on Warner.
1. Icky Thump
2. You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do as You're Told)
3. 300 MPH Torrential Outpour Blues
5. Bone Broke
6. Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn
7. St. Andrew (This Battle Is in the Air)
8. Little Cream Soda
9. Rag and Bone
10. I'm Slowly Turning Into You
11. A Martyr for My Love for You
12. Catch Hell Blues
13. Effect and Cause
In an attempt to promote equal rights and opportunity, as well as raise awareness 'bout the issues facing the queer community, Cyndi Lauper has founded True Colors Concerts, LLC, after her 1986 album True Colors. The company's first endeavor, the first annual True Colors Tour, begins June 8 in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in celebration of Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.
Margaret Cho will be hosting the performances, wherein The Gossip will take the stage with the likes of Erasure, The Dresden Dolls, Debbie Harry, The Misshapes, and Cyndi Lauper. There are a slew of special guests as well that will be appearing in select cities, including Rufus Wainwright, Rosie O'Donnell, Indigo Girls, The Cliks, Jeffree Star, Cazwell, and Amanda Lepore.
One dollar from each ticket sold will be donated to the Human Rights Campaign.
After the True Colors Tour, The Gossip will continue the remainder of their tour overseas. YAY!
^ True Colors Tour w/ Cyndi Lauper, Erasure, The Dresden Dolls, Debbie Harry, and The Misshapes; hosted by Margaret Cho
* Rufus Wainwright
# Rosie O'Donnell
$ The Cliks
% Cazwell, Amanda Lepore
Have… A Good Time… All The Time; Spinal Tap Reforms For Live Earth (You Know, like Live Aid and Live 8… Those Other Concerts That Saved The World…)
When we last left our coifed-haired heroes in Spinal Tap, dismal reviews were piling on (the review for "Shark Sandwich" was merely a two-word review which simply read "Shit Sandwich"), often hitting that nerve square between insult and truth. I even doubted my allegiance. After all, what day did the Lord create Spinal Tap, and couldn't he have rested on that day, too?
But like a phoenix risen from the ashes, Spinal Tap have reunited and will perform at Live Earth London on 07/07/07. Yeah, that's right. God's number. Coincidence? I think not. With Spinal Tap, we're very lucky we have two visionaries, David and Nigel. They're like poets, like Shelley and Byron. They're two distinct types of visionaries -- like fire and ice, basically. And there's no end to this kind of genius. Plus, I don't really think that the end can be assessed itself as being the end, because what does the end feel like? It's like saying when you try to extrapolate the end of the universe, you say, if the universe is indeed infinite, then what does that mean? How far is all the way, and then if it stops, what's stopping it, and what's behind what's stopping it? So, what's the end, you know, is my question to you.
Announced via the Tribeca Film Festival and viewable here, it was the tireless willpower of Marty DeBergi that brought the band back from the depths of rock purgatory (rightfully reserved for bands like Audioslave). Rumor has it the band has been working on a Mozart and Bach-inspired (Mach) musical trilogy four or five hours in length, in D minor (widely accepted as the saddest of all keys), titled "Lick My Love Pump." Designed to defeat global warming once and for all, Live Earth will stage concerts from New Jersey to Shanghai on one fateful day in July. Expect a new tune ("Warmer Than Hell") and a possible appearance from British funnyman Ricky Gervais. Thankfully, with Spinal Tap in tow, the score now reads "Live Earth: 1, Global Warming: 0". But we'll need all the star-power we can get. I mean, it's like, how much more black could this crisis be? And the answer is none. None more black.
You thought you had them beat, didn't you? All those years of pirating songs, albums, entire discographies. They were dumb record execs that had no idea what was going on. You were so guerilla, weren't you? You had them beat from the get-go. Whatever monkeywrench they'd throw your way would be dealt with. They'd never figure out what a file called eezerw.mp3 was; you were so smart. The thing is, you -- and of course I mean we -- have created your own demise.
Although at times it may seem like it, record execs aren't idiots. The older generation never had a chance when they were battling music pirates on the field of technology. So now, those Warwick MBAs who couldn't figure out how to work BitTorrent are bringing the fight back home.
It's old-fashioned advertising like grandma used to make, but there's a catch... using new technologies. This is by no means a completely novel idea, but it may actually represent a business structure that has the potential to boost the profit margins of record companies, although to a relatively small percentage. Steve Yanovsky, part-time used car salesman/part-time Atlantic Records executive, predicts that, "down the road a bit I think we'll begin to see brands subsidizing music in a much fuller sense." Way to be decisive Steve.
(And rumor has it, they're working with a witch! I was able to procure an interview with Yanovsky's neighbor Gladys Kravitz, who warned of strange happenings going on over there at the Stevens... er.... Yanovsky household. Apparently, led by Universal Music Group's Executive VP David Ellner and a shadowy character known as Endora, a coven of music industry execs are revamping their business models. Music is -- poof -- disappearing as the industries main point of return, and -- poof -- hawking cheap merchandise on the backs of their stars is appearing in its place. How'd they do that?)
"We're inventing a new business model with advertisers," says Warner Music's Senior VP of Global Something-Something Dan Patterson. "We are optimistic about the opportunity advertising presents; that's why we are we are investing in our ability to serve marketers with our asset."
Essentially, the music industry is recognizing that it cannot harvest music downloads in a profitable way sufficient to its shareholders demands, so it's partnering with all of your favorite products to offset projected losses -- it's creating community. Using file-sharing networks, streaming video sites, artist sites, and anywhere else it can find ad space, the industry expects to pummel you with ads telling you what to download before you even download anything, as well as what you should be wearing/drinking/smelling like while doing it. The business model shift reflects the music industry's goal of getting to know your kids a little better and playing a more active role in their lives.
Here's the question: would you rather consciously pay record labels for exuberantly priced recordings, or stream the new Lil Mamma track album off the Jive Records website and be inundated with five banner ads for lip gloss in the process? Either way, it's your fault.
I may just have a suspicious nature, or maybe I'm reading into things way too much, but it seems that there has been a lot of God talk finding its way into the Tiny Mix Tapes news section lately (yes, two stories equal "a lot" in my world). It might have something to do with the season or an unconscious, heavenly prod to straighten up after celebrating the summer sun a bit too much too early this year. It might be that writing something original is harder than plagiarizing Macka's biblical-biased blurb from last week. Still on a TMT tip, it certainly has something to do with my night out with fellow scribe Munroe (who is a fucking heathen, pure and simple), because since that fateful night, I have felt, well, different inside. I cannot shake the feeling that an all-powerful force is at work. I cannot chalk it up to mere coincidence that when I stumblebummed my way into the bar washroom for the nth time that night, I was hit with a sudden rush of strangeness, and I have a vague memory of picking up some sort of ephemeral off the top of the toilet tank at the same time (no, it was not VD or an eighth of a line, you skeptics!). When I awoke the next morning (feeling less than good, and feeling stupid for having dropped my fully loaded fries and Pogo combo on my shirt), I spied a booklet peeking out of my crumpled jeans' back pocket. The cover asked a simple half-question, Have you heard of…? and the booklet's innards contained the following Four Fantastic Facts:
#1. God loves you and wants to show you His wonderful plan for your life.
#2. Everyone is born with sin in their hearts.
#3. Only Jesus can clean our sinful hearts.
#4. We must each receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Meh, I went back to bed. While many will address these quips and their own spiritual center in their own time by checking out the likes of John 10:10 ("The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so they can have life. I want them to have it in the fullest possible way."), Romans 3:23 and 5:8 ("Everyone has sinned. No one measures up to God's glory" and "But here is how God has shown His love for us. While we were still sinners, Christ dies for us."), and Ephesians 2:8-9 ("God's grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn't come from anything you do. It is God's gift. It is not based on anything you have done. No one can brag about earning it."), I already chose the right path when I became a follower of Michael Gira's teachings. Whenever I hear Gira, in solo artist guise, as the main man behind Swans, and more recently behind his Angels Of Light moniker, I am born again and excited to have received someone into my heart and life that won't steal my girlfriend and PIN number.
You would have to be the Antichrist to think that a new Angels Of Light album is not at least one and three-quarters of a great idea. Go ahead and test the notion: ask any street corner lunatic you are on good terms with, or that girl you met that trains pigeons inside her apartment, whether he or she isn't excited as hell about the prospect of a new glorious Angels Of Light album and you will invariably get the same answer: "Righteous!" Tons of news, song snippets, full tracks, and more than appropriate truisms from other artists regarding Gira and the new Angels Of Light album We Are Him can be found on the Young God Records site. The album, Gira's 73rd, is out August 20 and is chock full of superb guest players and friends and past collaborators from Gira's days in Swans and recent backing friends Akron/Family.
The only thing as exciting as beginning another great Angels Of Light record adventure would be to see Him live. We sent off an informal e-mail to Gira to find out if and when we can expect to witness the live faith, and he shot back right away with, "I will be touring extensively after release of album August 20 in two-week stints throughout the year following release...Touring solo exclusively... I enjoy solo much more than with band these days. More of a challenge, and in some ways more 'pure' and just as intense in its own way, I think... it's a little lonely though -- I go out by myself, don't bring a tour manager or extra driver or anything, hence the two weeks at a time limit..."
"Pure" and "intense" are good words to sum any Angels of Light story. It is a good thing too, because I'm running out of steam... I can't help it if piling on praise leaves me emotionally winded. It will do the same to you. What more can you possibly want anyway? News of an Angels Of Light album, a quote from the (God)head Himself, and some second-rate witticisms from yours truly don't come cheap -- they come free! Can I get an "Amen"!?!?
1 Black River Song
2 Promise of Water
3 The Man We Left Behind
4 My Brother's Man
5 This Is Not Here/This Is Not Now
6 Joseph's Song
7 We Are Him
8 Sometimes I Dream I'm Hurting You
9 Sunflower's Here To Stay
10 Good Bye Mary Lou
11 The Visitor
12 Star Chaser