Merge Releases Details on Covers Record

What better way to celebrate an anniversary than to reinterpret the past through song. Merge Records, which began 20 years ago, will be releasing THE COVERS! on April 7 in a very limited edition of 7,500, with profits going to charities chosen by the curators of Merge's super-huge subscription series Score!

THE COVERS! will include 20 tracks from some of today's biggest names and will cover past and present Merge artists. Highlights include the cleanest-sounding Times New Viking cover of The Arcade Fire's "Neighborhood #1," the premiere of Calvin Johnson's new band The Hive Dweller's on their oddball cover of Superchunk's "My Noise," and The Mountain Goats' stripped down cover of East River Pipe's "Drug Life."

To celebrate their 20th anniversary Merge will also be hosting XX MERGE (TMT News), "five days of live music from Merge artists past and present taking place in the label's native North Carolina July 22-26." Lineup and ticket info should be announced shortly.

THE COVERS! tracklist:

1. Quasi – Beautiful Things (3Ds)
2. Les Savy Fav – Precision Auto (Superchunk)
3. The Shins – Plenty Is Never Enough (Tenement Halls)
4. St. Vincent and The National – Sleep All Summer (Crooked Fingers)
5. Broken Social Scene – Complications (The Clean)
6. Ryan Adams – Like a Fool (Superchunk)
7. Bright Eyes – Papa Was a Rodeo (The Magnetic Fields)
8. Lavender Diamond – New Ways of Living (Destroyer)
9. The Apples in Stereo – King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 3 (Neutral Milk Hotel)
10. Laura Cantrell – Cowboy on the Moon (Lambchop)
11. Bill Callahan – Santa Maria (Versus)
12. Barbara Manning – Through With People (Portastatic)
13. The Mountain Goats – Drug Life (East River Pipe)
14. The New Pornographers – Don’t Destroy This Night (The Rock*A*Teens)
15. Tracey Thorn & Jens Lekman – Yeah! Oh, Yeah! (The Magnetic Fields)
16. The Hive Dwellers – My Noise (Superchunk)
17. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – The Numbered Head (Robert Pollard)
18. Okkervil River – All You Little Suckers (East River Pipe)
19. Death Cab for Cutie – Kicked In (Superchunk)
20. Times New Viking – Neighborhood #1 (Arcade Fire)

Phil Spector’s Retrial Jury Retires to Make a Landmark Decision for Gun-Toting Whackjob Record Producers the World Over

On February 3, 2003, police arrested music legend Phil Spector on suspicion of the murder of club hostess and actress Lana Clarkson. Now, obviously everybody in this bloody shithole of a civilization knows the story here (crazy Phil says suicide, rest of the universe says murder), but I felt it necessary to post the date of the arrest itself. Take a close look at that date again. That’s right, people, this Phil Spector shit has been going on since before the goddamn invasion of motherfucking Iraq.

So yeah, it’s about time this nonsense ended. After a deadlocked jury (10 yea, 2 nay) led to Spector’s 2007 mistrial, the jury in his current retrial has gone out to decide whether or not the fucking composer of “Be My Baby” committed murder. Spector faces 15 years-to-life in prison if convicted of the second-degree murder charge but could potentially get off with a four-year sentence should the jury instead convict him of involuntary manslaughter, a possible charge that was not available to the previous trial’s jury.

As this media circus’ big-top steadily swelled over the years, tales of Spector’s nuttiness grew from music geek campfire lore to household knowledge to apparently the basis of the California district attorney’s prosecution. Over the course of the trial, five female acquaintances of Spector have taken the stand and all claimed in the past Spector had threatened them with a gun when they attempted to leave his home without his approval. Despite Spector’s once adorably eccentric penchant for making criminal threats, he actually stands a fighting chance to beat the second-degree murder charge: In the trial’s closing arguments, his attorney cited 14 pieces of forensic evidence that he said proved Spector’s innocence, including the fact that there was no trace of Spector’s DNA on the gun used to kill Clarkson.

So, it appears that while the defense has been referencing actual evidence about the specific incident in question, the prosecution has been harping on about Spector’s undeniably crazy past and just saying “Eh? Ehhhhh?” Oh well, who gives a shit at this point. Innocent or guilty, somebody just put that looney tune away some place where he can’t get near me or my family.

RIP: Dan Seals of England Dan and John Ford Coley

From Dan Seals official website:

Dan Seals passed away March 25, 2009 following a valiant struggle with mantle cell lymphoma. He leaves behind thousands of fans, countless friends and a loving family. He enjoyed a musical career which spanned four decades and included hit records both as a member of pop duo England Dan and John Ford Coley, and as a solo country artist. In 1986 he won Country Music Association Awards for “Bop” and "Meet Me in Montana." He will forever be remembered for his gentle smile, easy going demeanor, his enduring faith and endless generosity.

- Dan Seals official website
- Dan Seals Wikipedia entry
- Dan Seals fan site

Tony Conrad and Keiji Haino have been around for years exploring almost opposite ideas of time and space. Conrad chooses to function in a world of minimalism for long durations, while Haino works more within a word of maximalism with lots of space. Although they seem to support opposing aesthetics, they are equally great at improvising. Both have played in various improvisational groups with the likes of Peter Brötzmann, Jim O'Rourke, Masami Akita (Merzbow), and John Zorn.

For a few U.S. dates in late April, Haino and Conrad will be combining forces, which they've done previously at Instal 2006 and in Tokyo last September. Conrad will also be spending a few days at the Art Institute of San Francisco conducting a lecture, performing music, and screening videos.

Tony Conrad:
04.03.09 - San Franciso Art Institute, San Francisco - SF Cinematheque presentation - lecture
04.04.09 - San Franciso Art Institute, San Franciso - Activating in the Medium Festival - musical performance
04.05.09 - San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco - SF Cinematheque presentation - film showing

Tony Conrad and Keiji Haino:
04.25.09 - New York, NY - The Studio @ Webster Hall
04.26.09 - Philadelphia, PA - International House
04.28.09 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle +

+ David Daniel/Doug McCombs, Bloodyminded

Björk and Dirty Projectors Join Together for One-Off Benefit Show in NY!

According to Stereogum, Björk and Dirty Projectors are collaborating for a one-off benefit show May 8 at New York's Housing Works Bookstore & Café. No, they're not just playing separate shows and calling it a gig -- instead, Dirty Projectors' Dave Longstreth has composed a five-vocal suite, which will see Björk performing alongside Dave and other fellow DP members, Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian, and Haley Dekle. The rest of the set will be comprised of other DP songs, "using only voices and one acoustic guitar," which I'm guessing will be similar to a portion of DP's recent Minneapolis performance (TMT Review) -- except with the itty bitty, minor detail that BJORK WILL BE THERE TOO.

The show is a benefit for Housing Works, a non-profit that, according to its website, "is committed to ending the twin crises of AIDS and homelessness. We believe that all people have the right to a rich and empowering life. Since 1990, we have provided the highest quality services for homeless men, women, and children living with HIV and AIDS in New York City and beyond."

Tickets for the show "officially" go on sale April 1 at Housing Works' website, but Stereogum says they are in fact available NOW, and the venue only fits 300! Prices are steep (start at $100 and go up to $400), but hey -- it's for a good cause, and this is sure to be a singular experience. Stay tuned to Stereogum for further updates on the show.

Meanwhile, Bitte Orca, Dirty Projectors' follow-up to Rise Above, will be released June 9 via Domino. It'll blow up. Trust me.

Dirty Projectors tourdates:
05.03.09 - New York, NY - Radio City Music Hall - Dark Was The Night
05.08.09 - New York, NY - Housing Works*
05.22.09 - Oakland, CA - Fox Oakland Theatre @
05.23.09 - Portland, OR - Roseland Theatre @
05.25.09 - Vancouver, BC - Malkin Bowl @
05.27.09 - Edmonton, Alberta - Edmonton Events Center @
05.28.09 - Calgary, Alberta - Macewan Hall @
05.29.09 - Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - Louis' Pub @
05.30.09 - Winnipeg, Manitoba - Burton Cummings Theater @
06.02.09 - Toronto, Ontario - Sound Academy @
06.03.09 - Montreal, Quebec - Metropolis @
06.04.09 - Boston, MA - House of Blues @
06.05.09 - New York, NY - Central Park Summer Stage @
06.06.09 - Baltimore, MD - Metro Gallery @
06.08.09 - Washington DC - 9:30 Club @
06.10.09 - Richmond, VA - The National @
06.11.09 - Charlotte, North Carolina - Amos' Southend @

* Björk

@ TV on the Radio

Sunset Rubdown Become Dragonslayers on New LP, Set European Tour In Hopes Of Finding Arthurian Dragons To Slay

So, Sunset Rubdown is a pretty solid band, eh? Well, in addition to rocking pretty hard in general, the group can now add "mythical beast killers" to their list of achievements, as they set to release their new album Dragonslayer June 23 in North America or June 22 in Europe. The album will be their second full-length for Jagjaguwar (third full-length as a band), and it features all the members circa Random Spirit Lover (TMT Review) along with new member Mark Nicol on bass and occasionally drums. Unfortunately, the titles of the eight tracks are short and unpretentious, which is not what one might expect from this crew

In order to get people properly prepped for the album, Sunset Rubdown will be releasing a 7-inch picture disc on Agoo Records called Sunset Rubdown Introducing Moonface in early April. It features two songs, "Coming to the Dawn" and "Insane Love is Awakening."

Sunset Rubdown is touring Europe before Dragonslayer's release, and let me tell you, they are a treat live. I once saw them play for an audience of roughly 40 at Duke University, and though I may be pro-Tar Heels, making me rabidly anti-Blue Devils, for that moment in time I found a soft spot in my heart for all the Dukies of the world. So, this April (into May), if you are in Europe, get your money ready and buy a ticket to see these guys live. If they disappoint you, send me an email and I will make you some cookies for the time wasted -- but they won’t, so just go.

Dragonslayer Tracklisting:

1. Silver Moons
2. Idiot Heart
3. Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Anna Oh!
4. Black Swan
5. Paper Lace
6. You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II)
7. Nightingale / December Song
8. Dragon's Lair

Sunset Rubdown Tourdates:
04.18.09 - Paris, FR - La Maronquinerie
04.20.09 - Haarlem, NL - Patronaat
04.21.09 - Wetzlar, DE - KuZ
04.22.09 - Stuttgart, DE - Manufaktur
04.23.09 - Prague, CZ - 007
04.24.09 - Krems, AT - Danube Festival
04.25.09 - Moscow, RU - Avant Festival
04.27.09 - Zagreb, HR - Teatar & TD
04.29.09 - Krakow, PL - Manggha
04.30.09 - Warsaw, PL - Hydrozagadka
05.02.09 - Aarhus, DK - Pop Revo Festival

Blender Magazine: The Next Publication to Fold (No Pun Intended)

Well, add another nickel to the "every print media outlet in the world is scaling back or shutting down" jar.

Alpha Media Group announced in a staff meeting yesterday morning that
it is shutting down the presses on popular music publication Blender, effective immediately. The April issue will be its last, and since most of the content and layout is finished and on its way to newsstands, it's safe to say there will be no last hurrah -- especially if the current website is any indication.

The closing of the monthly magazine will lead to some 30 jobs lost and
lots of staff reshuffling.

At its apex, Blender boasted a circulation of one million and was a
common contributor to a variety of fun and trashy VH1 specials, such
as The 50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever.

Maxim is currently the only Alpha magazine still in publication. Turns
out boobs really are recession-proof.

Mininova Grosses €1 Million in 2007, Throws the Classic Subway Tunnel Bootlegs-On-a-Beach-Towel Business Paradigm out the Window

If you ever feel a pang of regret about downloading the latest episode of Lost on a torrent site, maybe your guilt should include the fact that you're making some Dutch nerds rich. Reporting for tech news site, Nate Anderson recently pulled Dutch records, which Mininova, as a legitimate business with an office located in Utrecht, Netherlands, is required to file annually, to discover that the website's revenue statement from 2007 was €1,037,560.

Mininova's Niek van der Maas confirmed that amount to Anderson, but pointed out that it doesn't count for taxes and expenses. He also claimed that "website revenue has nothing to do with copyright infringement," a dubious statement considering the amount of traffic brought in because of the site's .torrent files. Nonetheless, Mininova, which doesn't actually host illegal content on its site, does have a prominent procedure for requesting the takedown of .torrent files from its site. This is in contrast to the Pirate Bay, which has openly mocked takedown requests from copyright owners in the past. The Pirate Bay is currently in the middle of a trial that is focusing on whether its administrators have profited from the sharing of illegal content.

It remains to be seen whether sites like these will continue to exist in the future, but it doesn't help Mininova's case that they're merely acting as an uninvolved conduit for .torrent files when there are clearly large amounts of revenue involved. As Anderson points out in the article, if the IFPI starts asking questions, the site has resources to put up a legal fight. I guess if you're going to steal something, steal big -- you can just buy yourself out of trouble in a pinch.

Brian Eno Curates Sydney Music Fest

Hot off the trail of the critically acclaimed collaborative record with David Byrne, Brian Eno is throwing together some of his top choice bands to play this years Vivid Sydney Fest in, you guessed it, Sydney, Australia. The fest will take place at the Sydney Opera House (you know, that building that they always show in pictures of Sydney). The Eno-curated portion of this fest is titled Luminous, which is "an annual festival of music, debate, light and performance." So, not only will you be able to see some Eno-approved bands, but you will also get to see Eno's image/sound installation, 77 Million Paintings, as well as "public talks and spectacular light and art installations."

The event, which will take place May 28 - June 14, will include musical acts such as Battles, Ladytron, Jon Hopkins, Lee "Scratch" Perry, The Necks, and many more. For more info:

Terra Firma Boss Guy Hands “Tags” Out, “Hands” Reigns Over to Tim Pryce, “Fingers” New Position for Himself, “Grasps” Severity of… Well, You See What We’re Getting At, Right?

It’s a sad day for every irreverent music news publication in the biz. Guy Hands, the man with one of the most lampoon-able fucking names in history, is stepping out of his 7-year day-to-day management role as chairman and chief executive officer of Terra Firma (owner of EMI Music) for a new role at the private equity firm, leaving many critics, writers, and music gadflies asking: “Who’s name am I going to make fun of now?”

Hands is tagging-out to become Group Chairman and Chief Investment Officer in order to fully concentrate on those duties, and he will be handing-off that good old day-to-day responsibility for Terra Firma’s operations to the much less-garishly named Tim Pryce (I know: “booo,” right?), who will become the new Chief Executive. Hands will now use his hands to handle Firma's investments, investors, and the strategic development of its business internationally. Tim Pryce was a founder member of Terra Firma, worked with Guy Hands at Nomura, and is a member of Terra Firma's investment advisory and remuneration committees. I hear they were also in the same Frat together in college or something...

"Having worked closely with Tim for nine years, I am delighted that he has agreed to take up this position,” Hands remarked over his shoulder in an interview while hastily stuffing duffle bags full of cash. “He will make an excellent CEO of Terra Firma. Tim has been an integral part of Terra Firma since its formation and has done an outstanding job in his previous roles at the firm.”

Meanwhile, Tim What’s-His-Name has similarly remarked that he is “delighted to take on this role. Guy has built one of the leading private equity groups in Europe in a very short space of time which now manages and invests money on behalf of institutions all over the world. I look forward to making sure that the organization works optimally in supporting Terra Firma's global investment and fundraising activities and to continuing to work with Guy on developing the business."

So there you have it. Everyone at Terra Firma is “delighted,” and we’re out some serious hand-joke punnage. Oh, and Guy Hands doesn’t have to suffer that large disgrace of captaining that ship when it goes down anymore. Three cheers for Guy Hands. No, wait; make that three high-fives.



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