Just after we published our Year-End Fest last December, including a fine piece of work on copyright by Yours Truly, the RIAA decided to be Santa last year: The organization announced that it would cease new lawsuits against suspected file-sharing pirates (though they would continue current ongoing lawsuits). And there was much cautious rejoicing.
Alas, the organization needed a new tactic to maintain an ardent stand against piracy and to keep the Big 4's shareholders content to a certain degree. And announce one it did: have internet service providers (ISPs) warn users and implement sanctions against them if discovered pirating material. This process, called the "graduated response" program, would include blocking and terminating (i.e. banning) access to users after repeated warnings. A reasonable plan when you think about it. [Glares from the TMT staff] What? The RIAA goes back into the background, nobody is sued for ridiculous amounts of money, everybody wins. Right? [Groans]
Actually, this was all reported at the same announcement. We were going to report on this when we came back from our holiday break, but then the Thnikkaman came by and... well, I'd like to see you stay on task when you're starin' down the barrel of a loaded Thnikkaman. Anyway, the reason why we are reporting on this now is that there have been developments on this front. You see, the problem with the new strategy was that it required cooperation from America's ISPs. At the time of the announcement, neither the RIAA nor any major ISPs commented on who was involved. As it stood, the ISPs had reason to fear the new announcement: Coming off a year of massive flak concerning bandwidth-throttling and net neutrality, the last thing the ISPs needed was to have the burden of blame concerning anti-piracy shifted to them at such a time.
Now, as of the past two days, the picture is clearer: During the Leadership Digital Music Summit in Nashville this week, three of the largest ISPs in the nation, DSL provider AT&T (Ars Technica) and cable providers Comcast and Cox (CNet), have made statements saying they are cooperating with the RIAA on this system. Sounds like a good idea to switch, right?
Not exactly. According to reports, of the three, only Cox has fully implemented the graduated response program. Comcast has implemented the program through letter-sending, but press statements have indicated that they have no interest in terminating service. Finally, AT&T is only doing limited geographical trials at this time and, furthermore, is refusing to sanction users. The problem with the latter point is that it renders the whole program moot, null, and void. AT&T argues that the psychological effect of just sending emails or warnings to users does its intended effect. But there's the problem: All bark, no bite.
On the other hand, one major ISP stands out from the rest in all this: DSL/Fiber provider Verizon, as also reported by Ars Technica, has been the only major ISP so far to proclaim that they will not cooperate with the RIAA. While amazing, this is not unusual: Verizon was also one of the few ISPs to announce in the wake of the Comcast bandwidth-throttling scandal that they will never throttle their bandwidth under any circumstance.
So, what.cd and waffles.fm users, heed this advice if you haven't already: If you use cable, you might want to switch. If you use DSL, keep your head low. If you use Verizon, well, then, you're just awesome.
Mario Speedwagon’s Under The Radar News Roundup: Akron/Family Tour Europe With Wilco, Meat Puppets Tour, El Dorado Desert Rock Fest, Northside Festival In Brooklyn
Okay, so I’m back from SXSW. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t see either Wavves or The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart on principle, since they were playing 50 times each. I ended up seeing both bands only once. In fact, my coworker saw The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart while standing next to Vivian Girls. Fucking ridiculous. If Vampire Weekend had been there, it would have been like that episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer where the Anointed One tries to resurrect The Master, but can only do so by assembling those who were present when he died and draining their blood over his body. I’m going to say The Master would be... I don’t know... The world pre-blogging? Sufjan before he was cool? Indie rock 10 years ago? Pitchfork when it was brown-fork? I don’t know; I’m open to suggestions. Oh, and big ups to Ryan Catbird: FTW. Anyway, on to the news.
- Akron/Family are going to kick it with Wilco this spring and go on tour in Europe. They have a few select dates on their own in the U.S. in early May before heading to Brussels to start their tour with Wilco. The tour is about a month long, and if you happen to be from Europe or plan on being in Europe around this time and you give a shit, you can find the dates at the Dead Oceans site.
- The Meat Puppets are heading on tour this summer. A real tour, not one of those tours that are announced and get people excited and then they check it out and it’s like four dates in Los Angeles and one in New York. Meat Puppets are kicking things off mid-May in Los Angeles and finishing things off at the end of June in Austin. They’re even coming to the South, which is why I call it a “real tour,” because bands skip us all the time. They also have a new record coming out May 12 called Sewn Together. Check out the dates on their MySpace.
- El Dorado Desert Rock Fest. I don’t know what the fuck this is.
- Okay, so L Magazine announced their plans for the first Northside Festival, which is being advertised as a “sort of non-industry, SXSW-like festival” in Brooklyn. Okay, first problem: the “industry” will infiltrate eventually, hippies. Where there are bands, there will be writers, managers, label people, etc. In fact, there already are label people, since there are label showcases from Ernest Jennings and Frenchkiss and a few from blogs. You think the people who run those labels and sites are going to be like, “Alright, you guys are playing the showcase, but you kids have fun, I’m going to kick it at home with some Battlestar and a medium pepperoni.” Yeah, no. Also, I really wanted to mention this one comment someone posted on Brooklyn Vegan in response to the news about Northside Fest: “This has the potential to be really awesome. Hope Grizzly Bear plays.” HAHAHAHAHA.
BTW, Buffy was a total bitch in that episode. She was a total snatch to Cordelia and Willow and she tried to make Angel jealous by dancing like a skank with Xander. Xander fucking sucked.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 @
@ 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.
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
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 arstechnica.com, 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.