This week, National Public Radio launched a new site, called NPR Music. I haven't relied on NPR for music since I was scraping the bottom of a hitter box and fumbling to get a tape in my boom box before "The Grateful Dead Hour" started. Since ditching the station, and radio in general, for other forms of musical discovery, I have come to appreciate NPR for news, features, and quirky audio documentaries. Going into NPR Music, I figured that, even though my local NPR station did not impress me musically, the organization as a whole just might have it together in genres other than jazz and classical.
I tend to tire of websites quickly, so I decided to put NPR Music on the clock and see how long NPR's new music site could keep me in one place.
8:07 PM - Welcome to NPR: Music Home. It's not that stuffy in here. No one's playing croquet anyway.
8:10 PM - I clicked on a featured studio session of Animal Collective from member station KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle. The intro stated: "Listening to the Animal Collective CD made me a little nervous about an in-studio session." Included was a link to listen to an interview with the band and watch the studio session, or so I thought. Hmm... Bose In-Ear headphones mandatory commercial. Those look expensive. I thought this was going to be a video of them in the studio and had a joke all queued up about how they keep Monster Cable in business. It's only audio, which is probably for the best. At least you didn't have to read that horrible Monster Cable joke. I listened to three minutes of "Fireworks."
8:18 PM - NPR Music: Discover Songs - Guest DJ Jens Lekman has three of his own songs on his six-song playlist. A bit vain? Listened to his pick of "Kim Ki O" by Dogru. He also chose a tune by The Tough Alliance, a band that I've been enjoying lately.
8:23 PM - Checked out All Songs Considered featuring David Byrne, Beirut, and Dirty Projectors. Listened to "The Sound of Business" off David Byrne's 1985 reissue, Knee Plays. Byrne is in "Seen and Not Seen"-weird-storytelling mode backed by a brass band.
8:28 PM - Listened "St. Apollonia" from the new Beirut album. I still haven't gotten around to checking this out. Sounded like a Latvian wedding reception, which I guess is the point. Kind of interesting.
8:32 PM - This could be a quality time-waster. The NPR 100 is a list of the 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century. I thought it was just going to be the songs, but clicking on the title of each lets you listen to a short documentary on the artist and the work's creation. I started with an eight-minute Fats Domino tutorial. I had no idea he was a recluse. NPR picked "Ain't That a Shame." The list isn't very contemporary. It looks like "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is the youngest inclusion by far, but there are still some great bite-sized history lessons here. No Bowie?
8:45 PM - I'll be back to that NPR 100. Let's see what else we got. 2007 SXSW sessions. Listened to a hunk of Okkervil River's 30-minute performance. You can download a few of these sessions as MP3s, which is nice.
8:52 PM - Fujiya & Miyagi's SXSW set sounds good. These clips load really quick on NPR's own player, which keeps a playlist of everything you've listened to for quick reference. The NPR 100 mini documentaries play on RealPlayer.
8:57 PM - In the "Urban" section, I listened to a story on a proposed Dallas ordinance against sagging. "The No. 1 mission is very simple: pulling up your pants. That's all we want," said Deputy Mayor Dwaine Caraway. That's good stuff. Just like at Sam Goody, at NPR, urban means black, not rap. The section included stories about Prince and Chaka Khan. I was looking for something about the new Wu-Tang album.
9:05 PM - Back to Discover Songs. There are quite a few "best albums of 2006" lists, staff picks of the week, and video sessions. I checked out some lists. That Lily Allen song is pretty catchy. I didn't say good, but I may have listened to it twice. She was on a list for best debut albums of 2006. I think I have to get that Black Angels album. They were on the same list.
9:14 PM - Every story includes audio clips, most often full songs. You could get lost in here. Now, even if your local NPR station only carries "This American Life" and "Car Talk," you can still tap into the station's vast musical knowledge and lit-major sensibility.
9:18 PM - Notice, as I just did, that I steered clear of the site's vast "world" and classical sections. That's not my job.
9:21 PM - After realizing that, I thought I'd better take a quick peek. I'll finish typing this up while listening to a Toots and the Maytals concert, which is in the "world" section. They open up with Otis Redding's "Pain in My Heart."
This is a great site.
When he isn't out swimming, making ceviche, or hamming it up in a PSA for malaria, Tim Harrington sings for Brooklyn rock outfit Les Savy Fav. The acclaimed foursome recently released Let's Stay Friends (TMT Review), their first album of new material in
six years, to crazy amounts of praise. According to the band's MySpace, the record is "about Les Savy Fav's unwillingness to give up." So, with such determination, what's a band to do? Well, play a handful of live gigs apparently. The band will embark on a very brief tour in a brief amount of time. And on the tour, Tim Harrington will most likely be wearing briefs and not much else.
You better go to one of shows or poor Tim will have to do this:
^ The Dodos
After months and months of speculation, looks like it's 100% official now. The Blood Brothers have broken up, which, you know, somewhat betrays the essence of their name. According to a press release and a post on the group's official website and one on their MySpace:
After 10 years of making music as The Blood Brothers, we have made the collective decision that our time together has come to an end. We feel extremely fortunate to have spent such a deeply memorable and amazing part of our lives with each other. At this point, however, we feel it's best that our futures move forward on separate paths. We'd like to express our sincerest thanks and gratitude to all the bands we've played with, individuals who have helped us make our records, and fans who have come to our shows and picked up our music throughout the years. Your friendship, support and love hold such a profoundly special place in each of our hearts. We hope that the memories you attach to our music are as fond as those you have given us. Thank you and take care, we'll miss all of you.
Not to be a jerk -- I am a Blood Brothers fan, after all -- but as "personal" as that letter might have seemed, it's probably the most generic breakup letter I've ever read. Seriously. It reads like a breakup letter template. Just replace "10" and "The Blood Brothers" with any year and any band and you have an instant announcement at your disposal. In fact, please forward this template letter to the following bands: The Hives, Black Kids (the band), and LCD Soundsystem.
Now, that was to be a jerk.
What is it in Brazil that makes everyone so damn cute? Yeah, that's right -- Bonde Do Role are cute. They don't scare me; in fact, their quirky vocals and metal + Brazilian funk/dance beats have helped me to overcome my clinical depression. And you know what? The enormous attention given to Bonde Do Role or CSS doesn't even faze me. I've been riding this baile funk train for quite some time, starting way back when I lived as an aspiring photographer in the hoods of São Paulo. Hell, I predicted this baile funk explosion back in ‘95.
Bonde Do Role have already had their "party year" since the release of With Lasers (which features cover art of Our Lord and Savior as a statue with laser beams shooting out of his eyes), but the party apparently continues on December 4, when the group releases the Marina Gasolina EP in the U.S. on Domino Records. The EP will feature unreleased material, as well as a new version of "Marina Gasolina." There will also be several remixes by underground artists that no one has ever heard of. Not even Jay-Z. It'll make a great Christmas present for your faux-DJ friend who suspiciously imitates Girl Talk. (Expect an exiting New Year's Eve mash-up party with a little bit of Bonde Do Role's "Miami Beach" chopped with R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion.")
So, now that you know what Bonde Do Role is up to, let's get back to what's important: ME! First off, I apologize to my (only) two fans in Jersey, Mick and Vic. You guys probably expected me to write a hilarious and comprehensible news piece. But, I'm not much for excuses, so here it goes: I made tons of jokes today and in every situation I was completely "on" -- I was so funny all morning that I just had no steam left in me by noon. I couldn't even think of anything funny to say while walking with my boss outside, when she said, "We didn't get any dingleberries this year. They usually fall from the trees and stink real bad." I couldn't contain my laughter. She later came by my desk and said, "I meant ginkgo berries, earlier. Ginkgo berries."
Marina Gasolina EP tracklisting:
Best way to get me (or most people I know for that matter) to listen to an album is to tell me that it has been personally sanctioned by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. So, I figured if he was willing to give the new(est) CocoRosie another whirl, who the hell was I to write it off so quickly? Often, the true depth of an album lies within its flaws, and The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn is no exception. Is "Bloody Twins" (track 3) a phrase you're not totally comfortable with? Probably. Does antiquated, brittle warbling over a music box freak you out in the slightest? Shit, I mean, it should. But once you understand that these elements are as second nature to CocoRosie as the canned horse neigh that appears on most of their albums, you accept that sisters Sierra and Bianca Casaday just might be a little batshit. And that's okay. Because it's pretty and creepy. Mostly pretty.
If that toy horse isn't at these dates, I'ma be pissed:
The soundtrack to Downtown 81 (a.k.a., New York Beat Movie) was released earlier this week, and it features a ton of bands from the Lower East Side art scene of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s on which the film was based. The film features the late Jean Michel Basquiat basically playing himself as a young artist who is evicted from his apartment and sets off into the streets with a painting, intending to sell it for enough money to reclaim said apartment. Along the way he runs into a motley cast of characters, mostly played by key figures of said art and music scene, at one point featuring Debbie Harry as a bag-lady-turned-fairy-princess.
The soundtrack consists of an über-exciting array of bands, even including Basquiat's own band Gray, which also featured skeezy filmmaker Vincent Gallo. Other bands and people on the soundtrack include Lydia Lunch, James Chance, Liquid Liquid, Tuxedomoon, DNA, Suicide, Chris Stein of Blondie... the list goes on.
I was just about to jump off the roof of this tall building due to the high stress and meaningless nature of my rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, but then I heard Vampire Weekend are touring.
Going to one more show can't hurt, right? And while Vampire Weekend are decidedly not "punk rock," that doesn't mean that the track "A-Punk" off their self-released blue CD-R doesn't, for lack of a better word, kick ass (excuse me, but we can't all go to Columbia). With the sound of kids who used to listen to The Clash before they fell in love with Pavement, Vampire Weekend are well-annunciated, saccharine indie-pop with Ivy League precision, and they hands-down play my all-time favorite song about punctuation (as a writer, I have many). They've also succeeded in rhyming "Louis Vuitton" with "reggaeton" better than most bands I've been hearing lately.
Look for the oh-so-East-Coast's first full-length release by XL Recordings in January 2008.
But for now -- a tour.
# Mount Eerie
$ Grand Ole Party
% Grand Ole Party
! Friends of John (A benefit concert for the John Ryan Pike Memorial Foundation.)
As already reported, EMI/Parlophone is releasing a Radiohead box set consisting of their first six albums and the live mini-album, I Might Be Wrong, just in time to compete with Radiohead's independently released seventh album, In Rainbows (TMT Review). Sure, Radiohead has nothing to do with the box set release, but this isn't just a case of EMI trying to capitalize on the Radiohead brouhaha; it's also a case of ownership. EMI owns the "mechanical rights" (the reproduction of a song on a record) to Radiohead's first six albums. Furthermore, EMI owns the duration of the contract. Obvious, but compelling. And now that Radiohead is off the label and has long since recouped any expenses for it, the company is now predictably flexing its proprietary muscles, functioning as the major label machine that it is. Rude? Yes. Good business sense? Of course, and it certainly highlights a significant difference between major labels and independent labels.
But Radiohead won't have to worry about that sort of shit from now on, so long as they stay independent of this major label machine. For In Rainbows, Radiohead are simply licensing (through Warner Chappell Music Publishing) to other independent labels like XL Recordings and Side One/ATO.
Blah blah blah. Anyway, the new news? XL Recordings recently confirmed the UK release date of the physical (CD/LP) version for December 31, while "Jigsaw Falling Into Place" will be the album's first single, set for a January 14 release date. Now, I know what you're thinking: "But, but, I already bought the album and/or paid 'nothing'... XL is not going to make any money!" You see, my friend, you're totally forgetting about all the casual music buyers, like Ray Romano, who shop at Best Buy, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, etc., as well as the middle-aged, non-tech savvy consumers, like Carrie Bradshaw, who make up a huge portion of the CD-buying market.
Meanwhile, Radiohead's camp deny the legitimacy of any and all figures of In Rainbows' sales derived from independent companies:
In response to purely speculative figures announced in the press regarding the number of downloads and the price paid for the album, the group's representatives would like to remind people that, as the album could only be downloaded from the band's website, it is impossible for outside organisations to have accurate figures on sales.
However, they can confirm that the figures quoted by the company comScore Inc are wholly inaccurate and in no way reflect definitive market intelligence or, indeed, the true success of the project.
Those studies are so annoying.
It's been rumored for quite awhile, but it seems like it's finally come to fruition, according to The Daily Swarm -- My Bloody Valentine have reunited for a new album and a possible tour. In an interview with Soft Focus, MBV frontman Kevin Shields claims that the next record is 75% complete, and that it "sounds like My Bloody Valentine." Isn't it strange when you have to point out that you sound like yourself?
Video site VBS.tv is set to debut a 30-minute interview with the elusive musician on Monday, November 12, where Shields discusses the new record. There are rumblings of a Radiohead-styled independent release for the new record, but this is mere speculation at this point. Some live rumors had been spreading like wildfire throughout the Coachella Festival fan community, who are already anticipating Portishead for the ‘08 version of the beloved musical stomp. The group has not confirmed any live appearances at this point.
So, wipe the dust off that Loveless coaster you have in your living room; it's time to get guitar-drenched!
Electrelane, the band who proved it's just as fun to shower with clothes on as to mud wrestle with your neighbor, have announced an "indefinite hiatus" from their website. What does this all mean? TMT has no idea. Check out their extremely cryptic message:
We have decided that the upcoming gigs will be our last for the foreseeable future. After ten years of much fun and hard work, we have realised that we all need a break and time to do other things. This was a tough decision for us to make, but ultimately a positive one.
A big thank you to everyone who has come to our shows, put on our shows, and bought our records over the years. It means a lot to us. We're really grateful to have had the opportunity to play gigs all over the world and to meet so many lovely people. This last year has been especially enjoyable and we feel happy about moving on with all these good memories to look back on. At the moment we haven't made any band plans for the future, but we're going to have a break and see what happens.
Told you it's cryptic! Now, I can't confirm this, but seems to me like their message is a puzzle, as if they're trying to tell us something really important, but we have to "work" to understand the message. Speaking to my neighbor who I mud-wrestled last week, he thinks that "It must be a message about how they're going to release their fifth album -- I bet they'll do a Radiohead." Hmmm... I guess we'll have to wait and see if anyone can decode it.
In the meantime, expect tons of singles, albums, and tours from the one and only Electrelane!