Calvin Johnson, former Beat Happening front man and K Records head honcho, is going on tour with his brand new band, The Hive Dwellers. The tour will kick off on April 14 with K newbies Chain and the Gang, featuring Ian Svenious (Nation of Ulysses, the Make-Up, Weird War, etc.) Interestingly, aside from the front men, the two groups will consist of the same members -- Bret Lyman (Bad Thoughts), Brian Weber (Dub Narcotic Sound System), Sarah Pedal, and Fred Thomas (Saturday Looks Good to Me, City Center).

In addition to showcasing Johnson's new project, the tour will support Chain and the Gang's debut LP Down with Liberty... Up with Chains, which is due April 7 on K. Down With Liberty... Up With Chains will also feature Johnson, as well as an all-star cast of mostly K Records players, including the aforementioned Brett Lyman, Sarah Pedal, and Brian Weber, as well as Faustine Hudson (The Curious Mystery), Veronica Ortuño (Finally Punk), Nicolaas Zwart (Desolation Wilderness), Karl Blau, Chris Sutton (Hornet Leg), Sixx (The Vibrarians), Arrington de Dionyso, Aaron Hartman, and Benjamin Hartman (Old Time Relijun).

Before the tour kicks off, Johnson will also be doing a round of solo shows in Japan with fellow K alumni, Karl Blau.
03.19.09 Yamagata, Japan – Obihachi*!
03.20.09 - Sendai, Japan –Heaven*!
03.22.09 - Tokyo, Japan - O-Nest*!
03.24.09 - Matsumoto, Japan – Gunzyo*!
03.25.09 - Kyoto, Japan – Urbanguild*!
03.27.09 - Hiroshima, Japan – Babaji*!
03.28.09 - Fukuoka, Japan – Yojigen*!
03.29.09 - Kokura, Japan – Soap*!
03.31.09 - Matsuyama, Japan - More Music*!
04.02.09 - Nagoya, Japan – Tokuzo*!
04.03.09 - Tokyo, Japan - O-Nest*!
04.09.09 - Salem, Oregon - Cherry City Music Festival*#
04.14.09 - Springfield, Illinois - Black Sheep Café+#
04.15.09 - Bloomington, Indiana - The Cinemat+#
04.16.09 - Pittsburg, Pennsylvania - The Nerve+#
04.18.09 - Boston , Massachusetts - Outside the Lines Gallery+#
04.19.09 - Providence, Rhode Island - AS220+#
04.20.09 - Annandale on Hudson, New York - Bard College+#
04.21.09 - Danbury, Connecticut - Heirloom Arts+#
04.22.09 - Montreal, Quebec - Lab Synthese+#
04.23.09 - Hamilton, Ontario - The Casbah+#
04.24.09 - Toronto, Ontario -Whippersnapper Gallery+#
04.25.09 - Rochester, New York - The Bug Jar+#
04.26.09 - Brooklyn, New York - Market Hotel+#
04.27.09 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -The Barbary+#
04.28.09 - Baltimore, Maryland - Talking Head Club+#
04.30.09 - Akron, Ohio – Musica+#
05.01.09 - Detroit, Michigan - UFO Factory+#
05.02.09 - Chicago, Illinois - Co-Prosperity Sphere+#
05.03.09 - Grand Rapids, Michigan - The DAAC+#
05.05.09 - Minneapolis, Minnesota - The Eclipse Record Store+#
05.06.09 - Iowa City, Iowa - Public Space+#
05.07.09 - Indianapolis, Indiana - Public Space 1+#
05.08.09 - Louisville , Kentucky - Skull Alley+#
05.10.09 - Athens, Georgia - Secret Squirrel+#
05.11.09 - Atlanta, Georgia – Eyedrum+#
05.12.09 - Huntsville, Alabama - Vertical House Records+#
05.14.09 - New Orleans, Louisiana – Spellcaster+#
05.15.09 - Scott, Louisiana - Bourque's Social Club+#
05.16.09 - Austin, Texas - Emo's+#
05.19.09 - Santa Fe, New Mexico - Warehouse 21+#
05.20.09 - Tucson, Arizona - Solar Culture+#
05.22.09 - Los Angeles, California - The Smell+#
05.23.09 - San Francisco, California - Million Fishes+#
05.24.09 - Oakland, California - Ghost Town Gallery+#
05.25.09 - Santa Cruz, California - Crepe Place+#
05.27.09 - Eureka, California - Accident Gallery+#
05.28.09 - Portland, Oregon – Rotture+#
05.29.09 - Seattle, Washington - The Vera Project+#
05.30.09 - Vancouver, British Columbia - The Sweatshop+#
05.31.09 - Anacortes, Washington - The Department of Safety+#

* Solo Set

+ Hive Dwellers Set

! Karl Blau

# Chain and the Gang

Hip-hop may be dead, but reggae lives on: Nas recording album with Damian Marley

Firebrand rapper Nas announced last week to MTV News an as-yet-unnamed collaboration LP with the heir of one of the most harmonious, peaceful music legacies ever, Bob Marley's son, Damian "Junior Gong" Marley. The two first worked together on Marley's 2005 album Welcome to Jamrock on the track "Road to Zion."

Nas' manager Anthony Saleh says to expect the album to drop sometime this spring. In an intriguing preview of what the collaboration will contain for fans, Nas said "The record's ... all about really the ’hood and Africa also as well." Geez, really? You get these two guys in a studio and you'd expect something more along the lines of pastoral, Ray Davies-esque character portraits, am I wrong? But hey, let's give these guys a chance; we'll see what they do with the "hood and Africa" thing.

In Most Disappointing News of the Day News, Warp Records’ Online Store, WarpMart, Merges with MP3 Si

Warp Records, home to such artists as Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, and Gang Gang Dance, recently merged their online store Warpmart with its MP3-peddlin’ sister site Bleep.com in celebration of Bleep.com’s fifth anniversary. Feeling somewhat obligated to actually look at the new website before writing this article, I was greatly disappointed when my browser pointed not to an online store for the Warped Tour, but to a regular ol’ respectable online music store. Now what will I do with all my lip-ring jokes and Scary Kids Scaring Kids quips?

I once went to Shabat at my local synagogue once and was surprised to discover a veritable gift store in the lobby, replete with Star of David beanie babies, Jordanic water bottles, and bedazzled yarmulkes. This is kind of what I was I was hoping for with Warpmart — you stop by to pick up your Less Than Jake tallit prayer shawl before entering the temple so that you’ll fit in.

The new mega-Bleep is regretfully absent of all Judeo-nu punk regalia, but check it out for yourself here.

In Most Disappointing News of the Day News, Warp Records’ Online Store, WarpMart, Merges with MP3 Si

Warp Records, home to such artists as Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, and Gang Gang Dance, recently merged their online store Warpmart with its MP3-peddlin’ sister site Bleep.com in celebration of Bleep.com’s fifth anniversary. Feeling somewhat obligated to actually look at the new website before writing this article, I was greatly disappointed when my browser pointed not to an online store for the Warped Tour, but to a regular ol’ respectable online music store. Now what will I do with all my lip-ring jokes and Scary Kids Scaring Kids quips?

I once went to Shabat at my local synagogue once and was surprised to discover a veritable gift store in the lobby, replete with Star of David beanie babies, Jordanic water bottles, and bedazzled yarmulkes. This is kind of what I was I was hoping for with Warpmart — you stop by to pick up your Less Than Jake tallit prayer shawl before entering the temple so that you’ll fit in.

The new mega-Bleep is regretfully absent of all Judeo-nu punk regalia, but check it out for yourself here.

Does Bill Callahan’s New Album Signal the End of the Depression? One Writer Thinks So.

In 2007, Bill Callahan, contemplative folkster, shifted away from his dark moniker of 10 years (Smog) to his given name (Bill), and with that shift resolved positivity. At nearly the same time, financial institutions around the world began to crumble. Callahan's new album, Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle is coming out April 14 on Drag City, and we are all fairly sure by then the world will be in complete financial collapse.

So why are otherwise sedate, thoughtful people so giddy? Did I not say that Bill Callahan is releasing a new album? I mean Shirley Temple was the biggest hit of The Depression, right? And those creepy songs about putting on a happy face? Remember, Bogart went from being a scary gangster in the ’20s to being a leading lover in the ’30s. Maybe Bill Callahan is our Bogart, and his continuation out of the land of sadness will in turn make all other things in our lives a little brighter. Maybe we're just looking for some more upbeat news from the former companion of our misery. Then again, maybe he's just happy cause he's really into that Joanna Newsom chick, and it has nothing to do with us. I mean, she is pretty hot. In either case, here's the tracklist.

1. Jim Cain
2. Eid Ma Clack Show
3. The Wind and The Dove
4. Rococo Zephyr
5. Too Many Birds
6. My Friend
7. All Thoughts Are Prey To Some Beast
8. Invocation of Ratiocination
9. Faith/Void

Architecture in Helsinki to Release That Beep – Not An Expletive Censor Beep, But An LP Single

While we wait for Architecture in Helsinki's next full-length album (which is expected sometime this year), we can at least look forward to the release of their latest single "That Beep,", which is available now digitally and due February 17 on CD and 12-inch on Polyvinyl Records. The single is already getting considerable airplay in their homeland of Australia (Australia? Yes, not Finland. Australia) and generating quite the buzz for its infectious, head-bopping, and danceable synth beats in the UK music scene. Four remixes from friends Radioclit, Haima, and Vandergaff accompany the original track.

Also garnering attention for the Aussies is the single's video, directed by Krozm, who's also notably worked with Van She and indie darlings Cut Copy. Listen to it. View it. It's Smurf-tastic. Bottom line is: Architecture in Helsinki's "That Beep" will likely have you tapping your piggly wigglies, rather than wagging your finger.

Tracklisting for "That Beep":

1. That Beep
2. That Beep (Radioclit's French mix)
3. That Beep (Radioclit's Swedish mix)
4. That Beep (Haima's mix)
5. That Beep (Kasper Vandergraff mix)

And, of course, we'll keep you updated on their next full-length.

John “Johnny Rotten” Lydon Sells Out… For Butter

Ah, John Lydon: punk stalwart, experimental musician (with PiL), loud-mouthed jerk. We all know the many ways our society labels The Rotten One, but now you can add “spokesman” to the list. Yeah, right, we know all about that Kid Midnight. He is obviously one of the biggest “spokespeople” for punk rock who ever lived. Tell us some real news! No, wait…you’re not listening. John Lydon is helping to sell butter now!

Wait... what?

It's true: John Lydon has recently been appearing in a series of advertisements for “Country Life” butter. ‘Cause he might have “Problems,” but at least he’s got butter!

Dairy Crest, owners of the Country Life brand, are even reporting to Reuters that their sales for the formerly sinking Country Life brand have risen by an astounding 83% since the ads began appearing.

In case you’re wondering: the TV ads carry the slogan “It’s All About Great Butter.” Yes, it is, isn’t it, at least once you hit middle-age, run out of ideas, and find yourself slumping down in a comfy chair to spend your time buttering bread.

As expected, fans of The Sex Pistols have created quite the wave of backlash in response to the ads. Most fans find themselves angry that Lydon has “finally” sold out his punk values. One fan even sent me a telecommunique by way of passenger pigeon. The note read: “I just can’t believe it. I just can’t believe it. I just can’t believe it. Johnny Rotten has been lying to us the whole time!” Yes well, that’s to be expected from the Great Rock ‘n’ Roll swindler.

On the flipside, Chicago area grocery store manager and punk fanatic Ben Gomez had this to say: “Hey, as long as the butter is great, I don’t care HOW rotten he was. Oh, and stop calling me Armenian; I’m Hispanic and Irish -- now get back to work!”

Okay, Boss!

Ten years old, Sunn O)))'s seventh album, Monoliths & Dimensions is coming out of the vortex May 18 on Southern Lord. Fans of walls of sounds, loud noises, and feedback, mark your calendars, because this album is promising to be a doosey just given the sheer size and shape of the ensemble surrounding it. The band, however, emphatically states that this is not "SUNN with strings." Instead, they "took an approach concentrating on more of allusion toward the timbre of feedback and the instruments involved, so the piece is really illusory, beautiful and not entirely linear."

Not sure what that means, but I do know the facts, and the facts are that, in addition to Oren Ambarchi and Attila Csihar (man, I hope his mom named him that on her own), this time they are working with Eyvind Kang (who has played viola in or with the likes of Bill Frisell, Secret Chiefs 3, Mike Patton, Blonde Redhead, and Laura Veirs to name a handful), Julian Priester (who has worked with Sun Ra, John Coltrane, and Herbie Hancock), Dylan Carlson (Kurt Cobain's total BFF and lead guitarist/singer/basically only constant of droney band, Earth), and Stuart Dempster (a horn player who not only won the Guggenheim in ’81, but is also credited for introducing the didjeridu to North America) as well as three upright bassists, French and English horns, a harp and flute duo, piano, brass, reed and strings ensembles, and there's rumor of a partridge in a pear tree, but that has not been confirmed as of yet. Oh, and there's also a Viennese woman's choir led by Jessika Kenney.

Monoliths & Dimensions tracklist:

1. Aghartha
2. Big Church [megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért]
3. Hunting & Gathering (Cydonia)
4. Alice

[Photo: Mike Burns]

James Blackshaw Was Always a Young God, But Now It’s Official

London-based 12-string guitarist James Blackshaw has shown scant loyalty to record labels in his relatively short album career, giving a bit more love to Tompkins Square than others, but it seems he has finally found a home with Young God Records. Young God houses early works by acoustic wunderkinds Devendra Banhart and Akron/Family, who, come to think of it, should probably tour with Blackshaw immediately. If you're unfamiliar with him, this label switch should convince you to give him a listen, even if “12-string acoustic guitar, instrumental only” makes you want to run screaming off a cliff. Blackshaw is completely one with his instrument, creating exquisite, rolling landscapes of sound that completely consume the senses, never losing momentum for a second, leaving you hanging even after the song surpasses the 10-minute mark. I especially recommend him to city-dwellers who want to make their fire escapes feel like wraparound porches. Blackshaw's first YGR release will be called The Glass Bead Game and will drop in late spring of 2009.

But wait! You don't have to hold out till then, because he's touring in support of his last release for Tompkins Square, Litany of Echoes. Michael Gira of Young God described his live show as “no effects, nothing, just a mic on his guitar, [and] the room was filled with swirling overtones and a million points of light.” Sounds like someone's excited about his new toy, but can you blame him? For these dates, Blackshaw is joined by equal parts Portland rockers Grails and Drag City folkie Meg Baird.

Finger cymbals discouraged:
02.19.09 – San Francisco, CA – Cafe du Nord #
02.20.09 – Santa Cruz, CA – Folk Yeah Presents #
02.21.09 – Los Angeles, CA – Spaceland #
02.22.09 – San Diego, CA – Casbah #
02.24.09 – Oakland, CA – Stork Club
02.26.09 – Seattle, WA – Tractor Tavern @
02.27.09 – Portland, WA – Dantes @
03.02.09 – Philadelphia, PA – Kung-Fu Necktie %
03.03.09 – Baltimore, MD – Talking Head Club % $
03.04.09 – New York, NY – Le Poisson Rouge % &
03.05.09 – Boston, MA – Brattle Theatre % +
03.07.09 – Brooklyn, NY – Issue Project Room %
03.08.09 – New Haven, CT – BAR %

# Grails

@ Earth and Sir Richard Bishop

% Meg Baird

$ Arbouretum

& Heather O'Donnell

+ Michah Blue Smalldone

Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart Announces Spring Solo Tour, Launches Subscription Series of Experimental Works; New Xiu Xiu LP Slated for Next Year

Jamie Stewart, front dude of Xiu Xiu, has announced his first solo tour since 2003. Drawing from over 80 songs, the setlist will feature a mixture of new and old tunes, all played with an electric guitar, bird call whistles, and a stylophone ("a late 60s toy synth that one plays with a pen," according to his publicist). The set will also feature songs from Xiu Xiu's forthcoming full-length, Dear God, I Hate Myself, which is tentatively scheduled for release in 2010.

I've seen Xiu Xiu live plenty of times, but the prospect of seeing Stewart perform solo is enough to let him take nude photos of me holding a plastic doll. Actually, I sorta have that chance, as Stewart and David Horvitz will be taking a photograph of every single person at every single show. Yes, EVERY single person, from the sound people to the janitors, the promoters to that stupid TMT journalist jotting down the setlist. Each photo will be published on Xiu Xiu's blog, and the "best 300" will be published in an upcoming photo book. There'll also be lots of merch, including some hand-decorated mix CDs.

Finally, Stewart is launching a one-year, 12-disc subscription series in an edition of 50. Each will be hand-wrapped and hand-numbered, featuring experimental and minimalist works by Stewart. Costs $100, but if you throw in an extra $10, you'll get some hand-made chocolate made by Stewart himself. Order here, and check 'em out here:

Jamie Stewart solo dates:
04.02.09 - Greenville, NC - The Spazzatorium
04.03.09 - Norfolk, VA - The Boot
04.04.09 - Richmond, VA - The Triple
04.05.09 - Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church
04.06.09 - Brooklyn, NY - Monkey Town
04.09.09 - Durham, NH - The Stafford Room
04.10.09 - Chicago, IL - Ronny's Bar
04.11.09 - Grinnell, IA - Gardner Lounge (Grinnell College)
04.14.09 - Seattle, WA - The Vera Project
04.15.09 - Portland, OR - Backspace
04.17.09 - San Francisco, CA - Cafe Du Nord
04.18.09 - Los Angeles, CA - Echo Curio
04.19.09 - Tucson, AZ - Solar Culture
04.21.09 - Austin, TX - Salvage Vanguard Theater
04.23.09 - Tallahassee, FL - Club Downunder
04.24.09 - St. Augustine, Florida - Cafe Eleven
04.25.09 - Atlanta, GA - Wonderroot

[Photo: David Horvitz]

  

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