The Hold Steady to Hold Steady on Plans of Global Domination, License Album to Rough Trade

"Gonna walk around and drink some more" might be a fine credo for the generally drug-addled laze-abouts that populate the scraggly yarns spun by Brooklyn-via-Minneapolis singer and Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn, but the trajectories of the real-life Finn and his chops-laden, avant-bar band members are looking infinitely more purposeful than that these days.

Well, okay... they're probably still going to do a lot of drinking, but at least they'll be doing a lot more traveling while they do (let's hope that someone else is driving, huh?).

Case in point, the famously thirsty band has recently signed a deal that will have their new album released through the legendary Rough Trade label in the UK and Europe, with the distribution rights being licensed from the boys' home team of Vagrant Records.

In a much more coherent statement than one might expect, Finn stated that the band is "really excited to begin this relationship with Rough Trade" for their fourth album, which of course will constitute the follow-up to 2006's breakthrough slice of Springsteen-on-Kerouac pie known as Boys and Girls in America (TMT Review). "From The Smiths to The Strokes, they have consistently released music from great artists and we are honoured to be a part of the roster. Rough Trade records have been part of my own collection since I started buying my own records in the early 1980s."

Hey, way to date yourself there, Craig.

Oh, and speaking of dates (seamless!), the band will also be doing a few victory laps around their new territory this spring. Catch them if you can, and maybe you can by them a drink to walk around with... or I guess "fly" around with, since they're big-time now.
05.11.08 - Camber Sands, UK - ATP
05.13.08 - Dublin, IE - Academy
05.14.08 - Belfast, UK - Spring and Airbrake
05.16.08 - Brighton, UK - Great Escape

Rampant Styx‘n’Violets: Universal Music Group Implements Earth-Friendly Reissues (Happy Earth Day!)

In its latest effort to appear more "hip," "relevant," and "not like the Devil," Universal Music Group is reissuing a set of titles that will be exclusively packaged in recycled paperboard. These hippified titles will only be available at Wal-Mart, as the venture is being carried out in honor of the chain's "Earth Month." You thought your eyebrows couldn't possibly be raised any higher? Well, allow me to prove you wrong. The insert included in each CD will, when planted in the ground correctly, sprout wildflowers. Hopefully, the Happy Tree Friends will also appear to complete the circle of ridiculousness.

The albums receiving the green thumb treatment are mostly greatest hits compilations, which is an interesting roster in itself, prompting one to ask questions such as: "K-Ci & JoJo really had enough chart-toppers to warrant a ‘greatest hits’ album?" or "Would KISS really want their album insert to sprout dandelions?"

Let's get gardening!:

Bryan Adams - THE BEST OF ME

Bon Jovi - CROSS ROAD: GREATEST HITS

Boyz II Men - LEGACY: THE GREATEST HITS COLLECTION

James Brown - 20 ALL-TIME GREATEST HITS!

Jimmy Buffett - SONGS YOU KNOW BY HEART

Eric Clapton - CREAM OF CLAPTON

Patsy Cline - DEFINITIVE COLLECTION

Sheryl Crow - VERY BEST OF SHERYL CROW

Def Leppard - VAULT GREATEST HITS

Eagles - HELL FREEZES OVER

Melissa Etheridge - GREATEST HITS: THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED

Marvin Gaye - EVERY GREAT MOTOWN HIT

Vince Gill - SOUVENIRS

Jimi Hendrix - EXPERIENCE HENDRIX

K-Ci & JoJo - ALL MY LIFE: GREATEST HITS

Toby Keith - GREATEST HITS

KISS - VERY BEST OF KISS

Lynyrd Skynyrd - ALL-TIME GREATEST HITS

Van Morrison - STILL ON TOP

Willie Nelson - SONGS

New Found Glory - HITS

Nirvana - NIRVANA

Lionel Richie - DEFINITIVE COLLECTION

Rush - THE SPIRIT OF RADIO

Scorpions - BAD FOR GOOD: BEST OF SCORPIONS

Soundgarden - A-SIDES

Steely Dan - DEFINITIVE COLLECTION

Styx - GREATEST HITS

UMG, OMG!! The Major Music Group Enters Brave New World of Online Social Media Sites

Forget Facebook. Forget MySpace. Forget Friendster. (What, you've already forgotten Friendster???) I'm not telling you this because I want you to ignore the drunken messages I sent you last night. I'm telling you because your favorite major music conglomerate Universal Music Group has teamed up with Buzznet to bring you the most amazing, most exciting, most music-y new online social media content EVER.

Now, word on the street (or Billboard magazine, whatever you wanna hear) is that Buzznet has been kickin' it with a slew of new investors and partners. But, if you're like me, the only one you will really care about is this budding relationship with Universal. It's like this: Buzznet gets to use UMG's catalog for some streaming music and video action, as well as editorial content from Universal-signed artists cum guest bloggers. (Holy shit, right? Imagine the insights and life wisdom that Beck and Chamillionaire will be able to drop!) In return, UMG gets an equity stake in the company and the opportunity to disseminate the Pussycat Dolls' views on Iraq.

Blood On The Wall Found At Various American Venues Starting Friday (Though You Are Likely To Find Even More Disgusting Substances On The Floor)

New York group Blood On The Wall can, on paper, seem like a blast from the past. With vocals sounding occasionally like Thurston impersonating Black Francis, instrumental sounds sounding (in a crooked-line kinda way) like those fellows' most famous bands, and a sprinkle of early Sub Pop, some would be forgiven for thinking Blood On The Wall came out 15 years ago. Forgiven, but very wrong. See, BOTW has the type of qualities that overshadow their influences, making you nearly forget they exist. Besides, these are other things that BOTW have been compared to: a summer's day, a hearty Thanksgiving Day meal, and a swift kick to the head that alters your consciousness.

If you have checked out the band's three LPs, 2004's Blood On the Wall, Awesomer from 2005, and this year's Liferz (all on The Social Registry), then you know what I am talking about. One thing that can easily be gleaned from those records is that they must be absolutely devastating live. They've opened for bands like Sonic Youth, Black Dice, The Kills, and Dinosaur Jr., and now they are set to embark on a headlining tour of their own, starting in the place where its citizens should win the coveted "Most At Peace With Their Lives" award: Denver. For a month afterward, the band will blanket the USA with their sonic onslaught. Now, who doesn't like to be blanketed?

Band of Horses to Tour, Some Indie Kids to Not Have Real Taste and Misunderstand Ben Bridwell’s Alcohol-Induced Alt-Country Masturbation as High Art, or: An Intensive Questioning of Why Having a Crucial Beard Automatically Validates Anyone Artistically

Re: above headline.

THE HARD NEWS: Bridwell and the gang are doing the tour thing. Get out of ye olde U. S. of A. this summer and grab a lock of B’s beard hair at any of the following dates:

Maria Taylor Announces Tourdates, Soccer Moms Everywhere Rejoice

It’s a Thursday night. You’re exhausted from driving the kids to and from soccer practice in your Lexus SUV; all you want to do is curl up on your couch and watch the newest episode of Grey’s Anatomy (That McDreamy is something else, mmhmm.) You turn on the TV but... shit! It looks like the cable is out again! Fucking Comcast high-definition. You look around for something else to occupy your time with. The kids are in bed (thank god), your lawyer husband is “working late” at his office, and there’s only your new laptop to keep you company. The glow of the screen is inviting, soothing your lack-of-Grey’s migraine as you peruse your email.

Your eyes settle on a particular email, so you click it open. Your face lights up as you read the list of tourdates belonging to Maria Taylor, the very Maria Taylor that used to play in Azure Ray (a CD you swiped from your daughter) and who now has a solo career that is the soundtrack to your SUV-driving soccer mom suburban angst. And she’s playing the Knitting Factory in New York City! You mostly frequent the Upper East Side, but you may have to make a trip with your girlfriends down to Tribeca just for this. Sighing, you look around at the scattered toys on the floor and dirty dishes piled up in the sink. You could definitely use a night out.

Girls night out:

* Johnathan Rice

& Taylor Hollingsworth

^ Nik Freitas

It's Anacortes, WA where, historically-speaking, kids have always been riddled with Adderoll and stoked on citywide rummage sale days, but it wasn't until 2001 when they decided to celebrate their heritage of independence and mediocrity.

July 18-20 marks the seventh year running of What The Heck Fest, held concurrent with Shipwreck Day, the aforementioned citywide sale. As a ticketed event*, WTHF gives an air of officiality (not a word) to what would otherwise be any other day in the life of a politically dogmatic and rurally located Pacific NW music fan, which means fun for the whole family!

Slated events (actual and invented) include: swimming in the lake, trying to get your friend's older brother to buy you beer, drinking that beer in the basement of someone who looks vaguely familiar, feeling socially awkward and uncomfortable in a community center as you wait for Karl Blau to start his set, wearing the pants you got at Shipwreck Day without washing them, listening to original poetry and snidely remarking that it's "so Leaves of Grass," watching movies, wondering if the theatre and dinner show has a vegan option, playing with Kimya Dawson's baby, and living dangerously.

I'm actually really excited about all of this.

Confirmed performers with more to be announced:

Al Larsen, Alyse Emdur, Angelo Spencer, Bryce Panic, Calvin Johnson, D+, Karl Blau, Khaela Maricich/The Blow, Kimya Dawson, Katy Davidson, Lucky Dragons, Mount Eerie, Mirah, Nate Ashley, Ô Paon, Rich Jensen, The Gift Machine, The Graves, The Owl & the Pussycat & the Moore Brothers, Your Heart Breaks.

*$50 for a three day pass and no other way around it, on sale now.

Metallica. After releasing two or three of the greatest metal albums ever, taking on Napster, battling digital providers, jumping the shark by recording an album with a symphony, whoring themselves out to Guitar Hero III, attending rehab and group therapy, winning more Grammys than Lionel Ritchie, releasing a movie of attending rehab and group therapy, emotionally crippling their first guitarist Dave Mustaine by kicking him out of the band 20-odd years ago thus making him spend the time that has passed a bitter, resentful man who takes every opportunity the press affords him to deride the band and their success that he somehow thinks should be his (cut the fucking cord, man!), everybody's favorite Bay Area thrash merchants will be playing a show tomorrow near San Francisco to commemorate Record Store Day! Pull out those Victrolas and dust off your 78 RPM phonographs! Metallica will do a signing session and play an in-store at Rasputin Music in Mountain View, near San Francisco on Saturday. In an unbelievable coincidence, Metallica’s first two albums, Kill ‘Em All and Ride the Lightning have been reissued on vinyl this week. Wow, what a crazy coincidence!

Record Store Day, now the fourth most important holiday in the U.S. -- behind National Cream-Filled Donut Day, Talk Like a Pirate's Parrot's Secretary's Letter Carrier Day, and Easter -- is indeed tomorrow, April 19. Record Store Day will celebrate a disappearing breed of retail store and, in turn, a time when people used to go outside to physically steal albums instead of simply doing it online. And we blame the obesity "epidemic" on bad eating habits, a lack of exercise and the lure of unbelievably awesome video games! Here is a list of participating stores, many of whom will be doing special promotions with labels, giving away stuff, and holding in-store shows as part of the celebration. Björk, Merge Records, Barsuk, etc. -- there's a lot of stuff going on. But when Record Store Day is over, all of these shops will be shuttered and closed for business, paving the way for online-only digital shopping utopia... aaaahhhhaahahhhhhahahhhaaaahhh (evil chief technology executive officer laugh)!

The news of Record Store Day was allegedly originally announced on Mt. Sinai where Moses, in a faded Skynyrd “Gimme Back My Bullets” tour shirt, addressed the crowd: “On this day, all of these stores will simultaneously link and act as one with the purpose of celebrating the culture and unique place that they occupy both in their local communities and nationally.” One bystander who walked all of the way from the impromptu press conference was expecting some sort of revelatory commandment declaration but admitted he would go to Scooter's Ye Olde Record Shoppe in a show of support for the day and finally pick up Lou Reed's Transformer and take a chance on a Biddu album that first caught his eye a couple of months ago while crate digging for some techno 12-inches.

The stars have come out to show support of the day to celebrate record stores (most of whom probably haven’t paid for an album, much less entered a record store in years... but let us not dwell on that):

- Among the scads of celebrity quotes on the Record Store Day site is one from Paul McCartney, who said, “There’s nothing as glamorous to me as a record store. When I recently played Ameoba in LA, I realized what fantastic memories such a collection of music brings back when you see it all in one place. That is why I’m more than happy to support Record Store Day and I hope that that these kinds of stores will be there for us all for many years to come.” He then said, “Cheers.” Then he added, “Pip pip, Cheerios, Wheaties, Rice Krispies, Cocoa Puffs, Fruity Pebbles” before stomping away muttering something about “getting away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids!”

- Damian Rice offers this lucid piece of insight: “Dusty violin maker shop small corner record store water holes for dreamers don’t stop breathe more.” I couldn't agree more.

- KT Tunstall nails the spirit of the day with this: “Independent records stores are like a casino where you put down your money and you always win. How amazing to discover gems you didn’t know about, to meet someone more passionate than you are, and to feel at home in a place you may never have been to before. I’m convinced they will never lose their place - Long may they rule.”

- Shelby Lynne takes a more practical approach: “You can’t roll a joint on an iPod -- buy vinyl!”

- And if I haven't copied enough quotes for you yet, the last word has to go to Ian Gillan (Deep Purple): “Buy real records in real shops, or I’ll come round your house and scream at your mother.”

Shouldn’t that be reason enough to do your part and support this treasured day? Your mom's ears will thank you and she really doesn't deserve that abuse, no matter how shitty her Spam and Ramen noodle casserole was last week

Chicago’s Heroes On the Road: Wilco Expands Tour

Straying away, but not that far away from 2002’s Yankee Foxtrot Hotel and 2004’s A Ghost Is Born, Wilco has teamed up with Nels Cline -- one of Rolling Stone’s top 20 New Guitar Gods -- for their latest album, Sky Blue Sky (TMT Review), which was released last year. In support, Wilco has been hitting the road hard and are continuing to ride highways until they run out of highways to ride, adding the ever popular Lollapolooza that will have them playing alongside the likes of Thom Yorke and Nine Inch Nails.

And you know what? Tweedy lives in my neighborhood. Actually that’s just a rumor, but I’m pretty sure, like 85% sure, he lives in my neighborhood. And if that’s true, he probably lives in my neighborhood for the same reasons I do: it’s quiet and away from all the skinny hipster kids, but not so far that, when we both want to pretend we are skinny hipster kids, we can slip into our Levi’s and take the train on down to hipster park.

But I do know this for a fact: Tweedy babysat this one boy I knew from a class I took downtown Chicago one summer, ages ago. And I know this for a fact, too: Tweedy is a cool and sweet guy.

The boys are out expanding that yellow brick road, so they never ever have to leave the Land of Oz:

Akron/Family Love Pot, Hate Hitler, Tour

You know something? I know a lot of idiot stoners who are usually psyched (uh, such as they can be) whenever April 20 comes around. And this year, with the "high holiday" actually falling on the same day as the actual High Holiday (a.k.a. Passover), well... goodnight, right? Puns and innuendo are rampant. Or at least, they WOULD be, except that "rampant" just isn't really a lazy enough word to describe anything about these particular folks, save perhaps for the fervor with which they tend to seek-out and destroy their foliage of choice.

Also, no one I know is Jewish either, so...

But of all the cockamamie plans and schemes to commemorate 4/20 that I've been privy to recently, I have to say that none of them even come close to the ambitious plans set forth by New York freak-folk plant-lovers Akron/Family.

They're not skipping community college photography class and having some friends over to their mom and step dads' basements. They're not clearing their schedule to watch Alice in Wonderland together. They're not even organizing a Sublime listening-party (well, maybe they are at some point, I guess)!

Nope, Akron/Family is surprising us all by doing something completely astounding, utterly crazy, and irrevocably mind-blowing: They're going to WORK.

That's right, the communal quartet is outdoing every hippie in the ambition department by going for the gusto and launching a whole series of spring and summer tourdates on 4/20. Over the course of their odyssey, they'll hit both coasts, a few Midwest dates, a UK festival, and even Spain, all while their fanbase doesn't leave the garage!

Just imagine: while you and all of your dirty, hippie friends are working hard at doing nothing in a collective nod to international laziness, some of the dirtiest hippies of all will be working hard at hauling cases and consulting roadmaps! While you are eating brownies, they'll be popping No-Doz! While you are burning leaves and talking about Mother Earth, they'll be burning gasoline and strangling her senseless!

Whoa, can you believe it? I mean, what does all of this MEAN to your belief system, man? I mean, if a clan of oft-bearded, tree-hugging, chant-loving troubadours is getting their shit together like this and punching the clock on this sacred holiday, then maybe that means that you... should... maybe... think about...

...naw. Fuck it.

$ Vetiver

  

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