Eric’s Trip, Les Thugs, And The Vaselines Lube Up Flaccid Sub Pop Festival Lineup

I stand by my previous statements regarding the SP20 Festival (TMT News), with one concession: things are shaping up. Really, though, The Vaselines (joined by members of Belle & Sebastian), Les Thugs, and Eric's Trip? It's like 1994 all over again, and if that wasn't the best year of your life, don't even talk to me. I'm already trying to fit into my acid-wash jeans with the massive thigh-holes under the back pockets that pretty much warrant them un-wearable.

And may I just say this about the epic Vs? They blow my mind. Coming together in 1986, they haven't been active for nearly 20 years, and their miracle appearance in July at SP20 will be their first ever U.S. performance. I didn't even think they were still alive. They have one album, one, and they broke up immediately after recording it (though you can hear a fuller catalog thanks to Sub Pop's 1992 compilation, The Way of The Vaselines: A Complete History, which I swore by in 7th grade).

Then there's Eric's Trip: Julie Doiron, Rick White, Mark Gaudet, Chris Thompson, Ed Vaughan, and no one named Eric -- a golden ’90s Canadian quintuplet who signed to Sub Pop in ’92, disbanded in ’96, and reunited for only a handful of shows in 2007.

Finally, we have Les Thugs. They're French and that's great.

So it's a question of math at this point. Do the sum of these bands necessitate your attendance? Let's find out. On Sunday, you have a lineup consisting of Flight of the Conchords, The Vaselines, Iron & Wine, Low, Fleet Foxes, Mudhoney, The Fluid, The Helio Sequence, Eric's Trip, Seaweed, and Pissed Jeans, for a total of 54% awesome. On Saturday, Green River, Wolf Parade, Beachwood Sparks, Les Thugs, Foals, No Age, Red Red Meat, Comets on Fire, Kinski, Grand Archives, and The Ruby Suns accrues only an 18% acceptability rating, for a two-day combined total of 36% good. Now, at a price of $50 for a two-day pass at approximately $2.27 per band, 64% which we've established aren't worth seeing, you're going to pay a total of $31.78 for music that you shouldn't, and will not, enjoy. Is that offset by the remaining $18.22 worth of music that you will enjoy? I don't know, I'm not your mother and, frankly, I have no interest in making that decision for you. That said, yes it does. The Vaselines, man. The Vaselines.

Built to Spill Announce Tour, Offer Empty Rhetoric About “Change”

Reading some quotes from Doug Martsch, frontman of Built to Spill, I can’t help but think that his speeches and promises are no different than other leading musicians — empty promises.

“I was convinced the American people wanted something new and different,” said Martsch in Beloit, WI, while explaining the announcement of his upcoming tour. “They didn’t want an announcement that was about tearing each other down. They wanted an announcement that was about lifting the country up. They were tired — you were tired of spin and PR and negative attacks instead of straight talk and honesty and offering practical solutions to our problems. The American people want change.”

What kind of change is he talking about? Just put any person onstage, and we'd be just fine. Change our album release policies? We’ve been doing that a lot in the past few months. Change touring policies? New touring policies are made and old policies are modified everyday as the geomusical climate changes. What “change” is Martsch talking about?

Built to Spill have scheduled some dates, including a performance of Perfect From Now On in its entirety at New York's ATP Fest, as we previously reported (TMT News), as well as a pre-ATP performance of the album, as reported by Pitchfork.

The Carrots, Poster Children of the Hollywood Left, To Tour

I recently bought a bed from IKEA. I knew there was “some assembly required,” but didn’t realize the full extent until I opened the box and found no fewer than three bags of screws and bolts to match the dozens of wooden planks. I looked back and forth, in utter disbelief, between the picture of the bed I thought I was buying and what I actually had. I hypothesized that I had accidentally purchased a small ark; yet upon flipping through the instruction booklet, it appeared that a bed would in fact be the end result.

But I was on the verge of tears. How could assembling a bed really be this elaborate? “Only the socialists would take something so simple and make it so unnecessarily difficult!” I wish I had gone into some American store where everything would be pre-assembled or would come in a few pieces that'd slid neatly into one another. But it was too late. I had already given my money to the socialists, and I’ve been in their bed ever since.

Which brings me to The Carrots. First of all, they’re from Austin, which is to Texas what Scandinavia is to Europe (which is to say, full of hippies). And with something like a 2:1 member-to-instrument ratio, it looks as though these young people have a penchant for bureaucracy. Many of their influences can be traced back to girl groups of the ’60s or back to the time of the Iron Curtain, depending on how you want to look at it. In that sense, they are probably the only band I would compare both to the Soviet Union and The Ronettes. Their hearts are in the right place.

Bouffants and beehives welcome at any of the following:

The Music Tapes Release New Album!! TODAY!! Actually, I Think in August!! But Still!!

It's been a long nine years since Merge released First Imaginary Symphony for Nomad, the debut full-length by The Music Tapes. That's the bad news. The good news is that The Music Tapes, a.k.a. Julian Koster -- best known for his saw work and creative vision for Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea -- will keep it to nine, as he has announced the release of a brand, possibly spankin' new LP, Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes, due August 19 on Merge.

Part tape collage, part indie pop, and singing saws all around, The Music Tapes' music definitely has a lot of heart -- yet it doesn't sound completely human. Why? Because Koster is as much an inventor as a musician. His band consists partially of E6 friends, but primarily of musicians that he created, including The 7 Foot Tall metronome, Static The Television, and The Clapping Hands Machine. And he's even created new members for Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes, such as the Orbiting Human Circus Tapdancing Machine. According to Koster:

I just find the imaginary more real than the physical. Magic, the way we find things beautiful, the light behind eyes, kindness, and how we want to serve and protect the things we care about -- these things seem like the real foundation of the world to me. I hope that the songs on this record can be more than just postcards from a world, but an invitation to it, to anyone at all who may find such a place comforting and nice.

In addition to Clouds and Tornadoes, The Music Tapes are quietly working on a few other projects, including the official release of the much-anticipated 2nd Imaginary Symphony for Cloudmaking (which features some music from Clouds and Tornadoes), a film project, and an as-yet untitled album featuring Koster's father on flamenco guitar. Meanwhile, Julian, along with Static the Television, the 7 Foot Tall Metronome, and some sentient buddies, are scheduled to perform August 15 at Athens Popfest 2008. I hope the 7 Foot Tall Metronome malfunctions and kills someone in the crowd. Wouldn't that be hilarious?

In the meantime, you can check out this video for "Minister of Longitude" and listen to "Majesty."

The Music Tapes Release New Album!! TODAY!! Actually, I Think in August!! But Still!!

It's been a long nine years since Merge released First Imaginary Symphony for Nomad, the debut full-length by The Music Tapes. That's the bad news. The good news is that The Music Tapes, a.k.a. Julian Koster -- best known for his saw work and creative vision for Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea -- will keep it to nine, as he has announced the release of a brand, possibly spankin' new LP, Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes, due August 19 on Merge.

Part tape collage, part indie pop, and singing saws all around, The Music Tapes' music definitely has a lot of heart -- yet it doesn't sound completely human. Why? Because Koster is as much an inventor as a musician. His band consists partially of E6 friends, but primarily of musicians that he created, including The 7 Foot Tall metronome, Static The Television, and The Clapping Hands Machine. And he's even created new members for Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes, such as the Orbiting Human Circus Tapdancing Machine. According to Koster:

I just find the imaginary more real than the physical. Magic, the way we find things beautiful, the light behind eyes, kindness, and how we want to serve and protect the things we care about -- these things seem like the real foundation of the world to me. I hope that the songs on this record can be more than just postcards from a world, but an invitation to it, to anyone at all who may find such a place comforting and nice.

In addition to Clouds and Tornadoes, The Music Tapes are quietly working on a few other projects, including the official release of the much-anticipated 2nd Imaginary Symphony for Cloudmaking (which features some music from Clouds and Tornadoes), a film project, and an as-yet untitled album featuring Koster's father on flamenco guitar. Meanwhile, Julian, along with Static the Television, the 7 Foot Tall Metronome, and some sentient buddies, are scheduled to perform August 15 at Athens Popfest 2008. I hope the 7 Foot Tall Metronome malfunctions and kills someone in the crowd. Wouldn't that be hilarious?

In the meantime, you can check out this video for "Minister of Longitude" and listen to "Majesty."

“Gang of Four Becomes Gang of Two,” Says Journalists; Now I’m Singin’ the Gang Bang Blues

Music zines will have you believe that the news of Gang of Four losing two members (rhythm section, have you) is an opportunity to exhibit some comical irony. But those ‘clever’ writers are supreme douche nozzles. I think it's tragic that Dave Allen (bassist) and Hugo Burnham (drummer) have decided to call it quits, especially since the post-punk had just reunited back in 2005. Yes, writers, we all know that Gang of Four is now a "gang of two." Good job.

Here are some departing words from Allen:

At the beginning of April, I decided that I could no longer continue to be a member of Gang of Four. My ability to give 100% to the band is limited and I feel that if I can't do so, then I shouldn't continue. As I expand my research and thinking about contemporary music distribution on Pampelmoose.com, and as I focus on online technology and social networking at Nemo Design here in Portland, I find myself conflicted about how the band's new music should be released. To retain any credibility for Pampelmoose.com about what the future of music distribution will look like, I have to move on and not hold back Jon and Andy's music plans. I have had a side project for a while now with John Askew of Tracker and Menomena's drummer Danny Stein called Faux Hoax, and I look forward to fun times finding ways to get our music into peoples' hands in unique ways.

And now Burnham:

It was a great couple of years of intermittently reminding people old and new, far and wide just how powerful the original four of us were together. Age only increased our power and focus onstage, and it was a rare pleasure to work with the original band once again. Being in a band requires handling the business side of it too, and that became boring and the constant travel became debilitating. I am soon to start my Doctorate, as well as broadening my teaching at more than one college here in Massachusetts, so my free time has become increasingly limited, making it difficult to be involved with them going forward. Musically, I am recording and writing with members of Boston noise-merchants, The Bags and I have also been doing some recording lately with Mike Watt. I wish Jon and Andy luck with their new musical endeavours; I am sure they will be interesting.

Jon King (vocalist) and Andy Gill (guitarist) still plan on releasing a new album this year as Gang of Four, which will be their first new material in over 15 years.

Four Out of Five Comrades Proclaim New Russian Circles Album and Tour Better Than a Kick in the Cossacks

Last year, for the first time, the human race became more urban than rural. Soon, more than half of the world's population will live in urban centers. Some will point to a rise in development among third world countries, some to megacities getting mega-er, and still others to the sustained and stable nature of urban rents for people and businesses. It's all hooey. The real reason peeps have congregated to metropolitan areas rather than staying in the sticks was to align themselves in time to see Russian Circles on their forthcoming tour! It's not that the heavy trio are only playing monster municipalities, but they ain't playing Arrowsic, ME or Fredonia, KY. Nor does it look like they will anytime soon. Poised to be one of the most acclaimed riff ‘n’ smash albums this year, Station (out this week on Suicide Squeeze), is a brusque and aggressive display of power that is deliriously satisfying.

Here is the tracklisting for Station and a list of towns that Russian Circles will be tearing apart in the very near future.

Station...

1. Campaign
2. Harper Lewis
3. Station
4. Versus
5. Youngblood
6. Xavii

...to stations:
05.10.08 - Chicago, IL - Subterranean #
06.03.08 - Iowa City, IA - Picador $
06.04.08 - St. Louis, MO - Bluebird Theater $
06.05.08 - Kansas City, MO - the Riot Room $
06.06.08 - Denver, CO - Marquis $
06.07.08 - Salt Lake City, UT - Burt's Tiki Lounge $
06.08.08 - Boise, ID - Neurolux $
06.09.08 - Seattle, WA - Neumos $
06.10.08 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge $
06.11.08 - Chico, CA - Café Coda $
06.12.08 - San Francisco, CA - Slim's $
06.14.08 - Pomona, CA - The Glasshouse $
06.15.08 - Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour $
06.16.08 - San Diego, CA - The Cashbah $
06.18.08 - Phoenix, AZ - The Clubhouse $
06.20.08 - Austin, TX - Red 7 $
06.21.08 - Fort Worth, TX - Lola's Saloon$
06.22.08 - Houston, TX - Rudyard's $
06.23.08 - Baton Rouge, LA - Spanish Moon $
06.24.08 - Birmingham, AB - Bottle Tree $
06.25.08 - Atlanta, GA - The Drunken Unicorn $
06.26.08 - Chapel Hill, NC - Local 506 $
06.27.08 - Wilmington, DE - Harmony Grange $
06.28.08 - Cambridge, MA - Middle East Upstairs $
06.29.08 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg $
06.30.08 - Baltimore, MD - The Ottobar $
07.01.08 - Buffalo, NY - Mohawk Place $
07.02.08 - Detroit, MI - Magic Stick

# record release show with Call Me Lightning

$ Daughters

Report: Warner Music Tries On Dynamic Pricing Hat, Looks Like Shit

In the olden days, consumers would frequent establishments that made profits by selling music on various forms of physical media, at a premium. When new, popular albums were released, the "kids" would run to these stores in droves, plunking down money made from part-time jobs (instead of their parents' wallets, as today's children do). The more popular an album, the less it cost. The establishments understood that a lower price would attract more consumers when the demand was high.

The unfortunate underbelly of this tactic was the overpricing of music that was not currently in demand. Albums that were perhaps a few years old, containing a level of quality far surpassing the current pablum, cost a small fortune. Often these albums were located in the back of the establishments, covered in dust, and requiring grueling trials of unforeseen sadness to acquire them.

Warner Music Group, a large multinational corporation currently possessing the rights to a buttload of music, have decided to bring this "old-school" selling tactic to the new frontiers of digital delivery. Through a partnership with Digonex, a company that specializes in glossy Powerpoint slides and marketing jargon, Warner intends to "dynamically" "optimize" the pricing of "digital media" in their "online marketplace." In other words, they're gonna fuck with the prices on iTunes.

From the press release itself: “Digonex’s technology provides us a unique window into one of the key variables that impacts consumer behavior and by employing tools such as these we can continue to refine and improve our digital offerings,” said Larry Mattera, Senior Vice President, Digital Sales & Marketing, WEA Corp, WMG’s U.S. sales and marketing company.

i.e., they will make more money.

The Long Blondes Tour To Support New LP; What, You Have A Better Way Of Doing It?

Sheffield, England quintet The Long Blondes came on all fast and enticing last time with their much-loved LP from 2006, Someone To Drive You Home (Rough Trade), which was chocked full of advice for women, a little admonishment for men, and hooks for everyone. If you can think of three better bands than Pulp, Blondie, and New Order to combine, you let me know. Actually, let The LBs know; it was their idea.

With their new record Couples (TMT Review), the deck is now slightly reshuffled. They now play the part of the cool cucumbers (particularly singer/audience focal point Kate Jackson), who possible suitors shouldn't even try to pin down, a whirlwind that might include you one minute and not the next. One element that definitely is included in these possibly autobiographical songs is the synthesizer, which vies with the guitar for attention on Couples.

To find out if the band can walk the effortlessly cool walk in person, let me direct you to their North American tour, which will be comin' atcha about a week after that hot platter drops (Warning: if the way you talk resembles that last sentence, you are nether effortless nor cool, just so you know. Do you hear me, Gary?). You can brave the throngs of style-mavens and admirers when the tour starts May 14 in Philly, with support from two-piece twang-rock cuties Drug Rug.

Tourdates:

* Drug Rug

America’s New Favorite Holiday, Record Store Day, Premieres to Mostly Good Results

Confession time: I am a local news JUNKIE. I love their low-budget advertising campaigns. I love their cheesy news anchor banter. And I especially love to reminisce about hard-hitting, in-depth investigations. One of my personal favorites was a shocking story concerning Red Bull and Jagermeister, and how downing a ton of the shit can be bad for you. But how bad? The consensus of the story was "we don't really know how bad, but let's just say pretty bad, because you wouldn't really think it'd be good for you, would you?"

That's kind of the verdict of a recent Billboard report on America's new favorite holiday, Record Store Day. Except the consensus of this story is more along the lines of "we don't really know how good, but let's just say pretty good, because you wouldn't really think it'd be bad, would you?" Evidence points toward Record Store Day charting somewhere around "kick ass" on the "good" scale, but opinions differ. Nielsen SoundScan results for the inaugural Record Store Day, held April, 19, 2008, reveal that sales for indie stores rose 1.6% from the previous year while chain stores' sales dropped 20.8% from 2007. Sounds good right? Well, album sales dropped 8.1% for the week.

Store owners held varying opinions as to the effectiveness of Record Store Day. In Philadelphia, overall indie record store sales were up 13% from the previous week, and in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose area sales were up 12%. Special events such as the Metallica in-store at Mountain View, CA's Rasputin's drew 400 people and added significantly to the figures. Statistics varied across the country, with the Boston area reporting a 4% increase in sales and Nashville-based Grimey's experiencing a 400% increase. At the same time, however, some stores reported no surges in business whatsoever, and some, such as Atlanta's Criminal Records, reported an 18% decrease from the week before. Indie store managers in some locations were uncertain whether sales were up due to nice weather, amazing Record Store Day tie-ins, or Boston area creeps' desire to watch Dresden Doll Amanda Collins paint her underwear.