Pan-European Indie Label Group Attacks EC’s Decision to Allow Sony Corporation Buyout of Sony BMG (Because In Other Parts of the World, People Actually Freak Out When This Shit Happens)

Thanks to the European Commission's decision to let Sony Corporation gobble up Sony BMG, we're one step closer to a multi-headed monster that will be known as Sony Music Entertainment Inc. The EC's 2007 decision to allow the merger means that Sony Corporation of America is now free to acquire the 50% share held by Bertelsmann AG of Germany in Sony BMG. Yikes.

Pan-European indie labels body Impala has gone public with its outrage, and co-president Michel Lambot says: "The commission needs to completely reassess its view of the music market. They have just let the world's largest consumer electronics company merge with the second largest music company without any detailed investigation." Yeah, no shit, but no one else was gonna say it, because... oh right, this kind of thing happens all the time.

The European Commission insists that the merger will not have an effect on local market competition, stating that "the transaction would not lead to any horizontal overlaps in the music recording markets, examined at the creation of Sony BMG, as Sony has no other music recording activities in the EEA [European Economic Area]." That's kind of like saying "Yeah, we kind of let Bigfoot have free reign of the village, but, uh, don't worry, he won't do anything."

Impala led independent sector protests against the merger in 2004 and again in 2007, when it went up for approval a second time. Bertelsmann has declined to comment, except to say that the EC's approval is only one step of many, so, of course, we shouldn't get our panties in a bunch yet. See? Everything's going to be juuust fine.

Growing to Scare Hot Chip Fans This Fall

Plop another nickel in the "Odd Couple" jar. Subterranean guitar architects and drone assault vehicle Growing just dropped a sick joint last week. To celebrate, Growing will take delight this fall in frightening indie rock nerds and people "who just gotta get their sorta dance on" for roughly 45 minutes in eight major North American markets. Through either friendship, luck, providence, elaborate schemes, or otherwise, Growing will be opening for the subdued and shapeshifting British electropop collective Hot Chip on the last leg of their tour.

Growing are known for rumbling the foundations of whatever room they
play in and ripping holes in the sky roughly ten meters above your
head that spew torrents of fluorescent-colored doom. Hot Chip is known
for being... funky. Totally fucked, right? Well, Growing has taken a
more (somewhat) melodic approach on their latest, All the Way (TMT Review), out
right now on Social Registry. So, maybe it's not as strange as it seems. I mean, Deerhunter just
finished a Nine Inch Nails tour, right? Odd couples are the new black.

Ted Leo Mad As Hell at Police, Not Gonna Take It Anymore; Releases EP to Prove It

In response to the violence at the Republican National Convention, Ted Leo has released a brand spankin’ new Extended Play (EP). Spurred on by the conflict he watched on TV, Leo felt compelled to act, stating:

Real people were hurt in St. Paul, and real people have bills to pay, and real people need funding to continue their good works. We (the band and I) were all feeling these events as deeply as we could from our 1200 mile remove, and so as not to feel entirely powerless, and in an attempt to contribute SOMETHING to that continuation of those good works, we wrote a song and recorded it.

Leo and the Pharmacists recorded the EP at Leo’s home studio immediately following the Convention and committed to wax two new songs: “Paranoia: Never Enough” and “Mourning In America,” as well as a couple of covers, “I Got Your Number” (by Cock Sparrer) and “Nobody's Driving” (by Amebix).

Titled Rapid Response, the EP is now available to download for an exclusive two-week period at Touch and Go Records for only 4 doll-hairs! All proceeds will eventually find themselves in the hands of a couple great charities, Food Not Bombs Minneapolis and Democracy Now!, as well as the legal funds for those arrested at the Convention. They give you plenty of other donation options for those inclined to give a little more.

Don’t forget that Ted Leo and the Pharmacists are also going on a big tour with Against Me! starting September 1, with more dates with Titus Andronicus afterward, including an election night show where they will hopefully be able to celebrate Barack Obama’s victory.

Here are the Against Me! dates:

$ Against Me!, Future of the Left

& Titus Andronicus

A Colbert Christmas: Feist, Elvis Costello, and… Toby Keith?!?!

Wow. In the annals of most bizarre-o Christmas specials, this one's got to take the cake -- as well as possibly being a sign of the impending apocalypse. Move over Hall and Oates "Jingle Bell Rock" video, where the guys bop around full of Christmas cheer and camp, exchanging gifts, and excluding undesirable carollers from their winter hideaway. Forget you, Family Matters episode where Urkel learns the true meaning of giving. There's a new offering on the spoof table, and that's Comedy Central funnyman Stephen Colbert's A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All. Debuting November 23, the hour-long show will feature Feist, Elvis Costello, John Legend, Willie Nelson, and -- OMG -- Toby Keith.

Of course, the question on all your minds is probably "Will Colbert be singing?" The answer: a resounding yes. Expect compositions from the duo of David Javerbaum, executive producer of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and Adam Schlesinger of Ivy and Fountains of Wayne. These future hits will include numbers like:

- "Please Be Patient" by Feist
- "Little Dealer Boy" by Colbert/Willie Nelson
- "There Are Much Worse Things To Believe In" by Colbert/Elvis Costello
- "Hanukkah" by Colbert and the man who doesn't know he's my boyfriend yet, Jon Stewart
- "Nutmeg" by Colbert/John Legend
- "(What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love And Understanding" by everybody
- "Have I Got a Present for You" by Toby Keith, which presumably is not a country music answer song to Justin Timberlake's Christmas smash of last year, "D*@# in a Box."

The premise of the show involves Stephen Colbert getting snowed in at his upstate New York cabin with a motley crew of vocally-talented guests, America's conscience, and a heroic young horse who teaches everyone how to believe in their dreams*. No word yet as to whether Hall and Oates are sharing the cabin next door.

Only two short days after the Colbert Christmas lights up screens across America, it will be released November 25, with a percentage of the purchase price going to charity Feeding America. The lucky owners of this DVD will benefit from extras, like an advent calendar, alternate endings, and what is described simply as a "book burning Yule log."

*Not actually true, to the best of my knowledge.

Universal Cancels Metallica Interview After Pirate Bay Download Admission, Dubs Perpetrators “Unforgiven”

According to a report published earlier this week, Metallica's label, Universal Music, canceled an interview the band had planned with the Swedish newspaper Sydsvenskan, after a writer there, Jonn Jeppsson, admitted to reviewing an unofficial copy of the metal militia’s newest flop, Death Magnetic, that he obtained via popular torrent site The Pirate Bay.

But wait, it gets funnier: As if the boys in Metallica don't have a sordid enough relationship with The Download already, it was also revealed that, instead of reviewing the official version of the album-proper, Jeppsson reviewed an unauthorized cut called Death Magnetic: Better, Shorter, Cut, which contains mercifully shorted versions of the original album songs.

Umm, needless to say, Universal Music was not pleased. According to Universal Sweden (yeah, who knew that existed?) spokesman Per Sundin, "the reviewer is referring to a torrent where someone has altered the original songs. The reviewer explains exactly where one should go in order to download the file that is totally infringing copyright. It's not only an illegal file, but an altered file. The reviewer also writes that this is how the album should have sounded." Ziiiiing! Boy, you knew that was coming, right?

"File-sharing of music is illegal. Period. There's nothing to discuss. That fact that Sydsvenskan has a writer that has downloaded this music illegally and then makes mention of an illegal site in his review is totally unacceptable to us," the frantic-tic-tic-tock Sundin continued in an attempt to sound even more out of touch and record label-ish. Hinting that Universal may stop sending promo material for Sydsvenskan to review, he ends: "We live in symbiosis with each other, and we send them our artists' record for free for review. But if they download the albums illegally instead, then there's no point in doing that." Bangarang?

Meanwhile, Death Magnetic entered the UK chart at #1 this week. But hey, you never know! If not for all the illegal downloads and such, it could have debuted at number 0 or something, right?

RIP: Norman Whitfield, Songwriter and Motown Producer

From the Detroit Free Press:

Norman Whitfield, a producer and songwriter whose work propelled Motown Records into more ambitious musical territory, died Tuesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 67.

Whitfield had struggled for months with complications from diabetes, and his prognosis had been day-to-day for several weeks. He had recently emerged from a coma.

“It’s a very sad day,” said Janie Bradford, who with Whitfield cowrote the Temptations hit “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby.”

- Norman Whitfield Wikipedia entry
- YouTube video: Marvin Gaye I Heard It Through The Grapevine (1968)
- YouTube video: The Temptations - Papa Was A Rolling Stone (1972)
- YouTube video: The Undisputed Truth - Boogie Bump Boogie (1976)

According to Buddhists, Nirvana is attained through the Noble Eightfold Path. Consisting of the right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration, it is a strict disciplinary approach and end-goal to living that most of us eff-ups may consider initiating at some point during a happy blender-drinks party but wouldn't get three seconds into practicing the next hungover afternoon. Given the dedication required to lead a life contingent on strict philosophical beliefs and practices, it is not all that astonishing that some choose a different road.

Fortunately, some are able to invoke levels of transcendence few can appreciate or explain by playing music. Talibam!, for example, project blissful states simply by attacking and embracing the ridiculous that surrounds them and then running with it. For that, they are our enlightened artists of the day!

Matt Mottel and Kevin Shea have been harmoniacal busybodies since coming together in 2003, so to appease and infuriate religious completists, 2008 has already seen or will see releases on Holidays Records (split 7-inch with But God Created Women), stop scratching (cassette), No=Fi Recordings (live cassette), Thor’s Rubber Hammer (Ecstatic Jazz Duos series, split 12-inch with Wasteland Jazz Unit), Wallace Records (PhonoMetak series, split 10-inch with Jealousy Party), and Roaratorio (12-inch collaboration with Daniel Carter).

Phew... devoting yourself wholly to anything, be it a guiding philosophy or music collecting, is a religion unto itself.

Talibam! starts its six-week, twelve-country tour in grand style tonight in Paris with a special performance alongside Rhys Chatham -- who will join our heroes Mottel and Shea on fuzz trumpet and guitars -- and which features opening slots by Peeesseye, Religious Knives, Gala Drop, and Corridors.

European Movements:
09.17.08 - Paris, France - La Maroquinerie #
09.20.08 - Tilburg, Netherlands - ZXZW Fest!
09.21.08 - Tilburg, Netherlands - ZXZW Fest!
09.22.08 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - DNK %
09.23.08 - Utrecht, Netherlands - DBS Studio $
09.25.08 - Oslo, Norway - Café Monno
09.26.08 - Frederikstad, Norway - Blaagrotte
09.30.08 - Helsinki, Finland - Black Box
10.01.08 - Tampere, Finland - Vastavirta
10.02.08 - Saarbrucken, Germany - Saarländisches Staatstheater
10.03.08 - Augsburg, Germany - Junges Theater
10.04.08 - Munich, Germany - Laab
10.05.08 - Stuttgart, Germany - Interventionsraum
10.06.08 - Zagreb, Croatia - TBD
10.07.08 - Belgrade, Serbia - Rex Center
10.08.08 - Sofia, Bulgaria - TBD
10.09.08 - Skopje, Macedonia - TBD
10.12.08 - Athens, Greece - Kinky Kong
10.16.08 - Caserta, Italy - Jarmusch Club
10.17.08 - Rome, Italy - Sinister Noise
10.18.08 - Bari, Italy - Taverna Vecchia del Maltese
10.22.08 - Cesena, Italy - Officina 49
10.23.08 - Bologna, Italy - Lazaretto
10.24.08 - Milan, Italy - Dauntown
10.25.08 - Verbania, Italy - Perchè No?
10.26.08 - Bristol, England - The Croft
10.27.08 - London, England - The Sazerac
10.31.08 - Brooklyn, NY - New Sonic HQ
11.15.08 - Brooklyn, NY - Dead Herring

% Peeesseye

$ Thinguma*jigsaw

# featuring Rhys Chatham, with Peeesseye, Religious Knives, Gala Drop & Corridors

Top 5 Reasons Why Kemialliset Ystävät Should be More Popular Than The Hold Steady:
5. Kemialliset Ystävät (Jan Anderzén) released an untitled album last year, and to quote reviewer Keith Kawaii: "As future generations grow even more accustomed to completely ‘songless’ records, Kemialliset Ystävät will feel more like the rule instead of the exception." (TMT Review) The Hold Steady albums are full of song songs.
4. "Kemialliset Ystävät" is Finnish for "Chemical Friends," and since you don't have any friends, chemical or otherwise, you might as well have a Finnish one. Besides, The Hold Steady have so many friends already they wouldn't be able to fit you into their bar-hopping, I-don't-like-their-music-very-much schedule.
3. Kemialliset Ystävät RULES!
2. Kemialliset Ystävät has sampled Sun Ra, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Vibracathedral Orchestra. The Hold Steady's guitarist said he likes Oasis (and dissed Radiohead).

1. The Hold Steady aren't very good. Really, though, why are they so either loved or hated? You think I like being negative like this about a band that gives so many people joy? You know how many angry emails from Hold Steady fans I'm going to get? Hell, I got enough for my Jack White/Coca-Cola story. GOD. Sometimes I wonder if any of this is worth it. Sometimes I wonder if life is worth it...

Fucked Up Announce Tourdates; Annapocalypse Recalls Two Unrelated Fucked Up Non-Sequiturs

Confession: I don’t listen to the band Fucked Up. All I know about them is that they’re on Matador Records, they’re from Toronto, and their music is a bit too hardcore for my tastes. That said, this week I had two separate conversations with people I know in which they mentioned Fucked Up, so I felt it fitting that I contribute a news story this week about them. Here are my Fucked Up tales:

- Fucked Up Tale #1 (with my brother on Instant Messenger):

Him: the title track is one of the best songs i've ever heard, period

Him: it's about the plight of sex workers in Canada

Him: it's 18 minutes long

- Fucked Up Tale #2 (with my friend via e-mail):

Me: Did you just mention Jay Reatard and Fucked Up?  Those are new bands; I thought you didn't listen to anything post-1995, hahah.

Him: Dude, Jay Reatard's been around since the 90s -- he started when he was 16. I met the lead singer of Fucked Up when I was in Toronto a few years ago... he wanted a button I was wearing. Yeah, right! What would you do if this man approached you and said he wanted your button?

Whatever you do, don’t let Fucked Up's lead singer talk you into giving away your buttons:

% Vivian Girls

Senate Judiciary Committee Approves the RIAA-Backed Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act, Now Steps Away From Becoming Law; Senator Patrick Leahy Makes Damn Sure that He Gets Every Penny from That Dark Knight Cameo

On September 11, 2008, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported a piece of legislation called the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act, which passed through the committee by a 14-4 margin. If turned into law, the act would expand the federal government’s jurisdiction over copyright and counterfeiting cases. The RIAA-backed act grants federal prosecutors with the authority to slap P2P file-sharers in violation of copyright laws with civil lawsuits, while also establishing an intimidating-sounding position within the executive branch to oversee these more stringent IP laws — the IP Enforcement Coordinator.

I know this intellectual property rights business gets a little complicated, so why don’t I just let one of the original proponents of the bill, Democratic Vermont senator Patrick Leahy, explain the significance of these potential copyright laws:

I know first hand how important it is for criminal investigators, and the lawyers who prosecute those cases, to have a full arsenal of legal tools to ensure that justice is done. I also know how important the intellectual property industries are to our economy, and to our position as a global leader… The Vermont Teddy Bear Company relies heavily on its patented products.

See, the Justice Department isn’t using your tax money to pursue harmless file-sharers on behalf of billion-dollar industries such as the RIAA -- they’re leveling a crusade against evil counterfeiters bent on wiping out the wholesome mom and pop teddy bear industries that this country is built upon.

And combining what seems to be one of those MasterCard “priceless” advertisements with severe head trauma, Leahy further elaborates the importance of intellectual property rights to our national economy -- and the his own personal importance as a rising motion picture star:

I was once a prosecutor. I am now a Senator. But I have always been a fan of movies. My cameo in the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight, was priceless to me but we can put real numbers on the value of that production to the economy.

Mitch Bainwol, CEO/Chairman of the RIAA, cheered the Senate panel’s decision, stating in a RIAA press release, “This legislation is a welcome verse in a great song.” So, in honor of the RIAA’s victory over individual privacy and decent metaphors, I’m announcing the kickoff of the completely imaginary “The RIAA is Conspiring with the Federal Government to Eradicate All Traces of Internet Privacy in a Desperate Ploy to Recoup Diminishing Revenue / Name that Tune Contest!” Because I think that there is a pretty good joke somewhere in there, especially if I pretend that the prize is an original teddy bear from the Vermont Teddy Bear Company.

  

News

  • Recent
  • Popular