John Vanderslice to Open for Stephen Malkmus on Tour, But More Importantly, I Did Not Go to Work Today

You'd think that overpriced sushi on the Lower East Side of New York City wouldn't result in me becoming BFFs with my bathroom, but my life is full of surprises. So, I'm sitting at home right now when I should be at work (this is a new job, mind you, so the anxiety level is doubled). But then I realized, "Hey! I write for a pretty kickass little pub called Tiny Mix Tapes! I work for them too! Let's get productive!" And so it starts...

Mr. Slice, who we all know and love, will be venturing out on the road in support of his new album, Emerald City (TMT Review). (Note: I am so whacked out I had to Google "John Vanderslice" to remember the TITLE OF HIS NEW ALBUM. Which I own. Please don't expect much of me here.) I am not sure how the idea of touring with Stephen Malkmus and his Jicks came to fruition, but I would like to think that he and Stevie looked at each other, agreed that each other were type awesome, and made it official in Las Vegas over Mai Tais. The wedding celebration kicks off next month, and the annulment occurs approximately one month later.

...I don't even know what I'm talking about anymore. I don't feel well.

Tourdates, all with Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks (my wit is broken along with my soul):

There Will Be Blood: British Sea Power’s Keyboardist Knocked Unconscious After Stage-Diving Accident

"The impact knocked him out straight away. He was unconscious for three minutes and there was a lot of blood."

That's what British Sea Power's spokeswoman told the BBC, referring to a live accident last Wednesday at the Irish Centre in Leeds, England. According to reports, British Sea Power keyboardist/cornet player Phil Sumner decided to climb up a 12-foot PA system for a theatrical stage-dive. But when the crowd didn't properly catch his jump, Sumner landed head-first onto the venue floor.

"It all looked a lot worse than it really was," according to the spokeswoman.

In addition to three minutes of unconsciousness, Sumner suffered a broken molar and received some stitches, but he returned to live performing the very next day because he's such a fucking badass.

British Sea Power's latest album, Do You Like Rock Music? (TMT Review), was released in the U.K. earlier this month, with a U.S. release slated for February 12.

Cautiously hopping off monitors at these dates:

Tapes ‘n Tapes to Release LP ‘n LP… Wait… Scratch That… Just One LP

Ladies and gentlemen, in today's Shepherd's Dog-eat-dog world of indie-cred name-checking, obscure reference one-upsmanship, and intimidating hyphen-usage, you damn well better know a thing or two about bands like Tapes ‘n Tapes if you wanna fit in at the next Zaireeka Party (hint: Zaireeka isn't a kind of wine).

After all, you don't wanna eek your way through life as "the guy down the hall who was heavy into Pearl Jam," now do you?

I didn't think so.

So, let's start boning up on factoids about one of the most basic pillars of present-day indie's charming little house of cards: the always-classic "blog-feuled-little-band-that-could" (told ya there'd be a lot of hyphens).

Take, for example, exhibit A: the much-balleyhooed Minneapolis four-piece Tapes ‘n Tapes. Let's start out simple and see if you can answer a string of quiz questions about these seminal niche-nestlers and their upcoming sophomore LP (hint: "LP" means "record"... uh, and "record" means "album").

Please Russian Circle one:
1) TRUE/FALSE: Tapes ‘n Tapes play sort of lo-fi, jittery indie-rock with pinches of spaz-country, psych, and sugary-pop thrown in.
2) TRUE/FALSE: Tapes ‘n Tapes' sophomore record will be released on April 8, 2008 by indie label XL Recordings.
3) TRUE/FALSE: This record is entitled Walk It Off and was produced by renowned producer Dave Fridmann, who has worked with such luminaries as The Flaming Lips, Sleater-Kinney, and Weezer.
4) TRUE/FALSE: Walk It Off features 12 new tracks and is the Minneapolis-based band's first record since 2006's widely lauded The Loon, which established the band – Josh Grier (guitar, vocals), Jeremy Hanson (drums), Matt Kretzman (keyboards), Erik Appelwick (bass guitar) – as a "band you'd damn well better find out about before your girlfriend does from that dude that she's in art classes with."
5) TRUE/FALSE: Tapes ‘n Tapes will be performing at SXSW this year and will be announcing Spring tourdates in support of the new album soon (hint: SXSW = South by Southwest Music and Film Festival).

Great! That wasn't toooo hard was it? Now, please score yourself 1-12 based on the following tracklist:

Well? Are you a "Dirty Dirty?" Or at least a "Demon Apple?" You'd better bone up, or you'll never be able to over-use that hyphen key.

Low to Quietly Cut Emissions on Upcoming European Tour

After catching word of Radiohead's recent pledge to cut carbon emissions on their tour supporting their recent album In Rainbows (TMT Review), Low has decided to one-up those English bastards by introducing zero-emission guitars into their everyday lineup.

Spontaneously combusting guitars have long plagued those with the skills and backbone to shred wantonly. Despite the obvious need to continually purchase new guitars, the burning lacquer releases dangerous amounts of acrylic suspected of contributing to global warming into the atmosphere. Carbon emissions from guitarist Herman Li of Dragonforce in 2007 alone are believed to be responsible for the recent extinction of the Bubal Hartebeest.

"Honestly, I don't know why we didn't think [of this] before," said Alan Sparhawk, guitarist and vocalist for Low. "Just the sheer number of forests that have been needlessly clear-cut to support rock ‘n’ roll's fascination with shredding is unacceptable. I feel that these new shred-resistant ‘axes’ will really bury the ‘hatchet’ on this issue."

Don't call ‘em slow-core just cause it's Low-core:

In related news, Alan Sparhawk's side project Retribution Gospel Choir will finally release its self-titled debut March 18 on Mark Kozelek's (Sun Kil Moon/Red House Painters) label, Caldo Verde. The shred-resistant axes are rumored to have been used on the album.

[Photo: Tim Soter]

Be it Radiohead or Portishead, Björk or the Breeders, Kraftwerk or... er, Kraftwork, famed mid-Spring rock festival Coachella (a.k.a. Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival) rolls onward to yet another season of sweet, sweet musical ambivalence with the recent unveiling of its 2008 lineup from a press conference in Mexico.

The problem? Well, see, turns out Coachella has been forced to layoff a few "non-essential" members of their marketing department in order to pay for withered pretty-boy Roger Waters, who will be playing the entirety of 1973's Dark Side of the Moon in all of its overstuffed, hippie glory on the final night of this goofy, something-for-everyone festival.

The solution? Well, in their infinite wisdom, these vigorous California go-getters asked ME to kind of fill in the cracks in the ad campaigns for the other headliners. I figured I would start by drumming up a few slogans. You know, just to kind of get the public interested. Let's see here:

- Jack Johnson: Spring break road trip, eh, Sigma Pi brothers???

- The Verve: What was that song they did? "Freshmen," right???

- Portishead: As close to Radiohead as you're gonna get THIS year, cry babies!

- The Raconteurs: What do you mean?! This IS Jack White's real band!

- Death Cab for Cutie: Warning: Ben Gibbard's face WILL be on a jumbo screen.

- Kraftwerk: Look dad! Floyd AND Kraftwerk! Happy Early Fathers' Day!

- My Morning Jacket: The Original Band of Horses!

- Love and Rockets: Uh... who?

- Oh yeah, and don't forget Rilo Kiley, Justice, M.I.A., and The Breeders, young hipsters! Fuck the establishment, am I right? Outta sight, my man!

Well, that's about all I've got so far. But there are 125 artists scheduled for this thing, so I've got my work cut out for me before April 25-27 at Empire Polo Field in Indio, CA. I'd better stop fooling around and get crack-a-lackin'. I don't want to let down the fans, man.

Oh shit, almost forgot! A complete lineup is available at the festival's MySpace page, and tickets go on sale January 25 at Coachella.com. Get ‘em now, before your dad/frat brother/friend from the ‘90s/Jack White fan/Grey's Anatomy-lover gets there first!

Phew! How about that, Coachella? Am I hired?

Yeah, Great, Portland Produces Yet Another Awesome Band. I’m So Sick Of Portland; Talkdemonic To Exercise Their Demons With Rigorous Six-Date West Coast Tour.

Portland bands deserve Portland pomp and ceremony, so to write this piece, I made a quick transformation from Arcata Indier-Than-Thou to PDX Hipster. I've put aside my tight black pants for a pair of tight gray ones, donned a diagonal striped American Apparel t-shirt, and a black pea coat. You can see the outline of my ipod nano through my skin tight back pocket, and I'm wearing mirrored aviator glasses though it's overcast. My fixie is in the living room, and there's a single American Spirit cigarette sticking out from behind my ear, held in place by my blue beanie. Welcome to Portland. Let's commence:

Oh snap! Talkdemonic, that post-rock duo from PDX (PAUSE TO CHORUS, "Brigdetown! Bridgetown!" WITH ANYONE ELSE IN THE ROOM) are hella dank. I don't know if you herd their first album, Mutiny Sunshine (TMT Review), but dude, it was like, fuckin', best ever. They released it in 2004, and it's all folktronic hop -- I don't know, they play at Doug Fir Lounge a lot. A lot, a lot. Dude, they played at Doug Fir Lounge so often that Willamette Weekly ("Dude, I love the Willamette." "Oh, I know dude, it's tops.") called them the Best New Band of 2005, and then their shows started getting hella swamped with crazy fools who were like, "Oh yeah, Talkdemonic -- I've always loved Talkdemonic," and it's like, "Yeah right, dude, fuckin' poseur." But anyway, I still go to the shows because Kevin O'Connor does those totally mad beats and Lisa Molinaro is totally babest babe.

(CRACK OPEN PABST, SIP. LIGHT AMERICAN SPIRIT, STARE OUT THOUGHTFULLY FOR A MINUTE. COME BACK SLOWLY.) Anyway... they signed with Arena Rock Recording Co. and released their second album, Beat Romantic (TMT Review), in 2006 -- I haven't heard it though. Hey, will you send it to me? Sick dude, thanks. But they're releasing this new album called Eyes At Half Mast that they've been working on for a couple years and took like three months to mix. It's gonna be so sweet. They're going on tour with it, exclusively performing the new material at like six different places before they release it in June. I'm hella going, dude; it's gonna be so fierce, and they're playing Doug Fir when they come through, so yeah... (PAUSE, SMOKE.) Fuck man, I'm so hungover. Let's ride to Stumptown.

Dude, but really. Hella sweet dates:

MGMT to TR Probably While WRNG CPS and Being IRNC

After watching Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser make their network television debut performing on The Late Show with David Letterman, I was left with more questions than answers about one of 2008's biggest buzz bands. Immediately, before the music even began, I was left wondering: who let Dave embarrass himself by calling the band "M-G-M-T" instead of "Management?" (I quickly remembered that no one knows who the hell these kids are to begin with... yet.) But then the camera pans, and we're met with an awkward stage filled with awkward kids. Why does this boy's messy hair look like it took hours to mangle? Are they wearing capes? Isn't it past their bedtime?

And yet, MGMT are magnetic. Let's call it Vampire Yeasayer Ruffians Weekend Syndrome -- an entire class of shit-hot Next Big Things who take every chance to irk and repel, their shortlist of bio facts adding up to a loathsome whole, but at the end of the day exude "it" from their collective pores. White Dockers shorts and preppy beginnings? Tribal chants and Brooklyn roots? And then there's MGMT. From Wesleyan University to Columbia Records with Queen-like bombast on a record called Oracular Spectacular (?!) with tongues glued in cheek and still... "Kids"! "Time To Pretend"! "Electric Feel"! Jesus H.

Backlash is so 2007 -- it's time to just give in.

(all dates with Yeasayer)

Last.fm Now Allowing Full Albums and Tracks To Be Played; Artists To Get Paid For Each Play

Leave it to the CBS-owned social music networking behemoth Last.fm to make a progressive move for the music industry. Besides famously providing hipsters and scenesters a music taste scoreboard to put on their MySpace profile, the U.K. company has achieved even more attention with a website that tracks your taste and provides recommendations based both on what you're listening to and what people around your taste area are listening to. It's a crazy good idea and has led me to discover new music. Okay, it's a tad bit creepy that Last.fm tracks my listening habits (and most likely my porn-watching habits), but since I'm not keeping track, somebody has to, like CBS. Perhaps CBS will get the hint that I'd rather watch King of Asses rather than King of Queens. Actually, I wish Last.fm recommended some new porn based on my porn-watching habits; that'd be sweet.

Alas, Last.fm isn't aggregating my porn habits and using the statistics to make my life sexier; instead, on January 23, the company posted an epic blog post about the future of Last.fm and possibly the music industry. In the post, Last.fm God Richard Jones bolded this sentence: "As of today, you can play full-length tracks and entire albums for free on the Last.fm website." Indeed, Last.fm has struck a deal with the four major music groups (EMI, Sony BMG, Universal, WEA) and tons of indie artists and labels for the new Last.fm business model. I was pretty stoked, until I found out that it'll be a subscription service. Call me cheap, but I hope the subscription service isn't too expensive (details are yet to emerge), and I certainly expect to be able to download the MP3s and put them on any MP3 player I want, which isn't yet clear.

Here's a snippet from the post:

During this initial public beta period, each track can be played up to 3 times for free before a notice appears telling you about our upcoming subscription service. The soon-to-be announced subscription service will give you unlimited plays and some other useful things. We’re also working on bringing full-length tracks to the desktop client and beyond.

Despite my bitching about the subscription idea, the coolest announcement would have to the implementation of the new artist-compensation feature. Essentially, every time someone plays a song, the artist will get paid from the generated ad revenue. Last.fm hasn't revealed how much, but those plays could certainly add up and eventually end up in the pockets of deserving indie musicians. How lucrative this venture can be for labels and artists is still up in the air, as well as whether or not a subscription service with ad revenue is the route to go, but it's definitely noteworthy for a heavy-hitter like Last.fm. Last.fm has neglected to state all the specifics in their blog post and instead opted to note it'll be answering these questions in the future, so I suppose we need to just wait and see. The current, albeit outdated model isn't going down without a fight (not that anyone's necessarily fighting for it), but I think Last.fm is definitely taking a step in the right direction.

The original Last.fm blog post can be found here.

M. Ward And Zooey Deschanel Unveil She & Him; Elsewhere, Conor Oberst and Natalie Portman Seen Entering A Recording Studio

Sonny and Cher.

Ike and Tina.

Jack and Meg.

M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel?

Yes, you read that right, M. Ward and actress Zooey Deschanel have teamed up in holy music matrimony under the name She & Him to join the list of musical couples listed above. Their debut album, Volume 1, is due out on March 18. The album includes nine original songs written by Deschanel and two cover songs.

Now, you’re probably wondering, how exactly did Ward and Deschanel cross paths? Did he slip her a note that said “Do you want to record an album with me? Check yes, no, or maybe.”? Did she have her agent call him up? Unfortunately, the details aren’t that interesting, as the duo actually met in 2006 when they recorded a cover of Richard and Linda Thompson’s “When I Get To The Border” for The Go-Getter soundtrack and were so impressed by one another they decided to work together. She & Him made their live debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2007 and also on Ward’s tour with Norah Jones last summer.

Don’t miss She & Him’s HUGE March tour:
03.02.08 – San Francisco, CA – Noise Pop
03.14.08 – Austin, TX – The Parish (Merge Records SXSW showcase)

I went from my home in Indiana to Ohio for this story, and I still can’t come up with a good headline. Fuck it. There’s going to be a new Gnarls Barkley album. Get rowdy!

FUCK! I'm so amped! I've got PBR in my right hand and LCD Soundsystem in my left. Don't ask me how I'm typing. Seriously. Because right now I'm driving. Where? Dayton, Ohio. I know, right? But that is where Scout Leader Kyle says he's holing up.

[Time lapse]

Scout, my boy, what's the score? Same, same. I ask him if he's heard of Gnarls Barkley. He hides a laugh and peels his face away from one of his many websites he's working on. (Let it be known that Scout is dominating the internet more than any of us ever will). Swiftly, my boy pulls out a brand new iPod Touch from what had just been air between his fingers. I curse and say, "Good show." Not only does he know Gnarls Barkley, but he celebrates the entire catalogs of both Danger Mouse and Cee-lo. And, the real peal of cum here, he has the "Sweet Sixteen" episode featuring Cee-lo's daughter. I start to question the reasoning behind this, but before I can, he says with such innocence something to the effect that he has a free meal on his card if I wanted to go to the dining hall in the basement of his dorm. I tell him how it brings me back to the good ol' days. And how maybe the good ol' days weren't so good. He tells me I smell like booze.

"Seriously," I say trying to bring the focus to my trip. "I need to know if you have any information on the new Gnarls Barkley album." We are in the queue for French fries and fried chicken and fried lettuce and fried snickers and I pull out a twenty spot and realize even that is fried. Scout tells me we'll get down to business after dinner.

[After dinner]

We are back in his dorm room, and I make a rude comment about his roommate. You know how it is though; you'll have that friend over for the first time, and he thinks the roommate is gone, so he's like, "Damn dude, the boy sucks. I mean, well, he's not that bad, but he plays lacrosse. What the fuck?" Turns out your roommate was in his bed reading up for his religious studies class or some shit. Yeah, it was like that. Sorry, Scout. He tells me not to worry. I don't. Ever.

"Get on the internet!" I demand. "Shake your magic stick," I continue, referencing his mouse. After a good 30 seconds, Scout has enough information to fill a Wikipedia page. Turns out the boys were originally prepping the album in hopes that it would drop this past December. WRONG! With great authority, Scout says that it will instead be released in April of this year. He also told me the title may or may not be Atlantis. Scout, tell me more! Well, looks like the plucky heads at Rolling Stone magazine were allowed to preview two tracks (how come I don't get such pull these days). One is reported to be a funky track with an organ and French horns, while the other is a "darker ballad" with an acoustic guitar. These two gems are vying for the "single" status for the new album, and it is rumored that the Barkley camp is favoring the latter.

I slap Scout on the back and tell him once more, "Good show."

  

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