I am looking out my window right now at one of the busiest intersections in the city. I see 12 cars in two left-hand turning lanes waiting for the light to flash green. I count only four with turn signals blinking in wait. Deep down, I think these non-signalers believe they are being a little rebellious in their driving. Can I be witnessing the start of a revolt against the rules of the road? Will this lead to a complete abolition of traffic restrictions, by-laws, and warnings and the beginning of a more humane relationship between drivers and pedestrians, where slowing down is natural and traveling by motor vehicle will require a new set of communication aides using eye contact, nods, gestures, and (seriously) kindness? Could traffic be our new target of "the war on...," like drugs or obesity or jealousy before it? Have I had too much coffee this morning?
History's political revolutionaries (and perhaps traffic pioneers too... I really don't know) are much more lauded than their musician equivalents. But sure enough, these freedom fighters exist and are carrying out their subversive missions right under our noses to little acclaim from society at large.
Canada's leading electronic hell-raiser Tim Hecker has quietly shown himself to be a realistic rebel with release after release of disorienting abstract and ambient sounds. They may not be the equal to those of grand radicals such as Moses, Robespierre, Jefferson, Bonaparte, Gandhi, Lenin, Tse-tung, Perro, and the like, nor are they like the cities of Ejby in Denmark, Ipswich in England, and Ostende in Belgium, which have implemented some of the "traffic calming" practices described above, but Hecker's efforts have effectively constructed change and spread basic truths throughout the musical word, and that's not something to scoff at.
It's small-scale stuff, but it's a hell of a lot more than the do-nothings do! Montréal label Alien8 Recordings is re-releasing Hecker's 2003 super-acclaimed-but-long-out-of-print set Radio Amor today. Growing stature and popular demand would dictate an expanded deluxe reissue, but Radio Amor will appear without any bells or whistles, buttons, or lick-me temporary tattoos. Nope, it is just the wonderful album now made more readily available for fans and friends to reacquaint themselves with and for new audiences to discover.
Hecker does perform live from time to time, but it is a rare treat. Rumor has it that there will be a show in April at Tonic in NYC featuring Hecker with fellow revolutionary forces Phill Niblock and Mario Diaz de León. Best keep your eyes peeled for details and date.
Radio Amor, again:
1. Song of the Highwire Shrimper
2. (They call me) Jimmy
4. I'm Transmitting Tonight
5. 7000 Miles
6. Shipyards of la Ceiba
7. Careless Whispers
8. The Star Compass
9. Azure Azure
10. Trade Winds, White Heat
TMT is sympathetic. We know you have been balls deep in Christmas-spending spirit for months, so the last thing you want to hear is news about potential purchases. We also know what complete consumer behemoths you all are, so we feel it is our duty to fuel your insatiable inner spendthrift gluttons and tell you that GM have hooked up with XM Satellite to offer, what they say is, a compelling deal. It supposedly went down like this:
[The scene is at GM HQ. A conference call is happening.]
Steve Cook [EVP of Automotive at XM]: "So Rick, what do you think about partnering up and offering XM in some models this year?"
Rick Lee [GM Executive Director]: "Well we've had good luck over the years, but we are always looking for new ideas to grab new car buyers. Satellite radio is hot right now, and we need something big this year. We need something that still shows why we are the best."
Lee's Suckup PA: "Best in the West! Um, the East too..."
Lee: "Uh, yeah... Anyway, where was I there? We need something big this year. As far as marketing it goes, we've always had success with our Chevy ads. America can't get enough of real-life images with a soundtrack of non-threatening, middle of the road, bright-white rock by Bob Seger and John (Cougar) Mellencamp. We definitely will have to throw in some sort of patriotic heartstring-pulling campaign to go along with it."
Cook: "Great. I'm sure we can come up with something super-duper!"
Suckup (rambling): "...North and South too I guess..."
Lee: "Ok, what do you say we go for 1.8 million vehicles? And I'll start right this instance on the advertising."
[Lee presses button on desk and half a wall recedes, exposing Bob Seger sitting on a backwards chair looking intently at a Rubik's Cube, while John Mellencamp dances around flicking watermelon seeds at Seger's greying mullet.]
Lee: Boys, boys!!! Hey, over here! Yeah, that's right, over HERE! Listen up you two... we don't pay you for horsin' around, now…"
Suckup: "Yeah, you heard Mr. Lee... no horsing around! You dick-lices."
Lee (rolling eyes): "Alright. We love what your commercial songs have done for our Chev truck line, so we thought we might pick your brains about an idea we have for partnering up with XM Satellite."
Seger: "A satellite? Where are they going to put that?!? My satellite takes up half the friggin' back porch. Mind you, I do like my Larry the Cable Guy.
Lee: "Bob... any thoughts?"
Seger (elsewhere): "He, he... 'Get ‘er done'... he, he..."
[Frisbee sails into Lee's face, bloodying the corner of his mouth.]
Mellencamp: "Hey, gimme back my fuckin' Frisbee man! C'mooooooon! I got that fuckin' Frisbee in Louisville."
The Seeg (crooning): "My America... includes Louisville, Jacksonville, Lafayette Ville, Doggerville, Villeville..."
Cougar (reaching desperately for frisbee): "Don't you take Louisville for your song. Louisville is mine. That's where I got my frisbee! Give it baaaaaack!"
Lee (giving back frisbee to Mellencamp while he tussles his hair): "There you are kiddo. Now listen, we really need to inject some life into our new oh-eights this year. Sedan sales are the shits."
Seger: "Sedaaans... ooh la la... look who's hawkin' freakin' sedans now! I can't write a song for a sedan company! Trucks. Trucks! TRUCKS! Trucks and 8-tracks, what else do you need?"
JayCeeeM: "Yeah, my kin won't go anywhere unless we're in a truck! Ask 'em. Teddy Jo, Justice, Hud, Speck, the twins Choate and Scrote, and Queenie Beth Skoal Bandit travel in style, in the back on the flatbed on air mattresses."
Lee: "Cool down you two. We're planning on spreading the offer to 50 of our GM models. Trucks included."
Mellancoog: "Do you know what C-H-E-V-R-O-L-E-T stands for? 'Cheap, Hardly Efficient, Virtually Runs On Luck Every Time'!!! Hahaaaaaaa!"
Secretary (taking dictation and smiling): "Oh you..."
Mellencamp: "You like that one? I got a million of ‘em. All the people on my tourbus think I'm the funniest person they ever met. Fer sure."
Cook (trying to make his voice heard): "Uh."
Lee: "Boys! Boys! Any thoughts?"
Seger: "Well, let me noodle a bit. Mi, mi, mi... myyy. Myyyyy A-merica..."
JCM (playing the exact same chord sequence as Segar): "Myyyyy A-merica..."
Seger: "Hey man!!! He's stealin' my tune!"
Cougar Mellencamp: "America... is Like a Rock..."
Seger: "Oh no, you did not!"
Lee (interupting Cook): "Jesus H. Crispies! Will you two knock it off!"
Mellen to the Camp: "...stumbling out the door / Like a Rock / falling on the floor..."
Lee: "Alright Johnny…time for bed little one."
Johnny Cougar: "Fuuuuuuuccccccckkkkkk yooooooooooouuuuuuuuu…I'm a big boy now! Maaan! I don't want to go to bed! Tits, no, I won't go!"
Lee: (consoling Mellencamp and nodding to Seger to follow him into their hidey house behind the wall): "I know, I know... you're a big boy now."
JCM: "Tits! Titstitstits!!! Hahahahaha... tiiiiittttttsssssssszzz."
Lee (handing a slumbering 'Camp into Seger's arms and whispering): "Bob? Anything?"
Seger: "Nah. Leave it with me for a bit, and I'll come up with something for yas."
[Door slams shut and wanders back to his desk, sighing deeply.]
Cook: "Jesus, how the hell do you put up with that? Why do you even keep them around?"
Lee: "Ugh, they had some kind of crazy contract clause and we had to give in. Plus, Beavis and Butthead in there have made our company a ton of cash."
Suckup: "Beavis and Butthead! Hahaha... you've still got it Boss!"
Lee: "Uh, yeah. Anyway, as a I was saying, we really need something that says we're hip to the scene (aside to secretary... 'Did I say that right'?) and we have some history with XM when we introduced satellite in our Sevilles and Devilles a couple of years back. It's not like we're not going to do something original or use an idea that isn't stolen, even if it is from ourselves. Am I right or am I right?"
Suckup: "Right as rain, Big Guy!"
Cook: Well then, I think we're done here. Are we going to go with a free three-month trial period on all factory-installed models with XM?
Lee: "You know it!"
[Later, at a joint press conference.]
Lee: "This announcement continues to demonstrate General Motors' commitment to providing XM Satellite Radio services to our new vehicle buyers. This, coupled with our August announcement to lower the option price of factory-installed XM to $199, supports our effort to offer XM Satellite Radio to more customers (suckers...)."
Cook: "General Motors has been instrumental in growing our business by introducing millions of car buyers across the nation to the extraordinary content of XM Radio. XM has been focused on the new car market since inception and GM has led the way for the industry. It is exciting to see GM driving the installation of XM into significantly more cars and trucks as a means to differentiate and enhance the appeal of their vehicles (suckers...)."
Earlier today, we featured a contest called "What Would Björk say?" The comic above was filled out exactly the same as above, except the last frame had an empty quote box. We got hundreds of responses, most of them having to do with peeing or pooping. Surprisingly, there were a bunch that dealt with pizza and, unsurprisingly, lots of variations on "suck my dick" and "lick my balls." Lars von Trier was mentioned several times, of course.
Although some of the randomness (like Josia Hughes' "Okee, I tell you eh-we-ting: he look-a like a man!" and Nicky F's "Welcome to Mooseport, starring Ray Ramano"), crudeness (Paul Banks' "Fuckin' sausage fest up in herr"), and cleverness (Derek's "No time for the ole' in & out love, I just came to read the meter" and Jacob Harrison Jeffries' "Why haven't any of us moved in the past 4 frames?") are equally funny, I thought the O'Rourke comment was most appropriate for the comic and for TMT. Thus, Dan is the winner. Good work Dan, you're reader of the month. LUCKY YOU!
Just like Sho Kosugi in Nine Deaths of the Ninja, Bill Callahan… He Change Color!… Like the Chameleon!
Heelys, paintball, "Dance Dance Revolution," thongs, Texas Hold'Em, "Takeshi's Castle," su|do|ku, fat laces, "Do the Bartman" ("shake your body turn it out if you're bad man"... wha?), all-conquering SUVs, freedom fries, Atkins, pocket bikes, Beanie Babies, knitting, American Idol, "Crazy Frog," pogs, Vanilla Coke, Crystal Pepsi, frosted tips, Yu-gi-oh!, The Da Vinci Code, sprawling lower-back tattoos, Von Dutch, reggaeton, "wassssssssuuuuuuuuuup!," fanny packs, Furby, emo asses (and their asinine signature haircuts), Napoleon Dynamite, text slang, Red Bull, "All your base are belong to us," the Reebok Pump, "The Macarena," flash mobs, '80s retro nonsense, "Kidz Bop," self-important reality show restaurateurs/realtors/rrrwhatevers, Napster, crocs, Snakes on a Plane, PBR, the cha-cha slide, "the Rachel," mojitos, bling-bling, Big Mouth Billy Bass, gangsta, Girl Power, pocket swearing machines, fruit boots (a.k.a. roller blades), Segways, Koosh balls, ad infinitum.
For the better part of the past two decades, Bill Callahan should really have been as welcome in this fad-driven, catchphrase-rotten "modern world" as a drum kit would have been in Anne Frank's Amsterdam Achterhuis. Thankfully, there has always been room for artists to cast suspicious, wry eyes toward our sick, disposable society. No more so than now. Ace songwriter and psychiatrist's wet dream Bill "The Thrill" Callahan will be releasing a new single called "Diamond Dancer" (b/w "Taken") on March 20 and a new album entitled Woke On a Whaleheart on April 17. The album, Callahan's 73rd (maybe), features contributions from Neil Michael Hagerty, Pete Denton, Elizabeth Warren, and Deani Pugh-Flemmings of the Olivet Baptist Church and will be released by long-standing label Drag City. However, this time 'round he has ditched the staid, vanilla Smog imprint. Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready for the high-octane, high-voltage, high-priest of song..."Bill Callahan"? It has taken years, but Callahan has emerged out of his well-protected shell and finally opted to record under his given name. This, along with playing recent shows billed simply as "Bill Callahan," means the Smog moniker has effectively been put to rest, at least for the time being. Oh well, life is too short to wax nostalgic on the triviality of recording and touring names. And who really cares... he could go by "Bigg Mouth Billy Bawlz 2 tha Cha-Cha Cally" and we would probably still buy his albums. Sorry, we would definitely buy his albums!
Depress to impress:
Air Travelers around the world breathed a sigh of relief when the TSA adjusted its ban on Explosions In The Sky. Air travelers may now carry Explosions In The Sky in their carry-on bag when going through security checkpoints. With certain exceptions for prescription and over-the-counter Explosions In The Sky, baby formula and breast Explosions In The Sky, and other essential Explosions In The Sky, the following rules apply to all liquids, gels, and aerosols you want to carry through a security checkpoint.
1. All Explosions In The Sky must be in three-ounce or smaller containers. Larger containers that are half-full or toothpaste tubes rolled up are not allowed. Each container must be three ounces or smaller.
2. All Explosions In The Sky must be placed in a single, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag. Gallon-sized bags or bags that are not zip-top such as fold-over sandwich bags are not allowed. Each traveler can use only one, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag.
3. As it has not yet been safely tested by the TSA, FDA, or RIAA, the 2007 output of Explosions In The Sky (an LP entitled All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone) is banned from air travel until further notice.
4. Making jokes about Explosions In The Sky is an arrestable offense:
This year, The Walkmen saw Bruce Springsteen's Seeger Sessions and raised him a Pussy Cats, a complete cover album originally recorded by John Lennon (during his "No Yoko" phase) and Harry Nilsson in 1974. I found out how bad I am at Texas Hold'Em last week, but I can still be trusted on this call. Some people say they should've come up with some higher quality o.g. material for their latest album, A Hundred Miles Off, but I say I've never heard a better album to drink in your favorite old man bar to than Pussy Cats. I am indeed a lady and not an old man, but like I said, trust me on this one.
You can have your own lost weekend at one of these joints:
The Books Continue Code of Silence on What Could be a Triple-Disc Multimedia DVD Project for All We Know; Tour
It's been nearly 16 years since the release of The Books' debut full-length, Ten. Now on its way to selling 10 million records in the U.S. alone, Ten has become one of the true defining characteristics of Generation X, a landmark album that has managed to transcend all criticism, an album that inadvertently mapped the existential terrain of the alienated youth of the early '90s. With singles like "Evenflow" and "Jeremy," it'd be ridiculous not to at least consider Ten as a contender for the greatest album of all-time.
It's now 2007, and we are still awaiting the follow-up to Ten. Some of us are growing impatient, some of us have even lost all hope -- but I'm not one of them. I still believe in The Books, and I know they'll make a return once they're ready. Hell, if their MTV Unplugged performance taught me anything, it's that a strong, resonating statement can be made with something as mundane as a marker. In this sense, the block of silence is a truly beautiful statement. But I think I speak for us all when I say that I hope the silence doesn't last forever...
Alright, time for a morning jerk!
Photo: Greg Whitmore
Put on Your Happy Hats: Arab Strap to Release Swan Song Compilation Alongside Releases by L Pierre and Malcolm Middleton
With only two options currently available for consumers interested in satellite radio, the possibility of a merger between XM and Sirius is leaving many hardworking radio lovers quivering in their unlaced booties. Although FCC Chairman Kevin Martin (my BOY!) ensured reporters at a recent press conference that current FCC regulations would prohibit said merging, loopholes may exist. The Wall Street Journal has mentioned that XM and Sirius could try to convince the FCC that they're not only competing against each other, but also against normal radio stations, internet radio, and podcasts. An alternate method of coercion could be sending an unrated version of Beerfest to Martin's home address.
The prospect of a satellite radio duopoly turning into a monopoly has sent a group of law students from George Washington University into an epileptic fit. After regaining consciousness, these students formed the Consumer Coalition for Competition in Satellite Radio, or C3SR. I'm torn between steering this acronym toward a joke about Julius Caesar or Star Wars, so instead I'll merely mention that the name is just one 'C' away from being a seriously explosive coalition. Phew.
The initial goal of C3SR is to increase awareness of the pitfalls of the potential merger. Chris Reale, one of its founding members, said, "When I subscribed to XM back in 2005, I had a choice. Now it looks like some of my favorite channels may disappear and/or the subscriptions fees will go up if this merger happens." The secondary goal of C3SR is to provide every American with a free motorized leather chair, though Reale admits that this will have to be dealt with in due time.
There are always killjoys at every Christmas party ruining the fun for merrymakers by moaning on and on about how we should remember that this time of year is a joyous time for many, but is a depressing bundle of nerves and gloom for others. Like I really need to hear that Christmas is the worst time of the year to buy pets for loved ones and that suicide rates skyrocket in December when I'm trying to make nice with the new office co-worker who has yet to figure out what a creep I am! Take that shit away from me, Tim Burton! As for the pet buying, it's true -- so think about it before you buy your little critters (just doing my part for the neglected animal world...). But in regard to the suicide rates, I have my suspicions, despite many empirical statements to the contrary. My evidence simply says otherwise. The winter chill of January/February is a bitch on the fragile psyche, and these three facts alone should make it clear that this time of year bears witness to much more mental anguish than sunny December:
- an increase in people getting left-breast tattoos of Anne Rice's misty profile floating over a somber piece of Dante's poetry
- all-time high "serious" levels among Nazi Low Riders (many are finding it difficult to even muster up the energy to spray jizz on the face of a passed-out member!)
- not one, not two, but three new album releases related to a legendary tormented Scottish duo
Of course, all Goth vaulties and nouveau Nazi fucks are complete poseurs in the downcast game when compared to über-misers Malcolm Middleton and Aidan Moffat, a.k.a. the band formerly known as Arab Strap. Or so they would have you believe. As we posted some months ago, the beloved Glaswegians have split, but that does not mean the show is over. Despite being associated with the dark stuff of life, both Moffat and Middleton have so far managed to surprise us with the upbeat feel of their solo projects while keeping their lyrics personal and conflict-ridden. So turn those frowns into straighter lines or even, gasp, smirks, and put on your happy hats, because here we go!
Malcolm Middleton releases his third album,A Brighter Beat, on February 26 on Full Time Hobby. The full-length is the follow-up to his outstanding 2005 album, Into the Woods, and will be preceded by single "A Brighter Beat" (b/w "Point of Light") January 22 on limited-edition 7-inch vinyl concreteness and downloadable digital abstractness. So much for me going out on a limb and declaring 2007 "the return of the cassingle." Sadly, there is no North American release on the horizon, which is a shame because these songs, by the look of their titles alone, are screaming for a wider audience:
1. We're All Going to Die
2. Fight Like the Night
3. A Brighter Beat
4. Death Love Depression Love Death
5. Fuck It, I Love You
6. Stay Close Sit Tight
7. Four Cigarettes
8. Somebody Loves You
9. Up Late at Night Again
10. Superhero Songwriters
Middleton will be touring in support of A Brighter Beat, with dates opening for Sophia in Germany and Badly Drawn Boy in the U.K. before hitting the road for a brief English and Scottish headliner.
Middleton comes alive!
Matt Valentine and Erika Elder (along with mystical miscreants The Bummer Road) will soon find themselves embarking on a nationwide tour in support of their latest LP, entitled Green Blues, which sees official release Tuesday on Ecstatic Peace. As for the tour... There will be music during this tour, yes, but as any true fan knows, you don't go to an MV&EE show just for the jams. As is his custom, Valentine will invite audience members to spend the rest of the evening inside his great beard upon conclusion of the formal show. Ecstatic Peace is keeping hush-hush on the details, but we can surmise from past visits to the beard that there will be nothing less than:
- Free Pizza
- A carousel
- An Olympic-sized swimming pool
- An Internet cafe
- Street performers
- A 24-Screen movie megaplex
- A manmade rock-climbing Wall
- A "theme" wedding chapel
- A Three-story arcade
- A Sushi bar
- Lazer tag
- A Zoo
Some of my fondest memories have been spent inside that magical mass of hair, and I hope you'll stick around after the shows to experience it for yourself.
Little known fact: the MV&EE album title Mother of Thousands is actually a reference to Matt's beard, it being a microcosm of lush plant and animal life: