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:
President Bush Allows The Octopus Project to Tour This February in Order to Compensate Sending 20,000 Additional Troops to Iraq
Yes, I have caught on to what is going on around me. Gas prices have been riding a sexy escalator beneath the terrible two-dollars-a-gallon and a bag of chips, and American Idol is back on the pooper -- so why wouldn't Americans be happy?
This just doesn't add up for me. Sorry Charlie! You can't expect me to just act like all is well in freaking la la land, because the shit has hit the fan harder than James Brown hit the crack pipe. Oh, so The Octopus Project are going on a small tour in February? Well, that doesn't make everything better, but it is a start!
Did you notice what I just did? It's called a transition, and it was off the ch... ch... ch... chains. I'll admit that I'm in cahoots with The Octopus Project. Their collaboration with Pittsburgh's Black Moth Super Rainbow, appropriately titled The House Of Apples & Eyeballs, was mos def one of the top unacknowledged albums of 2006. You can be the judge of that by streaming the album yourself. The Octupuses or Octupi (both are acceptable and incredibly stupid) will gyrate into a hip Seattle studio to record with producer Ryan Hadlock (The Gossip, The Black Heart Procession, Stephen Malkmus, Blonde Redhead) as soon as you're done gawking at them.
Dance your cares away with these tourdates:
The FCC... you know, that body that's supposed to regulate radio & television? Well, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the FCC is considering a proposal that would require airtime on the radio for independently produced music. This rumored requirement would be part of a settlement in the payola scandal that has tarnished the radio industry's reputation of late.
"There are two components," a source told the Reporter. "There's an education component for people in the industry, where it is spelled out that you can do this and not do that, and there is a code of conduct. Then there is the airtime component."
"WTF?! NOT SO FAST," says Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. He urges the FCC to not allow an industry which has already been shown to have violated payola rules to police themselves.
FMQB.com outlined an open letter that the Senator wrote to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. It contained the following recommendations:
- ensure future compliance with the law and reassure consumers they will have access to small, independent and local labels and artists via the public airwaves
- require radio stations to allow meaningful access to the airwaves for independent labels and local artists
- a weekly airtime commitment for indie labels and artists
- regulations that would prevent radio companies from meeting their obligation only in certain cites, formats, or during low-listener time-slots
- full disclosure of any and all payola-related reports and documents, possibly as part of a company's quarterly or annual fiscal reports
- allow Senator Feingold to host his own show, where women will ride the sybian and he can play hour blocks of Cowboy Junkies
Yes, it's true. Those rascally pirates of Swedish website [?The Pirate Bay] are looking to protect their precious illegal activities by purchasing their very own island. Again, this is a true story, not some crazy TMT commentary on boners (though I'm sure there could be a lot said about boners in such a piece).
The site, which had previously relocated to the Netherlands to keep their pirate boat afloat, is currently attempting to raise money to purchase a 'micronation' called The Principality of Sealand. More than simply a catchy name, this island would apparently shelter them, as it is outside of the jurisdiction of any other country. Anyone who has donated to the landlubber-fighting cause would be granted citizenship to this mighty nation (ahem, man-made structure). Unfortunately for the mighty pirates and their noble cause, the micronation is not recognized by many true-blue nations as being a legitimate sovereign entity. That said, good luck, Pirate Bay! May this not take the wind from your mighty sails!