Chris Schlarb is one active guy. Not only is he the head of Sounds Are Active and executive producer of the recent 40 Bands 80 Minutes! DVD, but he's also released music under the name Xn, plays guitar/drums in I Heart Lung, and is a founding member of Create (!), a free-jazz outfit from Long Beach, CA.
Late last year, Asthmatic Kitty also released Schlarb's first album under his own name, titled Twilight and Ghost Stories (TMT Review). Our own P Funk ended his review with what seems to succinctly capture the feeling one might get after hearing the album: "In a world that allows the paranoid, antisocial, and self-obsessed to abuse art as a forum for vapid 'self-expression,' Twilight and Ghost Stories is not a Statement, but a gift." Needless to say, I was sold. Twilight and Ghost Stories is a tremendous album and certainly one of the more notable Eureka! releases of recent memory.
This weekend, Schlarb will be performing the entire album with a vast array of artists, including Subtle's Alex Cort and Ellul's Joel Brown-Tarman, at the Hemlock Tavern in San Francisco, CA. Schlarb will then head to Austin, TX later this month for two more Twilight and Ghost Stories events with a new batch of collaborators, including members of The Weird Weeds (TMT Review) and
* free rehearsal, open to the public
Best Buy To Sell Albums by Local and Unsigned Artists; The Laughter of a Child Still The “Best Buy” Of All
Having just announced its experimental foray into selling vinyl again (TMT News), electronics retail giant and owner of the largest private geek army in the world Best Buy has announced plans to stock CDs by local and unsigned bands. Playing a nice foil to Wal-Mart’s strategy of not carrying any album without an American flag or Steve Perry on the cover, Best Buy has partnered with RegionalCD.net to inject local flavor into select franchises.
According to CMJ, bands are judged on their Internet exposure via MySpace and Facebook, as well as their local followings and live performances. Artists will be paid a cut for each CD they sell, starting off with “light orders at select stores — instead of costly overstocking — and let demand dictate the proper inventory levels for each location,” says Best Buy.
Whether Best Buy’s intention is to find the next Vampire Weekend, move in on the independent record stores, or simply to please the local bar band crowd with heaps of CDs from the winner of Senor Frog’s Summer Band Battle Bone-anza remains to be seen. Either way, it’s always interesting and frightening when the big boys dip their toes in the indie pool.
Take the plunge here, if you dream of being shelf-mates with Carrie Underwood.
They Never Drew First, But They Drew First Blood: Not-So-Young Guns Universal and MasterCard Join Forces in Downloading Initiative
When you're number one, you have to flaunt it. If we didn't get the tips of our fingers cut off by grisly henchmen for not paying up on our "Hell's Kitchen" bets (we thought Petrozza had it in the bag!), we would blow on our nails and rub them haughtily on our chest like the brazen boasters we are. In our opinion, TMT runs classier industry news stories than anyone, period. We newsies certainly love to grab them, mangle the facts so much that they don't even resemble news stories anymore, then post them to a bewildered audience who smile politely at our inanities, but roll their eyes when we're not looking. Our attempts lately have focused primarily on the uneasy future of the music industry, the difficulties of competing in this modern download-reliant world, and the newfangled ways the big record companies market their product.
The imaginatively named "Roots of Rock" could have only been devised by a turret-dwelling wizard or by hotshot New York advertising agency McCann-Erickson, who did indeed concoct this scheme to provide free songs to customers under the card's Priceless umbrella. Financial terms of the deal were not specified, but MasterCard said that once 100,000 songs had been downloaded it would continue to provide the Universal catalog at the very reasonable price of 80Â¢ per song. Apart from the large number of artists available for download, some live video performances that aired on PBS's Soundstage concert series will be available free to cardholders.
Additionally, every time a consumer uses their MasterCard until August 31, they will be automatically be entered in a sweepstakes competition to win a meet-and-greet with either Jon Bon Jovi, Kenny Chesney, or Eric Clapton and get a historical tour of each of these artists respective home towns (New Jersey, Nashville, somewhere in England). Who wouldn't want to wistfully stroll through this with Jon Bon Nob Noj?
Amy Fuller, group executive, Americas marketing MasterCard Worldwide, had this to say about the contest: "Consumers' passion for their music is unmatched Music is something that is very individual and we know that personalization is something consumers love to experience. With 'Roots of Rock,' we've created unparalleled music experiences with three of the world's most popular artists, providing consumers with and intimate perspective on these icons that few fans will ever have."
That may be true, but if this means more slowhands will be making me wait by using their MasterCard to pay for two items in the express checkout at the grocery store, then I'm not all for it!
José González, he of the Argentine name and Swedish hometown, of the Knife cover that wound up in European advertisements for the Sony Bravia LCD Television, of the really awesome cover of Bruce Springsteen's "The Ghost of Tom Joad" (as a member of the Swedish trio Junip), is preparing to get his tour on. While some of us will be going back to school and others will probably be forever seeking employment in this stupid, dead-end economy, González will be embarking on a selected series of dates in the United States.
Mute Records artist González' last release, In Our Nature, was released in late 2007. The success of his 2005 debut, Veneer, resulted in a slew of SXSW performances, late-night television gigs, and that pinnacle of indie rock breakthrough success: a featured song in a season finale episode of The O.C.. Where will he go next? Well, it looks like Spain.
* DJ set, with Richard Swift
** BAM Next Wave Festival: Red Hot + RIO
What's this, some kind of joke? A music festival that's actually affordable and features several bands worth seeing? Could this really be true? Sure enough, Willamette Week's MusicFest NW in Portland, Oregon is happening September 3-6 and is going to give comparable summer fests a run for their money. Dan Deacon, Calvin Johnson, Mogwai, John Vanderslice, Mirah, Vampire Weekend, TV on the Radio, Del the Funky Homosapien, and The Murder City Devils are heading up the large festival bill, with more acts still yet to be revealed.
Tickets for the event are only $50 a pop for a wristband, which can get you into any show if you arrive early enough and do a bit of prioritizing. Shows will be happening at around 15 different venues located in the Portland area, and individual tickets are already on sale for some of the larger shows. This is the 8th year for the festival, which has seen attendance growing considerably in the last couple years.
Check out the rest of the lineup and how to purchase tickets at MusicFest NW's official website.
Have you ever wanted to experience the lush, orchestral works of Scott Walker without, you know, actually experiencing Scott Walker perform them? If so, then you'll definitely want to head on over to London's Barbican this November for three magical nights veiled in mystery. The mystery in question being exactly who is performing during the event, entitled Drifting and Tilting: The Songs of Scott Walker. At this point, the lineup has yet to be revealed by either the 4AD or Barbican websites, but you can count on taking in some Scott-produced versions of classics from -- taa daa!!... Tilt and The Drift. And while Mr. Walker himself will not be singing the hits, or well, any songs, the Scott Walker band will be present and active. Plus there will be an orchestra, loads of music geeks in the audience, and what 4AD promises to be "special" guests, so whoever it is, it's got to be good
11.13-15.08 - London, UK - Barbican Theatre
NYC hip-hop legends Mobb Deep have filed a $1 million lawsuit against former manager Norman "Perfek Storm" Bell, according to hip-hop site SOHH.com. Apparently, Bell used several Mobb Deep tracks, including singles, on a series of "best of" mixtapes from which the group hasn't seen any income.
According to legal documents published on TMZ, the complaint was filed last Tuesday. Bell will receive 13 charges, including copyright infringement. The unauthorized albums, released with titles like Mobb Deep The Infamous Archives and Purfek Storm The Mixtape Vol. 1, were released at various points during Bell's tenure as the group's manager, which lasted from May 2004 until last November, when he was fired by the group.
Prodigy and Havoc, the group's members, have been working together since 1993 but are currently on hiatus as a group due to Prodigy's October 2007 conviction on charges of unlawful gun possession. He is currently serving over three years in prison. His album H.N.I.C. Pt. 2, recorded before his sentence began, was released in April. Meanwhile, Havoc's past legal wrangles include a 2001 incident in which one of his roommates shot a man over leftover Chinese food. Infamous, indeed.
At last, it has happened. A new album by The Howling Hex is on the way, promising kinda weird indie rock, cryptic titles like "O Why, Sports Coat?" and... ranchero music. According to a recent press release from the Hex's label home, Drag City, the band -- with records released under both the Howling Hex moniker and mastermind Neil Michael Hagerty's given name -- will release Earth Junk on September 23, 2008. Could September 23 get any better????
And now, a little background because there's not really much left to this story without it: The Howling Hex started up as the brainchild of New Mexico resident Hagerty, who lives half an hour from the border of Old Mexico, or "Ol' Mexico" like the name of a popular (?) restaurant near my hometown. The band features a revolving cast of musicians, the only constant being Hagerty, a man with considerably more ambition than me, as evidenced by his band's previous eight albums and his two published books.
Earth Junk, the band's ninth album, promises a "Mexican polka" flair, lots of fuzz, and basslines played on organs! What more could you ask for in an early autumn release?
Earth Junk tracklisting:
Beck Announces Vinyl Release, Adds More Tourdates; Danger Mouse Not to be Directly Involved with Either
As if guilting you into buying his 10th (!) studio album wasn't enough, that pesky, arm-twisting Beck Hansen is at it again, this time laying it on thick with some cock-and-bull story about some additional tourdates that you "really should" go to and some sort of innovative new vinyl edition of Modern Guilt that "your mother would be ashamed of you for not picking up."
And why not? He's practically got you "by the balls," as they say, now that he's "graciously" decided to tack these relatively modest club dates onto his crowded summer festival plate. Maybe you couldn't justify getting out to the West Coast for Bumbershoot because you live in Chicago and your little brother is currently borrowing your car so that he can move back into college in a few weeks? Well, now there’s no excuse not to take that Red Line Train to one of two shows that Beck's "gone through the awfully big trouble" of putting on just for YOU! Damn, this guilt thing really works!
But wait. You're not off the hook yet, son. Beck still wants more from you, and he knows how to get it! How about a brand spanking new vinyl edition of Modern Guilt, in stores July 22, that includes download codes for high-fidelity (320 kbps) MP3s produced from an actual playback of the literal vinyl master?!? Come on, folks, the first MP3 actually starts with a needle drop, and the 10 MP3s that follow sound like a hissing, crackling, vinyl playback. I mean, just think of all the "trouble" Beck went through to cook this up. And now you want to go and spit in his face by not hoofing it out to the nearest retailer on foot (you don't have a car right now, remember?) and picking-up your very own copy, pressed with the ubiquitous loving care that Beck Hansen is known for?!? Well I've got news for you, Mr. Arrogant Bigshot. Your MOM is on the phone, and she's got three words to say to you about that: "Shame on you."
The extended Guilt trip:
College is a lot different than I expected. It's hard being away from home, even if the people are nice. It's a lot of work, too. Three-hour classes! Plus there are a lot of distractions. High-speed internet is great -- they haven't blocked BitTorrents yet, thank god. I got Nick Cave's whole library in remastered 5.1 surround sound. The rooms are nice -- cable television, and we've got our own bathroom right in the room. No floor showers like when I visited you at school. All in all, it's not bad. It'll take some getting used to. Some guys, Jordan and Matt I think, down the hall, they're having a party, but I don't know if I'll go. It's good to hear from you, tell the folks I miss them.
I am LOVING college. Yesterday I played Frisbee on the quad, AND made four new best friends: Jordan, Carrie, Matt, and Tommy. Carrie is from California. The West Coast! Tommy is studying poli-sci, just like me, and he sits behind me in this HUGE room -- Tribbey Lecture Hall. The prof is real cool, too. We don't even call him Professor or Mr. Fernald or anything stuffy like that. Just Craig. Or Craiggo, but pronounced like Prego, you know, the spaghetti sauce? College is NOTHING like I expected. Jordan and Matt live together -- they're best friends from the ’burbs -- and they're throwing a party down the hall tonight; it is going to be off the hook. Anyway, it was good to hear from you, and YES I am eating fine. Tell Mom and Meghan I said hi.
First of all, thanks for the package. Mom's cookies were great, as good as Grandma's. The CDs were much appreciated, too. How's home? I'm adjusting to the college life pretty well, I think. It's a lot different than I expected. I'm not used to the whole dorm thing, doors open and all that. I love that I can connect to everyone's iTunes on the network, you know? If they didn't block it. Some kid has Nick Cave's ENTIRE catalog in 5.1 stereo. Jordan has surround sound and we watched The Punisher last night, but I hooked up my PowerBook to it and rocked out. It sounded decent, I suppose; 5.1 is cool I guess, for the novelty and all that. I was just PUMPED to hear No More Shall We Part from all angles. What's really cool is that it isn't even out yet. The first four albums are out next month on Mute, with B-sides and expanded packages. Don't tell the government! Anyway, tell mom and dad I said ‘hey,’ and don't let them mess up my room or anything. I'm still living there. Later.