Thom Yorke Was Vice-President, Invented the Internet, Inspired “Love Story,” Wrote “Everything In Its Right Place,” Then Put it All in a Lock Box To Save the World Instead

Late last month, Radiohead singer Thom Yorke added to his already impressive résumé by helping to launch an international campaign in order to raise awareness about climate change. The Big Ask Europe took off (without fuel) in Brussels last week, with Yorke as spokesman, aiming to convince the European Union to approve annual cuts in carbon dioxide emissions. Seventeen countries have come together under the umbrella of Friends of the Earth groups, each proposing legally binding emission cuts in their respective nations. Yorke first helped launch the UK branch of The Big Ask in 2005, and since then, the group has been responsible for pushing the Climate Change Law through parliament, with the legislation likely enacted by summer, and making Great Britain the first country in the world to have legally binding emissions targets.

Yorke had this to say in a press release:

We will never wake from the nightmare of climate change unless our national governments and the European Union act. They are the only ones who can put the structures in place that will help us tackle climate change. That is why we are launching The Big Ask in seventeen countries across Europe. By committing to annual cuts in our emissions at a national and European level we can play our part in tackling climate change, and set an example for the rest of world to follow. Hundreds of thousands of people want to see their governments doing more about climate change. If you are one of them you can find out more about The Big Ask campaign in your country at www.thebigask.eu.

Never the hypocrite, Yorke's Radiohead have declined an invitation to play this year's Glastonbury festival because of the lack of public transportation to the concert site, the singer told British paper The Sun. He also shared his plans to build a natural heating system for his home and Radiohead's strategy for minimizing their ecological footprint. "That has included buying two lots of equipment and keeping one in Europe and one in America so we never have to fly our kit around the world again," he said. "We also use new technology for our lighting rig. One of the interesting things we discovered is how people get to our big shows. A lot of the time people are driving with one or two people in a car, and that’s an ecological disaster.”

A nice thought, indeed, but I suppose the air is already clean up there on that tall, tall horse.

Merge Records Now Offering Downloads Via “Digital Store”

In FLAC, too! The new Merge Records digital store is just now opening its doors and promises to offer not only all your favorite Merge classics by the likes of Pram, Honor Role, and renowned international superstars The Music Tapes, but also rare and exclusive material from the very depths of their collection, such as the "much sought-after out-of-print" Superchunk Clambake Series Volume One: Acoustic in-stores East and West, made available today. Their timing couldn't be better, as more and more artists and labels (see Bleep.com, NIN's Ghosts story below) begin cutting out the middle man that is Apple's monstrously successful iTunes store in favor of DRM-free, lossless alternatives, while still providing MP3s for the average consumer.

So, if you've been feeling shitty about ripping off all those unsung, penniless Merge signees such as The Arcade Fire and Spoon by downloading their tracks for free, get your ass on down there and spend some dough already!

The Second Most Important Rap Tour of the Spring: El-P, Dizzee Rascal, and Busdriver to Play Bar Mitzvahs and Backyards; Kanye West, Rihanna, and Lupe Fiasco to Play the Seven Wonders of the World, MSG, and the Moon

Can we please show some love to the season's most technically proficient hip-hop tour? While everyone is giddy over Kanye's "Glow In the Dark" tour this spring, some of the genre's true warriors will take to the smaller circuit in an attempt to satiate those who can't quite stomach a $100 ticket. Ticketmaster fees bring that to about $372, by my estimation. Plus, rap shows are traditionally noteworthy for their surprise guests, and who knows who just might grace the stage from El-Producto's own Def Jux label. Oh, the possibilities. Cage! Mr. Lif! Despot! Aesop Rock! And Kanye's counter-offer: Jay-Z? T-Pain? Daft Punk? Laser beams? Boring.

And while Webster Hall may not exactly be Johnny's basement, you'll probably be able to at least make out facial expressions when Dizzee gets all worked up, as opposed to the glimpse of glow you might catch from ‘Ye's Venetian blind-style shades. Although, I do hear they have a visibility of approximately 150 feet. Whatever -- it's not like Rihanna's legs are that nice anyway. And yeah, Lupe, we get it, you're smart. And positive. Spare me the Matthew Santos hooks.

I'm not bitter, though. Who needs a spectacle, really? I'll take some good old fashion rhyme-spitting any day of the week and twice when Busdriver's on tour.

Can't tell ME nothing:

^ Dizzee Rascal

* Dizzee Rascal, Busdriver

(Hit me with a spare Kanye ticket, kthxbai.)

RIAA Sends Out 13th Mailing of Pre-Litigation Letters

I love getting mail! Sure, sometimes it's only bills and advertisements, but other times you can find really exciting stuff in your mailbox -- like the postcard from Egypt my old roommate sent me or that graduation check from my grandma I used to finance my drinking habit. And what could be even more exciting than great surprises like that? Well a pre-litigation letter from the RIAA, of course!

If you are one of the lucky university students who engaged in illegal peer-to-peer file-sharing and didn't settle with the RIAA after receiving their first warning letter -- whether your college failed to forward you the letter or because you chose not to settle outside of court -- then you might be getting a very special delivery very soon. Here's the low-down:

Earlier this week, the RIAA sent out 401 letters to the administrators of 12 institutions of higher learning. College higher-ups are supposed to forward these letters to students who use IP addresses connected to Limewire, BitTorrent, Morpheus, and other "illegal" download sites. If students agree to settle outside of court, they can avoid a copyright infringement lawsuit. During earlier rounds, the RIAA sent 5,005 letters and reached settlements with over 2,300 recipients. After the pre-litigation letter campaign began last year, 2,465 people have had copyright infringement lawsuits filed against them. It's all part of a multi-step plan to convince music fans of the importance of legal downloads.

So which colleges can expect a slew of scary, scary pre-litigation letters? Heads up, Columbia University, Drexel University, Indiana University, Boston University, Tufts University, Purdue University, Indiana University, North Carolina State University, Ohio State, University of Maine, University of New Hampshire, University of Virginia, and University of Southern California.

Evangelista (Carla Bozulich) Tour, Release Album, Shiver Your Timbers, Settle Your Hash, Dip Your Headlights, Hay Your Fever

Statistics don’t lie. In 2007, total album sales were down about 15% according to some reports. In the same year, country music albums experienced a 30% drop in sales. Now, I have just heard that 100% of Taylor Hicks has been dropped by his label J Records. Will this madness ever end? When will BFFs of the music industry and its biggest, most deserving stars like you and I catch a break? When will this spiral of failure cease? Damn you, illegal downloading pirates!

So, yeah, we need a new Carla Bozulich album more than ever. The soul-pounding performer, presently working under the stage name of Evangelista, will begin a tour supporting her latest album Hello, Voyageur March 12 in Tucson, AZ. The album is due the day before the tour starts, on March 11. It is a beautiful, unhinged work of sturm und drang that could only be the work of Bozulich and friends (bandmate Tara Barnes, Shahzad Ismaily, Nadia Moss, and a gaggle of Montréal musical women and men) and could only come out on Constellation, who continue to churn out stone-cold classics every time its sprawling catalog sprouts a new release tentacle.

You should go buy the Evangelista album and also go see Bozulich during her latest tour. It’s not going to save the industry because it’s fucked already, but it might help fight the depression and sense of disillusionment that has already taken over 41% of your mind and 29% of your body after hearing the Hicks news.

Evangelista will play in-stores, regular venue shows, a couple of radio shows (not listed below ‘cause you can’t really go and see them), some TBAs, and even a “secret show.” That, my friends, is what they call “mixin’ it up” in the biz.

Here’s the Hello, Voyageur song log. Embrace the Gospel!

1. Winds of St. Anne
2. Smooth Jazz
3. Lucky Lucky Luck
4. For the Lil’ Dudes
5. The Blue Room
6. Truth Is Dark Like Outer Space
7. The Frozen Dress
8. Paper Kittne Claw
9. Hello, Voyageur!

Nine Inch Nails Self-Release LP Under Creative Commons License

Now that Nine Inch Nails are free from a label contract, they are able to do whatever they want. Like, they could be shopping for shit at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. But since they don't play by nobody's rules, NIN have decided to instead SELF-RELEASE a "brand new 36 track instrumental collection available right now. Almost two hours of new music composed and recorded over an intense ten week period last fall, Ghosts I - IV sprawls Nine Inch Nails across a variety of new terrain."

Here are your purchasing options, according to their website:

- $0 Download: The first 9 tracks from the Ghosts I-IV collection available as high-quality, DRM-free MP3s, including the complete PDF.

- $5 Download: All 36 tracks in a variety of digital formats including a 40 page PDF.

- $10 2XCD set: Ghosts I-IV on two audio CDs in a six panel digipak package with a 16 page booklet.

- $70 Deluxe Edition Package: Ghosts I-IV in a hardcover fabric slipcase containing: 2 audio CDs, 1 data DVD with all 36 tracks in multi-track format, and a Blu-ray disc with Ghosts I-IV in high-definition 96/24 stereo and accompanying slideshow.

- $300 Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition Package: Includes everything in the Deluxe Edition Package, along with an exclusive four-LP 180 gram vinyl set in a fabric slipcase, and two exclusive limited edition Giclee prints in a luxurious package. Limited to 2500 pieces, numbered and signed by Trent Reznor.

You can also find the album on torrent sites, as Nine Inch Nails uploaded the first (free) volume on BitTorrent sites.

And since Ghosts is under the Creative Commons license, here's what you can do with the album after you purchase and/or download:

- Share — to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work
- Remix — to make derivative works

Just so long as you "attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work)"; do "not use this work for commercial purposes"; and if you "alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar" Creative Commons license.

Oh wait, shhh, let's see what Reznor has to say:

I've been considering and wanting to make this kind of record for years, but by its very nature it wouldn't have made sense until this point. This collection of music is the result of working from a very visual perspective -- dressing imagined locations and scenarios with sound and texture; a soundtrack for daydreams. I'm very pleased with the result and the ability to present it directly to you without interference. I hope you enjoy the first four volumes of Ghosts. COCKLE-DOODLE-DOO!!!!!

Not sure if the "COCKLE-DOODLE-DOO!!!!!" was necessary, but cool, Trent. Very cool.

Jeff Healey Dead At 41

Legendary Canadian blues and jazz musician Jeff Healey lost his battle to cancer on Sunday, after fighting various forms of it his entire life. He was 41.

Known for his distinctive playing (with the guitar resting on his lap), Healey was considered a virtuoso by many, despite being blind from age one due to Retinoblastoma. Playing since the age of three, Healey formed his first band while still a teenager and has been a session jazz musician most of his life. He is best known for the song "Angel Eyes," off the Grammy-nominated album See the Light. Healey was never entirely interested in the world of rock/blues music and later left to pursue his true passion of vintage jazz, a style he had been performing with The Jazz Wizards as of late. An avid record collector, Healey was said to have more than 25,000 78s, which he played on his CBC Radio program, My Kind of Jazz. Healey has shared the stage with notable musicians, such as B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins, and George Harrison.

Healey leaves behind his wife, 13-year-old daughter Rachel, and three-year-old son Derek.

Apple Does The Impossible By Becoming Second Largest Music Retailer of Albums (Next to Wal-Mart Of Course)

Congrats, Apple! You're the second largest retailer of music albums, and it's about time! No one thought you could do it, but boy have you surprised us all.

“We’d like to thank the over 50 million music lovers who have helped the iTunes Store reach this incredible milestone,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes. Such charming words from a corporation, don't you think? Sounds almost like Eddy Cue is thanking all music lovers for helping the iTunes Store send aid to Darfur. Incredible milestone, indeed!

Regardless, Apple is mighty proud of itself, and it goes to show that people are truly all about the digital age of music distribution, even with the accusations of fuzzy math. Besides, downloading music from iTunes for their iPods is much easier than driving to the nearest five Wal-Marts and purchasing a CD.

You Just Can’t Go Wrong with a Shellac Tour!!

Oftentimes something seems like a good idea that is really a bad idea. This can be detrimental not only to one's sense of satisfaction, but also to his or her pocketbook, self-esteem, waistline, etc. Now, I may not be an expert in, say, the national economy, the proper use of "lay" versus "lie," or which side of the street to park your car on during a Minneapolis snow emergency, but I can proudly profess to being good at distinguishing a stupid option from a good one. (Of course, this sense usually kicks in approximately one minute after I have been faced with the decision.) In the spirit of a thoroughly disappointing Wednesday, I would like to present:

Things that seem like they will be awesome but turn out not to be awesome

Versus

Things that seem like they will be awesome and then turn out to be totally awesome

A side-by-side comparison.

...

Things that seem like they will be awesome but turn out not to be awesome:

- Calling your credit card company when you notice a weird charge on your account and having the bank dude get all attitude-y.

- Ordering a cinnamon roll from the coffeeshop only to find it is stale and partially frozen.

- Realizing you don't have to work tomorrow, only to realize there's nothing to do tonight.

Things that seem like they will be awesome and then turn out to be totally awesome

- Shellac going on tour this spring.

- Shellac going on tour this spring to places I will not be, but which sound incredible and will probably totally enhance the lives of each and every member of Shellac.

- Steve Albini

* Allroh