Everybody's favorite easy-listening, techno, fuzz-rock, psychedelic, super, Welsh, freakout, furry, sunshine pop band will tour the states come January in support of their eighth full-length, Hey Venus!. That Super Furry Animals have been pumping out a signature brand of kitchen-sink pop for more than 10 years is impressive in itself, but even more so is that their collected output has maintained such a high quality level. Each SFA album, including the Welsh-only LP (Mwng), sounds exactly like an SFA album. Having much to do with the alternating bored-lounge-singer-croon/daydream-pop-falsetto of Gruff Ryhs -- who is distinctively super furry -- Super Furry Animals are one one of those bands that can completely eclipse influences and come out sounding like nothing else.
With all that said, however -- here's the real question on everyone's minds: Where exactly is Wales? Answer: It's the southwest corner of the island that makes up England.
Warner/Chappell Music Launches New Digital Licensing Service for In Rainbows; Congratulates Itself On Use of Thinking Cap
It's more than a little jarring to see "new digital licensing service" and "Warner" appear in the same sentence, but hey, who am I to question progress? And, of course, by "progress" I mean "acknowledging that the pace of technology will pick up no matter how hard record labels stamp their feet in protest." How am I going to write this piece when there's almost nothing to be snarky about? I'll guess I'll just resort to incredulous appreciation.
Warner/Chappell and Radiohead go way back, of course, and the new digital licensing service was founded on the untraditional approach taken by the band in its release of In Rainbows via their internet website, completely bypassing the need for a traditional label release. Instead of having to suck up to a record label in order to use any aspect from In Rainbows (lyrics, likeness, background filler for your next barn dance), all you'll have to do is go through Warner/Chappell and grab that sweet little set of licensing rights. It'll be faster, easier, and oh so fresh and clean.
Senior VP of European business and licensing affairs Jane Dyball promises that Radiohead will get a nice boost from the service's ease in "providing all their licensees with a new, highly flexible service."
Normally, I would go out with some sort of snide comment here, but uh... I should give you some good news today. So, um, go forth! Be merry! And if you'd like to own In Rainbows in the flesh, so to speak, you can get your mitts on a traditional release on New Year's Day from TBD/ATO in the U.S. and New Year's Eve from XL Recordings elsewhere. Meanwhile, the deadline for downloading In Rainbows from their website is today, but you can still order the "discbox" version (which has sold between 72,000 to 80,000, according to Radiohead) if you can afford it.
The Stockhausen Foundation announced today that composer Karlheinz Stockhausen passed away on December 5 at his home in Kuerten, Germany. He was 79. Easily one of the most important composers of the 20th century, Stockhausen was most lauded for his groundbreaking experiments in electronic music (think Edgard Varèse, not Richard D. James), as well as in serial composition, relying on tape recordings and math and often in aleatory environments.
As I write this, I'm listening to Kontakte, one of Stockhausen's most acclaimed compositions. Composed in four channels, Stockhausen's idea for this composition was to control sound through its four main properties (pitch, intensity, duration, and timbre). Unlike the bulk of electronic avant-garde music nowadays, Stockhausen composed this piece for an actual live audience. Surrounding the audience with four loudspeakers and using a "rotation table," Stockhausen sent sounds throughout the venue sourced from both live and pre-recorded material. Despite not being able to experience the work as originally intended, the sounds are nonetheless chilling, unpredictable, and utterly penetrating. It quite literally shifted my paradigm when I first heard it.
One of Stockhausen's last major works was Helikopter-Streichquartett, which consisted of members of a string quartet performing on four separate helicopters, with both the quartet and the sound of the helicopters playing to an audience in a concert hall below. The last presentation of this performance was on June 17 earlier this year for the Stadt der Wissenschaft 2007 Festival in Germany.
Of course, these works were just two of over 300 works. Stockhausen's vast discography is a testament to his endurance and dedication to exploring the physical properties of sound, as well as audience reception, while attributing a sensibility to a culture that seemed so forward-thinking you'd call it "music of the future." But Stockhausen never bought that. As he famously put it: "What is modern today will be tradition tomorrow." And, of course, he was right. In and through his music, Stockhausen has directly and indirectly influenced not only the entirety of modern classical, electronic, and avant-garde traditions, but also everyone from Miles Davis and Jim O'Rourke to Björk and Paul McCartney (you can spot Stockhausen on the cover of Sgt. Pepper's).
To say we're now missing an important musician is an understatement. Stockhausen was a cultural blessing.
As I sit here, with undoubtedly the most viscous and opaque mucus on the terra firma of this green and slowly warming planet (if we are to believe some) filling the necessary pathways to my body, I wonder: is there a band that adequately represents my current dilemma?
I search for the obvious, The Mucus, to no success. The Runny Noses, nothing. The Phlegm-induced Fits Of Coughing And Hacking At Four In The Morning, not a one. And here’s me thinking that if I Google these hypothetical names with the word ‘band’ afterward, I’ll actually find a band to fit the name -- next time. (Edit: here’s Snot and Phelgm...enjoy...)
For now, The Sex Pistols will have to do. And they will do by celebrating (such a PR word) the 30th anniversary of Never Mind the Bollocks by headlining Saturday night at the Isle of Wight Festival this June. Stick around and you might even see The Police close the next night.
06.14.08 - Isle of Wight, UK – Isle of Wight Festival
This is how PR works. It's all that fucked up kind of sneaky stuff. The four-page foldout Camel cigarettes ad in the 40th anniversary issue of Rolling Stone isn't the worst of the worst; it's more bizarre than anything.
If you didn't hear about it or see it, there's a gigantic 4-page pull-out ad in the November issue of Rolling Stone that's called the "Indie Rock Universe," featuring a solar system of cool bands who wear black converse that was also an ad for the now out-of-service "The Farm" website, where you could stream the bands in the ad. Of course, it was all really just a big ad for Camel cigarettes.
Is it as bad as when Edward Bernays christened cigarettes "torches of liberty" and handed out free packs to suffragettes in order to make them popular amongst women? Or astro-turfing?
BUT, several different parties are pissed for several totally understandable reasons.
So far, nine State Attorney Generals have sued R.J. Reynolds (company who owns Camel) for violating the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between 46 states and tobacco manufacturers, which includes a ban on using cartoon images to advertise tobacco, of which the Indie Rock Universe ad is guilty. Because of the violation, which R.J. Reynolds claims they didn't know the ad would take cartoon form, the company faces up to a $100 million fine.
Not to mention the fact that the majority of the named-dropped and streamed bands were never asked permission.
In reaction to this, R.J. Reynolds, as mentioned above, has shut The Farm website and has halted all Indie Rock Universe advertising. Not only that, but due to continued pressure from anti-smoking groups to have the company stop print advertising entirely, R.J. Reynolds has announced it will not advertise in magazines and newspapers at all in 2008.
The use of indie culture for corporate gain is really nothing new, (remember this?); the creepy part is that one of these ad geniuses is probably somewhat "in the know," even though there are some fuck-ups (Spoon is from the Northwest?). For the most part, it's completely packed with self-referencing music geekness, along with the fact that some of the bands listed have done tours sponsored by Camel. Of course, this gets into the tricky debate over whether or not accepting corporate money signifies anything positive about the relationship between art and commerce (assuming they can be truly separated).
But that requires a whole discussion in and of itself.
Pornography. Synthesizers. Tampons. Screaming. Who can imagine the Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah/Solstice season without them? Just as millions of people in cold places eagerly await to see if snow will arrive in time for a picturesque festive season, at least several hundred people are now breathlessly anticipating the release of a very special new Throbbing Gristle DVD. That's right, just in time for the holiday season, everybody's favorite industrial noise performance artists are putting out TGV, a DVD collection including footage of the band's 2004 reunion at London's Astoria Theatre as well as nine complete shows from the period between 1979-1981.
Feeling a little peace-on-earth-goodwill-toward-men emanating from our friends in Throbbing Gristle? Well, stop it! In an official press release, the band states that while you, the proud owner of the TGV DVD, may be getting an insane amount of footage, it's not exactly guaranteed to be on the level of a Merchant Ivory production. This is some raw Gristle! According to the band "the shows from 1979-81 were shot on a single VHS hand-held camera, often in poor lighting conditions, reflecting TG's guerrilla approach to live presentation, technology and documentation." So if you're in the market for a little noise this holiday season, TGV is available on December 24 from Spacelab Music.
Throbbing Gristle live show footage and more:
Recording Heathen Earth at the Industrial Records Studios, Martello St.
Rafters Club, Manchester
The Lyceum, London
Kezar Pavilion, San Francisco
The Derek Jarman film 'Psychic Rally in Heaven' London
Andrew Wheatley ?s film of the Cabinet Gallery Exhibition 'TG24'
Footage of a rehearsal at Mute Studios in February 2004
RE~TG at the Astoria Theatre
All Tomorrow?s Parties at Camber Sands
So, I was with a friend the other day, sitting around reading zines and listening to Television Personalties and Huggy Bear, when suddenly he's like,
"Have you heard Rye Rye?"
"She's on an MIA song?"
He put on her 12-inch of "Shake It to the Ground" and I immediately crapped my pants. Crapped. My. Pants. But seriously, have you heard Rye Rye on the remix of "Paper Planes"? It's pretty ripping, but also ripping are her other songs. "Shake It to the Ground" and "WASSUP WASSUP" are A-fucking-mazing -- they kind of blow my mind. I mean, fierce teenage girl rapping over minimal beats? Uuuuhhhhh yeah!
And MIA? Also pants-crappingly awesome. Do you need to be
If you don't happen to live in the UK, at least take advantage of the internet and go check out the hitssssssssssss.
Hitting it off after being introduced to one another at SXSW, Andy & Mr. Lee Perry have been, by all accounts, working on an album together, laying down what's undoubtedly going to be some of the sickest party music anyone has ever heard ever. Known as Repentance, the album's sessions began in Anaheim, CA before moving to New York City for laying down vocals and then to Jamacia for mixing. Ari Up of The Slits and David Tibet of Current 93 are both contributing vocals to the album, and despite the presence of many more talented artists, everyone's favorite motivational speaker/former Wolf Eyes member Andrew W.K. remains as the primary producer ("Scratch" retains the title of "co-producer").
Repentance is to be released on Narnack Records, temporary home to the likes of The Fall, XBXRX, and Yellow Swans, sometime next spring. Why not?
Beastie Boys Radio Is Back! First Show Airs… A Few Days Ago. Sorry. Well They’re Putting Out a New DVD and Heading Back to the Studio, If That Makes You Feel Any Better
I really meant to tell you about the radio show. I was thinking about it in the shower, and I wanted to write it down. But then I started thinking about that new Beastie Boys DVD, then about the Daft Punk movie, then about how I want to buy a vocoder, and then about how ugly Auto-Tune sounds. By the time I got out of the shower, Beastie Boys Radio had completely slipped my mind. Then I slipped on the bathmat and hurt my groin.
Well, I’m sorry you missed it, because it was really good. The theme for the show was “dance songs,” primarily featuring songs with titles like “Do The Dog” (The Specials version) or “Do The Kick Back” (by JJ Williams). But they also played M.I.A.’s “Bird Flu,” a couple of Rufus Thomas tracks, and a cover of “Monster Mash” by The Misfits. Pretty much everything they played was great, but the best part were the interludes with the boys themselves. Those dudes are so funny, could listen to a two-hour show of them talking. Oh yeah, the show was two hours long.
If it makes you feel any better, I tried to record it. But I couldn’t get the software to work, so I had to install a plug-in. But the plug-in was too new, so I had to upgrade the software. But my stolen serial number didn’t work with the new version of the software. Then I slipped on my laptop and hurt my groin.
The good news is you can catch them next week, and indefinitely after that. The show airs Tuesdays from 4-6 PM EST on littleradio.com. Oh, you’ll probably still be at work at four. I guess I could try to record it for you, since I’ll be home on disability leave for my multiple groin injuries anyway.
Oh shit! I almost forgot! One of the Beastie Boys let slip that they’ll be heading back to the studio soon! Already! You should have been listening! Right, sorry.
Oh hey, it looks like some guy recorded the show and you can download it for free. Cool.
Racism nowadays tends to articulate itself in racist manifestations, rather than through overt racism. The psychological effects of centuries of racial subjugation and discrimination can't easily be washed away through legislation or by policing oneself to withhold racist thoughts, so it's often the case that racism acts increasingly on a subconscious level and is then expressed in more subtle ways. But with a weak enough education system and a culture that often reinforces rather than defies stereotypes, it's no wonder that an Allston, MA soundman's racist remarks could offend rapper Busdriver to the point of immediately leaving Harpers Ferry, the venue in which he was scheduled to perform on November 13.
Regan Farquhar, a.k.a. Busdriver, told the following story to The Phoenix:
Here’s how it started. I settled into the venue and, yeah, I was tired from driving all day. So the soundman approaches me and asks me what’s on the tech rider — you know, what we’re going to need for cords and microphones. I gave him a lose explanation and then sent him to my tech guy, Matt Alsberg also known as Antimc, who did a [tour diary for TMT earlier this year]. And I went upstairs to have something to eat. My tech guy tells him what we’re going to need and the soundman turns to him and says ‘Good thing there’s a white guy on your crew.’ Or something like that.
[After asking Alsberg for the quote again] He actually said, ‘That’s why you gotta have a white guy on your crew.’ Matt asked him to repeat it, and he repeated it. He even went on to say that they had hired like six blacks or something, but that they couldn’t hack it so they had to let them go. I mean, he was implying that because of the color of their skin, they couldn’t wrap their minds around anything technical. So Matt texted me all this and that was it. We walked in, packed up, and left. The manager seemed to feel bad but the point is that this sound guy didn’t see anything wrong with what he said. And that was the problem.
In a letter to Busdriver, Antimc, and Daedelus (the three acts scheduled to perform that night), Harpers Ferry's general manager Andrew Dolan apologized and reiterated the club's zero-tolerance policy for "such behavior." The soundman was apparently fired the next morning and a staff meeting was held the following week regarding "racial sensitivity and appropriate behavior." He ended the letter by saying "words cannot describe how sorry I am and I hope that you do not think ill upon Harpers Ferry as I can assure that what happened is not us and who we are as a club and staff. I welcome you guys back any time in the future to show you what a great venue and staff that we do have here."
Speaking to TMT, Antimc/Matt Alsberg wanted to point out that, despite what happened at this particular venue, they have good friends and have played good shows in Boston. "We hope it isn't something that prevents us from going back there. Hopefully we'll be back through in the future and everyone can come through and have a good time"
12.06.07 - Marseille, France - La Friche Belle de Mai
12.08.07 - Paris, France - Aquaboulvard
12.11.07 - Geneva, Switzerland - L'Usine
12.21.07 - Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour (with Antimc and Daedelus)
12.16.07 - Eagle Rock, CA - Eagle Rock Center - LA Record X-Mas Party
12.21.07 - Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour (with Busdriver and Daedelus)
12.06.07 - Miami, FL - Upper Eastside Garden
12.08.07 - Athens, GA - Next to Last Fast
12.14.07 - Phoenix, AZ - Stray Cat Lounge
12.21.07 - Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour (with Busdriver and Antimc)