An Asthmatic Kitty DVD Featuring Sufjan Stevens, Castanets, and Others Means It’s Always Six O’Clock and Tea-Time!

“'All right,' said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.”

Lewis Carroll's famous passage about the sly existentialist Cheshire Cat is well known; his one about the Asthmatic Kitty is less so (apparently it was due to appear in the aborted Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland sequel Alice: Back 2 Wunderland, Yo!):

“‘Achoo,’ said the Kitty, and this time it slowly exited the room chronically convulsing and coughing up colloid and some uncooked macaroni, a Hershey's Kiss wrapper, and a string of used dental floss that he had scavenged out of the kitchen garbage earlier in the day while his master was cooking up grilled cheese. It dragged its inflamed bronchial airway and arse out the door first, like it was getting ready to keel over and croak. Its departure was marred by a long stop for rest and water, some spasming, and a couple of puffs on its broncho-dilating inhaler. Finally, it disappeared from the room; upon leaving, it tried to muster up the effort to smile, but all that resulted was a rank and rancid kitty fart that was anything but cute and coy and that remained waaaaaay too long for anyone’s liking.”

Ah yes, pity the storied Asthmatic Kitty of yore, but do not for one minute turn a sympathetic eye toward the superb label that shares its peculiar moniker. Asthmatic Kitty -- home of Shapes and Sizes, Castanets, Half-handed Cloud, and “someone named Sufjan” -- would never put on such a degrading display. The imprint spins class, as evidenced from its super strong vinyl and CD releases -- and now its DVDs. The first-ever Asthmatic Kitty DVD is called Encyclopedia Asthmatica, Volume 1, and as you would expect, it is cobbled together with the care and love that is synonymous with the close-knit group of musical friends.

The visual compendium has box art and stop-animation menus designed by do-no-wrong fine/video artists Zack and Gala Bent, a performance by the think/dance collective to the music of Half-handed Cloud, stop-gap music arrangements by the truly talented Rafter (Roberts), and videos and live performances featuring appearances by a good amount of the AK roster of bands, artists, friends, hangers-on, and most certainly a YouTube video contest winner thrown in for good measure too.

The DVD is set for release March 4 but is available for a limited, slightly cheaper pre-order price through Secretly Canadian here.

Aaaccchhhoooooommmeeeooowww:

1. Bunky - “Hippopotamus (live, SXSW 2005)”
2. Bunky - “Baba”
3. Bunky - “Space Alien”
4. Castanets - “A Song Is Not the Song of the World”
5. Castanets - “Smallest Bones”
6. Castanets - “Good Friend, Yr Hunger (live, SXSW 2007)”
7. Half-Handed Cloud - “You Wouldn’t Embarrass Me Would You?”
8. Half-Handed Cloud - “Tongues Possess the Earth Instead”
9. Half-Handed Cloud - think/dance collective performance
10. Liz Janes - “Jesus Is a Dying Bed Maker”
11. Liz Janes - “All the Pretty Horses”
12. My Brightest Diamond - “Freak Out!”
13. My Brightest Diamond - Live at Northsix
14. My Brightest Diamond - “Dragonfly”
15. My Brightest Diamond - “Gone Away”
16. My Brightest Diamond - “Magic Rabbit”
17. Rafter - “Adventurers”
18. Rafter - “ZZZPenchant”
19. Rafter - “Gentlemen”
20. Rafter - “Hope”
21. Rafter - “Monsters”
22. Rafter - “Encouragement”
23. Shapes and Sizes - “Teller/Seller”
24. Shapes and Sizes - “Jinker/That Fat Hand”
25. Shapes and Sizes - “Can’t Stop that (Sinking) Feeling”
26. Sufjan Stevens - “Jacksonville (live, Calvin college 2007)”
27. Sufjan Stevens - “Palm Sunday Tornado Hits Crystal Lake”
28. Sufjan Stevens - “The Undivided Self (for Eddie & Popo)”
29. Sufjan Stevens - “The Vivian Girls Are Visited in the Night by Saint Dargarius and His Squadron of Benevolent Butterflies”
30. Sufjan Stevens - “Put the Lights on the Tree”
31. The Curtains - “Go Lucky”
32. The Curtains - “Spinning Top”

Radiohead, Ever the Masters at Carrot-Dangling, Confirm North American Venues for May; August Dates Forthcoming

The coolest thing about Radiohead is how they announce their tourdates. First, they announce the European leg. Second, they announce just the cities they will play in North America. And now, they're only announcing May's North American venues, with the August venues still unannounced! Damn, they are so forward-thinking!

Expect artists like NIN, Blur, and the newly reformed Stone Temple Pilots (hey, they have a song called "Creep" too) to follow suit, but before then, you should get your Radiohead tickets. The pre-sale happens this Thursday, Valentine's Day. No pre-sale time has been announced -- nor are they expected to (again, so forward-thinking!) -- but we do know the tickets will go on sale here.

According to At Ease: "It has now been confirmed that the shows in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver will all take place in August 2008. Dates and venues for these cities will be announced later on."

Thom just re-posted the "Videotape" video here. And I'm posting the newly refreshed tourdates here:

Warner Music to Buy Now-Defunct Death Row Records, the Latter of Which Are Regretting That Name Choice

Remember when we were scared of the major record labels forming one huge conglomerate and sucking the life out of every profitable recording artist? These days, it's more like a melting blob, eating little people as it flails around the city, trying to survive. (I watch a lot of bad horror movies.)

For example: Warner Music has announced its intent to purchase the remaining assets of Death Row Records, which went under once the CEO spent a little too much time in the clink. Death Row filed for bankruptcy after Marion "Suge" Knight's excessive absences, and Warner swooped in on the upcoming auction with an initial bid to the tune of $25 billion. Want a 2Pac-alicious back catalogue for your very own? Beat that bid by a million or more on April 11, and you're all set. Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre can also be your very own for this nice price... come on, you know you want to. Besides, all Warner Music is gonna do is milk the shit out of these new assets until too many people start protesting the 2Pac Beanie Babies in Wal-Mart. You laugh now...

The Friz’s 50th TMT News Story Celebration Special Featuring Special Guest Jose Gonzalez Tour Info

For my 50th TMT News Story Anniversary, we initially had a whole party planned – cake, noise-makers, those pointy paper hats with garrote wire elastic chinstraps. That was until the TMT Central Planning Committee voted down the “ungreen” idea. Sending 50+ paper invitations by mail would have been kind of expensive, and plus no one had time to go to Party City for supplies. It was tentatively decided to put all events on hold, at least until the whole Tijuana fiasco blew over. Plus Mr P said that if Jose Gonzalez could figure out a way to make his upcoming North American tour bodaciously green, then why not us.

But Scout Leader Kyle (whose TMT legacy was celebrated a few weeks prior), Petya Romanov (whose legacy includes, but isn’t limited to, the various strands of the herpes virus currently circulating the office (TMT News), and I decided to go for it anyway.

Using inconceivably complex Google-like metrics to triangulate the closest rendezvous point, we met in Claysville, Pennsylvania at Allum's Family Restaurant off I-70. We managed to scrape up enough money from the TMT Petty Cash box for a decorative cake and some thruway trinket party favors.

Ordering round after round of dribbly black coffee in the coal-mining bosom of rural Appalachia, the meal could have been described as peaceful, even serene, by most standards. I picked at the remnants of my fried egg and cheese as we discussed Dreamcast, tourdate formatting, and titty bars.

“I mean, not to get too technical, but isn’t this really your 53rd story?” said Petya nervously eying his bike locked outside.

“Yeah, but this whole ‘green’ thing turned out to be such a hassle,” I responded. “It took a week to get my VW converted to bio-diesel. And stopping at the Cracker Barrel in Wilkes-Barre to fill up on fryer grease was such a hassle.”

“I don’t mind eating off biodegradable plates, but having to wipe with that brown paper bag TP? I’m not so sure,” chimed in Scout.

“I think this whole ‘green’ thing is all just a marketing ploy. I don’t buy it,” said Petya.

Silence rolled over the group in tacit agreement, already thinking of ways to make the next batch of tour news interesting and/or self indulgent.

Gail, who’d been dutifully replenishing the coffee all afternoon, came back to deliver the check.

“Why is this cake in the shape of a boner?”

$ Mountain Stage TV Taping
@ Mia Doi Todd

The Release Date for The New Boris Album Smile Is As Sound As A Bell

Boris have always been as strong as an ox, and being a metal band from Japan makes them as sweet as sake. The new album, Smile, is as tight as a drum and will be released like a snug bug in a rug April 29. Hopefully it's not dry as a bone.

The band is also releasing a limited 7-inch single February 26, and it'll include "Statement" from the album and a B-side called "Floorshaker," which if their past music is any indication will hopefully sound as bold as brass.

Make a Wish. Was It for Richard Villalobos to Make a Rare North American Appearance? Because It Has Come True! Oh, It Was for McDonald’s to Issue a Limited-Edition “Mac Tonight” Bobblehead? You Douchebag!

Ten things you don’t see often:
10. Halley’s Comet.
9. Nicole Ritchie and her boyfriend Karl Malden.
8. A romantic comedy that can be considered romantic or a comedy.
7. Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam.
6. Mr P shirtless (sigh...someday).
5. Iroc-Z limousines.
4. Life on mars.
3. Animal contact lenses. Or as I like to call them: "Animal-eyez!"
2. Boners in sweatpants.

1. Ricardo Villalobos in North America.

Talking to XLR8R’s Tony Ware in September 2007, the Chilean-born, Berlin-based, hugely-entertaining DJ Ricardo Villalobos said: “My whole life changed because of American politics, so it’s my way of protesting, of saying something against what is happening in Chile in 1973 or whatever is happening at the moment, is not to go to America. But I would like to have the feeling to go as someone invited for something important, something with joy, not something strange trying to invade. I really would like to come."

This personal boycott has resulted in Villalobos being an extremely rare sight to North American shores during the past decade. That will change for one night in March when Villalobos ("Townwolves" or “Housewolves,” if we were to translate his name hyper-literally and totally unnecessarily) comes across the Atlantic for a show. He will not be playing the United States, where his political snub remains in effect. Nor will he be playing Mexico, where he should be dead against that country’s policy of police-patrolling the beaches and stopping me from getting my bone on during a vacation there in 1997. Villalobos will be playing North America, though, in Montréal, Canada (“the Mexico of the North”) March 1, as part of the fifth annual “Nuit Electronik” at Metropolis. The Mutek and Piknic Electronik co-sponsored all-nighter will feature Villalobos spinning a headlining set as well as playing with fellow Chilean-born, Berlin-based DJ Dandy Jack (Martin Schopf) as “Ric y Martin” (geddit?).

Villalobos did say he would lift his embargo and would like to play the U.S. if he gets an appropriate and viable offer. So don't just sit there and slump further into your chasm of depression (read: your ratty futon) -- make him an offer! If you don't, you will simply have to make your way to “la belle province” to see the living legend of minimalist techno. If all else fails, feel free to celebrate the birthdays of the super hot Mark-Paul Gosselaar and the super cute Mary Lou Lord on March 1 anyway.

“Housewolves” with Dandy Jack, Ric Y Martin, DJ Poontz, Vincent Lemieux, Che Vi Che, and Bliss:
03.01.08 - Montréal, Quebec - Metropolis

MTV President Christina Norman Calls It Quits, Plans to Develop Reality Show Actually Based on Reality

Attention world! President Christina Norman has decided to quit her job at MTV (the worst thing to happen to music since "Freebird," with the possible exception of Woodstock ‘99). Honestly, nobody should care about this. MTV should have ceased being culturally relevant sometime in the late 1990s, yet has somehow maintained a firm grip on the United States youth. MTV has always managed to corrupt children, but some could argue that they were influencing a more expressive, artistic audience. Good luck convincing anybody that Celebreality (a concoction of Norman) has any redeeming inspirational or educational qualities.

Actually, I've already given Norman too much credit. MTV had long been heading to irrelevance before she took charge in 2005, eventually bringing us classics such as The Hills and A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila. I don't think she can be blamed for the continual downfall of the once great musical icon. Nobody can. MTV has become a cognizant being, perpetuating its own desires through human pawns that keep the public from becoming suspicious. While this theory is disputed by several scientists and gynecologists, several sophisticated computer models have been developed to predict MTVs future trajectory. While still confidential, the results are rumored to point to an elderly Roseanne Barr undergoing liposuction.

I performed a Turing test on a television set tuned to MTV, and while I was convinced for a short time that I was indeed speaking to a 12-year-old girl, the final results were inconclusive.

Deerhoof Add Ed Rodriguez on Guitar

Deerhoof tourdates:

DJ Qbert Tours Europe. I Know A Secret.

Q is basically the illest turntablist dude ever. It is hard for me to explain this in other ways, but here’s my best shot:

It is rare to have a chance to witness a performance by a musician who can be considered the greatest in their field. Both the master and the greatest innovator, no one has done as much for turntablism as Qbert. Having invented many of the techniques that are in practice today, including the ludicrously difficult hyperdrumming, he continues to push the limits of skratching. He even created the first all-in-one instrument for turntablists, the QFO. Never one to keep his techniques a secret, Qbert created Turntable TV, two DVDs of Do-It-Yourself skratch instructions, and, most recently, the Scratchlopedia Breaktannica in order to let other DJs attempt (and fail) to match his skills. I would stake all of my credibility as a music listener and journalist on this entirely non-ironic statement: DJ Q-bert can be best compared, in terms of skill, experimentation, innovation, and attitude, to one of his greatest influences, Jimi Hendrix. He also happens to be hilarious (seen Wave Twisters?) and, somehow, humble (he claims he won the DMC World Championship three years in a row by “luck”). See? Q is basically the illest dude.

Oh, also, I’m not telling.

DJ Qbert Is Not Just A Good Story, He Is Still Alive, And You Can See His European Tour:

* DJ Qbert is probably aware that South Africa is not part of Europe.

EMI Set to Release A Radiohead Greatest Hits Compilation, Despite Their Wishes

If your band is signed to EMI, there are three things you can do to ensure your discography doesn't meet the fate of an embarrassing greatest hits compilation (aside from avoiding majors altogether):

(1) Suck.

Perhaps the most popular choice, the majority of artists signed to EMI are dropped after their first album because they suck. Seems like a negative thing at first, but it is actually the easiest way for you to avoid the embarrassment of your bosses releasing a greatest hits comp in the future. Most artists I've talked to love this option. Quick and only slightly painful. "Highly recommended!" says The Stomp, a post-punk band from 2002 who were dropped right after first single, "Terry Cloth," bombed

(2) Stay signed with the label forever.

This is a bit tougher, but it has been effective so far for artists like AC/DC and Metallica, who refuse to release greatest hits compilations. For the most part, EMI is cool with you not releasing a greatest hits compilation, so long as you stick with the label. However, there are no guarantees with this option. And beware EMI's motto: "All bets are off when you die."

(3) Don't self-release your album on the internet and then later sign with an independent.

This is a given, but since they're so Britishly stubborn, Radiohead did the exact opposite of this and are now paying the price. According to At Ease, EMI is set to release a greatest hits compilation to coincide with the Radiohead's upcoming tour. Like the 7CD box set released last year (link intentionally excluded) to coincide/complete with the In Rainbows "discbox" version, EMI is obviously not embarrassed to release a greatest hits compilation (Fake Karma Creeps?), despite Radiohead explicitly saying in the past that they never want to release one.

Radiohead reactions:

- Ed O'Brien, speaking to Strombo: “[Laughing] They’re planning to do a Greatest Hits for April, May to coincide with our tour. That’s an interesting one. We won’t be doing any promotion for that, obviously.”

- Phil Selway, speaking to Analogue: “It’s well within their rights to do it. [Sigh] So we’ll have to see.”

Fucking private equities (TMT News). Anyway, expect Radiohead's North American venues to be announced this week.