Iran Declares Rap Music Illegal

Rappers, put down your passports! Just when you thought Iran has made enough headlines this year, the country has now decided to make rap music illegal due to its "obscene" lyrical content. But can they really do that?

The answer, my friends, is yes. Unlike in America, where we have this little thing called “Freedom of Speech” -- however debatable that might be -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad likes to instead spend his time dealing with things of greater importance, like constantly trying to make nice with the U.S. or saying "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals, like in your country" (sure, the Western conception of "homosexuals" can't easily be applied to Iran, but possible death penalities?).

So, why the sudden crackdown on rap music? “There is nothing wrong with this type of music in itself,” said Mohammad Dashtgoli, an official for evaluation of music at the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry. “But due to the use of obscene words by its singers, this music has been categorized as illegal.” Dashtgoli continued, “In coordination with the police, illegal studios producing this type of music will be sealed and the singers in the genre will be confronted.”

Daaaaamn, a possible confrontation between the Iranian cops and rappers?! Sheeeeiiit.

Let’s Write A News Story: Marah – Which Sounds A Lot Like Mirah – Is Touring; Hey What Is Mirah Up To?

1. Look for a band on tour. Let’s see... hey, Marah, that sounds awfully like Mirah. Maybe it’s a typo?
2. Alright, it’s not a typo. Marah is, in fact, its own band. Now we’ve gotta make the most of it.
3. Angle, what’s a good angle. Let’s look at the website of the band’s booking agency, The Billion Corporation...
4. Aww shit, Mirah gets hooked up by these suckaz too. Wut a crazy tidbit.
5. Fact from booking agent: "Marah turned ten years old in July 2005"... one of those little kid bands maybe?
6. Damn, those entrepreneurial munchkins are selling their You Can’t Take it With You EP on vinyl and Der iTunes. Whoa, then they’re releasing a record called Angels of Destruction early next year.
7. They grow beards fast for prepubescents. Kids are growing up older these days I guess.
8. Okay, that’ll do. Results: name recognition of ‘Marah’ increases by 5.8%; confusion about the difference between ‘Marah’ and ‘Mirah’ at an all-time high.

Let me try to help:

Mirah: (1)woman

Marah: (1)man + ((x)man + (y)woman)

Mirah: Name that contains the letter ‘I,’ the ninth letter of the Latin alphabet sometimes used to indicate an imaginary unit in mathematics.

Marah: Name that twice contains the letter ‘A,’ first letter of the Latin alphabet whose origins can be traced to a scratchy Egyptian drawings of an ox’s head.

That about sums it up.

Oh yeah.... Marah tourdates:

Mirah also has shows, so I might as well:
01.23.08 - San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall $$$
01.25.08 - Los Angeles, CA - Henry Fonda Theater $$$

$$$ Co-headlining with The Blow

Fuck Diamonds: Take Your Lady To An Upcoming Richard Hawley Show

You may know him from his time as touring guitarist for Pulp or as a member of the Longpigs, but Richard Hawley (not to be confused with the classical composer of the same name or techno mainstay Richie Hawtin) is a mighty fine solo musician in his own right. He released his latest LP, Lady's Bridge (Mute) late last summer and has been receiving raves for it, as he had for his previous three LPs. 2005's Cole's Corner (Mute) was even nominated for the UK's Mercury Prize.

This man hearts ‘50s music, his hometown of Sheffield, and Scott Walker (does anyone from Pulp not L-O-V-E SW?), and has taken those influences and spun them into something romantic, lovely, and new. Maybe one day he will be coined the "Godfather of Post-New Romantic," a genre that does not yet exist. Of course, some johnny-come-lately prat will probably swing in a few years later and make shit-tons of money off his musical ideas and "Post-New Romantic" in general. Ugh.

That is kind of depressing, so let's not think about it -- we should focus on RH's upcoming North American tour. It starts December 1 in NYC and finds the man going for about two weeks, until the festivities wrap-up in LA on December 13.

Add Some Iron and Wine to Your Diet with a Delicious Extended Tour!

There are so many things that one can extend! What about a ladder, or say, a foreign visa? Maybe you feel like getting a tax extension, or doing something similar with your hair? The possibilities don’t stop there, though — oh no! You can extend a warranty or condolences to a loved one. Now I’m sure you’ll agree with me that these are all fine things, but definitely not on the same level of fun as when a favorite artist extends their touring schedule.

That’s what the wonderful Iron and Wine have just done, and in a BIG way!
Our man Sam Beam will transform cities from Cali to Copenhagen this winter with a little iron, a little wine, and a whole lot of haunting lo-fi songwriting. And in honor of Mr. Beam’s hard work, I will extend this article no longer and provide you with a dazzling array of opportunities to see Iron and Wine in a city near (or not so near) you.

* Califone

Note to New Zealand/Australia/Japan RE: Gossip

Have you seen The Gossip live? If not, you really need to prioritize and go see them when they come through your town... actually, anywhere NEAR your town. Admittedly, I don't own any of their records, like 2006's Standing in The Way of Control (TMT Review), but I can tell you without hesitation that The Gossip are amazing live.

Why, you ask? One reason is that no matter who Beth Ditto is performing in front of, she acts exactly the same. I have seen this band both in basements and at huge festivals (via live footage), and Beth sings and screams with all her heart, takes her shirt off if it's too hot, and then tells you about watching crap reality TV. She's been on the cover of NME, and she's still the same, awesome queer feminist lady that she was in the basements of Olympia playing for five people. Another reason? I saw them once at this weird show in Berlin, where the sparse audience consisted mainly of middle-aged industry dudes -- she ended the set by making a fake dick with a beer bottle under her dress, before flipping off the audience. It was totally hilarious.

Not to mention that Hannah and Brace are totally electric to watch.

So go already!

Black Lips Add Tourdates, Star in Let It Be (VICE Magazine Readers’ Wettest of Wet Dreams)

About a year ago, I saw The Black Lips do the following on stage: vomit, make out (after vomiting), display gold teeth grilles, spit in the air and catch it... I think you get the point here. And now I hear they're some kinda movie stars and shit? Times have changed, my dears.

Let It Be (and we don't mean no Beatles) drops us down in the trendiest of eras to be nostalgic about: the late ‘80s post-punk American underground rock scene.

The following will be true about this movie:

1. The Black Lips will star as The Band (not that one), representing the tumultuous nature and culture of this time period.
2. It will be produced by Andrew Meyer (Fried Green Tomatoes, The Breakfast Club) and Winn Coslick (The Bottom).
3. It will be directed by producer/director Roger Rawlings (Neurotica).
4. It will contain more than one outfit that falls in a certain magazine's category of "Do."
5. It will begin filming in May of 2008 and feature new tunes from The Black Lips.

The following will be false about this movie:

1. James Vanderbeek will play the supporting role of "all-purpose lameass yuppie white kid who doesn't 'get it.'"
2. The Black Lips will all make out while pouring beer on each other and ride off into the sunset.
3. Michael Douglas will reprise his role in Wall Street.

Here are some tourdates. All true:

Upcoming tourdates:

(Some for now!)

Foo Fighters to Keep On Being All “In Our Faces” by Touring in 2008, Dave Grohl to Solidify Reputation as Aging, Hippie Classic-Rockster by Raising Money to Plant Trees

Is it just me, or is Dave Grohl just rapidly turning into Neil Young?

And it’s not just that they’re really kinda starting to look eerily alike, either.

Granted, the longtime Foo Fighters frontman is probably a good 25 or so years younger than the infamous, squeaky-voiced folk-rocker, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping him from smashing willfully through the boundaries of relevancy and into that same weird, lonely, elder-statesman’s world -- a world where cultural and political ballyhooing, nagging responsibilities to a younger generation, and the pandering of fan-appeasing, self-caricaturing music (ahhhem) all become more important than innovating and writing kick-dick rock songs.

It is seemingly with this new attitude of unapologetic insufficiency that old-man Grohl and his cronies have announced that they will be hitting the road this coming January for a string of dates supporting the comfortably lukewarm Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace, released this past fall on Roswell/RCA.

And, in another move befitting of the aging rock icon-turned-caretaker of his own legacy, Grohl and the Foos’ upcoming tour will feature guest stars aplenty in order to bloat the arrangements and make fans feel like they’re getting their money’s worth of that arena-sized ticket price, including Pat Smear on guitar, Rami Jaffee on keyboards, and Jessie Greene on strings. (Hey, SOMEONE’s got to help the Foos out with all of their Arcade Fire covers and shit.)

But what elder-statesman’s tour would be complete without the classic “never mind my music, support this charity” tag attached? And god bless him; Grohl and co. have actually found a darned worthy one. See, for fans who want to ensure themselves good seats and support a good cause at the same time, a limited quantity of premium tickets for a number of shows will be auctioned off through Ticketmaster, the proceeds from which will benefit local urban tree planting through TreeBank, an online donation system dedicated to urban forest tree planting. Each auction will run for approximately two weeks following each show's on-sale date, and TreeBank will distribute auction proceeds to local "branches" (ha, get it?) for tree planting in every community on the Foo Fighters tour. You can find more information about the program here and here, but not here.

My, my, hey, hey. See you in Saskatoon:

Copyright Alliance (Including RIAA) Sends Ridiculous Poll to Presidential Candidates; Stance on Intellectual Property Enforcement Turns Hella Political

For those smart-but-no-genius students who make it to a university, the California State education system created STAT 100 Intro to Statistics for would-be art and journalism majors as a way to fulfill what would otherwise be a challenging GE math requirement. I took this class two years ago, and if there's one thing I learned, it's that statistics can be manipulated to represent and say whatever you want, and since most people are cheating liars, statistics derived from seemingly innocent polling questionnaires are not to be trusted.

But you didn't have to pass STAT 100 with a C or better to see through the outrageous and innate bias in questions such as "How would you promote the progress of science and creativity, as enumerated in the U.S. Constitution, by upholding and strengthening copyright law and preventing its diminishment?"

This question ACTUALLY appeared on a questionnaire sent out by a coalition of publishing companies last Tuesday. The 44-member, Washington, DC-based Copyright Alliance (made up of such stick-in-the-mud hoity toities as RIAA, Viacom, Microsoft, Walt Disney and the Motion Picture Association of America), sent the questionnaire (along with a letter which can be viewed and criticized here and here) to 17 Democratic and Republican ‘08 presidential candidates, requesting their responses by January 7 in order to inform "the creative community and public at large where our presidential candidates stand on copyright and artists' rights."

Can you see me waving the pirates' red "BULLSHIT!" flag right now? I'm waving!

According to RIAA chief Mitch Bainwol, "When Americans vote, they are making decisions about the values important to them. And one of those values must be a commitment to creativity."

As if sharing copyrighted musical content was a malicious act intent on smiting the despised value of creativity.

"Haha! I've just uploaded an album to my blog because I hate music and the artistic community at large," says the malevolent, digital pirate.

As the questionnaire continues with "How would you protect the rights of creators to express themselves freely under the principles established in the First Amendment?" one gets the feeling that generous, music-loving pirates are being vilified as freedom haters. Which they may well be.

You hating haters, you know who you are. Shame on you.

Tonight Let’s All Make Love in… Providence? Silversun Pickups U.S. Tour Begins!

“I am the Greatest. I said that even before I knew I was.” -- Muhammad Ali.

You see it happen in sports all of the time: parents, coaches, and the media bully kids into becoming sport-saving phenoms. When they inevitably fail to deliver the goods, their careers are dead before they had the chance to see their balls drop or boobies blossom. You see it in music too. While the really talented musicians grind away for that super-slim chance of actually earning a living making music, there is a new hotter-than-hot-shit band (who are actually cold-shit, not hot-shit) who are given unwarranted, deity-like status in every conceivable media outlet every day (including pimping from those old-timey street urchins with their body placards). More often than not, these superclowns actually realize their dreams of releasing an album, and after getting a quick whiff of unearned success, they slink back to resume their lives working in stores, of both the retail and convenience variety. It is the way it goes, and unfortunately it happens so much you start dismissing any young band that gets a bit of press. It's like, "I've been burned too many times in the past, so I think I know better, and now I think I know exactly what I’m getting into and run off quickly in the opposite direction at the first sniff of misdirected hype." It’s sad to be such a curmudgeon, but it’s true.

Silversun Pickups are a band that I saw in and on every magazine and website this year and thought they might be the latest targets of hastily handed-out plaudits. But I couldn’t dismiss them as pretenders after experiencing their wonderful Carnavas album (Dangerbird Records), and I’m not the only one apparently. The band is having a hell of a year and are being treated to much-deserved attention from everyone, everywhere (although I haven't seen any body-billboards guys around). If hearing their fabulous full-length tutorial, their half-length lesson in kickassity called the Pikul EP (out in 2005 but just re-released in the UK), and reading my 10-cent words here aren’t enough to convince the saps that SSPU are poised to hit the big leagues with a oversized can of wallop ass, a quick glance at the tourdates below reveals the undeniable proof: amphitheatres!. Ooh la la... rock stars!
11.28.07 - Providence, RI - Lupo’s
11.29.07 - Richmond, VA - Toad’s Place
12.01.07 - West Palm Beach, FL - Sound Advice Amphitheatre
12.02.07 - Tampa, FL - Ford Amphitheater
12.04.07 - Charlotte, NC - Amos’ Southend
12.05.07 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
12.06 07 - Mesa, AZ - Mesa Amphitheatre
12.12.07 - Chicago, IL - House of Blues
12.13.07 - Austin, TX - Emo’s
12.14.07 - Grand Prairie, TX - Nokia Theatre
12.15.07 - St. Louis, MO - The Pageant
12.16.07 - Duluth, GA - The Arena at Gwinnett Center

Sparks to Perform Their Entire Catalog Live, Album by Album; A Very Small Portion of the Public is Staggeringly Excited, Another Very Small Portion of the Public Is Making Fun of Them, Everyone Else Is Sorry But Would Really Like Us to Keep it Down

It seems like everyone who has ever heard Sparks in my company either immediately “get it” or wish they could gouge their eardrums out. I love Sparks. Many upstanding, educated people do not. Thurston Moore is on my side, while reports suggest Kim Gordon is not. In spite of the fact that many modern experimental bands would kill for such a crowd response, Sparks has always struck me as a band that deserves a second (or third) look.

It’s probably not intentional (it actually strikes me as one of the less histrionic things the Mael brothers have ever done), but nothing screams “Look at us!” quite like performing all 20 of your studio albums in order over 20 nights.

Halfnelson, Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing, Kimono My House, Proaganda, Indiscreet, Big Beat, Introducing Sparks, No. 1 In Heaven, Terminal Jive, Whomp That Sucker, Angst in My Pants, Outer Space, Pulling Rabbits Out of a Hat, Music That You Can Dance To, Interior Design, Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins, Plagiarism, Balls, Lil Beethoven and Hello Young Lovers will be performed in that order at London’s Islington Academy this May and June. The 21st and final night of the band’s residency will see them performing their as-yet-untitled 21st studio album.

A Small Aside: There used to be a video on YouTube of Sparks performing live on some television show hosted by Danny DeVito. They performed “Mickey Mouse” and the performance was preceded by a hilarious, DeVito-flabbergasting monologue about how mice are “usually known for ingesting massive amounts of saccharine for laboratory experiments, but sometimes they manage to break into show business.” The video in question is perfect and can no longer be found. If that video can ever be tracked down, many points will no doubt be scored for the side of me, Thurston Moore, and Sparks.

  

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