Built to Spill are going on tour, and again without a new album to support. Fans and sphincter-looking music writers alike may speculate various reasons for the band putting off recording the follow-up to 2005's You In Reverse. Some may be more optimistic (that they are focused on producing poignant material), and some pessimistic (that Doug Martsch and company are "fraidy cats" after the resonating diatribes of 2001's Ancient Melodies of the Future), but I know what's really going on here.
After a few alcoholic beverages, several porn clips featuring the ex-stars of Wild & Crazy Kids, and much typical TMT fact-finding, I came across a little known band that makes psychedelic jams for kids, appropriately called The Sippy Cups. You see, it is my belief that everyone has an arch enemy in the universe, and The Sippy Cups (named after drinking cups built NOT to spill) aren't exactly best buds with Built to Spill.
Generally moving at antipodal points in order to keep the earth balanced on its axis, BTS are now looking to fuck things up by chasing down The Sippy Cups ("Sissy" Cups, as Martsch likes to say) on a tour of the U.S. Once defeated, only then will BTS be psychologically ready to record a new album.
For now, the plot to take down The Sippy Cups is on!
I don't know about you, but I always assumed Atlas didn't make much noise. As anyone who ever took high school English will remember, this is the guy who had to carry the entire weight of the world on his shoulders. (And you thought you had it rough.) I can't imagine that such a task would allow much time for chitchat. So, I guess it stands to reason that Atlas Sound, Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox's solo project, is being billed as a "bedroom album." While that isn't quite a genre, it seems like we can expect something a bit quieter and more meditative than Cryptograms (TMT Review).
In keeping with the sensory motif, the album, which is due February 19, will be called Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel (Kranky). Add the band name, and Cox has three of the five senses covered.
Perhaps Atlas Sound's upcoming North American tour will provide inspiration for an EP that addresses smell and taste. You can never go wrong with a song about the odor of Vancouver (weed) or Brooklyn (really good Caribbean food mixed with garbage, at least in my neighborhood). And how about a little ditty about cheesesteak in Philly?
Smells like tourdates with Kranky artists White Rainbow and Valet:
The following information was taken from a flyer that was distributed by freelancers writing for MTV:
This year, MTV Networks decided to deliver your holiday party invite
with an announcement of a new plan for Freelancers that includes
reduced inferior health benefits, no 401K plan, no paid holidays, and
What do we do? Suck it up and deal? Leave the company? There is a
third option- 50% of the company stands up and says "WE DO NOT ACCEPT
USE YOUR VOICE. BE HEARD. Join us and WALK OUT Monday 3pm.
Needless to say, freelancers have it rough. They don't have much say in a company as they'd like to -- just ask some of my fellow TMT co-workers. It's easy to exploit writers when their position of power is minimal, isn't it Mr P? Anyway, who knows if this MTV walkout will have any effect on the new plan, but at least they're trying.
Now walk it out.
Stereogum Swaps Shares for Buzznet Stake in an Estimated $5 Million Deal, Worried Stereogum Reader Writes In to TMT
Dear Tiny Mix Tapes,
After coming home from a long day working at my local independent record shop, I opened up my web browser to find that my favorite music news website Stereogum is going to be involved in some sort of deal. Could you tell me what this is about? Should I find a new source for music news?
- Shaking in Vintage Cowboy Boots
Dear Loser (Chris),
You heard right! Stereogum’s owners (founder Scott Lapatine and former executives from AOL and MTV) have decided to swap their shares in Stereogum for stakes in social networking site Buzznet. Estimated at $5 million, the deal does not mean they’re cashing out of Stereogum, only that they’re moving equity stakes to Buzznet. Translation: Stereogum is corporately owned, and the corporate owners are talking about BORING LEGAL CRAP.
As for your second question: does God hate you or something? Is that why you’re reading sites other than TMT? You need no other source but here. We can assure you we don't have executives from AOL and MTV.
Tiny Mix Tapes
Matador to Release a CD of Prank Calls; Can’t Be Any More of a Joke Than Whatever Recent Matador Release You Were Disappointed With
At this point in your life, you’re probably either ready to buy a double album of prank calls or you’re not. No amount of art by Devendra Banhart or forewords by Neil Hamburger, Gerard Cosloy, and Neal Pollack will grease those steely, set-in-their-ways wheels. The fact remains that, for the past week and a half, I have been too busy quoting Earles & Jensen’s “My Friends Call Me Ditchweed, Don’t Ask, OK, Go Ahead and Ask” (MP3) to complete this story.
I can all but guarantee that this album will inspire a spat of drunken, horrible phone calls from the Matador-listening public. Kids: Prank phone calls -- like cooking eggs, heart surgery, Doors covers, and blogging -- are something best left in the hands of talented professionals. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re good at any of those things, you’re better off not wasting my time and yours.
Earles & Jensen's Just Farr A Laugh Vol. 1 and 2 will be released February 19, 2008. Check the Matablog for more info on the album.
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.