EMI Canada Introduces Recycled Music in Recycled Packaging

EMI Music Canada is going green with its new "Platinum" series of releases featuring digipaks made of 100% recycled material. The releases repackage hits by EMI, Capitol, and Virgin greats such as The Band, Miles Davis, Blondie, Fats Domino, Al Green, and MC Hammer.

If EMI really wanted to show its commitment to the environment, maybe executives should have put a bit more thought into releasing an MC Hammer retrospective at all. Record store bargain bins are already straining to hold all the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze soundtracks, Now That's What I Call Music compilations, and Train albums as it is. And experts speculate that an MC Hammer greatest hits release could stress sales racks to the breaking point, spilling countless copies of Jennifer Love Hewitt records and endangering record store employees, shoppers, and goths who just hang out there all day.

"This could not come at a worse time," said Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Ken Lorraine*. "We've been tracking the capacity of record store bargain bins for decades. Throughout history, they have swelled and emptied on a predictable cycle. But, in the past 10 years, they have become increasingly full. This pre-holiday MC Hammer release, coupled with a massive sell back of the new Mandy Moore album, could be too much."

With MC Hammer Greatest Hits still taking up space despite 10 years on the shelves, Lorraine said now is not the time for another Hammer album, no matter what it's packaged in.

Though many people already own compilations by other "Platinum" artists, Lorraine does not consider re-releasing hits packages by Chet Baker or Nat King Cole to be as detrimental to bargain bins as the MC Hammer collection.

"Typically, people either own a Kenny Rogers collection and would not purchase this new release, or they would realize they need a Kenny Rogers collection that includes his Sheena Easton duet, 'We've Got Tonight,'" Lorraine said. "In the latter case, the album would remain a part of that buyer's record collection for years and stay out of the bargain bins we're trying to protect."

An MC Hammer album, on the other hand, may be purchased for "U Can't Touch This" or "2 Legit 2 Quit" alone, Lorraine said. He added that once listeners got to Hammer's second-tier hits, like "Have You Seen Her," the album would be a likely candidate for a sell-back to the record store.

"Only time will tell if the world's used bins will survive this," Lorraine said. "But one thing's for sure, it's not going to help."

* Ken Lorraine is not employed by the EPA, nor does he exist.

Gold Standard Labs Shuts Down; Bummer

God help the musically curious, Epitonic-browsing 17-year-old in all of us. Mostly me, probably. In case you haven’t read it on every other blog on the planet (sorry for the delay, P), Gold Standard Labs, perhaps better known as GSL, the record label that helped introduce the world to the likes of The Locust, The Rapture, !!!, The Mars Volta, and Gogogo Airheart, has closed its metaphorical doors.

A press release cited “onsets of factors” and “an industry in flux,” but as a completely benign longtime fan, I can’t help but wonder how a label with such artists as the above under its belt, as well as part-ownership by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of The Mars Volta, managed to go under. It's probable the reasons aren’t entirely financial, and the label’s proprietors simply decided that the scene the label chronicled had been overdocumented, turned inside-out, and eventually run its course.

Whatever it was, thanks for the memories, GSL. During my salad days, I right-click/save as’ed every single MP3 you had on your website, and while I didn’t like all of it and some of it has since aged poorly, I now annoy my roommates with the likes of Blues Control, enjoy every minute of it, and it’s all your fault. May your sons have the jawlines of kings and the names of brands of whiskey.

John Vanderslice Tours in Support of Emerald City, Visits the Motherland

And so begins round two of the Vanderslice Tour for Emerald City (TMT Review), not counting a small jaunt last spring to drum up a little buzz in the smaller clubs of Ah-murica. If you haven't given the new album a spin yet, I suggest you do the next best thing and listen right here, where you can stream the whole (s)hebang and check out live videos from the last tour.

Lucky ducks with tickets (purchased with euros and pounds, of course) to any and all of these dates will no doubt be treated to musical sweets in the vein of a "Keep the Dream Alive" (Time Travel Is Lonely) sing-along in the center of the venue floor, and if the previous tour’s backing band is hopping across the pond with him, attendees are in for a treat. My prediction for best show of the tour would be none other than November 18, when the Slice gets down with his Dutch self in Rotterdam, Holland, a country he’s already likened to “elements of paradise.”

So get on that mildly frightening discount airline and go! It’s worth it! Don't believe me?

These dates don't lie:

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion Release Jukebox Singles On CD & LP; Can A Butter 08: Deluxe Edition Be Far Behind?

An authentic, vinyl-playing, Happy Days-lookin' jukebox is a lot like an old organ. You sometimes see them for sale at thrift stores and garage sales, and on rare occasions, a person you know may even try to give you one that has been broken for a "couple" (meaning, in this instance, a number that could be acceptably rounded up to 10) years. Getting it to work for any reasonable amount of time is pretty much impossible, but not as impossible as lifting one of these monsters without doing irreversible damage to your back.

While the dream of having a working jukebox to play 7-inch singles in your rec room might be tainted due to my pessimism, there is good news to go along with the bad. Last week, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion released a compilation of all five out-of-print singles (A- & B-sides) in their Jukebox Singles Series, which ran from 1992-2002, as well as eight previously unavailable songs from the band's early days. The 18-song collection, entitled Jukebox Explosion, is available as a download from the usual suspects and on CD/LP (ironic?) through In The Red Records. The long-promised collection features covers of songs originated by artists such as Charlie Feathers, Andre Williams, and The Chain Gang, mingling with some of JSBX's wildest, most raucous (rawk-us?), and highly regarded originals.

Granted, this news may not be as cool as a working, 7-inch-playing, feather-light jukebox, but still, not too shabby.

Jukebox Explosion tracklist:

Sufjan Stevens Manages to Conveniently Put Off His Illinois Follow-up For a Little While Longer, Tours Australia Instead

You heard it here, folks. At one time easily the most ambitious religious man since Thomas Aquinas, unoffensively spiritual noisemaker and sensitive everyman Sufjan Stevens is fucking us all and fucking us HARD.

Oh sure, he may look innocent enough, what with his dreamy voice and positive outlook and all, but believe you me, America, this man is a cad and a roustabout!

Case in point: In a supreme effort to get the most mileage possible out of that sweet, vintage University of Illinois gear that he bought on eBay, that charming, doe-eyed bastard is once again shirking his studio recording responsibilities for a little bit longer and casually making plans to pack up his entire band (which includes a full wind and brass ensemble, of course) and flying the veritable coop to embark on his first ever Australian tour.

See, ol’ boy is currently only two albums into his ambitious 50-album project, in which he is allegedly working toward soundtracking each of the 50 American States. Michigan was released in 2003, and Illinois followed in 2005. Soooo, by my count, Mr. Stevens should be spending early ‘08 knee-deep in the frozen cornfields of Indiana or though the musty microfiche archives at some Wisconsin University’s Graduate Library, NOT gallivanting halfway around the world to hang out with Jet or whoever.

But regardless of what I think, Stevens and co. will land in the reverse-draining land of Steve Irwin come early January of next year for a handful of shows, including a 3-day stint at prestigious Sydney Festival. It’s not really very Christian of him to disregard my opinion like that, but... you know, whatever.

Clever diversions:

* not with Jet

The Pirate Bay Working on New Protocol to Rival Torrent Protocol

Allocation of Weekly Allowance ($20):

_______________________

Total: $47.00 + $?.?? = A lot more money than what I have.

Not only does my weekly allocation greatly surpass my weekly allowance, I don't even have a weekly allowance to allocate. Which is exactly why I would, hypothetically, consider illegally downloading music on the internet. This is, of course, a purely hypothetical situation, since I neither have an internet connection nor like music. But if I did, I would probably be a member of various internet websites, utilizing the .torrent protocol, a judiciously handy way to share files, including but not limited to the venerate oink.cd. If this were all true, which it is not, I would be pretty bummed upon hearing that OiNK was recently shut down by the capitalism gestapo.

This has prompted a number of industrious computer science nerds to quickly script a number of new websites to take advantage of the giant gravity well which was vacated upon OiNK's demise, including the previously mentioned BOiNK, an open tracker. Another upstart is What.cd, promising a large, but closed, tracker similar to OiNK. Also open is Waffles.fm, which insists on "bringing back the community OiNK had" and is suspiciously referenced on the restored oink.cd domain. Access to both sites will be invite-only.

But, according to TorrentFreak, the .torrent protocol itself may soon have a new competitor. Citing founder Bram Cohen's decision to make BitTorrent closed source, The Pirate Bay announced its intention to create a new protocol designed with (I assume, illegal) file-sharers in mind. The project page has an extensive list of planned improvements and extensions to .torrent. It seems like the general theory behind the new protocol will be similar to BitTorrent's architecture, both on the back- and front-end, which combined with the transient nature of file-sharing methods (Napster? Kazaa? Direct Connect, anyone?) doesn't make a major shift away from the torrent protocol seem far-fetched.

A Short History of How V2 Records Ended Up On UMG

In 1996, Richard Branson started V2 Records. Branson had already dabbled in record label creating and selling when he sold Virgin Records to EMI for $804 million in 1991; so, in 2002, he sold V2 Records to Morgan Stanley and again, in 2006, V2 Records North America to Sheridan Square Entertainment. Over the years, V2 Records acquired quite the roster of artists, including The White Stripes, Grandaddy, Moby, Bloc Party, and The Blood Brothers -- that is, until January of this year, when Sheridan Square let go their staff and made their artists free agents in order to focus on its back catalog and digital distribution (TMT News).

By this time, 95% of V2 was owned by New York City investment bank Morgan Stanley. In August, however, Morgan Stanley finally sold V2 to Universal Music Group for roughly $14 million (a deal that the UK's Office of Fair Trading is currently investigating). And now come the after effects. The first major sign of the acquisition came just a couple days ago -- on Halloween of all days! -- when Universal Music Group closed down V2 Records London with a plan to align the label with UMG's Mercury Records. This means that some of the 50-member staff will still have a job, but only if they're lucky to get absorbed into Mercury. It's still unknown what kind of effects to expect on the smaller V2 affiliates and smaller artists, if any, but a UMG acquisition always seems to come with extra baggage.

It's interesting to think about what V2 had going up until this point. One major appeal was its label licensing network, which represented Wichita Records, Bella Union, City Slang, and others (UMG has promised to keep up this network, by the way). Additionally, V2 Records didn't really appear to be hurting at all before the acquisition; in fact, it was doing fairly well. The new UK chart-topping sensation The Stereophonics are signed to V2, along with other artists such as Ray Davies and Paul Weller. Factor in the back catalogs of The White Stripes and Moby, and you just wonder why the acquisition and why now?

Nonetheless, V2 Records will now be kicking it underneath the new ownership of Universal Music Group. But will the acquisition be bad for the label when all is said and done? That's yet to be determined.

Found Magazine Tour 2007; Bishop Choking, Carrot Chafing, and Filming Dead Birds

When it comes to curing writer's block, I've tried everything: reading those who inspire me, writing in the voice of other writers, doing extensive free-writes, drinking to the point of incapacitation, searching my soul, screaming, crying, sleeping, etc.

On this dark and gloomy day, my assignment was to review the Found Magazine 2007 tour. I walked aimlessly around campus, the fog hanging low, my Styrofoam cup of coffee long since cold. Crisp leaves and paper cups danced along the cement in the wind, like in that desperately sappy scene from American Beauty. Among the debris, a piece of paper looking worse for ware fell dormant at my feet, and I recalled some parting words from the Found Magazine show by founder Davy Rothbard:

I hope the rest of you will be inspired to take that one second to pick something up when you see it laying there, to see if it's something interesting... Cause notes like these move and effect me so much that they make me want to pick up every piece of paper I see floating down the street or blowing down the alleyway...

So, I reached to pick it up.

Is "ironic" the word that I'm looking for? Perhaps "serendipitous." I'm not sure -- I still have writer's block -- but regardless, what I found in my hands was a blessing from the deadline gods: The rough and barely legible (yet excusably usable) notes of the very event I was meant to review.

Behold the found, god-sent rubbish (click to enlarge):


11.03.07 – San Diego, CA – Cream 8 pm
11.04.07 – Los Angeles, CA – Skylight Books 7 pm
11.05.07 – Long Beach, CA – Open, 2226 E. 4th St, 8 pm
11.06.07 – Los Angeles, CA – Hammer Museum 7 pm
11.07.07 – Los Angeles, CA – Largo 8:30 pm
11.08.07 – Tucson, AZ – Main Library 12 noon
11.08.07 – Tucson, AZ – Club Congress 7 pm
11.09.07 – Albuquerque, NM – Guild Cinema 8 pm
11.10.07 – Tulsa, OK – Coffee House on Cherry Street 8 pm
11.12.07 – Kansas City, MO – Screenland 8 pm*
11.13.07 – St. Louis, MO – Mad Art Gallery 8 pm*
11.14.07 – Lexington, KY – ArtsPlace 8 pm*
11.15.07 – Indianapolis, IN – Big Car Gallery (2 shows! 7 pm & 9 pm)*
11.16.07 – Ann Arbor, MI – Michigan Theater 8 pm*
11.17.07 – Pittsburgh, PA – Future Tenant (2 shows! 7 pm & 9 pm)*
11.18.07 – Columbus, OH – Chop Chop Gallery (2 shows! 6 pm & 8 pm)*
11.27.07 – Pontiac, MI – Clutch Cargo's 8 pm
11.28.07 – Grand Rapids, MI – (details TBA)
11.29. 07 – Charleston, WV – The Empy Glass 8 pm
11.30.07 – Asheville, NC – The Grey Eagle 8 pm*
12.01.07 – Durham, NC – Manbites Dog Theater (2 shows! 7 pm & 9 pm)*
12.02.07 – Richmond, CA – Firehouse Theater (2 shows! 7 pm & 9 pm)*
12.03.07 – Atlanta, GA – Push Push Theater (2 shows! 7 pm & 9 pm)*
12.04.07 – Birmingham, AL – Workplay 8 pm*
12.05.07 – New Orleans, LA – (details TBA)*
12.07.07 – Houston, TX – Aurora Picture Show 8 pm
12.08.07 – Nacogdoches, TX – Millard's Crossing 7 pm
12.09.07 – Austin, TX – Alamo Drafthouse (time TBA)
12.10.07 – Dallas, TX – The Public Trust 8 pm
12.11.07 – Oklahoma City, OK – Galileo Bar and Grill 8 pm
12.12.07 – Lawrence, KS or Nashville, TN – TBA

* PostSecret

Low Comes to A Land Down Under, Where Women Glow and Men Plunder

Quick — what’s the first thing you envision when I mention the word “Australia”? If you’re anything like me, you’re imagining a land where summer comes in January, where water goes down the sink backwards, and where koalas go snorkeling with Nick Cave before retiring to a local Outback Steakhouse restaurant for a lively barbecue cooked up by friendly dingoes.

It’s true that Australians do enjoy some of these phenomena, but let’s look beyond the stereotypes and funny animals. It’s not just Christmas at the beach and Kylie Minogue for our Aussie friends -- they also appreciate a nice, quiet evening with Duluth, MN slowcore legends Low. The band will cut an icy swath through the sunny cities of Australia, with two special events as part of the Don’t Look Back series of concerts, sponsored by UK indie festival promoters All Tomorrow’s Parties. The Don’t Look Back series presents seminal artists playing landmark albums in their entirety, and Low will be performing their 2001 release Things We Lost in the Fire (TMT Review). This is clearly exciting enough on its own, but just to make things even more incredible, the band’s final performance of its southern hemisphere tour will be held in something called “The Famous Spiegeltent.”

In Australia with Low:
01.11.08 – Melbourne, AU* - East Brunswick Club
01.12.08 – Melbourne, AU - East Brunswick Club
01.14.08 – Fremantle, AU - Fly by Night Club
01.16.08 – Brisbane, AU - The Troubadour
01.17.08 – Sydney, AU - The Famous Spiegeltent at the Sydney Festival
01.18.08 – Sydney, AU - The Famous Spiegeltent at the Sydney Festival
01.19.08 – Sydney, AU* - The Famous Spiegeltent at the Sydney Festival

* Performing Things We Lost in the Fire

Jimmy Page’s Finger Postpones An English Rock Band’s Reunion Concert… Awww, Awww, You Gonna Cry?? Little Baby Gonna Cry??

Sure to go down as one of the funniest moments in rock history, Led Zeppelin's proposed reunion concert has been postponed from November 26 to December 10 because Jimmy Page broke one of his fingers. What, playing basketball? Putting up drywall? OLD AGE? Nope. Rumor has it the little digit broke when Page was trying to teach Jason Bonham (John's son) the drum solo for "Moby Dick" -- specifically, after one moment when Page yelled "Booyakasha!" (SNAP). He was initially taken to the hospital due to the extraordinary amount of tears streaming down his face.

"I am disappointed that we are forced to postpone the concert by two weeks," said Page in a statement. "However, Led Zeppelin have always set very high standards for ourselves, and we feel that this postponement will enable my injury to properly heal, and permit us to perform at the level that both the band and our fans have always been accustomed to. [REALLY SUCKS THAT MY FINGER BROKE, THOUGH]."

The five fingers of human anatomy tracklist:

  

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