High Places Tour to Explore Places of Varying Altitudes

High Places (warning: MySpace may induce seizures) have certainly had a strong 2008. But why stop when the year ends? Might as well keep the momentum going, right? According to their label Thrill Jockey, High Places will be embarking on a very, very long international tour beginning right after Election Day in Belgium and ending early April 2009 in Denmark. Hell, after a pretty solid collection of demos and an acclaimed self-titled album (TMT Review), the band has plenty of reason to proudly strut their stuff on stage throughout the world.

Neil Young Has Seen the Placards and the Damage Done, Cancels LA Show in Support of Stagehand Strike

Did you have plans to see Neil Young tonight at the Los Angeles Forum? Well, you don’t anymore. Unfortunately, Canada’s favorite singing caveman has canceled his performance in lieu of a strike by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), Local 33. According to Billboard, union members are currently engaged in a contract dispute with the venue’s owner Faithful Central Bible Church and had planned to picket tonight’s show. Young, who is a lifelong honorary member of the IATSE, has placed his support with the workers and will honor the picket line.

“I am extremely disappointed to have to choose between satisfying my fans or backing my brothers and sisters of the IATSE,” Young said in a statement. “I will miss playing in Los Angeles and apologize to my fans for the inconvenience this has caused.”

The LA show will be rescheduled sometime in 2009, and ticket holders may receive refunds at points of purchase. But hey, even though you unlucky Angelenos don’t get to see Neil Young tonight, at least the season premiere of 30 Rock is on tonight! Plus I’m pretty sure It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is new, too! See? Every cloud has a silver lining, even when Neil Young is involved.

The Beatles Enter the Digital Age Through A Video Game

According to Wired's blog, MTV, Apple Corps, and Harmonix (developers of Rock Band) confirmed rumors today of an exclusive videogame based on the music of The Beatles. But it won't be part of the Rock Band series, as most people initially assumed. The game will still base its platform on a similar one to Rock Band, but will instead be designed as an interactive, "experiential journey" through The Beatles' musical career. Does that mean there'll be a plastic Maharishi included as a peripheral? Fucking hope so! No title or release date has been set, but they aim to have the game ready for the holiday season of 2009.

While The Beatles have thus far refused to digitize their music, it's surprising that their first major foray into the digital world is through a videogame. Wait, no it's not: ROCK BAND HAS EARNED GLOBAL REVENUES OF OVER $600 MILLION AND ROCK BAND 2 SOLD 363,000 COPIES ITS FIRST TWO WEEKS. HARMONIX IS OWNED BY MTV, AND MTV IS OWNED BY VIACOM, WHICH EARNED $13.423 BILLION IN 2007.

Beatles for Sale, indeed!

Punk Memorabilia Goes On Auction Block at Christie’s in NYC in First Historic Punk Memorabilia Auction; Kid Midnight Places $300 Bid On Sid Vicious’ Last Hypodermic Needle, Plans on Getting Real High

As reported by The Associated Press, Christie's in New York City will be hosting an auction titled Pop Culture: Punk/Rock, with the primary focus of getting even more money from the Punk Brand. With the music, lifestyle, and fashion already bought, sold, marketed, and distilled, why not start cashing in on useless relics of a bygone era? Personally, I love the idea of a “Punk Auction”; it’s a great chance for all those stodgy squares to get their minds blown by an anti-authoritarian youth culture. Yeah!

Some of the 300 items going on sale: a flier for one of The Clash’s first shows, publicity photos signed by The Sex Pistols, a rare poster for a 1976 Ramones show in London (which, as we all know, everyone involved in British Punk, ever, attended), a copy of the first press release for The Sex Pistols (!), and a press packet from 1966 wherein a young David Jones made it known that, from that point on, he would only respond to the name David Bowie.

The auction also features records, press materials, promotional junk, and photos for other “punk” bands, like Nirvana, The Velvet Underground, Patti Smith, The Ramones, David Bowie, New Kids on the Block*, Blondie, The Cure, and The Smiths. Most of the stuff is expected to earn anywhere from $300 to $6,000 apiece. That’s a small price to pay for “real life rock ‘n’ roll history,” though, right? Why not just own the records? Why not just listen to the music? Why do we value junk so much? Is anyone listening?

Christie's “pop culture chief” Simeon Lipman had this to say about the whole farce: “Ten years ago, punk memorabilia probably wouldn't be something we'd be auctioning here. But now, people of a certain age have a certain ability to splurge on this material." In other words: If people have money to spend, we’ll make something seem valuable, outlandishly valuable.

The auction is scheduled for November 24.

* Kidding

Attention Lily Allen Lovers! Lily Has A Message For You: It’s Not Me, It’s You.

Oh, bloody hell! Lily Allen, everyone’s favorite Jager-swilling British songstress and "Queen of MySpace," is back with a follow-up to her 2007 debut, Alright, Still. Its title? It’s Not Me, It’s You. How subtle, Lily! Recorded at Eagle Rock Studios in LA with producer Greg Kurstin of The Bird and the Bee, the album is due for release February 10 on Capitol Records.

According to Rolling Stone (via the press release), “Highlights include ‘Everyone's at It,’ a synth-pop song about prescription drugs that features Allen on xylophone; ‘He Wasn't There,’ which matches emotional lyrics about her absent father to a jazz groove; and ‘Not Fair,’ a saucy country song about an inadequate lover.” Xylophones + saucy country = Lily Allen?! I guess we’ll find out for sure on February 10.

It’s Not Me, It’s You tracklisting:

Wu-Tang Confirms Upcoming Tour; No, I Don’t Know if Ghostface Is Part of It – Chill Out

Up from the 36 Chambers, The Wu-Tang Clan are planning to hit the road on a coast to coast U.S. tour in support of their most recent album, 2007’s 8 Diagrams (TMT Review). The hip-hop legends from Shaolin, better known as Staten Island, are starting their run in Portland November 29 and won’t be quitting until they get to Atlanta in 2009. The only lingering question now is whether or not all eight members will show up to the shows (though, I'd count these dudes out).

The tour is not only coming in support of their last LP, but also to help back a DVD the group released in early October, Live at Montreux 2007, which features the Tang performing at last year’s Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. On top of all that, the clan has recently approved a documentary set to air on BET on November 13 and subsequently be released on November 18 (TMT News). The documentary, Wu: The Story of The Wu-Tang Clan, will feature interviews and archival footage of each of the Clan’s members. Be sure to catch the group and the DVDs if you're not already completely broke.

Wu-Tang Clan tourdates:

Marnie Stern Adds More Dates with Gang Gang Dance, Spins

Look at the silhouette of Marnie Stern spinning below. Is she spinning clockwise or counter-clockwise?

If you think Stern is spinning clockwise, then you use your right side of the brain more, which tends to be associated with feelings, imagination, symbols, philosophy/religion, fantasy, and creativity.

If you think Stern is spinning counter-clockwise, then your brain is more attuned to logic, language, reality, practicality, math, and science.

If you like Stern's new album, This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That (TMT Review), then you'll want to catch her and Gang Gang Dance (TMT Review) on their newly expanded tour, where she'll spin for you in person:

$ Gang Gang Dance

Surprise! Payola Still Keeps Indie Labels off the Air, According to Study

Independent labels do not get the same treatment as majors in terms of radio airplay, a new survey finds. The A2IM (American Association of Independent Music) conducted the 18-month survey of 61 indie labels -- the largest in the past decade -- to judge the effectiveness of FCC's Rules of Engagement agreement, which was signed in March 2007 and put into place to curb payola in commercial radio practices.

The study concludes that over 92% of indie labels reported no change in relationships with radio stations, and 41% claim payola still determines commercial radio airplay. Since the signing of the FCC settlement, one in four labels (nine of the thirty-nine that responded to this particular question) indicated they had been asked to at one point supply some form of payola.

The A2IM is quick to dismiss the study as a completely negative finding, indicating the presence of some success stories and the 5.8% of labels that say they have a better relationship with commercial radio stations since the agreement. The organization also considers the success of internet and satellite radio by independent labels and musicians as a positive sign.

Commercial radio stations, meanwhile, can take this survey into account and pay more attention to independent labels. As Rich Bengloff, President of A2IM explains: "Rebranding radio as cool and creating a stronger bond with their local listeners is vital to the health of radio. We invite radio programmers to read this report and open their minds – and playlists – to the opportunities presented by playing more independent music.”

Swedish singer/songwriter Frida Hyvönen will be releasing her new album Silence is Wild next Tuesday, Election Day, via Secretly Canadian. And just how she hopes that her sprawling vocals and enjambed lyrics will be enough to carry the whole album, she also hopes that performing in major East Coast cities will be enough to promote it. Perhaps these are the cities where vocally-driven piano stars are born?

While Hyvönen takes the day off from touring on her U.S. release date -- perhaps to let the political importance of it all sink in -- she hits New York, DC, and Philadelphia in the first half of November. And Chicago, just to shake things up. Chicago loves lady singers, too. Then she's off to Europe through mid-December.

Silence Is Wild tracklist:

Bon Iver’s Big Spankable Tour

In a perfect world, Bon Iver would provide the soundtrack to the film adaptation of the romance novel, Big Spankable Asses. At first thought, you may think the tender music of Bon Iver might clash with the blunt substance of a movie like Big Spankable Asses, and you'd be exactly right. They wouldn't go together at all, IF you let some Hollywood bigwig muck it all up by changing the purity of the story.

Big Spankable Asses is written in the literary tradition of E.M. Forster's An Assage to India and Graham Greene's The Quiet Ass. The story takes place in 1940s New York City, following an ass-loving private detective who is wrapped up in a murder mystery after his partner is killed. He finds himself with a femme fatale, searching for the stuff dreams are made of: Big Spankable Asses. He thinks he's found the mythical items, but they're made of lead. Oops!

The story is delicate and emotional, and it needs someone like Bon Iver to paint a soothing picture over the pain and greed for asses that is our humanity. I'd like to write the adaptation, but I know those Hollywood turkeys would turn it into some sleazy sex romp with guys running around bottomless getting all ass-crazy. I haven't approached Bon Iver with the proposition yet, but I'm confident we can maintain the integrity of the work of all three original authors. I'll try and meet up with Bon Iver at all of these locations: