All You Want In Life’s a Little Bit of Love to Take the Pain Away; Your Disgusting Ass is Gonna Have to Settle For a New Spiritualized LP and Short Tour

In which I ask a random selection of my fellow employees at a call center “what they’ve been doing since the last Spiritualized record came out”:

“Lost a lot of money in real estate.”

“Graduated from college.”

“What’s up, Swedish? You want some whiskey when we go on break?”*

“I got these stars shaved in my head last week.”

“I’ve been working here for over ten years.”

“The hell are you talking about, Swedish?”*

Songs In A&E will be released May 19 (June 3 in the U.S.) and will be supported by these here dates:

& Acoustic Mainlines

$ Electric Mainlines

*Several months ago, some of my coworkers observed me becoming furious when the vending machine refused to dispense the Swedish Fish I’d paid for.

Björk, Kosovo, Tibet, “Declare Independence,” JUSTICE

The following consists of important issues and specific quotes that would only be obscured if I ran them through the puerile TMT filter. Hope you understand.

- Wikipedia (Kosovo context): Kosovo is a region in the Balkans, presently under the ad interim control of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo and protection of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Kosovo Force. Its Provisional Institutions of Self-Government have recently declared independence from the Republic of Serbia, which contested the act; as the Republic of Kosovo, it has received partial recognition.

- Wikipedia (Tibet context): The opinion of the PRC [People's Republic of China] is that the TAR [Tibet Autonomous Region] has ample autonomy, as guaranteed under Articles 111-122 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China as well as the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy of the People's Republic of China. However, many human rights organizations around the world accuse the Chinese government of persecuting and oppressing the local population

- IcelandReview (Kosovo): Iceland’s Björk, who is currently on a world tour promoting her latest album Volta, dedicated her song “Declare Independence” to Kosovo during her concerts in Tokyo on Tuesday and Friday, causing her concert in Novi Sad, Serbia, in July to be cancelled.

- Billboard (Tibet): Icelandic singer Bjork's first-ever concert in mainland China on March 2 may have been her last, after she chanted "Tibet" several times during "Declare Independence," the closing song in her set at the Shanghai International Gymnastic Center.

- Björk: i have been asked by many for a statement after dedicating my song "declare independence" to both kosovo and tibet ( amongst others ) on different occasions. i would like to put importance on that i am not a politician, i am first and last a musician and as such i feel my duty to try to express the whole range of human emotions. the urge for declaring independence is just one of them but an important one that we all feel at some times in our lives. this song was written more with the personal in mind but the fact that it has translated to its broadest meaning, the struggle of a suppressed nation, gives me much pleasure . i would like to wish all individuals and nations good luck in their battle for independence. justice !

- Mango Starr: I'm so in love with Björk.

Major Label Artists Still Waiting For Promised Copyright Infringement Settlement Money, Radiohead Just Smoking Weed and Hanging Out

Don't look now, kids, but many a manly, rippled artist manager and music lawyer are about to grease themselves up, tag themselves in, and enter the ring to square off against those heavyweight major labels in yet another frenzied fight to get their clients (and naturally themselves) paid.

So, what have those ‘roid-popping majors done this time? Well, it turns out that many bands haven't seen one red cent of the payments negotiated last year in a series of copyright-infringement settlements between the labels and various insidious file-sharing websites like Napster and Kazaa. Universal Music, Warner Music, and EMI have all settled claims with the sites, but many managers say that little to none of that money has actually trickled down to their clients. The solution? A possible cage match full of action... hot, sweaty, semantical, nickel-on-dime legal action!

"Artist managers and lawyers have been wondering for months when their artists will see money from the copyright settlements and how it will be accounted for," told lawyer John Branca, who has represented such heavyweights as Korn and The Rolling Stones, to the New York Post recently. "Some of them are even talking about filing lawsuits if they don't get paid soon." Gee, a bunch of lawyers are "talking about filing lawsuits"? Get me tickets to that!

Ah, but seriously, folks, all wacky wrestling metaphors aside, with the music industry's much publicized (and much lampooned) financial woes, it has been increasingly difficult for any artist of any status to get any extra money out of their label in the first place, let alone something as ambiguous as file-sharing settlement royalties. However, most labels argue that "corporate bosses" (yeah, totally sounds made up) are still deciding on how to split the money, as not every artist is owed money, and it must be calculated (like, on an abacus, I guess) with regard to the level of copyright infringement for each artist. Also, once the labels recouped their legal expenses from the whole ordeal, there wasn't much left to pass along to the artists anyway. So, you know, they should just forget about it... probably...

Oh, also, a spokeswoman for EMI has apparently stated that the label has started the process of "sharing proceeds from the Napster and Kazaa settlements with artists and writers whose work was infringed upon." Meanwhile, Warner Music's rep says that the company "is sharing the Napster settlement with its recording artists and songwriters and at this stage nearly all settlement monies have been disbursed," and Universal Music's spokesman insists that the label's policy "is to share its portion of various settlements with its artists, regardless of whether their contracts require it."

Well, isn't that just nice! I guess we were wrong about the labels hording that money. Sorry everyone, never mind. Cancel the report. Guys? Hey, yeah, Phil, why don't you go ahead and cut those cameras... right... yeah those mics too. Just take it all down. Dish and everything. It can all... no... right, yeah that stuff goes in the van. Hey, Jerry? Where's the van parked at? Can, can you take the keys from me? I've got to call HQ... "Hey, Mr P, it's me... yeah turns out it's a no-go... no, the labels are on top of this one... yeah, might as well kill the presses. Thanks. See you soon." Okay guys, are we outta here? Can we get the next news story up please? Oh, okay, here... looks like we've got one online here. Here it comes. Sorry again, folks. Let's go home, everyone... Phil, is that camera still on?? I thought i told you to kill it, alr...

Kevin Shields, Foot Village, and Friends Forever Are CRAZY

Kevin Shields:

Foot Village:

Friends Forever:

What does Kevin Shields (different one, dude), Foot Village, and Friends Forever have in common? Probably a lot! Which is why they're embarking on a teeny tiny tour across the beautiful U.S., one that starts in Arizona, STRETCHES to New Mexico, and, if they have enough gas, ends with a handful of Texas dates for some SXSW and anti-SXSW events.

Okay, it's short. But if you know what's good for you (and what I tell you is good for you), then you'll go to one of these shows. And if you REALLY know what's good for you (I also tell you what's "really good" for you, btw), you'll check out the Deathbomb Arc/Cock Rock Disco/Load Records SXSW showcase, March 15
at Red Scoot Inn. Three fantastic labels spread over two stages, with a TON of fucked up artists. You like that. Guaranteed to get your "cock"'s "load" flying in a wonderful "arc." Quick, somebody give me a mic!
03.11.08 - Phoenix, AZ - Trunkspace $
03.12.08 - Albequerque, NM - The Stove #
03.14.08 - Austin, TX - The Opera House ^
03.14.08 - Austin, TX - Ms Bea's @
03.15.08 - Austin, TX - Red Scoot Inn *

$ Old Time Religion, Twin Crystals, Soft Shoulder, & Andrew Jackson Jihad
# Cobra/Group

^ The Smell's Anti-SXSW event (TMT approved)

@ Todd P/Upset The Rhythm SXSW Showcase

* Deathbomb Arc / Cock Rock Disco / Load SXSW Showcase

Sunburned Hand of the Man to Release Limited Run of Upcoming Tour

It's only the beginning of March, yet Sunburned Hand of the Man already have four releases under their belt:

1. Attica Rectangle
2. The Loft Tapes - 1996-97
3. Sugar Mongolia
4. Animal Andrew Crew

At this rate, they'll end up with roughly 24 albums this year! Crazy huh? Well, even crazier is that Sunburned released 25 albums just last year! You probably knew they released Z (Ecstatic Peace) and Fire Escape (Smalltown Supersound), but did you know they released Terminator 9 and Weekend at Burnie's 2 -- Lost Treaures of the Underworld? No joke!

Anyway, if you know anything about Sunburned, it's that their releases are often released in small runs. Sugar Mongolia, for example, is limited to 10, and Animal Andrew Crew, a painting/colllage+CD-R, was released in an edition of ONE. Soooo, not to discount their lengthy discography or anything, but THAT'S CHEATING!!!

Stop, or my mom will shoot:

Thom Yorke Was Vice-President, Invented the Internet, Inspired “Love Story,” Wrote “Everything In Its Right Place,” Then Put it All in a Lock Box To Save the World Instead

Late last month, Radiohead singer Thom Yorke added to his already impressive résumé by helping to launch an international campaign in order to raise awareness about climate change. The Big Ask Europe took off (without fuel) in Brussels last week, with Yorke as spokesman, aiming to convince the European Union to approve annual cuts in carbon dioxide emissions. Seventeen countries have come together under the umbrella of Friends of the Earth groups, each proposing legally binding emission cuts in their respective nations. Yorke first helped launch the UK branch of The Big Ask in 2005, and since then, the group has been responsible for pushing the Climate Change Law through parliament, with the legislation likely enacted by summer, and making Great Britain the first country in the world to have legally binding emissions targets.

Yorke had this to say in a press release:

We will never wake from the nightmare of climate change unless our national governments and the European Union act. They are the only ones who can put the structures in place that will help us tackle climate change. That is why we are launching The Big Ask in seventeen countries across Europe. By committing to annual cuts in our emissions at a national and European level we can play our part in tackling climate change, and set an example for the rest of world to follow. Hundreds of thousands of people want to see their governments doing more about climate change. If you are one of them you can find out more about The Big Ask campaign in your country at www.thebigask.eu.

Never the hypocrite, Yorke's Radiohead have declined an invitation to play this year's Glastonbury festival because of the lack of public transportation to the concert site, the singer told British paper The Sun. He also shared his plans to build a natural heating system for his home and Radiohead's strategy for minimizing their ecological footprint. "That has included buying two lots of equipment and keeping one in Europe and one in America so we never have to fly our kit around the world again," he said. "We also use new technology for our lighting rig. One of the interesting things we discovered is how people get to our big shows. A lot of the time people are driving with one or two people in a car, and that’s an ecological disaster.”

A nice thought, indeed, but I suppose the air is already clean up there on that tall, tall horse.

Merge Records Now Offering Downloads Via “Digital Store”

In FLAC, too! The new Merge Records digital store is just now opening its doors and promises to offer not only all your favorite Merge classics by the likes of Pram, Honor Role, and renowned international superstars The Music Tapes, but also rare and exclusive material from the very depths of their collection, such as the "much sought-after out-of-print" Superchunk Clambake Series Volume One: Acoustic in-stores East and West, made available today. Their timing couldn't be better, as more and more artists and labels (see Bleep.com, NIN's Ghosts story below) begin cutting out the middle man that is Apple's monstrously successful iTunes store in favor of DRM-free, lossless alternatives, while still providing MP3s for the average consumer.

So, if you've been feeling shitty about ripping off all those unsung, penniless Merge signees such as The Arcade Fire and Spoon by downloading their tracks for free, get your ass on down there and spend some dough already!

The Second Most Important Rap Tour of the Spring: El-P, Dizzee Rascal, and Busdriver to Play Bar Mitzvahs and Backyards; Kanye West, Rihanna, and Lupe Fiasco to Play the Seven Wonders of the World, MSG, and the Moon

Can we please show some love to the season's most technically proficient hip-hop tour? While everyone is giddy over Kanye's "Glow In the Dark" tour this spring, some of the genre's true warriors will take to the smaller circuit in an attempt to satiate those who can't quite stomach a $100 ticket. Ticketmaster fees bring that to about $372, by my estimation. Plus, rap shows are traditionally noteworthy for their surprise guests, and who knows who just might grace the stage from El-Producto's own Def Jux label. Oh, the possibilities. Cage! Mr. Lif! Despot! Aesop Rock! And Kanye's counter-offer: Jay-Z? T-Pain? Daft Punk? Laser beams? Boring.

And while Webster Hall may not exactly be Johnny's basement, you'll probably be able to at least make out facial expressions when Dizzee gets all worked up, as opposed to the glimpse of glow you might catch from ‘Ye's Venetian blind-style shades. Although, I do hear they have a visibility of approximately 150 feet. Whatever -- it's not like Rihanna's legs are that nice anyway. And yeah, Lupe, we get it, you're smart. And positive. Spare me the Matthew Santos hooks.

I'm not bitter, though. Who needs a spectacle, really? I'll take some good old fashion rhyme-spitting any day of the week and twice when Busdriver's on tour.

Can't tell ME nothing:

^ Dizzee Rascal

* Dizzee Rascal, Busdriver

(Hit me with a spare Kanye ticket, kthxbai.)

RIAA Sends Out 13th Mailing of Pre-Litigation Letters

I love getting mail! Sure, sometimes it's only bills and advertisements, but other times you can find really exciting stuff in your mailbox -- like the postcard from Egypt my old roommate sent me or that graduation check from my grandma I used to finance my drinking habit. And what could be even more exciting than great surprises like that? Well a pre-litigation letter from the RIAA, of course!

If you are one of the lucky university students who engaged in illegal peer-to-peer file-sharing and didn't settle with the RIAA after receiving their first warning letter -- whether your college failed to forward you the letter or because you chose not to settle outside of court -- then you might be getting a very special delivery very soon. Here's the low-down:

Earlier this week, the RIAA sent out 401 letters to the administrators of 12 institutions of higher learning. College higher-ups are supposed to forward these letters to students who use IP addresses connected to Limewire, BitTorrent, Morpheus, and other "illegal" download sites. If students agree to settle outside of court, they can avoid a copyright infringement lawsuit. During earlier rounds, the RIAA sent 5,005 letters and reached settlements with over 2,300 recipients. After the pre-litigation letter campaign began last year, 2,465 people have had copyright infringement lawsuits filed against them. It's all part of a multi-step plan to convince music fans of the importance of legal downloads.

So which colleges can expect a slew of scary, scary pre-litigation letters? Heads up, Columbia University, Drexel University, Indiana University, Boston University, Tufts University, Purdue University, Indiana University, North Carolina State University, Ohio State, University of Maine, University of New Hampshire, University of Virginia, and University of Southern California.

Evangelista (Carla Bozulich) Tour, Release Album, Shiver Your Timbers, Settle Your Hash, Dip Your Headlights, Hay Your Fever

Statistics don’t lie. In 2007, total album sales were down about 15% according to some reports. In the same year, country music albums experienced a 30% drop in sales. Now, I have just heard that 100% of Taylor Hicks has been dropped by his label J Records. Will this madness ever end? When will BFFs of the music industry and its biggest, most deserving stars like you and I catch a break? When will this spiral of failure cease? Damn you, illegal downloading pirates!

So, yeah, we need a new Carla Bozulich album more than ever. The soul-pounding performer, presently working under the stage name of Evangelista, will begin a tour supporting her latest album Hello, Voyageur March 12 in Tucson, AZ. The album is due the day before the tour starts, on March 11. It is a beautiful, unhinged work of sturm und drang that could only be the work of Bozulich and friends (bandmate Tara Barnes, Shahzad Ismaily, Nadia Moss, and a gaggle of Montréal musical women and men) and could only come out on Constellation, who continue to churn out stone-cold classics every time its sprawling catalog sprouts a new release tentacle.

You should go buy the Evangelista album and also go see Bozulich during her latest tour. It’s not going to save the industry because it’s fucked already, but it might help fight the depression and sense of disillusionment that has already taken over 41% of your mind and 29% of your body after hearing the Hicks news.

Evangelista will play in-stores, regular venue shows, a couple of radio shows (not listed below ‘cause you can’t really go and see them), some TBAs, and even a “secret show.” That, my friends, is what they call “mixin’ it up” in the biz.

Here’s the Hello, Voyageur song log. Embrace the Gospel!

1. Winds of St. Anne
2. Smooth Jazz
3. Lucky Lucky Luck
4. For the Lil’ Dudes
5. The Blue Room
6. Truth Is Dark Like Outer Space
7. The Frozen Dress
8. Paper Kittne Claw
9. Hello, Voyageur!