Personally, I'm usually smarting too much from the bill at Starbucks to consider buying a weak jazz compilation I could slap together on Soulseek, but apparently Starbucks has tapped into an entire market of folks who just need a little somethin' somethin' for their Volkswagen 6-CD changers. This week, Starbucks announced the official launch of Hear Music, a new label comprised of Starbucks and the Concord music group. Their first big star? Sir Paul McCartney, who may or may not also be doubling as Barista Paul McCartney.
Capitol Records is reported to be crying into their budget lattes from 7-Eleven, but hey, now's a whole different time, man. All Sir Paul needed was love. Now, well... I guess he needs, uh, coffee.
One of the best things about writing news is that you can sneak in little jabs here and there. Like, say, for example, you were supposed to review the latest Shins record for a certain website, and you just didn’t really get around to it. Or maybe you didn’t have much to add to the reviews already posted on those other, stinky sites. Or maybe you were trying to scare up some hot-ass grits; whatever. Now, you didn’t get to review Wincing the Night Away, but you CAN always write a news story about The Shins and inject your opinion every chance you get! Hey, that sounds pretty sweet, don’t it!? Hmmmm, let’s try doing that, starting right...
Hey y’all, how the heck are you? Good? Good. Getting down to business, The Shins released a record on Sub Pop this year that did pretty well, hitting the Billboard charts with a giant ‘THWUMP’ and knocking Chumbawamba or whoever out of the no. 1 slot. But did ya know that the album really isn’t that good? I mean, the first track gets you all wet and sticky; as soon as you hear it you’re thinkin’ “DAMN, that’s one hot number!” But then things calm down reallll quick, and you’re left with a pile of mediocre pap and very few stand-outs. What’s most annoying is James Mercer’s voice, which used to be all high and angelic. Now? It’s lower, prolly because he wants to be able to duplicate the songs live (a problem with certain Oh, Inverted World songs). But it doesn’t work as well, and he always does this annoying thing where he links two words together and sings them faster than the others, and he does it every song now!
If, say, I were assigned to review this album (WHICH I WAS) and actually reviewed it (WHICH I DIDN’T), I would have given it a really low score, probably a ‘4,’ maybe even a ‘4.5’ ... oh, btw, did I explain the TMT rating system to you? No? FUCK ME, no wonder you always have that confused — and rather ugly, I might add — look on your face! Man, I feel like a real ass-shark! Here, lemme make things right by explaining our rating system. I think it’ll really clarify things for you! Shit, you probably thought we liked Sung Tongs and hated Lil’ Eazy E’s latest... man, thank god I caught this, we could have become a laughing stock! Anyway, here’s how the Tiny Mix Tapes grading system works:
0 - 1: This album is so goddamned spectacular we sold our rare Magma and La Dusseldorf LPs to get it. We’d step over our own mums to find this on vinyl, and we’d probably include it in a Desert Island Discs round-up, so you’d better come correct!
1 - 2: Not exactly profoundly, resoundingly, ass-poundingly excellent, but still a lot of great tunes to be had. Great artists like Teddy Bears, MC Lars, and their ilk often end up here because we WUV THEM SO MUSH...
2 - 3: Still a pretty tasty record, but if you pawn your limited-edition Charlie’s Angels lunchbox to get it, you now have a dozen eggs on your face. Don’t worry, I meant in the figurative sense...
3 - 4: Now we’re starting to get to the stuff that sucks. You know when you’re playing Bubble Bobble and you thought you got one of those wands that makes all the yummy fruit descend from the top of the screen, but when you pop the last bad guy’s bubble nothing special happens? Yeah, it’s kinda like that...
4 - 5: This is where the lame-duck discs go to die. That piece of shit by Raccoo-oo-oon last year was put to pasture here, as was that awful new Scott Walker album. If you see one of these attached to an album you regularly listen to, have some pride and never show your face ’round here again. Yeah, that’s it...
And there we are! That felt good, lemme tell ya. Since we got that straightened out, I might as well do my duty, which is, surprisingly, not to tell jokes, make a mockery of TMT’s storied grading system, relate stories from my life, or commission wacky cartoons. I’m supposed to be telling you about The Shins’ tour plans, which will find the band traveling near, far, like, medium-far, and maybe, just MAYBE, to a venue near you. Hey, that wasn’t so hard, was it! Mr P’s going to be so happy with me; maybe he’ll even let me out of his dungeon... nah.
If you can pinpoint the moments of biting sarcasm above, I just might agree to fuck Mr P at one of the following tourdates:
03.25.07 - Glasgow, UK - ABC
03.26.07 - Wolverhampton, UK - Wulfrun Hall
03.27.07 - Manchester, UK - Manchester University
03.28.07 - London, UK - The Forum
03.29.07 - London, UK - The Forum
04.01.07 - Paris, FRA - Trabendo
04.03.07 - Cologne, GER - Gebaude 9
04.04.07 - Berlin, GER - Postbanhof Berlin
04.05.07 - Amsterdam, NET - Paradiso
04.06.07 - Brussels - Botanique
04.10.07 - Albuquerque - El Ray Theater
04.11.07 - Phoenix, AZ - Celebrity Theatre
04.12.07 - San Diego, CA - SOMA San Diego
04.14.07 - Universal City, CA - Gibson Amph. At Univ. CityWalk (KRCW)
04.15.07 - Los Angeles, CA - Orpheum Theatre
04.16.07 - San Francisco, CA - Warfield Theatre
04.17.07 - San Francisco, CA - Warfield Theatre
04.22.07 - Austin, TXThe Backyard (MtvU "Campus Invasion Music Festival)
Taking the “Ex” Outta Exclusive; Dinosaur Jr. Get Original Lineup, New Album, New Tour, and New Sneakers
J. Mascis, the guitarist and vocalist of D Jr., sits down to interview my friend, Pete Lansinger:
So, are you excited about our new album?
I don’t know about it, I’ve never listened to your music.
What about the prospect of seeing us with our original lineup?
Well, I think it’s fantastic. Shalom in the home!
That’s one opinion.
Well it certainly is. [Pete becomes distracted by Miami Ink and yells: Stickin’ it on! And proceeds to play air guitar. Then tells me the girl tattoo artist is annoying.]
Anyway, not that I think this, but someone told me our song in Blind’s Video Days is the most fitting song for a skate video. You dig that?
[Pete ignores my question and removes a pipe from his mouth and blows a huge plume of smoke into my face. He then gets up laughing and leaves. ]
I watch Miami Ink for 15 minutes. A lady has a Cheshire cat covered up with a coy fish. Tommy Lee has coy fish -- fucking symbolism. The female artist (the one Pete says is annoying) goes to a psychic with her husband. They live on separate coasts, and the insanely proficient psychic says the couple will split up within the year. Whatever.
Pete returns with a kid named Matt. Oh fuck, some chick just used the word empowering. Matt, the latest arrival passes out on the floor. Pete informs me he has taken too many mushrooms. I remember those days. Pshaw.
Best Massachusetts band ever: Aerosmith, Pixies, or us, Dinosaur Jr.
I don’t know about the best; my favorite out of those three would be Pixies. Matt, shut up. You’re not involved with this.
So, you think they’re better than us?
So? [Matt tries to argue for something, but he instead keeps saying “dangerous,” over and over again. After two minutes of this, we think he has fallen asleep. This interview proves itself fruitless so I move on to the TMT writer’s girlfriend, Grace Rex.]
Grace, what are you looking for in the new Dinosaur Jr. album?
What am I looking for? What if I don’t know a lot about Dinosaur Jr.? Do you want me to lie? I’m looking for [looks puzzled and furrows her brow] some good lyrics and strong beats. High production value, yeah. [She looks proud of that last quip.]
You are aware this is the first time we’ve all been together since 1988’s Bug?
You are talking about Dinosaur Jr.? No I didn’t know that. I guess that makes this a big deal, huh? So you guys are like one of those old alternative bands aren’t you? Cute. [She proceeds to get out a Kerouac book, and I don’t think this interview is going to get any better.]
We had several titles for the forthcoming album (due out in May!), as most bands do, but decided on Beyond. What do you think of that title?
Beyond? Um, what does that mean? Beyond? [She leaves the room to answer the door and keeps asking, “Beyond? Beyond what? What does that even mean...”]
M. Ward's most recent album, Post War, came out just last year, and it's rather enjoyable. One only has to visit the Wikipedia entry and read the "Professional reviews" section to see that it was a big hit. Of course, as everyone knows, Wikipedia is not a reliable source. So instead, I'm citing certain unnamed sources with close ties to popular opinion who will vouch for the album's excellence.
No! I won't release the names. I have journalistic integrity. Don't tempt me! Just... just leave it be and stop asking. The important news is that M. Ward is going on tour starting April 13 in Wallingford, Connecticut. Mr. Ward is going full-tilt until May 12 and... damn you scrutinizing reader! I have to protect my sources! I will cite the quote by famous American novelist William Faulkner, "That's for me to know, and for you to find out." Straight from the mouth of a person who knows about stuff.
M. Ward will travel through much of the eastern half of the United States, then finish up with a show in Toronto on May 11 and Montreal on the 12th. He will... oh you are a wily one! Stop badgering me, hounding me about my precious, beloved sources! Please, please don't make me! Don't make me say!
Jail? Oh, well that changes everything. I've got integrity, but jeez, it's just the internet. Yeah, it was Justin Timberlake. He has a pulse on what's happening and he's been bringing back, in addition to sexy, hard-hitting music criticism. And if that doesn't convince you, here's a list of where you can hear M. Ward for yourself, but it should have convinced you.
M. Ward's tour is not a chore nor a bore:
04.13.07 - Wallingford, CT - Chevrolet Theatre
04.14.07 - Boston, MA - Orpheum Theatre
04.15.07 - Portland, ME - Merrill Auditorium at City Hall
04.17.07 - Providence, RI - Providence Performing Arts Center
04.18.07 - New York City, NY - Theatre at Madison Square Garden
04.20.07 - Philadelphia, PA - Tower Theatre
04.21.07 - Atlantic City, NJ - Borgata Casino
04.23.07 - Washington, DC - D.A.R. Constitutional Hall
04.24.07 - Greensboro, NC - N.C. War Memorial Auditorium
04.26.07 - Nashville, TN - Ryman Auditorium
04.27.07 - Atlanta, GA - Tabernacle
04.28.07 - Asheville, NC - Orange Peel
04.30.07 - Birmingham, AL - B.J.C.C. Concert Hall
05.01.07 - Indianapolis, IN - Murat Theatre
05.02.07 - St. Louis, MO - Fox Theatre
05.04.07 - Ann Arbor, MI - Michigan Theatre
05.05.07 - Milwaukee, WI - Riverside Theatre
05.06.07 - Minneapolis, MN - Orpheum Theatre
05.08.07 - Chicago, IL - Chicago Theatre
05.09.07 - Cleveland, OH - The State Theatre at Playhouse Square
05.11.07 - Toronto, ON - Massey Hall
05.12.07 - Montreal, QC - St.Denis Theatre
NPR and Internet Radio Protest Royalty Fee Hike, Robert Seigel Prepares Sale of Bulgarian Pinstripe Suits Which Allegedly “Fell Off the Back of a Truck”
On March 16, NPR became the first of, well, probably every internet radio station in the U.S. to vocally oppose new royalty regulations laid down by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) earlier this month. The opposition comes in light of the fact that CRB's new rules would force them, in the words of NPR rep Andi Sporkin, "to pay an internet royalty fee that is vastly more expensive than what we pay for over-the-air use of music."
For the average listener, that would mean a huge cut in the actual amount of music-hearing that takes place: musical experiencing, jamming, rocking out, moving and/or grooving, gettin' down -- less of anything that could potentially be construed as "listening" in general. Not to music, anyway, since the royalties would, beginning this year, gradually increase from $.0008 per play (the 2006 rate) to $.0019 in 2010, more than doubling in a relatively short time-frame. These "performance royalties," given for use of musical master tapes, run the risk of ballooning to over 100% of total station revenue, a figure that does not include "composers' royalties," which stations must also pay to the songwriters themselves. Any sort of profit or capacity for station owners and operators to support themselves via their broadcasts would cease. The new system would replace the former system, in which royalties were paid as a percentage of gross revenues, and the one currently used for satellite radio stations.
In light of the new regulations, the only way many public stations would be able to stay in the business of playing music would be to resort to violent, black-market thuggery. Imagine Ira Glass being forced to rig a boxing match so that Terri Gross could illicitly bet on it in advance. Or what about Click and Clack, who would have to use their vast automotive knowledge to set up a chop shop. Even Diane Rehm might have to go into business running moonshine across international boundaries to make ends meet. Okay, things might not get that bad, especially for major broadcasters on traditional airwaves. But skyrocketing royalties would be hugely detrimental to public stations, especially for those of us who look to non-corporate stations for news, music, or cultural programming.
I think the argument against rate hikes can be best summed up by Sporkin, who said, "Public radio's agreements on royalties with all such organizations, including the RIAA, have always taken into account our public service mission and non-profit status. These new rates, at least 20 times more than what stations have paid in the past, treat us as if we were commercial radio -- although by its nature, public radio cannot increase revenue from more listeners or more content, the factors that set this new rate." Yes, that part about costing 20 times what stations have previously paid is pretty bad. But seriously: not even the RIAA thinks this is a good idea? That alone looks like fairly damning evidence. If you're interested in getting involved with this issue, you can directly contact any internet radio stations you listen to, or visit this website, an activism page set up by Live 365, another internet music provider who will be affected by the proposed regulations.
The Hottest Ticket in Töwn: The Björk on Tour
by Jeremy Rushton
The Björk, the amazing three-piece from Denver, CO, have recently added U.S dates to their tour. Pat Cathey, lead guitarist, told TMT that "while we plan to add more dates sometime in the future, we thought we'd announce these dates now since there's such high demand."
Yes, indeed, The Björk may be the hottest living band on the globe, as the hype for their debut full-length release, Volta, the follow-up to their 2005 EP Breaking Smiles All the Way Down to a Frown (Pt I and II), is at an unprecedented high. With angular guitar lines, head-nodding beats, and scratchy vocals, it's no wonder that people are calling them the next Zwan.
"We can't believe it ourselves, really," said Cathey. "We're just so grateful! I can feel the electricity in the air!"
Volta is set for release on May 8 via Atlantic and One Little Indian. Oh, and good news for those of you who were wondering: their live staple, "Judge Me By My Fingers, Not My Pillars," is confirmed as the first track on the album.
Hello, gentle readers. My name is Squeo, and I'll be lecturing you tonight on a subject most exhilarating -- yes, truly exhilarating. I do hope you are comfortably seated in your favorite chair -- a chair, perhaps, both plush and stylish, much like those terribly agreeable pieces they might sell at one's local Target. Nothing too flashy, but with just enough pep and pizzazz to let folks know you're no bump on a log. Heck, before we get into the meat of this story, maybe you'd like to pop a CD or two into your home stereo system. Oh, I know -- those 100 CD changers are more trouble than they're worth! Ah, there you go, the trifecta: Norah Jones, Seal, and that $30 lounge mix that came in the fuzzy slipcase (what will they think of next?). Now let's set that stereo to a reasonable volume, stretch our legs and dig in to today's news.
Starbucks and Concord Music Group have gotten together to form a new label called Hear Music. Hope that name goes down as easy for you as it does for me... for what else is there to do with music, when you really think about it, but hear? I don't know about you, but this almost makes me want to run out to a store and purchase a set of affordable, matching kitchenware, purely out of glee. The plates and glasses will undoubtedly make use of a simple but effective pattern of rainbow-colored concentric circles or polka dots, and my spring luncheons will be all the more delightful for it!
Though Starbucks has made use of the Hear Music brand since 1999, this is the first time they'll be producing brand new material. The label's first album is expected to be released by the end of this year, and yes, the rumor mills are churning! The New York Post has reported that Sir Paul McCartney will be signing a deal, but my hope is that Kenny G's long-awaited Disney Classics collection has finally found a proper home. Such a collaboration would be as beautiful as a fading sunset, a cherubic infant, a dozen roses, a glorious sunrise, a fresh pot of coffee, a sparkling diamond ring, a tender filet mignon, a slim volume of poetry, an amusing salt-and-pepper shaker set, a wise grandpa, a tender kiss, a rousing game of football, a long-lasting friendship, a heart-shaped box of assorted chocolates, a teddy bear holding a felt heart, a relaxing round of horseshoes, a just-waxed motorcycle, a sticky popsicle, a crackling campfire, a playful puppy, and a worn pair of jeans, all wrapped into one. Have a pleasant evening.
They are political and confrontational. They face a cast of petty criminals, world-be world-conquering bad guys, and just plain insane characters every day. They battle environmental villains and animal rights violators. They are easily riled and prone to violence when the situation calls for it. They use every trick in the book to see their mission accomplished. They stand apart from society at large and go about their crime fighting business with a strong moral code. They are flamboyant and guzzle pizza like most do oxygen. They inhabit the sewers and slash and beat down evildoers with bô, katanas, nunchaku, and sai. That's right, this month sees the fantastic latest mutation of TMT's third favorite anthropomorphic superheroes (right behind Hieronymous "Hip" Flask and ThunderCats); The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (cue cascading fireworks! wikkid explosions! overly loud generic "action sequence" music! many exclamation marks! etc.!)!
In other news, Antibalas, who carry all the qualities mentioned above and many more, are also back. Although their violent streaks are limited to gleeful auricular punishment and they don't have to live secluded in NYC's notoriously rank sewers, they will be spotlight-contending with those four little green freaks when they play all over most of the continental U.S. during the next month-and-a-half. (Many apologies to the states that they are not playing. It's not because they couldn't schedule more shows to accommodate your state; it is because Antibalas don't like you. They told me so just the other day.) After slaying America, they will venture eastward and fight the good fight overseas. The Brooklyn afrobeat/jazz/latin/kick-ass cosmopolitan collective is touring in support of their John McEntire-produced fourth album Security, which was released at the beginning of March on Anti- (appropriately enough).
All that is needed now is a totally awesome cereal tie-in so you can eat up your favorite antibalastas in marshmallow form:
03.21.07 - San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall
03.22.07 - Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour
03.28.07 - New Haven, CT - Toad's Place
03.29.07 - Burlington, VT - Higher Ground
03.30.07 - Portland, ME - Space
03.31.07 - Cambridge, MA - Middle East Underground
04.04.07 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
04.05.07 - Charlottesville, VA - Starr Hill
04.06.07 - Virginia Beach, VA - Jewish Mother
04.07.07 - Asheville, NC - Orange Peel
04.08.07 - Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle
04.10.07 - Athens, GA - Georgia Theatre
04.11.07 - Atlanta, GA - The Variety Arts
04.12.07 - Knoxville, TN - Sundown in the City
04.12.07 - Knoxville, TN - World Grotto
04.13.07 - Nashville, TN - Mercy Lounge
04.14.07 - Louisville, KY - Headliners
04.15.07 - Bloomington, IN - The Blue Bird
04.17.07 - Urbana, IL - Canopy Club
04.18.07 - St. Louis, MO - Blueberry Hill
04.19.07 - Columbia, MO - Blue Note
04.20.07 - Lincoln, NE - Knickerbockers
04.21.07 - Lawrence, KS - Grenada Theatre
04.22.07 - Omaha, NE - Waiting Room
04.23.07 - Iowa City, IA - The Picador
04.24.07 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
04.25.07 - Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon
04.26.07 - Milwaukee, WI - Pabst Theater
04.27.07 - Chicago, IL - Park West
04.28.07 - Ann Arbor, MI - Blind Pig
04.29.07 - Newport, KY - Southgate House
05.01.07 - Columbus, OH - Wexner Center
05.02.07 - Cleveland, OH - Beachland Ballroom
05.03.07 - Pittsburgh, PA - Andy Warhol Museum
05.04.07 - Philadelphia, PA - Theatre of Living Arts
05.19.07 - Brussels, Belgium - Ancienne Belgique
06.01.07 - London, England - Jazz Café
06.02.07 - London, England - Jazz Café
06.05.07 - Gateshead, England - The Sage
06.06.07 - Swansea, England - Sin City
06.07.07 - Manchester, England - The Mint Lounge
06.08.07 - Leeds, England - HiFi Club
06.13.07 - Dublin, Rep. of Ireland - Crawdaddy
06.15.07 - Brighton, England - Komedia
06.16.07 - Exeter, England - Festival
Recently, the folks down at Touch & Go Records posted a message on their website regarding the status of Slint and whether or not they intend to record a new album. Seems all these recent reunion shows are insufficient for new Slint fans. Remember the days when the reunion of an influential band, who broke up before you knew about them, was a big, historic event? Like The Stooges years back, Pixies, or maybe even The Police? Well, it seems nowadays just doing a few reunion shows or even a full-length world tour ain't good enough. New fans want new music, too!
Due to their upcoming summer shows, the boys in the legendary group Slint have been encountering the following question: "When are you guys recording a new album?" In response to this, the Touch & Go people were kind enough to post as cryptic a message as possible on their website: "Here's the deal. Slint has been preparing for shows this summer. They want to play music together and have decided to work on new material. Once they find a rehearsal space (in Louisville, KY), they can begin this process. Please do not start rumors about an impending Slint recording. Anything new will take a while. With a little luck, Touch & Go will have something to release in the next few years."
With this in mind, let us be the first to announce that the new Slint album will be released in 2011 and will be entitled, Oh, If Only I Had Not've Drank That Last German Ale, I Would Have Not Made This Record In Louisville. The 3-track album is set to one-up Joanna Newsom at her own game by collaborating with Van Dyke Parks on a polka-themed country romp through the trials and tribulations of uranium miners. The first single will be a 22-minute opus entitled "Pecans Make My Crotch Itchy," featuring guest performer Ted Leo's first yodeling solo.
Analysts predict that the album will debut at number 1 in 15 countries. Stay tuned for more details in 2010.
In the meantime, why not catch Slint performing live?
Pink Elephants Go Out On Parade, The Tiny Mice Go On Patrol; Mice Parade To Go On Tour; Sometimes Strippers Dance On Poles
That's right, titillated sports fans! Handsome devil and sometime New Yorker, Mr. Adam Pierce (no relation to Mr. Jason Pierce, we believe) is setting out on a voyage on the high seas of big hair, groupies, and plenty of blow. No wait, I'm not talking about a 1980s Def Leppard, am I? Okay, focus... focus... Got distracted during that commentary about strippers.
As previously reported here on Tiny Mix Tapes, the artist known as Mice Parade (Adam Pierce and some lovely tourmates) has put the finishing touches on a new, collaboration-heavy record and is touring in support of this self-titled album, set to be released in May. Opening act duty will once again be taken care of by Tom Brosseau, who is supporting his latest excellent release, Grand Forks.
Those hoping for a "spanish moon" from a stripper (male or female) in Baton Rouge are likely to be disappointed, by the way: