This Thanksgiving, Jonathan Richman Traces His Hand to Make a Picture of a Turkey, Embarks on Mini-Tour

Life can really drag you down sometimes. Whether we feel downtrodden by the poverty and distress we encounter on the street, the anguish of reading about Britney Spears’ spiral out of control, or those MySpace comments you’re really excited to read until you find out they’re just another “OMG guyz I just got a Macy’s giftcard LOL!” hacking attempt, there is no denying that these are trying times in which we live. But before we start to wallow in bitterness and despair, let’s take a moment to reflect on the good things in life. As 2007 draws to an end, I’d like to invite you to join me in looking back on the past year and giving thanks for the many blessings we have received.

- In January, Nancy Pelosi became the first female speaker of the US House of Representatives. Between this and the Spice Girls reunion, 2007 is totally the year of girl power!!!

- In March, the crown prince and princess of Brunei His Royal Highness
Al-Muhtadee Billah and his wife, Her Royal Highness Pengiran Anak Sarah
welcomed into this world a son, Prince Abdul Muntaqim. Ahhhh!

- In October, Lindsay Lohan completed a lengthy stint in rehab, thereby
saving her career and giving us hope for more gems like Herby: Fully
Loaded
and I Know Who Killed Me.

- In November, President Bush pardoned the lives of some delicious turkeys so that they could live to waddle confusedly through a Thanksgiving Day parade.

If that wasn’t enough already, I have more good news about 2007! Jonathan Richman, vocalist for The Modern Lovers and prolific solo artist dude, is playing a series of shows for some very lucky Californians in only a matter of days!

Surrender to Jonathan... at these live dates:

HEALTH Head Out On the Road, Barely Leave Home State of California, But They Still Have Roads There – I Checked

Relatively fresh off a long national tour and their stint as a band that impressed a lot of people at CMJ, HEALTH appear to be taking a short, well-earned break.

They played a few shows around California this past weekend, but come the New Year, it looks like they’ll be setting the West Coast ablaze with nothing but passion, a van, several guitars and drums, and a hell of a lot of effects pedals. Probably other things, too.

Eventually, I’m told, the band plans to tour the rest of the states with The Crystal Castles, but for now, you’ll have to take a long, tedious trek to Canada, the Golden State, or whatever Washington and Oregon’s state nicknames are.

I don’t have much else to say about this. They’re a band. They’re touring. Some of the shows are with Dan Deacon, and some are with White Williams. I like the band name “Robin Williams on Fire,” and I hope that that’s what they sound like.

Dates:

! Robin Williams on Fire

# White Williams

$ Dan Deacon

When Alterna-rock godfather and all-around masochistic pacifist Kurt D. Cobain coined the phrase "I think I'm dumb" back in 1993, he apparently had NOOOOOOO idea just how right he would come to be once this ruthless 21st century got its money-grubbing hands on him.

We're only in the year 2007, for god's sake, and the poor guy has already had his private journals published, his back-catalog pillaged for some pretty piss-poor best-ofs and box sets, his publishing rights sliced up and passed around like delicious prime rib, and his angst-ridden music reduced to kindergarten sing-a-longs by the likes of The Polyphonic Spree. Why, it seems like only yesterday that we here at TMT reported that the Nirvana song "Breed" had been egregiously licensed for a telecom ad, an upcoming action movie, and the videogame Major League Baseball 2K7 (TMT News).

And NOW, as if his legacy hadn't been turned into ENOUGH of a joke, Primary Wave (the music publishing company that first heard the lyrics "I don't even care/ We don't have to breed" and saw dollar signs) has apparently decided to create a monument to their own indecency by issuing one of the most cartoonishly outlandish bits of Nirvana miscellanea ever created: the solid wood "Heart Shaped Box-set" music box.

Shhhhh... listen...

Did you hear him rolling over in that grave yet again? This is getting old, isn’t it?

Yes, you heard right, folks. Apparently, these Primary Wave dudes must have played hooky on the day their junior high English classes learned about metaphor, cuz this thing is an honest-to-goodness piece of wood that has been hand-treated and shaped like a heart symbol (as opposed to the actual organ) and contains not four chambers, but a set of five CDs of classic Cobainality. Believe it or not, 500 of these musical monstrosities were legitimately created by degree-holding business-men as a giveaway for the kinds of high-rolling music supervisors and ring-wearing advertising execs who may actually have the power and budget to license one of Cobain's rarified tracks. You know, like Frankie Sharp from Wayne’s World or something.

But wait! You haven’t even heard the most ludicrous parts yet: The hard-wood cover has the Nirvana logo burned onto its top, and the whole caboodle comes packaged in a white cake-box with the Nirvana smiley-face printed on it. Aaaaaaaaaand of course, there’s the pièce de résistance: when you open this little beauty, a small speaker proceeds to serenade you with none other than the classic HSB itself! Right now you’re probably asking yourself, “So wait, the whole thing also functions like some sort of giant, grotesque music box?” The answer is yes.

As for the more practical side (if there is one) of this whole affair, the music encased inside this literal heart-shaped box includes three discs of 50 songs performed by Nirvana, plus another two discs of cover songs, including stirring renditions of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Paul Anka, Scala, Tori Amos, Patti Smith, and Desmond Williams; tracks by Charlie Hunter Trio, Steve Earle, Herbie Hancock, Sinead O'Connor, and Stereophonics; and multi-song sets of Nirvana songs done as lullabies (!) and orchestral scores. Can you say “Volkswagen ad?”

So, what's an item like this worth, considering that it’s EXTREMELY rare, and yet EXTREMELY unpalatable to most legitimate Nirvana fans at the same time? Well, I guess we’ll find out together, dear readers. The market will soon set its price, as one lucky recipient in Detroit (Ford Motor Company, perhaps?) recently put #64/500 up on eBay. Unfortunately, the bidding seems to have ended for this particular item, so only time will tell how much the world’s wealthiest and most uninformed Nirvana fans are willing to shell-out in order to compensate for not being able to play music themselves. I don’t know about you, but if I were Kurt Cobain's ghost, I’d be screaming “Hey, wait, I’ve got a new complaint” right about now.

Politicians Actually Not Buying FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s Attempt to “Save” Newspapers By Pushing for More Media Consolidation

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin announced last week his plan for saving the print newspaper.

Hang on. Back up.

See, there's this thing called the internet... you might even be using it RIGHT NOW. And newspapers, interestingly enough, have discovered this internet thingy and use it for video, audio, breaking news, and... what? You can do that on TV and on the radio too? What's that? You can do it all in one place if you use the internet? Gee!

But you know, FCC Chairman Martin is magic. So he's going to do this: lift the ban on media cross-ownership by a newspaper and allow them to own one radio station and one television station. Ha! Take that, internet! Read as he pulls on the heartstrings of The New York Times' Op-Ed section: "If we don’t act to improve the health of the newspaper industry, we will see newspapers wither and die. Without newspapers, we would be less informed about our communities and have fewer outlets for the expression of independent thinking and a diversity of viewpoints. The challenge is to restore the viability of newspapers while preserving the core values of a diversity of voices and a commitment to localism in the media marketplace."

Localism. You mean, back when radio stations didn't have syndicated DJs who can't even tell you the weather in the town in which you're listening? Wack. How did that happen? Oh, right. The Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Understandably, politicians are confused and just a li'l anxious about this decision. Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) wrote a letter to the FCC saying: "Amending media ownership regulations, including a rule that has been on the books for more than three decades, is a grave matter that deserves the Commission's full and fair consideration." Hey, overturning 60-year-old precedents didn't hurt us a bit in 1996! Dude's trippin'. Silly Democrats.

And wouldn't know you it: my man Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) also thinks this is all a little too Mother Teresa, saying Martin's actions are "relying on an assumption that newspapers are doomed and that cross-ownership is necessary to save them."

Me? I'll just be here hanging out on NYTimes.com for a little while. Soaking up some daily news from a website that has nothing to do with a newspaper. Nope. Those poor little newspapers. Someone should really do something about them.

One Day The Roots Will Release A New Album, Curate 2008 POPPED! Music Fest; One Day I Will Get Married, Have Children, Retire, Probably Die

"Well, the new album is finished, and it's coming out in 10 days," wrote Jonny Greenwood about his band's ubiquitous new album In Rainbows. And now, filling the role of the anti-Radiohead, The Roots have announced the release of their next album in... 162 days?!

The Roots will drop their tenth career album, the hotly anticipated follow-up to 2006's Game Theory, April 29. "I want to be the first rap artist to actually make a good 10th record," the group's drummer Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson told MTV News in August 2006. Unfortunately, we won't know if the group succeeded for another half a year.

"Pretty much five or six songs are done, and four of them are synth-heavy," Thompson told Billboard of the album's progress. And while only a portion of the album has actually been completed, it does have a title. Based on William T. Vollmann's Rising Up and Rising Down: Some Thoughts on Violence, Freedom and Urgent Means, The Roots have dubbed the record Rising Down.

In other news, just in case the band weren't looking far enough in advance, the hometown heroes will curate the first night of Philadelphia's Drexel University 2008 POPPED! Music Festival, which runs from June 20-22 next year. The seminal rap group will perform their classic album Things Fall Apart in its entirety, according to the organization, who encourage everyone to stay tuned for the announcement of the rest of the weekend's acts. No rush, guys. Seriously.

The Weakerthans Jump On The Bandwagon of Bands Stupid Enough To Tour Europe In The Winter

You would think that when temperatures were in the negative numbers and the wind-chill factor was kicking in, most bands would huddle inside their houses and hibernate for the winter. Apparently, that’s not the case for The Weakerthans (or The Good Life) or Pelican or Los Campesinos!), as they have decided to be productive this winter and grace Europeans with their live presence.

If The Weakerthans manage to survive the frigid Euro air, they’ll be celebrating December 22 with a homecoming show in Winnipeg. Not that the Canadian winter is any less brutal, but I’m sure these Canucks can stand it.

The Weakerthans are touring in support of their awesome and critically ignored latest album, Reunion Tour.

Virtue The Cat Explains Her Frostbite:

* House and Parish

Unwed Sailor Prep LP 5, Tour Relentlessly (Okay, Not Really Relentlessly)

Seattle, WA quartet Unwed Sailor have finished recording their fifth LP, Little Wars, which contains songs they've been rocking effortlessly on tour all year. The LP is set for a March 18 release and will feature all four members of the band, as well as Phillip Blackwell of Questions In Dialect and band pals Matt Depper, Matt Putman and Nic Tse.

The LP was apparently constructed around and in honor of lead single "Copper Islands," which you can listen to repeatedly at your little heart's content at Unwed Sailor's MySpace. The band describes the new LP as, "energetic and highly melodic, but gently colored and focused by layered keyboards and percussion with a delicate ambiance," which makes it sound more like the music you'd hear pushing your cart through Whole Foods, but we'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Little Wars' March release forces the band to make an early attempt at recouping a portion of the money spent recording. How? By touring un-relentlessly beginning November 30 in the Windy City.

The Return To Open Arms:

* This Will Destroy You

No Fun Fest 2008 Lineup Announced; I Can Already Taste the Soul Sausage

As I write this stranded in an airport in Birmingham, Alabama, I can't help but note the irony that I'm having a little "No Fun Fest" of my own. Mine, however, is a literal no fun fest, which has nothing to do with the No Fun label. For example, mine doesn't include any music or interesting activities, but rather a lot of waiting around with relatives in a bizarrely sterile environment with nothing to do but kick back and soak in the boredom. I have discovered some awesome YouTube videos, though, which can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Also, the terrorist threat level today is "orange."

The real No Fun Fest will take place May 16-18 at the Knitting Factory in New York City, and the bill-in-progress includes: Tony Conrad (pictured) and M.V. Carbon, Skaters, Burning Star Core, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Emeralds, Alan Licht, Rick Potts, Nautical Almanac, Carlos Giffoni, Religious Knives, Hiroshi Hasegawa (of C.C.C.C.), and others. A full list can be found at the No Fun Fest official site.

Ladytron Signs to New Label, Midterm

Midterms are in the air, as you may have sensed from Nobodaddy's stress-inspired story last Wednesday (TMT News). Frankly, if I have to struggle with information I have learned and barely retained, then I think you should too. Thus, Tiny Mix Tapes is proud to inflict upon you: The Ladytron Challenge!!!!!

This test will be multiple choice with each question worth 666 points, so please do the best you can. Your reputation as reader with a strong repertoire of musical knowledge depends on it. Furthermore, Tiny Mix Tapes staff, myself included, shall personally shame each individual who scores poorly.

Properly motivated? Let's go!

1. Who is Ladytron?

a. Helen Marnie

b. Mira Aroyo

c. Daniel Hunt

d. Reuben Wu

e. All of the above, and don't you forget it.

Answer: E -- That's correct, vintage analogue electro-pop sensation, Ladytron (shit that was a lot of adjectives), has been harnessing the power and talent of Helen Marnie, Mira Aroyo, Daniel Hunt and Reuben Wu since they formed the group in 1999. An anonymous and overly informed asshole on Wikipedia notes that, "When playing live, Ladytron uses vintage synthesizers/keyboards, including a Korg MS-10 (played by Wu), an MS-20 (Aroyo), Roland SH-2 (Hunt), as well as four MS-2000Bs." And you know what that means? It means Ladytron doesn't fuck around.

2. Ladytron has how many studio releases?

a. Several hundred

b. Just 100

c. 3

d. None -- they're currently working on their self-titled debut

Answer: C -- Three albums currently exist by the Ladytron-tastic
five-some. Debuting with 604 in 2001, their Light & Magic release
kicked clubs' asses worldwide with pedophilic anthem "Seventeen,"
whose popularity was only superseded by the single "Destroy Everything
You Touch" off their 2005 album, Witching Hour. Ladytron is currently
harnessing their collective sexiness into a new mind-blowing album
(title pending), set to be released to many electro-pop heads'
delight in May 2008.

3. Which label has Ladytron signed to?

a. Emperor Norton Records

b. Ed Banger Records

c. Nettwerk Music Group

d. XL Recordings

Answer: C -- Ladytron has joined the Nettwerk Music Group family alongside acts such as Datarock and Felix da Housecat, two acts who I've never fully appreciated. (Extra Credit will be rewarded to those who agree that the Datarock self-titled debut was nowhere near as ass-kicking as many have touted it to be.)

4. What sort of sheisty shit is Ladytron up to these days?

a. Dancing

b. Gigging

c. Being sexy

d. Engaging in rock-star workaholic-ism

e. All of the above

Answer: E -- Always sexy, dancing, touring, and working, Ladytron has been making appearances worldwide in support of their Witching Hour material for nearly two years now, both headlining and as support for acts such as Nine Inch Nails and The Chemical Brothers. Ever the multi-taskers, Ladytron continued to develop new material while on the road and are now in the studio with co-producer Vicarious Bliss of Ed Banger records to nail down the new release. "We came straight from our final shows in the US to the studio in Paris to complete what we have been working on for the last year or so," said band member Daniel Hunt in a Nettwerk press release. "The sessions are exciting, and we can't wait to get the new tracks out there."

A full North American tour is being slated for late spring of 2008.