New Study Suggests Listening to Music Helps Develop Musical Competence; “Music is Fun” Say Some Scientists

I know that watching MythBusters every week makes science seem "cool," "interesting," and "important," but trust me when I tell you that not everyone in a white coat gets to spend their days testing whacky hypotheses via the demolition of walls and construction of shark robots. Fact is, sometimes these guys just get bored out of their minds and start testing any old arbitrary thing just to earn that paycheck for the week and keep the grants flowing! Take these cats over at the University of Amsterdam. As if the world didn't take Amsterdam non-seriously enough, these researchers have taken the time to carefully prove that, surprise, surprise, the act of listening to music makes you better at playing it yourself. Here we all were thinking that listening to something aural in order to imitate it better was a pretty logical and non-scientific principle. But apparently, it's headline-grabbing science. Thanks for logging in those hours, Amsterdam! Who says you're not a focused bunch?

But to be fair, things do take a turn for the slightly more scientific when you explain them with fancier words. For example, "more and more labs are showing that people have the sensitivity for skills that we thought were only expert skills," explained Henkjan Honing, a researcher behind the study. Sounds intriguing, right? "The UvA-study shows that listeners without formal musical training, but with sufficient exposure to a certain musical idiom... perform similarly in a musical task when compared to formally trained listeners."

The conclusion? Drum roll please... Listening to music helps one understand how it is made! In other words, all those Baby's First Mozart CDs have finally been justified. Uh, but only if you want them to play classical music, apparently, because the study also showed that subjects showed more competence creating music in genres with which they were familiar.

But $5 Walmart Mozart CD or no $5 Walmart Mozart CD, you're not going to want to stop forcing your kid to keep taking piano lessons just yet. After all, you don't need a study to tell you that learning how to do something professionally helps you to do it better... or, wait... maybe you do? Someone had better do a study on that too... if they're not too busy, that is.

Craz-E Cohen’s Warner Music Group Summer Stock-A-Rama Sale, This Monday Only! Don’t miss out!

What do you buy the millionaire record company exec who already has everything this holiday season? Well how about Warner Music Group's American chairman and chief executive Lyor Cohen's former stock shares? With Mr. Cohen selling 23% of his stock in WMG, there are plenty of lovable stock options to choose from! 80,000 cuddly options, to be exact -- each going for $8.45 a share, equaling approximately $6.8 million total.

Cohen, the man behind Green Day and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, renewed his contract earlier this spring and will be earning something in the ballpark of $3 million a year, with potential bonus opportunities up to $5 million, until his contract comes again in 2013. His new contract also gives him 1.5 million mooooore stock options, in addition to the 2.6 million he decided to keep from this Monday's sale. Seemingly confident in WMG's progress, he stated that "this sale reflects nothing more than a normal need for liquid assets for personal expenses, as well as my financial adviser's recommendation that I diversify my portfolio for tax and estate planning." He also added that your credit score doesn't matter, as long as you have a job and $99 down -- THESE STOCKS MUST GO!

Warner shares were at an all-time low this January, but have improved by nearly 80% at this date. Concerns about company welfare seem to be easing up.

Toby Keith a Democrat? You Decide.

Support from the arts is nothing new in presidential campaigns. Many artists have vocalized their support for (or disapproval of) a variety of electoral candidates, such as Rage Against the Machine for Nader, Wilco for Obama, and Lawrence Welk for McCain. Earlier this week, though, Mr. Obama received a tip of the hat from an unlikely source in Nashville: Toby Keith! His last major political statement? “We’ll put a boot in your ass. It’s the American Way.”

As quoted by Ryan Pearson of the AP, in response to a question about patriotism and its role in the current Presidential election, Mr. Red, White, and Blue stated: “There's a big part of America that really believes that there is a war on terrorism, and that we need to finish up.”

Keith went on to elaborate: "So I thought it was beautiful the other day when Obama went to Afghanistan and got educated about Afghanistan and Iraq. He came back and said some really nice things.”

My favorite part of that quote is the “we need to finish up” part. I like the image of people actually thinking we can just roll up our sleeves, put in a couple extra hours, and end this whole terrorism thing with a little American hard work.

Keith ended his statement with the following praise for Obama: “So as far as leadership and patriotism goes, I think it's really important that those things have to take place. And I think he's the best Democratic candidate we've had since Bill Clinton. And that's coming from a Democrat."

Toby Keith a Democrat, whoda thunk it?

Frisco Freakout Lineup Announced – Anybody want some LSD? I just need a place to cook!

In what is sure to be an experience likely to be described as “a slowly melting landscape” or “growing ever more illuminated as we traveled the note-breeze,” San Francisco's Frisco Freakout (SF3), an all-day psychedelic dance party, is on for October 11, 2008. Showcasing some of the best that the super-psych-state of California has to offer in psychedelic rock, the first-annual, one-day festival has announced its lineup and a general bevy of other pertinent information for all those interested in buying the ticket and taking the ride.

The lineup:

The whole shindig is going down at Thee Parkside in San Fran, costs a reasonable amount, and is promised to include “good trips” and “organic eats.” Oh, and hey, it’s all-ages, so make sure to bring your kids and get them started on the path of enlightenment; just keep them away from the brown acid.

Smooth Move Exlax!! The Decemberists Release Singles Series

Remember that one time you thought you were clever and talented? Remember the time that a member of The Decemberists one-upped you in a game of darts and then boinked your girlfriend/boyfriend? It really is true that there are always people cooler than you -- and they go by the motherfucking Decemberists!

This fall, Meloy & the Butchers will release Always The Bridesmaid: A Singles Series on cool and trendy formats, like 12-inch vinyl (via Y.A.B.B. Records/Jealous Butcher Records) and digital (via non-indie label Capitol Records). The first of the three volumes, featuring "Valerie Plame" and "O New England," will be released October 14, with the former track making its live debut November 3 on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Meanwhile, the second and third volumes of Bridesmaid will be released November 4 and December 2, respectively.

If that isn't cool enough for you, prepare for some blue-ass balls/a wet vag: fans who pre-order all three singles through the band's website will receive a limited-edition version on colored vinyl! The vinyl will also be available at select independent retail stores (go here to find out where).

The Decemberists have also scheduled select U.S. dates for this November, with details to be revealed through speakers at Urban Outfitters. Also, the band is currently finishing up work on their new full-length with Tucker Martine. Wow, they've thought of it all, huh? They already blew my fat face out of the water. I mean, this single series beats the shit out of my "Banjo-vi" project (a collection of Bon Jovi covers played on various banjos), and my screenplay, Tremors: The Musical, doesn't even hold a candle to playing live on Conan O'Brien.

At least no one from The Decemberists could write a news story on my life (a challenge?). Eat skittle-infested shit, Meloy!

Always The Bridesmaid: A Singles Series tracklist:

Volume I:

Side A: "Valerie Plame"

Side B: "O New England"

Volume II:

Side A: "Days of Elaine"

Side B: "Days of Elaine (long)" / "I'm Sticking With You"

Volume III:

Side A: "Record Year"

Side B: "Raincoat Song"

Hey, Don’t Forget About Us! We’re Still Relevant! Honestly! Wait, Where Are You Clicking? MySpace to Implement New Music Service

When the machine gets rusty, you gotta grease them wheels! In the life of every social networking site’s life cycle, there comes a time when the policymakers have to decide when to make changes, and right now the timing is right for MySpace to tweak and adjust their aging model. Just when you thought it was safe to write off the service as well past its virtual shelf date, MySpace is seemingly back from the dead and ready to party, announcing that it will launch a new music service in September. Speaking to Fortune at its “Brainstorm Tech” conference in July, MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe divulged upcoming expansion plans to include free music streaming to members and the opportunity to purchase concert tickets, downloads, ringtones, and t-shirts via its site.

It is hoped that this new music hustle will shake up MySpace and will help grow its user base to compete with the fast-growing Facebook (Aren’t you glad we provided links to Facebook and MySpace? You would have never found them otherwise!). Surprisingly, MySpace still has more users than Facebook, but the plucky upstart is accumulating new members at a much faster rate. When DeWolfe was asked about MySpace’s main competition and the new initiatives it is undertaking, he said, “MySpace is more about self-expression and individuality. One of the reasons why we’re investing so heavily in music is that self-expression and music go together so well.” So, MySpace will be known for music while Facebook will continue to be all about prolonging adolescence and about posting pictures that make you look thinner and better looking than you actually are in real life? Okay, got it.

MySpace will not be the only ones looking to the power of music to expand its financial empire; Activision Blizzard, the makers of Guitar Hero, are working on developing an iTunes-type online store for its gaming consumers. The company has apparently surpassed $1 billion in sales of the mega-popular game and have begun working on how to make a music-purchasing enterprise work efficiently. And then there’s Facebook again, who must certainly be looking into providing similar music applications, given its popularity and ease of use. Imagine if you could download music while you reconnect with that unhealthy and previously legally-restricted obsession you had in high school? Man, what a time to be alive!

Fun Fun Fun Fest Reunites The Dead Milkmen! Also Flipper, Deerhoof, The National, Bad Brains, Kool Keith – Austin Continues Sinister Plan To Have A Good Time, All the Time

As summer fades, thus does the ’08 festival season. Lollapalooza exists only in mediocre, overpriced memory, and the majority of America’s musical youth are packing away their party bongs in mothballs, not to see the light of day until the University Phish Appreciation Society’s Labor Day Bud Bash. For now, the USA slumbers, waiting until next year to shell out increasing amounts of cash to whichever festival is the most convincingly indie and/or least likely to become Woodstock ’99.

But while the suckers are away, the city of Austin will play. On November 8-9, the exuberantly titled Fun Fun Fun Fest will rumble the rubble of downtown Austin’s Waterloo Park. The festival’s lineup is diverse, ranging from punk legends Bad Brains, Flipper, and The Adolescents, to hipster huggables Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Minus the Bear, and Dan Deacon. Along with all those shining faces, an impressive array of hip-hoppers such as Clipse and Kool Keith/Dr. Octagon will share the bill with a cavalcade of comedy acts, including the Altercation Punk Rock Comedy Tour and Tim and Eric.

There’s still a crapload of other acts, including the triumphant, most likely one-time return of The Dead Milkmen, and if that piece of news doesn’t set your heart afluttering into your wallet to shell out the $60 for this two-day festival, I just don’t know what will! Well, maybe if you check out the full lineup, you’ll be happier. I’d post it here, but TMT is trying to watch her figure right now. It’s our new strategy for becoming the next Pitchfork. They may have a TV show , but we’ve got a rockin’ bod. Hollywood, here we come!

Jay Reatard Set Out to Pulsate 50,000 Taints This Fall

Good thing we haven't written about Jay Reatard in a while. It's also a good thing that my sister, Ugly Becky, can now freely go to these shows after her birthing news.

Doctor: I have good news and I have bad news.

Ugly Becky: What's the bad news?

Doctor: Your baby is a ginger.

Ugly Becky: Oh god. Oh my god, no! How could there possibly be any good news?

Doctor: The good news is that your baby is dead.


* The Black Keys

# Deerhunter and Times New Viking

We'll announce more dates when we feel like it.

16-Year-Old Drops Out Of High School To Pursue Lucrative Career Playing Guitar Hero

Hey, kids! Thinking about going to college after high school? Well if you have two hands, ten fingers, and know how to use a whammy bar effectively, you may not have to. Take the case of North Carolina native, Blake Pebbles, a 16-year-old who talked his parents into letting him drop out of school* to play Guitar Hero full-time.

According to his profile in the News & Observer, Pebbles has already profited from his lucrative career choice, just not with, uh, actual money. No, instead, he’s won gift certificates, gaming equipment, and 52 Chick-fil-A meals. If Pebbles keeps this up, he could earn up to $80,000 a year on the competitive gaming circuit; however the average player typically earns somewhere in the $25,000 ballpark.

Better wipe the waffle fries grease off your fingers, Blake, “Free Bird” isn’t going to play itself.

*Apparently his parents have hired him a private tutor instead.

RIP: Nikola Acin of The Hellboys

From a post by Nikola Acin's friend, George Pratt:

I’m shocked and saddened by the news that my good friend Nikola Acin passed away this last weekend. Nikola was such a great guy, a true, avid enthusiast of art and music. He wrote many wonderful articles on two of his favorite passions, comics and rock’n’roll.

Son of the great filmmaker Jovan Acin (Hey, Babu Riba), Nikola was an energetic soul who dove head first into his enthusiasms. He put himself out there in any way possible so as to be closer to the heart of what he loved.

- The Hellboys official website
- The Hellboys MySpace page
- YouTube video: The Hellboys
- Electric Roulette article: "Nikola Acin (of The Hellboys) RIP"



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