Sebastien Grainger (ex-DFA 1979) Announces Debut Tourdates

Going solo when you’re used to playing in band can either be a freeing or anxiety-ridden experience. For Sebastien Grainger, the former drummer for Death From Above 1979, it appears to be the former rather than the latter. Branching away from his dance-punk background, Grainger’s debut album, Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains, is due tomorrow (October 21), and to celebrate, he’s embarking on his first solo tour ever. Take that, Jesse F. Keeler!

The Dodos Tour As The Crow Flies

Excerpted from the new anthology, The Journals of J. Porter Huxley: Rogue British Naturalist and Seafaring Vagabond, out this month by Reliant Press.

- Chapter VIII - July 1578: Rumors from the Mainland

WE SET OUT months ago, Captain reminded me over morning tea, and we have yet to see The Bird. The quiet ocean is sobering and we are nowhere. A restlessness hangs in the air. Indeed, it had been quite some time since rumors from the mainland enticed me out into open waters in search of The Bird. Isle after isle, nothing. They leave me with less and less hope after each unsuccessful trek. I have to remind myself, lest Captain Tilley do it for me, that fame comes not to those who do not make it home. Our supplies are depleted, but I will not allow the boat to return to known ports.

The Captain is an able man, but he is limited. He knows only what he has seen before. He provided a cautionary tale of the excursion of Daniel Rogers into the Amazon interior. The fable is well-traveled, and understandably, a case study in the follies of conventional wisdom. Unlike he, I will not go mad in search of a myth. I am reminding myself daily of this to temper the coward's call of my crew. They believe I am like the others, out for fortune and history, but they are lesser minds. I will cease when the rumors cease. I press on for knowledge, to confirm or deny The Bird!

- Chapter XX - November 1581: Tailwind

AT LAST, THE BIRD is spotted. The long days are behind us and we have finally headed east to the mainland. James has taken ill and it is feared his maladies will be the death of him. By grace, he is recovering despite the prognosis. The crew is in good spirits as we return home with the specimen aboard.

Great caution was taken in securing The Bird's safety. Curiously, it showed no fright of us and quite easily bounded aboard the ship. I should say that we are more afraid of it than it of us! A tether was tied to its leg so that it would not fly away, in case the rumors of its flightlessness were misled. They were not, and The Bird has gotten rather comfortable in our quarters. It has taken a certain fondness to Captain Tilley, much to his annoyance. The Good Captain has called him a dodo on occasion, and it somehow has stuck with the crew. The sun is bright now, and to promote its Visiter status, I have already begun planning The Dodos exhibition tour of Europe. Knowledge has won, as I hoped it would. I am, for now, at peace.

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone Fall Tour; Hopes Audiences Will Alleviate Some of That Painful Loneliness

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, the ridiculously long moniker of musician Owen Ashworth’s one-man group, will be touring (actually HAS been touring) to promote his new Town Topic EP, which boasts 15 tracks in a measly 22 minutes. The EP, which serves as a soundtrack to the film Stay The Same Never Change, features 13 short instrumentals, kicking off and closing with vocal tracks. The first track, “Ice Cream Truck, is charmingly described as “a simulated July soundscape of Mr. Softee jingles, cicadas and trunk-rattling bass from passing cars, tells the story of criminal-minded kids who go joy-riding in a stolen ice cream truck and make other poorly-informed decisions along the way.”

While we're on the topic (sort of), I have a couple side notes: (1) Casiotone For The Painfully Alone’s Etiquette (TMT Review) is my favorite “sleeper” album of 2006, and (2) Ashworth has got to be one of the only people on Earth who can make CCR romantic, with the fantastic track "I Love Creedence." Okay, I just had to get that off my chest -- thanks for listening!

CFTPA East Coast Tourdates:

Europe Admits the Organs Six of Six Organs of Admittance for European Tour, TMT Writer Tries to Make Word Palindrome with Headline and Fails Miserably

Around this time last year, I interviewed Ben Chasny, the sole permanent member of Six Organs of Admittance (and a Comet on Fire), for a different website about Six Organs’ new album Shelters from the Ash. But, being the dumbass I am, I lost the tape of the interview and never ended up publishing the interview, effectively wasting about an hour of Chasny’s valuable time and ending my short-lived career at that website. Ever since I screwed the wonderfully polite Chasny out of his press, I’ve felt super guilty about not doing my job properly and can’t really listen to Six Organs of Admittance without feeling like a real crap dude.

Recently, while digging through junk in the Sarlacc Pit that is my bedroom, I found the notebook I used for my Six Organs interview. Although my notes aren’t terribly detailed, I still have a couple of decent, albeit fairly outdated and out-of-context, tidbits of info from my “lost” Ben Chasny interview. So now, for your enjoyment and my absolution, I present to you some highlights from my shitty notes:

- Chasny first picked up acoustic guitar in defiance of punk and metal, which he saw as the two standard options for youthful musical rebellion.
- Shelter from the Ash was recorded entirely on a four-track with help from members of The Fucking Champs, Magik Markers, and guitar gun-for-hire Matt Sweeney.
- Despite constant comparisons between the two’s guitar styles, Chasny claims that John Fahey did not influence his music as nearly much as Bert Jansch or Leo Kottke; rather, Fahey’s “don’t give a shit” attitude affected Chasny’s artistic ambitions a great deal.
- According to Chasny, Current 93 mastermind David Tibet’s favorite movie is Zoolander and his favorite celebrity is Renee Zellweger. (I’m really, really glad I wrote this one down.)

There you have it! I remember having a much more interesting conversation than these notes reflect, but since I was recording the whole thing, I thought I could get away with pretty junky notetaking. So, remember this, all you budding young journalists: Always keep track of where in the hell you store your tapes, but take good notes just in case. Phew! Feels good to pass some morals onto the future!

If you’re anything like me, all these life lessons would sure go well with some good old fashioned fingerstyle guitar! You know who can help you out with that? Six Organs of Admittance! Hopefully you live in Europe though. Otherwise, I’m sure Chasny will tour the U.S. at some point in the near future, and when he does, you’ll hear about it from me, because I still have some atoning to do.

RIP: Levi Stubbs of The Four Tops

According to Billboard:

Arguably the most powerful voice in Motown's storied history has been silenced. Four Tops lead singer Levi Stubbs, Jr., died today (Oct. 17) at his home in Detroit after a long series io illnesses -- including cancer and a stroke -- that forced him to stop performing in 2000. He was 72.

- Levi Stubbs Wikipedia entry
- Levi Stubbs IMDB entry
- Four Tops Wikipedia entry
- YouTube video: "Four Tops Baby I Need Your Lovin'"

RIP: Neal Hefti, Jazz Trumpeter and Soundtrack Composer

From the Los Angeles Times:

Neal Hefti, a former big band trumpeter, arranger and composer who worked with Count Basie and Woody Herman and later composed the memorable themes for the movie "The Odd Couple" and the campy hit TV series "Batman," has died. He was 85.

Hefti died Saturday at his home in Toluca Lake, said his son, Paul. He did not know the cause of death, but said his father had been in good health.

- Neal Hefti Wikipedia entry
- Neal Hefti IMDB entry
- Los Angeles Times article: "Neal Hefti dies at 85; former big band trumpeter, arranger and composer"

Been Dazed and Confused for So Long It’s Not True. So Long, In Fact, That All My Zeppelin Albums Have Shrunk Into CD-Sized Replicas!

Sit down, kidlings. When I was very young, right around your age now, I was invited to a birthday party hosted by a classmate from school. Given that the invitation came at the last minute and take into account my laziness/self-centredness at the time, I didn't bother to get the wee girl a gift. A quick burst of desperation had me grabbing a pile of prized Chu-Bops (miniature bubblegum records in 3'x3' replica album sleeves that were around in the 1980s) and throwing them in a bag to bring as a prezzie. The birthday party ended prematurely with me getting upset at our hostess for making fun of one of my friends. After sulking off home, my dad scolded me for giving away those little sugar albums and told me I would regret it someday. Turns out he was right; I REALLY wish I had those tiny sleeves now. The gum, not so much.

Anyway, why the palliative stroll down memory lane, you ask? Well, this childhood recollection remained deeply buried in my subconscious until I saw this cute lil' trigger. On November 4, Rhino will release a Japanese import Led Zeppelin Definite Collection Mini LP Replica CD box set to further celebrate the band's 40th anniversary. Yes, they are only exact CD versions of the original albums, but it sparked a recollection within me of a time dominated by smaller, weirder, chewable albums. You got a problem with that?

For all the tales of excess and monster sales numbers, there is always a nagging disparaging of Led Zep's work, which is fucking ludicrous if you think about it. The band's catalogue screams class, even when not ripping off forgotten blues standards. Everyone needs [Led Zeppelin-] in their lives at some point, and if you have the means, this (rather pricey) box might be a good option of getting the band's complete collection in one shot. It doesn't hurt that the set looks immaculate with details at a premium. All of Zeppellin's sleeve art is replicated for this collection, including: the original and second pressing artwork for their debut album (basically different colors for band and label logos), III's gatefold, rotational laminated card disc, Physical Graffiti's interchangable window illustrations (four covers of two inners, a middle insert and an outer cover), In Through the Out Door's six cover variations, and Coda's ultra-boring sleeve art.

The tracklistings remain the same to those released on these original albums: Led Zeppelin (1969), Led Zeppelin II (1969), Led Zeppelin III (1970), Led Zeppelin IV (1971), Houses of the Holy (1973), Physical Graffiti (1975), Presence (1976), The Song Remains the Same (1976), In Through the Out Door (1979), and Coda (1980).

Holy Gefilte Fish! Yo La Tengo Schedule Another Series of Hanukkah Shows This December

It’s that time of year again, my fellow Jews and Yo La Tengo fans! The trio has decided to schedule another round of Hanukkah shows, taking place December 21-28 at Maxwell’s in New Jersey. Tickets are $30 each and on sale now. Each show will begin at 9 PM on Friday and Saturday and at 8:30 PM every other night.

Yo La Tengo say there will be opening bands for each show, but just like last year, they’re implementing a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy because: “We won't know until the last minute, but -- we cannot tell a lie -- also because we're ornery that way.” Fortunately, Yo La Tengo are providing some exciting details:

There is one thing we can tell you. The Feelies will not be playing with us during Hanukkah, scout's honor. But we will be doing a gala New Year's Eve show with the Feelies and Vivian Girls at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair NJ, home of Stephen Colbert and Don Fleming. Tickets will be $35, or a mere $115 less than it costs to see Steely Dan. (To be fair, if you're paying per chord, Steely Dan is priced competitively.).

If that’s not a good reason to buy a ticket to see Yo La Tengo, then I don’t know what is.

SanDisk Reveals More Details of Outlandishly Doomed slotMusic Plan, That Rich Texas Oil Tycoon Guy from The Simpsons Could Be Behind it All (Or Maybe T. Boone Pickens)

The plot thickens: Just like the luridly slanting storyline of our current GOP candidates’ journey, uh, “southward,” SanDisk’s seemingly off-the-rails plan just keeps getting more and more tragically ludicrous with each passing day. Let’s resume the tangled tale, shall we?

When last we left our euphemistically-picaresque heroes at SanDisk (TMT News), they were preparing the release of their new slotMusic initiative, which, as you no doubt recall from subsequent water-cooler conversations, aims to “put the 20th century hassle back in 21st century consumerism” by distributing digital albums on ultra-tiny, ultra-losable microSD memory cards in lieu of CDs or, you know, umm, those digital download things.

Among the myriad of preparations at SanDisk, which presumably included the cleaning, polishing, loading, and aiming of pistols at freshly bullseyed feet, were the announcements that albums in the new forwardly-backwards-looking format will be available beginning this week at a price of $15 a pop (i.e. MORE EXPENSIVE THAN DOWNLOADS) and that, yes, SanDisk will indeed be going ahead and offending both our planet’s stammering economy AND your consummate materialistic sensibilities with the release of a new, hopelessly uni-taking music player that is, you guessed it, designed specifically for the bass-ackwards format and nothing else. The Sansa slotMusic Player (dimensions = 2.75” x 1.4375” x 1.4375”) will retail $20, has no internal memory, and will not have the ability to synch with a computer to download songs. Nope. It simply lets users plug in their slotMusic card or other microSD memory card (if they haven’t lost it, that is) and play whatever Jimmy Buffet nonsense is on it.

To make matters even more ridiculous, this needy little device will also beg you to pay attention to a number of boldly presumptuous accessories, not the least of which is the “artist-branded” model, in which artists are apparently supposed to feel compelled to create their own signature slotMusic Player that comes pre-loaded with their latest album contained on an included 1 GB slotMusic card. Though they will be able to play any ol’ miniSD card that your infant, toddler, dog, cat, parakeet, ferret, couch cushion, car seat, lawnmower, washing machine, or vacuum cleaner hasn’t yet consumed, the artist-branded models have the added bonus of retailing for $35 instead of $20 and come custom designed with the artist's teeny name and tiny image. Oh, and because X-mas is just around the corner, there’s also a “Sansa Card Wallet” for carrying the many, many slotMusic cards that you’re going to buy and an armband for holding the player so that your hands are free to, like, blog about how much you like this new physical format or whatever.

No word yet as to exactly how much longer SanDisk and their marketers are going to keep on playing this game of chicken with the world, but for now, damned if they don’t seem to be heading straight for us with full poker face as they further announce that all four majors are on board with this debacle, and slotMusic titles will be sold in both Wal-Mart and Best Buy stores. And they aren’t messing around with their initial batch of SD-ified artists, either, which boasts nothing but chart-toppers, including: ABBA, Chris Brown, Coldplay, Daughtry, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy buffet, Katy Perry, Keane, Kelly Clarkson, Kiss, Leona Lewis, Lynyrd Skynyrd, MIA, Nelly, New Kids On The Block, Ne-Yo, Nickelback, Pussycat Dolls, Rihanna, Rise Against, Robin Thicke, Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Usher and Weezer. So there you have it, I guess! This is either a serious economic venture to someone somewhere, folks! Either that or a clever distraction from the Grand Old Party. Speaking of which, did you hear that 9/11 was an inside job?!?